Abby is still unconscious when Damon carries her to the car. Bonnie's too tired from the spell to do it, and too numb to argue. Someone's called Caroline, Bonnie doesn't ask, and she shows up to drive Bonnie and Abby home before Bonnie has a chance to get behind the wheel and make everything worse.
On the ride over, Bonnie tells herself that this isn't history repeating, that it wasn't magic that killed her mother like it killed her Grams, that this was a ritual worth doing and other people got in the way. She tells herself that Abby will come back, as a vampire, but she will come back, so maybe there's hope for them yet. Abby will have eternity to make up for all the years she lost with Bonnie, if she wants it.
She may not want it. Bonnie isn't sure what she'd do in that position. Having her magic taken away from her made her feel powerless in more than a literal way; she kept reaching for something that wasn't there, a special source of strength she hadn't realized how often she pulled from until it was missing. She can't imagine living without it, without that thrumming beneath her skin, but she can't imagine having that and not using it for decades. She and Abby have led different lives, experienced the supernatural differently. The one vampire Abby put away fed on other vampires, not on Abby's friends.
It's hard for Bonnie to wrap her head around the idea of putting away one vampire and being able to say that's it, I'm done, I'm moving on. She can understand the instinct; in a way, she admires it. Bonnie has lost and lost, people and plans, relationships and spells, temporary and permanently, and at the end of the day she stays here, sticks with the people she knows, because the people Bonnie knows are no strangers to this patchwork of losses and changes.
With her eyes closed, she can almost pretend she's fourteen and Elena's at the wheel, Caroline lying and slurring her words in the backseat, back from the last birthday party before Elena began to date Matt.
But it's still Caroline driving, her eyes glazing over Bonnie as often as she can spare to look away from the road, and there's no giggling coming from the backseat because Abby is there, and Abby is unconscious.
Not unconscious. Dead. Abby is dead.
Bonnie would try to convince herself she can't lose someone who has never been there, but she knows better.
She stays in the car while Caroline carries Abby inside. She realizes now she never asked where they were going, but she's not surprised to find herself parked in front of Caroline's house. For now, it's the closest thing to neutral ground there is. She gathers the few things she brought with her in the rush from the old house and locks the car before heading in.
Abby is lying in Caroline's bed, on top of the comforter. Caroline stands beside her, alternating between biting her fingernails and just keeping them safe between her lips. When she sees Bonnie, she straightens up and says, "You're here. She's stable. I'm not sure when she's going to—you know. I'll make us some tea." The speed at which she walks by Bonnie is just this side of supernatural. It's a kind thing to do—leaving before Bonnie has to come up with an answer, leaving before Bonnie has to ask to be alone with her mom. With Abby.
It's harder and easier to think of Abby as her mom, now. Abby's magic will be gone for good, and that was Bonnie's one excuse to track her down, the reason she convinced Abby to come to Mystic Falls with her. She knows Abby didn't expect to see her again, wasn't prepared for it, and she's tried not to take Abby's reluctance to let her in personally; Abby barely knows her. If Bonnie was in her position—well, she doesn't know what she would do. She doesn't know what Abby sees when she looks at Bonnie, if she hates herself for leaving, if she doesn't feel ready to miss eighteen years' worth of not being there, if she wants to try to be a mother to Bonnie but doesn't think she can make up for her absence, or doesn't trust herself to stay. Abby has a near hair-trigger flight response, Bonnie knows that much. Bonnie's guilty of keeping a distance, too, but she's not as guarded, not even when she knows, in her head, that she should be. She tries to stay still and show little, but she hasn't managed to train herself out of investing too much, and she still jumps into battle, reckless choices no matter how much she plans or how important an evil she's supposed to vanquish this time.
But Abby acquiesced and listened and helped, Abby was there with Bonnie tonight, and Bonnie doesn't want that to be nothing. It's not nothing. It's a huge thing. And now Abby's dead, even if it's temporary, and she's not a stranger. She's someone who got hurt helping Bonnie, and low, in her head, Bonnie can't help thinking my mom got hurt helping me, because everything else sounds ungrateful and cold and like a lie.
It's her mom's hand she's holding, limp and heavy in both of hers. There's no point to it, except maybe if her mom knows Bonnie's here with her, she won't feel as alone while she's like this, whatever this—being dead, but recovering—is like. Caroline knows, but Bonnie's not tactless enough to ask, not yet, not for a long time.
Maybe she'll ask Damon sometime.
The microwave beeps downstairs, and there's some clacking noise and muffled curses. Bonnie looks at her mom's face, which shows no signs of being about to come to; the hand she's holding, still lifeless. Bonnie's not sure what she was expecting—aftershocks of Abby's pulse, maybe, or some low current of magic.
Caroline curses again, this time out loud, and Bonnie lets go. Stroking a dead person's fingers is probably creepy and not helpful, anyway.
"Oh," Caroline squeaks when Bonnie gets to the kitchen. "I was gonna bring it upstairs. I know there's a tray in here somewhere." Bonnie assumes 'in here' refers to the two open cupboards whose contents—pans, mostly—are currently piled on the counter.
"That's okay," Bonnie says, and drags out a stool to sit on. Caroline stays on her feet, resting her forearms on the kitchen island, her hands around a big mug. Bonnie's kind of glad Caroline's not drinking blood right now. She brings her own mug closer, steaming water with two tea bags, the kind Bonnie likes and Elena always scrunches her nose at. There's warm milk and sugar at arm's reach, and little containers with vanilla and cinnamon and a bottle of caramel, which Caroline never bothers with. Bonnie reaches for the milk and fills the cup the rest of the way up.
"I wasn't sure if this called for your night milk proportions or like, breakfast," Caroline says.
Bonnie offers a short-lived smile and says, "Breakfast, definitely breakfast."
They sit in silence for a while. Having Caroline here keeps Bonnie's mind from wandering too much; she just sips her tea and wills her body to take in that warmth and relax. There's nothing she can do right now except wait, anyway. At least Abby knows what she's in for. At least there's someone helping who actually knows what Abby is going to need if she decides to go through transition. Bonnie knows the theory better than she'd like, but it's not like she has blood bags lying around in case of an emergency.
"Are you—" Caroline starts, and then, "I'm not going to ask if you're okay. That's a stupid question. But you look tired—"
"A spell that takes a whole lineage of witches will do that to you," Bonnie says, her mouth a thin line, "plus my mom got killed."
Caroline shakes her head as though she's trying to sweep off what she just said. "No, I mean, if you're exhausted, then Abby must be, too. I'm just trying to figure out when she's going to—wake up."
"Oh," Bonnie says. "Uh, I've done worse spells. But I don't think Abby has. At least not in a while."
"I think it's going to be at least a few hours," Caroline says, nodding, then makes an apologetic face.
"It's not your fault." Bonnie takes another sip of her tea, inhaling the smell as she swallows, then remembers to ask: "What happened?"
"Well, Elena got kidnapped and—"
"No, how did they find out what we were doing?" Caroline's feet shuffle on the floor, one of them skidding a good foot away from the other. She's staring intently at the surface of the kitchen island. "Caroline."
"Elena told Elijah," Caroline says finally, raising her head. "To be fair, he already knew. But it probably didn't help that Elena confirmed it. Or that she went anywhere with him at all."
Bonnie just looks at Caroline, the rapidly changing expressions on her face, from frustrated to annoyed to really sorry. Bonnie's heart is beating normally, her tea mug is warm between her hands, the stool she's sitting on is comfortable enough. She doesn't want a couch to swallow her anyway. She'd probably fall asleep, and she needs to be awake when Abby opens her eyes.
She should go upstairs.
"I'm fine," Bonnie says, empty words as acknowledgment. When she settles on something to feel, it's a piercing, quiet sort of anger. Not at Elena, specifically, or at anyone else, but anger at her life for being so complicated that she can't blame a single person, that nothing can be entirely bad or entirely good, that she can't track down her mom and get to know her without putting her in harm's way. And it's not Bonnie's fault this happened to Abby; she wasn't the one to kill her. The one who killed her was trying to save Bonnie's best friend, and Bonnie's best friend—well, Bonnie doesn't have it in her to blame her, either. Elena makes mistakes, makes really, really bad decisions, puts herself in danger like she's not at all, but she didn't kidnap herself. She didn't threaten herself or blackmail anyone.
But just because Bonnie can't blame her, that doesn't mean she can't be angry. It doesn't mean she's not hurt.
"I'm going to see how she's doing," Bonnie says. "Can you—" She gestures toward the counter.
Caroline nods almost spastically. "Go. I'll bring you a cup."
It's quiet in the room with Abby; Bonnie can hear Caroline mulling around downstairs, and she can hear the traffic whenever there's any, cars swooping by with far too much in between them to call it consistent background noise. The only consistent sound is her breathing, perfunctory but steady, a reminder that she made it through the day as much as a pointed remark, a thought tapping on her shoulder and settling: she's the only person in this room who's breathing. She's the only person in the house who needs to.
It's strange, being here and waiting. She's not used to sitting by people's bedsides—if her dad's ever been sick enough to go to the doctor, she's not aware of it, and these days, not many people she's acquainted with have slow recovery periods. Most of them don't stay down for long, and the others—well, the dead don't have much need for company. Comforting those left behind, that's what Bonnie knows how to do. This is new. This makes her feel cold and lonely.
She doesn't even know what to expect here. She doesn't know all that much about Abby: she knows Abby did what she could to save the people she loved, and left to save herself. She knows Abby wasn't sure about coming back to Mystic Falls, wasn't sure about working to recover her magic, and if it was self-preservation that dragged her back, then Bonnie can continue to think she's waiting for Abby to wake up, instead of sitting there, watching someone on her deathbed. For all the shit and pain and grief vampires have brought into Bonnie's life, she can't imagine deciding to die if the alternative is continuing to exist—living, however unnaturally. She's not sure she's afraid of death itself these days, but if this happened to her—if someone did this to her, she couldn't just roll over and quit. She couldn't.
There's a soft knock on the door, and Bonnie looks up to see Caroline holding a mug out to her.
"Elena's coming over," Caroline says, the words falling out of her mouth like she's been waiting a while to say them. "She just called. She wanted to know how you were doing." Bonnie tightens her clasp on the mug; it's hot, but it doesn't burn her.
"I don't want to see Elena right now," she says, trying to keep her voice even, calm. Caroline's lips press together, and Bonnie adds, "I can't. I can't see Elena."
"She probably just wants to apologize." A pause, and then: "Bonnie—"
Bonnie shakes her head. "I can't handle an apology right now. I'm tired. I'm busy, and I'm tired. I can't—"
"Okay, that's okay," Caroline says. "I'll talk to her, okay? She'll understand."
I don't care if she understands, Bonnie thinks, but it's petty, and Caroline would take it the wrong way, so she doesn't say it, watches Caroline leave instead. She loves Elena. She does. She can't stop loving Elena, just like her love for Caroline didn't vanish when Caroline was turned, like her feelings for Jeremy keep digging into her heart all the time, like she'll never stop loving her Grams no matter how much time has passed, and like, she thinks, like she can't help but love her mom, the little pieces of her she still has.
It's just love isn't enough, sometimes.