warning: there's a dubcon dream towards the end.
Sometimes silence has a weight to it, a heavy anticipation like something holding its breath, waiting to explode. I thought his silence would be a relief but it's the opposite. My heart pounds in my ears but I don't know if it's to a beat of fear or triumph. He is so mad he can't even speak. He does not drop his eyes, does not blink and in that breathless weight I feel like if I say anything he'll strike. I've won, I've stopped him but at the cost of my freedom and now possibly my life.
Look away first, look away...my eyes drill into his as his chest rises and falls and I see the clear attempt to control himself. His head nods a little and the movement breaks that eerie stillness. He is so close I can feel the warmth of his breath against my lips, the scent of the spearmint gum he had been chewing before we got here. His nostrils flare, another exhale of air and the corner of his lips quirk before he spins around and begins picking up the stacks of CDs covering the cave floor.
I release a long, silent breath, arms crossing over my chest. It feels like a cord has snapped between us. My top is stiff with dried blood and I swallow down a wave of revulsion, the wound below my breast throbbing. He stuffs the plastic stacks into his rucksack and zips the bag closed. Before he had been unable to drop my gaze, now he acts like I'm not even there.
Good. Ignore me, let me go unharmed...please.
I've stranded myself willingly on a planet with a pissed off sociopath and I know he could make me suffer for it and likely will...but his need to escape, to survive, outweighs his need for revenge. Right?
He needs me, magic or no magic…A Bennett is his only way out. Me.
Kai looks up once, slinging the bag over his shoulder. His gaze is closed off, granite hard and I raise an eyebrow at him. Still here asshole? That heavy look glimmers and he gives me a tight little smile. I know it's a trick, he's beyond pissed.
He could kill me, he could wait to attack because he was lying about one thing. He already has the patience of Job...I should have run the moment his back was turned.
"After you," he says politely, pointing at a gap in the cavern wall. The other way out. He has forgotten his pager and as he swoops down to pick it up I notice something else he has forgotten. The ascendant. It glints a few paces from my foot, forgotten.
It's useless, I think but as he straightens I pick it up and slot it into the back pocket of my jeans. The movement draws his eye so I fiddle with the sweatshirt tied around my waist, putting it on.
"I'm not going anywhere with you," I say evenly and the smirk on his face drops like a stone.
"Yeah you made that clear. Move, now," he orders, all that glib charm and boyish humour gone. I want to answer back, the compulsion is insane because he could hurt me but the tight lipped look on his face sends a thrill of sick pleasure through me. It's something to focus on rather than the spiralling feeling that's starting to form inside. Panic. I don't know where this thrill comes from and I don't particularly want to examine it but when I walk past him I maintain eye contact, chin high and mouth sneering. I hear a puff of laughter behind me, a noise half amazement, half exasperation.
It's the only thing he says until we reach the outskirts of the woods and every step feels like a death march. I keep my chin up and don't look back. Damon's car glints in the sunshine and Kai bends down to peer at his reflection, grimacing as he peels the plaster off his neck. A faint pink scar mars his skin but soon even that will be gone. I don't think I'm so lucky as I gingerly touch the wound on my torso. It is healing but I think I will have a scar there for the rest of my life. However long that will prove to be…
The ascendant rests against my butt and I had to stop myself touching it as we walked through the woods, making sure it was still there. I have no magic, I sent it out of this world but that does not mean I can't find more. All I need is one tiny magical object and I'm free.
"Is this a record for you?" I ask as he places his bag in the backseat. He looks at me, impassive. "The longest you've gone without speaking? I haven't known you that long but I'm guessing it must hurt."
His jaw clenches, his lips curling but he says nothing. I shouldn't do this but his silence unnerves more than any threat. What is he thinking? He's probably going through ways to torture me but can't decide which fate is the most suitable. As I ponder this I realise he's been staring at me, his gaze trailing slowly up and down my body and I stiffen. No. I get my hands up in time to push against his chest but he's faster. I hit the car as he pushes with his body, his hip digging into mine before his hands grope at the front of my pants.
"Get off me!" I shove him but he only pushes me back, my butt bouncing off the passenger door and the relic hidden in my pocket makes a dull metallic thud at the impact. My eyes snap to his, see the spark of fury there and gasp as he tugs me forwards, holding me against his body as he slides his hands around the curve of my ass, fishing out the ascendant with an ah-ha.
"There it is," he says, withdrawing his hands and then his body from against mine. I push him away but he moves back, grinning as he holds up the ascendant. "I can't believe I almost forget this. Thanks for picking it up," he adds, flashing a smile.
"Oh no problem," I drop my sarcastic smile and glare at him. "If you ever touch me like that again the next time I shove a pen in you it won't be your neck."
He smiles, utterly unconcerned. "Then don't steal my shit."
"Technically that thing belongs to both of us."
"Gonna fight me for it?" he asks, offering the relic. "Go on, take it, take it," he waves it at me as I cross my arms. He grins, his usual glee back, as he slides it into his pocket. I narrow my eyes.
"Why are you so happy? I stranded you here, both of us."
"Oh I'm not one to hold onto grudges."
"Bullshit. You've spent all your time here wanting to get back at your coven."
He inclines his head and shrugs. "That was different...Despite your attempt to drive me crazy I'm not giving up." Kai opens the passenger door and stares at me expectantly.
"You still think there's hope?"
"You do, that's why you hid the ascendant. You still think there's a way out of here. You're not leaving my sight until out tell me what that is. There's no way you would have trapped yourself here with no means of escape. You're selfless Bonnie, you're not stupid."
He says all this with a friendly smile. My stomach tightens and loosens, my earlier bravery fading away. I could lie but either way he will use whatever method works to get what he wants. That smile does nothing to mask what I now know is beneath and I have no strength to put up a fight.
"...I sent Miss Cuddles out of this world, so my magic is gone...but you said this is an exact replica of the world on this day in 1994. People are not copied but objects are, right? There is magic here, talismans and relics that I can use."
"And you planned on finding one and getting out," Kai answers and then sighs. His body slumps and he looks genuinely miserable but more than that. Exhausted. He rubs at his eyes, looking up at the sky before he slams the door closed. "Fuck!"
I jump, backing away. "What?"
"Do you really think there is anything with magic left in this world? I've been here almost nineteen years Bonnie. I've trekked through jungles, dug in deserts and searched through countless covens. I've travelled overseas and between countries to find magic and I did. Relics, talismans, knock off jewellery. Light and dark. It's all gone."
"Sapped it dry fifteen years ago," he answers tiredly and my stomach twists painfully. I shake my head.
"Why didn't you store it away?"
"Because I didn't know I could!" he snaps back and then blinks. "If I could hide it away for safekeeping…I would have," he gazes at his reflection, lost in thought as a dreamy smile blooms gently over his face. He giggles suddenly in amazement and it sends a shudder up my back. "That sneaky little…bitch."
"Hmm?" he looks back at me, as if waking from a dream and then grins. His mood changes give me whiplash. "Sorry, miles away. Come on Bonnie. I bet you're hungry right?" he asks, opening the door again as if the last twenty minutes never happened. I shuffle on my feet, looking at the path through the woods. If I run would he chase me?
He would just for kicks. Except he'd let me think I'm free and then give chase. He'd do that for the fun of it...
"I'm tired," I answer, not meaning to and he nods in apparent sympathy. I get into the car as he slides in behind the steering wheel. He starts the ignition, turning to me.
"I'll take you home," he offers with surprising gentleness and I don't answer. Leaning my forehead against the cool glass Kai drives us out of the woods and back into Mystic Falls.
Home turns out to be the literal thing. He has driven us to my grandmother's house.
"How do you know about this place?"
"Where do you think I've been living for the last five years?"
My mouth falls open, offence boiling in the pit of my stomach but he exits the car before I can say anything. I had come to this house when I was first trapped, to get my grandmother's spellbook. Had he been watching? Had he seen me cry as I sat on Gram's bed, looking at her photographs? I had not noticed anything off about the house, that someone else had been living there. That is clearly down to the fact that the whole world feels like everyone has just disappeared moments before, beds unmade and hot cars waiting at traffic lights.
These thoughts whirling around my head I follow him in. The next hour is utterly surreal as I watch him move around the kitchen with clear familiarity, knowing what cupboard to go to for pots, what draw holds matches and how to work the finicky gas cooker.
"You've really spent years living here? Please tell me you haven't been sleeping in Gram's room?"
"Of course not, that would be weird. I sleep in your mom's instead," he says with a quick grin and I groan, resting my forehead against my hand.
"Because I knew a Bennett witch was the key to getting out and the only Bennett witch I knew was Sheila."
I sit up, watching as he places a lid on a pot of rice and then turns to me. "You knew Grams?"
Kai shrugs, leaning against the sink, tea towel slung over his shoulder. "We met a few times. She had a hand in creating this place," he motions around the room, his displeasure clear in his tone. "She got on with Jo...me not so much."
I smile, imagining the scowl of disapproval on my grandmother's face clearly. "She must have seen what you were."
"An abomination?" he asks quietly and I open my mouth to answer, shut it because the scathing reply dies on my tongue. For someone who shouldn't care he seems particularly hurt by the term, it's not the first time he has mentioned it. I shake my head slowly.
"I don't believe that there's anything wrong with not being able to generate your own magic. It's wrong when you take it from others without their consent."
"Well it's not something that either of us has to worry about now, is it?" he smiles thinly and turns back to the stove. Since getting in the car the rage that had burst out of him earlier seems to have disappeared, with a giddiness taking it's place. He is still annoyed at what I did but the violence that I felt bubbling under him is gone.
I hope. He could be lulling me into a false sense of security…
I sit back, trying to keep my face impassive as he ladles rice and chicken onto plates and then sets one before me. He smiles before turning the cassette over in the music player. Nina Simone drifts out of the speakers and a part of me aches. Grams loved her music. I Put a Spell on You fills the kitchen and I cock my brow at him. He smirks.
"I'm not hungry," this is untrue, I'm starving but I look at the hot food before me suspiciously. Kai rolls his eyes before leaning over and spearing a piece of chicken from my plate onto his fork. He eats it, staring at me with a smile as he does.
"See? No rat poison. Go on, tell me what you think," he says, sitting back and his insistence is tinged with anticipation.
He hasn't shared a meal with anyone for almost twenty years…Battling down a spike of pity I grab my fork and begin to eat, lifting my brows at him as he grins happily. Flavour bursts over my tongue and I have to try very hard not to show how surprised I am. It's the best curry I have ever had. I eat slowly, picking at it but his eyes gleam in satisfaction.
Asshole. I spend the next twenty minutes in silence while Kai talks...and talks...and talks.
"After Dollywood I moved to California, spent a year at Disneyland. At first it was fun but once you've rode Space Mountain for the hundredth time it kinda loses it's edge you know? Have you ever been?"
"We should go," he says excitedly, his plate of food long finished. I have let most of mine go cold. I sit with my arms crossed over my stomach. My chest hurts and I'm in no mood for his prattle.
"You just said it was boring."
"Because I was alone and I did too much too soon. We could pace the visits."
Is he really suggesting that we go on vacation? That we stay together? He really is insane. I lean forward, wincing at the pain but ignore it. His smile falters.
"I don't want to go anywhere with you Kai. What I want right now is to go to sleep, okay? I'm tired."
"...Fine. Go sleep, I'll clean up," he gets to his feet, his previous enthusiasm gone. I don't understand him, he should be tying me to a chair and torturing me but instead he's planning holiday time? He must be messing with me and I realize as I stand that I don't want to leave him. Not because I care but because if he's in front me at least I know if he's going to strike.
"I'm not going to wake up with you hovering over me am I?" I ask and he laughs, something salacious flashing over his face and he's clearly going to follow it with a remark but I hold up my hand. "I'm serious Kai. I know you're mad at me for what I did but I don't know how much. If you're planning to kill me then stop this game."
He is silent for a long time, his expression finally serious and when he speaks his tone is soft. "I'm not going to kill you. I was pissed at you, of course I was but I know you have a plan Bonnie. You know a way to get out."
"I don't," the lie is convincing but he narrows his eyes, coming closer. I move behind the chair, getting it between us. "Look I want to sleep and I can't do that with you here. You took me home and now you can leave."
"I'm not going anywhere. Like I said this has been my house for years. You're free to find somewhere else if you like," he smiles and I stare at him. I had remembered that during 1994 I had hid a ring of my mother's behind a loose skirting board. I had done this because it talked to me and I had been terrified. There is magic in this house and I pray that he has not found it. I have to stay.
"I'm too tired for this. Don't come into my room or I will make you regret it," I stare at him intensely as I pass, hiding the flare of pain across my ribs at the movement. He watches me go, My Baby Just Cares For Me playing softly through dented speakers.
Sleep claims me so fast that I don't even have time to change my bloodstained top. As soon as my head touches the pillow I'm gone but in the middle of the night pain drags me back up, a throbbing agony.
"Oh god," I touch my chest, drawing my top up. The skin feels swollen, sore and sweat covers me, making the cut sting. I sit up, which is a mistake as another pang of agony clamps over my ribs. Panting and wondering if I have an infection a light tap sounds against the door. I freeze, expecting him to come in but I hear his footfalls leading away, growing faint and then the click of his door closing. I get up and gingerly open my door. Resting on the floor is a glass of water and bottle of codeine, along with a note. I bend down, biting my lip at the movement and read it.
For the pain, take two and call me in the morning.
"Goof," I roll my eyes, already unscrewing the cap with a pop. I inspect the pills but have no way of knowing if they have been tampered with. Groggy and aching I take as he prescribes and wash the pills down with water.
He could have filled the capsules with sherbet...or arsenic. He could be drugging you stupid, I think but I'm in too much pain to care and I don't really believe he would try to kill me. However if he does knock me out I'd be grateful. I sit on the edge of Gram's bed, wishing that she was here but I know what she would say.
Get up and get out.
The ring I had hid now so many years ago is in the bathroom and I have to pass his room to reach it. I think about waiting until the morning, brain feeling like it's filled with cotton wool, and I mentally hit myself for not finishing the food he made. I wait for the medication to kick in and after thirty minutes the pain lessens to a dull ache and I can move a little more freely.
I remove my shirt and then the ruined white blouse beneath, along with my bra. I look in the wardrobe and find a loose fitting top. Her scent envelops me and I inhale deeply. Feeling braver I tiptoe to the door again, pressing my ear to the wood. The only sound is the grandfather clock in the hall, the house is silent for that.
Is he asleep? I picture the bags under his eyes and doubt he is someone who can just drift off. His mind must whirl madly like a broken carousel. So would yours after so many years alone, a voice whispers and I ignore it, turning the handle gently. The hallway is empty and dark, his door closed. Bare footed I continue tip toeing, avoiding the squeaky planks that I have been familiar with for years. When I reach my mother's old room I pause, listening intensely before moving quickly for the bathroom, which is blessedly open.
I take the door in hand, about to close it when a tiny creak breaks the silence. I stop, heart hammering in my chest but his door remains closed. I'll have to search with the door open. Sweat collecting under my arms I turn, looking at the large tub, shower and cupboard and then sweep the floor. It's dark but even with the light on it wouldn't help. I can't remember where it is.
Okay, just get on your knees and look. One of the boards is hollow. I lean on the tub and lower to my knees, wincing a little as my chest throbs. I place my fingertips against the board and holding my breath tap gently. Nothing. I move along, shuffling, tapping and tapping and then stop, looking up. His door is still closed. I carry on, skirting the floor until I reach the window and a hollow thud answers my tap.
"Yes…" I hiss and then feel along the rim, prying up the board. It cracks and I stop, looking over my shoulder before forcing it up and away. The noise could wake him and I quickly delve my hand into the dark gap, feel dust bunnies and something metal and my heart leaps. I pull out a nail and almost swear aloud. Gripping it in my other hand I search again and my fingers skim something smooth. I pull my hand back.
A plain silver band shines dully in the light, untarnished and smooth. I cup it, grin stretching from ear to ear and focus on the surprising weight of it, closing my eyes.
The voice is rough, like whoever the voice belongs to just woke up. My eyes snap open, feeling the faint pulse of magic from the ring and I have to stop myself laughing. I push it in my pocket, and with a mad impulse I flush the toilet. As expected his door opens as I walk past. He is wearing boxers and nothing else. My eyes flick down to his bare chest, the skin over his heart smooth and without a mark. He is lean but muscular, a body with a wiry strength. I stare at his sleepy face, motioning back at the noise.
"It's all yours...and thanks for the pills," I say, not waiting for his response as I make it to Gram's room and close the door behind me. I wait for his door to close, which it does after a few minutes and then do a victory dance, shaking my hips and though my entire body flares with pain I don't care.
I'm going home! Grinning and hands trembling I fish out the ring and sit before the vanity unit, my dark reflection in the mirror. I look a mess and my eyes are too wide but that will change in time. I bring the ring up, hear a murmur of interest in my mind and start the spell to absorb it's magic.
Stop, think what you're doing. The voice is clear, different from the faint mutterings from the ring. I press my lips together, staring at the band until it loses focus. He only has to touch you to detect if you have magic. He'll take it from you. Be smart.
He can only take it if he catches me. I could leave right now, head to the tunnels and wait for the next eclipse...and he'd be right behind me. He also has the ascendant, so even if I reach the caves I would be going nowhere. I have to get close enough to take if from him, without him knowing I have magic. I sit, mind whizzing and undecided until I yawn. I have to stay until the morning, creep into his room while he is asleep and steal the ascendant again.
Kill him Bon. This voice is clearly Damon and even as I cringe at it I nod. Kai does not stay dead but it does incapacitate him for a time. Long enough to reach the caves? Plan forming, feeling more confident I move to the bed and slip the ring back into my pocket.
Right. Wait until morning, kill him and then take off…
I stare at a picture of Gram's holding me as a child and feel my throat tighten. I doubt little four year old me would ever think that I'd be plotting murder in this house but here I am. Before when I had killed him it had been spontaneous, I had no time to think about it but now...can I go in there, grab a pillow and...I can't even finish the thought.
"What's happening to me? Can you tell me that?" I pull out the ring and slip it on. It's too big, better fit for a man. As a child I had been trying on my mother's old jewellery and found this amongst the collection. When it had started whispering in my ear I had been terrified and hid it. Afterwards I just thought I had imagined it but now I sit and listen. I had not imagined it.
...bruises to the fifth rib, puncture wound, blood loss…
The voice says, a man's voice and I smile in bemusement. "Do you report injuries?"
The voice drifts off as I slip it from my finger, feeling uneasy. The ring seems to list all upsets, both physical and mental. I look closer and spot something I missed as a child. Engraved on the inner band is a symbol, the staff of Asclepius. Why would my mother have this? Unbidden Elena's father comes to mind, dressed in his white coat and stethoscope hanging around his neck. Did my mother make it for him? Maybe it has the power to heal? I rub my thumb over it, wondering but then a noise outside my door makes me fumble for it and then hastily put it back in my pocket. Heart beating fast I crawl back into bed and pull the covers up to my chin.
Whatever power the ring has it does nothing to send me back to sleep. Mind chasing thought after thought I finally succumb to sleep an hour before the sun rises. The last I have before I sleep is that I'll probably oversleep and miss the eclipse.
Kai makes sure that does not happen.
"Rise and shine!" his voice jolts me awake as he draws back the curtain from the window. Light pours in and I groan, burying my face into the silken pillow.
"So you don't want breakfast? I've made eggs benedict," he says and my stomach is a hollow bucket waiting to be filled. I lift a heavy head and watch him all but skip from the room, his carefreeness hateful. He's a morning person.
I sit up, fingers slipping under my top. My chest feels oddly tight but the pain is not as bad as yesterday. I rise very carefully and press my hand to the pocket of my jeans. Still there. Flattening my hair and in desperate need of a shower I follow him to the kitchen. He sips on coffee as I gulp down the food he has prepared. I'm so hungry I cannot savour it but again his skills are apparent. He smiles when I finish, placing a glass of water next to my mug.
"Your next dose."
"You know I wouldn't have to keep taking these if you hadn't shot me."
"And I wouldn't have to throw away my favourite tee because you decided to jam a pickaxe in my heart for no reason," he fires back lightly and then takes another sip.
"No reason? You would have taken all my magic and killed me if I hadn't helped you."
"It was an empty threat, you know I can't leave here without a Bennett," he says unsmiling and gets up. I stare at his back, wanting to argue but I keep silent. At first I thought he'd get rid of me once my use to him was spent but now...now I'm starting to doubt his cruel intentions.
"How can I trust what you say? You're a sociopath."
"So you keep saying. I am one, yes, got a certificate and everything," he says, turning to me with a proud smile. "But I am honest. If I wanted you dead you would be."
"Then why aren't I? You're trapped because of me."
"As you are...Maybe I like your company?"
I scoff. "Please. You think I know a way out but I don't," I stare at him beseechingly and the ring in my pants feels heavy. I stop myself touching it and keep my hands on the table. "You said there's no magic here, that you took it all. I thought there must be some, that's why I sent my magic away but I was wrong. It - it was a mistake."
He gazes at me, leaning against the cooker before he leans off it and comes to me. I stare up at his calm face as he takes a seat and drags it closer to mine. "I know you don't trust me but in time I think you will. I've watched you for months Bonnie, you lost sleep trying to find a way out and I know that's not going to stop."
"So what? You think I shouldn't?"
"It's a waste of time. Look," he pulls his rucksack from under the table and pulls a busted notebook out. He offers it to me and I open it. Maps are drawn on pages, beautifully detailed and underneath are notes. Red dots mark the maps, thousands of them as I flick through the pages.
"All the places you found magic?"
"And absorbed it. When you have eternity to yourself you gotta have a hobby and that was it...until it wasn't. Then I had to find other ways to entertain myself," he says, pointing two finger at his temple with a grin and I shiver. Those dots must have come to mean something else after awhile. I push the notebook back at him.
"So you spent all these years doing that?"
"Yes. I'm sure I must have missed some but even if I did it wouldn't matter. To get out of here you have to have a lot of power and whatever might be left...it wouldn't be enough," he says and stares intently into my eyes.
He knows, he knows about the ring...I stare at him, trying to suss him out. Is this a test? His lips curl a little at the edges, never dropping my gaze and as he leans forward I find myself doing the same. He blinks, his eyes flicking down to my lips and his breath plays over my cheek before he stands suddenly. I wait until his back is turned before breathing out. What the hell was that? I swallow, skin hot but I feel a little flash of victory. For just a moment I pulled the rug out from under him, he hadn't been expecting me to lean forward...and neither had I.
He likes me, Damon was right...Stop. He doesn't have the capacity to care about anyone but himself. Doesn't mean he doesn't want to bend me over the table…Oh god. I get up, slamming these unwanted thoughts behind a door and locking it. Feeling sick and cold I shake out the pain relief medication and chug them down with water, watching as he turns back to me with his usual friendly smile.
"So...what do you want to do today?"
"Nothing. Nothing with you," the prospect that he wants me makes me feel like running. I had never imagined this happening and with Damon here before I never feared it but now...I suddenly feel his hand around my throat, his lips brushing my cheek and the sweltering heat of the car. My body shudders at the memory. I can't stand the uncertainty. Kai moves towards me and I hold up a hand.
"What is it?"
"You said you don't want to kill me. Okay, I believe you...but I don't want you to touch me. Do you understand? We're not anything to each other," my voice is rough and I imagine him smirking at me but he does not. Instead he takes a step back, hands sliding into his pockets.
"I won't touch you. I'm not a complete maniac Bonnie."
"Good. Now I'm going to shower and you're staying down here. Okay?"
"All righty then," he shrugs and moves back to let me pass. I head up the stairs, looking over my shoulder but he does not follow. I stare at the clock, noting the time and my stomach flips over.
The eclipse happens in an hour. No time to shower I head to the bathroom anyway. I close the door, the hinges creaking, and turn on the water, letting it run before heading for the window. The roof is low and I have climbed off it many, many times. I pause, hand clamping around the sill.
He has the ascendant!
"Shit, I forgot…" I lean back, staring the empty house opposite and bite my lip. How am I going to get it?
Should have smothered him in his sleep Bon.
"Shut up," I whisper and then feel mad. I grip my head, groaning and look back. He had changed clothes since last night, maybe...I move back and open the door again, the sound of the shower muffling the creak. I enter his room and find his shorts slung over a chair.
I grope at the pockets and immediately feel the circle of metal through the fabric. Joy whips through me as I pull it out and rush back to the bathroom, closing the door gently. I'm half way out of the window when I pause.
This is too easy.
It is but I don't care. I have all I need to escape and if he chases me? I'll outrace him, this is my town.
Well into the cover of the trees I think I've made it. I lean against a trunk, heart beating in my aching chest madly and take out the ring. Whatever this strange thing is it's about to stop talking.
I whisper the spell, feel the magic within the silver stir and then seep into my hands, spreading through my veins. It is a drop compared to what I usually wield but I can already see more clearly, feel the caress of the wind with a softness that I can only experience with magic. My mother's old ring is now useless but I slip it onto my finger, where it feels a little more snug. My fingers must be swollen in the heat. Maybe I can give it back to mom, ask her if she created it as I suspect. I look at the sky and begin moving until I'm kicking up dirt, moving as fast as I can towards the caves. The trees begin to thin and the dark entrance of the cave comes into view. I skid to a stop.
"I could have drove you here, saved you all that running, hiding and tripping," Kai sits on a rock, legs crossed at the ankle. He smiles at me but his eyes are dark.
I lift a hand, magic rushing forward but it's a trickle and I close my fist. He smirks, straightening and comes towards me. I lift a finger, moving back. "Don't come any closer."
"You have magic, good for you," he says, tilting his head with that irritating self confident smile. He puts his hands in his pockets and shrugs. "Don't worry, I'm not going to take it because it's not worth it."
"I found that ring years ago. Started talking about insomnia when I tried it on. Cute but not enough. Try it," he offers, motioning to my pants.
The ascendant. It was all a trick.
"You would really risk all this to prove a point?" I pull the relic out, gripping it tightly. The magic is weak and I knew the moment I touched it that it would not be enough. Hope is a joke.
"Go on, activate it. See what happens," he urges, coming closer and I move back, eyes flicking between him and the ascendant. He's right. I use it and that's it. It's not enough to send me home...but it is enough to start a little fire. I look back up at him and he stops, smile fading off his face.
"Do you swear that there isn't enough magic left?"
"...I swear," he answers, his eyes still watchful.
"Then I guess there's no need for this anymore is there?" I hover my palm over the ascendant and speak the words clearly. "Phasmatos incendia."
"No!" Kai roars, that previous rage igniting like the relic in my hands. I just have time and enough power to snuff out the flames before he slams into me, spilling us both to the ground. The ascendant rolls into the dry leaves, smoking but unharmed but he's too furious to see. All the air is knocked from my lungs as he lands on top of me and I feel my wound open up. I scream with pain as he straddles me, his face white with rage.
"Are you crazy?!" he yells and through the pain I manage to smile.
"What does it matter if I destroy it? You said there's no magic. You're a liar. I can't trust anything that comes out of your mouth," I snarl and push my hands against his chest, curse forming on my tongue but he rings his hands around my wrists. Sharp pain flashes through my veins as he siphons, ripping magic from me furiously. It was a small amount but the loss of it makes the day darker but even through the loss I feel deeply vindicated. There is magic out there.
Kai pins my hands down, face hovering inches above mine. His jaw clenches before he speaks. "You're forgetting the ascendant that exists in the real world. Someone, like Damon if he can unstick himself from Elena, can come back to rescue you. If he's smart he'd take a witch along with him...but then you would fuck that rescue up by destroying the one thing that can get us all out."
Guilt, humiliation and sadness overwhelm me, stopping any words but then a flash of anger cuts through it. He's guilt tripping me. Finally I manage to string some words together. "I wasn't going to destroy it. Look, it's fine."
He narrows his eyes, not taking them off mine. "I still think if you really believed there was no magic left you would destroy it just to keep me here."
"You want to kill your entire coven."
"No, just those involved in imprisoning me. You would really sacrifice your freedom for a bunch of freaks you've never met or know shit about? Risk never seeing your friends or family ever again?"
I lick my lips, face burning. "I didn't think anyone would come for me," I whisper and he blinks, starting to frown. As the burn of humiliation fades I become intensely aware of his weight on me, the shift of his hips against mine and his hands pinning me down. We breathe heavily as the light around the trees grows dark as the eclipse starts.
"I guess that's something we have in common," he answers after a stretch of silence and I look back at him as he lets my hands go and sits up, straddling me. As I sent Damon away I thought he would return, maybe not right away but he would come. It's only been a few days but…Hurt and doubt tightening my stomach I keep these thoughts to myself but I feel he can read them anyway.
"He probably thinks I'm dead," I push at his chest, trying to sit up and a cry of pain bursts from my lips. Fresh blood dribbles down my torso as the movement. Kai frowns, jaw clenching and then in one fluid motion gets to his feet. I move onto my side, face down but when I look up he's offering his hand.
"Or he's a flaky fuck," he answers and when I don't take his hand he pulls me up, arm circling my waist. I hiss but manage to stay on my feet. I move back, fingers tight around his forearm and look down at my chest. I grimace at the blood.
"None of this would have happened if you had just been honest with me."
"I told you that there is magic left in this world but again the clincher: it's not enough," he replies, pulling me after him. I move slowly, each step making my chest ache.
"There has to be, you just missed it."
Kai stops and turns to me. He is deeply dangerous but for a psycho quite patient. "The first thing I did when I got my hands on some magic was to do a locating spell to find more. That's how I knew where to look. It had to be something with a lot of power. If there is anything left its so well cloaked it's impossible to find," he adds lightly, looking up as the sun begins to shine again and with those golden rays I feel my stomach drop.
"The magic you took from me, is it gone?"
Kai closes his eyes for a moment and then nods. "There was hardly any to begin with. Oh Bon, what am I gonna do with you?"
I leave his question unanswered. What am I going to do? I watch him as he picks up the ascendant, inspecting it as he begins walking, leaving me to follow. I look back at the opening to the caves, an escape I almost destroyed. Drained and disappointed I slowly begin following him.
Darkness and music drift through my senses, pain a numb ache but when I feel fingertips grazing my midriff my eyes spring open. I'm lying on the Salvatore couch and Kai is sitting beside me, his hand up my top.
"Hey!" I slap at his chest and he moves back, palms up.
"Easy. You were bleeding all over the place. Just playing nurse."
"Well play with yourself!" I shout and his lips twitch before he stands. He offers me the bandage he had been placing over my wound and I snatch it from him. A bowl of bloody water, antiseptic cream and cloths rest on the floor.
He's tended to me, again. I sit back, hand pressing the gauze to my chest. The silver band is still on my finger, perfectly snug when before it was too big. Maybe there is still some magic left in it, just the barest trace. Kai sits beside me, sock covered feet resting on the coffee table. He switches on the TV, which just shows a picture of fuzzy dirty snow. He clicks the remote and the VCR begins playing.
The Bodyguard. It was the last movie me and Damon watched together. He had threatened to blow up the set if I rewound it again so the credits now drifts up the screen. I turn to Kai as he begins rewinding the tape, feeling incredulous.
"This is what we're gonna do?"
"Got a better idea?"
"Yes," I get up, moving slowly and leave the room without explaining. I want to shower, change clothes and then sleep for the next sixty years. In the bathroom I strip my clothes off and I realize I had inadvertently invited him to shower with me and my body flushes with heat. I move under the showerhead and hot water beats down on me and I sigh, trying not to think of Kai or anything. Lathering soap over my skin I look inwards and with a sudden thrill I feel a very faint vibration, like a note of music. Magic.
...He can't hold magic, it seeps out of him like a sponge but not me. Collect enough magic, scour the country for whatever I can find…
"I can't do anything with this," I whisper, eyes closed against the water, hands pressed against the tiles. Whatever is left in me isn't enough to go home...but it's something. I realise that even if I found something with immense magic it wouldn't do me any good without my inherit magic to tap into it. Kai always has the inherent ability to siphon. That's all he can do with it but I do not. Did he leave this trace of magic in me on purpose? I turn off the shower, steam swirling around me as I stare at the silver ring on my hand. He would not be so thoughtful or so stupid to give me such power, even a grain worth.
Put magic in a place for safekeeping, a depository... Is that what I am? Have me hold this power because he cannot, only to take it whenever he needs to? These suspicions just spore more, cramming my head.
"God, I'm going crazy," I towel off, staring at my body in the foggy mirror. My chest is red and bruised but the wound is closing. I stare at the ring, wondering, before I move towards my room, towel wrapped around my body. Kai stands by the bed and I freeze. He places a sandwich on a plate on the bedside table, along with more pills and bandages. Through the shock something warm blooms in my stomach and I feel ashamed to realise that it is gratitude. I had felt it before, when he had encouraged me to use the locator spell. More than gratitude...
Careful, don't let him get to you. This is all a game to him, he doesn't really care. I lift my chin, steeling myself as I walk in and he turns. Does he look shy at getting caught?
"Shouldn't take pills on an empty stomach," he says, smiling and I move forwards, arms crossed over my chest, eyes narrowed.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Would you rather I wasn't?"
"At least it would be true," I push past him but he grabs my arm.
"You're waiting for retaliation, I get it but it's not going to happen. If we're really stuck here together than we have to make it work," he says seriously, eyes drilling into mine before he smirks. "I'm just happy it was you, rather than Damon the Alcoholic vampire."
"I think you'd find his company more enjoyable than mine."
"Pretty sure he'd have me locked in the cellar by now, along with the other bloodbags," he says and then his gaze turns thoughtful. "You were the first person I saw after eighteen years. Now you're gonna be the last," he utters with a strange gentleness, his gaze still intense but soft and I can't look away. "I want us to start over Bonnie."
"Friends?" I ask, the word sour.
"One day, hopefully. Your grandmother sent you here right? There must have been a reason for that," he smiles, leaning down a little to stare evenly into my eyes. I tilt my head, looking aside.
"Maybe she had no other alternative."
"There are worlds pressing upon worlds. You came to mine."
I lift an eyebrow. "Why would she send me here of all places? To keep you company for eternity?"
I can hear her voice clearly, her last words before she moved on. I found peace by guaranteeing you will find yours…Some peace. Kai smiles gently, tilting his head from side to side and I roll my eyes, pulling my arm from his hand.
"I need to get dressed."
"Okay. Dinner will be at six," he proclaims, moving back and I watch until he closes the door behind him. Once alone I exhale a long breath and sit on the edge of the bed. My grandmother always protected me, wanted me to be safe...but she also told me to be strong. Some kind of peace might be at the end of the path but I'm going to have to fight for it.
But fight what? Kai wants to play nice, seems to be sincere but I cannot trust him. If he really thought he was here for good he would kill me out of revenge, it's clear he can hold a grudge for a long time, a very long time.
He's lonely, I try to push the thought away but it floats. He's been so alone for so long that the idea of returning to that state puts whatever anger he feels aside. He wants me. I imagine for a moment having to endure so long alone, wondering if I could hack it. I think I could. Keep active, travel and see a world without borders...but have no one to share those experiences with.
I'd bore someone silly with talk about funfair rides too…
"No. I can do it. If there's not enough magic and if I have to wait for my friends, my family...I can live on my own."
Since the death of grams and my dad I've been living alone, when not at college, with occasional visits to my mom's. I know it's not really the same but at least I know my own company is enough. I do not hate Kai but I don't want to spend any more time with him. If I do I think that traitorous bloom of warmth at his apparent kindness will spread through me like a disease. He is a remorseless killer and does not deserve that from me. Mind all but made up I let the towel drop and fish out a pair of shorts and vest from under my pillow and dress for a nap.
Save a Prayer by Duran Duran drifts from the kitchen and he sings along quietly. I pause by the doorway, listening. He has a surprisingly rich voice and I expect him to stop or start humming but he beams at the sight of me and starts singing louder. He has absolutely no ability to feel embarrassed.
"Gonna sing through dinner?"
"If you want?" he smiles, motioning to the table. I half expect to see candles and if I had I'd take my plate upstairs. Instead he has put a little vase of wildflowers at my seating. He must have picked them outside.
"You know the more you're nice to me the more suspicious I get?" I take a seat and he rolls his eyes good naturedly. Since leaving the caves the day before everything has felt like walking through a dream and it just intensifies now. He has to be joking with me. Or he wants something.
"Kinda sad that someone just cooking you dinner is too nice," he says, pushing a bowl of noodles in broth across the table. "I actually miss doing it," he adds, sitting across from me. He pokes chopsticks into his bowl.
"You cooked for your family?"
"Yup. Mom and dad were away a lot so…" he peters off with a shrug and begins eating. Did he pretend to care for his brothers and sisters, take them to school, help with their homework and look after them while sick only to snap? Does he feel any remorse? I know the answer to that but for the first time I wish I didn't. I look down, inhaling the delicious smell and basking in the heat for a moment before I pick up my chopsticks.
We eat in silence, the mixtape now playing Dreamlover by Mariah Carey. Damon told me Stefan made this mixtape and I smile while eating. Thinking of him brings my other friends to mind and I wonder what they are doing. Do they really think I'm dead or are they trying to find a way to reach me? I sent the bear as a sign, as well as a means to stop Kai but what if no one finds it? Not for the first time I wish I had hid the stupid bear in a toy shop or something. I should have just lied to him. I look up, chewing on a piece of beef and realise he has been watching me intently. He does this often, an unblinking stare like he's trying to read my mind. It's unnerving.
"What? Is there something on my face?"
"No," he smiles, still not looking away. "I was just wondering. How do you feel about a road trip?"
"A road trip? Where?"
"Anywhere, you pick. I can take you anywhere in the world," he boasts and I laugh.
"Sure you can. Just not out of it," I add and his smile grows thin and he finally looks away. I don't know why I'm needling him, I've trapped myself too.
"Do you want to spend the rest of your long life in Mystic Falls?"
"No but I don't intend to spend it with you either," I say pleasantly and his jaw clenches, not looking at me and something squirms in my stomach. Guilt. I lean forward, catching his eyes. "Listen, if we really are stuck here then I want us to part on good terms okay? I'm not your friend but I don't want to be your enemy either." The idea of going separate ways but knowing that he is still angry and biding his time would be torture. I need to search for more magic without the threat of him breathing down my neck.
Kai says nothing, just gives me that intense stare again and I look at him sincerely. Jaw still clenching and he looks at his food. "Eat, before it gets cold Bonnie."
That's the last thing he says to me that night and I'm left wondering if he has agreed to effectively become strangers to each other or not. Either way tomorrow morning I'm gone.
I wake before sunrise, pack my things and dress. I pick out a blue and white tie dye skater dress and lace my Docs Martins before leaving the room. I do not attempt to be silent but his door remains closed. Even so my heart hammers, my stomach turning over and over. Is it fear? No, it's not sharp enough. It's guilt again.
Stop it, Kai is not my problem and he doesn't really care if I stay. My stomach continues squeezing as I place my bag in Damon's car. The sun is starting to rise but no birds accompany it, just the faint rustling of leaves. I hate how eerie the silence is, the complete absence of nature. I can understand why Kai mostly included music in his "important supplies." I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to clear my mind before opening the car door.
Eyes still closed, my back to him I cannot move. His voice is quiet, strained and pitifully young. "I can't stay here."
"I still have the ascendant. If you go and someone arrives...you'll never know," he steps closer and I open my eyes, turning to him. I don't want to get caught in his pleading gaze but I am in an instant.
"If you really want to start over, to be friends then you have to prove that. If someone did come here would you tell me?"
"Can only do that if I know where you are," he replies with smile. "I'd have to find you because no one can get out without you, a Bennett."
"Right…" I sigh, watching the sun come up before looking at him again. He looks hopeful, eyes never leaving my face. "You have a key and so do I and they can't work without each other...but only if someone with magic arrives. There's no guarantee."
"There never is. I waited and waited for you and pretty much lost hope...but here you are," he moves closer and his eyes flick towards my lips and then up again. "If either of us finds enough magic, as impossible as that is...then we should agree now to leave together."
I shake my head. "This is your prison," the words sound weightless now.
"No one is meant to stay incarcerated forever Bonnie, even death row inmates, but my family don't care. I know what I did was wrong and I paid for it...but I'm still human. Death isn't even an escape. I can't do this anymore."
I stare deeply into his eyes, mimicking him, trying to see the lie but find only a desperate haunted exhaustion. For the first time I begin to really feel what his life has been like, to suffer so much that death isn't even an escape. My blood runs cold. I lick my lips, my throat thick and tight.
"Do you promise if you ever get out not to kill your coven? Because if you do I will take you down."
"...I promise. You probably don't believe me but I want to join the Gemini coven again, it's been a dream for the longest time. That's all I want, to be a witch again."
I see the loss of it on his face and an ache in me calls to his pain. I know the feeling of being denied magic, the way it makes you feel half alive. To be without it for so long and then being denied the chance of escape once it's in your hands...I think I would have killed him if our roles were reversed.
"I don't trust you, I never will but…" I hesitate as his eyes begin to glitter with happiness.
"You need to prove that you're worth the risk. Give me the ascendant," I hold out my hand and his eyes narrow, almost but not quite losing that gleam. His lips purse in thought and then he removes the relic from his pocket. My heart pounds.
"Not very fair Bon...but I'll do it...with an amendment," he says and with his long fingers he removes one of the small wheels. He reaches for my hand, turns it palm up and places the piece of metal there.
"Won't work without it," he closes my fingers over the wheel, hand cupping mine. "So if either of us finds a way out we have to go together."
It is my turn to narrow my eyes at him. "Or you'll just fight me for it if I refuse."
"Wouldn't you? Come on Bon, trust goes both ways," his fingers tighten around mine, giving my hand a small shake and then he steps back. "It needs to be earned."
He smiles a little and walks back into the mansion, leaving me to stare between the open doorway and the waiting car. If I follow him, if I let myself trust him then I will be a fool. I do feel pity for the amount of time he has been here but…
"You want to earn my trust? Prove it," I say loud enough because I know he is listening. I get in the driver's seat, slam the door closed and then back onto the drive away. Sun cresting over the treetops I see him in the rearview mirror. He stands perfectly still, watching me drive away before I reach the bend in the road and he and the mansion are gone.
I go home, a home that I have not really spent much time in since my father died. Like everything it has that unbroken hush and I move gently, like I'm going to disturb it for someone. I sit on the couch as sunshine pours through the window, ear half cocked for the front door.
Dad would constantly be on business trips and it would just be me and the house. That's why I spent so much time at gram's, she practically raised me but I remember coming home from school and finding dad in the kitchen with a big smile on his face and I knew that he had missed me as much as I missed him. That had changed as I got older, when magic started to manifest and his smiles had become more strained, green eyes more troubled. I had been so frustrated, so alone…but he always came back.
"If I sit here long enough you'll come through the door, suitcase in one hand and a gift in the other," I smile, closing my eyes for a moment but all I hear is the tick of the clock on the mantelpiece. He is dead and no loved one is coming through that door.
I try to push her face from my mind but the thought remains. Since finding her we are on speaking terms, she sends me messages and letters. She came to dad's funeral and sobbed before gram's gravestone...but then she went home. She had made it clear she was a Wilson and she had stopped being a Bennett when she left Mystic Falls when I was three.
No pictures of her are placed before me, dad had took them all down one day and her smile had become something I could only recall in dreams and the one picture I managed to find. My mom is a vampire, no longer a witch. She has no power to get me out of here. She probably doesn't even know I am trapped. My family is not coming for me…Kai's words drift into my mind suddenly.
We have that in common...
I stand up, nervous energy bursting through me and I switch on the stereo, shattering the silence. The only Bennett I can count on is myself. I can and will get myself out. Inhaling a breath, smiling in the mirror, I nod at myself and head into the kitchen to make myself something to eat. No one comes through the door but I know that one person could and there isn't anything I can do about it.
He manages a week before tracking me down and the sight of his face sends a confusing mix of annoyance and relief. I had spent the week reading, creating jewellery and rearranging my room. Twice. I'm going slowly crazy with boredom. I push a cart before me, dropping a bag of chips into it as I round the corner. Another cart bumps into mine and I look up.
"Oh hi, fancy seeing you here," Kai grins, arms slung lazily over the handlebar and I cock an eyebrow at him.
"This is the only well stocked supermarket in town Kai."
"That's not going to work, seeing as there's two of us now," he looks into my cart and my face heats. It's jammed with cakes and candy bars. "Not fair, you'll have to start rationing."
"Me and Damon managed just fine," I say with a smile and push my cart forward but he does not move.
"Damon only consumed blood and bourbon, mostly bourbon. I have a sweet tooth," he reaches into my cart for a pack of lollipops and I watch him as he unwraps one and pops it into his mouth with a smile.
"Are you gonna get outta my way or are you going to steal more of my groceries?"
"I want one more thing," he says but does not move. I push forward, manoeuvring to the left but he moves at the same time. He has the gall to look at me with irritation and when I try to go the other way he bangs into my cart again.
"Bonnie stop messing around. Let me pass."
"I'm not doing this," I growl and move backwards, scowling at his innocent, candy sucking face until I reach the end of the aisle. Kai starts to move but then he gasps, snapping his fingers.
"Paperclips! I forgot," he says and moves his cart and strolls down a different aisle. I try to stop myself but I cannot.
I hear his little gasp of offence and then a low laugh and find myself smiling, the evidence reflected in a freezer door. I swallow, my stomach strangely jittery and move quickly towards the front of the store and out. The parking lot is empty, of course but I look back, waiting for him but he does not emerge. Shopping packed away into the car I close the trunk. The eclipse is starting and I look up, shielding my eyes.
"Still got the wheel?"
I jump and spin around. Kai balances on the back of his cart, propelling himself slowly towards me, like a kid on a skateboard. I did not hear him or the rattle of the cart at all.
"How do you do that? I'm starting to think it's another inherent ability."
"Like being an eternal tiptoeing five year old."
He just smiles as the light around us dims. I move towards the car door but Kai pushes the cart in the way, blocking me. "I thought you would have left by now, look for magic. Guess you believe me."
I grip the front of the cart and push. "You might believe there's not enough but there's an entire world out there, countries you haven't been to. I haven't left because I need to know where I'm going first."
"And you think your grandmother's research will help you?"
Gram's taught occult at the local college and I know she had collected and wrote books and papers about magic, year's worth of work. She must have found something about deposits of magic. Sites. I just need to find them. I have spent the last week rummaging through her office but I suspected I was not the first.
Kai gazes at me, that mind reading look, and his mouth purses happily. "You know what any good researcher does? Fact check and cross reference. You don't want to go to Mexico, scale a pyramid only to find that I juiceboxed it ten years ago."
His notebook. What if it had never been his to begin with? "You stole the notebook from her!"
He rolls his eyes. "It's all my work but yes I looked through her research. Bonnie I've been playing this game a long time. Everything you're planning to do I did seventeen years ago."
My heart sinks and the lot becomes like night for a moment. "I just can't believe you found everything. Even the tiniest thing can hold immense power."
"I know," he replies and looks down at me with a soft regard. Pride? Affection? I want to pretend it is not there but his expression is open and clear. I look up at the sky to avoid his face and a memory surfaces.
"I remember the eclipse happening when I was a child. Me, Elena and Caroline made pinhole boxes at school to watch it. I was so excited…" I smile at the memory before it falls. "Now I hate it."
"Yeah my memories of it are not so cute. Me and the eclipse have a complicated relationship," he says, as if talking about an ex-lover and I look down with a laugh. I suppose if I had to spend almost twenty years looking at it every day I'd start thinking of it as similar. A train or a ship that you constantly miss.
Growing serious I gaze at him. "Will you let me shop in peace from now on?"
"You were the one who raided the shelves. If the day comes and there's only one Zima left then sorry it's open season."
"Like a tiny Black Friday?"
"Which is actually approaching," he says and I blink.
"It's November?" I have trouble knowing what day it should be, the date is beyond me. I need to get myself a calendar.
"We missed Halloween," he says sadly as the light begins to brighten around us again.
"I bet you were one of those kids who papered houses," more likely he was one that put razor blades in apples but I keep this to myself. He shakes his head.
"No, I always wanted to go trick or treating but we weren't allowed. My father was coven leader and Samhain is an important time. We would join the coven for a boring ritual and then the party would begin."
I imagine for a moment all those witches gathered in one place, a solemn celebration of what they are and then the excitement that follows. I ache because it is something I have never been part of. "You're lucky you got to experience that," I say and his smile drops in an instant.
"Oh you think I was included? No. I was told to stay in a room until it was over," his jaw clenches and he pushes the cart against my hands. I stare at eyes that now avoid mine.
"I can't imagine you ever doing what you were told."
His mouth curls and he looks back up at me. "Jo helped me sneak out, cloaked me. So yeah, I got to experience it but no one knew I was there. Well last year, I mean 1993, I didn't bother cloaking."
"What didn't?" he answers cagily and his grin is wicked. "Suffice to say I was ordered never to set foot there again."
I shake my head, trying to imagine it. He was treated like an outsider and that is how I feel listening to him. I want to see first hand the culture and community that I have only glimpsed at and I think he understands that.
Now we both never will. I should never have sent my magic away…
I sigh, looking into his cart and move around it to stand before him. "If you're serious about wanting to help me, to earn my trust? Bring me whatever information you've gathered about magic since you've been here."
He agrees instantly. "Okay. When?"
"Tonight at six. Don't be late," I order, getting into my car and Kai grins.
"It's a date."
"Only in your dreams," I say with a thin smile and slam the door closed. As I drive away I hear him answer and my body flushes.
"Fell Church was leeched...five years ago and the very last bit of magic I found, until you arrived," he says and I cross the last item on the list off. I press so hard in frustration the paper rips. I had not told him what was on it, not wanting to share possible magical sites he had no idea about but he had known and conquered every one. I flick the notepad onto the coffee table and take another gulp of red wine. I'm frustrated and buzzed.
"What did you do with that magic before it faded?"
"Well that spell was powerful, so it lasted a while. I spent the day flying," he shrugs, sitting back into the deep cushions. He had only sipped at his wine but he appears glassy eyed, like his mind is far away. His usual chatter is muted, seemingly just content to listen to me talk.
I smile, imaging him flying through the air like Peter Pan. "I've never done that. I think I would find a broom and ride it, just for the heck of it," I imagine it, smiling but it dies. "I hardly did anything fun with my magic. Grams said it wasn't to be used lightly, that balance had to be respected at all times….except when she was drunk," I add with a fond laugh.
He waves a dismissive hand. "Nature finds a way to correct imbalances and one witch fucking around hardy tips the scales," he smiles, arms resting along the top of the sofa. To anyone coming into the room it must look like he has his arm around me. I keep a cushion between us and sip on more wine.
"Have you ever time travelled?" I ask and he gives me a sardonic look and I laugh when I realise the truth. I'm drunk. "Not this groundhog day type."
"No, that's scale tipping magic Bon."
"So you would if you could?"
"In a heartbeat."
"I'd go back and slap myself in the face with Miss Cuddles," I say and he actually giggles with genuine laughter. I chuckle but inside something in me dies. I am never going home, this is it. Kai sits back, humour still bathes his face. He has a nice smile.
You're getting comfortable...and so is he, watch yourself child, the voice sounds like Grams, or maybe because I'm staring at her smirking at me from a picture. I sit up and place the empty wine glass on the coffee table. Kai hums in consideration.
"I'd go back to the 31st of October, 1993 and make my dad fall to his other knee as I siphoned him before he threw me into the wall. The guests didn't look shocked enough and I think he could have gone a deeper shade of batshit red," he clearly imagines it in silence for a moment and snorts before drinking from his glass.
I frown at him. "You'd siphon your dad but not change anything about May 9th?"
His eyes darken and he shakes his head. "Nothing could have changed that day," he downs the wine and sits back, gaze unfocused. The mood is thick and dark and I welcome it. Since inviting him into my home, cooking for him and talking over banana pie the atmosphere has been cordial to the point that I have forgotten. Kai can appear so normal, just a witty, funny albeit talkative guy so that when his true nature lifts its head it's like a slap in the face. He's a psychopath and feels nothing for the family he killed. I truly don't want him to be my enemy, not if we really are going to spend forever in this world but I can't let myself grow soft. He may play nice but like a cat with a mouse he'll tap and tap until I can't move anymore. I wish it were otherwise, I wish he had never done these things because the funny guy who knows about magic is someone I could spend time with. Years…
I reach for the notepad I had been scribbling in and turn to him. "Thanks for telling me about what magic you found. I couldn't accept it before but if this is it, if this is my life now...I can live with it. I saved my friend and I know one day he'll return," as I say this his jaw clenches, clearly not believing a word but I press on. "If he or anyone else does return then yeah, I'll let you know Kai."
"Let me know? You going somewhere?"
"I said I'm not staying here and I meant it. I've got no beef with you but I'm not spending my days constantly looking over my shoulder. So, this is it," I stand and thrust my hand at him. I wish I had not but too late now. He blinks, looking at my offered hand. He laughs.
"How formal. You really want to live by yourself?"
"Celebrate Christmas by yourself? Your birthday?"
"...Yes. I can travel. See places I wouldn't have been able to visit. I already have a destination in mind," this is false but the incredulous look on his face is irritating. He stands suddenly, still ignoring my hand and I lower it.
"You still have no intention of letting me out do you? Even if your friends arrive you'd kill me for this, wouldn't you?" he pulls out the ascendant and the impulse to snatch it from him is intense. I cross my arms, staring up at him.
"It's true I didn't want to free you, worried about what you would do. I sacrificed everything to keep you here...and I shouldn't have," I admit and my throat tightens. "It's - it's kinda a running thing with me but this time the price doesn't seem worth it. So would I kill you to free myself, to save my life? To reclaim it? Yeah, I think I would. You'd just bounce right back up anyway so..."
I expect him to be angry, to lash out and as I speak his gaze is darkly intense, recalling his gaze in the caves but light enters his eyes and clear appreciation shines there. "Magic is wasted on the selfless Bonnie, people sap you dry if they could and you let them. When it comes to your survival sometimes you gotta play dirty. I like this Bon, I feel we get one another."
I laugh, can't help it. "So you would leave me here too then?"
"I don't know, depends if that selfless side of you wins out or not. If you could only leave with me would you?"
I hesitate, a second but it's enough. He smiles, looking down with a nod. I would leave him here, not because I think he should suffer, I think he has had a life time of it and more. No I would leave him because that spreading heat that is pulsing in my chest like a second heart would infect me with a different kind of blood, something dark and consuming. I have power over him and I am in love with it. A different kind of blood is rushing through him, just as dark and hot, making his lips part and his breath catch every time he gazes at me over long. Is this what happens to witches in confined spaces, do they drive each other mad? No wonder my family has no coven…
I move into his space slowly, eyes fixed on his and his chest rises and falls steadily, eyes hungry. "Goodbye Kai. I think it's better for both of us if we never see each other again. We'll forget each other."
He exhales through his nose, cunning eyes narrowing and then he steps back, head cocking to the side. He holds out his hand. "Fine but we have to promise not to kill each other here. Shake on it?"
"How formal," I smirk and when his palm touches mine he grips tightly. He speaks, pulling me forward a little.
"On one condition. You go on one final drive with me."
"Kai…" I tilt my head, looking at the clock. "It's approaching midnight."
"Exactly. Come on, we'll be two former practitioners seeing in the witching hour, which, another fun fact, is technically three hours. I promise it'll be worth it," he smiles and there is, for just a moment, desperation in his gaze and that dark heat blazes. To be wanted for all the wrong reasons is not something I ever thought I would crave but here we are. I have to get away from him...come morning.
Night in the prison world is dark but as we drive out of Mystic Falls the view through the glass is the kind of darkness that exists in creepy basements and creepier woods. No street lamps shine, no flickering bulbs over deserted gas stations. The smell of gasoline lingers. The exhaust must need looking at. The town had been well lit, even at night but we could be driving through space and I wouldn't question it.
"In the months you and Damon spent here you never stepped foot out of Mystic Falls," he says as a mixtape plays through the car. Alive by Pearl Jam is playing.
"No, we didn't want to risk it but I guess that was futile. There's nothing but you and me...right?"
I look at him as he drives and he smirks. "It's just us but sometimes it feels different...I would go through these cycles of intense paranoia, thinking that there wassomeone there, watching me, waiting. The uncertainty would shift into fear and then madness until that transformed into desperation. My imaginary friend could have been Pennywise the Dancing Clown and I'd be totally up for floating down there with him, you know? Just someone…"
He trails off with a sigh and I look away. He can be at once intensely creepy but also achingly young, if that even makes sense. There is a childlike quality to him I can't ignore. Will that be me after eighteen years, wishing for child killer clowns to come over for brunch? My stomach squeezes.
"But there was no one...you know they're gonna remake that movie?"
"No way. It's classic. Fucking awful but still."
I side eye him, mouth curling. "I just realized there's all these spoilers in my head just waiting to be shared."
"Nope. Anyway half the movies you've seen I don't care about."
"Uh-huh...1999 was when the first Star Wars prequel was released. Anakin Skywalker was a sweet little boy living -"
His hand covers my mouth, his other hand on the steering wheel. "Silence as we drive Bon," he drops his hand from my smiling mouth and he scowls at the dark windscreen and I hear him muttering as we turn into a wooded area, climbing up a hill. "Fucking prequels? What the hell is that?"
As the time draws closer to midnight we stop at the top of the hill, which is clear of trees. We get out and the smell of smoke hits me at once. A building must have burned earlier, or a few trees. The view is dark and when he switches off the headlights the night deepens. I almost reach out for his hand but pull back only for his fingers to wrap lightly around my wrist. He leads me through the dark, apparently knowing where he is going.
"Wow more pitch darkness, neat."
"We're actually overlooking Richmond, the airport."
I frown and squint. "I can't see anything. The city should be visible." My dad used to take me up here to watch aircraft take off and land sometimes. The air is still and hot, like every night but that acrid smell is different.
"You've never been out of Mystic Falls, you never saw the rest of the world at midnight."
I sigh, tired. "What's so important about midnight?"
"It's the reset Bonster," he answers, looking up at the stars. I hate that name. Bonster-monster.
"I know when the reset is, I stayed up a few times to see what happens, which was nothing but a few clouds disappearing and the stars shifting a fraction. Amazing," I deadpan, arms crossing over my chest. A wind is picking up and I'm glad I put jeans and a coat on.
Is this how we will spend our last hour together or has he brought me here to bore me to death? He can't literally kill me, that fear is gone because he needs me if a way out ever materialises so what is this? Kai finally looks down at me as I look at my watch. Two minutes to midnight.
"Do you know how many air planes are over the United States at any given hour? Thousands...and that's just one country."
He grins now, not looking away from my face. "When the reset happens the day moves back to midnight of the 10th, a perfect snapshot of that time. No people, no animals, nothing living or undead. Middle of the night here, not much going on...but," he stresses, "thousands of redeye planes flying at five hundred knots, millions of cars zooming around highways and hundreds of trains flashing past at two hundred miles per hour and no one to fucking stop them!"
"Oh god no," I breathe as the truth of what he is so excited about finally hits me. He begins to laugh giddily as the watch on my wrist beeps midnight. It's a feeble sound that announces the utter carnage that follows.
As time in the prison world resets the city that had once been shrouded in darkness suddenly flickers into life. Roadways are brightly lit, shop fronts illuminated and road signals a steady green. The breeze against my face is fresh and clear of burning. For a few second the city below is quiet, peaceful but moving. In Mystic Falls I had seen a few cars standing bumper to bumper on the roads, and even a few wrapped around trees but not this. I had no inkling of the truth.
Cars with no drivers collide violently, the screech of metal and the crack of plastic heard even at this distance. Speeding cars explode along the highway, caught in that fast forward momentum, sending fireballs into the air while others fly off the overpasses to slam into the ground below. Hundreds of them. I manage to tear my eyes away to look at Kai and he is only staring at me. He's seen this a thousand times, only my reaction is new. This sick observation only takes my attention for a few seconds and I look back as a massive booming noise makes me gasp.
A plane that had just took off does a low nose dive into the tarmac, skidding about thirty feet before slamming into another plane, which topples over. I only stare at this for a moment before an explosion illuminates the other end of the airport where a plane falls into what would have been, at this time, a reasonably busy terminal. The proceeding blast is so loud that I scream and involuntarily cover my ears, unable to look away as the glass windows implode, sending burning debris miles into the air. I cursed how silent this world is but the sound of this destruction is unrelenting. My ears start ringing and the bangs become muffled.
The ground under my feet shifts and another boom rents the air and for just a few seconds the sky is white-orange, the explosion creating a midnight sun. Then all the lights suddenly wink off, like someone had just flipped a switch. Electrical plant gone for the city? I barely have time to wonder as fires spread below us, smoke billowing. The scent of gasoline in the car had not been because of a fault.
It is like looking at hell. My face aches, my mouth open wide but not with a scream, not with horror, I wish it was. I cover the insane grin on my face, unable to relax it. As the last car flips over Kai laughs, inhaling a breath and holds it and that is truly the most frightening thing. It's a noise of anticipation. I want to move back, to run and he must sense this because suddenly his arms are around me, pressing me tightly against his chest. His lips brush my ear.
"Don't move from this spot, the best part is about to happen."
I open my mouth to spit something at him, to fight but I only laugh hysterically. Then a thin whistle freezes any movement. I look up and see nothing but darkness but then red pinpricks appear, followed by a whoosh of intense heat. A jet plane, that must have been thousands of feet up in the air at the time of the reset, falls out of the sky at sickening speed. Roaring fills the night and Kai falls to his knees, bringing me down as the plane plummets over us, past the hill and then hits the ground. The impact knocks me unconscious for a few seconds because when I look up the earth is on fire and my mind is just as blasted. Dazed, I throw out my hands, calling on magic that is no longer there.
"Get off me!"
I push him back, elbow to his ribs and jump to my feet. My mind roars along with the fire, out of control. In retrospect I know it is stupid but seeing so much devastation, so much noise and destruction my instinct is to run towards it. Kai, who must have thought I was going to race away from the burning but empty wreckage, lets go and only stops me when I scream something about getting help. His hand grabs my ankle and I fall to the ground with a thud, air whooshing from my lungs at the impact. I barely feel it. He flips me over and tugs me up by my shoulders, still on his knees.
"What are you doing?"
"The - the fire! They -"
"They? Bonnie there's no one in there, no one is dead because there's no one but us," he gazes at me, fire dancing in his eyes and he shakes his head. "Christ, you would have died for nothing."
I stare at him, the heat and smoke surrounding us and my heart thunders, my blood races with a mad elation. No one is dead. I'm alive. Around so much destruction I feel terrifying, untouchable and exalted. I shake my head, trying to clear it. "Why - why did you do this?"
"I didn't do this. It's just a cool side effect of the loop."
"Cool? Cool?" My head clears and I smack at his chest, enraged. "You thought this would be fun? You're fucking crazy!"
"That wasn't fun? I'm glad you think so because you know what? This isn't for you Bonnie. All this shit is mine," he says through his teeth, hands tight around my forearms. "You wanna go out there on your own, do a little sight seeing? Go ahead but good luck because unlike me you can actually die."
"You ain't coming back Bonnie. Unlike everything in this hell you're the one thing that has an expiry date. Which sucks for me because you're my ticket out of here."
"You - you took me here to prove a point?" I gape at him and then laugh and the sound is crazy but I don't care. "You got pissed at me for setting the ascendant alight but then you do this? It's like you have to constantly one up me."
"It's true I pay you back in kind but this wasn't revenge. You want to leave when the alternative is this?" he motions at the fires but this time I cannot look away from his face.
"This is concern?" I laugh, struggling to my feet. "I'm only here because you took me! If you were so worried you could have told me the areas to avoid but you wanted to scare me."
Like he wanted to feel my hand on his chest...But not to scare me, something else.
He shakes his head, jaw clenching and stands. "I wanted to warn you. You wouldn't have believed me or worse your curiosity would have gotten the best of you and you would have come here and gotten yourself killed."
"I could have tonight because of you!"
"I've stood here and watched this over a thousand times, died about eighty of those times. This is the safest spot. I just - just wanted you to see it," he looks a little sheepish and I'm floored. He actually believes this was a good idea, that I would enjoy this display of carnage while also using it as a warning? This would be Malachai Parker's idea of a date, god help me.
My face is still sore from grinning. Had I enjoyed it? Had I felt fear? Initially but then...I look away from the fires, an element that called to me even before I knew the power I could wield. Awe does not mean delight. I survived and there is no shame in feeling happy about that. However he does not get off so lightly.
"So I'm safest with you...in the danger that you bring me to? You're certifiable."
"Duh…" he utters weakly as I walk away, back to the car. Fires rage, lighting the way but he comes up behind me, taking my hand and will not let go. "One day, when you've been here long enough the fear that makes you feel alive right now will turn into exaltation."
"I'd have to be as psycho as you for that day to happen."
It already has. I have never felt more alive.
"If you really are hard up about not playing nice and want to live in this hell alone you will be. Trust me," he says, pushing me against the passenger side door.
"I think I was starting to. Thanks for reminding me why I shouldn't."
He sighs, rubbing at his eyes. "I was trying to show you this world is not safe but whatever. Get in the car."
I refuse, gazing at him and he growls and grins, hands tight on my skin. His eyes flick to my lips, which are parted and this time he does not look away.
He's going to kiss me...I watch him leaning down, as if in slow motion and the thrill that had been fading winds its way through me again, dark and thick and I want, for just that heady moment, to experience his kiss. A kiss I know will be as consuming as his magic, as strong and intense and nothing but take, take, take...he'd use me up, leave me weak and shaking. It would not stop there, he'd fuck me as the world burns...if I let him. What I can give to him I can take away and if he takes it by force I'd destroy him. He knows it, that's why we're not struggling in the backseat right now. He will never have me because I will never submit.
I place my fingers against his chin. "Actually you have been helpful: stay in bed during the witching hour. Got it."
He grinds his teeth and says nothing during the drive back. I fall asleep and do not see peaceful, safe Mystic Falls flick past.
I know no one was hurt, no one was killed but I wake sweating and shouting in the passenger seat of an unfamiliar car. Disorientated, heart pounding I sit up. Kai drives, whistling along to Total Eclipse of the Heart.
"Morning. You were screaming, didn't wanna wake you."
"All righty then," he grins and I roll my eyes. Ace Venturer came out in 1994 and his speech is littered with quotes. Greenery flicks past and I stretch, my neck stiff.
"Where are we?"
"No longer in Kansas," he answers and I don't know if he's messing with me or not. Corn stretches either side of us. Wherever we are I don't want to spend even a second more with him. The mad thrill and arousal of the night before haunts me.
"Take me back, now."
"Why? As long as the eclipse is overhead it doesn't matter what state we're in."
"The next town is an hour away."
"I don't care. Stop the car, I want to get out," I stare at him but he continues driving, his lips quirking. I reach over and jerk the wheel, making the car swerve and he swears, pulling the car over and stops.
"Listen, Bonnie," he says as I try to open the door but it's locked.
"Not until you listen," he sighs, turning the music off and I turn to him, shoulder against the window. He looks...regretful? "Last night was a mistake, okay? I've seen so many midnight's in so many cities that I forgot how, well, how big it all is. Though what you saw is nothing to midnight in New York," he adds, his eyes gleaming.
"Let me guess you go there for New Year's Eve?" The thought of Time Square ablaze sends a shiver through me. A hot shiver.
"If you're still here then check it out for yourself," he jokes and I shake my head. He grows serious, as serious as he can. "I'm sorry, I didn't do it to fuck with you. No one was killed so I thought you wouldn't freak out. I haven't exactly had the opportunity to socialise with people, my skills have suffered eighteen years of stagnation. I just wanted you to see that this world lives and dies at midnight."
I listen to him, watching his face for any deceit but he looks honest. Every time he mentions how long he has been here my stomach squeezes. I can't grow old here but if he is telling the truth I can die. Midnight is when it all goes down but I remember the smell of smoke on the air, the total darkness surrounding us. Right now Richmond is a smoking ruin. The major cities must be even worse. I do not fear dying at his hands but if I travel to the wrong place at the wrong time…
Kai smiles and leans forward as I let this sink in. "Yup, you really are living in a post apocalypse world where the safe places are boring towns like Mystic Falls. However now that Damon is gone, no walking dead. Bummer."
I look away, not wanting him to see my thin smile. I stare at the tall corn shifting in the sunshine. If I run I'd just get lost but my hand still rings the handle. I feel calmer, the event becoming unreal as I think about it but it did happened. Kai just wanted me to see something new, something fun and for all the insanity of that I think it was from a strangely innocent place. He should be so angry at me for trapping him here but he's not. He needs me...wants me. Again that flare of satisfaction rises, a rich, thick emotion that coils inside me like a sated cat.
Run, for god's sake, before you grow any weirder. He said I rubbed off on him, which was bullshit, but I think the opposite is happening.
I let go of the handle and turn to him, face impassive. "Drive to the next town, I need something to eat."
"There's a candy bar on the dash," he smiles, starting the car and I reach for it. He had half already and I break a piece off, eating the honey covered oats slowly, watching his face, a face that seems carefully impassive but he breathes heavily, casting swift looks at me. If I ran now through the corn, he'd chase me because I have a piece of the ascendant. If he caught me...Kai hasn't touched a woman for almost twenty years. I feared this before but now...it's interesting. I wouldn't touch him if he was made of magic but still. Interesting.
I lick the crumbs off my palm.
We drive through field after field, the sun beating down and as midday approaches I see another plume of smoke on the horizon, the endless corn fields finally at our back. Another plane? A high speed train with no one to apply the breaks? We don't stop and neither of us comment on it as we finally reach the town, which is near Muncie. We're in Indiana. The main road consists of a post office, a convenience store and not much else. Kai stops before a hotel. We get out, the temperature rising as the sun climbs higher.
"Wanna check it out?" he looks at me over the roof of the car, smiling. I want him to get in and drive away, leave me alone but he has the ascendant and I have a part of it. He won't let me go and I need the rest of the device. I sigh, saying nothing and walk into the hotel, which is a small Victorian townhouse. In the real world this would be a small but picaresque place to stay. Now it feels eerie, the whole world does.
I want food, a clean bed and no Kai commentary for the next few hours and I tell him this. He pouts, though he looks as tired as I feel. He puts his hands in his pockets as I walk up the stairs, staring at him until I reach the first floor and exhale a long breath. Sleep first, and then I'll make another plan…
I sleep through the morning and into the afternoon. I wake with a thumping head, hungry and disorientated. I had dreamt of burning planes in burning fields, of Kai dancing with me in the carnage as Auld Lang Syne played from the car stereo behind us.
If I'm here to welcome in the "new year" I might just be crazy enough to slow dance in the middle of catastrophe. Especially if I'm still with him…
I open the door and look down to see my duffel bag. He must have made a pit stop in Mystic Falls while I was asleep. I unzip it and pull out a pair of jeans and shirt, the ones I had been wearing when he shot me. He must have grabbed what was closest. Stuffing the clothes back in I look at the room across from me, the door wide open and see him asleep. He is face down, tall body spread out atop of the covers. I creep closer, noting a semi-circle of metal poking out from under his pillow. The ascendant. He is shirtless but still in jeans, like he had slumped onto the bed, too tired to take the rest of his clothes off. I move into the room, which is decorated in the same saccharine floral style as mine, and stop before him. He has one hand under the pillow, his long fingers no doubt resting on the device. I reach out and touch the ascendant very gently. I have no magic, not yet, but all I have to do is slip the key from him, reunite it with the wheel that's currently hiding in the band of my bra and I'm a step closer to getting home.
He'd never leave me alone…I'd do the same, in his place.
I stare at his sleeping face, peaceful and appearing younger than his twenty two years and think how he has waited and waited for me and all I want to do is leave him to rot. I draw my hand away from the ascendant and move back. When I reach the door he wakes up, lifting his head off the pillow with a bleary, tight expression before he relaxes.
"I have to keep reminding myself you're real, not a dream or a hallucination…" he murmurs and I smile weakly.
"I'm gonna make something to eat. I'll call you when it's ready," I walk out, leaving him to stare after me with a soft smile. His happiness always seems so genuine and maybe it is. He wants us to work together and he made me aware of the dangers this world poses. He didn't have to, he could be using this opportunity to vent his anger at me. He needs me more than he needs revenge and I'm starting to believe it's more than what I can do for him. He has hope, in what I don't know but it makes me feel that if he still has it after being alone for so long then maybe my chances are not so slim.
I look through the pretty hotel until I find the kitchen and pantry and begin to make a meal, flicking on a stereo and finding a cassette tape soundtrack of Dirty Dancing. I hum along to Do You Love Me as I put a pot of water on the stove to boil. I catch him leaning against the doorframe, while I'm doing the mash potato dance. I smile in embarrassment.
"Seen Dirty Dancing a little too often."
He smirks, still watching me. "Don't stop on my account. Swayze is like one of my favourite actors. You seen Point Break?"
I shake my head sadly, thinking of the dead actor and Kai cocks his head at me so I break the truth to him. He looks genuinely devastated. He sits at the kitchen table as I console him, pushing away the voice that scolds me for doing so. Wipe Out starts playing and I shake my hips a little, back to him as I mix a sauce for the chicken. I know he is watching my every move and I remember the look on his face when I licked the palm of my hand in the car. I don't have to see his face to know he's giving me the same look. I don't know what to do with this sickly heat so I turn up the music and focus on frying the chicken but I see the corn field through the kitchen window and imagine how far I would get…
The house has a heated pool out back and he almost cajoles me to join him after dinner and four glasses of wine. He said he could lift me over his head like that scene in Dirty Dancing. I had scoffed and told him to practise with one of the inflatables. He's thin, a swimmer's build, but I've felt the strength running through that body. He could keep me up. Actually he'd probably try drowning me and dress it up as a warning about the dangers of swimming…
I undress, looking at the wound on my chest. It still aches but the cut is closed and I can move almost normally now. In a large t-shirt I found I slip into bed, knowing that he's drying himself in the room across from me, the ascendant safely under his pillow and his pocket knife under the other. I turn over, the small wheel from the device gripped tightly in my hand and close my eyes…
…Corn husks rub against each other, creating a friction that sparks and burns until the plant starts to smoke. The field is on fire and I run from the car and don't look back. I had stolen the device, hidden it and he chases me. My wrists are bound, to stop thieving hands he said but I have escaped. The corn sways, sending up smoke and fire and the sky above is dark, the moon over the sun. It does not move.
"Bonnie!" he is close, too close and I run faster. Pushing leaves out of my way with my bound wrists I burst free onto an empty parking lot. A large building stands there and beside it a massive totem pole thrusts into the dim sky. A mall? I run, electric doors swishing open to let me pass. Tables, couches, beds and fridges line every walkway. If I can lose him in this maze, double back and grab the ascendant then I can hotwire a car…
"Not really in the mood for hide and seek anymore…" his voice is low, carrying over the distance. I crouch behind a bookcase, looking for him. I tug the end of the cloth with my teeth, pulling but I can't get the restraint off. Straining to hear, heart beating erratically I stand and slip behind another bookcase, desks and wardrobes around me. He could be anywhere.
Boyz to Men croon faintly over the sound system when I reach the gardening section, which reminds me of something but any thought disappears when a screech comes from the speakers and the song stops.
"Aisle ten you're out of pickaxes, please restock. Aisle two needs more fountain pens. I think there's a murderer on the loose and they're her weapons of choice. Don't wanna lose a loyal costumer…" his nasally voice blares through the store and I can suddenly picture him looking at me from a bank of monitors, maybe with his feet up and a speaker in his hand. I look up and see a camera pointing at me and rising I flip it off. His laughter echoes through the store. I give up the pretence of hiding and race for the doors, the store too big to find another exit. I see the open doors and almost reach them when he jumps out from inside a wardrobe and grabs me.
"Give it to me!"
"I don't have it!" I yell as he wraps his arms around my body, my back to him. I struggle, my hands useless and so jump up and push my feet hard against the wardrobe. Kai slams back against another, breath whooshing from his mouth with a grunt but his arms tighten. One large hand rings my bound wrists as the other suddenly flicks out a knife and brings it up against my throat. I freeze.
"I'm not playing anymore. I know you have it," he murmurs into my ear, his breath hot. He lets the tip of the blade slide along my jugular.
"You can't kill me," my voice is thick and small. He smiles, I can feel his teeth against my ear and then he presses his face in my hair with a sigh.
"I'll never kill you Bonnie…but if you don't give me what I want I'll…"
"What?" I whisper as he brushes his lips against my bare shoulder. Heat like lava spikes up through me, so intense I don't know what it is. Sweating heavily I bang against him again, which just makes him laugh and lower the blade but any relief at the absence is gone when he places the blade at the neck of my white sweater and then slices downwards. He rips it off, even the arms as I struggle to turn, to escape. The tatters of my top at our feet he grabs my wrists, tugging the lasts of the material free, leaving me in just a short dress and bare legs. Kai is sharp, wicked sharp but now that force that made him chase me is dulling his eyes into a fervent heat. He's a burning blade, warped and buckling under the pressure.
Oh god…I get three paces from him when he grabs me and pushes us forward until I'm pressed against a high backed chair. He buries his face against my neck again, his knife now by my thigh.
"You offered me everything once."
"Only my magic."
"Take it all? You want that?" he asks, as if he had not heard me. His fingers brush my thigh, the knife gone. His other hand wraps around my throat and he tilts my head back when I don't answer. I stare into his eyes.
"I'll never give you what you want. You don't scare me," I hiss and he smiles softly, those darkened eyes trailing from my eyes to my lips. His erection presses hard against my lower back and I keep still as he speaks.
"I don't want to scare you. I want you to come with me, stay with me…stop making this impossible," he groans and the hand against my thigh runs over my hip and then my stomach. He leans back, hand still around my throat and gropes at my dress and I almost laugh. Does he think the ascendant is hidden under there?
Of course he doesn't…
He palms my breasts, gently at first but when my glaring eyes meet his he squeezes, baring his teeth. He looks ravenous, a beast held back by a piece of cotton string. I bare my own teeth.
"I've faced worse than you. You're nothing. I'm not afraid," I whisper it and slowly grind against his pelvis. He freezes before he drops the knife and his hand meets the other around my neck. Like in the car the pressure is light but then it starts to tighten. I suck in a breath and wonder if I'll ever take a second when his hands are gone and delving under my dress. I overbalance, tipping forward and then he's pushing me face down on the large padded desk. Hand against my back he leans forward, reaching for something and I hear a rattle and then my hands are being tugged, forcing my body up. He ties my wrists to a lamp screwed to the desk, using strips of my top. His weight settles on me, gripping either side of the desk. He's rock hard against my ass.
"Tell me," he says roughly and I wonder what he will do if I do tell him. Would he stop? He's a runaway train now, in freefall. Game over. The moon's stuck over the sun.
He growls in answer and I groan when he leans off me and runs his hands up my legs, under my dress. He palms my ass, his breathing coming in bursts now and slides his hands around my hips and tugs them up. When his hand slips against the front of my panties, feeling how hot and wet they are, he stops breathing and then exhales my name. Then the blade returns, running along my bare back but I feel no pain. I press my face against the desk, inhaling the leather and polish scent as he slides the blade under the band of my bra and cuts it open. I gasp when he suddenly flips me over. My wrists stretch against the cloth keeping them bound, my fingers twining in the length for something to grab onto. He pants, like me.
"One last chance…" he gulps but his t shirt is already on the floor, his chest gleaming with sweat. Boyz to Men gives way to Jeff Buckley's Mojo Pin and I know it's strange but can't say why. Kai, leaning his weight on a hand beside my hip, points the switch blade at me. I smile.
"For me or you?"
His hand shakes and all the air escapes his mouth in a drawn out moan before he leans forward and slams the knife into the desk above my head, right between my wrists. I get my Doc Martens up as he leans back and push them hard against his chest. He laughs, stumbling back and then grabs my legs before I can kick him, tugging me down the desk. He rips them off my feet where they clunk heavily to the floor, leaving my feet bare. Hands gripping my calves Kai lifts my right leg and play bites at my shin, eyes burning before he roughly spreads my legs apart and moves between the well of my thighs. I fumble for the knife and get my fingers around the handle but it's embedded too deep in the wood. I breathe heavy but have no fear.
I should be frightened…but I feel none. I think he has forgotten why he chased me through the corn, why he tied me up and pressed me down. Far above a dirty skylight shows a gap of the sky and the black hole that is now the sun gapes down at me. The world which is already broken has stopped, like a corrupted file. Am I the virus?This isn't meant to happen, you're not meant to be here with him.
"Then get me out…" I murmur and Kai stills, his nimble fingers fumbling with his belt. I gaze at him, almost bored but I am liquefying, I am dissolving. He forgets his belt and pushes my dress up and hooks his fingers around my knickers. I say nothing, do not move and he takes this as consent. He tugs them down my legs, staring into my eyes and he looks mad. What did he expect? Screaming?
"Being brave," he utters scornfully but then smirks, his fingertips trailing over the buttons keeping my skater dress together. He doesn't use the knife, he doesn't even use his fingers. He grabs the floaty material in his hands and rips it apart, sending buttons scattering. My destroyed bra hangs loosely, my breasts bare and he pushes the bra aside, his fingers skimming my hard nipples before he loosens his belt and pushes his trousers and boxers down. His cock springs free, long and achingly hard. I look away, upwards at the black hole sun as he thumbs one of my nipples, pinching to get my attention and I look down as he slides his hands around my hips, fingers digging into my ass as he positions himself. His chest rises and falls, his bitten lower lip swollen and I think with a detached observation that he has not kissed me and know that he won't. This isn't the time.
He gazes at me, eyes trailing over my heaving chest, my tense stomach and then at my lightly haired cunt. He inhales deeply and releases it and I watch as his thumb brushes through my damp curls before barely skimming my clit. He has not seen, touched or fucked a woman in almost two decades. He wants to eat me alive.
"Wait," I shudder as he strokes his cock, from haired base to tip. He freezes and his eyes snap to mine. I see surprise in his wide eyes, which narrow at my look of victory. He will never win, no matter what he does. He has no power over me…I think he loves it as much as I do.
He reaches up and puts his hand around my throat again as I bury my face against the crook of my arm. He draws his hard length up and down me and hooking my leg over his arm he begins to push inside. He does not slam up to the hilt, he does not ravish me, not yet. He moves slow, inch by inch and he stretches me, watching himself disappear into my body. I look at his face as his eyes close and his mouth opens as he slides in as much as he can and stops. He smiles in wonder, groaning, savouring the moment before he pulls out just as slowly.
I buck my hips and grind my head against the desk as he removes his hand from my throat and grips my other hip, stopping my movements. Kai thrusts slow, so slow and it's too much and not enough. Biting his bottom lip he opens his eyes, watching his cock slide in and out and then looks at my flushed face, my averted gaze. He slams into me, forcing a scream out of my mouth and making the desk jerk. His eyes gleam, ravenous insanity I have seen before. He had been sucking my magic away and trying to stop himself from taking it all. No such resistance now. He fucks me hard, forcing my legs over his shoulders and his fingers are back around my throat. He leans over me, his hips pounding and he pushes against my chin to I face him. His lips hover above mine and we pant, hot air mixing.
"Give it to me," he growls and I want to, want to drown him in it but I just look away, closing my eyes and he leans off, swearing when I clench and clench around him. He hammers his cock so hard and fast my breasts bounce, which he moulds and squeezes in his hands before sucking on them. I run the length of cloth keeping me tied down against the blade between my wrists and he catches me and grins. He nips at my ear, his body pressing flush to mine, his movements stilling.
"Wanna see who comes first? If you do I'll let you go."
"And if you win?"
"I take it all," he whispers, eyes a strange dark blue like the sky above. I nod, and he seals the deal with the tenderest kiss I've ever had. Then he fucks me relentlessly, leaving bruises, bite marks and scratches all over my body and I want to rake my nails down him as he screams my name, as he chokes on me. The blade almost cuts through the restraint and I grit my teeth, trying to focus but he won't let me. I'm so wet he slips out, cursing and then he flips me over and takes me from behind. I gasp as he pushes inside, lifting my hips with his hands and I forget about the blade and the deal. He gasps for air, groaning my name, pleading before he hisses Latin curses. I try to stop myself but the useless hexes coming out of his mouth make me scream. Hands now on my shoulders, my bouncing ass tilted up against his thrusting pelvis I stare at the blade, see blood seeping through the cloth and my hands are free.
Kai goes rigid as he pleads with god and me, his thrusts fast, rough but erratic and he chokes, sucking in air as I tug the blade from the desk as he comes deep inside me. Pleasure waves over me, making me cry out even as I sweep the knife back in an arc through the air and he roars in pain but unable to stop the buck of his hips. I drop the knife and grip the desk, shaking under him and look at my bloody fingers before I push them down my body, between my legs where he is still buried. He lies heavy against my back, pinning me down. Sweat dripping off us we tremble and whimper.
"Just – just one more chance," he says in a guttural breath as power surges up from where we are joined, at the hot trickle of his blood and mine running over my thighs. Nothing else matters.
My eyes spring open, staring at the stark dawn light and I bite at my pillow to stop the scream from escaping. I push my hand down into the sticky heat between my thighs and come almost instantly, the pillow now muffling the sound of his name. Chest heaving, my limbs shaking with satisfaction and torment I look at the door and picture his wide open.
"Oh god…" I stare and stare and then get up. "I have to leave him."
And so I do. I go to the bathroom and shower standing on rubbery legs and clean myself up. I pull out the jeans and shirt he had given me, which smell freshly cleaned and put them on. In the bag I see he had packed another outfit and with an edge of hysteria I look at the white top and skater dress before stuffing them back in and zipping the bag closed. In the dead of night I tiptoe into his room. He sleeps with his back to me, clothed this time. The ascendant is visible under the pillow but I don't take it. I have a piece, that's all I need. I can't follow the dream, I won't.
And he gives chase.
Damon had hotwired cars while we were here and so does Kai. He likes "fuck you" cars, as he called them but I've gone for anything with enough gas in the tank. I flick the exposed wires together, wishing for a spark and smile when the engine came to life. I drive back towards Virginia but I don't make it very far.
For a brief insane second I wonder who is driving the red car so fast in the rear-view mirror when my hands tighten around the steering wheel. How did he know I'd go this way? It's not on the interstate, it's practically a dirt road. Trying to ignore the dense corn crop on either side of the road and the approaching eclipse I accelerate but he has chosen a fuck you car, which is smaller than mine. He gains on me and my heart thumps when he suddenly speeds past and then comes to a screeching halt directly across the road. I put my foot on the break before I hit him but with a stab of something awful and bitter I put my foot to the gas. His car, though fast, is a piece of crap and when I ram into his passenger side the sports car goes flying into the corn, flipping over and over. I make it a few metres before stopping, my knuckles white on the wheel.
Did I just do that? I've sent a pick axe into his heart and other pointy objects but this brute show of force renders me motionless but inside I'm twisting. Stomach churning I look in the rear view and see a plume of smoke before an explosion makes me scream as the car hidden in the field bursts into flame. I don't know I'm out of the car until I'm running into the field, shouting out his name. Again I don't know why. He'll live.
What if the ascendant is now a melting blob of metal? The question pops into my head and will not go away. Kai will live, from what he has said not even losing his head sticks but the device..? Smoke curling though the stalks, which start to burn, I see debris, bits of the red sports car and trip, landing on my front.
"Oww," I look behind me and see that I've fallen over the bumper but that's not what makes me scrabble up. The ascendant lies half buried in the earth. It must have been thrown from the crash, or Kai did it. He clearly values it more than his own life…I pick it up, expecting it to come apart in my hands but it looks undamaged. Can I say the same for Kai?
Who cares? He'll live! I've got it, get back in the car and drive away! I nod, getting to my feet but I don't move. I look back at the burning corn and hearing a groan I move forward, pushing husks out of the way. Kai sits on the ground, massaging his leg and he looks up at me.
"Do you think they'll pop?" he asks, motioning at the burning stalks and I can't help it, I laugh. He sees the device in my hand and struggles to his feet. I thought he would be a mangled body but for a bleeding cut on his head and a possible broken leg he looks okay. The world is healing him and I watch as the cut on his forehead closes slowly.
"Are – are you okay?"
"Wow, thanks for asking. That was way harsh. That car was brand new and you totally busted it," he comments, hobbling closer and I move back. His eyes are fixed on mine but he is thinking of the ascendant in my hand. He smiles. "You could have left me, driven away. You coulda gone anywhere…but you're here."
"And now I'm going," I move with the device and turn around, get a few steps before he pulls me back. His touch is electrifying and I start to breathe heavily, the smoke around us thickening.
Oh god, what is this?
"You have a serious case of sticky fingers Bon. Naughty girl. Gonna have to do something about that…" he whispers into my ear, hand tight around my bicep. I do not turn; I can't look at him. He presses against my back and makes me walk, using me as a crouch. We make it out of the corn, onto the road and my waiting car.
"You're gonna tie my hands together aren't you?"
"Oh, that's a good idea. Got any others?" he jokes, turning me around and then pressing me against the side of the car. My watch beeps. The eclipse is about to start. I hand the ascendant to him and he freezes, eyes narrowing in a look I've seen so often now. He asks me to trust him, to believe, but he would have to underestimate me for that. He knows me better.
"No fight? Come on, it'll be fun," he cajoles, nudging me with his hip and my entire body feels on fire. I reach down and slip the device into the pocket of his trousers. He blinks and looks down, eyebrows lifting. "Okaay…"
"Let me go," I say tiredly and he looks up with a smile but his jaw clenches.
"I caught you, fair and square. Actually you pretty much handed yourself over," he leans closer, mouth smirking and at the proximity I turn my face away, hands against his chest. Kai stiffens in confusion, his hands on my arms and then he leans off me, shrugging.
"I can't stay with you anymore."
"I just can't. Let me go."
"You still have a piece. If you're so desperate to leave give it to me," he demands quietly and I reach into my pocket and hand it over, surprising him again. I don't think he believed I would. He pockets it and I shrug.
"You still need me, wheel or no wheel."
He smiles, nodding. "If you leave you could find yourself is all sorts of jammy jams. I need you alive…I want you alive," he adds softly, his eyes searching over my strained face. He smiles a little shyly. "I like you Bon. I really do because otherwise I wouldn't be doing this. Come back with me?"
I shake my head but he won't take no for an answer and I know what will happen if I run. He motions at the car and after a hesitating moment I get in. Kai gets behind the wheel as the moon begins to slice across the sun. He stares at me.
"I know you wanna go home, so do I. I'm gonna tell you the truth okay. I want to re-join my coven but I want more than that. I want to lead it…I'd like you to be there to see that."
I say nothing, just stare blankly at him and he shrugs again, eyes widening in mock affront before he switches on the radio. Classical music drifts around us as we drive, heading north and as we clear the corn fields my heart stops. We enter another small town and a dark column comes into view. Kai points at it.
"I think it's a mall. Wanna stop for breakfast?"
"Keep driving," I whisper, throat too tight to speak any louder. Kai frowns at me as the totem pole passes and he relents. As the moon covers the sun we drive past the mall and as I watch it disappear from the mirror I exhale a deeply held breath. Kai frowns at me but I don't care.
I have no magic but I'm still a witch. Stepping foot in that place would bring a future I do not want into life. I wonder, in his powerless state, if he feels that too because as we drive he looks back often and stares at me like he suspects. What does Kai Parker dream of?
We stop at a rundown diner at the side of the road, the kind built on top of cinder blocks. He makes me a cheese burger and fries and when I finish he asks me to present my hands. I stop drinking my milkshake and stare at him with dead eyes and he grins, a length of a white cloth taut between his hands. With a swoop I realise it's a piece of the white top in my bag. I put my wrists together and stare up at him unflinchingly. I see amused arousal in his eyes as he gets to work.
"Why are you letting me do this?" he asks.
I shrug but I know. The alternative is worse. I don't have any fight left, I just don't care. I gaze at him as he tightens the knot and he catches my eyes. "Do you want to kill me?"
He blinks, sitting next to me on the seat. He tilts his head and I think he is going to make a joke but surprisingly he sobers up. "No. You're all I have," he admits and gazes at me deeply. I inhale, nodding. If he was normal, if this was a normal day and we were normal people we'd be sharing a milkshake, talking about magic and college. He'd lean over and kiss me and I'd let him. But this is not normal. We're in a world that has no start or end, nothing grows and so nothing changes. Except me, it changed when I got here. I'm his hope... He stares at me and when his eyes settle on my lips I do not pull back or turn away.
"Can I trust you?"
"Yes. I'd do anything for it."
"Even letting me go?"
His jaw clenches and he leans back, staring at my strawberry milkshake on the table. "Bonnie…we could be worlds apart and we'd need each other. We're all each other has. Do you understand? There's no letting go."
He's just saying this, he only needs me to get out…it's true but I don't care. I'm tired of doubting. I will find a way to get home, with or without him. I have to because that dream, that vision is madness and I won't let it happen. Ever. My hands bound I sip on the milkshake, fearless and he snorts at me, shaking his head as he sits opposite again. He sucks on his straw, his shake chocolate, and eyes me over the table.
"You'll drive me off the road won't you?"
I shrug. "If you insist on taking me with you. It's something you're gonna have to deal with."
He smiles, nodding. "If I keep you in the back seat you'd pop up like a jack in the box."
"I learn from example." He's right, I'd get my tied hands around his throat. A flood of something like gasoline alights in me at the idea. I want to hurt him…but he does not want to harm me. Jesus, who's the psycho here?
Kai sighs, as if reading my mind and fingers his straw in his glass. "I thought so, that's why I had to resort to this measure."
"Huh?" I sit back, feeling sleepy.
"I drugged your milkshake."
"Don't worry, it'll only last for a few hours. Anyway it'll help with the pain and I think you could do with some rest Bon," he smiles, motioning at my chest as he gets to his feet. My body does feel pleasantly numb. I shuffle out of the booth, trying to stand and when I get to my feet I fall into his waiting arms.
"You – you…" I want to say you're doing this as pay back. Every wound I have inflicted he has paid me back in kind. This is a love bite in comparison to driving him off the road.
He shushes me like he had before. "It's okay. I'll make it up to you," he promises as I lean against his chest, my vision swimming. I want to shake my head, to laugh and shout but I just groan and my legs give way. The last thing I remember before I wake up in the trunk of a strange car is Kai sweeping me up in his arms, carrying me through the diner and speaking softly.
"Everyone deserves another chance, you know? That's all I want and I've waited eighteen years for mine but for you…I think I can wait a little longer."