The characters are the property of LJ Smith and The Vampire Diaries/CW© and do not belong to me unless stated otherwise.
Chapter 1: Make Out Like It Never Happened
Jeremy Gilbert decided right then and there that he hated the Decade Dance. Crazy shit always happened by the end. Painful shit that tore at his insides that made him wish for do-overs and second chances. Like now.
He felt her. He sensed her. He smelled her signature, exotic perfume. He heard the quiet hitches of breath she took and the painful way she choked back her tears. Everyone crowded together in the woods, but it was only Bonnie Bennett who captured his attention. Even with his back to her, he was fully attuned to every sigh and low moan of sadness at Alaric’s predicament.
Jeremy swallowed hard at the thought. His mentor, his guardian, his friend… The man who taught him how to wield stakes with precision had now become what he had most despised—a vampire. Less than forty-eight hours back in Mystic Falls and this was the bullshit that greeted Jeremy on his return!
Then movement started around him. With Alaric enclosed in the tomb, there was nothing else to do. Nothing else to look at. Stefan escorted Elena away. Caroline ducked into the trees with Tyler close behind. Matt walked off alone. Damon lingered near Meredith, lost expressions marked both their faces. Jeremy turned and saw Bonnie taking measured steps in the opposite direction of everyone else. Her head bowed and her shoulders slumped. Having loved her, he recognized the body language immediately.
Moving quickly, he caught up to her. Automatically, his fingers slid against hers. “Bonnie, wait.”
Electric. It was so cliché and so CW©, but that’s what touching her again felt like. Ripples of energy coursed from their joined flesh and pulsed through him. He could have blamed it on her supernatural status, but he wasn’t a kid. That explanation was too simple to be enough.
She jerked her hand free and pulled it to her chest as if she’d felt it, too. Water pooled in the sea-green eyes that stared back at him. “What, Jeremy?”
“Can we talk?”
For the briefest moment, she hesitated. His heart raced with hope and anticipation. Then a shadow crossed her features, closing her off from him. She shook her head.
“I can’t. Jamie’s waiting for me.”
“Your mom’s son,” Jeremy said. “Elena told me about him.”
“I know it’s not biological, but still.” Yeah, it was a dick thing to say, but seeing her on the dance floor with the guy brought the dick out in Jeremy. He hadn’t liked it, so he rushed off and acted as if he didn’t care. But that was bullshit. He cared. A lot.
“I have to go.”
“I’ll walk you to your car.” He moved in close beside her, but not too close. Just close enough for her to know that he wasn’t backing down.
They fell into step together. The urge to talk to her about everything and nothing swept over him. The desire to wrap her in his arms and never let her go almost did him in. Somehow, he managed to keep his hands to himself. With great control, he kept his mouth shut, too. Simply, being in her presence was actually more than he expected. Yeah, he grieved for his friend, but he also relished spending time with this beautiful, amazing witch regardless how tense, or edgy it was.
The road appeared far too soon for Jeremy’s liking. Her little Prius was parked underneath a lamppost and Matt stood waiting against his truck for Jeremy. He walked her to the driver’s side. She actually allowed him to hold the door open for her. When she sat down, he tried to ignore how her short, flapper dress rode up to reveal her silky, smooth caramel thighs. As their gaze met, he made a note how a familiar light danced in her beautiful eyes. Then she pulled the door from his grasp, gunned the engine, and was gone.
Matt’s silence as they drove through town was appreciated. Jeremy needed the quiet to collect his thoughts. Last year this time, he and Bonnie had a few issues but overall they were perfect. By far, she was the best girlfriend he’d ever had. She knew him. Every cruddy, runny nose, emo, druggy phase of him and she wanted him anyway. She saw through all of it and recognized that he was hot—that he was a man. He could kick himself for fucking everything up so badly.
Why would he do that?
“Yo, man. Home or…?” Matt asked at the traffic light.x
Home? Jeremy sighed. He couldn’t go home. Too many memories of Alaric. Of Alaric and Jenna. Of Jenna, Uncle John, and his parents.
“Or it is.”
Matt did a wheelie around the town square which was crazy as hell in that old truck. Jeremy croaked out a chuckle despite feeling like a pile of steaming hot dog shit. He wasn’t too surprised when the older teen parked in the alley behind the Grille.
They slammed out of the truck. Slipping in afterhours was easy considering Matt had worked there forever and had a key. Jeremy followed Matt to the bar, taking a seat on a stool while Matt went behind the counter.
“Tonight was sick,” Matt declared.
Jeremy nodded. What could he add to that?
His friend put two shot glasses on the table, grabbed a bottle of Jack and poured liberally. Jeremy’s eyes lit up. He had partied some in Denver, but since coming home, he’d decided to chill. But that was before tonight. He grabbed the glass and raised it high.
“To Mr. Saltzman,” Matt said.
“To Ric,” Jeremy added quietly. Tears stung the backs of his eyes. One rolled stubbornly down his cheek. He didn’t bother with wiping it away as he tossed the liquor back in salute to his friend.
Minutes ticked away. Empty shot glasses rested between them. Matt reached for the bottle, but Jeremy shook his head. He slumped back against the stool and stared at nothing.
“You can’t just let her go off like that,” Matt suddenly said.
A frown settled at Jeremy’s brow, but he kept his peace.
“I mean, I know she’s feisty and powerful and shit, but at the end of the day, she’s still a girl.”
“I’m trying to follow your logic, but um…”
“I’m talking about Bonnie, man,” Matt said, shrugging as if that was obvious. “You two were…a shock to say the least, but you worked. I never saw her so happy.”
“Yeah, well I fucked that up, didn’t I?”
Jeremy shook his head. “You don’t get it. I really hurt her. Bad. I’m lucky she even talks to me.”
“Do you love her?” Matt asked as he screwed the top on the bottle.
He didn’t hesitate. “Yeah.”
“Then fuck it!” Matt slammed his hand on the counter. “Get her back.”
“Shit ain’t ever that simple—”
“Nope, but it’s worth busting your ass if you love her,” Matt advised.
Jeremy stood, half-empowered by his friend’s speech. “You talking about Caroline or my sister?”
Matt gave him a faint smile. “I loved them both. My problem is I didn’t fight hard enough for either of them. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”
Bonnie headed back to the coffee shop where she’d dropped off Jamie before heading out to the woods. After Klaus’ threat, she didn’t want to risk anything happening to him. Having lost Grams and Abby, she wasn’t about to add another to the list of casualties if she could help it.
Gyote’s “Someone That I Used to Know” murmured softly from her car’s speakers. Make out like it never happened… The lyrics got to her, but not nearly as deep as the one-on-one with Jeremy. On the dance floor with Jamie, she could fake it, play pretend that the ex didn’t matter. Make a casual mention about the deadly, psychotic ring on his finger without giving away that seeing him again made her insides burn. Seeing that ring on his finger made her want to tear it off him. Instead, she smiled, laughed and swayed in Jamie’s arms. She let him kiss her and hold her.
But it felt so rough.
As she pulled to the curb and parked, she glanced into the quaint mom and pop coffee house. It was an out of the way place. Senior year was turning out to be less than the fun times she’d always envisioned. The bond she’d shared with her friends just wasn’t strong as it used to be. Hanging at the Grill started to feel false so she ventured out and found this place. The O’Rileys had owned it forever. They remembered her Grams and they took her in like she was their own. When Abby ran out on her again, this was where she came.
Now that she saw Jamie sitting by the window chatting with Paddy, she wished she’d never brought him here.
As she watched her date, God, she cringed at the impulse that made her invite him to the dance. What a dumb move, but she did it to be proactive. She’d heard things through the grapevine. Major ménage-a-trois issues with Elena and the Salvatore brothers guaranteed that she wouldn’t come stag as promised. Then Tyler was back in town. No way, he’d let Caroline anywhere near Klaus without going all Alpha. So that left Bonnie. Alone. Alone and dealing with Jeremy’s return. Pretending that she didn’t still care and not knowing how she’d react when he strode through the gym’s double doors. Nope, she couldn’t do it without armor. Without protection. Unfortunately, his name was Jamie and it seemed like he totally dug her.
Bonnie climbed out of the car, squared her shoulders and burst into the coffee shop. The dizzying aroma of rich, robust flavors hit her on impact. Normally, she’d inhale and go for her usual. Tonight, she just needed to get out of there. Her senses were on overload. Spells, touches, and death put her on edge. She just wanted to go home.
“Hey,” Jamie said, standing upon her approach.
Paddy patted her shoulder as he moved behind the counter. “Want your usual, Bonnie-lass?”
She shook her head. “Not tonight.”
“You ready to bounce?” Jamie asked.
She nodded. They said their goodnights and left. At her car, Jamie offered to drive, but she rejected it. Driving gave her something to do. It forced her to think about something other than the mistakes she’d made or the visions she’d had. She could push it back down and push forward. Always push forward, press on, her Grams used to say.
“What happened out there?” Jamie asked. “You don’t look right.”
“We were too late,” Bonnie said.
“You did everything you could.”
She nodded, unable to speak. He didn’t know the half of it.
They reached her house. Bonnie parked behind his car. Silence slipped in slow and easy like. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t entirely comfortable either. Pulling him into this—her world—had been wrong. He didn’t belong here.
“I’m sorry about Klaus—”
“I don’t blame you for that,” he cut in eagerly. Too eagerly. His hand closed over hers. He moved in close enough that his breath fanned her cheek. Hazelnut and vanilla overwhelmed her. “Bonnie, I…”
“I can’t do this.”
She tugged free. Free of him and the car. When she met him on the sidewalk, confusion dogged his features. Lines formed at his mouth. He looked as if he wanted to hold her, but instead he shoved his hands into his pants pocket.
“Is it too fast?”
“It’s too everything.” She turned to head up the walk to the front door.
“Do you want company?” He followed her and stopped. “I can stay…”
She didn’t bother turning around. “It’s okay, Jamie. I’m fine.”
“I’ll call you later. Okay?”
“If that’s what you want to do.” She called without looking back, “Goodnight.”
Flat out rudeness was not really her forte unless the person deserved it. In her heart of hearts, she knew that Jamie didn’t, but he was clinging. Right now, clinging was bad. She didn’t want him holding on to her. Holding on to the possibility of a themthat would never be.
By the time she stepped inside, he had pealed off in his car. The screech of tires whined of his disappointment in her. She didn’t mind it though. Now that she was finally alone, she could think. Process. Figure out the vision she saw when Jeremy touched her hand.
The sizzle was still there. The spark that drew her to him with one glance of his chocolate brown eyes sent her quivering. He’d filled out a bit more since he left. She couldn’t be sure if Denver had been good for him because it sure as hell had been awful for her.
She slipped out of the Twenties costume and slipped on a tank and short PJs. The great Christopher Bennett was Down South working on a major Civil Rights case so she had the place all to herself. A mug of tea warmed her hands as she curled on the recliner. The weight of carrying for everyone else took its toll and in her helplessness she saw it again.
Jeremy holding her in his arms. The both of them carried away by passion and lust. Exploring each other in ways they never had when they had been a couple. Then darkness came in. Jeremy tried to shield her from it, but before she could see the outcome, the vision vanished.
Bonnie couldn’t imagine for the life of her what it meant. The thought of Jeremy dying again left her cold, shivering. Even the hot tea couldn’t help. Tears clouded her vision. Memories of everyone she’d lost—Grams, Abby, and even Jeremy—rolled in a vicious loop inside her mind. Going to say goodbye to Alaric had been a mistake. It just reminded her what she already knew far too much about—death.
A knock sounded at the door. She had half a mind to ignore it, but it became insistent. The pounding was downright demanding. She slammed her mug down on an end table and stomped across the hardwood floor in her favorite bunny slippers, huge ears flopping with indignation with her every step.
One glance through the curtains left her in disbelief.
No. Fucking. Way.
Her hands fumbled with the locks until she managed to get it all straight. Then she ripped the door open.
She curled her hands into small fists that she used to pummel his chest. The tears came in earnest then. Gone were the words she wanted to hurl at him. The pent-up anger, frustration, and hurt came out in sobs even though she’d sworn to herself that he’d never see her cry again.
He gently took her hands and kissed the fists. Crossing the threshold, he walked her backwards. Once inside, he kicked the door closed behind him. His arms came around her. His voice warm, soft and gentle murmured against her forehead.
“I know, Bonnie,” Jeremy said. “I know.”