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Cold...that was the first sensation Bonnie felt as she began to awaken. The witch was chilled to the bone because she had been sleeping outside. Her brain couldn’t immediately remember why that was the case. Weight...she felt the heft of a man’s muscular arm draped across her bare abdomen. He was clutching her possessively even though his even breathing indicated that he was probably still asleep. Throbbing...her entire body ached in a way that was completely unfamiliar to her. However, the epicenter seemed to be centered between her thighs. Bonnie could make a few educated guesses about how that had happened. The last thing she remembered was getting drunk at Damon’s ‘Fuck Elena’ party. Obviously, she had slept with one of the dozen guys that had tried to proposition her last night. She groaned after remembering that Damon had been one of the men that had propositioned her.

Bonnie had never before engaged in an one-night stand, therefore she didn’t know the appropriate etiquette. However, finding her clothes and getting the hell out of Dodge seemed like the best solution. She grasped the man’s arm with the lightest of touches and slowly began to move it. Unfortunately, her mystery man merely tightened his hold on her even more. Bonnie gasped when he ground his hardened manhood into her bare backside. At least now she understood why her vagina was throbbing...her new friend was well endowed. Bonnie was tempted to turn over to get a better look at it, but a strong gust of wind served as an effective deterrent. She was cold and needed to find her way back to the boarding house.

She gave up on being subtle as she scrambled to get to her feet. Bonnie cried out in pain as she moved both of her shoulders for the first time. The young woman didn’t know how she had missed it before, but she was injured. The scent of her own blood invaded her senses. Bonnie couldn’t judge the nature or extent of the injuries without a mirror but it couldn’t be minor if the smell of blood was so strong. A few feet away, she spotted the jade colored mini dress she had been wearing last night. Bonnie walked across the leaf covered ground to retrieve her dress and panties. She scowled when she realized the expensive undies had been ripped to shreds. Fortunately, her dress had fared better. She pulled it over her head and began looking for her shoes.

“You’re just going to leave without saying anything?” an amused voice asked from behind her.

Bonnie froze. The man speaking had caught her off guard, but she was more surprised that she recognized the gravelly voice. She turned around cautiously and groaned when she saw a very nude Tyler Lockwood.

He was lying on the ground with his arms tucked beneath his head. Tyler made no attempt to cover himself as he slowly got to his feet. He knew that he had nothing to be ashamed about where his body was concerned. He had been an impressive physical specimen long before he triggered the werewolf curse.

Tyler had awakened about thirty minutes before Bonnie had. He had wisely used that quiet time to come up with a plan. He didn’t know how much Bonnie would remember about last night, but he remembered everything that happened. There would be consequences for their drunken lapse in judgment. However, Tyler had known for quite some time that they were on a collision course. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize exactly what that would entail until it was far too late for him to prevent it.

Bonnie couldn’t stop her gaze from dropping down to his erection. She gasped involuntarily and then quickly averted her gaze. She couldn’t believe that something that size had fit inside her. The girl found herself wondering if all werewolves were so well endowed or if Tyler was just special.

Tyler chuckled deeply as he walked towards her. “You didn’t answer my question, Bon.”

Bonnie glared at Tyler. She didn’t think that he appreciated how much trouble they had just stirred up. “I can’t believe that we did something so stupid and irresponsible. Caroline and Jeremy are going to be heartbroken!”

He stopped in front of Bonnie so that they were merely a hair’s breadth apart. He lightly grasped her chin and tilted her head up so that he could see her eyes. “Why should we care about them being heartbroken? Caroline and I aren’t together anymore. You aren’t with Jeremy either. You and I are the only people that we need to answer to.”

Jeremy had been a devoted boyfriend while Bonnie was stuck on the Other Side. His constant companionship had made the ordeal more bearable. She would forever be grateful for his dedication. However, Bonnie’s return to the land of the living had proven to be a strain on their relationship. Jeremy kept insisting that they could go back to the way things were before she died. Unfortunately, Bonnie just couldn’t seem to fit into the mold anymore. Her attitude shift pushed Jeremy away and into the arms of the head cheerleader. Bonnie had waited for the anger and heartbreak to crash into her like waves on a shore. She knew that their relationship was dead in the water when those feelings never surfaced.   

“But…there is a girl code about these things. You can’t sleep with your best friend’s ex-boyfriend. I know that you and Care are in a weird place right now but she still loves you, Tyler.”

Tyler rolled his eyes and said, “Caroline doesn’t seem to adhere to this code. She dated Matt after Elena broke up with him. Besides, she is hardly in the position to judge anyone after she fucked Klaus.”

Bonnie winced at his venom laced words but she understood his anger. She still couldn’t believe that Caroline had slept with Klaus. The original hybrid had done so much to hurt all of them. However, none had suffered at his hands more than Tyler had. She swallowed thickly. A thought occurred to Bonnie and it hit her like a ton of bricks. “Is that why this happened? Is this a revenge fuck to get back at Caroline for hurting you?”

He looked vaguely offended and said, “I know that I have a reputation for being an asshole but I wouldn’t do that to you, Bon. We might not be the best of friends right now but we were once.”

Bonnie and Tyler had been friends from the moment they ended up in the same kindergarten class. They had only grown distant during freshman year of high school when he joined the football team. Bonnie hadn’t understood the shift in his personality at the time. Over the years, she learned that Richard Lockwood had bullied his son into being more like him. He had given up his love of art and music to focus on football and baseball as his father had when he attended Mystic Falls High School. He also started hanging out with the more affluent kids at their school.

The green-eyed witch was confused by the visceral feeling of relief that washed over her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have accused you of doing something like that. I am just having a hard time piecing together last night’s events. The last thing I remember is the two of us dancing together. I don’t understand how we got here.”

He nodded because it had taken him awhile to piece it all together, too. He said, “I have two words for you hillbilly moonshine.”

“What?” she asked in an incredulous voice.

“Damon bought a truck load of moonshine from these hillbilly assholes and he put it in the punch last night without warning anyone. We are lucky that we are not blind or dead this morning.”

Bonnie blinked as she processed that information. She had drank several cups of the punch last night because Damon had used Hawaiian fruit punch as the base. She glared, “I am going to kick his undead ass all over town!”

Tyler said, “Get in line...I lost control of my wolf last night because of the moonshine. I started to shift at the front of people.”

Her eyes grew as wide as saucers. Last night was a classic Damon Salvatore bash. There had been at least seventy college and high school students at the party. She wondered what level of damage control they would have to do this morning. Bonnie immediately became concerned for Tyler’s safety. She asked, “Did anyone see you?”

He smiled as Bonnie took an unconscious step forward. She forgot all about their comprising situation at the thought that he might be in trouble. “No, you got me out of the house before I completed the change. Thanks for that by the way...”

“I don’t remember doing it but you are welcome.” Bonnie shook her head and asked, “Are you going to get dressed?”

He smirked and said, “My clothes aren’t around here. They are much closer to the boarding house and probably pretty useless at this point. I wasn’t exactly in the frame of mind to undress carefully.”

“Oh,” Bonnie uttered softly. “I can run up to the house and see about stealing a pair of pants from Damon or Stefan.”

“That would be great. Thanks, Bon.” Tyler stood there quietly as he waited for the other shoe to drop. He watched Bonnie’s forehead wrinkle as she tried to construct a mental timeline.

“I get that you started to change and couldn’t stop it. How did that translate into what happened between us?”

He cleared his throat and said, “I was hoping that we could go somewhere to talk about what happened. I remember everything but there is so much that I need to explain to you or it won’t make sense. It'll take more than a few minutes and we should really get you out of this cold.”

“You’re making me nervous, Tyler,” she said.

Tyler walked behind Bonnie and gently placed his warm hand between her shoulder blades. “Do you feel that?”

She whimpered as her knees buckled when he touched the wound on her back. However, the sensation she felt wasn’t the pain that she had expected. She could feel moisture pooling between her thighs. Her brain was telling her to break contact with Tyler, but her body recoiled at the idea. She nodded. “What is that? What are you doing to me?”

He removed his hand reluctantly and moved in front of Bonnie once more. He grabbed her arms to prevent her from running away. He said, “When I changed last night unexpectedly, I bit you.”

“You bit me?” she asked with incredulity tinging her voice. She struggled to break free but Tyler’s grip was like steel.

“I’m sorry, Bon. I wasn’t in control last night. My wolf instincts were running the show.”

“What the hell does that mean?” she snapped.

Tyler remained calm because he could smell fear rolling off Bonnie in waves. He pulled her closer so that their bodies were pressed together. He felt her muscles go lax and her scent changed from fearful to content. Tyler knew it was unfair to use their connection that way but he couldn’t have her running off and doing anything rash. “I thought that the moonshine was responsible for me losing control and it was to an extent. However, it was also you. I’ve been feeling a strange pull whenever I have been around you lately. It started after you were resurrected and it intensified once you were no longer the anchor. I’ve been controlling it for months but…”

“The moonshine lowered your inhibitions and you lost control.” She looked up at him with a hurt expression. “You have some deep seeded need to hurt me?”

He quickly shook his head. “No, it’s not like that, Bon. I wasn’t trying to hurt you last night...I was marking you. As soon as I finished biting you, I shifted back to my human form. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. I’m sorry. I haven’t lost control like that since I broke Klaus’ sire bond.”

Bonnie’s brain was still fuzzy but werewolves and marks sounded familiar to her. She had read about it in one of the older grimoires she had stolen from Jonas Martin. She closed her eyes for a few moments as she tried to recall the interesting bits of the entry she had read. Bonnie’s eyes opened and she began to struggle against Tyler’s hold on her. “A mating mark? I thought that could only happen between two werewolves.”

Tyler held Bonnie tighter but he was careful not to hurt her. She was a lot stronger than he thought that she would be. “I thought the same thing but last night proved us both wrong. For months, I have been feeling drawn to you and I ignored it because you had just broken up with Jeremy. My wolf side was trying to tell me that we wanted you but I wasn’t listening. I mean you aren’t a werewolf so I just figured I was all screwed up because Klaus turned me into a hybrid. But my bite felt it when I touched your back a few minutes ago.”

Bonnie’s cheeks flushed as she remembered her reaction to Tyler touching the bite mark. She averted her gaze and tried to think rationally about their predicament.  She wasn’t prepared to admit this aloud but she had been feeling attracted to Tyler, too. She had ignored that attraction for obvious reasons but now she wondered if she should have paid more attention to it. Perhaps her dormant magic had been trying to tell her something. “There has to be a way to undo this right?”

Tyler growled from deep within his broad chest and his eyes flashed an inhuman amber color. “No.”

Bonnie gasped and looked up at his eyes. “Did you just growl at me?”

“Mating marks are permanent once it has been consummated. You are mine,” his voice boomed as he spoke.

“Settle down, Tarzan. I am not your Jane and I didn’t agree to any of this! This has to be some kind of mistake.” she ranted.

Tyler nuzzled Bonnie’s neck to make her settle down. She would bruise if he held her any tighter. “The mating mark doesn't make mistakes. You were meant to be mine, Bon. I was meant to be yours. I don't know how to explain it but you are my mate. You may be a werewolf judging by the way your body responded to the mark.”

Bonnie practically went boneless when he nuzzled her neck. She couldn’t think straight while he was touching her that way. “You are manipulating me and I don't like it. Stop touching me...”

Tyler slowly pulled away from her. He knew that he could chase Bonnie down if she tried to run. “Fine...I won't touch you again until you ask me to. And trust will ask.”

She smoothed down her dirty dress and tried to regain some composure. “Thank you. Have you seen my shoes?”

He shook his head. Tyler tensed as he remembered chasing Bonnie through the woods last night. She had taken off her shoes so that she could run faster. In the end, it hadn’t made a difference. Tyler had pounced on Bonnie, pinned her to the ground, and bitten her back. “You probably lost them near the house.”

Bonnie looked down at her bare feet with a scowl, as if they were responsible somehow. She began walking toward the Salvatore boarding house but winced after every couple of steps.

Tyler watched Bonnie walk for about thirty feet before he had enough of her stubbornness. He walked up behind Bonnie and tossed the girl over his shoulder. Then he used his hybrid speed to race through the woods.

Bonnie screeched and dug her nails into Tyler’s back as if she were a cat scrambling for purchase on a slick counter. “You are an asshole!” she yelled as the wind whipped by her face.

The brunette hybrid stopped as abruptly as he began. He popped Bonnie on the butt before setting her on the ground. “I think what you meant to do is thank me for not making me walk a few hundred yards barefoot in the middle of November.”

She spotted Tyler’s pants and threw them at his face without responding. Then she walked around to the front of the house. Bonnie was glad to find the door unlocked. She wanted a shower and change of clothes before she ran into any of their friends with enhanced senses.

Tyler walked up behind Bonnie and put a hand over her mouth. He closed the door quietly as not to draw the attention of their supernatural friends. He whispered, “I can hear people moving around inside the house. They are all awake.”

Bonnie was prepared to curse Tyler out for touching her again. However, her fury cooled when she heard the words he whispered against her ear. She slowly removed his hand from her mouth. “What should we do?” she whispered.

He pulled a set of  car keys from the pocket of his muddy pants. He dangled the keys in front of Bonnie’s face and replied, “We can go back to my house to get cleaned up. I wouldn’t mind everyone smelling me all over you but I know that you wouldn‘t like it.”

Her mouth went dry at the how deep Tyler’s voice got. Bonnie just nodded in agreement because she didn’t trust her voice.

Tyler’s arm slithered from around her waist and then he grasped her hand. He pulled Bonnie away from the boarding house to his car that was parked near the main road. Last night, he had not wanted to get blocked in by other cars. Tyler hadn’t even wanted to attend the party because he ended up fighting with Caroline and Stefan every time he saw them. However, Matt had begged him to play wingman.

He opened the passenger door to his BMW for Bonnie.

“Thank you.” She looked down at their dirty clothes. “We’re going to ruin your seats.”

He shrugged. “Leather cleans off easy enough…”

Bonnie nodded and quietly slid into the car. She put on her seat belt while Tyler walked around the car. Bonnie was anxious to get in front of a mirror so that she could see the bite mark on her back. She couldn’t believe that this was happening or that Tyler was so calm about it all.

Tyler didn’t waste any time climbing into the car and speeding away from the boarding house. He didn’t want to risk anyone stepping outside and seeing them. He didn’t particularly care what their friends thought of him. However, he wouldn’t let them judge Bonnie for what happened last night. She still hadn’t come to terms with the permanence of their situation. Tyler was prepared for her to waste time trying to find a magical loophole. Not that she would be able to do much now that she was powerless.

However, Bonnie wasn’t as powerless as her friends believed her to be. After coming back from the Other Side, she refused to believe that her magic was simply gone. Magic was part of her DNA. It was baked into her very core. Bonnie simply had to figure out how to access it once more. Access was the reason she had visited the Falls nightly for the last few months. Each night she spent no less than three hours communing with nature. The Falls was the perfect location because she could harness all four elements in that spot.

Just a month ago, she had felt her magic straining to awaken within her body. Bonnie planned to feed the tiny ember until it grew into a raging fire once more. Regaining her powers would take time but she was patient. Unfortunately, Bonnie wasn’t sure that she had that sort of time any longer. She needed to figure out a way to undo this mating mark before everyone discovered the truth. Bonnie knew how hurt Caroline and Jeremy would be.

Tyler could sense Bonnie’s apprehension. The bond rapidly forming between them insisted that he comfort his mate. He said, “Everything is going to be okay, Bon.”

Bonnie didn’t know why but she believed him. The girl grabbed onto the talisman hanging around her neck as she tried to remember what happened last night. Suddenly, she was awash with images of a werewolf chasing her through the woods. Bonnie’s head snapped toward Tyler when she realized that she recognized the werewolf that chased her last night. She had spotted the same werewolf lurking outside of her house at night.

It was taking a herculean effort for Tyler to avoid touching Bonnie. He knew that her body would respond favorably to his touch because she bore his mark. However, that wasn’t the same thing as Bonnie consciously wanting to be touched by him. Tyler had faith that she would get there eventually.

Chapter Text

Bonnie had been in the shower for the last thirty minutes. She had finished scrubbing the dirt from her body ages ago. Now she was allowing the hot water to cascade over her bruised skin. She was dreading the prospect of being in the same room with Tyler. Bonnie had been drawn to him for months but it had been muffled like when someone placed their hand over a phone’s receiver. However, the mating mark had stripped away whatever barrier had once dulled her attraction to him. Bonnie didn’t know how much control she would possess in his presence.

She didn’t know if breaking the mating mark on her back would be possible without access to her magic. Moreover, it didn’t seem like the type of thing that she could take to another witch. Not that Bonnie actually knew any other witches that could help her. She was actually tempted to call Abby. They didn’t have the warmest of relationships but her mother had been a competent witch before she lost her powers. Perhaps she could provide some insight on her situation. She might even be able to contact some witches she knew from back in the day.

A surprisingly large part of Bonnie was pulling her in the opposite direction. She had to believe the mark was altering her emotions. She couldn’t think of another reason why she would even consider keeping it. Bonnie and Tyler had been friends once upon a time but that felt like a lifetime ago now. He had a body like a Greek God, but his being attractive wasn’t exactly a good enough reason to remain bound to him for the rest of their lives. Although, the most pressing matter was why the mark had worked at all. Bonnie didn’t remember much from Jonas’ grimoire but she was certain that werewolves could only mark other werewolves.

The problem was that she couldn’t possibly carry the werewolf gene. Bonnie would have triggered the curse the first time that she had killed someone. Regretfully, she had killed Jeremy when she desiccated Klaus. Bonnie had also killed more vampires than she cared to think about at length. She needed to figure out what the hell was happening to her and Tyler. However, she needed to be clearheaded to do that. She just wasn’t certain that was possible with the mating mark acting as a backseat driver. Even now she felt a dull ache at being so far away from Tyler.

Bonnie stepped out of the shower and wrapped a fluffy crimson towel around her body. She was about to reach for her dirty dress but noticed a small stack of clean clothes sitting on the counter. Bonnie realized that she had been in such a rush to shower that she hadn’t locked the bathroom door. She quickly corrected that error. She didn’t think that Tyler would just burst into the bathroom but he had obviously entered while she was showering.

She walked over to inspect the items on the counter. Tyler had left a red Mystic Falls’ Timberwolves t-shirt, a pair of black sweatpants, a black hooded sweatshirt, and a pair of socks. She could tell by the faded color that the clothes were old. Bonnie hoped that meant that they would fit her a little better than anything from Tyler’s current wardrobe would.

She took a moment to dry the water droplets from her bruised skin. Some of the bruises looked as if they had been sustained in a fall. Bonnie assumed that Tyler had tackled her at some point while he was a wolf. She couldn’t imagine that she would have allowed him to bite her without a fight even if she was drunk.

She had other bruises that looked more like indentations left by a man’s fingers. Perhaps the most pronounced blemishes where the hickeys Tyler had left on her breasts, rib cage, stomach, and thighs. It looked as if she had a case of the chicken pox. Bonnie picked up her talisman and put it around her neck as she prepared to get dressed. However, flashes of last night invaded her already foggy mind. The images were so vivid that Bonnie felt lightheaded. She grabbed onto the stone countertop to keep herself upright.

Suddenly, Tyler tapped his knuckle against the bathroom door. “Bon?”

Bonnie cleared her throat and asked, “Uh, yeah?”

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“No,” she replied quickly. Her knees buckled as she was hit with another powerful memory. The mark on her back literally tingled as she relived Tyler biting her. However, her stomach growling snapped her out of it.“Maybe,” she amended.

“I’s the mark,” he called through the door. “Want to grab a late breakfast with me? I figured we should probably talk about all this once you have some food in your stomach. I’ll try to explain everything that I know.”

Bonnie was having a hard time focusing while being bombarded with the events of last night. Tyler had taken her in every conceivable position in the woods behind the boarding house. Moreover, Bonnie had been a very willing and vocal participant. She whimpered quietly and bit into her bottom lip.

“Bonnie?’ Tyler called out.

“Just a minute! I’m just getting dressed,” she lied. Bonnie was resisting the urge to slide a hand between her quivering thighs. But it felt as if she were fighting a losing battle.

He chuckled softly and leaned his forehead against the door with a quiet thump. “I’m a werewolf, Bonnie. I can hear you. I can smell you. And since you are my mate...I can feel you. I don’t need to be in the room to know how wet you are for me.”

She should have been offended but Tyler’s explicit response. However, it only made her want him more. Bonnie silenced the needy moan that threatened to fall from her mouth by biting her bottom lip. She realized immediately that she had bitten down hard enough to draw blood.

The tinge of blood in the air was the final straw. Tyler yanked on the door’s knob hard enough to break it. The door swung open and he walked into the bathroom. His nostrils were flared and his normally brown eyes were now amber. “Bonnie,” he growled.

When Bonnie’s head whipped around her eyes matched his. Her breathing was ragged and she was barely standing. “Stay back,” she demanded.

Tyler moved closer but managed to keep his hands to himself. He said, “I promised not to touch you...until you asked me to. I will keep my word.”

The young woman felt strangely bereft now that Tyler had assured her that he wouldn’t touch her. However, she was also thankful for his show of restraint because she didn’t have any. Bonnie’s eyes were drawn to Tyler’s gray sweatpants. His decision to go commando seemed excessive when she already wanted him so badly. “What’s happening to me?”

“It’s the mark but I promise what you are feeling is temporary. It’s a biological thing from way back. I am friends with an older werewolf that explained some of this stuff to me. Gabe told me that the mating mark sends both parties into something like a heat. In the old days, the mating cycle ensured conception. You are probably feeling the effects more acutely because it is wintertime. Werewolves tend to have their mating cycles once a year and it is always during the winter. It’s an evolutionary thing to give the baby a better chance of survival.”

Tyler might have been understating his level of research on the matter. He had began peppering Gabe with questions once he recognized his attraction to Bonnie. Tyler had realized that he didn’t know nearly enough about certain aspects of being a werewolf. He had been focused on merely surviving for so long. The young werewolf had never considered finding a mate. However, Gabe had assured Tyler that his mate would find him in due time. Tyler had not realized how true those words would turn out to be.

“Conception?” she asked. Bonnie’s entire body felt feverish and she was hanging on by a thread.

He nodded and scratched at the back of his neck. “Yeah….”

Bonnie opened her mouth to threaten him with castration but instead she crashed to the floor when her knees finally gave out. She looked up at Tyler pitifully.

Tyler cautiously approached Bonnie and crouched beside her. He hated to see her suffer. The bond was practically on fire as it encouraged him to take care of his mate.

He said, “It won’t feel as overwhelming if you let me touch you, Bon. I promise that I won’t do anything that you don’t want me to do. I just want to help. Please...”

She was completely still for a long moment before she gave a small nod.

He sat down on the bathroom floor and pulled Bonnie onto his lap. He nuzzled her neck and inhaled deeply. She smelled like him and Tyler intended to keep her that way. Tyler ghosted his fingers over her legs but resisted the urge to dip between her clenched thighs. However, smelling Bonnie’s arousal wasn’t exactly making this easy on him.

His primal instincts were encouraging him to pin Bonnie to the floor and bury himself deep inside her dripping core. However, he wouldn’t and couldn’t do that until Bonnie was in control of her faculties once more. Besides, they still had a lot to talk about. He knew how stubborn Bonnie could be. Even with all of this evidence, she was probably still thinking of ways to change their fate.

She dug her fingers into Tyler’s v-neck t-shirt and hung on for dear life. She could practically hear her heart thumping erratically in her chest. Incrementally, Bonnie began to calm down and her eyes returned to their normal hue.

Tyler pressed a kiss to her temple and asked, “Better?”

Bonnie gave a shaky nod.

He ran his finger over the bite on her back. “We can’t have you walking around with an open wound.”

Bonnie moaned softly when he touched the mark. She nodded. “Too many vampires in Mystic Falls.”

“I can give you my blood to heal it or I can cover it with some gauze,” he offered. Tyler knew which option he would prefer. However, he doubted that Bonnie would be interested in drinking his blood.

Bonnie was shocked how quickly the feverish feeling passed once Tyler’s arms were around her. Even the memories of last night seemed to be on pause for now. “Gauze...please.”

Tyler opened the cabinet behind them and retrieved a first aid kit. He opened the plastic box and searched for the right supplies. “Sit up for me, Bon.”

She straightened up reluctantly. “How bad is it?”

“It’s not bad at all. It’s healing faster than I thought it would. There is only a little blood now,” he commented.

It was just more evidence of Bonnie’s true heritage.

Bonnie bit her lip as Tyler started disinfecting the bite mark. She realized too late that it probably wasn’t a good idea to let him touch the mark. A wave of euphoria rushed to Bonnie’s head. She couldn’t hold in a sigh of contentment.

Tyler was conflicted by the mating mark on Bonnie’s back. On one hand, he felt that primal sense of pride from marking his mate. On the other hand, he felt guilty for the viciousness of the bite. The teeth marks looked deep, jagged, and painful. Tyler tore his eyes away from the bite and secured the gauze with some medical tape. “All done.”

“Thank you,” Bonnie said. She went back to resting her head on Tyler’s shoulder and twisted her fingers in his shirt once more.

He reached over his head and grabbed the clothes he had left out for Bonnie. He was trying to be a good man but there were limits to his willpower. Tyler didn’t think it was wise to continue allowing Bonnie to sit on his lap while nude. He pressed a kiss just below her ear and murmured, “Let me help you get dressed.”

She gave a shaky nod.

Their movements were awkward and uncoordinated. However, they managed to get Bonnie into the sweatpants and t-shirt without her having to do more than lift up a little. She watched a bit dazed as Tyler cinched the drawstring to keep the pants on her hips. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Tyler nodded. “You’re welcome. We’re just going to sit here a little longer until you feel more stable.”

“I remember,” she muttered into his chest.

“What?” he asked.

“I remember last night. I remember what we did,” she replied in a shaky voice.  

“And are you okay with what happened?” he asked. Tyler practically held his breath as he waited for her answer.

She said, “You didn’t force me...if that is what you are asking. I know that I was very willing. I wanted to be with you. I still do.”

“That was part of what I was asking….”

“I don’t make a habit of having sex with people on a whim, Tyler. I certainly don't have sex with my best friend’s ex-boyfriend, who also happens to be letting my ex-boyfriend live with him.”

Tyler tried to remain calm because getting angry would only trigger Bonnie. They were highly susceptible to being affected by each others’ emotions right now. He said, “I don’t give a damn about how Caroline or Jeremy will feel about this. We don’t owe them anything. The only thing that matters is how you feel about this.”

Bonnie realized that it was pointless to argue with Tyler on the matter. He was still furious with Caroline, not that she blamed him. It had taken her a long time to forgive Damon and Stefan for turning her mother into a vampire. It took even longer for her to forgive Elena’s nonchalant reaction to it. At least her mother was still alive in a fashion. Klaus had brutally murdered Carol Lockwood in the heat of a childish tantrum.

“I’m not sure how I feel,” she answered truthfully.

He nodded. “I can accept that.”

“Really? You aren’t going to wolf out on me?” she asked jokingly.

Tyler heard the kernel of truth hidden within Bonnie’s joke. He said, “I’m not drunk on moonshine right now, Bon. I can control the wolf and myself. If I couldn’t...I would be balls deep in you right now.”

Bonnie’s head snapped up so that she could look him in the eye.

He chuckled and said, “I’m just laying my cards out on the table. You aren’t the only one that is in a bad way right now.”

“You seem to be handling it better than I am. I don’t see you swooning like a damsel in distress,” she muttered bitterly.

Tyler bit back a smile at her petulant tone. He said, “You  know that I had to go away to break Klaus’ hold on me. It was more than just conditioning my mind and body to resist his compulsion and the sire bond. I also trained myself to control my instincts. It is why I have been able to resist you these last few months. In hindsight, I probably should have tried to figure out what the wolf was trying to tell me. I would have preferred to go about this differently.”

“But you still would have bitten me?”

He shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t have bitten you without your consent, Bon. I probably would have asked you out on a date. We could have done this like normal human beings but neither of us can claim to be normal or human. Gabe called it courting.”

“Courting? How old is this Gabe person?” she asked with a chuckle.

“I dunno. Werewolves don’t exactly age normally. He looks like he might be in his sixties but he could be a lot older than that. Anyway, I didn’t think it was polite to ask his age.”

“Witches are the same way,” she replied with a thoughtful expression.

Tyler realized how little he really knew about witches. It had never occurred to him to learn about them. He asked, “Really?”

She nodded. Bonnie felt closer to normal now. Although, she wasn’t sure that sitting on Tyler’s lap could be considered normal. However, her head felt less hazy. She said, “You said that you would explain what happened.”

“I will but we need to get some food into you first. We can talk over breakfast.” He glanced at his watch and frowned. “Or lunch…”

“It’s lunchtime already?” Bonnie asked.

He nodded. “We didn’t wake up until around 11 o’clock. I guess it can be excused since we had such a long night.”

Bonnie chose to ignore the smug look on his face. “Let’s go to a restaurant where we won’t run the risk of seeing someone we know.”

“Ashamed of me, Bennett?” he asked playfully.

“No,” she replied without thinking. Bonnie realized that she meant it. “I just want to understand what’s happening before we have to explain it to other people.”

He nodded and stood up with Bonnie his arms.

She flailed uselessly. “Why do you keep picking me up? I have two working legs and I am capable of walking.”

“Because I can,” he said with a smirk.

“Put me down!” Bonnie demanded but she couldn’t hide the smile on her face.

“If the lady insists,” he replied and placed Bonnie on her feet. “Do you care where we eat?”

She followed Tyler out of the bathroom as she pulled on the hoodie. “I don’t care what we eat as long as it is greasy and covered in cheese.”

He chuckled. “A girl after my own heart. I think I can make that happen. I know a greasy spoon joint off the interstate. You can get just about everything on their menu covered in chili, cheese, or gravy.”

“Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner ladies and gentlemen,” Bonnie replied.

Chapter Text

Bonnie had not known what to expect when Tyler suggested a greasy spoon diner located about 40 miles outside of Mystic Falls’ city limits. She could honestly say that a dive bar that catered to truck drivers and bikers never crossed her mind. She wondered just how much he had changed during his time away from Mystic Falls. The Tyler Lockwood that she used to know would have been too snobbish to chow down at a place like that. However, when they walked into the bar it had played like an episode of Cheers . It was safe to say that he was a regular at Ruby Red .

Tyler had steered Bonnie to a booth at the very back of the room after they ordered an obscene amount of food at the counter. Then he excused himself by explaining that he needed to speak with someone that he had recognized. Bonnie had watched with great curiosity as Tyler greeted nearly half the patrons and most of the front of the house staff. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that these people were his friends. However, Bonnie’s realization only made her more curious. She felt certain that no one in their group of friends knew about this place or these people. Why had Tyler brought her to a place that he had obviously worked hard to keep private?

All of Bonnie’s really important questions had flown out the window when two members of the wait staff brought the first half of their order to the table. She had been too hungry to feel even remotely self-conscious about ordering a bacon cheeseburger, a Reuben sandwich, and two orders of chili cheese tater tots. Tyler had teased Bonnie during the thirty-minute drive to the bar because her stomach kept growling. He had explained that the mating mark was partially responsible for her ravenous appetite. Her body was trying to stockpile nourishment for what was to come. However, he had refused to get into a lengthy explanation until after they had eaten. Bonnie had figured it was just as well because she often became ‘hangry’.  She needed to be clear headed when she and Tyler finally talked about the pink elephant in the room.

They had taken about an hour to eat the smorgasbord of food that they had ordered. While they ate, Tyler and Bonnie had maintained a friendly conversation about safe topics. He told her about his decision to change his major to Art History and the research he had been doing on his family tree. Bonnie told him about discovering some old Bennett grimoires and a talisman in the attic of her grandmother’s house. Bonnie explained that she had been working on her potion making abilities with the help of her great-grandmother Amelia’s grimoire. Tyler showed a genuine interest in the types of potions that Bonnie had been making. She was surprised because none of their friends were ever curious about her magic unless they were in trouble.

Tyler paid their hefty lunch bill once they were finished eating. Afterwards, he suggested that they take a walk in the woods surrounding the dive bar. Tyler promised that he would do his best to explain their situation while on the walk. Bonnie had agreed because stretching her legs didn’t seem like a bad idea. Moreover, sitting still with all of the nervous energy rattling around in her body didn’t exactly sound appealing. Bonnie was trying to ignore the implications of her peculiar desire to go for a run. For that matter, she wanted to ignore the fact that she had began running daily after Qetsiyah resurrected her. The desire was always greater during and right after a full moon.

They walked for nearly ten minutes before Bonnie broke the silence. She said, “I will find a way to put a hex on you if you tell anyone how much food I just ate.”

Tyler turned to look at Bonnie and feigned a serious look. He lowered his voice for effect and said, “Your secret is safe with me, Bon.”

The bass in his voice sent a tingle down her spine. Bonnie was grateful that Tyler had been honoring his promise not to touch her. However, she had the sudden urge to run her fingers over his bulging biceps. The thin black t-shirt he was wearing did little to obscure his muscular physique. Bonnie’s pheromone addled brain struggled to find a way to change the subject. Finally she blurted out, “Curly fries.”

Tyler lifted an eyebrow and chuckled. “What about them?”

“They had curly fries, french fries, potato wedges, and tater tots on the menu. It’s like fried potato heaven in there. The food tasted amazing, too. I will be coming here often,” she swore.

An amused smile played across his lips because Tyler knew exactly what she was doing. He was tempted to call Bonnie out on it. However, he figured it was better to let her come to terms with the changes she was undergoing at her own pace. Bonnie seemed intent on fighting against centuries old magic and biological imperatives. Ultimately, Tyler knew that her denial wouldn’t be able to last for much longer. The heat would claim both of them sooner rather than later.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets and said, “I guess that I can let you steal my favorite place to eat but only if you promise to keep it between the two of us.”

Bonnie looked up at him from underneath her long eyelashes and groaned softly. “Stop looking at me like that.”

“How exactly am I looking at you, Bon?” he asked with a wolfish grin.

She lowered her voice even though there was no one around to overhear their conversation. “You’re looking like you want to devour me.”

He licked his lips and said, “Well, I am the big bad wolf.”

Bonnie’s green eyes widened and then suddenly she began laughing. The girl laughed so hard that she literally snorted. She clapped a hand over her mouth in embarrassment. “Wow! I hope that isn’t a pick up line that you actually use on girls, Lockwood.”

Tyler chuckled and flexed his biceps for effect. “I don’t really need to use cheesy lines to pick up girls. Usually all I have to do to get a girl’s attention is take off my shirt or show her my car. You are a special case, Bennett. You’ve been seeing me shirtless for years and it never had an effect on you.”

A pang of jealousy struck her unexpectedly. Bonnie thought about the string of bubbly female college students that she had watched grind on him last night. Bonnie realized that she had been envious of those girls and there hadn’t been a mating mark to blame. Nor could she use the mark as an excuse for her smug feeling of satisfaction when Tyler had ditched a cute redhead to check on her. He had been worried that Bonnie’s sour expression was because Jeremy was across the room making out with his girlfriend. However, Bonnie hadn’t even realized that her ex-boyfriend was in the room because her eyes had been on Tyler the entire time.

He frowned because he sensed the shift in Bonnie’s mood. She even smelled differently to him now.

Bonnie snapped out of the funk that had descended on her. She smirked and asked, “Who said it never had an effect on me?”

Tyler opened his mouth to say something incredibly salacious just as Bonnie took off running. He watched her weave around a few red cedar trees that had to be a couple hundred years old judging by their impressive height. His nostrils flared, his fingernails elongated into claws, and his eyes shifted to a rich amber color. His wolf was demanding to be set free to chase his mate. However, Tyler was fully in control without moonshine in the mix. He took a deep breath and forced the wolf down—for now. He gave Bonnie a few minutes head start before he began tracking her by scent.  

He moved swiftly through the woods with an inhuman speed. Tyler smirked when he realized that Bonnie was purposely trying throw him off her scent. The sweatshirt he had lent her earlier was hanging from a tree branch. Tyler grabbed his sweatshirt and chased her deeper into woods. “Do you really want to play hide and seek with a werewolf, Bon?” he called out.

The only response he received was the chirping of birds resting in the trees. Soon the flock would be flying farther south to escape the chilly Virginia winter. It was something that Tyler would have never paid attention to in the past. However, learning to control his wolf side had meant becoming more sensitive to nature.

Tyler grinned when he heard a twig snap in the distance. He took off running until he spotted Bonnie running up ahead of him. He sped up and scooped her up while she was in a full sprint.

She screeched in surprise. “Tyler! The stream.”

Tyler looked ahead and realized that there was a stream straight ahead of them. He had been so distracted by Bonnie that he had blocked out everything else. He stopped so abruptly that they both toppled over. Tyler blinked in surprise when he landed on top of Bonnie. “Oh shit. Did I hurt you?”

Bonnie was breathing hard and her eyes had shifted from green to amber. She swallowed thickly and tried to ignore the feeling of Tyler hard and warm between her legs. She nodded. “I’m okay.”

Tyler stared into her eyes for a long moment. He couldn’t stop himself from nuzzling Bonnie’s neck. She smelled amazing. “What were you doing?”

She closed her eyes as her breathing returned to normal. A content purr escaped her lips without her permission. “I wanted to run and I think I wanted you to chase me,” she admitted quietly.

Her admission stirred something primal deep inside of him. He wanted to claim her right there. Tyler rolled off Bonnie because he didn’t think it was wise to test his discipline right now. He laid on his back and stared up at the cloudy sky.

Bonnie rolled onto her side uncaring that they were laying on dirt and leaves—again. She rested her chin on Tyler’s shoulder because she felt the need to have physical contact with him. She said, “Maybe I am a werewolf.”

He looked at her with a smirk. He cupped her cheek and said, “If only you could see your eyes right now.”

Bonnie gave him a confused look. “What’s wrong with my eyes?”

“Nothing,” he replied quickly. “You look beautiful, Bon. But your eyes look like mine do right now.”

The girl blinked in shock. “What?”

He stroked his thumb over her bottom lip. He could barely see the puncture mark from earlier when she had bit her lip. Tyler said, “Your eyes have changed quite a few times since I bit you last night. It seems to happen whenever you have a strong emotions—good or bad.”

Bonnie wished that she could see her eyes but there weren’t exactly any mirrors lying around the woods. She was confused by everything that had occurred in the last twelve hours. However, something deep within Bonnie was telling her that she was safe with Tyler. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. She asked, “When did all of this start for you?”

She had been wracking her brain trying to figure out when things had changed between them. It had seemed innocuous in beginning but they had started bumping into each other at the most random places. Bonnie had thought that it was just a coincidence. It wasn’t as if Mystic Falls was a particularly large town. Now she believed that Tyler had been seeking her out. Sometimes he would appear out of thin air when she was eating dinner alone at Mystic Grille. He would plop down at her table without asking and challenge her to a game of pool that she always lost.

He gathered his thoughts for a moment and then said,  “I knew that something was different the first time we were in a room together after Qetsiyah resurrected you. I felt this force pulling me toward you. I didn’t know where it was coming from so I ignored it. Then I realized that you smelled different to me, too. I asked Damon if he smelled anything different but he just looked at me like I was crazy. I figured it must have been a hybrid werewolf thing. We have a better sense of smell than vampires and regular werewolves do. But the pull got stronger as the weeks passed. I realized that I was attracted to you. I considered asking you out on a date after you and Jeremy broke up. Then you started pulling away from the group. I figured that you were going through something and that it probably wasn’t the right time.”

“I’ve been trying to get my magic back. I have been spending a lot of time at the Falls but I think you already knew that. You’re the wolf that has been watching me at night. Aren’t you?” she asked.

Tyler released his hold on her face and smiled wryly. “How long have you known that I was watching you?”

Bonnie said, “I knew that there was a werewolf watching me but I didn’t know it was you. I guess I have never really paid enough attention to what you look like as a wolf. All I knew was that I didn’t feel threatened by my nightly visitor. Why were you watching me?”

“I found you by chance one night when I was going for a run. I had this instant feeling of anxiety about you being out there alone. I started showing up every night to watch your back and to make sure that you got home safely. I didn’t know that you were trying to get your powers back. Is that even possible?”

Bonnie felt warm and fuzzy because of Tyler’s concern for her. She hadn't thought that anyone had realized that she was pulling from the group.

“I think that it is. I mean my magic is part of me. I can still feel it sometimes when I meditate or perform certain rituals. I think of it like a muscle that needs rebuilding after a traumatic injury.”

He nodded in understanding. Tyler had his fair share of sports related injuries while in high school. Healing the injury was one thing but retraining the muscles took time and practice. His physical therapy had included repetitive exercises meant to strengthen the muscles that might have atrophied from disuse.

Bonnie confessed, “You aren’t the only one that has felt a pull. Since I have been back, I have found myself drawn to you, too. I tried to ignore what I was feeling because it would have complicated everything.”

Tyler grinned when he heard that it hadn’t been a one-way street. “The only logical explanation here is that you are a werewolf, Bon. I know it sounds crazy but…”

“I believe you, Ty. I don’t understand how it is possible but it is. How does this mark work between werewolves?”

He couldn’t ignore how satisfied his wolf felt right now. Tyler was pretty damn pleased, too. He said, “It may sound old-fashioned but werewolves are meant to mate for life with a single partner. It doesn’t happen for every couple. Some werewolves never find their mate but they marry someone that they love. Some werewolves do meet their mates and separate when the relationship turns sour just as regular humans do. However, it is different when a wolf from an alpha lineage finds his or her mate. They possess a soul bond that activates after one or both of them trigger the curse. I should have felt drawn to you as soon as I triggered the curse but I didn’t. The first time I felt this connection to you was immediately after Klaus turned me into a hybrid. It was automatic but then it got washed away by the sire bond. The sire bond consumed me and suppressed the bond I should have shared with you.”

“What about after you broke the sire bond?” she asked curiously.

“We didn’t exactly spend a lot of time together after that. I didn’t feel that connection until you came back from the Other Side. Something was different. I think that something about you changed.”

Bonnie considered everything Tyler was telling her and it made sense on an abstract level. “The mating mark and bond between werewolves is a type of magic. It is ancient magic that was built into the fabric of the original curse. I remember that much from the grimoire. Maybe it was the caster’s way to ensure werewolves would never die out despite their small population size. But sometimes more powerful magic can overwhelm, suppress, or even negate something like the werewolf gene. Think of how Esther’s spell suppressed Klaus’ werewolf gene and prevented him from changing.”

Tyler nodded. “That is probably why the sire bond was capable of suppressing the connection that I felt with you. It was more powerful and more recent.”

“Exactly. You breaking Klaus’ sire bond explains why you started feeling drawn to me again. I think that losing access to my magic is why I started to feel the bond for the first time after I came back from the Other Side. Maybe my magic had been suppressing it. The part that doesn’t make sense is me being a werewolf. I have killed people. I should have triggered the curse already.”

He frowned because Bonnie had a point. “Do you ever feel restless during the full moon?”

“Of course but I am a witch. We’re sensitive to the lunar phases just as werewolves are.”

Tyler was reminded once again about how little he knew about witches. He would have to change that. He wondered if Bonnie would be willing to teach him some things.

Bonnie’s green eyes narrowed and she asked, “What if it is a curse? What if I am cursed?”

“You mean like how Klaus was cursed by Esther?”

She nodded. “It is the only thing that makes sense, Ty. The mating mark can only happen between werewolves. You very successfully marked me. Therefore, I must be a werewolf.”

Tyler flashed a cocky grin.

Bonnie rolled her eyes playfully.

He got serious and asked, “Who could have cursed you? Do you think your grandmother did it?”

She shook her head. “No. Grams was a powerful witch but it takes some serious juice to place that sort of curse on someone. You saw how hard it was to break Klaus’ curse. Placing a curse and breaking a curse require the same level of power.”

He hummed as he thought about other possibilities.

“What if it is an old curse placed on someone in my family? There have been very powerful witches in the Bennett bloodline. One of them would have been capable of a curse this powerful.”

“You think that you might have inherited a curse from your mother’s side of the family?”

She nodded. “It is possible. I could have inherited a curse that blocked the werewolf gene from activating. Think about it...I’m a Bennett witch. One of my family members could have cursed our line to protect us. Can you imagine what would have happened if one of my ancestors had changed during the full moon on a plantation?”

The wheels in his head started turning. “The curse might go back even further than that. I heard Klaus and Elijah talking about one of your ancestors. Her name was Ayana and she was their mother’s mentor. She was living with the werewolves at the time the originals were turned. She had children but no husband. Klaus thought that maybe one of the werewolves in the village was the father of her children. Elijah seemed to disagree. He said that Ayana was devoted to honoring nature and the spirits, it is the reason she refused to help Esther create the original vampires.”

Bonnie was shocked by the revelation. She said, “Witches are servants of nature. The spirits wouldn’t have been thrilled about hybrid witch-werewolves. A creature with that sort of power would upset the balance. Ayana could have linked the binding curse to Bennett magic. As long as her descendants had magic then we could never trigger the werewolf curse. She probably thought it was a safe bet. A Bennett witch losing their magic is incredibly rare. It took me being dead, resurrected, and spending a couple months as the anchor between our world and the Other Side to affect my magic. And it is only suppressed, I can still feel it sometimes. It’s like it wants to break through the surface but can’t. I am going to have to do some research. We might even need to find a witch.”

Tyler tensed when Bonnie mentioned finding a witch. “Are you going to look for a way to break the mark?”

“I don’t know. I thought that was what I wanted do in the beginning. I thought it was what you would want, too. We haven’t been good friends in a long time and we both sort of had our hearts stepped on recently. Not to mention this isn’t going to go over well with our friends.”


She shrugged and said, “But I only wanted to break the mark when I believed it was a mistake. We shouldn’t be bound to one another because of moonshine and magic. However, I no longer believe that this was a mistake. I think this is fate. If you are truly my soul mate then it would be stupid to throw it away without careful thought. I want to understand what this is. I want to know more about how it even happened. I just need to ask you to be patient. I know that you have certain expectations…”

“I understand all of that, Bonnie. This isn’t the olden days. I’m not going to throw you over my shoulder and force you to marry me. This didn’t happen the way it was originally intended. I should have had time to...court you as Gabe would say. We can still do that but you just need to be aware that the bond and mating mark changes things for us. You saw firsthand what happens when you go without my touch for too long.”

Bonnie flushed. “That’s what happened to me in the bathroom at your house?”

He nodded. “It’s like going through withdrawal. This intensity will only last for about a week. But even after that going more than a few days without touching would be difficult for both of us. We would grieve the loss of contact.”

Bonnie asked,  “What kind of contact would satisfy the bond?”

Tyler chuckled softly. “During this week it will be very hard to go without sex. It would actually be nearly impossible and genuinely painful. We would feel feverish, disoriented, fatigued, nauseous, and weak. However, the worst part would be the muscle cramps in the stomach and lower back. The need we feel for each other will have peaks and valleys. Right now, we are in a valley, that’s why we ate so much food. It’s an instinct thing. We’re stockpiling as much nourishment as we can because there is no telling when we will come up for air again.”

She stared openly at Tyler. “You can’t be serious.”

He said, “Last night was just the beginning phase. It was a short burst to ensure that the mating mark took. In a couple of hours, we will transition to the actual heat phase. It could be whole a twelve or more hours before we take another break.”

Bonnie swallowed thickly. “That’s what you meant earlier when you said that you wouldn't touch me again until I asked.”

He nodded.

Bonnie realized that she really didn't have a choice here. Her options were to feel like she was dying for the next six days or have toe curling sex with Tyler. “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?!”

Tyler said, “I could sense the urge you had to run away from me. I could actually smell the fear on you in the woods. I needed you to be calm and rational before I told you everything. Most of all, I needed you to trust that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.”

Bonnie was annoyed but he was right. She would have run away from Tyler and everyone else for that matter. Bonnie would have gotten severely sick and she would not have understood what was happening to her. “I guess we are doing this then…but only because neither of us should have to be in pain. And we’re also going to figure out this whole me being a werewolf thing.”

He grinned. “My place or yours?”

She blinked. “Matt and Jeremy live with you.”

He shrugged. “They can stay somewhere else for a few days. The boarding house comes to mind.”

“Tyler,” she chided.

“Fine. We’ll go to your place. I need to stop by my house to pack a bag. Then we need to stop by the store to pick up some supplies.”

She asked, “What kind of supplies?”

Tyler said, “Food. We are going to need a lot of food. Protein is going to be very important--red meat especially. We’re going to need condoms and lube, too.”

“What?” she asked incredulously. Her cheeks had grown hot with  embarrassment.

He chuckled at her reaction. He said, “Well, the condoms are a bit self explanatory. I’m hybrid and there is a very good chance that I could get you pregnant. We should be careful unless you’re interested in getting knocked up.”

She huffed,  “I meant the other ass.”

Tyler leaned closer and said, “The lube is so that I don’t hurt you, Bon. Your natural lubrication won’t be enough after five or six hours of repeated friction.”

A wave of jealousy hit Bonnie so quickly that it knocked her off kilter. “How do you know so much about all of this?”

Tyler lifted an eyebrow as he saw the veins in Bonnie’s hands become more prominent. He interlaced their fingers and watched as she slowly calmed down. He wondered if she even realized what was happening. He bit back a smirk and said, “I have never been through a heat with a woman. You would be my first, Bon. I have heard about it from other werewolves. Guys talk…”

“Oh,” she said. “Okay.”

He chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“Nothing, Bon,” he swore while trying to hold in another chuckle.

Chapter Text

Caroline and Stefan had just spent the last thirty minutes scouring every inch of the Salvatore boarding house for Bonnie—including the cellar. A purse and cell phone left in Stefan’s bedroom were the only traces of her friend. Last night, the girls had left their valuables in Stefan’s locked bedroom for safekeeping. Caroline couldn’t fight the fear coiled tightly in the pit of her stomach. She had lost sight of Bonnie early last night and never once checked in on her. They had all become much too complacent about safety lately. Their lackadaisical attitudes stemmed from nearly six months where no one was trying to kill them. None of them had experienced that luxury since before their senior year of high school when the Salvatore brothers rolled into Mystic Falls.

The blond vampire was internally berating herself for even agreeing to help Damon throw his stupid party. She had not approved of his ‘Fuck Elena’ theme. However, Stefan had reasoned that hosting a sophomoric revenge party was better than his brother going on a murder spree. In hindsight, it was reckless to invite so many strangers into the boarding house. This house had become their sanctuary. They all spent a great deal of time within the boarding house’s walls. The Salvatore brothers had even put Bonnie’s name on the deed so that unwanted vampires could not enter without an invitation.

Now Caroline was worried that they had accidentally invited some new Big Bad into their sanctuary. She believed that was the only logical explanation for Bonnie disappearing so suddenly. Perhaps this new enemy didn’t realize that their resident witch was powerless and no longer a threat to anyone. They had only gotten Bonnie back six months ago. Caroline wasn’t prepared to lose her best friend again. She had complained loud and long enough to convince Jeremy and Matt to do a sweep of the grounds. She was holding onto the slimmest thread of hope that Bonnie had just gone for a run. Her friend had become oddly obsessed with physical fitness since her resurrection. Bonnie went for a mile run every morning. She had even enlisted Damon to teach her hand-to-hand combat since she no longer had magic.

Stefan walked up behind Caroline and rubbed her tense shoulders. He said, “You should sit down, Caroline. Matt and Jeremy will be back soon enough. I am sure that you are worried for nothing.”

She scowled at Stefan because this was his fault. They had disappeared upstairs to his bedroom and never returned to the party. Caroline hadn’t planned to stay up there all night but Stefan had been insatiable. He was using sex to curb his bloodlust and she was his sober companion. At least, that was how she justified it in her mind. They had been hiding their relationship from everyone for two months but it was becoming more difficult by the day. Some days Caroline just wanted to come clean but then she thought about how devastated Tyler and Elena would be.

“I don’t understand how you can be this calm, Stefan. Bonnie could be hurt or in danger. Why don’t you care?” she asked heatedly.

The older vampire turned around his quasi-girlfriend so that he could see her face. “Of course I care about Bonnie, Caroline. She is my friend, too.”

“Then act like it! She is helpless,” Caroline argued.

He retorted, “Bonnie might be without her magic but she is not helpless, Caroline. Damon has been training her several times a week. He thinks that she is progressing nicely. You know my brother wouldn’t sugarcoat the truth. I just don’t believe that someone could have kidnapped Bonnie from a crowded house party without her putting up some type of fight.”

She calmed down a little after hearing Stefan’s thought process. His strong hands working the knots in her shoulders also helped. Caroline was about to take Stefan’s advice when the front door opened with a heavy thud.

Jeremy walked into the living room carrying a pair of muddy peep-toe heels. He looked genuinely upset. “Bonnie was wearing these last night.”

Matt walked into the room with a pinched expression on his face. He didn't believe that someone could have kidnapped Bonnie from right under their noses. However, she had been pulling disappearing acts lately. Matt hadn't said anything because she still popped into the Grille to see him a couple times a week.

Caroline shot Stefan a nasty glare. “Think! When is the last time that any of us saw her last night?”

Jeremy asked, “Where’s Tyler? He is the last person that I saw with Bonnie. They were dancing.”

“Together?” Caroline asked. Her expression suggested that was the most absurd thing that she had ever heard. She eyed the younger boy carefully because he had gone back to drinking heavily and smoking marijuana. “Are you sure?”

He huffed and said, “I am positive. They danced a couple songs together. I got distracted and when I looked back they were gone.”

Caroline asked, “Has anyone seen Tyler?”

Matt shook his head. “I checked. His car is gone.” He looked between Caroline and Stefan. “I am not surprised that he didn’t stick around long. He didn’t really want to be here last night. He only showed up because I asked for his help.”

She wasn’t surprised that Matt had twisted Tyler’s arm to get him there. Her ex-boyfriend went to great lengths to avoid her and Stefan. An argument was almost a sure bet whenever the three of them were in the same room. She didn’t know if Tyler would ever be able to forgive her. No one was thrilled to learn that she had slept with their arch-enemy. However, Tyler truly seemed to hate Caroline and it broke her heart.

“Can you try calling him, Matt? We need to know the last time he saw Bonnie.”

Caroline knew that Tyler wouldn't answer her calls.

Matt shook his head. “I already tried but it went straight to voicemail. He’s probably busy.”

“Busy doing what? It’s Saturday afternoon!” she exclaimed.

He shifted his feet awkwardly. Matt didn’t enjoy being in the middle of his warring friends. He said, “Tyler was really popular last night. He probably took someone home.”

“Or a couple of someones,” Jeremy offered with a goofy grin.

Caroline glared at Jeremy.

“What?” he asked. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Damon walked into the room wearing the same clothes from last night. He looked like he had been run over by a truck. He scowled at the group and asked, “What’s with all the commotion? Some people are trying to get their beauty rest.”

“Thanks for finally joining us, Damon,” Caroline snapped. She had knocked on his locked door a half dozen times but he hadn’t answered her. “Bonnie is missing.”

Damon’s ice blue eyes narrowed dangerously. “What do you mean she’s missing?”

“What does that usually mean, Damon? Bonnie was here last night and now she isn’t,” she replied.

He rolled his eyes and dropped down on the couch in exhaustion. “Bonnie being missing and you not knowing where she is are two different things, Blondie. Maybe Bon-Bon decided to go home with someone last night.”

Jeremy’s jaw clenched. “Bonnie is not that type of girl.”

Damon didn’t even glance in the teen’s direction. He said, “I saw plenty of guys hitting on her last night. Not that I blame them with the way she looked in that dress. How can someone so short have such long legs?”

Stefan cleared his throat to get his brother to focus. “Did anyone in particular stand out? Maybe there is someone that paid a little too much attention to Bonnie. She could be in trouble, Damon.”

“Or she could just be getting laid,” he quipped. “She deserves it. I mean she was dead. Then she was the anchor. Then Jerbear cheated on her—again. Bon-Bon has been going through quite the dry spell lately. Sex on a regular basis might make her a little less judgey. It certainly improved my mood last night.”

Matt grasped Jeremy’s shoulder to stop him from attacking Damon. Hungover Damon was prone to unexpected fits of violence. They couldn’t look for Bonnie and save Jeremy’s life.

Caroline grabbed Bonnie’s belongings and unceremoniously dropped them onto Damon’s lap. “Do you think that Bonnie took off to have sex with some stranger without taking her purse and phone? And Jeremy found Bonnie’s shoes outside!”

The short answer to that question was ‘yes’. He noticed that Bonnie wasn’t the only member of the Scooby Doo Gang that wasn’t present and accounted for. The first was Elena but she wasn’t welcome at the boarding house and hadn’t been invited to his party. Damon had no interest in watching the doppelganger salivate at the possibility of winning Stefan’s heart again. The second person unaccounted for was the possibly kidnapped Bonnie. However, the third person was the one that stuck out like a sore thumb. Tyler was nowhere to be found and no one seemed to find that the least bit suspicious. He couldn’t tell if they were all idiots or lacked even the most basic powers of observation.

Something strange had been happening between the mutt and their little witch for months. Damon first recognized something was different when Bonnie was the anchor. He and Tyler had been the only people to realize that she was in excruciating pain. They were also the only people that had decided to do something about it. The werewolf hadn’t batted an eyelash when Damon said that they would have to get their hands dirty to save Bonnie. In short, Damon had been waiting months for the other shoe to drop.

Caroline said, “I am going to call my mom. She can help us coordinate a search party.”

Damon stood up in a flash with Bonnie’s purse and phone in his hands. He sped over to Jeremy and snatched the girl’s discarded shoes, too. “Maybe someone should just go see if Bonnie is at home before you whip the whole town into a frenzy, Blondie. I take back what I said earlier. Sex doesn’t always make people more laidback. You and my baby bro have been at it often enough that you should be practically catatonic. Yet here you are being…well, you.”

Caroline’s jaw practically dropped. She couldn’t believe that Damon had blurted out something so personal. Her eyes darted from Matt to Jeremy. Then her shoulders slumped as she realized that they weren’t surprised.

In a warning tone of voice, Stefan said, “Damon.”

Damon feigned surprise. “Was that supposed to be a secret?”

Jeremy stifled a chuckle.

“If I don’t find the judgey little witch at home then you can sound the alarm,” Damon said as he headed for the front door.

He heard Caroline and Jeremy both insist that they join him. However, he ignored them because that wasn’t happening. He was about eighty percent certain that he was about to find Bonnie and wolf boy in flagrante delicto. He tossed Bonnie’s purse and shoes onto the passenger seat of his Camaro as he climbed inside.

Damon sped away from the boarding house without looking back at the teens shouting at him. He decided to try Bonnie’s house first. If that didn’t pan out then he would try the Lockwood Mansion. However, he doubted that they would have been reckless enough to go back to a place Tyler shared with two roommates. The werewolf behaved like an idiot at times but his Bon-Bon was smarter than that.

The brunette vampire frowned when he pulled up at Bonnie’s house. He didn’t see Tyler’s car but he decided it was still worth a shot. There was a garage around back where Tyler could have stashed his car. Damon collected Bonnie’s belongings and walked onto the porch. He knocked on the door and whistled a jaunty tune as he waited.

Bonnie anxiously rushed to the door to see if Tyler was back. He had dropped her off after they went shopping for groceries. However, he still needed to go home to pack a bag for the week. They had decided it wouldn’t be smart to take Bonnie with him. Neither of them knew if Jeremy and Matt had returned home yet. Unfortunately, Bonnie had underestimated how anxious she would feel while being apart from Tyler. It had only been thirty minutes yet she was already climbing the walls. The mating mark made her want to go find him, despite knowing he would return soon.

Tyler planned to leave a note for Matt and Jeremy. He was going to make up a lie about going out of town to check on some friends. They didn’t need anyone getting curious and looking for him. It was bad enough that he would be missing a full week of classes. He would have to compel his professors after the fact.

Fortunately, she didn’t have as many complications as Tyler did. If she was being completely honest, Bonnie didn’t have plans on most days of the week. Damon had mockingly called her a woman of leisure a few weeks ago. He was being a dick as usual but he wasn’t wrong. She had decided against throwing herself into the rigors of academia after being resurrected. The young woman planned to attend college in the future once her life was in order.

In the meantime, she sold her childhood home and collected her father’s generous insurance policy. The deaths of her grandmother and father had left Bonnie with a sizable nest egg. She had considered renting an apartment in town but suddenly the tenants in Sheila’s old home had asked to break their lease. The family of four still had five months left on their lease but Bonnie didn’t fuss about it. She hadn’t been particularly interested in being a landlady. Moreover, she couldn’t think of another place in the world that she would rather live.

She walked into the foyer and peered through the gauzy curtains. The girl quickly took a step back when saw Damon standing on her porch.

“Open the door, Bon-Bon,” Damon said in a sing-song voice.

She groaned because of course he had seen her. She was really considering getting a solid wood door for exactly this reason. Bonnie wrinkled her nose as soon as she opened the door. It smelled as if Damon had bathed in a distillery. She shouldn’t have been surprised because he hadn’t taken Elena breaking up with him very well. Not that Bonnie could blame him in the least. She had been there when Elena dumped him. It had been brutal and so unlike her childhood friend that Bonnie briefly wondered if the doppelganger had turned off her emotions.

Damon probably would have gone on a three state killing spree if Bonnie hadn’t ran him over with his own car—twice. She had broken his neck the second time she ran him over. The girl had waited on pins and needles for Stefan to show up to help her. They had imprisoned Damon in the boarding house’s cellar and pumped him full of vervain for nearly two weeks before he seemed closer to sane. Afterwards, he had disappeared for a couple of weeks. Damon had returned soaked in stripper glitter and bourbon rather than blood. However, he hated Elena and banned anyone from even speaking her name. He had actually signed the boarding house over to Bonnie to prevent the doppelganger from entering.

“What are you doing here, Damon?” she asked.

The brunette vampire lifted an eyebrow and dangled her purse and shoes from his finger. “You left something at my house.”

“Thanks,” she mumbled and took the items. Bonnie had been so consumed by the mark and Tyler that she had completely forgotten about her purse.

He tilted his head to the side and just stared at her for a moment. There was something off about her. She smelled intoxicating.

She shifted uncomfortably under his intense gaze. Normally, he was a cocky bastard. However, she could always tell when he was being serious. “Damon?”

“Where the hell have you been, witchy? I had to stop the rest of the Scooby Doo Gang from organizing a search party for you and wolf boy. Is he here?”

“No!” Bonnie answered too quickly. “Why would he be here?”

Damon chuckled and shook his head. He leaned closer and inhaled audibly. He said, “Because I can smell him all over you. And it’s not just because you are obviously wearing his clothes. How long has this been going on?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she said with a stubborn lift of her chin.

He grinned and said, “Sure you don’t. Maybe I should call Blondie to let her know that you are safe and sound at home but that she should drop by to check on you.”

Her green eyes went wide as she grabbed onto Damon’s arm. She dragged him into the house and slammed the door shut. “Don’t do that.”

The vampire blinked in shock as he tried to understand how Bonnie had pulled him inside so easily. His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized her more. He stepped closer and sniffed Bonnie. Damon’s gums began itch as he got the urge drain every drop of blood from the witch's body. His senses honed in on the way her heart was racing like a scared rabbit.

Bonnie shoved him away and asked, “What are you doing?”

“I think the better question is what are you doing? Wolf boy is way beneath you but at least he is a step up from Little Gilbert. But this is something more. You smell wrong.”

“I took a shower,” Bonnie snapped. She turned her head to the side and discreetly sniffed her armpit.

He rolled his eyes. “I am not talking about B.O., Bennett. You always smell vaguely the Earth, lavender, and that ozone smell that lingers after a powerful thunderstorm.”

She didn’t know if she should be troubled by Damon’s rather detailed description of her scent. “What do I smell like now?”

Damon backed Bonnie into a wall and sniffed her again. He literally pressed his nose against the nape of her neck and inhaled. He pulled back and said, “You still smell witchy but I am catching some undertones of something else. You smell fertile but it is more than that.”

“Fertile? Do I even want to know what the hell that means?” Bonnie asked with a mortified expression.

“There is a distinct smell when a woman is ovulating. It has to do with pheromones and all of that but you smell like Tyler, too. But not on your skin like I would expect. His smell is radiating out of you. It is like he is inside of you.”

Bonnie swallowed thickly as she tried to work out what all of that meant.

“What have you done?” he asked in an accusatory tone.

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t lie to me,” he growled in her face.

“I’m not lying!” she yelled. Bonnie hadn’t been afraid of Damon in a long time. She knew that he wouldn’t hurt her. He hadn’t even tried after flipping his switch when Elena broke up with him.

Damon realized that she was telling the truth. He grunted in disapproval. Bonnie was usually the sensible one in the group, except for when she was stupidly risking her life for everyone else.

“But you can’t tell anyone about this. Not until I figure it out,” Bonnie pleaded.

Damon sniffed Bonnie again and took a step back. He frowned. “I’ll keep quiet under two conditions.”

“Name them,” she said quickly.

“I have to tell Stefan because whatever this is seems like trouble. My brother needs to get a head start on his brooding.”

Damon knew that he was drinking too much to be of any real help. However, Stefan was ever the Boy Scout. He would get to the bottom of this.

Bonnie wasn’t certain that was a good idea. Caroline and Stefan had practically been connected at the hip since she and Tyler fell out. She didn’t need an enhanced sense of smell to know the two of them had been sleeping together. It was written all over their faces whenever they were in the same room.

Damon said, “My brother knows how to keep a secret. Besides, it isn’t as if you are going to be able to keep this secret for long. Caroline will probably pick this up quicker than I did because I don’t spend a whole lot of time smelling wolf boy.”

She huffed. “ can tell Stefan. What’s your second condition?”

He chuckled. “I get a front row seat when you finally come clean with Blondie and Jerbear.”

Bonnie glared at him.

“What? You got to witness Elena ripping out my heart. Turnabout is fair play.”

“Fine,” she bit out.

Damon chuckled and said, “Well, I am going to go calm down the Scooby Doo Gang. They were worried that you had been kidnapped since you left your stuff behind.”

“Seriously?” she asked.

He chuckled. “I told them you probably just hooked up with one of the asssholes flirting with you last night. Looks like I was right. I’ll leave it all vague when I explain it to them, Bon-Bon.”

Bonnie bit her tongue and didn’t mention that Damon had been one of those assholes. He had played it off as a joke but she had no doubt he would have followed through if she had agreed. Bonnie had seriously considered saying yes to Damon when Tyler had been grinding on some girl. Ultimately, she had said no because she didn’t want to ruin their friendship. They had become closer since she had been resurrected. It was Damon’s tireless effort that had found a loophole to get her out of the job of anchor. He hadn’t been able to stand watching the pain she was in each time a soul passed through her.

“Thank you, Damon.”

“Don’t mention it. We will talk more about all of this later, witchy.”

Bonnie walked Damon to the door and then locked it once he was gone. She leaned against the door and closed her eyes. She was going to have a serious talk with Tyler when he got back. In the meantime, she would start looking through grimoires. She needed information.

She wasn’t sure how she felt about this most recent development. Had the mating mark changed her in some elemental way? She also wondered why Tyler didn’t mention this as a possible side effect. However, she considered that it was completely possible that he didn’t know. It wasn’t as if either of them had received formal educations about the ins and outs of being supernatural beings. They had both learned through trial and error, tragedy, and word of mouth. Unfortunately, her run-in with Atticus Shane had made her wary of trusting anyone completely.

Chapter Text

Tyler turned into Bonnie’s driveway and pulled into the garage behind her house. They had both agreed that it would not be wise to leave his car sitting out on the street. Gossip had a way of traveling through Mystic Falls like wildfire. Tyler did not actually care if their friends knew that he and Bonnie were together. They had all engaged in some questionable relationships and flings in the past. However, he respected Bonnie’s need for privacy. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the situation and didn’t need outside pressure. Any sane person would need time to process after learning that he or she was a werewolf. Unfortunately, the mating mark made things more complicated for them. The mark forced Tyler and Bonnie to skip the traditional steps of starting a relationship.  

He climbed out of the car and grabbed his bags from the backseat. Tyler was feeling restless and agitated because he had been away from Bonnie for well over an hour. He had searched his father’s former study high and low for a few books that once belonged to an ancestor. Tyler found the dusty tomes not long after he triggered the curse. Mason had mentioned the books in the video that Tyler found after his death. At first, he thought the leather bound books were just journals of some sort. However, upon further inspection he learned that his great-great-grandfather had spent an obscene amount of time and money tracing their family’s werewolf lineage. In doing so, he had also tracked many of the other families that descended from the werewolves that once called Mystic Falls home. When he first discovered the book, Tyler had only been interested in his own family. Now he hoped it might shed some light on Bonnie’s background, too.

Tyler walked around to the front of the house and raised his hand to knock on the door. However, the door swung open before he had the chance. Tyler opened his arms and easily caught Bonnie when she launched herself at him full speed. He couldn’t help smiling when he realized that she had missed him, too. Since this morning, he could feel the bond between them growing stronger. He couldn’t fathom how it would feel once they completed the mating cycle.

Bonnie shamelessly buried her face into the fabric of Tyler’s t-shirt and inhaled deeply. Her anxiety had grown unbearable the longer they were apart. She had seriously considered tracking him down at home. Instead, she had cracked open a few grimoires looking for information about werewolves and mating marks until he returned. However, all of the tension bled out of Bonnie’s taut muscles the moment he wrapped his arms around her. She could feel the mark on her back tingling. “What took you so long?” she complained in a voice that was definitely not whiney.

The grin slid from Tyler’s face when he detected a foreign scent clinging to Bonnie’s soft skin. He took a deep cleansing breath to stop his wolf side from surfacing on the front porch. However, as Tyler grew more enraged his eyes turned a threatening dark amber color. He carefully maneuvered them into the house and away from the prying eyes of Bonnie’s neighbors. He mumbled, “Sorry about that. I was looking for something that I thought might help us figure things out.”

It took a moment for Bonnie to recognize the shift in Tyler’s demeanor. When her mind began to clear, she realized that the hair on her arms was standing on end. It was as if some dormant part of her brain sensed danger even if she had been completely oblivious to it. She reluctantly pulled out of the embrace and studied his face. Bonnie touched his cheek and said, “Tyler…”

He dropped the bags by his feet and closed the door behind him. Then he pulled Bonnie into his arms again. He kissed her neck and murmured, “Did someone stop by while I was gone?”

Bonnie’s senses were tugging her in two different directions. She was wary because something was obviously off with Tyler. On the other hand, he was kissing her neck and she really wanted him to keep doing that. “Damon stopped by. Everyone was worried that I got kidnapped or something since I left my purse and phone at the boarding house.”

Tyler planned to play it cool so that he didn’t scare Bonnie away. She was new to all of this. Bonnie didn’t understand the rules and restrictions of being mated to a werewolf. However, the wolf side didn’t care for any of his rational thought. The wolf’s only concern was that another male had touched his mate. The wolf wanted him to reclaim her right there on the floor. Tyler growled, “Did he touch you?”

Bonnie thought about it for a moment. Unfortunately, her thoughts felt disorganized because of the rush of endorphins. She said, “I don’t know. Maybe. I mean he knows about us because he sniffed me. He said that I smell different now.”

Tyler slowly calmed down when he realized that Damon wasn’t a threat. However, he couldn’t have Bonnie smelling like the vampire or he would lose it. He nuzzled Bonnie’s neck and slid his hands over her body. He muttered, “Hold on…”

“What are you doing?” she asked with a breathy moan. Bonnie’s legs quivered at his touch.

He kissed her neck and murmured, “Replacing Damon’s scent with mine so that I don’t have to go rip out his spine.”

Bonnie’s eyes widened to the size of saucers and she sputtered, “W-w-what? Why would you want to rip out Damon’s spine? He’s annoying but that seems a bit excessive.”

Tyler slid his hands under her t-shirt and stroked his fingers over her sides. He went from kissing her neck to sucking at the skin there to leave another hickey.

Bonnie whimpered as his fingers ghosted over the swell of her breasts. Her nipples pebbled in response. She couldn’t decide rather to slap his face or ride him until her legs went numb. The second option sounded particularly tantalizing. Bonnie moaned, “Tyler?”

Next, he moved his hands beneath the elastic of Bonnie’s sweatpants. He stroked her hips and then smoothed his hands over her butt. Tyler slowly removed his hands and took a deep breath. His eyes returned to normal and his breathing slowed. “I’m sorry,” he said in a husky voice.

“Just explain what happened, please,” she murmured. Bonnie stroked at the scruff growing on his jaw in hopes that it would calm him. Meanwhile, she tried to ignore her disappointment that Tyler hadn't helped ease the throbbing sensation between her thighs.

Tyler felt as if he was in control once more. Bonnie’s touch certainly helped him feel more balanced. “You smelled like Damon. Maybe you just didn’t realize that he touched you. Smelling another potential mate on you nearly made me shift. I hope you aren’t mad at me for touching you without asking.”

Bonnie swallowed thickly and said, “It’s okay, Ty. I trust you. We can’t have you tearing across town to kill Damon. He is my friend. Besides, that would spark too many questions. You know how nosy everyone can be.”

He huffed out a laugh at the last part. Tyler started working on a second hickey once he was satisfied with the first. He couldn’t fight the urge he had to mark Bonnie so that the world, human and supernatural, would know that she was off-limits.  

“Anyway, I’ve decided to lift the ban on you touching me. We’re going to be doing more than touching sooner or later,” she replied with a sheepish grin. She angled her neck to give him better access.

The hybrid lifted his head to look a Bonnie when he heard her breathing hitch. He had honed in on Damon’s scent and excluded everything else about Bonnie. However, now she had his full attention. He inhaled deeply and then a wolfish grin spread across his face. Tyler hooked a finger into the waistband of her sweatpants and asked, “Do you want me to help you out with that?”

Bonnie shook her head and slowly backed away from him. She needed a clear head for as long as possible but she was caught in a Catch-22. Bonnie had felt foggy and disoriented while they were apart. The need for him had consumed the girl. However, the fog had dissipated now that Tyler was with her once again. Yet if they touched too much the pheromones would take over the show and they would end up making love right there on the floor. “No, we need to talk. Damon said that I smell different. He couldn’t explain it but I believe him.”

Tyler fought the urge to take Bonnie up against the wall. Instead, he took a few steps back and stuffed his hands into his pockets. He said, “You probably smell more like me. It is a wolf thing. Our mates smell like us as a warning to other potential suitors. If Damon were here now, he would probably think that I smell like you, too.”

She nodded because his explanation made sense. However, she had other questions. “Something happened while you were gone…”

His shoulders tensed and he took an unconscious step forward. He asked, “Are you okay?”

“Oh. Yes, I am fine. It isn’t bad per se. Something happened that was just unexpected. Did you forget to mention any side effects to this whole situation?” she asked.

“What kind of side effects are you talking about, Bon?” he asked in concern.

Bonnie walked into the living room and lifted the end of the couch as if it were as light as a feather. “I pulled Damon into the house as if he were a rag doll. He didn’t mention it but I know that the noticed it.”

Tyler blinked as he stared at her for a long moment. He said, “That would be a new one for me. Werewolves are strong but you shouldn’t have access to that strength because you haven’t triggered the werewolf gene. Then again your eyes have flashed a few times when you were agitated or when you got jealous.”

Bonnie remembered Tyler mentioning her eyes earlier when they were in the woods together. She said, “Wait. I wasn’t jealous.”

“You were jealous when you thought I might have mated with another werewolf in the past,” he insisted with a smirk.

Bonnie averted her gaze in embarrassment.

Tyler stepped closer and gently lifted her face so that she was looking at him. He kissed her softly. “Hey, I’m not making fun of you, Bon. I was ready to rip out Damon’s spine. I still sort of feel like doing that. The bond between us is new. It makes all of our emotions more raw and extreme. It will level out once the mating cycle is over.”

Bonnie practically melted into a puddle of goo when Tyler kissed her. She nodded at his explanation. “Okay.”

“While you were gone I was thinking that maybe the curse that is suppressing my werewolf gene is fraying.”

Tyler wrapped his arms around Bonnie and asked, “What do you mean by fraying?”

She relaxed into the embrace. “Well, we know that I have killed someone. If I am a werewolf then I should have activated the gene a long time ago, but the curse and my magic have been working in tandem like a screen door. They are what have kept me from shifting during the full moon. However, my magic has been suppressed since I was resurrected. The curse is probably weakening and allowing some of the werewolf traits to surface. I don’t know how long it will take for the curse to disappear completely. Anyway, it is just a theory. We don’t even know if I have been cursed. Maybe I’m just weirdo.”

“You’re not a weirdo,” he replied with a smirk. “Well, you aren’t any weirder than anyone else in this town.”

She huffed out a laugh. “That’s not exactly a high bar.”

Tyler looked over her shoulder and noticed several books spread across the floor. He asked, “What’s all this?”

She followed his gaze. “Oh, I pulled out some grimoires while you were gone. I even found the one that had that description of werewolves and mating marks that I told you about earlier. The witch created a fertility ritual for an Alpha couple that couldn’t conceive. It seems like they gave her the information about werewolves. She would have needed to understand the mating marks and cycle in order to perfect the ritual.”

His eyebrows shot up and he smirked. “Really?”

She rolled her eyes in exasperation. “We don’t need the fertility ritual but the information on the mating marks was very useful.”

“Well, I have something else that might be useful, too,” he said. Tyler locked the front door and then grabbed his duffel bag. He followed Bonnie into the living room and unloaded the books onto the coffee table.

Bonnie got onto her knees and slowly opened the book on the top of the heap. The book didn’t look like the type of thing she could leaf through without being extremely careful. The brittle yellowish pages spoke to the book’s age. “Wow…”

Tyler sat on the couch and smiled at the look of open curiosity on Bonnie’s face. He reached out and carded his finger through her hair without thinking.

She practically purred in response. She closed her eyes for a long moment to enjoy the sensation. Eventually, she forced herself to examine the book in front of her.

“This is an annotated family tree,” Bonnie breathed as she finally made sense of the looping script on the pages. “How far does this go back?”

He said, “That’s the oldest book and it goes back several centuries. Most of the information in this volume is little more than word of mouth stories passed down through the generations. My great-great-great grandfather, George, was able to verify some of the information. His journals might be helpful, too.”

Bonnie asked, “George Lockwood? That name sounds familiar.”

He nodded. “He was alive around the time that Stefan and Damon were turned. He is actually the reason Katherine wasn’t trapped in the tomb with the other vampires. In one of his journals, he talks about the deal he made with Katherine. He saved her from being locked in the tomb. In exchange, she handed over the moonstone and told him everything she knew about werewolves. She knew much more than he did. George didn’t even know he was a werewolf until he fought in the Civil War...”

“He killed someone and then triggered the curse,” she finished. “That had to be terrifying.”

Tyler huffed out a bitter laugh while thinking about the moment when he triggered the curse. He reached out and smoothed a loose strand of hair behind Bonnie’s ear. He said, “Take it from me, it is terrifying when you have no clue what is happening or why. I am happy that you won’t have to go through that. Shifting for the first time won’t be easy but I will be there to help you through it.”

The tender gesture and sincerity of Tyler’s words caught Bonnie off guard. Tyler was being sweet and she really wanted to touch him. However, she knew that uncovering the mystery of her background should take precedence. “I am not looking forward to that but I am happy that you will be with me if it happens.”

He didn’t have any scientific proof but he just had a feeling that Bonnie would shift soon. Well, that wasn’t completely accurate. His wolf was certain that Bonnie would shift soon. After last night’s debacle, Tyler was inclined to listen now. The beast within him was connected to something hidden deep within Bonnie.

She gasped softly after reading an entry. “Is this true? Did the vampires really try to force werewolves into extinction?”

Tyler grimaced and then nodded. “Courtesy of Klaus and his genocidal siblings.”

“But Klaus knew that he was a werewolf. Why would he instigate something like that? How self-loathing can someone be?”

“Probably the same reason he ordered a werewolf hunt in New Orleans. He wanted to appease the vampires under his command. Vampires like to think that they are superior but the simple truth is that a single bite from even the weakest werewolf means the end of them. They are savages that know nothing of compromise. The original vampires are the reason that we are sworn enemies and always will be. They set the ball in motion.”

Bonnie shook her head. “That’s so sad.”

Tyler caressed her cheek. “Werewolves are resilient, Bon. The vampires tried to wipe us off the face of the Earth and we still exist. While I was away from Mystic Falls, I learned that our numbers aren’t as small as Klaus would like to believe. There are tens of thousands of werewolves living under the radar all over North, Central, and South America. The older man I told you about, Gabe, was once part of a pack in Montreal. The vampires lost track of us for centuries. Some of them even stopped believing that we existed. Werewolves became myths and legends. All the while we’ve just been living, surviving, and reproducing. Werewolves like you and me...we’re the future, Bon. One day we will have the numbers where won’t have to hide anymore.”

The thoughts of studying the books some more seemingly evaporated. She wanted Tyler and it wasn’t the mark goading her into it. She was attracted to the man he had become while everyone was too busy to notice. Bonnie stood up and then sat beside him on the couch. She interlaced their fingers and asked, “Do you want to go upstairs?”

Tyler pressed a kiss to the back of Bonnie’s hand and pulled her closer. “I think a better question is do you want to go upstairs?”

“I mean that’s why you are staying the week here with me,” she said. Bonnie bit into her bottom lip nervously.

“Yeah, but we don’t have to rush. We probably still have a couple of hours before the heat starts. We can do whatever you want until then.”

Bonnie tugged at the cuff of her shirt as she tried to figure out how to say this without dying of embarrassment. “Last night, we were together because of the mark and the bond. In a few hours, we will be together because of the heat. I was hoping that right now, we could be together simply because it is what we both want. I know the bond and pheromones will still play a factor but…”

Tyler stared into Bonnie’s eyes for a long moment. Her sparkling green irises had always reminded him of a cat’s eyes. Recently, he had found himself staring into her eyes more often. He noticed how they changed with her mood. If she was angry, they became darker like a mossy green. When she was happy, her eyes resembled bright uncut emeralds. Last night, he learned that her eyes turned almost Kelly Green when Bonnie became aroused. Tyler cupped Bonnie’s cheek and gently brushed his lips against hers.

The kiss started chaste and perhaps a little timid. However, it became heated and more passionate by the minute. Bonnie was sitting right beside Tyler but she longed to be closer to him. She broke their kiss long enough to straddle his lap. “Is this okay?” she asked.

Tyler had an innuendo tinged reply on the tip of his tongue, but it died on his lips as Bonnie rolled her hips against him. He groaned, “Yes…”

Emboldened by Tyler’s reaction, Bonnie repeated the motion a few times. It didn’t take long to feel his manhood began to stir with interest.

He grabbed onto Bonnie’s hips to stop her movements. “Easy,” he murmured against her lips.

She whispered, “Sorry…”

He slipped his hand beneath Bonnie’s shirt and raked his blunt nails down her back. He was careful not to disturb the gauze covering the bite mark. Tyler didn’t want to cloud Bonnie’s judgment more than it already was. “Don’t apologize. I was only going to say that we should go upstairs like you suggested. A bed would be nice…more room.”

Bonnie swallowed thickly and nodded. “Okay, Ty.”

Tyler stood up with Bonnie in his arms.

Instead of complaining about being picked up again, she wrapped her legs around his waist and gently sunk her teeth into the side of his neck. Tyler wasn't alone in his need to mark his mate.

Tyler hissed in surprise when Bonnie’s teeth nicked his skin. He lightly slapped her on the butt as he carried her upstairs. In warning voice, he said, “Hey.”

Bonnie poked out her bottom lip. “You bit me and covered my body in hickeys. I should be able to mark you, too.”

He chuckled when they reached the top of the stairs. “I'm a hybrid, Bon. I'll heal in a few minutes tops. Where is your bedroom?”

“It's the door on the right,” she replied petulantly.

Tyler walked into Bonnie’s bedroom and placed her on the bed. He took off his shirt. “Are you pouting?”

“No,” she muttered. “Maybe.”

He chuckled and kicked off his shoes. Then he shucked off his pants before climbing into bed with her. He laid on his back and said, “C’mere…”

Bonnie barely heard him because her focus was on his erection. “Hmm?” she asked.

Tyler chuckled and pulled Bonnie on top of him. “Just because the hickeys won't last doesn't mean you can't have fun making them, Bon.”

Her green eyes brightened and she breathed out a soft, “Oh…”

“I'm not just a pretty face,” he joked.

Chapter Text

No amount of secondhand information could have adequately prepared the newly mated couple for Bonnie’s first heat. She and Tyler had been in the throes of pheromone-induced euphoria for the last six and a half hours. The heat was more than just the undeniable desire to copulate with one's mate. It stripped Bonnie and Tyler down to the most primitive versions of themselves. Primal urges and raw emotion had replaced rational thought and self-control. They realized early on that Bonnie possessed a hardy constitution commensurate with her werewolf heritage. They both felt empowered by that knowledge and decided not to restrain themselves.

Tyler had Bonnie bent over a dresser as he pumped into her dripping core mercilessly. He could tell that she was reaching the end of the heat’s first phase because her pheromones no longer perfumed the air around them. Tyler felt grateful for the reprieve because sweat, bites, and bruises covered their exhausted bodies. He even had a collection of nasty scratches on his arms and back courtesy of Bonnie’s surprisingly sharp fingernails. Her affinity for clawing at Tyler was one of the reasons that he decided to bend her over the dresser for their last go round. He also liked being able to watch her rounded backside move as she eagerly met each of his thrusts.

He pulled out of Bonnie only to bury his manhood inside of her in a single thrust. He leaned down so that his lips were beside her ear. He asked, “You like that?”

Bonnie’s muscles felt weak and her knees threatened to buckle each time Tyler plundered her tender womb. Yet she was too close to another mind-blowing orgasm to consider tapping out now. Instead, she tightened her grip on the black lacquer dresser and let out a strangled moan. “I need you, please…”

Something snapped inside of Tyler when he heard that breathy plea fall from his mate’s lips. He grabbed onto her hips only vaguely aware that he was adding to her growing collection of bruises. Tyler changed the angle of his thrusts to target that spot deep inside of Bonnie that drove her crazy. Then he settled into a rhythm that was desperate. “I know you do. I am going to take care of you. I promise, Bon.”

The change of pace and angle caught Bonnie off guard. It felt as if every nerve ending in her body had come alive at the same time. Two pairs of amber eyes connected in the mirror as she moaned helplessly. She felt lightheaded for a moment as her blood pressure spiked. She whined, “Ty…”

“Are you mine?” he asked in a husky voice. He needed to hear her say it.

“Yes, I’m yours,” she swore without a moment’s hesitation.

Tyler grinned at Bonnie in the mirror for a second before giving her exactly what she needed. He watched with a perverse amount of pleasure as Bonnie fell apart in a matter of minutes.  

She let out a choked sob of pleasure as she found her release. Her walls seized around Tyler like a vise grip.

The brunette hybrid thought that he would never grow tired of seeing that look of pure ecstasy on Bonnie’s face. He gripped her hips tighter and chased his own climax now that he was certain that his mate was satisfied. Soon enough a growl disturbed the relative silence of the bedroom as he spilled inside of Bonnie.

Silence descended on the darkened bedroom as the couple struggled to catch their breath and regain their senses.

Tyler leaned forward and kissed the back of Bonnie’s neck. He murmured, “Are you okay, Bon?”

She nodded weakly. “Yeah, I think so.”

Tyler was as gentle as he could be when he finally pulled out of Bonnie.

However, she hissed in pain and clenched her thighs together. In a pitiful voice, she complained, “The lube did not help.”

He easily gathered Bonnie in his arms and carried her over to the bed. Tyler turned on the lamp beside her bed and rested his hand against her leg. “Let me see, Bon.”

Bonnie lifted an eyebrow at him and quickly shook her head. “That’s not happening.”

He stroked her leg gently. “Come on, Bon. I just want to see if you are okay. I won’t even touch you. I promise.”

She bit her lip for a moment before slowly opening her legs for Tyler. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen every inch of her at this point. “How bad is it?”

Tyler winced in sympathy when he saw the reddened skin. “Shit. I am sorry, Bon. You look a little irritated down here.”

Bonnie gingerly pulled herself up into a sitting position. She saw how his forehead creased with concern for her. She smiled tiredly at Tyler. “It’s not as if you did that alone. I distinctly remember asking you not to be gentle with me. I enjoyed it.”

Tyler found that Bonnie’s attempt at reassuring him did little to ease his guilt. He asked, “Is there anything that I can do to help?”

She frowned when she noticed that Tyler was truly upset. She took his hand and interlaced their fingers. “I am okay. It is nothing that a warm bath won’t help. I promise…”

He searched their emerging bond trying to detect if Bonnie was being truthful. However, all he felt from her was a wave of contentment. Tyler slowly calmed down once he accepted that Bonnie was truly okay. “I’ll go run a bath for you.”

Bonnie said, “Thanks, Ty.”

He kissed her softly and then headed into the bathroom. Tyler caught sight of his arms in the mirror and chuckled deeply. He could scarcely believe the depth of the scratches on his arms. It looked as if a wild animal had attacked him. He smirked as he considered the impulse that had spurred Bonnie to mark him. Tyler was glad that they didn’t have a reason to leave the house for the next week. Bonnie could prove dangerous if another female approached him. It would seem that the wolf inside of her was closer to the surface than either of them had realized.

Tyler moved over to the tub and started a bath for Bonnie. Afterwards he leaned against the counter as he waited for the tub to fill. Bonnie’s suggestion that they make love while in full control of their faculties had made perfect sense to him that afternoon. Since last night, they had been making decisions based on the biological imperatives dictated by their werewolf nature. For a short time that afternoon, Tyler and Bonnie had made love simply because it was what they wanted—rather than needed.

In hindsight, Tyler should have realized that having sex might prematurely trigger Bonnie’s heat. Unfortunately, he was still learning the finer details of the mating process. He knew more than Bonnie did, but by no means was he an expert. The new couple did not realize their mistake until it was too late to change course. Something deep inside of Bonnie had awakened during her second orgasm. Tyler’s head had been buried between her legs at the time, but he noticed the change immediately. The rush of pheromones from Bonnie had been so intense that he felt lightheaded for a few minutes. Tyler had never smelled anything so enticing in the whole of his life.

Bonnie walked into the bathroom and opened a glass paned cabinet that stood in the corner. She grabbed two fresh sets of towels and placed them on the counter. “That’s enough water if you’re planning to join me.”

Tyler didn’t need to be told twice. He turned off the faucet and climbed into the large jetted tub. Once he was seated, he held out a hand for Bonnie.

She cautiously climbed into the tub with Tyler’s help. The she sat between his outstretched legs and sighed happily as the warm water soothed away the soreness.

He pulled Bonnie closer so that her back rested against his chest. He kissed her neck softly and asked, “Better?”

Bonnie nodded. “Much.”

“Good,” he replied quietly.

She began laughing as she traced a random pattern on Tyler’s thigh.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“We are 0 for 2 tonight,” she replied in amusement.

Tyler blinked in confusion and pried his mouth away from her neck for a moment. “What do you mean by that?”

“The lube didn’t work and I can’t remember how many times we actually used condoms,” she explained.

Bonnie’s words hit him like an anvil to the head. He was certain that they hadn’t used a condom on the last go round. Honestly, Tyler couldn’t recall how many of the other times they had remembered to use protection. He would root through the trashcan beside Bonnie’s bed to get an accurate count later. He groaned, “Shit. I’m sorry, Bon.”

She shook her head and snuggled closer into the warmth of Tyler’s body. Bonnie closed her eyes and said, “I am just as guilty here because I forgot, too. It didn’t occur to me until a few minutes ago. Frankly, it was a little naïve of us to think that we would have the presence of mind to remember condoms. We weren’t exactly ourselves this evening.”

Tyler hummed in agreement. He had been with dozens of girls in the past but he had never been as rough with them as he had been with Bonnie. Normally, he was able to keep the more animalistic part of his personality hidden. He had never felt safe enough to let himself go completely. He hadn’t even trusted himself with Caroline. Tyler had always been worried that he would hurt her accidentally. However, he had no such worries with Bonnie. “The next phase of your heat shouldn’t be so intense. We’ll be more careful.”

Bonnie nodded in agreement but she wondered if the damage had already been done. They certainly had not used protection last night in the woods. Moreover, as Damon helpfully pointed out earlier, she was ovulating. Those factors coupled with the information she gleaned from the grimoire convinced Bonnie that she might have already conceived. However, she wasn’t ready to have that conversation with Tyler. The water was warm and so was he. All she wanted to do was close her eyes for a few minutes.

Tyler didn’t need Bonnie to clue him into her thought process. He was already thinking about the conversations he had with Gabe in the past. In the beginning, the information had just been interesting because it was about his heritage. Their conversations had taken on a different significance when Tyler began to realize he was drawn to Bonnie. Suddenly, finding a mate didn’t sound so farfetched. He knew they would need to talk about this at some point but he didn’t have the energy for it right now. Moreover, he needed to figure out Bonnie’s mood first. It wasn’t wise to irritate a hormonal female werewolf.

“A nap sounds like heaven right now,” Bonnie said dreamily.

He chuckled quietly and said, “We need food and then we can sleep for as long as you want.”

She frowned up at him. “I’m not hungry.”

Tyler kissed the top of her head. “Just trust me on this. You need calories to replace what we burned off. It can be something quick like sandwiches.”

“Grilled cheese sandwiches?” she asked in a hopeful voice.

He chuckled softly. “I think we can handle that.”

“I guess that I can eat something then,” she murmured.

Tyler brought his arms around to hug Bonnie. He jokingly asked, “Have you always been this stubborn?”

Bonnie opened her mouth to reply when she saw the scratches on his arms. “Oh my God! Do those hurt?”

He shook his head with a smile. “Not really. And they are already healing.”

Her cheeks grew hot with embarrassment. She said, “I can’t believe that I did that to you, Tyler. I’m not sure what got into me.”

Tyler chuckled softly and said, “I don’t mind it. The scratches don’t hurt, Bon. Besides, I wasn’t exactly gentle with you either.”

Bonnie looked down when she felt Tyler’s fingers flutter over her left hip. Her eyes widened at the bruising. She shook her head in disbelief. She asked, “Is a heat always like this?”

He nodded. “Pretty much.”

Her eyebrows furrowed as she thought about it.

Tyler decided now was the best time to bring up his idea. He figured that Bonnie would shoot him down, but talking to her about it was worthwhile. “I realize that you don’t like vampire blood. I get it because I don’t like it either. But sometimes it can be useful—like now. The scratches and bites on me will heal but you aren’t so fortunate. I don’t want you to be in pain when the next phase of your heat starts.”

Bonnie looked over her shoulder and her eyes connected with Tyler’s. She could hear the genuine concern in his voice and he was right. They hoped to be more lucid during the heat’s second phase, but they had no evidence to suggest that. Bonnie’s injuries would only become worse if they continued with this intensity all week. She saw the logic in taking Tyler’s blood. She had consumed vampire blood in the past to heal. However, it felt different in this context. Somehow it felt more intimate.

He could practically see the wheels in Bonnie’s head turning. He realized that she was at least considering his offer and that was more than he had hoped for at the outset. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “You don’t need to give me an answer now, Bon.”

“Okay,” she uttered in a quiet voice. She settled against him again and closed her eyes for a moment.

They sat there in silence for nearly twenty minutes before Tyler heard his phone ringing in the bedroom. He groaned and said, “I should answer that. I am actually expecting a call.”

Bonnie was on the edge of sleep when Tyler began speaking. She blinked drowsily for a few seconds before sliding forward.

Tyler climbed out of the tub and wrapped a towel around his waist. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She nodded and stifled a yawn. Bonnie considered waiting for Tyler to come back but the sandman had other plans. Ultimately, she decided a hot shower was the perfect way to get clean while staying awake. She knew Tyler was right about the importance of eating before falling asleep. They couldn’t really predict when the next phase of her heat would begin.

Bonnie climbed out of the tub and let the water out. She padded over to the glass shower enclosure and made the water as hot as she could stand. Then the girl made quick work of showering. However, the frequent hisses of pain convinced her to accept Tyler’s blood. There was no way that she would survive another six days of this without a werewolf’s accelerated healing factor or Tyler’s blood.

After Bonnie finished showering, she dried off and secured a towel around her body. She quietly walked into her bedroom unsure whether Tyler was still on the phone. However, she found her room empty. Bonnie noticed Tyler’s towel at the top of the laundry hamper when she tossed her own towel on top.

She walked over to the dresser and pulled out a simple black nightgown. She pulled the flimsy cotton material over her head before she walked downstairs.

Bonnie was about to go into the kitchen when she heard Tyler’s voice on the porch. The girl’s curiosity encouraged her to go investigate. However, her growling stomach diverted her attention.

She opened the refrigerator and stared at the contents for several long minutes. Grilled cheese sandwiches had sounded good while she was in the bathtub. However, she was craving meat now. Bread and cheese just wasn’t going to cut it.

Bonnie looked up when she heard Tyler walking towards the kitchen. Her lips curved up into a smile when she saw that he was shirtless. He was right that the scratches on his arm were already beginning to heal. Bonnie shook her head as if to dislodge a thought. “Hey. Is everything okay?”

He scratched at the back of his neck and said, “Yeah. I am sorry about ditching you like that. Did you have a good bath?”

Bonnie grabbed the ingredients for sandwiches and closed the refrigerator with her foot. She said, “I ended up taking a shower. I definitely would have fallen asleep in the tub.”

He walked up behind Bonnie when she moved over to the counter. Tyler rested his hands on her hips and asked, “What are you making?”

“BLT sandwiches. Do you like those?” she asked suddenly. She hadn’t considered what he might want to eat. Her desire for food had short-circuited her brain.

He chuckled and asked, “Who doesn’t like bacon?”

“Right!” Bonnie said with widened eyes for emphasis. “I put cheese on my BLT sandwiches, too. Cheese and bacon are the two best things in the world.”

Tyler smirked and pressed a kiss to the back of her head. “Sounds like a plan to me. Can I do anything?”

Bonnie said, “Uh, you can turn on the oven. I like to cook my bacon in the oven. It makes the strips crispy.”

He walked to the other side of the kitchen and turned on the wall oven.

“Oh! While you are over there can you grab the baking sheets from that cabinet?”

“This one?” he asked. Tyler opened the cabinet and spotted the aforementioned sheets. He brought them over to Bonnie.

Bonnie sliced open two packs of bacon and began arranging the strips in neat rows.

Tyler said, “Uh, you’re probably wondering why I took the phone call out on the porch.”

She glanced at him and said, “It crossed my mind for a minute. I figured you just didn’t want to risk anyone overhearing me in the background.”

The hybrid knew that Bonnie was giving him a way out, but he found himself wanting to tell her anyway. Frankly, he had wanted to tell her the truth for a while. However, he had worried that it would put Bonnie in an awkward position with their friends. “I was talking to a friend that doesn’t live here in Mystic Falls.”

Bonnie noticed Tyler’s strange tone of voice and turned to look at him. “Is this a friend from Whitmore or someone from the dive you took me to today?”

He huffed out a laugh because Bonnie had always been the observant type. Tyler said, “A friend from the bar. You met her actually. She’s the woman that brought our food to the table.”

Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to remember the friendly older woman’s name. She asked, “Ruby?”

Tyler picked up the two baking sheets and put them into the oven. He said, “Uh, yeah. Her name is Ruby. She actually owns the place.”

Bonnie washed her hands in the sink and then turned around to look at Tyler. He was being weird and she couldn’t figure out why. “Ruby is your girlfriend and she is on the way over here to fight me for you.”

Tyler barked a loud laugh and asked, “What?”

“Well, if that isn’t the case then whatever you have to tell me can’t be that bad,” she replied with a grin.

Tyler walked over to Bonnie and gently pulled her into his arms. He said, “Ruby is definitely not my girlfriend. She is my beta.”

Bonnie knew what the Greek letter meant but she was a little lost without context. “What is a beta?”

“I am the alpha of a pack that is based nearby. Ruby is my beta. She is like my second-in-command. She is also an advisor since I am such a young alpha.”

She blinked in surprise. “You have a pack. Why didn’t you tell anyone, Ty?”

He let out a long breath and said, “I don’t want you to be offended but I try to keep my pack well away from Mystic Falls. Innocent people end up dead around our group of friends. I know that things have been quiet around here lately but we both know that can change at any moment. I’m responsible for my pack’s safety. I won’t have them mixed up in Mystic Fall’s insanity.”

Bonnie was still in shock but she understood his reasoning. She said, “I get why you want to protect your pack, Ty. My grams died because she helped me with the spell that kept the tomb sealed. I asked my mom for help with the coffins and she was killed for her trouble. I regret ever asking her to come here. I know that being a vampire is better than being dead but it wasn’t what she wanted. Silas killed my dad in front of the entire town. The people we love are not safe here.”

Tyler relaxed when he realized that Bonnie wasn’t angry with him. He said, “I lost both of my parents, my uncle, and my first pack. I can’t go through that again.”

A wave of guilt washed over Bonnie as she remembered her role in Richard and Mason’s deaths. She shook her head. “Will you tell me about your pack? I promise that I won’t tell anyone else.”

“You really want to know about my pack?”

She wrapped arms around his neck and nodded. “Of course I do. They are your family. It is obvious how important they are to you.”

“Well, you met Ruby,” Tyler said as he lifted Bonnie up onto the counter.

Bonnie winced in pain.

He frowned and said, “I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

She smiled at him. “I’m just a little sore. I thought about what you said. Maybe it would be a good idea for me to have a little of your blood.”

Tyler hadn’t expected Bonnie to agree so freely. He figured there would be more convincing involved. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “I’m sure.”

The hybrid bit into his wrist immediately and offered it to her. He didn’t want to give Bonnie the opportunity to change her mind.

Bonne tentatively grasped Tyler’s arm and brought his bleeding wrist to her mouth. She blanched at the idea of tasting blood. Yet the first drop on her tongue was like ambrosia. Bonnie lapped at the blood pouring from his wrist until the wound closed. She pulled back with a sheepish smile. “Uh, thank you…”

He swallowed thickly and nodded. “You’re welcome.”

The girl hopped down from the counter and cleared her throat. “You can tell me more about Ruby and the rest of the pack while I toast the bread for our sandwiches.”

Tyler was still little dazed so he nodded despite the fact that Bonnie had turned away from him.

Chapter Text

Caroline stood in the doorway of the Salvatore boarding house with her arms folded across her chest. Her frown deepened as she looked over Stefan’s shoulder at the vintage Porsche idling in the driveway. Damon had just honked the horn for the tenth time. She was going to march out there and snap his neck if he did it again. Caroline took in a calming breath so that she could speak to Stefan without screeching at him. “I just don’t understand why you have to drive out to the middle of nowhere with Damon. Saturday night is supposed to be our date night, Stefan.”

Stefan decided not to point out that their date nights always consisted of staying in the house. Caroline shot him down whenever he suggested going out. She was not ready for Elena and Tyler to find out about their relationship. Therefore, the chick flick they were going to watch could wait until he returned. He smiled, “Damon is determined to buy more moonshine, but he is too drunk to drive himself. If I don’t drive him out to the boondocks, he is going to try to make it in our cellar. Moonshine can be combustible under the right circumstances. I am just trying to prevent my brother from blowing up our home.”

The blond vampire huffed but nodded in agreement. Damon making moonshine in the cellar had disaster written all over it. She leaned up and pecked Stefan’s lips. “Well, I hope you won’t take too long coming back. I really want to watch The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with you. It’s one of my favorite movies.”

Stefan had no interest in watching that movie, but he understood that Caroline was going through a difficult time. Her friendship with Bonnie and Elena was strained for reasons she did not understand. In her most honest moments, Caroline complained that the two girls had changed in some way. Stefan was inclined to agree with her.

He said, “I promise that I will be back soon.”

“Okay,” Caroline replied.

Stefan walked out to his car and climbed into the driver's seat. He pulled away from the boarding house without looking at his older brother. Sometimes Stefan felt as if he was taking care of a drunken toddler. However, he didn’t complain since Damon wasn’t killing humans. Stefan knew that he was setting the bar low but it was better than being disappointed. “Don’t say anything.”

Damon poured a twenty-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola into the half-filled jar of moonshine sitting on the seat between his legs. Damon took a healthy gulp of the mixed drink and then grinned in satisfaction. He chuckled and said, “She’s turning you into her gay best friend.”

Stefan tightened his grip on the steering wheel. He said, “When you are in a mature relationship, you trade off on doing things that the other person likes. It is called compromise, Damon.”

He rolled his eyes. “Yes, you are in a mature relationship that you have to hide behind closed doors. Lecture me on the finer points of a healthy relationship when Blondie decides to take your little arrangement public.”

Damon wasn’t the type of person that would sit his younger brother down for a heart to heart. However, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t worried about Stefan. He saw the toll this relationship was taking on him. Stefan had found the sneaking around enjoyable in the beginning. Now he just felt like Caroline’s dirty little secret, but he was too nice to say anything to her.

“Caroline is just trying to be respectful of Elena and Tyler’s feelings. I happen to agree with her. Everything has been peaceful lately. I don’t see any reason to upset the apple cart. The secrecy won’t last forever. Caroline has been trying to set Elena up with a guy in her theater class.”

Damon chuckled as he brought the jar of moonshine to his lips. “I think sometimes you forget that I know you better than anyone else does, brother. You can lie to Blondie all day long but you can’t lie to me.”

“You don’t know what you are talking about, Damon You’re drunk. You are always drunk lately.”

“Really?  I think you are fine with keeping your relationship quiet because you don’t want to hurt Elena’s feelings. After all, you love playing the good guy. But you are also worried that Caroline is holding out hope of reconciling with Tyler.”

Stefan looked over at his shockingly lucid older brother. He frowned and said, “You aren’t drunk.”

“Oh, I am definitely drunk. I am just not as drunk as I pretended to be. It’s called acting, brother. Caroline isn’t the only thespian in the house.” Damon held the glass jar aloft and said, “ To be, or not to be: that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ...shit I forgot the rest of it. But you get my point.”

Stefan was used to his brother’s antics but he wasn’t really in the best mood. Damon had picked at a particularly sore spot when he brought up Tyler. He wanted to believe Caroline when she claimed to be done with the hybrid. However, there was a little voice in the back of his head that said something wasn’t right. He had ignored a similar voice that had warned him about Damon and Elena. “Why am I playing chauffer if you aren’t fall down drunk, Damon? You could have driven out to the farm on your own.”

“I needed to talk to you without anyone eavesdropping on our conversation. That is practically impossible since Blondie has essentially moved into the boarding house during weekends. This conversation really couldn’t wait until Monday.”

The blond vampire tensed because Damon’s voice was no longer teasing. Stefan wondered if some new threat was on the horizon. Six months was really too long for them to avoid attracting any new enemies. He had been waiting for the other shoe to drop for weeks. “What’s going on, Damon?”

Damon took another gulp of the moonshine. “Well, we have a good news and bad news situation on our hands. The good news is that there is exactly zero chance of Wolf Boy and Blondie hooking up again. That should put a smile on your perpetually brooding face.”

“Did you kill him?” Stefan asked.

He tilted his head to the side as he considered ripping out Tyler’s heart. After a few seconds, Damon shook his head. He didn’t think Bonnie would be too happy with him if he did that. “No, the mutt is as alive as he always is. He just has a new girlfriend if I read the situation right.”

Stefan wasn’t proud of how happy he was to hear that. Tyler moving on with his life was the best news he had gotten in months. However, he quickly remembered that Damon mentioned bad news as well. “What’s the bad news?”

“What I am about to tell you cannot leave this car, Stefan. I don’t care how much you love Blondie, this stays between the two of us. Or I will break your neck several times,” he declared.

Stefan glanced at his brother for a moment before returning his gaze to the road. He didn’t like keeping secrets from Caroline. However, the situation must be serious if Damon was making a big deal out of it. His brother rarely talked about anything without cracking a joke. “You have my word. I won’t say anything…for now.”

Damon had expected more of a struggle from his brother. He decided to accept Stefan’s caveat. It wasn’t as if Bonnie and Tyler would be able to keep their secret for much longer. Stefan and Caroline would come to the same conclusion he did the moment they were in the same room with her. “I wasn’t exactly honest when I told everyone that Bon-Bon went home with someone she met at my party last night.”

“What? Why would you lie about something like that, Damon? You said that Bonnie was okay. Did you lie about that, too?”’

The dark-haired vampire rolled his eyes as he took another gulp of his drink. He said, “Witchy was alive and well when I dropped by her house this afternoon. I lied about her meeting someone at the party. Bonnie went home last night with someone she already knows—Tyler.”

Stefan’s head whipped toward his brother. “What?”

Damon startled when Stefan swerved into the other lane. Fortunately, traffic was practically nonexistent on that stretch of Interstate 90. He groaned when realized some of his the drink had splashed onto his pants. “Would you keep your eyes on the road? This is the last of my moonshine and we are at least 30 minutes away from the farm.”

He pulled onto the shoulder of the road and turned off the car. Stefan asked, “Are you being serious right now?”

Damon searched the glove compartment for napkins. “Why would I make up something like this?”

“You saw Tyler there?” he asked just to clarify.

“No, I don’t think he was there when I stopped by. But Bonnie was wearing his clothes and she smelled like him,” Damon explained while he dabbed at the wet spot on his pants. He grumbled, “It looks like I pissed on myself. This is why we didn’t take my car. You are a terrible driver, brother.”

Stefan sighed. “Focus, Damon.”

He said, “Bonnie begged me not to tell anyone. I convinced her to let me tell you on the condition that you keep your mouth shut. There is something happening that she doesn’t understand. Why do you think I mixed Cola into my moonshine? I’ve gotta stay sharp because something is headed our way.”

“What do you mean?”

Damon said, “I expected to find Tyler at Bonnie’s house. The two of them have been circling each other for months. So I wasn’t surprised when she smelled like Tyler but it was more than just that. His scent wasn’t just on her skin…it was radiating out of her body. Adding to that, Bonnie pulled me into her house as if I weighed nothing at all. The two of them have done something that has changed her on an elemental level.”

Stefan silently arranged all the pieces in his mind as he tried to understand the situation. He asked, “How long has this been happening? Caroline told me that Bonnie has been going missing for hours at a time.”

“I think last night was the first time they got together. The disappearing thing is just Bon-Bon communing with nature or whatever. She does it almost every night,” he explained.

Tyler wasn’t the only one that made a habit of keeping tabs on their powerless witch. However, Damon stopped checking on Bonnie every night once he realized that Tyler had taken up the job. He knew that the werewolf was up to the task and he certainly cared for Bonnie. Damon didn’t even hate Tyler as much as he once did. They weren’t friends by any means but Damon wouldn’t let anyone kill the furry bastard. That was definitely progress.

His respect for Tyler increased leaps and bounds during their road trip to Oregon. They had sought out the Gemini Coven to help Bonnie. The leader of the coven was less than thrilled when a vampire and a hybrid rocked up on his doorstep. Joshua Parker came very close to killing them. The gray haired witch had impaled Damon with a stake that was dangerously close to his heart. Joshua believed that Tyler had been knocked unconscious but the kid had merely been stunned. Damon had expected Tyler to run like a coward to save his own skin. He had run often enough from Klaus. However, he partially shifted and sunk his canine teeth into the witch’s neck so that Damon could get the upperhand. They forced the obstinate witch to help Bonnie.

“Did Tyler turn her?”

Damon chuckled, “I was drunk, but I would have noticed if Bonnie was lacking a heartbeat, brother. She’s still among the living.”

Stefan said, “Bonnie doesn’t have her magic so this can’t be a witch thing. She still has a heartbeat so it isn’t a vampire thing. By process of elimination that means this is a werewolf thing. Right?”

“That would be my first guess but werewolves are born and not turned,” he pointed out.

The younger of the brothers wore a thoughtful expression. “The scent change reminds me of something I learned while I was working for Klaus. He sent me ahead to scout out an Alpha living in North Alabama. I had to kill him because he wasn’t interested in hearing Klaus’ pitch. He was an old alpha that had ties with dozens of packs around the country. He would have proved a challenge when Klaus approached his pack. He certainly would have warned the others about the threat. After I killed him, his son and daughter-in-law returned home. Their scents were almost indistinguishable from one another. I learned that they were a newly mated pair and she was pregnant. I gave them the opportunity to run from Klaus before he arrived the next day. The girl ran because she was pregnant but the son stayed behind. He died when the transition failed.”

Damon’s dark eyebrows furrowed as he mulled over Stefan’s tale. “Can werewolves and humans mate?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know but Bonnie isn’t exactly human. She is still a witch even without her magic. It is the reason that she can’t be compelled. Maybe it is possible for werewolves and witches.”

“What you are saying is that we need to find a competent werewolf to find out what the hell happened to Bon-Bon,” he complained.

“A werewolf that will be forthcoming with information and not bite us on sight,” Stefan added for good measure.

He said, “I suggest that you call your boyfriend.”

Stefan glared at Damon. “Klaus is not my boyfriend and I am not calling him for anything. There is always a price with know that.”

Damon snickered, “Yet you knew exactly who I was talking about. Look he is the only werewolf we know that might have any useful information. Just lie to him about the circumstances.”

He heaved a long-suffering sigh. “Klaus won’t believe that I am suddenly curious about werewolf mating practices for no reason.”

“Probably not but you could tell him you found a werewolf trying to run away from her violent boyfriend. He would believe that you were trying to play hero.”

Stefan frowned. “We should talk to Bonnie and Tyler first. We need to figure out what they know about their situation. This might be a witch thing...not that we know any witches that like us.”

Damon smiled and said, “I am glad that is settled. Now let’s go get my moonshine.”

“We should be going to Bonnie’s house to talk to her, Damon. The moonshine can wait a few days.”

“Nope. I am going to need to be suitably intoxicated to watch my best friend fall in love with wolf boy,” he said with a shake of his head.

Stefan was quiet for a moment. He asked, “Is that all Bonnie is to you?”

Damon lifted an eyebrow as he looked at his brother. “What else would the judgy little witch be to me?”

“I don’t know. Things have seemed different between the two of you since we got her back from the Other Side. You have been spending more time with her.”

He scoffed and said, “I’m just trying to make sure that she doesn’t get dead again. Bennett witches have a knack for dying. Now will you get back on the road? My moonshine will not wait forever. What if another dashing alcoholic shows up before I do? I don’t know their policies on holding stock.”

The younger vampire bit back a smile as he started the car. “Okay but it is going to cost you. I want a few jars of moonshine for my trouble. Caroline actually liked it.”

“You have a deal,” Damon agreed.

Stefan turned on the radio and got back onto the road. He knew when questioning his brother was a fruitless endeavor. Damon was rarely as dense as he liked to act. He was only pretending now to avoid having a serious conversation. Stefan would just have to watch his brother with a careful eye. He had 150 years of data to support his concerns. Damon didn’t know how to cope with losing someone he loved. And he did love Bonnie, even if he was too stubborn to admit it.

While Damon had been watching the strange dance Bonnie and Tyler were doing, Stefan had been observing his brother’s behavior. Damon had been legitimately distressed when Jeremy confessed to hiding Bonnie’s death from everyone. Their friends all assumed Damon’s reaction was solely because of Elena. However, Stefan knew better. He had watched his brother run himself ragged for days as he tried to find a way to bring Bonnie back from the dead. Damon had been equal parts desperate and determined. His relief was palpable when Bonnie once again had a corporeal form. Her resurrection was the genesis of the friendship she now shared with Damon.

Stefan was intrigued by the friendship. His brother didn’t make a habit of being friends with women. He usually slept with them at some point. Stefan had been waiting for Damon to conform to type. However, he hadn’t made a play for Bonnie even after Elena broke up with him. Stefan didn’t know what to make of the situation but he was concerned. He liked the effect Bonnie had on his brother. Damon was still a reckless, narcissistic, alcoholic but his humanity was evident. He walked away from emotional situations rather than lashing out. He refused to let Elena into their home rather than snapping her younger brother’s neck in retaliation. He threw a stupid party and refused to invite Elena just to goad her. Stefan believed that Bonnie was responsible for those changes. However, Bonnie and Damon’s friendship would change if her relationship with Tyler became serious.

Chapter Text

Bonnie and Tyler decided to spend some time outside after they had devoured a truly impressive number of BLT sandwiches. They spread a thick blanket on the ground and cuddled underneath the starry sky. Bonnie felt at peace whenever she was outside. Since Qetsiyah resurrected the girl, she became restless when cooped up in the house for too long. Bonnie hadn’t fully understood that impulse until today. Now she realized that her dual witch and werewolf ancestry had amplified her need to commune with nature. Learning that she was a werewolf explained so many of the strange occurrences in the last six months.

She had never felt more satisfied or content as she did at this moment. Tyler’s head was resting on her stomach as she gently dragged her nails over his scalp. She had been listening with rapt attention as Tyler explained how he became alpha to a pack of forty-six werewolves.

His tale began when he lived with a pack based in the Appalachian Mountains. He had returned to the mountains when he was running from Klaus. Being around other wolves helped him deal with his grief, too. The elders of the pack encouraged him to shift and then run until his limbs grew weak with exhaustion. They believed the wolf was better equipped to cope with loss. He followed their advice every day for nearly a month. He spent countless hours in his wolf form. Tyler wasn’t sure if that method worked for everyone but it helped him. He still felt the pain from losing his family and his first pack. However, he was no longer consumed by that almost uncontrollable rage.

While he was there, Tyler met an older werewolf that claimed to be passing through the area. In truth, Gabe was a tracker that had been hired by a person interested in finding him. However, he became personally invested after learning that Tyler was the first successfully sired hybrid.  

Gabe stuck around for weeks befriending Tyler before he confessed the real reason for his presence. Tyler had a distant relative that hired Gabe to track the boy down. In the beginning, he rejected the idea of meeting with this relative. He had already lost too many family members to the supernatural world. He thought it was stupid and reckless to bring someone else into his chaotic life. Tyler had been waiting for Klaus to find and ultimately kill him. However, Gabe wasn’t the type of wolf that was easily discouraged. He lightly badgered Tyler until he agreed to a phone conversation.

Ruby turned out to be that relative. Upon talking to her, he learned that their relation wasn’t quite as distant as Gabe had led him to believe. Ruby was Carol Lockwood’s first cousin. Well, they were half-first cousins if that was such a thing. The two women shared the same grandfather but had different grandmothers. Their grandfather, Sidney, had been a powerful wolf descended from one of the seven original bloodlines. He also happened to believe it was his responsibility to help increase the population of werewolves. He fathered eight children with two different women—that they knew about. Sidney had the reputation of being a lothario. He probably would have fathered more children if he hadn’t been killed in an altercation with a group of vampires.

Tyler learned that Ruby’s father, Reed, had been Sidney’s eldest son. He triggered the werewolf gene when he was 21-years-old. Fortunately, he was prepared for that moment because his mother had been a werewolf, too. Sidney’s two youngest children were not as lucky. Their mother had been human and unaware of the existence of werewolves. She remarried after Sidney’s death and allowed her new husband to adopt the children. Reed had spent years searching for his half-siblings but couldn’t find them. Their names had been changed after the adoption.

Reed had his first success a few years ago. He had tracked down his niece via a message board for adoptees. Carol had learned about her father’s adoption and wanted to learn more about his biological family. She had posted a message on the board using her father’s birth name. However, Reed was murdered before he could contact Carol.

Reed had started his own pack once his siblings began getting married and having children. He created an environment where the children grew up knowing that they might one day become werewolves. He taught them to be proud of their heritage. He also taught them how to live without attracting unwanted attention from humans and vampires. Over the years, he allowed non-relatives to join the pack, too. Their numbers quickly swelled to well over 100 at one point. However, a smaller but more violent pack decided to move in on their territory.

The alpha of the other pack challenged Reed to a fight despite his advanced age. The younger wolf killed Reed and took over the pack. This caused dozens of wolves to go into hiding. The pack splintered further when rumors of the original family’s return began to spread like wildfire. However, Ruby and her relatives refused to leave the pack her father started.

“When I first talked to Ruby, she didn’t tell me about the asshole that took over her pack. She had been going through some of her father’s old papers when she found the background check he had run my grandfather and mother. Ruby came to Mystic Falls to find my mom only to learn that she had been killed. That’s when she hired Gabe to find me. She wanted to make sure that I was okay. Ruby also wanted to make sure that I knew about the werewolf gene. She was worried that grief would compound my natural tendency toward aggression...and that I would hurt someone. We started talking frequently after that first call. We would call each other every couple of days just to catch up. I met her in person for the first time after Klaus told Caroline that I could come back to Mystic Falls.”

Bonnie continued running her nails over Tyler’s scalp because she could feel the tension in his body. She asked, “Is that when you found out about the alpha?”

He closed his eyes and focused on Bonnie’s touch for a moment. Finally, he said, “Yeah. I showed up at Ruby’s place unannounced. I was excited to meet her in person. Gonzo was at the bar demanding money. Everyone in the pack had to pay him like a protection fee. He acted more like a petty gangster than an alpha. I stayed quiet and waited until he left before I introduced myself to Ruby. She was thrilled to meet me. I felt this instant connection with her. I know that might sound crazy but it was real. It was like I had known Ruby my whole life even though I was just meeting her.”

“I felt the same way when I met Lucy for the first time. My magic recognized her as family immediately even though I had never met her. I knew that I could trust her,” she said.

“It was exactly like that. Ruby let me crash at her place for as long as I wanted. After a couple of days, I convinced her to tell me what the hell was going on with her pack. Ruby told me about how Gonzo had killed her father and became alpha. She told me how he bullied everyone and had them afraid of their own shadows. Gonzo even killed the stronger male wolves so that no one could challenge him. Many of those wolves were my cousins. Ruby begged me to keep a low profile because she didn’t want me getting hurt.”

Bonnie’s heart ached for Tyler. She hated that he had experienced so much loss--they all had. She asked, “Didn’t she know that you were a hybrid?”

He nodded. “After Gabe found me, he told her about Klaus turning me into a hybrid. But she didn’t really understand what that meant. I kept a low profile for about a week before Gonzo realized there was another wolf in his territory. He approached me at Ruby’s bar. I was waiting for him to make a move. I wanted him to attack me. When he saw that I wasn’t afraid of him…he had four of his goons jump me. I ripped off all their heads—including his.”

“Good he deserved it,” Bonnie said. The sudden feeling of pride shocked her.

Tyler squeezed Bonnie’s hip in response. He said, “At the time, I didn’t realize that killing him made me the new alpha. I just wanted to get rid of the asshole that was mistreating my family…the only family I had left. When Ruby first explained it to me, I didn’t want it. I didn’t think that I was ready for it. I had already gotten one pack killed because I helped them break Klaus’ sire bond. And even though Klaus decided to pardon me I didn’t know if he would suddenly change his mind.”

“I understand that fear. He’s not exactly the sanest person in the world,” she muttered darkly. “I keep waiting for him to drop out of the sky to terrorize us again.”

He didn’t like the ripple of fear that he felt coming from Bonnie. It made Tyler wanted to rip out Klaus’ heart. He moved up so that he could look into her eyes for a moment. Then he gently grasped her face and kissed her. Tyler said, “Klaus has his own problems in New Orleans. He is not thinking about us now. I promise.”

Bonnie was embarrassed that Tyler felt as if he needed to comfort or reassure her. However, the truth was she felt naked and vulnerable without her magic. She forced a smile. “Well, that’s good to know. That’s enough about Klaus for one night. How did Ruby convince you to accept the responsibility of alpha?”

He lied down beside Bonnie and pulled her into his arms. He said, “Ruby was the oldest member of our family that still belonged to the pack. I thought she should become alpha. It isn’t uncommon for a woman to lead. But she told me that the pack wouldn’t survive without a strong alpha. They needed someone they felt could protect them from another hostile takeover. She was worried that they wouldn’t have that sort of faith in her because she didn’t challenge Gonzo. It was an unfair expectation for them to have of her. Ruby would have been no match for him but, I talked to some people and I realized that she was right. The pack would have withered and died if I didn’t step up. That’s when I decided to accept my role as alpha. My first act was to make Ruby one of my two betas. She knows the family history and everyone in the pack. I figured that she could help me and I was right. She’s been invaluable. I also asked Gabe to join our pack. He is a tracker and a bounty hunter. We needed someone like him on our side. He has connections with alphas in other packs, witches, some humans that know our secret, and even a few pragmatic vampires.”

“Vampires?” she asked.

He nodded. “Gabe has a way with people. He gets under your skin. You might love or hate him but I haven’t met anyone that didn’t respect him. Even Ruby loves him and they used to be married.”

Bonnie giggled. “You’re joking! Way to bury the lede.”

Tyler chuckled and shook his head. “Nope. Ruby and Gabe were married for about five years before he did a runner. He’s not really a stay in one place kinda guy. They got divorced but they’re still a thing. I learned that the hard way.”

Bonnie’s eyebrows furrowed as she tried to work out what he meant. However, she began cackling the moment she did. “Are you serious?”

“Yup. I showed up at Ruby’s house unannounced once. I let myself in because she had given a spare key to me. I will not forget the things I heard and smelled. Now I call before I show up.”

The green-eyed girl couldn’t stop laughing. “Oh my God. That is hilarious and also horrible.”

Tyler kissed her neck. “I am glad that you find my absolute mortification and emotional scarring to be so amusing.”

“At least you didn’t see anything. I totally walked in on Damon and Mrs. Sheffield a couple weeks ago. Now that was the stuff of nightmares.”

He stared at Bonnie in shock. “Are you talking about our music teacher from elementary school?”

She nodded and snorted in amusement. “I showed up early for one of our training sessions and they were going at it in the living room.”

“What did you do?” Tyler asked as he chuckled.

“I did the only thing I could do. I turned right around, got in my car, and sped away from the boarding house as if I would turn into a pillar of salt if I looked back. Damon showed up at my house an hour later ready to train but I couldn’t even look at him. ‘You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown’ was playing on a loop in my head.”

He chuckled.  “In the living room?”

She nodded. “It was during the week and Stefan was…off doing something.”

Tyler raised an eyebrow at that lame finish. “I know about Stefan and Caroline, Bon.  I have known for months. Caroline always douses herself in perfume thinking that I won’t be able to smell Stefan on her. She doesn’t realize that my senses are sharper than hers are because I am hybrid. The perfume irritates my nose but I can still smell what she is trying to hide. I don’t care that she is with him. I actually think it is amusing watching the two of them trying to hide something that everyone obviously knows is happening.”

Bonnie sat up to look at him. “You really mean that? I mean you were so upset about Klaus.”

Tyler sat up, too. “I was upset because Caroline slept with the asshole that murdered my mother and friends and turned me into a hybrid. It was never about jealousy. The truth is that my relationship with Caroline was over the moment Klaus turned me. I was different from that point forward but we kept trying to pretend as if things could go back to the way they were.”

“I can’t believe that you have known this whole time,” Bonnie said after a few minutes.

“Do you think I am being mean spirited?” he asked.

She shook her head. “No, I don’t think you are mean spirited at all. She hurt you and it doesn’t matter if she feels guilty about it. Her guilt doesn’t change the pain and betrayal you feel. Caroline broke your trust. Eventually she needs to stop allowing Stefan to rush to her defense and start repairing your friendship. Until she does the mature thing, I don’t think there is anything wrong with making her squirm a bit.”

Tyler smiled because Bonnie understood what he wanted without an explanation. “What about you? How do you feel about Jeremy and his girlfriend?”

Everyone in their group knew that Jeremy wasn’t over Bonnie. However, Tyler had a special insight on the situation because the kid lived in his house. Bonnie was always the topic of conversation whenever Jeremy was drunk--which was often. The high school student was positive that a reconciliation was imminent. Jeremy was just waiting for Bonnie to go back to ‘normal’. He blamed their break up on her being different. When his infidelity was mentioned, Jeremy blamed it on Bonnie refusing to have sex with him. Tyler wasn’t proud of how happy that piece of information had made him. The thought of Bonnie having sex with anyone had set his teeth on edge.

Matt was playing the role of older brother in the situation. He tried to help the kid see that Bonnie wasn’t going to magically revert to her old self. Either Jeremy had to adjust to her new personality or give up on the relationship. However, youth and arrogance made him reject both options. Jeremy planned to sleep with every girl that was interested in him while he waited for Bonnie to come to her senses.

Bonnie chuckled and said, “I was relieved when I found out that Jeremy was cheating on me again. I know how that sounds but…it gave me a way out of our relationship. I didn’t want to hurt him and I felt like I owed him for standing by me while I was dead. But I felt different when I came back from the Other Side. Being dead and watching everyone move on with their lives gave me clarity. I realized how unimportant I truly was to everyone. Jeremy was able to lie about my whereabouts for months. It would have gone on for longer if Damon hadn’t needed my help.”

Tyler winced and pulled Bonnie onto his lap. “I’m sorry…”

She shook her head. “You don’t have a reason to apologize, Tyler. We weren’t close friends and you had your own struggles. Besides, I am not bitter about it. I view what happened as a wakeup call. How can I expect anyone else to value my life when I am always throwing myself at the newest threat? I am never going to run from a fight but I also won’t willingly sacrifice my life for the supposed greater good.”

“That’s good to hear,” he murmured into her hair. “I don’t know what I would do if something happened to you. I reacted badly when I found out how much being the anchor hurt you.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

Tyler chuckled. “I might have put my fist through a wall at my house.”

“Why?” Bonnie asked in surprise.

He said, “Let’s just say me and the wolf were very unhappy that you were in pain. There was no one around that I could take out my aggression on without killing them. A few friends in the pack offered to spar with me but...I was worried that I would go too far.”

She was surprised by the intensity of his emotions. Bonnie could literally feel them in that moment and it was strange but comforting. It was the first time that she had really sensed anything through the bond. She rested her head on his shoulder. “I was prepared to live the rest of my life that way. But I am glad that you and Damon made it so that wasn’t necessary.”

Tyler trailed his fingers down Bonnie’s spine and just inhaled her scent. He would never get tired of their mingled scent. It was a constant reminder that against all odds he had found his other half.

Bonnie stifled a yawn against his shoulder.

“We should go inside.”

“I don’t want to go inside yet. It’s so beautiful out tonight,” she complained.

Tyler held back a chuckle when Bonnie’s stubbornness made an appearance. However, he understood her desire to be outside. Normally, Tyler shifted and went for a run when he felt that way. He knew that Bonnie didn’t have that option right now. Tyler kissed the top of her head and slowly lowered them into a lying position.“Okay. We’ll just lay here together for awhile.”

Bonnie wiggled on top of Tyler trying to get comfortable.

The hybrid lightly popped her on the butt. “If you keep doing that, I am going to start getting other ideas.”

She laughed against his chest and stopped moving. “That actually sounds fun but I learned my lesson from earlier. No sex until the heat starts.”

Tyler chuckled quietly and wrapped his arms around Bonnie.

Chapter Text

Four days. Bonnie and Tyler had hidden from the rest of the world for four long days. They spent nearly half of that time satisfying the all-consuming heat that descended on Bonnie at random intervals. Sometimes they would have nearly half a day’s rest before the next phase. At other times, they only had a few hours’ reprieve. Before all of this occurred, Bonnie would have assumed that she would grow tired of having sex at such a high frequency. However, she often craved Tyler’s touch even after a phase ended. He explained that wolves were creatures that often relied on tactile communication. Frequent touching helped wolves reduce stress and anxiety. They also used it to strengthen bonds within families and packs. Bonnie felt warm inside every time she thought of Tyler as family.

She bit her bottom lip as she watched Tyler sleeping peacefully. He was sprawled out on his back with only a thin periwinkle sheet covering his lower half. Tyler was exhausted because the previous heat phase had ended only a few hours ago. However, after a short nap Bonnie was wide-awake again. She had this overwhelming urge to wake him so that they could play. Bonnie knew that to someone else that would sound like a euphemism for sex. Nevertheless, intercourse was the furthest thing from her mind. She didn’t know how to put her feelings into words, but it was similar to how she felt after leaving Ruby’s dive bar.  

Bonnie rolled onto her back and let out an annoyed sigh. Tyler would probably be asleep for another couple of hours. In the meantime, Bonnie felt like climbing the walls. Going for a run would probably burn off some of her excess energy. Unfortunately, Tyler would wolf out if he awakened to find his mate missing. The girl had learned that lesson the hard way on day two. She had merely woken up early and decided to go outside to meditate. Bonnie had been in the backyard for maybe an hour when she heard a bone rattling howl from inside the house. She had rushed into the kitchen to find a very irate wolf waiting for her. It had taken a good five minutes for Tyler to shift back into his human form.

Bonnie heaved another big sigh as she considered activities that could distract her until Tyler woke up. Leaving the house to go on a run was out of the question but she could always hit the treadmill in the basement. Yoga in the sunroom also didn’t sound like a bad option. However, she knew the responsible thing to do was to dive back into her research. If Bonnie and Tyler had spent half of their time enthralled by her heat, then they had spent at least a quarter of the remaining time pouring over every book in their possession. A few of Jonas’ grimoires were in Russian and one was in French. The couple used translation websites to make sense of everything. Despite all the work they had put in, Bonnie felt no closer to figuring out her situation.

She rolled onto her side and prepared to climb out of the bed when Tyler’s strong hand gripped her thigh. Bonnie squealed as he dragged her across the bed and on top of him with ease.

“Where do you think you are going?” he asked with a sleepy smirk.

She stared down into his brown eyes and said, “I thought that you were sleeping.”

“I was asleep before you spent the last fifteen minutes sighing and flopping around next to me like a fish out of water,” he replied in a voice roughened by sleep.

Bonnie nuzzled his neck. “I’m sorry.”

Tyler ran his hand down her spine. The bite mark on her back had healed completely leaving behind a scar. However, Bonnie still had a visceral reaction whenever his fingers came in contact with the mark. “What’s wrong, Bon?”

She hid her face in the crook of his neck. Bonnie breathed in his scent and tried to settle down. Her sense of smell had improved greatly. She could smell Tyler when they were in different rooms now. She mumbled, “You’re going to think that I sound ridiculous.”

He brushed his fingers over the healed bite mark and pressed an open mouth kiss against her shoulder.

She whined at tingle that traveled down her spine. “Ty…”

“Try me,” he said.

Bonnie glanced at Tyler’s face only to find love and acceptance staring back at her. It made her feel as if there were butterflies in her stomach. She couldn’t remember anyone looking at her that way in the past. “I wanted to wake you up so that we could go for a run or something. I have all of this energy…I am going crazy.”

Tyler could tell that she was holding something back. However, he was patient with Bonnie. It seemed that the curse binding the wolf inside her loosened a little more each day. Her body and senses were changing in incremental but observable ways. Tyler almost felt grateful that he had changed all at once—almost. He moved his hand up into Bonnie’s curly hair and pulled her down for a smoldering kiss. Afterwards he said, “Going for a run sounds fun. Do you want to run out to the Falls?”

She perked up. “Really?”

He pecked her lips as he sat up. “Yeah. Get dressed. We can leave out in a few minutes.”

Bonnie didn’t try to hide her exuberance as she scrambled out of the bed. She knew that Tyler would be able to feel it through the bond. She made a beeline for the dresser and grabbed an outfit suitable for running.

Tyler smirked as he watched Bonnie dash into the bathroom. He moved to the side of the bed and stretched. He was still exhausted but it would have been cruel to ignore his mate’s condition. The hybrid figured that he would wear down Bonnie during the run. He hoped that by the time they returned home, that she would be ready to nap. Tyler picked up his phone and fired off a quick message to Ruby.

Then he stood up and walked over to the dresser. Bonnie had been nice enough to give him a drawer for his clothes. She didn’t want him living out of a duffel bag for the duration of his stay. It only took Tyler a few minutes to put on a pair of running shorts, t-shirt, and sneakers.

The hybrid turned towards the bed when he heard a phone vibrate. He walked over to the nightstand only to realize it was Bonnie’s phone. Tyler picked up the phone and walked to the bathroom door. “Damon is calling you, Bon. Again…”

Bonnie opened the door and rolled her eyes at Tyler’s pouty face. She leaned up and kissed him before taking the phone. “Don’t be mean, Ty. He is probably bored. Normally, we hang out while everyone else is at school or work.”

Tyler’s expression changed when he saw that Bonnie was wearing a pair of black Lycra shorts. His hands went to her butt like a heat-seeking missile. “What do you and Damon do together all day?”

She frowned at his tone of voice. Bonnie argued, “I don’t spend all day with him. Normally, we train in the morning then we binge watch some TV show that Damon insists is essential. Sometimes he is just making fun of me like when he bought the Bewitched box set. But the joke was on him because I love that show now. I totally stole the DVDs from him and blamed it on Caroline. Anyway, I usually leave the boarding house before lunch.”

“If you say so…”

He knew that their relationship was not as innocent as she made it seem. He had been close enough to overhear Damon flirting with Bonnie at his party. If Tyler was being strictly honest, he had kept a close eye on her the whole night. She had looked good enough to eat in that jade colored bandage dress. There had been no shortage of men hitting on her. Tyler had been grateful that Bonnie had turned down every suitor. During the party, he had assumed it was because she was still hung up on Jeremy. Tyler was pleased to know that wasn’t the case.

“I do say so,” Bonnie said. She slipped by Tyler and tossed her phone on the bed. “I’ll call Damon when we get back. I am ready for our run.”

The couple walked downstairs together. Tyler asked, “Which direction would you like to go? We could run through town.”

Going through town was the quickest way to the Falls. He wasn’t concerned about anyone seeing them. It was Wednesday afternoon and all of their friends would be at school. Besides, Bonnie was no longer skittish about everyone learning the truth. She was prepared for a backlash, but it wouldn’t change what was happening between them. Bonnie was his mate and no one’s opinion could change that.

Bonnie briefly stopped to lock the door. She smiled and said, “I know a shortcut. It avoids all of the major streets. I rarely see anyone on my route. You can run as fast as you want without attracting attention.”

Tyler grinned. “Let’s do it.”

She returned his grin and then hopped over the porch railing. Bonnie took off running like a jack rabbit down a side street.

He had expected as much from Bonnie. He could tell that she was feeling frisky. However, he hadn’t expected her to be quite so agile. Tyler stood there for a moment in shock before his brain started working again. He jogged down the stairs and then sprinted after Bonnie. Tyler slowed down when he realized that she had a healthy head start. He added enhanced speed and agility to the mental checklist he had been compiling. Bonnie still wasn’t as powerful as a full-fledged werewolf but the changes removed any lingering doubts that she would be soon.

Tyler resumed chasing Bonnie with a broad grin on his face. He understood now what she was too embarrassed to tell him in bed. It was not just that she had excess energy. Bonnie had entered the stage of the mating cycle when she was ready to play. If she were capable of shifting, they would almost certainly be hunting, romping, play fighting, and running together. The good news was that this change in Bonnie meant that the heat was winding down. It would probably only last for another day or two at the most. Tyler only knew of one reason why a heat ended early—it was successful. However, there was a chance that Bonnie’s heat was following an altered path because of the curse binding her wolf.

The nervous energy Bonnie felt while lying in bed had all but evaporated once she started running. She felt her heart thumping loudly in her chest as she tested the limits of her newfound abilities. She had noticed the changes in herself, too. The girl wondered just how fast she was capable of running with the curse still acting as a malfunctioning gate. She looked over her shoulder and noted the substantial gap between her and Tyler. Bonnie knew that the hybrid could easily pass her. The only person she had witnessed move faster than Tyler was Klaus. However, he obviously knew that she needed to get whatever this was out of her system.

Bonnie led Tyler on a circuitous route through the sparsely populated back roads. She knew this section of Mystic Falls like the back of her own hand. Despite living with her father, she spent the majority of her time with Grams. Her grandmother had been old fashioned and didn’t see the benefit of children staying in the house to watch TV or play video games. She had encouraged Bonnie to go outside and explore. It had been Sheila’s subtle way of ensuring that her granddaughter had a strong connection with nature. That connection was such an important aspect of being a witch. Long before Bonnie’s powers made their first appearance, she could just tell when a thunderstorm was approaching. It was as if she could taste the electricity on her tongue. She was always able to predict the first snowfall of the season. Her father had dismissed it all as old wives’ tales and she had believed him. Rudy had explained that her grandmother had a reputation for being eccentric. Now she realized that her father had been trying to lead her away from a life that would always endanger her.

She made a sharp turn into the woods surrounding the falls. In the beginning, Bonnie could only hear the steady thump of her heartbeat and the crackle of the dried leaves beneath her feet. She darted around trees that stood taller than any building in their sleepy little town. However, without warning the steady rush of water reached Bonnie’s sensitive ears. Her stride faltered because of that realization. There was no way that a person with human hearing would be able to hear the falls from that distance. Bonnie stood stock still beneath the canopy of nearly barren tree branches. Her eyes fluttered closed as she tried to manage the overload of sensory information. She could hear the falls, but Bonnie also smelled the rich soil beneath her feet. The girl even smelled what had to be some sort of animal. Her head tilted in the direction of the scent. She wondered if she could single out the creature’s heartbeat.

Tyler slowed to a stop beside her. He had expected Bonnie to run until she reached the falls. He had spent enough time watching her at night to know the place held a special meaning for her. “Bon?”

She frowned and opened her eyes. “It ran away,” she complained.

He lifted an eyebrow at her. “What the deer?”

Bonnie spun around to look at Tyler with bright eyes that burned with curiosity. “Is that what it was?”

Tyler nodded and sniffed the air. “Yeah. There was a deer about 20 yards upwind of us. Did you see it?”

She shook her head. “I smelled it. I was hoping that I could hear its heartbeat but the falls is too loud.”

The hybrid’s pride for his mate thumped against their rapidly expanding bond. He was certain that Bonnie could sense it by the way her heartbeat quickened. He was impressed by her abilities. Tyler was curious to see what Bonnie would be capable of doing at full power.

He said, “I’m sorry, Bon. Deer have an amazing sense of smell. The thing probably got one whiff of me and took off. When I was in the mountains, I learned that some animals can detect what we are even in human form. Some animals can smell the wolf in us and determine that we are predators. It is fair because I have killed and eaten my share of deer, moose, and elk while in my wolf form. Actually, I took down a bear once, too.”

“Oh,” Bonnie replied in disappointment.

He stepped forward and took her face into his hands. “But there are animals that are drawn to us because of what we are. Wolves, dogs, and foxes tend to be relatively friendly with us.”

“Really?” she asked excitedly.

Tyler nodded and said, “Dogs tend to flock to us because they have been domesticated. Wolves are a little more cautious but we would find them lingering near our base camp. Foxes are scavengers so they would hang around to find scraps after a hunt.”

Bonnie wrapped her arms around Tyler’s neck. “That is amazing. This is all amazing. I am getting faster. Did you see me?”

His arms circled Bonnie’s waist and drew her against his body. “Yes, you are. I think we should be prepared for you to shift this weekend.”

She hadn’t expected Tyler to say that. However, it made sense when she thought about it. Bonnie looked up at him and asked, “Because of the full moon?”

He nodded and said, “The pull of the full moon is powerful and the curse seems to be hanging on by a thread.”

Bonnie frowned because it felt as if Tyler was holding something back. Her curious green eyes searched his for answers. She asked, “Is that the only reason you think that I will change this weekend?”

Tyler licked his lips because he realized how insane his thoughts would sound. He said, “My wolf…has been telling me it will happen soon. It will sound strange but that side of me feels connected to something inside of you. I think my wolf is connected to the wolf inside of you that the curse has bound.”

She smiled and shook her head. “I don’t think that sounds strange at all. This is uncharted water for the two of us. I don’t know if this has ever happened to anyone else. Whatever I am becoming is an affront to nature.”

He growled deeply and his eyes turned amber in warning. “Don’t say that. You are amazing, Bonnie. That is true whether you are a witch, werewolf, or some combination of the two.”

Bonnie bit her lip for a moment. She said, “Witches are meant to protect the balance. It is dangerous for one creature to become too powerful. I mean look at Klaus. The spirits…”

“Are we talking about the same spirits that required your death because you chose to save Jeremy?” he asked with an edge to his voice.

“I am not saying that they are always right. I am not even saying that the spirits always go about things the right way. But there is wisdom in preventing the creation of hybrids. Not everyone is as good hearted as you are, Ty.”

Tyler was taken aback by Bonnie’s declaration that he had a good heart. He had never given a lot of thought to whether or not he was a good person. There was a lot of evidence to suggest that he was an inconsiderate jackass.

He kissed Bonnie softly and then leaned his forehead down against hers. “Well, if I am good hearted then so are you, Bon. You have risked your life more times than I can count to keep us all safe. You just kept kicking ass no matter how much you lost in the process or how unappreciated your actions went.”

Sometimes Bonnie found herself in awe of Tyler--this was one of those times. The bond between them was thrumming with energy. She wasn’t sure if it was coming from Tyler or her. Bonnie could literally feel electricity crackling beneath her skin. “Do you want to go skinny dipping with me?”

“Not worried about the cold?” he asked. Tyler was definitely on board with seeing Bonnie naked and wet. However, he was mindful of her rapidly changing physiology.

She shook her head. “I can barely feel it. Besides, it’s like 53 degrees today. The water won’t even feel that cold.”

Tyler chuckled and said, “Alright…”

Bonnie grinned and pecked him on the lips. “Let’s go. I haven’t been to the Falls in days.”

Tyler took her hand and started walking toward the waterfall. “I know.”

Bonnie heard a bird fly overhead. She glanced upward and frowned at a large crow. She tried to shoo the bird away discreetly. However, when she turned around Tyler was staring at her as if she were crazy.

“Not a fan of birds, Bon?” he asked in an amused voice.

She said, “Uh, I like birds just fine.”

“Then you have something personal against that particular bird?” Tyler asked with a raised eyebrow.

She jabbed him in the stomach with a finger. “Stop teasing me. I just don’t like crows. Crows are bad luck because they are harbingers of death.”

The hybrid was sensing something strange through their bond. It felt as if Bonnie was trying to hide something from him. However, he couldn’t understand what could cause her to lie about a bird of all things. He watched as the unusually large bird landed a few feet away from them.

Bonnie released Tyler’s hand and walked over to the crow.

The bird automatically flew up to settle on Bonnie’s shoulder. It picked at her ponytail with its beak.

She sighed deeply and stroked the creature's head. Her lips twitched into a small smile. “Hello,” she cooed.

He watched Bonnie doing her Snow White routine. “Is he a friend of yours, Bon?”

Bonnie didn’t feel good about lying to Tyler. Besides, she couldn’t think of any compelling reasons that she would need to talk to a bird. She didn’t want him to think that she was going batty. She asked, “Can you keep a secret?”

“Yeah. What’s going on?”

“This is Damon,” she answered.

Tyler stared at Bonnie and then looked at the bird. “Run that by me again.”

Bonnie laughed a little. “Well, it’s not exactly him. It isn’t as if he is a shapeshifter but he can compel Russell to monitor stuff for him. I guess Damon sent him to spy on me since I haven’t been answering his calls.”

“He named the crow…Russell?” he asked.

“That’s the part you latched onto first?” Bonnie asked with a huff.

He chuckled. “I’m sorry. Russell Crow here is a spy for Damon. How come I didn’t know that he was capable of that?”

Tyler knew that he was not always in the loop but this seemed like a crucial piece of information.

She shrugged. “Damon doesn’t really share stuff like that with people. I think Stefan and me are the only ones that know. He probably won’t be happy that I told you.”

“I get it.”

He didn’t tell their friends everything he was capable of doing. It wasn’t their business and there was always a chance that it might get back to Klaus.

Bonnie held up her arm and encouraged the crow to move there. She looked into the bird’s eyes and smiled. “I’m sorry for not returning your calls, Damon. I’ve been busy but I promise to call in a few hours.”

Tyler was still mulling this over in his mind.

She gently smoothed her hand over the crow’s back. “Off you go. Go back to Damon.”

The crow gave a few high-pitched caws and then took to the sky.

Tyler walked up behind Bonnie. “I think Russell Crow has a crush on you.”

She giggled. “Maybe. Sometimes he brings me dead stuff.”

“He’s a real charmer,” Tyler replied. He picked up Bonnie and tossed her over his shoulder.

Bonnie laughed. “What are you doing?”

“We’re going skinny dipping before your avian boyfriend comes back,” he huffed.

She squealed as Tyler ran through the woods at a neck breaking pace.

Chapter Text

The three hours Bonnie and Tyler spent at the Falls turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. The nervous energy that threatened to make her climb the walls had dissipated almost as soon as she started running. However, Bonnie had been in need of something else that she could not find the words to describe. Fortunately, Tyler understood what his mate needed even if she did not at the time. The couple had shed their clothes to go for a swim in the lake but it had not been an overtly sexual activity. Tyler and Bonnie had wrestled in the chilly water and even played Marco Polo. The game was more interesting when played by individuals that possessed enhanced senses. They had even spent time testing the limits of Bonnie’s swimming acumen. She had been an avid swimmer since childhood. Grams had actually taught her to swim in that very lake.

Despite years of swimming under her belt, Bonnie had never been able to swim from the shore to the waterfall. She always grew tired near the halfway point and had to return to the shore. However, Tyler thought it would be a good idea to explore Bonnie’s new abilities. The girl saw the wisdom in that because she was faster and stronger than she had ever been. Tyler explained that strength and endurance weren’t the only abilities a wolf possessed that would prove useful. Regular wolves were natural swimmers, as was the case for many canines, but werewolves could travel at least a dozen miles across water without tiring.

Bonnie had been wary about swimming that far away from the shore, but the confidence she felt through the bond reassured her. Even if she was not capable of making it to the waterfall, she trusted Tyler to help her. He had skillfully guided her through all the unfamiliar changes she had encountered since Saturday morning. However, she hadn’t been in need of rescue. Bonnie swam across the lake as if it were the most natural thing in the world—because it was. She had been exhilarated by her accomplishment but it was amplified by the pride she felt radiating from Tyler.

Bonnie wanted to explore a system of caves only accessible through the waterfall, but Tyler vetoed that idea. Their shoes and clothes were tucked safely on the other side of the lake. The hybrid was concerned about the risk of Bonnie suffering a serious injury on their little adventure. He had no problem feeding his blood to her—it always made him hard for reasons he didn’t quite understand. Bonnie had only fed from him in the safety of her home where the probability of someone killing her was very low. However, being out in the real world changed the stakes exponentially. Bonnie had been disappointed at first, but ultimately understood his concern. She had no interest in being a vampire. Frankly, they didn’t even know if she would survive the change without the benefit of doppelganger blood. Tyler promised that they would return to the Falls the next day if her heat cooperated.

Afterwards they swam back to the shore, dressed, and walked back to Bonnie’s house. When they arrived, Russell Crow was perched on the highest branch of the mature Rowan tree in her front yard. The crow had cawed loudly to draw her attention upward. However, Bonnie had felt the creature’s presence as soon as they approached the house. She had told Tyler that she could not put off calling Damon any longer or he would show up. The vampire wasn’t exactly known for his patience. Tyler had gone upstairs to shower and to give Bonnie some privacy. He figured with the running water and a floor separating them he wouldn’t be able to accidentally eavesdrop.

Damon spent the first ten minutes complaining about her being out of touch. He pointed out that there could have been an emergency. They were in Mystic Falls where things had a way of devolving into chaos at the worst possible time with absolutely no warning. However, Bonnie knew that he was using that as a way to mask his concern for her. Damon had made himself her unofficial guardian since Qetsiyah resurrected her. Sometimes Bonnie liked to give the vampire a hard time because it was the nature of their friendship. Yet she was grateful to have someone care if she was alive or dead because that hadn’t always been the case.

Damon spent the rest of the conversation railing about Elena showing up at the boarding house that morning unannounced and uninvited. Of course, she was not allowed into the house but Stefan had talked to her outside. Apparently, the Augustine group located at Whitmore College wasn’t an isolated group. The secret society had chapters at three other North American universities. A few members had shown up on campus’ investigating the deaths of their counterparts. Elena feared it would not be long before the trail led back to Enzo—and them by association. She thought that they should ‘do something’ about the black sheep of their little group.

Bonnie felt guilty for not returning his calls that morning. The girl knew that he was still stung by the break up. She promised to call him back after talking to Tyler. Elena wanted everyone to meet at Mystic Grille after closing to discuss their next move. However, Bonnie didn’t know if that was possible for her and Tyler. There was no rhyme or reason for when a heat phase began or ended. It wouldn’t be a good idea to be in such a public place with no quick escape. Tyler was territorial but it was more intense once the pheromones began affecting him. Moreover, she got the distinct feeling that the talk about the Augustine group would be derailed once their vampire friends got one whiff of them.

After talking to Damon, she took a hot shower and then dressed in shorts and a tank top. Bonnie grabbed her phone and walked downstairs to find Tyler. However, she stopped on the stairs when she smelled someone else in the house and oddly enough some sort of cooked beef. Bonnie sniffed audibly and identified that person as another wolf. She finished descending the stairs and walked into the kitchen where the scent originated. Bonnie lifted an eyebrow when she saw a brunette man fussing with a large foil covered aluminum pan. He was trying to put it into the oven without success. Bonnie cleared her throat. “Hello?”

His head popped up and his eyes went wide when he saw Bonnie. “Hi. I’m not an intruder.”

She chuckled and said, “I didn’t think that you were.” She sniffed the air and said, “Burglars don’t usually bring roast beef with them.”

“Brisket,” he corrected.

Bonnie’s stomach audibly growled in response. She asked, “Where’s Ty?”

“Oh, he is out on the deck talking to my aunt. He will be back in a few minutes. I’m Jonas.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Jonas. I’m Bonnie,” she replied.

“I know,” he replied. “I mean…I don’t know you but I have heard all about you.”

“Yeah?” she asked. Bonnie walked over to the cupboard and pulled out a roasting pan. She rinsed it in the sink and then said, “That pan won’t fit in the oven. We should transfer the brisket into this.”

He nodded and started to walk towards Bonnie but then stopped as if he thought better of it. Jonas looked toward the back door in contemplation.

Bonnie slowly began to understand his apprehension. Tyler had reacted poorly when Damon had touched her. That was before her first heat had started and Damon had no longer been present. Bonnie shuddered to think how Tyler would react to another wolf touching her. She moved out of the way and smiled at Jonas. “You can just place it on the counter. I’ll take care of it.”

He gave her a grateful look and then followed her instructions. “I’ll just…”

The girl raised an eyebrow as he beat a quick retreat to the back door. Bonnie pulled the foil off the pan and inhaled deeply. The brisket smelled mouth watering. It was a particularly timely delivery since they had missed lunch and dinnertime was approaching quickly. Bonnie washed her hands and proceeded to cut the eight-pound brisket in half. She transferred one-half to the roasting pan and then put it into the oven to warm up. Bonnie moved over to the island and inspected two other aluminum pans. She found that one contained macaroni and cheese. Meanwhile, the other pan contained honey glazed baby carrots. Those pans were smaller so she was able to fit them into one of the double ovens after stealing a few carrots to sample. It would have been too much food for two humans with average appetites. However, average went out the window when talking about werewolves.

Tyler stepped into the kitchen and smirked when he saw Bonnie eating the honey glazed baby carrots with her fingers. “Good, right?”

Bonnie laughed at herself for being caught. She nodded. “Yes. What is all this?”

He locked the door and walked over to her. “I texted Ruby before we went for our run. I asked her to send something over for dinner. I figured neither of us would be in the mood to cook anything and we would be hungry from the run.”

“So hungry,” she agreed. “That was so sweet of you, Ty. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he replied as he wrapped his arms around Bonnie’s waist. He opened his mouth and said, “Ahhhh…”

Bonnie chuckled and placed a carrot into his open mouth.

Tyler grabbed her hand and sucked the honey off her fingers before letting her go. He kissed the side of her neck. “Thank you.”

She giggled and gently elbowed him in the stomach. “I am guessing the really nervous guy I just met is gone.”

He chuckled and said, “Yeah, Jonas left a few minutes ago. He’s pack. He is also my cousin. Ruby thought I would be less likely to wolf out on someone that is family. Having another male in the house, for any length of time, during the mating cycle is tempting fate.”

Bonnie turned around so that she was facing Tyler. “He seemed nice.”

“He is one of the first friends I made when I became alpha of the pack. Jonas is a couple years older than I am.”

She wrapped her arms around Tyler’s neck. “He said he knew all about me.”

Tyler scowled playfully. “I might have mentioned you in passing.”

“Only in passing, huh?” she asked.

He lifted Bonnie off her feet and asked, “Are you questioning my honesty?”

Bonnie wrapped her legs around Tyler’s waist and nodded. “Uh huh. I think you have been infatuated with me. I think you were writing my name in your notebook and drawing little hearts around it.”

“Drawing hearts is passé. I might have spent my time drawing you,” he replied with a cheeky smile.

“Are you joking?” she asked.

Tyler shook his head and asked, “Is that creepy? It feels like it might be creepy now that I've said it aloud.”

She quickly shook her head. “No, I don’t think it is creepy. I always liked seeing your drawings. Even that seriously obscene picture book you drew in eighth grade. I learned about oral sex because of that book.”

His cheeks colored at that. Tyler had spent the summer before eighth grade hanging out with Mason. He might have picked up some (re: too much) information about sex. He turned his uncle’s bawdy stories into a highly inappropriate comic book that his friends passed around for a week before a teacher discovered it. The school wanted to suspend Tyler for two weeks. Carol had been mortified. However, Richard made a hefty donation to make it all go away. “The girls weren’t supposed to see that. It said ‘Boys Only’ right on the cover.”

Bonnie shrugged and grinned at him. “I know but I stole it from Matt. Are you going to let me see the drawings you made of me?”

“Sure. I brought my sketchbook with me. I have one or two in there,” he explained.


Tyler set Bonnie on her feet and asked, “How did your call to Damon go? Will Russell Crow stop stalking us?”

Bonnie bit her lip because she didn’t feel like ruining the happy atmosphere. However, the Augustine group operating around Whitmore again concerned Tyler, too. “It was very not good. Elena dropped by the boarding house this morning.”

Tyler had never been particularly close to Elena, but even he thought that she had been behaving strange lately. It seemed as if she was trying to hide this uncharacteristic edge to her personality. Sometimes she said rude or sarcastic things and immediately fumbled for an insincere apology. “What did she want?”

She frowned.

He lifted an eyebrow at Bonnie. “Is it that bad?”

“I dunno. It involves Enzo and the Augustine group,” she replied with distaste.

“I thought Enzo killed all of them.”

Bonnie said, “Elena thinks that there are different chapters. The people she spotted on campus poking around the old building were all in town for some lecture. She spied their visitors’ badges and saw that they were from other colleges.”

Tyler tensed. “What are we doing about this?”

“Elena suggested that we all meet up at Mystic Grille after it closes tonight. I mean you don’t have to go since everyone thinks you are still out of town. But they’re going to know something is up if I don’t show.”

He nuzzled her neck and said, “Or you could have Damon tell everyone you are too sick to show up. Then he can stop by to update us.”

Bonnie pantomimed making her hands into claws. “Are you going to go all grrrrrrr on him?”

Tyler chuckled at her attempt at a growl. “That was cute.”

She rolled her eyes and lightly slapped his arm. “I’m being serious. Damon is like my best friend. You biting him is not an option.”

“I will control myself as long as he doesn’t touch you,” he swore.

“This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen but I’ll text him. He’ll probably cover for me just so that he has a reason to come over later. He is so nosey.”

Tyler grinned. “Problem solved. I am going to check on the food. It should be hot enough now.”

Bonnie said, “I’ll grab the plates.”

The couple moved around the kitchen with the urgency of two werewolves that hadn’t eaten in over eight hours. A few minutes later, they were seated in the kitchen’s breakfast nook. They piled their plates high with the delicious smelling foods and began eating.

Tyler asked, “Has Elena seemed off to you lately?”

Bonnie frowned as she drank some water. “I haven’t really spent much time with her since she broke up with Damon. It was one of those situations where I had to choose a side even though no one directly asked me to.”

“And you chose Damon?” he asked without judgment.

She bit her lip. “I know that Elena and I have been friends our whole lives but I wouldn’t be alive without Damon. And she really did a number on him, Ty. The things that Elena said when she broke up with Damon were just cruel and unfeeling. I thought that maybe she had turned off her humanity. Why did you ask about Elena?”

Tyler stopped chewing mid bite and shook his head. “I don’t really have a reason to see Elena often. When I do see her, she seems different to me. At first, I thought I had just been away from Mystic Falls for too long. People have been known to change. I mean she has lost most of her family and she became a vampire. Anyone might be a little screwed up after that. I know that becoming a hybrid changed me.”

Bonnie asked, “What are you saying?”

Tyler’s wolf was warning him away from the situation for some reason. He wasn’t sure if the wolf was just eager to keep Bonnie safe or if it was something more. “I am saying that I don’t trust Elena. I think we need more information before we go off on a wild goose chase on her say so. How did she even sniff out these other Augustine members? I doubt their name tags said that they were part of a secret society that kidnapped and tortured vampires.”

She frowned because Tyler had raised a good question. “I don’t know. Damon only gave me a brief overview. He didn’t know all the details. I guess Elena is planning to fill in the blanks tonight at the meeting. I am interested in why Enzo has suddenly disappeared. Damon hasn’t heard from him in awhile. He thought Enzo was just pouting because Damon didn’t join in on his killing spree but maybe it is something different.”

“I don’t like any of it,” he muttered.

Bonnie didn’t need for Tyler to tell her that. She detected a feeling of overwhelming dread leaking through their bond. She could tell Tyler was trying to block the feeling but his emotions were so strong that he couldn’t contain it. She reached across the table and took his hand. “What’s wrong, Ty?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know. Have you ever felt like you’ve missed out on something that has been right in front of your face?”

She asked, “You mean like the fact that we’ve been trying to ignore our feelings for each other for months?”

“No, I was paying attention to that…a lot. Having enhanced senses means ignoring things all day. I have to filter the things I think are important or relevant to me. I discard everything else or it can be staggering. Sometimes it is just an invasion of privacy. Like Matt is dating someone but he hasn’t told anyone.”

She perked up. “Matt is dating someone?”

He nodded. “A couple nights a week he comes home smelling like French vanilla body wash. I figure it is none of my business so I haven’t said anything to him.”

“Let’s put a pin in the whole Matt is secretly dating someone. What does this have to do with Elena?”

“Just because I disregard certain things…it doesn’t mean that I forget them. Something is off about Elena and I intend to find out what it is before we blindly follow her,” he said.

Bonnie smiled at him.

“What he asked?”

“I don’t know…I like when your eyes go all flinty like that. It’s sexy,” she muttered in embarrassment.

“Oh yeah?” he asked with a cocky smirk.

She rolled her eyes and went back to eating. “You killed the mood.”

He winked at Bonnie. “No, I didn’t.”

Tyler grabbed his phone and sent a message to Gabe. If anyone could dig up information on the Augustine group it would be him.

Chapter Text

As Tyler expected, Bonnie crashed not long after they finished eating. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to join her. Their conversation about Elena weighed heavily on his mind. His wolf was restless. He could practically feel the beast pacing around inside him angling for release. All of his instincts demanded that he go rip Elena apart before harm came to his mate. The good news was that the rational part of Tyler’s brain was running the show for now. He wouldn’t leave Bonnie when her heat could return at any time. However, if he was right the mating cycle could be over in the next day or two. Earlier he had spoken to Ruby about his concerns. She confirmed what he already knew. The mating cycle only ends early if the woman has become pregnant.

The possibility of Bonnie being with child made him even more anxious about the Augustine group and Elena. Tyler realized that he should have paid more attention to the brunette vampire months ago. They had all grown up together. Once upon a time, he even considered her a close friend. However, when Tyler returned to Mystic Falls he had a pack that required the bulk of his attention. He was also ashamed to admit that a juvenile part of him blamed Elena for the tragedies that had befallen their town. He had believed that the wise thing to do was to avoid being drawn into the vortex that was Elena Gilbert. Tyler figured there would be a line of people to help sort out her teenage angst.

As he sat in the darkened living room, Tyler considered the possibility that Elena’s behavior wasn’t merely teenage angst. Bonnie seemed to believe that their friend’s humanity switch was still firmly in the on position. Nevertheless, something was very wrong with Elena and they had all simply ignored or excused the behavior for one reason or another. It occurred to Tyler that perhaps isolation had been the point of all the shitty things Elena had done over the last few months. Breaking up with Damon was the act that attracted the most attention. Yet her actions had been building to a tipping point for much longer.

First, Elena had peppered Caroline for details about her tryst with Klaus at Tyler’s party. He probably would have never learned the truth without her interference. When Tyler stood on the stairs eavesdropping on their conversation, he could have sworn that Elena looked right at him. She should have been horrified since that monster had murdered Jenna but she seemed delighted by the turn of events. Tyler had been too angry to examine her behavior with a critical eye. Elena’s uncharacteristic excitement was long forgotten by the time he and Caroline argued about her betrayal. At the end of the night, he was only interested in kicking Stefan’s ass for sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. He didn't think of the doppelganger’s role again.

Second, Elena also played a part in Bonnie and Jeremy’s break up. Everyone could see that their relationship was on the rocks even if neither party was willing to admit it. Tyler had a front row seat to the slow erosion of their relationship. He was the first person to realize Jeremy was cheating on Bonnie. It was difficult having secrets when living with a hybrid. It had only taken one whiff of Jeremy’s study partner for Tyler to realize they were fooling around. He told the kid to break up with Bonnie only to have Jeremy tell him to mind his own business. It was a week later that Bonnie learned the truth in the worst possible way. Jeremy had begged Elena to compel a couple invites for him and a friend to the annual Gods and Goddesses party hosted by Whitmore’s Panhellenic Council. She happily obliged but failed to mention that Caroline had invited Bonnie as well. Inevitably, the green-eyed girl stumbled across Jeremy making out with Brooke. Elena had been conspicuously absent while her younger brother and best friend’s relationship imploded in public.

Third, Elena somehow convinced Matt to be her rebound person—as if she had not burned him in the past. Tyler was glad that Stefan and Bonnie had locked Damon in the boarding house’s cellar during that time. He had no doubt that the bloodthirsty vampire would have killed his best friend on the spot. Things were hot and heavy between Elena and Matt for all of two weeks. Tyler had seriously regretted letting his friend live with him during that time. However, Elena abruptly dumped Matt. She said all the right things about having needed comfort from someone that truly loved her but it all sounded a bit hollow to his ears.

Tyler knew that the mental case he was building was lean on facts. However, he refused to believe that all those events happened in a vacuum. He didn’t believe in coincidences—not in Mystic Falls. Elena had effectively alienated everyone that would care enough to recognize the changes in her. Damon hated her. Bonnie sided with Damon out of loyalty. Moreover, she probably would have limited contact with Elena because of the situation with Jeremy. The brunette vampire had firmly sided with her promiscuous younger brother. Matt steered clear of Elena after she used him to get over her break up with Damon. Caroline and Stefan were too busy sneaking around to be observant. Tyler just didn’t give a damn. Jeremy was probably the only one that spent a significant amount of time with her now—for whatever that was worth. She and Caroline still shared a dorm room but they were more ships passing in the night than best friends. The distinct lack of people trying to kill them revealed the fractures in their relationships. Without the need to band together, some of them were merely acquaintances rather than best friends.

The hybrid’s eyes moved to his phone when it vibrated. He had a text message from Matt.

Matt: Elena & Caroline r here early to eat

Tyler: Thanx. Let me know when they leave

Matt: K

Tyler selected Jonas’ name from his phone book and waited patiently as the line rang.

“Hey,” Jonas answered.

“Hey, man. The girls are out of their dorm room for at least an hour. Do a sweep of the entire room.”

“If there is anything to find, we will find it, Alpha,” he replied.

Tyler said, “Thank you. I will give you a heads up when they leave the meeting. Be careful…”

Jonas said, “There aren’t many things that can take down three werewolves armed with vervain and wood cored bullets. I will call you if we find anything.”

Tyler ended the call but he still felt on edge. He had gone out of his way to keep his pack away from the drama in Mystic Falls. Yet here he was breaking the promise he had made to himself after accepting the role of alpha. Deciding to break the promise he made to himself hadn’t even been a difficult decision. Tyler could rationalize that the Augustine group might pose a threat to werewolves. No one really knew the true scope of their cruel experiments. However, the truth was he was doing this for Bonnie. He was worried that this new threat would draw her into old patterns again. Tyler had explained as much to Ruby but she reminded him that Bonnie was an unofficial member of the pack now.

He scrubbed a hand over the stubble covering his jaw and decided to put his nervous energy to good use. He turned on a lamp sitting beside the couch and reached for a journal that allegedly belonged to one of his ancestors. The leather bound book had seen better days. He was positive that the red staining on the tan leather was blood. It made him wonder about the path the journal had taken to eventually land in his family’s possession once more. He noted a bookmark obviously left behind by Bonnie. She had done more research than he had. Bonnie had more experience studying centuries old books. The antiquated vernacular often irritated him. This particular journal had the added complication of using both English and French at certain points.

However, he was most intrigued by the scribbled notes Bonnie had left on a notepad. Apparently, one of his ancestors had married a witch from a powerful coven. That man’s younger brother, Marc-Rene Lescheres, was the journal’s author. Tyler had started reading the journal but had found it boring. It was just about his family’s rise from wealthy merchants to a powerful force in 18 th Century New Orleans. He hadn’t wanted Bonnie to read that journal for fear that his family made the habit of buying and selling human beings. Fortunately, it appeared that they were involved in the coffee and sugar cane trade which had its own issues. He remembered the awkward conversation about slavery when they were in 10 th grade American History together. The teacher had wisely sped through those chapters like a man on fire. In old Southern towns like Mystic Falls, many descendants from the founding families still resided there. The descendants of slaves were no different. Many of Mystic Falls’ Black residents could trace their ancestors back to the Lockwood, Forbes, and Fell families. However, Bonnie’s family wasn’t included in that number. The Bennett family had a long and haphazard relationship with Mystic Falls. Bonnie told Tyler of how her family had fled to Virginia to avoid the Salem Witch Trials. Yet they were no longer in Mystic Falls by the time Emily and Katherine arrived in 1864.

Tyler stretched out on the couch with his phone and the journal. He would need the language translation app on his phone at some point. The hybrid read in silence for thirty minutes before his eyes ran across a life-changing sentence. Tyler sat up and reread the passage to ensure that he understood it properly.

‘Today I bade good bye to my family. Quentin has placed our family’s continued success in my hands. I must travel to the islands to negotiate a new contract with Monsieur Dubois. I am saddened that I will certainly miss the birth of Quentin’s first child, but I expect he and Sofia to bestow many strong nephews and genteel nieces upon me.’

He muttered, “The child of a werewolf and a witch.”

Tyler carefully flipped the pages trying to find out what happened after Marc-Rene returned from his trip. However, the journal ended while he was still in Barbados. Tyler groaned in frustration. This journal was their first major break and it was woefully incomplete. Tyler wondered if there might be another journal hidden within the Lockwood family’s impressive library. He tried not to get his hopes up because it was just as likely that this book had been a one off. There was absolutely no telling where his family had acquired the journal. Once the mating cycle ended, Tyler would have to scour the shelves of the library.

Tyler was happy that he had a path to follow now. He had a family name and city to investigate even if he failed to find another journal written by Marc-Rene Lescheres. The witches of the French Quarter would certainly know the legends of a hybrid witch/werewolf. The child had been born of two powerful bloodlines: Navarro and Dalliencourt. The only problem was that Klaus and the original vampires were occupying that city. Tyler couldn’t exactly travel to New Orleans and start asking questions without drawing the wrong attention. The most obvious choice would be to get Gabe to do the legwork. However, New Orleans wasn’t necessarily safe for werewolves even with Klaus as the self-declared ‘King’. Tyler would not put a member of his pack in Klaus’ crosshairs.

The hybrid drummed his fingers against the coffee table’s edge. Then he opened his laptop and pulled up a popular genealogy website. Tyler and Bonnie had learned that it was easier to find digital birth, death, and marriage records for people born before the 1900’s because privacy was no longer an issue. They had used to the website to view census records from the 1920’s. It was the first recorded instance of the Bennett Family returning to Mystic Falls. He scoured the website until he found a birth records’ database for Louisiana. Tyler figured it was a long shot since officials did not meticulously record births in the 18 th century. However, it was a good way to pass the time.

Tyler fell down a rabbit hole of entering different variations of Quentin and Sofia’s names. However, his phone vibrating repeatedly broke his concentration. Tyler glanced at  the screen and noticed that he had six…no seven new text messages from Jonas. He opened the text conversation with his cousin and viewed the pictures. Tyler nearly dropped his phone when he spotted an eerily familiar knife.

He called Jonas and waited impatiently for him to answer. Tyler seriously hoped they were still on campus. The knife probably looked innocuous to Jonas, Fiona, and Maddox but it was a bad omen. Maybe Bonnie wasn’t far off about crows being harbingers of bad luck. Tyler hated that he involved his pack in this at all. He should have just handled it himself next week once things were back to normal.


“Where are you?” Tyler asked.

“We’re about to set off the smoke bombs in the building. Is everything okay?” Jonas asked in concern.

The original plan had been to use smoke bombs at strategic points within the dormitory. The stench of the smoke would infiltrate every crack and crevice in the building. It would be the perfect way to keep Caroline and Elena from realizing werewolves had entered their dorm room.

“The box in picture…” Tyler paused and counted the pictures. “…number three. I need you to bring that to me. You also need to get the hell out of there and make sure to cover your tracks. I don’t want this leading back to the pack.”

Jonas said, “Covering our tracks won’t be a problem. You know this isn’t Mads first B&E. He made sure that we got into the building unseen. We’ll get out the same way. I’ll be there with the box as soon as I can.”

“Thanks,” Tyler said.

There was a beat. “Are you and your mate in danger?”

He said, “Honestly, I don’t know yet…”

“Do you need us to do anything else? You are not alone anymore,” he said cautiously.

Tyler knew that his cousin was trying to show him the appropriate respect as alpha. However, their relationship had different layers because they were also related by blood. He said, “I am going to talk to Ruby and get back to you on that.”

Jonas said, “I’ll be there soon, Alpha.”

The younger man ended the call and ran a hand over his face. Tyler knew that he had to wake up Bonnie. He felt bad because he knew that she needed the rest. However, they were looking down the barrel of a massive problem.

Tyler sent Matt and Stefan a text message.

Tyler: Don’t let Elena leave!

He quickly climbed the stairs and turned on the light only to find Bonnie sitting up in bed with a drowsy expression.

“What’s wrong?” she asked with a yawn.

Tyler lifted an eyebrow. “How did you know something was wrong?”

“You woke me up with all your very loud emotions. It felt like you were broadcasting them over a freaking bullhorn,” she muttered petulantly.

The hybrid blinked because he didn’t know how to address that. He wasn’t even sure he understood what Bonnie meant. However, he decided to press forward. He sat on the bed and handed Bonnie his phone. He asked, “Do you recognize that knife?”

Bonnie squinted as her eyes adjusted to the light. Her entire body tensed when she began to understand the reason for Tyler’s distress. In the beginning, Bonnie doubted that the search of the dorm room would turn up anything useful. “They found this in Elena and Caroline’s dorm room?” she asked for clarification.

“Under Elena’s bed from the looks of it,” he replied.

Bonnie wracked her brain to think of any reasonable way to explain Elena having that knife in her possession. However, the only explanation that made any sense was that a Traveler had taken control of their friend’s body. The rush of guilt she felt was overwhelming. How had they all missed something this important? She tried to figure out when Elena had gained a passenger but everything was a blur. “We’ve got to warn everyone.”

He shook his head. “We don’t know who is inside of Elena right now. Warning them without having a way to take her down is dangerous.”

“You have a plan?” she asked.

Tyler nodded. “I told Matt and Stefan to keep her at the Grille. I am going to go over there. Passenger or not, Elena is still a vampire. I need vervain and lots of it.”

Bonnie bit her lip. “I can handle the vervain.”

He looked at her quizzically.

She climbed out of the bed and asked, “What did you think I was growing in my greenhouse?”

Bonnie had a greenhouse the size of a small shed in her backyard.

“I don’t know rosemary or something,” he suggested.

She started pulling clothes out of the dresser. She said, “I grow a bunch of herbs, too. Some of the herbs are edible and the others are for potions. Anyway, I started growing vervain because I don’t have access to my magic and we live in a town that attracts vampires.”

Tyler asked, “What are you doing?”

“I am coming with you,” she announced.

“No, you aren’t,” he replied.

Bonnie smiled cheerfully at Tyler as she buttoned her jeans. “I’d like to see you try and stop me.”

He took a deep breath and walked over to Bonnie. He took her face in his hands. “It is better if you stay here, Bon. I don’t know how well this plan will work. I don’t want you getting caught in the crossfire. I will rip out Elena’s heart if I even think the thing inside of her is a threat to you.”

“Then we had better come up with a better plan than just throwing vervain in Elena’s face and hoping it works. She is my friend and I have let her down in a big way. We have all let her down. Some weirdo has been masquerading as her for God knows how long. Has it been weeks or months since she has been herself? Elena was so cruel and hurtful the night she broke up with Damon. Has she had a passenger inside her since then?”

Tyler leaned his forehead down against hers. “You are one of the strongest people I know, Bon. I am not asking you to stay here simply because you don’t have your magic or because I think you are somehow incapable of protecting yourself.”

She asked, “What is this about then?”

“I think you might be pregnant,” he replied.

Bonnie’s eyes widened. “You had better not be lying to trick me into staying here.”

“I wouldn’t do that to you. I think the mating cycle is ending early. I talked to Ruby about it and she said normally it means the woman has conceived.”

She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. Bonnie knew it was a possibility. They hadn’t exactly been very careful Friday night or Saturday evening when her pheromones had been at their peak. Hearing the words from Tyler was like a dose of reality.

Tyler pressed a kiss to her temple. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know. Is that bad?” she asked.

He chuckled wryly. “No, I think that is a very appropriate answer.”

Bonnie blew out a breath. “We are going to discuss this like mature adults later. First, we have to figure out how to handle Elena. Stabbing her with the knife would kill the Traveler inside her. The only problem with that is we have no idea who has been controlling her or for how long. We need answers before we can kill this person. I think that I have an idea. We should invite everyone over here instead of going to the Grille. We can control the playing field here.”

Tyler groaned but decided against arguing with Bonnie.  Her mind was made up. He said, “I am going to have a couple members of my pack nearby for back up, too.”

She leaned up and pecked his lips. “You should send a group text from my phone while I go make a potion.”

“A group text? What should it say?”

“I don’t know. Make something up,” said Bonnie as she walked out of the room.

Tyler mocked, “Make something up.”

“I heard that!” she called from the hallway.

“I know!” he replied.

Chapter Text

Everything Bonnie knew about being a witch she learned by trial and error. Her powers were only beginning to develop when Sheila died. She could not have even fathomed where to begin looking for other witches that might have helped guide her. Nevertheless, Bonnie had grown into a formidable witch that had gone toe-to-toe with the Original Hybrid on several occasions. Therefore, losing her magic had been a devastating blow. Bonnie had been grateful for receiving a second chance at life, but she felt incomplete. The young woman was listless until she found an old box of grimoires hidden in the attic of her grandmother’s home. She could practically feel the magic of her ancestors calling to her from the pages. In that moment, Bonnie had realized that her magic was still inside of her.

Her great-grandmother’s grimoire drew her in like a moth to a flame. Amelia Bennett had been a powerful witch. That power was evident in the complicated spells written in her grimoire. However, Amelia had dedicated an entire section of the comprehensive book to making potions, elixirs, and healing salves. The section on potion making read more like a recipe book. The potions ranged from relatively mundane to the deliriously complex. The very first potion Bonnie made was meant to induce a peaceful night’s sleep. Smelling the perfumed brew had transported the girl back to her childhood. Her favorite toy, Miss Cuddles, used to smell exactly the same way. Bonnie realized then that Sheila had made the potion to help her granddaughter sleep at night.

For months, Bonnie had methodically experimented with different potions and elixirs. Damon had been kind enough to procure the ingredients that were harder to find. Sometimes he was even her guinea pig because he had the useful ability of not dying. Making potions helped Bonnie feel closer to the magic walled off inside of her. It also brought her closer to the Bennett witches that came before her. At that point, she stopped feeling the urgency of accessing her magic. She believed that her magic would return eventually because it was an innate part of her. In the meantime, she decided to focus on the many facets of being a witch that she had long ignored in favor of survival.  

Bonnie had never been more grateful for that decision than she was right now. She didn’t know much about Travelers but they were powerful. She also knew that witches didn’t trust them. A Traveler taking over Elena’s body for weeks or possibly months was terrifying. Perhaps the only good news was that the doppelganger hadn’t spent much time around their friends. It wasn’t likely that the Traveler was trying to infiltrate their group. However, it also meant that Bonnie had no earthly idea what the Traveler possessing Elena was planning. Stabbing Elena with the knife would be the simplest solution. The knife would kill the passenger instantly and Elena would heal from the trauma. The downside was dozens of questions would go unanswered. Bonnie had learned from experience how dangerous that could be.

The plan was simple and only three people outside of Bonnie and Tyler knew about it. Damon, Stefan, and Matt were the ones they trusted with the secret. The whole Scooby Doo Gang agreed to meet at her house after they finished hashing out the Augustine problem. The S.O.S. text sent from Bonnie’s phone had been three simple, but effective, words— Elijah called me .  Tyler had chosen a message benign enough to prevent everyone from dropping everything immediately. Yet it had been foreboding enough to require everyone’s attention. Elijah was usually reasonable but his connection to Klaus always made him a threat.

Tyler walked into the kitchen fully dressed. He had doused himself with enough cologne to mute his altered scent. Caroline and Elena were still baby vampires. Their senses weren’t developed enough to smell beneath the overwhelming aroma. Damon and Stefan would be able to detect it immediately because they were much older and stronger. Fortunately, the two older vampires already knew the truth about Tyler and Bonnie.

He said, “I just talked to Jonas. He is about ten minutes away. How is the potion coming along?”

Bonnie stirred the red simmering liquid and then lowered the heat. She turned around and said, “It looks and smells perfect. I followed the recipe to the letter. I am confident that it will work as planned. The potion will completely immobilize Elena for at least five minutes. It could be longer than that because she is such a young vampire. Either way that is enough time to get her shackled down in my basement.”

Tyler had analyzed every angle of their plan. He was worried that they would be blindsided by something. None of them knew very much about Travelers. He asked, “Will it work on the passenger inside of Elena, too? Travelers have magic, right?”

“The passenger shares the same weaknesses of the vessel it is possessing. He or she will be unable to move or even speak while under the potion’s effect. The passenger won’t be able to use whatever power he or she might possess.”

The hybrid didn’t feel reassured by Bonnie’s response. He did not doubt her skill but they had a very small margin for error. He walked up to Bonnie and said, “I don’t like that you will be alone with Elena, Bon.”

Bonnie wrapped her arms around his neck. “I know but it is the best option that we have. You can’t be in the room with me because the potion could paralyze you, too. I promise that I am going to be safe.”

Tyler pulled Bonnie closer as he brushed his lips against hers. He muttered, “I will rip Elena’s heart out if she hurts you.”

The girl sighed deeply because she understood his protectiveness. She felt the same way about him. Bonnie’s instincts were running counter to what she knew to be right. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Tyler with an intensity she would not have been able to express with words alone.

Tyler growled against Bonnie’s soft lips. In that moment, he wanted to ignore the outside world and reinforce his claim on her. However, he heard a car pull up in front of the house. Tyler knew that would be his cousin. He slowly broke the kiss and stared down into Bonnie’s green eyes. “We are going to finish this later.”

Bonnie had heard the car outside, too. She smirked at her mate and nodded. “Yes, we will. The potion is finished and I need to cool it down. You should go answer the door.”

Tyler pecked her lips once more before walking to the entryway. He opened the door just as Jonas was about to knock. He motioned for his cousin to come inside.

Jonas had the ornate box tucked underneath his arm as he entered the house. He closed the door and handed the box to his younger cousin.

“Thank you for helping me tonight,” Tyler said.

Jonas shook his head and said, “If the alpha calls, we answer. No questions asked. No explanations needed.”

He said, “Yeah but this wasn’t exactly pack business. I appreciate what all of you did. I didn’t realize that I was putting you in danger at the time.”

“A threat to the alpha and his mate is a threat to all of us. I know that you are cautious because of what happened to your first pack. I don’t blame you. What is it they say? Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said with a wry snort.

Jonas said, “My grandfather had a picture of Andrew Carnegie on his wall. There was a quote at the bottom of the picture and he drilled it into my head over the years.”

Tyler was intrigued to hear a story about his late great-uncle. Ruby had told him a great deal about her father. “What was the quote?”

“No one person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit. I know that you think that protecting the pack is the right thing to do but we are only as strong as our alpha is. Let us help you with whatever darkness is headed your way.”

He took a deep breath and smiled. “You practiced that speech on your way over here. Didn’t you?”

Jonas chuckled. “I might have run it through once or twice. Fi thought the Andrew Carnegie quote was the highlight.”

Tyler smiled wryly. “I could actually use some help tonight. What do you know about Travelers?”

“They are self-righteous dicks but dangerous. The good news is they never stay in one place for too long,” he answered immediately. “Is that what you are dealing with here?”

He nodded. “We think that a Traveler has possessed a friend of ours. Bonnie and I have invited her over here. We are going to trap her and try to get some information from the passenger inside of her. I could use a little backup just in case this whole thing goes sideways.”

Jonas said, “Fiona, Maddox, and I are here for whatever you need. Should we call a couple more people to lend a hand?”

Tyler looked toward the kitchen where he could hear Bonnie humming. He turned back to face Jonas once more and shook his head. “No, the three of you will be more than enough. We will have a couple vampires in here that can help with Elena. I am more concerned about other Travelers that might be lurking in the shadows.”

“I got it. We will park the car a couple blocks over and then choose spots where we can stay out of sight,” he said.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Eventually you are going to get used to having people that you can count on when the going gets tough.” He clapped the younger man on his back. “Call if you need us in here.”

Tyler nodded. “I will.” He watched Jonas walk out of the house and then locked the door behind him.

He returned to the kitchen where Bonnie was using a funnel to pour the potion into three cylindrical bottles made of dark blue glass.

He said, “I am guessing that you overheard my conversation with Jonas.”

The green-eyed girl nodded. “I am glad that you accepted your pack’s help. I don’t think that we will need them but Jonas was right about delegating. You can’t shoulder all of the responsibility alone. Isn’t that why you made Ruby and Gabe your betas?”

Tyler huffed out a sigh but he smiled at her. “Yes, I knew that I wasn’t ready to be an alpha without some guidance.”

“I am not going to let anything happen to your pack, Ty,” she promised.

He felt the sincerity of Bonnie’s promise through their bond. He said, “They are your pack, too. As my mate, we will lead them together. I know that we haven’t really had the opportunity to talk about your thoughts on that.”

Bonnie said, “We haven’t had an opportunity to talk about much but I am not running from any of this. I am not running from you.”

Tyler relaxed upon hearing her reply. It erased the few doubts that were still lingering in his mind. He placed the box on the island and flipped open the top. Tyler pulled out the knife and set it aside. He then took out a small black book. He flipped through the pages and frowned at the unfamiliar language. “I am going to go out on the limb and assume that this is written in Bulgarian.”

Bonnie glanced at the text written using the Cyrillic alphabet. She nodded. “I would say that is a safe bet. I don’t know what level of success we will have trying to translate that into English.”

“Do you think either one of the Salvatores can read Bulgarian? You’d think that with them being alive for so long that they would have picked up a foreign language or two,” he said.

She looked thoughtful as she added rubber corks to the three bottles. “Damon is fluent in three languages. He can order booze and naked women in about four more. Unfortunately, none of those languages is Bulgarian to my knowledge. I can’t say what Stefan might know.”

Tyler rooted around inside the box and stopped when he came across pictures. “Damn…”

“What?” Bonnie asked. She tried to peer into the box to see what had caught Tyler’s attention.

He handed Bonnie a picture of Nadia Petrova. “There are at least four more pictures of her in here. Can you think of a reason that Elena would have pictures of Nadia?”

Her green eyes darkened as she moved closer to inspect the other pictures. Bonnie said, “Nope. Katherine on the other hand…”

“But you saw Katherine when she died, right?” he asked.

Bonnie nodded and slowly sat down on a barstool. She stared at the pictures and tried to make sense of the situation. “I saw her for a moment but she didn’t pass through me. I was still new to being the anchor. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. If this means what we think it means…”

“Katherine has been possessing Elena for months,” he finished.

She licked her lips nervously. “Damon and Elena’s break up certainly makes more sense now. Katherine loves crushing Damon. She gets a kick out of torturing him. As if it isn’t enough that she pretended to be locked in tomb for over 100 years. She is such a bitch.”

Tyler lifted an eyebrow at the venom in her voice.

“What?” she asked. “She possessed one of my friend’s and tried to send my other friend into a blood fueled killing spree.”

“Just remember that if you kick her ass, you are actually kicking Elena’s ass,” he said.

Bonnie huffed. “Don’t care. I am still punching her at least once because she deserves it. Elena is a vampire…she’ll heal fast.”

He chuckled softly. “Whatever you say, Bon.”

Her eyes suddenly grew wide. “What are we going to do about Damon? He is going to lose it when realizes that Katherine has been playing him this whole time.”

The hybrid glanced at the bottles of potion sitting on the counter.

Bonnie followed his gaze and quickly shook her head. “No, I can’t do that to Damon.”

“I thought you tested this potion out on him,” he said.

“I did. It worked on him for about five minutes. I guess I meant to say that I wouldn’t do that to him. He hasn’t done anything wrong and I won’t treat him as if he has.”

“And if he loses his shit? Because I think most people would in this situation. You add in Damon and Katherine’s history and this could get ugly quickly.”

Bonnie said, “I’ll talk him down.”

Tyler looked concerned by that idea.  “Bon…”

“Come on, Ty. You know that Damon isn’t going to hurt me. He didn’t even try the night that Elena broke up with him. Besides, I was able to talk him down when he was ready to rip Matt apart. I can get through to him before he does anything stupid.”

It occurred to Tyler that perhaps that had been Katherine’s plan from the moment she started pursuing Matt. She was counting on Damon doing something violent and reckless when he found out about the fling. If Damon had killed Matt, it would have alienated him from the rest of the group. Stefan would have forgiven him eventually because there are brothers but no one else would have. He groaned because he didn’t feel like dealing with this. “Just make sure that you punch her twice.”

“Consider it done,” she replied with a grin.

“On the bright side, this might not go any further than Katherine being a total bitch.”

Bonnie huffed out a shocked laugh. “Ty…”

“I am serious. If it is really Katherine that is possessing Elena, we can just stab her and be done finally. It is a helluva lot better than a possible nefarious plot by unknown Travelers.”

She sighed. “I guess you do have a point. Maybe the Augustine threat will turn out to be a smoke screen. I am sure Katherine has been looking for a way to get her claws into Stefan again. Manufacturing a threat to everyone is a solid plot.”

Tyler nodded. “It definitely sounds devious enough for Katherine to do it. Although, her daughter will be a problem once she realizes that we have killed her mother.”

“Fun times,” she grumbled. She felt her phone vibrate from inside her back pocket.

Tyler’s phone started vibrating at nearly the same time.

Bonnie pulled out her phone and read a text message from Damon. “They’re about to leave the restaurant.”

He nodded and said, “I got the same message from Matt. Are you ready for this?”

She said, “I am as ready as I can be. I am going to drown in guilt later.”

Tyler kissed her forehead. “This isn’t your fault. No one realized that Elena was possessed. We are all at fault here.”

“I just remember how much it sucked when no realized that I was dead. It hurt. It made me feel expendable,” she confessed.

“You’re not expendable and neither is Elena.”

Bonnie nodded as she grabbed the bottles that were still warm to the touch. She handed one to Tyler and said, “Give this to Matt when he gets here. He’s my backup plan since he’s the only other non-vampire.”

They had both summarily dismissed the idea of including Jeremy. The high school student hadn’t been very reliable lately.

Tyler tucked the vial into his pants’ pocket. He said, “Okay.”

Bonnie said, “I am going to go put the other bottle in its hiding place. Just in case Elena doesn't cooperate with Plan A.”

He returned all the items to the box and then handed it to Bonnie. “You should probably put that some place safe, too.”

“I know just the place,” she replied.

Tyler walked into the living room and collected the books stacked on the coffee table. It took some work but he found space for them on the already crowded bookcase. Tyler hoped that they could avoid revealing their newly minted relationship status to their friends. This night would be problematic enough without any extra drama. Moreover, he was worried about how Bonnie would cope with the situation. She was compartmentalizing her guilt because saving Elena took precedent. He could feel the range of emotions that Bonnie was trying to hide from him. She was slowly starting to understand how the bond between them worked.

He moved over to the bay window and looked out at the street. He wondered what hiding spots his pack had taken around the house. However, he trusted them to be nearby if necessary.

Bonnie walked into the living room.

“All set?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yep.”

Tyler said, “Come here.”

Bonnie joined him at the window. She eagerly allowed herself to be enveloped in his strong arms. She buried her face against his broad chest and inhaled deeply. Tyler’s scent calmed her down. She could smell it even beneath the incredible amount of cologne he was wearing.

Tyler slid his hand up Bonnie’s shirt. He gently ranked his blunt nails against her skin.

Bonnie’s eyes fluttered closed as the remaining tension bled out of her body. She was grateful that Tyler seemed to know what she needed.

The couple maintained that position until they heard cars arriving outside.

Bonnie reluctantly extricated herself from Tyler’s embrace.

He kissed her forehead and lightly patted her on the butt. “You’ve got this, Bon.”

Bonnie squared her shoulders and headed towards the door when she heard someone knocking. She walked into the entryway and smiled upon seeing Damon standing on the porch. Bonnie opened the door. “Hey.”

The vampire didn’t know exactly what was happening. He only knew that Bonnie and Tyler were suspicious of Elena. However, he was glad to see his friend in person after four long days. Text messages just didn’t do their friendship justice. He resisted the urge to hug her. Damon had been warned in advance that touching Bonnie was a bad idea. While he wouldn’t mind seeing the mutt wolf out, he wasn’t in the mood to die from a werewolf’s bite. He could only imagine the untoward things Stefan would have to do to convince Klaus to save him this time. “Hey,” he replied.

The moment was interrupted as everyone else began to walk into the house.

She said, “Come in, everyone. Thank you for coming.”

Caroline hugged Bonnie but wrinkled her nose at the strong perfume the girl was wearing. “I am so happy that you are feeling better, Bon! Damon said that you got mono from that guy you met at the party.”

Bonnie’s eyebrows nearly shot up to her hairline. She shot a withering glare at Damon but he only smirked in return. She should have known that Damon would amuse himself some way. “It turns out it was just a 72 hour bug. I am feeling much better now.”

“Well, I still want to hear all about the guy you met,” Caroline said with a grin.

Bonnie was hit with another pang of guilt. She was certain that Caroline wouldn’t be happy when she learned the truth. She was also very aware of Jeremy scowling in her direction. She said, “Let’s all go to the living room. Tyler made it here first.”

Jeremy scowled at his ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t believe that Bonnie had a one-night stand with some loser she met at Damon’s party. She had also been ignoring his calls and texts all week. “I thought he was out of town.”

Tyler was standing up when they entered the living room. “I was but I made it back tonight. I got Bon’s message and figured I would stop here first.”

Matt walked over to his friend and hugged him. “Glad to have you back home, man.”

The hybrid discreetly slipped a vial of the potion into Matt’s hand. He smiled. “It’s good to be back.”

Bonnie said, “I did some stress baking waiting on you guys to get here. I baked way too many loaves of chocolate banana nut bread. Does anybody want to try out my new recipe with some coffee?”

Her question was greeted by a chorus of ‘yes’.

Damon added, “I’ll take a shot of bourbon in my coffee. I know you’ve got some here, witchy.”

Bonnie rolled her eyes in fond exasperation. She looked at Elena. “Could you give me a hand?”

The doppelganger was shocked that Bonnie was asking for her help. She nodded “Sure, Bon.”

The two girls walked into the kitchen. Bonnie asked, “Can grab some coffee cups from that cabinet right there?”

Elena turned around and pulled down enough cups for the group. She successfully balanced and carried the cups to the island. “The banana nut bread smells good, Bon.”

Bonnie waited until the cups were safely placed on the counter, they belonged to her grandmother after all, before she punched Elena hard enough to send her flying backwards.

Elena was shocked by the sudden assault but also by the power of the punch. Her eyes widened as Bonnie crossed the kitchen seemingly in the blink of an eye. The witch punched her harder the second time. She gasped, “Bonnie…”

Bonnie threw the bottle onto the ground hard enough to shatter the glass. The liquid began to turn into a reddish gas that wrapped around Elena and incapacitated her. The green eyed girl glared at her. “Give it up, Katherine.”

The doppelganger glared when she realized that she had been discovered. Just a week ago, she thought that the Scooby Doo Gang might never detect her ruse. She tried to stand. If she could run then there was still hope. However, she couldn’t even feel her limbs now. The potion the witch had used was obviously fast acting.

Bonnie watched as Katherine’s fingers twitched uselessly. “You love taunting Damon for wasting over a century of his life waiting for you. But you are the one that is pathetic, Katherine. You should have run as far away from Mystic Falls as you possibly could after taking control of Elena’s body. I mean you are good at running and hiding because of the centuries you spent evading Klaus. We might have never found you. Instead, you stuck around trying to make Stefan fall in love with you. He was never going to love you, Katherine. You are a horrible person that uses and discards people like tissues. Your soul is as black as coal. There isn’t a single redeemable thing about you. Who would ever willingly love you once they know the real you? The answer is no one.”

The girl’s words cut deeply.

Damon walked into the kitchen. He had heard everything.  He stared at Elena’s body in silence. He couldn’t even muster shock at the situation. This seemed exactly like something that his ex-girlfriend would do to torture him.

Bonnie reached down and snapped Elena/Katherine’s neck. Then she turned and walked over to Damon. More than anything she wanted to hug her friend because he looked absolutely wrecked. “I’m sorry, Damon.”

He stared at Elena/Katherine for a few seconds as if in a trance. He snapped out of it and said, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

Bonnie zipped in front of Damon to stop him from leaving. “No. I am not going to let you run away.”

He smiled at her. “I don’t plan to go on a killing spree, Bon-Bon. I just need some air.”

The sadness in Damon’s blue eyes tugged at Bonnie’s soul. She was seconds away from crying the tears that he wouldn’t dare shed.

Tyler appeared in the doorway. “Hug him already…”

Bonnie wrapped her arms around Damon and squeezed him tight.

The hybrid ignored the itch at the back of his head that urged him to rip out Damon’s throat for touching Bonnie. His instincts were at odds. Part of him wanted him to kill the potential romantic rival but the other part knew that his mate was hurting for her friend. The fact that he was able to resist the urge meant that Bonnie’s heat had truly ended. He picked up Elena/Katherine and hefted her over his shoulder. Then Tyler carried her down to the basement.

Chapter Text

Bonnie chewed at her bottom lip as she waited for Katherine/Elena to awaken or reanimate—she was never sure how to characterize that process. Everyone was twiddling their thumbs while they waited in the basement. She had already devoured three slices of chocolate banana nut bread. Bonnie hadn’t lied about stress baking before her friends arrived. Frankly, she was craving the hunk of brisket currently in the refrigerator. However, Bonnie was worried about attracting unwanted attention. It seemed that the overabundance of perfume and cologne had obscured Bonnie and Tyler’s scents for now. Neither of them was particularly interested in breaking the big news this evening. They had plenty of complications to deal with already.

She twisted a vintage opal ring around her finger nervously. The ring had belonged to her grandmother. She had found it in the same box containing the talisman that hung around her neck. Bonnie could feel traces of her grandmother’s magic in both items. She knew that many witches used talismans to help focus their powers. However, she had no clue why Grams had spelled the ring. If Bonnie still had access to her own magic, she might be able to identify the strands of the spell woven into the item. For now, she just took comfort in the familiarity of Sheila’s magic. Bonnie had felt it her entire childhood and never knew what it was.

Her green eyes slid across the room and connected with Damon. He was sitting by himself nursing a glass of bourbon. She glanced at the half-empty bottle beside his foot. Bonnie was glad that she lied about only having the one bottle. Surely, Damon would have already finished that one if he knew there were two bottles tucked away in the kitchen. Bonnie kept her house stocked with bourbon and blood bags for when Damon visited. Their hanging out wasn’t limited to the Salvatore boarding house. The house becoming a sort of sanctuary for their friends meant there was little peace or privacy. At times, Damon needed a break and Bonnie’s house was the perfect destination. Sometimes they hung out together, other times Damon disappeared into the basement for a couple hours.

Caroline huffed and sat down beside Bonnie. She had been pacing for the last ten minutes. She said, “I can’t believe that this is happening. I have been living with Katherine for months and I didn’t notice anything. I mean I knew that Elena was a little dejected because Stefan didn’t want to rekindle their epic romance. When I started seeing her less around the dorm, I assumed it was because she was really focusing on her classes.”

Bonnie shook her head and squeezed Caroline’s hand in support. “We are all responsible for this, Care. I should have made more of an effort to spend time with Elena, but…”

Caroline nodded but her heart was heavy. None of them had good reasons for neglecting their relationships with Elena. The simplest explanation was they had all been focusing on their own lives. They had taken the opportunity to be young people for once. Caroline had thrown herself into about a dozen clubs and activities. She even decided to double major in Theater and Communications. The fact that everyone was happy should have been the first sign that something was very wrong.

“We are going to find a way to make this up to Elena,” Caroline said with conviction.

Bonnie wanted to believe that more than anything but she didn’t even know where to begin. Elena had lost several months of her life. Moreover, they had no idea what Katherine had been doing while in her body. She asked, “Do you think Katherine has even been going to Elena’s classes?”

The blond vampire nodded. She said, “I know that she has been going to at least some of Elena’s classes. We have English 101 and Intro to Psychology together. She always showed up for those two. I saw her coming out of the Biological Sciences Building a couple times a week, too.”

“Well, I guess that is one positive thing. Maybe she hasn’t flunked out of college. Elena would be heartbroken. Becoming a doctor like her father was so important to her,” Bonnie replied.

Caroline perked up because she could solve that problem in a matter of hours. “I will track down all of Elena’s professors tomorrow. I can compel them to figure out if she is passing her classes. If not, I will make them change her grades.”

The green-eyed girl frowned and shook her head. “You should probably hold off on compelling people at Whitmore until after we have this Augustine situation sorted. They could be hiding in plain sight.”

Caroline huffed. “I am sure Katherine was just lying so that Stefan could save her.”

“Probably but it is better to be certain first.” She took Caroline’s hand again. “I don’t think I can handle something happening to another friend.”

Her eyes softened considerably as she pulled Bonnie into a hug. She whispered, “Elena isn’t the only one I have been neglecting.”

“You haven’t neglected me, Care. Things have just been…” Bonnie corrected herself and said, “I have been different since I came back from the Other Side. I am still trying to figure things out.”

Caroline had been wondering what was happening with Bonnie. However, she pretended that everything was fine whenever Caroline asked.  “Is it because you lost your magic?”

Bonnie said, “That is part of it but…”

“But what? What has happened to us? We used to be able to talk to each other about anything,” Caroline said in a disheartened voice.

“Now isn’t the time to get into it, Care,” Bonnie replied gently.

The blond vampire shook her head. “I disagree. We all realized that Elena was a little off and we ignored it. Well, I am not going to ignore whatever is going on with you. I can’t just keep waiting for it to pass.”

Bonnie realized that suddenly everyone’s eyes were on her. Their quiet conversations had been abandoned in favor of looking at the two young women.

Damon grumbled, “Leave it, Blondie.”

“No, I won’t just leave it,” Caroline argued.

“Yeah. When did Damon become your best friend, anyway? You used to hate him,” Jeremy chimed in.

The high school student was happy that someone was finally on his side. He had been complaining for months that Bonnie was behaving differently. Jeremy was ready for things to get back to normal. Matt and Tyler had tried telling him that ship had passed but he didn’t agree. Bonnie had only been dead for a few months. He couldn't understand how she could have changed so drastically in such a short amount of time.

Damon spoke slowly as if talking to a particularly slow child, he said, “I made the deal with Qetsiyah to resurrect Bon-Bon. I am also the one that got her out of being the anchor with an assist from Wolf Boy. Of course we’d be besties after that.”

Bonnie glared in Jeremy’s direction. However, her expression softened when she looked at Caroline. Her friend looked so lost. “I died, Care. I was dead for months and no one realized that something was wrong with that.”

“But you told Jeremy not to tell us what happened,” she argued quietly. However, she knew the argument was weak.

Bonnie chose her words carefully because she was no longer angry. She didn’t want to hurt her friends’ feelings by being too blunt. She said, “I asked Jeremy to keep my situation a secret because I wanted to make it easier on everyone. That is all I have been doing since the moment I realized I was a witch. I have been trying to make everyone else’s lives easier...safer. I have saved all of you at great cost to myself with very little appreciation. My grandmother is dead, my father is dead, and my mother is a vampire. I refuse to believe that you or Elena could have gone missing for so long without sounding alarm bells. No one pressed Jeremy for more information about my whereabouts until you all needed me to save you again. Qetsiyah told me to learn from her mistakes and my own. I did. When I came back from the dead, I decided to put myself first. I like it this way.”

Everyone in the basement looked guilty because Bonnie was right. They had accepted Jeremy’s paper-thin explanations for months without even a cursory investigation. They would have discovered Katherine’s scheme sooner if she had fled Mystic Falls after possessing Elena. They would have scoured the country looking for the doppelganger to ease their concern. Even Matt, arguably the most considerate of the group, had only insisted on finding Bonnie once he realized he was losing time while possessed by Gregor. He had tried to right that wrong in recent months. Matt talked to Bonnie a couple of times a week to make sure she was still alive. They usually hung out together at Mystic Grille.

Bonnie sighed quietly. “Look, it isn’t a big deal. I just had to change some things to make myself happy. I am still figuring out how to merge those changes with our friendships. I still love all of you…”

Katherine gave a disgusted groan, “Bonnie, be a dear and snap my neck again so I don’t have to listen to your tragic teenage angst. It sounds like a bad episode of One Tree Hill. You are totally a Peyton.”

Caroline looked at Bonnie with wide eyes. “You broke Katherine’s neck?”

Bonnie’s eyes darted over to Tyler for a moment. She shrugged and said, “What can I say? My training sessions with Damon have really paid off.”

Stefan cleared his throat and walked over to the chair where Katherine was shackled. He had been tempted to ask Bonnie why she had shackles in her basement. However, Damon reminded him that this house had been in the Bennett family for several generations. His older brother assumed that the shackles had belonged to one of the Bennett witches that came before her. “When did you possess Elena?”

Katherine rolled her eyes. “We’re going right to the main event, Stefan? No foreplay? I thought that I taught you better than that.”

Bonnie said, “Stefan won’t hit you because he’s a gentleman but I will.”

Tyler bit back a chuckle.

“I took control of the less interesting version of myself when she came to say goodbye. It was hardly an opportunity that I could pass up. I could be a vampire again and live another 500 or so years. I would do more with that time than boring Elena ever would,” she explained in a flippant tone.  

Caroline scoffed in disgust. “What have you been doing? What trouble have you caused for Elena?”

Katherine sighed dramatically. “What sense would it make to ruin Elena’s life? I planned for it to be my life. I figured playing college student for a while couldn’t hurt. Becoming a doctor was intriguing. I’ve never done that before, but I was a midwife once upon a time.”

Damon muttered, “Can we kill her now?”

The older vampire looked in his direction. She pouted at him. “I’m sorry. Did I break your heart again when I broke up with you as Elena? Your face that night in the woods is how I imagine you looked when you realized I was never in the tomb. It is like you just cannot get facts through that thick head of yours. No one is ever going to choose you over Stefan. It doesn’t have anything to do with fate, destiny, or even the doppelganger curse. You are always going to be alone because Stefan will always outshine you. I mean your only living friend tolerates you because you saved her life. You two have been bosom buddies while Elena has been on ice. I am guessing Bon-Bon is going to drop you as soon as her bestie is back.”

The brunette vampire was out of his chair and across the room in seconds. He had his hand wrapped around Katherine’s throat as she laughed maniacally.

Stefan grabbed his brother. “Damon…”

Bonnie stalked across the room and punched Katherine with all of her might. Her eyes flashed amber where only Katherine could see it. “I said that I would hit you again. Keep it up, Katherine. Like you said, I have a lot of teenage angst to work out.”

Katherine spit some blood onto the floor. “You won’t hurt your precious Elena.”

She smiled. “You aren’t Elena. You’re my best friend’s skanky sire until one of us stabs you with the knife we found under your bed tonight.”

All of the humor slid off Katherine’s face when Bonnie mentioned the knife. She hadn’t counted on them finding it. “You can’t kill me.”

Damon calmed down. He lifted an eyebrow and said, “Stalling for time is beneath you, Katherine.”

“My daughter is the only thing that has been keeping the Travelers from coming down all of your heads.” She looked to Stefan. “You remember when Gregor said that the Travelers wanted me dead.”

Damon snorted. “They can get in line.”

Stefan nodded. “I remember what Gregor said. What does that have to do with anything? I just assumed that you had pissed off a group of Travelers in the past. You have a habit of making enemies, Katherine.”

She said, “The travelers aren’t just interested in my death. They want you and Elena dead, too. Nadia has been keeping them at bay but that ends the moment you kill me.”

Damon tensed at the mention of his little brother being in danger.

Stefan frowned because Katherine seemed genuine. However, she had been mastering the art of lying for centuries. “Why would they want me dead? Gregor is the only Traveler that I have ever met.”

“The Travelers want all of the doppelgangers dead. They need our blood for some big ritual to break the curse that witches put on their kind. Nadia has found the other doppelganger that looks like you. She compelled him into dating her to keep him safe. They have an apartment not far from Whitmore’s campus.”

Tyler thought back to what Jonas said earlier. He asked, “What curse?”

Katherine relaxed somewhat now that they were listening to her. “The witches were pissed when Qetsiyah created that immortality spell. She and Silas had been Travelers so the witches decided to curse the entire group and their unlucky descendants. Qetsiyah only escaped that fate because she died. Witches can be bitches that way. Right, Bon-Bon?”

The girl rolled her eyes and said, “I’m still feeling punchy…keep talking.”

“The witches literally turned nature against the Travelers. They can’t practice magic as normal witches do because they can’t connect with nature. They also can’t congregate in one place for too long or nature punishes them with natural disasters and unexplained illnesses. They need doppelganger blood to break the curse but it is more involved than that. They want to destroy the Other Side to resurrect the other Travelers that have died in the past.”

Bonnie frowned. “It has to be more to it than that. Bringing down the veil to the Other Side means resurrecting all of the witches, too. The witches cursed the Travelers for creating the immortality spell. I don’t want to see what they would do to them for destroying the balance between life and death.”

Katherine smirked and said, “Look at Bon-Bon saving all of your asses and she doesn’t even have her magic. The leader of the Travelers plans to destroy spirit magic by ensuring that the witches aren’t able to cross over before he destroys the Other Side. All of your witch ancestors would simply cease to exist. The Travelers would be free to slaughter the rest of you or perhaps just curse you as they have been cursed for centuries.”

The girl gasped as the talisman around her neck began to vibrate.

“What exactly does that mean?” Stefan asked.

Bonnie didn’t hear Stefan because her talisman was vibrating hard enough to visibly move now.

Damon moved closer to her. “What’s going on, witchy?”

She grabbed the talisman when it began hovering in mid-air. However, that was precisely the wrong thing to do or precisely the right thing to do depending on one's vantage point. Bonnie’s eyes flashed amber as the power from the talisman surged through her body. Suddenly, the world began to turn upside down and her knees grew weak.

Tyler was across the room in seconds and had her in his arms. His eyes were dark amber as he threatened to shift right then. However, he knew that his mate needed him in his humanoid form. “Bonnie! Talk to me, please.”

Her eyes fluttered closed as she lost consciousness.

He scooped up Bonnie and carried her to the couch. Tyler laid her down carefully.

“What the hell just happened? Is she okay?” Jeremy asked.

Katherine watched with a curious expression. “Where did she get that talisman?”

Caroline asked, “Talisman? What are you talking about? It is just a necklace.”

“You are all completely useless,” the older vampire complained.

Tyler sat beside Bonnie on the couch and listened for her heartbeat. He was glad to find that she still had one. Tyler tried to ignore the distress he felt coming from his wolf. He said, “She found it in a box of her grandmother’s old things.”

Jeremy scowled as he watched Tyler with Bonnie. They were all worried about her but his concern was something different.

Damon moved closer to the couch and nodded. “Bonnie had me cart a couple of boxes out of the attic for her. There were a couple of grimoires, some jewelry, and photo albums in there.”

“Did she have any idea who the talisman belonged to first?” Katherine asked.

Tyler said, “Bonnie thinks it might have been handed down from her great-grandmother to her grandmother. There is a picture in the living room of Amelia wearing the talisman.”

Caroline looked between Bonnie’s unconscious face to the pure terror etched into Tyler’s. She shook her head because none of this was making any sense. Then she remembered that Tyler and Bonnie were both missing Saturday morning. This was the first time that they had been seen since Damon’s party. Jeremy had sworn that he saw Bonnie and Tyler dancing together before they went missing. Caroline shook her head because she had to be jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Katherine chuckled.

Damon whirled around to look at Katherine. “Why are you laughing?”

“Well, I mean she kinda deserves it since she punched me a total of three times. My guess is that she is about to be possessed by the original owner of that talisman. That’s the danger of wearing a talisman that doesn’t belong to you.”

Caroline shook her head. “No, it doesn’t work that way.”

Katherine scoffed. “Which of us knows more about witches?”

“Bonnie was possessed by Emily before but it was only after we did a séance. She had to reach out to the spirit first to welcome her.”

Tyler groaned.

Stefan asked, “What?”

“Bonnie wears the talisman all the time…including when she goes to the Falls at night to commune with nature.”

Caroline was stunned and confused. She could somewhat understand an accidental tryst. She was guilty of that. However, Tyler seemed to know details that only close friends would know.

Katherine smirked. “There you have it. She has been communing with nature and the spirits. She probably drew the attention of her grandmother or great-grandmother. They watch out for their own…especially a powerless little Bennett witch that can’t protect herself. They will have been watching her and now they know what the Travelers are planning.”

Damon said, “We need a witch…”

“I might be able to help you with that,” said Katherine.

His blue eyes narrowed dangerously. “You are dying tonight, Katherine. Helping us find a witch isn’t going to save your life.”

She said, “I am not naïve. I know that you will kill me regardless but it doesn’t have to be right away. I have a vested interest in making sure the Travelers fail. Nadia has made many enemies protecting me from them. They will kill her if their plan succeeds.”

Damon feigned surprise. “Are you being…maternal? I didn't know you had it in you, Kitty Kat.”

Katherine glared at Damon. “The witch I have in mind is a Bennett. She won’t be clamoring do me any favors but as I said Bennett witches protect their own.”

Jeremy argued, “You can’t be serious. She has been wearing my sister like a meat suit for months. I want to help Bonnie but there has to be another way.”

Stefan looked between Damon and Tyler. He couldn’t decide which man looked more ready to murder Jeremy. Stefan decided to step in before things got out of hand. He said, “Elena is safe. We are not going to let Katherine leave this basement still in control of her body but Bonnie needs help.”

The younger boy heaved a sigh and looked at Bonnie. He said, “Alright!”

“Thanks, little brother,” Katherine taunted.

Stefan said, “Don’t provoke him.”

She shrugged innocently. “What? I have enjoyed our weekly family outings. We had fun bowling just last week.”

Jeremy frowned because it was true. He had been enjoying Elena’s new outlook on life.

“How do we get contact with this Bennett witch?” Stefan asked.

Katherine smiled at Stefan. “You’ve met her before. Her name is Lucy. I had Nadia track her down a few weeks ago. I figured we would need some help with the Travelers. Her number is in my phone.”

Matt said, “Her purse is still in the living room. I’ll go get it.”

“Thanks, Matty Blue,” Katherine practically cooed.

Chapter Text

Tyler had not moved from his place beside Bonnie in the last thirty minutes. Bonnie’s safety and well-being were his only concerns. He didn’t care how many questioning looks he received from Caroline and Jeremy. Neither had been courageous enough to verbalize their curiosity. Tyler was using a Herculean amount of strength to resist the overwhelming urge to shift. His wolf side was panicking because there was something wrong with his mate. Tyler couldn’t even feel Bonnie through their bond. Since the first night he had bitten her, Tyler had gotten used to feeling Bonnie’s consciousness even when she was sleeping. Most of the time it was just a light tickle at the edge of his awareness but he liked feeling her. He felt strangely empty right now.

He tried to remain positive. Katherine didn’t seem to think that Bonnie was being harmed in this state. She swore that magical possessions within the same bloodline were rarely malevolent. While he had no reason to believe her, Stefan concurred with her opinion. He had been present when Emily had possessed Bonnie a couple years ago. The young witch would have walked away from the encounter completely unscathed if not for Damon sinking his teeth into her neck while in the throes of a temper tantrum. Tyler wouldn’t feel better until they received confirmation from Lucy. Unfortunately, they were having trouble getting her on the phone.

The Salvatore brothers could be relentless. Sometimes they annoyed the hell out of him. However, he was grateful for their presence tonight. Stefan and Damon had been calling Lucy nearly non-stop since getting her numbers from Katherine’s phone. Damon had even directed Matt to track her down via FaceBook. He figured a woman in her thirties probably used the social media platform frequently. Tyler could tell by the way Damon was pacing that he was minutes away from hopping into the Camaro. Katherine had helpfully supplied Lucy’s address in Durham, North Carolina. Durham was only 2 ½ hours away from Mystic Falls. Damon could probably cut the drive down another 20 or 30 minutes by speeding.

Tyler didn’t want his pack involved in a situation that was rapidly unraveling. However, he didn’t have much of a choice when there were threats coming from multiple fronts. The Travelers were most assuredly a threat to everyone. Lowering the veil and destroying the Other Side meant releasing long dead vampires and werewolves, too. This wasn’t merely a witch problem. Furthermore, he still didn’t know if Katherine was being truthful about members of the Augustine Group lurking around Whitmore’s campus. It could take Gabe a couple of days to sniff out that potential threat. Tyler knew that it was time to give up his quest of being a one-man army. He had a mate and possibly a baby to protect. He couldn’t do that alone.

He needed someone to help keep him focused. His wolf was growing stronger because the moon would be full in just a couple days. Worrying about Bonnie’s safety only made him more volatile. Jonas was still in the area. He and Tyler had built a solid friendship. Jonas had triggered his curse a decade ago so he had developed a precise control over his other side. However, he was too concerned with respecting the pack’s hierarchy to calm Tyler down if he was close to losing it. Tyler decided that reaching out to Ruby would be the best course of action. She was a beta within the pack and he could use her counsel on how to proceed with the Traveler issue. Moreover, she provided a calming presence that he sorely needed now. Ruby wouldn’t concern herself with scraping and bowing before the pack alpha. He took out his phone and fired off a text to her.

Tyler: Something is wrong with Bonnie. Could use your help. ASAP

Tyler didn’t even have the opportunity to put his phone down before it began vibrating. He opened the message and read Ruby’s response with a small smile on his face.

Ruby: I am in the neighborhood. I will be there in a few minutes.

He couldn’t think of any reason why Ruby would be in Mystic Falls. Normally, she stayed at the bar until 2 AM when it closed. She trusted her staff to clean the bar without her supervision. Tyler could only assume that Ruby had made her way to Mystic Falls at Jonas’ behest. He was too grateful that she was nearby to consider being irritated by Jonas deciding to call her. Tyler put his phone away. He looked around the room and decided that Damon was the only person he trusted to stay with Bonnie. He knew the vampire would protect her until he returned.

He said, “Damon…”

Damon was listening to Lucy’s line ring for the upteenth time. He turned around and asked, “What?”

Tyler stood up. “I need to go do something. Could you sit with Bonnie while I am gone?”

The brunette vampire wondered what Tyler needed to do but he didn’t question it. He walked over to the couch and sat on the arm. “Go ahead. I’ve got witchy.”

Tyler said, “Thanks.”

Caroline watched as Tyler jogged up the basement stairs. She moved over to Damon without an ounce of subtlety. She had a dozen questions on the very tip of her tongue. She blurted out, “What’s going on between Bonnie and Tyler?”

Jeremy perked up from his seat across the room. He had been thinking the very same thing. However, Tyler’s intense demeanor had prevented him from saying anything. He wasn’t as dumb as everyone seemed to think that he was. Jeremy understood when dying was a very real possibility. He had lived with Tyler long enough to recognize his warning signs.

Damon glanced at the girl as he called Lucy’s number again. He had lost count how many times he had called the witch only to get her voicemail. Damon had already decided that he would only wait around for another half hour before he drove to Durham. He said, “I know that I like to tease you about being a dumb blond, but we both know that you are quite intelligent, Vampire Barbie. The wheels in your head have been going round and round since the moment Bonnie collapsed. Whatever conclusions you’ve drawn…just assume that they are correct.”

Caroline folded her arms over her chest and cast a worried glance at Bonnie. She was worried about her best friend but also hurt that she had hidden such a big secret. “How long has this been going on?”

Damon ended the call when he heard the voicemail pick up again. He waited a second and then called the number again. He said, “Not as long as you and my brother have been playing tonsil hockey.”

Katherine chuckled. “Your attempts to hide the relationship were truly pathetic. I mean all of that perfume was just a waste of money and effort. I saw you making doe eyes at Stefan. Even simple Elena would have been able to figure out that the two of you were involved.”

Caroline sputtered, “I-I-I didn’t want to hurt Tyler or Elena. Stefan and I are in love.”

Katherine laughed harder and said, “I hate to burst your bubble but Tyler knows about your little affair, too.”

Caroline felt as if she had been gut punched. She had been waiting for the right time to tell Tyler about her relationship. However, Caroline had been scared that the news would obliterate what was left of their friendship. They barely managed to be civil to one another if they were in the same room for too long. Tyler always seemed like he wanted to fight Stefan. The implication of that rattled around in Caroline’s head. “You can’t know that. We have been careful around him.”

The older vampire smirked. She said, “I hate to flash my bona fides once more but I definitely know more about werewolves than you do. Werewolves have an amazing sense of smell—much better than vampires do. I promise he has known from the beginning. I can’t imagine why he hasn’t said anything.”

Caroline glared at Katherine. She was suddenly feeling very defensive. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

The older vampire shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I assumed your little fling would go down in a ball of flames like all of the rest have. I mean your dating track record is almost as tragic as Damon’s is. I figured that Stefan would grow tired of being your dirty little secret and he would break up with you. I also thought that you might run back into Tyler’s fur covered arms. Either way, I positioned myself to pick up the broken pieces of Stefan’s heart. All of the reward and none of the work…”

Caroline opened and closed her mouth several times, but couldn’t think of anything to say in response. She couldn’t help but notice the tense expression on Stefan’s face. It appeared that Katherine wasn’t far off the mark with her theory. They would definitely have to discuss this later. Caroline suddenly felt as if the people meant to be her closest friends had become strangers before her eyes. They needed a ‘friendtervention’ immediately. She was going to host one as soon as Elena was in control of her body and Bonnie was upright again.

Tyler walked down the stairs with Ruby in tow. The older woman scented the room easily to pick out humans from vampires. She had met good and bad vampires over the years. Therefore, she didn’t automatically assume that they were enemies. However, an unobservant werewolf often became a dead werewolf. It was always better to be prepared for anything.

The hybrid cleared his throat and said, “This is my cousin, Ruby. She might be able to help Bonnie.”

Caroline watched the mysterious blue eyed woman with curiosity. She didn’t think that Tyler had any living family members. “You have a cousin?”

He nodded. “I do.”

Ruby looked at Damon and asked, “May I?”

The vampire moved out of the way but watched Ruby warily. Damon didn’t trust anyone he didn’t know. Frankly, he didn’t make a habit of trusting people he did know. He just had to believe that Tyler wouldn’t bring in anyone that would prove to be a threat to Bonnie.

Ruby moved closer and took Bonnie’s hand. She wasn’t pleased with the girl’s temperature. She was much cooler than a werewolf or human should be. She carefully lifted her eyelids to get a look at her irises. Then Ruby looked at Tyler. “Can you feel her?”

He shook his head. “It is complete radio silence. It hasn’t been like that since…”

She nodded at him.

“What does that mean?” Caroline asked in a worried voice.

Ruby said, “You need to shift, Tyler.”

He shook his head. “I asked you here to keep me from doing exactly that. It is too close to the full moon. My wolf side is too powerful and too anxious. I can’t guarantee that I can control it.”

Ruby said, “You will not lose control when your mate needs you. You also will not be alone. I will be here to help you through it. Bonnie might be checked out for a moment but her wolf is not. Look at her eyes and you will see that I am right.”

Tyler gently peeled back her eyelids and was surprised to see gold and black staring back at him. Bonnie’s eyes had only ever changed to amber. If he didn’t know better, Tyler would think she was close to shifting. However, that wasn’t possible until the full moon because she wasn’t a hybrid. “What’s happening to her?”

“Bonnie’s werewolf side is fighting back against whatever the witches are doing. I think you will be able to reestablish the bond if you shift. You need to connect with the wolf fighting inside of her.”

Jeremy stood up because he had quite enough of being in the dark. “What the hell is going on? Bonnie isn’t a werewolf. I mean we would know if she was, right?”

Damon glared at Jeremy. “There’s a lot you don’t know. We don’t have time for your broken heart or whatever is going on with you. You have three options: shut up, offer something useful to help Bonnie, or get the hell out!”

The teen stormed out of the basement slamming the door behind him. He was genuinely heartbroken. Jeremy never thought that Bonnie would start dating someone else. He had believed wholeheartedly that they would get back together. He loved her. Jeremy felt betrayed by Tyler. He thought that they were friends.

Tyler looked down at Bonnie and then said, “I’ll do it. The rest of you should go. I don’t know what is about to happen. I can’t risk biting any of you.”

Damon snorted. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll take my chances, Wolf Boy.”

Caroline was a little nervous but she was determined. She said, “Me, too. Bonnie needs us…all of us. We can’t fail her again.”

Stefan said, “I am staying, too.”

Matt nodded in agreement. “We're here for both of you, Ty.”

“Well, it’s great all of you are willing to risk your lives. But maybe you should move the one person that can’t defend herself from a werewolf attack,” Katherine argued.

Damon smirked at her. “You’re not going anywhere, Kitty Kat. We’ll protect you from the Big Bad Wolf. After all, you are still in Elena’s body. We actually care about what happens to her.”

She gave an annoyed huff and glared at him.

Tyler started disrobing so that he could shift. He could feel the tension already beginning to bleed out of him.

Everyone, with the exception of Katherine, had the decency to look away as Tyler undressed. The vampire whistled and said, “I really should have given you a try…”

Tyler’s eyes turned gold and black as he turned to look at her. “You’re not my type.”

His bones began to break and realign as he shifted. He growled at the pain because he was shifting faster than normal. The wolf was rushing the transformation. He could already feel himself losing control.

Ruby stood close ready to calm him once the transformation was complete.

It turned out to be unnecessary. The black and gray wolf trotted over to Bonnie’s unconscious body. He nosed at Bonnie’s hand and whined for a few moments. Suddenly, he lifted his large head and let out an ear-piercing howl.

Caroline inched further away because she had witnessed Tyler being out of control in the past.

Stefan moved closer to shield Caroline.

The wolf howled again but this time it was louder and seemed more demanding. The large beast bit into Bonnie’s hand. The bite was so powerful that its front canines went straight through the other side. It was obvious that even in this state he was being careful. A werewolf had the jaw strength to crush a human hand.

Damon was about to intervene when Bonnie’s body seized upward. Her fingers started transforming into claws.

Matt stared in shock. He had known that something was going on between Tyler and Bonnie but this had never crossed his mind.

Caroline muttered, “Oh my God, Bonnie really is a werewolf.”

Ruby shook her head and said, “No, she’s a hybrid.”

The older woman couldn’t help but smile despite the dire circumstances. She had no doubt that Bonnie would recover soon. Tyler had found a worthy mate. They were going to have two hybrid alphas leading their pack.

Bonnie stopped seizing and her eyes fluttered open. They were still golden but she was alert. She blinked in confusion before zeroing in on the wolf. “Ty?” she asked in a shaky voice.

The wolf removed its teeth from Bonnie’s hand and lovingly licked at the puncture wounds. Afterward he moved to nuzzling at Bonnie’s neck.

She joked, “Your breath smells terrible. Would it be weird if I bought you a pack of Dentastix?”

Ruby huffed out a laugh.

He licked her face happily.

Bonnie closed her eyes tiredly and scratched behind his ear. “How long was I out?”

“About 45 minutes,” Damon replied. “You had us all scared, witchy. There are easier ways to take a power nap.”

Her lips curled into a smile at his joke. However, she could hear the genuine relief in his voice. Bonnie slowly retracted her claws without even thinking about it. “I wasn’t napping. I was in a trance. Grams was there to meet me. The spirits know about what the Travelers are doing and they are worried.”

“They should be,” Katherine replied. “Markos is not playing around.”

Stefan asked, “Did Sheila have any tips on how to stop them?”

Bonnie went back to scratching behind Tyler’s ear. She found the action to be soothing. Even in his wolf form, she could sense his contentment through the bond. She looked at him and asked, “Can you change back now? You really need to be part of this conversation.”

Tyler backed away from the couch and lowered his head. Slowly his claws retracted and his black and gray fur began to recede. Once he was human again, Tyler slowly got to his feet. He pulled on his boxers and pants. He and his wolf were at peace once again. He could feel the bond pulsing between him and Bonnie. She was feeling so many things at once that he had a hard time identifying everything. However, the one emotion that stuck out the most was love.

Bonnie slowly sat up but she was feeling a little lightheaded. Her eyes had gone back to normal for now.

The hybrid was at her side immediately. Tyler sat next to Bonnie and said, “Take it easy…”

Bonnie rested her head on his shoulder. She laughed softly. “I’m okay. I am just feeling a little dizzy from the trance. It’ll wear off soon.”

He kissed the top of her head.

Caroline couldn’t believe how close Bonnie and Tyler seemed.

Ruby asked, “Do you need anything? I can make some tea if you have any. Maybe something to eat would help with the dizziness.”

Bonnie smiled at Ruby as if she just realized that the woman was present. “Oh, I don’t want to put you out.”

Ruby smiled in return. “It is no trouble at all.”

Tyler nodded at her. “Tea and something to eat would probably be good. She hasn’t eaten a real meal in hours.”

She said, “I will find my way around the kitchen then. You can fill me in on everything later.”

“Thank you,” Tyler said.

Ruby squeezed his shoulder in support and then left the basement with a pleased smile on her face.

Bonnie said, “I have good news and bad news….”

“What’s the good news?” Stefan asked.

“The spirits have been working on a way to stop the Travelers. They are going to need the help of a few very powerful witch bloodlines. Some of those bloodlines are already established covens. That is the good news. The bad news is that one of those covens isn’t going to be happy to see us.”

Damon rolled his eyes skyward. “Let me guess…the Gemini Coven.”

She nodded. “Their bloodline is old and powerful. The Gemini Coven and the Bennett Coven were allies until the witch-hunts drove us from our homes in Salem. We are going to need their help. Grams said their coven is already tracking the Travelers. She and some of my other ancestors are trying to get through to as many Bennett witches as possible.”

Stefan asked, “There are more Bennett witches?”

Bonnie nodded. “We are fractured and scattered but our numbers are not few. We are descended from Qetsiyah. She is the one that set all of this in motion with that immortality spell. The Gemini Coven are descended from the witches that cursed the Travelers. It is our duty to clean up this mess.”

Katherine said, “That’s big talk for someone that’s no longer a witch.”

The girl merely smiled at Katherine. “I took you down easy enough with a right hook and an immobilization potion.”

Tyler chuckled and pressed a kiss to Bonnie’s temple. He had never been so relieved in his life.

Bonnie squeezed his hand in response. She was okay but there was something she needed to tell him in private.

Chapter Text

Bonnie was fortunate to have Tyler and Ruby looking after her. The older woman had prepared a sizable snack that Bonnie devoured without shame. Her energy had been sapped by the unexpected and prolonged trance. The food had helped combat the lightheaded feeling. Bonnie even asked Ruby to prepare a special restorative tea for her. She had a container of pre-blended herbs and roots that Ruby only needed to brew. Bonnie had found the recipe in Sheila’s grimoire some time ago. She often made the tea after spending hours communing with nature. Channeling the elements was strenuous because she didn’t have access to her powers. The act often left her exhausted both physically and mentally. The tea always helped rejuvenate her. Therefore, it was just what the doctor ordered tonight.

As she sat beside Tyler, her thoughts lingered on the meeting with her grandmother. While she had been happy to see Sheila, it was quite an ordeal. Bonnie appeared unconscious during the trance but it was so much more than that. Her grandmother had pulled her onto the astral plane. The unfamiliar setting was pulsing with magic and energy that she had never before experienced. The intensity and variety of the stimuli surrounding the young woman had overwhelmed her supernatural senses. For the first time, she could feel her body on the edge of transformation. The beast had clawed and gnashed at the tattered remains of the curse binding it. Only Sheila’s calming presence had prevented Bonnie from shifting into a werewolf on the astral plane.

For a brief moment, she had feared that Sheila would disapprove of her. Bonnie was becoming something unnatural and powerful. She felt that power acutely on the astral plane. Her very existence was an affront to nature and the balance that all witches were tasked to maintain. However, Sheila had swiftly assuaged those baseless fears. Her grandmother’s love was unconditional, infinite, and consuming. The travelers’ plot was of course a pressing matter but it did not receive top billing in their conversation. They had spent most of the time discussing the new changes in Bonnie’s life as well as the ones yet to come. She would have stayed with Sheila longer if not for Tyler stirring her wolf once more. Only the promise of seeing her grandmother soon managed to soothe her disappointment. The disappointment disappeared altogether when she opened her eyes and saw Tyler standing beside the couch on four legs. Their bond reconnected instantly. The relief, happiness, and love radiating from him overwhelmed her. For the first few seconds, it had felt as if they were the only other people in the room. Now she wished that were true.

Bonnie felt guilty because she wanted her friends to leave. They had not done anything wrong. The young woman even appreciated how they all rallied around her while she was unconscious, but she wanted to have a private conversation with Tyler. She had news that she wanted to share with him before anyone else. It would be difficult to do that with so many guests that possessed supernatural hearing abilities. However, the group couldn’t disperse just yet. The decision to kill Katherine was made more complicated by the travelers’ dastardly plan. Katherine wouldn’t be particularly useful in the fight against the travelers but they might need her daughter. Nadia had spent months tracking the travelers and learning the intricacies of their plan. Moreover, she had many friends that practiced traveler magic that might be willing to align against Markos and his followers. As with most supernatural communities, the travelers were not monolithic.

Allowing Katherine to keep Elena’s body long-term certainly was not in the cards. However, there were other options to consider. Travelers were not the only magic practitioners capable of possession and body swapping. Bonnie had come across a handful of spells in her great-grandmother’s grimoire. An experienced witch could extract Katherine’s essence from Elena’s body and transfer it into another vessel. There was even a spell to bind her to the new vessel so that she couldn’t possess anyone else. Bonnie didn’t think it would be too hard to find a reprehensible vampire or human to serve as Katherine’s new home. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to convince everyone, including Katherine, that this was the best course of action.

Bonnie was most concerned about her best friend. Damon’s anguish earlier had been visceral. Bonnie could almost feel it prickling her skin. It probably would have hurt less if Katherine had just ripped his heart out—literally. Damon wanted her dead and Bonnie couldn’t blame him for that. The cruel doppelganger had been toying with him for nearly two centuries. It was as if Katherine derived a sick thrill from hurting Damon. Moreover, Elena was owed some sort of retribution as well. Katherine had stolen her body and life for months. She had struck up a sexual relationship with Matt and God knows whom else. Bonnie couldn’t even wrap her mind around the consent issues on that one. In order to defeat the travelers, they would need to adopt a high level of pragmatism. It wouldn’t be the first time they made a deal with the devil. They had all done morally questionable things in the pursuit of survival.

Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to figure out a tactful way to broach the subject. After a few minutes of thought, Bonnie decided to rip off the band-aid. She blurted out, “We can’t kill Katherine tonight.”

Everyone looked in her direction with various levels of surprise. They had all been silent as Bonnie recovered from the trance. Her ashen complex and dizziness had been disconcerting.

Tyler wasn’t shocked by Bonnie’s declaration. He had been thinking the same thing since Katherine told them about the travelers. He wanted to give Elena her life back but Katherine was an asset for now. He said, “Okay.”

For once, Katherine was worth more to them alive than she was dead. It was a startling turn of events. Damon said, “Obviously.”

Caroline asked, “Why?”

Damon quipped, “She’s a good bargaining chip for now, Blondie.”

Stefan frowned because he could think of a dozen ways this could go horribly wrong. He also realized that they were short on options right now. He said, “Damon is right, Caroline.”

The doppelganger’s lips curled up into a self-satisfied smirk. She had been sitting on that trump card for this occasion. She hadn’t anticipated being discovered, but Katherine always had an exit strategy waiting in the wings.

Matt scrubbed a hand across his face as he thought about explaining this situation to Jeremy. The kid was surely in a tizzy over Tyler dating Bonnie. He would be in no mood to hear that Katherine would get to keep Elena’s body for a little longer. “How long do we have to keep this up, Bon?”

The blond restaurant manager had a unique view of the situation. A traveler had possessed him unwillingly for weeks. Matt had started to believe that he was going insane after losing chunks of time. He had been terrified that he was doing something awful during those blackouts. The only upside in his case was that Gregor had been unable to take complete control of Matt’s mind and body. Matt was able to resurface frequently. He couldn’t imagine how Elena would feel once they freed her. Did she know that Katherine had possessed her? Had she been asleep this entire time or a helpless spectator?

Bonnie was glad that she wouldn’t have to convince everyone that this was the right plan. She said, “I don’t know exactly, Matt. I mean obviously Katherine is useless…as usual.”

Damon snorted with a smirk. He knew that Bonnie’s was taking Katherine down a peg for his benefit. He genuinely appreciated her assistance. It wasn’t as satisfying as snapping her neck but Damon would take it.

“However, we might need her daughter’s help. We certainly need whatever information she has been gathering on the travelers. I doubt that she will be jumping to help us if we kill her mother.”

Caroline wasn’t pleased by the idea of Katherine remaining in Elena’s body for even a second longer, but she also saw Bonnie’s point. The travelers were planning a supernatural Doom’s Day that would spill over well beyond the borders of Mystic Falls. Before this debacle was over, they would all have to make some sacrifices. “We can’t allow Katherine to just keep Elena’s body.”

Bonnie quickly said, “I am not suggesting that this is a permanent solution, Care. I have actually been thinking about alternatives. We could always stuff Katherine’s essence into a new body. It would be someone of our choosing so that we aren’t stealing some decent person’s life.”

Katherine scowled in displeasure. She was not on board with inhabiting another body that didn’t look like…her. However, she wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If Bonnie was willing to convince the others to compromise on killing her, she was not going to say anything to change their minds.

The green-eyed girl discreetly looked toward her friend. She wondered if he would be okay with this.

Damon was sitting across the room still trying to reach Lucy. He met Bonnie’s gaze and nodded. He knew that she was worried about his reaction but he had calmed down since learning the truth. Watching his best friend collapse had been a shock to his system. Katherine’s cruel manipulation no longer seemed quite as important. Frankly, his sire had unwittingly helped him get over Elena. Their relationship had been toxic but Damon had tried his best to ignore the writing on the wall.

Bonnie cleared her throat and said, “At most, it might take a couple of days to put everything together. In the meantime, we will keep Katherine locked up here so that she can’t run away with Elena’s body.”

Caroline was reluctant but nodded. She hoped that Elena would understand why they were doing this. She said, “We can’t leave Katherine here. You could be hurt if she managed to free herself somehow. We should take her to the boarding house and lock her in the cellar.”

Tyler shook his head. “I will be here with Bonnie to keep an eye on Katherine. She won’t get past us. Besides, the boarding house is the first place that Nadia will go looking for her mother.”

Bonnie squeezed his hand to express her gratitude. She didn’t like the idea of Katherine being out of her sight. Sheila had warned her granddaughter to be wary of the vampire. Katherine’s family might not have practiced traveler magic but it was in her blood just as it was in Elena’s blood. They had no way of knowing if she had been learning the craft. Traveler magic would be a useful tool and Katherine wasn’t known for ignoring those.

The blond vampire sputtered, “You’re going to stay here.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I have been staying here since Saturday. I don’t think that Bon is ready to kick me out just yet.”

Bonnie bit back a smitten smile as she looked into his dark brown eyes. She wasn’t ready for Tyler to leave. In fact, she was dreading the day when things would go back to normal. Despite the fact that she had no idea how normal looked now that they were mated to each other.  

Caroline couldn’t hold back her questions any longer. She asked, “Are you boyfriend and girlfriend?”

She knew that the answer was obvious but she just couldn’t help asking. The two of them were cuddled up on the couch as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She wondered why everyone else seemed to behave as if this was no big deal. What signs had she missed?

Tyler said, “Yes, we are.”

The green-eyed girl looked at her friend. “I know that you have questions, Care. I promise that I will answer as many as possible but not tonight. I am still tired and it is getting late.”

Caroline looked at the couple and nodded. “Okay.”

“Thanks, Care,” Bonnie whispered.

Caroline said, “You are right about the late hour and I am ready to crash for the night. I have an eight o’clock class in the morning. I think I am going to leave.”

Matt looked at the time and frowned. “I think I am going to leave, too. When should we all meet tomorrow?”

“Maybe 2 o’clock?” Bonnie asked. “Will your classes be over for the day by that time, Care?”

Caroline nodded. “Yes.”

Stefan said, “I think that is a good time.”

Damon called out. “Heads up, witchy!”

Bonnie caught the phone hurtling towards her face with superhuman accuracy. She scowled at Damon. “What?”

“Lucy is on the phone,” he said. He motioned for her to start talking.

“Hello. Hi,” she said haltingly.  “I am Bonnie Bennett. We met at a party and sort of bonded over Katherine’s treachery.”

Lucy chuckled airily, “Yes, I know who you are, Bonnie. Our last meeting was quite memorable. I am going to assume that your call has something to do with why my grandmother accosted me in the middle of a very nice dream tonight.”

Bonnie tried to remember the branches of their family tree. Lucy and Abby were first cousins. She asked, “Amelia contacted you?”

“Yes, she did. It is my understanding that I won’t be the only Bennett witch getting an unsolicited visit from a deceased relative tonight. They are dreamwalking in order to reach as many of us as possible.”

“My grams reached out to me, too,” she replied. “We could really use your help here, Lucy.”

Lucy said, “I will be on my way to Mystic Falls tomorrow afternoon. My grandmother seems to think that your sleepy little town is where the travelers will set up their base camp. We are going to have to put up some wards to prevent that from happening.”

“I didn’t think that travelers could gather in one place. Katherine said that nature literally turns on them for doing that,” Bonnie said. She glanced over at the shackled vampire.

“She was telling the truth but there is one exception to that rule. The witches were not as thorough with the curse as they should have been. It is true that travelers cannot congregate together in one place without a natural disaster or a plague wiping out their coven. However, they have found a loophole to exploit. The curse only works while the travelers are in their own bodies.”

Bonnie groaned as she followed Lucy’s statement to its logical conclusion. She said, “Any number of people here in Mystic Falls could have travelers possessing them. We can’t go around stabbing everyone with the knife to check.”

Damon tilted his head to the side. “We could…”

Stefan frowned. “Damon…”

He just shrugged in response and leaned against the wall. Damon didn’t see a problem with stabbing and compelling everyone if it meant ensuring their town was free of travelers.

Lucy asked, “You have the knife in your possession right now?”

“Yeah, we took it off Katherine tonight. We thought that she had died a few months ago. Instead, she became a passenger inside of my friend Elena.”

“Guard that knife closely. There are only a few known to be in existence. Finding them is next to impossible. The knife is the only way to kill a passenger, without it we would just have to kill the poor soul they are possessing. There are special wards that we can place all over town that will prevent the travelers from hitching a ride in anyone’s body. It will also help us identify any of the townsfolk that have already been possessed.”

“We will make sure that the knife remains safe,” she replied. “I also need your help with Katherine. She can’t keep Elena’s body but we need her daughter’s cooperation. I thought we might be able to transfer Katherine into another vessel.”

The line was quiet for a moment before, Lucy replied, “I know of a spell that can accomplish that. I have performed it a few times but it is no simple feat. Do you already have another vessel in mind?”

Bonnie was relieved to hear that Lucy was capable of performing the spell. “No, we haven’t found another vessel yet but we will.”

“Good. Well, send me your address. I don’t know exactly what time I will make it there tomorrow. I need to pick up some supplies for the wards and a few spells. Some of the ingredients I have on hand. I will have to find some of the others.”

“Sure. Is there anything that I can help get for you? I have a friend that has an amazing knack for acquiring some of the more hard to find items.”

Lucy sounded pleased when she asked, “Have you found a witch to mentor you?”

Bonnie said, “No. I have been using Amelia’s grimoire to teach myself how to make potions and elixirs. My friend is a vampire that gets my supplies and occasionally allows to me experiment on him. I used an immobilization potion from Amelia’s grimoire tonight to incapacitate Katherine.”

Stefan looked at his brother with a shocked expression. Damon hadn’t mentioned that he was helping Bonnie with her magic.

Damon just shrugged. He didn’t feel the need to explain his friendship with Bonnie.

“Impressive,” she praised. “I will send you the list of items that I need. You can let me know which ones your friend can acquire by tomorrow afternoon.”

“Thank you.” She said, “I will text you in the morning with his response.”

“Okay. Talk to you then. Good night,” Lucy said.

Bonnie ended the call and said, “I don’t have my phone with me. Do you have yours, Ty?”

He nodded and pulled the phone from his pocket. He handed it over to Bonnie.

She added Lucy’s number to Tyler’s contact list and then sent her a text message. Afterwards, Bonnie threw Damon’s phone at him.

The vampire chuckled as he snatched the phone out of the air. He could tell that Bonnie had purposely aimed to hit him in the face. “That wasn’t very nice, witchy.”

She bit back a grin. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Just like you volunteered me to be Lucy’s secret shopper?” he asked with a smirk.

She shrugged. “I could go just do it myself if you shared your super secret witchy connection with me.”

Damon shook his head. “You wouldn’t be able to pay my connection. She doesn’t take cash.”

Bonnie’s green eyes widened as she stifled a laugh. “How exactly are you paying for this stuff?”

Stefan cleared his throat because he was about to laugh, too.

“Get your heads out of the gutter. I’m not using my body as currency.” He waggled his eyebrows and said, “Not that she wouldn’t love it.”

Caroline made a disgusted sound.

Damon merely grinned at them.