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"Sanguinem Filio Sanguinem Effugarex Perpetuum, Phasmatos Filio Phasmatos Effugarex Perpetuum," Joshua Parker starts, nodding in encouragement to his fellow coven mates as they joined in. They were all still recovering from the magical assault his son and their leader, Kai Parker had wrought out just moments before. The chant grows louder as more and more members of the Gemini Coven join in the chorus, moving into a crescent formation around their target.

"Let me guess, Prison World?" Kai waves his hands in the air, feigning terror. "I mean, you can't kill me, else you'd all die too, right?"

He turns around, facing the groom, Alaric. The distinct feeling of pity wells up in his gut as he watches his would-be brother-in-law cradle his pregnant, lifeless bride. Ugh, emotions .

"Hey, I'm sorry about your twinsies," he says, offering his condolences. "I just don't feel like competing for leadership with future Gemini twins." Crouching down to eye level, he elaborates. "See, when your family decides that you're nothing but an irredeemable piece of trash, well," he pauses, selecting a shard of glass amongst the rubble beneath him. "I guess the best thing to do is prove them right, right?"

Rising to his feet, he faces his coven, shard in hand. He takes a moment to observe the look of confusion on his father's' face before being replaced with understanding, made evident by the sudden show of panic.

"This oughta do it," Kai beams, adding, "Oh, and I do hope you all enjoyed the drinks," before jamming the makeshift blade into his jugular. He manages to choke out a laugh, taking in the befuddled scene of his coven as his vision turns black.

"No!" Joshua reaches out, too late in reaction to make a difference, and watches as his son collapses.

Too powerless to change their leader's' fate, the Gemini Coven merely watches in horror as their leader bleeds out before them.


 

The elder Salvatore observes meekly through veined glass, watching as the doctor examines Elena Gilbert for the eighth time. He'd compelled the man to examine her repeatedly, despite the unchanging diagnosis; there was nothing physically wrong with her. Feeling useless otherwise, he persisted in compelling the man again and again. Doing this, he would at least feel helpful.

He'd just gotten off the phone with Bonnie Bennett, who relayed her and Matt Donovan's earlier encounter with the renowned siphoner. In turn, Damon caught her up on the coven leaders' grand entrance at the wedding, where he butchered his twin sister, the bride, and presumably placed Elena in some sort of magical coma. Before hanging up, Bonnie told him to stay put and that she'd be on her way.

It had only been a couple minutes ago, but with Elena's well being up in the air for debate, the seconds felt like hours.


 

A sea of bodies littered the grounds of the wedding venue, tortured and writhing from an invisible pain. Their leader had successfully taken his own life, against their greatest efforts to resuscitate him, and now one by one, they share in his fate.

The link acts slowly, first introducing the pain the leader experienced in dull pangs before assaulting their senses, overloading their systems and frying their nerves. The link makes sure the coven dies slowly- a safety measure created long ago in the rare instances the leader would die unpredictably.

There's a window of time just long enough for those who wish to prolong their lives to do so. A simple protection spell would be enough to save their lives. After having watched, followed, and studied the Traveler Coven for so many years, the Geminis were all familiar with their body-jumping methods. If all other options were lost, there was the prospect of imbibing in Vampire blood and transitioning into one themselves.

After a brief discussion, the coven accepted their fate. It isn't in a witch's nature to go against the natural flow of life. They were not to cheat death through magic, and they would not stoop to the level of a Traveler to inhabit a foreign body. Least of all, they would not condemn themselves to a life as vermin, doomed to forever live off the lives of others.

"Pray we meet again once we all find peace."

That is all they can hope for.


 

"What did you give Kai?" Stefan demands. He was called by Enzo to dissuade his mother, Lily, from continuing her search for her 'family', but she wouldn't listen. Figuring her commitment and loyalty to said family outweighed her trust with the wily figure, he decided on interrogation instead.

"I thought you were leaving," she deflects.

"Tell me what you gave Kai in return for your family," he insists.

She resists, searching his eyes for some form of recognition. Those eyes that peer back make her heart waver. The adulterated love she finds in him for his mother moves her, and she relents. "I gave him my blood."


 

Tinnitus rings loudly in his ears. The monotonous static makes him hyper aware, and suddenly, his nerves are flooded with information. Coming to his senses, Kai gasps for air, pushing himself off the ground by his elbows. The ache in his neck is examined with shaky hands, latching onto the blade and tugging it out with a groan. Tossing the glass, he leans back and positions himself on the altar steps and assesses his surroundings.

Scanning the bodies for survivors, one in particular catches his attention. " Vodux, " he calls, and Joshua is dragged towards him in response.

He glares down at his father’s dying self, noting any sign of discomfort, ache, and pain and taking some sick pride in his work.

"Here's to being different, dad," he says, wiping a speck of blood off his father's' cheek and relishing the copper taste.

New senses bombard him, and he's taken aback at the intensity of these new sensations. The pungent aroma of blood is ever present, hanging in the air like a thick layer of odor, making him scrunch his nose. The ragged breathing of several coven members still hanging on desperately to their lives resound in his skull like wailing ghosts, and the bittersweet taste of blood lingers on his tongue, growing stale.

Remembering his reason for crashing the wedding, he turns, finding the bride and groom missing.

"Josette," he whispers. The crux of his plans lies in her. Panic wells up inside him before quickly calming himself down. "Couldn't have gone far," he reasons to himself, steadying his breath. As if on cue, his ears pick up the sound of car doors opening just outside the building.

He pushes himself to his feet, craning his neck towards the sound and closing his eyes, focusing his hearing. An unsteady breath greets him in turn, coupled with the sounds of fumbling hands on quality fabric and one shaky exhale. Whispers of ‘ I love you ’ and ‘ please wake up ’ are made, and the voice is recognized as the groom’s.

Bingo.


 

The recording ends, and the last words echo in the recess of Bonnie's mind.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is that your betrayal really hurt me, Bon," Kai said through the screen. "So this is kinda all your fault."

Kai had linked her life to Elena's, telling the former that as long as she lived, the doppelganger would remain asleep. He offered a solution- one that would result in the loss of her identity. It seems like a lifetime ago that her mother was resigned to the same fate, chosen for her by another, for another. The same woman.

She shakes away the thought as Matt puts away the camcorder.

"You have to get out of town now, Bon," Matt stresses.

"I'm not letting Kai win." She protests, putting on a smile in an attempt to mask her emotions.

"Bonnie, Elena's the only thing Damon Salvatore cares about, he'll kill you," Matt reasons. "You have to get out of here, now! "

She bolts up from the couch they share, quickly losing her facade. “No! I refuse to run and give him that satisfaction. I'd rather stay and die and deny him any,” is her solemn vow.

Silence precedes the room as Matt attempts to conjure new ways to dissuade her. Nothing substantial comes; he’s known her long enough to know that she's not backing down from a decision she made. That stubbornness would kill her some day- it has , on several occasions.

“Even if I die,” she says in a hushed tone. “You would avenge me, right?”

“Avenge you?” Matt repeats, lifting his head up and searching her eyes for confirmation. She wasn't known to be spiteful, much less vengeful.

She senses his shock and brushes it off. “Just answer, Matt. I need to know,” she pleads.

Matt stares at her for a while, mouth half open in answer, but nothing comes out. He couldn't avenge her, not when he knew Damon would be the one ending her life. Remembering the friends and family the misfit vampire killed and the ease and willingness with which their living friends forgave him, he's stumped of any reassurances to give her. “I can't,” he laments.

She straightens up as if recoiling from a slap, sobering up. Who cared if she had no support? It's not like she had or needed it before- she'd saved everyone herself countless times before.

Ignoring his pleas for her to run, she stands up, heads to the kitchen, and rummages through the garbage, locating the charred remains of the 1903 ascendant, using a locator spell to find it's owner.


 

Kai stumbles to his feet, palming the fresh bite on his neck and eyeing his attacker, Tyler Lockwood, noticing the faint golden glow of his irises. Before he could retaliate, the football jockey had fled behind the lineup of parked vehicles.

He lets out a sigh of relief, grinning at the ordeal, and turns to Alaric, who’d been watching the skirmish unfold before him warily. “What the hell was that?"

"Werewolf," he complies, much to Kai's surprise. "Bites are deadly to vampires. The mortality rate is a hundred percent, give or take a certain somebody isn't around to cure it," he spits. "Which means you're as good as dead."

"My god,” he chuckles to himself, fingering the toothy indents. “For a second there, I thought he was gonna eat me.” He scans the man for any weapons he might be hiding, before continuing. “Oh, and speaking of the dead," the newborn Heretic mutters, glossing over the comment on mortality rates and deadliness to vampires, "You seen my sister around? Think I kinda- maybe lost her." A fist connects with his jaw, sending him falling onto his back.

"Don't you ever talk about my wife, you hear!?" Alaric screams, livid at the casual mention.

" Fiancé ," Kai corrects, spitting blood. "Didn't finish the ceremony." He glances at the groom, who looms over him now, raising a foot to stomp out his throat, no doubt. " Motus ," he whispers, tracing a ‘U’ with a finger, and his attacker loses his footing, falling onto the ground beside him.

Moving quickly, he rolls onto the other man, planting himself onto his chest, pinning down his arms with his knees , applying a grip on his neck, and placing a finger over his lips in a silencing manner.

"I don't want to kill you. Well I do, but I really shouldn't, cause then Jo would never forgive me." Glancing down at Alaric, Kai notices his brows furrowed in confusion and he huffs out a laugh. "Of course, how could I forget?” He palms his forehead. “I haven't even told you yet, you're clueless." He leans down closer, his voice becoming deathly low. "Wouldn't it be ironic if she just killed you instead?" Noticing the lack of brain work and proper deduction skills in the older, most likely senile man, he decides to elaborate. "Your wife's not dead, Ric," he grumbles. "Why would I kill my own sister? Well, I mean, I did kill her, but she's not dead dead. Soon, our little Josette will be in transition, and you will be the one that makes sure she turns."

A wicked grin crosses his lips as he watches the new information permeate Alaric's thoughts. "Why did you have to kill her? She would have died anyway from your little stunt with the coven anyways."

"I wanted to give my little sissie a head start."

"A head start on what?"

"Ah, details, details. You'll find out soon enough. What you should really be worrying about are those twins, and how you’re going to save them."

The professor’s eyes widen at the mention, as if suddenly remembering. "The babies are vampires, too! You've doomed them to live forever as parasites in her belly!" he exclaims in a raging fit.

"Oh my god," he resists the urge to smack the man. "Do I have to solve everything for you? You know, I'm really not getting what my little sister sees in you, and honestly? I'm reconsidering letting you live by her side." He rolls off the ex-hunter, clearing his throat dramatically. "E-le-na- Is- A- Hu-man- Now." He makes sure to enunciate every syllable, taking great effort to spoonfeed the information to the so-called professor. "She- Was- Once- A- Vam- pire-"

"Okay, shut up, I get it," Alaric swats at the air, cutting him off. "We need the cure from Elena's system, and giving it to Jo will make the babies human again, too."

Kai exaggerates a small celebration, throwing a fist in the air as if he were a father watching his son win a spelling b. "Oh, and I almost forgot," he stands, wrapping a hand around Alaric's arm and hauling the man to his feet, slipping off the ring on his right pinky-finger. "Daylight ring. Sort of." He hands it to the former hunter, who reluctantly accepts it.

"This isn't Lapis," the man comments, noting the absence of the mystical rock.

"That's why I said ' sort of '," he rolls his eyes. "It's linked to my life. I don't need a daylight ring myself, being a Heretic and all. Comes with the package," he bows, making a grand gesture towards himself. "Which means as long as I'm alive, that ring prevents our favorite little Josie from burning in the sunlight." He clicks his tongue and reiterates, cupping a hand beside his mouth in secrecy. "In case you didn't get that, it means you better hope I stay alive if you want your precious wife to not combust into fiery ball of pain and fizzle out into a pile of ash."

Alaric scoffs at the crude humor. He's gone through such an intense emotional ride today; from ecstatic husband-to-be, to the devastation of thinking he lost another love of his life, wanting to join her in death through attempted suicide, and then gaining hope of his wife and children's lives being salvageable from the shipwreck known as his life. His feelings were too spent to be caring about anything else for a while.

"She's in the back of my car," Alaric says, breaking the silence.

"Alrighty, then," he turns his attention to himself, inspecting the fabric of his tux and wiping away the dirt it’s collected. He frowns at the red stains, scowling at the chore it would be to get rid of them.

"That's it? Not even going to check on her?" The professor is stunned by the trust being extended.

"You wouldn't lie to me if it meant hurting her chances of survival," he drawls, lips pouting. "Would you?"

They stare off, eyeing each other for a moment.

"I'm just joking," Kai breaks out into genuine laughter, putting a hand on Alaric's shoulder to steady himself. “Dumb as you are, you know better than to pass out on an offer like this. Bonnie’s been pretty out of the loop, so there’s no telling when she’d get around to making you a ring.” He scrunches his brow, shaking his head and snickering at the thought of her. "One last favor in return, though," his laugh is broken up by a series of coughs. The wolf bite. His voice becomes grim. "Can I borrow your phone?"


 

Damon's phone buzzes as he receives texts from Alaric. They read:

BONNIE LINKED TO ELENA

BONNIE LIVES = ELENA SLEEPS

NO LOOPHOLES-

ATTEMPTING = BOTH DIE INSTANTLY

SHES AT WEDDING

DONT DO ANYTHING STUPID

He shakes his head, anger welling up inside him. He growls, flipping a table down the hallway. The act provides him with little catharsis.Peeking through the glass at the sleeping Gilbert, he draws out a sigh and thinks about what she'd do, or at least what she'd want him not to do.

Bonnie was her best friend, and she his girlfriend and lover. He’d gotten close to the witch in the four months they were locked away in that god awful prison world, but their friendship was all superficial. Forced . He only planned on getting her out to engage Elena with his ‘good side,’ and if he was being totally honest, she was a powerful witch- one he could have wrapped around his finger to do his bidding when the time called for it.

Wracking his brain for any solution, he finds himself coming back to the same conclusion: He can't live without Elena. Bonnie has to die.


 

She finds herself standing before the rented loft where the wedding was to take place, lead there by the locator spell she performed earlier in the night with the goal of convincing Kai to undo the link. She would beat him to an inch of his life if that's what it took.

Though she'd never admit it, to others or herself, she found immense pleasure in having control over others. It's one of the reasons she loves being a witch; the power it comes with, and in turn the power you have over others, is such an experience to behold.

And she had power over him, all right.

Bonnie takes a deep breath, suppressing her more than questionable thoughts.

A distinct lack of commotion, or any signs of life, makes itself known to her ears, aside from the occasional spark of exposed wires from dangling chandeliers and the crunching of broken glass beneath her boots. Stepping forward through the archway leading to the venue, she spots her prey, sitting slumped over on the altar steps, elbows on his knees with his palms pressed against his eyes, muttering senselessly.

She chances a step closer, finding the remains of tears gleaming against his hands and down his cheeks. The erratic rise and fall of his shoulders signal his unsteady breathing. Was he crying?

Her mission suddenly forgotten, Bonnie isn't sure what to think or do. She'd never seen him cry before- didn't think he could. She wonders what could possibly bring the sociopath to tears before internally scolds herself for feeling bad for the man, even for a second.

I hate him . She reminds herself, strengthening her resolve. I hate you .


 

Kai finds himself back at the Salvatore boarding house, held down by his wrists, which were again duct taped to the armrests in the chair he leans in. A dull throbbing pain makes its presence known, boring its way through his skull. He lifts his head up, finding the disapproving glares of Bonnie and Damon staring back.

"Bonnie?" He asks in a voice too hoarse to be recognized as his. His throat feels dry. An urgency of quelling the thirst now has him tugging at his restraints. Remembering his witch status, he murmurs a spell to free himself. " Fractos ."

Nothing happens.

He glares up at his two captors, suddenly alert. "What did you do? How- Why am I here?" He tugs harder at the tape to no avail.

He feels weaker. Smaller. Younger. He focuses on himself and finds no reserves of power. Magicless. He's back to being a siphoner. An abomination. Self-loathing finds its way in his system. Thoughts of worthlessness and inadequacy wrack his frame. Unwelcome memories of demeaning remarks like ‘useless’ and ‘shameful’ gnaw at the back of his mind.

Those unwarranted thoughts continue flooding in without any sign of stopping, and he is terrified, powerless to stop them- both the thoughts and the witch-vampire duo before him. His two wardens could do whatever they pleased with him. He was quite literally defenseless in every way.

He flinches as Bonnie raises a hand, holding out a disk-shaped metal object. She smiles wryly at his show of weakness. She holds the relic out to the light, letting him observe it in full view.

Realization dawns on him as he watches her rotating a gear with her thumb. The Ascendant. His Ascendant .

Somehow, he's back in his Prison world, as if time had rewound itself. He chokes back a whimper The damning thought that his escape, and the events leading up to the wedding having all been a fabrication of his mind crosses his him.

"We're going to leave you here," Bonnie says plainly. "All alone. Again ." His body suddenly feels heavy, as if his veins were injected with lead. Dread permeates his bloodstream. "Who knows, maybe in the next 18 years, somebody else will drop by and pity you enough to let you out," She offers in mock sympathy, cruelly teasing him, playing at his worst fears. Damon watches silently, his signature smug look planted on his face.

"Bonnie, wait," his protests fall on deaf ears. She turns away. His heart drops. "Wait, Bonnie! I said wait!" the demand sounds weaker than he intended, and his breath quickens. She starts towards the exit with Damon following not far behind. An unholy pang spreads from the left side of his chest. His eyes burn, finding the all too familiar feeling of abandonment too overwhelming to bare again. "Bonnie, please!" he cries out, voice cracking, and he finds himself hyperventilating. "Don't leave!" He pleads. She's already gone. The tears flow.

"Don't leave me!"


 

He's brought back to his senses as a sharp pain shoots through the left side of his neck. He shouts in protest as he swats at the offender, pushing them away. Kai narrows his eyes at the silhouette before him, his vision struggling to focus before catching her familiar scent, all too strong and yet light at the same time. Bonnie Bennett.

He glares at her as she stumbles backwards, and notices the blood trickling from her fingers. She'd dug them into the wolf bite in his neck, freeing him from the hallucination. He wonders how long he’d been out, worried the texts he sent Salvatore the elder through Alaric’s phone would have him here sooner than he planned. He’d sent Alaric back to his apartment with Jo in tow after having used it, reasoning that the groom should prepare safety precautions in case she got out of hand during or post transition.

He gets up, wiping at his eyes, feeling his wet cheeks. His cheeks flush in embarrassment. Had he been crying? Had she seen him?

"What are you doing here?" he asks lightly, leading the conversation anywhere but towards him.

She didn't care. The mood changes suddenly as the air becomes loaded with magic. The surprised look he gives her doesn't stop her from what happens next.

"You know why," She answers with a scowl and fires a spell, directing the blood vessels in his head to burst. "Undo the spell, Kai!" she orders. He could hear her voice wavering.

Kai clutches his head, absorbing part of the spell to lessen the pain. "I can't," he manages, chuckling nervously when the pain persists. "What's done is done."

" Aussix !" Bonnie throws her hand out, turning her wrist.

His right arm twists inward, cracking as several bones are shattered, and he yelps at the sudden jolt of agony making its way up his arm. He wraps his left hand around the damaged limb, cradling the injury as Bonnie continues her assault.

" Again! "

He cries out again as his knee snaps to the side, and he collapses with the loss of support. He laughs, despite the pain.

He enjoys seeing Bonnie's dark side. He worships the way she lets go of her self-restraint, and brings down her judgement on those before her. It didn't matter if that someone was him. He was already healing anyways.

"I can't undo the spell, Bonnie," he says between breaths. "My death made it permanent."

"Fine," she resigns. "I'll just wait for the werewolf bite to kill you." Liar .

He grunts, pushing himself into a sitting position, facing away from her. "You know what's funny?"

She regards him, cautious.

"I didn't even know werewolves were real… till I got bit by one." He hears the snapping of wood behind him. Bonnie broke a piece off of one of the various chairs strewn throughout the room, wielding it as a makeshift stake. Kai raises a hand to the wound on his neck, feeling the magic permeating it, and siphons. Instant relief is his reward.

It'd be a great shame if he didn't share his revelation.

"See, Bon, the only way a guy turns into a wolf… is if it's magic, right?"

She stops in her tracks, figuring the direction he was taking the conversation.

"So technically their venom's magic, too. I just went ahead and siphoned it all up," he finishes, standing and turning to face her. She drops the improvised stake, understanding the futility of its use. Kai raises a hand and clenches, levitating her body off the floor. " Motus ." He says, sending her flying across the room, crashing into a wall and collapsing to the ground.

Bonnie can do nothing but glare at Kai as he approaches.

-

The sting of pain with every shaky, shallow intake of air she makes signals a collapsed lung. The jagged and sharp sensations firing in her chest accompanying those breaths are probably the result of broken ribs. Her body remains unresponsive, against her wishes. She can only squirm and wiggle underneath his unwavering scrutiny.

I'm going to die, she thinks. He's going to kill me.

A single tear makes its way down her cheek. She finds solace in the fact that at the very least, Elena would get to live her human life.

" Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk ," Kai clicks off his tongue, seating himself at her side, feet crossed with his hands resting in his lap.

Such a child , she notes, and then scolds herself for thinking about such trivial things when she's this close to death. Again , she reminds herself, feeling an influx of rage erupting from within.

"Oh, Bonnie," he berates, shaking his head. "Ignoring that wolf bite, I've planned for every contingency. This plan of mine? It's perfect . You never stood a chance." He gloats, cupping her cheek in one hand, wiping away defiant tears, and pulls a stray hair behind her ear. "You know, I didn't want to believe it," he says, feeling the familiar prickle behind his eyes. “You and Damon? Not so discrete.”

Her brows furrow as she fights to understand what he means. Her confused expression coaxes his explanation.

“You didn’t think I’d let you be after that little lover’s spat we had back at that rave, did you?” he asks, tilting his head to the side. “Oh no, Bonnie,” he begins as she raises her brow in confusion. “I heard it all. Your refusal. His rebuttal. Your argument,” he lists, before adding, “ His pla n.” Putting on his best Damon imitation, he parrots, "Follow me, Bonnie Bennett. I might just have the answer to all your problems."

The phrase rattles her. She stares at him in disbelief. It was what Damon said to her before feeding her the idea of trapping Kai in the Prison world of 1903.

He knew. He knew what she was planning back in 1903, and he came anyways.

Fresh, new tears erupt from her eyes. These are shed for a different reason.

-

Damon enters the ruins, finding the aftermath of Kai’s ‘welcome back’ party. He scans the bodies, before his eyes stop on a sprawled out Bennett and the newborn Heretic looming over her. He speeds over, throwing the man off into a pile of rubble, and turns his attention to a dying Bonnie Bennett.

“Don’t worry, I gotcha,” he consoles, biting into his wrist and feeding her his blood. She lazily accepts, her sluggish movements caused by the slow asphyxiation from her collapsed lung. A groan sounds off in the direction he threw the siphon.

“That,” Kai stands, grunting as he pulls out the wooden beams jutting out from his shoulder and abdomen, “was entirely unnecessary.”

Damon shoots a dirty look in his direction, pulling a revitalized Bonnie into his arms, who stays surprisingly silent. Normally, she would have fired back a witty comment. The Salvatore chalks it up to near-death trauma and thinks nothing of it.

“How dumb are you? I deliver to you a dying Bonnie Bennett on a silver platter, and woosh, right over your head,” he throws a hand behind him, miming the act. “But hey,” he raises his hands in surrender, “You do you. You think you can survive sixty plus years without the love of your life, you go right on ahead.” Without another word, he stalks out of the venue.

Under normal circumstances, Damon would be suspicious of the uncharacteristic lack of chatter, but right now there are more important matters at hand.

He looks down at the witch in his arms, who replies with her own expectant gaze. ”Listen,” he begins. “I have a plan, but I need your help.” She nods once in response, prompting him to continue. “I know this is a lot to ask, and there’s no going back after, but you need to trust me when I tell you there isn’t any other way I haven’t already crossed off the list.” After a moment of collecting himself, he manages to blurt out the question.”Will you die for Elena?” He skips out the ‘ again’ part, opting to explain himself further. “You’ll die with my blood in your system, so when Elena wakes, you’ll be right there with her, just this time, you’ll be the vampire and she’ll be the mortal. How’s that sound, huh, Bon Bon?” He offers a fake smile.

A myriad of emotions storms across her face, from disbelief, exasperation, and torment, to rage and fury. “No,” she says flatly, clenching her jaw. “Count with me,” she dares. “How many times have I sacrificed myself for Elena? How many times have the people I cared about lost their lives for her? Hmm?”

“And so what’s one more sacrifice?” Damon protests. The furious expression she gives him speaks volumes of her thoughts on his brazen statement . She stirs, pushing off of him to lean up, but he holds her down, cradling her in his arms.

“Let me go!” she shouts, failing to force her way out of his grasp. Why she wasn't resorting to magic, he couldn't tell.

“I’m sorry!” he exclaims, willing her to stay with his best pout. “Bad word choice. My fault.” She stops resisting, returning to sending death glares at his head.

Minutes pass, with just the two of them staring into each other, with Damon’s eyes searching hers, and hers boring into his.

An internal battle is drawn out inside him, weighing out the pros and cons of his next actions. He quickly figures the condition allowing for his complete reprieve of any blame, and clings to it.

“You could always take the cure afterwards,” he tries one last time.

“No,” she reaffirms.

He sighs, looking up and around at the dead bodies sprawled about the room. Listening for any signs of life, and finding none, he finalizes his plan.

“Please understand,” he starts up again, having solidified his resolve. “There’s no other way.”

Her eyes widen in realization, but she’s a second too late. “Motu-” Damon’s hand clamps over her lips, muffling and preventing her from reciting the spell. She beats at him unsuccessfully, and he smirks at the pathetic attempt, remembering her earlier threats about making her meet up with Kai.

“I’m sorry,” he stares blankly at angry eyes before snapping her neck.

-

Damon stays sitting there, eyes trained on Bonnie, who lays lifeless in his arms. It usually takes a few hours before a person in transition wakes up, so he decides to leave her here for the time being in order to check on Elena’s status. He’d rather get an earful from her without the body of her best friend he murdered lying in the next room.

He lays her on the floor, before standing to exit. He doesn’t get far, though, almost crashing into someone he didn’t notice enter as he turns. Damon gawks at the figure standing before him, face twisting in confusion as he takes in her dismayed expression.

Poised with crossed arms in front of him is Bonnie Bennett, simmering with rage, and looking very alive.

“What the hell?” he says, shaking his head as if she were just a ghost conjured up by his guilty mind.

“‘What the hell’ is right!” she scoffs, flinging her arms outwards erratically. “You were just going to kill me? ME? ” she points to her chest with an angry finger.

“Hold on a sec,” Damon holds his hands up in defense and swivels around on the heel of his foot to stare down at the body he’d just placed. A stranger lies in place of the witch he’d thought he laid to rest just moments ago. “Okay, so not a ghost,” he turns back to face the angry witch, finding a second one accompanying hers.
“Wow,” Kai shakes his head in disapproval. “Dick move, Damon.” Bonnie shoots him a look and he stiffens, sobering up. “Sorry,” he stares down to his feet. “I’ll just let you talk.”

Whipping her head back to her would-be murderer, Bonnie readies herself for the upcoming tirade she was about to throw in his honor.

“How about we start with the fact that you’re alive and the person I just killed is not you?” Damon asks, blunt and insensitive as ever.

“Kai casted an illusion spell. That person you saw was just one of the random bodies he spelled to look like me.” She purses her lips, taking in Damon’s face of regret- not of attempting to kill her, but at not having thought of the possibility that she could’ve fooled him. Her mind flashes back to the events as she recounts them to him.


 

Bonnie can feel the Heretic’s gaze trained on her as she cries, uninhibited. Through her tears, she can just make out his movements.

Kai raises an arm to his mouth, clamping down on his wrist and drawing blood. He grits his teeth at the sting of the bite as it makes contact with the chilly air. He feels her tremble beneath him as he presses his bleeding wound to her lips, and then her eager hands that find themselves gripping onto him as she imbibes.

She sucks in air and tosses his arm away as the blood reacts within her, healing her wounds. She grunts in discomfort, feeling her bones mending, correcting themselves with a fleshy crunch, and chokes on air as her collapsed lung inflates to its original form. After fully healed, she pushes herself up on her elbows, sending her ‘savior’ a baffled expression.

“What are- why did you save me?” She asks, voice cracking from the buildup of crud inside her.

He realizes that he’s staring and quickly turns away, clearing his throat before answering. “You know why.”

“Uhm,” she sits up fully, crossing her arms, “no, I don’t, actually, which is why I’m asking.”

He cranes his head back in her direction, narrowing his eyes as he assesses her body language. “Guess you’ll just have to figure it out then,” he drawls, adding after a long pause, “One thing I’ll have you know, though, is that I still need you to be alive for the next phase of my master plan.”

It’s her turn to stare, and she clenches her jaw. “Of course,” she growls. “What other reason would you have to save me other than to use me?”

He winces at her scalding remark. Did she really think that lowly of him?

Assuming he was telling the truth, and that he wanted her alive, she wonders briefly if he’d hold her against her will. She wouldn’t put it above him, but she also didn’t want to be around him for another second if it could be helped, so she tries anyways. Testing her theory, she gets to her feet, turning to leave.

“Wait,” a hand clamps on her arm, stopping her. She turns her head slightly, peering over her shoulder before facing her pursuer. “I need you for something else.” Kai says. Noticing her eyes widening in daring question, he raises his hands in defense. “I need to tell you something,” he amends.

“What?” She deadpans.

“Your friends. You know, those people you seem to trust?”

“What about them?”

“You have to know that they’d pick Elena over you.”

Her ears ring as the loaded statement reaches her ears. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be… could it? The seeds of doubt have already been planted.

“You don’t know anything about me or my friends,” she seethes. There’s nothing else to say.

Yes ,” he insists, “I do.” His hands reach out for hers, but she rips them away. “I spent four months stalking one, didn’t I? I heard all about your little adventures and misadventures. I heard about all the times you sacrificed yourself for them, and how you’d do it again.” He shakes his hands wildly in exasperation, laughing breathlessly, eyes wide. “You’re doing it right now!

“And? So what?” She argues, knowing full well where this is going.

He makes a sound of annoyance, shaking his head. “When was the last time they did anything- anything , for you?!” He stresses. “Even Damon!-” he clenches his jaw, lowering his volume, “when he gave you that stupid idea. Didn’t even have the decency to carry it out himself.”

She opens her mouth to respond, but nothing comes out.

Prison world ,” he speaks in her absence, “When you were stuck there without any hope of escape? What did they do?”

“T- they didn’t know,” she whispers, more in self assurance than in defense.

“NOTHING!” He yells. “And hey, what about when Damon got out? And then me? They knew about you then, didn’t they? What did they do then?” He repeats.

“D-Damon,” she stutters, desperately searching for a moment in time her companions at least tried to save her. “H-He- Nova Scotia- and-and the blood- it was on the atlas-”

“And just how do you think he did the spell to get that message to you?”

Gears click into place as she follows the insinuation. “You’re lying.”

“Bonnie, why would I lie about this?”

“I don’t know! Because you’re a liar!” She shouts. “It was Liv or Luke, or they probably got some other witch to do it!”

“You think either of them would’ve been strong enough to handle that type of magic?”

“Stop lying! ” Bonnie growls. Her vision fogs. “You didn’t save me!”

“Why are you so against this?!” She flinches at the sudden uproar. Kai’s patience was thinning. “How do you explain this?! Just now?” He motions between them. The exchange of blood. “Denial is not a good look on you, Bonnie.”

She knows she’s in denial. She couldn’t believe him, but there wasn’t any alternative or workaround she could come up with. Instead, she resorts to the offensive.

Prove it, ” she sneers. “My friends? They would never fall for your tricks. They wouldn't choose between us- they'd sooner see you starved of that satisfaction.” She lies.

“Would they?” Kai offers a small smile. Bonnie can just make out signs of sadness and something worse. He steps closer, snatching her hands from her side. “Let's make a bet,” and then chants. “ Invisique.”


 

“So I basically both ruined my standing with you as a person slash friend along with anyone associated with us while also proving Kai right?” Damon surmises.

Bonnie’s disgusted look serves as confirmation.

He groans, disgusted at having given him the last laugh. “Hey, Bonnie, I’m sorry, I just wanted Elena back, and I knew that eventually, you’d probably off yourself anyways!” The Salvatore leers. He sneaks a peek over her shoulder to the conniving Heretic, who seems ready to pounce. “I was just pressing the ‘fast forward’ button,” he coos.

Kai’s fists are balled up so tight they draw blood. He narrows his eyes, glaring at the elder Salvatore, and grinds his teeth. It’s taking all his self control to not kill the wily older vampire, and his snappy remarks at the expense of Bonnie’s integrity are not helping. He opens his mouth to shout back, but is cut off unexpectedly by an even angrier Bennett.

“That is NOT your decision OR call to make!” Both men flinch at the sudden uproar, and the air around them thickens. “You think you can just keep getting away with everything!” The already broken chandeliers spark, several bulbs shattering, and a strong wind picks up around the trio. “The people you kill, those lives you ruined, you revel in that feeling!”

“Bon- no-” Damon grasps his neck in confusion as his speech is stolen from him, suddenly finding himself unable to breath against the harsh maelstrom. He can only stare on at her darkening expression. Kai watches on in uncertainty, unsure whether he should be stopping her or not.

Damon’s confession back in May 10th, 1994 surfaces in Bonnie’s mind. He’d told Kai and her about the day he murdered his distant nephew’s pregnant girlfriend at the time, and how that was why he convinced himself that they were in his personal hell. She’d hoped to rationalize his incessant need to make his victim’s favorite meal everyday as him feeling remorse. In her mind, she knew her reasoning was a reach- just something she conjured up in place of a more sinister truth so that she could justify his rescue. She couldn’t come home without him and face her friend without feeling guilty herself.

She can admit it now, out in the real world. ”You don’t make those stupid pancakes cause you feel guilt! You make them to remind yourself how good it felt when you took her life from her and that baby! If you felt any sort of remorse- ANY - you would have stopped your ways and changed yourself for the better!”

She freezes up as a hand plants itself on her shoulder, and the wind stops. There wasn’t even any pain. Damon, having been released from the magical onslaught, wheezes and sucks air into his burning lungs.

Bonnie pulls Kai’s hand off her shoulder.

“Don’t siphon me.”

“I didn’t.”

She turns halfway to glare, but notices his scared look and frowns. She believes him.

The sound of Damon clearing his throat draws her attention back to him. An awkward silence fills the air as they battle with their eyes for a moment. She exhales, relinquishing.

“You want Elena so bad? Fine. You can have her.”

“Bonnie,” Kai warns, voice lowered. ”Whatever you’re about to do… don’t.”

She gives him a curt nod, and in the next second he’s slammed back into a wall, pinned down by an invisible force. “Sorry, Kai, but you’re sitting this one out. I’m not going to be another pawn for you to play again.”

“Bonnie!” He growls in protest, unable to reach the source of magic in order to siphon away the spell.

She ignores him, turning to the visibly giddy Salvatore brother. “This is the last favor I’m doing for you. Ever. If you come to me with so much as the thought of asking for another, well,” crouching down to select a blade of glass, she offers her ultimatum. “You can say ‘goodbye’ to your happy ending.”

Damon’s expression darkens at the threat. He straightens himself up, folding his arms across his chest as he watches on, wanting to bare witness to her grandiose display.

Bonnie turns to Kai, who pleads desperately with his eyes. She responds with a scowl. “I hope you enjoyed the show,” she spits, plunging the jagged glass into her throat.

A grating “No!” makes it past Kai’s lips as he’s released from the magical hold.

Damon smiles to himself and swiftly exits as Kai runs over to cradles the dying Bennett, tears streaming down his cheeks. So this next part is kinda optional for leading into the next part-- it means less story and more explanation if i dont put this part in


 

A burning desire to drink shakes her from death, and she bolts upright, coughing and gasping for air. Her lungs ache for air, and the sharp sting of her first breath cues her in on the length of time between now and her last breath.

She finds herself lying on the grass, just where she was left when she died. When she died…

Memories of earlier that night come back to her in choppy segments. There was the wedding and a scream and then a lot of screams- an explosion. People scrambling and crying and panicking, running in circles before the chanting began. Through the chorus, she could just make out the sound of her psychotic brother’s voice. The Coven was converging onto the altar, where Kai had appeared after stabbing Jo. There was commotion, and then someone crying out.

No! ” She heard someone howl and scrambled to it’s source.

She stepped closer out of curiously, pushing past fellow coven members as she peeked over the shoulders of a few to see what event had unfolded that warranted such aggression and spotted the source.

Before them lied the body of Kai Parker, felled by the shard of glass jutting from his neck, no doubt.

No, she refused this outcome. She rejected it. She knew- they all did- what his death would mean for them.

Olivia Parker refused to die this way.

I didn't, she reminds herself, bringing a hand to her cheeks and feeling the still tender flesh.

Tyler saved her from that fate. She had sacrificed herself so that he could live.

But somehow, by some odd twist of fate, she was still alive.

For some odd reason- the same reason she still walked this mortal coil- she was thirsty.

For blood.

Chapter Text

TWO DAYS LATER

The morning sun casts a reddish sheen into the damp and moldy factory through broken and cracked windows. Leaks in the ceiling and the overgrowth creeping along the walls signify the age of the structure. The place was most likely abandoned, having seen no maintenance in years, as well as having had no visitors in the span of time the two had taken up residency.

Aside from the foliage and dirt and grime and rubble, the place is nearly empty. Also present in the room is a sturdy chair weighed and chained to the ground. It's lone resident simply lies there, shackled to the seat, leaned back and eyes tightly shut. Sweat trickles from their brow, which furrow in concentration. Small breaths. Shallow breaths.

A large vat of clear fluid sits just behind, with a puddle of displaced liquid formed around it. The nearly dried pool lingers around the occupant’s bare feet, stinging and sizzling at their flesh. Vervain burns . He knows now from firsthand experience.

His thoughts travel from escape to threaten to bargain and then beg . He wants out. He wonders how long his captor would be willing to keep him here like this. Torturous.

He’s flinches at the sound and is snapped back to reality as a loud clink and buzz signals the garage door opening. His breath hitches and he squirms at his restraints for the umpteenth time.

Returning from a shopping trip is none other than Bonnie Bennett, who enters bearing with her new gifts. There's a thick rope looped around her shoulder and waist like a sash. In one hand is a bucket held by its handle, with all manner of garden tools poking through the top. She playfully swings a baseball bat over her shoulder with her other hand as she approaches im.

“No, no, no, no, no,” he pleads, sighing and breathless. “No more.”

“But Kai,” Bonnie teases, “we were just getting started!” A hand reaches out to brush against his cheek, pinching one for added effect, yanking it and straightening up. “Quit being a bitch,” she deadpans, turning back to the bucket to inspect its contents.

Kai scoffs, facing away and chastising himself for getting into this mess. Freedom wasn't something he was going to come by anytime soon. A gloved hand on his chin leads his gaze back to her piercing eyes. Something dark in her gaze sets alarms throughout him. “What?” He swallows, voice wavering.

She holds the butt of the baseball bat to his chin, and the sudden burn has him pulling away with a scowl. She had dipped the rod in vervain. She smiles at his discomfort. She grips the handle with both hands, pulling the bat behind her shoulders and turning slightly on her toes. “We're going to have some fun,” she follows through.


 

PRESENT- the morning after

Josette wakes to the sound of dishes and pots and pans bumping each other in the kitchen sink. Her mouth is dry again- a side effect of vampirism, she guesses. The constant thirst for blood has her more annoyed than anything. Just a slight inconvenience in turn for having a second chance at life.

Last night she woke screaming, clutching on to the nearest support to keep her steady as the creeping urge to bite into someone surfaced. Alaric grunted and rubbed circles on her back as counsel, and she loosens her grip on him in response.

Remembering the spike of pain in her back, she questions him. “How am I here?”

“Kai. He said he slipped vampire blood in your system. Said to give you this,” he shows her a plain silver band, bringing a hand in his and sliding it on over the engagement ring he gifted her weeks before. “Said it was a type of daylight ring.”

She frowns at the mention of her brother. Water floods her vision. “Why would he do this to me? Us?” She pulls a hand over her stomach and nearly jumps when she feels a responding bump. “The babies!” She cries. “Their lives- they'll be like this forever!” She throws her arms around him, sobbing into his shoulder.

“Hey,” he says. “They're not going to live like this. They'll be just fine.”

She pulls back, face twisted in hurt, ready to argue, and he explains.

“Remember the cure? Elena’s got it.” He pulls a pocket knife from his pocket, making a slit in his finger. “For now, though, you have to drink.”

Alaric saunters into the bedroom where Josette lies, breakfast tray in hand. “Morning,” he smiles, placing the food onto the bedside table, and kisses her forehead. “How's the wife? And her babies?” He rubs at her belly, chuckling softly as he feels a kick.

“Ha ha,” she says dryly, rolling her eyes. “They're fine- if you count being immortal vampire babies fine.”

She thumbs at the ring passed to her from Kai, deep in thought. Ric notices and places a hand over hers, stilling it.

“It's fine, everything's is all right,” he comforts. “All we need to do is get Elena to give you the cure and then the babies will be cured and we can all be happy and human again!” He exclaims with false enthusiasm.

She smiles at his beaming display, however forced, but concedes nonetheless.

Kai was a sore subject for her. He'd betrayed her trust in the worst way when they still lived in Portland, and had been a thorn at her side since he returned from the prison their coven spent an eclipse on to put him there.

She didn't know whether to believe him now, after Alaric had relayed the information he gave. There had to be some ulterior motive he had in doing all this.

She shakes her head, dissolving the thought. There was no use in stressing about it now. Within the next 24 hours, she would have taken the cure and be cured and life would go on.”Damon, what the hell did you do?!” Elena’s voice echos in his mind. The Petrova doppelgänger had indeed woken up with the death of her best friend. Kai, despite his malicious intent, was apparently not a liar.

“I did what needed to be done,” he answered.

“No, Damon, you did what you wanted,” she lectures. “And i’ve just lost another person I love because of it!”

“Bonnie’s not dead, Elena, she only had to die once for the link to be broken. I'm not an idiot.”

“Oh my god,” she palms her forehead in relief. “I’m sorry for doubting you,” she whispers, letting him off all too easily, yet again. “So what, we give her the cure in my system now?”

“Probably. Assuming she wants it.”

His phone rings. Alaric’s name flashes on his phone a second time.

“Bad time,” he answers, ready to hang up. He pauses, turning to face the pouting look on his girlfriend, before adding, “Unless you've got some world shaking news.”

“Elena. We need her blood. Josette’s alive, but she's a vampire and we need the cure.”

Damon’s grumble peaks Elena’s interest. She wishes she still had enhanced hearing.

“Okay, but you're going to have to hold off and get to the end of the line,” he gleams. “Bonnie’s getting it first. You can get Jo to suck it out of her when she's done with it.”

Why does order matter?! ” The caller shouts, and then brings his voice to a simmer. “Why does order matter?”

“Well, one, if Jo gets it first and Bonnie drinks from her, she’d probably die from the blood loss, and that would be after the kids, who I'm assuming are also vampire fetuses swimming inside her undead belly.”

“And where is Bonnie, exactly? How long will it be until we find her, and what happens if she doesn’t even want the cure?”

“You don’t know that!”

“Well here’s what we do know: Josette needs the cure now , and Bonnie’s M-I-A, so why don’t we do what we both know is the right thing instead of whatever you want or think you want to do in order to fix the shitstorm you made. Bonnie can get the cure herself in nine months after Jo gives birth.”

Damon narrows his eyes and grits his teeth, turning on his heels to see Elena fidgeting with the hem of her shirt. She looks up at him, a question in her eyes. “You want her so bad? You’re going to have to come get her.” He hangs up before Alaric can argue. “Come on,” he takes her hand in his, leading her to the exit. “We’re going on vacation.”

Alaric glares at the phone in his hand, shaking with rage, and throws it across the room where it shatters upon hitting the wall.

Jo jumps off the bed beside him, concern written all over her face. She pinches the bridge of her nose, pacing back and forth. She had listened in on the conversation- well aware of their current predicament by her super hearing. “What's the plan?”

He pulls a suitcase from under their bed and stalks towards the bedroom closet, selecting and packing the deadliest weapons in his arsenal. “The plan is we get the cure, willingly or not.”

“What, you're just going to kill Damon?”

“If that's what it takes.”

“But aren't you guys friends? I thought he was your drinking buddy or something.”

“He and I were never friends. I see that now. Remember that time I told you I was married before?”

“Yeah?” She fiddles with the ring he gave her, remembering that they still technically weren't husband and wife due to the unexpected interruption. “What relevance does-”

“He killed her,” he says, no more than a mention, as he inspects the point of a stake. “Looking back on it now, it seems our ’friendship’ was entirely one sided. We started out saving his brother, helping his friends, and solving problems he made. Pretty solid quality time.”

“Well, look at you guys now, I mean before this, you guys got along just fine.” Jo places a hand on his back, trying to pull him out of this suicide mission. She didn't want someone else to die for her to live, and she knew it would become a suicide mission. All their friends would turn on them and side with the Salvatore brothers. History repeated itself all too consistently.

“You know, when I died in his arms the first time, he almost cried for me. I was pretty much his only real friend, in his eyes, so I decided to stick around. Watch him as a ghost.” He sighs heavily, an eerie calm settling over him as he rummages through a cabinet for materials to craft and explosive. “I hung out with him not out of friendship, Jo. It was out of feeling obligated to.”

“Landmark of all healthy relationships,” Jo comments.

“Every part of my relationship with him was about him. His refusal to hand over the cure to you confirms it. And now,” he finishes arranging the final pieces of his weaponry into the case. “It's time for us to get even.”

The ruined venue remains silent, save for the shattered glass breaking beneath her as she scans the room. The corpses of her coven members still decorate the floor, laid out sporadically amongst the broken furniture. A jerk of movement catches her attention, and suddenly, several bodies spring to life, choking and coughing and gasping for air.

She spots her father, Joshua, among the the ones reawakened. She runs over to him, confused and afraid and feeling like she’s five again, running to dad for comfort.

“What’s going on?” She asks as he sits up, groaning and shaking away the headache blooming in his skull. “Kai died, didn’t he? Why are we still here?”

Joshua lurches forward, steadying himself with her arms and finding his footing, grumbling on his way up. “I don’t know,” he searches his memory for any reason they could have survived, protection spell or otherwise. A dull thirst prevents his thoughts from getting far, but his son’s nonchalant phrase rings clear in his ears.

“I do hope you all enjoyed the drinks,” he said.

His eyes widen at the realization. “The drinks,” he murmurs. The cause of their thirst becomes clear. “There was blood the drinks.”

The revived coven members work their way towards the two and their conversation, drawn in by the hope of some understanding to be gained.

“I think we're in transition.”


 

ONE WEEK LATER

“The Heretics are here,” Matt tells Damon by phone. He and Elena had run off somewhere, intent on avoiding Alaric and tracking down Bonnie. Last time he tracked their IP, they had just touched base in Paris. “They're in town, causing a major inconvenience to the populous, which means Kai wasn't lying when he made that deal with Lily and got them out of that prison world.” He hears a low growl on the other end of the line.

“Not possible,” Damon singsongs. They couldn't have been taken out because Kai dying took the prison worlds down with him.”

“Unless they've been keeping a low profile,” Matt suggests.

“Donovan,” the Salvatore scolds. “Six Kai’s running free in the town of Mystic Falls after one hundred odd years of starving a and rotting away in that hellhole. You really think they’d sit around on their hands while literal bodies of blood are walking down the streets?!”

“So they were preoccupied. Hidden away or cloaked,” he surmises. “By who, though?”

“My best bet would be our favorite ex Gemini leader,” Damon proposes dismissively, still not accepting their possible escape. “Probably didn't feel like dealing with competition.”

“Well, unless the person who cast the spell undoes it, it can't be undone, right? I mean not unless…”

“Not unless they died...” Damon finishes, a satisfied smile playing on his lips. The image of Kai’s head on a pike flashes through his mind’s eye. “Hmm. I think I'm starting to like this idea.”

“Great. One less problem. Now we just need to deal with several more.”

We? What do you want me to do? Swoop in and save the city?” Damon scoffs. “Kai by himself is already a handful. Going up against six of him? No thanks . I'm pretty happy living my life with Elena like we were supposed to be. I'm not planning on cutting our much needed vacation short.”

“But we-”

“Not my problem. Find someone else.” He hangs up.

Matt stares at his phone in discontent, shaking his head and scrolling through his contacts. He lands on one witch’s name, thumb hovering above in hesitation before pressing ‘call’.

The phone buzzes twice before it's picked up. Her uneven breathing is telling of where he sanity lies. He hears her giggle nervously as he collects himself, thrown off by her uncharacteristic mania.

“Bonnie…” he shivers, feeling an awful presence creeping up his backside and neck. “What the hell did you do?”


 

PRESENT DAY

“Detour?” Kai’s smug look burns holes in the side of her head as he sits across from her in the passenger seat. Bonnie had been driving for a while now. They’d passed by several towns over, and he was starting to feel the pangs of hunger that came with the whole ‘I'm a vampire’ package. It was irritating, to say the least.

Bonnie hums in response.

She woke in transition the night before, flailing in his lap on the couch of his apartment. “Where the hell?” She choked, searching their surroundings for any semblance of familiarity.

“My place.” He says.

“Why would we be-” she scrunches her forehead, noticing the position they're in. She bolts straight up, pushing off of him to stand.

He raises his hands in defense, brows raised in mock affront. “I wasn't planning anything.”

“Like I'd believe you.”

“Fine. Don't.”

She roars in frustration.

What? ” He asks, thrown off by her childish display.

You! ” She yells. “You're just- Ugh!”

He snickers at her failed attempt at forming a complete thought. “I'm what, now?”

“Stop acting like you care! We both know you don't! We are not friends, and we never will be, so stop pretending like I want anything to do with you!”

He gnaws the inside of his cheek, taking the brunt of her verbal assault. “And what, you're just going to run back to yours like Damon never happened and just get along all fine and dandy? He tried to kill you, Bonnie! And don't tell me your friends wouldn't have been okay with it because they moved on just fine when Liv and Luke botched the other side swap.”

“Well, it's better than anything you've got to offer!”

His hands latch onto her shoulders, demanding her attention. She flinches at his touch, expecting the numbing burn of him siphoning her magic, but nothing comes. His voice is deadly low. “Do you really believe that?”

She swallows, cautious of his next move. He grumbles at her silence and releases her from his grip, leaning down to the table before them and picking up a blood bag, shoving it onto her chest. She catches it, stumbling back at the force and scoffing at the gesture. He slips off a ring and tosses it in her direction. She barely catches it.

“Take it,” he says. “It's a daylight ring. Linked to me so that you can't burn as long as I live.”

“Why would I accept anything from yo-”

Just … take it.” He demands, not taking ‘no’ for an answer. “And go. I can't stand you around me if all you're going to do is write me off without a second thought.”

Bonnie laughs aloud. “You killed your whole coven, Kai! Your family! What else is there to say?!”

“They aren't dead, Bon!” He says, and she recoils at the hurt displayed on his features. “I'm not one to murder an entire group of people just because they're associated with one guy I hate. That's more of a Damon thing,” he jokes.

She holds back a smile, knowing full well the accuracy of the jab. She scoffs in disapproval and folds her arms instead. “Didn't seem all too alive when I was there.”

“They're in transition. Probably have been long before you woke up.” She throws him a blank look. “I spiked the punch,” he smiles. “And the wine. And the- well, everything else. Let's just say the food wasn't all that safe after I was done with it.”

Why? ” She squints at him. “Why would you go through all that trouble?”

“Bonnie, not everything people do has to have a reason!” He watches as she fidgets with the jewelry he gave her. “But if you must know, it was to punish them. That, and if you remember what I said back in 1994-”

”Giving the rest of my coven an excruciating death?”  She guesses, paraphrasing his past statement.

“They hate vampires more than anything. Becoming one is like the worst thing ever in their eyes, so what better way to torment them then to make them into the very thing they despise most?”

“That makes no sense. If they hate vampires that much, why would they even complete the transition?”

“They hate me more,” He simpers. “They'll turn. To spite me by living on, or living to hunt me down in revenge, or even to start new, coven free lives. Whatever the reason, they'll turn. The important thing is that the coven doesn't exist anymore. There's no link to stop them from coming for me.”

“And you’d just give up your leverage on them, just like that?”

“You almost killed me in 1903. They would have all died, and we along with them with the collapse of the prison worlds, if you succeeded.”

She scowls at the mention, taken aback by his newly acquired concern for others.

“The people who were tied down by the coven are free to do whatever they want- live their lives however they want, without having to worry about my enemies or safety.”

“But you had to make them monsters to do so.”

“Ah,” he waves in dismissal. “Details. Besides, if they wanted to, they could just hunt down the cure themselves and go back to their regular, albeit witchy mortal lives. And if they do decide to come for me, well … let's just say I've got an insurance policy in place.”

She furrows her brow, peering into his eyes for some sign of a trick or lie. He looks back. They stare each other down in silence and she eventually slides the ring onto her right middle finger. “I'm not leaving,” she sighs. “Where's my stuff? I need my phone.”

Kai gawks at her, surprised by her change in attitude.

“Hurry up before I change my mind.”

He stammers for a moment, rearranging his thoughts. “Uhm. Right. It's right here.” He reaches behind her towards the countertop, grabbing the device and handing it to her.

“One chance,” she points a finger at him in warning. “That's all I'm giving you.”

He gulps. “Okay?”

“I'm going to make some goodbye calls and then you're coming with me.”

She told him to change into "something nice," which for him meant a suit and tie, to which she laughed, prompting their quick game of dress-up, and packed a few spare outfits and trinkets before dropping her off at her place, where she did the same. She ended up throwing him in a gray hoodie and navy coat with matching pants, and his only pair of black boots, muttering "your wardrobe options suck" and "remind me to take you clothes shopping". He frowned in the full length mirror sitting on his bedroom door. The apparel was reminiscent of their trip back in 1903. Either she didn't care or didn't notice, but he was already uncomfortable with the connection. 

She came out wearing a loose fitting violet halter top, a black blazer with tight fitted jeans, and platform boots. "Classy,"  He chortled sarcastically when she came barreling out with two overfilled suitcases, filled with who-knows-what and god-knows-why. She grimaced at the quip- somehow Kai questioning her choice of clothing bothered her a lot more than it should have. After helping her jam the two bags into the back, she ran ahead of him, snatching the keys from his grasp.

"I'm driving"

-

“Do you even know where you're going?” Kai grumbles.

“Do you think you can shut up if I tell you?” Bonnie offers him a small smile before turning back to the road ahead. He was still talkative. She thinks to bail on him before reminding herself of the split second decision she made in dragging him along with her.

He narrows his eyes at her, holding a hand over his chest, mouthing ‘ ouch. ’ “Depends on whether I like the answer,” he smirks.

“You might,” she shrugs. “Or not.”

They sit in silence for the next five minutes before she opens up.

“We're going out.” She notices his face brightening up and quickly squashes any ideas brewing in his mind. “To a pub. I just need to cool off for a bit and you were the only person available, so don't get any wrong ideas.”

He falters for a moment, clearing his throat and eyeing her through the rear view mirror. “So is this your way of forgiving me?”

The car screeches to a stop, almost launching them from their seats. She turns to him, eyes burning, before softening. She exhales shakily, remembering her promise and tightening her grip on the wheel. He stares at her cautiously, awaiting her response.

“You…” she grits her teeth. “Get nothing unless I feel like you deserve it.”

He nods.

They drive on.


 

”Joshua?” Josette looks on in confusion as her father and several coven mates stand before her doorstep in tattered and bloody wedding attire.

“Josette,” his eyes travel her height and land on her belly- looking very pregnant. He reaches a hand out to her and a force jerks it back at him, causing him to stumble backwards. “Right,” he recovers quickly, straightening his stained suit. “The invitation barrier. Josette, do you mind?” He waves a hand to the unseen wall.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” She crosses her arms, leaning on the doorframe as she gauges his offense at her cold demeanor, but proceeds anyways. “Why are you here? How are you here?”

“Well, I just… I wanted to see my daughter,” he assures. Then, looking past her shoulder, he asks, “Where's Olivia? Have you seen her lately?”

She catches herself turning Kai’s ring with her thumb again and shudders. This can't become a habit . “No, why?” By now, she just assumed everyone in the coven was either revived and living as vampires, or refusing blood and dead permanently. Live was most definitely the former.

“Probably with that wolf child again,” he mumbles under his breath. He didn't really care about who dated who in his family; it was only ever about the power they would gain from those unions. The risk of a grandchild of his activating their werewolf gene would be a loss of power for the coven. Now, none of that mattered. There was no coven, and now there was no chance for any grandchildren to even exist.

“Okay, at least answer my other question,” Jo states.

“Oh,” he takes a moment, figuring whether he should trust her with this type of information. He decides there's nothing to hide anymore, what with the destruction of the coven and all. “The coven used to stash whatever relics we found or picked up along the way. Sometimes, when we came across a town ridden with filth, we took it upon ourselves to cleanse it.”

“Vampires? You cleared towns of vampires and took their daylight rings?” She asks for clarification.

“Precisely,” he lifts a hand up to her, showing a simple, pure lapis band around his right ring finger.

“Is that all you came for? Looking for me and Liv?”

“I'm afraid not,” he admits. “Before the wedding, there were rumors going around about some drama between those Salvatore's and that Gilbert doppelgänger. Something about the cure?” He raises a brow at her in question. “You wouldn't happen to know a thing or two about it, would you? I know you and Olivia were close with the residents.”

She wets her lips, weighing her options. Was he testing her? Did he already know? She thinks about Alaric- how he’s out there hunting Damon and Elena for the cure himself- for her sake. Maybe they could help him. She straightens herself up, brushing down the wrinkles in her clothing. “Yeah,” she concedes. “There's something you should know.”


 

Stefan all but stomps into the lounge of the Salvatore boarding home, throwing a fit at his mother’s cold dismissal of him as her son, with Enzo merely stepping in behind him with the offender of his feelings.

“Oh, quit being such a baby,” Enzo taunts. “So what if mommy doesn't want you-”

“I'm right here, you know” Lily blurts out, still annoyed with being tricked again at the expense of her family.

“-grow up. I'm sure there are plenty others who've been abandoned before, and they've all gone on with their lives just fine.”

All he does is stare at her. They’d convinced her to give up after she upended every container thrice, and still, she resisted, grief stricken and crying out into the night. Must be some family , Stefan lamented.

Lily, having been sniffling the entire way back, suddenly freezes, and her eyes twitch with color. “Do you smell that?” She scans the room, searching for the source.

“Smell what?” The two men respond, just as the scent hits them. Bonnie? It wasn't the smell of someone who had been there and left- those are faint and airy. This was pungent. Strong. Like blood.

The three are suddenly spread about the place, searching for any signs of the Bennett witch. Her scent seems to be everywhere, intensifying wherever they go, causing them to bump heads and become agitated. Lily seems to be the most affected.

“We’re not getting anywhere with this!” She screeches, halting them in their actions. “She or it is obviously cloaked, I've dealt with this before.”

“Well, do you know a way to find it, then?”

“Yeah,” she snarls. “I do, actually. I get the spell siphoned, but I guess that's off the table, seeing as my family is nowhere to be found!” Veins bulge underneath her eyes, and she bares her fangs. “And since I have no family, I think it's just about time I start acting like it.”

Before he can blink, she's already gone. He groans at the trouble his ex mom would cause now without the hope of regaining her faux children stopping her.

“Well, then,” Enzo’s shoulders droop. “That's that.” He turns to Stefan, giving him a pat on the shoulder. “Don't concern yourself with her. We can knock her down a few pegs later. I'm tired as hell from just convincing her to come back here! How about we just get ourselves something to drink? Hmm?”

Stefan nods in agreement, and soon the two are laughing it up, spilling their feelings and grievances and sharing random stories of their misadventures with one another. Enzo apparently said something funny, evident by the two clutching their stomachs, out of breath, with tears in the corner of their eyes.

Still, there's a nagging feeling that drags at his conscience. He could just barely make out the sweet lingering aroma of blood hanging in the air.

Who could possibly need her blood, and why was it cloaked?


 

They smash the doors in when they enter, all blazon and hopped up on adrenaline.

Bonnie takes the lead, finding where the drinks are served and helping Kai through the crowd. He stays rather reserved, not becoming the aggressor as the other party goers bump and crash into them. She does the complete opposite, throwing scalding remarks at whomever was unfortunate enough to cross their path.

“Maybe you should calm down a little,” Kai suggests when they take their seats at the table. She blinked.

“You're telling me to calm down?”

“Uhm,” he tries nervously. He didn't want to ruin his chances with her so soon. Be good, be good, be good, he repeats to himself. “Yes?”

She laughs, nudging his arm. “Loosen up a little,” she suggests. “The ‘new you’ is can't be this boring.”

He smiles at the thought, allowing himself some freedom in how he can act and react. A foreign thought sparks in his mind, and he takes this moment to jump at the opportunity. “Alright, then,” he says. “Don't regret it later.” Turning to the bartender and waving their attention over, he smiles politely, ordering. “Tequilas, please.”

-

She crashes back down on the bar stool, crossing her arms across the table and planting her face between them, grinning bashfully despite herself. This was actually pretty fun.

The night had gone by very smoothly. They drank drinks and ate appetizers and talked and laughed, and she even found herself laughing at one of his stupidly morbid jokes. Their talk raged on seemingly endlessly, moving from their familial relationships, to their issues with returning to the real world, to trivial things like favorite colors and animals.

His were cobalt blue and emerald green, and he liked doves- said they were “free to fly anywhere they wanted, and are adored by everyone.” She broke out laughing at his reasoning, finding the whimsical and optimistic explanation ironic, coming from him of all people.

Their experiences with the world were entirely different. She felt isolated and left out of everyone's lives, with them all having moved on and all. Despite everyone worrying about her and comforting her, she still felt removed from them all.

He, on the other hand, had no one to return to. No one to talk to, care for him, comfort him. The only thing that kept him going was the promise of becoming the leader of his coven, and even after he succeeded, a new set of problems emerged in the form of his emotions.

As she blathered on about her amazing grandmother and deadbeat mom and extended family she never knew, she sensed him holding back on his family, however dismissed it as his attempt at avoiding an awkward conversation.

She quickly realized they got along better than she thought, like back in the prison world, before she found out he was a murderous sociopath. The thought that he’d murdered most of his immediate family still made her cringe, but for some odd reason she couldn't quite place, she found she didn't care.

After their 9th-ish shot, he finally convinced her to dance. “What's the point of clubbing if you're not gonna dance?” He insisted, holding out a hand.

She reluctantly accepted, taking his hand and heading to the center of the crowd. “Don't laugh- I'm not a good dancer,” she warns.

Bonnie lost herself in all the fun, forgetting about her problems and friends and the crazy life they brought to her as the two clashed on the dance floor. Apparently, him spending 18 years in magic solitude did nothing to hamper his instincts, quickly picking up and following or complimenting her as they moved to the beat.

She took a second to watch him, envying the charisma he displayed so naturally, as if there weren't a care in the world. Holding a hand to her mouth, she whispered an incantation and watched his surprised face as he stumbled and almost fell over.

His eyes immediately found hers and there was mischief written all over them. “ Bonnie Bennett ,” he guffawed, snickering all the while. “Who would've known there was this side of you?”

Her answering laughter had her falling over this time, right into his outstretched arms.

“Woah, easy there,” he steadied her. “I think someone's had a bit too many drinks. Come on, let's go sit.” He lead her back to the bar after her hum of approval, saying something about ‘looking for the bathroom,’ before loading a bunch of protection spells on her and disappearing through the crowd again in search for the restrooms.

She giggled at the fact that he felt he needed to protect her.

This night helped her unload the stress of her short time back. It was fun.

Kai was fun.


 

Caroline braces herself when the sound of her front door being broken down shakes her from her beauty nap. She rolls her eyes and pitied the poor choice of housing this person was attempting to burgle. The raspy voice that calls out has her stopping in her tracks for a moment, pulling herself together.

“Caroline?!” It called.

She rounded the corner to meet the intruder, Tyler. Last she saw him was on the night the wedding, and afterwards, told that he’d triggered his werewolf gene.

Standing closely behind him was another face that disappeared that night, shifting restlessly on her feet. By all accounts, she should have been dead. The dark veins branching beneath her eyes made it clear why she wasn't.

“Tyler? Liv?”

“Yeah,” the baby vampire exhaled shakily. “We need help. Can you invite us in?”


 

Her phone rings again, for the eighteenth time tonight. She grumbles loudly, contemplating whether she should just turn the thing off. All the calls had been from Stefan, for what reason, she didn't care. Kai hadn't returned from his little bathroom break yet, and she glares at the time on her screen.

27 minutes , he’s been gone. What could any guy be doing that took this long? Did he just ditch her here? Him? Kai? Ditching her?

Another call shakes her phone, and this time, she's ready to decline, but stops when she sees the contact. Matt.

“Hi!” She eagerly accepts, wanting to hear from her only trusted source.

“We have a problem, Bonnie.” His greeting wipes the smile from her face. “It's Kai. We think he's up to something again.”

“What? What are you talking about, he’s right here with me.”

“Why are you with him? Nevermind, is he next to you?”

“What’s it to you? And No, he left for the bathroom a while back.”

“Good.”

“Matt, just tell me what's going on!” She snips, growing irritated by his questioning, and what it implied.

“You didn't pick up Stefan’s calls.”

“Yeah. I don't want to talk to him, or anyone of the people associated with him. I'm pretty sure I made that clear to everyone, but apparently it went over a few heads.”

“Yeah, well, he called me instead. Found out about our contact, somehow.”

She grits her teeth, preparing herself for what was decidedly bad news. “What did he want?”

“He said your blood is in his house.”

“Yeah, I know, we never cleaned up the mess in the basement after we woke up.”

“No Bonnie, not that.” His voice became grim. “They smell your blood everywhere in the home. Lily thinks someone cloaked it for safekeeping, and the only person we know who bled you recently was…”

She shuts her eyes, willing down the rage he feels rising inside her. “ Kai .”

Her chest hurts. She tries to even her breathing, straining against the irregular convulsions as her eyes become wet. An ugly emotion blooms inside her, and she hates the fact that it wasn't the first time she felt it. Betrayal .

“Thank you for telling me Matt,” she says quietly and hangs up.


 

Caroline hunched forward on the edge of her seat, folding her hands over her face in thought as she absorbed the information that was thrown at her. Tyler and Liv sat across from her, eyes hopeful and pleading, begging for a solution or for someone to make sense of their current state of affairs.

“Let me get this straight,” she began, putting together their story. She points to the brunette first. “You killed her under the light of the full moon in order to transform into a wolf so you could heal, and you- ” her eyes widen at the blonde, “- let him ?”

The two in question exchange awkward looks, as if it were the most obvious thing. “Uhm, yeah?” Liv answers.

“And then you but Kai as revenge, before running off to avoid our friends,” she turns to Tyler, who’d been silently listening the whole time.

“Yep. Pretty much,” he said as if it were the easiest, most normal thing in the world. Going around biting people.

A smile follows her distant look. True love , she wants to sigh. Their willingness of sacrificing themselves for each other was just like one of those wacky romance dramas she adored as a kid. She shakes her head, moving on to more pressing matters.

“You said you and a bunch of other Gemini woke up, right? In transition or something?”

“Yeah, my dad told us when he woke up,” she clarified.

She gnaws at her fingernail. “Do you know how many woke up?”

“Almost everyone. Maybe two or three didn't, but I'm not sure, I left to find Tyler as soon as I found out.”

“Great.” She threw her hands up and sunk into the couch- her mother’s favorite before she passed away.

They all knew what this would mean. The town already struggled to keep the whereabouts of several vampires hidden- and those were mostly her friends. Now there was an influx of over eighty others, who would no doubt be angry, confused, and most of all, hungry.

“Who would have done this? I mean did your dad find out Kai escaped and got everyone to slip some vampire blood beforehand?” She thinks aloud.

“No. He- no one in the coven would take vampire blood. They're considered abominations of nature, remember? It was Kai,” Liv states.

“Why, though? If he were just going to kill you, why go through the trouble of having you become one?”

“I don't know, to punish us or something? A lot of the people in the coven are old, conservative, and extremist lunatics. Being a vampire to them is worse than being thrown into oblivion.”

Caroline watches as bands of sunlight fade from the curtains, highlighting Liv’s hands. Her nose scrunched up, noticing something missing. “Liv?” She looks outside at the setting sun. Tyler and Olivia had visited her in the afternoon, when the sun was still beating down heavily as it descended from the sky. “How did you get here without a daylight ring?”

As if realizing herself, the girl’s eyes widen, going straight to her hands. “What the hell?”

“Oh my god,” Tyler falls back when he follows her eyes. “I’m so stupid!”

“What!?” Caroline perks up from her sleep, curious as to what caused the sudden display.

“I don't have one,” Liv says, rubbing at one on her left middle finger.

“I'm so sorry,” Tyler pulls her into a tight embrace. “I wasn't thinking, I'm so stupid, I forgot all about it,” he says a jumble.

“Not to be insensitive,” Caroline cuts in. “But how did you get here, then?”

“This ring.” She holds out her hand, pointing to it with the other. “It isn't mine.” She tests what they're all thinking by pulling it off and putting her palm on one of the sunbeams streaming into the room. The skin that burns and cracks on contact confirms their suspicions, and she pulls back with a scowl as she slips the band back on. Conflicted with doubt on his motives, she voices her suspicions. "I think it's Kai's."


 

Screams and shouts from the surrounding pedestrians are muted against her ears. She's occupied with one of them, flailing in her arms as she digs her teeth into the crook of their neck and indulges in the warmth that flows.

With no family to hold her back, she was free to do as she pleased, eat as she wanted. Deep down, she felt guilty for falling down this path. It felt like she was somehow dishonoring their memory.

What does it matter now? They're gone forever, anyways.

She disconnects from the drained body, wiping and smearing the blood from her mouth and cheeks in vain. She notices a few others around her, lost in the act, following her example.

“Who might you all be?” She asks when they finish. They reminded her of her children for reasons unknown, even to her.

“Nobodies,” an elderly woman dressed in heavy layers and a disgusting vintage shawl says, speaking for all of them. They all stand, removing themselves from their prey as they regard her. “And you?”

“Lillian Salvatore.”

The lady, upon hearing the name, stiffens. The others noticeably become uncomfortable, shuffling on their feet.

“I take it you know of me?”

“You could say that.”

One of them attacks without warning, screaming and dashing towards her with a metal pole.

She stops it with a hand, addressing her attacker with little regard. “You really think a baby like you could match me?”

Another charges from behind, and yanking at the bar, she throws one onto the other, sending them crashing. She hovers over them, shoving her hands into their chests, gripping their hearts and tugs.

“Enough!” The woman shrieks.

Lily, feeling some obligation to respect the elder, backs off.

“You two,” she points at the aggressors. “Quit being idiots and attacking whoever you see.” She gives her an icy glare. “And you. You see how many of us there are?” She gestures to the crowd around them. 14 in total. “You may be old, but the lot of us, if we really went all out? I think you’d know the outcome.”

“And you know that I could take down ten of you before you succeeded.”

They nod heads, silently agreeing on the truce being made, and the group exits. The woman heads out last, stopping by her side. “The name’s Eloise, by the way,” she leans forward, smiling politely, before heading out the door.

Lily stands there in shock, replaying the altercation in her head.

Eloise had leaned forward, and a pendant swung from her neck, previously buried under the folds of cloth. An insignia was indented into the metal; two vertical lines connected by inward facing crescents above and below. The symbol of the Gemini.


"So are you just going to ignore me forever?" Kai demands, slightly annoyed by the silent treatment Bonnie was giving him. She huffs and rolls her eyes in response, giving his hand a small squeeze and continues leading him on. He smiles and follows.

Back in the club, he'd tried giving himself a pep talk in the bathroom mirror, reminding himself that this could all just be a ploy to take him out for good or draw out his next plan. He grew frustrated with himself when he found he didn't care- he just wanted to spend time with her. It ended up with a mini celebration, spiked on dopamine and disoriented with alcohol, unable to stop from grinning wildly and laughing at his dumb look as he bounced on his feet.

When he got back out, to his surprise, half an hour had already passed. He chided himself for losing track of the time, and was met by an equally peeved Bonnie.

"Let's go," was her only demand as she got up and left, expecting him to come after.

They'd gotten in the car, and he voiced his concern about her driving while inebriated like this, to which she brushed off. He cast a sobriety spell over her, eliciting a small "thank you" before they started down the road. After a couple attempts at small talk, he realized she was purposefully ignoring him- for whatever reason he couldn't quite place. How could anyone be mad about a bathroom break? "At least tell me where we're going?"

"Somewhere else," her mood lightened, and he sighs in relief. He decides not to push any further, for fear of losing her good graces.

-

Moving a few minutes just past a dilapidated warehouse in the middle of nowhere, they arrive in a small town, stopping at a quaint corner restaurant, and he shoots a glance at them, frowning at their choice of attire. "You don't think we're under dressed?"  He notices her bite back a smile. Score.

"Kai," she warns. "You go in first, see what's good. I need to get something from the back, first."

"Alright," he complies, making his way to the store.

He'd called for a table for two and was sat at one of the window tables, reading over the menu several times over before Bonnie arrived, sporting one of his sweaters.

"Did you just take one of my shirts from the trunk?" his eyes widen.

"Yeah. Why?"

"Nothing." He blushes.

The waitress steps in, greeting them with the milkshakes he ordered beforehand and taking their orders. Bonnie grabs the woman- Sandra, her name tag said- and does something completely unexpected.

Looking the woman in the eyes, she orders her, "Get the other staff and employees to leave after we get our food, and kick out any other customers in the store." Sandra nods and heads off.

Kai watches, eyes wide and gawking. "What was that?"

"Compulsion," she explains. "Vampires can tell people what to do, I thought you knew that." She sips on her straw, enjoying the befuddled look on his face.

"So much for morals," he laughs.

Their food arrives shortly after, and sure enough, the store empties, with Sandra leading out the other customers and the confused staff packing their belongings and making it out the back door.

-

It's now or never, she thinks, watching as the plates are placed before them. Grilled salmon with roasted potato and broccoli sits in front of her, and his Chicken Saltimbocca Panini in front of him. What a shame. her mouth waters at the gorgeous sight alone. Quality food from small, family owned restaurants blew any bar food out of the water.

"Wait, don't eat yet!" She stops him before the glorified sandwich reaches his mouth, and he pouts in protest.

"Whyyy?"  he moans, kicking his feet. "I'm hungry".

What a fucking child. "Quit being a baby." She pulls a ziploc bag of dried, ground leaves from her purse. His act almost makes her feel bad for what she's about to do. Almost.

"Bonnie Bennett!" He scolds. "Is that weed?"

She reaches over the table and punches him in the shoulder. "No, you idiot," she snickers. "It's a secret ingredient my grandma used to sprinkle in our food when I was younger." It wasn't a complete lie- it went on for awhile before her grams realized she was a witch.

"Really," he drawls. "You cleared out an entire place fora 'secret ingredient'?"

"No, that was just for privacy," she says. That part was true. "Here," she dismantles his meal, sprinkling the contents in before reassembling it. "Try some."

He meets her gaze for a moment, scanning for some other unspoken reasoning she might have, then giving in. "Okay then," he offers the toothiest grin he can muster. "Dig in."

She watches intently as he brings the food to his mouth, silently cheering as he takes a bite. I win.

-

His eyes widen suddenly and he jerks up from the seat, knocking over his chair and clawing at his throat, gagging. The wounded expression in his eyes has her regretting her decision, but it's too late. "Bon-?" he rasps, and he's suddenly knocked on the ground- after she hit him with her chair.

"Vervain," she says plainly as she holds a foot over his throat, ready to choke out any spell he might throw.  He grips her foot instead, pulling the magic in her blood away, and she yelps in surprise, quickly coming to her senses and kicking him off.

-

He rolls onto his feet, muttering something along the lines of "should've known," as several figures appear around them. "I told you I had a trump card against my coven," he growls. "Meet my friends: The Heretics."

He'd been tricked by her, again. The sting of betrayal wasn't lessened by having been experienced before. No, in fact, this time was worse. He'd really opened up to her. Things were going so well. Was it his fault? What did he do this time?

-

Through her peripheral view, she regards the new arrivals, noticing something off. She gives Kai a piercing glare, watching as his face moistens with sweat, fighting with the vervain to stay concentrated. She turns her attention to the Heretics around her, staring directly at their heads, and unable to discern their faces. Illusions.

"If they were real, they would've attacked me by now," she muses, seeing through his trick.

-

Realizing the futility of bluffing, he releases the spell, deciding to change tactics. "Invisique."

-

She freezes at the disappearance, calming assessing her options. He's vervained. He can't go far. She stares at the spot where he stood, imagining his silhouette. He probably can't even move. She races forward with an hand outstretched, finds her target, and clamps down, catching his throat in her grip, and pulling him out of the spell.

-

He squirms in her grasp, clamping his hands over her arm to drain her.

-

She plunges her free hand into his chest, finding and holding onto his pounding heart. "Siphon me, and I rip out your heart," she warns.

-

He stops siphoning, but keeps his hands tightly wrapped around the arm inside him. He can feel her slender fingers massaging his organ, whimpering as she pulls him to his knees with it.

"You're going to tell me everything," he hears her say as his vision fades to black.