Elijah walked around a tree, trailing his hand over the bark as he read the message from Rebekah. His eyes flickered to the left where a stagnant swamp stretched out farther than his eyes could see in the weak light from the moon. At its current place in the cycle he should have been able to see everything, but wispy clouds blew overhead casting the world around in deep shadows.
He pressed the phone to his ear waiting for the call to connect.
Lake des Allemands stretched out on one side, but aside from the occasional hoot of an owl all was silent.
"That was fast."
"Good evening Rebekah," he chuckled, moving along a narrow path.
"Kol and I split up a few minutes ago at Houma. How long would it take you to get to the Bayou?"
"I'm already here." He followed the path around the lake. A squirrel scampered up a tree, chittering angrily at him for daring to invade its home.
"You and Nik split to look and your first thought was the Bayou?"
He could see the way her brows rose up in his mind. "It was something Elena said, about definitely believing Niklaus now."
"So you already worked out there was a werewolf with her."
"I worked out there was a chance," he cocked his head to the right. In the distance, several miles away he made out the faint strains of music, but he remained where he was, unwilling to put faith in the reliability of cell service. "However it was highly plausible that she would have remained in the city, choosing to hide in plain sight."
"That chance is gone now."
"Are we certain of the fact?" His fingers curled around the branch.
"Positive; the only way she could be cloaked is if someone did the spell out here, and then the wolf pretty much confirmed that she is somewhere in the Bayou. Kol is moving down towards Terrebonne Bay, and I was just about to move towards Lake des Allemends."
"Move towards Palourde instead," he tapped the branch. "I'm already up here. What of Niklaus?"
"He knew of a few wolf packs who kept houses further out, so he was gonna start there and work his way back to the city. If I head west I should meet him somewhere in the middle, and we'll probably still miss… three mil…"
"Rebekah?" He checked his screen as the call disconnected.
"Hello? Elijah?" Rebekah paused to check her phone. Mud coated the bottom of her heels as her weight settled in place. She cursed and took off at a run, coming to a sudden stop when she reached an empty camp site.
She picked up her foot, resting her ankle on her knee to inspect the irreversible damage.
"Of all the days to wear suede," she shook her head, lowering her foot back to the ground.
There was no sound coming from any of the tents, and the whole place stank of werewolf. She flipped open a couple of tents just to ensure what her ears and nose had already confirmed and to be certain that there were no signs of Elena.
As she straightened from the last tent a deep growl rumbled from behind. She spun slowly, letting her eyes follow her ears to a pair of glowing yellow eyes.
The wind shifted, carrying the wolf's scent to her sensitive nose as the clouds shifted, bathing the beast in weak light. The hackles rose up when she took a step towards it.
She retreated to her original position, and it calmed as much as a wolf could, but it was still on high alert.
"Alright," she put her hands on her hips, "what's the deal? Am I encroaching on pack territory?" She moved to the left and it shifted with her.
Rebekah tried to listen beyond the site, but the wolf was growling and there was a deceptively intelligent gleam in those glowing eyes.
It was the strangest of sensations: the further she read the less she saw the words on the page. Images flowed through her mind, placing her in the starring role of a movie she had only been vaguely aware existed.
She knew she was a decent writer – she had always thought she would be one someday – but she wasn't that good. Not yet, anyway.
It had to be her subconscious mind at work; releasing her memories with every flipped page.
"You were helping someone who wanted to kill her!" Davina shifted on her bed, glaring at Marcel.
"The way he phrased the information made it sound like he was the one saving her, D," he held out his hands. "I'm not perfect. I made a mistake. Luckily I realized it before he got any useful information."
"She could have gotten hurt," her arms crossed tightly over her torso. The bobby pin cut into her palm. "She's scared and lost and missing a huge chunk of her memory, and listening to you could have gotten her killed."
Caroline cleared her throat, drawing their eyes to where she still stood on the other side of the threshold.
"I don't mean to interrupt, because watching you light into a vampire is beyond amusing," she gestured between Davina and Marcel, "but how exactly did you know about Elena's memory."
Davina pressed her lips together, concentrating on the metal in her hand. She uncurled one finger first and then another until they could see it.
"I may have slipped into her head," she mumbled, using her free hand to twist her hair around her fingers. "I helped her with a nightmare, and then we talked. She's nice."
Bonnie perched on the edge of the bed, keeping her voice as level as possible. "Did she tell you where she was?"
"She didn't want Alistair to torture the information out of me," she shook her head.
"Alistair's not gonna hurt her anymore," Marcel swore. "He's seen his last sunrise."
Davina slowly reached for the map, unfolding the paper over the white quilt. She frowned down at the page for a moment, fingering the edges as she did.
"I'm not gonna help…"
She held out her hand, cutting Marcel off. "I'm not gonna help until I know this Alistair is taken care of," she clarified.
"I promise you he is."
"I wanna see it for myself."
"D…" Marcel trailed off as her jaw set. He sighed, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. "Fine," he moved to her closet, yanking grey wool from a hanger, "but you're covering up."
Davina pushed her arms into the sleeves, tucked Elena's pin in her pocket and pulled the hood up over her head.
"No," he pulled her hood lower over her forehead, "but it'll have to do."
Outrunning a single werewolf was easy. Outrunning two was child's play. Outrunning three was tricky, but outrunning four was impossible.
Especially when the fourth cut off her escape followed by two more.
She paused to route another path, spinning in a slow circle as she was surrounded.
Marcel was going to get another piece of her mind. Really, who went around inverting the werewolf curse? Sure, it freed the French Quarter of one of the species vying for control, but at what cost?
Wolves were deadly enough on the one night. Giving them toxicity for all but a few hours a month was the stupidest idea she had ever heard of.
"Don't suppose you'd respond well to 'good doggy'?" She looked from one wolf to another. In the distance came the pop of fire.
Her eyes flicked in the direction, catching only a glimpse of orange before dark fur darted towards her.
She tossed the first wolf off, bowling its body into another. The pair of them crashed into a tree and were still.
For a moment silence reined in her little clearing, punctuated only by the laboured sound of injured animals. They would be good as new by midday, but for the moment they could be counted out of any fight.
The remaining four circled, closing in on silent paws.
"Good doggies?" She held out her hands.
Her journal sat closed on her lap, lighter now as if the memories she had read once weighed down the pages.
Slow spinning started in her abdomen – whether a memory or an actual event, she didn't know – and she placed her hand there.
"Don't suppose you know what to do now?" Her question was met by silence and a quick flip. "Didn't think so. That's alright, though. You're not supposed to have answers yet."
Low growls traveled up the stairs and through the windows, making the glass tremble.
"Don't worry," she wasn't sure if she was speaking to the baby or herself, "we're okay…"
The room fell away into darkness.
Elena's eyelids fluttered open. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dark room illuminated by a soft orange glow.
She sat up, taking in her surroundings by the light of the kerosene lamp while rubbing her eyes. It took a moment for the scrambled fragments of her dream to come into focus.
"What is that?"
She twisted to see Kaleb rubbing a crick from his neck and glanced to the wooden table at his side.
"Did you sleep in that chair?" She stifled a yawn. The rumbling sound continued outside.
"Guess I nodded off," he shrugged. "You okay? You had some kind of nightmare."
"I'm fine," she blinked, stretching her shoulders. "Someone helped me out."
"Subconscious manifest some kind of hero for you?"
"More like a witch stepped into my head."
"Your witch friend?" He guessed, glancing toward the screen door.
Elena swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her foot nudged a pair of boots that Eve had left her before she fell asleep. She pulled on the socks and slipped her feet into the shoes, tightening the laces to make up for the size difference.
"Complete stranger actually," she got to her feet. "A girl named Davina."
Kaleb froze, watching as she shuffled toward the door and smoothed down the mess that was her hair.
"She was nice. She helped me find my…" she trailed off as the images settled, slotting themselves in with her memories.
"You met Davina in your dreams?" Kaleb prompted. "Davina Claire?"
"Yeah," Elena pulled open the screen door, stepping out onto the porch. She wrapped her fingers around a post and looked out over the water, remembering headlights flickering in the dark.
A yelp drew her attention towards the woods. It was followed by a growl, a shriek and a familiar voice swearing a familiar expletive.
She jumped off the deck, pulling her feet free of the squelching mud and running past the trees.
"Elena?" Kaleb's cry came from behind, and she heard him running to catch up but she didn't stop. She kept going, startling a couple of wolves who were staring off into the woods.
One of them nipped at her leggings. The material tore but she kept going, followed now by a warlock and two wolves. She had to slow when she came under the canopy of trees and pay closer attention to where she placed her feet, affording Kaleb and her self-appointed bodyguards to catch up.
"Have you lost it?" He grabbed her sleeve.
"What are you doing, darlin'?" Jackson stepped out from behind a darkened tree.
"I know that voice," she pulled her arm free from Kaleb.
"One of the vampires chasing you?" Jackson guessed. "She won't get close. The packs taking care of her."
"Oh no," she shook her head, moving towards the sound of a fight. "They need to stop. She'll kill them all."
"Pretty sure they'll be the ones killin' her, but alright."
Jackson left her with Kaleb and the wolves, racing through the trees.
Rebekah snarled, a sound she recognized and hated, while throwing wolf after wolf away. Two of them laid dead at her feet – their toxic venom running up her arms. She could feel the poison starting to work, aided by the adrenaline of the fight, and stumbled on her feet.
Her knees buckled as a wolf pounced. She rolled onto her back, raising her hands in defence to hold the grey beast back.
A sharp whistle broke the night and the world retreated to the low rumble coming from the wolf. Its belly pressed her down into the soft ground as its pack backed away.
She stared at the razor sharp fangs. The powerful jaws hung suspended above nose. It would have taken nothing for it to rip into her throat; she wouldn't put up much of a fight. She doubted she could have aimed a decent punch at the moment.
The wolf grumbled, and then whined when the voice came again. The third time the name was said he backed off, slinking away from Rebekah's sprawled body.
She stared up through the canopy of trees to a sky streaked through with the first light of dawn before sitting up on her elbows and seeking the man who had spoken.
She caught his eyes, glaring as much as the fever would allow.
"Your mutts need to learn some manners."
"I'm sure he'd love to apologize, but sadly you won't be around in a month to hear it."
"These bites won't kill me," she got to her feet, staggering on her heels. Her bright eyes cut to the left as a woman stepped between two trees.
His eyes flashed gold, staring down the cat through the trees. Three hours of meticulous searching and the only sign of life was the bobcat. It hissed, but ultimately decided he wasn't worth the fight for territory and scampered off.
"How exactly did you make friends with a werewolf?" Rebekah eased herself down on the edge of the dock. "You've been gone less than two days and managed to gain an entire pack of wolves as allies."
Elena caught a glimpse of a bite through a rip in her sleeve.
"I just asked for help," she crossed her arms.
"Seriously?" Her brows rose.
"Seriously," Jackson perched on a chair. The dying embers from the fire painted his skin in light and shadow.
"Al…" Elena's tongue tripped over the name. "He said he wanted to make sure it was true before he killed me," her fingers danced over her stomach. "He… I don't understand why…"
"What do you mean?" She rolled her neck back, longing for a hot shower to remove every last inch of grime.
"Jeremy, Ric, Jen… Jenna," her voice broke on a sob. She clamped her hand over her mouth.
"She's okay." Rebekah cracked open one eye.
"What?" Elena blinked.
"Your aunt," she sat up, hesitating before placing her hand on Elena's shoulder. "She's alright. She had Nik's blood in her system."
"She's alright?" Her eyes gleamed.
"She wanted to come down here with us, but since she's still new we thought it would be better if she stayed in Mystic Falls. Stefan's keeping an eye on her – you know, make sure she doesn't take a chunk out of her boyfriend or your brother."
"But she's okay?"
"She's okay." Rebekah shivered. Gooseflesh rose on her arms, and the bites burned setting her skin on fire creating an unpleasant sensation of hot and cold everywhere. She looked to where her hand was still on the brunette's shoulder. "I carried her, your brother and Alaric into the house before anyone could see them."
"You carried them inside?" Elena turned to face her, frown deepening when she nodded. "What were you doing at my house?"
"I…" she lowered her hand to the deck, holding the edge until her knuckles turned white. "I was gonna wait on your porch," she cleared her throat, biting down on her cheek. "I wanted to talk."
"You wanted to talk to me?" She pointed, leveling her finger over her heart.
Rebekah's eyes flickered up, tracking Jackson as he moved around the yard talking quietly with Kaleb.
"My brother wasn't speaking to me," she sighed. "And I thought… I don't know what I thought." Her eyes flickered to Jackson again, tracing his features for any sign of familiarity.
"Nik's talking to me now, but only because he needed all of us to help," she pressed her heel down, thoroughly coating the shoe in mud. "Tomorrow he'll go back to giving me the cold shoulder, and it will be decades before I can talk to you again… if that, so…"
She lapsed into silence, and Elena took a moment to study her face. The fever left a thin sheen of sweat across her brow, but her eyes were still clear.
"Rebekah?" She twisted her shirt around her fingers, revealing a tiny sliver of skin.
"I shouldn't have doused you in gasoline," she blurted.
Elena's eyes widened and mouth popped open. "Was that supposed to be an apology?"
"Isn't that what I just said?" Rebekah snapped.
She felt the corner of her mouth lift up and bit down hard; Rebekah shared more with her brother than colouring.
"You'll understand my confusion," she tilted her head, "since I didn't actually hear the words 'Elena, I'm sorry'."
Rebekah closed her eyes and worked her jaw.
"I'm not good at this, Elena," she shook her head. "I've never… I don't…"
"Just say the words," she leaned closer. "If Klaus can apologize I'm sure you can."
"Nik?" She scoffed. "He's never acknowledged remorse in his life."
"Do you think I have so little self-respect that I'd repeatedly sleep with a man incapable of showing even the slightest level of remorse for draining me dry?" She lifted an eyebrow. Her right hand curved under the swell of her stomach.
Rebekah chewed over her words for a moment and watched the water ripple along the lake shore for a moment before she spoke, panting slightly around the words that were becoming harder to get out.
"You didn't do anything. You were as much a victim as the rest of us, and I stalked you through the caves and would have set you on fire," she met Elena's eyes, holding her gaze through the pressure building in her head. "I'm sorry, and… and I swear I will never do that again."
"Really?" Her brows lowered.
"Really," she sighed. "Whether Nik ever chooses to acknowledge me again or not you are family now."
"I'm not sure I want to be family." She chewed her bottom lip. "I've seen your family fall apart. Your mother wants you all dead, your oldest brother won't speak to any of you. Klaus kept you all in coffins, and Kol told me how he ended up daggered most of the time; the roles you and Elijah played in it. I don't want you to see me as someone you're tethered to, and you don't kill out of obligation."
"Then what do you want if you don't want to be family?" Her shoulders slumped. The rough deck was looking more and more appealing.
"How about friends?"
Rebekah's head snapped up so fast she was surprised the bone didn't crack. She swayed slightly and took shallow breaths.
"You'd… you'd be my friend?" Her heart stuttered. "I'm not very good at 'friends' Elena."
"Well," she leaned back on her palms, "saying sorry when you do something wrong, and traipsing through a swamp in the middle of the night are good starts."
"Sounds like you're getting more out of this friendship than I am," she laughed. The sound quickly turned into a wet hacking sound.
"Where's Klaus?" Elena rubbed between her shoulder blades as she leaned forward.
Rebekah wheezed, wrapping her arms around her stomach. She shook her head quickly. "He was further out, working his way towards me, but I don't know where he is."
Elena picked up Rebekah's discarded cell phone, holding it up in search of non-existent service.
"I've got a theory," she put down the phone. Rebekah turned bright eyes on her and nodded. "Alistair used Jackson to prove that Klaus is her dad," she saw Rebekah glance at her stomach. "If she can make a hybrid, maybe she can do the other things her dad can."
Elena pushed up the sleeve of Klaus' shirt and held out her wrist.
"Come on," she waved her arm. "Isn't it better to know what she can do?"
"If it doesn't work and I lost control then you could get hurt."
"Okay," Elena lowered her arm and stood up, calling across the yard. "Kaleb?"
"Yeah?" He paused with Jackson, both of them turning around to look at them.
She wondered if Jackson had been listening in, but then decided he hadn't – at least not intentionally.
"Have you got enough power to give a vampire an aneurysm?"
"Shouldn't be too hard," he smirked.
"There," Elena held out her hand again. "If it doesn't work Kaleb can subdue you and I'll run inside."
She saw the apprehension flicker through Rebekah's blue eyes as she struggled to regain her slipping control. She held her breath as her wrist was gently grasped, wincing as teeth sunk into her skin.
Caroline's foot tapped impatiently against the sidewalk as she waited for the call to connect.
"Are you sure they've got service out there?" Bonnie craned her neck around. Her cell phone forwarded directly to Rebekah's voicemail.
"One of them has to," she stabbed the screen. Her fingers typed in the next number, pausing when the car came around the corner. "Woah."
"What exactly does Marcel do?" Bonnie scrutinized the white sports car.
"A little of everything." Davina tightened her sweater, using the hood to hide her face as the sun rose.
Caroline returned her attention back to the phone, glancing at the young witch. "What's with the Grim Reaper impression?"
"There are some not nice people looking for me," she murmured. "Marcel's been hiding me from them."
"What do they want?" She counted the rings, hopeful when she wasn't instantly sent to voicemail.
"To slit my throat for a blood sacrifice," she held her elbows.
"What is it with witches and murder?" Caroline murmured.
"Oh shit," she straightened her shoulders. "Elena's fine."
"She's with you?"
Caroline almost hated to say no at the sound of relief in Klaus' voice, but lying never worked out well. "She's not, but the 'witches and murder' was part of another conversation. The locator spell put her west side of Lake Verret. You know it?"
"I'm about twenty miles north of it."