The characters are the property of LJ Smith and The Vampire Diaries/CW© and do not belong to me unless stated otherwise.

Chapter 3: Every Tear a Waterfall

Bonnie drove with the windows down, music blaring and zero traces of guilt turning her stomach. In spite of the darkness of the night before, the sun shone brightly as if promising that everything would be better from now on. Even the sky looked bluer. Crisper. Cleaner. Clearer. Cognizant of the speed limit, she relaxed into her zone. A good night’s sleep had left her feeling better in touch with nature and more confident about what she had to do. She’d left Jeremy asleep on the sofa with a little surprise waiting for him upon awakening. No doubt there’d be hell to pay when he woke up. She was content to handle that when the time came.

The road to Abby’s country hideaway was just as bumpy and dusty as it had been since Bonnie left it a couple of weeks before. Visions hadn’t led her there. Instinct had. She needed to see Jamie one last time. His car parked under the nearby shed confirmed that her instincts were right as usual.

She parked her Prius under the comforting, low-hanging branches of a willow tree and climbed out of the driver’s seat. With her bag slung over her shoulder, she made her way to the front porch and to the door.

He appeared before she could decide whether to knock or just go inside. His expression was wary, suspicious and then a warm smile spread across his full lips. That smile reminded Bonnie of the importance of her mission.

Jamie popped the latch of the screen door and held it open. “Come in.”

She shook her head. “Come out. It’s nice today.” There was a swing on the far end of the porch. They could sit there. She could soak up the energy from nature, gathering strength for whatever lay ahead.

“Okay.” He stepped into a pair of flip flops before joining her outside. As if reading her mind, he headed straight to the swing and sat. His wide-legged position left her a bit of room, but she managed to fit.

“This is a surprise,” he said without preamble. “You blew me off, you know. Shot me down cold.”

“I know,” she said, nodding, no regrets. It had been the right thing to do. She couldn’t have imagined the outcome if he had been there when Jeremy arrived. And last night with Jeremy needed to happen. They were nowhere near where they used to be, but there was an understanding there. An opening.

“How did you know where to find me?”

“Where else would you go?” She nailed him with a hard look until his flirtatious grin dropped into a flat line of stoic resolve. “I made some wrong moves last night. It threw everything off—”

“I don’t regret our date.”

“I do,” she said firmly. “I regret misleading you. I regret watching Klaus pick you up like a ragdoll—”

“Hey—”

“—and threaten to kill you unless I did what he wanted. I hate that he used you like that. It wasn’t fair and it can’t ever happen again.”

“I can handle my own.” A stubborn frown knitted his brow.

A humorless smile curved her mouth. She patted his knee. He was such a boy. “No, you can’t.”

“But…”

“There are no buts,” she said. “He’d used you against me. Not just Klaus. Any of them. Not just the ones we know—Damon and Stefan—the ones we don’t know, yet. You can’t fight them and I can’t worry about protecting you.”

“So it’s back to the ex.” Jamie grabbed her hand when she snatched it off him. “Yeah, I doubled back and I saw him go in. I waited a bit ‘cause I knew he’d get shot down, too. Boy, was I wrong. Homey stayed all night, right.”

Bonnie jerked away from him and hopped from the swing. Jealousy always brought venom. She needed to get out before the poison spread too deep and there was nothing left to salvage.

“It’s not what you think.”

“I think you don’t mind protecting him.”

“Look—”

“His bumping into me wasn’t an accident,” Jamie said, rising from the swing. “The way he looked at you while you were doing the spell… The way you pretended not to notice him looking.” He grunted. “Nah, you don’t mind protecting him at all. It doesn’t matter he’s not supernatural, but it’s okay because he’s the one you want.”

The energy around him begged for a fight. She refused to engage. Answering him was out of the question. Not when she was still trying to figure out how the past with Jeremy played into their present. Not when it wasn’t any of Jamie’s business anyway.

She dug into her bag and pulled out a large Ziploc bag of dried vervain. If last night hadn’t gotten so screwed up, she would have given it to him then. Alaric’s death threw everything off. Jeremy and the vision of them put her in a tailspin. Looking out for Jamie’s wellbeing had been the last of her concerns by the time they reached her house.

“Here,” she said. “It will protect you to a degree. It’s vervain. You can find it in specialty shops.”

“With me out of your life, I don’t need this—”

“Don’t be stupid,” she snapped. “Vampires are hunters. You are prey. Take it. Eat it. Drink it. It repels them. If you don’t, it’s on you. It’s not on me.”

She spun around and kicked dust back to her car. Coming to him had not been a mistake, she told herself. It had to be done. It was the right thing to do.

“Bonnie, wait!” He reached her as she slid into the driver’s seat.

“I’m a jackass,” he said, mouth pursed and face sufficiently contrite. “I’m sorry. I just…I hoped that you and me… You know? With Abby gone, I don’t have anybody else.”

His voice had caught on the last part. If tears had come to his eyes, it would have been over for Bonnie. She understood abandonment. It hurt like a motherfucker. She hated walking away too, but after last night, there was no choice. If she let him stay in her life, she’d be signing his death sentence. He deserved a life.

“I know,” she said softly. “You have to go far away and you can’t look back.”

He swallowed hard. His Adam’s apple bobbed with difficulty. “I understand. Goodbye, Bonnie.”

“Goodbye, Jamie.”

BJ*BJ*BJ*BJ

Silence greeted Jeremy when he woke up. Silence and peace. A strange kind of calm that he rarely felt. Usually, he woke with a start. As if something was lurking just beyond the shadows. Waiting for an opportunity. Looking for a chance to pounce. That sensation started around the time the ghosts came to him and it followed him to Denver. As he straightened up the living room and returned the bedding to the hall closet, he thought it odd the compulsion hadn’t taken away that feeling, but one night with Bonnie—ridiculously platonic as it had been—had.

He padded down the hall to her room, but he knew what he’d find before he pushed the door open. Emptiness. Her energy filled up the space. It didn’t make him whole, but it made him feel good.

From his position at the door, he took a wide sweep of the room. Not much had changed since his last time there. She’d talked about moving the bed and switching it with the dresser. With hell breaking loose every other day, he supposed she hadn’t gotten around to it. The afghan lay neglected on the window seat. He remembered climbing through there a few times when her dad came home sooner than expected from court. Being quiet enough to keep the older man from hearing them had become a game. Achieving Bonnie’s high-pitched squeals had been like winning an Olympic gold medal.

Focus, Gilbert, he told himself.

So he turned away from her bed and the memories it resurrected and took in the photographs that littered her dresser mirror. There was order to the madness. Images of her family, especially she and her Grams. Her dad. Photos of her and Caroline in various ages. Finally pictures of her with the Gilberts. Kiddie pics with him and Elena. Birthday pictures that included Miranda and Grayson. A telling image of she and him at the 60s Decades Dance. He couldn’t imagine who took it. Even though they were together for awhile after, he didn’t remember ever seeing it. And her keeping it…here…in the great, wide open. Yeah, she and he had a lot to talk about.

He half-expected her to return then. If she caught him snooping, it would be poetic justice. He’d have no defense. Maybe she’d punish him.

Down boy, he thought as his manhood stirred with interest and anticipation.

Sun filtered through the open curtains. It was late morning. He couldn’t wait for her return. Plans had to be made for Alaric. Elena couldn’t bare the brunt of it alone. Even though he was pissed with her questionable decision-making skills, she was still his sister. They had lost another person. They needed each other.

By the time Jeremy got home, neighbors had already started coming over with food and cards of sympathy. He marveled at how quickly news traveled. Elena had left a note for him. She was at the boardinghouse. Of course. She wanted him to call her. She needed to know he was safe. He sent her a text and headed up to his room. He had just finished taking a shower when he got Bonnie’s text.

I know you’re mad, but I had to. Meet me at the burial house asap.

“What?” he questioned aloud.

Mad because she left? It was a whack move, but not anger-worthy. As he raised his hand to rub his face, her text suddenly had meaning.

“That little witch,” he muttered.

His ring finger lay bare and empty. She must have put a spell on him so he wouldn’t notice. Or maybe he was so whipped from last night that it didn’t register. He couldn’t be sure, but he felt like a dumbass from not recognizing it sooner.

She took his fucking ring.

Jeremy dressed in record time and broke several traffic laws to reach his destination. Asap, his ass. The Prius looked so damn sweet and innocent with the woods as a backdrop. He cursed it and came close to cursing its owner as he ran up to the burial house. Since she brought him back from the dead, the witches had closed their power off from her. He was surprised she’d come here. Maybe the witches had forgiven her in his absence. Maybe their breaking up had been the debt she owed? If so, that was fucked up.

As mad as he was about her taking his ring, he still wanted her back. What would the witches demand in exchange for that?

Once he landed on the porch, his steps slowed. A restless sort of energy vibrated up through the floorboards. He looked around. His first thought was for a weapon. But that was dumb. She wanted him there. Whatever was happening, Bonnie understood it. She wouldn’t let it harm them.

He released the air he’d been holding and pushed forward. Lit candles guided his path. Sitting in the middle of a ring of flickering light, he found his beautiful, powerful goddess. She sat cross-legged. Her long dark hair lay in waves down her shoulders, framing her caramel face. A faint smile parted her full lips.

“It took you long enough.”

His eyes narrowed as he willed his gaze to move past her. To take in everything and not just her ethereal presence. A grimoire lay open beside her. It wasn’t as old as the others they had often pored over. In fact, it looked brand new. A plump pillow took prominence in front of her. A ring, but not the Gilbert ring, rested on top. He strode to the edge of the circle of candles but he didn’t step inside.

“You can come,” she said. “Sit down.”

Words took their time coming to mind, so he didn’t push it. Instead, he obeyed and sat where she instructed, directly opposite her.

“What’s going on?”

“You’re getting a new ring.”

“Bonnie—”

“Jeremy,” she said, “the other one has bad energy. You can’t wear it anymore.”

“Won’t the same happen with the new one?”

She shook her head. “No, I made a deal with nature.”

“No.” He moved to get up.

She grabbed him, holding him so tight that he couldn’t move. “It’s okay.”

“I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“It’s fine.”

“What kind of deal?”

“The ring can’t be transferred to anyone else.”

“So I can’t pass it down?”

“No, it’s just for you.” At that, she placed the ring in the palm of his hand, cupped both of hers around his, and started to chant.

The words flowed over him. Through him. Through her. It was strange, but he felt as though the spell was doing more than protecting him from supernatural death. He sensed it was binding them together.

Wind rustled the rafters and swept through the cracks in the wooden planks. Her beautiful tresses billowed around her like wings. He’d seen her cast powerful spells before, but this felt different. His heart pounded his chest. If blood trickled from her nose, he’d have to stop her. Damn the ring. It wasn’t worth that.

Then her voice faded to a whisper. The air settled. Her hair returned to her shoulders in sexy disarray. She looked at him with triumph glistening in her emerald eyes. Her chest rose and fell as if she was out of breath. Jeremy wanted nothing more than to kiss her senseless.

She must have read it all over his face. Faster than he could blink, she released his hand, rose from the floor and shielded herself with the grimoire to her chest.

Okay, we’ll play your way, he silently conceded. This time.

“Go ahead.” She jutted her chin toward his palm. “Put it on.”

Jeremy held the ring to the light. Unbelievable. The little minx! How did she get his class ring? It was one of the many things she’d returned when they broke up. He couldn’t imagine her sneaking over to his room to lift it. He knew he hadn’t taken it with him to Denver.

“It had to be something that was all yours.”

“Yeah,” he said, mostly to himself. He slid it on and stood. As he looked down at her, he couldn’t resist asking, “How did you get it?”

“I bet you’d love to know.”

“I would.”

Bonnie shrugged. “I have my ways.”

No doubt she did and she wasn’t telling either. She snapped her fingers and one by one, the candles went out as they walked past them out of the house. Once outside, they fell into step together. The feeling of rightness settled in nicely, but Jeremy wasn’t foolish enough to take it for granted. They still needed to talk. He didn’t want their status to remain as buddies. He wanted more. In order to have that, he owed her an explanation.

“Wait,” he said, sliding his hand around her swinging arm. “Slow down.”

“I have to meet Caroline—”

“She can wait,” he said more forcefully than he intended.

“I don’t want to do this.”

“You didn’t want to the last time,” he answered as he allowed her to extricate herself from his grasp. “That was a mistake.”

“No, the mistake was how you kissed your former girlfriend behind my back,” she said, all the lightness from before completely void from her. “Make that dead former girlfriend. There is absolutely nothing to talk about!”

“I fucked up.”

“Yes and I’ve moved on—”

“Bullshit,” he cut in. “That’s bullshit and you know it.”

“What I know is you lied to me. You cheated on me. And you hurt me.”

She turned and stormed away from him. He matched her pace easily.

“Yes, I did all those things. I was a dick and I hate myself for hurting you. I never thought I’d be that guy.”

“So why were you?” She stopped suddenly. “All you had to do was tell me. Just tell me face to face what was going on. Instead I had to hear about it from Caroline. Caroline! Damn, Jeremy!”

Tears pooled in her eyes. She broke into a run. Her grimoire fell from her grasp and she didn’t bother to pick it up. Instead she kept going. Jeremy raced after her. They reached her car. She tried to get in, but he blocked her from opening the door. With her back to him, he stepped in close, wrapping his arms around her. Every tear a waterfall, her sobs became his.

“You may never forgive me for hurting you, but I promise you I won’t do it again. It’s just that when Anna died it happened so suddenly. But just as suddenly, she was back. I had lost so many people, you know. And there she was again. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think it would escalate like that. She kept coming back and it kept becoming less fantasy and more real.

“Yes, I should have told you. Every time I didn’t tell you I was lying and I am so sorry. If I could take it back, I would. If I could take back all those times, I spent with her instead of you, I would. I would trade them in a heartbeat.”

“When I found out, I felt so worthless,” she sobbed. “Like I couldn’t even compare to a fucking ghost!”

He buried his face in her hair, rubbing his nose against her neck and shoulder. Wishing he could absorb her pain. “I know. I’m so sorry for that.”

“You have no idea… It was like losing my mom all over again. It was like I’ll never be good enough,” she said. “N-Never.”

“Oh, Bonnie.” He turned her around and cupped her face. “That’s a lie. An outright fucking lie. I was wrong to make you feel that way.”

“Tell me the truth.”

“Always,” he promised.

She wiped the tears from her face. Her eyes stared hard at him as if she was trying to memorize him and this moment. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think a spell was being formed, the look in her eyes were so intense. Then she shook her head and looked down. “Nevermind.”

“No, ask me,” he said. “You can ask me anything.”

“I don’t want to know,” she murmured so softly that he had to strain to hear her.

What question would make her turn inward? She had to know he was an open book. After the pain he put her through, he’d do anything for her. Anything at all. As she continued to look down, he thought maybe he had a good idea what she was afraid to ask. After everything, he understood why.

“I didn’t know how much I love you until I lost you,” he said. “I thought it was Anna, but I was wrong. It took losing you to realize that.”

He didn’t wait for a response. She needed to process that he had loved her and that he still did. Holding onto her now would only mess that up. So he placed a chaste kiss on her forehead and released her. The grimoire was several yards behind them. He took off after it.

The book was new like he’d first thought. As he walked back to her and their cars, he flipped through it. There were only a few spells recorded on the pages. All in Bonnie’s handwriting. This was Bonnie’s Grimoire. Her legacy. It didn’t make him a punk if a tingle went through him at the thought.

When he reached the cars, she was already sitting inside hers. Her phone was in her hand. She was in the middle of a text.

“Damon is summoning me,” she said.

“Fuck him.”

Her brow formed a frown. “Jer…”

“I’m serious,” he said. “You don’t have to go just because he wants you to do a spell.”

“It’s more than that,” she said. “Elijah’s back.”

“So?” The whole idea of Bonnie dropping everything because of text from Damon pissed Jeremy off. He was sick of their world spinning off its axis because of outside forces. They had business to tend to. Right here. Right now.

“I can’t…” She sighed. “I can’t fight with you about this. Hand it over, please.”

He hadn’t realized he still had her grimoire. “This is amazing.” He passed it through the open window.

“Thanks.”

She pressed the starter button. The Prius instantly purred to life. Jeremy didn’t step back. Instead, he released a loud grunt.

“Can I get a ride?”

“Your car is over there.”

“Yeah, it sure is.”

Her hesitation only lasted seconds, but they were the longest seconds of Jeremy’s life.

“Fine, get in.”

It didn’t make him a punk-ass if the tiny grin on her face brought the butterflies back to his gut. He was still all man.

(Song Credit: “Paradise” by Coldplay)

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