Chapter Forty Two: Hope Part I

A/N: It's been really long. More after the jump.

Two days after the rescue

A part of me had always viewed life as a relentless hell. I was stuck in an eternal existence pining for a girl who'd faked her own death to get away from the shit she'd caused. I was never as good as my brother. He'd massacred more people in life than I ever had, but somehow was still the hero of both our stories. Only death gave me satisfaction because it made me miserable. I was in an abusive relationship with my own immortality, a constant lover's quarrel with the endless possibilities. Someone once told me that vampirism was a gift, but I always wanted to return it. My human life wasn't perfect, but it was mine all the same. It'd been taken from me without much thought, but the loss of it was somehow my responsibility.

Living forever is fun until you realize what it means.

Days fade into a constant blur, leaving only questions. When had my friends, the few I managed to make, aged so quickly? When had buildings I once loved been destroyed and something else built in their place? When had death become so permanent? When had life?

I remember swimming naked in the river, feeling the cool water rush over my skin. I remembered how I could swim for hours and the water would always be cool. The way the water made my skin standout, a lone paleness floating aimlessly amongst nature. I tried it again when I was a vampire, same river, same season, and felt nothing. The water was cold, but I didn't shiver. I could hear the fish swimming and scuttling away from me when they once swam past. Once I floated, but now I sank, seeing through the ripples in the water overhead like it wasn't there at all. Being a vampire didn't just take my life, it took everything and left me empty. I was the wreckage after a storm, Humpty Dumpty after his great fall. There was nothing left, only death and the existence I had after.

And then there was Bonnie.

She was moaning under me, holding me tighter and reaching for that closeness. Trying to meld more than just our bodies in her bed. Every part of her gripped me, welcoming me into something I wasn't sure I deserved yet. Two days ago she told me she loved me. Two days ago she told me I deserved everything, happiness and her. Two days ago she'd risked her life to snatch me away from death's door when two months ago, I wasn't sure if she'd have batted an eye.

It was a weird feeling to be loved, especially so quickly. Loved in the way two souls really love each other. It was strange that Bonnie had given this to me, had trusted me with something I wasn't sure I trusted myself with. She said it so effortlessly, like it had been mine this whole time. Like the world had been waiting for me if only I'd been paying attention. It was a strange thing to feel like this. So consumed and enraptured by a girl who'd lost everything and kept giving. To be loved by the girl whose life you'd ruined on more than one occasion. I didn't feel—I couldn't—

I pulled away.

It took Bonnie a second to realize I had. She sat up instantly. "What happened?"

Something in her voice made me turn away from her. I faced her window and stared into the setting sun. There were no spots in my vision, just a constant challenge between my gaze and the sun's brightness. I ran my fingers through my hair and stopped breathing. If I was still, maybe I could get back into what I was doing. If I zoned out, maybe this emptiness would fade and I could get back to the girl who loved me. The girl I now loved. Whether I deserved it or not.

She was on the floor in front of me, then, staring up into my eyes.

Bonnie had an unparalleled ability to give her undivided attention. If I spoke, she listened. It sounds very chauvinistic, but I mean it in the most positive of ways. These days people could barely look at you and say what they're thinking. They have to look away, they have to fidget, anything and everything that takes them away from that moment of real connection. I came from a time where eye contact solidified everything you said. I didn't start looking away until her.

"What's wrong?" She asked softly.

I shook my head. Nothing was wrong, not that I could think of.

She took my hands and stared at me for a few long seconds. I could see her assessing, and I half expected her to be rummaging around in my head, but she didn't. Bonnie respected my privacy as much as she could, especially since I'd taught her how.

"When was the last time you felt full?" Bonnie asked.

I blinked. "I'm full now. I ate before I came over."

Bonnie smiled. "Not that. I mean when was the last time you didn't feel so hopeless?"

I realized then I never gave her enough credit.

My mouth opened, probably for some smart-ass comment, but she shook her head.

"I'm talking to Damon, not his wall."

I closed my mouth and exhaled through my nostrils. "I don't know."

I'd meant for it to sound straight forward, an answer to a question. Instead my voice broke just a little, just enough for someone who really paid attention, Bonnie attention, to hear. I sounded hollow and faded, strange but familiar. My voice finally showed what I felt inside. The crippling emptiness left in the absence of my humanity. The real humanity, not the half thing I was.

"I know you well enough not to give you reasons to be hopeful. Your life is filled with all of these things I couldn't begin to understand." Bonnie said. "I just want you to know that even though you think you're hopeless, you're not. Being a vampire doesn't take that from you."

"Being a vampire takes everything from me." I said harshly, my walls rising. "What else do I have?"

I was expecting her to say that I had her, but she wasn't that cliché. "You have you."

"I've always had me."

"Listen to how you said that. Like that's not enough, like it's something unworthy."

"Isn't that what witches think?" I asked. "Unworthy, unsacred, abomination?"

She shook her head. "Stop deflecting. You know that's not how I feel."

I'd found something to grab onto. I wasn't letting go. "And you told me you loved me, you said you knew me. If you really did, you wouldn't feel that way."

Her eyes fixed on mine, the softness gone. "I understand that you haven't had a lot of people in your life and I get that not having that has made you doubt who you are as a person. But what's not about to happen is you making me question or doubt what I feel just because you think you're an awful person."

"I don't—"

"Your problem is that you think just because you don't love you that I shouldn't. Just because I love you doesn't mean it isn't mine. I own my feelings. And it's time you owned yours."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that you should stop letting everyone else's emotions toward you dictate how you feel about you. You're a vampire, death happens. Is it a good thing? No. Can you stop killing? Yes. Focus on the man and not the vampire."

"Is that what you do?" I asked.

She paused. "I wouldn't have one without the other."

I realized then the type of lover that Bonnie was. She was an all or nothing, the good with the bad. She didn't like the things the vampire had done, but without it she wouldn't have me. I had never considered it.

"Can I ask you something?"

"You can ask me anything." She replied.

"How are you so forgiving? Why are you so selfless?"

Bonnie finally looked away, and then back at me with a soft but serious face. She moved my hands and scooted between my legs, wrapping her arms around me.

"Because whether or not you want to believe it, there's hope for you. You're someone to hope for."

It was the look in her eyes when she said it, the sheer honesty that filled the air between us and showed me just how deep she cared for me. I couldn't remember the last time I felt like this. I couldn't remember anytime after my mother died that I felt so…


The boarding house was in an uproar, everyone moving and scattering. Everyone was talking at the same time, looking back and forth between each other. We had to get Elena—no—we had to get out of town. Stefan was going crazy and I couldn't blame him. The love of his existence was with a madman bent on power only she could provide. We had another piece of the puzzle, the love of my existence. She could do the spell to stop him, get him out of our lives for good. Her magic could stop a vampire cold and strip it of its essence.

But why couldn't I feel her?

There were moments when I was a proud familiar. I could see inside of her mind and know she was pissed off. I could feel her pleasure building whenever we had sex. I knew when she was thinking of something and how deep that something was. She and I synced up and it never ceased to amaze me how much we thought alike. When we got over ourselves, we were the best team. When we pissed the other one off, we were stubborn as hell. But looking at her now, she felt light years away from me. She wasn't speaking or moving like the rest of us were. As soon as I'd rushed us back here, she took a seat in the corner of the living room and remained there. Her eyes darted back and forth, but no one was paying attention. No one but me.

I walked up to her, like I had so many times before, and knelt in front of her. She looked away from me instantly, staring at a fixed point on the wall. Did she blame me for not getting Elena out? Should I have grabbed Elena?

I was apologizing before I knew it. "I know what you're thinking. I should've grabbed Elena."

Bonnie blinked furiously and turned her head.

"Now isn't the time to shut me out, okay?" I said softly. "We have to get everyone safe. You and I can come back for her."

An end table went flying. Stefan was raging.

Caroline, having woke up on the way back, stepped forward. "Stefan calm down, we'll get her back."

"Calm down?" Stefan shouted. "He has Elena, Caroline, he'll kill her!"

"Not without Bonnie," Tyler spoke up. "Isn't that what this whole thing is about?"

"Bonnie's not the only witch in the world." Stefan argued. "Klaus doesn't need us, not anymore. He'll find someone powerful enough to do the spell. He knows everyone."

"That's not how it works," I said. "He needs Bonnie, he's been grooming her for months now. Her power resonates with the ley lines here. It's the point of all of this."

"Yeah, I did a Google search on what exactly a ley line is, and you're missing one key thing: they're everywhere under the earth. Witches tap into it all the time, Bonnie's not the only one who can do it. Klaus can take Elena anywhere, on a ley line, and get it done."

I shook my head. "He needs Bonnie. Klaus has put too much into this and you know how he is. He'll rip Mystic Falls apart before he starts from scratch."

Stefan left the room.

I should've gone after him; I could feel it. My brother was hurting, frantic, and scared. The love of his life was in danger and we were all stuck in a hard place. Did we keep up with the plan? Did we separate? Did we rush the two remaining Originals and get Elena back or die trying?

That last one wasn't going to work.

Caroline, for all intents and purposes was actually doing what I needed. She was packing. Bags full of clothes were being dropped off in the hall and she was zooming around as quickly as she could. I could hear her whispering to herself as she ran.

"Fail safes, these are fail safes." If we needed to run, we could do it. With the power of compulsion we could go anywhere and be anyone we needed.

What I needed was my witch. I needed Bonnie, who was currently sitting with her eyes closed and her jaw clenched, to jump in the game. She was never one for leading, I knew that about her, but she was good at it and we needed it right now. Stefan needed her assurance and Caroline needed her friend. Matt and Jeremy, who were sitting beside each other feeling useless, needed their sense of purpose back. Jeremy especially wasn't taking the shit well. Tyler needed something to do. Unsired and willing, he was ready for anything. A drastic change from the hothead he usually was.

I needed Bonnie.

Because whether or not I wanted to admit it, I was fucking scared. Terrified. The end was near, whatever it was. I didn't know if we would lose, I was doubting we would win, and I didn't know if we'd live to fight another day. If I was honest with myself, I could see us all dead. Jeremy's body twisted and discarded. Tyler broken and mangled again. Caroline and Matt being taken as trophies for Klaus and Rebekah. Me and Stefan's heads on spikes. It was a palpable vision, one I couldn't shake.

"Bonnie-" I leaned in closer.

She backed away. Hard.

Bonnie was out of the chair so fast, I almost wondered if she'd channeled my speed. Her arms folded around herself as she moved towards the middle of the living room and further away from me. I wasn't getting it. Had I done something? She and I were fine earlier. A small part of me wanted to rule it off as her being upset over Elena, but she wasn't that girl anymore. If anything, she should've been doing a spell right now. She'd have forced Matt and Jeremy into a car and made them drive to Charm City. She'd have made Tyler and Caroline take Stefan to Savannah. Her plan for escape was flawless. It would've been me and her, two on two, heading things on and getting shit done.

I still couldn't feel her.

And it was frustrating me. She was acting like she had in our earlier days. Scared and running from me. That wasn't my girl—no something was off, and she was going to tell me what.

"Bonnie." I said, my voice loud and commanding.

She flinched, but didn't turn to face me.

"I'm talking to you." I said as I approached her.

"Elena was just taken, Damon." Caroline stepped forward. "Cut her some slack."

I shook my head. "That's not it."

Caroline's eyes narrowed. "What the hell do you mean that's not it? It has to be. She was fine before."

It screwed with me how much she and I thought alike, with Bonnie being fine before. Something had shifted in her; something was off.

Bonnie was taking slow steps away from me; the closer I got to her. She stumbled slightly when I quickened my steps and had all but dashed to Matt and Jeremy by the time I'd gotten up to her. They both guarded her instantly like she wasn't my fucking girlfriend.

"Move. Now." I said in a low voice.

Neither of them did.

"Look Damon, we get it. Bonnie's been…on it, lately, but her best friend was just taken. Give her some space." Matt said.

"I get you're the best friend, but I want you to stop talking now." I told him.

I lost my patience.

Stepping forward, I gripped both Matt and Jeremy's shoulders and threw them across the room. The impulse was sharp, immediate, a relapse into the person I said I wasn't going to be anymore. If Jeremy were wearing the Gilbert ring I'd have killed him. If Matt were more durable, I'd have snapped his neck. I was tired of people giving me excuses about the woman I loved. It was one thing if she said it.

"Damon!" Alaric yelled. "Calm down!"

I hadn't even heard him come in.

That's when I felt it.

The slow stirring of Bonnie, coming to in the back of my mind. I could feel her like a dull pulse beating in the deepest part of my aura. It was like a twisting of the limbs, a bad stretch after just waking up. If I focused on it too hard, I'd get a headache. Her magic flared a little inside of me, just enough to let me know she was still there. The good news was that I could feel her, that I was most thankful for. Bonnie's magic meant Bonnie was functioning, the rest I could take from there.

The weird thing is that as much as I felt it, it wasn't coming from the girl in front of me.

The familiar bond, much like it always had, always kept me acutely aware of just where Bonnie was. Sometimes I knew the exact location, sometimes I knew the vicinity, but I was always aware of where she was. It would be like a beacon inside my mind whenever I woke up or concentrated. I could focus and know she was in her bedroom waiting for me. I think hard enough and feel her driving on the way to school. In the beginning, when I was jealous of Jeremy, I would stare at the wall focusing on her signature just to see how much time she'd spend with him. It was petty at the time, but now it was coming in handy.

Bonnie's signature was like…I didn't know how to describe it. The sensation would get stronger the closer I got to her, but I'd been right in front of her, held her, and felt nothing. Stefan was in the other room breaking down. Caroline was keeping things together. The wonder twins were being helped by Alaric and Tyler, who were now trying to figure out if two vampires were going into hysterics instead of just one. But Bonnie? I didn't know what Bonnie was doing. She was alive, but she was far.

Bonnie wasn't here. It clicked instantly.

I grabbed her shoulder and turned her towards me, hard. Her eyes widened with fear, I heard Alaric take steps towards me. Caroline dropped a suitcase and stepped slowly into the room, snarling, ready for whatever I was about to do. I didn't care about either of them. I was looking into Bonnie's wide, fearful eyes, and something rang loud in clear in my mind. The ding from Jeopardy. The ca-ching of a cash register. A fucking light bulb going off in my head.

Bonnie's eyes flickered deep brown and back to green.

"Tyler, salt water, now." I commanded.

"What? Why do you need-?"

"Get me the goddamn salt water!" I shouted.

Tyler left the living room and Alaric came up behind me. "Damon what's wrong?"

I was shaking my head. She wouldn't do this. She wouldn't fucking do this.

Caroline didn't like what she saw. "Damon let go of Bonnie."

My hands were shaking. Bonnie's eyes flickered again.

Tyler came back with a glass filled almost to the top with salt water. I didn't look at him as I took it, I was too busy hoping against what was making more sense the more I thought about it. The way she fled from me when we got back to the house. The way she wouldn't look at me. The way she wasn't taking charge with her magic. It was becoming more and more apparent, the signs I had missed. Bonnie smelled different, not completely, but enough now that I should've realized it. The scene from the hallway replayed in my mind. Bonnie had stumbled out of the bathroom, almost tripping over her own two feet. Elena was in control, keeping her upright and looking around. She'd shoved Bonnie to me, not unlike her, but if I was using my head I would've known that's not how it should've went down. If I was Bonnie, and we thought a lot a like, I wouldn't give Klaus the doppelganger.

I poured the saltwater on Bonnie's head.

The smell of Bonnie's magic permeated the air, the sweetness of it tickled my nose. Her hair grew longer, lighter, and framed a now oval face. She grew in height, not too much, but enough to make a difference. Her shape changed, smaller curves and less defined hips. I backed away in horror as her skin paled to the familiar creamy olive I knew too well. It was the eyes that broke me, though, the way they changed from green to dark brown.

Elena stood in front of me, gasping and looking around.

No one moved for a second. No one even breathed.

My mind blanked and reeled. I was an undead vampire with an undead vampire for a brother. There was an undead cheerleader covering her mouth. There were two ghost speaking mediums standing with a vampire hunter slash history teacher right behind me. There was a werewolf vampire hybrid standing next to the undead cheerleader. We were all on the run from another werewolf vampire hybrid and his vampire sister.

My girlfriend had switched places with Elena Gilbert.

"Damon I'm so sorry!" She rushed out, breathless. "Bonnie cast a spell, she switched us! I tried to say something but every time I tried, my voice wouldn't work. I couldn't look at you. The magic would make me walk away whenever you got too close! I'm so sorry Damon!"

Bonnie knew her spells well. She'd infused enough of her magic into the spell that it would linger on Elena just enough for me to not notice. If I got too close, Elena would have to move away. If I stared too long, Elena would look away, lest I see the eye color. None of it was permanent, but it would be just enough time for us to get everyone as far as possible without any knowledge of what she'd done.

Someone was growling, roaring. It was me.

I fell to my knees in front of Elena and dug my fingers into the floor, feeling the hardwood crack and split beneath my fingertips. My head bowed low, my vision blurred. Bonnie had done the very thing she'd promised she'd never do again. She'd sacrificed herself at the last second to give everyone a chance but her. She probably thought she could get away from Klaus if she really tried. She probably could. The fury building inside of me was so immense, I felt the breaths I didn't need coming out fast and deep.

"Damon?" Alaric said.

I punched at the floor as hard as I could. I saw Elena jump backwards and Caroline pull her out of the way. My fists pounded at the hardwood at lightening speed, tearing their way through the floor. I didn't see anything. I couldn't hear anything. My surroundings were blurring into a white noise that dulled them into the background. Bonnie was with Klaus. He had Bonnie. I hadn't been paying attention. Little shit came back to me in a big way. The way Elena shoved Bonnie to us and told me to go. The way she looked at me right before I took off. The way her magic seemed to slow the further I left the school even though she was right there with me.

All of it was Bonnie. All of it I'd missed.

"Damon stop!" Alaric shouted.

The love of my life was in the wrong hands. I wasn't worried about Klaus leaving Mystic Falls, but it just made everything else so damned hard. Nobody was on the road like they should've been. None of us had separated like we'd planned initially. How the hell had Bonnie thought that was going to work? How the fuck did she think she would pull this off?

It clicked again.

The logic, her logic, came to me then. Bonnie knew I would figure it out. She had to have. She would switch with Elena and I would figure it out. I would make Elena go with Stefan and Caroline and Tyler. I would make Alaric go with Matt and Jeremy. All of our friends would be safe. Even me.

I chuckled slightly. She thought I would really leave her. Bonnie really thought I would go on without her and leave her escape to herself. Bonnie had forced me into a plan I wasn't even sure she'd thought all the way through. If she even thought it through at all. Bonnie had left me to be an unwitting and unwilling leader to our group. She hadn't considered the fact that no one was leaving without Elena. She hadn't considered that I'd die before I left without her.

I stopped punching.

My breathing slowed to the point where I wasn't doing it anymore. I didn't need air; I needed to think. If I had everything figured the way I thought I did, The Originals would be on the outskirts of Mystic Falls, in their manor. I needed to get there.

My phone rang.

With bloodied, wounded, hands, I reached into my pocket and answered the phone.

"Damon, old friend. How's life treating you?"

Klaus. "I've had better days."

"Can't argue there, mate, today's been a shit one."

I felt my face blank over. "What do you want?"

"I want to talk business, friend, just a small amount. We're past the point of deals and trades aren't we?"

"I guess we are."

"Cuts out a fair amount of bullshit, I like to think. Listen, you have the witch and I have the doppelganger." He chuckled. "We're in equal positions of power here and I can't help but realize it's never been that way before. We're finally playing the same game."

I nodded. "Chess or poker?"

"As much as I love to be king, mate, nothing compares to the gamble. I'm calling to find out where your head is."

"Firmly on my shoulders."

"Which is good to hear, there are too many lives at stake for it to be up your ass."

I put the phone on speaker and tossed it on the floor.

"As of right now, Elena Gilbert lays unconscious in front of me. Perfectly unharmed, not a hair on her head."

We all looked at Elena, who looked relieved. Bonnie was fine and, more importantly, still looked like Elena. Her cover had lasted even though she'd been knocked unconscious. My girl was powerful. Stupid and courageous, but powerful.

"Now I don't plan to harm Elena, frankly I can appreciate a human who can hold her own around a vampire. You don't find too much of them these days."

"She's one of a kind." I said.

"Indeed. Now I don't plan to harm her, but I will if the witch isn't here by sunset. I have plans and you have the key. Let's meet in the middle."

"Why do you need Bonnie?" I asked for my brother's benefit. The brother who, at this moment, was burying his face into the top of Elena's head and holding her close.

"Because Bonnie is a specific witch, one that comes along every so often. Quite possibly the best thing to come out of Mystic Falls. Her power resonates with it. It resonates with everything."

I knew it, but then again I always had. "You could always find another witch."

"Not one of this magnitude and not one who can handle power the way she can. The girl's a marvel."

I agreed. "So what are you saying?"

"You bring the witch to the woods five miles outside of Mystic Falls so we can do the spell. If you do it, well mate no one has to die."

He was lying, someone always died when it came to Klaus.

"Sunset then?" Klaus asked. I could almost feel him smiling.

I nodded. "Sunset."

"I like you, Damon. A lot more pragmatic than that brother of yours. "

If only our father were alive.

"Sunset. Don't be late!" Click.

The sudden silence was deafening. I could hear the heartbeats of the humans and smell the vampires. I didn't have a choice on the sunset matter, although now I regretted pouring the saltwater on Elena. If I had waited a little longer—no. Right now, I had some sort of Element of surprise. I didn't know what it was, but I needed to figure it out.

But first, I needed to make sure none of this was in vain.

"Jeremy, Matt, go to Baltimore." I said as I stood.

"What?" Jeremy exclaimed. "We can't leave! He has Bonnie, we need a plan."

"I have one. It involves you leaving."

He shook his head. "I'm not leaving my friend."

"I really don't want to knock you unconscious." I said as I moved towards him. "But I will."

Jeremy braced himself. Matt stepped between us.

"We're going." He said, then he turned to Jeremy. "Bonnie made me promise earlier and I said we would. I don't want to leave her either, but it's better if we aren't here."

"We can help!" Jeremy shouted. "Don't bitch out on me now, Matt, come on!"

"It's not bitching out, it's smart. The less Damon has to worry about, the quicker he can figure things out. If Bonnie's still alive, she'll be waking up at some point. She'll have to get out too. She can't be one hundred percent if she's worried about us. Neither of them can."

"Don't give me that shit, Matt! It's Bonnie!"

"Which is why we're going!" Matt shouted.

Everything got even quieter than before. I don't think I'd ever heard Donovan shout.

"You think I like leaving my best friend? You think I like being the useless one? I fucking hate it! But I made a promise and I'm sticking to it, and so are you. We're going to Baltimore. We're finding Bonnie's friend. We're waiting it out. It's what she asked and it's what's necessary. Don't make me fight you on this Jeremy. I don't want to, but I will."

The threat carried almost, if as much, weight as me knocking him unconscious.

Matt turned to face me. There was a hard look to his eyes that let me know he'd meant what he'd said. Leaving was the last thing he wanted to do and leaving Bonnie was even worse.

"Get her back and let us know when it's safe." He said.

I nodded.

Matt slapped a hard hand on Jeremy's back and ushered him towards the door. Stefan produced keys from his pocket and tossed them to Matt. Jeremy silently picked up two suitcases, theirs, and with a hug to Elena and Caroline, the both of them were gone. It was so quick, it was almost like it didn't happen. Had they really been here? Was any of this happening?

I turned to Stefan and Elena.

"Do I have to say it?" I asked.

Elena shook her head. "I'm not leaving."

"Apparently I do." I sighed. "You're going to Atlanta."

"No, I'm not." Elena said. "You need me."

"I do need you," I replied. "As far away from here as possible. Go to Hartsfield and catch a plane. Go anywhere. Go everywhere. Just go."

"You can't ask us to leave." Caroline stepped up. "Matt and Jeremy, yes. Us? No."

"Klaus can't know Elena's not with him. The longer she's here, the better chance he has at finding that out."

"And how are you going to bring him the witch?" Elena asked.

"I'll figure something out."

"That's not good enough." Caroline said. She and Elena were standing side by side now. Stefan was somehow pushed behind them.

"It's all I have right now and the same option goes for you." I pointed at Elena. "Don't make me knock you unconscious."

Her eyes flitted around the room until they landed on something behind me. The empty glass on the floor not too far from me with a few drops of saltwater scattered about.

"Change me back." Elena met my eyes.

"What?" Stefan said. "No, that's not—"

"Klaus doesn't know anything and you can still communicate with Bonnie, right?"

"I'll stop you right there," I told her. "No one here can change you back."

"But you know someone who can." Caroline said. "You and Bonnie came back from Atlanta, so you say, smelling like really strong magic. If I didn't have a witch for a best friend, I wouldn't know it. But I do."

"And I'm willing to bet that's where you sent Matt and Jeremy." Elena continued. "Bonnie wouldn't send them somewhere they wouldn't be protected. The only reason you're insisting I go to Atlanta is because you know people there."

"And because you know she'll have Stefan. But none of us are going to Atlanta or Baltimore, or anywhere else. We're going to get Bonnie." Caroline said. "So call whoever it is and tell them to work some spell via Skype or something because we're staying."

I wanted to throttle them. "You're burning daylight. Go. Now."

"No." Elena said.

"Never." Caroline said.

"Elena, Damon has a point." Stefan said. "And just like Matt said, whatever is going to happen, none of them can be one hundred percent if they're worried about you."

"And while I appreciate the vote of confidence from my boyfriend, my best friend is in trouble so I can't really pay attention to it."

It was the first time I'd ever heard Elena tell Stefan to shut the fuck up.

"Call a witch." Caroline said. "Call any witch. A switching spell sounds like something from Nickelodeon. It shouldn't be too hard."

"Mutatio. That's what Bonnie said." Elena met my eyes head on. "Give me ten minutes and Google and I'll figure something out myself."

"Ric," I said.

"It's not a bad plan, Damon." Alaric said. "We just need to have something. You going in there with anything less than a witch is half cocked, full crazy, and equals death. I'm not losing my best friend."

"And I'm not losing my brother." Stefan said.

"Not you." I shook my head. "You're supposed to be the logical one here."

"I'm always logical, always thinking, always on my toes. None of that is going to help now. At least not right now. We don't have a choice anymore. At least if we get Bonnie and Elena in the same place, maybe Bonnie can work a spell. You can't do this alone. You aren't doing this alone. You're all I have left. I'm not losing you."

Stefan and I were never this emotional in front of others. Our brother bonding moments were usually shared in the privacy of the boarding house and over a glass of scotch. I loved my little brother more than I loved myself. I loved Bonnie just as much. They were all I had. I'd go down fighting for them.

"I suppose you're in on this too?" I asked Tyler, who'd been reasonably quiet next to Caroline.

"Bonnie freed me, saved my life, and gave me my life back. Until you're sired, you really don't know what that means. I want her safe and I want Klaus to get his. If we can do both, why the hell not?"

I looked at them, all of them. Determined eyes and set jaws. Unmovable stances and solidarity I hadn't seen among any of us. It wasn't until then that I realized how much all of us disagreed with the other. Caroline hated me, but Elena didn't. Elena understood me when Alaric didn't. Alaric would defend me as much as he could, but Stefan would defend me more than that. Tyler was Tyler and I was learning that was fine.

I looked at all of them and I finally saw what Bonnie did. These people meant everything to her and against my better judgment, they meant a lot to me too. They wanted to help and they had a better idea then I did. The feeling I felt, this consuming, thriving, tingling mix I felt in my limbs as I looked at all of my friends, it was what Bonnie was telling me about that day in her room.

This was hope. This was what it felt like to hope.

I pulled out my phone and scrolled straight to Melissa, then scrolled back up when a name caught my eye. I stared at it for a few long seconds, weighing my options. I'd kept this contact in my phone for a year, just in case it was ever necessary. It wasn't until recently, very recently, when Bonnie dabbled too hard in her magic that I started reaching out.

I pressed the name.

"Who are you calling?" Elena asked. "Can they help?"

Could they.

The phone rang three times before an annoyed voice came through the speaker.

"What do you want, Salvatore? I'm in the middle of something."

The words wouldn't come at first. Then they did.

"We need you. Bonnie needs you."

There was a pause and then the revving of an engine.

"Give me forty five minutes," Lucy said. "I'm on my way."

A/N: Please don't hate me, you know how I hate my endings.

First things first, I'm so sorry for everyone who thought I abandoned the story. Just no lol. I wouldn't do that. Recently I discovered that me not uploading anything was out of a mix of a bunch of emotions. I was blocked, uninspired, and nervous. I didn't want to get to the end, but I needed to. I lost my grandmother unexpectedly. A friend and I had a falling out. There was just a lot going on and I just wasn't there for writing.

I promised this chapter would be big, but I'm saving that for the next chapter which will be another Damon chapter from how I feel right now. Capturing his voice and thought process was pretty hard to get back into, especially when I've wanted to write Bonnie for so long, but you know how it goes.

Also tumblr. Jesus I'm on there ALL THE TIME.

I told myself today that I can't be a writer and claim to be uninspired. Well, actually I can, but I can't let that stop me either, you know? I have to write in spite of. I'm also working on my own original stuff because I do want to be published one day. That's another reason that's taken so long for me to write. Trying to sort through your own stuff and being pissed off at yourself because you can write fanfiction quicker than your own shit is pretty…yeah lol.

This chapter for me was a filler, yes, and a way for me to step back into this easily, but also for Damon to have hope. Not only in himself (the beginning) but also in the people around him (in the end). I hope that translated well because it's important for the ending.

I'm sorry it took me so long and I hope you like the chapter. Lucy plays a major part in the last bit (I've always liked her as a character for some reason) and I hope you guys like her too.

See you guys in two weeks.