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blood is blood (and we share the same)

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Elena woke with a groan, her hand immediately reaching up to cup her face. While the bruise was gone, the damage of being knocked out by Kai still lingered. Her eyes darted in confusion, searching for the maniac that thought kidnapping her was a good idea. She knew from what Damon had shared that Kai was not only a serial killer, but his insanity from before getting sent to his prison had only been made worse by eighteen years of isolation. Knowing this, she knew to be cautious, but that didn't leave her feeling any less eager to get him back for the headache he'd left her with.

Pushing up to her feet, Elena took stock of herself and her surroundings. She frowned when she realized she wasn't in just any place, but in Bonnie's living room.

"What the hell?" she muttered to herself, her brow furrowed.

She strained her ears to see if anybody was nearby, but frowned when she realized her hearing was isolated to the living room. She couldn't hear outside or in the hallway or upstairs. Just the ticking of the clock on the mantle, surrounded by family pictures. Scrubbing her hands over her hair in frustration, she took a walk around, noticing that the phone was missing from where it usually sat on an end table beside the couch. Her cell phone too had been taken from her pocket.

With a sigh, she walked to the doorway, wondering if maybe Kai was just being his special brand of crazy and kidnapped her for a laugh. However, just as she was about to cross the threshold, she hit a barrier, a very invisible barrier. She slapped her hand against it and tried again, but it wouldn't give. She was trapped. Glaring, she tapped her foot, and then turned, looking toward the front window. Making her way over, she grabbed up a small statue that Bonnie hated but her father always insisted was classy.

"Sorry, Mr. Bennett," she muttered her breath before she reared it back over her shoulder and whipped it forward, letting it loose from her fingers. Before it could shatter the glass, it hit the same kind of barrier and fell, with a clatter, to the floor.

Cursing, Elena took a step back, turning curiously to the fireplace. She rolled her sleeves up, wondering just how wide it was and whether jumping was an option. At worst, she would just have to wedge herself in and crawl up.

"I wouldn't bother. The barrier runs the whole room, all exits are covered," a wry, female voice said then.

Elena turned abruptly, only to find herself staring in surprise. "Lucy?"

With a nod, Lucy sauntered further into the room, her arms crossed casually. She was half-smiling, amused. "Bonnie show you a picture?"

"I… Yeah, yes, she— She had one on her phone. I don't understand…" Her eyes darted around in confusion. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, after Damon finally got back to me about what happened with Bonnie and how trapped she still was, I decided to take matters into my own hands." She shrugged. "That's the thing about Bennett's… We know better than to leave it up to someone else." Shaking her head, she admitted, "Damon had me pretty convinced though. He sounded determined. I have to give it to him, I really thought he'd pull through this time, finally live up to that whole 'protector of the Bennett line' thing… Clearly, I put my chips on the wrong dark horse."

Elena's lips pursed. "That's not… It wasn't our fault. Liv stopped the spell before Bonnie could get to us. We had no choice—"

"And meeting her halfway? Cutting down how long it would take for her to get back, that just didn't occur to you, right?"

Her eyes widened then, brows hiked. "I… I didn't think about that," she admitted, her cheeks flushing. "God, you're right. I don't know what I was thinking. We should've driven out to meet her."

"You should have," Lucy agreed. "But you didn't."

She sighed. "Lucy, look—"

"Ah, ah, I'm not done," Lucy interrupted, wagging a finger. "See, when your cousin is trapped in a prison world after killing herself getting some cheating ex-boyfriend back from an early grave, when she's wasted her life and potential on someone who was supposed to be her friend, gets forced into being the anchor, which causes her immense pain, and then has to die all over again, but not before putting herself through hell to get back every single person said friend wanted resurrected, then you get to tell me what's up. But until then, honey, you don't have a leg to stand on. And you keep it up, you won't have either legs." Her smile then was shark-like.

Surprised by Lucy's sharp tone, Elena blinked, rearing her head back. "Wait, I don't… I'm so confused. Are you—?"

"Threatening you? Keep up, sweetheart. We have a lot to do and little time to do it in."

Elena stared at her, her mouth screwed up. "What do you mean?"

"I told you, Elena. I'm here to get my cousin back."

"But the ascendant—"

"Destroyed, I know. I have something else. A summoning spell." She moved to the couch then, grabbing up a silver bowl that held wax fruit in it only to turn it over, leaving it empty, and placing it back down. "Not your average summoning spell, obviously, which is why there are a few other elements. The moonstone, for one. There's only residual magic leftover now, but it's a good conduit for magic this bold. And finally, the most important part to any spell… Blood." Lucy unsheathed a dagger from her hip then and smirked. "Doppelganger blood, to be exact."

Elena stared at the knife a long second. "This will get Bonnie back?"

Lucy met her gaze seriously. "Yes."

Rubbing her arm, Elena walked toward her. "You could've just asked. I would do anything for Bonnie." Her eyes filled with tears then. "She's like a sister to me. If I'd known, all this time, that she was over there… You have to know, Lucy, I would've done anything to get her back."

"That's a nice song, but I've heard it before."

Brow furrowed, Elena stared at her.

Reaching forward, Lucy swiped the lone tear from Elena's cheek. "Here's the thing, Elena… I know you would've been willing to play martyr, to an extent. But there are limits to everyone, and this…" She reached past Elena's shoulder then and took her by her hair, bending her over the silver bowl abruptly and pressing the knife to her throat. "This is a little more than a pin prick." She dragged the knife across Elena's throat, the sting of vervain lacing the steel burned at her skin. Blood poured from her, spilling into the bowl, the vervain keeping the cut from healing. Lucy kept Elena in place, no matter how much she struggled, fearing with each drop that left her that she would be drained completely. A strength dampening spell left Elena weak, making it impossible for her to get out of Lucy's grip, and the more blood she lost, the less she managed to fight for her freedom.

"See, as much as I knew you'd be willing to give me some blood, the odds of you giving me as much as I needed were slim. Especially since the chances of it killing you are about eighty percent," Lucy told her nonchalantly. "And those Salvatore boys, they can be a handful. Damon talks a good game about saving Bonnie, but he's already proven how useless he is. You want something done right, you have to do it yourself… No hard feelings, doppelgänger. Think of it this way, you owe Bonnie for all the times she sacrificed herself for you. Now it's time to give it back."

Elena let out a pitiful whine, her eyes struggling to stay open. Blood dribbled from her neck at a slow leak now, nearly all of it drained dry.

"There. That should be enough," she heard vaguely, before her body fell to the side, slumped in a pile on the floor.

After that, it was vague noises, Latin, a wind that seemed misplaced inside, and Elena watched, blurrily, as Lucy raised the moonstone up in the air, blood dripping from it and down Lucy's arm in eerie rivulets. Her other hand was buried in the bowl of blood, her head thrown back and her eyes shone white, as she continued the incantation in a voice that grew deeper and louder as she went. And then, suddenly, a blinding white light that burst from the stone and filled the room. A sharp, whining noise followed, loud enough that it made Elena twist into a ball, trying to get her heavy arms to lift high enough to cover her ears.

When it finally stopped, Lucy stood, grinning, triumphant. "She's here," she whispered. "I can feel her."

"Bonnie?" Elena whispered.

Lucy ignored her. She turned on her heel and hurried from the room, grabbing up her bag and dropping the moonstone inside of it before hauling it over her shoulder.

"Lucy, wait," Elena called. "Please, take me with you. I want… I need to see her. Please."

"Sorry, doppelganger. This is one family reunion you aren't invited to." She waved her hands then. "No worries though. I'll call the Salvatores on the way; they can come pick you up. And don't worry about Kai; he was just doing me a favor.

"Kai? But… Why?"

"I made him a promise not to send him back to his little prison world. Told him if I got Bonnie back, I could make sure that side collapsed completely."

"What? But, no. We need to send him back." She struggled to push herself up then, eyeing Lucy hazily. "Please, he's a psychopath, you can't trust him."

"A psychopath you and yours left to torture my baby cousin," Lucy reminded her. "I said I wouldn't send him back. I never said I wouldn't kill him. And with Bonnie back, I'm sure that's not off the table." She wiggled her fingers in a condescending wave farewell, and disappeared down the hall, walking out the door and letting it close behind her.

Tiredly, Elena let her head fall back to the floor. She blinked her eyes a few times, trying to stay awake, but eventually drifted off into nothingness.

Bonnie was confused. One minute she was standing in Grams' kitchen, the next she was in the cemetery. She turned around slowly, eyeing the dark headstones suspiciously. "Hello?" she called, and then paused, rolling her eyes to herself. "Really smooth, Bennett. You're the only one in the entire world. Who'd you expect to answer?"

Unsure what to do, she started walking around hesitantly, her arms wrapped around her. Maybe this was like the Kai situation all over again. Maybe they weren't the only ones here after all. Maybe it wasn't Kai's prison so much as a prison world in general and various witches sent the worst of the worst here for an eternity of miserable purgatory. And now they'd found her.

After aimlessly wandering around for a good twenty minutes, she finally decided to give up and start back toward Grams'. She had a pot of stew on, one of her dad's favorite recipes, and, though she wasn't eager to have yet another meal alone, she was hungry.

She was just reaching the gate when headlights flashed over her face. Bonnie raised her arm to cover her eyes and took a surprised step backwards.

Before she'd even had a chance to question what was going on, the car door flew open and a warm chuckle followed before footsteps came her way. "Looking good for someone just getting out of prison," a familiar voice said.

Bonnie dropped her arm abruptly, her heart pounding in her chest with hope. "Lucy?"

Her cousin grinned at her, thumbs hooked in the loops of her jeans as she crossed the space between them. "You didn't think I'd leave you over here to rot, did you?"

Tears bit sharply at her eyes. "I… I didn't think…"

Lucy reached for her, gathering Bonnie up in her arms. "You didn't think anyone was coming, yeah, I figured."

Crumbling, Bonnie fell against her, burying her face in her cousin's shoulder. "I thought— They said they were— They told me to be at the house, that I could go home," she cried. "But when I got there…"

Stroking her hair, Lucy soothed her. "You're home now. I made sure of that." She rubbed her back. "You can always rely on family, remember that."

Bonnie clutched at her, holding her tightly, arms wound around her waist. Her body shook violently, with relief and regret and disappointment. Not that she was home, or that her cousin had made it happen, but that she had ever thought her friends would come through in the end. Time and again, history had proven to her different, and this time was like all the rest.

"C'mon, let's get out of here. You can tell me about what happened on the other side, and I can fill you in on what I know's been going on here," Lucy suggested, leading Bonnie to the car.

Taking a seat on the passenger side, Bonnie got herself together, wiping at her eyes and enjoying the overwhelming feeling of having someone else there with her. For so long it had been just Damon, and then Kai had been added to the dynamics, which wasn't exactly a luxury, no matter how much either of them were starved for interaction with someone else. But then Damon was gone and it was only Kai and the intense knowledge that he would happily tear her to pieces just for the hell of it. Finally, even he got to leave, and she was alone with the crippling isolation. Even now, she felt anxious just thinking about it.

As if she knew, Lucy reached for her, took her hand and squeezed.

Bonnie turned, smiling faintly at her cousin, and breathed a sigh of relief. She was home. She was safe. That was all that mattered.

Elena was panting as she brought her mouth back from the blood bag in her hand. "I'm telling you… it was Lucy. Bonnie had a picture of her on her phone, she didn't stop talking about her for a week."

"Lucy's in Chicago. I talked to her three days ago," Damon argued, hands on his hips as he frowned down at her.

"She's not. She partnered up with Kai," she insisted.

"I don't understand. Why would Lucy want anything to do with him?" Stefan wondered, leaning forward in his seat, his brow furrowed. "If anything, she should hate Kai on principle, assuming Damon told her what Kai did to Bonnie."

Damon nodded. "I did. And she wasn't happy about it."

"It was a temporary alliance," Elena sighed, shaking her head. "She told Kai she could take down the prison world so he would never have to be sent back. Since she's a Bennett witch, I guess it held more water seeing as she's probably the only one who could actually do it."

"Probably?" Damon asked, an eyebrow raised.

"Well… That's the thing. See, Lucy had Kai kidnap me for a reason…" She looked between them. "There was this spell, a summoning spell. She said if she used the moonstone as a conduit and doppelgänger blood that the chances of it working were high. I told her she could've just asked, but she said that the amount of blood she needed might kill me. Probably because of where she was draining it from, I don't know." She rubbed her neck and winced. "Anyway, she was pretty sure you guys wouldn't let that happen, so she had me taken so you wouldn't interfere."

"What spell?" Stefan asked, frowning.

Taking a deep breath, she looked up at them. "She said she could get Bonnie back."

Silence filled the room for a long moment, and then Damon broke it. "Did it work?"

"I… I think so, yeah." She offered a tiny, hopeful smile. "She said she felt her. That she was back. And then she let the barrier down and left to go get her."

Damon's shoulders slumped in relief and he raised a hand, scrubbing it over his mouth. "The cemetery. Where we died. She'd show back up there." He moved quickly, grabbing up his jacket.

"Damon," Stefan stalled him. "Don't you think we should talk about this?"

"About what?"

"About Lucy. Kai. What this could mean?"

"I think she was being honest," Elena piped up. "She wasn't partnering with Kai permanently. She just needed him to grab me so she didn't tip you guys off. She was desperate." Shrugging, she told them, "She even said after that her and Bonnie would probably take Kai out themselves. And… I believe her."

"You're not mad?" Stefan asked, his eyes narrowed in surprise as he stared at her.

"Look, it hurts, and I wish it hadn't come to this, but… Bonnie's my best friend. I would've agreed to it if Lucy had just asked. If she's really back then… it was worth it."

Damon looked between them and then turned on his heel. "You two talk strategy on Kai or Lucy all you want. I've got a witch I need to see." Rubbing his hands together, he grinned, and hurried to the door, making his way outside and toward his car. Revving the engine, he considered his options for a moment and then decided he might as well check the cemetery first. If she wasn't there, then he'd try Bonnie's. Or, more likely, Sheila's.

Bonnie hadn't laughed so hard in… too long. It felt good, being around someone who cared, being around anyone really. She had one of Grams' knitted quilts drawn around her shoulders and a bowl of soup in her lap. It was only Campbell's, Lucy admitted she couldn't cook worth a damn, but the thought was there, and that was all that mattered. Bonnie let the heat seep into her hands, eating from the bowl periodically, more interested in talking to Lucy, hearing about her life, how much she'd traveled, what her childhood was like. They lived such different lives, but she'd never felt more in tune with someone before. Lucy was blood, and it felt good to have family close again.

"I'm planning on taking a trip, hit the road, see what California has to offer… You should come with. I can teach you how to surf."

Bonnie smiled, ducking her head a little. "That'd be fun."

She knew she probably couldn't. As soon as she was feeling better, she was going to have to get back to basics. They had a homicidal freak on the loose who could steal witch's powers after all. Couldn't let that go unchecked, especially not when she felt responsible for releasing him on the world once more.

"After Kai," Lucy told her, as if she could read her thoughts. "We'll get rid of him together and then me and you, we'll take a trip, anywhere you want."

Bonnie looked over at her then, aware of how much hope shone in her eyes and doing nothing to dampen it. "You'd really want to? I don't want to interrupt your life."

"You're family, and I have too little of that as it is. Come on, I know you're used to putting all your energy into this place, but don't you think you deserve a break? We can make it a tradition or something. Get together every year, take off for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, see what the world's got to offer a couple of witches like us."

She smiled then, laughing under her breath, and finally shrugged. "Sure. Okay. Why not?"

"Good. It's a deal then. All we have to do is figure out where we want to go."

Her brow furrowed curiously. "I thought you wanted to see California."

"I do. But there's a whole big world out there and I'm getting the feeling you haven't seen much of it."

"Not really, no."

"Then let's not waste it," Lucy decided, pushing up from the couch. "Sheila's gotta have a map around here somewhere…" She started searching around while Bonnie leaned back, spooning another bite of soup into her mouth, humming contently as it warmed her from the inside out.

After searching Sheila's office, Lucy finally came back with a folded up map. "See. Knew I'd find one." She was just unfolding it when headlights bounced across the front window. Frowning, she moved to the door, and peered out the window, only to cluck her tongue. "Your boy is out front," she said. "Thought we'd have a little more time."

"My boy?" Bonnie's brow wrinkled.

"You wanna tell me how you got wrapped up with one of the Salvatore brothers? You know they're no good for you."

"Damon?" Her throat tightened briefly. "Are you sure it's him?"

"I'd recognize that car anywhere," she scoffed, eying him as he hopped out of the car and readjusted the collar of his jacket. "He's primping like a peacock… You sure you wanna see him? I could send him home crying if you want."

The corner of Bonnie's mouth turned up. "I think I'd like to see that someday."

Humming, Lucy shrugged. "I've gotta give him props. He was the only one that got a hold of me, let me know what was happening… Drove all the way up to Chicago to get blood for that ascendant deal." She shook her head. "I should've known then… Should've come down myself. Never leave anything important up to a man, little cuz. They always fuck it up somehow."

"It wasn't his fault," she defended quietly. "It wasn't anyone's. I—"

"You sacrifice yourself too much, for people who don't deserve it," Lucy told her firmly. "And when push came to shove, when they had the chance to show you that you mattered just as much, they failed. Never forget that." She walked back to Bonnie then, staring down at her seriously. "It's okay to care about people, to want to help them, but never do it at the cost of yourself. You only have so much to give and anybody that asks for all of you doesn't deserve an inch of you." Reaching down, she cupped Bonnie's cheek gently. "You hear me?"

Bonnie stared up at her, a fire warming her heart, and nodded. "I do."

A knock could be heard at the door then, and Lucy took a step back. "Last chance. Does he stay or does he go?"

Bonnie looked to the door, hesitation filling her, and then she said, "He can stay. I think we have a few things to say to each other."

With a shrug, Lucy walked to the door and swung it open, raising an eyebrow at a smugly grinning Damon. "House is in your name," Lucy reminded her, before turning on her heel and walking away, leaving them to their conversation.

Bonnie looked over at him from her perch on the couch and said quietly, "Come in, Damon."

He stepped inside quickly, eyeing her, his smile fleeing in the face of her obvious exhaustion. "I don't know what I was expecting," he admitted, tucking his hands in the pockets of his jacket. "Maybe one of those reunions you see in all the movies, where we run at each other from a distance and I spin you around in the air while we laugh like crazy people."

"Not really up for running or spinning," she said, half-smiling.

"Yeah." He swallowed tightly, closing the door behind him before he moved to the couch. "Kai really did a number on you, huh?"

Bonnie shrugged. "I walked away alive, so I guess it could be worse."

He was quiet for a long, tense moment, before telling her, "You don't need to be brave… You can admit he hurt you."

She glanced at him, her mouth settling into a line. "What would that accomplish?" Putting her soup bowl on the table, she crossed her arms over her stomach. "Is Elena okay?"

"Hm?" He frowned. "Oh. Right. Yeah, she was fine when I left. A little tired, but she was getting her blood intake back up, so she'll be right as rain in a few hours."

"Good. I'm glad."

"Back to the original subject though, what happened when you were over there with Kai?"

Bonnie turned away, and let out a long sigh. "Nothing worth talking about." She shook her head. "Look, you don't need to worry. I've already talked to Lucy. She promises Elena won't be targeted again. And, when I've got my energy back, we're going to track him down. The prison world's been destroyed basically, or that's what Lucy tells me. But, considering his sins, I don't think we're putting too much stock on any moral compass this time around."

"You're going to kill him," he said simply.

"We have to." Raising her head, she met his eyes seriously. "Damon, he massacred his own family. He's got a grudge and if he gets the kind of power he wants, he's going to destroy everything he touches. At least vampires have some sense of control. Kai doesn't. He had no qualms about killing anything in his path."

"So your plan is to put yourself in his path…" He frowned at her. "Bonnie, you just got back. You really think going head to head with a guy that can suck your only defense right out of you with a touch of the finger is a good idea?"

"It's the only idea. He needs to be put down. You know this," she insisted.

"I do, and I'm more than willing to put him down, but shoving you out into the middle of that fight is not an option."

"You can't force me not to fight."

Gritting is teeth, he snapped, "I can damn well try."

Sighing, she rubbed her forehead. "I don't want to fight with you about this."

"Well, you should have thought about that before coming up with the worst plan possible."

"It's not the worst plan, it's just not what you want it to be. Which is you singlehandedly taking him down and playing soccer with his head."

"That does sound tempting…"

Shaking her head, she told him, "Tempting or not, your kind of fight happens up close and personal. Kai can destroy you from a distance. You're not an even match. Lucy and I can take him on; we're stronger than him, especially together." She stared at him searchingly. "I know you're worried, but I can do this. I don't plan on dying anytime soon, not again. Third strike and I'm out for good, right?"

He scowled. "Not funny," he muttered, but his eyes darted away, a clear sign to her that he was admitting defeat. For now.

"It's late, and I'm tired. Why don't we talk about this in the morning?" Bonnie suggested, pushing up from the couch, blanket still wrapped around her. "Tell Elena I'm sorry about what happened with Lucy. I know she was a little overzealous. I'll do my best to make it up to her." Bonnie turned then, eager to find the spare bedroom and get some rest.

"You don't owe her an apology," Damon said, drawing her attention back to him.

She turned, frowning. "Lucy sliced her throat open and drained her of most of her blood. If the vervain didn't keep the cut open, she admitted she would've kept cutting, even if that meant killing Elena… Not to mention having her kidnapped by Kai. I love my cousin, and I know she was only doing it to save me, but Elena didn't deserve that."

"They should've tried harder," he said, his voice heavier now. "I should have too. I… I thought you died over there. I thought, after you sent me back, that you were gone." He swallowed tightly. "It wasn't until I found your bear that I realized you were alive."

"And then you did everything you could to get me back. Damon, I don't blame you." She shook her head. "I understand."

"I don't want you to understand," he gritted out, flashing across the room and taking her by the arms. "I want you to be angry. I want you to get upset. I want you to realize that there were days that I could've spent finding a way back to you. If I had, then none of this would've happened. Kai wouldn't have gotten out and you wouldn't have been stuck over there any longer than you had to be."

"I told you I wasn't going to make it," she reminded. "You had no reason to believe—"

"You would've!" he exclaimed. "You would've done everything in your power to get me back, even if I was just some desiccated corpse! You wouldn't have given up at the first sign of danger, because that's who you are. You would've figured out the Gemini coven and Jo and convinced her somehow to let you use it instead of me compelling Alaric and earning a lifetime of his complaining that I'm the worst best friend ever. You would've found me, met me halfway if you had to, instead of waiting around at the house, wasting time." He shook his head. "And you wouldn't have let these idiots make excuses and drag their feet instead of doing what had to be done to get me back. But I didn't. I wasted days chasing Elena and I compelled my best friend even though I knew he'd hate me after and I didn't meet you halfway. I—I didn't even think of it. Because I'm an idiot. And because of that, you were stuck over there, you had to spend Christmas alone. You were tortured by Kai and abandoned, Bonnie. So no, don't understand me, don't forgive me, and definitely don't sweep it under the rug that almost nobody else put any effort into the Bring Bonnie Home mission. Because they don't deserve it. They deserve to be raked over the coals, and you shouldn't hesitate to do it."

She stared up at him, a pit forming deep in her stomach. "They…" Her throat burned with emotion. "Did any of them try?" she asked, her voice hollow and cracked.

"In the beginning. Caroline, Ric and Stefan were on a 'save us' binge, but Stefan gave up and Caroline didn't know, so she spent most of her time researching how to bring the barrier around Mystic Falls down. They had a falling out when she realized he'd given up and wasn't searching. Then you sent me back and, being an idiot, I told them you were at peace, so they gave up looking. By the time I realized you weren't and put a plan together, Caroline was out of town with Liz and Elena was the only one to tag along. Tyler pulled some dumb shit with Liv and forced her to stop the spell and Ric… Ric didn't want to get me the ascendant at all, hence why I compelled him."

Bonnie nodded slowly, her eyes on the floor. "I think I knew."

"Knew what?"

"Knew they wouldn't try. Or care." She shook her head. "I know they love me. At least, I think they do. But… I'm never a priority. Something else always comes first. And I can't even really blame them for that, right? I mean, I did this to myself. I put myself in this position of always being an asset, and when I wasn't, I told them not to worry about me."

"This isn't on you," he insisted. "This isn't your fault. We were supposed to be there for you. We were supposed to come through in the end." He shook his head, his own eyes burning. "Bonnie, I… I'm probably the worst of all of them. I used you, I expected you to use your magic on command, I never really thanked you for any of it. I just…" He ground his teeth. "I'm sorry. For all of it. I know that's not enough, but… I can make it up to you. I will make it up to you. Somehow."

Nodding jerkily, Bonnie wiped at her nose. "Yeah. Sure. It's fine." She shook her head then and said, "It really is late though, and I think I need some sleep."

"Right." Clearing his throat, he took a step back. "You should. You look exhausted."

She rolled her eyes. "Just what a girl likes to hear." Walking to the hallway then, she paused, glanced back, and said, "Thank you, Damon… for trying."

He stared back at her, nodded, and replied sincerely, "Anytime."

When the time came for Bonnie and Lucy to face down Kai, Damon watched from the sidelines. Not because he wanted to, but because he isn't physically able to intervene. There was a bubble covering all three of them, like a miniature traveler barrier, only this one was solid, so it didn't let him pass through at all. That didn't stop him from staying close, constantly testing the resolve of the barrier, waiting for his chance to inch his way in and finish off the psychopath.

From where he was standing, it looked like the Bennett's were winning. And then Kai threw a whammy of a spell that picked Lucy up like a rag doll and threw her away, letting her tumble to the ground in an unconscious heap. Bonnie was still on her feet though, battling Kai at every step, the power of a hundred witches and her own rage against him doing all that it could to keep him at bay. But Kai, the little piss ant, didn't look even slightly tired. And that worried Damon.

Bonnie had only officially been back to the land of the living six days, which, as far as Damon was concerned, was not enough for her to be at full strength. He'd argued with her endlessly, forcing her onto bed rest and bringing her food right to her in an effort to keep her from straining herself, but there was only so much he could do.

Stubborn little witch that she was, even now, looking drained, she refused to go down.

"Oh Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie," Kai mocked. "When are you going to get it? You can't beat me!" He laughed cheerfully. "You're going to die, right here, and there won't be any prison world to catch you, no." He tisked, wagging a condescending finger. "You'll just be sent off to oblivion, no chance of resurrection this time."

"You're right," she said, her chest heaving. "Maybe I can't beat you on my own."

"It's too bad Lucy bit the dust, huh?" He aww'd, jutting his lower lip out. "I liked her. She was feisty. Must be a Bennett trait."

Swaying a little on her feet, Bonnie glared at him. "This started with us, Kai. It's going to end with us." She raised her hands out to her side and inhaled deeply.

"Ooh, I like where this is going. Just me and you, a little magical show down. Sounds cozy. Hey, maybe later, after Damon's done crying over your dead body and I put him out of his misery too, I can sing a little song for you, send you off in style. I was in the children's choir, did I ever tell you that?" He put a hand to his mouth as if sharing a secret and told her, "Mediocre singer, but I made up for it with enthusiasm."

Bonnie didn't bother answering, her lips already moving with a different incantation. When she dropped her arms to her side, a rush of air moved around them. "I think you misunderstood me."

He tipped his head, brow furrowed. "No… I'm pretty sure I didn't."

"This started with us," she reiterated. "All three of us."

The barrier was down, and Damon flashed behind Kai before he could blink, one hand around his throat and his teeth already bared.

Bonnie threw her arms out and pushed all of her energy at Kai then, who was forced to put his entire focus into blocking her attack, which left him open as Damon let out a derisive laugh and then sunk his teeth deep into Kai's neck and ripped. Blood spilled down the front of him and coated his shoulder. He let out a curdled yell, but it was quickly cut off as Damon dug his fingers into Kai's jugular and twisted. Kai's head popped off like a pit from a squeezed cherry. His body fell to the floor, decapitated head plopping to the ground beside it.

Content and bloody, Damon grinned at Bonnie, who swayed a little on her feet, but smiled all the same. Flashing across the space between them, he wrapped an arm around her waist, catching her, and slowly slunk down to the ground with her in his lap.

Head falling back against him, she murmured, "We did it."

"We always did make a good team," he said.

"When you weren't being pigheaded."

"Is now the time for insults?" He sighed, pressing his cheek to hers. "This is a victory, Bon-Bon. Savor it."

She let out a long breath and slumped against him. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad." Her nose scrunched up. "Does that make me a bad person?"

"No. It makes you a smart person. Kai was pure evil. There was no redemption on that front. After what he did to his family, to you, he deserved this. And frankly…" He wiped his bloody hands off on his jeans. "Good riddance to the little prick."

She snorted, shaking her head a little. "Well, for now at least, it looks like Mystic Falls is safe again."

He smirked down at her. "Happy New Year's."

With a harrumph, she smiled.

A few moments passed in silence then. Bonnie magically sent Kai's body up in flames, both to get rid of evidence and to make sure he was really and truly dead. They watched the flames in morbid fascination.

"Lucy invited me on a road trip," she told him.

"Yeah? To where?"

She shrugged. "We picked a few different places. I think we're going to take our time, get some bonding in."

"Good. You deserve it."

She hummed, nodding faintly. "I don't know how long I'll be gone."

He stiffened a little. "Is this a vacation or…?" Or are you not coming back, his silence asked.

"I don't know yet," she admitted. "I have responsibilities here, people I care about, but…"

"But it gets exhausting caring about people who don't care about you. Yeah. Trust me, I get it."

"It's not that they don't care. They do, in their own way. It's just… I don't know. Maybe I need some perspective. Maybe, before I can expect them to care as much as I want them to, I need to care about myself that much first." She tipped her head up to see him. "No more sacrificing myself for the 'greater good.'"

He stared down at her searchingly and nodded. "Smart thinking."

"You know what that means, right?" She bit her lip. "If I do come back, if something happens to Elena, I… I can't guarantee I'll always be able to help."

He was quiet as his hand raised, knuckles dragging over her cheek. "I wouldn't want you to. I'm making amends for all that selfish stuff I did before, remember?" His gaze was earnest. "Besides, what would I do without my favorite witch around? Who would I beat at Battleship?"

"You cheated!" she exclaimed, shoving his chest when he merely laughed.

A groan could be heard then and Bonnie turned. "Oh God, Lucy." She pushed herself out of Damon's lap and started crawling toward her cousin. Given the distance, Damon merely grabbed her up by her waist and ran her over, putting her down on the asphalt next to Lucy's head. Bonnie picked it up carefully and laid it down in her lap. "Are you okay?" she asked, stroking Lucy's hair back from her face.

"A little bruised, but I'll make it," Lucy assured, grinning crookedly. "Hell of a fight, huh? I'm guessing, since you're still breathing, that we won…?"

Bonnie nodded, smiling down at her. "Yeah. We did. No more Kai."

"Good," she sighed. "Well, I need a hot shower and a beer. Figure we can take tonight, get some rest, hit the road tomorrow. What do you say?"

Bonnie stared down at her, grinned and said, "I'd like that."

The open road was calming. Rejuvenating. A much-needed release from the responsibilities tethering her to Mystic Falls. She'd been on her road trip with Lucy for three weeks already and she still hadn't felt any urge to go back. Eventually, she knew she would. It was her home and, much as her friends could, occasionally, put her last, she still loved them and wanted to keep them safe.

Caroline called her every day, twice a day, checking in, eager to hear her voice, to tell her how much she missed her. Elena called too, not as frequently, but she'd never been as needy as Caroline was for her friend's time and attention, at least not when there wasn't a life crisis. They were back at Whitmore, avoiding the next curveball the universe had to throw at them, and, despite missing her, they both encouraged Bonnie to take as much time as she needed. They would be there when she was ready to come back.

Damon texted her. Random nonsense interspersed with little factoids about himself, a running commentary on his day to day life, and, for whatever reason, he catalogued every one of Stefan's frowns to her. She was supposed to keep count of them and, when she came home, give him the exact number. It was upwards of three hundred last she'd counted. How one person could frown that much, she had no idea. Damon did tell her he frowned less with Caroline around, to which she accused him of being a creepy matchmaker. He maintained he only put in a good word for her and hadn't yet forced them into a closet or set them up on a blind date with each other. She reminded him he'd said 'yet' and he quickly changed the subject.

She liked it when he texted, when Caroline called, when Elena reminded her that she mattered and she was missed. But that didn't mean she was giving up her time away any earlier than she had to. So she closed her phone, turned it off entirely, and focused on the road ahead of her.

"I'm hungry. You wanna get some lunch?" Lucy asked.

Bonnie stared out at the California coast line and nodded. "Sure. And then we should see about renting some surfboards."