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

Chapter 4: Bend Without the World Caving In

“So you pulled a crossbow on Esther…”

Bonnie knew she was repeating herself, but she couldn’t get the visual of Jeremy wielding the weapon out of her head. Nor the sight of him looking fierce and hot in his 20s button-down striped white shirt and black suspenders while wielding said crossbow. Holding the sigh in took a lot willpower and determination, but she managed to do it.

A quick glance from the corner of her eye detected a smug grin and puffed chest that stretched his snug gray tee to impossible limits. Yep, he knew she was impressed and he had a good idea why. When he chuckled softly, she allowed a faint smile to cross her lips. She couldn’t make it that easy for him.

“Yeah, I still have it if you want to see it,” he offered, all generous with his seduction techniques.

She shook her head. The conversation had become easy and pleasant since the gut wrenching talk they had left behind in the woods. She knew Jeremy well enough to know he was intentionally keeping things light. It took some effort, but he gave it his all. As her little Prius neared Wickery Bridge, bringing them closer to the boardinghouse, the earlier apprehension returned.

As if guided by unseen forces, Bonnie swerved the car to the right. She kept it moving until they were hidden by a clump of trees. Once there, she parked, cut the engine, and released the air she’d been holding.

“You okay?” Jeremy unbuckled his seatbelt and shifted on the seat to look at her.

“Yeah.”

“So what was that?”

She toyed with the charms hanging from her keychain as she searched for the right words. “I’ve been thinking about what you said.”

“Oh, yeah?” His voice sounded hesitant, as if he wasn’t sure which way this was headed.

“Dropping everything because Elijah’s back,” she said. “I think you said and I quote, ‘Fuck him.’”

“Actually that was about Damon,” he said, “but the same goes for Elijah. I’m sick of this Originals bullshit. It would be nice to have a day without vampires, you know. Just one day.”

Bonnie’s chest constricted. “Does that go for all supernaturals?”

“You know I wasn’t referring to you.” He trailed a finger along her cheek. “I said vampires. I meant vampires. Okay, maybe you can throw in some hybrids, too.”

When he smiled, she returned the gesture. It amazed her how easy everything felt with him. Being a witch. Being a girl. When those chocolate brown eyes fixed her with an intense stare, her entire self went on alert with sensations that warred with how she felt while casting spells. Nothing put her as on edge as being in his presence and nothing made her as comforted. How did he do that? How was it possible that her best friend’s little brother had become so much more?

“What are you thinking?” His tone had grown deep and husky as his fingertip reached the corner of her mouth.

“I want the same thing.”

His eyebrows lifted. “You do?”

“Yeah, a day without—”

Before the rest of the words could take hold and form, Jeremy swooped in, claiming her with his warm, pliable lips. Insistent swipes of his tongue sent her spiraling into submission. A low moan tickled the back of her throat as the kiss deepened.

It had been too long since she tasted the deliciousness of his mouth. Succumbed to the hungry rush of his tongue on hers. He slid his hand to the back of her head. The pads of his fingers massaged her scalp in the way she liked. Everything came over her at once. Her desire for him and her need to take things slow. She clutched his upper arms and forced herself to pull away. The kiss broke with both of them breathless and panting.

“Jeremy…”

“I won’t apologize,” he said. He placed a kiss on the corner of her mouth and repositioned himself in the passenger seat. “Not for that either.”

“All this,” she said, waving her hands as she continued to catch her breath, “makes everything confusing--”

“What’s confusing?” he asked. “I’m not confused. I haven’t been playing you, Bonnie. I want us back together. I’m not ready to give up on that.”

Okay, maybe she was the one confused. But was she really? She hadn’t stopped loving him. Even when he cheated with Anna, it burned, but it hadn’t diminished her feelings. There were many times when she wished she could be like a vampire and turn off the switch for him. Just flip it and move on. But Jeremy had been right when he’d called her on it. It was bullshit. She hadn’t moved on. She still wanted him.

“Well?”

“Stop,” she snapped. “I can’t just forget.”

“I don’t expect you to.”

Bonnie covered her face with her hands and breathed. When she heard about Elena and Damon’s road trip to Colorado, she never expected this. He wasn’t supposed to come back. And he wasn’t supposed to still want her. Facing her own torment of wanting him and knowing that Klaus used it against her was bad enough, but to face Jeremy now and know that he still wanted her? She never wanted to be that girl who let a guy cheat on her. Berating those girls had always been so easy. With the shoe on the other foot, she felt like a fool.

“I know I have to prove myself,” he said as the silence lengthened. “I can do that. I want to. You deserve that.”

She pulled her hands from her face and rested them on her lap. “Oh, Jeremy…stop.”

“No.” He rested his hand on the console, just inches from her thigh. “Bonnie, knowing I hurt you… I can’t make that up with words.”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said. “There’s so much happening all the time… Something is always spiraling. Someone is always on the brink. And here we are…”

“Here we are.” He took her hand. When she didn’t pull away, he placed his other hand on top. “We can’t always control what happens out there. You and me…this isn’t about what’s going on out there. This is about us.”

She remembered the very first time he made his case for them. He had risked his life with Katherine to prevent her from risking hers by casting a spell. Knowing he had done that for her had blown her away. Who was this guy? He looked like her friend’s kid brother, but he certainly wasn’t acting like it. And he had made her feel things she had pretended to store away. Luka had provided a connection to witchcraft and her ancestors, but the thing that had grown between her and Jeremy had formed a connection with her heart.

Bonnie looked down at their joined hands and then up into his searching gaze. There was so much honesty reflected in those brown eyes. He’d matured so much over the last few years. They all had. He wasn’t making a boy’s promise to a girl he had a thing for. Check here if you like me. Yes. No. Maybe. With doodles of hearts and flowers on the side. This went deeper.

Was she ready to take that plunge?

BJ*BJ*BJ*BJ

Jeremy watched the questions play across Bonnie’s face and tried to piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. But there were too many pieces. So much had happened between them and during their separation. She had changed, hardened. She wasn’t the same person he’d fallen in love with. She’d evolved into someone even more magical, stronger, and amazing. Beautiful.

He wished that Elena didn’t have the overpowering need to micromanage his life. Obviously, she hadn’t learned a damn thing about maintaining the trust in their relationship otherwise she wouldn’t have had her lapdog Damon compel him again. If Jeremy hadn’t been away in Denver, he could have been here for Bonnie when her mom returned. Maybe he could have prevented the outcome of her being turned. Maybe. But if not, at least he would have been there when Bonnie needed him.

And maybe they would have worked through his betrayal of their relationship by now.

He wanted her to want them. To want them as much as he did. She wasn’t open about her feelings. She never had been. So he wasn’t expecting her to dive back in with open arms. But he was hoping she knew he meant every word he said.

“You don’t have to answer now,” he said softly. “Just remember that every time you’re running off to save the world, to set aside a little for yourself.”

She released a faint laugh. “Did you just make that up? Or did you get that from a fortune cookie?”

“A little of both,” he said with a grin, happy to make her laugh again.

With a gentle, but firm tug, she pulled her hand free of his. The separation felt odd. He had enjoyed touching her. She was soft and warm. Energy flowed through her at a higher rate. Even when he couldn’t always read the expressions on her face, a casual caress always provided the necessary back up to clue him in on her emotions. He wanted to have the right to touch her again. But that wouldn’t happen until she trusted him.

Just then her phone buzzed. He angled his head to glance down where it rested in the cup holder. The display screen read vampire dick and Jeremy just barely resisted the urge to curse.

“He’ll only keep calling until I answer or show up,” Bonnie said.

The resignation in her voice irked Jeremy. He wondered if she knew how tired of all this she was. Sure, her powers were fucking amazing, but having to use them for this? Witches were about nature and growth and nurture. She shouldn’t have to tap into her powers on the reg to battle against the undead. He had read enough of his ancestor’s journals and her families’ grimoires to know that this would eventually take its toll on her.

She glanced at him before she grabbed the phone and answered. “Damon.”

The vampire’s sarcastic bullshit was hard to miss with his raised voice sounding loudly from the phone. Jeremy was impressed with how Bonnie snapped back with a couple of zingers of her own. Overall, Damon’s rant didn’t get to her. Once he calmed down, she listened. Her gaze wavered between Jeremy and the surrounding woods. When the call ended, she started the engine and drove them back to the road.

“Are you sure you want to go?” she asked.

“Are you?”

“Yeah.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

They covered a little bit of distance in silence. At Wickery Bridge, Jeremy asked, “Did something new happen?”

“Elijah’s here.”

“That’s not new. I mean it is, but that’s why Damon called in the first place.”

“The first call was a warning. The second was to let us know that Elijah is at the boardinghouse. He wants to see me.”

Jeremy’s chest tightened. “Why?”

“He won’t tell them. He’ll only tell me.”

“Sounds like a trap.” Jeremy closed his hand around Bonnie’s that rested on the steering wheel. “You can’t just go in there.”

“Elena trusts him—”

“My sister doesn’t always have the best judgment,” Jeremy cut in. “Besides, isn’t he the reason your mo—”

“There are a lot of reasons Abby isn’t here,” Bonnie said, her tone low and even. “Elijah’s just a small part.”

Jeremy released the steering wheel and sat back against the passenger seat. His hands flexed into fists. He wanted desperately to lash out at something. Namely any one of the vampires that were causing the women in his life turmoil. But what could he do? Maybe letting Alaric die had been a bad call. If Esther created him to kill her offspring, maybe letting Alaric transition would have been the best idea after all.

“You’re too quiet,” she commented. “I don’t like it. Say something.”

“Something.”

She flashed him the side-eye and he grinned. Another faint smile curved her lips. If the road didn’t require her full attention, he’d take his chances with another kiss. As if reading his mind, she returned her gaze to the road. He didn’t miss how her hands tightened on the steering wheel.

Far sooner than he wanted, the Salvatore boardinghouse loomed before them. She parked behind an obscenely expensive ride that more than likely belonged to Elijah. When she moved to open the door, he caught her wrist.

“Bonnie, wait.”

“I can’t,” she said in a harsh whisper. “You know what’s at stake.”

“One second,” Jeremy pleaded.

Her surrender came with a shrug. With a swift move, he cupped the back of her head and leaned close to her ear. His voice lowered to a whisper just in case vampires were lurking around.

“Can you do a protection spell? Anything that will keep you safe?”

Nodding, she began to pull away from him. Jeremy threaded his fingers in her hair. He wasn’t ready to let go.

“Jer…” she half moaned.

He was just a breath away from tasting her again when the driver’s door wrenched open. A loud, disapproving grunt followed. They pulled apart simultaneously to find Stefan peering down at them.

“Elijah has a plan,” the younger Salvatore vampire stated as he waited for Bonnie to exit the car.

Jeremy quickly joined them as they headed toward the boardinghouse entrance. He hoped Bonnie had time to cast her spell. Stefan’s sudden arrival threw Jeremy off and the unreadable expression in the vampire’s eyes put him on edge.

The boardinghouse was the same as Jeremy remembered. Gothic, mausoleum weirdness. In a strange way, it worked for the brothers. When they reached the main room, he resisted the urge to follow Bonnie. Instead, he positioned himself opposite her. From his stance, he was close enough to reach her if necessary, but far enough away to watch the other players. For the second time that day, he wished he’d brought his crossbow with him.

As usual, his sister found her comfort between both Damon and Stefan. Caroline sat while Tyler hovered nearby. Elijah took his time at the bar, pouring himself a liberal tumbler of bourbon. Jeremy was a little surprised that Matt was absent, but he didn’t blame his friend. After the near death by crossbow due to Esther’s witchcraft, he didn’t blame his friend for keeping a low profile.

“Hello, Bonnie.”

“Elijah.”

The Original’s mouth quirked at her single-word greeting and Jeremy’s stomach clenched. Whatever the plan, he knew he wouldn’t like it. Nothing short of getting both Elena and Bonnie out of here would be good enough for him. All this waiting for Klaus to pounce was only asking for trouble.

“Well, I’m here,” Bonnie said, matching Elijah’s stare. “What do you want?”

“I want you,” he said.

Bonnie shot a quick glance at Jeremy that screamed for him not to say one word. He thrust his hands into his pockets and waited her out. With every second that passed, he hated every moment of this. His futility to do anything.

When she didn’t respond, Elijah continued, “I suppose that was rather vague of me… All of us want the same things. To stabilize Klaus. Am I correct?”

“This isn’t a quiz,” Damon snapped. “What do you watch the witch to do?”

“Damon!” Jeremy said through gritted teeth.

“What?” Damon asked, looking genuinely perplexed.

Asshole, Jeremy thought, but decided to keep the diagnosis to himself. Instead, he said, “Of course, you want her to do a spell, but why should we trust you? The last time we did it got us where we are now.”

“I am a man of my word.”

“Unless it suits your purpose to change your mind,” Stefan said. “I’m with Jeremy. Why should we trust you?”

“Bonnie could have died because of you,” Jeremy said, becoming more fired up. “How do we know you’re not working with Klaus now?”

“You are all justified in your mistrust of my intentions,” Elijah said. “I have given you just cause, but I assure you this time I am—”

“Enough already,” Bonnie cut in. “What do you want from me?”

“A spell, like the others have already surmised,” Elijah admitted. “Killing my brother is not an option I can condone, but containing him…rendering him helpless so that his madness is not a threat… I have heard of a binding spell that can do that.”

“Like what Esther tried?” Elena asked. “How dangerous is it?”

Elijah shrugged. “There is danger in every spell on some level. Is it not, Bonnie?”

She glanced at Jeremy again before she directed her attention to Elijah. “I’ll need more information.”

“I have everything you need.” He extended his hand toward her.

Bonnie hesitated.

“Wait,” Jeremy said, moving to her side. “Think about this. There has to be another way.”

“There isn’t,” she said. “We’ve already tried everything and nothing has worked.”

He frowned. “But…”

“I’ve heard that he is preparing to move. He will not leave here without Elena. Delay will only give him the advantage,” Elijah said. “If you have decided to trust me, come with me now.”

“Bonnie, you don’t have to do this,” Elena said.

“Maybe there’s another way,” Tyler said.

“Yeah,” Caroline added. “We can think of something…”

“If it will keep Elena safe,” Damon said, “the choice is Bonnie’s.”

“Bonnie’s safety matters, too,” Jeremy said.

“Some brother you are,” Damon muttered.

“Stop it!” Elena left her perch between the two Salvatores and went to her best friend. “I can’t ask you to do this.”

“I’m not doing this just for you,” Bonnie said. She then looked at Elijah and nodded. “Let’s go.”

“I’m coming with you,” Jeremy said.

“Jer, no!” Elena tried to stop him, but Damon grabbed her.

“I’ll go with them,” Stefan said.

“Fine,” Elijah replied, seeming mildly amused by the turn of events. “Let’s go.”

(Song credit: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz)

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