A/N: Hello there! And welcome back. Thank you all for the wonderful comments last chapter; I hope this one lives up to expectations (as well). A shout out to my regulars! You lot make writing this story so rewarding, so thank you so much!

Anyway, Enjoy and like always, and like always, let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Anna


o.O.o


Chapter Twenty-Seven, Road trip

Days turned into weeks and school started up again. The second week of January brought with it roiling clouds with thunder and rain. The freezing chill had abated somewhat, although it was still cold outside. I went outside bundled up in sweaters, a thick winter coat, and warm, sheep wool-lined boots. I'd taken the bus that morning, not trusting myself behind the wheel, and the engine came to a rolling stop in front of the school building.

The doors made a wet clucking sound when they whirred open and I slowly got off. It was drizzling, quickly plastering my hair against my cheeks and I let out a long sigh. Hiking my bag up my shoulder I stepped onto the sidewalk, drawing my tongue along my teeth. It wasn't long before I was joined by Caroline Forbes. Face half hidden by a blue shawl, wrapped tightly around her neck and chin, she waggled her fingers at me.

"Elena, there you are."

"Here I am," I agreed, half-heartily, kicking my foot at a puddle.

Caroline tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear and I assumed she smiled at me, eyes twinkling. "Honestly, I wanted to call you this morning. But, well my mom— Anyway, I've got news."

"Yeah," I mumbled, "me too. Still haven't found the Gilbert device. Don't even know if my dad or uncle John have it." Trying for a small, tight smile, I shrugged. "Am I useless or what?"

"It's okay," she shrugged, pulling her scarf away from her face, as we stepped inside the building.

"Is it?" I tutted, moving a damp lock of hair over my shoulder.

"Yeah, I overheard my mom this morning. The device only works once."

"What?" I said and Caroline grinned excitedly, but she never expanded on it. I clucked my tongue and crossed my arms over my chest. "Oh, come on. Spill, I know you want to."

"All right," she smiled, "yes, I want to. I heard mom talk to your uncle. Or I think it was your uncle, she ended the call with 'bastard'. Anyway, he told her the device would only work once."

"You're sure?"

"Vampire hearing, remember?" Caroline whispered, tapping her ear.

"Thank God!" I let go of a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. "Thank fucking God."

"Yeah, Stefan was glad about that too."

"You told Stefan before me?" I remarked and she had the decency to look ashamed.

"I saw him half an hour ago. You know what I'm like. I'm delicate."

I shook my head, pretending to be terribly disappointed but I knew my relief was giving me away. I shook my head, the motion oddly jerky, to clear my mind. Caroline linked our arms together and I tried for a small smile. "I still think we should find it."

"Agreed."

"And we should think of a way to get Damon out."

"Do we have to?" Caroline groaned and I sighed.

"I think we should," I said. "I mean, if only you could lord it over him that what he couldn't manage in over a century you managed in what a few months?"

A small smile graced her lips and she nodded. "I like that."

"Of course, you do."

Carding my fingers through my hair, I pursed my lips. Tyler passed me, eyes downcast and face an unhealthy grey color. I tried sending him a hopeful smile, but he never met my gaze and when he turned the corner, my chance was gone. It was probably better. I had no idea what to say to Tyler anyway.

I'd just started to relax, strolling into my first period's history classroom when I froze. Alaric Saltzman was sitting behind the teacher's desk, lounging in his chair as if he was supposed to be there. No one else seemed weirded out by him sitting there. Students stepped around me, filling into the classroom, and it took two elbows to my upper back for me to get moving again. The bell chimed at double-time and I slumped in a seat next to Caroline, frowning.

"We've got a new teacher?"

"Oh," Caroline nodded, "yes Alaric Saltzman. I forgot you wouldn't know. Mister Tanner got hit by a car walking his dog."

"He's dead?"

"No, of course, not." She replied. "I think he's paralyzed though."

"Oh, that— sucks?"

"At least he's not giving History anymore," Caroline drolly replied.

"That's an awful thing to say," I mumbled, although I'd somewhat thought the same.

Caroline shrugged, and with nothing else to do, I focuses on my notebook, beginning to draw into it. Alaric spoke in easy tones, the fifties passing the revue that day and I drew little flowers in the margin of the page. Without the device to look for, I suddenly had a lot more time to think of how to free Damon. Didn't he have a witch friend in Georgia? And finding a bar in Georgia with an owner who was a witch shouldn't be too hard. I almost snorted out loud. Because they didn't have hundredth bars apart from the one Damon's witch worked at. I rolled my fingers over my temples and bit my lip. I guess I could google her when class was out.

Ripping a page out of my notebook, I penned down my idea and flicked the scrap of paper at Caroline, who caught it deftly. She didn't look happy when she read it over, but after a moment, gave me a curt nod. I smiled tightly, barely hearing a word Alaric was saying, and started to count down the twenty minutes of the lesson we still had to go before the class was concluded.


When History was let out and I'd copied down the homework, Caroline and I quickly bypassed the other students and tore up the pair of stairs to the computer classroom. We passed a startled-looking Matt as we settled behind one in the back of the room, and I watched Caroline's face turn morose. Matt was still not talking to either of us, instead, when he deigned to look our way, the glare he gave us was full of disappointment and wishes he was anywhere else and it hit Caroline hard. And could I blame her? I knew how bad Caroline felt over Bonnie's death and I could only guess how hard it hit that he didn't even bother to talk to her, yet, instead, treated her with that hostile judgment, he seemed to reserve for anyone that didn't live by his idea or rules. Of course, I understood how much pain he was in.

Everyone would have understood that. However, I understood Caroline's reaction too and I squeezed her shoulder. Why again, was I trying to help Damon? He was pretty much responsible for both Caroline's turning and Bonnie's death. But— I could only imagine the kind of horrible things he would do once he got out of that tomb. Knowing him, he would probably murder half of the town and I sucked my fleshy lower lip between my teeth.

"Okay," Caroline mumbled, having mostly recovered, "So you want to Google a witch?"

"Well, I do doubt we will manage to get the help of the Martin witches, don't you?"

"Yeah, they fled the second Elijah saved Klaus."

I crossed my legs at the ankles and pursed my lips. "So Elijah saved Klaus again, hm?"

"Again?"

"No, nothing," I shook my head, "I'm— I had somehow expected he wouldn't go through with it."

"Why?"

"Because Klaus is Elijah's little brother. And you don't stay mad at your little brother. Not really." I said and Caroline's mouth opened and closed, somehow making her look like a startled-looking ring-tailed lemur. I suppose from her point of view I must have lost the plot and I drew my tongue along my teeth. "I don't doubt Elijah would have helped me. He had that mystical potion and I think it would have worked. But yeah, I did always wonder if he truly would let his brother die."

"You're an idiot."

I shrugged. She might think that. She would also feel attracted to my would-be-killer once she met him, so I decided she couldn't judge me. "So, she works somewhere in Georgia at a bar, and her name is Bree. She's a witch," I said, tapping my index finger onto the computer screen.

"I doubt she'll have that on her resume or on LinkedIn," Caroline muttered, opening the internet browser. "Bree the witch barmaid, at your service." She remarked sarcastically and her fingers flew over the keyboard. "Let's see what Bree, bar, and Georgia together will get us."

"I hope an address and a picture, so we know for sure we'll get the—"

"Bree's bar," Caroline interrupted, "well, that was oddly anticlimactic."

"Seriously, Bree's bar?"

She made a humming sound and started to search for pictures and I almost laughed out loud, when the picture of an approximately forty-year-old dark-skinned woman, with curly hair and dark brown eyes, appeared. "Yeah, that's her, all right."

"I had not expected this to go that easy."

"As I said, anticlimactic."

"I say that's a god-sent," I remarked drolly and pursed my lips. "Does it have an address?"

"Yeah," she replied, copying the address and dropping it in on the search bar on Google maps. "Here comes the bad news. It's an eight-hour drive."

"Shit."

"We could take the train I suppose. From Richmond to Atlanta and then the bus again…"

"You can't take your mom's car?"

She shook her head. "As my mom's so fond of reminding me, money doesn't grow on trees. Besides, her car has GPS. If I take it and we're gone for a few days, then she'll just have a team of police officers waiting for us to take us in."

"Yeah, that could be a problem."

"You think?" She murmured. "I suppose we could take the bus to Richmond and then the train—"

I sniggered and took out my phone. It was new. A Christmas gift from John (as was the vervain bracelet I now wore everywhere) and it was also an upgrade from the BlackBerry I'd had before. Even better, I could search the internet with it, and with practiced ease, I pulled up a ticket site. "There's a direct line to Atlanta from Richmond," I said and frowned. "It's a hundredth bucks though, and that's only a one-way trip—"

"Well, we could call first?"

"I doubt she'll come this way, even if we ask politely," I remarked dryly and bit my lip. "We could ask Stefan? He and the witch have a mutual friend, but—"

"You don't want Stefan to help, do you?"

"I feel it's easier if I don't give Stefan too much hope. He's still giving me those looks…"

Caroline snorted. "Of course, he is." She agreed and I frowned. "Elena, you're not dating anyone. He thinks he has a chance with you."

"That's why I don't want to involve him."

"I know he wants his brother back though, but honestly, without Damon life is—"

I nodded. I understood. Of course, I did. But my days here were numbered. One day or the other Klaus would return. I knew tracking down werewolves could potentially buy me a few months, and I hated it that people might die because of it— yet, the last time I changed someone's life, I ended up making it worse. So, I wouldn't interfere until I had all the pieces. Until I figured out how I could save people without making it ten times worse.

I leaned back in my seat, meeting Caroline's eyes. Right now, the best way to ensure everyone's safety was to make sure they had the numbers. I hoped I would be able to get Klaus to see it my way. I hoped he would be willing to strike another deal, even if I had to pretend I hadn't known about my blood being a necessary part of his spell of evil. However, if I couldn't, at least Mystic Falls would have people willing to protect them. "I think we should go there."

"There goes my pocket money"

"We can go a bit longer?" I asked and hooked my fingers around the strings of my jumper.

She smiled. "You mean like a girl trip?"

"By all means, what's a day more or less?"

"My mom is going to freak."

I rolled my shoulders. "Well, so is mine, but they have their Founder's council to keep them busy," I remarked dryly and waggled my fingers. "Beside YOLO, who knows how long we have? And I think we deserve to have some fun."

She grinned. "YOLO."


When school was let out, the world looked cold, gray, and washed-out and we rushed outside. Caroline drove us back to her house and we packed a weekend bag, packing an extra set of her clothes and forgoing my house in fear of running into either Miranda or Jeremy. Caroline scribbled a message on a sticky note, saying she was going to visit her father, and stuck it to the refrigerator. It was rather short and to the point, and I remembered how off-Standish and estranged Caroline's and Liz Forbes relationship had been at the beginning of the show. Still—

"And she won't, you know, call your dad?"

"My dad tends to ignore my mom's calls. Besides, he is Memphis. If we go to Atlanta, we might visit him as well. I haven't seen my dad in what seems like forever."

"Oh," I smiled, "that's a good idea."

"What will you do with your parents?"

"I sent them an email," I grumbled.

"Still at odds with your dad?"

I shrugged, adjusting the straps on the weekend bag before hooking my fingers in the loops. "Pretty much."

The stairs creaked beneath our feet as we stomped downstairs. I had to follow Caroline out of her street, and down the sidewalk, because I had no idea where the bus stops were. Thank God, Caroline did, and we both settled on the metal bench. We didn't have to wait long for the bus to bring us to Richmond. I suppose it was the closest airport in Virginia as it came to a halt in front of us. We joined the queue starting in front of it.

I climbed inside slowly. Caroline sneered, flopping down beside me in the back of the bus. The seats were small and the bag beneath my legs made me feel very cramped.

"I hate busses," Caroline mumbled.

"It was your idea."

"What was I thinking? An hour on the bus? Awesome!" She grumbled and I smiled.

"We'll make it fun though."

"We make it fun!" She nodded.

It started to rain outside, the droplets pattering against the windows. The world seemed so cold right now and the bus began rumbling down the street. We sat together in comfortable silence. I had forgotten what it felt like to have a friend.


When we arrived at Richmond we took the nightline and the first stars glimmered from behind a canopy of inky-black, swift-swirling night clouds. I slept most of the train ride, and when I awoke, we were rolling into the station of Atlanta. The weather there wasn't much better than it had been in Mystic Falls. The wind was loud in my ears and swept my sleep-tangled hair around my head. Caroline seemed unperturbed with the chill and freed her notes from her handbag, holding them up for instructions. She really was a control freak on crack as a vampire, and I felt my lips quirk when she started to point out which bus we should take and how many blocks we would have to walk to get to Bree's bar. Still, it was very early—

"I think we should find a motel first."

A second list with instructions — probably where we would find a reasonable cheap motel — joined the first and she took the weekend bag from me, slinging it over her shoulder. "Well, then let's go."

The suite she compelled us in a four-star hotel was unexpected. I knew I should be against such blatant power abuse, but truthfully when compelling wasn't used to harm, maim, or murder, I had little problem with it. The suite was large, and consisted out of a well-lit room, with a separate bedroom and an adjoined bathroom. The living room was richly decorated, one wall inset with massive windows giving a nice view of the Atlanta skyline and the others were lined on all sides with gold tile. We would probably be comfortable enough around here.

It was late afternoon when we set out to Bree's bar. Stepping inside of the mostly wooden interior — vaguely reminding me of the Mystic Grill — was odd. Not because I recognized the bar (I didn't), but because when I'd reached the bar, I found myself suddenly against the wall. A hand wrapped around my throat, choking me, while the toes of my boots barely even skimmed the floor. I struggled futilely, hands clawing at the pale wrist I could reach, crafting the skin for a moment before supernatural healing abilities made the angry red lines disappear again. Caroline was at my side a mere second later, but the vampire in front of me, blonde with pale skin and brown eyes, pushed her aside as if she was a child.

"And here I thought the bitch was dead!" Alexia Branson snarled, veins littering beneath her eyes.

"I— I'm not Katherine!" I gasped out wondering how the fuck this could happen in a bar.

"Right—"

"I'm human!" I forced out desperately and for a moment the hand at my throat stiffened before falling away. I coughed, throat already raw and painful and I slipped down the wall and onto the floor. Caroline was beside me a second later, helping me up and holding onto me. Her grip on my arm was painful, too tight, she still didn't know her strength all that well, but I didn't care.

"This is not— who are you?" Lexi demanded.

"Elena," I gasped out and something in Lexi's face softened, recognition flitted over her features.

"Elena— Stefan's Elena?"

I shook my head. "No, not Stefan's Elena, he and I are not dating."

Suspicion sharpened every line of her face and she cocked her head to the side. "That's not what Stefan implied when I saw him."

"That's because Stefan is still pining after her," Caroline remarked bluntly and I flinched.

"Caroline,"

"And he doesn't take 'no' for an answer," Caroline continued unapologetically.

"Erm, we're here for Bree," I tried but Caroline was not deterred.

Blue eyes almost shooting fire as she jabbed a finger in Lexi's chest. "Who the fuck are you?"

"Lexi," she answered easily.

"Care," I tried, raking my fingers nervously through my hair, "let's just drop this."

"Are you sure?"

I nodded. Till now not even one customer had looked our way, and I wanted to keep it that way. Then again, it was weird no one had reacted yet and I frowned. Were bar fights or scuffles such a usual occurrence, no one even bothered with the innocent victims? Or innocent-ish victims? Bree, all smiles and crinkly eyes stepped up next to Lexi.

"You wanted to talk to me?"

"Yeah, it's about Damon." I agreed, thankful Caroline had stopped pushing Lexi's buttons.

"The walk-away Joe," Bree remarked drolly and I rolled my shoulders.

"Yep," I agreed, popping the 'p'.

She pursed her lips and I had to crane my neck — God, she was tall — to keep meeting her eyes. "Damon Salvatore. I haven't heard that name in a long time. What's he up to these days?"

"Being locked up in a tomb beneath a church sums it all up pretty nicely," I answered easily.

"He got himself locked up in the tomb?" Bree echoed.

"Yeah, in Mystic Falls, I—"

The witch barked out a laugh and Lexi stared at me like she didn't know what hit her. The goldfish expression didn't last long and like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds, both Lexi and Bree started to laugh loudly. It was so odd, I fell silent, sharing a puzzled look with Caroline. When they stopped, Bree was hanging over a barstool, pinking away the tears that had started to roll down her cheeks and Lexi was breathing hard, sounding a lot like she was on the verge of an asthmatic attack.

"You mean that Damon got himself locked up in the tomb he tried so desperately to open?"

"Yeah, we thought it was cosmic justice too," Caroline agreed morosely.

Bree sniggered. "Cosmic justice, ain't that right? And what now, did that beautiful man ask the two of you to come and get me? Hm, he's good in the sack, right?"

"Sure thing," I remarked flippantly, acting inconspicuous, "Do you think you could? Help that is?"

"Oh honey, I have more than enough juice in me to help, but— without the crystal?"

"We have Emily's spellbook," I muttered.

"We had another request as well," Caroline tried and Bree's expression turned suspicious. "Do you think you could help us with a friend?"

"A friend?"

"She died—"

Bree held up her hand. "I don't do resurrection spells. They're against nature, babydoll."

Caroline's mouth drew a tight line and I cleared my throat. "Oh, well, can you tell us how she's doing? Or if we could find someone—"

"Baby girl," Bree interrupted curtly, "magic like that has severe consequences. You shouldn't…"

"But you could— technically, get into contact with her?" I asked. Perhaps Sheila could help too. Hadn't she helped with the Silas plot in season 4? Or in season 6 with the prison world? I frowned. I didn't exactly know what had happened or why Bonnie and Damon had been left stranded there, but I vaguely thought it had something to do with Sheila too. I wetted my lips, trying to order my thoughts. "Like with an Ouija Board or something?"

"Oh hun, I don't need something like that. With the right equipment and magic, I can contact your friend easily," she sniggered and I shrugged.

"Would you be willing to?" Caroline asked, dropping her bag onto the bar top.

"For a price," Bree agreed, and Lexi was following their interaction with a curious tilt to her lips.

"What about my blood?" I asked, tapping the pale blue vein on the inside of my wrist. "Can you use Doppelgänger blood for spells?"

"Elena," Caroline sighed and I shrugged. It wasn't that much of a sacrifice.

"It's fine, Care." I met Bree's eyes head-on. "If I can part with a bit of my blood. Would you help us? Help us contact our friend and set Damon free?"

Bree shook her head, patting my cheek gently and I felt my cheeks flush. She had settled herself behind the bar again, looking far too amused. "He really has you whipped, doesn't he?"

"No," I disagreed and wetted my lips, "but I don't think anyone deserves it to be locked up in a tomb for all eternity." I frowned. "Even though several people deserve some justice after all he has done."

With a thoughtful frown, Bree pushed two glasses of what I assumed was Vodka over the bar top. I had never been more thankful for the transparent liquid and swallowed the mouthful like it was water. Going down it burned my throat and I shuddered. Bree was still ruminating over her answer and I nervously tucked a lock of hair behind my ear. "Well, why not." She finally agreed and I felt a small smile bloom on my face. "I guess lording this over Damon, will be fun."

"And Bonnie—" Caroline decided.

"Right, right, your friend— Bonnie?"

"Bennett—" I added, "—Bonnie Bennett."

"Well, then, we will summon Bonnie Bennett," Bree drawled and I smiled gratefully.

"Thank you!"

"Don't thank me yet, girl…"

To be continued…


A/N: And we also see the first hitches in Non-Elena's moral compass. When she first arrived in Mystic Falls, I'm sure she would definitely have been against someone compelling another, but as it is now, with blood and gore being part of her daily routine, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.

However, that wasn't the biggest point in this chapter, obviously. Mission Making contact with Bonnie Bennett, is on the way!

Like always, I love to hear your thoughts!

Next update, next weekend!