Chapter 5

"This is bullshit—"

"Jeremy, stop."

"What are they doing?" he asked. "Where did they go? How do we know this isn't a trick?"

Upon their arrival at Elijah's expansive hideaway, the two vampires took off, leaving Jeremy and Bonnie alone in a den fully equipped with the latest in entertainment. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, how amazed Jeremy would have been by the gaming systems and huge screen. The kid who spent most of his time split between his x-box and his sketchpad didn't exist anymore. Unfortunately, Jeremy didn't have time to miss him.

"We don't," Bonnie said. She pulled her grimoire from her bag and sat in the middle of the leather sofa. With a quick nod to the empty space beside her, she extended an invitation. "Come. You'll only wear yourself out."

He hated to admit she was right. After all, he couldn't protect her if he was too worked up to pay attention. The move onto the sofa beside her was smooth and left less than an inch of space between them. He came close to closing the gap, but he didn't want to press his luck. Besides, making a move on her now screamed of bad timing. Jeremy had other things on his mind.

"How can you be so calm?"

She looked at him and shrugged. "Anything else is wasted energy."

"That's too Zen for me, Bonnie," he mumbled.

Her gentle laughter made him smile. The soft hand she placed on his thigh made the smile falter. Kissing her had felt right, perfect even. They shouldn't be waiting around in Elijah's den or even searching for a plan to neutralize Klaus. He and Bonnie should be alone together, but not here. Not like this.

A frustrated sigh interrupted his thoughts. When just moments before laughter had brought warmth to Bonnie's features, now that had been replaced by a dark scowl.

"What?" he asked. The move to face to her closed the gap between them. Ignoring the possibility of rejection, he took her hand. "Bonnie?"

"This is my grimoire."

"So?"

"So," she repeated, bitterly, "it's not as comprehensive as Emily's or even Gram's. We should have stopped at my place first."

"You have a lot of spells in there."

"Not enough," she argued. "Mostly tame stuff—"

"Tame?" He cocked an eyebrow in disbelief as he held up his right hand. "Just today you spelled this ring to save me from supernatural death. Are you telling me it won't work? That your spell is tame and that you were just kidding around before?"

"Of course not, Jeremy."

"Well."

Her response was a glare.

He bit back the urge to tease her. "Look, you don't have to do this. We can go."

"I'm not scared."

"I didn't say that," he countered. "I know you're not afraid. Sometimes I wish you were."

"Jeremy… I know it's hard to understand…"

"Because I'm not supernatural?" he asked. The question came out more forcefully than he intended. When he started to release her hand, she held on tighter. "Don't pity me." "I don't," she said, "and don't resent what I can do. I didn't ask for these powers or this ability, but I have them. I can't not use them and watch the people I love die."

He looked down at their joined hands. Even though his hand was bigger, hers contained power that he couldn't begin to fathom. It didn't make him want to protect her any less. He certainly couldn't imagine loving her less than he did or more if that was possible.

"I don't resent it, Bonnie," he answered. "It's a part of who you are. It's just that—"

She suddenly released his hand and moved away from him. The stricken look on her face sent a chill down his back.

"Bonnie?" He moved toward her.

"No!" She held up her hands as if to block him. "You shouldn't have come. Dammit, Jeremy!"

She ran from the room. When he followed her to the hallway, it was empty.

BJ*BJ*BJ*BJ

Bonnie wasn't prepared for the vision that revealed a lifeless Jeremy at her feet. Her instant shock made the image vanish before she could grasp a sense of time or place. Having an emotional connection to him—no, she thought. That was not a bad thing. He was doing his best to make things right between them, and selfish or not, she relished the comfort his presence gave her.

But protecting him was second nature. As soon as she stepped into the hallway, she cast a spell to alter his vision. Just long enough for her to gather her bearings. Of course, he had a right to know that his future wasn't looking good, but until she knew more… Bonnie drew in a deep breath. She was no good if her emotions were out of control.

Calm. Focused.

She needed both. As her breathing returned to normal, she leaned against the wall and watched him return to the den. Like a caged panther, he stalked the length of the room. Then he sat and grabbed her grimoire. Frustration darkened his aura, yet somehow he managed to contain himself. Maybe Denver had been good for him after all.

"Bonnie…hey."

So fixated on Jeremy, she hadn't sensed Stefan's approach. She pushed away from the wall and turned to face him. "Stefan. Are you and Elijah ready to include us is in the details?"

"It wasn't like that," he said. "Well, not like you think."

She frowned. "You have no idea what I think."

"That's true."

Bonnie wanted nothing more than to go back to Jeremy, but the look on Stefan's face made her hesitate. He wanted something from her. It wasn't the first time. Hell, how many times had he come to her with a request or a plea for her assistance? Every time she gave in because he was different. He was the good one. She wanted to curse her naïveté, but that would solve nothing. Besides, at the time, it didn't feel like she was being used and deep down, she didn't believe that was Stefan's intent.

Oh, hell, she didn't know what to believe now. Too much had happened.

"There's something…" he started and stopped so suddenly that she wasn't sure he had spoken. Then he gently took her hand. "I'm sorry about Abby. The words are weak and powerless and can't change anything. But the words are true."

"I don't…" She swallowed hard. "It doesn't matter now. Right? What's done is done. Besides, she's gone. Again. That's what she does. She leaves—"

"Sometimes, she comes back."

Elijah's cultured tones came from the end of the hall. Despite the distance, Bonnie instantly recognized the dark-haired woman on his arm. She tugged her hand free of Stefan's grasp as she widened her stance to stare down her mother.

"Abby."

"Hi, Bonnie," her mother said. "I'm back."

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