The characters are the property of LJ Smith and The Vampire Diaries/CW© and do not belong to me unless stated otherwise.
Chapter 2: Someone Who Knows How to Hold You Without Being Told
Jeremy held Bonnie to his chest. Eyes closed, he inhaled, breathing her in. She felt so fragile in his arms. On his lap. Shaking with the sobs that wracked her body. It killed him knowing that part of her hurt belonged to him. Was caused by him. If there was any way he could take it back—relive the last year—he would. He remembered being a kid and watching her with Elena. She was always in the house. Sleepovers happened every other weekend. They didn’t know it, but he’d watch them. He’d watch Bonnie. Singing in the mirror with a hairbrush or crying on his sister’s shoulder because her mom missed another birthday. For years he’d paid attention to everything about her, not once realizing he was falling for her more and more.
In time, the tears subsided. He half-expected her to leap from his lap and smack him hard across the face. When she did neither, he counted his blessings and enjoyed the feel of her again. The closeness.
She began to stir. Wiping her cheeks. Then placing a hand over his heart. That move surprised him. He debated offering more words of comfort, but in all honesty, he was at a loss. He wanted this—holding her again—but words could wreck it. Words could break the bubble of comfort that had formed around them. And he needed her in his arms. Soothing her helped him forget his own pain.
“I should make you leave,” she said softly.
“Yeah,” he murmured, slipping his hand under her mass of curls to rub that spot at the nape of her neck.
She trembled. “Jer, don’t.”
He slid his hand down to rest at the small of her back. The tips of her breast strained against her thin top. His manhood stirred against his thigh. A low moan escaped from both of them. And that made her stand. As she turned her back to grab the afghan from the sofa, he admired her choice of bedtime attire. The word, JUICY, stood out on her short shorts, molding itself so nicely against her ripe bottom. Yeah, he’d been a damn fool. A complete idiot.
She wrapped the multi-colored throw around her and found Geneva on the sofa. Her safety zone rested across the room from him. He ran a hand through his hair and indulged in one of his favorite past-times, watching her.
“Well, you’re here,” she said. “I should kick you out.”
“You said that.”
“Still a smartass.”
He shrugged. “More or less.”
For once, Bonnie appeared as if she was at a loss. She fidgeted a little. Frowned a lot. Finally looking at him like he confused her. Jeremy tried to understand this Bonnie, but she was a mystery. The one he remembered and the one he saw at the dance tonight always had her shit together. He found it hard to believe that his coming over could freak her out this much. She had to expect him to show up at some point.
“You’re surprised I came,” he said.
“Actually, I am,” she admitted. “And the way you held me… I…um…I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Why not?” he asked, slightly annoyed. “I made things clear at the cemetery—”
“No, you didn’t,” she interjected. “You wanted to talk. You didn’t say why.”
Now it was his turn to frown and be confused. “Bonnie, you were my girlfriend and I come back and some stranger has his hands all over you. Yeah, I fucked up. And yeah, we have some things to talk about.”
She reared back. “You remember…us? I didn’t think… I thought… Hmm, when you left, I didn’t know. I couldn’t tell.” As if realizing she spoke aloud, she pressed her hand to her mouth and stood. “Never mind.”
“Are you kidding me?” He stood too. Measured steps took him to her. He shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from reaching out again. “Why wouldn’t I remember us?”
“Jer, I didn’t mean it. Tonight was so hard. It was a lot, you know?” She bent to grab her tea mug, holding it front her like a shield. As if it could protect her from him. “Want something to drink?”
She was hedging and doing a piss poor job of it. But she wasn’t turning him away.
He followed her into the kitchen. The subtle move to change the subject didn’t go unnoticed. Quite simply, he wasn’t having it. Bonnie didn’t waste time with words. She always meant what she said and he knew her questions had a point. For her to wonder if he remembered them only meant one thing. It sickened him to think it could be true.
“You think I was compelled.”
She gripped the counter. Even though her back was to him, he read her like a book. The stiffening of her back. The faint intake of breath.
Without hesitation, he closed his hand over her shoulder, squeezing gently until she looked up at him. Truth glittered like emeralds in her expressive eyes. He released her and stumbled back against the wall.
“Elena,” he muttered. “She strikes again.”
“She said it was for the best.”
His jaw clenched until it started to hurt a little. He wondered if he focused hard enough he’d remember where, when and why. Only one thing made sense.
“Denver,” he said, watching Bonnie’s reaction closely for confirmation. “That’s why I went. It’s the only way I’d leave. Fuck.”
Bonnie nodded. As she moved to face him, the afghan slipped from her shoulders. He pushed off the wall to step in close enough to grab the ends of the afghan and draw her to him.
“I just want to talk.”
“This doesn’t feel like talking,” she said. She didn’t push him away, but she didn’t lean into him either. Instead, she just stood there. Appearing to measure his intentions with her eyes.
He didn’t let go, but he didn’t pull anymore. “You came to see me off. You hugged me so tight—”
“We can’t go back—”
“You thought I was compelled to forget,” he continued as if she hadn’t interrupted. Her protest meant nothing. He didn’t want to go back. His intent was to go forward. “I’m sorry you believed that. That wasn’t fair…to you or me.”
She shook her head. “No, it wasn’t.”
At that, she pulled the cover from his grasp and headed back to the sink. In silence, she filled a tea kettle with filtered water and set it on the stove. He grabbed his favorite mug from the cabinet. When he set it on the counter beside her, her mouth curved into a quick, faint smile. It didn’t make him a punk if butterflies fluttered in his gut. They were only there for a second or two.
“I tried to see you before it happened,” she said.
“Yeah. That morning at your locker…but it was too late.”
She lifted the breadbox lid and pulled out a little Ziploc baggy. Jeremy knew her well enough to know it wasn’t weed.
“What’s that?” He straddled a chair. This was not the night he had expected, but in some ways it was turning out better than he could have hoped.
“Your tea.” She spooned the dried herbs into his mug. “It’s vervain. You’ll have to drink this all the time to prevent them from doing it again.”
After she finished, she closed the baggy and handed it to him. He hesitated to take it. “What about you?”
“I’m supernatural. They can’t compel me.”
“And your dad?”
She smiled. A full-on warm smile that brightened her eyes and lit up her face. “I have him covered.”
Jeremy returned the smile. His fingers brushed against her as he accepted the vervain. A dusty pink colored her cheeks. Her eyes narrowed as she wagged a finger at him.
“What?” he asked, feigning innocence. “It was an accident.”
The tea kettle’s whistle came loud and strong. “I got it,” he said. He poured water into his mug and waited as she added tea to hers. Then he poured her water, too. He blew into his steaming mug before taking a tentative sip.
“It’s not hot chocolate,” she said, “but it will keep you safe.”
Jeremy cocked an eyebrow. “What if I add sugar or honey?”
“Sweeteners won’t diminish its powers.”
“What if I smoked it?”
He laughed. “I’m kidding. Well, sorta. It really is gross.”
“You know where everything is. Help yourself.”
When they were together, he spent a lot of time at her place. They spent far too much of their alone time going over spells and worrying about impending doom. Jeremy regretted that they hadn’t spent enough on each other. Then the ghosts came in. Keeping that from her had been a huge mistake. The thing with Anna had just been plain wrong. Cheating with a ghost when he had a real live beautiful girl who wanted him had to be the biggest dick move of the century. Although what Elena and Damon were pulling behind Stefan’s back came in a close second. No matter what Rose said, he knew bullshit when he smelled it.
It took six teaspoons of sugar to cut the bitterness of vervain. Bonnie laughed at him and warned him about a diabetic coma. He took it in stride, resting a hand on her back as they returned to the main room. It was starting to feel like the last few months in Denver hadn’t happened. Or Anna. But he knew better than to believe getting Bonnie back would be this easy. Things had moved so fast tonight. It couldn’t be that way with their relationship. She deserved better than that. So did he.
She sat on the sofa and he settled a little shy of middle. The look thrown at him put him on notice. He understood, but he didn’t move. She’d kick him out when she wanted him to go.
“So how are things going with your mom?”
She choked on her tea. Jeremy took the mug from her and gently patted her back. A coughing fit filled the otherwise silence and he knew that something was off. Something else he didn’t know about.
“Bonnie?” he asked after she grew quiet and simply stared at her clenched hands.
He reached out on a whim. His hand curved to her cheek like it belonged there. Carefully, he raised her head until she looked at him. “What? You can tell me.”
“My mom was turned,” she said in a hoarse whisper, “and then she ran out on me. Again.”
“Why do I feel like you’re leaving out a lot?” His thumb caressed the swell of her cheek. “Come on, Bon. Tell me all of it. You’re a witch. Elena said your mom’s one, too.”
“So that’s what Elena told you?” Bonnie pulled his hand from her face, but she didn’t let go. “She tells you about Jamie and she tells you that my mom’s a witch, but she doesn’t tell you the rest?”
He shook his head. Suddenly the swell of tea in his gut felt like a slab of concrete. “Was it Damon?”
“Isn’t it always Damon?” Bonnie snapped.
“He said he didn’t have a choice.” The words came out bitterly. “Or better yet, Elijah forced him. Made him choose. So he chose to snap my mom’s neck. But on the bright side, Elijah, Klaus and the rest of them are alive to rule another day.”
“That was the choice?” Jeremy asked. How could that be a choice? Even Damon wouldn’t choose the Originals over Bonnie’s mother. Yeah, the guy was an asshole, but was he that heartless, too?
“Actually, the choice was Elena’s,” she said. She released his hand and slid to the far side of the couch. Raking a hand through her hair, she shrugged. “She knew my mom and I were helping Esther with a spell to finally rid us of the Originals and she chose to tell Elijah. In the end, it cost me my mom.”
“Bonnie, no.” He wanted to do something. Hold her again. Shake his sister. Stake Damon. Anything to erase the wounded look etched across her face. As long as he lived, he knew he’d never forget it. “Elena wouldn’t have done that.”
Minutes passed. Bonnie drew her knees to her chest. She had to find a way to stop the shaking. A glance at Jeremy told her how deeply her words affected him. That wasn’t her intention, but somehow he always managed to get her to say the things she kept bottled up. Not even a day in his presence and old habits were locking into place.
“I probably shouldn’t have told you.”
His face had grown pale, his breathing shallow. She recognized this reaction. It usually occurred right before he did something reckless.
“Jeremy, look, it doesn’t matter—”
“That’s bullshit, Bonnie,” he said. “Of course, it matters. Your mom is a vampire. You’re witches. Being a vampire goes against everything that makes you who you are. Don’t sit there and try to reason with me. You don’t have to pretend me with me because she’s my sister. She’s not perfect. She does stupid shit. She makes mistakes, but it shouldn’t cost you. Not you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
“I do,” he said quietly. “I need to know everything. I need to understand how you’re able to forgive her because I’m having a hard time with it.”
On impulse, as if they could read each other’s minds, they reached out. Their hands locked. In that moment, another vision flashed before her eyes. She saw Elena locked in a heated kiss with Damon. She sensed Jeremy’s disapproval and disgust. She felt through him the moment when Damon snapped his neck. It all became so very clear. This need for forgiveness that they shared. It cut deep when the person they loved so dearly betrayed them for reasons that they found hard to understand.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“You didn’t do anything.” He laced their fingers together and just sat there, looking at their joined hands. “You do everything you can to help and make things right. And no matter what we Gilberts find a way to fuck it up. We’re the assholes, Bonnie. I’m sorry we keep hurting you.”
Bonnie’s heart pounded her chest. She never expected to hear those words. She’d never considered them. Had never felt that way about either of them. At least, she had never allowed herself to. Even though it scared the hell out of her, she still cared for Jeremy and his coming over and his ability to know how to hold her without being told… Loving him again would be so easy.
But he was right.
The Gilberts and the Bennetts. This thing between their families started long before either of them were born. A century ago with the other John Gilbert and her ancestor Emily. She and Jeremy had joked about it, but there had been something between those, too. Unfortunately, whatever it was wasn’t enough to save her great-great-great grandmother from a fiery death or his great-great-great grandfather from insanity. Things rarely ended well for Bennett witches. And holding hands with Jeremy now felt right and good—perfect even—but the outcome…her vision predicted something dark looming over them.
It scared the shit out of her.
“Is your dad working late?” Jeremy asked.
Oh boy. A heavy make-out question usually followed this question. She held the stare of those delicious chocolate brown eyes until a faint blush painted his cheeks. He moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue.
“No, I’m not going there,” he said in a husky voice and seductive smile. “It’s late and I don’t want to go if you’re gonna be here alone.”
Temptation on a stick, thou name is Jeremy Gilbert.
“And to be honest,” he continued, “I can’t go home. If I see Elena right now… I’d rather be here with you, but if you don’t want that. If you want me to go—”
“I don’t, but…”
He gave her one of his all-knowing sexy grins that used to curl her toes and still did crazy things to her breathing. “It won’t,” he answered. “Nothing will happen.”
“Okay.” She nodded. “You can stay.”
“Thanks.” He kissed her hand and then stood. “Pillows and blankets are in the hall closet, right?”
He strode from the room in that Jeremy swagger way. When he returned with the bedding, he dropped it on the sofa. “This is me.”
“Okay.” Bonnie moved out of his way.
“You don’t have to leave.” He smoothed the blanket down and adjusted the pillows to his liking. “You can stay.”
She heard the smile in his voice and the teasing, but underneath all that was sincerity. It wrapped her as snugly as the afghan covered her body, hiding her skimpy attire from his wandering eyes.
“I’ll be in my room.”
He laughed, but it was a sweet sound. As it followed her down the hall to her room, she realized just how much she’d missed him. When they were younger and she practically lived at the Gilbert house, he was always there. A little bratty but sometimes fun. She caught him watching her a few times and it never weirded her out. It was just Jeremy. Heck, she watched him, too. As an only child, she was curious about the interactions of a full family unit complete with two siblings. He and Elena helped make her feel normal when her dad tried and failed and her Grams witchy juju seemed too bizarre to be real. When puberty hit, it took them in different directions until the supernatural put her and Jeremy back together. In a surprising, magical kind of way.
She tossed the afghan on her window seat and crawled into bed. She’d left the bedroom door open in case he needed something. Deep down, she knew if he came to her she wouldn’t turn him away.
(Song credit: “Soulmate” by Natasha Bedingfield)