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Dark Reunion (Chapter Five)

Monday, June 8, 11:15 p.m.

Dear Diary,

I don't seem to be sleeping very well tonight, so I might as well write you. All day today I've been waiting for something to happen. You don't do a spell like that and have it work like that and then have nothing happen.

But nothing has. I stayed home from school because Mom thought I should. She was upset about Matt and Meredith staying so late Sunday night, and she said I needed to get some rest. But every time I lie down I see Sue's face.

Sue's dad did the eulogy at Elena's funeral. I wonder who's going to do it for Sue on Wednesday?

I've got to stop thinking about things like this.

Maybe I'll try to go to sleep again. Maybe if I lie down with my headphones on, I won't see Sue.

Bonnie put the diary back in her nightstand drawer and took out her Walkman.

She flipped through the channels as she stared at the ceiling with heavy eyes.

Through the crackle and sputter of static a D.J.'s voice sounded in her ear. "And here's a golden oldie for all you fabulous fifties fans. 'Goodnight Sweetheart' on the Vee Jay label by The Spaniels…"

Bonnie drifted away on the music. The ice cream soda was strawberry, Bonnie's favorite. The jukebox was playing 'Goodnight Sweetheart' and the counter was squeaky clean. But Elena, Bonnie decided, would never have really worn a poodle skirt.

"No poodles," she said, gesturing at it. Elena looked up from her hot fudge sundae. Her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. "Who thinks of these things anyway?" Bonnie asked.

"You do, silly. I'm only visiting."

"Oh." Bonnie took a pull at the soda. Dreams. There was a reason to be afraid of dreams, but she couldn't think of it just now.

"I can't stay long," Elena said. "I think he already knows I'm here. I just came to tell you…" She frowned.

Bonnie looked at her sympathetically. "Can't you remember either?" She drank more soda. It tasted odd.

"I died too young, Bonnie. There was so much I was supposed to do, to accomplish. And now I have to help you."

"This isn't easy, you know. I don't have that much power. It's hard getting through, and it's hard keeping everything together."

"Gotta keep it together," Bonnie agreed, nodding. She was feeling strangely lightheaded. What was in this soda?

"I don't have much control, and things turn out strange somehow. He's doing it, I guess. He's always fighting me. He watches you. And every time we try to communicate, he comes."

"Okay." The room was floating.

"Bonnie, are you listening to me? He can use your fear against you. It's the way he gets in."

"Okay…"

"But don't let him in. Tell everyone that. And tell Stefan…" Elena stopped and put a hand to her mouth. Something fell onto the hot fudge sundae.

It was a tooth.

"He's here." Elena's voice was strange, indistinct. Bonnie stared at the tooth in mesmerized horror. It was lying in the middle of the whipped cream, among the slivered almonds. "Bonnie, tell Stefan…"

Another tooth plunked down, and another. Elena sobbed, both her hands at her mouth now. Her eyes were terrified, helpless. "Bonnie, don't go…"

But Bonnie was stumbling back. Everything was whirling around. The soda was bubbling out of the glass, but it wasn't soda; it was blood. Bright red and frothy, like something you coughed up when you died. Bonnie's stomach convulsed.

"Tell Stefan I love him!" It was the voice of a toothless old woman, and it ended in hysterical sobs. Bonnie was glad to fall into darkness and forget everything.

Bonnie nibbled at the end of her felt pen, her eyes on the clock, her mind on the calendar. Eight and a half more days of school to survive. And it looked as if every minute was going to be misery.

Some guy had said it outright, backing away from her on the stairs. "No offense, but your friends keep turning up dead." Bonnie had gone into the bathroom and cried.

But now all she wanted was to be out of school, away from the tragic faces and accusing eyes-or worse, the pitying eyes. The principal had given a speech over the P.A. about "this new misfortune" and "this terrible loss," and Bonnie had felt the eyes on her back as if they were boring holes there.

When the bell rang, she was the first person out the door. But instead of going to her next class she went to the bathroom again, where she waited for the next bell.

Then, once the halls were empty, she hurried toward the foreign language wing. She passed bulletins and banners for end-of-the-year events without glancing at them. What did SATs matter, what did graduation matter, what did anything matter anymore? They might all be dead by the end of the month.

Oh, my God, I forgot how gorgeous he is, she thought. Elena, forgive me; I'm going to grab him.

"Stefan!" she said.

Then her mind wrenched her back into reality again and she cast a hunted look around. No one was in eyeshot. She grabbed his arm.

"Are you crazy, showing up here? Are you nuts?"

"I had to find you. I thought it was urgent."

"It is, but-" He looked so incongruous, standing there in the high school hallway. So exotic. Like a zebra in a flock of sheep. She started pushing him toward a broom closet.

He wasn't going. And he was stronger than she was. "Bonnie, you said you'd talked to-"

"You have to hide! I'll go get Matt and Meredith and bring them back here and then we can talk. But if anybody sees you, you're probably going to get lynched. There's been another murder."

Stefan's face changed, and he let her push him toward the closet. He started to say something, then clearly decided not to.

"I'll wait," he said simply.

It took only a few minutes to find Matt in auto tech and Meredith in economics class. They hurried back to the broom closet and bustled Stefan out of school as inconspicuously as possible, which wasn't very.

Someone's bound to have seen us, Bonnie thought. It all depends on who, and how much of a blab they are.

"We have to get him someplace safe-not to any of our houses," Meredith was saying. They were all walking as fast as they could through the high school parking lot.

"Fine, but where? Wait a minute, what about the boarding house… ?" Bonnie's voice trailed off. There was a little black car in the parking slot in front of her. An Italian car, sleek, svelte, and sexy looking. All the windows were tinted illegally dark; you couldn't even see inside. Then Bonnie made out the stallion emblem on the back.

"Oh, my God"

Three sets of eyes turned to him in shock. "Damon's?" Bonnie said, hearing the squeak in her own voice. She hoped Stefan meant Damon had just loaned it to him.

But the car window was rolling down to reveal black hair as sleek and liquidy as the car's paint job, mirrored glasses, and a very white smile. "Buon giorno," said Damon smoothly. "Anybody need a ride?"

"Oh, my God," Bonnie said again, faintly. But she didn't back away.

Stefan was visibly impatient. "We'll head for the boarding house. You follow. Park behind the barn so nobody sees your car."

Meredith had to lead Bonnie away from the Ferrari. It wasn't that Bonnie liked Damon or that she was ever going to let him kiss her again as he had at Alaric's party. She knew he was dangerous; not as bad as Katherine had been, maybe, but bad. He'd killed wantonly, just for the fun of it. He'd killed Mr. Tanner, the history teacher, at the Haunted House fund-raiser last Halloween. He might kill again at any time. Maybe that was why Bonnie felt like a mouse staring at a shining black snake when she looked at him.

In the privacy of Meredith's car Bonnie and Meredith exchanged glances.

"Stefan shouldn't have brought him," said Meredith.

"Maybe he just came," Bonnie offered. She didn't think Damon was the sort of person who got brought anywhere.

"Why should he? Not to help us, that's for sure."

Matt said nothing. He didn't even seem to notice the tension in the car. He just stared through the windshield, lost in himself.

The sky was clouding up.

"Matt?"

"Just leave it alone, Bonnie," said Meredith.

Wonderful, thought Bonnie, depression settling like a dark blanket over her. Matt and Stefan and Damon, all together, all thinking about Elena.

They parked behind the old barn, next to the low black car. When they went inside, Stefan was standing alone. He turned and Bonnie saw that he'd taken off his sunglasses. The faintest chill went through her, just the lightest prickling of the hairs on her arms and neck. Stefan wasn't like any other guy she'd ever met. His eyes were so green; green as oak leaves in the spring. But just now they had shadows underneath.

There was a moment of awkwardness; the three of them standing on one side and looking at Stefan without a word. No one seemed to know what to say.

Then Meredith went over to him and took his hand. "You look tired," she said.

"I came as soon as I could." He put an arm around her in a brief, almost hesitant hug. He never would have done that in the old days, Bonnie thought. He used to be so reserved.

"I came as soon as I could." He put an arm around her in a brief, almost hesitant hug. He never would have done that in the old days, Bonnie thought. He used to be so reserved.

Stefan and Matt were looking at each other. Here we go, thought Bonnie. It was almost funny; the same expression was on both their faces. Hurt and tired, and trying not to show it. No matter what, Elena would always be between them.

At last, Matt stuck out his hand and Stefan shook it. They both stepped back, looking glad to have it over with.

"Where's Damon?" said Meredith.

"Poking around. I thought we might want a few minutes without him."

"We want a few decades without him," Bonnie said before she could stop herself, and Meredith said, "He can't be trusted, Stefan."

"I think you're wrong," Stefan said quietly. "He can be a big help if he puts his mind to it."

"In between killing a few of the locals every other night?" Meredith said, her eyebrows up. "You shouldn't have brought him, Stefan."

"But he didn't." The voice came from behind Bonnie, behind and frighteningly close. Bonnie jumped and made an instinctive lunge for Matt, who gripped her shoulder.

Damon smiled briefly, just one corner of his mouth up. He'd taken off his sunglasses, but his eyes weren't green. They were black as the spaces between the stars. He's almost better looking than Stefan, Bonnie thought wildly, finding Matt's fingers and hanging on to them.

"So she's yours now, is she?" Damon said to Matt casually.

"No," Matt said, but his grip on Bonnie didn't loosen.

"Stefan didn't bring you?" prompted Meredith from the other side. Of all of them, she seemed least affected by Damon, least afraid of him, least susceptible to him.

"No," Damon said, still looking at Bonnie. He doesn't turn like other people, she thought. He goes on looking at whatever he wants no matter who's talking. "You did," he said.

"Me?" Bonnie shrank a little, uncertain who he meant.

"You. You did the spell, didn't you?"

"The…" Oh, hell. A picture blossomed in Bonnie's mind, of black hair on a white napkin. Her eyes went to Damon's hair, finer and straighter than Stefan's but just as dark. Obviously Matt had made a mistake in the sorting.

They took seats on the decaying bales of hay, all except Damon, who remained standing. Stefan was leaning forward, hands on knees, looking at Bonnie.

"You told me-you said that Elena spoke to you." There was a perceptible pause before he got the name out. His face was tense with control.

"Yes." She managed a smile for him. "I had this dream, Stefan, this very strange dream…"

She told him about it, and about what had happened after. It took a long time. Stefan listened intently, his green eyes flaring every time she mentioned Elena. When she told about the end of Caroline's party and how they had found Sue's body in the backyard, the blood drained from his face, but he said nothing.

"The police came and said she was dead, but we knew that already," Bonnie finished. "And they took Vickie away-poor Vickie was just raving. They wouldn't let us talk to her, and her mother hangs up if we call. Some people are even saying Vickie did it, which is insane. But they won't believe that Elena talked to us, so they won't believe anything she said."

"And what she said was 'he,' " Meredith interrupted. "Several times. It's a man; someone with a lot of psychic power."

"And it was a man who grabbed my hand in the hallway," said Bonnie. She told Stefan about her suspicion of Tyler, but as Meredith pointed out, Tyler didn't fit the rest of the description.

He had neither the brains nor the psychic power to be the one Elena was warning them about.

"What about Caroline?" Stefan asked. "Could she have seen anything?"

"She was out front," Meredith said. "She found the door and got out while we were all running. She heard the screams, but she was too frightened to go back in the house. And to be honest, I don't blame her."

"So nobody actually saw what happened except Vickie."

"No. And Vickie's not telling." Bonnie picked up the story where she had left off. "Once we realized nobody would believe us, we remembered Elena's message about the summoning spell. We figured it must have been you she wanted to summon, because she thought you could do something to help. So… can you?"

"I can try," Stefan said. He got up and walked a little distance away, turning his back on them. He stood like that in silence a while, unmoving. At last he turned back and looked Bonnie in the eyes. "Bonnie," he said, quiet but intense, "in your dreams you actually spoke to Elena face to face. Do you think if you went into a trance you could do it again?"

Bonnie was a little frightened by what she saw in his eyes. They were blazing emerald green in his pale face. All at once it was as if she could see behind the mask of control he wore. Underneath was so much pain, so much longing-so much of that intensity that she could hardly bear to look at it.

"Then we'll do it. Right here, right now. And we'll see if you can take me with you." Those eyes were mesmerizing, not with any hidden Power, but with the sheer force of his will. Bonnie wanted to do it for him-he made her want to do anything for him. But the memory of that last dream was too much. She couldn't face that horror again; she couldn't.

"Stefan, it's too dangerous. I could be opening myself up to anything-and I'm scared. If that thing gets hold of my mind, I don't know what might happen. I can't, Stefan. Please. Even with a Ouija board, it's just inviting him to come."

For a moment she thought he was going to try to make her do it. His mouth tightened in an obstinate line, and his eyes blazed even brighter. But then, slowly, the fire died out of them.

Bonnie felt her heart tear. "Stefan, I'm sorry," she whispered.

"We'll just have to do it on our own," he said. The mask was back on, but his smile looked stiff, as if it hurt him. Then he spoke more briskly. "First we have to find out who this killer is, what he wants here. All we know now is that something evil has come to Fell's Church again."

"But why?" said Bonnie. "Why would anything evil just happen to pick here? Haven't we been through enough?"

"It does seem a bit of a strange coincidence," Meredith said drolly. "Why should we be so singularly blessed?"

"It's not coincidence," said Stefan. He got up and lifted his hands as if unsure how to start. "There are some places on this earth that are… different," he said. "That are full of psychic energy, either positive or negative, good or evil. Some of them have always been that way, like the Bermuda Triangle and Salisbury Plain, the place where they built Stonehenge. Others become that way, especially where a lot of blood has been shed." He looked at Bonnie.

"Unquiet spirits," she whispered.

"Yes. There was a battle here, wasn't there?"

"In the Civil War," Matt said. "That's how the church in the cemetery got ruined. It was a slaughter on both sides. Nobody won, but almost everyone who fought got killed. The woods are full of their graves."

"And the ground was soaked with blood. A place like that draws the supernatural to it. It draws evil to it. That's why Katherine was attracted to Fell's Church in the first place. I felt it too, when I first came here."

"And now something else has come," Meredith said, perfectly serious for once. "But how are we supposed to fight it?"

"We have to know what we're fighting first. I think…" But before he could finish, there was a creak and pale, dusty sunlight fell across the bales of hay. The barn door had opened.

Mrs. Flowers, who owned the boarding house, smiled at them, her little black eyes crinkling into wrinkles. She was carrying a tray.

"I thought you children might like something to drink while you're talking," she said comfortably.

Everyone exchanged disconcerted glances. How had she known they were out here? And how could she be so calm about it?

"Here you go," Mrs. Flowers continued. "This is grape juice, made from my own Concord grapes." She put a paper cup beside Meredith, then Matt, then Bonnie. "And here are some gingersnap cookies. Fresh." She held the plate around. Bonnie noticed she didn't offer any to Stefan or Damon.

"You two can come round to the cellar if you like and try some of my blackberry wine," she said to them, with what Bonnie would swear was a wink.

Stefan took a deep, wary breath. "Uh, look, Mrs. Flowers…"

"And your old room's just like you left it. Nobody's been up there since you went. You can use it when you want; it won't put me out a bit."

Stefan seemed at a loss for words. "Well-thank you. Thank you very much. But -"

"If you're worried I'll say something to somebody, you can set your mind at ease. I don't tend to run off at the mouth. Never have, never will. How's that grape juice?" -turning suddenly on Bonnie.

Bonnie hastily took a gulp. "Good," she said truthfully.

"When you finish, throw the cups in the trash. I like things kept tidy." Mrs. Flowers cast a look about the barn, shaking her head and sighing. "Such a shame. Such a pretty girl." She looked at Stefan piercingly with eyes like onyx beads. "You've got your work cut out for you this time, boy," she said, and left, still shaking her head.

"Well!" said Bonnie, staring after her, amazed. Everyone else just looked at each other blankly.

" 'Such a pretty girl'-but which?" said Mere-dith at last. "Sue or Elena?" Elena had actually spent a week or so in this very barn last winter-but Mrs. Flowers wasn't supposed to know that. "Did you say something to her about us?" Meredith asked Damon.

"Not a word." Damon seemed amused. "She's an old lady. She's batty."

"She's sharper than any of us gave her credit for," Matt said. "When I think of the days we spent watching her potter around that basement-do you think she knew we were watching?"

days we spent watching her potter around that basement-do you think she knew we were watching?"

"And grape juice, don't forget that." Matt grinned at Stefan. "Want some?" He proffered the leaky cup.

"Yeah, you can take your grape juice and…" But Stefan was almost smiling himself. For an instant Bonnie saw the two of them the way they used to be, before Elena had died. Friendly, warm, as comfortable together as she and Meredith were. A pang went through her.

But Elena isn't dead, she thought. She's more here than ever. She's directing everything we say and do.

Stefan had sobered again. "When Mrs. Flowers came in, I was about to say that we'd better get started. And I think we should start with Vickie."

"She won't see us," Meredith replied instantly. "Her parents are keeping everyone away."

"Then we'll just have to bypass her parents," Stefan said. "Are you coming with us, Damon?"

"A visit to yet another pretty girl? I wouldn't miss it."

Bonnie turned to Stefan in alarm, but he spoke reassuringly as he guided her out of the barn. "It'll be all right. I'll keep an eye on him."

Bonnie hoped so.

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