A/N - Sorry for the late update, guys. I know it's been a while, but school got way more hectic than I anticipated. Grad school is hard, who knew? Updates will be sporadic as I try to find some time to write. There probably won't be many until winter break. Hold in there, guys!

I woke up to tapping on my window. I opened my eyes as was surprised to see a storm brewing outside, but my window latched shut. I looked over and saw Elena was just opening my door. "Hey, I was just coming to check on you," she said, looking curiously at my light, probably because it was still on. "I'm heading over to the boarding house. Would you come with you?"

I thought about it before remembering everything that happened with Damon. I was about to refuse when I caught the expression on Elena's face: dread. She didn't want to be around him any more than I did. So I would suck it up and go with her instead of making her go alone. "Sure. Just let me get dressed."

She nodded and left.

It was a good thing it was a weekend. I couldn't miss much more cheerleading practice or Caroline would be forced to kick me off of the team. I considered this as I dressed in some warm clothes and got into the car.

Elena and I arrived at the boarding house almost first thing in the morning. Damon was boarding up the windows in the living room that looked like they had been shattered. Stefan quickly filled us in on what had been going on.

"I say we go to Pearl's, bust down the door and annihilate the idiot that attacked us last night," Damon proposed after hammering another board over the now glass-less window.

"Yeah? And then what? We turn to the rest of the house of vampires and say 'oops, sorry'?" Stefan asked skeptically from beside Elena. I was sitting on the floor in front of the fire, oddly craving a puppy right about then. Random thought.

"I can't believe you made a deal with her," Elena grumbled. I rolled my eyes at her. "It's not like he had a choice. She's older, so she's stronger," I reminded her.

"It was more like a helpful exchange of information," Damon drawled sarcastically. "Pearl is… scary. Besides, she's going to help me get Katherine back."

I sighed as Damon explained this, grabbing a glass of alcohol, probably bourbon, and drained it. "Damon, I thought you were done with Katherine?" I asked, worried. It was awful what he went through after not finding her in the tomb, but I thought he was healing. His obsession with Katherine wasn't healthy.

"Katherine loves games. Maybe this is just her way of reaching out to me," Damon's excuse sounded weak to me, and I think he knew that, because he quickly turned away from me.

"Of course. Damon gets what he wants as usual, no matter who gets hurt in the process," Elena snarked.

"You don't need to be so snarky about it," Damon mocked her, taking another drink. Elena, already pissed at Damon, turned on him. "I woke up this morning to learn that all the vampires have been released from the tomb. The same tomb of which my sister is still having nightmares about, but the way."

They all turned to look at me while I glared at Elena. I hadn't thought she had noticed. I shouldn't have been surprised, my sister was always a worrier.

"Not the time, Elena," I tried to brush them off. "Let's go back to how Damon is a self-serving psychopath."

"Urg," Damon groaned, sinking into a leather chair by the fire. "How long are you going to blame me for turning your birth mother into a vampire?"

"I'm not blaming you, Damon," Elena laughed humorlessly. "I've accepted the fact that you are, as Ella said, a self-serving psychopath. With no redeeming qualities"

"Ouch," Damon scoffed sarcastically.

"This isn't being very productive," broke in Stefan, even the mediator. "We're going to figure out a way to deal with Pearl and the vampires. Yeah?"

"Isn't that going to be hard considering Jeremy is dating Anna?" I recalled. I received blank stares. "Remember, I told him what was going on last night? Yeah, she came over. They spent the night talking," I informed them.

"Anna, as in the girl that kidnapped us?" Elena almost shouted at me.

"To get her mom back," I reminded her. "I'm sure we would do the same if it meant getting mom back," That pulled her up short. "Looks like you guys have some issues to work out," Damon said as he stood. He then proceeded to walk out of the room like he didn't have a care in the world.

"I'm sorry," Elena turned to Stefan, ignoring me. "He just makes me so cranky!"

"I know," Stefan pulled Elena into his arms, comforting her. It was kind of cute, in a way. Watching Stefan and Elena together was always slightly painful, because Stefan treated Elena like she was a princess and meant more to him than the entire world. I could only dream of a guy treating me like that. Tyler was amazing, but it wasn't epic like Stefan and Elena. "He makes everybody cranky."

"So, what are we going to do?" I asked, sitting down on the sofa and pointedly looked away from the embracing couple. It didn't look like they were going to let go of each other any time soon.

"Damon and I are going to handle everything, I promise," Stefan assured us.

"Well, what about us?" Elena asked sharply, pulling away from Stefan. "We can't just sit here and do nothing."

"I'm actually okay with letting the vampires handle everything. I have a cheer squad that needs my attention," I reminded my sister. I was not nearly as self-sacrificing, nor felt the need to be as involved in the dirty work as she did.

"Ella's right. You both just need to let Damon and me handle everything, because that's what is going to keep you safe," Stefan explained to Elena. I could see them still being cutesy out of the corner of my eye, so I avoided looking straight at them.

Hey, how are you doing? I haven't seen you in a while.

I decided that, while I was doing nothing, texting Tyler would probably be a good idea. I hadn't heard from him since I told him about vampires. I was scared he was freaking out or avoiding me.

"Which means nothing if you're not safe too," Elena argued with Stefan, and by extension me.

"What do you mean? I'm perfectly safe. I have Damon, the self-serving psychopath on my side," Stefan joked. I rolled my eyes at his light tone as he teased my twin.

I'm fine.

Tyler's answer was short and left a sting of rejection. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I left it for a moment.

"Well, that's comforting," Elena added sarcastically.

I left for home shortly after the conversation at the boarding house. With the storm, I didn't feel safe straying too far from home. At least at home vampires couldn't enter uninvited. Elena came home with me. We were both huddled together watching a movie. Around the fourth time Elena's phone rang with a call from Damon, she decided to go to bed in her room, leaving me alone in the living room.

Are we okay?

I decided to text Tyler again, trying to get a feel for how he was feeling and where his head was at. I didn't receive a response. I heard Elena's phone go off again as she went for the stairs just before there was a loud banging at the door. Elena opened it and Damon burst through.

"You're ignoring me," He said instead of a greeting as he headed straight for the living room, looking around.

"The six missed calls? Sorry, my phone is dead," Elena snarked rudely. I would normally say something, but I was still pretty pissed at Damon too.

"Is Stefan here?" Damon asked, ignoring Elena's jibe.


"Is something wrong?" I asked as I stood, noticing how jumpy Damon looked as he paced, checking around the house. "He went out to the woods and didn't come back," Damon explained, checking his phone. "I figured he was here with you."

Elena tried to call Stefan herself, which I found kind of redundant. "It's going straight to voicemail," she announced, becoming serious at the gravity of the situation. "Where could he be?"

"You're not going to like what I'm thinking," Damon told us darkly. My mind was running wild. I had an idea where Damon thought Stefan was. With the storm, the tomb vampires could go out and about today. It would not have been hard to corner him, especially since he was weaker from animal blood.

Elena and I were sitting in Damon's car waiting for him to come back from confronting Pearl, now that we knew where they were all hiding. We were parked on the other side of a batch of trees off of the woods so that we wouldn't be seen, but I was still anxious. The car was not a secure place from a pissed-off vampire.

I heard Elena open the door and looked over to see Damon, soaked, running back. Without Stefan.

"What happened? Where is he?" Elena asked anxiously, the umbrella shaking in her hand as it covered her and Damon. I was glad to have brought my thick sweatshirt, though it was not much protection from the wet.

"They've got him. I can't get in," Damon explained, panting. I wasn't sure why, I don't think vampires can get exhausted, and if they could, it would make no sense to be caused by running such a short distance.

"Why not?" Elena demanded.

"He's not invited in," I guessed. "It would make sense to compel the owner of the house instead of killing her, as protection against hostile vampires." Damon nodded, confirming my assumption.

"I can get in," Elena said firmly. She started to walk past Damon, but he grabbed her by the arms to stop her. "You're not going in there."

"I'm going!"

"You not going in there," Damon repeated in a hard voice.

Elena stopped struggling. "Why are they doing this. What do they want with him?" She asked, begging for an answer. I frowned sympathetically as I watched Elena try not to break into pieces.

"Revenge. They want revenge," Damon explained, still holding onto Elena so she wouldn't make a run for it.

"We need to do something," I insisted, still feeling anxious and fidgety. Stefan was a nice guy and I didn't like leaving him to be tortured. "I know," Damon agreed, looking back. Probably making sure no tomb vampires followed him and saw us.

"We can't let them hurt him. We've got to get him out of there," Elena insisted frantically.

"I know, Elena! I know. But I don't know how to get him out," Damon explained gently. My frown deepened, and I looked between Damon and Elena. He was being very gentle with her right not. I suddenly had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

So, apparently, Mr. Saltzman went after Damon after to bachelor raffle debacle. In self-defense (and being his usual psychopath self) Damon killed him. Apparently, he didn't stay dead. So, we went to the high school to find him and beg for his help.

Damon rounded a corner and suddenly stopped. "Well, don't you look… alive," he grinned sarcastically. Elena and I were staying back, letting Damon handle this. I figured Damon would screw it up, so was ready to step in when needed.

"You can't hurt me," we heard Mr. Saltzman respond to Damon carefully.

"Oh, I can hurt you all right," Damon practically growled. He stepped forward, out of mine and Elena's sight. It was time to intervene. I stepped around the corner, Elena on my heels.

"Mr. Saltzman," Elena said simply, stopping both men in their tracks. Mr. Saltzman looked and Elena and me with a deer-in-the-headlights look. "We need your help."

Mr. Saltzman moved us into his classroom so that we could sit and explain the situation to him. He sat in his chair behind his desk with Damon and I sat on top of a couple of student desks. Elena stood in front of Mr. Saltzman's desk, explaining. "Stefan is in the house. Damon's a vampire. He can't get in. We need you."

"We would go," I added on, sending a short glare at Damon, "But…"

"Your lives are valuable," Damon interrupted. "Yours, on the other hand, is…" Damon taunted Mr. Saltzman. I shot him another glare. This was not the way to earn his help!

"Stefan told me about your ring," Elena took over again.

"What about it?" Mr. Saltzman asked dryly, looking very disinterested.

"Let me recap: You tried to kill me. I defended myself. You died. Then, according to my brother, your ring brought you back to life." Damon interrupted again, in his usual, careless, sarcastic manner. "Am I, uh, am I leaving anything out?"

"Yeah, the part where I try and kill you again. Only this time I don't miss," Mr. Saltzman snarked back, standing. This was going nowhere, fast.

"Mr. Saltzman, please," Elena stepped in front of him. "It's Stefan."

Mr. Saltzman stared at her for a moment before shaking his head. "I'm sorry Elena, but it's not my problem."

"That's a shame. Because the woman in charge of the crowd can help you find your wife," Damon drawled. I turned back to him quickly, looking at him with wide eyes. Pearl couldn't help Mr. Saltzman find Isobel. Oh. Duh, Damon was lying. As usual, whatever to get what he wants.

"You're lying," Mr. Saltzman told him firmly, but there was a sliver of hope in his voice.

"Am I?" Damon asked, standing and moving over to the pair. I stood as well and stepped in front of Damon before this got out of hand.

"Yes, he is. But we're not," I stepped in, gesturing towards Elena and myself. "We need your help. I know you don't know us, don't want to know us because of everything that's come to light. And that's your call. But we really need your help," I looked him straight in the eyes, knowing that eye contact usually aids in persuasion. "Please," I begged. I tried to project all of my worry and fear and care for Stefan so that Mr. Saltzman knew what was at stake.

Mr. Saltzman broke his gaze away, looking down at his ring. The ring that my mother, Isobel, his wife, had given him. "Alright," he nodded before looking up. "I'll go."

Mr. Saltzman grabbed a leather-wrapped package out of his desk. He unrolled it to show various knives and stakes. "Teacher by day, vampire hunter by night," Damon mused, examining Mr. Saltzman's stash.

"I've you to thank for that," Mr. Saltzman informed him coldly.

"What are these?" Elena interrupted, asking about some vials on one side of the kit.

"Those are tranquilizer darts filled with vervain," Mr. Saltzman explained.

Damon, still examining the items, brushed us all off in one phrase. "Just get me in, I'll get Stefan out."

"Okay, and when the twenty-something other vampires in that house that hate you come after you and you're defenseless, then what?" I asked, remembering our conversation just that morning. "You can't take them all on yourself."

"Well, I'll be a little stealthier than that, hopefully," Damon responded, slightly meekly to my surprise. I was expecting full-out sarcasm.

Elena grabbed one of the darks from Mr. Saltzman's pack. "Wow, what are you doing?" he immediately asked her, hand out ready to take the dark from her. "I'm going with you guys," Elena said as if it were obvious.

They both began shaking their heads, almost at once. "No, no, no, no. No way." Damon told her firmly.

"you need me. I'll get in. You can distract them and then I'll get out with Stefan," I didn't miss that she left me out of her plan. I wasn't sure if it was out of consideration for my feelings or condescension.

"You'll get yourself killed. You're not going in there," he turned to me, "Either of you," he added, staring me in the eye. I didn't move or nod or give any kind of response. I would not make any promised that I didn't plan on keeping.

Hey, sometimes being a gymnast was helpful.

"I'm going!" Elena insisted. Damon ignored her and turned back to Mr. Saltzman. "So, when you get me in, get out as quickly as you can. Cause I know how to sneak around where they can't hear me. You'll basically just be in the way."

"Damon, you can't do this alone," I reminded him, hand on his arm. Damon looked at me and I noticed his pupils were slightly bigger than normal, like when he compelled people. "You need help, or you could get hurt," I added while I had his attention. After a moment I pulled away and Damon shook his head, shooting me a weird look before turning his attention back to the group.

"Now is not the time to be the lone ranger," Elena told him when his attention was back on her.

"Fine, Elena, you can drive the getaway car. You're not going in the house," he suggested.

"You can't stop me. It's Stefan we're talking about. You don't understand," Elena continued to argue with him.

"Oh, I understand. I understand," Damon mocked, "He's the reason you live. His love lifts you up where you belong. I get it."

"Guys, the longer this takes, the longer Stefan is getting tortured by vampires that have waited almost one hundred and fifty years to kill you two," I reminded them, glancing anxiously at the clock.

"I can't protect you if you go in there," Damon explained in a hard voice. He was deadly serious. He snapped. "That's how long it takes to get your heads ripped off. I have to be able to get in and get out. I can't be distracted with your safety. Or this will end up a bloodbath that none of us walk away from, including Stefan."

"If we're going to go, let's go," Mr. Saltzman's voice reminded us all that there was another person in the room. Damon and Elena seemed to have been in a world all their own, and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach returned as I watched them. I shared a look with Mr. Saltzman that made me pretty sure he noticed what I had as well.

Mr. Saltzman wrapped up his it and we all headed for the car.

It was time to save Stefan.

Damon drove and parked on the other side of the trees, just like this morning. He and Mr. Saltzman headed off to the house while Elena moved to the driver's seat.

My knee was jerking up and down as we waited for them to return. Waiting was the worst. I noticed Elena holding something in her hand and looked over to focus on it. "You kept the dart?" I hissed, though I was sure that the storm would keep us from being overheard.

"I can't just wait for them. What if something happens and they need help?" Elena began to recite her argument. It's funny, she hasn't changed it once and she still expected it to work. I shook my head to cut her off. "You don't have to convince me. Let's go."

We climbed out of the car and crept towards the house. The storm easily covered the sound of our steps and breath, which was heavy from fear and running through the woods. We stopped at the side of the house, avoiding windows. "Billy, Jacob, get back in here!" we heard a voice demand.

Elena and I shared a look, making sure the other was still okay. I noticed cellar stairs on the other side of the porch. What better place to torture a prisoner than a storm cellar? I pointed it out silently to Elena, who nodded when she saw it. We slowly moved to the stairs, making as little noise as possible.

The door at the bottom of the was shut. Elena and I looked through the inlaid window panes but couldn't see anything. I tried the door, but it was locked. Elena used the dark to break the glass before reaching in to unlock the door and open it.

We peeked carefully around every corner, on the lookout for vampires. Thankfully, the guard was stupid enough to put in earbuds and listen to music, so he heard nothing. I suppose that was the benefit of the vampires not being used to the modern world. They were fascinated by it and knew nothing about how it affected your senses.

I noticed Elena clutching the vervain dart on her hand and grabbed her other hand. I gave it a brief squeeze in support before letting go. She shot me a grateful look before turning her focus back on the guard.

I peeked around the corner again to see the guard standing and looking our way. I quickly leaned back, hoping he didn't' see me, but doubting it. He was a vampire after all. I heard heavy footsteps, then a groan and the sound of a body hitting the floor. I looked around the corner once again to see Damon standing in the hall, the guard at his feet.

I felt Elena peer over my shoulder as Damon glared at us. "Are you insane?" he asked harshly. Elena and I both came out from behind the corner to stand fully into the hallway.

"Yell at us later. Find Stefan now," I said shortly, heading briskly down the hall, hoping to avoid Damon's anger for a little while longer. Elena and Damon followed me after a beat. We followed the hall to an old wooden door.

We quickly entered the door, only to stop in our tracks. Stefan was tied to the ceiling with his feet bound so his weight was all on his bound wrists. He was shirtless and had several stab wounds. His eyes were red and irritated. There was another man, probably another vampire, tied to the chair in front of him.

I took a split second to appreciate how cute the other vampire was, in a puppy-dog sort of way. His dark skin and short hair made his face seem young and innocent, almost.

"Elena…" Stefan groaned, clearly in pain. "You shouldn't be here." Elena pocketed the dart and stepped closer to Stefan. I moved closer as well to assess the situation.

I wasted no time in pulled out my switchblade from my back pocket and slicing through the rope tied at Stefan's ankles. It felt damp, like it had been soaked in something. Based on the irritated look of Stefan's skin, I assumed it had been soaked in vervain.

"They were supposed to stay in the car," Damon swept in, examining the other vampire for a second before moving to stake him.



I heard Stefan protest in the back of my mind, but it was my voice that rang out through the room. I stared at the other vampire, his head thrown back as he waited for Damon to kill him. He had accepted he would die for sins not his own. He was saddened that he would never get to live his life peacefully but would always get dragged into the drama caused by others.

I peered at him curiously, standing to walk closer to him. I only vaguely noticed the others watching me carefully. I knelt again beside the other vampire. "What's your name?" I asked softly. He watched me warily, but answered, "Harper, ma'am."

"My name is Ella Gilbert. This is my sister, Elena. I'm going to cut your ropes, now, Harper," I explained to him as I slowly sliced through his bindings. He watched carefully, though I knew even in his state he could stop me if I tried to hurt him. Elena and Damon moved to release Stefan while I helped Harper.

Once his bindings were all cut I moved toward the stakes that pinned him to the chair. "This is going to hurt," I warned him. He nodded, and I yanked the stakes out of his legs. He stood and stretched lightly as Elena grabbed onto Stefan, who was finally free on his bindings as well.

"Come on, we've got to go," Damon ushered us, heading to the door.

I went to follow behind Stefan and Elena before glancing back at Harper, who looked a little confused himself. I had a feeling he didn't know what to do with himself anymore. He certainly wouldn't feel safe with the other vampires in the house anymore. It was obvious Pearl couldn't protect him.

"Come with us," I offered gently, holing out my hand.

"What?" I heard Damon demand, confused, from just outside the door. But all my attention was on Harper. He looked at me, studied me for a moment. "The last time I trust someone with that face, I was locked in a tomb for over a hundred years," he said mildly. I smiled. He had a sense of humor. "I'm not Katherine. And, honestly, we could use your help to get out of here. Besides," I glanced around the room. "No one deserved to be locked away."

"Come on, we don't have time for this!" Damon demanded. I gave Harper a pointed look. He nodded, took my hand for a moment, before letting it go and leaving with us all.

Damon shot me a look as I reached his side. "You just have to pick up strays, don't you?" he asked me, but he almost sounded amused.

"Can you get him in the car?" Damon asked Elena as we headed back down the hall.

"Yeah?" Elena grunted.

"All right, go."

"What about you?" I asked as Damon swung down the hall he had entered from earlier.

"You rescue, I'll distract. Go!"

I glanced at Harper, wondering if he was in any shape to help Damon, if he even wanted to. I looked from him to Damon, reluctant to leave Damon on his own. "Don't die," I told Damon, pulling Harper along behind me.

I moved to Stefan's other side to help us move faster to the car. Harper followed close behind us as we moved through the woods as quickly as possible. It was dark, so we kept stumbling on branches and loose rocks.

"Can you make it?" Elena asked Stefan breathlessly before stumbling again, this time losing her grip on him. The three of us fell. Harper immediately reached down and helped me stand. I moved to my sister, who was staring at her hand. There was a small cut on her palm.

"Uh, you okay?" Stefan groaned.

"Yeah" Elena gasped, standing as I pulled her up.

"Come on, Stefan. Keep it together. Just a little bit further, you got this," I told him, lifting him up again. We slowly continued our way to the car. I continuously checked behind us to see if the other vampires had followed us yet or not. I noticed Harper doing the same thing.

"There it is!" Elena cheered when the car was in sight. We leaned Stefan against the car to open the door. "Go to the other side and get in," I instructed Harper. We would get him out of here, too.

Elena got Stefan seated in the car and ran over to the driver's side, where I had already climbed into the back with Harper. Elena promptly got in and locked the doors. When she moved to start the car, something stopped her, but I couldn't see what. "Stefan," Elena began slowly, but then the window shattered, and Stefan was dragged out of the car.

I screamed in surprise as Stefan was yanked from the car. I could barely tell him and the other vampire apart in the dark as he attacked Stefan. "Elena, let me out!" I shouted, watching as Stefan was beaten. Elena got out quickly and pulled the seat forward so I could exit the car. I had no idea what I was doing. I was going off of instinct just then, but I had learned to trust my instincts long ago and I wasn't about to stop them.

"This is for Bethanne," I heard the other vampire tell Stefan as he held him up by his neck, about to stake Stefan.

"No!" I screamed. It was like a wave passed over them, and the other vampire crumpled to the ground. I was projecting all of the fear and anxiety and sadness I held in my body. I wasn't sure what was happening, but it was like I was using my emotions as a weapon to cripple the vampire. He was forced to release Stefan as he struggled to deal with everything I was sending at him.

"Stefan, get in the car," I told him, focusing all my energy on the other vampire.

"I, I, I can't," he panted.

I saw Elena move towards Stefan and knew she would take care of him, so I turned my sole attention on the other vampire. I glared, and it was like whatever pain he was feeling intensified. "People like you only know how to cause pain. Now you know how it feels."

Suddenly my energy was cut off. It took me a moment to realize why. Harper was crouched over the other vampire's body, a stake in his hand. He had shoved it into the other vampire's heart. I was frozen in my place, standing several feet from the to the vampire, posture stiff.

Harper stood and made his way over to me. "Miss Ella, are you all right?" he asked softly, being careful not to touch me. I examined his face and was grateful to see he was not afraid of me, only curious. I slowly nodded. "Yeah, Harper. I think I'm okay."

I look over to where my sister was with Stefan. I saw her hand at his mouth and frowned. I walked over and saw her blood at the corner of his mouth. "Elena, what have you done?"

We all made it back to the boarding house. I let Damon and Elena take care of Stefan. Mr. Saltzman took off. I stayed outside to take care of Harper.

"So, any idea what you want to do now? It sounds like Pearl is back in control of the house," I asked him, curious what he planned on doing next. Harper shook his head. "I don't think I have anywhere else to go," he admitted sadly.

"Do you want to go back?" I asked. I didn't want to leave him to go back to a situation he didn't want to be in. Harper hesitated, then nodded. "Miss Pearl is a good woman, and her daughter Anna is kind. With the other vampires dealt with, things should be better."

I nodded. It was his decision to make, after all. "Well, I assume you don't have a phone of your own, but do you have access to one?" I checked. He nodded. "Okay, then here," I handed him a piece of paper I had written my cell number on. "Call me if you ever need anything. I'd hate for you to die or disappear after going through the effort of rescuing you," I laughed lightly. Harper smiled and nodded to me.

"you are a very kind-hearted person, Miss Ella. I wish you all the best," Harper took the piece of paper before leaving.

"Goodbye Harper. Good luck."

I was left alone outside.

My phone then vibrated. I sighed at the timing but froze slightly when I saw Tyler's name. I answered the phone, no idea what I was about to hear.


"Ella," Tyler's voice came from the phone. "I need you."

"Tyler, what's wrong?"

"Can you come to Matt's house? Please?" Tyler Lockwood never said please. I was scared, now.

"Of course. Tyler, what's wrong?" I asked again, moving to Jenna's car. Elena probably wouldn't be leaving Stefan any time soon, and if she did he could drive her.

"Caroline found Vicki's body. Vickie's dead."

My heart stopped. They found her. Worse, Care found her.

Flashes of Vickie on Halloween crossed my mind. I started shivering as I remembered her attacking me, and the pain of her death.

"Ella?" Tyler's voice broke me out of the flood of memories.

"I'll be there in ten minutes," I promised before hanging up. I don't remember the drive, just arriving at Matt's house. I didn't bother knocking, I just walked in. I knew no one would be in any condition to worry about answering the door right now.

Tyler and Jeremy were both in the kitchen. Both stood when I walked in. I hugged my brother first, since he was closer, then Tyler held me tightly. After a moment I sat on Tyler's lap, wrapping my arms around his waist and putting my head in the crook of his neck. Tyler knew the truth, had known Vickie was dead and what she had done to me. So did Jeremy. So they both places comforting hands on my body as I relieved the nightmare that was her last day while the rest of the house mourned for her.

I mourned for her, too. I had really liked Vickie, and it was like reliving her death all over again. I soaked up the warmth from both of them before pulling away.

"Where's Matt? He shouldn't be alone."

"He's upstairs," Tyler told me, helping me stand. I nodded and moved towards Matt's room.

I found Matt standing just outside his room. Elena and Care with both there, but Care was already moving downstairs. Elena watched her awkwardly before following her. "Is everything okay?" I asked, before flinching at the stupid question.

"I don't know, Ella. But it doesn't really matter right now, does it?" He moved back into his room and sat on his bed.

I hesitated, unsure what the best course of action was, before sitting next to him and putting an arm around his shoulders. Matt immediately leaned into me, turning his head into my neck. I felt warm tears drip onto my skin as Matt cried.

I put my other arm around him so I was hugging him. His arms wrapped around my waist tightly. "I know this is awful, and you cannot imagine how life will go on right now," I told him, thinking about what I wished someone had told me when my parents died. "But I just want you to know that you are not alone. You are surrounded by people that love you and that loved Vickie. And she will always be with you, one way or another."

We just sat there. I don't know for how long. I knew that Matt had a girlfriend, my best friend, and I had a boyfriend, his best friend. Both of whom were sitting downstairs. But this wasn't about my crush on Matt. This was about someone I cared about hurting and needing comfort.

I just sat with him, holding him, until we both fell asleep.