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Bitten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” she asked in an incredulous voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He opened the passenger door to his BMW for Bonnie.

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

He shrugged. “Leather cleans off easy enough…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

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

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

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

“Bonnie?’ Tyler called out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie gave a shaky nod.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She gave a shaky nod.

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

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

“I remember,” she muttered into his chest.

“What?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded. “I can accept that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But you still would have bitten me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s lunchtime already?” Bonnie asked.

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

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

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

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

He nodded and stood up with Bonnie his arms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The girl blinked in shock. “What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler flashed a cocky grin.

Bonnie rolled her eyes playfully.

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

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

He hummed as he thought about other possibilities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded.

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

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

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

He grinned. “My place or yours?”

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

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

“Tyler,” she chided.

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

She asked, “What kind of supplies?”

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

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

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

She huffed,  “I meant the other part...smart ass.”

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

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

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

“Oh,” she said. “Okay.”

He chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline asked, “Has anyone seen Tyler?”

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

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

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

Caroline knew that Tyler wouldn't answer her calls.

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

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

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

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

Caroline glared at Jeremy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremy stifled a chuckle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Name them,” she said quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie glared at him.

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

“Fine,” she bit out.

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

“Seriously?” she asked.

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

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

“Thank you, Damon.”

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

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie averted her gaze in embarrassment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She whispered, “Sorry…”

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

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

Tyler stood up with Bonnie in his arms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” she muttered. “Maybe.”

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie said, “Thanks, Ty.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie nodded. “Much.”

“Good,” he replied quietly.

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

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded. “Pretty much.”

Her eyebrows furrowed as she thought about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You really want to know about my pack?”

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

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

Bonnie winced in pain.

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

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

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

She nodded. “I’m sure.”

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay,” Caroline replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you kill him?” Stefan asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stefan sighed. “Focus, Damon.”

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Did Tyler turn her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You have a deal,” Damon agreed.

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

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Vampires?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He chuckled.  “In the living room?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” she asked.

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

“Why?” Bonnie asked in surprise.

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

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

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

Bonnie stifled a yawn against his shoulder.

“We should go inside.”

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

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

Bonnie wiggled on top of Tyler trying to get comfortable.

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

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

Tyler chuckled quietly and wrapped his arms around Bonnie.

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie nuzzled his neck. “I’m sorry.”

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

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

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

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

“Try me,” he said.

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

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

She perked up. “Really?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If you say so…”

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler grinned. “Let’s do it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh,” Bonnie replied in disappointment.

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

“Really?” she asked excitedly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler chuckled and said, “Alright…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah. What’s going on?”

“This is Damon,” she answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I get it.”

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

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

Tyler was still mulling this over in his mind.

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie laughed. “What are you doing?”

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

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

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Brisket,” he corrected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie chuckled and placed a carrot into his open mouth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Only in passing, huh?” she asked.

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

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

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

“Are you joking?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“Cool.”

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

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

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

She frowned.

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

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

“I thought Enzo killed all of them.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie said, “I’ll grab the plates.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie asked, “What are you saying?”

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

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

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

Bonnie didn’t need for Tyler to tell her that. She detected a feeling of overwhelming dread leaking through their bond. She could tell Tyler was trying to block the feeling but his emotions were so strong that he couldn’t contain it. She reached across the table and took his hand. “What’s wrong, Ty?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know. Have you ever felt like you’ve missed out on something that has been right in front of your face?”

She asked, “You mean like the fact that we’ve been trying to ignore our feelings for each other for months?”

“No, I was paying attention to that…a lot. Having enhanced senses means ignoring things all day. I have to filter the things I think are important or relevant to me. I discard everything else or it can be staggering. Sometimes it is just an invasion of privacy. Like Matt is dating someone but he hasn’t told anyone.”

She perked up. “Matt is dating someone?”

He nodded. “A couple nights a week he comes home smelling like French vanilla body wash. I figure it is none of my business so I haven’t said anything to him.”

“Let’s put a pin in the whole Matt is secretly dating someone. What does this have to do with Elena?”

“Just because I disregard certain things…it doesn’t mean that I forget them. Something is off about Elena and I intend to find out what it is before we blindly follow her,” he said.

Bonnie smiled at him.

“What he asked?”

“I don’t know…I like when your eyes go all flinty like that. It’s sexy,” she muttered in embarrassment.

“Oh yeah?” he asked with a cocky smirk.

She rolled her eyes and went back to eating. “You killed the mood.”

He winked at Bonnie. “No, I didn’t.”

Tyler grabbed his phone and sent a message to Gabe. If anyone could dig up information on the Augustine group it would be him.

Chapter Text

As Tyler expected, Bonnie crashed not long after they finished eating. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to join her. Their conversation about Elena weighed heavily on his mind. His wolf was restless. He could practically feel the beast pacing around inside him angling for release. All of his instincts demanded that he go rip Elena apart before harm came to his mate. The good news was that the rational part of Tyler’s brain was running the show for now. He wouldn’t leave Bonnie when her heat could return at any time. However, if he was right the mating cycle could be over in the next day or two. Earlier he had spoken to Ruby about his concerns. She confirmed what he already knew. The mating cycle only ends early if the woman has become pregnant.

The possibility of Bonnie being with child made him even more anxious about the Augustine group and Elena. Tyler realized that he should have paid more attention to the brunette vampire months ago. They had all grown up together. Once upon a time, he even considered her a close friend. However, when Tyler returned to Mystic Falls he had a pack that required the bulk of his attention. He was also ashamed to admit that a juvenile part of him blamed Elena for the tragedies that had befallen their town. He had believed that the wise thing to do was to avoid being drawn into the vortex that was Elena Gilbert. Tyler figured there would be a line of people to help sort out her teenage angst.

As he sat in the darkened living room, Tyler considered the possibility that Elena’s behavior wasn’t merely teenage angst. Bonnie seemed to believe that their friend’s humanity switch was still firmly in the on position. Nevertheless, something was very wrong with Elena and they had all simply ignored or excused the behavior for one reason or another. It occurred to Tyler that perhaps isolation had been the point of all the shitty things Elena had done over the last few months. Breaking up with Damon was the act that attracted the most attention. Yet her actions had been building to a tipping point for much longer.

First, Elena had peppered Caroline for details about her tryst with Klaus at Tyler’s party. He probably would have never learned the truth without her interference. When Tyler stood on the stairs eavesdropping on their conversation, he could have sworn that Elena looked right at him. She should have been horrified since that monster had murdered Jenna but she seemed delighted by the turn of events. Tyler had been too angry to examine her behavior with a critical eye. Elena’s uncharacteristic excitement was long forgotten by the time he and Caroline argued about her betrayal. At the end of the night, he was only interested in kicking Stefan’s ass for sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. He didn't think of the doppelganger’s role again.

Second, Elena also played a part in Bonnie and Jeremy’s break up. Everyone could see that their relationship was on the rocks even if neither party was willing to admit it. Tyler had a front row seat to the slow erosion of their relationship. He was the first person to realize Jeremy was cheating on Bonnie. It was difficult having secrets when living with a hybrid. It had only taken one whiff of Jeremy’s study partner for Tyler to realize they were fooling around. He told the kid to break up with Bonnie only to have Jeremy tell him to mind his own business. It was a week later that Bonnie learned the truth in the worst possible way. Jeremy had begged Elena to compel a couple invites for him and a friend to the annual Gods and Goddesses party hosted by Whitmore’s Panhellenic Council. She happily obliged but failed to mention that Caroline had invited Bonnie as well. Inevitably, the green-eyed girl stumbled across Jeremy making out with Brooke. Elena had been conspicuously absent while her younger brother and best friend’s relationship imploded in public.

Third, Elena somehow convinced Matt to be her rebound person—as if she had not burned him in the past. Tyler was glad that Stefan and Bonnie had locked Damon in the boarding house’s cellar during that time. He had no doubt that the bloodthirsty vampire would have killed his best friend on the spot. Things were hot and heavy between Elena and Matt for all of two weeks. Tyler had seriously regretted letting his friend live with him during that time. However, Elena abruptly dumped Matt. She said all the right things about having needed comfort from someone that truly loved her but it all sounded a bit hollow to his ears.

Tyler knew that the mental case he was building was lean on facts. However, he refused to believe that all those events happened in a vacuum. He didn’t believe in coincidences—not in Mystic Falls. Elena had effectively alienated everyone that would care enough to recognize the changes in her. Damon hated her. Bonnie sided with Damon out of loyalty. Moreover, she probably would have limited contact with Elena because of the situation with Jeremy. The brunette vampire had firmly sided with her promiscuous younger brother. Matt steered clear of Elena after she used him to get over her break up with Damon. Caroline and Stefan were too busy sneaking around to be observant. Tyler just didn’t give a damn. Jeremy was probably the only one that spent a significant amount of time with her now—for whatever that was worth. She and Caroline still shared a dorm room but they were more ships passing in the night than best friends. The distinct lack of people trying to kill them revealed the fractures in their relationships. Without the need to band together, some of them were merely acquaintances rather than best friends.

The hybrid’s eyes moved to his phone when it vibrated. He had a text message from Matt.

Matt: Elena & Caroline r here early to eat

Tyler: Thanx. Let me know when they leave

Matt: K

Tyler selected Jonas’ name from his phone book and waited patiently as the line rang.

“Hey,” Jonas answered.

“Hey, man. The girls are out of their dorm room for at least an hour. Do a sweep of the entire room.”

“If there is anything to find, we will find it, Alpha,” he replied.

Tyler said, “Thank you. I will give you a heads up when they leave the meeting. Be careful…”

Jonas said, “There aren’t many things that can take down three werewolves armed with vervain and wood cored bullets. I will call you if we find anything.”

Tyler ended the call but he still felt on edge. He had gone out of his way to keep his pack away from the drama in Mystic Falls. Yet here he was breaking the promise he had made to himself after accepting the role of alpha. Deciding to break the promise he made to himself hadn’t even been a difficult decision. Tyler could rationalize that the Augustine group might pose a threat to werewolves. No one really knew the true scope of their cruel experiments. However, the truth was he was doing this for Bonnie. He was worried that this new threat would draw her into old patterns again. Tyler had explained as much to Ruby but she reminded him that Bonnie was an unofficial member of the pack now.

He scrubbed a hand over the stubble covering his jaw and decided to put his nervous energy to good use. He turned on a lamp sitting beside the couch and reached for a journal that allegedly belonged to one of his ancestors. The leather bound book had seen better days. He was positive that the red staining on the tan leather was blood. It made him wonder about the path the journal had taken to eventually land in his family’s possession once more. He noted a bookmark obviously left behind by Bonnie. She had done more research than he had. Bonnie had more experience studying centuries old books. The antiquated vernacular often irritated him. This particular journal had the added complication of using both English and French at certain points.

However, he was most intrigued by the scribbled notes Bonnie had left on a notepad. Apparently, one of his ancestors had married a witch from a powerful coven. That man’s younger brother, Marc-Rene Lescheres, was the journal’s author. Tyler had started reading the journal but had found it boring. It was just about his family’s rise from wealthy merchants to a powerful force in 18 th Century New Orleans. He hadn’t wanted Bonnie to read that journal for fear that his family made the habit of buying and selling human beings. Fortunately, it appeared that they were involved in the coffee and sugar cane trade which had its own issues. He remembered the awkward conversation about slavery when they were in 10 th grade American History together. The teacher had wisely sped through those chapters like a man on fire. In old Southern towns like Mystic Falls, many descendants from the founding families still resided there. The descendants of slaves were no different. Many of Mystic Falls’ Black residents could trace their ancestors back to the Lockwood, Forbes, and Fell families. However, Bonnie’s family wasn’t included in that number. The Bennett family had a long and haphazard relationship with Mystic Falls. Bonnie told Tyler of how her family had fled to Virginia to avoid the Salem Witch Trials. Yet they were no longer in Mystic Falls by the time Emily and Katherine arrived in 1864.

Tyler stretched out on the couch with his phone and the journal. He would need the language translation app on his phone at some point. The hybrid read in silence for thirty minutes before his eyes ran across a life-changing sentence. Tyler sat up and reread the passage to ensure that he understood it properly.

‘Today I bade good bye to my family. Quentin has placed our family’s continued success in my hands. I must travel to the islands to negotiate a new contract with Monsieur Dubois. I am saddened that I will certainly miss the birth of Quentin’s first child, but I expect he and Sofia to bestow many strong nephews and genteel nieces upon me.’

He muttered, “The child of a werewolf and a witch.”

Tyler carefully flipped the pages trying to find out what happened after Marc-Rene returned from his trip. However, the journal ended while he was still in Barbados. Tyler groaned in frustration. This journal was their first major break and it was woefully incomplete. Tyler wondered if there might be another journal hidden within the Lockwood family’s impressive library. He tried not to get his hopes up because it was just as likely that this book had been a one off. There was absolutely no telling where his family had acquired the journal. Once the mating cycle ended, Tyler would have to scour the shelves of the library.

Tyler was happy that he had a path to follow now. He had a family name and city to investigate even if he failed to find another journal written by Marc-Rene Lescheres. The witches of the French Quarter would certainly know the legends of a hybrid witch/werewolf. The child had been born of two powerful bloodlines: Navarro and Dalliencourt. The only problem was that Klaus and the original vampires were occupying that city. Tyler couldn’t exactly travel to New Orleans and start asking questions without drawing the wrong attention. The most obvious choice would be to get Gabe to do the legwork. However, New Orleans wasn’t necessarily safe for werewolves even with Klaus as the self-declared ‘King’. Tyler would not put a member of his pack in Klaus’ crosshairs.

The hybrid drummed his fingers against the coffee table’s edge. Then he opened his laptop and pulled up a popular genealogy website. Tyler and Bonnie had learned that it was easier to find digital birth, death, and marriage records for people born before the 1900’s because privacy was no longer an issue. They had used to the website to view census records from the 1920’s. It was the first recorded instance of the Bennett Family returning to Mystic Falls. He scoured the website until he found a birth records’ database for Louisiana. Tyler figured it was a long shot since officials did not meticulously record births in the 18 th century. However, it was a good way to pass the time.

Tyler fell down a rabbit hole of entering different variations of Quentin and Sofia’s names. However, his phone vibrating repeatedly broke his concentration. Tyler glanced at  the screen and noticed that he had six…no seven new text messages from Jonas. He opened the text conversation with his cousin and viewed the pictures. Tyler nearly dropped his phone when he spotted an eerily familiar knife.

He called Jonas and waited impatiently for him to answer. Tyler seriously hoped they were still on campus. The knife probably looked innocuous to Jonas, Fiona, and Maddox but it was a bad omen. Maybe Bonnie wasn’t far off about crows being harbingers of bad luck. Tyler hated that he involved his pack in this at all. He should have just handled it himself next week once things were back to normal.

“Hello?”

“Where are you?” Tyler asked.

“We’re about to set off the smoke bombs in the building. Is everything okay?” Jonas asked in concern.

The original plan had been to use smoke bombs at strategic points within the dormitory. The stench of the smoke would infiltrate every crack and crevice in the building. It would be the perfect way to keep Caroline and Elena from realizing werewolves had entered their dorm room.

“The box in picture…” Tyler paused and counted the pictures. “…number three. I need you to bring that to me. You also need to get the hell out of there and make sure to cover your tracks. I don’t want this leading back to the pack.”

Jonas said, “Covering our tracks won’t be a problem. You know this isn’t Mads first B&E. He made sure that we got into the building unseen. We’ll get out the same way. I’ll be there with the box as soon as I can.”

“Thanks,” Tyler said.

There was a beat. “Are you and your mate in danger?”

He said, “Honestly, I don’t know yet…”

“Do you need us to do anything else? You are not alone anymore,” he said cautiously.

Tyler knew that his cousin was trying to show him the appropriate respect as alpha. However, their relationship had different layers because they were also related by blood. He said, “I am going to talk to Ruby and get back to you on that.”

Jonas said, “I’ll be there soon, Alpha.”

The younger man ended the call and ran a hand over his face. Tyler knew that he had to wake up Bonnie. He felt bad because he knew that she needed the rest. However, they were looking down the barrel of a massive problem.

Tyler sent Matt and Stefan a text message.

Tyler: Don’t let Elena leave!

He quickly climbed the stairs and turned on the light only to find Bonnie sitting up in bed with a drowsy expression.

“What’s wrong?” she asked with a yawn.

Tyler lifted an eyebrow. “How did you know something was wrong?”

“You woke me up with all your very loud emotions. It felt like you were broadcasting them over a freaking bullhorn,” she muttered petulantly.

The hybrid blinked because he didn’t know how to address that. He wasn’t even sure he understood what Bonnie meant. However, he decided to press forward. He sat on the bed and handed Bonnie his phone. He asked, “Do you recognize that knife?”

Bonnie squinted as her eyes adjusted to the light. Her entire body tensed when she began to understand the reason for Tyler’s distress. In the beginning, Bonnie doubted that the search of the dorm room would turn up anything useful. “They found this in Elena and Caroline’s dorm room?” she asked for clarification.

“Under Elena’s bed from the looks of it,” he replied.

Bonnie wracked her brain to think of any reasonable way to explain Elena having that knife in her possession. However, the only explanation that made any sense was that a Traveler had taken control of their friend’s body. The rush of guilt she felt was overwhelming. How had they all missed something this important? She tried to figure out when Elena had gained a passenger but everything was a blur. “We’ve got to warn everyone.”

He shook his head. “We don’t know who is inside of Elena right now. Warning them without having a way to take her down is dangerous.”

“You have a plan?” she asked.

Tyler nodded. “I told Matt and Stefan to keep her at the Grille. I am going to go over there. Passenger or not, Elena is still a vampire. I need vervain and lots of it.”

Bonnie bit her lip. “I can handle the vervain.”

He looked at her quizzically.

She climbed out of the bed and asked, “What did you think I was growing in my greenhouse?”

Bonnie had a greenhouse the size of a small shed in her backyard.

“I don’t know rosemary or something,” he suggested.

She started pulling clothes out of the dresser. She said, “I grow a bunch of herbs, too. Some of the herbs are edible and the others are for potions. Anyway, I started growing vervain because I don’t have access to my magic and we live in a town that attracts vampires.”

Tyler asked, “What are you doing?”

“I am coming with you,” she announced.

“No, you aren’t,” he replied.

Bonnie smiled cheerfully at Tyler as she buttoned her jeans. “I’d like to see you try and stop me.”

He took a deep breath and walked over to Bonnie. He took her face in his hands. “It is better if you stay here, Bon. I don’t know how well this plan will work. I don’t want you getting caught in the crossfire. I will rip out Elena’s heart if I even think the thing inside of her is a threat to you.”

“Then we had better come up with a better plan than just throwing vervain in Elena’s face and hoping it works. She is my friend and I have let her down in a big way. We have all let her down. Some weirdo has been masquerading as her for God knows how long. Has it been weeks or months since she has been herself? Elena was so cruel and hurtful the night she broke up with Damon. Has she had a passenger inside her since then?”

Tyler leaned his forehead down against hers. “You are one of the strongest people I know, Bon. I am not asking you to stay here simply because you don’t have your magic or because I think you are somehow incapable of protecting yourself.”

She asked, “What is this about then?”

“I think you might be pregnant,” he replied.

Bonnie’s eyes widened. “You had better not be lying to trick me into staying here.”

“I wouldn’t do that to you. I think the mating cycle is ending early. I talked to Ruby about it and she said normally it means the woman has conceived.”

She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. Bonnie knew it was a possibility. They hadn’t exactly been very careful Friday night or Saturday evening when her pheromones had been at their peak. Hearing the words from Tyler was like a dose of reality.

Tyler pressed a kiss to her temple. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know. Is that bad?” she asked.

He chuckled wryly. “No, I think that is a very appropriate answer.”

Bonnie blew out a breath. “We are going to discuss this like mature adults later. First, we have to figure out how to handle Elena. Stabbing her with the knife would kill the Traveler inside her. The only problem with that is we have no idea who has been controlling her or for how long. We need answers before we can kill this person. I think that I have an idea. We should invite everyone over here instead of going to the Grille. We can control the playing field here.”

Tyler groaned but decided against arguing with Bonnie.  Her mind was made up. He said, “I am going to have a couple members of my pack nearby for back up, too.”

She leaned up and pecked his lips. “You should send a group text from my phone while I go make a potion.”

“A group text? What should it say?”

“I don’t know. Make something up,” said Bonnie as she walked out of the room.

Tyler mocked, “Make something up.”

“I heard that!” she called from the hallway.

“I know!” he replied.

Chapter Text

Everything Bonnie knew about being a witch she learned by trial and error. Her powers were only beginning to develop when Sheila died. She could not have even fathomed where to begin looking for other witches that might have helped guide her. Nevertheless, Bonnie had grown into a formidable witch that had gone toe-to-toe with the Original Hybrid on several occasions. Therefore, losing her magic had been a devastating blow. Bonnie had been grateful for receiving a second chance at life, but she felt incomplete. The young woman was listless until she found an old box of grimoires hidden in the attic of her grandmother’s home. She could practically feel the magic of her ancestors calling to her from the pages. In that moment, Bonnie had realized that her magic was still inside of her.

Her great-grandmother’s grimoire drew her in like a moth to a flame. Amelia Bennett had been a powerful witch. That power was evident in the complicated spells written in her grimoire. However, Amelia had dedicated an entire section of the comprehensive book to making potions, elixirs, and healing salves. The section on potion making read more like a recipe book. The potions ranged from relatively mundane to the deliriously complex. The very first potion Bonnie made was meant to induce a peaceful night’s sleep. Smelling the perfumed brew had transported the girl back to her childhood. Her favorite toy, Miss Cuddles, used to smell exactly the same way. Bonnie realized then that Sheila had made the potion to help her granddaughter sleep at night.

For months, Bonnie had methodically experimented with different potions and elixirs. Damon had been kind enough to procure the ingredients that were harder to find. Sometimes he was even her guinea pig because he had the useful ability of not dying. Making potions helped Bonnie feel closer to the magic walled off inside of her. It also brought her closer to the Bennett witches that came before her. At that point, she stopped feeling the urgency of accessing her magic. She believed that her magic would return eventually because it was an innate part of her. In the meantime, she decided to focus on the many facets of being a witch that she had long ignored in favor of survival.  

Bonnie had never been more grateful for that decision than she was right now. She didn’t know much about Travelers but they were powerful. She also knew that witches didn’t trust them. A Traveler taking over Elena’s body for weeks or possibly months was terrifying. Perhaps the only good news was that the doppelganger hadn’t spent much time around their friends. It wasn’t likely that the Traveler was trying to infiltrate their group. However, it also meant that Bonnie had no earthly idea what the Traveler possessing Elena was planning. Stabbing Elena with the knife would be the simplest solution. The knife would kill the passenger instantly and Elena would heal from the trauma. The downside was dozens of questions would go unanswered. Bonnie had learned from experience how dangerous that could be.

The plan was simple and only three people outside of Bonnie and Tyler knew about it. Damon, Stefan, and Matt were the ones they trusted with the secret. The whole Scooby Doo Gang agreed to meet at her house after they finished hashing out the Augustine problem. The S.O.S. text sent from Bonnie’s phone had been three simple, but effective, words— Elijah called me .  Tyler had chosen a message benign enough to prevent everyone from dropping everything immediately. Yet it had been foreboding enough to require everyone’s attention. Elijah was usually reasonable but his connection to Klaus always made him a threat.

Tyler walked into the kitchen fully dressed. He had doused himself with enough cologne to mute his altered scent. Caroline and Elena were still baby vampires. Their senses weren’t developed enough to smell beneath the overwhelming aroma. Damon and Stefan would be able to detect it immediately because they were much older and stronger. Fortunately, the two older vampires already knew the truth about Tyler and Bonnie.

He said, “I just talked to Jonas. He is about ten minutes away. How is the potion coming along?”

Bonnie stirred the red simmering liquid and then lowered the heat. She turned around and said, “It looks and smells perfect. I followed the recipe to the letter. I am confident that it will work as planned. The potion will completely immobilize Elena for at least five minutes. It could be longer than that because she is such a young vampire. Either way that is enough time to get her shackled down in my basement.”

Tyler had analyzed every angle of their plan. He was worried that they would be blindsided by something. None of them knew very much about Travelers. He asked, “Will it work on the passenger inside of Elena, too? Travelers have magic, right?”

“The passenger shares the same weaknesses of the vessel it is possessing. He or she will be unable to move or even speak while under the potion’s effect. The passenger won’t be able to use whatever power he or she might possess.”

The hybrid didn’t feel reassured by Bonnie’s response. He did not doubt her skill but they had a very small margin for error. He walked up to Bonnie and said, “I don’t like that you will be alone with Elena, Bon.”

Bonnie wrapped her arms around his neck. “I know but it is the best option that we have. You can’t be in the room with me because the potion could paralyze you, too. I promise that I am going to be safe.”

Tyler pulled Bonnie closer as he brushed his lips against hers. He muttered, “I will rip Elena’s heart out if she hurts you.”

The girl sighed deeply because she understood his protectiveness. She felt the same way about him. Bonnie’s instincts were running counter to what she knew to be right. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Tyler with an intensity she would not have been able to express with words alone.

Tyler growled against Bonnie’s soft lips. In that moment, he wanted to ignore the outside world and reinforce his claim on her. However, he heard a car pull up in front of the house. Tyler knew that would be his cousin. He slowly broke the kiss and stared down into Bonnie’s green eyes. “We are going to finish this later.”

Bonnie had heard the car outside, too. She smirked at her mate and nodded. “Yes, we will. The potion is finished and I need to cool it down. You should go answer the door.”

Tyler pecked her lips once more before walking to the entryway. He opened the door just as Jonas was about to knock. He motioned for his cousin to come inside.

Jonas had the ornate box tucked underneath his arm as he entered the house. He closed the door and handed the box to his younger cousin.

“Thank you for helping me tonight,” Tyler said.

Jonas shook his head and said, “If the alpha calls, we answer. No questions asked. No explanations needed.”

He said, “Yeah but this wasn’t exactly pack business. I appreciate what all of you did. I didn’t realize that I was putting you in danger at the time.”

“A threat to the alpha and his mate is a threat to all of us. I know that you are cautious because of what happened to your first pack. I don’t blame you. What is it they say? Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said with a wry snort.

Jonas said, “My grandfather had a picture of Andrew Carnegie on his wall. There was a quote at the bottom of the picture and he drilled it into my head over the years.”

Tyler was intrigued to hear a story about his late great-uncle. Ruby had told him a great deal about her father. “What was the quote?”

“No one person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit. I know that you think that protecting the pack is the right thing to do but we are only as strong as our alpha is. Let us help you with whatever darkness is headed your way.”

He took a deep breath and smiled. “You practiced that speech on your way over here. Didn’t you?”

Jonas chuckled. “I might have run it through once or twice. Fi thought the Andrew Carnegie quote was the highlight.”

Tyler smiled wryly. “I could actually use some help tonight. What do you know about Travelers?”

“They are self-righteous dicks but dangerous. The good news is they never stay in one place for too long,” he answered immediately. “Is that what you are dealing with here?”

He nodded. “We think that a Traveler has possessed a friend of ours. Bonnie and I have invited her over here. We are going to trap her and try to get some information from the passenger inside of her. I could use a little backup just in case this whole thing goes sideways.”

Jonas said, “Fiona, Maddox, and I are here for whatever you need. Should we call a couple more people to lend a hand?”

Tyler looked toward the kitchen where he could hear Bonnie humming. He turned back to face Jonas once more and shook his head. “No, the three of you will be more than enough. We will have a couple vampires in here that can help with Elena. I am more concerned about other Travelers that might be lurking in the shadows.”

“I got it. We will park the car a couple blocks over and then choose spots where we can stay out of sight,” he said.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Eventually you are going to get used to having people that you can count on when the going gets tough.” He clapped the younger man on his back. “Call if you need us in here.”

Tyler nodded. “I will.” He watched Jonas walk out of the house and then locked the door behind him.

He returned to the kitchen where Bonnie was using a funnel to pour the potion into three cylindrical bottles made of dark blue glass.

He said, “I am guessing that you overheard my conversation with Jonas.”

The green-eyed girl nodded. “I am glad that you accepted your pack’s help. I don’t think that we will need them but Jonas was right about delegating. You can’t shoulder all of the responsibility alone. Isn’t that why you made Ruby and Gabe your betas?”

Tyler huffed out a sigh but he smiled at her. “Yes, I knew that I wasn’t ready to be an alpha without some guidance.”

“I am not going to let anything happen to your pack, Ty,” she promised.

He felt the sincerity of Bonnie’s promise through their bond. He said, “They are your pack, too. As my mate, we will lead them together. I know that we haven’t really had the opportunity to talk about your thoughts on that.”

Bonnie said, “We haven’t had an opportunity to talk about much but I am not running from any of this. I am not running from you.”

Tyler relaxed upon hearing her reply. It erased the few doubts that were still lingering in his mind. He placed the box on the island and flipped open the top. Tyler pulled out the knife and set it aside. He then took out a small black book. He flipped through the pages and frowned at the unfamiliar language. “I am going to go out on the limb and assume that this is written in Bulgarian.”

Bonnie glanced at the text written using the Cyrillic alphabet. She nodded. “I would say that is a safe bet. I don’t know what level of success we will have trying to translate that into English.”

“Do you think either one of the Salvatores can read Bulgarian? You’d think that with them being alive for so long that they would have picked up a foreign language or two,” he said.

She looked thoughtful as she added rubber corks to the three bottles. “Damon is fluent in three languages. He can order booze and naked women in about four more. Unfortunately, none of those languages is Bulgarian to my knowledge. I can’t say what Stefan might know.”

Tyler rooted around inside the box and stopped when he came across pictures. “Damn…”

“What?” Bonnie asked. She tried to peer into the box to see what had caught Tyler’s attention.

He handed Bonnie a picture of Nadia Petrova. “There are at least four more pictures of her in here. Can you think of a reason that Elena would have pictures of Nadia?”

Her green eyes darkened as she moved closer to inspect the other pictures. Bonnie said, “Nope. Katherine on the other hand…”

“But you saw Katherine when she died, right?” he asked.

Bonnie nodded and slowly sat down on a barstool. She stared at the pictures and tried to make sense of the situation. “I saw her for a moment but she didn’t pass through me. I was still new to being the anchor. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. If this means what we think it means…”

“Katherine has been possessing Elena for months,” he finished.

She licked her lips nervously. “Damon and Elena’s break up certainly makes more sense now. Katherine loves crushing Damon. She gets a kick out of torturing him. As if it isn’t enough that she pretended to be locked in tomb for over 100 years. She is such a bitch.”

Tyler lifted an eyebrow at the venom in her voice.

“What?” she asked. “She possessed one of my friend’s and tried to send my other friend into a blood fueled killing spree.”

“Just remember that if you kick her ass, you are actually kicking Elena’s ass,” he said.

Bonnie huffed. “Don’t care. I am still punching her at least once because she deserves it. Elena is a vampire…she’ll heal fast.”

He chuckled softly. “Whatever you say, Bon.”

Her eyes suddenly grew wide. “What are we going to do about Damon? He is going to lose it when realizes that Katherine has been playing him this whole time.”

The hybrid glanced at the bottles of potion sitting on the counter.

Bonnie followed his gaze and quickly shook her head. “No, I can’t do that to Damon.”

“I thought you tested this potion out on him,” he said.

“I did. It worked on him for about five minutes. I guess I meant to say that I wouldn’t do that to him. He hasn’t done anything wrong and I won’t treat him as if he has.”

“And if he loses his shit? Because I think most people would in this situation. You add in Damon and Katherine’s history and this could get ugly quickly.”

Bonnie said, “I’ll talk him down.”

Tyler looked concerned by that idea.  “Bon…”

“Come on, Ty. You know that Damon isn’t going to hurt me. He didn’t even try the night that Elena broke up with him. Besides, I was able to talk him down when he was ready to rip Matt apart. I can get through to him before he does anything stupid.”

It occurred to Tyler that perhaps that had been Katherine’s plan from the moment she started pursuing Matt. She was counting on Damon doing something violent and reckless when he found out about the fling. If Damon had killed Matt, it would have alienated him from the rest of the group. Stefan would have forgiven him eventually because there are brothers but no one else would have. He groaned because he didn’t feel like dealing with this. “Just make sure that you punch her twice.”

“Consider it done,” she replied with a grin.

“On the bright side, this might not go any further than Katherine being a total bitch.”

Bonnie huffed out a shocked laugh. “Ty…”

“I am serious. If it is really Katherine that is possessing Elena, we can just stab her and be done finally. It is a helluva lot better than a possible nefarious plot by unknown Travelers.”

She sighed. “I guess you do have a point. Maybe the Augustine threat will turn out to be a smoke screen. I am sure Katherine has been looking for a way to get her claws into Stefan again. Manufacturing a threat to everyone is a solid plot.”

Tyler nodded. “It definitely sounds devious enough for Katherine to do it. Although, her daughter will be a problem once she realizes that we have killed her mother.”

“Fun times,” she grumbled. She felt her phone vibrate from inside her back pocket.

Tyler’s phone started vibrating at nearly the same time.

Bonnie pulled out her phone and read a text message from Damon. “They’re about to leave the restaurant.”

He nodded and said, “I got the same message from Matt. Are you ready for this?”

She said, “I am as ready as I can be. I am going to drown in guilt later.”

Tyler kissed her forehead. “This isn’t your fault. No one realized that Elena was possessed. We are all at fault here.”

“I just remember how much it sucked when no realized that I was dead. It hurt. It made me feel expendable,” she confessed.

“You’re not expendable and neither is Elena.”

Bonnie nodded as she grabbed the bottles that were still warm to the touch. She handed one to Tyler and said, “Give this to Matt when he gets here. He’s my backup plan since he’s the only other non-vampire.”

They had both summarily dismissed the idea of including Jeremy. The high school student hadn’t been very reliable lately.

Tyler tucked the vial into his pants’ pocket. He said, “Okay.”

Bonnie said, “I am going to go put the other bottle in its hiding place. Just in case Elena doesn't cooperate with Plan A.”

He returned all the items to the box and then handed it to Bonnie. “You should probably put that some place safe, too.”

“I know just the place,” she replied.

Tyler walked into the living room and collected the books stacked on the coffee table. It took some work but he found space for them on the already crowded bookcase. Tyler hoped that they could avoid revealing their newly minted relationship status to their friends. This night would be problematic enough without any extra drama. Moreover, he was worried about how Bonnie would cope with the situation. She was compartmentalizing her guilt because saving Elena took precedent. He could feel the range of emotions that Bonnie was trying to hide from him. She was slowly starting to understand how the bond between them worked.

He moved over to the bay window and looked out at the street. He wondered what hiding spots his pack had taken around the house. However, he trusted them to be nearby if necessary.

Bonnie walked into the living room.

“All set?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yep.”

Tyler said, “Come here.”

Bonnie joined him at the window. She eagerly allowed herself to be enveloped in his strong arms. She buried her face against his broad chest and inhaled deeply. Tyler’s scent calmed her down. She could smell it even beneath the incredible amount of cologne he was wearing.

Tyler slid his hand up Bonnie’s shirt. He gently ranked his blunt nails against her skin.

Bonnie’s eyes fluttered closed as the remaining tension bled out of her body. She was grateful that Tyler seemed to know what she needed.

The couple maintained that position until they heard cars arriving outside.

Bonnie reluctantly extricated herself from Tyler’s embrace.

He kissed her forehead and lightly patted her on the butt. “You’ve got this, Bon.”

Bonnie squared her shoulders and headed towards the door when she heard someone knocking. She walked into the entryway and smiled upon seeing Damon standing on the porch. Bonnie opened the door. “Hey.”

The vampire didn’t know exactly what was happening. He only knew that Bonnie and Tyler were suspicious of Elena. However, he was glad to see his friend in person after four long days. Text messages just didn’t do their friendship justice. He resisted the urge to hug her. Damon had been warned in advance that touching Bonnie was a bad idea. While he wouldn’t mind seeing the mutt wolf out, he wasn’t in the mood to die from a werewolf’s bite. He could only imagine the untoward things Stefan would have to do to convince Klaus to save him this time. “Hey,” he replied.

The moment was interrupted as everyone else began to walk into the house.

She said, “Come in, everyone. Thank you for coming.”

Caroline hugged Bonnie but wrinkled her nose at the strong perfume the girl was wearing. “I am so happy that you are feeling better, Bon! Damon said that you got mono from that guy you met at the party.”

Bonnie’s eyebrows nearly shot up to her hairline. She shot a withering glare at Damon but he only smirked in return. She should have known that Damon would amuse himself some way. “It turns out it was just a 72 hour bug. I am feeling much better now.”

“Well, I still want to hear all about the guy you met,” Caroline said with a grin.

Bonnie was hit with another pang of guilt. She was certain that Caroline wouldn’t be happy when she learned the truth. She was also very aware of Jeremy scowling in her direction. She said, “Let’s all go to the living room. Tyler made it here first.”

Jeremy scowled at his ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t believe that Bonnie had a one-night stand with some loser she met at Damon’s party. She had also been ignoring his calls and texts all week. “I thought he was out of town.”

Tyler was standing up when they entered the living room. “I was but I made it back tonight. I got Bon’s message and figured I would stop here first.”

Matt walked over to his friend and hugged him. “Glad to have you back home, man.”

The hybrid discreetly slipped a vial of the potion into Matt’s hand. He smiled. “It’s good to be back.”

Bonnie said, “I did some stress baking waiting on you guys to get here. I baked way too many loaves of chocolate banana nut bread. Does anybody want to try out my new recipe with some coffee?”

Her question was greeted by a chorus of ‘yes’.

Damon added, “I’ll take a shot of bourbon in my coffee. I know you’ve got some here, witchy.”

Bonnie rolled her eyes in fond exasperation. She looked at Elena. “Could you give me a hand?”

The doppelganger was shocked that Bonnie was asking for her help. She nodded “Sure, Bon.”

The two girls walked into the kitchen. Bonnie asked, “Can grab some coffee cups from that cabinet right there?”

Elena turned around and pulled down enough cups for the group. She successfully balanced and carried the cups to the island. “The banana nut bread smells good, Bon.”

Bonnie waited until the cups were safely placed on the counter, they belonged to her grandmother after all, before she punched Elena hard enough to send her flying backwards.

Elena was shocked by the sudden assault but also by the power of the punch. Her eyes widened as Bonnie crossed the kitchen seemingly in the blink of an eye. The witch punched her harder the second time. She gasped, “Bonnie…”

Bonnie threw the bottle onto the ground hard enough to shatter the glass. The liquid began to turn into a reddish gas that wrapped around Elena and incapacitated her. The green eyed girl glared at her. “Give it up, Katherine.”

The doppelganger glared when she realized that she had been discovered. Just a week ago, she thought that the Scooby Doo Gang might never detect her ruse. She tried to stand. If she could run then there was still hope. However, she couldn’t even feel her limbs now. The potion the witch had used was obviously fast acting.

Bonnie watched as Katherine’s fingers twitched uselessly. “You love taunting Damon for wasting over a century of his life waiting for you. But you are the one that is pathetic, Katherine. You should have run as far away from Mystic Falls as you possibly could after taking control of Elena’s body. I mean you are good at running and hiding because of the centuries you spent evading Klaus. We might have never found you. Instead, you stuck around trying to make Stefan fall in love with you. He was never going to love you, Katherine. You are a horrible person that uses and discards people like tissues. Your soul is as black as coal. There isn’t a single redeemable thing about you. Who would ever willingly love you once they know the real you? The answer is no one.”

The girl’s words cut deeply.

Damon walked into the kitchen. He had heard everything.  He stared at Elena’s body in silence. He couldn’t even muster shock at the situation. This seemed exactly like something that his ex-girlfriend would do to torture him.

Bonnie reached down and snapped Elena/Katherine’s neck. Then she turned and walked over to Damon. More than anything she wanted to hug her friend because he looked absolutely wrecked. “I’m sorry, Damon.”

He stared at Elena/Katherine for a few seconds as if in a trance. He snapped out of it and said, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

Bonnie zipped in front of Damon to stop him from leaving. “No. I am not going to let you run away.”

He smiled at her. “I don’t plan to go on a killing spree, Bon-Bon. I just need some air.”

The sadness in Damon’s blue eyes tugged at Bonnie’s soul. She was seconds away from crying the tears that he wouldn’t dare shed.

Tyler appeared in the doorway. “Hug him already…”

Bonnie wrapped her arms around Damon and squeezed him tight.

The hybrid ignored the itch at the back of his head that urged him to rip out Damon’s throat for touching Bonnie. His instincts were at odds. Part of him wanted him to kill the potential romantic rival but the other part knew that his mate was hurting for her friend. The fact that he was able to resist the urge meant that Bonnie’s heat had truly ended. He picked up Elena/Katherine and hefted her over his shoulder. Then Tyler carried her down to the basement.

Chapter Text

Bonnie chewed at her bottom lip as she waited for Katherine/Elena to awaken or reanimate—she was never sure how to characterize that process. Everyone was twiddling their thumbs while they waited in the basement. She had already devoured three slices of chocolate banana nut bread. Bonnie hadn’t lied about stress baking before her friends arrived. Frankly, she was craving the hunk of brisket currently in the refrigerator. However, Bonnie was worried about attracting unwanted attention. It seemed that the overabundance of perfume and cologne had obscured Bonnie and Tyler’s scents for now. Neither of them was particularly interested in breaking the big news this evening. They had plenty of complications to deal with already.

She twisted a vintage opal ring around her finger nervously. The ring had belonged to her grandmother. She had found it in the same box containing the talisman that hung around her neck. Bonnie could feel traces of her grandmother’s magic in both items. She knew that many witches used talismans to help focus their powers. However, she had no clue why Grams had spelled the ring. If Bonnie still had access to her own magic, she might be able to identify the strands of the spell woven into the item. For now, she just took comfort in the familiarity of Sheila’s magic. Bonnie had felt it her entire childhood and never knew what it was.

Her green eyes slid across the room and connected with Damon. He was sitting by himself nursing a glass of bourbon. She glanced at the half-empty bottle beside his foot. Bonnie was glad that she lied about only having the one bottle. Surely, Damon would have already finished that one if he knew there were two bottles tucked away in the kitchen. Bonnie kept her house stocked with bourbon and blood bags for when Damon visited. Their hanging out wasn’t limited to the Salvatore boarding house. The house becoming a sort of sanctuary for their friends meant there was little peace or privacy. At times, Damon needed a break and Bonnie’s house was the perfect destination. Sometimes they hung out together, other times Damon disappeared into the basement for a couple hours.

Caroline huffed and sat down beside Bonnie. She had been pacing for the last ten minutes. She said, “I can’t believe that this is happening. I have been living with Katherine for months and I didn’t notice anything. I mean I knew that Elena was a little dejected because Stefan didn’t want to rekindle their epic romance. When I started seeing her less around the dorm, I assumed it was because she was really focusing on her classes.”

Bonnie shook her head and squeezed Caroline’s hand in support. “We are all responsible for this, Care. I should have made more of an effort to spend time with Elena, but…”

Caroline nodded but her heart was heavy. None of them had good reasons for neglecting their relationships with Elena. The simplest explanation was they had all been focusing on their own lives. They had taken the opportunity to be young people for once. Caroline had thrown herself into about a dozen clubs and activities. She even decided to double major in Theater and Communications. The fact that everyone was happy should have been the first sign that something was very wrong.

“We are going to find a way to make this up to Elena,” Caroline said with conviction.

Bonnie wanted to believe that more than anything but she didn’t even know where to begin. Elena had lost several months of her life. Moreover, they had no idea what Katherine had been doing while in her body. She asked, “Do you think Katherine has even been going to Elena’s classes?”

The blond vampire nodded. She said, “I know that she has been going to at least some of Elena’s classes. We have English 101 and Intro to Psychology together. She always showed up for those two. I saw her coming out of the Biological Sciences Building a couple times a week, too.”

“Well, I guess that is one positive thing. Maybe she hasn’t flunked out of college. Elena would be heartbroken. Becoming a doctor like her father was so important to her,” Bonnie replied.

Caroline perked up because she could solve that problem in a matter of hours. “I will track down all of Elena’s professors tomorrow. I can compel them to figure out if she is passing her classes. If not, I will make them change her grades.”

The green-eyed girl frowned and shook her head. “You should probably hold off on compelling people at Whitmore until after we have this Augustine situation sorted. They could be hiding in plain sight.”

Caroline huffed. “I am sure Katherine was just lying so that Stefan could save her.”

“Probably but it is better to be certain first.” She took Caroline’s hand again. “I don’t think I can handle something happening to another friend.”

Her eyes softened considerably as she pulled Bonnie into a hug. She whispered, “Elena isn’t the only one I have been neglecting.”

“You haven’t neglected me, Care. Things have just been…” Bonnie corrected herself and said, “I have been different since I came back from the Other Side. I am still trying to figure things out.”

Caroline had been wondering what was happening with Bonnie. However, she pretended that everything was fine whenever Caroline asked.  “Is it because you lost your magic?”

Bonnie said, “That is part of it but…”

“But what? What has happened to us? We used to be able to talk to each other about anything,” Caroline said in a disheartened voice.

“Now isn’t the time to get into it, Care,” Bonnie replied gently.

The blond vampire shook her head. “I disagree. We all realized that Elena was a little off and we ignored it. Well, I am not going to ignore whatever is going on with you. I can’t just keep waiting for it to pass.”

Bonnie realized that suddenly everyone’s eyes were on her. Their quiet conversations had been abandoned in favor of looking at the two young women.

Damon grumbled, “Leave it, Blondie.”

“No, I won’t just leave it,” Caroline argued.

“Yeah. When did Damon become your best friend, anyway? You used to hate him,” Jeremy chimed in.

The high school student was happy that someone was finally on his side. He had been complaining for months that Bonnie was behaving differently. Jeremy was ready for things to get back to normal. Matt and Tyler had tried telling him that ship had passed but he didn’t agree. Bonnie had only been dead for a few months. He couldn't understand how she could have changed so drastically in such a short amount of time.

Damon spoke slowly as if talking to a particularly slow child, he said, “I made the deal with Qetsiyah to resurrect Bon-Bon. I am also the one that got her out of being the anchor with an assist from Wolf Boy. Of course we’d be besties after that.”

Bonnie glared in Jeremy’s direction. However, her expression softened when she looked at Caroline. Her friend looked so lost. “I died, Care. I was dead for months and no one realized that something was wrong with that.”

“But you told Jeremy not to tell us what happened,” she argued quietly. However, she knew the argument was weak.

Bonnie chose her words carefully because she was no longer angry. She didn’t want to hurt her friends’ feelings by being too blunt. She said, “I asked Jeremy to keep my situation a secret because I wanted to make it easier on everyone. That is all I have been doing since the moment I realized I was a witch. I have been trying to make everyone else’s lives easier...safer. I have saved all of you at great cost to myself with very little appreciation. My grandmother is dead, my father is dead, and my mother is a vampire. I refuse to believe that you or Elena could have gone missing for so long without sounding alarm bells. No one pressed Jeremy for more information about my whereabouts until you all needed me to save you again. Qetsiyah told me to learn from her mistakes and my own. I did. When I came back from the dead, I decided to put myself first. I like it this way.”

Everyone in the basement looked guilty because Bonnie was right. They had accepted Jeremy’s paper-thin explanations for months without even a cursory investigation. They would have discovered Katherine’s scheme sooner if she had fled Mystic Falls after possessing Elena. They would have scoured the country looking for the doppelganger to ease their concern. Even Matt, arguably the most considerate of the group, had only insisted on finding Bonnie once he realized he was losing time while possessed by Gregor. He had tried to right that wrong in recent months. Matt talked to Bonnie a couple of times a week to make sure she was still alive. They usually hung out together at Mystic Grille.

Bonnie sighed quietly. “Look, it isn’t a big deal. I just had to change some things to make myself happy. I am still figuring out how to merge those changes with our friendships. I still love all of you…”

Katherine gave a disgusted groan, “Bonnie, be a dear and snap my neck again so I don’t have to listen to your tragic teenage angst. It sounds like a bad episode of One Tree Hill. You are totally a Peyton.”

Caroline looked at Bonnie with wide eyes. “You broke Katherine’s neck?”

Bonnie’s eyes darted over to Tyler for a moment. She shrugged and said, “What can I say? My training sessions with Damon have really paid off.”

Stefan cleared his throat and walked over to the chair where Katherine was shackled. He had been tempted to ask Bonnie why she had shackles in her basement. However, Damon reminded him that this house had been in the Bennett family for several generations. His older brother assumed that the shackles had belonged to one of the Bennett witches that came before her. “When did you possess Elena?”

Katherine rolled her eyes. “We’re going right to the main event, Stefan? No foreplay? I thought that I taught you better than that.”

Bonnie said, “Stefan won’t hit you because he’s a gentleman but I will.”

Tyler bit back a chuckle.

“I took control of the less interesting version of myself when she came to say goodbye. It was hardly an opportunity that I could pass up. I could be a vampire again and live another 500 or so years. I would do more with that time than boring Elena ever would,” she explained in a flippant tone.  

Caroline scoffed in disgust. “What have you been doing? What trouble have you caused for Elena?”

Katherine sighed dramatically. “What sense would it make to ruin Elena’s life? I planned for it to be my life. I figured playing college student for a while couldn’t hurt. Becoming a doctor was intriguing. I’ve never done that before, but I was a midwife once upon a time.”

Damon muttered, “Can we kill her now?”

The older vampire looked in his direction. She pouted at him. “I’m sorry. Did I break your heart again when I broke up with you as Elena? Your face that night in the woods is how I imagine you looked when you realized I was never in the tomb. It is like you just cannot get facts through that thick head of yours. No one is ever going to choose you over Stefan. It doesn’t have anything to do with fate, destiny, or even the doppelganger curse. You are always going to be alone because Stefan will always outshine you. I mean your only living friend tolerates you because you saved her life. You two have been bosom buddies while Elena has been on ice. I am guessing Bon-Bon is going to drop you as soon as her bestie is back.”

The brunette vampire was out of his chair and across the room in seconds. He had his hand wrapped around Katherine’s throat as she laughed maniacally.

Stefan grabbed his brother. “Damon…”

Bonnie stalked across the room and punched Katherine with all of her might. Her eyes flashed amber where only Katherine could see it. “I said that I would hit you again. Keep it up, Katherine. Like you said, I have a lot of teenage angst to work out.”

Katherine spit some blood onto the floor. “You won’t hurt your precious Elena.”

She smiled. “You aren’t Elena. You’re my best friend’s skanky sire until one of us stabs you with the knife we found under your bed tonight.”

All of the humor slid off Katherine’s face when Bonnie mentioned the knife. She hadn’t counted on them finding it. “You can’t kill me.”

Damon calmed down. He lifted an eyebrow and said, “Stalling for time is beneath you, Katherine.”

“My daughter is the only thing that has been keeping the Travelers from coming down all of your heads.” She looked to Stefan. “You remember when Gregor said that the Travelers wanted me dead.”

Damon snorted. “They can get in line.”

Stefan nodded. “I remember what Gregor said. What does that have to do with anything? I just assumed that you had pissed off a group of Travelers in the past. You have a habit of making enemies, Katherine.”

She said, “The travelers aren’t just interested in my death. They want you and Elena dead, too. Nadia has been keeping them at bay but that ends the moment you kill me.”

Damon tensed at the mention of his little brother being in danger.

Stefan frowned because Katherine seemed genuine. However, she had been mastering the art of lying for centuries. “Why would they want me dead? Gregor is the only Traveler that I have ever met.”

“The Travelers want all of the doppelgangers dead. They need our blood for some big ritual to break the curse that witches put on their kind. Nadia has found the other doppelganger that looks like you. She compelled him into dating her to keep him safe. They have an apartment not far from Whitmore’s campus.”

Tyler thought back to what Jonas said earlier. He asked, “What curse?”

Katherine relaxed somewhat now that they were listening to her. “The witches were pissed when Qetsiyah created that immortality spell. She and Silas had been Travelers so the witches decided to curse the entire group and their unlucky descendants. Qetsiyah only escaped that fate because she died. Witches can be bitches that way. Right, Bon-Bon?”

The girl rolled her eyes and said, “I’m still feeling punchy…keep talking.”

“The witches literally turned nature against the Travelers. They can’t practice magic as normal witches do because they can’t connect with nature. They also can’t congregate in one place for too long or nature punishes them with natural disasters and unexplained illnesses. They need doppelganger blood to break the curse but it is more involved than that. They want to destroy the Other Side to resurrect the other Travelers that have died in the past.”

Bonnie frowned. “It has to be more to it than that. Bringing down the veil to the Other Side means resurrecting all of the witches, too. The witches cursed the Travelers for creating the immortality spell. I don’t want to see what they would do to them for destroying the balance between life and death.”

Katherine smirked and said, “Look at Bon-Bon saving all of your asses and she doesn’t even have her magic. The leader of the Travelers plans to destroy spirit magic by ensuring that the witches aren’t able to cross over before he destroys the Other Side. All of your witch ancestors would simply cease to exist. The Travelers would be free to slaughter the rest of you or perhaps just curse you as they have been cursed for centuries.”

The girl gasped as the talisman around her neck began to vibrate.

“What exactly does that mean?” Stefan asked.

Bonnie didn’t hear Stefan because her talisman was vibrating hard enough to visibly move now.

Damon moved closer to her. “What’s going on, witchy?”

She grabbed the talisman when it began hovering in mid-air. However, that was precisely the wrong thing to do or precisely the right thing to do depending on one's vantage point. Bonnie’s eyes flashed amber as the power from the talisman surged through her body. Suddenly, the world began to turn upside down and her knees grew weak.

Tyler was across the room in seconds and had her in his arms. His eyes were dark amber as he threatened to shift right then. However, he knew that his mate needed him in his humanoid form. “Bonnie! Talk to me, please.”

Her eyes fluttered closed as she lost consciousness.

He scooped up Bonnie and carried her to the couch. Tyler laid her down carefully.

“What the hell just happened? Is she okay?” Jeremy asked.

Katherine watched with a curious expression. “Where did she get that talisman?”

Caroline asked, “Talisman? What are you talking about? It is just a necklace.”

“You are all completely useless,” the older vampire complained.

Tyler sat beside Bonnie on the couch and listened for her heartbeat. He was glad to find that she still had one. Tyler tried to ignore the distress he felt coming from his wolf. He said, “She found it in a box of her grandmother’s old things.”

Jeremy scowled as he watched Tyler with Bonnie. They were all worried about her but his concern was something different.

Damon moved closer to the couch and nodded. “Bonnie had me cart a couple of boxes out of the attic for her. There were a couple of grimoires, some jewelry, and photo albums in there.”

“Did she have any idea who the talisman belonged to first?” Katherine asked.

Tyler said, “Bonnie thinks it might have been handed down from her great-grandmother to her grandmother. There is a picture in the living room of Amelia wearing the talisman.”

Caroline looked between Bonnie’s unconscious face to the pure terror etched into Tyler’s. She shook her head because none of this was making any sense. Then she remembered that Tyler and Bonnie were both missing Saturday morning. This was the first time that they had been seen since Damon’s party. Jeremy had sworn that he saw Bonnie and Tyler dancing together before they went missing. Caroline shook her head because she had to be jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Katherine chuckled.

Damon whirled around to look at Katherine. “Why are you laughing?”

“Well, I mean she kinda deserves it since she punched me a total of three times. My guess is that she is about to be possessed by the original owner of that talisman. That’s the danger of wearing a talisman that doesn’t belong to you.”

Caroline shook her head. “No, it doesn’t work that way.”

Katherine scoffed. “Which of us knows more about witches?”

“Bonnie was possessed by Emily before but it was only after we did a séance. She had to reach out to the spirit first to welcome her.”

Tyler groaned.

Stefan asked, “What?”

“Bonnie wears the talisman all the time…including when she goes to the Falls at night to commune with nature.”

Caroline was stunned and confused. She could somewhat understand an accidental tryst. She was guilty of that. However, Tyler seemed to know details that only close friends would know.

Katherine smirked. “There you have it. She has been communing with nature and the spirits. She probably drew the attention of her grandmother or great-grandmother. They watch out for their own…especially a powerless little Bennett witch that can’t protect herself. They will have been watching her and now they know what the Travelers are planning.”

Damon said, “We need a witch…”

“I might be able to help you with that,” said Katherine.

His blue eyes narrowed dangerously. “You are dying tonight, Katherine. Helping us find a witch isn’t going to save your life.”

She said, “I am not naïve. I know that you will kill me regardless but it doesn’t have to be right away. I have a vested interest in making sure the Travelers fail. Nadia has made many enemies protecting me from them. They will kill her if their plan succeeds.”

Damon feigned surprise. “Are you being…maternal? I didn't know you had it in you, Kitty Kat.”

Katherine glared at Damon. “The witch I have in mind is a Bennett. She won’t be clamoring do me any favors but as I said Bennett witches protect their own.”

Jeremy argued, “You can’t be serious. She has been wearing my sister like a meat suit for months. I want to help Bonnie but there has to be another way.”

Stefan looked between Damon and Tyler. He couldn’t decide which man looked more ready to murder Jeremy. Stefan decided to step in before things got out of hand. He said, “Elena is safe. We are not going to let Katherine leave this basement still in control of her body but Bonnie needs help.”

The younger boy heaved a sigh and looked at Bonnie. He said, “Alright!”

“Thanks, little brother,” Katherine taunted.

Stefan said, “Don’t provoke him.”

She shrugged innocently. “What? I have enjoyed our weekly family outings. We had fun bowling just last week.”

Jeremy frowned because it was true. He had been enjoying Elena’s new outlook on life.

“How do we get contact with this Bennett witch?” Stefan asked.

Katherine smiled at Stefan. “You’ve met her before. Her name is Lucy. I had Nadia track her down a few weeks ago. I figured we would need some help with the Travelers. Her number is in my phone.”

Matt said, “Her purse is still in the living room. I’ll go get it.”

“Thanks, Matty Blue,” Katherine practically cooed.

Chapter Text

Tyler had not moved from his place beside Bonnie in the last thirty minutes. Bonnie’s safety and well-being were his only concerns. He didn’t care how many questioning looks he received from Caroline and Jeremy. Neither had been courageous enough to verbalize their curiosity. Tyler was using a Herculean amount of strength to resist the overwhelming urge to shift. His wolf side was panicking because there was something wrong with his mate. Tyler couldn’t even feel Bonnie through their bond. Since the first night he had bitten her, Tyler had gotten used to feeling Bonnie’s consciousness even when she was sleeping. Most of the time it was just a light tickle at the edge of his awareness but he liked feeling her. He felt strangely empty right now.

He tried to remain positive. Katherine didn’t seem to think that Bonnie was being harmed in this state. She swore that magical possessions within the same bloodline were rarely malevolent. While he had no reason to believe her, Stefan concurred with her opinion. He had been present when Emily had possessed Bonnie a couple years ago. The young witch would have walked away from the encounter completely unscathed if not for Damon sinking his teeth into her neck while in the throes of a temper tantrum. Tyler wouldn’t feel better until they received confirmation from Lucy. Unfortunately, they were having trouble getting her on the phone.

The Salvatore brothers could be relentless. Sometimes they annoyed the hell out of him. However, he was grateful for their presence tonight. Stefan and Damon had been calling Lucy nearly non-stop since getting her numbers from Katherine’s phone. Damon had even directed Matt to track her down via FaceBook. He figured a woman in her thirties probably used the social media platform frequently. Tyler could tell by the way Damon was pacing that he was minutes away from hopping into the Camaro. Katherine had helpfully supplied Lucy’s address in Durham, North Carolina. Durham was only 2 ½ hours away from Mystic Falls. Damon could probably cut the drive down another 20 or 30 minutes by speeding.

Tyler didn’t want his pack involved in a situation that was rapidly unraveling. However, he didn’t have much of a choice when there were threats coming from multiple fronts. The Travelers were most assuredly a threat to everyone. Lowering the veil and destroying the Other Side meant releasing long dead vampires and werewolves, too. This wasn’t merely a witch problem. Furthermore, he still didn’t know if Katherine was being truthful about members of the Augustine Group lurking around Whitmore’s campus. It could take Gabe a couple of days to sniff out that potential threat. Tyler knew that it was time to give up his quest of being a one-man army. He had a mate and possibly a baby to protect. He couldn’t do that alone.

He needed someone to help keep him focused. His wolf was growing stronger because the moon would be full in just a couple days. Worrying about Bonnie’s safety only made him more volatile. Jonas was still in the area. He and Tyler had built a solid friendship. Jonas had triggered his curse a decade ago so he had developed a precise control over his other side. However, he was too concerned with respecting the pack’s hierarchy to calm Tyler down if he was close to losing it. Tyler decided that reaching out to Ruby would be the best course of action. She was a beta within the pack and he could use her counsel on how to proceed with the Traveler issue. Moreover, she provided a calming presence that he sorely needed now. Ruby wouldn’t concern herself with scraping and bowing before the pack alpha. He took out his phone and fired off a text to her.

Tyler: Something is wrong with Bonnie. Could use your help. ASAP

Tyler didn’t even have the opportunity to put his phone down before it began vibrating. He opened the message and read Ruby’s response with a small smile on his face.

Ruby: I am in the neighborhood. I will be there in a few minutes.

He couldn’t think of any reason why Ruby would be in Mystic Falls. Normally, she stayed at the bar until 2 AM when it closed. She trusted her staff to clean the bar without her supervision. Tyler could only assume that Ruby had made her way to Mystic Falls at Jonas’ behest. He was too grateful that she was nearby to consider being irritated by Jonas deciding to call her. Tyler put his phone away. He looked around the room and decided that Damon was the only person he trusted to stay with Bonnie. He knew the vampire would protect her until he returned.

He said, “Damon…”

Damon was listening to Lucy’s line ring for the upteenth time. He turned around and asked, “What?”

Tyler stood up. “I need to go do something. Could you sit with Bonnie while I am gone?”

The brunette vampire wondered what Tyler needed to do but he didn’t question it. He walked over to the couch and sat on the arm. “Go ahead. I’ve got witchy.”

Tyler said, “Thanks.”

Caroline watched as Tyler jogged up the basement stairs. She moved over to Damon without an ounce of subtlety. She had a dozen questions on the very tip of her tongue. She blurted out, “What’s going on between Bonnie and Tyler?”

Jeremy perked up from his seat across the room. He had been thinking the very same thing. However, Tyler’s intense demeanor had prevented him from saying anything. He wasn’t as dumb as everyone seemed to think that he was. Jeremy understood when dying was a very real possibility. He had lived with Tyler long enough to recognize his warning signs.

Damon glanced at the girl as he called Lucy’s number again. He had lost count how many times he had called the witch only to get her voicemail. Damon had already decided that he would only wait around for another half hour before he drove to Durham. He said, “I know that I like to tease you about being a dumb blond, but we both know that you are quite intelligent, Vampire Barbie. The wheels in your head have been going round and round since the moment Bonnie collapsed. Whatever conclusions you’ve drawn…just assume that they are correct.”

Caroline folded her arms over her chest and cast a worried glance at Bonnie. She was worried about her best friend but also hurt that she had hidden such a big secret. “How long has this been going on?”

Damon ended the call when he heard the voicemail pick up again. He waited a second and then called the number again. He said, “Not as long as you and my brother have been playing tonsil hockey.”

Katherine chuckled. “Your attempts to hide the relationship were truly pathetic. I mean all of that perfume was just a waste of money and effort. I saw you making doe eyes at Stefan. Even simple Elena would have been able to figure out that the two of you were involved.”

Caroline sputtered, “I-I-I didn’t want to hurt Tyler or Elena. Stefan and I are in love.”

Katherine laughed harder and said, “I hate to burst your bubble but Tyler knows about your little affair, too.”

Caroline felt as if she had been gut punched. She had been waiting for the right time to tell Tyler about her relationship. However, Caroline had been scared that the news would obliterate what was left of their friendship. They barely managed to be civil to one another if they were in the same room for too long. Tyler always seemed like he wanted to fight Stefan. The implication of that rattled around in Caroline’s head. “You can’t know that. We have been careful around him.”

The older vampire smirked. She said, “I hate to flash my bona fides once more but I definitely know more about werewolves than you do. Werewolves have an amazing sense of smell—much better than vampires do. I promise he has known from the beginning. I can’t imagine why he hasn’t said anything.”

Caroline glared at Katherine. She was suddenly feeling very defensive. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

The older vampire shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I assumed your little fling would go down in a ball of flames like all of the rest have. I mean your dating track record is almost as tragic as Damon’s is. I figured that Stefan would grow tired of being your dirty little secret and he would break up with you. I also thought that you might run back into Tyler’s fur covered arms. Either way, I positioned myself to pick up the broken pieces of Stefan’s heart. All of the reward and none of the work…”

Caroline opened and closed her mouth several times, but couldn’t think of anything to say in response. She couldn’t help but notice the tense expression on Stefan’s face. It appeared that Katherine wasn’t far off the mark with her theory. They would definitely have to discuss this later. Caroline suddenly felt as if the people meant to be her closest friends had become strangers before her eyes. They needed a ‘friendtervention’ immediately. She was going to host one as soon as Elena was in control of her body and Bonnie was upright again.

Tyler walked down the stairs with Ruby in tow. The older woman scented the room easily to pick out humans from vampires. She had met good and bad vampires over the years. Therefore, she didn’t automatically assume that they were enemies. However, an unobservant werewolf often became a dead werewolf. It was always better to be prepared for anything.

The hybrid cleared his throat and said, “This is my cousin, Ruby. She might be able to help Bonnie.”

Caroline watched the mysterious blue eyed woman with curiosity. She didn’t think that Tyler had any living family members. “You have a cousin?”

He nodded. “I do.”

Ruby looked at Damon and asked, “May I?”

The vampire moved out of the way but watched Ruby warily. Damon didn’t trust anyone he didn’t know. Frankly, he didn’t make a habit of trusting people he did know. He just had to believe that Tyler wouldn’t bring in anyone that would prove to be a threat to Bonnie.

Ruby moved closer and took Bonnie’s hand. She wasn’t pleased with the girl’s temperature. She was much cooler than a werewolf or human should be. She carefully lifted her eyelids to get a look at her irises. Then Ruby looked at Tyler. “Can you feel her?”

He shook his head. “It is complete radio silence. It hasn’t been like that since…”

She nodded at him.

“What does that mean?” Caroline asked in a worried voice.

Ruby said, “You need to shift, Tyler.”

He shook his head. “I asked you here to keep me from doing exactly that. It is too close to the full moon. My wolf side is too powerful and too anxious. I can’t guarantee that I can control it.”

Ruby said, “You will not lose control when your mate needs you. You also will not be alone. I will be here to help you through it. Bonnie might be checked out for a moment but her wolf is not. Look at her eyes and you will see that I am right.”

Tyler gently peeled back her eyelids and was surprised to see gold and black staring back at him. Bonnie’s eyes had only ever changed to amber. If he didn’t know better, Tyler would think she was close to shifting. However, that wasn’t possible until the full moon because she wasn’t a hybrid. “What’s happening to her?”

“Bonnie’s werewolf side is fighting back against whatever the witches are doing. I think you will be able to reestablish the bond if you shift. You need to connect with the wolf fighting inside of her.”

Jeremy stood up because he had quite enough of being in the dark. “What the hell is going on? Bonnie isn’t a werewolf. I mean we would know if she was, right?”

Damon glared at Jeremy. “There’s a lot you don’t know. We don’t have time for your broken heart or whatever is going on with you. You have three options: shut up, offer something useful to help Bonnie, or get the hell out!”

The teen stormed out of the basement slamming the door behind him. He was genuinely heartbroken. Jeremy never thought that Bonnie would start dating someone else. He had believed wholeheartedly that they would get back together. He loved her. Jeremy felt betrayed by Tyler. He thought that they were friends.

Tyler looked down at Bonnie and then said, “I’ll do it. The rest of you should go. I don’t know what is about to happen. I can’t risk biting any of you.”

Damon snorted. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll take my chances, Wolf Boy.”

Caroline was a little nervous but she was determined. She said, “Me, too. Bonnie needs us…all of us. We can’t fail her again.”

Stefan said, “I am staying, too.”

Matt nodded in agreement. “We're here for both of you, Ty.”

“Well, it’s great all of you are willing to risk your lives. But maybe you should move the one person that can’t defend herself from a werewolf attack,” Katherine argued.

Damon smirked at her. “You’re not going anywhere, Kitty Kat. We’ll protect you from the Big Bad Wolf. After all, you are still in Elena’s body. We actually care about what happens to her.”

She gave an annoyed huff and glared at him.

Tyler started disrobing so that he could shift. He could feel the tension already beginning to bleed out of him.

Everyone, with the exception of Katherine, had the decency to look away as Tyler undressed. The vampire whistled and said, “I really should have given you a try…”

Tyler’s eyes turned gold and black as he turned to look at her. “You’re not my type.”

His bones began to break and realign as he shifted. He growled at the pain because he was shifting faster than normal. The wolf was rushing the transformation. He could already feel himself losing control.

Ruby stood close ready to calm him once the transformation was complete.

It turned out to be unnecessary. The black and gray wolf trotted over to Bonnie’s unconscious body. He nosed at Bonnie’s hand and whined for a few moments. Suddenly, he lifted his large head and let out an ear-piercing howl.

Caroline inched further away because she had witnessed Tyler being out of control in the past.

Stefan moved closer to shield Caroline.

The wolf howled again but this time it was louder and seemed more demanding. The large beast bit into Bonnie’s hand. The bite was so powerful that its front canines went straight through the other side. It was obvious that even in this state he was being careful. A werewolf had the jaw strength to crush a human hand.

Damon was about to intervene when Bonnie’s body seized upward. Her fingers started transforming into claws.

Matt stared in shock. He had known that something was going on between Tyler and Bonnie but this had never crossed his mind.

Caroline muttered, “Oh my God, Bonnie really is a werewolf.”

Ruby shook her head and said, “No, she’s a hybrid.”

The older woman couldn’t help but smile despite the dire circumstances. She had no doubt that Bonnie would recover soon. Tyler had found a worthy mate. They were going to have two hybrid alphas leading their pack.

Bonnie stopped seizing and her eyes fluttered open. They were still golden but she was alert. She blinked in confusion before zeroing in on the wolf. “Ty?” she asked in a shaky voice.

The wolf removed its teeth from Bonnie’s hand and lovingly licked at the puncture wounds. Afterward he moved to nuzzling at Bonnie’s neck.

She joked, “Your breath smells terrible. Would it be weird if I bought you a pack of Dentastix?”

Ruby huffed out a laugh.

He licked her face happily.

Bonnie closed her eyes tiredly and scratched behind his ear. “How long was I out?”

“About 45 minutes,” Damon replied. “You had us all scared, witchy. There are easier ways to take a power nap.”

Her lips curled into a smile at his joke. However, she could hear the genuine relief in his voice. Bonnie slowly retracted her claws without even thinking about it. “I wasn’t napping. I was in a trance. Grams was there to meet me. The spirits know about what the Travelers are doing and they are worried.”

“They should be,” Katherine replied. “Markos is not playing around.”

Stefan asked, “Did Sheila have any tips on how to stop them?”

Bonnie went back to scratching behind Tyler’s ear. She found the action to be soothing. Even in his wolf form, she could sense his contentment through the bond. She looked at him and asked, “Can you change back now? You really need to be part of this conversation.”

Tyler backed away from the couch and lowered his head. Slowly his claws retracted and his black and gray fur began to recede. Once he was human again, Tyler slowly got to his feet. He pulled on his boxers and pants. He and his wolf were at peace once again. He could feel the bond pulsing between him and Bonnie. She was feeling so many things at once that he had a hard time identifying everything. However, the one emotion that stuck out the most was love.

Bonnie slowly sat up but she was feeling a little lightheaded. Her eyes had gone back to normal for now.

The hybrid was at her side immediately. Tyler sat next to Bonnie and said, “Take it easy…”

Bonnie rested her head on his shoulder. She laughed softly. “I’m okay. I am just feeling a little dizzy from the trance. It’ll wear off soon.”

He kissed the top of her head.

Caroline couldn’t believe how close Bonnie and Tyler seemed.

Ruby asked, “Do you need anything? I can make some tea if you have any. Maybe something to eat would help with the dizziness.”

Bonnie smiled at Ruby as if she just realized that the woman was present. “Oh, I don’t want to put you out.”

Ruby smiled in return. “It is no trouble at all.”

Tyler nodded at her. “Tea and something to eat would probably be good. She hasn’t eaten a real meal in hours.”

She said, “I will find my way around the kitchen then. You can fill me in on everything later.”

“Thank you,” Tyler said.

Ruby squeezed his shoulder in support and then left the basement with a pleased smile on her face.

Bonnie said, “I have good news and bad news….”

“What’s the good news?” Stefan asked.

“The spirits have been working on a way to stop the Travelers. They are going to need the help of a few very powerful witch bloodlines. Some of those bloodlines are already established covens. That is the good news. The bad news is that one of those covens isn’t going to be happy to see us.”

Damon rolled his eyes skyward. “Let me guess…the Gemini Coven.”

She nodded. “Their bloodline is old and powerful. The Gemini Coven and the Bennett Coven were allies until the witch-hunts drove us from our homes in Salem. We are going to need their help. Grams said their coven is already tracking the Travelers. She and some of my other ancestors are trying to get through to as many Bennett witches as possible.”

Stefan asked, “There are more Bennett witches?”

Bonnie nodded. “We are fractured and scattered but our numbers are not few. We are descended from Qetsiyah. She is the one that set all of this in motion with that immortality spell. The Gemini Coven are descended from the witches that cursed the Travelers. It is our duty to clean up this mess.”

Katherine said, “That’s big talk for someone that’s no longer a witch.”

The girl merely smiled at Katherine. “I took you down easy enough with a right hook and an immobilization potion.”

Tyler chuckled and pressed a kiss to Bonnie’s temple. He had never been so relieved in his life.

Bonnie squeezed his hand in response. She was okay but there was something she needed to tell him in private.

Chapter Text

Bonnie was fortunate to have Tyler and Ruby looking after her. The older woman had prepared a sizable snack that Bonnie devoured without shame. Her energy had been sapped by the unexpected and prolonged trance. The food had helped combat the lightheaded feeling. Bonnie even asked Ruby to prepare a special restorative tea for her. She had a container of pre-blended herbs and roots that Ruby only needed to brew. Bonnie had found the recipe in Sheila’s grimoire some time ago. She often made the tea after spending hours communing with nature. Channeling the elements was strenuous because she didn’t have access to her powers. The act often left her exhausted both physically and mentally. The tea always helped rejuvenate her. Therefore, it was just what the doctor ordered tonight.

As she sat beside Tyler, her thoughts lingered on the meeting with her grandmother. While she had been happy to see Sheila, it was quite an ordeal. Bonnie appeared unconscious during the trance but it was so much more than that. Her grandmother had pulled her onto the astral plane. The unfamiliar setting was pulsing with magic and energy that she had never before experienced. The intensity and variety of the stimuli surrounding the young woman had overwhelmed her supernatural senses. For the first time, she could feel her body on the edge of transformation. The beast had clawed and gnashed at the tattered remains of the curse binding it. Only Sheila’s calming presence had prevented Bonnie from shifting into a werewolf on the astral plane.

For a brief moment, she had feared that Sheila would disapprove of her. Bonnie was becoming something unnatural and powerful. She felt that power acutely on the astral plane. Her very existence was an affront to nature and the balance that all witches were tasked to maintain. However, Sheila had swiftly assuaged those baseless fears. Her grandmother’s love was unconditional, infinite, and consuming. The travelers’ plot was of course a pressing matter but it did not receive top billing in their conversation. They had spent most of the time discussing the new changes in Bonnie’s life as well as the ones yet to come. She would have stayed with Sheila longer if not for Tyler stirring her wolf once more. Only the promise of seeing her grandmother soon managed to soothe her disappointment. The disappointment disappeared altogether when she opened her eyes and saw Tyler standing beside the couch on four legs. Their bond reconnected instantly. The relief, happiness, and love radiating from him overwhelmed her. For the first few seconds, it had felt as if they were the only other people in the room. Now she wished that were true.

Bonnie felt guilty because she wanted her friends to leave. They had not done anything wrong. The young woman even appreciated how they all rallied around her while she was unconscious, but she wanted to have a private conversation with Tyler. She had news that she wanted to share with him before anyone else. It would be difficult to do that with so many guests that possessed supernatural hearing abilities. However, the group couldn’t disperse just yet. The decision to kill Katherine was made more complicated by the travelers’ dastardly plan. Katherine wouldn’t be particularly useful in the fight against the travelers but they might need her daughter. Nadia had spent months tracking the travelers and learning the intricacies of their plan. Moreover, she had many friends that practiced traveler magic that might be willing to align against Markos and his followers. As with most supernatural communities, the travelers were not monolithic.

Allowing Katherine to keep Elena’s body long-term certainly was not in the cards. However, there were other options to consider. Travelers were not the only magic practitioners capable of possession and body swapping. Bonnie had come across a handful of spells in her great-grandmother’s grimoire. An experienced witch could extract Katherine’s essence from Elena’s body and transfer it into another vessel. There was even a spell to bind her to the new vessel so that she couldn’t possess anyone else. Bonnie didn’t think it would be too hard to find a reprehensible vampire or human to serve as Katherine’s new home. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to convince everyone, including Katherine, that this was the best course of action.

Bonnie was most concerned about her best friend. Damon’s anguish earlier had been visceral. Bonnie could almost feel it prickling her skin. It probably would have hurt less if Katherine had just ripped his heart out—literally. Damon wanted her dead and Bonnie couldn’t blame him for that. The cruel doppelganger had been toying with him for nearly two centuries. It was as if Katherine derived a sick thrill from hurting Damon. Moreover, Elena was owed some sort of retribution as well. Katherine had stolen her body and life for months. She had struck up a sexual relationship with Matt and God knows whom else. Bonnie couldn’t even wrap her mind around the consent issues on that one. In order to defeat the travelers, they would need to adopt a high level of pragmatism. It wouldn’t be the first time they made a deal with the devil. They had all done morally questionable things in the pursuit of survival.

Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to figure out a tactful way to broach the subject. After a few minutes of thought, Bonnie decided to rip off the band-aid. She blurted out, “We can’t kill Katherine tonight.”

Everyone looked in her direction with various levels of surprise. They had all been silent as Bonnie recovered from the trance. Her ashen complex and dizziness had been disconcerting.

Tyler wasn’t shocked by Bonnie’s declaration. He had been thinking the same thing since Katherine told them about the travelers. He wanted to give Elena her life back but Katherine was an asset for now. He said, “Okay.”

For once, Katherine was worth more to them alive than she was dead. It was a startling turn of events. Damon said, “Obviously.”

Caroline asked, “Why?”

Damon quipped, “She’s a good bargaining chip for now, Blondie.”

Stefan frowned because he could think of a dozen ways this could go horribly wrong. He also realized that they were short on options right now. He said, “Damon is right, Caroline.”

The doppelganger’s lips curled up into a self-satisfied smirk. She had been sitting on that trump card for this occasion. She hadn’t anticipated being discovered, but Katherine always had an exit strategy waiting in the wings.

Matt scrubbed a hand across his face as he thought about explaining this situation to Jeremy. The kid was surely in a tizzy over Tyler dating Bonnie. He would be in no mood to hear that Katherine would get to keep Elena’s body for a little longer. “How long do we have to keep this up, Bon?”

The blond restaurant manager had a unique view of the situation. A traveler had possessed him unwillingly for weeks. Matt had started to believe that he was going insane after losing chunks of time. He had been terrified that he was doing something awful during those blackouts. The only upside in his case was that Gregor had been unable to take complete control of Matt’s mind and body. Matt was able to resurface frequently. He couldn’t imagine how Elena would feel once they freed her. Did she know that Katherine had possessed her? Had she been asleep this entire time or a helpless spectator?

Bonnie was glad that she wouldn’t have to convince everyone that this was the right plan. She said, “I don’t know exactly, Matt. I mean obviously Katherine is useless…as usual.”

Damon snorted with a smirk. He knew that Bonnie’s was taking Katherine down a peg for his benefit. He genuinely appreciated her assistance. It wasn’t as satisfying as snapping her neck but Damon would take it.

“However, we might need her daughter’s help. We certainly need whatever information she has been gathering on the travelers. I doubt that she will be jumping to help us if we kill her mother.”

Caroline wasn’t pleased by the idea of Katherine remaining in Elena’s body for even a second longer, but she also saw Bonnie’s point. The travelers were planning a supernatural Doom’s Day that would spill over well beyond the borders of Mystic Falls. Before this debacle was over, they would all have to make some sacrifices. “We can’t allow Katherine to just keep Elena’s body.”

Bonnie quickly said, “I am not suggesting that this is a permanent solution, Care. I have actually been thinking about alternatives. We could always stuff Katherine’s essence into a new body. It would be someone of our choosing so that we aren’t stealing some decent person’s life.”

Katherine scowled in displeasure. She was not on board with inhabiting another body that didn’t look like…her. However, she wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If Bonnie was willing to convince the others to compromise on killing her, she was not going to say anything to change their minds.

The green-eyed girl discreetly looked toward her friend. She wondered if he would be okay with this.

Damon was sitting across the room still trying to reach Lucy. He met Bonnie’s gaze and nodded. He knew that she was worried about his reaction but he had calmed down since learning the truth. Watching his best friend collapse had been a shock to his system. Katherine’s cruel manipulation no longer seemed quite as important. Frankly, his sire had unwittingly helped him get over Elena. Their relationship had been toxic but Damon had tried his best to ignore the writing on the wall.

Bonnie cleared her throat and said, “At most, it might take a couple of days to put everything together. In the meantime, we will keep Katherine locked up here so that she can’t run away with Elena’s body.”

Caroline was reluctant but nodded. She hoped that Elena would understand why they were doing this. She said, “We can’t leave Katherine here. You could be hurt if she managed to free herself somehow. We should take her to the boarding house and lock her in the cellar.”

Tyler shook his head. “I will be here with Bonnie to keep an eye on Katherine. She won’t get past us. Besides, the boarding house is the first place that Nadia will go looking for her mother.”

Bonnie squeezed his hand to express her gratitude. She didn’t like the idea of Katherine being out of her sight. Sheila had warned her granddaughter to be wary of the vampire. Katherine’s family might not have practiced traveler magic but it was in her blood just as it was in Elena’s blood. They had no way of knowing if she had been learning the craft. Traveler magic would be a useful tool and Katherine wasn’t known for ignoring those.

The blond vampire sputtered, “You’re going to stay here.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I have been staying here since Saturday. I don’t think that Bon is ready to kick me out just yet.”

Bonnie bit back a smitten smile as she looked into his dark brown eyes. She wasn’t ready for Tyler to leave. In fact, she was dreading the day when things would go back to normal. Despite the fact that she had no idea how normal looked now that they were mated to each other.  

Caroline couldn’t hold back her questions any longer. She asked, “Are you boyfriend and girlfriend?”

She knew that the answer was obvious but she just couldn’t help asking. The two of them were cuddled up on the couch as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She wondered why everyone else seemed to behave as if this was no big deal. What signs had she missed?

Tyler said, “Yes, we are.”

The green-eyed girl looked at her friend. “I know that you have questions, Care. I promise that I will answer as many as possible but not tonight. I am still tired and it is getting late.”

Caroline looked at the couple and nodded. “Okay.”

“Thanks, Care,” Bonnie whispered.

Caroline said, “You are right about the late hour and I am ready to crash for the night. I have an eight o’clock class in the morning. I think I am going to leave.”

Matt looked at the time and frowned. “I think I am going to leave, too. When should we all meet tomorrow?”

“Maybe 2 o’clock?” Bonnie asked. “Will your classes be over for the day by that time, Care?”

Caroline nodded. “Yes.”

Stefan said, “I think that is a good time.”

Damon called out. “Heads up, witchy!”

Bonnie caught the phone hurtling towards her face with superhuman accuracy. She scowled at Damon. “What?”

“Lucy is on the phone,” he said. He motioned for her to start talking.

“Hello. Hi,” she said haltingly.  “I am Bonnie Bennett. We met at a party and sort of bonded over Katherine’s treachery.”

Lucy chuckled airily, “Yes, I know who you are, Bonnie. Our last meeting was quite memorable. I am going to assume that your call has something to do with why my grandmother accosted me in the middle of a very nice dream tonight.”

Bonnie tried to remember the branches of their family tree. Lucy and Abby were first cousins. She asked, “Amelia contacted you?”

“Yes, she did. It is my understanding that I won’t be the only Bennett witch getting an unsolicited visit from a deceased relative tonight. They are dreamwalking in order to reach as many of us as possible.”

“My grams reached out to me, too,” she replied. “We could really use your help here, Lucy.”

Lucy said, “I will be on my way to Mystic Falls tomorrow afternoon. My grandmother seems to think that your sleepy little town is where the travelers will set up their base camp. We are going to have to put up some wards to prevent that from happening.”

“I didn’t think that travelers could gather in one place. Katherine said that nature literally turns on them for doing that,” Bonnie said. She glanced over at the shackled vampire.

“She was telling the truth but there is one exception to that rule. The witches were not as thorough with the curse as they should have been. It is true that travelers cannot congregate together in one place without a natural disaster or a plague wiping out their coven. However, they have found a loophole to exploit. The curse only works while the travelers are in their own bodies.”

Bonnie groaned as she followed Lucy’s statement to its logical conclusion. She said, “Any number of people here in Mystic Falls could have travelers possessing them. We can’t go around stabbing everyone with the knife to check.”

Damon tilted his head to the side. “We could…”

Stefan frowned. “Damon…”

He just shrugged in response and leaned against the wall. Damon didn’t see a problem with stabbing and compelling everyone if it meant ensuring their town was free of travelers.

Lucy asked, “You have the knife in your possession right now?”

“Yeah, we took it off Katherine tonight. We thought that she had died a few months ago. Instead, she became a passenger inside of my friend Elena.”

“Guard that knife closely. There are only a few known to be in existence. Finding them is next to impossible. The knife is the only way to kill a passenger, without it we would just have to kill the poor soul they are possessing. There are special wards that we can place all over town that will prevent the travelers from hitching a ride in anyone’s body. It will also help us identify any of the townsfolk that have already been possessed.”

“We will make sure that the knife remains safe,” she replied. “I also need your help with Katherine. She can’t keep Elena’s body but we need her daughter’s cooperation. I thought we might be able to transfer Katherine into another vessel.”

The line was quiet for a moment before, Lucy replied, “I know of a spell that can accomplish that. I have performed it a few times but it is no simple feat. Do you already have another vessel in mind?”

Bonnie was relieved to hear that Lucy was capable of performing the spell. “No, we haven’t found another vessel yet but we will.”

“Good. Well, send me your address. I don’t know exactly what time I will make it there tomorrow. I need to pick up some supplies for the wards and a few spells. Some of the ingredients I have on hand. I will have to find some of the others.”

“Sure. Is there anything that I can help get for you? I have a friend that has an amazing knack for acquiring some of the more hard to find items.”

Lucy sounded pleased when she asked, “Have you found a witch to mentor you?”

Bonnie said, “No. I have been using Amelia’s grimoire to teach myself how to make potions and elixirs. My friend is a vampire that gets my supplies and occasionally allows to me experiment on him. I used an immobilization potion from Amelia’s grimoire tonight to incapacitate Katherine.”

Stefan looked at his brother with a shocked expression. Damon hadn’t mentioned that he was helping Bonnie with her magic.

Damon just shrugged. He didn’t feel the need to explain his friendship with Bonnie.

“Impressive,” she praised. “I will send you the list of items that I need. You can let me know which ones your friend can acquire by tomorrow afternoon.”

“Thank you.” She said, “I will text you in the morning with his response.”

“Okay. Talk to you then. Good night,” Lucy said.

Bonnie ended the call and said, “I don’t have my phone with me. Do you have yours, Ty?”

He nodded and pulled the phone from his pocket. He handed it over to Bonnie.

She added Lucy’s number to Tyler’s contact list and then sent her a text message. Afterwards, Bonnie threw Damon’s phone at him.

The vampire chuckled as he snatched the phone out of the air. He could tell that Bonnie had purposely aimed to hit him in the face. “That wasn’t very nice, witchy.”

She bit back a grin. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Just like you volunteered me to be Lucy’s secret shopper?” he asked with a smirk.

She shrugged. “I could go just do it myself if you shared your super secret witchy connection with me.”

Damon shook his head. “You wouldn’t be able to pay my connection. She doesn’t take cash.”

Bonnie’s green eyes widened as she stifled a laugh. “How exactly are you paying for this stuff?”

Stefan cleared his throat because he was about to laugh, too.

“Get your heads out of the gutter. I’m not using my body as currency.” He waggled his eyebrows and said, “Not that she wouldn’t love it.”

Caroline made a disgusted sound.

Damon merely grinned at them.

Chapter Text

Tyler walked around the quiet house one last time to ensure that he had locked all the doors and windows. The hybrid felt anxious because of the threats looming over them. The approaching full moon exacerbated the situation. Tyler was tempted to shift again so that he could go for a run, but he didn’t feel comfortable leaving Bonnie alone. When he was certain that the house was secure, he turned off the lights and headed upstairs. All of the guests had gone home for the night with one notable exception. Katherine was still shackled in the basement.

Tyler was ready to call it a night. In the last two days, he only managed to sleep for a few hours. Bonnie had been demanding, not that he minded that one bit. Fortunately, her heat was officially over. Ruby had confirmed as much before she left the house. If everything followed the werewolf-mating track, Bonnie would require his closeness for a few days. Afterwards her hormones would level out and they could resume their normal schedules. Tyler needed to pay special attention to her scent in the coming weeks. Ruby explained that there would be a noticeable difference if Bonnie was indeed pregnant.

Bonnie was wearing one of Tyler’s t-shirts. She was sitting on the edge of the bed rubbing lotion onto her legs. She had taken a shower and dressed for bed while Tyler talked to Gabe on the phone. Despite their traveler problem, the couple had decided that it was better for Gabe to remain focused on the Augustine Group and Enzo. They needed to know if there was a legitimate threat or if Katherine had made up the story to garner Stefan’s attention.  Bonnie had been surprised when Tyler asked for her input on the matter. However, he had insisted that it was her right as his mate. It would take some time to get used to the significance of that.

Tyler watched Bonnie for a moment before shucking off his jeans. He tossed the pants and his t-shirt onto a nearby chair before climbing into bed. “Did you have a good shower?”

Bonnie nodded as she closed the bottle of lotion and placed it on her nightstand. She scooted across the bed so that she was close to Tyler. The green-eyed girl was embarrassed to admit that she felt overwhelmingly clingy right now. She said, “It would have been better if you had joined me.”

He smirked as he thought about seeing Bonnie’s body glistening with water droplets. His manhood twitched with interest. Tyler pulled Bonnie even closer to him and kissed her. “I’m sorry. Talking to Gabe took longer than I thought it would.”

Bonnie instantly became concerned. She knew that Tyler had been reluctant to involve his pack in the supernatural shenanigans that seemed endemic to Mystic Falls. She asked, “Is everything okay?”  

“Everything is fine for now. Gabe was just updating me on what he has learned so far,” he replied.

Bonnie’s eyes widened. “Wow, he moves fast.”

Tyler chuckled because Gabe’s abilities used to surprise him, too. The man had tracked him to the Appalachian Mountains with minimal effort. Therefore, he had come to expect Gabe’s otherworldly skills. He said, “Ruby swears that Gabe is the best tracker she has ever met. I believe her.”

“I believe her, too.” Bonnie asked, “Did he have anything interesting to report?”

He nodded. “He found the house Enzo is renting. It is about ten miles outside of Mystic Falls. Gabe found signs of a struggle and blood. The house looks like it has been tossed, too. He thinks that Enzo might have been grabbed a couple days ago.”

She didn’t relish telling Damon that his friend was either a prisoner or dead. The cocky vampire wasn’t exactly known for making friends easily. She asked, “Does Gabe know if the blood belonged to a human or a vampire?”

“Some of it belonged to a human but Enzo is a vampire. That blood could have been left behind by someone he brought home as a snack. Gabe is going to start poking around Whitmore first thing in the morning. I told him not to go there alone. I can’t risk sending him into an ambush without backup.”

Bonnie sighed softly. “I was really hoping that Katherine was lying. I guess that would have been too easy.”

Tyler nodded and slid his fingers through Bonnie’s hair. He said, “Let’s not jump to any conclusions but it doesn’t look good. We just have to hope that if the Augustine Group is involved that they don’t realize we are on to them.”

“I understand that the Augustine Group was started because they wanted to protect humans from vampires. It is a noble goal. However, I don’t understand how it evolved into this. What kind of logic do they use for justifying torturing and experimenting on sentient beings?”

He said, “Anybody can justify anything to themselves if they try hard enough. Bon…”

She looked up into his eyes. “What’s wrong?”

Tyler sighed as he searched for the right words. “If this turns out to be a legitimate threat, we’ll have to kill them all. They know too much about vampire biology. There is a chance that they might know about werewolves as well. I can’t let them take that knowledge to set up somewhere else. We have to destroy them and the research they have compiled.”

Bonnie frowned because she didn’t like the idea of killing humans. However, the Augustine Group had put them all in a tenuous position. Damon and Enzo had killed the faction at Whitmore College. That should have been the end of it. However, they couldn’t allow other members of the organization to pick up where their colleagues stopped. “I understand…”

“Really?” he asked in a skeptical tone.

“I don’t like it but I also don’t see an alternative. You, Damon, and Stefan could probably capture these people and compel them to forget everything they know about vampires but I am sure there is a failsafe in place. This organization has been capturing and experimenting on vampires since at least the 1950’s. They must have contingencies for that scenario,” she replied.

“I’m sorry.”

Bonnie didn’t want to think about what the Augustine Group would do if they captured Tyler. If they loved experimenting on vampires, then capturing the first sired hybrid would be a dream come true. The very idea sent an icy chill down Bonnie’s back.

She said, “This isn’t your fault. This also isn’t the first time I have had to compromise my lofty ideals. Ethics and morality rarely usurps the desire for survival. I mean I won’t kill an innocent person to save my own life but these people are far from innocent. We have people that we care about to protect.”

Tyler kissed the top of her head and mumbled, “Yes, we do. How are you feeling?”

“I am better now,” she promised.

“And your hand?” he asked.

Bonnie knew that Tyler was still worried about her. She couldn’t blame him after what he witnessed. She held up her healed hand and said, “It’s like it never happened.”

Tyler ran the tip of his finger over the unblemished skin. Then he pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Good…”

“There is something that I’ve wanted to tell you since I came out of the trance but there were too many people here,” she said.

“Okay. What’s on your mind, Bon?” he asked.

Bonnie bit her lip for a moment as she tried to decide how to break the news. She had considered a couple dozen ways since the fog in her cleared after the trance. Finally, she settled on just showing him. Bonnie looked at the bottle of lotion on her nightstand and slowly raised her hand.

Tyler watched in awe as the bottle floated across the room before landing on the dresser with a soft thump. He turned to look at his mate with wide eyes. “You’ve got your magic back?”

She nodded with a small smile. “Yeah. The spirits give and take away at their own discretion. They aren’t pleased about what I am becoming but like I said morality and ethics rarely usurp survival.”

“You need your magic to stop the travelers,” he said in realization.

Bonnie said, “Yep. It is all hands on deck now. They need as many Bennett witches as possible to stop the travelers from destroying the Other Side and spirit magic. It means even disobedient hybrid witches get to use their powers.”

Tyler pulled Bonnie into his arms and hugged her fiercely. “That is great news, Bon. I am happy for you. I know it has been hard adapting to life without your powers.”

She smiled at him. “It was hard but I think I am a better witch because of it. I know so much more about being a witch because I finally took the time to educate myself. Having powers is great and often a lifesaver but I took down Katherine with a potion I learned from my great-grandmother’s grimoire. Those skills are just as important to being a witch.”

Tyler kept his arm around Bonnie but leaned against her headboard. “I learned the same thing while I was living in the mountains. Living with the pack made me realize how little I knew about werewolves…about myself. My time in the mountains taught me more than just how to break the sire bond. I listened to the elders tell stories about how werewolves were created. They had all these amazing tales about the original bloodlines. I learned how to hunt and track as a werewolf and in my human form. I used those abilities to sniff out and identify the animal you detected in the woods today. They taught me how to filter out the barrage of information my senses perceive so that I can focus on what is important.”

Bonnie looked up at Tyler as he spoke fondly of the friends he had made. She asked, “Do you think that you can teach me all of that, too?”

“Yeah, if you want to learn,” he said.

She nodded. “It is stuff I should probably know if I am going to be the alpha’s mate.”

Tyler said, “I don’t want you to feel pressured, Bon. I know that you weren’t exactly expecting all of this to happen.”

“I don’t feel any pressure. I want to be part of your pack, Ty. I want to be part of your family,” she whispered.

He cupped her cheek and said, “You already are, Bon. I carry a piece of you with me now. I can always feel you. Tonight when I stopped being able to feel you…”

Bonnie could feel the slice of pain that went through Tyler as he relived that moment. In a soft voice, she said, “When I was on the astral plane, I couldn’t feel you either. It was such a strange place and it felt wrong. I was scared and angry. I was so angry that I started to shift.”

Tyler studied Bonnie’s face as she explained what happened. He realized that Ruby had been right about Bonnie fighting against something while she was in the trance.

“I thought that I was going to die when the bones in my back started breaking and realigning. I was terrified that I was going to shift for the first time without you, but then Grams did something. I don’t know what she did, but it stopped me from shifting. My bones went back into place and I didn’t feel so scared anymore. I still felt empty without that connection to you. It was as if this giant hole had opened up inside of me.”

He pulled Bonnie onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her. “Baby…”

Bonnie slid her arms around Tyler’s midsection and tucked her head beneath his chin. She could feel his emotions crashing against their bond like waves breaking on the shore.

Tyler stroked his hand up and down her back. His fingers lingered over the mating mark between her shoulder blades. “I am sorry that I wasn’t there with you, but I am glad that your grandmother was.”

She said, “Something good came out of this. I feel connected to my wolf for the first time. I had felt it before but I didn’t understand…not really. Now I feel her and I understand her. Like right now, she is as happy as I am.”

He chuckled and said, “It took months living in the mountains for me to achieve that level of connection with my wolf.”

Bonnie chuckled with him. “I probably had an easier time connecting with my wolf side because I am a witch. Witches have an affinity for nature and animals. Many of the older witches have animal familiars. I think the curse was sort of muffling my connection with her, but the curse is gone now. When I was on the astral plane, I felt the moment the curse snapped. Grams felt it, too. It was old magic. I haven't felt anything that old since Klaus broke his curse.”

Tyler smirked and said, “No wonder Russell Crow is in love with you. You speak his language.”

“I guess that you could say that. He certainly likes me more than he likes Damon.”

He snorted. “That’s not exactly hard to believe, Bon.”

“Be nice. Damon is my best friend,” she said.

He joked, “Don’t let Caroline hear you say that.”

She groaned and said, “Don’t mention Caroline. She is going to interrogate me as soon as she gets a chance. I think the FBI or some secret intelligence agency trained her. She is scary good at getting the truth out of people.”

Tyler had firsthand experience with Caroline’s skills as an interrogator. Her sweet smile and crystal blue eyes were beguiling but underneath was a cunning mind. “I can handle talking to Caroline if you would rather not do it.”

“No, I can handle it. I mean I understand why she is curious. I would be curious if our roles were reversed. I am just worried that the truth will be hard for her to hear. I don’t think that Caroline is over you…not completely. I don’t want to damage our friendship. I love her.”

He said, “I haven’t gotten the feeling that Caroline is eager to reunite with me. She definitely seems into Stefan and that is just fine by me.”

Bonnie shook her head. “I don’t mean that she wants you back.”

He lifted an eyebrow and joked, “Don’t pull any punches, Bon.”

She rolled her eyes playfully. “You know that isn’t what I mean. Just because Caroline doesn’t want you back, doesn’t mean that she will be okay with you dating her friend.”

“What are you saying?”

Bonnie kissed him softly because she could tell that Tyler was becoming agitated. “Caroline’s approval or disapproval doesn’t change anything for me, Tyler. It would just be easier for everyone if she and Jeremy weren’t openly hostile about our relationship. We can’t stop the travelers if we cannot work together.”

“I am sure that Jeremy will take the news with grace and maturity,” he quipped sarcastically.

She laughed and said, “Just remember that you can’t kill him.”

“I won’t kill him. However, I can’t promise not to kick Jeremy’s ass if he starts acting like a brat with you. You’d think that he would lay low since he is living in my house rent free but…”

Bonnie suggested, “Or you could just crash here a little longer. I mean…until things blow over with Jeremy. This way you wouldn’t have to worry about wolfing out on him accidentally.”

“Is that the only reason that you want me to stay here?” he asked.

“Well, Ruby said that I would crave your presence for a few days,” she said nonchalantly.

“Uh huh,” he replied.

Bonnie knew that Tyler could sense her emotions. He knew very how she felt about the idea of him going home. “Are you really going to make me say it?”

Tyler gave his mate a pointed look that said he was definitely going to make her ‘say it’.

She let out an exaggerated huff as if confessing the truth was some sort of hardship. She wrapped her arms around Tyler’s neck and said, “I think it will take awhile for me to adjust once you go back home. I have liked you being here with me. I will miss you but maybe I won’t miss you so much if we have frequent sleepovers.”

He grinned and kissed Bonnie passionately. “Sleepovers, huh? Are we going to paint our nails and talk about boys?”

Bonnie bit back a laugh. “Keep it up and I will leave you for Russell Crow . I told you that he occasionally brings me dead stuff and twigs. I think he’s trying to woo me. Damon accuses me of spoiling him because I buy crickets and fresh fruit for him.”

Tyler gave a lighthearted growl against her neck. “The full moon is only a couple days away. I’d hate to eat your feathered boyfriend when I shift. Crow wouldn’t be the weirdest thing I have eaten during a full moon.”

She gasped and pulled back to look into his mirthful eyes. “I have my magic again, Tyler Lockwood. I will put an annoying but nonlethal hex on you if anything happens to Russell Crow . Oh! I came across a neat hex in Grams’ grimoire. The hex affects the person’s taste buds. Everything you eat will taste like dirt.”

He flipped Bonnie onto her back and said, “That wouldn’t be very nice.”

Bonnie grinned up at him. She spread her legs to accommodate him. “Well, eating Russell wouldn’t be very nice either.”

Tyler moved his lips back to Bonnie’s neck and started working on a hickey. He wasn’t happy that all of the marks he’d left had already healed. “Okay. I will play nice with your other boyfriend.”

She giggled and wrapped her legs around Tyler’s waist. “I thought that you would see things my way.”

Tyler slid his hands underneath Bonnie’s shirt. He pulled back with a wide-eyed expression. “You’re not wearing panties.”

Bonnie was thrilled by his reaction to something so simple. She said, “Well, my heat is over. We can be together whenever the mood strikes.”

“And the mood has struck?” he asked facetiously.

“It struck while I was in the shower but you didn’t join me,” she complained with a pout.

Tyler said with a glint in his eyes, “Let me make it up to you…”

Chapter Text

Bonnie was still getting used to the increased appetite that came with being a werewolf. She had demolished two stacks of pancakes and a half pound of bacon for breakfast. The worst part was that Bonnie wasn’t even full. She was merely sated for a few hours. She could already tell that she would require an equally large lunch. Tyler promised that her appetite wouldn’t be quite so voracious forever. His appetite had leveled off a few months after triggering the curse. Tyler still required more food than he did as a human. However, he stopped feeling like a bottomless pit. Bonnie thought ‘bottomless pit’ was the perfect way to describe how she felt.

She curled up on the couch after breakfast and thumbed through the Tyler’s annotated family tree. She was trying to find the hybrid mentioned in his ancestor’s journal. Tyler had told her about his discovery over breakfast. Bonnie had made a promise to herself last night after the spirits returned her powers. She wouldn’t abandon the things that mattered to her in favor of saving her friends, the world, or the Other Side. Bonnie planned to make time for both endeavors because they were equally important. Her body was rapidly changing and she needed to understand what it meant. Her grandmother didn’t have much information to give on what to expect. However, she was able to confirm that Ayana’s children were the first in their bloodline to carry with werewolf gene. She had cursed the Bennett bloodline to prevent the creation of a witch/werewolf hybrid. Unfortunately, Ayana couldn’t have known that dying and being resurrected would unravel the curse.

Sheila had told Bonnie that no one on the Other Side seemed to know where to find Ayana. She had only learned the truth about their bloodline from other deceased Bennett witches. Their ancestor had bore three children to the alpha of the North East Atlantic Pack. She had kept the paternity of her children a secret for a myriad of reasons. The most important reason being that the pack distrusted Ayana because she was so powerful. Sheila and Amelia had been searching for Ayana since Friday night when Tyler bit Bonnie. The entire Bennett bloodline had felt the moment when Tyler and Bonnie consummated the mating mark.

Tyler walked into the living room wearing an amused smile. He had just finished giving Katherine a couple blood bags for breakfast. She had tried to charm her way out of the basement—it was comical. He pumped her full of vervain the moment she finished draining the blood bags. He could hear her in the basement still hurling abuse at him. Keeping the vampire weak lowered the risk of her trying to escape the shackles. Tyler was certain that he could stop Katherine even if she managed to free herself. However, he was mindful that she was in Elena’s body. He didn’t want to hurt her unless it became unavoidable.

Bonnie looked up from the book when Tyler sat down on the couch. Her enhanced hearing meant that she could hear Katherine’s colorful insults, too. Bonnie couldn’t be sure but it seemed as if Katherine was mixing Bulgarian curse words with English ones. She smiled at him and asked, “How is our houseguest doing?”

He chuckled and joked, “She’s not pleased with the amenities. I am afraid that she has asked to speak with management immediately.”

She rolled her eyes playfully. “I will be sure to take her complaints under advisement. She should be nicer to us. I convinced Stefan to find a vampire to be her new vessel. He and Damon wanted to shove her in a human body.”

Damon was out of town procuring the ingredients that Lucy needed. Meanwhile Stefan was trawling local vampire nests to find a vessel for Katherine. The vampires were sitting ducks during the day since daylight rings were not exactly common. No one wanted to prolong Katherine’s possession of Elena’s body. They were all dealing with a massive amount of guilt. Moreover, it was only a matter of time before Nadia started looking for her mother. They thought it would be wise to have a solution on hand to prevent any violence. Nadia was an old vampire and she was strong. They could probably take her down but it would be messy and at a great cost. It was better to deal with the situation diplomatically for as long as possible.

Tyler lifted an eyebrow at her. “That is nice of you considering everything Katherine has done.”

The hybrid would need an abacus to keep track of all the truly messed up things Katherine had done to them. Stealing Elena’s body had to be somewhere near to the top of the list along with making Damon think that she was in the tomb. However, she was also the reason that Tyler had triggered the werewolf curse. She was the reason that Caroline was a vampire. She had compelled Stefan into loving her while sleeping with his older brother. Katherine had personally altered all of their lives in unforgivable ways.

Bonnie said, “Not really. I figured that we should just cut out the middleman. Katherine obviously wants to be a vampire. If we find a human vessel, she will just have Nadia turn her.”

“What are the odds that Damon lets Katherine live after we stop the travelers?” he asked.

The green-eyed girl shrugged with a wry smile. “I suppose that depends on Katherine. If she is smart, she will run as far away from Mystic Falls as she can. Damon is only playing nice now because she is in Elena’s body. He is going to rip out Katherine’s heart as soon as he gets the chance.”

“I don’t blame him,” he muttered.

“I wouldn’t blame him either but it will put us in an awkward position with Nadia. She spent centuries looking for her mother. I can’t imagine how she will take Katherine’s death.”

Tyler hummed in agreement and pulled Bonnie’s sock covered feet onto his lap. “It is still hard to believe that Katherine is anyone’s mother. She doesn’t seem like the type of person to have any level of maternal instinct.”

Bonnie’s thoughts drifted to her relationship with Abby. Mother and daughter spoke sparingly over the phone. However, Bonnie was the one that always initiated contact. Sometimes it felt as if Abby only spoke to her out of some warped sense of duty. The stilted tone of their conversations meant that they were incredibly short. Usually, they both gave a brief rundown on any developments before trading pleasantries and ending the call. Truthfully, Bonnie had held warmer conversations with the older woman that owned the local garden center. Bonnie couldn’t explain it but she had a feeling that one day her mother would stop answering those calls. She wasn’t sure if that ending would break her heart or start the long overdue healing process.

She smiled wistfully and said, “I wonder what their relationship is like. I mean they have to be close since Katherine was hiding pictures of Nadia in the dorm room. That suggests some level of affection, right?”

Tyler’s brown eyes drifted to Bonnie’s when he felt a sudden shift in her mood. However, a brief shake of her head warned him away from asking any questions. They were still learning how to navigate the effects of the bond. Just because they could feel each other's emotions, didn’t mean that it was always appropriate to inquire about the meaning. It had taken Tyler some time to come to the same conclusion about his enhanced senses. He knew many things about their friends that he never voiced because it was a violation of their privacy.

He said, “I guess that is true. What are you looking at?”

Her mood brightened when Tyler changed the subject. She said, “I decided to give your family tree another look now that we have a name. The Lescheres were wealthy and important. It isn’t likely that a family tree with this attention to detail would have skipped such a notable relative. Surely the person that compiled this information would have included the Lescheres family even without a factual link.”

Tyler frowned and said, “I didn’t even consider checking the family tree last night. In my defense, I was a little conflicted about the decision to involve my pack in our drama. I went straight for the genealogy website and ran a couple dozen useless searches. I used the parents names but nothing came up.”

“That’s fair. I probably would have been a nervous wreck waiting for answers if I hadn’t been napping at the time,” she joked.

He chuckled and rested his hand on Bonnie’s knee. He asked, “Are you having any luck finding the name of my hybrid ancestor?”

She said, “Not yet but I have found several people with the last name Lescheres. I am following the branches up to see where they lead.”

“Looks like my nutty relative’s obsession with our heritage might just pay off for us,” he said.

“Maybe.” She bit her lip and said, “Grams said something to me last night while I was in the trance. I probably should have mentioned it last night but I knew that bringing up this person’s name would have killed the mood.”

He lifted an eyebrow at Bonnie. “Okay…”

“I really wanted to have sex last night,” she added.

Tyler chuckled and said, “Oh, I remember that you were quite eager.”

Bonnie rolled her eyes at him as her cheeks warmed with embarrassment. “I wasn’t the only one.”

“Can you blame me?” he asked with a heated gaze. He was really enjoying the way Bonnie’s leggings clung to her thighs like a second skin. It was as if she was trying to tempt him.

She tugged a fleece blanket over her legs and muttered, “Behave. We could have guests at any moment, Ty.”

He shrugged and flashed a brazen grin. “They can wait outside.”

Bonnie feigned a glare despite the fact that his idea didn’t sound half bad. Her heat was over but it seemed as if her libido was making up for months of inactivity. Tyler was the first person that she had been intimate with since Qetsiyah resurrected her. Frankly, she hadn’t been particularly interested in sex after dying, being resurrected, and then spending time as the anchor. However, that all changed after Tyler bit her. He had awakened something inside of her and it wasn’t merely her dormant wolf side.

Tyler put his hands up in mock surrender. “I will behave myself…for now. What did you want to tell me?”

“I know the name of the werewolf that fathered Ayana’s children.”

He looked confused. “Why would some dude that has been dead for several hundred years ruin the mood?”

“Do you know the name Ansel?  He was the alpha of the pack that lived here in Mystic Falls.”

Tyler’s posture stiffened at the mention of Klaus’ biological father. He had made a habit of listening whenever Klaus and his siblings were talking or arguing. Tyler had hated being sired to the bastard. However, his position had given him uncommon access to the hybrid. Klaus never seemed to care what his hybrids overheard because they were all under his thrall. On more than one occasion, he had actually shared stories about his life turning Europe red with blood. Tyler wasn’t sure if Klaus liked him at the time or if he was just lonely.

His reaction confirmed everything that Bonnie needed to know. She said, “Apparently, Ansel took up with Ayana after Esther ended their affair. They had three children: two boys and a girl. The girl, Drue, was the eldest of the three children. She was also the progenitor of my bloodline. Grams and my great-grandmother are looking for Ayana on the Other Side. There are endless places to hide if a person doesn’t want to be found so the process has been slow.”

“For the moment, I am going to ignore the fact that you are related to Klaus. Maybe if we find the name of the hybrid in my family, your grandmother could find him or her on the Other Side. Finding Ayana might be good for some background but we’re more concerned about if you can safely be both a witch and a werewolf. I mean you have your magic now, it means you are a full-fledged witch again. I just want to make sure that you are not in danger somehow. You know what happened to the first hybrids that Klaus tried to sire…”

Bonnie said, “I don’t think that we need to worry about me dying. I would have already started showing symptoms by now. Klaus’ hybrids died because the mix of werewolf blood and vampire blood is lethal. I don’t know of any such problem for witches. Witches have been turned into vampires before and they survive the process. The only consequence is losing their magic.”

“Do you think that you might lose your magic after we defeat the travelers?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I guess the spirits might decide to take my powers again to punish me. They aren’t exactly thrilled with me becoming a hybrid. However, I don’t think that I would lose access to my powers simply because I am a hybrid. The only reason that vampires can’t also be witches is because they are dead. Once you die, you lose your connection to the living. Life and nature are what fuels witchcraft. Werewolves are very much alive. They are almost as connected to nature as witches are because of their dual animal nature.”

Tyler relaxed when he realized that Bonnie wasn’t in any immediate danger. However, he was concerned about the spirits taking her magic again. He had witnessed firsthand how she had struggled without it. Tyler had watched her sit outside communing with nature and trying to channel the elements. She had been relentless, but many nights she returned home disappointed at the lack of progress. Yet she always returned to the Falls the following night to try again. He admired her optimism and dedication.

He chuckled and said, “You are related to Klaus.”

Bonnie groaned and rolled her eyes at him. “I am only related to him very distantly. Like a million generations removed. Anyway, you aren’t exactly in the position to tease me since he is your sire. You literally have his blood in your veins.”

Tyler grasped Bonnie’s chin and then pulled her in for a kiss. “Don’t remind me.”

She sighed happily against his lips. Bonnie pulled back and said, “Let me put the book down, Ty. I don’t want to damage the pages.”

He took the book and placed it on the table. “Better?”

Bonnie laughed, “Yes.”

Tyler was about to move on top of Bonnie when he heard a car pull up outside. He groaned and rested his forehead against her shoulder. “What time is it?”

Bonnie grabbed her phone and said, “It is noon.”

He huffed and climbed off the couch. “I could have sworn that we said two o’clock.”

She laughed and sat up on the couch. “Are you really surprised that our friends aren’t capable of following directions? We are lucky that they waited this long to show up.”

Tyler’s frown deepened when he heard a second car arrive. He muttered, “If it is Jeremy, I am going to punch him in the face.”

“Ty!” Bonnie chided him.

They both knew that dealing with Jeremy’s anger was inevitable. Bonnie couldn’t have been more clear with the teen when she ended their relationship. Unfortunately, he hadn’t believed her at the time. Jeremy thought she was going through some kind of phase until last night.

Tyler opened the front door and tried not to scowl at their much too early guests. However, judging by the way that Matt winced upon seeing him, he wasn’t doing a very good job.

Jeremy was helping Caroline get some bags out of her car.

Matt shook his head and said, “Sorry, man. I held them off for as long as possible.”

Tyler just smiled at his friend. He knew how often Matt was dragged into other people’s drama. In general, he lived a fairly calm existence. He often wondered why Matt continued to live in Mystic Falls. He could be living a normal life in almost any other city in the United States.

Caroline walked up to the front door with a bag in her hand. She said, “Good morning!”

Jeremy didn’t bother hiding the scowl on his face.

Tyler cleared his throat. “Hey. I thought you had classes this morning, Caroline.”

She walked into the house. “I figured the travelers trying to destroy the Other Side was a good excuse to miss my classes. Besides, I am caught up on all of my assignments and I can get notes from classmates.”

He pushed the door closed once everyone was inside. Tyler asked, “What’s with the bags?”

She looked down and then shook her head. “Oh, I packed a couple bags for Elena. I didn’t know when we would be able to get Katherine out of her body. I just thought that she should have clean clothes, make up, and hair products. I am sure that she is going to want to take a very long bath. I know that I would feel filthy if Katherine had possessed my body for even a day.”

“I guess you have a point there,” he said.

Caroline tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I am sorry for everyone showing up so early. I convinced Jeremy and Matt to come with me. I tried to get Damon and Stefan to join us but I guess they already know what is going on here.”

The two older vampires had stayed behind last night looking for an explanation. They already knew some pieces to the puzzle. Bonnie and Tyler had explained just about everything to them. However, they left out details about the bond and the heat. It just seemed too personal to share with anyone else.

He nodded. “They do.”

“I just thought it would be a good idea if we all cleared the air. We are going to have to fight as a team to win against the travelers. We can’t do that with the way things are now,” she added.

Tyler wasn’t looking forward to this conversation but Caroline was right. The group needed to trust each other or they would fail. Unfortunately, in this situation failure meant death. “Uh, Bonnie is in the living room.”

Bonnie was standing in front of the couch when everyone walked into the room. She had overheard their conversation. “Hey.”

“Hi, Bon,” Caroline replied awkwardly.

“Uh, let’s all sit down,” Bonnie suggested.

Caroline sat down on the couch with Bonnie.  

Matt and Jeremy sat in the chairs across the room.

Tyler sat on the arm of the couch to be close to Bonnie. He really didn’t know how to kick off a conversation this awkward. However, his gaze was firmly on Jeremy. For now, the kid just seemed to be brooding. Tyler could understand and even tolerate brooding.

Caroline said, “I guess my biggest question is how long have you and Tyler been together.”

Bonnie sought out Tyler’s hand without even thinking about it. “Honestly, our relationship is very new. We didn’t get together until Friday night at Damon’s party, but we have liked each other for months.”

Jeremy glared in response. He still couldn’t believe that Bonnie had gone home with Tyler. She wasn’t the type of girl to do that sort of thing. Her refusal to have sex was one of the reasons he had started cheating on her again. At the time, Jeremy thought he was doing the noble thing by not pressuring her for sex.

Tyler said, “I don’t know if like is really the right word, Bon.”

“True,” she agreed.

Caroline looked between the two of them. She asked, “What does that mean?”

Bonnie said, “As you probably figured out last night, I am a werewolf. Everyone on my mother’s side of the family has the werewolf gene, but one of our ancestors cursed our entire bloodline. She wanted to prevent us from becoming hybrids.”

“Like Klaus?” Caroline asked. She glanced at Tyler when she mentioned the original hybrid’s name but he didn’t react at all.

The green-eyed girl nodded. “Yes, only the curse was passed from generation to generation ensuring that we would never become werewolves. It worked until I died. When Qetsiyah brought me back, I was different. I didn’t understand what was happening to me at the time, but the curse was slowly unraveling. The more the curse unraveled, the stronger my wolf side became.”

Tyler said, “Werewolves believe in soul mates but it isn’t like the human concept. We are actually drawn to our mate when we are in his or her presence. When Bonnie was resurrected, I was drawn to her and she was drawn to me. We both ignored those feelings because we knew it would complicate our friendships with you and Jeremy.”

“What changed?” Jeremy snapped.

Bonnie decided to be honest with their friends. “The moonshine at Damon’s party and the approaching full moon lowered our inhibitions and brought our wolf sides closer to the surface. Tyler shifted and bit me. The rest is history.”

Jeremy’s fists clenched.

Caroline’s eyes widened. “Tyler bit you? Are you okay?”

“I am fine, Care. The bite is how werewolves mark their mates. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. Tyler’s wolf side was just following a biological imperative. He found his mate and he had an overwhelming urge to mark me.”

Jeremy asked, “Can’t you find a way to break it? Matt told me that your cousin is coming to help with our traveler problem. Maybe she could help you with this, too.”

Tyler growled and his eyes flashed amber in warning.

Everyone in the room, except Bonnie, was taken aback by the hybrid’s reaction.

Bonnie squeezed his hand. “Ty…”

He quieted down but his eyes were still amber and trained of Jeremy.

Matt gauged the distance between him and Jeremy. He hoped that he could jump in front of the kid if Tyler decided to pounce. He trusted that his friend wouldn’t beat him to the pulp to get to Jeremy.

“I don’t know if there is a way to negate the mating mark, but I don’t care to find out. I am happy with Tyler. I wouldn’t want to change what we have now.”

Caroline tried to phrase her question delicately. “Is this what you really want? Do you have free will? Is this like Elena and Damon with the sire bond?”

Bonnie was offended for a moment but she also understood why that was a fair question. “No, the mating mark isn’t like the sire bond. I have free will and so does Tyler. We don’t control each other or have undue influence over each other.”

That wasn’t exactly true because of the mating mark and the bond. However, Bonnie didn’t want to share that information with them.

Caroline was struggling to make sense of everything Bonnie was saying. However, she didn’t want to make things awkward. She also had no right to object to their relationship. She joked, “I guess you never got over that huge crush you used to have on Tyler.”

Bonnie’s cheeks warmed up. She complained, “Caroline…”

“You had a crush on me?” Tyler asked with a cocky grin.

“No,” she said immediately.

“When we used to talk about our future husbands, Bonnie always choose you,” Caroline said with a giggle.

“You had a crush on me,” he said smugly.

Matt chuckled. “Don’t feel bad, Bon. He had a crush on you, too.”

Bonnie lifted an eyebrow at Tyler with a grin. She mocked his voice and asked, “You had a crush on me?”

“Maybe…” he joked.

Tyler had been interested in Bonnie but she always seemed turned off by his shallow personality in high school. She couldn’t adapt to his personality change. Their friendship had become almost nonexistent even though they were still in each other’s orbit. He was on the football team and Bonnie had of course made the cheerleading squad.

“I am happy for you…both of you,” Caroline said.

Jeremy was slowly simmering with rage. He couldn’t believe that Caroline had caved so easily. He had hoped that she would be on his side. Jeremy decided then that he was going to find a way to break up the happy couple. He thought about Katherine shackled down in the basement. He wanted his sister back in her own body but he could use her doppelganger’s deviousness. He and Katherine had become quite close since she possessed Elena.

Jeremy pretended to resign himself to the situation. “I am sorry for how I treated you, Bon. I am glad that you are happy now, too.”

Bonnie was legitimately surprised by Jeremy’s reaction. However, something seemed off and she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her wolf was warning her about something. She said, “Thanks, Jer.”

Tyler eyed the younger boy suspiciously.

Chapter Text

Bonnie leaned against the railing as she shamelessly ogled Tyler. He had shed his t-shirt when he began digging the fire pit in the backyard. She assumed the blatantly provocative move had been for her benefit. Tyler was invulnerable to the fluctuations in temperature that affected normal humans. No matter his motivation, she greatly appreciated the view. They were waiting for Lucy and Damon to arrive. Both were approximately 30 minutes away from Mystic Falls. The good news was they had acquired enough ingredients to ward the entire town against the travelers. The bad news was Katherine missed her nightly check-in with Nadia. The 500-year-old vampire was actively looking for her mummy.

Matt volunteered to meet with Nadia. He was the only member of their group that had any sort of relationship with her. Matt asked Nadia to meet him at Whitmore’s quad. He hoped that she would at least listen to him before doing anything drastic. Jeremy went with Matt to ensure that Nadia didn’t kill their friend for his trouble. Bonnie had given them two bottles of the immobilization potion as a precaution. Diplomacy was the goal but a plan rarely survived first contact with the enemy. Meanwhile, she had lit a fire under Stefan. They needed him to find Katherine’s new vessel sooner rather than later.

A noise inside the house caused Bonnie to look over her shoulder. However, she quickly realized that it was just Caroline trying to maneuver a large cast iron pot through the narrow doorway. She was about to tell her friend to flip the pot sideways, but Caroline figured it out a second later. “Thanks for bringing that upstairs for me, Care.”

She sat the heavy pot down on the deck with an audible thud. The dust covered pot stood tall enough to reach the blond vampire’s waist. Caroline looked at Bonnie with a raised eyebrow. “It’s no problem. I volunteered because I wanted to help in some way. Do you seriously own a cauldron?”

Bonnie chuckled at her friend’s exasperation. She shrugged her shoulders and flashed an amused smile. “Well, I am a witch, Care.”

Caroline couldn’t resist laughing at Bonnie’s tongue-in-cheek reply. “Where does someone even buy a cauldron? It’s not as if you can just drop by the local Home Depot or Crate and Barrel to pick up one.”

“The cauldron actually belonged to my grandmother. It has been in our family for a very long time. I have no clue where I would buy a replacement if something happened to this one,” Bonnie admitted

She joked, “Maybe there is a supply store for witches.”

“There are a few stores that cater to witches but none of them are particularly close to Mystic Falls. My grandmother used to take me to this apothecary in a little town called White Willow. I just thought it was a great place to get candy from the nice old lady behind the counter. She always had fresh fudge or salted caramel on display. I didn’t realize at the time that Grams was going there to stock up on supplies for her spells and potions.”

Caroline asked, “Do you know if the shop is still open?”

Bonnie shook her head with a sad smile. “No, it has been turned into a bric-a-brac store. Damon and I drove out to White Willow a couple months ago. I had been making potions and salves using ingredients leftover from Grams’ stockpile. It wasn’t until I used everything that I realized the local market wasn’t going to have everything I needed. I was lucky that Damon had connections.”

“Do you know his connection? She has to be a witch, right?” she asked curiously.

“No, I have never met her. Damon can be secretive about certain stuff. All I know is that she was a friend of his once upon a time. They reconnected when he was looking for a way to free me from being the anchor. She is actually the person that pointed us in the direction of the Gemini Coven,” she replied.

Caroline chuckled. “It is hard to imagine Damon having friends. Then again, the two of you are friends now. I still don’t understand how that happened.”

Bonnie leaned against the railing and shook her head. “Sometimes my friendship with Damon is surreal. You would think with our history that we would be mortal enemies.”

“You used to be…”

“True.”

She asked, “Is it just because Damon brought you back?”

Bonnie smiled wryly. “I guess that is part of the reason Damon and I have become so close, but it is more than that. I was in such a weird headspace after I was resurrected. I felt…wrong. Damon saw that I was retreating into myself and he wouldn’t let me. He made a point of annoying me every day but mostly he just made me laugh at his utter ridiculousness. Damon was there when no one else was.”

“Bon, I’m sorry…”

She shook her head. “You don’t need to apologize, Caroline. Regular life is complicated but our lives are twenty shades of weird. There is no handbook on how to be supportive of a friend that died and came back to life.”

Caroline sighed quietly. “I should have tried harder. If Damon was capable of being there for you, then I could have been there, too. I just thought that you would snap out of it eventually. I guess that was pretty dumb of me.”

“No, it wasn’t dumb. You were just expecting me to follow the same pattern that I always have. I just decided that I couldn’t do that anymore. Life is short, at least mine is anyway,” she quipped.

“Are you happy?” Caroline asked.

Bonnie nodded and smiled. “I am deliriously happy.”

“Because of Tyler?” Caroline asked with a knowing smile.

Bonnie laughed and looked toward Tyler as he finished digging the fire pit. She knew that he could hear every word they were saying. She said, “He’s part of the reason. What about you and Stefan?”

She sighed happily. “I think I am going to steal your phrase…I am deliriously happy, too. I can’t believe that it took me so long to see how perfect we are for each other. I guess that I just didn’t want to betray Elena.”

“I know that feeling well. I ignored what I felt for Tyler for months because I didn’t want to betray you,” she admitted.

Caroline laughed. “Well, I am glad that we both smartened up. We deserve to be happy.”

“Yeah, we do,” she replied.

“Did everyone really know about us the entire time?”

She bit her lip to keep from laughing at her friend’s exasperation. “I love you, Care, but you two were so obvious that it was painful. I mean Damon spilled the beans early on because he likes to gossip… a lot. But I already knew the truth. I am happy for you and Stefan. I think you are good for each other.”

Caroline’s eyes strayed over to where Tyler was stacking firewood in the newly dug fire pit. She looked back to Bonnie. “How much does he hate me?”

Bonnie squeezed Caroline’s arm in support. “I think that it would be good if you tried talking to him, Care. You hurt him but he doesn’t hate you.”

“It feels like he hates me,” she admitted in a small voice. “I wasn’t trying to hurt him. Klaus was probably the biggest mistake I have ever made. I would take it back if I could, Bon. I was just lonely and it felt really good to be wanted. Tyler broke my heart when he chose his vendetta against Klaus over being with me. Tyler and I weren’t even together at the time. I didn’t think that he would be so jealous.”

“I can see how that would hurt you deeply, Caroline. I understand what it means to have the person you love disregard your feelings completely.”

Caroline studied her friend’s face. “I feel as if there is a ‘but’ coming…”

Bonnie had promised herself that she wouldn’t get involved. Caroline and Tyler were old enough to sort out their own problems. However, it seemed as if Caroline was never going to understand why Tyler was so upset. She still believed that his anger stemmed from jealousy. As much as Tyler liked making Caroline and Stefan squirm, she knew that he didn’t like the tense relationship. He still cared for Caroline and ideally, he would still like to be friends with her. Moreover, perhaps Bonnie’s motivations were just a little selfish, too. She wanted to be able to hang out with her boyfriend and Caroline without all the tension.

Bonnie said, “You might not have agreed with Tyler’s vendetta against Klaus but you should have tried to understand it. This wasn’t some petty squabble, Care. Klaus turned Tyler into a hybrid and forced him to do his bidding. He killed Tyler’s pack. Those hybrids were his friends and the only other people in the world that were like him. Then just because he is a petulant bastard, Klaus killed Tyler’s mother and made him an orphan. Until recently, he believed his mother was his last blood relative. Klaus left him completely alone in the world. You had sex with the monster that did that to him and you didn’t even have the decency to recognize why it would cut Tyler so deep. Then instead of putting on your big girl panties and admitting that you did something hurtful and callous, you have allowed Stefan to play your knight in shining armor. I am not saying that you should apologize for doing what made you happy in that moment. You and Tyler weren’t in a relationship at the time. However, as a friend and as someone who claims to love him, you should apologize for your actions hurting him. Because what you did made him feel alone, too. The difference was when you felt alone, you still had a mother that loves you to fall back on. Tyler doesn’t have that anymore.”

Caroline felt increasingly worse with each word Bonnie spoke. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know the terrible things that Klaus had done to Tyler. She hadn’t let herself think about it too much because of the crushing guilt that would follow. However, for the first time she actually thought about the fact that Tyler had been completely alone. His entire family had died in Mystic Falls through one catastrophe or another. She blinked as tears welled up in her eyes. “You must think I am the absolute worst person on the planet.”

Bonnie shook her head. “You’re not even close to being the worst person in Mystic Falls. You are a good person and you have a kind heart. You are also young and you made a decision that hurt a friend. We are all guilty of doing that. I know that you aren’t cruel like Katherine is. You never set out to hurt Tyler.”

“But I did…”

She nodded. “But you did.”

Caroline looked across the yard at Tyler. He had his back to the two women while he started the fire. “I should probably talk to him.”

“I think that would be a great idea. I am going to go inside to fix myself a snack. I promise not to eavesdrop on your conversation,” Bonnie swore with a smile.

“Thanks,” Caroline replied.

Bonnie squeezed her arm gently and then walked into the house. She was glad that Caroline was going to talk to Tyler. She only hoped that he would be receptive. Bonnie knew all too well that receiving a desired apology didn’t always have the intended effect. Stefan had apologized for his part in killing Abby and turning her into a vampire. Bonnie had accepted his apology because it was expected of her. However, Bonnie had resented him and Damon until she started to heal. Most of all, she had to let go the fairy tale that her relationship with Abby would be any different if she hadn’t been turned. Even if Damon hadn’t turned Abby into a vampire, there wasn’t some great reunion in the cards. The simple truth was that Abby was incapable of being her mother. It was a heartbreaking revelation but it was an important one.

She opened the refrigerator and stared at the dwindling contents. She would need to go grocery shopping soon. For now, Bonnie was going to take the leftover brisket from last night and make a couple of sandwiches. Frankly, the smoked meat was so delicious that she didn’t even need to reheat it. She had eaten a few pieces of cold brisket earlier while she cooked breakfast.

Bonnie made quick work of assembling a couple mouthwatering brisket sandwiches with too much cheese and BBQ sauce on them. Then she took her meal out onto the front porch. The weather was turning colder as they barreled into the month of December like a freight train. However, the cold wind had little effect on Bonnie. She had always preferred the cold weather months. Bonnie hated hot temperatures despite having lived in Virginia her entire life. Frankly, she did not really like being warm either. Bonnie was her happiest when the temperature dropped below sixty degrees. Grams would always get after her for wearing flip-flops and open-toe shoes well into the winter. Now that she had triggered the werewolf curse, she ran ever hotter than normal humans did.

Bonnie enjoyed a quiet lunch on her front porch. She lazily watched the gray clouds looming in the distance. Bonnie could already smell the rain in the air even though not a single drop had fallen yet. The sound of flapping wings caught her attention. She smiled as Russell swooped down to land on the railing. “Hello, Russell.”

The large bird gave a few loud caws before settling down.

She cooed, “Has Damon had you watching my house since last night? I bet that he has. He worries too much. Doesn’t he?”

The crow cawed as if he understood what Bonnie was saying to him.

She saw the way he was eying the last portion of her lunch. She smiled. “I’m sorry, buddy. I don’t think that you can have any of my brisket because of the spices in the rub that Ruby uses. I wouldn’t want to make you sick. Damon acts like a curmudgeon but he would be very upset if something happened to you.”

Bonnie easily devoured the rest of the sandwich before standing up. “I’ll be right back.”

She went into the house and washed her hands. Afterwards Bonnie grabbed a container of fresh blueberries and went outside. She sprinkled a handful of blueberries onto the unusually green grass.

Russell took to the sky briefly before swooping down to hunt after the blueberries in the grass.

Bonnie popped a few berries into her mouth as she watched him. If Damon was around he would surely tease her for sharing organic blueberries with an animal just as content to eat road kill.

She looked up when a car slowed to a stop in front of her house. Bonnie didn’t recognize the vehicle, but she knew the driver. Bonnie sprinkled the remaining blueberries on the ground before walking out to the curb.

Lucy climbed out of her car and smiled at Bonnie. “It’s good to see you, cuz.”

Bonnie said, “It is good see you, too. Thank you for driving all the way here to help us.”

The older witch smiled. “Well, the travelers are a threat to all of us. Truthfully, I should have made this trip sooner. I have just been…busy.”

Bonnie’s eyes widened when Lucy opened the back door. There was a baby sleeping in a car seat. “Busy might be an incredible understatement. You have a baby?”

Lucy chuckled as she slowly removed the little girl from the car seat. She wrapped a purple knit blanket around the baby. Then she hefted a diaper bag onto her shoulder and closed the car door with her hip. Lucy walked up to Bonnie and said, “I do. Bonnie I would like for you to meet my daughter.”

Bonnie peered at the sleeping baby’s face. “She’s gorgeous, Lucy. What’s her name?”

“Her name is Mari.”

She sobered immediately. Bonnie said, “I would not have asked for your help, if I knew that you had a baby.”

Lucy chuckled. “I am a mother and a witch, Bonnie. One does not preclude the other. Besides, this isn’t the sort of situation that I can sit out. The travelers have seriously underestimated the lengths our ancestors will go to stop them.”

Bonnie was unnerved by the seriousness of that last statement. She knew from experience the lengths the spirits would go to maintain the balance. She said, “Well, let’s get you and this little sweet pea in the house. Do you have bags in the car? I can bring them inside for you.”

Lucy walked around to the back of the SUV and unlocked it. She grabbed a couple of bags.

The younger girl said, “I’ll get the rest of these.”

“Thank you,” she replied. Lucy walked toward the house but slowed down when she saw the crow. She focused on the bird for a long moment before she continued into the house.

Bonnie collected the rest of Lucy’s bags and closed the liftgate. She followed Lucy into the house and kicked the front door closed. “I can show you to the guest room upstairs.”

“That would be great.”

She led the older woman upstairs to one of the guest bedrooms. She had prepared the room just in case Lucy wanted to stay with her. Bonnie pushed open the door and put Lucy’s belongings down on the floor. “Can I help you with anything?”

Lucy asked, “Do you know how to set up a portable crib?”

Bonnie shook her head. “No, but I am sure that I can figure it out. How hard can it be?”

She laughed and said, “Famous last words. Just hold Mari for me.”

She gently took the sleeping infant into her arms. Bonnie sat on the edge of the bed and asked, “How old is she?”

Lucy put down the diaper bag and moved over to the portable crib. She said, “Mari is ten months old.”

“Wow,” she uttered softly.

Bonnie couldn’t help but to think about her own future as she held the curly haired infant. She didn’t know how long it would take to find out if the mating cycle had been successful. Ruby had explained how the process normally worked for werewolves. Unfortunately, nothing about Bonnie and Tyler was ‘normal’. If she did conceive, they had no idea how the pregnancy would progress. She was nervous. There hadn’t been time for Bonnie and Tyler to really discuss what that would mean for them. There were travelers, mad scientists, and doppelgangers demanding their immediate attention.

Lucy walked over a few minutes later and took Mari from Bonnie’s arms. She placed the little girl into the portable crib. Afterwards she sat beside Bonnie on the bed. “I owe you an apology.”

“What?” she asked in confusion.

“My grandmother might be dead but she gave me a very pointed lecture last night. I knew what was coming for you after that first night we met. Instead of sticking around to help you, I got the hell out of dodge as soon as possible. That is not how Bennett witches behave…not the good ones anyway. I could make excuses about how crazy my life was at the time…for the record it was insane. However, that is a story for another day.”

Bonnie shook her head. “You didn’t owe me anything, Lucy. We are like second cousins but it isn’t as if we know one another. I mean I know that your mom and my grams are sisters but it doesn’t seem as if they were particularly close.”

Lucy rolled her eyes thinking about her mother and aunt. She said, “My mom and Aunt Sheila were always like oil and water growing up. I don’t think that you could have found two sisters more different from each other. Those differences caused them to have a falling out about fifteen years ago—give or take. They were never able to mend what was broken between them.”

“That’s horrible,” Bonnie replied. “Do you know what the fight was about?”

“They always argued about Abby. My mom always thought that Aunt Sheila was too hard on her. She had these lofty expectations for your mother but she was never going to be the type of witch that Aunt Sheila was or that you are. Abby and my mother are kindred spirits in that way. My mom was always different because she is a siphoner.”

“A siphoner?” she asked. “I don’t know that that means.”

Lucy laughed softly. “I forgot that you are still a baby witch. A siphoner is a witch that does not have his or her own magic. They siphon magic from witches and other supernatural beings in order to perform spells. In some families, siphoners are shunned but Bennett witches do not behave so recklessly. We see the function that every creature, living and dead, serves in the universe.”

Bonnie shook her head. “There is still so much for me to learn. Are you a siphoner?”

“No, I am a regular witch. Siphoner witches are rare. There is no rhyme or reason for why some witches are born siphoners. There is an old wives’ tale that Grandma Amelia believed. She said siphoners were nature’s way of balancing power within a family. It is only anecdotal but most families that have a siphoner child also have a very magically gifted child. Aunt Sheila was probably the most powerful witch this family had seen in decades…until you came along.”

“Me?” she asked.

Lucy blinked when she realized the young girl didn’t understand her own power. She said, “You have to know how powerful you are, Bonnie. You faced off with the Original Hybrid and lived to tell the tale. You are young and nowhere near the height of your potential. The spirits are afraid that you will become too powerful for them to control. They punished you by taking your powers because they fear you.”

Bonnie looked down at her hands. “They gave them back to me last night because they need me. I am scared that the spirits will take them from me again once we defeat the travelers.”

The older witch chuckled and said, “Let them try. There is a spell that binds a witch’s power to her life force. I will have to do some research but it shouldn’t be hard to find it. Grandma Amelia used it on Aunt Sheila when she was a little girl. My mother couldn’t control her siphoner powers in the beginning. If she got angry or overly excited, she would siphon magic from the nearest witch without even trying. There was really no remedy for that but Emily Bennett had created a spell and a potion to protect witches from siphoners.”

“You would do that for me?”

“We’re family and Bennetts look out for their own,” she said.

Bonnie shook her head with a wry smile. “That’s what Katherine said last night.”

“Well, she has known enough Bennett witches in her very long life to know that is true.”

Bonnie looked up when she heard footsteps approaching the room. She relaxed after recognizing her mate’s scent.

Tyler knocked on the door. “I’m sorry to interrupt.”

“Is something wrong?” Bonnie asked.

He shook his head. “No, everything is fine. I just wanted to let you know that Damon is here.”

Bonnie smiled. “Okay. We’ll be right down, Ty.”

He nodded in Lucy’s direction. He said, “Hi. I’m Bonnie’s boyfriend.”

Bonnie playfully rolled her eyes at the way he introduced himself. “That was subtle.”

Lucy smirked at the younger man. “Hello. Nice to meet you.”

Tyler said, “Nice to meet you, too.”

Lucy waited until Tyler walked away from the door. “He’s hot.”

Bonnie laughed heartily. “He’s also a werewolf so he totally heard you.”

Lucy said, “Oh, I know. Grandma Amelia filled me in on what you have been up to lately.”

The younger girl’s face heated up in embarrassment. “How much do you know?”

Lucy’s gaze swung to the portable crib for emphasis. “Frankly, probably more than you do.”

Damon bellowed from the bottom of the staircase, “Get down here, witchy!”

Chapter Text

Bonnie zipped the red hooded sweatshirt that she had swiped from Tyler. She liked the way his scent wrapped around her like a comforting cocoon. The temperature had declined sharply after sunset. Surely, the rain Bonnie smelled in the air earlier would turn into snow overnight. It was seven o’clock but they were just putting the final touches on the ward to protect Mystic Falls. She had assumed that Lucy would do the heavy lifting since she was the more experienced witch. However, the older woman had insisted on teaching Bonnie how to create wards. Lucy had explained that wards were an essential means of protection for witches.

The Scooby Doo Gang plus Nadia had split up into two-person teams while Lucy stayed at the house with her daughter and Katherine. Each team had two natural cowhide bags filled with a variety of magical items. They were responsible for hiding each of the bags at predetermined spots all over Mystic Falls. Once all of the bags were in place, the protective ward would shield the entire town from travelers. Travelers outside the town limits would not be able to cross the border. Moreover, the ward would expose any passengers riding shotgun in human vessels. They would be able to identify any travelers possessing innocent townsfolk by their obsidian colored eyes.

Bonnie and Tyler held hands as they walked through the darkened forest. They had already stashed the first bag in the cemetery near Sheila’s grave. The young couple was on their way to the waterfall in order to hide the second bag. They were both eager to finish the task because Nadia had demanded a meeting with everyone. As predicted, she did not take the news of her mother’s capture well. However, her chat with Matt had been positive enough that she did not immediately decide to kill them all. He even got her to admit that Katherine deciding to possess Elena’s body had been unwise. Nadia explained that she had offered her own body as a vessel but that Katherine had turned her down. Bonnie was surprised by Katherine’s shocking maternal streak. She was hopeful that Nadia would be able to convince Katherine to accept the new vessel Stefan found.

The couple slowed to a stop as they reached the lake’s shore. Bonnie used a keen eye to study all the surrounding trees. Her green eyes locked on a massive yew tree. The tree was not only tall but also had strong branches that stretched wide. They needed a hiding place that would not be disturbed by animals or inquisitive, but ultimately innocent, civilians. She motioned to the tree and said, “That one is perfect. The branches look sturdy enough for me to climb. Can you give me a boost, Ty?”

Tyler was not fond of Bonnie scaling trees. She had done the same thing at the cemetery without incident. However, the forest did not have the benefit of being lit by antique cast iron lamps. Bonnie could slip and fall if she could not see where to place her feet. He followed his mate over to the tree and scowled as he peered up through the branches. “How far up do you need to go?” he asked.

Bonnie’s eyebrows furrowed as she gauged the distance. “I don’t know…ten feet might be okay. Why?”

“Maybe you should let me hang this bag,” he suggested.

She lifted an eyebrow but smiled fondly at her boyfriend. Bonnie could feel his concern for her through the bond. She appreciated the way that Tyler worried about her but it wasn’t necessary in this situation. Bonnie had been climbing these trees since she was a little girl. Furthermore, the green eyed witch knew how to be careful while doing it. She asked, “When is the last time you’ve climbed a tree?”

Tyler huffed and said, “I don’t know…probably elementary school.”

“You are more likely to fall out of the tree than I am. Besides, you would be a better spotter for me than I would be for you.”

He smirked. “Are you asking me to catch you if you fall?”

Bonnie gave a playful roll of her eyes and stood up on her tiptoes to kiss him. She draped her arms around Tyler’s neck and nodded. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“Never,” he replied fervently. He kissed her softly and gently backed her up against the tree.

She giggled against his lips. Bonnie pulled back from the kiss and said, “Ty…”

The hybrid groaned and said, “I haven’t been able to touch you all day.”

She gave him an unimpressed look. “That’s not true at all. We made out in the pantry like two hours ago. We almost got caught by Matt, too.”

He huffed, “Fine. I haven’t been able to touch you as much as I want.”

Bonnie bit her lip and looked up at Tyler from underneath her long eyelashes. “I feel the same way actually. That is even more reason to stop dragging our feet. The sooner the ward is in place, the sooner everyone can go home. Then you can have me all to yourself.”

“Really?” he asked with a doubtful look. He knew that Lucy and her daughter would be staying with Bonnie for a few days.

She nodded and said, “I can be quiet.”

He chuckled darkly because Bonnie was quite vocal when they made love. Tyler enjoyed every second of it. “If you are able to be quiet then I am not doing something right.”

Bonnie struggled to ignore the tingle that traveled down the length of her spine. She said, “Well, there is a soundproofing spell in my grams’ grimoire that I have been meaning to test.”

Tyler nuzzled her neck and growled quietly. “I am more than happy to help you. Of course it would only be for academic purposes.”

“Of course,” she replied teasingly. “Will you give me a boost now that we have procrastinated for several minutes?”

He forced his most put upon expression and took a step back. He clasped his two hands together to form a cradle. He complained, “If you insist.”

Bonnie laughed softly as she removed the cowhide bag from her purse. She tucked the bag into the sweatshirt’s pocket for safekeeping because she needed both her hands for climbing. Then Bonnie stepped onto Tyler’s hands and he boosted her onto the tree’s lowest branch.

Tyler stood beneath the tree and watched as Bonnie scaled the branches with ease. Her supernatural agility and speed were on full display. Despite being worried for her safety, Tyler was proud of his mate. Bonnie was taking to her new abilities like a duck to water. He was actually looking forward to shifting with her during the full moon.

She climbed about eight feet before she had to stop. It was harder for her to transition from one branch to the next because they were spaced farther apart at that height. Bonnie balanced on one branch and launched herself upwards. She grabbed the other branch that was a few feet above her head.

Tyler winced and called up, “Seriously, Bon?”

Bonnie looked over shoulder and chuckled. “Sorry. I don’t need to go any higher. I promise.”

He could tell from their bond that she definitely was not sorry. Bonnie seemed smug. He shook his head in exasperation.

She pulled herself onto the branch and found her balance. Then Bonnie took the cowhide bag from her pocket. She used twine to secure it to the tree branch. Once Bonnie felt confident that it would stay in place, she began her descent.

Tyler watched as Bonnie slowly made her way down to solid ground.

Bonnie hopped down when she was a few feet away from the ground. She smiled, “You were worried for nothing.”

“You are a show off,” he said with a smirk.

She grinned and took out her phone. She sent a message to their friends to let them know the bags were in place. She already had a message from Caroline to say that she and Stefan were already finished.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

Bonnie nodded. “Yeah I’ll race you to the car?”

Tyler chuckled and said, “Okay but there should be stakes to this race.”

“What kind of stakes?” she asked curiously.

“If I win, you have to go on a real date with me,” he said.

Bonnie’s eyes twinkled in amusement. She kissed him softly. “I think that I can agree to that.”

He asked, “What do you want if you win?”

She bit her lip and suggested, “You could stay with me for another week…”

Tyler was pleasantly surprised by her request. He was obviously going to throw the race. “Okay. I’ll even give you a ten second head start.”

Bonnie leaned up and pecked his lips. “That's very gracious of you, Ty.”

“Go,” Tyler said with a smirk.

Bonnie sprinted away from Tyler. She was moving even faster than she had just yesterday afternoon. There was a noticeable difference now that Ayana’s curse had been broken. Bonnie was nearing the street when a heartbeat in the distance captured her attention. She changed direction abruptly and used her sense of smell to track the animal. Bonnie was reminded of the scent that had caught her attention yesterday. Tyler had seemed certain that the unseen animal had been a deer.

She slowed down as she approached the animal’s position. Bonnie didn’t want to scare it away. She haltingly stepped into the small clearing. She smiled broadly upon seeing two whitetail deer drinking from a stream. It appeared to be a doe and her fawn.

The doe looked backward as if wary about Bonnie’s presence. However, the fawn seemed completely uninterested in the new arrival.

Bonnie didn’t move any closer but she said, “You don’t need to be afraid of me. I promise that I won’t eat you. I’ve always thought venison was a little gamey.”

The doe stared at Bonnie unblinkingly.

“I guess that joke was in poor taste, huh?” Bonnie inched closer to get a better look at the deer and her little one. “You are gorgeous. I have thought about putting corn feeders in my backyard, but old man Jameson is a hunter.”

The mother went back to drinking from the stream once she was certain that Bonnie didn’t pose a threat.

Bonnie was thrilled that the deer hadn’t run away from her. She had worried that the deer would perceive her as a predator now that the curse no longer suppressed her wolf side. However, it seemed that her connection to nature as a witch still had a larger presence.

Bonnie walked until she was only a few feet away from the deer. She sat down on the ground and just watched as they moved into the stream to frolic.

She had been there for about five minutes when she felt genuine fear through the bond she shared with Tyler. Bonnie quickly got to her feet and ran to find him. She had assumed that he would simply find her when he realized that she had not gone to the car. However, the sheer feeling of panic penetrating the bond indicated that something was very wrong.

Bonnie ran through the forest tracking Tyler by his scent. She found him with ease but her fear only increased. “Ty?” she asked cautiously.

Tyler’s eyes were bright gold and his fingers hand transformed into claws. He growled, “Get behind me.”

Bonnie obeyed without question. She whispered, “What’s wrong?”

“You don’t smell him?” he asked. His muscles were coiled as if he was ready to strike at the invisible threat.

She inhaled deeply and tried to pick up on whatever had triggered this reaction in her mate.  It was faint but Bonnie smelled another wolf. “He must have been upwind so that I couldn’t smell him from my position. Do you recognize the scent?”

“Yes, and it is bad news,” he replied. Tyler swept Bonnie up into his arms and sped them out of the forest in the blink of an eye. He stopped only when they reached the car.

It took Bonnie a moment to regain her bearings once Tyler placed her on the ground. She wanted to know what was happening, but it could wait until they were out of harm’s way.

A loud howl drew both teenagers’ attention to the forest.

He said, “Go home. I will be there when I can.”

Bonnie’s eyes widened and she quickly shook her head. “No. I’m not leaving you here, Ty.”

“Bonnie,” he growled. “I smelled Klaus.”

She blanched at the mention of her mate’s sire. “Are you positive it was him?”

“His is a scent that I won’t soon forget.”

“You are just going to confront him?” she asked incredulously.

Tyler rolled his eyes skyward because he didn’t feel like having this argument with Bonnie. He grabbed her face and kissed her roughly. “Go home. I don’t want him to know about you yet.”

She immediately understood Tyler’s concern. However, she still didn’t feel good about leaving Tyler alone with Klaus. Bonnie removed a vial of the immobilization potion from her pocket and pressed it into his hand. “I don’t know how long it will last on someone like him but…use it and then run if he’s here for a fight.”

“I will,” he promised. Tyler unlocked his car for Bonnie and then handed her the keys.

Bonnie swallowed thickly as she climbed into the car. She started the car and said, “Don’t let him kill you. I love you.”

“I won’t. I love you too, Bon,” Tyler swore as he closed the door.

He stood there and watched his mate speed away from him. Afterwards, he swallowed thickly and headed back into the forest. He stopped a few feet in and closed his eyes. It took only a matter of seconds for Tyler to hone in on Klaus. He breezed through the darkened forest until he reached the top of the waterfall. He skidded to a stop on the rocky outcropping and then looked for his sire.

Klaus swaggered into view with a smug smile. “Hello, Tyler.”

The hybrid tried to remain calm even though his instinct was to attack the obvious threat. He nodded his head in acknowledgement. “Klaus…”

He leaned against a tree and smirked. “I was wondering when you would realize that I was here…watching. I was beginning to feel disappointed in you, my boy. However, I suppose your preoccupation with the lovely Bennett witch can be excused. She smells delectable by the way.”

Tyler growled at the mention of Bonnie. “Leave her out of this.”

Klaus looked around for dramatic effect. “I did. I announced my presence to give you time to spirit the girl away. Certainly you didn’t think I lingered downwind of you by accident.”

His muscles were still tense as if he were ready to strike. However, he thought it was reasonable to assume that Klaus wasn’t there for a fight. He begrudgingly said, “Thank you.”

The blond hybrid lifted an eyebrow. Normally, Klaus would love to needle his progeny, but there were more pressing issues. “What do you know about the travelers?”

“That’s why you’re here?” Tyler asked suspiciously.

Klaus asked, “Why else would I be here?”

“Mayhem, chaos, death, revenge,” Tyler listed off a few options in a sardonic voice.

“Perhaps another time,” he replied with a grin.

Tyler relaxed incrementally. Finally, he replied, “They are trying to bring down the veil to the Other Side to free the travelers that have died. They also plan on destroying the Other Side along with all the witches that have passed over.”

Klaus had been monitoring the traveler situation from afar for months. The band of magic practitioners had been on the periphery of his awareness for centuries. However, they usually steered clear of him for good reason. While Klaus had an affinity for witches, his disdain for travelers was the thing of legends. He had easily slaughtered thousands of travelers in his long life.

Klaus did not fear the travelers, but he had never been foolish enough to underestimate them. He knew a thing or two about nursing a grudge for centuries. In fact, he was in Mystic Falls to ensure that the travelers didn’t inadvertently free the only man he had ever feared—Mikael.

He derisively asked, “Am I to assume that you and your friends are trying to stop them?”

Tyler resisted the urge to roll his eyes at Klaus’ dismissal of their efforts. He said, “We have help from the witches on the Other Side. They have a plan to stop the travelers for good.”

“How?” he asked curiously.

Klaus was prepared to slaughter every traveler in the continental United States. However, Elijah had warned against such an action because it would keep them from New Orleans for too long. They were barely holding onto their Crescent City kingdom. Moreover, Elijah did not like the idea of dragging a heavily pregnant Hayley all over the country. Klaus was not willing to let her out of his sight during her pregnancy. He could not allow one of his enemies to use his unborn child against him again. The brothers had brought Hayley to Mystic Falls. Rebekah was protecting her at the family’s mansion in town right now.

He shrugged his shoulders. “There was a lot of magic talk that was over my head.”

“Then perhaps you can set up a meeting between Miss Bennett and me,” he said in a tone that brooked no argument.

Tyler tensed at the mention of Bonnie. He had absolutely no interest in allowing his mate in the same room with that maniac. However, he knew disobeying Klaus’ order would go over like a lead balloon. Before he could answer, he heard someone barreling towards them.

Klaus glared daggers at their uninvited guest.

Damon slowed to a stop behind Tyler. He answered the younger man’s puzzled expression, “Bonnie…”

Tyler nodded in understanding. He should have known that Bonnie would send some form of backup. “When would you like to meet with Bonnie?”

Klaus was pleasantly surprised. He had assumed that he would have to use compulsion to get Tyler to obey him. “Tomorrow morning. We can meet at my home since I can assume that Miss Bennett will not extend an invitation to her humble abode.”

Damon snorted. “Not on your life.”

The original hybrid glared at Damon. While he would love to rip the out the cocky bastard’s heart, he might yet prove useful. One never knew when cannon fodder would become necessary.

Tyler shared Damon’s sentiment but denying Klaus was short-sighted. He said, “We’ll be there.”

“Just the two of you,” Klaus added for clarification.

The younger man answered before Damon could say something to infuriate Klaus, “Just the two of us but we need something from you.”

Klaus laughed. “At what point did you think this was a negotiation?”

Tyler said, “You need us as much as we need you in this situation. I seriously doubt that you want your nutty parents crossing the veil to screw up the good thing you have going in New Orleans. If you were capable of stopping the travelers on your own, you wouldn’t be standing here talking to me of all people.”

He tensed at the mention of his parents. “What is it that you want?”

“Only information,” Tyler answered honestly. “Your family was in New Orleans during the 1700’s, right?”

“Briefly,” he acknowledged. “We had a much longer stay in the 1800’s. Why does that concern you?”

He asked, “Did know the Lescheres Family?”

Klaus didn’t show his surprise at hearing the name that was a blast from his past. “I may have known them in passing. What is your interest in that family?”

“I’ve been doing some genealogy research on my family. I found out that I am related to the Lescheres.  I thought you might be familiar with them since you were in New Orleans around that time. Apparently, they were sort of big time sugarcane importers.”

The hybrid scoffed. “The Lescheres were rum makers. That is how they made their riches. I will tell you what I remember of that family but it is not much.”

Tyler said, “Anything is better than what I have now.”

Klaus eyed him for a moment. “What is it that you have now?”

“A journal of a relative that set off on a trip to Barbados,” he explained vaguely.

Klaus could tell that Tyler was withholding something from him. He intended to find out why the boy was poking around his deceased wife’s family. He supposed it was possible that Tyler could have been descended from the Lescheres Family but it was still an odd inquiry. “I am sure that we can arrange something beneficial to both parties.”

“Then we have a deal.”

Klaus tipped his head in acknowledgement before disappearing into the night.

Damon was practically seething with rage. “Are you out of your mind?”

“I think Klaus has information we need.” He amended, “That Bonnie needs.”

The vampire’s anger cooled only slightly. “Let’s go. I promised Witchy that I would get you back to her safely.”

Tyler chuckled.

“What is so funny?” Damon asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Bon has you wrapped around her finger,” Tyler said.

Damon’s blue eyes bulged as he said, “There’s still time for me to kill you and blame it on Klaus.”

Chapter Text

Lucy hummed as she used the food processor to turn a batch of bland mashed potatoes into an unrecognizable puree for Mari. She became alert when she heard the front door slam shut. She wasn’t expecting anyone to return just yet. Bonnie and her friends were supposed to meet with Nadia at the park after the wards were in place. She eased out of the kitchen ready to throw a nasty spell at the intruder. However, her chocolate colored eyes fell onto Bonnie. The girl was a hair’s breadth from becoming outright hysterical. She was immediately worried that the travelers had made their first move prematurely. Lucy immediately went to Bonnie’s side. “What’s wrong, Bonnie?”

Bonnie moved away from Lucy because she was terrified of hurting her. The younger girl’s eyes were dark amber because she was on the verge of transforming. Fearing for her mate’s safety had triggered the change in her. It had taken a herculean amount of strength to make it home in that state. She had just enough awareness at the time to call Damon for help. Bonnie only hoped that she hadn’t sent her best friend to his death along with her mate. She doubled over in pain as her bones started to break. Bonnie let out a blood-curdling scream as she hit the floor like a sack of potatoes. She growled, “Get Mari and go!”

The older Bennett witch watched in horror as her cousin’s fingers transformed into claws and shredded the rug beneath their feet. She had to do something fast or Bonnie was going to complete the change in the middle of the entryway. Lucy knew enough about wolves to know that they were impossible to control in a panic. Lucy swallowed thickly and squared her shoulders. She put both hands on her hips and snapped, “Stop this nonsense, Bonnie! You are a witch. More importantly, you are a Bennett witch and it is high time that you start acting like it. We control nature. We control animals. We control magic. You have all three inside of you right now. Now stop letting your instincts run the show and take control!”

Lucy’s outburst had the desired effect on the younger girl. Bonnie snapped out of the frenzy that had triggered her transformation. She decided to focus on her magic because she understood it more than she understood her wolf side now. The talisman around her neck began to shine brightly. It worked to help focus Bonnie’s magic on calming her wolf side. Her eyes were on the cusp of turning gold and black. However, the color slowly started to recede as she stopped hyperventilating. Her limbs shook violently as her bones snapped back into the appropriate positions. Bonnie collapsed onto the floor with a grunt.

Lucy released a huge sigh of relief when she was certain that the danger to Bonnie had passed. She had not been concerned for own safety or that of her young daughter. Any witch worth her salt could fend off an attack from adolescent werewolf. She slowly slid down the wall and sat beside Bonnie. Lucy gave her younger cousin a few minutes to recuperate from the ordeal. Preventing a transformation was even more physically taxing than if she had simply completed the change. She gently swept the girl’s hair away from her face. Lucy asked, “How are you feeling now, Bonnie?”

Bonnie imagined this was what it felt like to have a car hit her at full speed. Every muscle in her body was strained and throbbing with red-hot pain. She inhaled and exhaled in a controlled pattern as her magic soothed away the worst of the pain. Bonnie’s vision swam as she slowly moved into a sitting position. The young witch looked up at her cousin and gave a grateful smile. Bonnie had no doubt that she would have shifted if not for Lucy’s timely intervention. She said, “You certainly have the mom thing down to a science. For a moment, you sounded like Grams to me.”

Lucy huffed out a laugh and put an arm around Bonnie’s shoulders. She leaned her head against the wall. Lucy joked, “Well, I was just mimicking the tone that my mother has used on me a million times in the past. My magic developed when I was very young and sometimes I would become overwhelmed. In the beginning, my mother would coddle me. However, Grandma Amelia put a stop to that. She said that my mom was not doing me any favors. I had to learn to control my magic or I was going to hurt someone. The same is true for you, Bonnie. You will learn to control your wolf side with time. This is still new to you. Can you tell me what happened to trigger the change?”

Bonnie blinked as the rest of her senses returned like a crushing wave. Her stress level immediately skyrocketed once more. Her talisman began shining again as her magic soothed her wolf. Bonnie took a moment to rely on the bond she shared with Tyler. She relaxed when she felt a wave of annoyance from his side of the bond. Annoyance was better than fear or panic. Bonnie felt silly for not relying on the bond from the outset.

She took a deep breath and said, “An old enemy showed up unexpectedly. He has obviously been watching us but I don’t know for how long. Tyler went to confront him, but he would not let me come with him. He was trying to keep me safe but I was scared…I am still scared that Klaus is going to kill him. He has taken a perverse amount of satisfaction from destroying Tyler’s life.”

All of the blood drained from Lucy’s face when she heard the original hybrid’s name.

The younger woman looked at her cousin when she heard her heart begin to race. Bonnie gently squeezed Lucy’s arm to draw her attention. “Are you okay?”

She swallowed thickly. “I thought Klaus was in New Orleans.”

Bonnie studied her expression and replied, “He was in New Orleans. At least, that’s where I thought Klaus was until about ten minutes ago.”

Lucy slowly got to her feet and said, “We need to ward this house against anyone with ill intentions.”

“Klaus is a vampire. He can’t enter my home without an invitation,” Bonnie reasoned.

“He can compel a human to do his bidding.”

Bonnie looked on in shock as Lucy marched into kitchen with the aura of a woman on a mission. She groaned in pain as she stood up and followed Lucy. “What’s going on?”

“What do you mean? There is a dangerous hybrid in town. I am doing the sensible thing and protecting the house,” Lucy explained.

She walked into the pantry and checked what ingredients Bonnie had on hand. The ward to protect the house needed different components than the one they constructed to safeguard Mystic Falls from travelers.

Bonnie stood at the doorway of the pantry and said, “I get that Klaus is a threat but…I don’t know this feels different. Do you know him?”

Lucy used the bottom of her shirt to collect the necessary ingredients. “Yes, I know him. I helped Katherine evade him for many years. It is better to never underestimate that barbarian.”

“You’re lying or at least not telling me everything. I know that we don’t exactly know each other well. However, if you are in some sort of trouble with Klaus then I am willing to help. You don’t have to tell me your business…just let me know what I can do. I also wouldn’t blame you for deciding to leave town. You have a baby to protect,” she declared.

The older witch stopped grabbing bottles and looked at Bonnie for a long moment. “Do you remember earlier when I told that my life was crazy the first time we crossed paths?”

She nodded and slowly drawled, “Yeah.”

“My life was crazy because of Klaus. I worked for him once upon a time. He needed a Bennett witch and I needed money. I needed too much money to get it in any way that was aboveboard. Klaus and I struck up a binding magical contract. I was young at the time but not stupid enough to become his indentured slave for the rest of my life. The terms of the contract were that I would work for him for five years and he would pay me very well for my efforts. When the contract ended, I would be free to go my own way. I did just that. I stayed under his radar for years. Only Katherine found me at some point. I can’t prove it but I know she had a hand in arranging the circumstances from which she then rescued me. She wanted me in her debt because of how close I had been to Klaus in the past. When she summoned me to Mystic Falls, I knew it was only matter of time before he found her. I had to get as far away from here as possible.”

Bonnie said, “I am guessing that Klaus found you at some point after he broke the curse. He probably asked you to work for him again since Greta was killed during the ritual.”

“Smart girl,” she retorted with a wry smile.

“And he was still angry because you left after your contract ended?”

Lucy quipped, “You are two for two.”

Bonnie remained quiet for a few moments as she worked out what Lucy was leaving unsaid. “Oh!” she sputtered.

“And the penny drops…”

Bonnie’s jaw dropped. She stared at Lucy unable to formulate a coherent sentence. Suddenly, she started laughing.

The older woman raised an eyebrow at her cousin’s reaction. “I am glad to see that my emotional turmoil is so amusing.”

Her expression sobered immediately. “I am not making light of your situation. It’s just that I found out yesterday that our ancestor Ayana and Esther Mikaelson both had affairs with the same man. That means we are distantly related to Klaus, which is problematic for so many reasons.”

“Yes, Grandma Amelia let me in on that little tidbit of family history when she invaded my dreams last night. I feel like that is something that should have come up sooner. I have a bone to pick with Ayana,” Lucy scoffed.

Bonnie said, “Well, on the bright side it’s so far removed it hardly rates mentioning other than the fact that he is an ancient homicidal maniac. On the not so bright side, Klaus is your baby daddy. I am going to go out on a limb and say that he has no idea.”

“No and it has to stay that way. Mari is only safe because no one knows the identity of her father…including him,” she said in a solemn voice.

“You don’t have to worry about me saying a word to him about it, Lucy. I won’t tell anyone else either.”

The older woman studied her face. She smiled wryly and said, “But you are judging me.”

Bonnie’s green eyes widened. She quickly shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t do that. I don’t know your history with Klaus. I can’t make a judgment like that.”

“True, but you are wondering how I managed to get involved with someone with so much blood on his hands.”

“Maybe a little but I can’t exactly muster too much outrage. Damon has become my best friend and he is no angel. Klaus is on a different level but it is all a sliding scale of careless violence if we are being honest. Klaus is a monster to me because of the things he has done to hurt my friends and me. But I can accept that he may not be a monster to you,” Bonnie explained.

Lucy smiled a little. “Well, that is an incredibly reasoned take on the situation. You are right. Klaus is a monster but there is so much more to him. I spent five years living with him. In that time, I saw another side to him. When you have his full attention, he can make you feel as if you are the only person in the world. It can be intoxicating to have someone that ancient and powerful enamored with you. I also have host of ‘Daddy Issues’ that probably played into that very unhealthy situation. However, I never allowed myself to forget that in a different set of circumstances he would drain me dry and toss my body out like yesterday’s trash.”

Bonnie took a deep breath because she was still reeling from Lucy’s confession. However, she quickly decided to process it all later. She said, “I can still feel Tyler through the bond. He is okay. I don’t know why Klaus is in town but we need to keep you and Mari out of sight until he leaves.”

“Thank you, Bonnie.”

The girl shook her head. “I wish you were a thousand miles away from this place.”

“I ran once and Klaus broke his curse. Then he spent an entire summer killing innocent werewolves and humans. The collateral damage for my decision is incalculable. I should have been here to prevent his madness from ever happening. I will not make the same mistake with the travelers.”

Bonnie asked, “Do you need my help making the ward to protect the house?”

She shook her head. “No, I can handle it.”

Bonnie’s head whipped in the direction of the front door when she heard two sets of footsteps on the porch. Bonnie’s nose easily detected her mate’s scent through the front door. She tore out of the house to greet him.

Tyler heard Bonnie’s footsteps thundering towards him. He was marginally prepared when she propelled herself into his arms. If he were not a hybrid, certainly they would have both tumbled off the porch. Instead, Tyler caught Bonnie with a grunt. He opened his mouth to say something but she immediately kissed him.

Bonnie wrapped her legs around Tyler’s waist and kissed him with an air of desperation. All of the fear that she had felt when she drove away from him came rushing out as passion.

Damon averted his eyes while the teenagers made out on the front porch.

Tyler gripped Bonnie’s butt as he returned the kiss with the same ferocity. When he made Bonnie leave him, he truly thought it would be the last time they ever saw each other.

Bonnie moaned against his lips and dug her nails into his back hard enough to draw blood.

The raven-haired vampire cleared his throat. However, the young couple either didn’t hear him or were ignoring him. Damon just rolled his eyes and leaned against the porch railing.

She slowly pulled away from the kiss and looked into Tyler’s eyes. She whispered, “We are going to have so much ‘Klaus-Didn’t-Kill-You-Sex’ tonight.”

Tyler looked intrigued and asked, “What exactly does that entail?”

“Whip cream, chocolate sauce, and my old cheerleading uniform,” Bonnie teased.

He swallowed thickly and croaked, “Really?”

She didn’t reply but there was a mischievous sparkle in her eyes.

Damon cleared his throat again. “X-rated Saved by the Bell is riveting but we do have a more pressing issue to address, Witchy.”

The green-eyed witch looked at Damon with a sheepish expression. She hopped down and walked over to him. She pulled him into a hug. “Thank you for going to help Tyler. I owe you.”

Damon feigned annoyance at the hug even as he returned it. He complained, “Ugh, you smell like Wolf Boy.”

Bonnie giggled and said, “I always smell like Tyler now, Damon.”

“Don’t remind me,” he complained. “Anyway, I didn’t actually do anything. Klaus was playing nice…”

She released him from the hug and moved back over to Tyler. She tucked herself beneath his arm and muttered, “Well, that’s not suspicious at all.”

Tyler kissed the top of Bonnie’s head and explained, “He’s here because of the travelers. He is obviously nervous about his parents crossing the veil. He wants to know what the witches on the Other Side are planning. I told Klaus that we would meet with him first thing in the morning.”

“At his house without any backup,” Damon interjected with a scowl.

Tyler said, “He wasn’t going to agree to anything else. As much as I hate him, it is better to keep things friendly for as long as possible. We don’t want a fight that we might not be able to win. Besides, it couldn’t hurt to have Klaus’ help with the travelers. You have to admit he’s really good at killing stuff.”

Bonnie chewed on her bottom lip. “Klaus is also good at ruining things because of his uncontrollable temper.”

“I know that we don’t have any reason to trust him, Bon. I am not suggesting that we start now. Klaus will screw us over if it works to his benefit. I just don’t think he would leave New Orleans unless he was really worried about the travelers. He is in a serious struggle for control of New Orleans. Leaving for any length of time could give his progeny, Marcel, the upper hand.”

She hummed, “I guess you have a point.”

Damon said, “I am hoping that the bird will come through with something useful. I sent him to spy on Klaus.”

Bonnie frowned. “You sent Russell to spy on Klaus? What if Klaus figures that he isn’t a regular bird?”

“It isn’t the first time that I have had Russell spy on Klaus. He has never paid him any attention in the past,” he defended.

“He might have a witch with him, Damon. Vampires might not be able to detect the difference in Russell but a witch can. Lucy knew as soon as she walked by him this afternoon.”

Damon shrugged. “Then I’ll just have to find another bird.”

Bonnie’s green eyes went flinty at his disregard for Russell’s safety.

He said, “He’s your pet…not mine.”

Tyler frowned. “That’s cold, man. You named the bird.”

Damon stuffed his hands into his pockets and snorted, “I was drunk at the time! I do all sorts of ill advised things when I am drunk.”

“You’ve had him for thirteen years, Damon. Stop pretending like you don’t care if something happens to him,” she fumed.

He groaned and said, “It was a calculated risk. I want to know what is going on at Klaus’ mansion before you walk in there.”

Bonnie’s expression softened once she understood that Damon had sent Russell into a precarious situation for her benefit. “You didn’t have to do that, Damon.”

“You know that I did, Bon-Bon. You won’t be dying on my watch until you are all old, wrinkly, and gross.”

Tyler rubbed Bonnie’s back. “He has a point, Bon.”

She looked at Tyler with a raised eyebrow. “You were the one that said you thought Klaus came here in peace.”

“I do but it is better to be safe than sorry. We can use whatever advantage we can get with Klaus. It is important to know what he might be up to or if his siblings are with him,” Tyler said.

Bonnie scowled in response. “I don’t think that I like the two of you agreeing about things. It feels wrong.”

Tyler chuckled and said, “Only about your safety, Bon.”

Damon’s phone buzzed in his jeans’ pocket. He read his text message and scowled. “Everyone else is at the park with Nadia. She’s getting antsy.”

Bonnie groaned. “I am in no mood to deal with a temperamental vampire...other than you, Damon.”

The vampire in question waggled his eyebrows. “I don’t blame ya. I’m not looking forward to spending quality time with my ex’s evil spawn. But she is going to want more details about this body swapping plan and it has to come from a witch.”

Bonnie pulled Tyler’s car keys from her pocket and handed them to him. “I know. We need to get this over with because I would really like to get Katherine out of my basement. I just need to run inside to let Lucy know that I am leaving.”

Damon said, “I’ll meet the two of you over there. I am going to go pick up my car.”

Damon had abandoned his car in a parking lot when Bonnie had called him in a panic. He loved his Camaro and she drove like a dream. However, he was faster than his beloved car was even with the expensive rebuilt engine powering her.

Bonnie slipped into the house and walked into the kitchen.

Lucy was sitting at the table while she fed Mari the bland homemade mashed potatoes. “Is Tyler okay?”

She nodded. “Yes, he is fine. Klaus is in town for the same reason you are—the travelers. I just popped in to let you know that I am off to meet with Nadia. I hope that I am able to close the deal on this whole body swap situation.”

“But you have a Plan B if she refuses to agree, right?’ Lucy asked.

“Yes, I have a couple of potions on hand and a hex ready to put her down.”

Lucy smiled approvingly. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Bonnie walked out of the house and locked the door behind her.

Tyler had the car idling as he waited on her.

When she climbed into Tyler’s car, she glanced in the back seat to check for her messenger bag. She had tucked the potions into the bag before she and Tyler set out earlier. Bonnie retrieved the potions from the bag and hid them in the pockets of the sweatshirt.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yeah.”

Tyler pulled away from the curb and headed towards the park. He glanced at Bonnie. “Are you okay?”

Bonnie looked over at him and said, “I’m fine. Why?”

He swallowed thickly and tried to forget the feeling of terror he had sensed through their bond. “Just checking…”

She blanched as she understood the motivation for his question. It wasn’t as if Tyler could have asked her about it in front of Damon without mentioning the bond. “I was just worried about you. I freaked out for a minute and started to shift. I am lucky that Lucy was there to help me get myself under control. I think it is a technique that I can use if that ever happens again.”

“I am sorry, Bon,” he said. Tyler reached over and squeezed her leg.

Bonnie shrugged her shoulders. “Tonight wasn’t your fault. I am a new werewolf. Emotional situations are going to trigger my wolf. I have to learn how to control myself. If I had been thinking straight I would have kept track of your emotions through the bond. It’s exactly what I did once I was thinking clearly again.”

Tyler grumbled, “I just hate that you have to deal with any of it.”

She scooted closer to him and said, “I’m not. If I wasn’t a werewolf then I wouldn’t be your mate. I like what we have.”

“Yeah?” he asked in a quiet voice.

Bonnie nodded. “Yeah. I promise. When I said that I loved you…I meant it, Ty.”

“I meant it, too,” he confessed.

She smiled smugly. “I know. I felt the power behind those words.”

Tyler found a parking space near the clock tower and cut off the car. Then he turned to look at Bonnie and caressed her cheek. “Being a werewolf gets better with time. I used to hate it, but now I couldn’t imagine going back to the way things used to be.”

Bonnie said, “In the meantime, I won’t have to go through it alone.”

“Not a chance,” he replied with a smile.

They climbed out of the car and walked across the street to where Jeremy, Stefan, Caroline, Nadia, and Matt were already waiting.

Bonnie said, “Damon will be here soon but we can start without him. He already knows the plan.”

Nadia folded her arms and gave a shake of her head. “I need his word that he won’t kill my mother as soon as she is in the new vessel. He isn’t exactly known for controlling his temper. If Damon kills my mother I will flay him alive.”

Stefan shifted uncomfortably at the threat against his brother.

The witch said, “Damon has already agreed to leave Katherine alone until we have stopped the travelers. When that is over, it is up to you to get Katherine out of Mystic Falls. If she ever crosses the town line again, I wouldn’t blame Damon for ripping out her heart on sight.”

Nadia’s vampire face surfaced as her fangs dropped into view. “Are you threatening my mother?”

Tyler moved closer to Bonnie to protect. “No one is threatening Katherine.”

Bonnie remained unmoved by Nadia. She said, “I don’t need to threaten Katherine. She is shackled in my basement. She would already be dead if I wanted her that way. I don’t even need to do the job myself. Klaus is in town and he doesn’t really seem to be the type of person to forgive and forget. The only reason he didn’t kill Katherine during his last visit to town is because she was dying. I could just hand Katherine over to him as a sort of peace offering. We could tell him about you, too. Then you can spend the rest of your life running from him just like your mother did. It has a sort of symmetry…don’t you think?”

Caroline’s blue eyes widened at her friend’s threat.

Nadia roared in anger and charged at Bonnie.

Tyler caught the vampire in mid-air and slammed her onto the ground hard enough to crack the concrete. His eyes turned gold and he growled. “Hybrid trumps vampire...even one as old as you. Bonnie and her cousin are going to put your mom in another body tomorrow. They are going to bind her to that body so that she doesn’t get the bright idea to possess Elena again. Once we take care of the travelers, she needs to leave Mystic Falls and never return.  She has spent months screwing with all of us….no make that years. If Katherine ever shows her face in this town again...she won’t have to worry about Damon killing her. I will.”

“This is a good deal, Nadia. Stefan found a vampire to be her new vessel. She was turned in her 20’s but she is about 50 years old. That has to be better than being stuck in a newbie vampire’s body. You get your mother for another five hundred or so years. The only thing we ask in return is that you keep her well away from us. I feel like it is a fair trade,” Bonnie added.

Tyler asked, “Do we have a deal?”

She hissed, “Yes…”

He slowly removed his hand from her throat and stepped away.

Nadia got to her feet and brushed the concrete dust from her clothes. “I’ll see you all tomorrow morning.”

Bonnie said, “Make it afternoon we have to see Klaus in the morning.”

Nadia glared and then fled so fast that she was just a blur.

Damon strolled up to the group. He quirked an eyebrow. “What did I miss?”

Stefan shook his head. “Where were you?”

“Had to get my car,” Damon said.

Chapter Text

Bonnie was still unhappy that Damon had sent Russell into such a precarious situation. She was genuinely fond of the crow and would have been heartbroken if Klaus had killed him. However, it turned out to be a wise decision because the bird returned with a wealth of information. Klaus had not made the trip to Mystic Falls alone. Rebekah, Elijah, and Hayley were also staying at the Mikaelson mansion with him. Moreover, there were several people present that Damon could not readily identify. They all feared Klaus had begun making new hybrids using Hayley’s altered blood. Since she was pregnant with a tribrid her blood was a substitute for doppelganger blood. Tyler had proven as much during his failed trip to New Orleans.

As if they did not have enough problems on their plate, Gabe called Tyler in the middle of the night. The tracker was able to locate Enzo. The Director of Medicine was holding him hostage in Whitmore Hospital’s basement. It seemed that Enzo had not been as thorough as he initially believed when he tried to end the Augustine Group at the school. For the first time in Katherine’s wretched life, she had actually been telling them the truth. Members of the Augustine Group were on Whitmore’s campus investigating the unexplained disappearances of their cohorts. Bonnie and Tyler hardly had the time to confront the threat the group presented. Unfortunately, Enzo being under their control made the situation more dangerous. He might be inclined to point his captors in their direction for some sort of leniency or out of pure revenge.

Damon and Stefan arrived at Bonnie’s house before the sun even rose to discuss their latest problem. After some light debating, they decided to address the Augustine problem first. While the humans presented the smallest threat, they were also the most unpredictable. After all, there was a reason why guerilla warfare was successful. One of their own being kidnapped and experimented on by those deviants while fighting the travelers would be an almost insurmountable distraction. Nadia had explained that Markos had amassed a substantial following. The travelers deserved their undivided attention. However, the ward they placed on Mystic Falls was an effective stopgap while they took care of the Augustine Group.

Fortunately, they had a more experienced witch on their team. Lucy was more than capable of leading the charge. She had crossed paths with the group in the past and found their methods barbaric and distasteful. Bonnie was taken aback by Lucy’s simple but brutal solution for eliminating the threat they presented. Lucy planned to use dark magic to kill the Augustine Group in one fell swoop. The younger Bennett witch had dabbled in dark magic in the past. She wasn’t interested in crossing that line again. Bonnie had enjoyed it too much in the past and the spirits had punished her and Sheila for it. However, Lucy assured the girl that her assistance wasn’t necessary. She was used to pissing off the spirits and no longer feared their wrath. In order to work her magic, she would need a personal item from each of the Augustine members that had once again infested Whitmore. Tyler promised Lucy that he would get her everything she needed by tomorrow afternoon.

Bonnie and Tyler sat in his car at the edge of Klaus’ property. Neither teen was eager to meet with the original hybrid. They were hopeful that he would help them defeat the travelers. However, they knew from experience that Klaus wasn’t to be trusted even when they were working towards the same goals. He was mercurial and his pride easily wounded. Furthermore, there was always the very real threat of Klaus double-crossing them at the last moment. Elijah was no better in that regard.  The Mikaelsons would always do what was in the best interest of their family—supposed allies be damned. Bonnie could see a scenario where Klaus bargained with the travelers to trap his parents on the Other Side with the rest of the witches.

Tyler reached over and took Bonnie’s hand. “Are you ready?”

She blinked in surprise when Tyler touched her. She realized belatedly that he had been trying to get her attention. She forced a nervous smile and nodded. “Yes.”

“I am sorry that you have to be involved in this at all. I wish that I understood magic more. I could have explained the plan to him without your help,” he bemoaned.

Bonnie quickly shook her head and said, “It is better this way. I wouldn’t want you in the lion’s den alone, Ty. It was hard enough leaving you last night to face him alone.”

Tyler sighed and rested his forehead against hers. “My instincts as an alpha make me want my mate as far away from this threat as possible. I am supposed to be protecting you not leading you into danger.”

“I thought we were supposed to be partners?” she asked.

“We are partners, but…”

Bonnie cut in, “What sort of partner would I be if I left you alone for a second time?”

“A breathing one depending on how this meeting goes.”

She cupped his cheek and kissed away the crestfallen expression on his handsome face. Her fingers stroked at the fine layer of hair growing on his jaw. There was a glint in Bonnie’s eyes when she pulled back. She said, “I have a trump card that just might save our lives if it comes to it.”

Tyler arched an eyebrow at his mate and asked, “What is it?”

She bit her lip and said, “I can’t give you any details right now. I promised this person that I would only use it if our lives depended on it. I can’t break that promise.”

He was intrigued by this secret but he would not push Bonnie for the truth. He trusted her to make the right decision. Tyler pecked her lips and said, “Well, I hope that it doesn’t come to that.”

“Me, too,” she breathed.

Tyler looked towards the house and saw Elijah standing outside. He squeezed Bonnie’s hand again. “I don’t think that we can put this off any longer.”

Bonnie was surprised that someone hadn’t come outside sooner. They had been parked on the street for close to ten minutes. She chuckled softly, “I guess not.”

He took the car out of park and turned into the long circular driveway. Tyler drove up to the house and parked behind a cherry red Ferrari. He turned off the engine and glanced at Bonnie. “Are you ready?”

She forced out a nervous breath and nodded. “Yeah.”

Tyler got out of the car and walked around to open Bonnie’s door.

She took his hand and stood up. “Thanks, Ty.”

He kissed her cheek and closed the door. Then Tyler squeezed her hand and walked up to the arched entrance.

Elijah was sharply dressed as usual in a navy blue suit. He smiled. “Good morning, Miss Bennett.”

Bonnie resisted the overwhelming urge to roll her eyes. His charm and refinement no longer had an effect on her. She had seen his true face and he was just as monstrous as his illegitimate little brother was. In truth, she preferred the honesty in Klaus’ personality. He never once gave you the impression that he was not an unmitigated son of a bitch with a penchant for murder and mayhem.

“Good morning,” she replied with a forced kindness.

Elijah inclined his head toward the younger man. “Tyler.”

Tyler’s face remained neutral but he was surprised by the bitterness he felt through his bond with Bonnie. He nodded in greeting. “Is Klaus ready to see us?”

“Yes, he is waiting for you in his study. Please, follow me.”

Tyler and Bonnie walked into the massive two-story entry. Someone had put tremendous effort in decorating the house for Christmas. A jaunty Christmas song played over the surround sound system. Both teens wondered just how long the Mikaelsons had been in town.

The hybrid cursed himself for not keeping an eye on the mansion. He did not like that Klaus and his siblings had been able to sneak up on him. If they lived through this situation, he would not make that mistake again. However, his attention was quickly drawn to the scent of multiple wolves. It had taken a few moments to detect their presence because of the myriad of scents bombarding his senses. Christmas was a particularly fragrant time of year for a werewolf. One thing became abundantly clear, the people that Russell had spotted with Klaus were not hybrids. A hybrid’s senses were sharp enough to distinguish between another hybrid and a werewolf. While he was glad to learn that Klaus had not created a hybrid army, he had even more questions now. Generally, Klaus held werewolves in utter contempt. Why had he chosen to surround himself with them now? Perhaps more intriguing was the reason that werewolves would willingly serve him.

Elijah led them to the second floor where the study was located. He opened the double doors that led into the room. Once all three stepped into the room, he closed the doors behind them to ensure that no one would disturb their conversation. There were six other people sharing the Mikaelson mansion with Elijah and his siblings. He walked around the room to stand behind his younger brother.

The original hybrid was seated behind a large antique desk with a snifter of blood in his hand. He motioned to two chairs in front of his desk. He grinned at the couple and said, “Sit…please.”

Tyler muttered, “Thanks.”

Klaus frowned when he felt a potent energy prickling his skin. He realized immediately that it was radiating from Bonnie. His eyes widened inconspicuously because after last night he had assumed she no longer had magic. Klaus remained quiet and just studied the girl. He had scented the newly mated werewolf pair as soon as he located them in the forest last night. It had been a surprising turn of events considering he had never met a Bennett werewolf in his very long life. Klaus had been tracking their bloodline for centuries. He was curious about how this came to be but now he more fully understood Tyler’s interest in the Lescheres family. Klaus’ wife, Vivianne Lescheres, was the first and last witch-werewolf hybrid that he had ever encountered.

Meanwhile, Rebekah looked festive in a red asymmetrical dress as she sat on the edge of the desk. Her blue eyes studied Bonnie and Tyler with an almost clinical precision.

Bonnie’s eyes flicked to a beating heart off to the side. She saw an unfamiliar man sitting near the roaring fireplace. It took a moment but Bonnie identified the man as a werewolf. Her eyes flicked to Tyler.

He squeezed her hand in acknowledgement. Tyler led Bonnie over to the smoke colored wingback chairs and sat down.

Bonnie reluctantly pulled her hand from Tyler’s grasp. She folded her hands on her lap. “Tyler said that you wanted to know what the witches on the Other Side have planned for the travelers. I have to warn you that the witches on the Other Side still want you dead.”

Klaus laughed smoothly. “They have wanted me dead since I was birthed into this world. I am not now nor have I ever been concerned about a gaggle of dead spiteful witches.”

“Perhaps you should be since they are eager to correct their mistakes.” Bonnie smiled innocently and amended, “Or at least what they perceive to be mistakes. They are quite unhappy that the travelers were able to find a way to practice magic even with the curse. I am sure you can guess what they think of you breaking the hybrid curse.”

Elijah tensed when he heard that the spirits were targeting Niklaus. He immediately wondered if they had played into the witches’ hands by rushing to Mystic Falls. This little town was ground zero because of the centuries of magic that had seeped into the very soil.

The humor slowly drained from the original hybrid’s face. He had not considered that the witches would use the travelers’ machinations to take a big swing at him. “And what of you, little witch? What do you think of your long dead kin’s plan?”

“I think that they are short-sighted and overly punitive. I think that their actions too often have unintended consequences. Perhaps you would not have spent so many centuries slaughtering innocent people if the Original Witch had not cursed you. While they were not directly responsible for that decision the spirits certainly approved it and actively worked to prevent you from breaking the curse,” she replied.

Klaus chuckled in amusement and swirled the blood around in his glass. “That is debatable. I do so love the taste of blood. What plans do they have for me?”

She said, “They plan to send you and your siblings to the same place as the travelers…the void.”

Rebekah frowned. “What is the void?”

“It is nothing…it is death without dying. It is a place of decay and suffering. It is endless,” Bonnie warned.

Klaus had gone stock still because he had heard stories of the void from witches. However, he thought it was merely an old wives’ tale. “How do they plan to access the void?”

She said, “The travelers, in their monumental arrogance, will be the architects of their own demise. They plan to bring down the veil to the other side by overwhelming the anchor. This will cause tears to form in the fabric of the magic Qetsiyah used when she created the Other Side. Those tears open directly into the void. The travelers plan to save their ancestors and other supernatural creatures while binding the witches to the Other Side. When it collapses, the witches would be drawn into the void for the rest of time. However, the witches have located the first traveler…the progenitor of their kind. They have her under lock and key. Several covens on this side will link Markos and his followers together. The witches on the Other Side will do the same to the travelers that are over there already. When Markos and his followers cross the veil to overwhelm the anchor, they will become stuck on the Other Side with their ancestors. However, the breaches into the void will have already opened. The witches on the Other Side and here will cast a spell that forces the travelers trapped on the Other Side through the breach and into the void.”

Elijah asked, “What about the breaches? Will they remain open once the travelers have been banished to the void?”

Bonnie nodded solemnly. “We do not have a solution for that problem yet. However, you all know the sacrifices the spirits are willing to make to protect the balance. If they must lose in the process of stopping the travelers then that is what they will do. Some supernatural creatures that have found peace will move on as was the way before Qetsiyah created The Other Side. The rest will be sucked into the void with the travelers.”

Klaus asked, “How are they proposing to get me onto the Other Side? Only the dead can pass the veil and I cannot die.”

Tyler tensed at his sire’s tone. He knew that they were taking a risk being honest with Klaus. He only hoped that the desire for survival would convince Klaus to cooperate. They would all have to make some uncomfortable sacrifices in this fight against the travelers. Tyler’s sacrifice would be involving his pack in the dangerous mission. His desire to protect them from the supernatural chaos of Mystic Falls had gone by the wayside the moment Bonnie was in danger. In reality, he should have known that he wouldn’t be able to keep his two worlds separate permanently. As Ruby sagely told him, werewolves were a warrior species.

She smiled. “Everything is capable of being killed if the killer is motivated and smart enough. The witches on the Other Side are very motivated. They want to link you and your siblings together again. However, this time you won’t be able to stop the ritual by killing my mother. I’m not exactly inclined to help them since so many vampires I love are part of your bloodline.”

Elijah possessed enough self-awareness to look contrite for his past misdeeds. “I mean no disrespect of your estimable skills. However, they could find another witch to complete the linking spell.”

While Elijah was merely flattering Bonnie, Klaus was quite interested in the girl’s skills. He had been in Bonnie’s presence many times in the past. He had not sensed her magic this strongly. It seemed as if she had gotten stronger and that was curious indeed because she had already been one of the more powerful witches he had ever encountered. She had simply been untrained. Klaus had thought she would have done well under his tutelage.

Bonnie nodded. “You are right about that. However, there is a way to prevent you and your siblings from being linked ever again.”

“How?” Klaus asked breaking his contemplative silence.

Tyler was proud of how well Bonnie was handling the situation. He had wisely chosen to keep quiet. Not only did he not really understand magic but also his relationship with Klaus was antagonistic at best. However, he was surprised that Klaus hadn’t become enraged yet. Tyler realized that his sire was truly concerned about Esther and Mikael crossing over and wreaking havoc. Frankly, Tyler was concerned about them as well. He only hoped that Klaus would agree to the plan that they had painstakingly arranged last night with Lucy’s help. Tyler had picked up on a curious undertone in last night’s discussion. Lucy seemed to have a wealth of insight on Klaus. She had explained it away by saying it was information she learned from Katherine. Tyler didn’t believe her but he didn’t feel it was his place to call out her lies.

She said, “It is a bastardization of the unlinking spell. It prevents any of you from ever being linked again. However, I want to offer a full disclosure…my spell will also unlink you from your sire lines.”

Klaus scoffed. “That is convenient! Then your boyfriend and friends are safe if the witches continue with their plan to kill me.”

Bonnie said, “But as you said, you cannot be killed. If the witches are unable to tether you to your siblings, then you are truly invulnerable.”

Rebekah asked, “And you are capable of completing this spell?”

She nodded. “I just need a few more days to finish it.”

Klaus regarded her for a moment. “We are to believe that you are capable of creating a spell of this magnitude,  witchling?”

Bonnie said, “I would have assistance with the spell. My ancestors on the Other Side have sounded the alarm for all the witches in my bloodline. I will enlist their help by explaining that it is for our benefit. We do not know the travelers’ plans for us. We cannot allow the travelers to link us as we will do to them.”

Rebekah was taken aback by Bonnie’s duplicity. She tsked, “Betraying your own kind?”

She retorted, “My own kind killed me for disobeying their archaic rules. I owe them nothing.”

Klaus inclined his head and reiterated his earlier opinion, “Spiteful witches…”

Bonnie said, “However, I will not perform this spell for free.”

The original hybrid laughed heartily. “You wish to be paid? Shall I write a check for you?”

“I don’t want money,” Bonnie replied. “I will only do this if I have your assurance that you will leave me and mine alone in perpetuity.”

Klaus waved his hand dismissively. “I already allowed the ungrateful pup to live even after he tried to kill my unborn child. You have my word that I will not harm the two of you or your wretched friends. Are you satisfied?”

Bonnie’s eyes flicked to Elijah before moving back to Klaus. She said, “I am sure you will understand if I cannot merely take the word of a Mikaelson on blind faith. Your allegiances will always lie with your family—as it should. However, I will not be burned again by trusting your word.”

Klaus didn’t appreciate the girl’s tone. However, he couldn’t blame Bonnie for her trepidation. He asked, “Well, what do you propose?”

“A magical contract sealed with blood from the five of us,” she replied.

The original hybrid was incredibly suspicious of Bonnie’s request. Witches used magical contracts several hundred years ago. However, the practice had fallen out of common use some time in the 1600’s. Now they were almost unheard of within their community. Furthermore, he did not imagine that someone of Bonnie’s relatively young age would even know of its existence. He decided it was time to find out what the little witch had been doing while he was in New Orleans. Klaus also wondered if he could convince her to work for him but that was for another time.

He said, “The contract would have to be worded carefully but I have no objections.”

Bonnie smiled. “Then I would be happy to perform the spell. I will take some time to finish the spell and prepare the contract. We can talk terms whenever you would like. In the meantime, there are wards in place to prevent the travelers from crossing the town line. Now there is just the matter of your end of the bargain you made with Tyler last night.”

Klaus eyed her for a moment. “Yes, he mentioned an interest in some relatives of his that I might have known once upon a time.”

Bonnie opened her purse and pulled out the weathered journal. “This belonged to Marc-Rene Lescheres.”

Tyler asked, “Did you know him?”

Klaus remembered the man well. Marc had been Vivianne’s paternal uncle. The man had immediately distrusted Klaus. However, Vivianne had fallen in love with Klaus from the first moment she laid eyes on him. Her uncle’s objections had fallen onto deaf ears. Unfortunately, the story of his love was a tragic one that he had tried to forget over the years. When he met Vivianne, it was a tumultuous time in New Orleans between werewolves and witches. They were once as fierce enemies as vampires and werewolves were now.

He said, “There is no need to play coy. You could not care less about Marc-Rene. You are interested in his niece and nephew, Vivianne and Remon. They were born from the union of a Dalliencourt witch and a Navarro werewolf.”

Tyler nodded. “Yes. I am sure you have noticed that Bonnie is different.”

Klaus sat forward in his chair. He audibly inhaled and then smiled. “Yes, as I said last night…she smells delectable.”

Elijah did not find his brother’s antics to be amusing. Klaus had no interest in the young woman aside from her magic. He was only trying to get underneath Tyler’s skin because he was a perpetual child. However, he wasn’t lying about Bonnie’s scent. The girl smelled quite alluring even to Elijah.

Tyler tried to suppress his anger. He knew that Klaus was trying to goad him into reacting. He also knew that pheromones still clung to Bonnie like a second skin because her heat had ended just a day ago.

Bonnie decided to intervene while Tyler was still relatively calm. She cheerfully declared, “Hopefully, I smell like family.”

The girl’s strange comment caught him off guard. Klaus exclaimed, “Excuse me?”

“Tyler isn’t the only one that has been scaling the branches of his family tree looking for answers about my unique situation. You’re like my half-uncle or something,” she replied while feigning wide-eyed curiosity.

Rebekah outright gaped at Bonnie and then shot a look at her brother. She was pleased to see that Niklaus was equally dismayed.  

Elijah cleared his throat since Klaus seemed stunned into silence. He asked, “Would you mind elaborating, Miss Bennett? I am afraid you have us at a disadvantage.”

“When you all were human, you knew a girl named Drue, right?” she asked.

Elijah’s eyes narrowed but he said, “Yes, her mother was a dear friend to our family.”

“I recently learned that my bloodline descended from Drue. She is the reason that I am a werewolf. Her mother was involved with the alpha of the local pack. I believe that his name was Ansel. Together they had three children. However, as you know Ayana was a faithful servant of nature and a witch. She cursed her children to ensure none of her descendants would ever trigger the werewolf curse.”

The wheels turning in the three siblings’ heads were practically visible. They had grown up knowing Ayana’s children. Rebekah in particular had been close to Drue as they were the same age.

Klaus had always suspected that Ayana had been involved with a werewolf. Humans were scarce in the area they had once called home. The humans were terrified of the men that transformed into beasts during the full moon. It had never occurred to him that Ayana and Ansel might have been involved.

Cary breathed, “The medicine woman…”

Every set of eyes in the room shifted to the once silent spectator.

His mouth immediately snapped shut. He hadn't meant to blurt out anything. Klaus had been kind to Cary’s pack but his reputation as a werewolf slayer was legendary. He had no interest in getting on the hybrid’s bad side by poking his nose where it didn't belong. In fact, Klaus had only allowed him in the room because he wanted a second opinion on Tyler and Bonnie’s scents. Klaus’ senses were unrivaled but he did not know how to interpret the data as a werewolf. He was slowly learning with Cary’s assistance.

Klaus arched an eyebrow at the anxious man. “Is there something you would like to add to the conversation?”

Cary swallowed thickly and said, “There is a story that has been passed down through our family. Once upon a time, a deadly fever struck our pack’s children. Our alpha appealed to a brown-skinned medicine woman for help. She cured every child inside of a week. The story goes that our alpha was so grateful to the medicine woman that he fell in love with her.”

Rebekah huffed out a laugh. “Well, your father certainly got around, Nik.”

Elijah added, “And he seemingly had a penchant for witches.”

“Like father, like son,” Rebekah quipped.

Klaus wasn’t nearly as amused as his siblings were.

Bonnie and Tyler’s phones started vibrating nearly at the same time. They both checked their phones. Everyone important knew that they were meeting with Klaus. They wouldn’t call unless it was an emergency.

Tyler shot out of his seat and said, “We’ve gotta go.”

Elijah straightened up because the teens seemed almost panicked. They had been practically serene while talking to Klaus despite their troubled history. He asked, “Travelers?”

Bonnie grabbed the journal they had brought as she got to her feet. She shook her head. “No. Lucky for us we have no shortage of enemies. We have caught the attention of a group of humans that like experimenting on vampires and werewolves.”

Cary growled deeply. He said, “Augustine…”

Chapter Text

There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent . Once upon a time, Bonnie had read that apropos quote in a book and it had stuck with her. Unfortunately, she could not seem to remember the source right now. She was certain that no one would hold her lapse in memory against her since she was bleeding out at an incredible rate. If the girl were a more experienced witch, she would be able to cast a healing spell that would at least slow the bleeding. She had come across the spell in her great-grandmother’s grimoire a few months ago. However, she had not committed the spell to memory because she did not have access to her magic at that time. It seemed like a life-changing oversight at this point.

Bonnie felt a familiar coldness begin to seep into the very core of her bones. She was dying. She was tempted to laugh at how incredibly bad she was at something that most people found to be relatively simple—living. A strange stirring deep within the young woman distracted her from her rapidly approaching death. At first, she thought it was her wolf trying to help her stave off the inevitable. If Bonnie survived the trauma of shifting, she might actually survive her injuries. The wolf’s physiology was better suited for surviving mortal injuries. Moreover, she remembered Tyler telling her that werewolves healed faster in their lupine form.

Her green eyes dulled as she watched the bloody battle playing out within the confines of the forest behind the Salvatore boarding house. Obviously, Enzo had turned on them because the Augustine Group had shown up at the boarding house prepared for all out war. Bonnie had erroneously assumed that her group of friends could handle ten humans. Tyler greatly enhanced their odds by calling in a few members of his pack. Unfortunately, they did not count on fighting eight very old vampires controlled by the Augustine Group. The vampires were not merely old but they had been altered in one of the group’s inhumane experiments. The vampires not only craved the blood of other vampires but their bites left behind necrotized flesh that weakened their victims.

Tyler’s pack had easily ripped the humans apart. However, even with their human masters’ dead, the altered vampires seemed determined to kill them all. Frankly, it looked as if they would be successful in their endeavor. Things had gotten so out of hand that Tyler had shifted into his wolf form. The large black wolf was currently ripping an Augustine vampire apart—literally. Unfortunately, Tyler was the only hybrid in his pack and therefore the only one that could shift without the full moon. Moreover, a vampire had bitten Bonnie’s leg and injured her before she could shift to help him. Perhaps the only good news was that the vampires’ bites only seemed to be poisonous to other vampires.

Damon crashed into a nearby tree after a female vampire tossed him around like a ragdoll. He had several patches of decaying flesh where he had been bitten by vampires. However, the blood covered vampire refused to lie down and die. He staggered to his feet again and grabbed a tree branch from the ground. Damon blurred several feet and launched the branch through the air like a missile. The branch traveled through the air so quickly that it barreled through female vampire’s heart and kept going.

Caroline and Stefan were working with two men from Tyler’s pack. They had an Augustine vampire trapped near a small gully at the edge of the property. The group was trying herd the vampire into the gully in hopes that it would be easier to kill after the disorientating fall. It wasn’t a great plan but fighting heads up had only led to grievous bodily injury. The only reason that the Augustine vampires had not been successful in killing them yet was because of a large contingent of werewolves from Tyler’s pack. It was obvious that they were all skilled fighters.

Suddenly, Cary and four other men arrived without warning. They threw themselves into the fight without an invitation. The werewolves from Tyler’s pack pointed out the Augustine vampires but it wasn’t really necessary. The faces of the Augustine vampires looked deformed. The black veins that normally only appeared beneath a vampire’s eyes spread across the entire face and down the neck like a tangle of spider webs.

Several minutes passed before Bonnie realized that there was magic thrumming inside her. The magic was faint and unfocused. More importantly, the magic did not belong to her. It was a perplexing situation made more confusing by her diminished mental state. Then as if she had been struck by lightning, Bonnie understood with crushing certainty what she was feeling—a life. To be more accurate, she felt the stirrings of new life inside her. This was one inconvenient time to realize that she was indeed pregnant. Bonnie’s bloody hand left the jacket that she was using to stop the bleeding from her thigh. She touched her flat stomach with a feeling of awe and wonder.

“You have to keep pressure on your leg, Bon,” Matt implored his friend.

Matt scooted closer to Bonnie when he realized that she was not listening to him. He put pressure on her wound in hopes that it would stymie the blood flow. He was nursing his own less severe injuries but he wasn’t about to let Bonnie die without a fight. He had just finished calling Nadia for help. She was not exactly their biggest fan but he knew how to play hardball when necessary. His request had been fashioned as a threat. He simply asked if Nadia thought Lucy would allow Katherine to live if Bonnie died. Matt had no way of knowing if Lucy would really renege on the deal. Fortunately, Nadia was in exactly the same boat that he was and would not risk her mother’s life on a whim. Nadia threatened Matt with bodily harm but agreed to help. Matt didn’t know how long it would take for her to make it from McKinley using vampire speed but he hoped that it would not be too long. He had not done particularly well in anatomy and physiology but he was almost certain that one of those creatures nicked Bonnie’s femoral artery. Creature was the only thing that Matt could think to call the things that attacked them because they certainly weren’t vampires any longer.

Bonnie barely heard Matt’s urgent words. The startling revelation about her pregnancy had her full attention. On some level, she had known that it was likely given her circumstances but the confirmation was still unexpected somehow. She had never really considered what it would be like to be a mother seeing as she did not have one. Despite the pregnancy being unplanned and completely unexpected, she was happy. Bonnie tried to power through the lethargic feeling that accompanied near exsanguination. She did not intend to die—again. She certainly was not going to allow a psychotic group of humans to kill her unborn child that was barely a clump of cells right now.

She muttered, “Help me up.”

Matt glanced at Bonnie’s ashen face. “You shouldn’t stand up, Bonnie. You are in bad shape.”

She groaned and started standing up on her own. Bonnie cried out in pain but pressed forward. She had to do something to put a stop to this.

Matt scrambled to keep up with her even as his ribs screamed in protest. He pleaded, “At least let me make a tourniquet for your leg. We have to slow down the bleeding.”

Bonnie looked at her friend with dark golden eyes. She knew that Matt was right but her instincts demanded that she put an end to this protracted battle. However, she relented and nodded at him. “Okay.”

Matt crouched down and fumbled with his blood soaked jacket. It took a couple minutes for him to fashion it into an effective tourniquet. “If you move too much it will loosen.”

She leaned against Matt and said, “It’s a good thing that I don’t plan to move too much.”

The blond young man helped Bonnie walk but he had no clue where they were going.  

Bonnie abruptly stopped and closed her eyes. The talisman around her neck started glowing brightly as Bonnie channeled her magic. Bonnie did not have the physical energy to incapacitate the Augustine vampires one at a time. Therefore, she decided to attack all of them at the same time. Bonnie only hoped that it would be enough to give her friends and Tyler’s pack the opening they needed to end this before they began taking casualties.

Matt stared as the talisman hanging from Bonnie’s neck began to levitate in mid-air. The sight immediately reminded him of what happened in the basement the other day. He was worried that Bonnie might faint again. However, he figured asking her to stop would be a waste of breath and breathing was painful enough right now.

Bonnie let out a bloodcurdling scream as she released a powerful wave of her magic. The invisible energy spread across the forest like a heavy blanket of fog.

Suddenly, the Augustine vampires stopped fighting. They simultaneously grabbed their heads and emitted a chorus of frightening screams.

Tyler howled as Bonnie’s magic swirled around him.

In fact, everyone in the forest felt the witch’s magic even as it left them completely unharmed. The power behind the spell caused their nerve endings to tingle in response.

Bonnie grinned manically when she realized that her spell was working. However, she refused to let up. She couldn’t allow the Augustine vampires to regain their strength. She wouldn’t have the energy to cast this spell for a second time.

Matt winced because the screams made his ears ring. He turned to look at Bonnie and felt his stomach drop. Blood was practically streaming from both of her nostrils. He said, “You have to stop, Bonnie!”

“Not yet,” she muttered. Bonnie’s fists clenched at her sides as she gave the last bit of her energy.

Just as quickly as the screams began, they ended.

Matt caught Bonnie before she crashed to the ground. He groaned in pain as he lowered them both to the ground. Matt was too injured to even think about carrying Bonnie to safety. All he could do was shield her with his body because he anticipated the fighting would resume soon. Fortunately, he didn’t need to wait for too long. Matt didn’t know what Bonnie had done to the Augustine vampires but they had become sitting ducks. The creatures seemed to be alive still but they were as still as statues.

She groaned and muttered, “I may have over done it.”

“You think?” Matt quipped.

The two friends looked around as a strange silence descended over the once noisy forest. For a moment, it felt as if time had frozen. Everyone stood in place and stared at the Augustine vampires in confusion.

Klaus and Elijah sped into the forest and ended the confrontation by decapitating the frozen Augustine vampires. They had arrived to the party late because the elder of the two brothers had to convince the other to assist in the situation. Klaus had been livid when Cary and the other wolves ignored his decree that they not involve themselves in whatever troubles had befallen the Salvatores. In his own way, Klaus had been trying to protect them. He knew how easily bodies seemed to drop around the Salvatore brothers. Surprisingly, neither Salvatore was ever on the receiving end of the cloud of death that followed them. Klaus was just getting acquainted with his relatives and had no interest in them being killed.

Elijah came to a stop once he was certain that all of the Augustine vampires were dead. He scowled at the blood and viscera on his tailored suit. He brushed most of the carnage away but the blood remained. He stooped down and picked up one of the creatures heads because he wanted to examine the deformed face. Liquid came pouring out of the skull but it wasn’t blood. He said, “Niklaus…”

Klaus ignored his brother because something else had caught his interest. He could feel the witch’s magic thrumming around him. It had been a long time since he had felt such raw power. He was also interested in the wolves that did not belong to Cary’s pack. It seemed that his progeny had been a busy boy since his defeat at Klaus’ hands.

Elijah said, “Niklaus!”

The original hybrid turned to look at his brother. “What has you in such a tizzy, brother? I helped you save this lot as you requested.”

He gave a long-suffering sigh at Klaus’ petulant attitude. Cary had explained that he had a personal grudge against the Augustine Group. Elijah had hoped that his brother would have understood why Cary felt he needed to intervene in this situation. “You need to see this.”

Klaus joined his brother over the dead vampire’s body. He was about to make a biting comment about one dead vampire being the same as the thousands of others he had seen over the years. However, he stopped in his tracks when he caught sight of the puddle next to Elijah’s shoes. He crouched down and picked up what had to be a chunk of brain. The chunk of brain turned to mush between his fingers when he squeezed it.

“What did this? Could it have been caused by this Augustine Group?” Elijah asked curiously.

The original vampire was concerned about this group’s antics. The strange deformity to the vampires’ faces was disconcerting enough. He had heard tales of the group during the last hundred or so years. He never gave them much thought. Only one nearly unobtainable weapon was capable of killing Elijah and his siblings. Moreover, no group of humans had ever come close to beating the Mikaelson siblings before they encountered the vexatious residents of Mystic Falls. However, Hayley and her child would be vulnerable to attack by these Augustine lunatics.

Tyler’s golden eyes set on Klaus as a sense of alarm overwhelmed him. His thoughts immediately went back to his first pack. The wolf raised his large head and let out a powerful howl to rally his pack.

The werewolves from his pack turned to look at their alpha. They heeded his warning and left the forest with haste. It was better to disappear before the original hybrid decided to investigate their allegiance.

The younger Mikaelson brother sped over to another decapitated vampire to examine its brain. He found that vampire to be in the same state.

“What is it, Niklaus?” Elijah asked.

Klaus smiled in amusement as his eyes scanned the forest for Bonnie. He got to his feet and said, “The witch.”

“The Bennett girl turned their brains to mush?” he asked in disbelief.

Tyler ran through the forest at his top speed uncaring of his nude state. He didn’t have time to look for the clothes he had discarded before shifting. He could feel Bonnie growing weaker by the second through their bond. The teenage hybrid bit into his wrist before he even came to a full stop in front of Bonnie and Matt. His eyes lingered on the bloodstain that ran the length of her pants’ leg. He brushed off the overwhelming feeling of guilt so that he could take care of his mate now. He could berate himself later for having left her alone in the first place.

In a voice thick with emotion, he begged, “Drink…”

Bonnie knew that she would be making a gamble by accepting Tyler’s blood. She had consumed his blood a few days ago while in throes of her heat. They had been safely ensconced in her home without any reason to leave. However, the danger had returned to their lives and she could be killed at any moment—as evidenced by the ambush this morning. She had no way of knowing what would happen if she died with vampire blood in her system. Bonnie was also quite aware that if she didn’t accept Tyler’s blood that she would die before they could get her to the hospital.

Matt was so relieved that Tyler arrived in time to help Bonnie that he wasn’t even made uncomfortable by his friend’s state of undress.

Tyler saw the hesitation in her eyes. It didn’t take a genius to figure out why Bonnie was reluctant. Tyler growled at his mate and commanded, “Drink!”

Bonnie couldn’t help but think how sexy Tyler was when he got all ‘growly’. She started to giggle at having that train of thought in such a serious moment. She swore, “I will. I’m okay, Ty.”

He sat down on the ground and held his wrist over her mouth. Tyler used his other hand to stroke Bonnie’s hair. He promised, “No, you aren’t okay but you will be soon.”

Bonnie held onto Tyler’s arm as she latched onto his bleeding wrist. She had almost grown accustomed to drinking his blood because of her heat. Bonnie had fed from him more than once that week to ease the inevitable soreness that came with hours of spirited pheromone induced copulation.

Damon limped over to three teenagers. He was in worse shape than Tyler was. He would need to grab a couple bags of human blood from the boarding house to help speed up the healing process. First, he wanted to check on Bonnie. His blue eyes were trained on the blood soaked witch. He couldn’t believe how quickly everything had gone to hell.

His jaw clenched in anger as he snarled, “I am going to rescue Enzo from that hospital just so that I can rip out his heart.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Tyler growled.

Bonnie frowned at both of them. She reluctantly pried her mouth from Tyler’s wrist. She licked the last vestiges of his blood from her lips.

She asked, “Is that really necessary? We don’t know how long the Augustine Group has been torturing him. Maybe he had no choice but to give them information.”

Tyler looked away when Bonnie licked her lips. This was precisely the wrong time for him to become aroused. Unfortunately, Bonnie drinking his blood always had that effect of him. Apparently, a near death experience only slightly diminished those feelings. Perhaps the only redeeming aspect was that Tyler knew it had the same effect on Bonnie.

Damon said, “This is the second time Enzo has been under these assholes control. Next time one of us might actually die.”

“He is your friend,” Bonnie argued.

The raven-haired vampire replied, “He almost got you and my brother killed. Enzo knows me well enough to have understood the possible consequences if I survived.”

Bonnie winced as she thought about the moment when an Augustine vampire had speared Stefan with a tree branch. She had thought he was dead for a brief moment. Fortunately, the branch had missed his heart by a few inches. Bonnie gave up on convincing Damon to show mercy towards his friend. The Salvatore brothers had their share of drama but they wouldn’t stand for anyone killing the other.

Damon looked at Bonnie’s leg. “How are you doing, witchy?”

“Better,” she admitted.

“Thanks for the assist by the way,” he added with a smile.

Tyler asked, “What exactly did you do?”

Klaus sauntered over to the group with Elijah at his side. “I am wondering the same thing, Miss Bennett.”

Bonnie looked up at the siblings and said, “I don’t know. I tried giving the vampires multiple aneurysms to slow them down. I think something went wrong because I was trying to give them all aneurysms at the same time. Why?”

Stefan and Caroline slowly made their way over to the group. They were both uncomfortable with Klaus and Elijah’s sudden arrival.

Caroline couldn’t help sneaking a peek at Tyler’s face to gauge how he was handling Klaus’ presence. Fortunately, Tyler seemed too focused on Bonnie for Klaus to rile him up.

The original hybrid shook his head. How could someone with so much power be so clueless about her abilities?  It reminded him of another Bennett witch he had crossed paths with a some years ago. He had found the girl using her immense power to perform acts of petty theft. He said, “You used too much power and essentially liquefied their brains, dear.”

“Liquefied?” Bonnie asked with wide eyes.

“Chunky soup,” he added for clarification.

Elijah gave his brother an unimpressed glare for the needlessly graphic description.

Matt felt somewhat ill after hearing that.

“I am curious as to how you managed to spare the rest of this lot with your magic being so uncontrolled,” Klaus remarked.

Bonnie bristled at his remark. She snapped, “My magic is not uncontrolled.”

He laughed heartily at the fire in the girl’s eyes. “Several minutes have passed and yet your magic still hangs heavy around us. You haven’t the foggiest idea how to recall it...do you?”

She blinked at him. “What are you talking about?”

Klaus looked between Damon and Tyler because he knew that she would trust their word over his. “Surely the two of you still feel her magic swirling around us. I would say that it has grown stronger now that she is no longer on the brink of death.”

Damon frowned at the original but he was right. He could still feel Bonnie’s magic pulsing around them like a heartbeat. “Uh…”

“I see that you are as articulate as ever, Damon,” Klaus said smugly.

Bonnie looked up at Tyler questioningly.

“As much as I hate to agree with Klaus about anything, he is right, Bon.”

Matt nodded. “Yeah.”

Her head whipped in the direction of their blond friend. Normally, humans could not sense magic. “You can feel it, too?”

“I didn’t know it was magic but the air feels pretty thick like when it is humid before a thunderstorm,” he explained.

Bonnie was somewhere between annoyed and embarrassed. However, it shifted to rage when Klaus began laughing at her expense. If she wasn’t certain that he would snap her neck in retaliation, she would throw a nasty hex in his direction. She cleared her throat. “I just got my magic back the other day. I might not have as precise control over it as I once did.”

Klaus looked even more smug if that was at all possible. He said, “I could teach you how to recall your magic. You have to be exhausting yourself.”

She knew better than to accept anything at face value from Klaus. Bonnie shook her head. “I am sure I can hold on until I get home. I have a cousin staying with me. She will be able to help me recall my magic. Thank you for offering.”

The original’s interest was piqued at the mention of another Bennett witch in Mystic Falls. He asked, “What is her name?”

Bonnie was caught off guard by Klaus’ question. She wracked her brain for any name other than Lucy’s. However, her command of the Bennett family tree was somewhat lacking. She knew the names of many deceased relatives but she drew a blank on living witches. Bonnie decided to blurt out the first female name that came to mind. “Her name is Delilah.”

Klaus had to give the girl some credit. Her lie was smooth and quick off the tongue. Unfortunately, Bonnie didn’t know that Klaus’ interest in witches was no passing fancy. He had made it his business to track the bloodlines of a few powerful magic wielding families. The Bennett family was of course the cream of the crop. He would have to consult his records to be sure but the only Delilah Bennett he knew had been dead for quite some time.

Rather than calling Bonnie out on the lie, he merely smiled. “Perhaps I will have the pleasure of meeting this cousin. We are...family as you said earlier.”

Tyler felt his mate’s panic through their bond. He hadn’t put together all of the pieces, but he now understood why Lucy lied to him last night. She obviously knew Klaus but didn’t want anyone to know that. Moreover, Lucy didn’t want Klaus to know that she was in Mystic Falls. He decided it was time to get Bonnie away from Klaus. Tyler knew his sire well. The man was a master at setting traps for the unsuspecting.

Tyler stood up with Bonnie in his arms. “I am going to get Bonnie home.”

Matt cleared his throat and asked, “Without your clothes?”

He smirked. “I run fast enough that no one will see me.”

Bonnie tightened her arms around Tyler’s neck before he took off like a flash.

Klaus gave his brother a pointed look.

Elijah nodded in silent understanding. It was high time they had someone watching Bonnie Bennett.

Chapter Text

Tyler looked up at Bonnie with a raised eyebrow. It seemed as if she was a million miles away. In a soft voice, he sang, “Bonnnnnnnnie…”

Bonnie jolted when Tyler’s voice drew her attention. The girl’s green eyes moved from the ceiling to her mate’s amused face. She asked, “Did you say something, Ty?”

He chuckled deeply as he relinquished the place between her thighs. He dropped onto his back beside Bonnie and drew her into his arms. Tyler longed to be buried deep inside Bonnie again. However, he would be a poor mate if he pressed forward while her mind was obviously somewhere else. Moreover, he had already claimed Bonnie up against her bedroom door not thirty minutes ago. We-Didn’t-Die sex was quickly becoming his favorite activity.

She looked up into his warm brown eyes and asked, “Why did you stop?”

“Well, you were hurting my ego, Bon. I was doing some of my best work down there and your mind wasn’t even in the same zip code,” he jested.

Bonnie gave Tyler a sheepish grin as she curled into his side. She laid her head on his chest and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Tyler’s fingers drew soothing circles on the soft skin of Bonnie’s back. He kissed her forehead and said, “There is no reason for you to be sorry, babe. Is everything okay?”

“I don’t know,” she confessed in an uncertain voice.

All of the hybrid’s amusement drained away as he focused on their bond. He could detect Bonnie’s uneasiness but her overwhelming contentment nearly overshadowed that. It was why he had not sensed it from the outset. Tyler was confused by the contrasting emotions. He asked, “What’s wrong?”

Bonnie chewed at her bottom lip as she debated saying anything. The teens already had a handful of problems swirling around them like a tornado. This hardly seemed like the time to confess such life changing news. Yet she was incapable of keeping the information to herself. She had been resisting the urge to confide in Tyler since they left the forest. Bonnie had been actively trying to suppress their connection so that he would not sense anything through the bond. In fact, the task had so consumed her consciousness that she totally checked out on the beginnings of round number two. Frankly, Tyler was not alone in feeling incredibly amorous after their brush with death.

Tyler was becoming antsier by the moment. However, he was trying to stop himself from overreacting. Bonnie was safe in his arms. If there was a threat, it could not penetrate those four walls for now. Last night, Lucy had warded the house against anyone with ill intentions. Fortunately, she had been meticulous in designing the ward to exclude Katherine or they might have all been barred from entering Bonnie’s house.

He tilted Bonnie’s chin up so that he could look into her eyes. Tyler saw uneasiness staring back at him. He murmured, “Talk to me, Bon…”

The girl practically melted because of the softness of his voice. Tyler had just ripped a very old vampire to shreds as if it was child’s play, but he was so loving and gentle with her. Her mate. Her alpha. The father of her unborn child. The feeling of adoration that welled up inside her without warning shocked Bonnie. She decided in that moment to just come clean and allow the chips to fall where they may. “I’m pretty sure that I am pregnant.”

The words left Bonnie’s mouth so fast that Tyler almost had trouble understanding her. It took a moment for his brain to catch up. He pulled her closer once he understood what she said to him. Tyler could hear Bonnie’s heart pounding in her chest. His hand slid from Bonnie’s hip until it came to rest on her toned stomach. He swallowed thickly and asked, “Are you sure? I mean, Ruby said that it would be a couple of weeks before we would able to tell.”

She nodded, “I am pretty certain about this, Ty. I am sure that Ruby was right about how and when werewolves can detect a pregnancy by scent but I am also a witch. When I was in the forest, I felt our baby. I don’t really know how to explain this but I felt this pulse of magic inside me. It was not my magic but it felt familiar all the same. It reminded me of the first time that I met Lucy. Her magic was familiar even though I did not know her. I…I know that doesn’t make any sense, but I have never been more sure of something in my life.”

A dozen thoughts raced through Tyler’s head at the same time. However, his most prominent thought was reassuring Bonnie. She was obviously nervous about his reaction. Tyler couldn’t say that her fear was unreasonable. They had promised to talk about the possibility of a pregnancy a few days ago. Unfortunately, Mystic Falls’ supernatural antics had gotten in the way. As usual, the need for survival usurped the concerns of everyday life. Frankly, it was shocking that their little town had been peaceful for as long as it had.

“Ty?” Bonnie asked cautiously.

She tried to brace herself for his reaction. Bonnie knew that it would not be fair to expect anything of Tyler. It wasn’t as if the bite or subsequent mating cycle had been conscious decisions on their part. A combination of circumstance, moonshine, magic, and instinct had backed them into a corner. Bonnie and Tyler had merely gone along for the ride because their attraction to one another was undeniable. However, the heat was over and their hormones were no longer running the show. Bonnie believed Tyler when he said that he loved her, but there was a chance that he wouldn’t be interested in shackling himself to a life partner at the ripe old age of nineteen. They hadn’t even been on a proper date yet. Everything was happening too fast but there weren’t exactly brakes on this runaway train.

He realized that he had been silent for too long. He cleared his throat and asked, “How are you feeling about this?”

“Confused,” she admitted with a slow exhalation. “What about you?”

He said, “I am concerned about you, Bon. I guess in some ways, I have already come to terms with all of this. The morning after I bit you, I knew that this was a possibility. The sole purpose of the mating cycle is to impregnate the female wolf. Ruby warned me that being an alpha would significantly increase the likelihood that the cycle would be successful.”

Bonnie relaxed when she realized that Tyler wasn’t upset or even surprised by her news. She was ashamed that the insecurities that she so often hid made her doubt his intentions. He had done nothing in the last week to deserve that. Unfortunately, Bonnie was carrying around a great deal of emotional baggage. Everyone knew or suspected that she had abandonment issues because of her absentee parents. However, most people would never consider how often she had lived in the shadow of her friends. Bonnie loved Caroline and Elena, but too often she was overlooked while in their presence. Somehow, Bonnie ended up cast as the quirky sidekick that the popular girls befriended. Her role as sidekick was the reason that she had dated only three boys during her time in high school. It was the reason that she had ignored her crush on Tyler for so long. She never thought he would return her feelings.

She said, “Grams gave me a similar warning during our conversation on the astral plane. She said that witches and werewolves are surprisingly compatible when it comes to reproduction. It is because a witch’s magic created werewolves. I think maybe she already knew that I was pregnant but didn’t tell me.”

The hybrid cleared his throat nervously. He was unsure how to pose the question plaguing his mind. “Do you want to keep the baby?”

Her eyes widened in surprise and her entire body went tense. The girl’s doubts returned with a vengeance. She swallowed thickly and nodded. She stammered, “Y-y-you don’t have to feel obligated or anything.”

He huffed out a laugh and relaxed. Tyler dragged Bonnie on top of him. He carded his fingers through her hair and confessed, “I want this baby, too. I just…I wasn’t sure where your head was on the subject. I didn’t want to pressure you.”

All of the tension bled out of Bonnie’s body once she was lying on top of Tyler.  In a soft voice, she admitted, “I didn’t want to pressure you either. A baby is a major commitment to make with someone you only just started dating.”

Tyler understood Bonnie’s apprehension. A couple of years ago, he probably would have run for the hills. He never realized the true value of having a family until he lost his. After Klaus killed his mother, Tyler thought that he would spend the rest of his life alone and on the run. Somehow, in less than a year’s time he found his pack and his mate. In nine months, he would have a son or daughter to ensure that his bloodline did not die with him. It seemed like a karmic reversal of fortune and he would never take it for granted.

He kissed the top of Bonnie’s head and explained, “You became my family the night I bit you, Bon. You are in my blood now and I am in yours. We have a million things to figure out but I am not going anywhere. I am yours. ”

Bonnie wholeheartedly believed Tyler’s heartfelt words. She promised, “I am yours, too.”

The hybrid was finally able to relax once Bonnie seemed at ease once more. He decided to enjoy the moment with her instead of brooding over how to protect his pregnant mate. They could work out the logistics of that later. Tyler knew that he would have to lean on his pack for help.

Bonnie pressed her forehead against his chest and sighed in relief. She asked, “Could we have made this situation anymore awkward?”

Tyler chuckled softly into her curly hair. He retorted, “I guess we could have had this conversation in front of our nosey friends. That would have upped the awkwardness by about a thousand.”

She groaned and said, “I don’t even want to think about breaking this news to them. They have only just accepted that we are together. I don’t know if our happy news will be met with excitement.”

“You mean that you are worried about how Jeremy will react. I doubt anyone else will have any objections. At most, Damon might have a few snarky comments but he’s an asshole.”

Of course, Bonnie had been thinking about Jeremy. He seemed accepting of their relationship but she found his sudden change of heart suspicious. Jeremy had a temper on him even before he became a hunter. He seemed to become more aggressive once the hunter gene was activated.

She bit her lip and asked, “Am I that transparent?”

He nodded. “You are. I love how compassionate you are, Bon.”

“It sounds like there is a ‘but’ coming…”

“Don’t get me wrong, I like Jeremy. It is the reason that I let him move into my house. He can be a little jerk but overall he is a good kid. I just think that we have all been cutting him too much slack on his bullshit lately. I am cool with that in most cases but not where you and the baby are concerned,” he opined.

She heard the seriousness in the tone of her mate’s voice. Bonnie knew that Tyler was right. They had all given Jeremy a pass since his parents died in that car accident. She said, “He’s had a hard couple of years, Ty.”

“Haven’t we all?” he asked pointedly.

Bonnie huffed in annoyance because of course Tyler was right. They had all been put through the wringer since the beginning of their senior year. They had all experienced tragedy and the loss of loved ones. She conceded, “I guess that you are right. Just promise me that you won’t fight him.”

The hybrid lifted an eyebrow at his mate. “I don’t plan on making a habit of lying to you, Bon. I can’t promise you that.”

“Ty…”

Tyler kissed her and suggested, “Maybe my girlfriend can let me stay at her place until Jeremy comes to terms with the situation.”

Her expression brightened immediately. She thought back to the bet they had made last night before Klaus ruined everything with his poorly timed arrival. She said, “I think that can be arranged.”

He flashed a wolfish grin and continued, “Anyway, I am sure that Matt would stop me from killing Jeremy. He has made himself Jeremy’s unofficial guardian. Matt actually wakes him up in the morning so that he gets to school on time.”

Bonnie and Matt often discussed his efforts to get Jeremy to shape up. He had actually applied to a couple colleges on behalf of the younger boy. She wasn’t surprised that Matt had taken Jeremy under his wing. He had always been the most responsible person in their little group. Matt had grown up fast having Kelly Donovan as a mother. He had spent most of his childhood taking care of his mother and sister.

Bonnie said, “I was thinking that maybe we could keep the pregnancy a secret…at least for a few weeks.”

Tyler nodded. “I think that would probably be a good idea but we are going to have to be careful, Bon.”

“So careful,” she agreed. “I thought that I was dying when I felt that spark of magic inside of me. Knowing that I was pregnant was what made me cast that spell to end the fight.”

He swallowed thickly when he heard how close Bonnie had come to dying. A knot formed in his stomach at the realization that he could have lost both of them.

“Can I ask you something?”

Bonnie looked up to meet his gaze. “Yeah. What’s on your mind?”

“Lucy knows Klaus, right? I mean that’s why you lied about the name of the cousin staying with you,” he said.

Her eyelashes fluttered in shock. “I don’t want to lie to you…”

“Solid start,” he complimented.

“…but it really isn’t my secret to tell,” she finished.  

Tyler said, “I can respect that. I have had my suspicions since last night. Lucy knew too much about Klaus for it to be information she just picked up from Katherine.”

The girl winced. Last night, she had hoped that Tyler bought Lucy’s cover story. Apparently, her cousin would need to workshop that story if she planned to share it with anyone else. “There isn’t much that I can tell you about the situation without violating the trust Lucy placed in me. However, I can say that she worked for Klaus once upon a time. But that information has to stay between the two of us.”

“I promise that what you told me won’t leave this room, Bon. I am not asking to satisfy some morbid curiosity. I know Klaus and he didn’t believe your lie. I can almost guarantee that he has someone watching your house now,” he said.

Bonnie frowned but she trusted her mate’s judgment. Stefan was probably the only member of their group that knew Klaus better than Tyler did. She sighed heavily. “Me and my big mouth got us into this. I should have just let Klaus help me recall my magic.”

Tyler rubbed her back and shook his head. “No, you made the right decision. Klaus is interested in your magic. He probably would have started spying on you even if he believed the lie. Klaus is looking for another witch to work for him. He needs help fighting Marcel in New Orleans. You would be the perfect protégé. He has a history of taking in young talented witches and training them. It would be better if you didn’t find yourself in his debt.”

“I guess that you are right,” she murmured.

She wondered what it would be like to have Klaus as a teacher. There was so much that she didn’t know about magic. Bonnie had spent the last few months improving her skills by studying grimoires that once belonged to Sheila and Amelia. However, it was barely scratching the surface. Frankly, she was somewhat unnerved by her display of power earlier. She had always been a powerful witch but this was different. It seemed as if she had leveled up when the spirits returned her magic. She wasn’t certain if the boost was their doing or simply a function of her hybrid nature. It was obvious that Klaus was a stellar teacher. Lucy had flourished under his tutelage. Unfortunately, Bonnie also knew that trusting the original was too risky. She hoped that Lucy would be willing to tutor her during her stay in Mystic Falls.

“I have one more question.”

“Okay…” she replied cautiously.

He asked, “Does Klaus want Lucy dead?”

Bonnie blinked because that was a good question. She knew that Klaus hadn’t been pleased that Lucy broke off whatever romantic entanglement they once shared. She also knew that her older cousin was adamant about protecting Mari from Klaus and all the danger that followed him. However, she didn’t get the feeling that Klaus was a threat to Lucy and Mari in the traditional sense.

“I don’t think so but Lucy wasn’t exactly generous with details. I guess I can talk to her about it after we perform the body swapping ritual for Katherine.”

Tyler said, “It would be better if we knew more about the situation. If there is a chance that Klaus wants her dead, it might be better if she left.”

Bonn sighed. “I suggested that to Lucy but she wouldn’t budge. She is determined to help us get rid of the travelers. I don’t blame her. I failed the last time I was left to my own devices.”

He frowned. “Klaus breaking his curse wasn’t your fault, Bon.”

“It might not have been my fault, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t fail. Our entire plan hinged on trusting Elijah to betray his brother. Well, I didn’t trust him. I trusted Elena’s judgment of him. I have learned to never do that again,” she said sagely.

Tyler winced in sympathy because he knew how it felt to be betrayed by one of the Mikaelson siblings. The bitterness he felt through the bond was overwhelming. He said, “You really hate Elijah, don’t you?”

Bonnie gave a sheepish smile. “He is a giant hypocrite and it just rubs me the wrong way. Stefan reminds me of him sometimes. Stefan pretends to be such a model vampire but...he didn’t have a second thought about sacrificing my mother for Elena. If there is anything to like about Klaus, it would be his honesty. He is a murderous bastard and doesn’t hide behind chivalry and pretty words. I hate him but I can at least respect him.”

He wore a thoughtful expression. “From that point of view, it makes sense how you were always able to work with Damon.”

She nodded. “Even when I hated Damon, I always knew where I stood with him. He never made excuses about how quickly he would sacrifice my life for his agenda. He never pretended to be a good a person--at least not with me. He certainly doesn’t do that now that we are friends. I accept Damon for who he is. He is my sometimes psychotic, alcoholic, self-centered, possessive best friend.”

Tyler snorted and said, “Yes, I have noticed his possessive streak.”

Bonnie frowned at her mate. “Don’t be that way, Ty. My relationship with Damon is 100% platonic.”

“Damon tried to get you to go up to his room the night of his party,” he said with a pointed look.

Her eyes widened in surprise. However, they quickly narrowed in suspicion. “How do you know that?”

Tyler realized that he had put his foot in his mouth. He frowned. “I might have overhead the two of you talking.”

“Overheard?” she asked skeptically. “You were on the other side of the room for most of the night. You were eavesdropping on our conversation.”

“Maybe,” he conceded reluctantly.

Bonnie nipped his pec playfully. “You have nothing to worry about, Ty. Damon was drunk and I was lonely. He was just trying to make me feel better. He isn’t great with emotional stuff. His pep talks usually suck. You know a thing or two about using sex instead of dealing with your emotions. Or are we going to completely ignore that whole debacle with Matt’s mom?”

Tyler winced. “That was a low blow, Bon.”

She shrugged. “Damon and I have had months of spending time alone. If we were going to cross that line, it would have already happened. Besides, he’ll have Elena back this afternoon. I am sure that he will spend the next several weeks following her around and begging for forgiveness.”

He huffed a small laugh when he noted the scowl on his mate’s face. “If I didn’t know better, I would think that you are jealous.”

“I am not jealous of their completely unrealistic and extremely unhealthy relationship.”

“Then what is it?” he asked curiously.

Bonnie bit her lip and said, “I might be a little worried that Damon is going to forget about me once he has Elena back.”

Tyler kissed her softly. “That’s not going to happen, Bon.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes, I do. Damon hasn’t exactly been in a rush for us to swap Katherine and Elena.”

Bonnie said, “He was being practical.”

Tyler chuckled and asked,. “Is that really what you think?”

“Maybe,” she mumbled.

“We all could have died today but Damon only cared that you and Stefan were injured. You obviously know him better than I do, but I don’t think Damon is going to abandon you once Elena is back,” he said.

“I guess we’ll see,” Bonnie said. “Speaking of that, I should probably get another shower. I need to help Lucy get everything together for the ritual. The sooner Katherine is out of my basement, the better. Do you want to join me?”

Tyler glanced at clock on her nightstand and groaned. “As much fun as that sounds, I need to call Ruby. I want her to arrange a pack meeting. Everyone needs to know what is happening so they can stay safe.”

Bonnie hopped off the bed and asked, “Can I come with you to the pack meeting?”

He sat up in the bed and asked, “Do you want to come with me?”

She nodded. “I mean...if that is okay.”

Tyler grinned and said, “Of course it is okay, Bon. I want my pack to get to know you.”

“Okay…” she replied with a sheepish smile.

He watched as Bonnie disappeared into the bathroom. Tyler climbed out of the bed and pulled on clean clothes. He was reaching for his phone when he heard a commotion coming from downstairs.

Tyler blurred out of the bedroom and down to the entryway where he heard the voices.

Jeremy was standing on the front porch with Damon. The younger boy looked as if his head might explode.

Lucy had her arms folded across her chest as she gave Jeremy an unimpressed look.

Tyler thought she looked like Bonnie when she was annoyed. He asked, “What’s going on?”

Damon used his thumb to point at Lucy. “Her witchy juju screwed up. Now Jeremy can’t get into the house.”

Lucy huffed and said, “I did not screw up. I placed wards on this house to ensure no one with ill intentions can cross the threshold. If Jeremy can’t get into the house, then he is the problem--not my magic or the ward protecting this house.”

Tyler was on the teen in the blink of an eye. His hand wrapped around Jeremy’s throat as Tyler slammed him into the railing hard enough to splinter the wood.

Damon groaned and said, “As fun as this is maybe don’t kill Jeremy on the porch in front of witnesses.”

Tyler looked up and noticed that Bonnie’s next door neighbor was gawking. He slowly released Jeremy.

Jeremy shoved Tyler away from him and glared.

Lucy suggested. “Maybe he has been compelled.”

Damon snorted, “He can’t be compelled. He is a vampire hunter...one of the five.”

Lucy looked at the boy with new interest. “Well, I don’t know what his deal is but I won’t change the ward to permit him into the house. I don’t trust him.”

“You don’t trust me? We don’t even know you. How can we be sure that you are trustworthy?” he blustered.

Tyler looked at Lucy. “He is Bonnie’s ex-boyfriend. Jeremy is probably angry that I am dating her now.”

“He is more than angry. The ward shields the house from ill-intention. It means that he intends to hurt one or both of you in some way.”

The witch’s explanation got Damon’s attention that time. The raven haired vampire turned to look at Jeremy.

He swallowed thickly and shook his head. “That’s not true.”

Damon growled and said, “You need to leave before I rip your head off.”

Jeremy looked between Damon and Tyler and realized that they were both close to killing him. He hopped over the railing instead of trying to walk around them. Then Jeremy climbed into his truck and sped away from Bonnie’s house a few moments later.

Tyler glared at the speeding vehicle. Bonnie had a blind spot for Jeremy. He was worried that it would prove dangerous.

Damon shook his head and walked into the house.

Tyler followed the older vampire and closed the door behind them. He would worry about Jeremy later.

Damon said, “Might want to wash your face, Wolf Boy. You reek of Bonnie.”

He glanced at the mirror in the entryway. He had not realized that her blood was staining his face. Tyler had fed from Bonnie’s thigh. Apparently, he wasn’t as neat when taking blood from that location.

The raven haired vampire showed some restraint by not mentioning what else his senses detected. He looked at Lucy. “Katherine’s spawn might be a little late. She is stashing her boyfriend further away from town since Klaus is here. Nadia said it is fine if you complete the ritual without her.”

Tyler frowned as he realized why Nadia would be concerned. “He is a doppelganger. Would his blood even work for creating new hybrids? I thought that it had to be one of the Petrova doppelgangers.”

Lucy explained, “It is not the DNA in doppelganger blood that makes it the key for creating hybrids. It is the magic imbuing it. It is better that Klaus never learns that there is another mortal doppelganger.”

Damon huffed, “If it wasn’t for bad luck…”

The witch nodded. “Agreed.”

Tyler scrubbed a hand over his face in frustration and then headed into the first floor washroom.

Chapter Text

The two Bennett witches stood over Elena and Katherine’s new body. They held hands while chanting a spell in Latin. The spell they were using required a great deal of power. Bonnie had performed a similar spell in the past but it had not been permanent. Lucy had created the spell they were using now. It would effectively lock Elena and Katherine in their respective bodies in perpetuity. Moreover, it would protect both women from possession in the future. Lucy planned to perform a similar spell on Bonnie’s friends to protect them from the travelers. They could hardly prepare for a war when so many of their allies were vulnerable to possession outside of Mystic Falls’ city limits.

They had arranged the two vampires in the middle of a pentagram formed by a fine dust. The dust was comprised of at least a dozen ingredients meant to conduct and amplify magical power. It appeared to be working because the pentagram had an ethereal shimmer to it. At first glance, the shimmer looked to be a trick of the light. However, the longer someone looked at it, the more it became obvious that it was pulsing in time with Bonnie and Lucy’s magic. The witches had also used an immobilization potion and vervain to prevent either vampire from fleeing the backyard during the process. Bonnie had wanted to conduct the ritual in the basement where they would have more privacy. Unfortunately, Nadia arrived just as they were set to begin. Bonnie refused to invite the vampire into her home under any circumstances. They had all agreed that Nadia could not be trusted. She was a reluctant ally for now, but that could change the moment the travelers were no longer a threat.

Damon had to admit that his younger brother had chosen a suitable replacement vessel for Katherine. The vampire was a brunette woman with big dark brown eyes. She was a couple inches taller than Elena was, placing her closer to his height. The vampire had an athletic build and she was sporting at least a C cup.  The cup size was an upgrade from the original ‘model’. Damon was certain that she would find saps to do her bidding as she had for the last few centuries.

Nadia growled and fidgeted in discomfort. She could feel the witches’ magic pulsing under her skin. She was close to vamping out. She demanded, “Is it working?”

Lucy hissed, “Yes!”

Stefan gritted his teeth as the powerful magic made him more agitated by the minute. He glanced at his older brother’s bored expression. He wondered how Damon remained so unaffected by the suffocating magic. It had been so overwhelming that Caroline joined Matt in the house where he was keeping an eye on Mari.

The older vampire’s nervousness was apparent to everyone present. She obviously cared a great deal for her mother. She retorted, “How can you be sure that you can unravel traveler magic? The woman that sealed Katherine into Elena’s body said it was permanent.”

Lucy glared in Nadia’s direction. In a haughty voice, she replied, “I know the travelers have deluded themselves into believing they are as powerful as witches are but they could not be more wrong. The spell is working but it is a slow process because of the intricacy. Kindly shut up so that we can finish working!”

Nadia glowered in response as her mouth snapped shut. She didn’t trust the Bennett witches, but she didn’t have any other options. The hybrid was standing nearby with the knife. He was the only person present that she couldn’t overpower. If Nadia tried to stop the ritual, he would use the knife on Katherine immediately. Moreover, she had seen the aftermath of what the younger witch had done to the Augustine vampires. Nadia wasn’t willing to risk having her brain turned to mush. They were only in this situation because her mother had behaved petulantly in possessing Elena’s body.

Tyler stood to the side with his arms folded across his chest. He clutched the gold knife firmly in his right hand. He could feel the witches’ magic pulsing under his skin, but it didn’t bother him. It was as if his body recognized the magic of his mate and her kin. He was mindful to monitor the bond he shared with Bonnie. Tyler was concerned about the spell exhausting her. She had already expended a great deal of energy just a few hours ago in the forest. However, she seemed to be fine now. Lucy had assured him that Bonnie had recovered but he was still apprehensive.

He knew part of that apprehension was about the call he had received from his cousin Jonas just an hour ago. Tyler had been right in assuming that his sire would task someone with watching Bonnie’s house. Jonas clocked two werewolves staked out in a car down the street. The only good news was that it seemed that Klaus told them to note the comings and goings. Lucy was not planning to leave the house anytime soon. Therefore, they could hide her presence for a little longer. Tyler’s hope was that Bonnie could get Klaus to sign the contract before Lucy had to show herself. The contract sealed by blood would prevent him from harming anyone in Bonnie’s bloodline.

Suddenly, a small explosion of magic hit them and extinguished all the candles placed around the backyard. The epicenter of the explosion was the center of the pentagram where the two vampires had been positioned. Tyler tensed because he was unsure how far that wave of magic had traveled. If Klaus’ spies felt it, they would certainly report the incident to him. He would have to check in with Jonas to estimate the blast radius. However, the two formerly paralyzed vampires sitting up simultaneously interrupted his thoughts. His dark brown eyes flicked between the two women as he tried to gauge if the ritual had been successful.

The willowy brunette vampire slowly rose to her feet and scoffed in disgust. “I can actually feel the poor quality of these clothes giving me a rash. Please tell me that you brought something for me to wear, Nadia.”

The woman nodded with a relieved smile. “Of course…”

Damon rolled his eyes and said, “I guess it worked.”

Bonnie turned to smile at him. She asked, “Was there ever any doubt?”

He smirked at her. “Look who is feeling cocky now that she has her magic again.”

She arched an eyebrow at him.

He chuckled, “I was hoping that her essence would get lost in the shuffle.”

Elena stayed on the ground looking around at everyone. She blinked as her attention shifted to the vampire beside her. Her mind was foggy for a moment but it began to clear rapidly.

Bonnie walked over to her friend and slowly helped her up. She hugged her and swore, “I am so glad that you are back, Elena. We missed you.”

“I am glad to be back,” she whispered in a voice thick with emotion.

The witch hated the overwhelming feeling of guilt gnawing at her conscience.  She said, “There are so many things that I want to say.”

Elena nodded and blinked back tears. While she had been locked inside her own mind, there had been nothing but time to evaluate some of her life choices. Elena had come to the conclusion that she hadn't always been a good friend. She replied, “Me, too.”

Katherine laughed. “Isn’t this heartwarming?”

Elena’s eyes narrowed when she heard the older vampire’s voice. She released Bonnie from the hug and attacked Katherine without even a second of warning. The young vampire displayed a ferocity rarely seen from her.

Stefan rushed forward to break up the fight. The vampire he had chosen as Katherine’s vessel was fifty years old. It wouldn’t take much for her to overpower Elena. He grasped the girl around her waist and dragged her away from Katherine. “You need to calm down, Elena.”

“You bitch,” Elena blustered.

Katherine gave a full-bodied laugh. She brushed stray blades of grass off her dress. It would take some time to get used to this new body. However, she didn’t hate it. She actually approved of Stefan’s choice. Stefan knew her so well even when he insisted that he hated her very existence. “Is that really the best that you can do? You really are a disappointment to my entire line. Now your mother, she was a real Petrova.”

Nadia moved over to her mother. She studied the woman carefully. She asked, “Are you okay?”

The vampire’s expression shifted to something closer to fondness. She cupped her daughter’s face and whispered, “Moyata dushterya.”

Nadia enveloped her in a fierce hug. She tried in vain to keep herself from crying. From the moment Nadia realized that Katherine was missing, she feared that she would never see her mother again. She had hated being beholden to the simpering teenage idiots of Mystic Falls. Nadia hadn’t believed they would complete the swap until the last moment. She knew how much they hated Katherine. If she was being objective, she knew that their gripes with her mother were legitimate.

Katherine smoothed a hand over Nadia’s hair. “You did well.”

Elena struggled against Stefan’s hold. She screamed, “Let me go! You have no idea what she did to me. She trapped me in my own head for months! I was in a dream world most the time. But every so often I would wake up and realize that Katherine was living my life. It was torture not being able to break free.”

Stefan’s heart broke for Elena. He almost wished that she had been unaware the whole time. He knew a thing or two about being trapped with no hope of escape. He said, “We know what she did. We might not know all the details but we know some things. I am so sorry, Elena.”

“You should be,” she snapped. “You should all be. How did you all go months without realizing that she was pretending to be me?”

Bonnie confessed, “She acted like a complete bitch and pushed us all away.”

Elena’s wild eyes moved to Bonnie. She asked, “How come that wasn’t the first clue that I wasn’t myself?”

“In the beginning, we thought that your humanity was off. Then…” Bonnie trailed off guiltily.

Katherine said, “Then everyone realized that they liked life much better when you weren’t around. They enjoyed not having to rescue poor helpless Elena. I mean your besties chose your ex-boyfriends over you without much thought. Damon and Bonnie have been attached at the hip from the moment I broke up with him. You should thank me for that by the way. Loving Damon is a mistake. Meanwhile, Caroline was sneaking around with Stefan.”

Elena’s face twisted into a mask of pain and rage. She broke free from Stefan and launched herself at Katherine. “Stop spewing lies!”

Stefan rushed forward and grabbed Elena out of mid-air. He huffed as he struggled to hold her.

Bonnie said, “You should leave now, Katherine. We’ll call you when we need you.”

“Need her? Why would you need her?” Elena sputtered.

“Oh, yes. We’re allies now. You’ll be seeing much more of me,” Katherine teased.

Tyler looked in Nadia’s direction. In a near growl, Tyler ordered, “It’s time for you to take your mother home. And remember our deal.”

Elena stopped struggling when she heard Tyler speak. The coldness in his tone of voice sent a chill down her spine. She was only now noticing his presence because he had been behind her the entire time.

Katherine looked at her daughter skeptically. “What deal?”

Nadia sighed heavily. She had planned to break the news to Katherine later. “Once the travelers’ plan fails we have to leave Mystic Falls. If you come back at any point after that, the hybrid has threatened to kill you.”

Bonnie bristled at the way Nadia referred to Tyler as simply the hybrid. However, she decided to hold her tongue for now. Elena was already spoiling for a fight with Katherine. It didn’t make sense for her to start one with Nadia now.

Katherine’s head snapped in Tyler’s direction. “If you think that I am going to cower in fear because of a threat from you, then you are sadly mistaken.”

Tyler stepped closer to the mother and daughter duo. He flashed an unnerving smile that made him look like a predator. His brown eyes turned gold as he calmly replied, “It wasn’t a threat, Katherine. If you ever return to Mystic Falls, I will rip out your heart without a second thought. That goes for your daughter too since she is so devoted to you. Now run along…”

Katherine gave an indignant chin lift and replied, “Don’t call me before 10 o’clock because I won’t answer.”

Bonnie watched as the vampire and her daughter left the backyard through the side gate. She reached out and took Tyler’s hand. “Have I mentioned that I like when you get all growly?”

Tyler chuckled and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Elena stared openly at Bonnie and Tyler. In some of her ‘waking’ moments, she learned that Jeremy and Bonnie had broken up. However, whatever was going on between Tyler and Bonnie was a complete surprise.

Caroline burst out of the backdoor and blurred up to Elena. She pulled her confused friend into a tight bear hug. “Oh my God! I am so glad that you are back, Lena. We’re so sorry that we didn’t realize that evil witch was possessing you sooner. I just thought you were going through an angst phase. I can’t believe that I was so stupid! I should have known something was up when Katherine dyed your hair ombre. It is so tacky and so…her. But we can fix it.”

Elena was having a hard time keeping up with Caroline’s hurried explanation. However, she honed in on ‘ombre’. She grabbed a small section of her hair and scoffed, “Seriously?”

The blond vampire nodded in agreement. “You would think someone alive for so long would have better fashion sense. But you don’t need to worry because I have everything we need to fix your hair.”

“I think that I would like some blood and a shower first,” Elena confessed.

Caroline nodded and said, “Of course! I packed a bag for you. It has everything that you could possibly need. Let’s get you inside.”

Elena prepared to follow Caroline into the house but stopped short when she spotted Damon. He was standing several feet away with an unreadable look on his face. She knew that Katherine had broken up with Damon. Elena had been ‘awake’ for that. However, she had expected Damon to be happier about her return. She turned to walk over to him.

Damon bolted the moment that Elena seemed to be headed his way. He wasn’t prepared to deal with her right now.

Bonnie was glad that he was using regular speed since it was still daylight. She raced after him and called out, “Damon!”

When he whirled around to look at Bonnie his vampire face was on display. “Go take care of Elena, witchy. I’ll be back later.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “Elena has tons of people that will be fawning all over her for weeks to come. I am worried about you.”

“You don’t need to be,” he replied.

Bonnie approached him without fear. She gently prodded at the rippling black veins beneath his eye. “These say different. I get that you are pissed about what Katherine did to you. If you want to track her down and kill her once this is over I won’t try to stop you.”

When he smiled wryly, his fangs were visible. “You are signing off on me breaking the deal you made with Nadia? I think I might be a bad influence on you, witchy.”

She shrugged and said, “Probably but I never believed that Nadia would be able to convince Katherine to adhere to the agreement. She has spent centuries doing whatever she wants. I figured eventually she would show up to screw with us again.”

“You are right about that. Katherine just can’t seem to help herself,” he quipped.

“Frankly, I think that it is some sort of sickness.”

Damon hummed in agreement. His attention was drawn to a man walking down the street. He could hear the human’s heart beating in his chest.

Bonnie grabbed his face and turned his head back to her. She said, “I know that you want to kill something right now but maybe not any innocent townspeople. If you can hold out for a few hours, you can kill as many Augustine members as you can get your hands on. You can kill the crap out of Enzo, too.”

He huffed out a humorless laugh. “Are you trying to get me to be a better vampire, witchy?”

She shook her head and took Damon’s hand. “Never. I know who you are, Damon. I accepted the occasional murder spree was a package deal when we became friends. I am always going to try to stop you if I can but I am not going to abandon you if I am not successful. I just can’t lose you to a blood fueled binge when we have so many people actively trying to kill us. If I am being honest, we are the only reason that the rest of the lemmings have survived this long.”

Tyler stood behind them with an amused smile on his face. “Are you lumping me in with the rest of them?”

Bonnie giggled quietly and looked over her shoulder. “You are a newly reformed lemming.”

Tyler walked closer and said, “Bonnie is right. If you are going to be a loaded gun, we need to point you at the right people. We have no idea what the Augustine Group will send our way next.”

Bonnie and said, “And we’ve been so busy with Klaus and the Augustine Group crashing our party that we haven’t even started looking for the travelers. You can definitely kill the crap out of them, too.”

The hybrid added, “That’s only after you are protected from the travelers’ possessing you.”

“What he said,” the witch said with a nod.

Damon’s face slowly went back to normal. As much as he wanted to go off half-cocked, there were larger concerns to consider. The Augustine Group, the travelers, and the Originals were circling their little town. He couldn’t afford to go on a blind rampage now.

Bonnie linked arms with Damon and asked, “Do you want some bourbon?”

He lifted an eyebrow and said, “I thought you were out of bourbon.”

She grinned at him and said, “I lied.”

Damon chuckled. “I thought that you were lying. I didn’t remember drinking that much bourbon at your house.”

“I even have a few bags of AB- blood tucked away for you, too,” she boasted.

He perked up at the mention of blood. Damon wasn’t a snob like some older vampires were. He would drink whatever blood type he came across because it sated his hunger. However, he liked the taste of AB- if he could get his hands on it. It was one of the few reasons that he sometimes preferred blood bags instead of taking it from the tap.

Tyler chuckled quietly at both of them. He had become used to their odd friendship during the quest to free Bonnie from her role as anchor. They had spent a couple weeks on the road together. He turned his head minutely to get a look at the car parked down the street. He recognized the wolves from earlier in the forest.

The girl stopped short of entering the house when she realized that Tyler was no longer following them. “What’s wrong?”

Damon had already stepped into the house but he froze when he heard the concern in her voice. His head whipped around and he followed Tyler’s gaze.

The hybrid shook his head. “There is nothing to worry about for now. I just wanted to get a look at the wolves Klaus has watching the house.”

He grumbled in response and continued into the house. “Where are you hiding my bourbon, Bon-Bon?”

Bonnie chuckled and walked into the kitchen. She opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a sealed bottle of bourbon.

The raven-haired vampire leaned against the counter and raised an eyebrow. “You hid my bourbon under the sink? That is bordering on blasphemous.”

She shrugged. “I had to hide it somewhere that you wouldn’t look.”

He opened the bottle and took a huge gulp. Damon glanced at the label and smiled because it was the good stuff.

“You can go get the blood. It’s downstairs in the fridge,” she explained.

Damon took another gulp of bourbon and before he headed down to the basement.

Stefan walked into the kitchen. He whispered, “How is he?”

Bonnie shrugged because she really didn’t know just yet.

He nodded in understanding and smiled gratefully. Stefan’s relationship with his brother was delicate. Sometimes he could talk Damon off the ledge. Unfortunately, sometimes Stefan’s intervention was the catalyst that pushed him over the edge. Anything dealing with Katherine or Elena would certainly make Damon feel unnecessarily adversarial with his younger brother because of the ugly history there.

Stefan cleared his throat and said, “Caroline is going to take Elena to her mom’s house. We agreed their dorm probably isn’t safe right now.”

Bonnie said, “And I would have to invite Elena into the boarding house.”

Stefan nodded and added, “Besides, I think it would be better if Damon could come home without worrying about running into Elena right now.”

Damon reentered the kitchen with an armful of blood bags.  He asked, “Have you two finished gossiping about my state of mind?”

The younger Salvatore brother looked slightly chagrined.

Bonnie ignored Damon’s jab altogether. She said, “I am not swiping more blood if you drink everything in the fridge in one night.”

He flashed a fangy grin at her and said, “This is just a snack, judgy.”

“Mmmhmm,” she said with obvious skepticism.

“Where are you hiding my Bewitched box set?” he asked.

Bonnie’s eyes went wide. “What are you talking about?”

He rolled his eyes in response. “Like I actually believed that Blondie rearranged my DVDs and lost an entire box set. Her level of organization is bordering on pathological. Now where is it you little klepto?”

She laughed and said, “It’s on one of the shelves in the den.”

“Good,” he said and left the kitchen.

Stefan asked, “ Bewitched ?”

Tyler had the same reaction when Bonnie first told him about their viewing habits. He was slowly accepting that Damon and Bonnie’s relationship was mostly platonic.

She shrugged. “Your brother has a thing for old TV shows. He made me watch I Love Lucy, too.”

The vampire tilted his head to the side and chuckled. “ I Love Lucy was an entertaining show. It was quite groundbreaking for its time.”

“Sometimes I forget how ancient you guys are,” Bonnie quipped.

Stefan huffed out a shocked laugh.

She walked over to Tyler and placed a hand on his chest. “I am going to go upstairs to check on Elena. Can you…?”

He nodded and said, “I can’t say that I have ever seen an episode of Bewitched .”

Bonnie stood up on her tiptoes and kissed him passionately. She smiled and said, “Thank you. Just talk about killing stuff if it gets awkward.”

Tyler chuckled. “I can handle it. Go.”

She walked to the bottom of the staircase and paused. Part of the witch wanted to procrastinate. She was glad to have Elena back but so much had changed. On the other hand, they had been friends for as long as she could remember. She owed it to their friendship to make a sincere effort.

Bonnie climbed the stairs and walked to one of the spare bedrooms.

Caroline was arranging a few outfits on the bed for Elena. It wasn’t necessary but she needed to something to occupy herself. She turned around when she heard Bonnie walk into the room. She volunteered, “Elena is still in the shower.”

She nodded said, “I can’t blame her.”

“I can’t imagine how long it will take to wash Katherine’s skank residue off her.”

Bonnie’s lips curved into a small smile. “How did she seem after…”

“After Damon took off?” Caroline asked.

“Yeah.”

The blond vampire replied, “She is confused, hurt, and angry. I don’t even begin to know how to help her.”

Bonnie was glad that she had the opportunity to talk to Caroline. The two girls were in the same boat where Elena was concerned. “I don’t know how to help her either.”

Caroline sighed heavily. “We’ll make this up to her somehow.”

The witch wished that she shared her friend’s confidence.

She noticed Bonnie’s skeptical expression. “We will, Bon.”

Both girls looked toward the hallway when they heard the shower stop running.  

A few minutes later, Elena walked into the room wearing a bathrobe. She smiled a little when she found her friends waiting for her. Her eyes moved to the array of clothes on the bed.

Caroline explained, “I laid out a couple of outfits. I wasn’t sure what you would want to wear.”

Elena gave a soft laugh. It was nice to know that some things had not changed in the last few months. She squeezed Caroline’s arm to express her gratitude. Then she moved over to the bed to inspect her choices.

Bonnie pushed the door closed to give Elena some privacy. She said, “You might feel fatigued for a couple of days. The possession and the ritual can take a toll on the body.”

She recognized one of her favorite sweaters among the choices Caroline laid out for her. Elena immediately settled on that one. She could use something comfortable and familiar right now. She said, “Thanks. Your cousin explained that to me while you went after Damon. How is he by the way?”

Caroline scoffed and said, “You don’t need to worry about Damon right now. I can't believe that he took off like that.”

Elena appreciated Caroline’s unwavering support. However, she shook her head. “I wish that Damon would have stuck around to talk to me, but I understand why he didn’t. I was conscious when Katherine broke up with him. She was horrible. I was helpless while I watched her tear down the man that I love. I can’t imagine how he felt thinking those vile words came from me.”

“But they didn’t come from you and he knows that,” Caroline insisted.

She smiled sadly and sat on the side of the bed. “Damon can’t be the only person Katherine hurt while pretending to be me. I mean Bonnie said as much after I came to.”

Caroline’s head whipped around to face Bonnie. “Why would you say that?”

Bonnie sighed softly. “I told Elena the truth. Maybe it was the wrong thing but I know from experience how uncomfortable it can be to pretend as if nothing has changed. It is going to take time for all us to heal after what Katherine did. I didn’t want Elena to think that something was wrong with her if we were acting different.”

Elena said, “I appreciate the honesty. I am actually hoping that the two of you can fill in some missing blanks. I wasn’t conscious the entire time. Sometimes I would be aware of what she was doing for a couple hours at a time. However, I never knew how much time passed between my periods of consciousness.”

Bonnie confessed, “There is only so much that we will be able to tell you, Elena. As I said earlier, Katherine did a fairly good job of alienating everyone. However, I think the best source of information will be Jeremy. Out of everyone, he spent the most time with Katherine. They got together a couple times a week to hang out.”

The doppelganger tried to ignore the pang of jealousy she felt. In recent years, her relationship with Jeremy had ups and downs. They hadn’t been truly close since their parents died. She croaked, “Why would she do that?”

Caroline shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows why Katherine does anything? She made a stupid crack about enjoying having a little brother but it could have been sarcastic. I mean she played the part well, she even went to the Parent/Teachers’ conference at the high school.”

“Where is Jer?” Elena asked. She had expected her brother to be front and center.

Bonnie’s eyebrows furrowed. “Uh, there is a ward on my house that prevents people with ill-intentions from entering. Jeremy showed up earlier and the barrier repelled him.”

Elena’s brown eyes widened considerably. “Well, there must be something wrong with the ward. Jeremy loves you. He would never do anything to hurt you.”

“Other than cheating on her,” Caroline muttered without thinking.

Elena lost some of her confidence. “True but I doubt this...ward protects Bonnie from infidelity.”

Bonnie said, “We haven’t really had time to talk to Jeremy to find out what is happening. Tyler and Damon sent him on his way earlier and it was probably for the best. I am sure he was just upset. He really has only had 48 hours to accept my relationship with Tyler.”

She blinked and then said, “Let’s start there. How did that happen? I assumed Tyler and Caroline would have gotten back together.”

“Well, that is sort of complicated,” the witched replied.

Caroline blurted, “Tyler and I haven’t been on great terms for months because I slept with Klaus.”

“You did what?” Elena squawked. She wasn’t able to disguise her disgust. “Please, say that you aren’t dating him.”

Caroline shook her head. She should have realized that Elena wasn’t herself because this was the only suitable reaction to that news. “No! It was a momentary lapse in judgment. I hate that I hurt Tyler by having sex with Klaus but it was never going to work out with Tyler. I’m not his soulmate but Bonnie is.”

“His soulmate?” Elena asked with a perplexed expression.

Bonnie said, “It is a whole thing but I am a werewolf. One of my ancestors cursed the Bennett bloodline to prevent us from triggering the werewolf curse. She bound the curse to our magic, so it began to fray the longer I was without magic. It is a whole complicated thing but Tyler and I are mates.”

The doppelganger just blinked a few times. “We’re going to need to start from the beginning but this time with tequila.”

Caroline’s expression brightened. “We can totally do margarita night at my mom’s house. She’s on duty tonight. It’ll be just like old times.”

Bonnie could think of a couple reasons why Caroline’s suggestion was out of the question. She couldn’t have tequila for obvious reasons. Moreover, Tyler would fight her tooth and nail about leaving the house without him. She also needed to keep an eye on Damon. “I can’t leave guys. There is a good reason why there is a ward on my house.We could just hang out in my bedroom for awhile. I know a silencing spell that works well.”

Caroline said, “I guess that works, too. We need tequila and snacks. I think I should make a run to the store.”

Bonnie looked sheepish. “You should probably buy more snacks than you normally would for the three of us.”

“We’re not sharing with the boys,” Caroline argued.

She shook her head. “I’m a werewolf, Care. My appetite is off the charts right now.”

Caroline said, “‘Oh! Duly noted. I am going to leave now because I think this veg out session is long overdue.”

Elena nodded in agreement. “Yes, it is.”

“Any requests?” she asked.

“Pizza,” Bonnie and Elena said at the same time.

All three girls looked at each other and burst into a fit of giggles.

Caroline grinned. “Pizza and margaritas sound incredibly comforting right now! I won’t be gone long. There is a cooler by the bed with blood bags, Elena.”

Bonnie said, “I should probably clean my bedroom up a bit. Ty throws his clothes everywhere. We can hang out in there once Care is back.”

Elena smiled. “Good. That will give me time to call Jeremy.”

The blond vampire nodded. “Well, we all have our marching orders!”

Caroline picked up her purse from the bench situated at the foot of the bed as she walked out of the bedroom. She went downstairs to find Stefan. She wanted to let him know that she was leaving. Caroline found him in Bonnie’s den watching Bewitched with the rest of the guys. She assumed it was some strange bonding ritual that she did not understand and decided not to interrupt.

She quietly left the house and climbed into her car. Caroline was glad that she had the foresight to park on the street rather than Bonnie’s crowded driveway.

The blond vampire turned on the radio as she drove away from Bonnie’s house. She was in a particularly good mood because the situation with Elena no longer seemed so bleak. She decided to buy enough pizza for the guys, too. It didn’t appear as if anyone would be leaving Bonnie’s house anytime soon. They would probably all stay there until nightfall when they planned to finish off the rest of the Augustine Group.

Caroline was humming along to a catchy song when she realized someone was standing in the middle of the road. She gave a startled scream and slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting the person. However, she quickly regretted that decision when she realized it was Elijah Mikaelson.

“Frack,” she muttered.  

“Might I have a word with you, Miss Forbes?” Elijah asked with a smarmy smile.

It was phrased as a request but Caroline knew a demand when she heard one.

Chapter Text

Upon returning to the Mikaelson Mansion, Elijah was not surprised to find that Klaus had retreated to his studio. While his brother was eager to protect his unborn child, his relationship with Hayley ranged from tepid to hostile. Elijah realized that his involvement with the young woman further complicated the situation. Esther and Mikael’s actions had so thoroughly broken Klaus that he perceived abandonment and rejection in even the most innocuous situations. His older brother falling in love with the mother of his unborn child was a recipe for disaster. Elijah had tried to do the honorable thing by ending his relationship with Hayley. However, the headstrong young woman had rejected the notion firmly.

Klaus did not possess any romantic feelings for Hayley. Months ago, he had crudely explained that their dalliance had been the result of boredom on his part. Yet he was opposed to Elijah and Hayley’s relationship even if he would not say as much. However, Elijah did not need words to decrypt his brother’s stony looks and sharp responses. Before they embarked on this trip, Rebekah had shed some light on the perplexing situation. Niklaus was worried that Hayley would ultimately decide that Elijah was better suited to be the father of her child. The revelation seemed obvious now that their sister had steered him in the right direction. Unfortunately, he had not found the right time to broach the topic with his brother. They could not have the conversation in the mansion. Klaus would never speak honestly with so many werewolves underfoot. Privacy was practically impossible in their current situation.

Elijah rapped his knuckles against the door before entering the studio. He opened his mouth to speak but stopped when he recognized the subject of Niklaus’ painting. The work was far from finished but he would recognize those unusual eyes anywhere. Elijah had met millions of people during his time on Earth, but he had never encountered a more hypnotizing pair of eyes. The girl had been born with one honey brown iris and one bluish green iris. Both irises had a pronounced gold outer ring. In the old days, people thought it meant that she had been touched by magic. However, now most people knew that it was simply a genetic quirk called heterochromia iridum.

Niklaus put down his paintbrush and turned to look at his older brother. He raised an eyebrow as Elijah gawked at the painting in a rather undignified manner. He would have liked to assume it was because of his amazing talent, but he knew better. The original hybrid casually strolled over to his favorite chair and sat down. He stifled a chuckle before clearing his throat to draw Elijah’s attention away from his unfinished canvas.

The older vampire actually startled at the sudden interruption. He blinked and looked over at Klaus. “I am sorry. I was not expecting…”

He jested, “It is unseemly for you to stare at my half-sister for so long. I might be inclined to defend her honor.”

Elijah was not amused by Klaus’ attempt at humor. He scowled at his younger brother as he unbuttoned his suit jacket. He sat down in the chair beside Klaus and said, “I suppose that I do not need to ask what inspired you to paint a portrait of Drusilla.”

Klaus hadn’t thought about Ayana and her children in a very long time. In his youth, he had spent a great deal of time with Drusilla, Johan, and Christophe. It was strange to think that children he had watched grow from infants had been his half siblings. Klaus wondered if Ayana had always been so kind to him because of his kinship with her children.

He explained, “I thought I might offer the painting to the witch once it is complete. A gesture of goodwill as it were.”

Elijah didn’t believe his brother for a second. Niklaus was hoping to convince the girl to work for him. However, he didn’t think flattery would help his brother’s case. The Bennett witch seemed even more obstinate than when they first met her. “Where is Hayley?”

“The last I heard, she and Rebekah were spending the GDP of a small island nation via online shopping. Our sister called it…nesting,” he said with a perplexed expression.

Elijah nodded in understanding. He had come across the term in one of the baby books he had read. “It will not be long now.”

Klaus replied, “Even more reason to kill the travelers quickly and return to New Orleans. Did Caroline provide any useful information on that front, brother?”

“My talk with Miss Forbes was quite illuminating,” he replied.

He lifted an eyebrow and motioned for Elijah to continue. “Do tell. What do the little cretins have in store for me?”

He answered simply, “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” he asked skeptically.

“Well, they are not planning anything as far as Miss Forbes is aware. I suppose there is the possibility that Miss Bennett elected to keep her friend out of the loop because of your past…liaison.”

Klaus frowned because he had not expected that. He asked, “I thought you said that your conversation with Caroline was illuminating? It sounds as if it was a dead end.”

Elijah suppressed a sigh. He explained, “I learned that Miss Bennett was indeed lying to you about the Bennett witch assisting her. It seems as if Lucy Bennett arrived in Mystic Falls yesterday afternoon. She is staying with her cousin. Lucy warded the house after learning of your presence. Miss Forbes did not seem to know about your connection to the elder Bennett witch. I can only assume they are keeping your past involvement under wraps.”

Several emotions surfaced at once for the original hybrid. He wanted to race over to the house and make Lucy explain her actions. Not long after Klaus broke his curse, he sought out the witch. He tried to convince her to rekindle their relationship or at the very least work for him again. She refused him on both fronts. Instead, they spent two weeks together before she disappeared without warning. All she left behind was a note instructing Klaus not to look for her. She promised the next time they crossed paths it would be as enemies. Klaus knew Lucy well enough to know her words had not been an idle threat. She would indeed try to kill him the next time they crossed paths.

The original vampire studied his brother’s expression carefully. Klaus had cut a bloody swath through the Mediterranean the first time Lucy left him. He had behaved marginally better the second time because he had the creation of his hybrids to occupy him. He was concerned about how his brother would cope now. Klaus’ deathly silence was not a good sign. Moreover, Elijah had not even told him the most interesting tidbit that Caroline had relayed.

Klaus realized that his brother was staring as if he were a feral animal. He couldn’t exactly muster any anger because it was how he felt. Finally, he asked, “Is that all?”

Elijah stood up from his chair. He would need to prevent Klaus from leaving the mansion. His actions could destroy any hope they had of securing an alliance with the Bennett witches. He took off his suit jacket and draped it over the back of the chair. “Well, Katerina is still alive.”

The hybrid arched an eyebrow. “I was told that the cure for vampirism rapidly aged Katherine until she died.”

“It did,” he replied. “However, Katerina is descended from the travelers. She became a passenger in Elena Gilbert’s body. She found some way to make it permanent and has been living Miss Gilbert’s life for several months. They only just learned the truth a few days ago. That surge in magic that Anders and Dean felt coming from the Bennett house was because they performed a ritual in the backyard. Miss Gilbert is once again in control of her body.”

“And Katherine?” he questioned.

Elijah rolled up his shirtsleeves and said, “She has been sealed into the body of another vampire.”

If Klaus weren’t so rocked by the news of Lucy’s presence he would be eager to torment Katherine again. He glanced at Elijah and immediately knew that his brother was holding something back. “What is it?”

“She has a daughter,” he explained.

“Katherine?” Klaus asked. He already knew about Nadia from his last visit to Mystic Falls. She hadn’t rated his attention since her mother was on death’s door.

“Yes, but I was talking about Lucy. She has a young daughter named Mari,” he explained.

Klaus heard only white noise for a few seconds as Elijah’s words swirled around his head. When he finally accepted that he had heard his brother right, Klaus let out an inhumane roar that reverberated through the entire mansion.

Elijah punched a nearby table hard enough to splinter the wood. Then he rammed one of the broken legs into Klaus’ stomach.

Klaus growled and easily removed the wood from his stomach. His eyes shifted from blue to golden. He pounced on Elijah. He brought his fists down against his brother’s chest and stomach repeatedly. “Are you out of your mind?”

Elijah fought back but it was in vain. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen his brother so unhinged. “I am trying to stop you from making a mistake, Niklaus.”

Rebekah burst into the room prepared to separate her warring brothers. “What are the two of you fighting about now? Get off him, Nik!”

He looked up at his sister. His fingers had transformed into claws. “He stabbed me!”

Her eyes widened in surprise. Niklaus was usually the instigator when her brothers fought. However, Elijah only started physical confrontations with good reason. “What?”

He used the brief distraction to flip Niklaus off him. Klaus’ claws had shredded Elijah’s shirt and left him bloody. He said, “I am trying to stop our brother from racing over to confront Lucy Bennett.”

She sighed heavily at the mention of the Bennett witch. She had only heard stories but it was enough to know that Klaus was about to go on a tear. “Let him get it out of his system. He hasn’t signed Bonnie’s contract yet. There will be no penalty.”

Klaus had no plans to kill Lucy. However, Rebekah was being incredibly naïve if she believed that there would be no penalty for Niklaus killing a Bennett witch. If Bonnie was to be believed, the entirety of the surviving bloodline would begin converging on Mystic Falls soon. The little witch had very nearly killed Niklaus without help. He shuddered to think what a couple dozen pissed off supercharged Bennett witches would be capable of doing to him. They might not succeed in killing him, but he would suffer all the same. He knew from experience that angry Bennett witches had a cruel streak a mile wide.

Elijah looked over his shoulder. “If you are not going to be helpful, you can leave, Rebekah. Klaus is going to make a mistake that he cannot repair. I am doing this for his sake.”

Rebekah’s eyebrows furrowed at the seriousness of her brother’s voice. She eased into the room and closed the door behind her. Then she made her way over to Klaus and asked, “Maybe you could just listen to Elijah first, Nik?”

“I am not interested in listening to strategy right now. I know that we need the Bennett witches’ to stop the travelers from lowering the veil. I don’t care!” he roared emphatically.

Elijah said, “This is not about the alliance that we desperately need, brother. Caroline told me that Lucy’s child is ten months old. Think…”

Rebekah wasn’t enraged like Klaus was so she caught onto Elijah’s train of thought first. She said, “Bloody hell! You were like Johnny Appleseed after you broke the curse, Nik.”

Klaus blinked but it took a moment for him to understand what his siblings were driving at. Normally, he was quicker on the uptake but he was literally seconds away from turning. It was taking a great deal of energy to reverse the process in mid transformation. Moreover, his more instinct driven werewolf brain was calling all the shots right now. Just a few months ago, his vampire side would have easily regained control of his body. However, Klaus had been exploring the long neglected side of his dual nature with Cary’s assistance. He shifted several times a week and went running through the bayou. After centuries of the curse binding him, his wolf grew stronger with each shift. In short order, his dual natures would become equals within him. The entire process was a startling reminder that werewolves were ancient creatures that predated vampires by nearly 500 hundred years. He had spent far too long thinking of werewolves as weak and beneath him.

She looked at their older brother and quipped, “Perhaps you should be having a conversation with Niklaus about the benefit of using condoms."

Elijah thought about scolding Rebekah for her flippant response to the situation. However, it probably would be prudent for Niklaus to acquaint himself with contraceptives. In the beginning, they had thought that Hayley’s pregnancy was a fluke. The possibility of Niklaus having sired another child meant that he was capable of procreating with other supernatural beings. Lucy and Hayley carried the werewolf gene. Elijah wasn’t sure if that was a necessary component for Klaus to successfully impregnate a female. He just knew that his brother couldn’t go around accidentally siring tribrid children.

Klaus arched an eyebrow at his brother. He could tell that Elijah was gearing up for a lecture. He said, “You can advise me on the finer points of safe sex later, Elijah. I am going to see Lucy.”

The older original sighed in exasperation. “Niklaus…”

“I am not spoiling for a fight, brother. I merely want to have a conversation with her,” he explained.

Elijah said, “I think Lucy has made it quite clear that she is not interested in having a conversation with you. Perhaps I could go on your behalf.”

“No,” he growled.

Rebekah and Elijah stared after Niklaus as he blurred out of the room.

She said, “You probably should have spoken with Lucy before telling Nik about the baby.”

He muttered, “Hindsight is 20/20…”

“Do you really think that baby belongs to Nik?” she asked.

Elijah said, “The timeline certainly fits.”

Rebekah shook her head. “Like father, like son.”

Klaus walked back into the room several minutes later dressed in clothes that did not have paint stains or his brother’s blood on them. He tossed a clean dress shirt at Elijah and asked, “Are you coming?”

He was surprised by the move but he certainly wasn’t going to question it. “Of course!”

Rebekah scowled. “I hope you don’t think that you are leaving me here. The werewolves can look after Hayley while we’re gone.”

Elijah frowned as he tugged on the clean shirt. “Rebekah…”

“I am coming and that is final.”

Klaus didn’t have the patience to argue with his sister. Sometimes he longed for the days when he could threaten her with the daggers. Unfortunately, Elijah had stolen the daggers and hidden them after the last mishap. Spending time as Marcel and Davina’s captive, while daggered, had been the last straw for him. Klaus couldn’t exactly blame Elijah for being angry about that. He said, “Okay but we are not taking a car. It takes too long.”

Rebekah smiled. “That’s fine. My legs could do with a stretch anyway.”

Klaus walked out of the studio and pointed at Cary. “We’re going out. Make sure nothing happens to Hayley.”

He had overheard most of the argument between the originals. It was hard to avoid overhearing things even in a house the size of the Mikaelson Mansion. He said, “We will keep her safe.”

The hybrid nodded before walking away. It was as close as he ever got to saying thank you. Klaus rarely thanked his siblings. However, he liked to think the stupid smile on Cary’s face meant that he understood the sentiment.

The three original siblings left the mansion together. They blurred across town to Bonnie’s house in a matter of minutes. The sun had set by the time they arrived.

Elijah said, “Remember that we are not here for a fight, Niklaus.”

Klaus could feel the magic protecting the house as he walked up to the front door. He could tell that Lucy had made the ward as powerful as possible. Klaus raised his hand to knock on the door but it opened first.

Jonas had texted Tyler as soon as he saw the originals arrive. Tyler stood in the doorway but was careful not to cross the threshold. He trusted the ward would protect him from Klaus. He asked, “Can I help you all with something?”

“I am not here to see you, pup,” he sneered.

Tyler could practically see the rage coming off Klaus in waves. He wasn’t sure what happened but he knew it was unwise to provoke him. Unfortunately, his wolf wasn’t interested in being logical. His hackles were raised by having a threat outside the house where his pregnant mate lived. He asked, “Then why are you here?”

Klaus looked every bit of a wolf when he flashed a smile full of teeth. He said, “I am here to see Lucy Bennett.”

The younger man’s expression didn’t reveal anything. He didn’t know how Klaus knew about Lucy but it was obvious they had a leak from somewhere. He said, “That won’t be possible.”

Elijah said, “There is no need to lie. We know that she is here.”

“I didn’t say that Lucy wasn’t here. She doesn’t want to see Klaus. I think you know that…”

Klaus growled and slammed his fist against the invisible ward preventing him from entering the house. It turned out to be a terrible idea because the ward released a wave of magic that blasted Klaus and his siblings backward.

Tyler blinked in surprise. He hadn’t expected the ward to react so violently. Tyler groaned because this wasn’t going to end well at all. He growled and prepared to shift because that was the only way he would have a chance to survive a fight with his sire.

Klaus sprung to his feet before either of his siblings and roared.

Lucy sighed heavily as she walked up behind Tyler. She placed a hand on his shoulder. “That won’t be necessary.”

Klaus stilled when he saw that Lucy was standing in the doorway. She looked even more beautiful than she did the last time he saw her.

“Are you sure?” Tyler asked with an uncertain expression.

She nodded. “I am.”

Bonnie appeared beside Tyler with a pensive look. She didn’t like her cousin’s plan but without a suitable alternative, her hands were tied.

Lucy walked out of the house and stood on the porch. She felt her magic building up inside her as she prepared for a fight. She stared at Klaus. “You should have heeded my warning, Nik.”

“I did not come here for a fight,” he replied coolly.

She marched down the stairs and retorted, “That’s not really your decision any longer.”

Klaus sniffed audibly and his eyes shifted to gold and black. He slowly began to circle Lucy. Then he grabbed the witch and sped off into the growing darkness.

“Niklaus!” Elijah called after his brother.

Tyler looked at Bonnie and asked, “Should I go after them?”

The witch shook her head and pulled Tyler into the house. She slammed the door shut and said, “No. This is what Lucy wanted.”

“To be alone with Klaus?” he asked incredulously.

She shook her head. “To get him away from Mari. If he knows that Lucy is in Mystic Falls, there is no telling what else he knows. I don’t even want to think about how he knows it.”

Tyler blinked in shock as he watched Bonnie use her enhanced speed to disappear upstairs. He followed her and asked, “What are you doing?”

Bonnie didn’t stop tossing clothes into a bag. “I am keeping my promise to Lucy. She said that if Klaus came looking for her that I had to get Mari out of Mystic Falls. I am going to keep my promise.”

“Well, I am not letting you go alone,” he said.

She looked over her shoulder. “I didn’t expect that you would but we need to go now, Ty. I don’t know how long Lucy will be able to distract Klaus.”

He nodded. “Okay. What do you need me to do?”

She zipped her bag and tossed it at him. “Grab your keys and meet me at the car. I am going to go get Mari.”

When Tyler ran downstairs, their friends were waiting for an explanation. He looked at their concerned faces as he fired off a text for Jonas. They would need a diversion to leave without Klaus’ wolves following.

“What’s going on, Wolf Boy?” Damon asked with a steely expression.

“Bon and I have to leave. I can’t tell you why or where we’re going because Klaus could compel it out of you. He probably already compelled someone to learn that Lucy was in town.”

The assembled group exchanged glances because anyone could be a mole for Klaus with the exception of Bonnie. Moreover, they didn’t know how long Klaus had been in Mystic Falls. He could have compelled someone days ago to do his bidding without raising suspicions. However, one person was notably missing.

Damon asked, “Where is Blondie?”

Elena blanched when he mentioned Caroline. She had fallen down a social media rabbit hole while waiting for her to return. Despite being several hundred years old,  Katherine had been very active on multiple social media platforms. There were hundreds of pictures and videos for her to view.  “She went to go get pizza and tequila.”

Stefan’s eyebrows furrowed. “When did she leave, Elena?”

Elena looked at her watch and winced guiltily. She said, “About an hour ago…”

Damon heaved a sigh. “Well, we know the identity of Klaus’ mole.”

Bonnie bounded down the stairs with Mari in her arms and a diaper bag slung over her shoulder. She had overheard most of the conversation from upstairs. She asked, “Do you think Klaus would hurt Caroline?”

Tyler frowned. “Probably not…”

Damon shook his head. “Don’t worry about Caroline. We’ll find her. You two get out of here.”

Bonnie looked at Damon. “Lock up when you leave?”

He patted his pockets to check for his keys. He nodded after hearing them jingle. “Yeah.”

Tyler walked over to the door and peered out the window. He beckoned Bonnie forward and said, “The coast is clear.”

The teens dashed out of the house but kept their eyes peeled for the originals. Fortunately, it seemed that they had pursued their wayward brother. Tyler unlocked the car and then hopped into the driver’s seat.

Bonnie climbed into the back seat with Mari. She was going to have to hold her little cousin during the drive because there wasn't time to grab the carseat from Lucy’s car. A few seconds ticked by and Tyler still hadn’t backed out of the driveway. “What are we waiting for?”

Tyler said, “Just give it a minute.”

A minute later, they heard a loud crash from down the street. Jonas had stolen a neighbor’s car and crashed it into the one Klaus’ spies were using to stake out the house.

“We were waiting on that,” he said.

Tyler put the car in reverse and zipped out of Bonnie’s driveway. Once they were on the street, he put his foot on the gas pedal and didn’t look back. His tires screeched as he literally burned rubber on the way out. For once, his obnoxiously expensive car was useful. He was only slightly worried about Jonas and Maddox. The latter was a career criminal and knew how to make a clean getaway.

Bonnie asked, “Where are we going to go?”

He said, “To Ruby’s house for now. We can figure out what to do after that.”

She nodded shakily and peered down at Mari’s face. Fortunately, the infant hadn’t stirred during the mad dash from the house.

Tyler glanced in the rearview mirror and asked, “Are you okay?”

Bonnie said, “I don’t know. I am worried about Lucy. She should have left town the moment I told her about Klaus. If anything happens to her…”

“I know there aren’t many silver linings, but at least we know that Klaus doesn’t want her dead. He could have killed her right there.”

She said, “Klaus wanting Lucy alive actually scares me more than him wanting her dead. Lucy has more experience as a witch than I do. If I can protect myself against Klaus then I trust that she can do the same.”

“Then what has you so worried?” he asked.

Bonnie met his gaze in the rearview mirror. She had been so upset that she briefly forgot about the bond. Bonnie replied, “Lucy didn’t give much information when I tried to ask about her time with him. But she wouldn't be the first witch that Klaus...corrupted. You heard her plan for the Augustine Group. She plans to use some seriously dark magic against them. The hexes that she talked about were even more malevolent than Expression. I can only assume that she learned it from him. She is determined to protect Mari from Klaus and his enemies. I am worried about how far Lucy will go to achieve her goal.”

Tyler realized that Bonnie was worried her cousin would kill Klaus--taking his sire line with him. “You said yourself, that the only way to kill Klaus is by linking him with his siblings.”

She said, “I also said that you can kill anything if you are motivated and smart enough. Lucy has had nearly two years to figure out a way to kill Klaus if he ever got too close to Mari. How motivated do you think she is to keep her daughter away from him?”

His grip on the steering wheel tightened as he considered their very limited options. “What about Stefan? Aside from his siblings, Stefan and Caroline are the only people I have ever seen him have genuinely friendly interactions.”

Bonnie bit her bottom lip and said, “I guess it is worth a try but he has to be careful getting in the middle of them. Damon would never forgive me if I got his brother killed.”

“We’re all dead if Stefan doesn’t get in the way of Lucy killing Klaus,” he replied.

“You’re right. I’ll call him,” she replied.

Chapter Text

Klaus grabbing Lucy and speeding her off into the night had been a split second decision. Frankly, categorizing what he did as a ‘decision’ was probably overly generous. His original plan had been to banter with Lucy for a few minutes. He had always enjoyed matching wits with the brazen witch. Klaus thought Lucy might lower her guard if he reminded her of the happier times they shared. He hadn’t always behaved as a temperamental tyrant with her. There had been moments when Klaus showed her genuine affection that she eagerly accepted. However, the original hybrid’s hastily formulated plan became obsolete the moment he was in her presence.

The moment Lucy stepped out of the house, his mind lurched back to the last time he saw her. Yet even from a distance, he could tell that something was different about the witch. Klaus had been unable to pinpoint the change until Lucy approached him ready for war. He could practically taste her magic crackling in the air around them like electricity. Klaus fully expected Lucy to set him ablaze. The witch was particularly fond of setting things on fire. However, a scent more potent than even wild Bennett magic caught his attention. The aroma reminded him of the days before humanity had tainted the air, soil, and water with their innovations. She smelled like the old world.

All rational thought faded away and his primal instincts demanded action. Klaus was ashamed to admit it but the beast hijacked the situation. His wolf side had grown increasingly powerful in the last several weeks. Furthermore, the looming full moon behaved as a sort of signal boost. His wolf was stronger than ever before and seemed to be actively suppressing the vampire side. When Klaus grabbed Lucy, he didn’t know where he was going at first. Normally, he would have wrestled the beast and forced it into submission. However, he heard Cary’s voice in the back of his head. His kin had told him to trust the wolf’s instincts implicitly. The wolf would never steer him wrong. When they finally came to a stop, Klaus had taken them to the cave system surrounding the waterfall. The secluded location would ensure their privacy. Furthermore, swiftly moving water would help obscure their scents.

Klaus resembled a werewolf as much as he could without finishing the transformation. His gold and black eyes were wild and unseeing. His fingers had elongated into razor sharp claws. He was digging those claws into Lucy’s side and drawing copious amounts of blood. However, his face was the most startling difference. His mouth and teeth had transformed into more of a wolf-like snout. With lightning quick reflexes, he savagely tore into Lucy’s shoulder. The wolf wanted to mark its mate, but the vampire wanted to gorge on the magic rich blood gushing into his mouth. The result was the hybrid being latched onto Lucy with all of his estimable strength. When the witch began to struggle, he slammed Lucy against the rock wall to stop her from running.

Lucy had no intention of running from him. She was single-minded in her desire to protect Mari from Klaus. Her daughter deserved better than any life he could give her. Klaus made enemies as easily as rain made puddles. His enemies would see Mari as a means to an end. That was only until they learned just how special she was. Even at ten months old Mari’s magic was powerful. She required careful supervision and a power dampening charm. The charm prevented her daughter from using large amounts of magic or causing harm to anyone. Lucy knew from the moment she felt the first stirrings of life from within her womb that she would protect the child at all costs—even her own happiness. During her pregnancy, Lucy had scoured the world for a way to end Klaus or at least incapacitate him. Fortunately, her mother had offered a suggestion that changed everything.

She threw both of her hands outward and released a wave of magic. The sudden burst dislodged the hybrid and sent him flying across the cave as if he were weightless.

Klaus’ body collided with the wall hard enough to create several prominent fissures. However, the sudden impact was just what he needed to snap out of the almost hypnotic state. Slowly his features melted into something resembling a human once more. Klaus was immediately awash with guilt when he saw the state of Lucy.

The brunette witch pressed a hand to her shoulder as she tried to slow the bleeding.

Klaus bit into his wrist and offered the bleeding appendage as an olive branch. He swore, “I don’t know what came over me, love.”

She gave a melodic laugh. “I think exchanging blood is one of the reasons that we are in this predicament. I don’t think we should repeat our mistakes, Nik.”

He growled. “Is Mari a mistake?”

“Don’t you dare speak her name. You will never know her,” she snapped.

“Is she my daughter?”

Lucy rolled her eyes and didn’t dignify his question with an answer.

“You knew that you were with child when you left me,” he declared bitterly.

Lucy felt unsteady on her feet but she stood her ground. She nodded. “I knew. We had only been together for a few days when I felt the first spark of Mari’s magic from within my womb.”

Klaus was awestruck by the thought that his daughter had magic. Certainly, she would be a true tribrid. He roared, “And you didn’t tell me!”

“I thought about it, Nik. I thought about it for days before I left you. I thought things would be different because you finally broke the curse. But every time I made up my mind to tell you, there you were planning to raise your hybrid army. You traded one obsession for another! You will never be satisfied. You will always crave more. Worst yet, you will cut down any poor soul that gets in your way. Look at what you are doing in New Orleans. You could go anywhere and start a new life. Instead, you decided to settle in the one place that you would have to bathe in blood to conquer. That is not a life for my daughter,” she hissed.

Niklaus said, “New Orleans is my home. I built it up and Marcellus stole it from me! When the city is in my control once more, it will be the safest place in the world for my children.”

Lucy licked her lips but her tongue felt heavy. She argued, “Liar! Mystic Falls is your ancestral home. You could have chosen this place, Nik. You could be living a quiet life here. You crave chaos and you invite danger. It is fine because you are very hard to kill. Mari does not have the same luxury. I want her to have a normal life. I want her to go to school and have friends. She can’t do any of those things if people learn you are her father. She would become a pawn in some sick game. I am asking you to lie to your siblings and leave us alone. Please, if you ever cared for me…go.”

He watched Lucy’s face become ashen. Klaus edged toward the witch as his desperation to give her his blood grew. “I cannot turn my back on my own blood. Elijah can be annoying but he has frequently drilled the same message into my head. I think that perhaps I finally believe him. Everything I am doing in New Orleans is for my family, that includes you and Mari now.”

Lucy realized that Klaus wasn’t going to bow out gracefully. She would have to continue with her original plan. She pressed the hand tighter to her shoulder and quietly chanted a healing spell to seal the wound. Lucy was disorientated for a moment because of the blood loss. However, being woozy didn’t stop her from taking an antique dagger from her boot. She sent the dagger hurtling through the air faster than the human eye with just a flick of her fingers. The metal skewered the hybrid’s heart with ease.

Klaus relaxed somewhat when Lucy healed her wound. The relief was quickly replaced with amusement. He lifted an eyebrow and asked, “A dagger to the heart, love? This is not the right dagger. It hasn’t even been dipped into white oak ash. You disappoint me, Lucy. I thought I taught you better than to waste your power on a futile attack.”

“Poor, Niklaus, always overestimating your importance in a situation. You thought yourself to be a masterful teacher. I think that somehow you have forgotten that Bennett blood runs through my veins. Even the arrogantly named ‘Original Witch’ was no match for my ancestor. Yet you believe that her magic-less son would somehow be a match for me. I worked for you because I needed money, protection from the Sisters, and freedom from my family’s legacy. I also enjoyed having access to all of those wonderful grimoires you have stolen from witches for centuries. The sex was good, too. I will admit that I came to love you in our time together. However, I was not so in love that I was blind to your madness. I realized you would sacrifice everything, even me, to break Esther’s curse. I am no one’s sacrificial lamb and neither is my daughter.”

Klaus should have been enraged but it was the furthest thing from his mind. Lucy had only been able to pull the wool over his eyes for a few weeks with her ingénue routine. He saw the fire that lived beneath her façade. Her fire drew him in like a helpless moth. Klaus had watched with equal parts awe and desire as Lucy slowly grew into her prodigious powers. He was even more drawn to her now because she was his mate. All he could think about was completing the bond. He could almost hear his wolf howling in his ears. However, the smug smile quickly slipped from his face when his body began to turn black from decay. It started with his foot and slowly crept upward.

He dropped onto his knees with wide eyes. He tried to pull the dagger from his chest but it burned his hands until the skin turned red and cracked. He growled, “What have you done?”

Lucy’s heart broke when she saw the look of betrayal in his blue eyes. Yet she knew that staying the course was the only way to protect Mari. She said, “My mother and I came up with something new just for you, Nik. It is a mix of blood magic and hoodoo. It is surprising what is possible with a vial of Mari’s blood. I didn’t want to do this to you. I warned to steer clear of me for good. Even now, I gave you a chance to leave unharmed. You forced my hand.”

“Did you really expect me to stay away from my daughter?” he growled as the pain grew worse. His entire left side had turned black. It resembled a shriveled and rotted fruit.

Lucy eased onto her knees in front of him. She gently carded her fingers through his curly hair. She whispered, “I love you, but all you can offer our daughter is death and danger. I will protect Mari from any threats that come her way—including the ones posed by her father.”

Klaus was frozen in place by whatever the dagger was doing to him. He said, “She will ask about me one day.”

She choked back a sob and said, “I know. She may never forgive me for this but being a parent means making the hard choices. If by some miracle our daughter survives until adulthood, then I will willingly accept her hatred.”

“Elijah will find a way to reverse this,” he replied.

Lucy shook her head. “This hex can only be removed by a Bennett witch that holds no anger for you in her heart. There isn’t a Bennett witch alive that fits that bill because of your own actions.”

The decay slowly consumed the entire left side of his face. He pressed his lips against Lucy’s. He murmured, “I always find a way.”

She blinked back tears and replied, “Maybe but Mari is long gone now. I made sure of that just in case I failed.”

A sudden gust of wind whipped around them as Elijah and Rebekah arrived. The pair had searched Mystic Falls high and low for signs of their brother. Even while carrying Lucy, Klaus was at least twice as fast as they were.

Rebekah gasped when she saw her brother’s decaying body. She was immediately bombarded with thoughts of Kol and even Finn. Rebekah couldn’t stand the idea of losing another brother. She grabbed Lucy by the hair and vamped out. “Stop this, witch!”

“No,” Lucy spat defiantly.

Elijah grabbed the dagger and tried to remove it from Klaus’ chest but it burned him. He hissed in pain and removed his hand red hand.

Rebekah wrapped a hand around Lucy’s neck and squeezed. “I will kill you.”

Lucy had lost so much blood that she felt too weak to fight off Rebekah. Moreover, she had used a considerable amount of energy fending off Klaus and healing herself. She rasped out, “Do your worst, vampire.”

Elijah took of his jacket and wrapped it around the dagger’s hilt. He wrenched it from Klaus’ chest with considerable effort. Using his bespoke jacket for protection had helped somewhat. However, the dagger had burned through the jacket and seared his flesh. “Niklaus….”

Klaus remained on his knees but the slow creep of decay had ceased. Unfortunately, it did not seem to be receding. The damage that had already been done remained. He said, “Put her down, Rebekah.”

The blond original vampire looked over her shoulder in disbelief. “You can’t be serious!”

Klaus growled and his eyes turned gold and black again. “Now, Rebekah! I will not tell you again.”

She unceremoniously dropped Lucy onto the cave floor and glared at her brother. “You want me to spare this witch after what she has done to you? I should be staining these walls with every drop of her blood.”

Lucy curled into the fetal position and coughed violently. She struggled to breathe now that her airway was no longer constricted.

Rebekah slammed her foot into Lucy’s head hard enough to render her unconscious.

Klaus roared like a caged animal. He warned, “Do not touch her again, Rebekah.”

She stared at her older brother in disbelief. However, the color of Klaus’ eyes suggested that it was the wolf half speaking to her.

Elijah studied his brother’s appearance. He murmured, “What has she done to you, brother?”

Klaus ignored his brother in favor of staring at Lucy. The shoulder that he had bitten earlier was curved in his direction. Despite Lucy having closed the gaping wound, a prominent bite mark remained. Klaus was relatively new to being a werewolf but he knew very well what it meant. He had marked Lucy as his mate. It could only mean that the curse once preventing her from being a werewolf had been broken. Klaus couldn’t begin to understand how that had happened. However, it did bring to mind a most interesting question. Had the curse broken for all Bennett witches?

Elijah tried to get his attention again. “Niklaus…”

Niklaus was jolted out of his thoughts. His blue eyes moved up to Elijah and he said, “Lucy told me that she used a mixture of blood magic and hoodoo to create this hex. Help me up.”

The original vampire looked at his younger brother with a healthy dose of skepticism. Blood magic and hoodoo could not create such devastating results. Something else was at play, perhaps dark magic. However, he gingerly pulled Klaus to his feet.

Klaus felt unstable as if he might topple over but it seemed the hex only affected the left half of his body. Elijah removing the dagger had prevented the hex from consuming him entirely.

Fortunately, Elijah was there to support the rest of his weight. He said, “We should get you home, Niklaus. Once there we can begin to unravel what Miss Bennett has done to you.”

Klaus sagged against Elijah and declared, “Lucy comes with us.”

Rebekah looked at Lucy with disdain. She was not pleased by the prospect of lugging the witch home. However, Lucy could be the only person capable of reversing whatever she had done to Niklaus. She rolled her eyes skyward and then hefted the witch over her shoulder. She sneered, “I like your other ‘baby mama’ better.”

Niklaus glanced at Lucy’s unconscious body and confessed, “She is my mate. I bit her.”

Rebekah’s jaw literally dropped. Her brother had unwittingly done all the things that he so often called her weak for desiring. A feeling of jealousy consumed her without warning. It had been hard enough befriending Hayley throughout her pregnancy.

Elijah’s body went tense as the gravity of the situation came into focus. It did not matter what Lucy felt for Niklaus, if the mark took she would be bound to him forever. He couldn’t help feeling a sense of great pity for the woman. Klaus held tight to those things that mattered most to him. He had no doubt that his brother’s mate would fall into the category. He asked, “Shall we retrieve your daughter as well, Niklaus?”

“No, I am sure that she is no longer at the Bennett witch’s house. Lucy planned for me learning of her presence here. She sent Mari away to protect her from me,” he replied bitterly.

Klaus had underestimated the lengths to which Lucy would go to protect Mari from him. He was furious with her but he was self-aware enough to understand the decision. He couldn’t stop thinking about how she had tried to appeal to him the last time they were together. Lucy had begged him to abandon his plan to create an army of hybrids.

Rebekah frowned when she realized that her niece had been whisked away to parts unknown. “We could have Cary and the wolves track the baby. Surely, Bonnie is the only person in Mystic Falls that Lucy would have trusted with her safety.”

Elijah shook his head and said, “Going into the situation half-cocked is the reason that Niklaus is currently rotting. We need to regroup before anything else goes pear shaped, Rebekah.”

Rebekah rolled her eyes but nodded in agreement. She tightened her hold on Lucy and sped out of the cave.

Elijah followed suit while supporting Klaus’ mostly dead weight.

Stefan emerged from his hiding place once he was certain the Originals were gone. He had overheard much of their conversation and wisely decided not to intervene. It didn’t seem likely that Klaus was going to kill Lucy. Moreover, Elijah and Rebekah’s sudden arrival had stopped the witch from killing Klaus. If he had to evaluate the situation, it was a draw. However, Stefan felt guilty because he hadn’t done anything to help Lucy. Now she had fallen into the hands of Klaus and his siblings. Stefan knew from personal experience it was the last place anyone would want to be.

Stefan blurred out of the forest and returned to Bonnie’s house. He wasn’t surprised to find that Damon’s Camaro was the only remaining car. When he left the house, his brother had been in the process of kicking everyone out much to Elena’s chagrin. She was more than a little miffed that Damon had a key to Bonnie’s house and she did not.

The door opened as Stefan approached the porch. However, Damon’s shocked expression suggested that he hadn’t been expecting his brother when he opened the door. “Is everyone still alive—relatively speaking?”

Stefan nodded and said, “Yes. Lucy hexed Klaus with something that he had never seen before. Elijah and Rebekah showed up before it finished its final objective—whatever that might have been. They took Lucy home with them.”

Damon whistled loudly.

A moment later, Russell swooped down from his perch in the rowan tree. He landed on Damon’s outstretched arm with skill that came from many years of practice.

The vampire looked into the creature’s eyes and said, “Go to the Mikaelson Mansion and keep watch until morning. Return here in the morning and wait for me.”

Russell pecked at Damon’s arm a bit before he took flight.

Damon beckoned his brother to follow him. He said, “You’re coming with me.”

“Where are we going?”

He said, “We’re going to see a friend of mine. We could use her help.”

Stefan frowned as he dutifully followed his brother. He climbed into the Camaro and replied, “You don’t have friends.”

Damon scowled at Stefan as he started the car. He said, “I do have friends.”

Stefan lifted an eyebrow at his brother. “You have Bonnie and a crow.”

He huffed as he stepped on the gas. “Okay, maybe friend isn’t the right word. I have known her for eighty years and she doesn’t hate me. And occasionally we have sex to stave off boredom. The point is we need a witch and Elodie is the only one I know in the state that doesn’t hate my guts.”

The younger man nodded because that sounded more like the Damon that he knew. Stefan took out his phone and rapidly typed a message to Bonnie. He didn’t relish updating her on the situation but delaying the inevitable wasn’t any better.

Damon said, “Caroline showed up after you left.”

Stefan looked at his brother with concern. He asked, “Was she okay?”

He nodded. “She was fine. Caroline doesn’t think that she was compelled but agreed that there would be no way of knowing if she had been. She and Elena are headed over to Liz’s house for the night. Matt is going to stay with them after he finds Jeremy.”

“Staying together is probably a good idea right now. Did you know about Lucy and Klaus?” Stefan asked. He picked up his phone again and updated Bonnie on Caroline.

He figured that Bonnie might have shared the information with him.

The older brother shook his head. “No, but I am not surprised. Klaus has a thing for powerful witches. You get that in spades when talking about a Bennett witch.”

Stefan’s phone began ringing. He looked down and answered it as he said, “It’s Bonnie.”

Damon perked up hearing the witch’s name. “Put it on speaker.”

Stefan nodded and did as his brother asked. “Hello?”

“Hey. I got your message. Thank you for telling me what happened.”

“I am sorry that I wasn’t able to stop them from taking Lucy,” he said sincerely.

“Don’t beat yourself up about it, Stefan. There isn’t much you could have done to stop three originals. Getting yourself killed or captured wouldn't have helped the situation.”

“What’s our next move, witchy?” Damon asked.

“We continued as planned. Lucy understood that she might die or fail. There was a contingency in place. She left instructions for how to put together the hex bags for the Augustine Group. I just need the ingredients. Ty is still going to handle getting a personal item from each of the members’ hotel rooms. I just need you to get the other stuff that was on Lucy’s list.”

Damon said, “I still have the list that Lucy gave me this morning. I am on the way to see my contact now. I’ll get everything you need. Once I work my charm, we might have another ally.”

The girl snorted and asked, “We’re relying on your charm? We are already sunk...”

Stefan bit back a laugh when he saw the scowl on his brother’s face.

“I have a way with witches...especially Bennett witches,” Damon replied smugly.

“My grams hated you,” Bonnie pointed out.

Stefan added, “Emily didn’t like you very much either.”

Damon huffed, “Emily liked me enough to trust me with her children. I made good on that promise, it is why you even exist, judgy.”

“Yes, thank you for saving my ancestors from your racist neighbors,” she snarked.

He exclaimed, “Hey! They killed me, too.”

Bonnie giggled quietly.

Damon sobered somewhat. He was uncomfortable with Bonnie being out of reach. He had been doing everything in his power to protect the witch since Qetsiyah resurrected her. He said, “How am I going to get the ingredients to you if I can’t know where you are going?”

“We can meet somewhere in the middle. We are staying in the area for a couple of days. I don’t really have all of this thought out yet. Lucy and I thought we would have longer to establish a real plan.  I am just sort of making it up as I go along. I just know that we have to take care of the Augustine Group first.”

Stefan asked, “What about the other Bennett witches? Maybe they could help with rescuing Lucy from Klaus.”

Bonnie said, “I don’t really know how to get in touch with the other Bennett witches. They are supposed to be headed towards Mystic Falls in the next few days. We may have to wait until then. I just hope that Lucy can hold on for that long”

Damon said, “Well, my contact might be able to help with getting Lucy back.”

“I doubt a random witch would want to stick her neck out with the originals to help someone she doesn’t even know,” Bonnie replied doubtfully.

“Perhaps but Bennett witches take care of their own.” he replied.

Stefan’s eyes widened in surprise at Damon’s casual admission.

She asked, “Your contact is a Bennett witch? Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“Because Elodie is complicated as fuck. But she is the one that told me Joshua Parker could help me free you from being the anchor,” he replied.

The line went quiet as Bonnie thought about the name. She said, “I remember that name from my family tree. Elodie and my great-grandmother were sisters. You must be mistaken, Damon. Elodie died as a teenager.”

Damon confessed, “Elodie isn’t dead, Bonnie. She faked her death and I helped her.”

Chapter Text

Tyler had turned up on Ruby’s doorstep three hours ago with his mate and an infant in tow. The older woman had not asked a single question before granting them a place to stay. Furthermore, she assured them that they were welcome to stay with her for as long as they needed. Bonnie and Tyler would be staying in the finished attic where they would have as much privacy as could be expected in a house with another werewolf. The attic would also be easier to defend against attacks. Moreover, the two hybrids could easily survive a jump from that height if the house was suddenly overrun. However, Bonnie didn’t plan to allow the situation to become that dire. She had added several ingredients to Damon’s ‘shopping list’. She planned to place wards that would protect the entirety of Ruby’s 43-acre farm.

Ruby’s farm had belonged to their family for several generations. It often served as a safe haven for members of their pack. Occasionally, wolves stopping through the area would stay with Ruby for a few nights. Some visitors stayed so long that they eventually decided to find a permanent home in the area. Most of those wolves went on to join the pack but some chose to remain friendly associates. The old farmhouse had five bedrooms. However, the attic was the best space in the house. A few years ago, Ruby had the space converted into a one-bedroom apartment. The full-bath and galley style kitchenette meant the attic was largely self-contained.

Bonnie had wisely decided that they needed to stop at a store for supplies before reaching Ruby’s house. The old farm was practically in the middle of nowhere. It would make it harder for the Mikaelsons to find them but it also made popping out to the store a hassle. Bonnie had grabbed the essentials before they escaped her home but the supplies would not last long. As if to prove the point, Mari burned through two diapers within an hour of their arrival. The trio did not have much time to settle into their temporary digs before Tyler’s pack began arriving.

Normally, Bonnie would have been nervous about meeting Tyler’s pack. She knew how important the pack was to him. These people were his family and he loved them. She was also aware that her sudden introduction might ruffle some feathers. Unfortunately, she did not have the luxury of being sensitive tonight. The meeting centered on the Augustine Group and the looming threat posed by the travelers. Tyler and Bonnie explained the plans for both situations with a steady confidence uncommon for such young people. Yet when watching the two of them together it was immediately obvious that they were natural leaders. If there were doubters among the ranks, no one was brave enough to contradict their alpha and his new mate.

Once the meeting ended, Tyler headed to the converted barn’s loft to work with Gabe and Maddox. They needed to arrange the logistics for tomorrow’s series of B&E’s. Once the Augustine Group headed to the campus for the day, several pack members would break into their rooms to retrieve personal items. Once they brought those items back to the farm, Bonnie would construct the hex bags using the instructions that Lucy had left for her. Tyler would be on hand to compel any humans that accidentally witnessed something they should not. The goal was to eliminate the risk of accumulating innocent human casualties. Primarily, it was because Tyler didn’t make a habit of killing innocent humans. However, he was also worried about drawing unwanted attention from Klaus. The original would be looking for them.

Ruby had insisted on properly introducing Bonnie to a few key members of the pack. The young woman did not see the harm in shaking a few hands and kissing a couple of babies if it meant ingratiating herself to the pack. Moreover, she was eager to meet the people that had become an essential part of Tyler’s life. While the hybrid trusted everyone in his pack, he sent Jonas along to keep an eye on Bonnie as she made the rounds. Their lives were far too precarious for him to take anything for granted. Tyler hoped to be able to join Bonnie after he finalized the plans with his cousin and the tracker.

Tyler frowned as he looked at the surveillance pictures that Gabe had snapped of the surviving members of the Augustine Group. His work was impeccable as always. Thanks to the talented tracker’s efforts, they now had names, faces, and hotel room numbers for every Augustine member lurking around Whitmore College. Furthermore, Gabe had reached out to a contact to have background checks run on each person’s identity. Tyler wanted to learn more about these people and the identities of other possible co-conspirators. As they received the information, Gabe would pass it along to other packs that might find it of interest. The group based at Whitmore College had always focused their attention onto vampires. However, other chapters of the group specialized in werewolves, kitsunes, and witches.

He hummed and asked, “And you are sure that you can trick the card scanners on the doors?”

The brown-eyed wolf looked vaguely offended. Maddox said, “Those card scanners are child’s play. I tested out my gear earlier when I was helping Gabe with surveillance. We will be in and out of those rooms before anyone is the wiser.”

Gabe added, “I also sweet talked the cleaning schedule out of the head of housekeeping. We won’t need to worry about maids accidentally interrupting us. They don’t start the rounds until noon. Housekeeping likes to wait until after check out time passes.”

Maddox grinned and lifted his eyebrows suggestively. “You sweet talked her, huh?”

Tyler rolled his eyes at his older cousin. Maddox might have been nearing thirty-years-old but he had the sense of humor of a teenager. He opened his mouth to speak when he heard a pair of small feet lumbering up the staircase.

A boy that couldn’t have been more than ten years old ran so fast that he crashed into Tyler’s legs. He looked up at Tyler with big blue eyes. He said, “Sorry, Ty…”

Tyler ruffled the boy's black hair and said, “It’s okay. What are you doing up here, Benji?”

He replied, “Jonas said I had to get you to come quick.”

The hybrid’s spine straightened at the boy’s urgent tone. He didn’t think Bonnie was in danger because he would feel it through the bond. Currently, she just seemed…angry. He commanded, “Go.”

Benji nodded and ran down the stairs as quick as his little feet would take him. He led Tyler to the large fire pit where many members of the pack were congregating.

It took a moment for Tyler to understand what he was seeing. Bonnie had a female wolf, Dakota, pinned to the ground. Even from several yards away, he could hear Bonnie growling from deep within her chest. Dakota was pack but she wasn’t related to Tyler like so many others were. He blurred across the field and came to a stop behind his furious mate. Tyler winced when he saw that Bonnie had partially shifted. Her fingers had elongated into claws and they were currently buried in Dakota’s chest. He cautiously asked, “Want to tell me what’s going on here, Bon?”

Bonnie growled in response because she really wanted to rip out Dakota’s heart. Her gold eyes possessed an ethereal glow in the darkness.

Dakota whimpered in pain but remained defiant even as Bonnie’s claws inched closer to her heart. The 25-year-old woman’s normally beautiful features had been bruised and bloodied by Bonnie’s fists. She had expected the witch to resort to magic to fend off the attack. It would have shown the rest of the pack that she was no true wolf. However, the diminutive witch hadn’t used her magic once. She had taken Dakota down with skilled hand-to-hand combat and the brute strength werewolves possessed.

Tyler looked at Ruby expectantly since Bonnie was nonverbal. He had experience with being so deep in the wolf brain that speaking no longer felt second nature. He knew that Bonnie couldn’t complete the shift because she was pregnant. However, that was likely to further enrage her wolf.

Ruby stood nearby with a smug look on her face as she held Mari for Bonnie. She answered, “Dakota forgot her place with your new missus…”

A few women around Ruby’s age nodded in agreement.

Tyler could have separated the women but the move could affect how the pack viewed Bonnie. This was a brutal display of power by his mate but everyone present would understand that she required respect. Bonnie was his mate and the second alpha for the pack. It did not matter that they had not held the ceremony yet.

The brief flicker of hope in blond woman's eyes died when she realized Tyler would not come to her rescue. She shut her eyes and bared her neck to Bonnie in a show of submission.

Bonnie blinked and her eyes slowly went back to the radiant shade of green. She hadn’t even consciously known what it was she wanted from Dakota. She had merely listened to her wolf’s outraged demands. She slowly withdrew her claws from the older girl’s chest and stood up. Bonnie looked down and watched her claws recede into fingers once more.  She simply growled, “Never again…”

Tyler motioned to a slender brunette woman that had been watching everything unfold. He said, “Make sure she gets home safely, Fi.”

Fiona nodded at her cousin and replied, “Yes, Alpha.”

Bonnie wiped her bloody fingers against her jeans. Then she walked over to Ruby and took Mari. She cleared her throat and said, “Uh, thank you for watching Mari for me. I should probably get her ready for bed.”

Ruby said, “You are welcome, Alpha.”

The girl nodded in acknowledgement and started back toward the house.

Tyler followed Bonnie because they needed to talk about what the hell just happened. However, he was also concerned because her uncertainty bled through the bond. Tyler wanted to reassure Bonnie but that would have to take place behind closed doors. “Are you okay?”

“She never touched me,” she replied in a curt voice.

When they reached the attic, Bonnie placed Mari on a blanket that had been spread on the floor. There were a few toys there to keep her entertained. Then she disappeared into the bathroom to wash the blood from her hands—literally.

Tyler sat on the well-worn crimson couch and waited for Bonnie to return. He began, “Bonnie...”

However, she cut him off, “Did you sleep with her?”

He was briefly taken aback by the hard edge to Bonnie’s voice. Tyler walked over to her and took her face into his hands. He kissed her softly and then replied, “Never. I don’t shit where I eat. It is one of the first things I learned about being an alpha.”

Bonnie wanted to believe him but she was apprehensive. Jeremy had made a fool out of her twice. However, she tried to focus on the fact that Tyler was not Jeremy in any conceivable way. “Do you swear?”

He kissed her again and then rested his forehead against hers. He said, “I swear that I never even touched her, Bon. I was nice to her. I occasionally flirted with her because…I am me. But it never went any further than that. I wasn’t looking for anything serious and it is always serious when the alpha dates a member of his pack.”

It felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She melted into Tyler’s embrace and rested her head against his chest. “I completely lost it out there. They must think that I am insane. I guess any hope for a good first impression has flown the coop.”

“I don’t know if that is true. You were a little preoccupied at the time but I didn’t see anyone particularly upset about the situation. Dakota obviously crossed the line and everyone out there knew that. More importantly, they respected your position and did not intervene. Do you want to talk about what happened?”

Mari tossed a chocolate colored teddy bear in their direction and fussed loudly.  

Bonnie looked over at her little cousin and said, “Maybe after I put her to sleep. It is late for her to still be awake.”

Tyler pecked her lips and said, “Okay…”

She slid out of Tyler’s embrace and went to get the cranky infant. She picked up Mari and smiled at her. “A clean diaper and bottle probably sounds good to you right now, huh?”

Mari grinned at Bonnie and grabbed onto her talisman. It reacted to the infant’s touch just as it reacted to the older witch. The talisman glowed bright in her hand. Mari gurgled excitedly.

Tyler lifted an eyebrow and asked, “Is that normal?”

Bonnie frowned a little and said, “Maybe. I hate to admit Katherine was right about anything but this isn’t my talisman. It belonged to my great-grandmother. Amelia is Mari’s great-grandmother, too.”

Mari kicked her legs and gave a squeaky laugh.

She gently tugged on the necklace to pull the talisman from Mari’s chubby hands. She joked, “It is too late for you to commune with our ancestors, little miss.”

Mari squawked in annoyance and made a grab for the talisman again.

Bonnie grabbed the talisman to keep it out of Mari’s hand. Suddenly, random images bombarded her mind. She swayed on her feet and nearly toppled over.

Fortunately, Tyler sped across the room in seconds to catch Bonnie and Mari. He steered the dazed witch over to the couch and then plucked the infant from her arms. Tyler placed her on the floor and then turned his attention to his mate. He moved onto his knees in front of Bonnie and took both of her hands. “Bon?”

The girl’s eyes remained uncharacteristically blank for a few minutes. She returned with a shake of her head and groan. She blinked as she looked down at Tyler’s concerned face. “Well that sucked…”

He cupped her cheek and asked, “Are you okay?”

She nodded and said, “I am just dizzy. It feels like having vertigo.”

“What happened?” he asked.

Bonnie’s eyes moved to Mari. The baby was sitting on the floor sucking her thumb. Bonnie looked at Tyler again and murmured, “Someone wanted me to know that Lucy is alive. I can’t tell if Lucy did some sort of projection or if this was someone meddling from the Other Side.”

“You saw her?”

She nodded. Bonnie shivered in response to a memory. She said, “Klaus is injecting Lucy with wolfsbane. Her magic is already depleted because of the hex and now the wolfsbane has made it worse. Her magic doesn’t have the time to rebuild because it is fighting the effects of the poison. There is no way that she will be able to escape without help.”

Tyler tensed at the mention of wolfsbane. He had experienced the pain and weakness that wolfsbane caused. He couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to a new werewolf. More than anything he was disgusted that Klaus would use the herb against his mate. Tyler couldn’t imagine willingly doing anything to hurt Bonnie. Torturing his mate would be like torturing himself. He would feel every second of her pain. Tyler could only assume that Klaus and Lucy had not yet completed the bond by consummation. It was also possible that Klaus was twisted enough to resist the imperative to protect his mate that came with the bond.

He said, “We need to be careful going after Klaus now that we know that wolfsbane can hurt you.”

Bonnie shook her head. “It is only working because Lucy was already weakened. Normally, her magic would have purged the poison from her system. However, her magic is too busy trying to keep her alive. She lost too much blood while fighting with Klaus and it hasn’t been replenished. To make matters worse, she is refusing to take blood from him.”

Tyler was confused by that piece of information. Klaus was pumping Lucy full of wolfsbane to weaken her. However, offering her his blood seemed to be at odds with his objective. There had to be something about the situation he was missing. There was also the chance that the flashes that Bonnie saw were out of chronological order.

She sighed deeply. “I promised Lucy to protect Mari from Klaus but I don’t feel right leaving her with him. He doesn't seem to want her dead...yet. We both know that can change at any moment. She is so vulnerable. I doubt that she would be able to protect herself.”

He pressed a kiss to Bonnie’s temple as he stood up. He said, “Maybe Damon will be able to get his friend to help us.”

She snorted and asked, “You mean my not-so-dead great-great aunt? She hid from my family for more than eighty years. I am sure she’s eager to toss her hat back into the ring.”

Bonnie sounded bitter but she understood Elodie’s impulse to run away. She felt that way after being resurrected. Bonnie had gotten her fill of fighting and nearly dying. It wasn’t nearly as heroic as popular media would have you believe.

Tyler tried for levity when he quipped, “Well, Damon is surprisingly good at winning over women.”

She made a gagging noise at the idea of Damon ‘winning over’ Elodie.

Mari giggled at the strange noises Bonnie was making. She clapped her hands happily.

Bonnie stood and picked up Mari. In a high voice, she said, “You think it is gross, too? We will hex Damon with something nasty if he doesn’t keep his 150 year-old junk away from our family tree. Yes, we will. Yes, we will.”

Tyler chuckled as he watched Bonnie walk into the bedroom. He called out, “Do you want me to fix her a bottle?”

Bonnie replied, “Yeah. Just some milk would be good since she’s already had her dinner.”

“I can do that,” he said.

The young woman changed Mari’s diaper and put her into fresh pajamas before Tyler appeared with the bottle. He frowned and said, “I used the bottle warmer thing. I think it worked right.”

She laughed and tested the milk on her hand. Bonnie said, “You could have given it to her cold.”

Mari reached for the bottle with a small grunt.

Bonnie gave the baby her bottle and said, “There you go, little miss. Now it is time for little witches to go to sleep.”

Tyler had zero experience with babies and very small children. He asked, “Any idea on how to put a baby to sleep?”

Bonnie on the other hand had done her share of babysitting over the years. She said, “I am going to hold her until she goes to sleep. I don’t know how easy this will be without Lucy. Would you mind turning out the lights?”

He nodded and said, “I’ll be out in the living room if you need me.”

“Thanks.”

Tyler turned out the light and then closed the double French doors that led into the bedroom. A pair of gauzy curtains provided some privacy. He turned off the lights in the living room, too.

Bonnie’s enhanced vision meant that she could see Mari’s face clearly in the darkness.

The baby grabbed onto Bonnie’s talisman as her eyes grew heavier.

“I hope you see only good things,” she murmured softly to her cousin. “Your mama loves you so much that she would risk everything for you. You might not know it now but that is special. I promise that we are going to get her back.”

Bonnie thought about her mother. The woman was the perfect example of the type of mother she never wanted to be. Yet Bonnie reluctantly respected Abby’s honesty about her inability to be her mother. There were no guarantees that Bonnie would have turned out better adjusted if her unhappy mother had stuck around to raise her. She had a few valid arguments for why her father should have done a runner, too. Bonnie probably would have been better off if Sheila had raised her alone.

It took nearly thirty minutes for Mari to finally fall asleep. Bonnie was on the edge of sleep herself. It had been a long day and she expected tomorrow to be longer. She gently plucked the bottle from Mari’s mouth and placed it on the nightstand. Then she tried to slip out of the bed without waking her cousin.

She slowly crept across the room and placed Mari in the portable crib. The crib was one of the supplies that they had picked up earlier. She covered Mari with a small patchwork blanket. The infant’s name was stitched into the blanket. Bonnie smiled at the faint magic she felt coming from it.

She quietly slipped out of the bedroom and closed the door behind her. Bonnie eyes moved to the couch where Tyler was lounging.

He tore his eyes away from the TV that he had been watching without volume. He moved to sit up but stopped short when Bonnie shook her head. Tyler put down the remote and opened his arms in invitation.

Bonnie curled up on top of Tyler and rested her head on his chest.

“Everything go okay with Mari?” he asked.

She nodded. “I think seeing Lucy through the talisman helped.”

He kissed the top of her head. “Good.”

“Thank you for helping me get out of Mystic Falls. I know that this isn’t really your problem.”

Tyler wrapped his arms around Bonnie. “It is my problem because you are my mate. Besides, I would be going crazy now if you had left without me.”

Bonnie practically purred when Tyler’s hand grazed the mark on her back. She smiled lightly. “I guess that is a fair point.”

He waited patiently for Bonnie to elaborate about what had occurred earlier. However, he had no interest in rushing her. They had all night.

The witch used the quiet to arrange her thoughts into something coherent. The honest answer was that instinct had fueled the fight with Dakota. In retrospect, she didn’t think the girl was even spoiling for a fight. It seemed that she was only trying to intimidate Bonnie. The girl’s attempt to assert her dominance had gone horribly. Perhaps the only way the night could have gone worse for Dakota was if Bonnie had actually ripped out her heart. The part that scared Bonnie most was that she knew in her heart that she would have killed Dakota if she had not submitted.

Bonnie began, “You are probably going to think that I overreacted earlier.”

“I have known you since we were in kindergarten together. I have never known you to be someone that overreacts about anything—even when it would be justified. Anyway, that’s not the vibe I got from Ruby. She likes Dakota well enough but it seemed like she was in full support of how you handled the situation.”

She tilted her head up to see his face. “Really?”

He nodded and said, “She looked proud. I am not upset with you, Bon. And I am not going to get upset. I just want to understand. Okay?”

Bonnie settled down and rested her head against his chest once more. “I overheard her talking crap about me to a couple other girls. I didn’t particularly care about any of that. She didn’t say it to me and I could understand why she would be wary of an interloper.”

“You are not an interloper,” he argued.

Tyler wasn’t pleased that other members of his pack had even entertained Dakota’s disrespect of his mate. He would have to get names from Ruby in the morning. He knew the group of girls that Dakota usually held ‘court’ with during pack gatherings. However, he didn’t want to jump to conclusions.

“But I am, Ty. Only a few members of your pack had even met me before tonight. Suddenly, you show up with a bonded mate that they don’t know. As if that wasn’t a big enough slap to the face, I am not a regular wolf. If you combine that with Dakota’s feelings for you...it was a recipe for disaster.”

He huffed, “I have never given her reason to think that she had a chance of being more than my friend. She’s not even my type because she reminds me too much of Caroline.”

Bonnie said, “I believe you, Ty. But the other women around her age obviously respect and look up to her. She probably assumed if you were going to take a girlfriend it would be someone from the pack. Ruby is obviously the most powerful woman in the pack because she is your beta. However, you weren’t going to date her since she’s your cousin.”

“And she’s old enough to be my mother,” he quipped.

“Exactly.”

Tyler wasn’t happy but Bonnie’s reasoning made sense. In the beginning, he had appreciated Dakota’s efforts. She had helped him ingratiate himself with the younger members of the pack. He didn’t have to work as hard to win over the older members of the pack. They more closely adhered to pack tradition. He was the alpha because he had defeated the previous one. Moreover, his bloodline dictated that he should lead the pack.

Bonnie continued, “She had bumped into me once while I was talking to Fiona. I tried to brush it off because I didn’t want it to turn into a thing. I was still trying to make a good impression on your pack. I had moved on to speaking to Rosanna and Jonas when Dakota shoved me from behind. I nearly fell and probably would have if Jonas hadn’t caught me. I turned around and asked Dakota what her problem was. She told me that I wasn’t welcome here because I was unworthy of you. She actually challenged me to a fight. Then it felt as if someone flipped a switch inside me. Ruby had come over to intervene on my behalf but I just handed Mari to her. It gets kinda fuzzy after that.”

“Spoiler alert…you kicked her ass,” Tyler quipped.

She wasn’t exactly proud of that. Bonnie said, “I can’t believe that I lost it like that.”

“I can,” he murmured and stroked her back. “I had to do the same thing after I took over the pack. A few people didn’t want me as alpha because I am a hybrid. I was not a real wolf in their opinion. I didn’t want to fight because I knew that I could seriously injure them or worse. But Ruby told me that it was the only way to make everyone fall in line. I am the alpha and they all have to submit to me, if not the pack falls apart. Only two of them were willing to fight me. I defeated both and gave them an ultimatum. They could fall in line, leave the pack, or die. They chose to fall in line. Tomorrow you will talk to Dakota and give her the same options.”

Bonnie looked up at him again. She croaked, “Me? I doubt that she is going to be interested in talking to the person who humiliated her in front of the pack.”

“It is your responsibility as my mate, Bon. You are as much their alpha as I am. It is the reason I didn’t intervene tonight. Dakota was going to submit to you or she was going to die. If I had stepped in then other members of the pack would have taken it as a sign that you are not deserving of respect.”

The girl bit her lip as she considered what Tyler was saying. She sighed, “Okay but I don’t like it.”

He kissed the top of her head. “I know that you don’t like it, Bon. I didn’t like it either but I realized that it was necessary. The only way that I can protect my pack is if we are all pulling in the same direction. The pack has to act as one. You and I are one.”

Bonnie couldn’t deny the warm feeling that washed over her when Tyler said that they were one. “We are, aren’t we?”

Tyler gently grasped Bonnie’s face and pulled her in for a smoldering kiss. He was just happy that she handled the situation with Dakota so well. Tyler would have killed the girl himself if she had actually hurt his mate. He couldn’t believe that Dakota had acted so stupid. It made him wonder if her friends hadn’t goaded her into the move. He was determined to get to the bottom of it tomorrow. Tyler knew that Bonnie was capable of defending herself. However, she was pregnant with his baby and shouldn’t have to fend off members from their pack.

When she pulled back from the kiss, her heart was racing. She wondered if Tyler would always have this affect on her. She hoped that he did because it was the best feeling in the world.  

Chapter Text

Stefan’s eyes sprang open when he heard something slam against the metal roof over his head. He had opted to sleep in the uncomfortable backseat of his brother’s beloved vintage car. Perhaps the only redeeming quality about the small backseat was that Damon kept it pristine. Stefan sat up in the cramped space only to see his brother smirking at him like a Cheshire cat. He had to tamp down the urge to snap Damon’s neck. The move would feel incredibly satisfying after the night Stefan had but they really could not afford to waste more time. They needed to be in Mystic Falls protecting it from everything that wanted to destroy it. Frankly, they should have returned to their hometown last night but, as usual, Damon had other ideas.

The irritable vampire unfolded himself from the Camaro’s backseat and stretched. Despite being turned as a teenager, he suddenly felt every one of his 150-plus years. He glared at his brother and asked, “Are we leaving now?”

Damon looked relaxed in a pair of black satin pajama bottoms that were suspiciously his size. He clapped the younger man on the back and handed him a mug of blood. He asked, “What’s your problem?”

Stefan lifted an eyebrow at his brother’s attire but gratefully accepted the blood. The vampire didn't have time to feed before he left Mystic Falls. He sipped it and replied tersely, “I slept in the backseat of your car, Damon. What type of mood did you expect I would be in this morning?”

He shrugged his shoulders and leaned against the car. “Elodie offered you a perfectly good guest room last night. It was generous considering the fact that she doesn’t make a habit of inviting strange vampires into her home. You are the one that preferred the backseat of my car to a queen sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets.”

Stefan shot his brother and unimpressed look. He said, “I am grateful for Ms. Bennett’s generosity but I was uncomfortable in the house, Damon.”

The older vampire was genuinely perplexed by Stefan’s choice. “What are you talking about? Elodie used a silencing spell to protect your virgin ears. Have you become so Puritanical that the mere thought of two adults having sex makes you flee like the French?”

“I might not have been able to hear anything but I smelled her blood,” he muttered. Stefan closed his eyes and tried to forget the heady scent of Elodie’s peculiar blood. “She smells incredible.”

Damon frowned when he saw Stefan’s vampire face surface. He hadn’t considered how the scent of Elodie’s blood would affect his younger brother. Damon had built up a tolerance against the potency of her blood many years ago. He shrugged and said, “You should have just gotten a hotel room. You’re an idiot for sleeping in the car all night.”

Stefan rolled his eyes but his annoyance had shifted to himself. He hadn’t considered finding a hotel. He asked, “Are we leaving now? I would like to get back home, Damon.”

“No, we’re not leaving yet. You know how long it takes women to get ready under normal circumstances, brother. Well, double that because she’s a witch that is over 100 years old,” he quipped.

Stefan didn’t know if witch was the right word for the woman he met last night. Damon claimed that he met Elodie in 1931 but she didn’t look a day over twenty-five. Moreover, Stefan had listened carefully and noticed a distinct lack of a heartbeat. Yet Elodie exuded magic in the same way that all Bennett witches did. He asked, “What is she?”

Damon lifted his eyes from the manicured lawn and said, “She’s a nearly insatiable lover.”

“Damon…”

He chuckled, “Put your brooding forehead away, brother. It is far too early for you to be so incredibly serious. Elodie is a witch but she is more than that. However, I am sure that you would agree that it is impolite to divulge other people’s secrets.”

Stefan studied his brother’s expression and deadpanned, “Yet, I get the feeling that perhaps you are heavily involved with this secret. Did you turn her, Damon? And if she is a vampire, how is it possible that she still has magic?”

Damon rolled his eyes and said, “You’re a hopeless case, Charlie Brown. Elodie has to explain her situation to her family. It is a bit presumptuous to assume you deserve answers before Bonnie and Lucy do. I am going inside to finish cooking breakfast. You’re welcome to come in and eat with us but leave the brooding out here.”

He nearly choked on the blood. Stefan swallowed quickly and asked, “You are cooking?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The vampire grinned shamelessly. “What can I say? She likes my frittata. The door will be unlocked if you decide to join us. The frittata should be ready in another ten minutes.”

Stefan watched his brother walk back into the house. Damon looked to have a near spring in his step. He shook his head and tried to remember what he was doing eighty years ago. Unfortunately, the brothers were estranged for about 30 years. Stefan didn’t see is brother again until 1942. He had no inkling of how Damon had even crossed paths with Elodie. However, he decided that his brother was right. He had no right to ask for answers about this woman before her own family. Moreover, he could acknowledge that his interest in learning the truth was about satisfying his curiosity and not a matter of necessity. As he grew closer to his brother again, Stefan often wondered about the time they had spent apart. Damon didn’t share his brother’s desire to reminisce about the past. He hadn’t even deigned to tell Stefan about his time as the Augustine Group’s prisoner.

Stefan finished his cup of blood before walking up the steps to the house. He tried the front door and found it unlocked. He paused in the doorway because he knew better than to enter a witch’s house unannounced. Stefan called out, “It’s only me…”

Damon poked his head out of the kitchen. “I’m in here…”

Stefan walked into the bright kitchen and placed the mug on the counter. He had to admit that the aromas emanating from the room were appetizing. He knew that his brother could cook but he did so sparingly.

Damon had dressed in the time it took for Stefan to come in the house. He was wearing different clothes from the ones he wore last night. He motioned to a pitcher of blood that was nearly empty. “Help yourself if you want a refill.”

Stefan shook his head because he still refrained from consuming human blood regularly. He was always mindful that his addiction could rear its ugly head at any moment. Fortunately, he had Caroline to help keep him on the straight and narrow. He said, “No, I shouldn’t but thank you.”

“Coffee?” the vampire asked as he poured a cup for himself. Damon spiked the steaming hot brew with a healthy dose of whiskey.

“Yes, please. But hold the whiskey,” Stefan replied with a mild smile.

“Suit yourself.” Damon filled another mug and set it on the counter. He said, “I talked to Bon-Bon this morning.”

Stefan perked up as he sat down at the island. “How is she doing?”

“She is safe for now. Wolf Boy took her and the kid to stay with his pack. Apparently, the place is in the middle of nowhere and Bonnie is going to ward it against Klaus and his psycho siblings,” he replied.

Stefan held the hot cup in his cold hands and took a sip. He asked, “Are we ever going to address the fact that Tyler had a pack for months without telling us?’

He shrugged. “It might be a subject to bring up but I don’t think you are the person to do it. He still wants to turn you into a chew toy. Who would have thought that I would be on better terms with him than you are?”

The younger vampire geared up to defend himself but stopped when Damon waved him off. It was a conversation the brothers had several times.

“I have no interest in hearing the recap for the latest installment of The Young & The Boring . If you two are going to kill each other, I’d like for you to wait until after we kill the travelers.”

Stefan scowled in response.

He continued, “Anyway, they’re still moving forward with getting personal items from the Augustine Group. Bonnie thinks they can have the hex bags finished and planted in the rooms before 3 o’clock. They are planting a bag in the Director of Medicine’s office, too. We might be able to get into the basement of the hospital to kill Enzo tonight.”

“That is great news. I am grateful that Bonnie and Tyler are still able to help us. How certain is Bonnie that these hex bags will work?” he asked curiously.

Damon took the frittata out of the oven and placed it on the counter to cool. He said, “Bon-Bon said that Lucy left her the instructions for how to put them together. Barring any mistakes the hex bags should give every last one of the humans a massive heart attack.”

Stefan knew that method would draw unwanted suspicion. However, it was the safest route. They needed to get rid of the humans so they could scour Whitmore’s campus for more of their sick little experiments. If there were more creatures like the ones they faced yesterday, they could not allow them to fall into the wrong hands. Stefan wasn’t sure if they would have won yesterday’s fight without Bonnie’s magic.

Elodie walked into the kitchen wearing a pair of black leather pants and a wine colored off the shoulder sweater. She had left her chocolate brown hair in its naturally curly state. The springy curls framed her youthful face almost like a crown.  She greeted, “Good morning.”

Stefan’s eyes lingered on the talisman hanging around her neck. It looked nearly identical to the one Bonnie wore daily. He couldn’t help thinking that she reminded him of the younger Bennett witch. Her friendly smile and diminutive stature would make many people disregard her. However, he didn’t need to see Elodie use magic to know that she was powerful. He had smelled it in her blood last night. Stefan admired his brother’s willpower. He would be tempted to drain a witch whose blood smelled so decadent. He stuttered, “Uh, morning.”

Damon shot his brother a curious look but then shrugged it off. He moved over to Elodie and kissed her. “The frittata should be cool enough to eat in a couple minutes. Did you manage to rally reinforcements?”

Elodie smiled lightly after the kiss. She moved around the vampire and pulled a travel mug from the cabinet. She said, “Yes, but I did not expect anyone to reject my request. Everyone should arrive in Mystic Falls by tomorrow morning at the latest. However, most will arrive tonight.”

“That’s good news. Talking to witchy this morning made me worry that she might try to stage a rescue on her own,” he complained.

She added cream and sugar to her coffee. She hummed in agreement, “Bennett witches take care of their own…”

“And occasionally die for their trouble,” he added bitterly.

Elodie offered a knowing smile. “Are you saying that you wouldn’t die for your brother?”

Damon huffed, “Not at chance. Stefan is a big boy. He is old enough to pull his own bacon from the frying pan.”

Elodie’s smile only grew larger. However, she didn’t pursue the subject further. Damon didn’t like admitting just how attached he had become to his younger brother again. She couldn’t remember another time when the two brothers had stayed in touch for so long.

Instead, she grabbed a couple plates and a knife. She cut the frittata into several slices and looked at Stefan. She asked, “Would you like some? I am sure you know how delicious Damon’s frittatas are.”

Stefan glanced at his brother and smirked. “Yes, please. Actually, I can’t say that I have ever had the pleasure. Damon doesn’t often cook for me.”

She placed a slice of frittata onto the plate and placed it in front of Stefan. She replied, “That is a pity. He is brilliant and classically trained.”

“Classically trained?” he asked.

Damon rolled his eyes and said, “I am in no mood to go for a walk down memory lane. Both of you need to finish eating so that we can get on the road.”

Elodie laughed softly as she served herself and walked around the island. She sat down beside Stefan and quipped, “Oh, no. I believe he’s cross with us now.”

“Don’t worry yourself too much about it. I find that my brother is often cross,” he replied tongue firmly in cheek. “You mentioned that Damon is classically trained. I would love to hear more about that.”

Damon leaned against the counter with his cup of coffee in hand. He knew kicking up a fuss would only further encourage Elodie. She took an uncomfortable amount of pleasure in irritating him.

She grinned at Damon’s sour face but then turned to look at Stefan as she delicately cut into the frittata with her fork. “Damon and I spent nearly two years in Italy. He worked his way up the entire boot learning how to cook the cuisine from each region.”

Stefan lifted an eyebrow at that detail. He glanced at his brother. “You never mentioned your time in Italy.”

“It’s been a long life. I didn’t spend it journaling like a teenage girl like some people in this room.” He pushed himself off the counter and said, “I am going to go load the car. She is literally bringing trunks of witchy stuff. Who owns trunks anymore?”

“Spoilsport,” she quipped.

Damon walked out of the kitchen and eyed the four trunks and three suitcases situated in the hall. He lifted two of the heavy trunks and wondered just what Elodie had stashed inside them. He was tempted to make one trip. However, he didn’t want to attract the attention of her neighbors. Elodie lived in a bustling neighborhood full of young professionals. She easily blended into the neighborhood’s aesthetics. She had only been living there for three years. Elodie might be able to stay there for another seven years before people began to realize she hadn’t aged a day. Recently, Damon had begun to consider when he would have to leave Mystic Falls again. He had already stayed in town longer than he had since being human.

He bypassed the dark blue SUV in Elodie’s driveway because she would be riding with him. It took three trips to load the car. Afterwards, he climbed into his Camaro for some quiet time. Spending the night with Elodie had brought up some uncomfortable feelings for Damon. He rarely felt shame for anything. However, he had been out of line when he propositioned Bonnie the night of his party. He was glad that she had turned him down. Moreover, he was even happier that she was not angry with him for blurring the lines of their friendship. He only hoped that Bonnie remained unperturbed once she learned the nature of his relationship with Elodie. It had been quite some time since he had faced the wrath of the judgy little witch.

Damon took out his phone and checked to see if he had any new messages from Bonnie. There was just one from the witch. The message contained a location for the meet up. However, the remaining messages were from Elena. Anyone with common sense would recognize that Damon was avoiding his ex-girlfriend like the plague. He understood that the break-up had been the work of his sadistic sire. Katherine was a manipulative bitch but she had unwittingly done him a favor. He had spent months brooding over the failed relationship but not for the reason that everyone had assumed. Bonnie and Stefan locking the vampire in the cellar had afforded him time to reconsider his decisions. He now fervently believed that pursuing Elena had been one of his more self-destructive acts—and he had dozens from which he could choose.

Damon and Elena’s relationship had been dysfunctional and unbalanced from the outset. It never really had the chance of being anything but an unmitigated disaster. Pursuing his sadistic sire’s doppelganger was an extreme case of masochism. Yet watching his brother fall in love with the same face that he had waited 150 years to see again sent him down a dark path. The path grew darker once he learned of Katherine’s betrayal. Realizing that she had never loved Damon made him feel even more worthless. On some level, he wanted Elena to love him as some warped form of validation.

Damon had pulled out all the stops to garner Elena’s attention and it worked. She was tempted by him. He would even go as far as to she say had been attracted to him--because not many could resist his charms. Their mutual attraction and fondness for each other grew while Stefan was off playing Klaus’ unwilling sidekick. However, the girl only fell in love with Damon after she was sired to him. Afterwards, Elena had been so desperate to prove her faith in him was justified that she made excuses for all the shitty things he did to hurt other people. Damon and Elena’s relationship had been toxic. Yet neither vampire had been willing to end the farce. Damon had tried pushing her away after the debacle at Whitmore but she held on even tighter. Katherine possessing Elena was the only reason their merry-go-round relationship stopped.

Damon had left town once Stefan and Bonnie let him out the cellar. That time away was desperately needed. When he returned to Mystic Falls, he was in a better place mentally. Damon had come to the realization that they were better apart. He decided to ban her from the boarding house to help bolster his willpower. Fortunately, it had worked. Damon hadn’t sought Elena out once. Now he just had to find a way to tell her that they were never getting back together. He wondered if Caroline would try to kill him for sending his sentiments in an edible arrangement. Damon shook his head because Blondie would definitely try to stake him for that.

He sat there for nearly 30 minutes trying to figure out how to respond to Elena. He wanted to be somewhat sensitive since he did not know her current state of mind. He had secondhand reports from Caroline that Elena was confused about many things. Damon figured that was to be expected after losing so much time.

Damon: On a road trip. We should talk once I am back.

The vampire drummed his fingers against the dashboard as he waited for Elena to respond. He knew that she was awake because she sent the last text message about an hour ago.

Elena: K.

Damon was suspicious about her simple reply but he didn’t plan to look a gift horse in the mouth. As he put his phone away, he heard the front door open. He looked up to see Stefan and Elodie exiting the house together. The two of them looked chummy. Damon was certain he was going to regret leaving them alone. Aside from Katherine, Stefan and Elodie were the two people that had known him longest.

Elodie and Stefan stopped laughing abruptly as they approached the car.

The vampire lifted his eyebrows in response.

Stefan slipped into the backseat so that Elodie could sit up front with Damon.

He said, “Bon-Bon sent me the location. We’re meeting at a diner about an hour from here.”

Elodie fussed with her hair in the mirror as Damon backed out the driveway. She smirked, “I am sure we will make it there faster with your lead foot.”

Damon smirked and stepped on the gas for emphasis.

Stefan nudged the back of Damon’s seat with his knee. “We’re in a residential neighborhood.”

“Don’t start or you can walk,” Damon huffed.

Elodie laughed at the brothers’ antics. However, her breezy attitude was merely a façade. She was nervous about reuniting with her family. Certainly, they would all feel betrayed by her actions. Yet the threat of the travelers meant that she could no longer stay hidden. Elodie knew that she owed her family an explanation. She only hoped that Bonnie and Lucy would be open-minded enough to accept it. There had to be level of trust for them to work together.

The witch pulled an aged leather journal from her purse. The small book was a portable version of her grimoires. In her long life, she had accumulated a handful of grimoires filled with her own handiwork. Those precious volumes were safely tucked into one of the antique French steamer trunks. She leafed through the well-worn pages for a spell that had been on her mind since she awakened. It would be potent enough to stall the Originals for a few minutes. Yet that was all they would need to rescue Lucy.

She looked up from her book. “Are you certain that Bonnie has mated with this…hybrid boy?”

Damon glanced at her curiously. “She’s been squirrely on the details but yes.”

Elodie frowned. “And it was successful…”

“How do you mean?” he asked.

“Never mind,” she replied.

He glanced at Elodie because now he wanted to know what she was holding back. However, Damon knew he wouldn’t be able to convince her to speak freely in front of Stefan. He would just wait until they were alone to probe her for answers.

Damon obviously knew very little about the mating cycles of werewolves, but Elodie was well informed. If Bonnie was with child it would limit the types of magic she could perform safely. In the first trimester, a witch could suffer a miscarriage if she overexerted herself magically. It took years of practice to avoid overexertion. Unfortunately, her great-great niece was extremely powerful, young, and untrained. Elodie had left her family behind long ago but she never stopped caring about them. She would not put Bonnie or the baby at risk. The girl’s child would be a tribrid that would lead the next generation of Bennett witches.

An hour later, Damon pulled into the parking lot of an unassuming roadside diner. He was actually impressed with Bonnie’s choice of meeting place. The diner was off a major interstate. He would need to be clairvoyant to discern where Bonnie and Tyler were staying. He regularly dosed his bourbon with vervain. Therefore, Damon didn’t think he had been compelled by an Original but he couldn’t be sure. However, he planned to do everything in his power to avoid leading Klaus to Bonnie’s door.

He found a parking spot near the front of the building and turned off the engine. His blue eyes scanned the parking lot looking for Tyler’s douchey car. He said, “I don’t think they are here yet.”

Stefan asked, “Should we wait inside?”

Damon’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled out his phone and read the message from Bonnie. “Scratch that. Witchy and Wolf Boy are inside waiting for us.”

The three travel companions climbed out of Damon’s classic car and walked into the diner. People filled nearly all the tables and booths in the diner. It was the perfect place to blend into the crowd. They probably also chose the location because of the food. Bonnie was demolishing an impressive stack of double chocolate waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.

The young couple had wisely chosen a large table at the very back of the diner. They had clear lines of sights to both exits. Moreover, they could see out the wall of windows that compromised the front of the diner. One of the diner’s wooden highchairs was situated beside the table. Mari seemed content in the contraption as she mashed chunks of fruit with her hands before eating them.

Bonnie’s hand froze in mid air when Elodie came into view. She had not known what to expect but it certainly wasn’t a woman that looked mere years older than her. Bonnie knew of witches that were capable of slowing the aging process to a crawl. However, Elodie would have had to tap into some seriously dark magic to preserve her youth to this degree. She tried focusing on Elodie as she listened for a heartbeat but found it too difficult with so much competing stimuli.

She slowly lowered the fork to her plate and said, “Hi…”

Elodie smiled at Bonnie. The girl looked so much like Amelia that it made her heart ache. As she stepped closer to the table, she felt Mari’s magic. Elodie noted the power dampening charm that prevented the child from using her magic.  “Hello, Bonnie. It is nice to meet you.”

“It is nice to meet you, too.” She cleared her throat and said, “Please, join us.”

Tyler said, “Sorry for not waiting for you guys to get here but Bonnie and Mari were hungry. Do you want to order anything?”

Stefan shook his head and said, “No, thank you. Damon made a frittata for us this morning.”

The hybrid lifted an eyebrow in surprise.

However, Bonnie looked peeved. “You made a frittata?”

Stefan chuckled. “Apparently, it is his specialty.”

She scowled at the smirking vampire. “It is your specialty? How come you only make me your stupid vampcakes?”

Tyler and Stefan simultaneously asked, “Vampcakes?”

Bonnie’s cheeks heated up in embarrassment. She shrugged her shoulders. “Damon cooks stupid pancakes. He uses fruit and whipped cream to make a vampire face on the top.”

He grinned at the witch. “You love my vampcakes. Besides, you have an underdeveloped palate. You wouldn’t appreciate my frittata, Bon-Bon.”

“I don’t have an underdeveloped palate! What does that even mean?” she huffed.

“I’ve caught you eating Cookie Crisps with a glass of milk. Those things taste like cardboard,” he replied skeptically.

Bonnie recognized that she was behaving petulantly. She wasn’t really upset about his secret aptitude for cooking. Her real issue was that Damon had neglected to tell her about Elodie. He knew how alone she felt after being resurrected. Meanwhile, she had a relative living in the same state with her. On the other hand, Elodie obviously wanted nothing to do with the Bennett bloodline. Perhaps he had been sparing her the pain of rejection. It all left her feeling oddly discomfited.

She mumbled, “I wanted cookies but didn’t have any in the house.”

He snorted and said, “Uh huh…”

The rush of various emotions prickling the bond perplexed Tyler. He reached under the table and took Bonnie’s hand that was clenched into a fist. He stroked two fingers over her pulse to calm her.

Bonnie immediately felt more at ease. She glanced at Tyler and flashed a grateful smile. She turned to face Elodie once more and smiled. “I’m sorry. I have been so rude. I got caught up in Damon’s cooking skills and didn’t introduce myself. It is very nice to meet you. I don’t even know what to call you. It would be weird and disrespectful to call you by your first name. I’m Bonnie and that messy bundle of joy over there is Mari. She is Lucy’s little girl.”

Elodie smiled at the girl. Bonnie had obviously been raised to respect her elders. She said, “I wouldn’t object to being called ‘Auntie’. It is nice to meet you, too. Damon speaks very highly of you.”

“I told you that she was a judgy little Bennett witch that takes an unusual amount of pleasure in frying my brain,” he argued.

Elodie laughed softly. “He did say that. He also said that he couldn’t count the number of times that you have saved his ass.”

Bonnie looked over at Damon as he pointedly wouldn’t meet her gaze. She said, “Well, he’s helped me keep our friends alive. We joke that the rest of them are lemmings.”

Stefan balked at the word ‘lemming’ but had to admit it might have been an apt description. The Gilbert siblings definitely exhibited some lemming-like behavior.

“It is amazing that you have done so much without proper training. You are a natural, Bonnie. It was a rare thing. You remind me a great deal of myself. I had to learn how to be a witch without any help from my family.”

“Because you faked your death?” she winced at her accusation laden tone of voice. “I’m sorry. That was rude.”

Elodie chuckled and said, “Perhaps but it was a very Bennett thing to say. We are not the type of women that mince words. I was perhaps a few years younger than you are now when circumstances forced me to leave home. A sinister coven of witches wanted to use me. They were powerful, sadistic, and relentless. Our family felt certain that they could defeat the coven but only if I wasn’t in the way. My grandmother located Damon and asked him to look after me. It was only supposed to be for a few months but that quickly turned into a couple years. Our family eventually succeeded but not without paying a great cost.”

Bonnie blanched as she thought about the family tree. Several members of their family had died over a three-year span. Bonnie didn’t know the cause of those deaths until now. “That must have been awful.”

“It was. My grandmother was one of the people that died at the hands of those witches,” she replied bitterly.

Stefan said, “I am sorry for your loss. I hope this isn’t out of turn but I am surprised that a Bennett witch would have gone to my brother for help. Most witches are not fond of vampires.”

She smiled. “My grandmother trusted Damon because he saved her life when she was a little girl. She saw the good in him.”

Damon muttered, “Ernestine was one of Emily’s daughters. The only goodness I showed was by keeping my promise to Emily. I made sure that her children got as far away from Virginia as possible.”

Stefan nodded in understanding. Everything was starting to make more sense to him now. He vaguely remembered Ernestine. She was the oldest of Emily’s children.

Elodie continued, “She trusted Damon to help me stay under the witches’ radar. However, she was more concerned about the humans. The witches only wanted me to join their ranks. Racist white men in the 30’s would have had a more nefarious interest in a 16-year-old Black girl traveling alone. Even with Damon as my chaperone, we ran into many unfriendly men along the way. Fortunately, he had a particularly voracious appetite.”

Damon smiled wide enough to expose his gleaming white teeth. “And Elodie was ever so good in leading them to me like lambs to slaughter.”

The woman dipped her head to hide a devilish grin. She dug the heel of her boot into Damon’s foot. She hadn’t intended to reveal that tidbit to her great-great niece. She assumed the girl would disapprove. Elodie’s mother and sisters certainly had disapproved when they heard about her adventures with Damon.

“I went through a very dark period when I learned my grandmother died protecting me. I would have gladly given myself to the coven if I had known that I would lose her. I was inconsolable for a time. I had been home for only a few months when I took off again. This time I was on my own and I was reckless. I made many mistakes…”

Damon snorted and added, “She got knocked up.”

Elodie huffed out a laugh. “I did do that…a couple times. I had a nice little life but I heard through the grapevine that my family was looking for me. My sisters were creating a Bennett coven. Some new threat was on the horizon and I was needed. They were closer than they had ever been to finding me. I found Damon first and asked him to help me fake my death. I didn’t want to go back to my old life. I certainly did not want my children indoctrinated into the strange cycle of death and sacrifice that claimed so many members of our family. I also decided that if I was going to protect my children that I needed to become more powerful. I asked Damon to turn me. I was born a witch without her own magic. I am a siphoner. Being both a siphoner and a vampire is to have an almost endless reservoir of power. I can literally draw power from the magic that created me. I can also draw power from other supernatural creatures and magic artifacts.”

Bonnie’s eyes went as wide as saucers. She probably should have connected the dots before then. However, Damon siring one of her relatives had been unfathomable. Her green eyes went to his for answers to the questions she didn’t have the words to ask.

Damon met Bonnie’s eyes and nearly flinched at the look of betrayal he found there. He said, “When I came to Mystic Falls I hadn’t seen Elodie in almost fifteen years. We had a…disagreement.”

“Damon did something stupid. Instead of owning up to it, he ran away,” Elodie snapped.

Stefan nodded. “That sounds like my brother.”

He glared at Stefan and added, “I figured whatever friendship had been there was gone for good. However, the end of our friendship didn’t mean I would violate Elodie’s confidence by telling anyone she was still alive. But circumstances changed once you became the anchor, witchy. I went to Elodie for help because even if she hated me, I figured that she would still help you. I was right…”

Elodie looked at Bonnie and said, “I should have reached out the moment Damon came to me for help.”

Bonnie asked, “Why didn’t you?”

“I was ashamed for the way I abandoned my family so many years ago,” she confessed. “My mother and sisters died long ago. I will never be able to right the wrong I committed against them.”

“But you were just a kid at the time. I understand why you went your own way. Certainly, they would have, too,” she replied.

Elodie smiled wistfully. “You know from personal experience that age doesn’t exempt a Bennett witch from her duty. When a threat presents itself, we always answer the call. To not do so is cowardice and I can’t think of anything worse.”

Bonnie bit her lip because Elodie was right.

She said, “I cannot change the past but I can forge a different future. I will help you save Lucy. Then I will help you dispatch the travelers.”

“Thank you,” Bonnie replied sincerely.

Chapter Text

Bonnie stood over the portable crib and watched as Mari slept peacefully. She had just spent the last ninety minutes trying to lull the cranky infant to sleep. The meeting at the diner lasted longer than she had expected. Meeting a ‘dead’ relative had the tendency to throw everything off track. Once they returned to the farm, Bonnie had put all of her effort into making the hex bags. She finished the work in record time with Elodie’s assistance. The older woman even volunteered to help Tyler’s pack place the hex bags. Elodie wisely assumed that Bonnie might need her mate after such an unsettling morning. Unfortunately, all the interruptions meant that she was late putting Mari down for a nap. The young woman would not make that mistake again.

She walked out of the bedroom and gently closed the door behind her. Bonnie held her breath for a moment as she waited for Mari to start crying. She slowly relaxed after realizing that the baby was truly asleep this time. Bonnie had already experienced a couple false starts. She had put Mari down a few times only to have her stir moments later. It had been a nerve-wracking experience for the witch but it was also heartbreaking. Mari did not need the use of speech to express how much she missed her mother. Bonnie only hoped that Elodie could truly help her rescue Lucy.

Tyler gave Bonnie a sympathetic look as she sat beside him. “How is she doing?”

She groaned. “I was tempted to cry with her. Mari is so miserable. I checked her temperature and she’s not sick. I am sure she just misses her mom. Tonight being a full moon isn’t helping. I can already feel it affecting my magic.”

“That’s right. You mentioned that witches are affected by the phases of the moon, too,” he said.

She nodded. “Yeah.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I feel like taking a nap, too,” she joked.

He cracked a small smile and pulled Bonnie closer to him. He kissed the top of her head. “Why don’t you take a nap for a couple hours? There is nothing more for you to do right now.”

Bonnie snuggled into Tyler’s side and allowed herself to relax for the first time in hours. She would never take for granted how being close to Tyler so often put her at ease. “I should be working on a way to rescue Lucy from Klaus.”

He didn’t blame Bonnie for being worried about her cousin. Lucy being in the Originals’ clutches was just bad news. He asked, “Do you think Elodie’s plan will fail?”

She shrugged and pulled her feet up onto the couch. “I know that she is family but I don’t know her.”

“And you don’t trust her,” he finished.

Bonnie felt guilty for doubting Elodie. The woman hadn’t done anything to earn that suspicion. However, she also hadn’t done anything to earn the girl’s trust. Bonnie replied, “She abandoned her blood once. What’s to say that she won’t do it again?”

Tyler stroked Bonnie’s back and hummed in agreement. “Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith with family. It is what I had to do when I found my pack. I had no way of knowing if I could trust these people. I didn’t know if their affection for me was genuine or because I saved them from Gonzo.”

“You trusted Ruby,” she reminded him.

“I trusted Ruby because she sought me out. She had no way of knowing that I was capable of killing Gonzo. She actually begged me to stay out of it. I knew that she only wanted to reunite the broken pieces of her family. I respected that. The rest of the pack was another story. I didn’t know their motives for accepting me. I just had to play it by ear. I gave them as much trust as they earned. But I was always ready to rip the head off anyone that tried to betray me. I learned my lesson after Haley,” he explained.

Bonnie traced a random pattern on Tyler’s thigh as she considered his words. “You’re saying that I should give my aunt some leeway to prove herself.”

“Yes, but you should also have plan if she proves to be untrustworthy. She took a big risk by explaining how her powers work. I don’t think someone that has lived over one hundred years would be so careless. I think she was trying to offer you an olive branch.”

She hummed in agreement. Bonnie hadn’t considered that earlier. However, she was somewhat preoccupied at the diner. It had taken longer than expected for her to digest what was happening. She said, “You’re right. But I still think I need to perform the spell that Lucy mentioned when she first arrived.”

“What spell is that?” he asked curiously.

“I mentioned to Lucy that I was scared the spirits would take my magic back once we defeated the travelers. She told me about a spell that binds a witch’s powers to her body. It is an old spell used by my great-grandmother. Lucy’s mother is a siphoner, too. Grandma Amelia used the spell to protect my grandmother. Apparently, young siphoner witches can draw power from others without even trying. Their siphoning powers are just as raw and untrained as our magic is. It tends to be reactionary and influenced by emotions when it first develops. The spell is in Lucy’s grimoire. I will have to study it first,” Bonnie explained as she stifled a yawn.

Tyler said, “Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.”

“I might need Gabe’s help. You said that he has connections. I will need someone to get the ingredients for me. I can’t exactly ask Damon since his supplier is the person I am protecting myself against.”

He nodded. “I don’t think that should be a problem. I can ask him to do a background check on Elodie if it will make you feel better. Someone like her doesn't go unnoticed in the supernatural world.”

Bonnie said, “No, I trust Damon. I don’t think that he would lie to me about this. And she seemed sincere…”

Tyler glanced at Bonnie’s worried expression. “What’s wrong?”

She sighed. “I guess I am not really worried about Aunt Elodie betraying me. I believe that she wants to help us. I am just worried that she will leave again. I have had enough family members leaving when I need them most.”

Tyler pulled Bonnie onto his lap and kissed her neck. “I’m sorry. But you need to know no matter who comes and goes, I will always be here. I know that isn’t much, but…”

She stroked her fingers over his collarbone and replied, “It is everything, Ty. Don’t sell yourself short.”

“Never,” he replied with an amused voice. “Dakota texted me. She wanted to know if it was okay for her to run with the pack tonight.”

“What did you say?” she asked.

Tyler said, “I told Dakota that she would need to talk to you first. Then we will see if she can run with the pack.”

She nodded. It was what they had agreed to last night but she still felt ill equipped for the situation. What did she know about being an alpha? However, she didn’t want to let down Tyler. For some strange reason, he believed in her.

He sensed Bonnie’s hesitation. He asked, “Are you having second thoughts about this?”

“No.”

Tyler lifted an eyebrow at Bonnie because of course the bond held no secrets.

“I am worried about how I will react to seeing Dakota again. I am already going to be irritable because of the full moon.”

He kissed her softly. “Hey. I am going to be right there with you, Bon. I am not going to let you lose control. The fact that Dakota texted me today means that she understands the situation. She will show up here with the right attitude.”

Bonnie smiled after the kiss. “Okay. I kinda wish that I could shift tonight with the rest of the pack.”

He slid a hand onto Bonnie’s stomach and said, “I wish that you could shift, too. I was looking forward to running with you.”

She sighed softly. “Maybe in nine months…”

“You’ll have to stay inside tonight.”

“I know,” she replied quietly. “You’ll be careful, right?”

He smiled and said, “I will be careful but you don’t need to worry. Short of an original, there isn’t much that can hurt me.”

“That’s what I am worried about,” Bonnie said as she grasped the talisman around her neck.

He nuzzled her neck. “Damon promised to call if he learns anything useful from Russell.”

Bonnie’s eyes fluttered closed as she relaxed more. She stifled a yawn with the back of her hand. “I hope he calls soon…”

“Did the talisman stop working?” he asked.

She nodded. “I can’t understand why. I just hope that Lucy is okay for now…”


 

“Wake up, girl. Now is not the time for  sleeping!” a stern voice whispered. “The bloodsucker is coming.”

Lucy rolled onto her side as she slowly began to awaken. She could have sworn that she heard her grandmother’s voice. Darkness greeted the witch when she finally opened her bloodshot eyes. At first, she thought it might be nighttime still. However, a sliver of sunlight peeking from behind the expensive silk drapes suggested otherwise. She had struggled mightily the previous night to stay awake but eventually exhaustion, blood loss, and wolfsbane won the battle. Lucy fumbled clumsily until she turned on the bedside lamp. She slowly sat up in the bed with a groan. Her entire body ached but it seemed as if the wolfsbane was out of her system. She felt mildly feverish but that wouldn’t stop her from making a break for it. Before Lucy could rejoice at that development, she realized that something was wrong with her magic.

She focused on a vase across the room. Lucy’s body tensed as she tried to levitate the ceramic vase. It lifted up for a few seconds before plummeting to the floor with a loud crash. She looked at her hand that was covered in dried blood. Lucy could not understand what was wrong with her. She could tell that the wolfsbane was no longer affecting her. Moreover, several hours of sleep meant that she was no longer exhausted—magically or otherwise. The extreme blood loss from yesterday might have accounted for a small reduction in her overall power. However, telekinesis was child’s play for a witch of her age and experience. The only reasonable explanation was some sort of magic dampener.

“Bastard,” she spat angrily.

The door opened and Elijah walked into the room. He was carrying a tray with food on it and a glass of water. He said, “Good afternoon, Miss Bennett.”

Lucy rolled her eyes at the Original and snapped, “Where is Niklaus?”

Elijah placed the tray beside Lucy on the bed. Then he moved to open the drapes. Sunlight immediately flooded the spacious suite. He said, “I am afraid my brother is indisposed at the moment.”

Lucy eyed the food on tray with suspicion. Unfortunately, her stomach chose that moment to growl. She had not eaten in at least eighteen hours. However, she refused to take a single bite until she had answers. “I want to see him.”

He unbuttoned his suit jacket and sat across the room in a wingback chair. Elijah cleared his throat and considered how to explain the situation tactfully. He said, “I assure you, my brother is very anxious to see you as well. Unfortunately, that is rather the problem…”

“Come again?”

Elijah shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “Yesterday, my brother made several inadvisable decisions in the heat of the moment. I would like to apologize on his behalf. Niklaus did not merely bite you—he marked you. We hoped that your body would reject the bite. It is the reason we kept injecting you with wolfsbane. Cary, one of Niklaus’ relatives, told us of an old wives’ tale. Their pack believed that wolfsbane could prevent a mark from becoming permanent if ingested by both parties before consummation.”

Yesterday, Lucy had been too preoccupied with protecting Mari to understand what Klaus had done to her. She grabbed at the sodden material of her shirt and wrenched it away from her shoulder. Lucy’s dark eyes zeroed in on the pronounced scarring on her shoulder. Each of Klaus’ teeth marks was distinguishable. The bite mark should have disappeared after Lucy healed the wound. Her mind raced to understand how this was possible. Bonnie had only broken her curse after losing her magic due to death and resurrection. Lucy had not experienced that. Suddenly, the answer hit her like a ton of bricks. Bonnie had not merely broken her curse. She had broken the curse for the entire Bennett bloodline. Any Bennett witch that had taken a human life would shift during the next full moon.

Her eyes narrowed dangerously on Elijah. “Where is Niklaus?”

He said, “My brother has locked himself in the wine cellar for the time being. He feared that his self-control might be lacking.”

Lucy rolled her eyes because Klaus generally lacked self-control. However, she didn’t voice those snarky comments. Klaus was obviously giving her a choice. Unfortunately, his chivalry was useless in this situation. Lucy now understood why her body was achy and feverish. The mark would compel them to complete the bond whether or not that was what they wanted. She moved to the side of the bed and said, “I want to see him.”

He stood and nodded. “And I assure you that Niklaus is eager to see you. However, I believe it would be unwise until we find a solution.”

“There is not a solution to find,” she snapped in frustration. “Worse yet, you are putting everyone in this house in danger by delaying the inevitable. Tonight is the full moon. Whatever you have rigged up to contain Klaus will not hold him. He will break free under the power of the full moon and woe unto anyone unfortunate enough to be in his path.”

Elijah watched as the witch slowly got to her feet. She looked unsteady but determined. “Does this mean that you will consider removing the hex you have placed on my brother?”

Lucy shook her head. “Even if I wanted to remove the hex, and I don’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it. A Bennett witch that holds no ill will against Niklaus is the only one capable of removing the hex. There is no such witch in existence.”

Elijah tried to reason with the woman. He said, “I know that you hexed Niklaus in order to protect your daughter. However, I assure you that he is not the same as he once was.”

She lifted one eyebrow and scoffed. “I understand why you would want to lie for your brother but I know what he has been doing in New Orleans.”

“While his methods are crude, Niklaus is making the city better for everyone. The vampire that currently rules the city has been terrorizing the magic community. He kills the witches that dare practice magic or violate his arbitrary rules. You know Niklaus’ love of magic. He would never restrict the witch community in such a way.”

Lucy laughed sardonically. “Are you asking me to think of your brother as a benevolent savior of the downtrodden witches of the French Quarter?”

“No, I would not begin to insult your intelligence. You know Niklaus well. He does few things in life that do not benefit him in some way. Marcel, the current ruler, is his progeny. The witches also lured him to the city by threatening his child’s life. A young werewolf named Haley carries his child—another girl. The witches wanted Klaus to drive Marcel from the city.”

She shook her head. “Then they are stupid for thinking that Klaus would free them. They are trading one master for another.”

Elijah wished that he could rally to his brother’s defense. However, the young woman before him had seen Klaus at his very worse. She knew the original hybrid’s true nature better than most. Klaus’ rule of the city would not be as oppressive as Marcel’s was. Yet by no means would the witches be free. “Sometimes we are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. I assure you that my brother is the lesser evil in this situation. Klaus is establishing a safe haven for our family—that includes you and your child.”

“The word safe and Niklaus’ name do not belong in the same sentence. Once this fight is over, he will find another. War is in his nature. He has spent so many centuries fighting that he does not know how to stop,” she muttered bitterly.

Lucy’s bitterness surprised the original vampire. He had long assumed that his brother’s relationship with the witch had been one-sided. However, that level of disappointment was only reserved for those dear to you. “Klaus is changing for the better…”

“I can’t take that risk. My job is to protect Mari from everything that might harm her. You have to know that Klaus is at the very top of that list. It is the reason that I structured the hex so that I couldn’t remove it. It was the only way to ensure that I wouldn’t have a change of heart,” she replied.

Elijah knew when was fighting a losing battle. Lucy had created a failsafe so that she could not change course. No amount of persuasion or torture would produce the desired outcome. He would have to alert Rebekah to that fact. His younger sister had been chomping at the bit to get her hands on Lucy. Elijah had held her at bay until he had all the answers. The vampire cleared his throat. “I can take you to see Niklaus if you are ready.”

Lucy nodded resolutely and followed Elijah out of the bedroom. The mark on her shoulder began to throb insistently. It was quite a long trek for them to reach the wine cellar. Two members of Cary’s pack were stationed at the door as if they would be any match for Niklaus on the edge of transformation.

The vampire wisely dismissed the wolves. There was no benefit to putting them in further danger. The men would be little more than cannon fodder if Klaus somehow escaped the confines of the cellar.

A roar reverberated through the hallway as Elijah and Lucy got closer to the wine cellar. Klaus knew they were there.

Lucy studied the heavy chains that secured the wooden door. Klaus was obviously showing a great deal of restraint by not bursting through the laughable security measure. It meant that the hybrid was still in control for now but the full moon was fast approaching.

The original vampire stopped walking and grabbed Lucy’s arm. “Are you sure this is wise?”

She growled at Elijah and grabbed the chains securing the door. Her eyes turned gold and black as she tried to snap the chains.

Elijah watched in shock as the witch broke the chains through brute strength alone. There could be no doubt that she was not just a werewolf but also a hybrid.

Suddenly, Klaus became silent on the other side of the door. Not even the clink of his claws against the concrete floor could be heard.

“You should go,” she murmured while holding the door closed.

Elijah said, “I should stay to ensure your safety.”

Lucy huffed out a wry laugh. “Klaus will use you like a rawhide bone if you interfere. You should be more concerned with getting everyone out of this house before the sun sets in a few hours.”

The original wondered if Lucy was right. He had fought his brother head-to-head many times since he broke the curse. However, they had never grappled while Klaus was in his werewolf form. Elijah did not know how successful he would be in protecting the rest of the mansion from him. He decided to follow Lucy’s advice. He would evacuate everyone else but he would stay. Niklaus was his younger brother and his responsibility. He nodded and said, “Good luck…”

Lucy snorted as she watched Elijah leave the cellar. She waited until she heard him close the door at the top of the stairs. Then she slowly opened the wine cellar’s door. Lucy wasn’t surprised to find Klaus standing near the threshold his wolf form. The massive wolf looked up at her with eyes too intelligent to belong to an animal. “You are a son of a bitch for marking me, Niklaus.”

The black and gray wolf was so tall that its head came up to the middle of Lucy’s midsection. He nosed at her stomach with his ears back. His fur was bristled, too. Klaus’ gold and black eyes seemed to beg for sympathy from Lucy.                                                                                                                                                    She rolled her eyes and sunk her shaky fingers into his thick fur. Immediately, the bite mark stopped throbbing. However, the achiness and fever remained. She said, “Playing cute isn’t going to cut it with me. You have tied me to you for the rest of my life. And we both know that it will be an incredibly long life.”

Witches were naturally long-lived individuals. It was believed to be a gift for being the guardians of the balance. Werewolves were equally long-lived creatures. However, their longevity was meant to be a punishment. Lucy didn’t know how it all stacked up on the big calculator but barring death, she would be alive for a long time to come.

Klaus licked at Lucy’s hand. At first, it was just meant to be a placating gesture. However, it changed when he got a taste of her blood. His pink tongue lathed her skin until the blood was gone. Then he moved to the other hand and repeated the process.

Lucy hated to admit that she felt better just being in the same room with Klaus. She slowly sat on the floor once he finished licking her hands clean.

Klaus lowered himself to the floor and rested his large head on her lap.

Lucy looked around the room and saw that Klaus had arranged for some measure of comfort during his self-imposed sequestration. There was a cot tucked into the back corner and some painting supplies weren’t far away. A wine fridge was stocked with plenty of blood bags to satisfy his hunger.

She scratched his head against her better judgment. Lucy rolled her eyes when his tail started wagging. She said, “You are not getting out of this conversation by simply refusing to shift. I know you must think I am evil for hexing you.”

He looked up at Lucy with half-slitted eyes. He was enjoying the attention despite himself. Klaus had shifted nearly fifteen hours ago and the wolf brain was running the show. He could feel the pull of the moon and the sun was still high in the sky. He snorted and dropped his head back onto her lap.

She murmured, “I am not going to apologize for doing the right thing for Mari, Niklaus. She deserves a safe life and that will never be possible with you as her father. I love her so much. I would die, literally, if anything happened to her. She is the most perfect little girl in the world. I know you think that I am only saying that because I am her mother but it is the truth. She is such a happy baby. Every morning she wakes up and gives me this big grin. It makes my whole day better. And her magic…I wish I could explain how powerful she is, Nik.”

Klaus slowly drew away from Lucy. He grunted as he shifted back to his human form. He promptly collapsed afterwards.

Finally, Lucy understood why he had shifted in the first place. The hex targeted the portion of him that was dead. He was weaker as a vampire. The werewolf half was the part that contained life. She scooted closer to Klaus and put his head on her lap. “I hate seeing you this way.”

“Are you having buyer’s remorse, love?” he asked wryly.

She laughed sadly and carded her fingers through his curls. “What is a witch without the courage of her convictions?”

“Tell me more about our daughter…”

Lucy said, “She has your temper.”

He huffed out a laugh. “I am not the only with a temper, love.”

“It’s in her eyes. Mari looks just like you whenever she gets angry. It is rare but when it happens…”

“What does an infant have to be angry about?” he asked curiously.

She smiled. “You would be surprised. Our last brouhaha was over a pair of shoes. Mari has started learning to walk. I bought the cutest pair of hard bottom shoes to help her. They were pink patent leather with little red roses embroidered on top. She screamed bloody murder until I took them off her feet. I checked to make sure they were the right size. They weren’t pinching her feet. Our little spawn just didn’t like those shoes.”

Klaus laughed heartily. “Those shoes do sound dreadful, love. Pink?”

Lucy rolled her eyes and said, “They were adorable! I returned them and bought a pair of ruby red Mary Jane shoes. She loves them.”

“The color of blood,” he murmured appreciatively. “I didn’t plan to bite you.”

“I know.”

“We have to complete the bond. The wolfsbane didn’t work,” he added.

She asked, “Did you really want it to work?”

Niklaus asked, “Do you think I want to be mated to someone that hates me?”

Lucy visibly flinched at the words. She said, “I don’t hate you, Klaus. I have never hated you but we want very different things from this world. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant with Mari, I would have stayed with you.”

He chuckled and cupped her cheek. “I know. I just wanted to hear you say it.”

Lucy gathered up every scrap of courage and asked, “Can I make a phone call? I just want to check on Mari. She has never been without me for this long.”

Klaus slid his fingers through her brown hair. He said, “You are not a prisoner here.”

She gave him a scathing glare.

“You’re not. I gave you my room,” he pointed out. He said, “My phone is over there.”

Lucy looked across to the room to where his phone was plugged into a charger. She slid out from under Klaus and made her way across the room. She pulled a scrap of paper from her pants pocket. It was stained with blood but the numbers were still visible. Lucy called Bonnie’s phone and waited impatiently.

“Hello?” Bonnie asked since the number was unfamiliar.

“Bonnie! It is so good to hear your voice,” Lucy said with a sigh of relief.

“It is so good to hear your voice, too! Where are you? Did you get away from Klaus?” she asked.

“Not exactly and be careful of what you say. Klaus is nearby and can hear everything,” she warned.

There was few seconds of silence before Bonnie asked, “Are you okay?”

“Would you believe that things are more complicated than they were yesterday?” she quipped.

“A Bennett witch finding herself in a world of trouble? Will wonders never cease?”

Klaus snorted from across the room.

“Is Mari okay?” Lucy asked.

“She’s great, Lucy. I promise that I am taking such good care of her. She actually just woke up from a nap. I could send you a picture or a video if you want,” she offered.

Lucy slowly sat on a tall leather bar chair. “I would love a video. I’m sorry for putting all of this on you.”

“Are you really okay? Did Klaus hurt you? I saw…he gave you wolfsbane.”

The older witch stiffened because she had no clue how Bonnie would know that. However, it was not the time to ask questions when Klaus was listening. She said, “It’s not what you think. Klaus was not trying to be cruel. It was part of some old wives’ tale. He thought wolfsbane might prevent the mating mark from taking. But I probably sped up the process when I healed myself using magic.”

Bonnie was silent again. There were so many things that she wanted to say to her cousin but couldn’t. “I’m sorry, Lucy. I, uh, a relative found me today. She wants to help you.”

“I appreciate the thought but involving more people will just make this more complicated. I will figure my way out of this. I always do. I just wanted to be sure that Mari was okay. And I wanted to let you know that I am still alive. Tell her that I love her. Okay?”

“Okay. I will,” Bonnie promised. “Stay safe, Lucy.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” she asked. Lucy ended the call and took a deep breath. She stood there for a moment until the phone vibrated in her hands. Lucy looked down and opened the message from Bonnie. She smiled seeing a picture of Mari.

The little girl was chewing on her favorite stuffed bear’s foot while she sat on Bonnie’s lap.

Lucy walked over to the Klaus. He had managed to sit up against the wall while she was on the phone with Bonnie. She sat down next to him tilted the phone in his direction. “That’s our daughter…Mari.”

Klaus stared at the picture for several minutes. He wanted to memorize everything about his daughter. He didn’t know how long this détente with Lucy would last. The infant was a good mixture of both of her parents. Her skin was golden brown and her eyes reminded him of aquamarine. Mari had a full head of curly dark brown hair. He said, “She’s beautiful.”

“Yes, she is,” Lucy replied wistfully.

They sat there in silence until Bonnie sent another message. This time it was a video of Mari running/crawling away from Bonnie while giggling her head off. However, it was a slow get away because of the oversized teddy she was dragging behind her.

Chapter Text

Bonnie felt ready to climb out of her own skin and it was only 8 o’clock. As a witch, the moon phases always had a profound effect on her but this was something different. She could feel her wolf half demanding the freedom to run underneath the full moon. Other werewolves on the edge of transformation were roaming the farm and it seemed to exacerbate her problem. Tyler had explained that the urge to shift was always stronger in the presence of a pack. Werewolves were communal by nature and the moon further bonded them. To make matters worse, she was anxious about the night ahead. She was not looking forward to being apart from Tyler. He had warned Bonnie that he probably would not return until the very early morning. They had not been apart more than a couple hours since the night he bit her.

Bonnie would not have Tyler to keep her company tonight but she and Mari would not be alone. As was tradition, his entire pack had gathered at the farm to celebrate the full moon. The wolves that had already triggered the curse would hunt together for the majority of the night. Meanwhile, children, pregnant women, non-wolves, and anyone that had yet to trigger the curse would remain in the house. In the morning, they would all meet in the barn to share breakfast as a pack. Tyler encouraged Bonnie to use the time apart to become more familiar with the pack. Last night’s blunder aside, he wanted his mate on good terms with his pack. If anything happened to him, it would be Bonnie’s job to lead them in his place.

Tyler had asked everyone to arrive a half hour earlier than normal. He needed to address last night’s situation with the pack. Tyler and Bonnie had already spoken with Dakota. She apologized to the couple and promised to fall in line. However, Tyler knew that she was not alone in questioning Bonnie’s addition to the pack. He had realized too late that the introduction last night had been too casual. The young man did not enjoy ruling with an iron fist but he had learned through trial and error that sometimes it was necessary. Werewolves were warriors by nature. Therefore, the threat of a power struggle always loomed in the shadows. Tyler wanted to extinguish the fires of rebellion before he had to do something that they would regret.

Bonnie stood at the attic window and watched the stars shine brightly. She was worried about her friends. They were preparing for an interesting night, too. The hex bags had worked as expected. The members of the Augustine Group were as dead as proverbial doornails. Tonight Damon, Elodie, and the Scooby Doo gang would scour Whitmore’s campus. They hoped the late hour would reduce the chance of running into hapless humans. The best-case scenario was that the search turned out to be fruitless. However, Bonnie knew better than to hope for the best where they were concerned. It seemed as if someone had placed a curse on all of them. Once upon a time, Bonnie thought that the curse was limited to Mystic Falls. Yet their misfortune seemed to follow them well beyond the town’s borders.

Tyler had been watching Bonnie brood for the last fifteen minutes. He could feel the worry she felt for their friends through the bond. Frankly, Tyler was worried about them, too. There was no way of knowing what horrors they might find lurking on Whitmore’s campus. However, Tyler could not abandon his pack during a full moon. His presence was necessary to keep the pack safe and from leaving his family’s property. Straying away from the farm could be dangerous to innocent humans living in the area. He walked over to his mate and pulled her into a smoldering kiss.

Bonnie was startled out of her thoughts by the kiss. Her mind went blank when she felt Tyler’s unbridled desire through the bond. She had sensed his want for her before but it had never been like this. Bonnie grabbed onto his sweater and pulled him closer. A little voice in her head encouraged Bonnie to devour him. She growled possessively against his lips and did not feel the tiniest hint of embarrassment.

He wound his arms around Bonnie’s body and cupped her backside unabashedly. Being on the run with Mari meant the young couple didn’t exactly have much time alone. They had managed a quickie in the shower that morning but it had not been nearly enough to satisfy him.

Bonnie was a little lightheaded after the kiss. She looked up at him with a small smile. “What was that for?”

Tyler nuzzled her neck and murmured, “Do I need a reason?”

She squirmed in his embrace and said, “No.”

He slid a hand up Bonnie’s skirt. His fingers sought out the lacy material of the panties he had watched her put on earlier. He had been thinking about them all day. “I really like this skirt.”

Bonnie bit her lip as Tyler’s fingers slipped beneath of the waistband of her panties. She asked, “Do you like the skirt or the easy access?”

“Both,” he confessed.

A loud knock on the attic door startled the young couple.

Tyler growled and removed his hand from Bonnie’s underwear. He yelled, “What?”

Bonnie gently slapped his chest. She whispered, “Don’t be rude.”

There was a hint of amusement in Gabe’s voice as he yelled up the stairs. “I just thought you would want to know that everyone is here. They are waiting on you.”

The hybrid grumbled petulantly and said, “I’ll be down in a minute!”

“I’ll let everyone know, Alpha.”

Tyler waited until he heard the older man’s footsteps depart. He pecked Bonnie’s lips and asked, “Rain check?”

She nodded shakily. “Yes…”

“We should head downstairs. I want you by my side when I address everyone,” he explained.

Bonnie hadn’t expected anything less. It was the reason she had chosen a tank top despite it being wintertime. The bite mark Tyler left on her back was large and too obvious for anyone to miss. She said, “Just let me freshen up. Then I’ll grab Mari and meet you downstairs.”

Tyler patted Bonnie on the butt and said, “Don’t take too long. Everyone is eager for the hunt to begin. It wouldn’t be smart to delay the shift much longer. Nature will take over for everyone else soon enough.”

“Okay.”

He reluctantly let Bonnie go and went downstairs.

Bonnie walked into the bathroom and took a moment to touch up her makeup. Once she was satisfied with her appearance, she picked up Mari from the portable crib in the bedroom. She put a jacket on the infant before going to join Tyler.

Tyler was standing on the porch chatting with Gabe. He looked towards the door when he heard Bonnie step outside. “Are you ready?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yeah.”

He wrapped a possessive arm around Bonnie’s waist and walked out to the barn. The converted space served as a staging area during the full moon. It was a good place for everyone to disrobe and leave their clothes. They walked through the throng of people and stopped at the barn’s entrance.

Bonnie watched how everyone stopped moving around and talking without Tyler having to say a word. He practically oozed confidence and authority. Bonnie tried to ignore the heat coiling deep in the pit of her stomach. It would be ten to twelve hours before Tyler could scratch that itch for her.

Tyler was in alpha mode but Bonnie’s arousal did not go unnoticed by him. However, he kept his expression stern as he surveyed his pack. He could sense the nervous energy in the air. He tightened his grip on Bonnie’s waist so that she was pressed securely to his side. Tyler said, “Last night I introduced my mate to all of you. A mated alpha makes the pack stronger. I made the mistake of assuming that everyone would be happy for me. I was disappointed last night to learn that some of you were unhappy that I have mated with Bonnie. However, I was pissed off when I learned that some of you disrespected my mate. Dakota might have been the only one foolish enough to express that disrespect directly but she did not act alone.”

Bonnie had never heard Tyler’s voice quite so cold and unforgiving. Her sharp green eyes casually scanned the crowd as everyone became increasingly uncomfortable. The pack had witnessed Tyler’s ferocity when he slaughtered Gonzo and his thick-necked comrades. The pack wisely wanted to avoid the alpha directing that sort of rage at them. She easily zeroed in on Dakota. The woman wisely refused to look Tyler and Bonnie in the eye. Her place within the pack had been diminished. It would take time for Dakota to regain her former status.

He continued, “I realize now that some of you are made uncomfortable by Bonnie being a hybrid. She is as much a werewolf as she is a witch. I am as much a werewolf as I am a vampire. If she is unworthy of being an alpha of this pack, then you must think that I am unworthy, too. I urge anyone that believes this to step forward. Have the courage of your convictions and challenge me to become alpha. You also have the option of leaving the pack.”

The assembled group’s anxiety had reached a near fevered pitch by the time that Tyler challenged any detractors. Everyone knew that a challenge meant a fight to the death. They also knew that none of them had a chance of winning a one-on-one battle with the hybrid. He had toyed with Gonzo before ripping the man to shreds as if it were little more than child’s play. It had been jarring to see the man that had terrorized them dispatched so easily.

“Should I take your silence to mean that no one wants to challenge me?” he asked.

The shifting of the crowd was audible now.

“What about you, Kevin? Do you want to challenge me?” he asked.

A large brunette man in his 30’s shifted uncomfortably. He lowered his eyes respectfully. “No, Alpha.”

Tyler looked toward a woman that was a few years older than he was. “What about you, Claire? Do you want to challenge me?”

The young woman swallowed thickly. She had been part of the group that encouraged Dakota last night. She lowered her eyes as well. “No, Alpha.”

“Tina…”

A curly haired woman that looked to be nearing 40 looked up when she heard her name called. “Yes, Alpha.”

“Perhaps you want to challenge Bonnie because you think there is a better chance of winning against her?”

Bonnie’s eyes turned gold and black but she remained silent at Tyler’s side.

Tina quickly shook her head. She had watched Bonnie easily subdue Dakota last night. She had never seen a werewolf move that fast without shifting first. She had mentally prepared herself for Dakota’s death while watching Bonnie dig her claws into the girl’s chest. Tina had fully expected to see her niece’s beating heart. “No, Alpha.”

Tyler motioned to a muscular man standing towards the back of the crowd. “What about you, Travis?”

The man gritted his teeth but he said, “No, Alpha.”

“Some alphas would kill or exile anyone stupid enough to show disrespect to his or her mate. Bonnie has asked that I show mercy in this instance and I am inclined to listen to her wise counsel. Bonnie is my mate and we have completed the bond. We will begin living together soon and she is pregnant with my child. Know that when you see Bonnie that you are looking at me. When you speak to Bonnie, you are speaking to me, too. You all are to treat her with the same respect and deference that you show me. If that is not possible, then you are welcome to leave now. However, make no mistake the next person that disrespects Bonnie will not get the option of exile. I will rip your heart out—no questions asked,” he bellowed.

Afterwards, Tyler pressed a kiss to Bonnie’s temple to drive home his point.

Bonnie handed Mari to Tyler and stepped forward. Her gold and black eyes practically glowed in the growing darkness. She said, “I think it is safe to say that we didn’t get off to a good start last night. I understand some of you have reservations about me. However, you should know two things. First, I am not going anywhere. Second, I will protect this pack just as Tyler does. You all are my family now and there is nothing more important than that. We do not want to lose a single one of you. I look forward to getting to know everyone in the coming weeks. However, it would be wise to heed Tyler’s warning because I will defend myself and my mate against anyone that tries to harm us.”

Tyler watched Bonnie with pride as she addressed the pack. Gone was the nervousness that she had displayed privately. She was the leader that he knew she could be.

She returned to Tyler’s side and took Mari once again.

Tyler squeezed Bonnie’s hip lovingly. He said, “Now if no one has anything else to say…I think it’s time to prepare for tonight’s hunt.”

Some of the tension began to die down. Everyone said goodbye to the members of the pack unable to join the hunt.

Tyler walked with Bonnie back to the house. When they reached the porch, he kissed her softly. He tucked a loose curl behind her ear and said, “I will see you in the morning.”

She said, “Okay. The wards seem to be working but please be careful.”

He smiled and said, “Always, Bon…”

Bonnie playfully rolled her eyes at the cocky expression on his face. “Good night, Ty.”

“Night,” he replied.

Bonnie sat down on the porch swing with Mari in her arms. She was not ready to go in the house just yet. She might not be able to shift with the rest of the pack tonight, but she wanted to enjoy nature for a little longer. More than anything, Bonnie wanted to be back in Mystic Falls. She missed being able to meditate near the waterfall. She never felt closer to nature than in those quiet moments.

As she sat on the porch, several members of the pack walked by to get into the house. Most of the adults showed respect by speaking to her as they passed. She hoped the change in attitudes would be permanent. Bonnie wasn’t actually looking forward to ripping out anyone’s heart—but she would. She had not asked Damon to teach her how to fight for fun. In fact, sparring with the vampire was the exact opposite of fun. Damon had taken great pleasure in knocking Bonnie on her ass repeatedly. However, she had become an above average fighter because of his efforts. Bonnie’s fighting prowess combined with her magic and hybrid abilities made her a formidable opponent.

She looked down at the little girl in her arms. Mari had been agitated all day and now was not any different. If the infant were a few years older, Bonnie would accuse her of brooding. She cooed softly at her cousin, “What’s wrong, Mari?”

The infant looked up when she heard her name. She scrambled upward and laid her head on Bonnie’s shoulder.

Bonnie’s heart broke a little more for the baby. She rubbed her back. “I know that you miss your mama. We are going to get her back soon. I promise. In the meantime, I promised to take really good care of you.”

Mari played with Bonnie’s hair as she talked.

In the distance, Tyler’s howl disturbed the brisk night air.

“Grams used to sing this Irish drinking song to me when I was little. It always helped me fall asleep. But I have to confess it’s not really a lullaby. Frankly, it is probably better if you never tell your mom that I sang this to you,” she whispered.

Bonnie rubbed Mari’s back and sang, “ I’m a rambler. I’m a gambler. I’m a long way from home and if you don’t like me then leave me alone. I’ll eat when I’m hungry and I’ll drink when I’m dry. And if moonshine don’t kill me I’ll live till I die. If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck I’d swim to the bottom and drink my way up. But the ocean ain’t whiskey and I ain’t a duck. So I’ll stick to wild women and trust in my luck.

Mari babbled rhythmically as if trying to imitate Bonnie’s singing.

She grinned at her younger cousin. “You like that song, huh? Me, too. I don’t remember the rest of the words but I bet I could find the song on YouTube.”

Bonnie sat on the porch replaying the song until Mari dozed off to sleep in her arms. Her battery was nearly dead but it was worth it. She stood and walked into the house.

The house was much quieter than Bonnie had expected. Most of the children and all of the teenagers were in the basement’s recreation room. The rest of the adults were spread between the living room and den. Most had trouble sleeping during the full moon. Moreover, the pack was at its most vulnerable because the strongest were away on a hunt. Bringing everyone together was a practice started by Ruby’s father.

Bonnie considered going up to the attic. However, she also knew it was important to spend time with the pack. Besides, she was interested in learning about the diverse members. Tyler’s pack differed from most others because they did not believe in being insular. His great-grandfather had believed that the survival of werewolves meant reproducing. For obvious reasons, it was simpler for two werewolves to mate. However, it greatly reduced to overall pool of suitable partners. Things became even more complicated when considering bloodlines. Fortunately, a child only needed one werewolf parent to inherit the gene.

She settled for an empty chair near a window. Bonnie tried not to shift Mari too much as she situated the sleeping infant on her lap.  

A woman that looked a few years older than Bonnie came to sit beside her. She smiled warmly. “Hi. I’m Tori.”

Bonnie had met her the previous night. It took a moment for her to remember her relation to Tyler. She said, “Hi. You’re Ruby’s daughter, right?”

“Right,” she replied. “How are you liking the farm so far?”

“I have to confess that it isn’t as rustic as I had imagined when Tyler told me how long the property has been in your family.”

Tori laughed goodnaturedly. “Oh, that is all down to my mother. She updated everything several years ago. Mom doesn’t mind living in the middle of nowhere but she needed certain amenities to keep from going crazy.”

Bonnie laughed with her. “I can imagine.”

“Do you go to school with Tyler?”

“Oh, no. We grew up in Mystic Falls together but I am taking a gap year--or two,” she explained somewhat sheepishly.

Tori nodded and said, “I did the same thing after high school. I was a complete cliche and decided to backpack through Europe.”

Bonnie perked up when she heard that Tori had spent time in Europe. “I have always thought about doing that. Did you enjoy yourself?”

She huffed out a laugh. “Sure. I had a blast for the first two months. Then I ran out of money. I was home sick, too.”

“Did you come back home?”

“No, I was too stubborn to admit defeat that easily. My dad actually put me in touch with a pack in Larissa, Greece. The Alpha helped me find a job at a local bar and let me hang out with his pack.”

Bonnie hadn’t thought to ask because it was none of her business. However, she wondered if Gabe was the father of Ruby’s children. They had been married once upon a time. “That sounds amazing.”

“It was,” she agreed. “I didn’t want to come home when my year was up but I promised my mom that I would go to school. I figured that she would send my dad after me if I didn’t keep my word. What about your family? What do they think of you taking a gap year?”

The young woman deflated just a little. Tori had no way of knowing that she had just stepped onto a land mine. She smiled a little. “I don’t really have much in the way of family.”

Tori winced because she had just put her foot in her mouth. “I’m sorry.”

Bonnie shrugged her shoulders. “No apology necessary. Death is an inevitable part of life. What was your major in college?”

She was glad that the girl smoothly moved them off the morbid topic. She flashed a self-deprecating smile. “I majored in agricultural economics. Someone has to make sure this place continues to turn a profit.”

“I have thought about double majoring in occult studies and history at Whitmore. I have also thought about not going to college at all,” Bonnie said.

Tori nodded in understanding. “I get it. Despite popular belief, college isn’t for everyone.”

She said, “I have been thinking about opening a little apothecary shop to sell homeopathic and herbal remedies.”

Bonnie’s phone started vibrating. She looked at the screen and said, “Oh, this is my friend. I have to take it.”

Tori nodded and said, “Okay.”

Bonnie answered the phone. “Hey, Care. How is everything going at Whitmore?”

“It was going good until Damon went psycho and snapped Stefan’s neck. Then he just took off. I figured that I should call you since the two of you are...friends.”

Bonnie wasn’t exactly shocked that Damon had snapped Stefan’s neck. The Salvatore brothers showed no qualms in temporarily incapacitating each other. However, Damon leaving without a word was worrisome. He had been looking forward to killing Enzo. He was a little sore about using hex bags to kill the Augustine members instead of his bare hands.

“What happened before Damon attacked Stefan?” she asked curiously.

“I don’t know. We were loading the bodies of the Augustine vampires into the back of Matt’s truck. Your aunt insisted that we burn the bodies because they are toxic. Damon dumped Enzo’s body and then turned on Stefan without even saying anything,” Caroline explained.

Bonnie chewed on her bottom lip. Something about the situation didn’t make any sense. She said, “Well, at least he only snapped Stefan’s neck.”

“What?” Caroline squawked indignantly.

“I am not saying that Damon did the right thing. But I think we both know he could have ripped out Stefan’s heart if he really wanted to kill him. Stefan being knocked out for a bit is really the best case scenario.”

Caroline was quiet for a moment. Her silent displeasure was practically audible. Finally, she said, “Anyway, I just called because you talked him down yesterday. I was hoping that maybe you could do it again. Stefan is going to feel guilty if Damon hurts innocent people because of some disagreement they are having.”

“Yeah, I get your point. I’ll try getting him on the phone. I will call if I find out anything,” she replied.

“Thanks, Bon.”

“You’re welcome, Care. Bye,” Bonnie said

Chapter Text

Damon glared at a tiny English cottage tucked deep within a forest. It was not that the ivy covered structure had done anything to offend the vampire personally. He had just convinced himself that it did not exist. He had nearly missed the turn off from the main road on the darkened highway. However, his headlights had struck an intricate carving in the tree that marked his destination at the last possible second. He recognized the image immediately because it was seared into his brain. He had stared at the image for hours every day while the Augustine Group kept him incarcerated. A small part of Damon wanted to speed away from the cottage and whatever secrets it might hold.

He groaned when Bonnie called his phone for what seemed like the millionth time. Damon had ignored each of her calls because he didn’t have answers to any of the questions that she was sure to ask him. He knew that the girl was worried about him and she probably should be.

Tonight was supposed to be a simple search and destroy mission. The group had split the Whitmore campus into quadrants to make it easier to search them thoroughly. Stefan, Elodie, and Damon had each taken a quadrant. Meanwhile, Caroline had accompanied Matt and Jeremy to search the remaining area. They had decided the boys might need the vampire’s help since they were hopelessly human. Damon had nearly given up hope when he discovered Enzo and another vampire imprisoned in a rarely used sub basement within Whitmore Hospital. Both vampires were in the early stages of desiccation because they had been denied blood. However, the black veins covering the entirety of the vampires’ bodies were more worrisome. Something had obviously gone terribly wrong with the experiment because both vampires’ eyes were a milky white color. The humans had found a way to blind the two men permanently.

He had planned to kill Enzo from the outset. However, seeing his friend in such a sorry state made it feel like more a mercy than a punishment. There was a look of utter relief on Enzo’s face when Damon plunged a hand into his chest. Before he ripped out the man’s heart, Enzo started whispering something urgently. It had taken a few seconds for him to understand the rushed words. When Enzo’s deathbed confession began to sink in for Damon, he had gone through the seven stages of grief in a matter of seconds. Predictably, he had cycled back to the anger stage by the time he ended Enzo’s suffering. He was seeing red when he finally crossed paths with his younger brother. Damon had snapped Stefan’s neck to prevent himself from doing something more permanent.

Damon tried the cottage door and found that it was unlocked. He slowly pushed the door open but did not immediately see anyone in the darkened space. Damon cautiously crossed the threshold because he fully expected to be flung backwards. However, he was able to enter the home without any interference or an invitation from a human owner. His spine straightened further because he was beginning to believe the outlandish story Enzo told him in his last moments. Frankly, there was part of Damon that had believed him immediately. Yet some small portion of him had hoped that Enzo was lying out of spite. He did not want to believe that his brother would treat him with such cruelty.

Damon closed the door behind him and turned on a nearby lamp. He could smell burnt wood lingering in the air despite the absence of a fire in the fireplace. He immediately felt the residual heat from a recently extinguished fire when he approached the stone hearth. Damon closed his eyes and tried to detect a heartbeat in the small cottage. It did not take much effort to hear a heart beating steadily in a room down the hall. Damon began walking toward the bedroom to investigate but stopped short when he saw an eye bolt that had been screwed into the concrete slab beneath the wood floors. A thick chain connected to the eyebolt acted as a yellow brick road and led him to the beating heart.  

The vampire stood in the doorway of the bedroom for several minutes. A little voice in Damon’s head urged him to run in the other direction. If he opened this metaphorical door, he would not be able to close it again. However, there was another little voice in his head and this one sounded suspiciously like his judgy little witch. Her voice was telling him to save the girl even if Enzo had been lying to him about her identity. She did not deserve to starve to death now that her captor had died at his hands. Damon slowly inched into the room and studied the sleeping girl’s face. She was pretty but he wasn’t immediately struck by any sort of recognition. He stopped beside the bed and reached out to wake her.

He pulled his hand back with a soft groan. A strange man disturbing her sleep would probably terrify the girl. Damon wished that he had thought to bring Elodie on this little journey. However, he had been single-minded when he exited that building with Enzo’s lifeless body draped over his shoulder. Damon rolled his eyes towards the ceiling and ran a frustrated hand through his hair. When he looked down again, a pair or hazel eyes were staring up at him.

Damon held his hands up in a placating gesture to keep the girl calm.

However, the girl seemed relatively sedate for having a stranger in her bedroom. She slowly sat up in the bed and asked, “Uncle Damon?”

The vampire’s jaw dropped—literally. He hadn’t known what to expect but that wasn’t even on his top ten list. Damon blinked several times as if something would change the next time he opened his eyes. Yet no matter how many times he blinked, the girl was still staring at him with big hopeful eyes. Finally, he managed, “Excuse me?”

She swallowed thickly and asked, “You’re Damon Salvatore, right?”

He nodded. “Yeah. How did you know that? Have we met?”

The girl shook her head and explained, “Enzo showed me pictures of you and Uncle Stefan. My name is Sarah…Sarah Nelson. I’m your niece.”

“I don’t know what sort of game Enzo was playing with you but I don’t have a niece. My brother is the only family that I have left,” Damon said in a voice that lacked certainty.

He didn’t believe the words flowing from his mouth. He knew that Enzo, and by extension, this girl were telling the truth. Damon also knew that he should be grateful that his brother had saved Zach and Gail’s baby. He had always counted that act of depravity as the worst thing he had ever done. Killing Gail and her baby was one of the few things that Damon wished that he could go back in time to undo. However, he didn’t know how to combat the bitterness slowly creeping into his still heart. Stefan could have told him the truth at any point but had instead allowed Damon to live with his guilt and self-loathing.

Sarah curled in on herself when Damon insisted that he did not have any family. She asked, “Where is Enzo? He hasn’t been here in awhile. I was starting to think that he had forgotten about me out here.”

Damon felt a pang of guilt and it only made him angrier. He stuffed his hands inside the pockets of his leather jacket. “Enzo was kidnapped by mad scientists and turned into a monster. I had to kill him.”

The girl looked up at Damon to determine if his blithe explanation was the truth. She gave a little nod after she decided that he was being honest. Sarah curled in on herself even further. Enzo had been an unmitigated psychopath but at least he had a reason to keep her alive. She said, “Oh.”

Damon rolled his eyes and decided that he was going to make a game of snapping Stefan’s neck for the foreseeable future. He grabbed the metal cuff around the girl’s ankle and snapped it easily. He said, “Get your stuff and let’s go.”

Sarah slowly climbed out of the bed wearing clothes that obviously belonged to Enzo. She asked, “Where are we going?”

“Don’t worry. I am going taking you to your Uncle Stefan, darling. He can figure out what the hell to do with you. You have ten minutes to meet me outside at the car,” he said over his shoulder as he walked out the room.

Damon walked through the cottage and shook his head. He didn’t understand what Enzo had hoped to get from holding his niece hostage. Damon hadn’t even known the girl had existed before tonight. He assumed it must have had something to do with Stefan. Enzo despised the younger Salvatore brother for some reason that was unfathomable to Damon. To be fair, he had never given it much thought because he didn’t care. Enzo was his friend and Stefan was his brother. There was no law that said they needed to get along. However, Damon had made it clear that killing his brother was out of the question. If Stefan needed killing, Damon would be the one to handle it.

He climbed into the Camaro and slammed the door hard enough to shake the metal car. Damon frowned and lightly petted the door in apology. His baby hadn’t done anything to deserve such rough treatment.

A few minutes later, Sarah emerged from the cottage with a duffel bag and a messenger bag. She climbed into the car and placed both bags on the floor near her feet. She murmured, “We should probably get going.”

Damon eyes narrowed at her tone of voice. He looked towards the cottage and saw flames flickering through the window. Incredulously, he asked, “Did you set the house of fire?”

Sarah glanced at her uncle and said, “Yes.”

He just stared at her for a few seconds before deciding that she was indeed his niece. Damon started the car and quickly sped away from the beginnings of a crime scene. He grabbed the steering wheel a little too tight as he drove them toward Mystic Falls. Taking Sarah home was probably a terrible idea considering they still had the Travelers and Originals to handle. However, his brain was too fried think of anything else. “When did Enzo kidnap you?”

Sarah pulled her eyes away from the window and glanced at Damon. He was tense and that made her nervous. She said, “He kidnapped me in September. I was supposed to be leaving the country for a little over twenty weeks to study abroad.”

“Did you stay at the cottage the entire time?” he asked.

She said, “The first few days, I stayed at Enzo’s house. The cottage wasn’t ready yet. He had everything all planned out but I messed things up. He realized at the last minute that I was leaving for London two weeks early because I wanted time to explore. Then he moved me to the cottage.”

Damon frowned and asked, “Did Enzo stay there with you?”

“Sometimes,” she admitted. “But most of the time I was just out there alone. Once a week he compelled an older man to bring me food and supplies.”

The vampire was glad that Enzo had told him where to find Sarah. Enzo’s death would remove the compulsion from the human caretaker’s mind. “Do you know why Enzo kidnapped you?”

She whispered, “He kidnapped me to get back at Uncle Stefan. He kept me alive because of you.”

“What?” Damon asked.

“I don’t know. He has some beef with Uncle Stefan. Sometimes when Enzo would get angry he would talk about how Uncle Stefan wasn’t as good as he pretended to be. He has everyone fooled or something like that.”

Damon could think of a couple reasons that Enzo would feel that way. However, he still didn’t understand why his friend did not just expose Stefan immediately. Enzo had obviously been playing some sort of long game that Damon would need to piece together. He still needed to fill in the gaps of this story but he figured interrogating the young woman was not advisable. The girl was obviously traumatized and he was in surly mood.

She said, “You know I used to think Uncle Stefan was imaginary.”

He glanced at the girl and snorted. “You thought Stefan was your imaginary friend?”

Sarah nodded. “He would just show up randomly to see me but no one else ever seemed to notice him. His visits became fewer as I got older. Then around the time that I was ten, he stopped visiting me altogether. But Enzo said that he still checked on me once a month. He just stayed out of sight. It’s the reason that Enzo kidnapped me when I was preparing to study abroad. He didn’t want Uncle Stefan to go looking for me yet.”

Damon frowned because he could not decide which vampires’ actions were making him angriest. His brother had not simply placed the girl up for adoption. He had been watching over her this entire time. He could understand Stefan hiding her existence in the immediate aftermath of Gail’s death. Damon could even accept that he was not trustworthy when he returned to Mystic Falls a few years ago. However, Damon had believed that he had reached a relatively healthy place in his relationship with Stefan.

“I’m sorry that Enzo kidnapped you. He was a friend, or at least I thought that he was my friend. I’m finding out that he was a little more unhinged than I remembered him being,” Damon confessed.

Sarah shrugged her shoulders. “He would have killed me if you weren’t his friend so…way to go befriending that psychopath.”

Damon lifted an eyebrow at her response and said, “…thanks?”

She shrugged her shoulders again and went back to looking out the window.

When Damon pulled up to the boarding house, he was glad to see his brother’s car. He climbed out the car and motioned for the girl to follow him.

Sara picked up her bags and followed Damon into the large old home.

Stefan marched into the foyer ready to give Damon a piece of his mind. Caroline was right on his heels because she was ready to read Damon the riot act, too. Stefan said, “Why did you…”

Sarah peered around the brunette vampire’s shoulder and said, “Hi, Uncle Stefan.”

The vampire’s jaw dropped from the sheer shock. His eyes darted to Damon’s fearfully. “I can explain, Damon.”

However, Damon had closed the distance between them in a flash. He snapped Stefan’s neck again and then flashed a self-satisfied smile.

Sarah stood there gaping at Stefan’s lifeless body. The casual display of violence was unnerving.

Damon looked over his shoulder at the girl. “Don’t worry. He will wake up soon enough. It is one of the best benefits of being a member of the undead. In the meantime, Caroline here is going to find a room for you upstairs.”

Caroline knew about Sarah. She had even accompanied Stefan on a few road trips to Duke University. She beckoned the girl forward. “Come with me.”

Sarah blinked rapidly for a moment. Then she cautiously stepped over Stefan’s body and followed Caroline upstairs.

Damon grabbed one of his brother’s arms and dragged him into the living room. Then he went to find the nearest bottle of bourbon. He needed a drink. No scratch that, he needed many drinks. He also needed to snap his brother’s neck maybe a dozen more times. Damon scrubbed a hand over his face as he walked into the kitchen.

He pulled out a bottle of bourbon and a glass. Damon looked at both for a second before deciding to drink from the bottle. Damon brought the bottle to his lips and didn’t lower it until he had chugged half of it. He placed the bottle on the counter and stared as if it had some mystical secrets. Unfortunately, the only person capable of giving him answers was unconscious. He wasn’t looking forward to his brother’s answer because it would be inadequate. Either Stefan would give a fumbling excuse that would insult Damon’s intelligence or he would answer truthfully and break Damon’s heart. Frankly, he was legitimately in a no win situation. It was in that moment that he decided to take the win. He had returned Sarah to her uncle. Stefan would make sure that the girl received whatever one needed after being held hostage by a maniac.

Damon grabbed a couple bottles of bourbon and trudged upstairs to his bedroom. He placed the bottles on his bed and then he took a bag from his closet. Damon made quick work of packing some clothes and his bottles of bourbon. Then he made his exit as quietly as possible. He didn’t want to snap Caroline’s neck but he would if she got in his way. Judging by her complete lack of surprise, Caroline had known about Sarah, too. He didn’t want to hear an explanation from anyone but his brother.

He was nearly at his car when out of nowhere he was thrown up against the house’s brick façade. Damon was in pain but he was more annoyed by the sound of glass shattering. Three completely innocent bottles of bourbon had just been murdered. Damon shouldn’t have been surprised to find an Original staring at him. However, he wouldn’t have wagered on it being Rebekah. He growled, “To what do I owe the honor, Barbie Klaus?”

She wrapped a hand around Damon’s throat and asked, “Where is the Bennett witch?”

Damon deadpanned, “You’re brother is holding her hostage in his gaudy mansion.”

Rebekah tightened her grip on his throat considerably. “I am no mood for your poor attempt at humor, Damon. Where is the shorter more annoying Bennett witch?”

He didn’t even bother fighting against Rebekah. It would just be a waste of his energy. He said, “Your idea is as good as mine. She didn’t trust her location with any of us since Klaus compelled Caroline for information on his baby mama.”

Rebekah suddenly stopped talking when someone’s hand landed on her arm. She was about the fling the person off her but something was wrong. She felt her body growing weaker by the second.

Elodie placed a second hand on Rebekah and continued draining the very magic that created the Originals. She was practically humming with the power she absorbed.

The blonde Original shook off her initial shock and released Damon. She spun around and moved to attack Elodie.

The siphoner witch swung her arm to one side and sent Rebekah flying into the side of Stefan’s car. She pulled her hand back and used her magic to slam Rebekah into the car again. She was supercharged for the moment because of the power she had siphoned from Rebekah.

Damon grabbed Elodie and sped them into the house before Rebekah had time to recover. He slammed the door shut.

Elodie glared at him. “What are you doing? We could have used her as leverage!”

“The Originals are like roaches, Elodie. Where there is one, more are sure to follow. It’s a full moon and neither of us can afford to get bitten by the Original  douchebag himself,” he replied.

Elodie wasn’t worried about Klaus biting them. Werewolf venom was a type of magic and she could siphon it if they were infected. However, the threat of Elijah suddenly appearing was a definite cause for concern. “What did you do to piss her off?” she asked.

“Nothing!” he declared emphatically.

She looked at him skeptically. “Did you sleep with her?”

Damon huffed and said, “Well, of course I slept with Rebekah. She is hot, emotionally damaged, unstable, and a really bad decision. It is as if she was shining my bat signal, but that isn’t the reason she was trying to choke me out tonight. She was here looking for information on your little witchy niece.”

Elodie tensed at the mention of Bonnie. She was certain that the wards she had helped the girl place around the farm were secure. However, wards meant nothing if the Originals had a hostage to use as leverage. Bonnie might be tempted to come out of hiding if one of her friends were in danger. “So much for Klaus and Lucy getting along,” she complained.

“When were they getting along? He knocked her out and took her hostage,” Damon deadpanned.

“Bonnie said that Lucy called her this afternoon. She made it seem as if Lucy and Klaus had come to some sort of truce. She even told Bonnie to hold off on any daring rescues,” she explained.

Suddenly, there was a thump at the front door. “Open the bloody door, Damon!”

Elodie rolled her eyes. “Your girlfriend is awake.”

Damon rolled his eyes as well. “If Klaus and Lucy have a truce, then he didn’t bother filling in his sister.”

“That just means I can move ahead with my plan to get Lucy out of that house. If Klaus can’t control his siblings, then my niece is not safe there.”

“He usually daggers them when they are getting out of hand,” Damon offered with a shrug of his shoulders.

Chapter Text

Tyler slowly climbed the attic stairs as the sun began to rise. He was covered in dirt, grass, and the blood of particularly tasty deer. He had a figurative spring in his step. Running with his pack always left the hybrid in high spirits. However, he felt a different sort of satisfaction knowing that his mate was waiting on him. He had certainly missed Bonnie last night and she was never far from his mind. It had taken a few hours for him to shake the anxiety of leaving her alone. Tyler knew that Bonnie was capable of protecting herself. She was a powerful witch. She had also adapted admirably to her enhanced strength and senses since becoming a hybrid. Unfortunately, his instincts as a wolf did not care about logic.

As Tyler approached the bedroom, he could hear her heart thumping steadily just beyond the glass paned doors. Tyler also detected a slightly faster heartbeat that belonged to little Mari. He slipped into the bedroom without making a sound. He did not want to risk waking either Bennett witch. They had only gone to bed a couple hours ago. After his run, Tyler had spoken to Tori. His cousin was eager to tell him about how much she liked Bonnie. The two young women had spent the majority of the night talking to each other. She warned him off waking Bonnie up. Tori had raised her eyebrows a few times and did some weird gesture with her hand. It had been amusing but he understood her meaning. Werewolves were known to have overactive libidos for a few days following the full moon. She did not want him bothering Bonnie with his amorous intentions.

He stopped by the bed to watch Bonnie sleep for a few minutes. Her face looked so soft and relaxed. It was a welcomed departure. She had been stressed from the moment they realized Katherine had possessed Elena. It only grew worse as the problems stacked one on top of the other. He hoped that their friends had solved the Augustine problem. Having one less problem would certainly help take some weight off Bonnie’s shoulders. Tyler longed for the days they shared locked away in her house. They were able to ignore the outside world and just focus on each other. The only downside had been the heat. Before this week, he never would have thought that he could tire of having sex. The heat had proved him wrong. After a couple hours, even he had some issues with friction burn. Fortunately, he was a hybrid so it healed in a manner of minutes.

He smiled seeing that Bonnie had decided to sleep in one of his t-shirts. She probably needed to have his scent close to her. It was gratifying to know that the bond they shared affected them equally. Tyler leaned down and brushed his lips against her forehead.

Bonnie let out a little sigh in her sleep but otherwise did not stir.

Finally, he pried himself away from Bonnie’s side. He collected some clean clothes and then went to get a much-needed shower.

He closed his eyes as the hot water washed over his body. Tyler wanted to climb into bed with Bonnie after his shower. Unfortunately, he still had duties as Alpha. The pack would gather for breakfast in about an hour and a half. He would take any opportunity he could to integrate Bonnie with his pack.

The hybrid used shampoo to lather his hair. As Tyler raked his blunt nails against his scalp, he thought about when Bonnie had scratched his head. He had lost track of time as they cuddled under the stars. He did not realize that such a simple act could be so arousing. Then again, everything between them deepened their connection because of the bond.

Tyler glanced down and groaned because he had a semi erection. He gripped himself and gave a few experimental strokes. His body responded immediately, there was no hope of this going down. It would not be as pleasurable as crawling between Bonnie’s legs but he would have to make do for now. He would try to steal her away for a few minutes later.

He picked a particularly lewd memory of himself and Bonnie for inspiration. Tyler was so enthralled by his thoughts that he almost did not hear quiet footsteps approaching the bathroom. However, Bonnie’s scent reached his nose and drew out an unexpected moan. He opened the shower door as his eyes turned gold and black.

Bonnie stood outside the glass-enclosed shower with a small grin on her face. She had shed her clothes before walking into the bathroom. She pouted playfully and said, “You were supposed to wake me up.”

“C’mere.”

She pretended to consider his command. Then she shook her head and teased, “I don’t know, Ty. I don’t think you need my help. It looks like you have things hand led all on your own.”

He growled deeply and asked, “Am I going to have to come out there to get you?”

Bonnie bit her bottom lip because his growl had hit her like a bolt of lightning. She felt a familiar warmth growing in the pit of her stomach. Part of the girl wanted to tease her mate more because she enjoyed seeing the predator within him rise to the surface. The predator claimed her body in way that was all consuming. However, Bonnie quickly realized that delaying the inevitable meant that she was teasing herself, too.

Tyler growled again but this time it was loud enough to echo off the bathroom’s tiled walls.

Her token resistance collapsed under the weight of her own arousal. She stepped into the shower and pulled the glass door closed behind her.

He did not give Bonnie a moment to think. He lifted the girl off her feet and pressed her against the shower wall in a flash.

Bonnie dug her nails into Tyler’s shoulders as she wrapped her legs around him.

Tyler hissed as she drew blood on her first try. He would never grow tired of Bonnie marking him when they made love. The marks were always temporary because of his enhanced healing factor. Nevertheless, the act seemed to deepen their connection in a way that he did not completely understand.

Bonnie gasped when the heel of Tyler’s hand pressed against her mound. She whined softly, “Ty…”

He gave her a perfect look of innocence. Tyler kissed Bonnie’s neck and allowed his fangs to graze her soft skin without breaking it. “I just want to make sure that you are ready for me.”

Of course, Bonnie realized that Tyler was toying with her. He did not need the finger he had just slipped inside her core to determine just how ready she was for him. Tyler could smell her arousal as clear as she could. However, that knowledge did not stop a wanton moan from escaping her mouth. Her muscles clenched around his probing digit.

Tyler grinned triumphantly as he turned Bonnie into a panting collection of limbs. He ground the heel of his hand against her sensitive nub in time with his darting fingers. He murmured against her pulse point. “Are you ready for me, Bon?”

Bonnie was in no mood to be teased. She wanted Tyler inside her now but she figured that it was only right for him to get a little payback. However, there was no rule saying that she could not give him some incentive to end their little game prematurely. Bonnie bared her neck to Tyler and whispered, “Bite me.”

The hybrid caught Bonnie’s double meaning. He would have laughed but a desirous moan emerged first. The idea of feeding from Bonnie was too tempting to resist and she knew it. His tongue flicked across his mate’s skin tasting her natural scent. Tyler had become aware of Bonnie’s scent once he triggered the curse. He could not believe how the heady aroma had ever gone undetected. She smelled like rich soil, thunderstorms, and freshly bloomed lavender. He used to wonder if Bonnie tasted as good as she smelled. Tyler now knew that answer was a resounding ‘yes’. Tyler sunk his fangs into Bonnie’s neck. His eyes closed as her hot blood splashed against his tongue.

The sharp pain from the bite coupled with the euphoria that followed sent Bonnie over the edge. Her body convulsed and she dug her nails deeper into his shoulders. “Ty…”

Tyler removed his fangs from Bonnie carefully. He bit into his arm and offered it to her.

Bonnie shuddered but did not even consider turning him down. She latched onto his arm with a moan.

He bit into her neck again and drew more blood into his mouth. Tyler withdrew his fingers from Bonnie’s core and replaced them with what she had wanted all along. He resisted the urge to pound into her. Instead, he took his time sinking into her heat inch by inch.

Bonnie mewled in pleasure when Tyler finally bottomed out.

Tyler pulled away from Bonnie’s neck. Her blood stained his lips and chin. They stared at each other for several moments. The water rushing over them was the loudest sound in the bathroom. However, the constant beat of Bonnie’s heart had his attention. He would never get over the fact that she belonged to him. Tyler had known his soul mate since before he was old enough to read. How was that even possible? Nevertheless, as he looked into Bonnie’s eyes, he could not think of another person he would want to be bonded to forever.

“Ty,” she complained.

He grinned at Bonnie and nuzzled her neck. “I’m sorry. I was just appreciating how beautiful you are.”

Bonnie blinked in surprise. She smiled at him. “That is so sweet but we are going to have a misunderstanding if you don’t finish what you started.”

He huffed out a laugh. Tyler kissed Bonnie and then changed positions slightly. Even though her healing had enhanced greatly since becoming a hybrid, he did not want to take the chance of her falling awkwardly in the shower. He made sure that one of her feet was planted on the floor firmly. Meanwhile, her other leg was still curled around his hip.  

Bonnie did not understand the change in position until Tyler started moving again. She was 90% sure she saw stars when he withdrew only to impale her again in one smooth move. Bonnie was immensely grateful that she had cast the silencing spell before joining Tyler in the bathroom. She would be mortified if the rest of the pack could hear her right now. Her mind went blank as Tyler ravaged her body. It felt as if he had broken her down to a collection of muscles and nerves that all led to the same place.

Tyler knew that it would not take long for both of them to climax. They were already teetering on the edge. Besides, being limited to having sex once a day had left them both incredibly needy.

The intensity was almost too much for Bonnie to handle. As predicted, she flew apart after only a few minutes. She vaguely wondered who had screamed then she hazily realized that it had been her. She weakly held onto Tyler as he tried to catch up with her. Bonnie trembled as aftershocks reverberated through her entire body.

Tyler bit the other side of Bonnie’s neck as she clamped down on him. He growled deeply as he tumbled over the edge.

Bonnie slowly lowered her leg to the ground but she felt unsteady. Fortunately, Tyler was there to keep her upright. She buried her face against his chest while trying to pull herself together.

Tyler kissed the top of Bonnie’s head and murmured, “I am glad that you decided to join me.”

“So am I,” she replied. Bonnie looked up at him. “How was your run with the pack?”

“It was great.”

She eyed him skeptically. “How many innocent woodland creatures did you kill?”

He chuckled and kissed her softly. “You don’t want to know, Bon.”

She huffed and said, “I guess it is the circle of life and all that.”

He carded his fingers through Bonnie’s hair.

She scrunched up her nose. “Do all werewolves hunt during the full moon?”

“No.” He kissed the tip of her nose. “Most werewolves crave meat but I have met others that prefer plants and berries.”

The green-eyed girl gave a sigh of relief. “Well, that is good news.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “You seemed to like that brisket that Ruby sent over to your house. Have you suddenly become a vegetarian?”

She laughed. “No, I am not a vegetarian. You are going to think that I sound ridiculous.”

“No, I won’t.”

“I don’t mind eating meat but I would feel guilty for eating Bambi,” she confessed.

Tyler smiled wryly and then kissed her softly. He remembered how excited Bonnie was to find deer that day in the woods before Klaus ruined the moment.

Bonnie studied his face and her cheeks heated up with embarrassment. “I told you that it was going to sound ridiculous.”

“It doesn’t sound ridiculous,” he promised. “It sounds compassionate and loving. Mostly it just sounds like you, Bon.”

She rolled her eyes fondly and said, “Okay your sweetness is making me nauseous. We need to finish showering.”

Tyler chuckled as Bonnie used her shoulder to move him out of her way. He watched as she hogged the shower spray for herself. He said, “I am sure this has nothing to do with the fact that you can smell the bacon cooking downstairs.”

She smiled at him over her shoulder innocently. “Oh, really? I hadn’t smelled it. You know I am still getting used to my enhanced sense of smell.”

He popped Bonnie on the butt and mouthed at her neck. “Uh huh…”

She giggled and swatted at Tyler. “Stop it. There is bacon cooking.”

Tyler grinned and then left Bonnie alone so that she could get clean. It was better this way because he could ogle her curves unabashedly.

Bonnie finished showering and then stepped out of the shower. She wrapped a towel around her body and moved over to the sink.

He started washing up and asked, “Did you talk to Damon last night?”

Bonnie stopped brushing her teeth and looked at Tyler in the mirror. She asked, “Why do you ask?”

Tyler met her gaze. He lifted an eyebrow at her curious response. “I figured that Damon would be the one to tell you how everything went at Whitmore last night. Did something happen?”

“Oh! Well, it was a success. The hex bags worked like a charm. They found the Augustine Vampires, including Enzo, and killed them. They also collected as much of the group’s research as they could find.”

“Well, that’s good news. What else happened?”

Bonnie finished brushing her teeth and then leaned against the counter. “Nothing bad happened—not really. It was just some typical Salvatore brother drama.”

“About Elena?” he asked tentatively.

She shook her head. “Stefan was keeping a very big secret from Damon, for good reason. Anyway, Enzo learned about the secret somehow and let the cat out of the bag last night. At last count, Damon has snapped Stefan’s neck six times. He will probably keep doing that for the next couple of days.”

“You’re worried about him,” he commented.

Bonnie nodded and bit her lip. “Damon doesn’t do emotions well. He certainly isn’t good with guilt and regret.”

Tyler turned off the water and stepped out the shower. He stood on the bathmat and dried off with a towel. “Do you want to go see him today? Maybe we could get Damon to meet somewhere for lunch.”

“You are being incredibly understanding,” she replied. “Most guys would become insanely jealous.”

He chuckled. “You have convinced me that you are not interested in Damon romantically. Besides, he might as well be your uncle.”

“Ack! Don’t say that,” Bonnie said with distaste.

Tyler smirked and finished drying off. Afterwards, he pulled on his boxers and pants. “Bennett witches are irresistible, Bon. I should know, I happen to be mated to the best one of all.”

Bonnie walked across the room and leaned up to kiss him. She murmured, “Flattery.”

He smiled at her. “So, lunch with your homicidal bestie this afternoon?”

“I would like that but he might still be avoiding me,” she complained.

Tyler was surprised to learn that Damon was avoiding Bonnie. It was not an encouraging sign. “What is this secret that Stefan kept from Damon?”

“I can’t really tell you everything. Just know that Damon did something terrible once upon a time…”

He snorted, “Sounds about right.”

Bonnie glared up at Tyler.

He wrapped his arms around her. “I’m sorry.”

“Anyway, Damon did something terrible. Stefan decided to protect their niece by faking her death. I completely understand why he made that choice. I would have done the same thing. Damon was unhinged, homicidal, and selfish when the girl was born. He might have killed her just to hurt Stefan. Damon is smart enough to know that his brother made the right decision. He is just…being petulant.”

Tyler said, “Well, you are probably the only person capable of convincing Damon to pull his head out of his ass.”

“I hope so,” she murmured. “I should go get dressed. I didn’t bring any clothes in here with me.”

He nodded and said, “Go ahead. I am going to check my phone to see if Matt left any messages for me.”

Bonnie smiled at Tyler and then headed back to the bedroom for clean clothes.

Tyler pulled on his shirt and tossed his towel in the hamper. He walked into the living room and grabbed his phone from the coffee table. Then he sat on the couch and allowed his muscles to relax. His muscles were always tense after a shift. As he predicted, he had several messages from Matt. Tyler figured that he would have updated him on the situation. He trusted his friend would have a less biased assessment than Bonnie did. She had a definite soft spot for Damon. While Matt had details on what happened last night, he was regrettably in the dark about what occurred twenty years ago. Both Salvatore brothers were being uncharacteristically tight lipped about it. Tyler just hoped that it was not something that would come back to bite them in the ass.

Bonnie emerged from the bedroom wearing a purple hued paisley dress. She had taken the time to style her hair in a simple French braid.

He pulled Bonnie onto his lap before she could sit beside him. He asked, “How are you feeling?”

“I am okay.”

He slid his hand onto her stomach. “Have you felt anything since that afternoon in the woods?”

She smiled at Tyler and nodded. “I don’t really know how to explain it. It is like this constant thrum of magic. It is faint. I probably wouldn’t even notice it if the magic wasn’t so different from my own.”

“Is that normal?” he asked. His lips twitched into a genuine smile.

Bonnie’s expression sobered. “I don’t really know. Grams neglected to mention magic when she gave me the birds and the bees talk. There are some passages in Grandma Amelia’s grimoire but I skipped those. I didn’t think they would be relative to me…”

Tyler understood how hard it was to figure out the supernatural thing alone. “Maybe you could talk to Elodie.”

“Maybe.” She hedged, “Or I could just wait until we get Lucy back. It doesn’t feel like there is anything wrong.”

He should not have been surprised at Bonnie’s hesitation. It was obvious that she was not ready to trust Elodie just yet. He did not necessarily blame her for being cautious. However, part of him could not help feeling anxious.

Bonnie did not need the bond to detect Tyler’s wariness. She wished that there was a way to reassure him. If Bonnie truly thought there was cause for concern she would bite the bullet and call Abby. Suddenly, an idea came to her.

Tyler was confused when Bonnie abruptly stood up and then straddled him. He said, “Not that I am complaining, but…”

She laughed softly. “Get your mind of the gutter, Ty. I want to try something. I was thinking that I wish you could what I feel.”

“Okay. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I have telepathy and vampires have a version of that. I think if we work together…”

“Oh,” he said. “I have used that ability on humans enough to be good at it but getting into a witch’s mind will be more difficult--if not impossible.”

Bonnie said, “It is okay. I can make it easier for you by opening my mind to you. Do you want to try?”

“Yes,” he replied quickly. He moved his fingers up to Bonnie’s temples. Tyler closed his eyes and tried enter Bonnie’s mind.

She relaxed and tried to lower the walls that normally protected her mind against intrusion. Unfortunately, it was easier said than done. She moved her fingers to Tyler’s temples and focused on their bond.

Ten minutes later, Tyler was beginning to think this was a lost cause. Just as he was about to retreat from her mind he felt it. He did not need Bonnie to tell him that he had reached the right spot. Tyler felt a small burst of magic but it did not belong to Bonnie. He felt the spark tickling his fingertips. It felt happy, bright, and curious about his presence.

Bonnie was practically giddy. She had to remember to remain calm or she would sever the connection. The couple sat there for several minutes reveling in the experience.

Tyler slowly pulled back and kissed Bonnie passionately. Afterwards, he took her face in his hands. “That is the most amazing thing I have ever felt. Is that what you have been feeling?”

“Yes, but it was different, more active, with you here,” she explained.

“Yeah?”

She nodded happily.

Tyler kissed Bonnie again. Then he rested his forehead against hers.

They snapped apart when Mari started crying from the bedroom.

Bonnie blinked a few times before her brain connected with the sound. She said, “I should go check on her.”

Tyler nodded. “She has good timing. Breakfast should be ready soon.”

“Will you wait for us?” she asked.

“Yeah. Take your time. Breakfast doesn’t start without me,” he said as a matter of fact.

No one would eat before the Alpha joined them. It was a matter of respect and tradition. Some alphas liked to draw it out to show dominance. However, Tyler did not believe in playing such games. He knew how to be a leader without violence or intimidation. Richard and Klaus had a surprising number of things in common. Their most troubling attributes were ruling by fear and intimidation. Tyler never wanted to be that type of father or Alpha.

Lately, Tyler found himself wondering what type of father he would be. The thoughts began shortly after the night he bit Bonnie. Tyler certainly did not plan to father a child during Bonnie’s first heat cycle. However, he knew it was a possibility. The trouble was Tyler did not have any good role models. His father had always been busy. When Richard did spend time around the house he was overbearing and hypercritical.

Tyler could not even find good examples amongst his friends. Matt and Vicki’s father had been MIA for as long as Tyler could remember. Bonnie’s father had ceded his responsibilities as a father to Sheila after Abby left him. Bill Forbes had abandoned Caroline after he divorced her mother. Even Grayson Gilbert had devoted more time to his work than to his family. Miranda often attended school functions alone.

The good news was that several of the men in his pack were fathers. From outward appearances, they seemed to be good fathers. Tyler hoped that he could learn something useful from them. He could not stop thinking about feeling the baby’s magic. It made this all feel more real.

Chapter Text

Damon was twelve hours into a proper sulk when Bonnie asked him out to lunch. He had considered turning down the little witch’s offer. He knew that Bonnie would only need a couple hours to snap him out of this funk. She had an uncanny way of chipping away at his hardened exterior. Bonnie got underneath his skin in ways that few others ever had. However, he was not interested in snapping out of his sour mood. This week his life had been upended by several unexpected situations. Each incident had been more confidence shaking than the last. He just wanted a few days to binge drink and regroup. Damon did not think that he was asking for too much. Unfortunately, the judgy little witch did not share his belief.

The raven-haired vampire was oddly proud of Bonnie. She had come to know Damon well. She correctly predicted that he would use some lame excuse to avoid seeing her. Therefore, the manipulative little minx told him that she had suddenly fallen ill. Bonnie claimed that she was experiencing some inexplicable side effects as a newly minted hybrid. Immediately, Damon had abandoned his bed and the beautiful woman that was sharing it with him. He had zipped around his bedroom like a blur looking for clothes and shoes. Meanwhile, he promised to meet Bonnie at the address she rattled off to him.

Damon started to get suspicious when he pulled into the parking lot. A dive bar off the interstate was a strange choice for a serious conversation. However, Damon knew that the witch had duped him once he walked up to the table. There were four different brands of bourbon waiting for him.

Bonnie was in the process of feeding Mari. The infant complained loudly when it took too long for Bonnie to bring the spoon to her mouth.

“You’ve got some explaining to do, Witchy…”

Bonnie grinned when Damon arrived. She handed the spoon to Tyler and asked, “Can you feed her for a minute?”

“I’ve got this.”  The hybrid hedged and said, “Maybe…”

Mari fussed at him and banged her hands against the high chair.

Bonnie stood up and threw her arms around the vampire. She immediately detected Elodie’s scent all over him. She tensed for a second but then tightened her arms around him. She murmured, “Please, don’t be mad at me.”

He begrudgingly hugged the witch. “You lied to me. I have reached my limit of people lying to me.”

Tyler stifled a laugh by drinking his beer. Bonnie had the vampire wrapped around her finger but it was obviously mutual. He saw the way she lit up whenever Damon walked into a room. Frankly, he was proud of himself for being so nonchalant about their friendship. By all rights, he should have an overwhelming urge to disembowel Damon but he did not.

She pulled back from the hug but did not let Damon go. Bonnie looked up at him with mischievous green eyes. She swore, “I did not lie to you, Damon.”

“You don’t look sick to me, Witchy,” he said with an appraising look.

“I never said that I was sick, Damon. You assumed. You know that they say about assuming,” she chirped.

Tyler could not suppress his chuckle this time. “Damon is always an ass.”

Damon glared at him and said, “No one asked for your input, Wolf Boy.”

Bonnie rolled her eyes at both of them. She tugged on Damon’s arm to regain his attention.

He looked down at her. “I appreciate what you are trying to do, but…”

She said, “I made Tyler steal blood from a hospital for you. I also spent an obscene amount of money on your bourbon habit. The least you could do is stay for a few minutes. I have big news to tell you. Please?”

Damon looked at the ceiling for a moment. Then he said, “Fine…”

Bonnie grinned at Damon before returning to her seat. She took a travel mug out of Mari’s diaper bag and placed it next to the bourbon bottles. “For you…”

He sat down in the empty chair and opened the travel mug. He cracked the smallest smile when the aroma reached his nose. Bonnie had made sure that Tyler stole his favorite blood type. He decided it would be a shame to let good blood go to waste. “I have one condition.”

“Okay,” Bonnie said expectantly.

“I don’t want to talk about anything that happened last night,” he said firmly.

Damon had not spoken to his brother about the situation yet. He snapped Stefan’s neck every time the younger man tried to broach the subject. The act was satisfying but he knew that they would have to discuss it at some point. Their niece was still alive and it seemed that she would be sticking around for a bit. Damon had half-expected Stefan to whisk the girl to safety after he retired to his bedroom last night. However, the girl had offered a meek greeting before Damon left the boarding house. He had stumbled over a reply on his way out the door. Sarah obviously did not know the reason she had been put up for adoption.

She rolled her eyes. “Get over yourself, Damon. We are here to talk about me. I told you that I have been experiencing some side effects.”

Damon stopped mid gulp. He looked at Bonnie with some concern. “Are you okay, Bon-Bon?”

Tyler frowned when Mari snatched the spoon from his hand. “Hey…”

Mari giggled and splashed pureed sweet potatoes all over her face and bib.

She felt marginally bad for making Damon worry about her. However, it was better than letting him brood some more over Stefan’s decision. Damon brooding usually ended with him draining humans. She said, “Sure. It will just take some time for the side effects to fade.”

“How long?” he asked.

Tyler haphazardly cleaned the orange puree from Mari’s face. Meanwhile, he tried not to laugh at Damon.

“About nine months,” she replied.

Damon’s eyes narrowed as he realized what Bonnie meant. His head snapped in Tyler’s direction. The hybrid looked entirely too smug. Damon wondered how angry Bonnie would be if he snapped the teen’s neck.

Bonnie kicked Damon’s foot under the table as if she had read his mind. She motioned at him. “This is the part where you offer half-hearted congratulations.”

The vampire ran through about a dozen responses. Most of them would probably end with Bonnie frying his brain like a pork chop. Finally, he said, “You better hope that kid looks like you.”

“Don’t be a jerk, Damon.”

Tyler joked snidely, “That is like telling the sun not to shine.”

Bonnie laughed at Damon’s sour expression. She said, “Cheer up. I have already decided that you are going to be my baby’s godfather.”

The brown-eyed hybrid’s jaw dropped because they definitely had not discussed that. “What?!”

Damon gave a full-throated laugh at Tyler’s expense. The teen’s expression was truly priceless. He felt just a little of his irritation bleeding away.

Bonnie shrugged her shoulders and smiled at her mate innocently. “I figured Damon was the logical choice for godfather. I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for him.”

Tyler opened and closed his mouth a few times and then just scowled. He could see Bonnie’s point of view. On the other hand, Damon was an annoying bastard with some serious psychopathic tendencies. “It is still early, Bon. We don’t have to decide now.”

She flashed a smile that could only be described as cherubic. “You are right. I got ahead of myself. I am just so excited.”

He frowned because Bonnie’s face and words said one thing but the bond was telling him something completely different. Tyler eyed Bonnie carefully because it seemed as if they would have their first argument as a couple later.

Bonnie turned back to Damon. “Anyway, you are the first person that we’ve told. It would be nice if you kept it to yourself for now.”

“You haven’t told Blondie yet?” he asked with a smirk. “I thought the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was back together.”

She shrugged her shoulders a little. “I only figured it out a couple days ago. You were the first friend that I wanted to tell.”

“Well, obviously. I mean if there was a friend draft, I would go in the first round,” Damon boasted.

“Obviously,” Bonnie replied.

Damon looked between the young couple before he muttered, “Congratulations.”

“Your happiness for us is overwhelming,” Tyler heckled.

Bonnie said, “We’ll take it.”

She took the spoon from Tyler because he was doing a horrible job with feeding Mari. She smiled at him in thanks.

Tyler chuckled and kissed Bonnie’s temple. “Was I as bad at that as I think that I was?”

Bonnie nodded with a small smirk. “But it isn’t as if Mari made it easy on you. She is very demanding. You would think I didn’t feed her just a few hours ago.”

Damon thought back to the strange conversation he had with Elodie in the car yesterday. She had asked him if Bonnie and Tyler had been successful. He did not understand the question at the time. However, Elodie’s meaning had just become clear. Damon decided that he did not feel like thinking about it too much. The less he thought about Bonnie and Tyler having sex the better. Instead, he cracked open a bottle of bourbon and drank from it.

Bonnie asked, “How is it?”

“Not as good as my normal brand but not terrible,” he replied.

She shrugged and said, “Well, you have three more to try.”

Damon chuckled because he would probably drink all of them before it was all said and done. His supply was running low at the boarding house because of his encounter with Rebekah. The Original siblings found a way to ruin even life’s simplest pleasures.

“You might be able to come home soon,” Damon said.

Bonnie lifted an eyebrow in response. “What’s going on?”

“I had a run-in with Barbie Klaus last night. She seems desperate to undo whatever the hell Lucy did to her brother. Elodie thinks that Klaus can’t physically control his siblings which makes them more dangerous. She is worried that Rebekah or Elijah might do something to hurt Lucy. I am sure she will be calling you with a plan soon,” he replied.

She frowned because that was not encouraging. Bonnie had allowed herself to feel hopeful after talking to Lucy yesterday. She should have known it was too good to be true. Bonnie felt torn. She did not know if she should trust Lucy’s judgment. Perhaps their aunt was more unbiased and therefore more trustworthy in this situation.

Bonnie said, “I was reading over the notes in Lucy’s grimoire. I don’t understand all of the computations. They were more complex than anything I have ever seen. Some of it was in a language that I did not know off hand. But the description sounds like she hexed Klaus’ vampire side. He may be somewhat incapacitated.”

Damon took another gulp of bourbon and asked, “Do you know what the hex does?”

Tyler was interested to hear this, too. He could not imagine what hex would be so dangerous that Rebekah would be worried for her nearly indestructible brother.

“I am piecing this together from notes and Stefan’s account of what happened in the caves. I think the hex caused Klaus’ vampire side to rot. It should have stopped his heart and desiccated him. But Elijah pulled out the dagger before the hex finished the job,” she replied.

Tyler whistled lowly. He said, “Remind me to never piss off your cousin.”

The girl shook her head sadly. “That hex wasn’t something created out of anger. It reads of desperation. Lucy went to some really dark places to create it.”

Damon studied the witch beside him. Then he casually said, “That’s one way to handle the custody agreement.”

Bonnie tensed and then looked at Damon with wide eyes. “What did you just say?”

He shook his head. “Don’t look so nervous, Witchy. I am not going to hire a skywriter anytime soon. I assume that Lucy wants to keep this quiet.”

“How do you know?” Tyler asked with a frown.

“Stefan overheard the Originals talking. Elijah referred to the kid as Klaus’ daughter. You don’t need to worry. I am the only person that Stefan told. He plans to keep it that way.”

Bonnie relaxed somewhat. “Thank you, Damon. Lucy swore me to secrecy.”

He nodded. “I have enough problems without pissing off a bunch of Bennett witches.”

The witch opened her mouth ready to seize on that sentence.

Damon lifted an unimpressed eyebrow. “You remember our deal.”

Bonnie pouted at him and shoved the travel mug in his direction. “Drink your blood.”

He grinned and said, “Don’t mind if I do.”

The witch rested her chin on both her hands and smiled innocently at Damon. “So…you and Elodie, huh?”

Damon swallowed so quickly that he choked.

Tyler barked out a laugh. Watching Bonnie and Damon interact was comical. He had learned that earlier in the year during their cross-country road trip.

Bonnie’s innocent smile turned into a wolfish grin. She said, “You probably should have showered before coming to lunch.”

He snorted. “I thought you were dying!”

“How long have the two of you been a thing?” she asked curiously.

“We aren’t a thing,” he objected.

“Are you saying that my great-great-aunt is your one-night stand?” she asked with a disapproving edge to her voice.

Damon scowled at Bonnie because she had not left him any good choices.

Tyler volunteered, “Friends with benefits?”

She shot a glare at Tyler.

He held his hands up in surrender. “I was only trying to help.”

Damon rolled his eyes at the teen. He shifted his attention to Bonnie and said, “I am not sure what you want me to say here. I have been alive a long time. Elodie has been alive a long time, too. The two of us hooking up on occasion was sort of inevitable.”

“I am not sure that is what Emily had in mind when she asked you protect her bloodline,” she replied sarcastically.

“Well, your great-great-grandwitchy tricked me into believing Katherine was in the tomb. Defiling one of her descendants seems a small price for her deception,” he quipped.

Bonnie’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

Damon grunted in pain as blood vessels in his brain began to pop. He would have been mildly nostalgic about the whole ordeal if he was not momentarily blind from the pain. The psychic attack ended as quickly as it began. He glared at Bonnie. “You’re the one that started asking about my sex life, Judgy.”

She huffed. “I know but you won’t talk about the thing that I want you to talk about.”

“You don’t need to worry about that. I’ll snap’s Stefan neck another six to ten times and then we will be square.”

Bonnie’s expression melted into a smile. She said, “That’s all I wanted to hear.”

Tyler looked between the two of them in complete bemusement. Few people would think Damon’s way of dealing with his anger was reasonable.

Damon’s phone started to vibrate in his pocket. He pulled out the phone and scowled at the screen. “Speak of the devil.”

Bonnie perked up when she heard that it was Stefan.

The vampire answered the phone in a gruff voice. “What do you want?”

“We have a problem, Damon.”

He rolled his eyes in exasperation. “You are going to have to give me some details if you expect me to stop getting drunk. You know day drinking is my second favorite activity.”

“I am pretty sure that Sheriff Forbes has stumbled across a couple of Travelers,” he explained.

Damon put the phone on speaker and then put it on the table. “I am here with Bonnie and Tyler. What’s going on? Is Liz okay?”

“She is fine, Damon. Two of Liz’s deputies have been out sick for a couple days. There is just one problem, their wives showed up at the station this morning. They haven’t been home since the night we put the wards in place.”

Bonnie frowned. “If those deputies are being possessed by travelers they might be stranded outside the town’s boundaries.”

“That would definitely be in our favor,” Damon commented.

He was not the biggest fan of Mystic Falls. After all, the town’s residents did murder him for being in love with a vampire. However, Mystic Falls was still the only home he had ever known. All the other places Damon had ever lived were just way stations on his journey. He did not like the idea of his town being overrun by travelers. He was the only one that should be terrorizing the citizenry.

She said, “There is another option that isn’t as great.”

He huffed. “Of course there is…”

“The wards can’t expel travelers that are passengers in someone else’s body. However, it does cause the person’s eyes to turn black as oil. That isn’t the type of thing that you can hide from someone. It is possible that our missing deputies are hiding out somewhere in Mystic Falls.”

Damon took another gulp of his bourbon. On the bright side, he was going to get to kill some travelers. The downside was that he had to stop drinking. Lucy never had the chance to cast the spell that would protect them from possession. He would have to be mostly sober and lucid while facing the travelers.

Tyler said, “It can’t be a coincidence that two travelers decided to possess sheriff’s deputies. We should probably check on other important Mystic Falls’ residents.”

Stefan said, “Caroline and I had the same idea. Liz is getting city hall’s directory for us. We are going to make sure no one else has been suspiciously absent from work.”

“I don’t know if you should do that without the knife, Stefan. If you happen to find travelers, you will have to kill them before they can possess you or worse. Unfortunately, you will just be killing the human vessel because the traveler will return to his or her own body,” Bonnie explained.

Damon opined, “Witchy is right. Our numbers are too few and reinforcements haven’t arrived yet. We can’t afford to lose anyone to the travelers. See what you can find out by using the phone.”

Stefan conceded, “Caroline and I will head back to the boarding house.”

“Take Liz with you,” Damon added.

Bonnie said, “In the meantime, I am going to see if Aunt Elodie can help me perform the spell to protect us from the travelers. I have the spell because it is in Lucy’s grimoire. But I will need some ingredients that I don’t have on hand.”

Stefan asked, “Does this mean that you are coming back to Mystic Falls?”

The green-eyed girl frowned because that was a good question. She glanced at Mari and said, “I don’t know yet. I need to speak with my aunt first.”

“I’ll call you back when I have an update,” Damon said and then hung up.

“That was rude,” Bonnie chided.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I am sure my brother’s delicate sensibilities will survive.”


 

Jeremy did not enjoy being ordered around by Damon. Unfortunately, he could not behave petulantly when there could be a real threat lurking within the town’s borders. It seemed obvious now that they should have been looking for suspicious activities all along. Nevertheless, taking down the Augustine Group first still felt like the right decision. Jeremy felt even surer of that after the horror show he witnessed last night. The simple truth was that they did not have any good choices when enemies were attacking from all sides. Damon had even suggested that the Augustine Group’s sudden arrival had been a red herring arranged by the travelers.  

After Jeremy finished making the bed in Liz’s guest room, he pulled on his jacket. He walked into the living room to tell Elena that he was leaving. However, she did not even acknowledge his arrival. Jeremy realized that Elena was staring at her phone again. She had been obsessed with her social media accounts since yesterday. Jeremy thought it was somewhat neurotic but he understood it was the only reliable account of Katherine’s activities while masquerading as Elena. The young hunter hid it well but he felt even more guilt than Bonnie and Caroline did. He had spent countless hours with Katherine and never once suspected the truth.

“Elena…”

The vampire’s head snapped in her brother’s direction. She had only meant to skim her Instagram account. The plan changed when she realized that Katherine had posted several hundred pictures. Elena found herself somewhere between bewildered and jealous of the other doppelganger. Katherine had seemingly made the most of her stint as a college student. She had actually pledged a freaking sorority. Elena had always wanted to join a sorority but she gave up that dream after becoming a vampire. She had told herself that there were just some college experiences that were closed for her. However, the most painful aspect was seeing all the pictures of Katherine and Jeremy together.

Elena had also used social media to catch up on what her friends had been doing. The fact that no one had really missed her stung. She tried to remember that Katherine had pushed everyone away. It made sense in a way. The best way to avoid detection would be to break contact with people that would notice inconsistent behavior.

She noticed that Jeremy was wearing a jacket. “Hey, Jer. Where are you headed?”

“I need to go over to Nadia’s apartment. I am on doppelganger babysitting duty because she is needed here,” he explained.

She tried not to feel hurt that he was rushing off to look after Katherine. Elena said, “Well, let me get a few things and I will come with you.”

Jeremy made a pained expression. “I don’t think that would be a good idea. Katherine is just going to make you angry. But you won’t be alone here for long. Matt is on his way over to keep you company.”

Elena said, “I don’t care about Katherine. I just want an opportunity to catch up with you, Jer. We really haven’t had time to talk since I came back.”

He walked around the couch and hugged his sister. “I know and I am sorry. Everything has been crazy but I want to catch you up on my life. We will make time for that, Lena. I promise. It just can’t be right now. The travelers can’t get their hands on Katherine or Tom. We also can’t have Klaus finding out about Tom. He is the only human doppelganger left as far as we know.”

Elena knew that Jeremy was right but it did little to help the ache in her chest. She nodded sadly. “Okay.”

Jeremy hugged her again. “You should be safe until Matt gets here. Just don’t open the door without looking out the peephole first. Damon said that anyone being possessed by a traveler will have black eyes because of the ward Bonnie and her cousin placed on the town.”

“You talked to Damon?” she asked curiously.

He nodded. “Yeah. He’s the one that told me to head over to Nadia’s apartment. She won’t leave her mom and Tom unprotected. Damon thinks that we could use the help of a 500-year-old vampire. Besides, she knows more about travelers than any of us do.”

Elena had been hoping that Damon would talk to her last night. However, he seemed preoccupied by something that Stefan did. She was not really clear on the details because no one told her anything. She was back in her own body but she still felt adrift.

Jeremy could see that Elena was conflicted but he really needed to go. He said, “On second thought, you should come with me. It makes more sense for Matt to help everyone else search for travelers. They are going to need all the help they can get. And Nadia kinda likes him.”

“Are you sure?” she asked tentatively.

He smiled at his sister and patted his messenger bag. “Sure. I’ll just inject Katherine with vervain if she becomes too annoying.”

Elena beamed in response. “I’ll be ready in a sec.”

Jeremy said, “I’ll be waiting outside in the truck.”

She nodded and then blurred out of the room.

Jeremy walked outside and climbed into the truck. He sent a group message to let everyone know that Elena would be with him. He was sure that there would be some objections but she was his sister. Jeremy got to decide how to handle reintegrating her into the real world.

Elena joined him less than a minute later. She had raced around the house at full speed changing clothes and getting a snack for the road. She was less likely to be murderous if she was not hungry. She smiled at Jeremy. “Ready…”

Jeremy chuckled and started the truck. As he drove away from the Forbes’ home he asked, “Did you sleep at all last night?”

She nodded. “I slept for a few hours. I was expecting Caroline to wake me when she came home.”

He winced in sympathy. “She ended up staying the night at the boarding house.”

“With Stefan,” Elena said as if she was still trying to wrap her mind around it.

“Yeah.”

“And Bonnie is dating Tyler.”

Jeremy’s entire body went rigid. “Yeah.”

“She told me that the two of you broke up. What happened, Jer? I know how much you love Bon.”

He shook his head. “I really don’t want to talk about this, Elena. I made some mistakes…”

“What kind of mistakes?” she asked with a sinking feeling.

Jeremy could already hear the judgment in his sister’s voice. He argued, “She was different after coming back from the Other Side. You’ll see what I mean when you spend more time together.”

Elena frowned because that was less of an explanation and more of an excuse. “Jer…”

He glanced at his sister and then looked back at the road. He knew that Elena would learn the truth eventually. Bonnie might do him the courtesy of keeping it a secret. However, Caroline had been vocal in her disapproval after everything came to light. He frowned because come to think of it, Tyler had expressed his disapproval before Bonnie learned the truth. On several occasions, he had told Jeremy to break up with Bonnie rather than cheating on her.  Sometimes Jeremy wished that he had taken Tyler’s advice but now he wondered if it had been self-serving.

“I started dating this girl in my grade,” he confessed.

“How could you do that to Bonnie a second time?” she asked with a scowl.

“You don’t need to tell me that I was a jerk, Lena. I know. I made a mistake. If I could take it back I would. I just felt so lost. I still do sometimes.”

She said, “I wasn’t here. I don’t know what happened between you and Bonnie. I don’t know what you were going through at the time. I’m sorry.”

Jeremy frowned. “You don’t have to apologize to me. It isn’t your fault that you weren’t here.”

“No, but I am starting to realize I wasn’t a very good sister to you even before then.”

“That’s not true,” he said quietly. “Other stuff just got in the way.”

Elena felt as if she had been punched in the stomach but he was right. Everything else got in the way of Elena looking out for her brother. “I am going to do better,” she promised.

“You don’t have to…”

“But I want to, Jeremy. I could have lost your forever.”