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She Knew

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She couldn’t say when she’d begun remembering. It seemed to happen both slowly and suddenly. Perhaps the truth of the situation simply didn’t hit her at first, but still she remembered. Still she knew.

Her mother was beautiful. Her beautiful mother with her long, brown hair and her kind, green eyes. She liked to sing her lullabies, she knew, even though her voice wasn’t the prettiest in the world. It was alright, though; the rocking of her crib helped lull her to sleep when her mother’s voice failed. It was her eyes she got.

Her father was quite handsome as well, but not nearly as stunning as her green-eyed mother. She didn’t get much from him. Sure, their noses could be considered similar and they were the same ethnicity, but there wasn’t much else to prove at face value that they were father and daughter.

It was that realization that caused all her other memories to begin sliding into place. Of course she didn’t look like him. He wasn’t her father. Her green eyes weren’t her mother’s. She wasn’t her mother. Her sister… Well, her sister was still her sister.

Elena and Angela Gilbert were born on June 22nd 1992 in Mystic Falls, Virginia.

She knew that before, in her memories, she used to be quite a miserable person. Miserable but strong. Miserable but smart. Miserable and alone. Now, she supposed, at least she couldn’t be alone anymore. Not now that she had Elena to look after.

Her sister was always a happy girl. Every boy that didn’t fear her deathly cooties had a crush on her, she knew. She supposed she couldn’t blame them. If they weren’t related and she actually was the age she looked she might have had a crush on her, too. Elena was blessed at birth with the gift of charisma and used it unwittingly. Old ladies cooed endlessly when she was around and she made friends everywhere she went. Angela made friends too, but only to see if they could be trusted near Elena. Were they actually friends, then? It didn’t really matter, she supposed. Friendships always complicated things.

She couldn’t remember much of her life before. She supposed that didn’t really matter either. All the useful memories were still with her. Remembering her real parents would have likely only served to drive her mad.

She and Elena met Bonnie when they were a year old. Abigail Bennett was their mother’s best friend and she gave birth seven months after they were born. It was Bonnie’s second birthday, however, that she actually remembered. Wearing a forest green dress and golden circlet, Bonnie looked like a young forest fae. Angela brought this up to her and that sparked the three of them playing a game of trolls and fairies; their own variation of cops and robbers. Elena and Bonnie became fast friends after that. She supposed she was Bonnie’s friend too, as well as a grown adult could be friends with a toddler.

She was called a genius when she mastered the alphabet at the age of three. She made a mental note to stop letting things like that slip. The pages she’d detailed future events on were in an empty bottle buried in the backyard. She had to wait until after midnight to bury it. Digging was tedious with hands as tiny as hers, and worrisome if any adults were awake to see her.

Abigail Bennett left Bonnie and her husband that year, which meant that Mikael had come and gone. The fact that Angela didn’t even notice gave her nightmares for a month.

Jeremy was born when they were four. It seemed that their parents had had their hands full with the twins and decided to wait two more years than they would have before trying for a biological child. She adored her baby brother but, bless his soul, he was the ugliest baby she’d ever laid her eyes on. Red and bald and screaming, he was something out of a horrible fever dream. How could she resist those round blue eyes, however, that were half the size of his head and looked at her so sweetly?

 

With age five came kindergarten. With kindergarten came Caroline Forbes, the girl that would single-handedly change her outlook on life.

Unlike her sister, she was quite indifferent to the idea of starting school, though that might have just been because she’d gone through the whole ordeal once already. Elena had been all abuzz the night before. She was fluttering around their room, making sure her owl-shaped rolling bag was ready, her outfit perfect, her butterfly clips all laid out and ready to be used in the morning.

“It’s not a big deal, Lena.”

Her sister turned to pout at her. “It is a big deal! You’re the one who’s not taking it seriously,” she stomped her tiny little leg and went back to brushing her hair. She’d heard somewhere that giving it a hundred strokes every night made it silkier and followed the advice religiously. No wonder she would always look perfect when she was older, she thought, when even at age five she took good care of herself.

Angela closed her eyes with an amused smile and settled further into her bed. “Goodnight, Elena.”

“Goodnight, Angie.” Brush. Brush. Brush.

The following morning consisted of Elena excitedly dragging her out of bed, raving all the while about making new friends and how they’re finally becoming grown-ups, and though she was still tired she couldn’t help but find her yammering adorable.

The teacher seemed trustworthy. She was a kind-looking older woman with noticeable streaks of grey in her hair. Angela felt confident enough in her firm but sweet approach that she allowed herself to relax.

And that was when she struck.

“Hi! I’m Caroline. Wanna play house?”

It was impossible to be anything but happy when Caroline was around. She was upbeat, optimistic, and gave her compliments freely. She was the first person that made her act just a bit more like the age she seemed to be. The first person that got her to let go and happily play house, of all things. Knowing all that she knew, Angela came to the conclusion that she wanted to be friends with the precious little girl that would one day, with her help, become a confident and brilliant woman.

 

She decided to visit Sheila Bennett at age seven. Enough was enough, she thought, and she had to know.

“What am I?”

Sheila’s gaze shifted from that of a woman regarding a child to that of a woman regarding a woman. She smirked at her knowingly. “You’re human.”

Angela opened her mouth to protest, but Sheila raised a hand to stop her.

“The question you actually want the answer to is how did I get here?

She swallowed. “How did I get here?”

Sheila sighed through her nose. “You died.”

The revelation hit her like a freight-train, but Sheila kept talking.

“Normally, when a human dies they either find peace or get dragged down to oblivion. Heaven and hell, as you likely know them better. Unfortunately… sometimes there’s a, ah, error in the system.”

An error? That’s what she was? An error? Sheila set down the coffee cup that smelled suspiciously like whiskey.

“Instead of passing on, your spirit decided to stay. I don’t know why, honestly it’s not something that happens very often.”

She caught on to what she was saying. “But this isn’t even my world. Why would I reincarnate here?”

Sheila made a noise of disagreement. “Your world, my world… What does it matter when you’re a spirit? There was just as much a chance of you ending up on Mars, millennia from now.”

“Are there others like me?”

She nodded her head to the side. “There have been.” Her lips briefly twitched into a smirk. “Obviously. But you could very well be the only one alive right now.”

They spent some time in silence, Angela contemplating her entire existence and Sheila sipping the suspicious liquid.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Sheila finally said, “how do you know this isn’t your world? Are you from a different time period? Did humans not exist where you were from?”

She let out a small laugh. “That would be interesting, wouldn’t it? No, none of that.” Her smile died. “The events of Mystic Falls were a TV show where I come from… came from. My sister was the protagonist, for reasons I’m sure you can imagine.”

Sheila’s eyes were narrowed in thought. “You know about her, then?”

“Yes. I know what happened in the past. I know what would happen in a future wherein I never existed.” She scoffed. “I haven’t even tried to change anything major yet, and Jeremy is already completely different. He would’ve been born two years after Elena, not four. He’ll likely grow up to be a completely different person.”

She nodded. “The future is hardly set in stone. Every witch knows that.”

Angela cleared her throat. “Speaking of… I think you should start teaching Bonnie magic as soon as you think reasonable. From what I know, her powers won’t start awakening until she’s seventeen, but she can still start learning.”

Sheila’s eyes narrowed further, and Angela couldn’t tell if she was warning her to back off or only thinking harder.

“And what makes you say that?”

“She wasn’t strong enough last time, in the beginning. She was vulnerable because she didn’t have enough knowledge about the supernatural. She almost died. You… you died before she could learn from you. It’s your call of course, but… all I want is to keep her and the rest of the kids safe.”

“…I’ll keep that in mind.”

The very next day Bonnie told her, Elena, and Caroline that she was a witch.

 

She found Grayson’s notebook at the age of ten. Not by accident, mind you, she had to pick the lock to his desk drawer, but it seemed the easiest way to get him to tell her the truth. She tried preparing herself for its contents, but she clearly underestimated what he was capable of doing.

8.3.2002

A.S: Vervain in blood beginning to show less severe reactions. Up the dosage.

P.F: Flesh of up to 1in. diameter regenerates when removed. Increase depth of incision by ½ in.

C.A: Severed hand doesn’t regenerate. Reattach and see if regeneration process occurs.

“What are you doing?”

She slammed the notebook shut before she could think better of it. He’s going to kill me. Her eyes fluttered closed to fight the bile rising in her throat. No, he’s not. You’re ten years old and his daughter. The worst he’ll do is ground you. She slowly turned around.

Grayson’s blue eyes flicked towards the book in her hands and his face twitched in a way that frightened her.

“D-daddy?” She didn’t need to fake the fear in her voice. “What is this?”

He didn’t look like her father at that moment. He crouched down in front of her, a lion waiting to strike. His voice was too even and his eyes were too cold. “Where did you find that, sweetheart?”

She swallowed. “In your desk.”

His jaw ticked. He smiled in what she assumed was meant to be a disarming manner, but his eyes were still too hard. “Didn’t I tell you girls to never go through my desk? Hm?” His hand lurched towards her face and she flinched. His fingers stopped a few inches away from her and she dared to look back up at him. He looked an odd mixture of angry and hurt. His index finger reached out again and simply touched the tip of her nose.

“I’m sorry.” Her words came out a whisper.

His eyes shut and when they opened he was her father again. “Did you read anything? I won’t punish you if you did.”

“You wrote about cutting people’s flesh off.”

Some time passed in silence before he gently nudged her chin. “Hey. Look at me.”

He had a tortured look on his face. “I wasn’t planning on telling you this until you turned eighteen, but…” he laughed mirthlessly, “well, that’s out of the picture now, isn’t it?”

He sighed and stood, striding over to his desk chair and sitting down. He rubbed his forehead and stared at her. “What do you know about vampires?”

He’s actually going to tell me. “They’re immortal and drink blood to survive?”

“They’re evil. They drink innocent people’s blood. Not just to survive, but because they like it. They like to hurt people. They like to kill people. People like you and me. They’re… they’re problems. And how do you solve a problem, Angie?”

She tilted her head and thought for a moment. “By learning more about it?”

He smiled, pleasantly surprised. “Yes! You brilliant girl, by learning more about it. That way you can figure out what needs to be done to solve it.” He gestured to the notebook, still in her hands. “That’s what you read. I learn more about vampires. That way I can stop them before they hurt innocent people.”

Hypocrite. “Only the bad vampires, though, right?”

He looked confused. “All vampires are bad vampires, honey.”

She shook her head. “That’s stupid. No race or species is all bad or all good. How could you even measure that?”

His eyes hardened. “Don’t call me stupid, Angela. I’m still your dad.”

Anger was beginning to bubble inside of her like water in a pot. The hell you are.

“I didn’t call you stupid. I called your line of thinking stupid.”

He stood suddenly and she flinched once more. “It’s in their nature to kill people!” His voice was desperate. “Of course they’re all bad! I know more than you about this, listen to me for once!”

The door swung open, and there stood her mother hand-in-hand with a six-year-old Jeremy.

“Hey,” her eyebrows were furrowed in concern, “what’s going on here?”

“Dad’s telling me-“

“Hey!” Grayson cut her off, eyes murderous. “Stop talking.”

The water overflowed. You don’t get to tell me what to do. “-about vampires.”

Her mother’s eyes widened in surprise. “What?”

“I thought I told you to stop talking!”

“I thought you were telling me about vampires.”

His nostrils flared and with a sharp sigh he looked at Miranda, face turning weary. “What do we do now?”

She stayed in stunned silence for a moment before looking down at Jeremy with a strained smile. “Hey, sweetie, why don’t you go see what your sister’s doing for a bit, hmm?”

His big round eyes were shifting between the three of them nervously, but he nodded obediently and walked towards the twins’ room. Miranda closed the door.

“What did Daddy tell you, angel?”

She crossed her arms. All her fear was gone, and in its place was only righteous anger. “Well, after I read his notes that detailed torturing people-” Grayson let out a grunt of displeasure “-he told me that all vampires were evil and it’s in their nature to kill humans, so it’s okay to torture them.”

The door opened again and Elena stepped through, looking thoroughly befuddled. “Hey, um, Jeremy just told me you were talking about vampires?”

Angela felt a surge of joy go through her and made a mental note to hug her brother as soon as the conversation was over. This is perfect.

“No, we weren’t, Elena, go back to your room,” Grayson rubbed his temples.

“Elena deserves to know, too.” She tried her best to keep the glee out of her voice.

He shot her a glare much weaker than the ones before. His resolve seemed to be crumbling.

“I think Angela’s right, darling,” her mother spoke up with a shaky smile. “She would be safer if she knew and the cat’s already out of the bag.”

Grayson threw his head back and let out a long groan. “Close the door, Elena. We have a lot to talk about.”

 

They met Tyler Lockwood and the Donovan siblings in middle school. Matt was immediately smitten by her sweet sister, and it was obvious to everybody in the world except for her. Tyler was far from kind and selfless, but he wasn’t anywhere near the bully he was from when she remembered him. It was… odd to see him behaving like a normal kid. It was odd to see all of them behaving like normal kids.

Well… almost normal.

When Grayson and Miranda told her and Elena about vampires, it had the unforeseen – to her parents – repercussion of them insisting that Jeremy, Caroline, and Bonnie know as well. Bonnie handled it miles better than Caroline due to her already knowing about witches, but Caroline refused to talk to her parents for an entire week. She saw it as a betrayal that they could keep such a huge secret from her, even though Angela tried her hardest to get her to see their point of view. Jeremy handled it perfectly well because he was a six-year-old and six-year-olds have no real preconceived notions of the world.

She decided that Tyler deserved to know, as well. She couldn’t possibly tell him about werewolves yet, but telling him about vampires would more than likely make him being a werewolf easier to accept.

But first, she needed to befriend him.

The opportunity presented itself during the annual Founder’s Party. Half the attendees were trusted and valuable members of the community and the other half were children trying desperately to have fun. She and Elena had picked out matching dresses in red and blue shades respectively and were talking to Bonnie and Caroline.

Well, Elena was talking to them. Angela was trying to think of a way to grab the moonstone and Emily’s necklace both.

“Um, hellooo?” A pale hand waved in front of her eyes. It pulled back to reveal Caroline’s pouting face. “Were you even listening to what I said?”

She smiled awkwardly. “Ahhhh, no?”

Bonnie and Elena shared a look as Caroline crossed her arms in a gesture that seemed far too adult for her twelve-year-old body. “Okay, what is going on with you? Ever since we all got here you’ve been spacing out.”

She sighed. “I’ve just been thinking…”

The girls waited for her to finish, but when she didn’t Caroline leaned her head towards her impatiently. “Yes?”

She shook her head with a forced smile. “Nothing important, don’t worry about it. Just thinking about that… math quiz.”

“Uh huh, sure,” Bonnie piped up with narrowed eyes that immediately reminded her of Sheila.

“Keep your secrets,” her sister finished jokingly.

Caroline sighed in annoyance. “You’re telling me later.” She looked at her pointedly. “No. More. Secrets.”

Would it really be that bad if I told them about me? She decided to put that thought off for later.

“I’m gonna go explore the mansion. I’d like some time alone, if that’s alright.”

The girls stared at her, concerned.

“Hey,” Elena spoke up and gently grabbed her hand. “You can tell us anything. You know that, right?”

She smiled, genuinely this time. “I know. And I will. But not now, okay?”

The three of them glanced at one another before nodding their assent. Like the three heads of Cerberus, she thought and couldn’t help but smile in amusement.

The mansion was opulent. The outside didn’t offer much to marvel at, with it essentially being a large brick box, but the inside was furnished beautifully, with spotless wooden floors and chandeliers that seemed to grow from the ceiling like flowers. She climbed the wide staircase, her hands grazing the engraved pattern on the railing as Saint-Saëns’ The Swan slowly morphed into Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1.

There was significantly less hustle and bustle on the second floor, and as she made her way through the wide hallways it became quieter and quieter.

Until she heard the sound of glass breaking.

She turned towards the wooden double doors in time to hear a man’s muffled shouting.

“Did I say you could go!? Sit your ass back down!”

She heard what sounded like a thud and felt her pulse begin to quicken. What’s going on?

“You’re a Lockwood! You’re not a servant! You don’t act like that in front of everybody! You don’t act like a pussy!”

A higher-pitched voice mumbled something and Angela started putting the pieces together.

“You’re only sorry because you’re being yelled at, you little shithead!”

She heard another thud. He’s not hitting him, is he? She felt like she should interfere but had no idea how.

“Now go back to the party. Make sure you’re presentable. Do something like that again and I swear to God…”

She heard footsteps rapidly approaching the door and hid behind an archway. Mayor Richard Lockwood exited the room, looking slightly more disheveled and angry than usual. After a moment of him adjusting his suit he made for the stairs. She came out of hiding and walked towards the room, heart heavy in her chest. That poor kid.

She knocked gently and opened one of the doors before Tyler could say anything. He jumped up from his spot on the leather loveseat when he saw her, eyes wide and red.

“Hey! I didn’t say you could come in!”

“Your dad’s a jerk.”

Tyler’s shoulders slumped and he turned his head away. When he spoke his tone was quiet and ashamed. “You heard that?”

She bit her lip and closed the door. “Yeah. I didn’t mean to, but I was walking around the house and thought someone might be in trouble, so I stayed…”

He chuckled dryly; a thoroughly depressing sound to come out of somebody so young. He sat back down. “Yeah, well…”

She swallowed back the lump in her throat. “May I sit down?”

He looked at her with a sad smirk. “Now you wait for permission?” When she smiled back he nodded, expression solemn. “Yeah. Sure. I guess.”

She walked towards the loveseat and gently sat down. “Do you… What happened?”

He sighed through his nose and ran a hand through his black hair that was earlier styled to perfection but now looked shaggy and unkempt. He simply looked down at the floor for a while, not saying anything.

“Y-you don’t have to tell-”

“I picked a lady’s purse up off the ground.”

Her words died in her throat and she blinked in surprise. “What?”

He turned his head to look at her blankly. “I picked a lady’s purse up off the ground.”

She felt her eyebrows furrow in confusion. “And that’s bad… why, exactly?”

He scoffed. “It made me look like a pussy apparently.” His eyes widened. “Uhh, that means… it made me look weak.”

She smiled gently. “I know what it means.”

His face turned curious. “Really? Goody-two-shoes Gilbert knows what ‘pussy’ means?”

Her mouth dropped open in indignation. Kid, I know how to say pussy in French. He was looking at her with a gleam of amusement in his eyes, and it made her heart feel just a bit lighter.

She adopted a haughty look. “I know what ‘fuck’ means, too.”

His eyebrows rose in surprise and his mouth morphed into a toothy grin. He laughed breathlessly. “Damn, and here I thought you were a nerd. You always get straight A’s.”

She shrugged. “Honestly? I don’t really study all that much. I guess I’m just kinda smart.” Or have an incredibly unfair advantage.

He shook his head in disbelief and whistled. “Lucky…”

“Hey, everyone has their strengths. You’re incredible in P.E.” She laughed. “And I literally tripped over my own feet the other day.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess… Only because my dad pushes me so much.”

She tilted her head. “Well, if he didn’t push you, what do you think you’d wanna do?”

He thought for a while, simply staring through her. “I think… I’d like to draw comic books.”

“Comic books, huh? Do you have any drawings I can look at?”

His eyes widened. “Oh, nu-uh, no. No way, I’m super bad.”

She smiled and nudged his shoulder. “Oh, come on. Even the best of the best were horrible when they were our age. Besides,” she snorted, “anything you draw can’t be any worse than the garbage I’d put on paper.”

He pursed his lips to the side and regarded her thoughtfully. “…Okay.” He got up and walked towards a door. “Just let me make sure I’m presentable.

 

Tyler handled the news about as well as Caroline. He couldn’t exactly stop talking to his parents for a week because he’d be punished, but he was noticeably freaked out for a month or so.

Angela encouraged him to keep drawing and when his temper began to rear its ugly head she helped him diffuse it and express it later, in healthy ways. There were still times where it got the best of him, but those were thankfully few and far between. He became an official member of the gang (which they had lovingly dubbed the Mystic Falls Maniacs) and one of her closest friends.

 

At age fourteen she had gathered them all in Sheila Bennett’s house and told them the truth about herself.

Elena and Jeremy were slightly hurt that she kept something like that from them, but seemed to accept her explanation that she didn’t want them to look at her any different. Bonnie was totally accepting, saying that she always knew there was something alien about her but couldn’t quite tell what it was. Tyler was having a bit of a meltdown.

“W-wait, so my life is a TV show?” His eyes were frantic. “So is-is there like a-a writer controlling my life or something? Do I have free will? Shit! Angie! You’re a demigod! Oh my God. Oh my God…”

There was a pregnant pause before Caroline gasped in realization. “No wonder you’ve never had a crush on anyone! We’re little kids to you!”

Tyler looked at her, bewildered. “Our best friend just told us she’s an adult from an alternate universe and that’s the first thing you think of?”

Caroline rolled her eyes with a shrug. “What? It doesn’t really change anything. She’s still Angie. We just know a bit more about her now.”

“Umm,” Bonnie shyly started, “Since we’re all opening up… I think I need to tell the boys something.”

The girls shared a significant look and Angela put her hand on Bonnie’s shoulder.

“We’re here for you, Bon-Bon.”

“That’s right,” Caroline nodded.

“We can call your grams in, too, if they need proof,” Elena said reassuringly.

“Proof about what?” Tyler asked.

“Yeah,” Jeremy’s eyebrows were furrowed in confusion. “Proof about what?”

Bonnie took a deep breath and spoke. “I’m a witch.”

They blinked.

“WHAT!?”

 

Caroline and Tyler started dating at the age of fifteen. It wasn’t much of a shock to the people around her, but Angela didn’t see it coming at all. It made sense though, seeing as they got to know each other much earlier and Tyler wasn’t the douchebag he would have been if Angela didn’t exist. His father had still drilled a few alpha male tendencies into his head that would pop up now and then, but being best friends with four girls helped him accept that he didn’t have to be a tough guy all the time.

Their relationship also helped Caroline reach a new peak in her confidence. Angela had been building her up over the years, always being there for her and ensuring that she never felt inferior to Elena, but being with Tyler made her absolutely glow. She was old enough that Angela could clearly see how she might be as a young woman, and she was more than pleased with the work she’d done.

Her father leaving her, however, undid a lot of it.

She called her on the morning of February 3rd 2008, sobbing and speaking incoherently. Once Angela helped her calm down enough to tell her what happened, Caroline said that her dad came out as gay and was having an affair with a man named Steven.

“He’s leaving us! He’s just leaving us! After all these years! Why did he have to lie to us? Why does everyone in my life have to have these huge secrets!?”

Stab me in the heart, why don’t you? “I can’t even begin to imagine how you must feel, Care-bear, but you’re not being completely fair to him. Th-”

“How can you say that!? He wasn’t being fair by fooling us into thinking he cared!”

She briefly closed her eyes in both heartache and irritation. “There’s a good chance he didn’t realize he was gay before you were born, Caroline. There’s no doubt in my mind that he adores you, which is why I think he stayed with you all these years. And because he suppressed his sexuality for your sake he ended up cheating on your mom.”

Caroline’s voice was quieter. “That still doesn’t make it right…”

“No, that still doesn’t make it right. But it’s important to see his point of view. I don’t want you to have to hate your own dad.”

There was a sigh. “Thanks, I guess.”

She bit her lip. “Hey. I have an idea. Why don’t you come over tonight and you, me, Lena, and Bonnie can have a slumber party? You shouldn’t be alone at a time like this.”

“…Okay.”

 

“I need to get into your dad’s safe.”

Tyler raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Uhhhh, why?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s a future thing.”

Tyler snorted and sat down on one of the picnic tables in front of the crowded high school. It was mid-October, and the leaves were turning a beautiful shade of marigold. “I’m gonna need you to do a little bit more explaining there, A-game.”

She sighed and sat down across from him. “There’s this… moonstone in there. It’s magic and super duper important. Reeaally bad news if it gets into the wrong hands.”

He grinned. “And how do I know your hands are right?”

She tried to glare at him but her smile betrayed her mirth. “You’re an asshole.”

He laughed and tossed his football from one hand to the other. “Alright, alright. I’ll get it to you.”

She immediately perked up. “Really? Thank you! Oh, um, give it to me in private. I don’t know who might be watching.”

He looked at her curiously. “Is it really that big a deal?”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh, trust me. You have no idea.”

 

 “What do you know about Emily Bennett?”

Sheila raised her eyebrows in surprise. “She was powerful. Lived here in the 1800s. Why do you ask?”

Angela let herself through the door and sat down on the couch. “She had this necklace. Well, I suppose talisman would be the proper term for it.”

Sheila nodded and sat down across from her. “I know it. A large amber crystal. Again, why do you ask?”

Angela took a deep breath. “Do you by chance remember Stefan Salvatore? He listened to one of your anti-war sit-ins when you were young.”

Her eyes narrowed in thought. “I… Yes, actually. Yes, I do. He was Italian-looking.” She smirked. “Gorgeous, too; dark brown hair, stunning green eyes. Mmm,” she chuckled, “I could’ve just eaten him up.”

She laughed loudly. “Funny you should say that, because there was a much larger chance of him eating you.”

Sheila lifted her head in surprise, her smirk widening. “I don’t think that’s very appropriate, young lady.”

Angela waved a hand and giggled. “No, no, not like that. He was a vampire.”

Sheila’s smirk dropped. “Really now?”

She nodded. “Still is, actually. One of the main characters in the TV show. And, um, a really good person, believe it or not.” When he’s not binging on human blood.

“Huh.” Sheila shook her head. “Never would’ve guessed.”

“Yeah, well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He and his brother, Damon, were born here in the 1800s. To make a ridiculously long story short, they knew Emily and in exchange for her protecting the woman Damon loved, he swore to protect her lineage since he and Stefan had been turned into vampires and would be able to watch over her descendents.”

Sheila opened her mouth to say something, but Angela raised her hand.

“Please, let me get this out there. There’s a lot and I wanna make sure I don’t miss anything important. You can ask anything you want when I’m done.”

Sheila closed her mouth sharply and pursed her lips in playful irritation.

“Anyway, in order to protect the woman he loved, Emily used her talisman for the spell. If everything goes the way I think it will, next year the Salvatore brothers will come back to Mystic Falls and Damon will want the talisman in order to get the woman he loves back. Oh, yeah, she’s also my sister’s doppelgänger and a vampire. Did I forget to mention that?”

“Now hold on, child,” Sheila sounded exasperated and confused. “I know you said to wait, but what do you mean she’s your sister’s doppelgänger?”

“Well, assuming you know about Elena and all, I think it’s actually quite self-explanatory.”

Sheila rubbed her forehead and sighed. “Go on.”

“Right! So, in order to protect her, Emily had to lock her up somewhere and in order to unlock that somewhere, her talisman needs to be used. Now… Damon has become a bit… um… volatile over the years. But! I think a good way to keep him from killing me and everyone I’ve ever looked at is to get that talisman before he does and exchange it for our safety. Thoughts?”

Sheila stared at her blankly. “Let me get this straight… You want Emily’s talisman so you can exchange it for protection because two centuries ago she used it to lock Damon Salvatore’s vampire doppelgänger lover away to safety and he wants it back so he can unlock the place where she’s being kept?”

She placed her hand on her chin and thought for a moment. “Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I want.”

Sheila sighed. “You’re going to get yourself killed one day.”

Angela shrugged with a smile. “I’m already dead, aren’t I?”

She looked at her wearily. “How can I help?”

 

 “Will it hurt?” Jeremy was looking at the tattoo gun anxiously.

“Only a bit,” the artist said. Her name was Irene and she would surely be enjoying the large amount of money Mayor Lockwood had given her to tattoo six underage children. “You’ll barely feel anything, I promise. It’s just a dot.”

“It’s a mole,” Grayson Gilbert said warningly, “and if anybody comes asking it was already there.”

Irene nodded with an affirmative hum and smiled. “Come on, kid. You first. The sooner you get it over with the sooner you’ll be able to relax.”

Jeremy looked at his sisters with wide, panic-stricken eyes.

“You’ll be fine, Jer,” Elena said with a barely-contained smirk. “I promise.”

“Yup,” Angela confirmed with a wide, amused grin. “We believe in you, Jerm.”

He sighed shakily, defeated, and dragged his feet over to the chair.

Tyler leaned over to whisper in Angela’s ear. “Bet you five bucks he’ll squeal like a little girl.”

She snickered. “Deal.”

As it turns out, Jeremy didn’t squeal after all. He just breathed through it like a woman going into labor, which for some reason was way funnier. Faintly, Angela felt a bit guilty at making fun of a twelve-year-old for being scared of getting a tattoo – even if that tattoo was the size of a small mole – but the fact that he was her brother seemed to override that.

Approximately a split second after Irene told him he was all done, he tore ass out of the chair and went to stand behind their mom, causing the rest of the MFMs to desperately try and suppress their laughter.

“Alright!” Irene exclaimed with a bright smile. “Who’s next?”

It was Angela’s brilliant idea for them to all get tattoos of a mole done with brown ink mixed with powdered vervain. That way they could never be compelled, and by getting them done on or below their left hand they could also use it as a weapon. The thought of what might happen if any of them became vampires did cross her mind, but she figured they could simply cut that piece of skin off, as horrible and brutal as that sounded.

“Yeah,” Bonnie said while smirking, “who’s next?”

Caroline rolled her eyes playfully. “Oh shut up, witch bitch,” she huffed. “I’ll go next.”

“Go get ‘em, tiger!” Angela squeezed her shoulder and Caroline flashed her a bright smile before facing Tyler with a flick of her eyebrow.

“Do I get a good luck kiss?”

He looked taken aback and opened his mouth wordlessly. “Oh, uh, yeah. Sure.”

Caroline kissed him hard before pulling back with a satisfied smile and sitting down in the chair.

Angela tilted her head in confusion. Those two are usually pretty lovey-dovey. What’s up with Tyler?

She turned her head towards him and spoke lowly. “Hey, you okay?”

He blinked and licked his lips in surprise before flashing her an extremely unconvincing smile. “Y-yeah. Everything’s cool.”

She felt her eyebrows furrow in concern but didn’t push the subject.

Elena and Matt went on their first date later that week.

 

“What’s going on with you and Caroline?”

She’d gone over to the Lockwood mansion to hang out with Tyler, but ever since the day at the tattoo parlor he’d been acting odd around her and it was starting to get on her nerves.

He swallowed nervously. “Seriously, I don’t understand what you keep talking about. Nothing’s going on.”

She paused the game and set her controller down.

“Hey! I was winning!”

She turned to face him. “Tyler, I know you’re lying to me.”

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Angie, nothing’s going on. Everything’s fine. Honestly.”

She bit her lip, not missing the way his eyes followed the action and immediately looked away from her, but dismissed it as normal. It wasn’t the first time he did that, and she was pretty sure his werewolf gene was beginning to make him hyper-aware of any movement.

“You can tell me, Ty. Even if,” she chuckled breathlessly, “even if you killed someone or something, you can tell me. I’ll listen to you. I promise.”

He pressed his lips into a line and stayed silent for a while, until he finally spoke. “Fine. Okay. I…” He swallowed and for a split-second looked like he was about to cry. “I think my feelings for Caroline are going away.”

Oh, no…

“When did you start noticing?”

He shrugged, looking down at his lap. “A couple weeks ago.”

She pursed her lips to the side. “I think you should tell her. Leading her on will only make her feel worse.”

He sighed, long and loud. “I know. I know, but with her dad leaving her… I don’t want to break her heart even more.”

She shifted so that she was sitting on her legs. “Tyler, if there’s one thing I know about Caroline it’s that after everything that’s happened, she values honesty a lot. If you keep this a secret from her you’ll break her heart a lot more, trust me.”

He set his controller down and rubbed his forehead. “Yeah… Yeah, you’re right. I… I’ll tell her.” He smiled sadly. “Thank you.”

She leaned over and hugged him tightly. “I told you I’d listen to you, didn’t I?”

She felt his chuckle more than heard it as he wrapped his arms around her. “Yeah. You did.”

 

 “I am done with men!”

Caroline had barged over to the Gilbert house one Thursday evening and was currently smacking Angela’s pillow against her bed.

“Who needs them?” She laughed somewhat manically. “I sure don’t!”

The twins simply looked at each other, very concerned.

“Caroline, just because Tyler broke up with you doesn’t mean every guy would,” Elena said from her spot on her bed.

Caroline looked at her with furious, tear-filled eyes. “Just let me freaking rant for once, will you!? Ugh!

“Alright,” Angela started, sitting down on her sister’s bed. “Rant, then. How did Tyler make you feel?”

“Like… like… like I’m not good enough! Like I’m never good enough! Like I’m not good enough for my dad, like I’m not good enough for my mom, like I’m not good enough for boys, like I’m not good enough for girls,” she scoffed through her sobbing, “Especially you, Angie.”

She felt her heart stop. “Wait, what?”

Caroline shook her head with a grimace. “You’re perfect. You’re smart, and sweet, and beautiful, and you always know what to say.” Oh. Oh, no. “And here I am, Little Miss Inadequate.”

“Caroline, that is not true,” Elena said absolutely.

“Oh of course it is, Elena!” Caroline said, exasperated. “You know it, too.”

“Caroline, I’m an adult!” Angela exclaimed, feeling like the world was breaking down all she had tried to build. “Of course I seem perfect compared to you, but I know for a fact that I was nowhere near as beautiful and charismatic as you are when I was actually your age.”

Caroline slumped down onto Angela’s bed. “I… I’m sorry. I just,” she let out a sob, “I used to feel that way, but when you told me about yourself I stopped. I didn’t mean it, I’m just,” it was beginning to get difficult to understand her through the tears, “I’m just not in a very good place right now, Angie.”

Angela strode over to where Caroline was sitting and brought her into a giant hug. She locked eyes with her sister over Caroline’s shoulder and they shared a meaningful look.

Elena nodded. “I’ll get Bonnie and the ice cream.”

 

“I think I need to break up with Matt.”

Angela blinked in surprise. “Oh?”

Her sister bit her lip and shook her head. “I just don’t see it, Angie… He’s, like, got our future all mapped out and everything and I don’t even know what I wanna study in college.”

She rubbed Elena’s arm and gave her a smile. “Well, it’s up to you, Lena. He’s a good kid and you’re a good kid, but if you each want different things from life then it’s just not meant to be.”

Elena groaned and laid her head on Angela’s shoulder. “But that’s the thing. I don’t know what I want.”

She started combing her sister’s hair with her fingers. “You’re sixteen, Elena. It’s completely normal to have no idea what you want to do for the rest of your life.”

“You would know, wouldn’t you, grandma?”

“Hey!” Angela pushed a giggling Elena away from her. “I resent that.”

“Mhm, sure.” She adjusted herself so that her feet were next to her on the couch.

They spent some time in silence, each contemplating the future in wildly different ways.

“We’re supposed to go on a date today,” Elena spoke up. “I should tell him then.”

She nodded. “That might be wise.”

Elena looked at her and shook her head with a smile. “What would I ever do without you?”

Angela laughed. “You don’t wanna know.”

Elena engulfed her in a hug and sighed. “No matter what happens we’ll always stay together. Okay? Boys can come and go but we’ll always be there for each other.”

Angela smiled into her shoulder. “Always and forever.”

She heard the matching smile in her sister’s voice, though it was probably a bit less knowing. “Always and forever.”

And in that moment, all was right with the world.

 

 

 

Elena and Angela Gilbert’s parents died on May 23rd, 2009.

Angela had been sleeping badly for weeks beforehand. The moonstone and Emily’s necklace were in a magically sealed box in her closet, everybody she cared about knew about the supernatural, they were protected by their tattoos, and things seemed to be going miles better than they would have been otherwise. She should have been happy, and yet she considered herself lucky if she got five hours of sleep at night.

The plan was simple: stay at home.

And if that didn’t work, they’d go home by foot.

And if that didn’t work, they’d go home with Bonnie, in her car.

And if even that didn’t work, and they were underwater in their car, she’d try her best to knock out a window and escape with her family.

What she hadn’t accounted for was the possibility that the car accident wasn’t so much an accident.

Somebody was shaking her awake.

“Wh- Lena?” She pushed up off the bed with her elbows and rubbed her eyes.

“It’s the day of the party, Angie! Come on, get up, get up, get up!” She smacked her leg with a giggle and flopped down onto her bed. “There’ll be plenty of cute boys; this could be your opportunity to finally meet someone legal.”

“Elena.”

Her sister’s grin calmed into a smile. “Yeah?”

She sighed. “We… shouldn’t go.”

Elena giggled and shook her head in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

Angela sat up properly and stared at her. “We shouldn’t go.

Elena’s smile dropped. “Why? Is something gonna happen?”

Her eyes flicked downward before she spoke. “Mom and Dad are gonna die, Elena.”

Her sister’s eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open. “What?

She shook her head. “We can’t go to that party.”

Elena covered her mouth. “Oh my God… Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

Angela ran a hand through her tangled hair. “And have you be worried when there’s nothing you can do about it? No, I didn’t want you going through what I’ve been going through. Let’s just stay at home tonight, okay?”

Elena brought her hand back down to her lap and nodded frantically. “Yeah. Yes. Absolutely. We should have a family movie night, that way we can keep an eye on them.”

She smiled, and for the first time felt a glimmer of hope shoo some of the butterflies away. “Good idea.”

Their parents and Jeremy, though slightly confused, were completely open to the idea of a family movie night.

It was seven-thirty in the evening and she and Elena had left the house for the Mystic Grill. Cooking was out of the picture, they’d both decided, because tonight was going to be a proper movie night. Or maybe Zorro night would be more appropriate. Jeremy was apparently going through a phase and wanted to watch The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro back-to-back. Not that Angela was complaining; she’d watch any movie if it meant keeping her family safe.

“What should we get?” Elena asked as she adjusted her purse strap.

Angela hummed in thought. “Well we’re definitely getting fries. You can’t have a movie night without fries or popcorn.”

Her sister made a noise of affirmation and opened the door to the Grill. “Should we get burgers too, then? They’re like, the yin to fries’ yang.”

She nodded. “Definitely.”

She sat down near the bar as Elena placed their order and looked up when she joined her at the table.

Angela smiled and rubbed her sister’s arm. “You doin’ okay?”

Elena sighed deeply and closed her eyes. “I just can’t believe it… Our parents would’ve died today.”

“Honestly I’m still kinda paranoid…” She shook her head and smiled. “I’ll be fine when I wake up tomorrow and hear Mom singing in the kitchen.”

Elena smiled back. “Yeah…”

“Katherine?”

Angela snapped her head in the direction of the voice.

A man was stood five feet from their table, with dark brown hair and blue eyes that were wide in disbelief.

Damon?

From Sheila’s description of Stefan, the man next to them looked similar enough to where they might have been siblings; handsome, Italian-looking, dark brown hair.

“Umm, no? I’m Elena…” She heard her sister say and glanced at her. She looked confused.

Angela smiled as disarmingly as she could. “Who are you?”

The man blinked and shook his head before giving them a gentle half-smile. “Ah, I’m Damon.” Yuuup. Wonderful. His eyes focused back on her sister. “I’m sorry, you just look… you just really remind me of someone.”

“Let me guess: Katherine?” Her sister asked playfully.

He nodded with a breathy chuckle, still looking slightly dazed.

“Well,” she said and motioned to herself with a giggle, “sorry to disappoint.”

“Elena Gilbert!” the cashier shouted out.

Elena flicked her eyebrows up with a smile. “That’s me! Nice to meet you, Damon.”

Angela watched as Damon stared after her sister and spoke up. “So, Damon, what are you doing in this little ol’ town? I’m Angela by the way,” she grinned, “thank you for asking.”

He stared at her and after a moment chuckled. “I’ve got family here, Angela.

Her grin widened.

He leaned down close to her and looked her in the eye. “Now tell me… How do you know Elena?”

Is he trying to compel me? She kept her tone as even as possible, her movements limited. “We’re twins.”

“Hmm, are you now?” His eyes widened slightly in such a way that they seemed to gain a new intensity.

“Sure are.”

“Good to know. Forget we ever had this conversation.

And in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

“Hey,” her sister said from in front of her. She held up the take-away bag with a smile. “Ready to go?”

 

“Sooo,” Elena started once they’d left the Grill. “He was cute.”

Angela snorted. “No way. Not happening.”

She looked at her with her eyebrows raised. “Why not? He was cute. He was legal. Well, he looked legal. He was male. You are attracted to men, aren’t you?”

Angela rolled her eyes. “Yes, just not that one.”

Her sister huffed. “Oh, come on, I’m trying here. What do you want from me?”

Angela giggled at her frustration.

“I will say, though,” Elena said skeptically, “He did tell me to forget I ever met him. That was pretty weird, wasn’t it?”

Angela stopped walking.

“What did you two talk about anyyy- hey.” Elena noticed that she was walking alone and turned on her heel. “What’s wrong? Why’d you stop?”

Angela raised a finger to her lips in a motion to stop talking. Elena shook her head in confusion, but shut her mouth. Angela starting walking again.

“Did you check to see if they had any popcorn?”

“U-umm, no? Was I supposed to?” Elena still looked perplexed but didn’t say anything about what had happened.

She shook her head with a smile. “Nah, it’s fine, just wondering.”

They turned to walk up the steps to the house, but what they saw made them stop in their tracks.

What the hell?

“Oh my God…” Elena’s voice came out shaky.

Angela walked towards the porch. “Stay out here. Call Caroline’s mom. Tell her there’s been a break-in.”

“W-wait, what about you?”

She turned to look at her. “Jeremy could be in there.” She nodded and flashed her a smile. “I’ll be fine, just call her.”

“But-”

Do it, Elena.”

And before she could give her sister a chance to respond she was already up the steps.

The front door was busted and the handle looked to be missing completely. Once she got close enough she could see that the door was slightly ajar. After pausing for a moment to take a switchblade out of her purse, she swung it completely open.

Please tell me they’re okay. Please, please, please. She swallowed back the bile that was rising in her throat as her hands began to shake from adrenaline.

She slowly walked in, making sure not to step on any of the floorboards she knew would creak. The house was completely dark, and with the minimal late evening light that was coming from the outside Angela had to focus hard to be able to see the vague outlines of the furniture and doors.

She searched the living room first. At first glance, there wasn’t anything really out of place, but when she looked harder she realized that her mother’s phone was on the floor next to the coffee table.

Please don’t tell me this is happening.

She tried not to think about all the horrible possibilities and moved onto the kitchen and dining room. There was nothing suspect there; no broken objects, no odd-looking liquids, no vampires on the ceiling. Next was the bathroom, and when there was nothing there either, she decided with quite some trepidation that it was time to search the upstairs. She could hear the faint sound of sirens in the distance.

She checked her and Elena’s room first, since it was the closest to the stairs. Opening the door revealed everything as they had left it. It wasn’t a horribly huge room, and there was no way somebody could fit beneath the beds, so she was tempted to turn the light on when she realized they had an entire closet somebody could hide in.

Oh God, this could be it.

She closed the door to the hallway as quietly as she possibly could and tip-toed over to it.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. You’re such an idiot. You should’ve told Elena about the bottle in the backyard. Fuck, what’s wrong with you?

She swung the closet door open and nearly screamed when she saw somebody inside of it.

“Jeremy!?” she whispered.

The boy was staring up at her with wide, fearful eyes. Staring through her more like. He was shaking and breathing shallowly and his gaze stayed rooted to the spot where she was even when she knelt down.

“Jeremy. Hey. Hey, you’re okay. Sheriff Forbes is on her way. What happened?”

His mouth moved and he spoke with every one of his shallow breaths, but formed no real words. “Fuh-hah-ma-hah-ma-ma-fah-”

She glanced behind her, and after making sure they were alone she looked back at Jeremy.

“Listen,” she licked her dry lips with her dry tongue, “you stay here. Okay? You’ll be safe. Sheriff Forbes will keep you safe.” She stood up and slowly closed the closet door. “Just keep quiet.”

She stepped into the bathroom that connected their room to Jeremy’s. There was nobody in there either, and she carefully entered her brother’s bedroom. She made sure to search the closet and found the entire room to be empty.

Only one more place left to check now…

She closed her eyes before she exited the room and could hear frantic voices coming from outside the house, including one that was very distinctly Sheriff Elizabeth Forbes.

It would be safer to wait for her, wouldn’t it? She opened her eyes and sighed. Fuck me.

She opened the door and walked to her parents’ bedroom. She rested her hand against the handle and took a deep breath, feeling as though she might just faint. She swallowed.

You can pass out later. Open the goddamn door.

And so she did.

 

 

 

Her beautiful mother with her beautiful green eyes loved to sing her lullabies even as she grew older. After a while she would run out of songs to sing and began to make her own. The lyrics never made much sense, she knew, but then again that wasn’t why Angela loved to listen to them so much.

Her mother always looked so unbelievably happy when she was singing. Her eyes would light up and her mouth would smile at her in that sweet way it did, and Angela always felt loved when she looked at her like that.

Her father wasn’t as handsome as her mother was beautiful, she knew, but she also knew that he loved her more than anything else in the world. Even though they didn’t always see eye to eye and he could sometimes be a bit close-minded, she knew that she loved him, too.

As she grew older she realized that he had given her far more than she had initially thought. He hadn’t given her her eyes, or her hair, or anything physical. He’d given her the gift of memory, and of knowledge, and of life.

And what in the world could be more important than that?

 

 

 

Her mother’s lifeless eyes were the first thing she saw. She was crumpled on the floor, her head twisted so far back that it was almost hanging off of her neck. There was no blood on or around her, but what else had enough strength to snap somebody’s neck like that but a vampire?

Her father was a different story. He was in the corner, next to his desk. His head looked to have been bashed on its edge as many times as it took for his brain to start poking out. He wasn’t looking at her like her mother was. He was looking at his own corpse, a few feet away. His eye sockets were empty and angry and red, and Angela finally collapsed onto the floor.

She heard loud footsteps walking towards the room and a light shone onto the wall in front of her.

“Oh my God…” A woman spoke from behind her. Angela? Angela, are you okay?”

She could only let out a broken whimper as it all became too much and she violently retched on the floor.

“Andy, get her out of here.” Buzz. “We have a double 187 in the Gilbert residence, 2104 Maple Street. I repeat, a double 187 in 2104 Maple Street.”

Somebody attacked her.

“Get off of me!!”

 They were trying to restrain her arms, but she wasn’t going to give in that easily. My world has crumbled, but I need to be there for Elena. For Jeremy. Always and forever.

She swung her arm out and cut her attacker with the switchblade. She heard a masculine-sounding hiss and the woman from before started talking.

Angela, it’s alright. Hey, it’s alright.”

A face appeared before her and she recognized it as Caroline’s mother.

“Caroline… Caroline’s m…m…”

She nodded with a strained smile. She looked sad. “That’s right. I’m Caroline’s mom. You recognize me, right?”

She thought she nodded but couldn’t be sure.

“Do you trust me, Angela? I can get you out of here but you need to trust me.”

She was sure she nodded that time.

Caroline’s mother smiled at her again. “Good. Good.” She looked behind Angela. “I’ve got her. You take over until I get back.”

Caroline’s mother gently grabbed her arms. “Can you stand up for me?”

She shook her head.

“Okay. That’s okay. I can carry you. Is it okay if I carry you?”

She nodded, but grabbed her arm when she made to pick her up.

“Jeremy… Closet.”

She glanced behind Angela again and gave her another strained smile. “He’s safe now. You don’t have to worry. Elena’s safe, too. Come on, let me take you to her.”

“Elena…”

And suddenly she was flying. First she was flying normally, but then she swooped down. Am I a bird? Am I looking for worms? Why am I going down?

She saw pretty red and blue lights and a crowd gathering outside the house. A man looked oddly familiar. Perhaps she’d seen him in a dream once. He looked sad, too.

“What’s going on? Oh my God, what’s going on, is she okay?”

“Elena.”

“She’s in shock. She’ll need some time. Could be up to one or two months, but she’s a strong girl. She’ll be okay.”

“Mom!? What’s going on?”

“Sweetheart, not now-”

“Are my parents okay!? Where’s Jeremy!? Oh my God!”

“Don’t cry, Lena…”

Angela said your brother was in a closet. I didn’t have time to check on him, but-”

Buzz. “We found the boy. He’s in shock but alive. He doesn’t show resistance to being moved, I’m bringing him outside.”

“-apparently he’s okay.”

Caroline? Elena? What’s going on?”

Bonnie, somebody broke in!”

“What!?”

Am I in a well? Why is there an echo? Am I a bird that’s fallen down a well?

“Girls, I think you should sit down. Everybody move out of the way! This is a crime scene! Patrick, help them put the tape up.”

She was flying again. What’s happening?

“Here, you can sit down here. Angela. I’m going to put you down now. You’re safe, okay? Elena and the girls are here.”

“Elena…”

She finally landed somewhere. Somewhere good, because she could see her sister. She smiled in relief. “Elena.”

Her sister looked sadder than Caroline’s mom and the man from before both. Why is everybody so sad?

Elena tried to smile at her. “Hey. Hey, I’m here. We’re okay.” She looked behind Angela. “What happened?”

Elena, I’m so, so sorry. Your parents… Somebody… Somebody killed them.”

“What!? Oh my God, Elena…”

“Mom, I don’t understand…”

“Don’t cry, Lena.” For some reason that made her cry harder.

“I’m taking you all to our house. Bonnie, you can come too if your grandmother allows it.”

“She’ll be fine with it, trust me.”

“Here, follow me. The men and women here are trustworthy, they can deal without me for a bit. My car’s this way.”

And then she was flying once more.

 

 

 

It took Angela four weeks to recover. She couldn’t decide if it was better or worse this way, knowing exactly what happened.

Jeremy still refused to talk. He could understand and respond to what people were saying, and she sometimes heard him crying when he thought he was alone, but still he wouldn’t speak. They were staying with Caroline and her mom until their aunt Jenna could go through all the necessary procedures to become their legal guardian.

I never should have existed. I’m cursed. I’ve cursed everybody I ever cared about.

Following the recovery from the emotional shock she’d suffered, Angela fell into a deep depression. She had to be there for Elena and Jeremy, though, so she hid it as best she could. She knew how to; she was sure she’d done the same thing in her past life. She suspected Elena was depressed as well, so she made certain she was there for her whenever she was needed.

They moved back into the house in early July. She and Jeremy nearly had a nervous breakdown, stepping back inside after what had happened, but aunt Jenna the psychology major made the move as cheerful as she possibly could. That made things a lot easier than they might have been. Angela was thankful that she was around.

Jenna had taken Jeremy to see a psychiatrist.

He still refused to speak, but he began to smile more often and he stopped wetting his bed at night. The three of them collectively saw that as a win.

Elena had taken to writing. She would journal daily, and wrote short stories whenever she had the chance. Angela was glad that she was channeling her pain into something creative. She knew that it helped people feel better.

She wanted to channel her pain into something creative, too, but the only thing she could think of doing was singing. And she couldn’t very well do that now, could she? Not when the thought of it only made her see her mother’s dead green eyes.

She went to Tyler one day and asked him to teach her how to draw. She wasn’t naturally talented like he was, and she often had to ask him to repeat his instructions, but he was patient with her and she eventually learned how to sketch portraits. She was far from great, but she wasn’t bad enough anymore that she was embarrassed to show people her work.

Bonnie and Sheila were a massive help to both her and Elena. Sheila would cast calming spells if they ever got too upset, and Bonnie helped them get everything out of their system. Tea at Sheila’s was a regular occurrence.

Caroline helped bring a sense of normalcy to their life. They would go shopping regularly, and she treated them like she normally would. She was still there whenever they needed to talk to her though, and Angela was proud of the woman she was becoming. Apparently she’d asked Jenna how she could help and followed her advice to a T.

She and Elena were more grateful for their friends than ever before, and they both knew it. By the time September rolled around, they were finally able to go back to living relatively normally. What happened was still a very sensitive topic, but opening her closet door no longer made Angela want to cry.

 

And then it was the night of September 6th, and the following morning was the first day of school.

“Are you ready?”

They were sitting down on their respective beds, facing each other.

Angela smiled. “I don’t think I’m gonna get any readier.”

Elena huffed a quiet laugh. “Yeah, tell me about it…”

She took a deep breath and laid down. “Hey. No matter what happens we’ll always stick together, right?”

Elena nodded and followed suit. “Always.” She gave a gentle smirk. “And forever.”

Forever is a pretty long time, Elena…

She couldn’t stop the smile from growing on her face. “…Always and forever.”

Chapter Text

Angela hated alarm clocks.

She’d come to this conclusion at age eleven, which was the first time she used an alarm clock. They were noisy, and annoying, and they made her want to murder somebody.

Her sister groaned. “Mmmm, God, just turn it off already.”

Angela sat up and blindly followed her command. The sharp ringing finally stopped.

“And here I thought you were a morning person.”

Elena huffed a laugh. “I was.”

Angela let out a long yawn and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. The rays of early morning sunlight were peeking through the shutters and she groaned at the thought of having to open them. Elena was groggily getting out of bed however, and she figured she should probably follow suit.

“Do you have your outfit all picked out, Lena?”

“It’s tradition, how can I not- oh jeez, that’s bright.”

Angela pulled back from the window and closed it, squinting against the light she freed. “Yeah, imagine being this close to it.”

Elena chuckled and opened the door to the bathroom. She paused for a moment and looked back at her with a gentle smile. “Hey. We’re gonna be okay.”

She nodded. “We’re gonna be okay.”

Elena’s smile grew and she entered the bathroom.

 

The girls and Jeremy quickly learned that Jenna wasn’t much of a chef. Angela wasn’t much of a chef either, but she took on the role because it gave her something to do; something to help keep her mind busy. She’d gotten quite good over the past few months, she had to say, and her brother clearly adored her omelets.

Otherwise he wouldn’t be scarfing one down at that very moment.

“Hey, hey, hey, easy!” Jenna exclaimed. “Slow down, Jeremy, you’re gonna choke!”

Jeremy finished the last couple bites and looked back up at her with a wide, toothy grin.

Elena snorted and sipped some of her coffee.

“Jerm’s throat is a vacuum cleaner, Aunt Jenna,” Angela smirked. “Haven’t you realized that by now?”

Jenna shook her head in amusement. “Clearly.” She glanced at the clock and a look of panic flashed across her face. “Crap! I’m supposed to be meeting with my thesis advisor!” She stood and looked at them warily. “Are you three going to be okay?”

Elena set her mug down with a smile. “Don’t worry, Aunt Jenna. We’ll be fine.”

Angela nodded. “I can drive Jeremy to school. You should go.”

Jenna wriggled a scrunchy down her wrist and tied her hair up into a ponytail. “Alright. Stay safe!” She grabbed her postman bag and was out the door in seconds.

Angela drank some of her orange juice. “Hey, Lena, can you turn the TV on to WPK?”

Elena raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Future thing.”

Elena rolled her eyes and adopted a mocking tone. “Future thing.” She reached for the remote and the television flashed on.

Logan Fell was standing in front of Wickery Bridge, looking as handsome and douchey as ever, and Angela instinctively rolled her eyes.

“Again,” he spoke with his handsome, douchey voice, “If you have any information, please make sure to report it the police. Even if you think it’s not important, I promise you: it might just be the missing piece they need.”

Two pictures of a man and a woman, aged twenty-four and twenty-two respectively, filled the screen. The subtitle read “MISSING.”

Angela pursed her lips. Hello, Damon. “Alright, you can turn it off now.”

Elena did as she was told and looked at her, confused. “What was that all about?”

Angela waved her hand dismissively. “Tell you after school. Maybe.”

Her sister sighed in annoyance. “Fine.”

Jeremy tapped Angela on the arm and glanced at the front door just before a car horn sounded from the other side.

She downed the rest of her orange juice and stood. “Excellent timing, Jeremy!” She looked at her sister. “Sounds like Bon-Bon’s here. I’m dropping Jeremy off, could you clear the table?”

She was already gathering the dishes. “On it!”

Angela looked at her brother with a smile and nodded towards the foyer. “Let’s go.”

 

“So… How are you feeling about going back to school?”

Jeremy shrugged with a shake of his head.

“Yeah, wish I could say the same,” she sighed, turning onto Margaret Avenue.

She glanced at his curious expression and gave a tired sigh. “A lot’s gonna be happening these next few years, Jer. Just… promise me you’ll listen if I ever tell you to do something? Even if it might not make much sense.”

His hand reached over to rest on her shoulder. He nodded firmly, and she smiled in relief.

“Thanks, kiddo.”

 

Angela could recognize Caroline’s piercing shriek anywhere. She barely had any time to process it, however, because she was engulfed in a hug as soon as she stepped through the doors of Mystic Falls High School.

“Oh my God! Angie! You’re here! Ugh, I missed you…” Caroline pulled away, her smile brilliant.

Angela laughed. “Care-bear, we went to the Grill literally yesterday.”

She pouted. “Yeah, but this is different.”

Caroline looked beautiful, as per usual. Her blonde hair fell in gentle curls, her outfit complemented her in an attractive yet school-appropriate way, and just as Angela was going to point out how good she looked, Bonnie and Elena joined their side.

“It’s been torture since you’ve been gone, Ann,” Bonnie groaned sarcastically. She shook her head with a grin. “How could we ever survive without you?”

Armed with jeans, purple converse, a bright blue sweater, and straight brown hair that framed her pretty, youthful face, Bonnie looked absolutely adorable.

Elena giggled quietly. “We couldn’t.”

On the way over to their lockers, Angela made sure to keep an eye out for Tyler and any new faces that looked like Damon.

“So,” Caroline’s tone was mischievous as she worked on opening her locker, “we’re seventeen now. Well… you’re seventeen now.” She turned to give her a wicked smile. “The legal seniors are way more likely to go out with you.”

Angela snorted. “Believe it or not, Caroline, romance isn’t really on my mind right now.”

“Well,” she put her scarf away, “it’s on my mind. Ugh,” she shut her locker, “I am so ready to meet someone new.”

“Talking about boys?” Elena asked as she and Bonnie finished taking their books out and joined their side.

“You know it.” Caroline looked at them resolutely. “I am officially over Tyler.”

“Should I be offended?”

Angela’s eyes widened and she whirled around. “Ty!” She jumped up and grappled him in a giant hug.

Tyler laughed and swung her from side to side. “Hey there, A-game.”

She made him put her down and pulled back so she could look up at him. Waaay up at him. “Ugh, jeez, when did you get so tall? Get down here,” she tried to grab at his head, “I need to ruffle your hair.”

He pulled away from her with a grin and put his fists up in mock-defense. “No way, short-stack! My hair’s ruffled the exact way girls like best. Not happening.”

“Really?” Caroline asked, eyes narrowed. “Well, is there a way guys like best? You know, just so my next boyfriend doesn’t break up with me.”

Oof.

Tyler’s grin dropped and for a moment everybody was silent. He gave them all a tight, awkward smile. “I, uh, I’ll see you guys later.” He cast another glance towards Angela and quickly walked away.

Bonnie looked at Caroline with a raised eyebrow. “Officially over him, huh?”

Caroline threw her head back and groaned. “I’m an idiot.”

Angela rolled her eyes and swung an arm around her shoulders. “You’re a teenager. Come on,” she said and started leading her towards English class.

The hallway was jam-packed with students. Scanning the crowd, she saw that she knew everyone who didn’t look like a freshman. Is he in the office, then? Oh jeez, what happens if he never even showed up?

“Whoa, hold up,” she heard Bonnie say. When she looked back she noticed that she and Elena had stopped walking.

“What…” Elena trailed off when she followed Bonnie’s line of sight. They were looking at something in the school’s office, and Angela had a pretty good idea as to what – or rather who – it might be.

Caroline led her over to them and joined in their staring. She raised an eyebrow. “Who is that?”

“I don’t know,” said her sister. “All I see is back.”

Bonnie smirked and, not for the first time, she was reminded of Sheila. “It’s a hot back.”

Angela looked at her, eyebrows raised, and snorted. “A hot back? Really, Bon?”

“Oh shut up, Mrs. Looks Don’t Matter,” said Caroline. “Bonnie’s right. It is a hot back.”

Just by looking at the back in question, the man in front of them seemed to match Sheila’s description of Stefan well enough. Olive-toned skin that was on the lighter side (ergo possibly Italian-looking,) brown hair with highlights that looked to have been made by the sun, and… well… that was it, really.

He was facing the secretary and she could see nothing of his face.

“Hmmmm…” Bonnie’s eyes were narrowed in thought. “Grams said my powers should start awakening this year, so what do you say? Should I try and sense what he’s all about?”

Caroline accidentally shook Angela’s arm off of her when she bounced in delight. “Oh! Yeah, do that! I wanna know if he’s a psychopath or something first.”

“First?” Elena asked with an amused smile. “Before what happens?”

Caroline rolled her eyes. “Before I make him fall in love with me, duh.”

Angela tried not to snort. I wasn’t this boy-crazy when I was young, was I?

Bonnie closed her eyes with a grin and took a large, exaggerated breath. “Hmmm…… I’m sensing……” There was a large pause before she finally opened an eye and looked at them. “Nothing.”

Caroline groaned.

Bonnie shrugged with a nonchalant smile. “Sorry, Caroline. I tried.”

Caroline looked at her sardonically. “I’m sure you did.”

Angela chuckled and tugged on her hand. “Alright, I think that’s enough lurking. Wouldn’t want him to turn around and see a bunch of weirdos staring at his apparently hot back now, would we?”

“No,” said her very amused sister, “we wouldn’t.” She grabbed Bonnie’s arm and started leading her towards class.

Caroline rolled her eyes and followed suit. “Fiiine… He does have a really hot back, though…”

 

It was the second class of the day and Angela already wanted to claw her face off. The work they had to do was relatively easy in her opinion, but the anxiety that came with possibly meeting Stefan freaking Salvatore of all people at some point during the day but not knowing exactly when was beginning to put her on edge.

And then history rolled around.

She and Bonnie had arrived to find Elena already in her seat, face noticeably pink. Angela shifted her gaze onto the desk she always sat at and felt her heart stop when she saw who was sitting behind it.

Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore had been handsome, yes, but the man that captured her gaze left her positively floored.

The man that she knew was Stefan Salvatore had a face that would make a model cry. Relatively similar to his brother in that regard, except she wasn’t as stressed out as she was the day she met Damon and she was able to fully appreciate his good looks. His jawline was as sharp as a knife and his lips were pink and full. Their edges naturally curled upward, and she could only imagine how dashing he looked when he smiled. His nose was straight and his cheekbones were high, and by the time she finally got to his kind-looking, bright green eyes she could almost think again.

“Whoa…” she heard Bonnie whisper breathlessly and didn’t even have to look at her to know that she’d seen him too.

She swallowed dryly. “Agreed.”

They looked at each other’s flustered face just as Mr. Tanner entered the classroom.

“Alright!” He exclaimed with a clap of his hands. “Get in your seats, people. It’s finally time to learn about the state you live in.”

With one last shared glance, she and Bonnie hurried off to their seats. Angela tried her best to keep any blushing to a minimum, but when she was stood next to her desk and he looked up at her with a warm, inviting smile, her cheeks felt as cold as the sun.

 

“Did you see Hot Back Guy!?” Caroline whisper-yelled during lunch. “He sat next to me in Geometry! I almost had a heart attack!”

“He sat behind me in History,” she shook her head. “It should be illegal to be that pretty.”

“You see, Elena?” Bonnie gestured towards Angela. “Even ‘Mrs. Looks Don’t Matter’ admits he’s gorgeous.”

But I also know every single thing about him. She shrugged. “Hey, just ‘cause I don’t think they matter doesn’t mean I can’t recognize when they’re blatantly impeccable.”

Elena rolled her eyes and stabbed a piece of broccoli. “Oh, okay, fine, so he’s a little pretty. What’s it matter?”

“This could be good for you!” Bonnie said, hope clear in her eyes. “He was totally shooting you looks. Going out with him could help your life go back to normal.”

You sure about that, Bon?

“Heyyy,” Caroline whined, “who says Elena gets to have him?”

“Oh, right, my bad,” said Bonnie. “Angie’s here, too.” She shrugged with a mischievous smile. “I guess they could just flip a coin.”

Caroline’s mouth dropped open and she let out an indignant noise that made the rest of them burst out laughing.

“Hey, um, can I sit here?”

Angela looked up to see Tyler, lunch tray in hand and looking extremely out of his element. She, Elena, and Bonnie all turned to look at Caroline, who bit her lip nervously.

After a moment she released it with a sigh. “Okay.”

Tyler gave them a smile that was almost relieved and sat down between Bonnie and Angela.

And then there was silence.

I should say something, shouldn’t I?

She finally cleared her throat. “Sooo… when are you two gonna talk about your breakup?”

Elena turned to her, eyes wide. “Angela!”

She shrugged. “What? They need to have this conversation sooner or later; I’m tired of feeling like I need to choose between them.”

“You don’t-”

“A, that’s not-”

Caroline and Tyler glanced at each other and stopped talking.

Tyler cleared his throat. “Uhh… You can go first.”

“No!” Caroline said too loud and quickly calmed her tone. “No. You go first. Really.”

“Okaaay… well, uh, I was just gonna say: that’s not true. You don’t have to choose between us, A, you’re our best friend.”

“Yeah!” Caroline motioned towards him. “That’s… That’s what I was gonna say, too. I’m sorry if I made you feel that way…”

Angela raised an eyebrow. “You did. You do. So please, for everyone’s sake – including your own – have an honest, open conversation with each other. Soon.

Tyler wouldn’t meet her eye and Caroline looked thoroughly reprimanded.

“Yes, Mom…”

 

“Hey,” Elena approached her after school, “you wanna come visit Mom and Dad with me?”

Angela shut her locker and turned to look at her. “Yeah, sure. Jenna texted me saying she picked Jeremy up, so we can drive straight there if you want.”

Elena nodded with a gentle smile. “Sounds good.”

 

“Sooo,” Angela adopted a conspiratorial tone, “talk to Hot Back Guy at all?”

She groaned. “Not you too.”

Angela laughed and turned onto Lemmon Street. “Hey, I’m your sister. It’s my job to tease you about boys.”

Elena let out a sigh. “His name is Stefan. And no. I did not talk to him.”

That’s about to change reeaal quick. She didn’t voice her thoughts however, and silence filled the car for the rest of the drive.

Mystic Falls was lovely in September. The days were warm but not unbearable, and the nights were chilly at worst. They passed the street Caroline lived on and she thought, not for the first time, about how bizarre this new life of hers was. Bizarre and dangerous.

Bizarre and limited.

She couldn’t remember many personal details from her previous life. Her name, appearance, her birthplace, and what her family was like were all things that escaped her. But the experiences she had? Those she remembered. She remembered visiting France and Sicily and Austria; seeing a man propose to his girlfriend on top of the Eiffel Tower; watching Rigoletto from one of the boxes of the Teatro Massimo; eating ice cream in Vienna. She even knew that she lived in England for quite some time, but couldn’t remember exactly where.

But Angela Gilbert… Angela had never left America in her entire life.

Maybe once we catch a break we can travel the world for a bit. She smiled at the thought and parked in front of the Mystic Falls Cemetery.

Elena hopped out, and as Angela turned the engine off she could see her sister closing her eyes and breathing in deeply. Angela left the car with a mischievous grin on her face and took a loud breath.

“Ahhh, the scent of dead people. Love it.” She slammed the door shut.

Elena turned to look at her like she was insane. “Hilarious.”

Angela chuckled and walked through the large, iron archway. She could hear her sister’s footsteps following her.

Walking through the garden of graves, Angela tried to look for the Salvatore brothers as subtly as she possibly could. Other than a handful of ordinary visitors however, she couldn’t see a single sign of human – or vampire – life.

Elena sighed and sat down against a statue when they reached their parents’ gravestone, and Angela looked up at it curiously. A woman that looked more like a goddess was standing with her hands pressed against her cheek and her eyes closed as though in sleep.

Pretty…

Angela sat down on a bench not too far away and grabbed the pencil and sketchbook that she kept inside her bag.

Now… What am I meant to do first? She made a small noise of remembrance as she recalled Tyler telling her to start by sketching the basic shapes. Drawing a statue can’t be too different from drawing a person, right? She put her pencil to paper and was halfway through sketching the details of its face when she heard a loud caw.

She looked over in the direction of the noise and found a black crow resting on top of her parents’ gravestone.

Oh, lord…

She shifted her eyes towards her sister, who had paused in her writing and was looking up at it skeptically. It cawed again and once more after that, and flapped its wings.

“Okay,” she heard her mumble and saw her wave at it. “Hi, bird. That’s not… creepy or anything…”

Angela would have snickered if she didn’t know exactly what was happening. The fog that began to crawl across the ground seemed to come from absolutely nowhere, and she felt a shiver run down her spine.

“Okaaay,” she said as she put her sketchbook back into her bag, “that’s kinda creepy…”

Elena looked nervous as her eyes followed the fog that was quickly surrounding her. The crow cawed and gave another flap of its wings. Her sister gulped audibly and stood with a start. The crow cawed.

“Shoo!” Elena shouted as she anxiously tried to drive it away. It flapped its shiny black wings one last time and flew off. She straightened up and let out a relieved breath. “That’s what I thought…”

Angela finished putting her things away and stood up. She saw the crow land on the pretty statue and tried to warn her sister just as she started turning around. “Uh- Lena-”

It was too late however, and Elena came face to face with the crow. She startled backwards with a gasp. It cawed loudly and Angela hurried next to her. Elena carefully bent down to retrieve her bag, never once taking her eyes off the bird.

“Come on, Angie,” she said. “Let’s go home.”

Angela gave the surrounding area another quick look-around but couldn’t see Damon anywhere. She nodded, beginning to feel a bit nervous herself.

Elena’s clammy hand grabbed her own and started dragging her towards the entrance of the cemetery. Before the path could turn out of sight, she slowed down and looked back to where the crow was. She breathed in a shaky gasp, and Angela glanced back curiously.

Aaand there he is. The goosebumps that erupted on her skin nearly hurt.

Standing partially hidden behind an angel statue, Angela could see the silhouette of a man. The fog obscured his figure too much for her to be able to make out any discerning features, but she knew that it was Damon Salvatore.

Angela tugged on her sister’s hand. “Let’s go, Elena.”

She didn’t need to be told twice, as she all but popped Angela’s arm out of its socket with how quickly she started running.

Angela struggled to keep up and watch her feet as they zipped between the trees and shrubbery that were scattered throughout the graveyard. They came to a decline, and the speed at which they were running caused Elena to trip and fall when the ground became level. Angela was barely able to grab onto the tree her sister had fallen against, and she saved herself from being dragged down with her.

She let out a hiss as pain erupted in her palm. I think I grazed it.

“Slow down, you’re gonna get us killed,” her voice was tight, and her sister scrambled back up.

Elena turned to look at her before her wide eyes spotted something just behind her shoulder. She gasped, and Angela whirled around…

…and immediately sighed in relief.

Stefan.

His worried eyes darted between them. “You okay?”

Elena’s face relaxed as she swallowed to try and stop her panting. She nodded quickly and glanced back in the direction they’d come from. “Were you following us?”

“No. I, uh, I just saw you fall.” His gaze shifted onto Angela and he furrowed his brows. “Did you hurt your hand?”

She tore her eyes off of his face – this is so goddamn weird – and glanced down at her palm. It looked red and irritated, and she could see the marks where the rough bark had scratched her skin.

She grimaced. “Ah. Yeah.” She looked back up at him with a tense smile. “Nothing a first aid kit won’t fix.”

He nodded at her and Elena spoke up.

“So, um, what are you doing in a cemetery?” She chuckled breathlessly. “It’s not exactly a hotspot around here.”

“I’m visiting,” he said. “I have, uh, family here.”

“Oh.” Her sister looked mildly ashamed. “Right. Wow. Sorry. Tactless. I-it’s the fog. It’s making me foggy. And then back there,” she pointed, “there was this- this bird, and it was all very Hitchcock? For a second?”

Angela was fighting to suppress her grin. Stefan wasn’t fighting his smile at all, and it seemed to be affecting Elena quite a bit. He does look dashing when he smiles.

“Th-that is the bird movie, right? The Hitchcock…” She trailed off and huffed an embarrassed laugh. “I’m Elena.”

“I’m Stefan.”

Elena smiled bashfully and shrugged. “I know. We have History together.”

She very nearly rolled her eyes.

Stefan nodded obliviously. “And English, and French.”

Her sister continued to get lost in his eyes as she nodded minutely. “Right…”

Should I go? I feel like a third wheel… God, he’s gorgeous.

“Uh… You’ve got a…” Stefan leaned over and gently worked a leaf out of Elena’s hair. She’d yet to take her eyes off of him.

Quick. Say something. This is awkward.

“So! Stefan. Your surname sounds familiar… you say you have family here… Are you by chance a founding family member?”

Stefan dropped the leaf onto the ground and looked at her. “Uh, yeah, Zach’s my uncle. I don’t know if you know him.”

Elena gave a gentle nod, her smile intact. “Yeah, he used to push us on the swing when we were little.” It seemed nearly painful for her to turn and look at her. “Remember him, Angie?”

More than you know. “Of course I remember him! He’s always been nice to us.”

Stefan stared back at Elena for a moment before his eyebrows furrowed. “Did you hurt yourself?”

Elena blinked in surprise. “What?”

“Did you hurt yourself?”

“Oh… um, I don’t know…” Elena walked over to a tree stump and rested her foot on it. She pulled her pant leg up and Angela’s pulse quickened at the sight that was uncovered. Shit, I knew this was probably gonna happen, but that is a lot of blood.

“Oh my God, Elena, we need to get you home!”

Her sister hissed as she looked at her wound. “That is not pretty.”

There was movement in the corner of Angela’s eye, and she turned to see Stefan facing away from them. When he spoke, his voice was shaky and clipped.

“She’s right. You should go. Take care of that.”

Angela affixed her gaze onto her sister and saw her rolling her pant leg down.

Elena shook her head. “Really, it’s…” Her voice trailed off as her head turned to look at him. “…Nothing.”

Angela glanced back, and where Stefan had stood there was now only empty air.

 

“Hey, hey, not so hard,” Elena hissed.

Angela gave her an apologetic smile. “Sorry.”

She placed her ointment-covered finger back onto her sister’s cut, making sure to press lighter this time. Elena sighed and ran a hand through her hair.

When she was done smearing ointment on her sister’s wound, Angela reached back into the first aid kit and grabbed a bandage.

Elena broke the silence. “You don’t think he was a… you know, do you?”

Angela felt her chest fill with pride. My sister… She glanced up at her as she covered the cut. “What makes you say that?” She patted her thigh. “All set.”

Elena retracted her leg from its place on Angela’s lap and set it back down onto the floor. “He freaked out the sight of my blood… he seemed to teleport away…” She gently shook her head. “It would be my luck, wouldn’t it?”

Angela frowned. “Hey, even if he is a vampire, he seemed nice. Dad was wrong, you know… Not all of them are evil.”

Elena stared at her, clearly worried. “Do you know that for sure?”

She nodded firmly. “Yes. Of course there are some that kill for sport and all, but… vampirism doesn’t automatically make you a monster. It just heightens what’s already inside of you; the bad, yeah, but also the very, very good.”

Her sister relaxed for a moment before her eyebrows furrowed. “Wait, didn’t Dad need to tell you about vampires? How do you know all of this?”

She gave a half-smile and shrugged. “I always knew. I just needed him to tell you and Jeremy.”

Elena’s mouth dropped open. She pushed Angela’s shoulder with a breathless laugh. “I didn’t know you were the evil twin.”

Her half-smile grew into a grin. “And don’t you forget it.”

Their laughter was interrupted by Jeremy trotting down the stairs.

“Jerm-worm!” Angela stood up and brought him into a quick hug. “How was school today?”

He moved his hand in a so-so motion. They both sat down next to Elena, who immediately ruffled his hair.

“Does that mean it was boring?”

He gave a giant nod, making the girls chuckle. He pointed at the first aid kit and looked to them, question clear in his eyes.

“Lena scratched up her leg,” said Angela. “And like the wonderful sister I am-” Elena let out a snort “-I helped patch her up.”

He made an ‘oh’ shape with his mouth.

She saw Elena’s eyes widen. “I almost forgot! Jer, how’ve you been doing with sign language?”

He ducked his head and grinned sheepishly.

Angela glared at him. “Don’t tell me you forgot to study again!”

His sheepish grin only widened.

Elena stood with a sigh. “Look, how about we all do it together? Every day at 5 PM, starting tomorrow, we get together at the dining table and have a group study session.” She smacked the outside of her thighs in a shrug. “Might be more fun that way.”

Angela signed the word ‘agree’ and looked at Jeremy with a raised eyebrow. He rolled his eyes and nodded.

Elena smiled. “Great. Now… I’m gonna go do some homework before me and Angie go to the Grill.” She playfully narrowed her eyes at Angela. “You should do the same.”

She rolled her eyes and stood with a groan. “Yeah, yeah… Just know that I blame our sister for taking away our quality time, Jer.”

He grinned and signed ‘agree.’

Elena lunged at him and started tickling his stomach. “Smartass!”

Angela turned and walked up the stairs, smiling widely at the sound of her brother’s bright, innocent laughter.

 

She’d just finished putting on some lip gloss when she heard a knock sound from the ground floor.

Now who could that be?

She decided she didn’t care enough to get up and check, so she busied herself with making sure that her newly-applied makeup looked good. Satisfied that it did, she started putting her things away.

Another knock sounded, but this time from behind her bedroom door.

“Angie, are you ready?” asked her sister.

She grabbed her purse and stood up to open the door. There Elena stood, and Angela motioned up and down herself as if to ask “what do you think?”

Her sister gave an appreciative nod and smiled at her. “You look good.”

She flipped her wavy black hair cockily. “When do I not?”

Elena smirked. “When you’re being arrogant.”

Angela laughed as they descended the stairs, and was immediately surprised at the sight of Stefan waiting outside the door.

Oh, yeah. I totally forgot.

Elena looked at him oddly. “You didn’t have to stay outside, you know.”

He gave an awkward smile and looked around the inside of the house. “I, uh, didn’t wanna intrude.”

Her sister shot her a glance as if to say ‘See? Totally a vampire,’ but instead said “I hope it’s okay if Stefan comes with us.”

Angela smiled at him warmly. “Of course! It’d suck for the new kid to have no friends.”

Elena gave her an utterly flat look.

This is going to be fun.

 

“So, you were born in Mystic Falls?”

They were sat at a large table amidst the busy, jovial crowd of the Mystic Grill, and the girls had seemingly made it their mission to dig up any and all information they could about one Stefan Salvatore.

He hummed affirmatively and set his drink down. “And moved when I was still young.”

Caroline had had her turn, so now it was Bonnie’s. “Parents?”

His gaze flicked downward. “My parents passed away.”

A silence fell over the group.

“…I’m sorry,” Elena breathed and it seemed to Angela like she wanted to hold his hand. “Any siblings?”

He gave a mildly amused smile. “None that I talk to. I live with my uncle.”

I have to do it. I have to poke it with a stick.

“Then you do have siblings?”

“Uh… yeah. A brother.” He grimaced apologetically. “Sorry, I don’t really like talking about him.”

“I’m sure Angela didn’t mean to pry,” Elena said, and shot her a glare.

Caroline sat up straight. “So, Stefan, if you’re new, then you don’t know about the party tomorrow.”

Bonnie stirred her milkshake and nodded. “It’s a back to school thing at the Falls.”

Stefan turned his head to look at Elena. “Are you going?”

Her sister looked at a loss for words, her face beginning to turn pink.

“Of course she is.”

Angela, Caroline, and Bonnie all glanced at each other as they spoke in unison.

Elena bit her lip in amusement, eyes still locked on Stefan. “Of course I am.”

Angela saw Tyler approaching them from where he was at the pool table.

“Hey!” She patted the empty seat next to her. “Sit down; meet Stefan.”

Tyler did a bro handshake thing with him and said “Hey, man. I’m Tyler.”

He nodded with a smile. “Hey. Stefan.”

Tyler sat down next to Angela. “I would’ve come over sooner, but I was proving a point to Matt Donovan,” he snorted. “Thought he could beat me… I kicked his friggin’ ass.”

Elena giggled and furrowed her eyebrows. “Yeah, I-I thought I saw you two talking smack at some point.”

Angela pouted. “Damn, I wish I’d been there.” She shot Stefan a playful stink-eye. “Why do you have to be so gosh-darn interesting?”

He smiled and breathed out in amusement. “Sorry, I’ll… try to tone it down next time.”

“No,” said her sister. She gave him a gentle smile. “No, you’re perfect the way you are.”

 

Angela hated alarm clocks.

This time, she didn’t have to wait for her sister’s prompting before blindly and frantically shutting it off. She flopped flat on her back and let out sigh that was more a whine.

She heard Elena’s sleepy chuckle and the ruffling of bedsheets as she moved around. “Good morning to you, too.”

“Shut up,” Angela groaned and covered her face with a pillow.

Her sister’s laugh was bright and happy and filled her chest with warmth. Try as she might, she couldn’t help but smile.

 

“The Battle of Willow Creek took place right at the end of the war in our very own Mystic Falls.”

Angela could feel anger slowly building inside of her as she remembered what William fucking Tanner would say to her kind, sweet sister today. He better not. I’ll get to him before Damon ever has the chance.

“How many casualties resulted in this battle?” His gaze settled on Bonnie and he nodded at her. “Ms. Bennett?”

She looked like a deer caught in headlights and nervously glanced around her. “Ummm… a lot?” She gave an awkward smile. “I’m not sure, but like, a whole lot.”

Tanner smiled meanly. “Cute becomes dumb in an instant, Ms. Bennett.”

Bonnie looked guilty and embarrassed, and Angela thought she would crack a tooth with how hard she clenched her jaw.

He rested his gaze on Matt. “Mr. Donovan,” he drawled out. “Would you like to take this opportunity to overcome your embedded jock stereotype?”

Smartass. Her thoughts were far less sweet than her sister’s words had been just yesterday.

He gave a half-smile and his voice was nonchalant when he spoke. “It’s okay, Mr. Tanner. I’m cool with it.”

A few chuckles broke out and she smirked small. Tanner hummed and nodded sarcastically. His gaze fell in front and to the left of her, on her sister, and Angela prayed for his sake that he wouldn’t say anything stupid.

“Elena? Surely you can enlighten us about one of the town’s most significantly historical events?”

She could see her shake her head. “I’m sorry, I… I don’t know.”

His eyes were hard and he spoke low. “I was willing to be lenient last year for obvious reasons, Elena… but the personal excuses ended with summer break.”

She felt the blood in her veins turn cold in fury. You’re dead.

“Perhaps you should ask me, Mr. Tanner,” she said kindly. “I was the one that found our parents’ mangled bodies, but history’s still a passion of mine… in spite of your efforts.”

There were significantly more chuckles this time. She could see one student putting his fist up to his mouth. Elena turned to look at her with a disbelieving, open-mouthed smile.

William fucking Tanner narrowed his beady little eyes at her and smiled cynically. He walked back to lean against his desk. “Or perhaps I should give you detention. Second day of school and you’re already making trouble, oooohh,” he hissed, “not a good look, Gilbert.”

Brave man; picking on children.

She smiled at him sweetly. “My special treat to you, Tanner. I know how bored you get without the attention of pretty, underage girls.”

The accusation that he was a pedophile was completely unfounded, but it made him clench his jaw in anger and so she didn’t care. The chuckles became proper laughs, and she could hear Bonnie’s quiet, amused “Oh my God.”

His eyes were furious. “Alright, alright!” he yelled out. “Settle down!” He reached into his desk and took out a sheet of paper. “Congratulations, Angela. You just made plans for the rest of the week.”

She tilted her head and grinned. “Wouldn’t miss them for the world.”

There was relative silence as the class calmed down, and Tanner tried again. “Can anyone tell me the casualties of this very important battle? Anyone?

“There were 346 casualties,” she heard Stefan say from behind her. “Unless you’re counting local civilians.”

Tanner clapped his hands together and pointed at him. “That’s correct! Mr…?”

“Salvatore.”

“Salvatore, hm? Any relation to the town’s original settlers?”

He seemed to hesitate for a moment. “Distant.”

Tanner nodded and walked in front of his desk. “Well, very good. Except, of course, there were no civilian casualties in this battle.”

Give it to him, Stef.

“Actually,” he said and it sounded like he leaned back in his chair, “there were 27, sir. Confederate soldiers… they fired on the church, believing it to be housing weapons. They were wrong… It was a night of great loss.” He cleared his throat. “The founder’s archives are, uh, stored in civil hall if you’d like to brush up on your facts… Mr. Tanner.”

That sparked a new wave of giggles to spread through the room, and Angela couldn’t stop herself from joining in.

 

Elena and Bonnie crowded her as soon as they left the classroom.

“Oh my God, Angela!” Elena’s face was lit up by her bright, bright smile. “I can’t believe you talked back to him like that!”

“Seriously!” Bonnie was fighting a laugh. “Between you and Stefan…” she shook her head. “Maaan, Caroline and Tyler missed out big time.”

Angela bit her lip and bounced from the adrenaline rush that still hadn’t fully gone down. “Seriously. Ugh, I just wanted to rip his throat out- oh hey, Stefan!”

Elena shot her a glare that was weakened majorly by her ensuing laugh.

Stefan stopped next to them and looked at her with a smile. “Hey. That was…” he looked down and chuckled silently, “that was pretty good, what you said back there.”

She shrugged with a grin. “Tanner’s a grade-A asshole, and no one talks about my family like that. He had it coming.” Is that what you’ll say when he’s dead, as well? The fact that the thought of him lifeless on the ground didn’t bother her at all made her feel odd. “What you said was pretty good, too.”

He nodded in thanks, looking amused.

Elena let out another giggle. “Well thank you… both of you. Hey, we should get to class, but, um, Stefan,” she glanced at him sweetly, “I’ll see you tonight, okay?”

He nodded, smile still in place. “See you tonight.”

She linked her arm with Angela’s. “Now come on. We need to tell Ty-dye what my staunch protectors did.”

 

Angela was in the bathroom, contemplating just how much she cared about Vicki Donovan.

She didn’t have any feelings for her either way, she decided, nor did she have any feelings for her brother, Matt, but Elena and Tyler considered him a friend. Vicki getting hurt would undoubtedly hurt him which would in turn hurt them, and that, she decided, she didn’t like the sound of.

But if I don’t give Damon a plaything he might get bored and go after someone I care about… She sighed as she finished applying cat-eye eyeliner, and reached for her mascara.

They’d hate me if they found out… She didn’t like the sound of that, either. But some sacrifices, she decided, had to be made for the greater good.

She put on some nude pink lipstick. And who’s to say you know what the greater good is?

She made sure everything was applied well. Regardless… I’m the only one with a shot at achieving it.

Maybe it was already achieved. Maybe you screwed everything up already.

I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that, or else I won’t be able to keep going.

Face it, Angela… You’re a curse. Your parents suffered more than they would have because of you. Jeremy’s a mute because of you. You’re alone in this world… Just like you were in the last one.

She jumped back from the mirror and all but ran back into her and Elena’s room.

Her sister glanced up at her from where she was applying blush. “Hey… you okay?”

She nodded and forced a smile. “Yup! Ugh, I’m just so excited for tonight.”

Elena smiled and put her blusher away. “Honestly? Me too.”

Angela sat down on her bed. “Really, now?” she drawled out suggestively. “Does a certain handsome Salvatore have anything to do with that?”

She huffed and took out her lip gloss. “Isn’t this what you and the girls wanted?”

“Hey, I’m not complaining,“ she smiled. “It’s nice to see you like this.”

Elena finished applying her makeup and stood up to grab her purse. She turned to look at her happily. “Well then what are you waiting for? Let’s go.”

 

Angela could recognize Caroline’s piercing shriek anywhere.

“Oh my God, you made it!” she exclaimed happily, blonde curls bouncing as she rocked Elena back and forth.

Her sister laughed. “We couldn’t miss it, could we?”

Caroline pulled back and looked at her sternly. “Not if you wanted to wake up tomorrow.”

Angela giggled. “I think what Lena meant to say was ‘we wouldn’t miss it.’ You look hot as hell, Care-bear.”

Caroline beamed at her. “Thanks! You look super hot, too!” Her gaze turned mischievous. “Now, what do you say we strut on over with our hot selves and find some guys to party with?”

She rolled her eyes with a grin. “You go ahead. I don’t really hook up with strangers that could murder me come morning.”

“Elena!” Bonnie called out as she neared. “Angie. You’re here.”

“Hey, Bonnie,” her sister greeted her warmly.

“Hey,” said Angela, “um, I’m gonna go drink some alcohol and forget that school exists for a couple of hours. You guys have fun.”

Elena nodded at her. “Alright. Try not to do anything stupid.”

She snorted as she walked away. “Which twin had to cover your ass when you stole Dad’s tequila again?”

She could hear her sister’s shouting from behind her. “You said you’d never talk about that!”

She grabbed a beer from the cooler a good ways away from the bonfire and scanned the crowd for Vicki Donovan. The sound of MGMT’s Kids was almost deafening in her ears and made her realize that she was standing only a few feet away from the stereo.

She walked away, closer to the woods, and heard someone calling her name. She turned to look at the source of the voice.

“Hey,” she smiled. “What’s up, Ty- oh my God!”

He didn’t give her time to finish talking before he picked her up and spun her around. She let out a squeak and wriggled in his grasp.

“What are you doing, you crazy bastard!? Let me down!” she tried to keep her tone firm, but her laughter ruined the effect.

He set her down with a loud, happy sigh and grinned. “Just greeting Mystic Falls’ resident badass and stander-upper to teachers.”

She narrowed her eyes at him and his giddy-looking self. “You’re drunk, aren’t you?”

He motioned around them happily. “It’s a party, Angie-wangie. I’m supposed to be drunk.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Angie-wangie, huh? That’s a new one.”

He booped her on the nose. She blinked.

“Alright, Tyler, I think you need to sit down for a bit,” she said with a giggle and led him over to a bench.

“You’re not my mom,” he groaned but sat down regardless. He turned to look at her wickedly. “You’d make a hell of a MILF though.”

Her mouth dropped open and she could feel her cheeks beginning to burn. She smacked his chest. “Tyler Lockwood, what has gotten into you?”

“Alcohol, wangie… Alcohol.”

She snorted and took a swig of her beer. “Clearly.”

Her eyes scanned the crowd once more. She had to admit, the kids in charge had decorated the place beautifully. Golden hanging lights were placed everywhere and made to look like stars, the wooden gazebo looked warm and inviting, and the bonfire that they were sitting next to seemed to be dancing to the beat of the music.

“You haven’t seen Vicki Donovan by chance, have you?”

Tyler looked confused. “Uhhhh, no? Why would I?”

Her heart dropped in realization. Who says it’s going to be Vicki? It was Tyler who dragged her into the woods in the first place, and he’s sitting right beside you.

She stood up with a start.

“Hey, um, I’m gonna go.” Her tone sounded nearly frantic to her ears, and she tried to calm down. She shot Tyler a smile. “I just remembered something.”

He furrowed his eyebrows in concern. “You okay?”

She nodded as happily as she could. “Yeah! Yeah, everything’s fine!” She leaned over and gave him her beer. “Have fun, okay?”

“Yeah. Okay. Call me if you get in trouble or anything,” he said, still visibly worried.

She smiled a bit more genuinely. “Of course, Ty. Thank you.”

Glancing to where her sister and Stefan were now talking, she made for the woods in their exact opposite direction.

Maybe Elena and Tyler don’t need to get hurt, after all.

The woods were densely populated, and she only had to be twenty feet inside of them for most of the golden light to disappear.

How good is Stefan’s hearing? Didn’t he say once that it was worse than Damon’s because of his diet? She wasn’t willing to take that chance, however, and so she kept walking.

What am I even gonna say? “Hellooo? Mr. Big Bad Salvatooore? I know you can easily murder me, but I just wanna taaalk!” Fucking idiot.

A twig snapped behind her and she whirled around. She swallowed dryly. Was that an animal? Fuck. No. This is a thing they do, I remember this. If I turn around he’ll be right there, won’t he?

“If that was you, Damon, I’d kindly ask you not to eat me!”

Hearing her heart beating in her ears, she slowly turned around, and…...

……nothing. There was nothing there.

And then the wind got knocked out of her.

She gasped, her right hand instinctively reaching up to try and pry away whatever was squeezing her throat shut. She managed to keep her eyes open long enough to see two cold blue eyes staring back at her.

“D… Da-” It was hard to talk, and her left hand joined her right in order to try and get him away from her.

Wait… My left hand.

She shoved her left wrist as hard as she could against his hand and she saw the skin begin to sizzle and burn.

In her fight to keep her eyes open, she could see his face twisting into a pained grimace. She pressed her wrist against him even harder and he finally pulled away from her, crying out through gritted teeth.

She dropped onto the ground and brought her hands up to her throat. She coughed and took a loud breath. Fuck, can I talk? He didn’t crush my vocal chords, did he?

“Shit,” she breathed, and felt relieved at her voice coming out normal… if not a bit hoarse.

She could see him holding the hand that she had burnt and looking at her in bewilderment.

“How do you know my name?”

She swallowed painfully. I need some tea or something. “I never forgot it.” She showed him her left wrist. “Vervain tattoo. Your compulsion didn’t work.”

He flashed to her eye level and grabbed her face. He turned it this side and that until finally he let go.

“Angela.”

She rubbed at her cheek. Damn, if vampires aren’t strong. “The one and only.”

“How did you know I was here?”

She sighed and massaged her aching throat. “There’s a lot I know that I probably shouldn’t… We can talk all about it later. For now, let’s just say that I can see into the future, okay?”

His cold blue eyes were narrowed and she finally had a chance to look him over properly.

He was gorgeous like his brother, but in a completely different way. There was a clear resemblance in their coloring and bone structure, but where Stefan’s hair was very clearly brown, Damon’s looked to be black under the low light of the moon. Where Stefan had an almost boyish charm to him, Damon’s charm was pure, unadulterated sex appeal. His eyebrows were arched, and his lips were thinner than his brother’s, and though her mind wasn’t the dirtiest in the world, she couldn’t help but imagine them twisted in a sexy smirk.

He stood and yanked her up.

Jesus Christ, I’m not a ragdoll.

His hands were still firmly around her biceps. “Why did you come here? If you knew that I’d be here, if you knew how easily I could kill you, then why did you come?”

“Because I want to help you, okay? Now stop jerking me around like that, I’m still human.”

His eyes narrowed momentarily and he roughly let her go. She walked back to lean against the tree she’d been pinned to.

“Thank you,” she said and started combing her fingers through her hair.

They spent some time in silence, Damon simply staring at her and Angela making sure that she was okay. He’d crossed his arms, head tilted down and eyes looking at her dangerously.

Finally, he spoke. “What do you mean you want to help me?”

She sighed.

It’s now or never.

“I want to help you open the tomb.”

Chapter Text

“I want to help you open the tomb.”

There was silence.

Finally, he let out a laugh. “Seriously?”

She blinked. “Um… Yes?”

He nodded, seemingly amused. “Right, right, okay.”

He flashed in front of her, making her flinch. He placed his hand around her neck once more, but didn’t apply any pressure.

“Now tell me the truth,” he said menacingly. “How do you know about the tomb?”

She went to speak but he hushed her with an “ah, ah, ah!”

“Because you can’t honestly expect me to believe you’re psychic, right? I mean, I know you’re not a witch or you would’ve done something by now, so,” he applied a bit of pressure, “either tell me the truth or this time I’ll snap your neck. Capiche?”

God, fuck, of course that wouldn’t have worked.

But she thought she knew what might.

“Katherine sent me.”

The shift in his attitude was instantaneous. His face went slack and his fingers twitched around her neck, and for a second she thought he would kill her for telling such a blatant lie.

“What?” he breathed.

Guess we’re going with plan D…

“W-well technically this vampire she knew sent me, but on her behalf. She couldn’t very well reach me directly, being in the tomb and all, hah, b-but um… from what I know, before they rounded everyone up in 1864, Katherine could tell that something bad was going to happen. She didn’t know what exactly, but she wasn’t willing to take that chance, and so she contacted an old friend of hers.

“She told her to come to Mystic Falls once the founding family members of the time had died and just… drop in every once in a while. Apparently she’d already been feeding you and your brother her blood, so she told her that if she ever sees either of you around to… watch over you. To make sure you’re okay, but to stay in the shadows. And… well… as it turns out, the vampire caught wind of your plan and I was the first person she saw afterwards, and…” she showed him her tattoo, “I couldn’t really be compelled, but threatening my family did the trick.”

He looked utterly bewildered, but… Is that a glimmer of hope I see?

“What was the vampire’s name?”

“She just went by A.

After a moment he grimaced, and when he spoke his voice was shaky. “If you are lying to me, I swear I will rip your heart out.”

She shook her head vehemently. “I’m not lying, I… A didn’t want me to tell you the truth. She wanted to keep her promise of staying in the shadows, but I don’t really feel like dying tonight, so…” She swallowed nervously. “I’m sorry I lied to you. Before.”

She could see his jaw working. Please, please, please don’t eat me.

He took his hand off of her. “How can you help? You’re human.”

And therefore will definitely have a bruise around my neck tomorrow… “How about we talk about that at the Mystic Grill? My throat hurts and some honeyed tea sounds wonderful right about now.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Fine.” He grabbed her by the arms. “Don’t. Move.”

They were gone before she could blink.

 

“Let me get this straight… Emily told her daughter about the deal we made?”

They were sat at a table in one of the far corners of the Grill in hopes of being noticed as little as possible.

Angela bit her lip, her hands wrapped around a warm mug of green tea. “From what I know, she wanted to make sure the talisman got into your hands.” She shrugged. “Keeping it a Bennett family secret apparently seemed like the best way to do that.”

He shook his head with a scowl. “Unbelievable…”

“Hey, it’s okay… Sheila Bennett lives here and she wants to adhere to Emily’s wishes.”

He crossed his arms on top of the table and leaned forward. “So then give me the necklace.”

She took a sip of tea. “I will.”

“Great!”

“If-”

“Of course…”

“-you swear to me that you won’t hurt the people I care about.”

He stared at her for a moment before smiling coldly. “Done. Now give me the necklace.”

She pursed her lips. “I wasn’t born yesterday, Damon. I’m going to get Sheila to create a… magical contract, for lack of a better term.”

“And what’s going to be in the fine print of this contract, exactly?”

She raised an eyebrow. “How about I get her to come over here and you can find out?”

He narrowed his eyes. “And here I thought we were becoming friends.”

She gave a gentle smirk. “I’m not giving you lip, Damon…” She took her phone out of her purse and noticed a missed call from Elena, but figured that this was more important. “It’s pretty late and she’s an older lady, but I learned long ago that she’s a huge night owl. I’m sure she’d be willing.”

He uncrossed his arms and sat back, regarding her thoughtfully. “You know, I could just – oh, I don’t know – chop your hand off and compel you.”

She looked at him admonishingly. “In a crowded place like this? You wouldn’t.”

His eyebrows twitched. “That’s why you wanted to come here. Not because your throat hurts.”

She moved her head in a so-so motion. “Well, my throat does hurt – which, thanks for that – but yes. No way was I gonna offer you a deal that could backfire like that in private.”

He smirked, and she found that her imagination hadn’t been too far off. “You know, that’s almost clever.”

She grinned. “Why thank you, Mr. Salvatore. I aim to please. Now…” she raised up her phone, “shall I?”

He let out a sigh that was half a groan. “If you or that Bennett witch try anything-”

“We won’t.” She smiled small. “Promise.”

He nodded. “Call her.”

And so she did. After a phone call filled with far too many “yes, Ms. Sheila; I’m sorry, Ms. Sheila”s, she had agreed to meet them in five minutes.

And then they waited…

And waited…

Jeez, this is awkward.

“Do you want anything to drink?”

He shot her a sarcastic smirk. “Think I’ll pass.”

She rolled her eyes. “Okaaay…”

“I do have a question, though.”

She took a sip of her tea and looked at him curiously.

“How long have you known this… A?”

She pretended to think. “She came to me in August. The 3rd, I think.”

He stared at her in that unsettling way of his. “Well your heart rate didn’t go up.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You think I’m lying?”

“Oh, I’m thinkin’ a loootta things, sweetheart.” He gave her another one of his cold smiles before his eyes caught something behind her.

She felt a pair of hands rest on her shoulders.

“I suggest we get on with this,” she heard Sheila say. “Unless you’d prefer to think yourself to an aneurism, vampire.”

She moved from behind her and sat perpendicular to them. Damon brought his hand up to his chest in mock offense.

“The vampire has a name, witch! I’m,” he scoffed, “why, I’m almost hurt that you don’t know it already.”

She sneered. “I know far more than I’d like to about you, Damon.” She turned to look at Angela sternly. “And you and I are going to have a serious talk about when it is and isn’t appropriate to approach ‘volatile’ vampires.”

Angela felt sheepish under her motherly, reprimanding gaze. “Yes, ma’am…”

“Now,” she took out a leaf of paper, “Angela and I have already written up a contract that seemed more than fair to the both of us.” She slid it over to Damon. “If you would like to make any amendments, now would be the time.”

He picked it up and started scanning it over, his ice-blue eyes beginning to look more and more outraged as he read on. He looked up at them and waved it in the air.

“I can’t hurt any of these people or I’ll die?” He tossed it down onto the table and stood up with a scoff. “Yeah. No thanks. I’ll find the necklace on my own.”

“No, you won’t.” Sheila said, looking up at him dangerously.

Damon quickly fell back into his chair, but it didn’t seem to be of his own volition. He looked at them with wide eyes that settled on Angela. “You said she wouldn’t try anything.”

I made no promises, vampire,” Sheila spoke lowly. “I don’t think you quite understand the situation you’ve found yourself in. Without us you’ll never get the talisman which means you’ll never get your lover back; no matter how hard you try. You don’t have the upper hand here, and I’d kindly ask you to stop acting like you do. Now… I ask you again: do you have any amendments you would like to make?”

She could see him clench his jaw. “How about the part where I die?”

Sheila raised an eyebrow. “What about that would you like to change exactly?”

I think I have a pretty good idea…

“The part. Where I die.”

Yup.

She saw Sheila’s expression shift and Damon’s eyes went wide. He clutched at his head let out a quiet, pained cry.

She wouldn’t honestly…? Her heartbeat quickened. “Sheila, someone could-”

“Hush, child.” The edge of her lips curled up into a smirk. “If he screams he’ll expose his little secret. You won’t scream, will you, Damon?”

He certainly looked like he wanted to. He looked up at Sheila and spoke hoarsely. “Stop.”

“Sign the contract.”

His head was shivering from the effort it took to keep quiet. “Okay,” he whispered. “Okay, I will- I- stop-”

Sheila’s lips twitched upward and Damon’s head stopped shivering. He took a loud breath and rested his head down onto the table with a relieved groan.

Jesus fucking Christ, what was that!?

“What was that?” Angela looked at Sheila, eyes wide.

She met her gaze smugly. “Persuasion.”

Angela looked around them, and when she didn’t notice anybody staring she let out a nervous giggle.

Remind me never to piss her off…

“That was dirty,” Damon groaned.

“Because you would have played clean…” Sheila drawled out. “Now,” she slid the contract back to him, “I need a few drops of your blood on here. Think you could manage that?”

He shot her the nastiest glare Angela had ever seen in her life and nicked a thumb with his nail. His gaze shifted onto herself and he held his finger above the paper.

Drip, drip, drip went his blood, but all she could see was Damon’s hard, icy eyes boring into her. She gulped. He probably wants to murder me, doesn’t he? He pulled his finger back and menacingly licked up the excess blood. She felt a shiver rack her spine. Definitely wants to murder me.

“Thank you, Damon,” Sheila said, and Angela finally tore her eyes off of him.

Sheila looked at her, considerably kinder than she did Damon. “I’m going to need some of your blood too, sweetie pie. Here,” she brandished a small, sharp-looking dagger, “only a bit. Don’t want you hurting yourself too bad.”

She took it with a deep breath and made a small slice on the pad of her index finger. She winced. That hurt more than I thought it would.

Drip, drip, drip went her blood too, and when she had shed an amount equal to Damon, she pulled it back and stuck it in her mouth.

“You know…” Damon began with a suggestive smirk, “could always let me do that.”

She rolled her eyes and took her finger out of her mouth. “In your dreams.”

“Alright,” said Sheila as she rested her elbows on the table. “Make sure we aren’t spotted.”

She closed her eyes and began muttering in a language that sounded like Latin. While Angela was looking around for any prying eyes, she could see that Damon’s were solely trained on Sheila.

She felt fear grip her heart. He’s not going to kill her, is he?

Just as the thought came to her, the paper went up in flames. Sheila brought her hands back down and opened her eyes.

She looked over at Damon with a smirk. “Done.”

Angela sighed in relief. “You’ll get the talisman in three days’ time.”

His eyes narrowed. “Why not now?”

“Because, Damon, we hid it really far away.” She rolled her eyes. “Thought you’d have learned your lesson about not pushing too hard…”

“Well then,” he stood, “let’s go find it.”

He was yanked back down into his seat and glared at Sheila. “You know, this is getting real old.”

She had an eyebrow raised. “Would you like another aneurism? Might help you remember who’s in charge.”

Angela rubbed her forehead. “I swear to God, both of you… There’s no reason to be so hostile. You’ll get the damn thing in three days, Damon. We just signed a magically sealed contract that says I have to give it to you.”

He blew a breath out his nose. “It is slightly comforting to know that it’s not just my life on the line…”

Sheila stood. “I’m done here.” She squeezed Angela’s shoulder. “Don’t forget what I said… You’re getting the lecture of your life tomorrow.”

She rolled her eyes fondly. “Yes, Ms. Sheila.”

Sheila swung her purse over her shoulder. “I would also suggest checking your phone. You’ve been gone from the party for quite some time.” With that, she walked away.

Her eyes widened in panic. She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone, only to find a total of ten missed calls and six new text messages. Half of the missed calls were from her sister and the other half were from Caroline, three of the texts were from Elena, two were from Tyler, and one was from Bonnie which simply read “Grams txtd me. Good luck x”

She stood up. “Shit, I need to call my sister; tell her I’m okay.”

“Yeah,” said Damon as he followed suit, “you do that. I’ll just go find some randos to chow down on until you get me the necklace.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Are you trying to threaten me with the death of innocents?”

He smirked. “You know, child’s blood in the tastiest. Oh and, umph, don’t even get me started on baby blood.”

She rolled her eyes and dialed Elena’s number. “Goodbye, Damon.”

His smirk widened as he walked away. “Three days, angel-cake.”

 

“What were you doing here!?” Caroline looked worried as all hell. “Are you drunk!? Oh my God, I never should’ve taken my eyes off of you!”

“I’m fine, Caroline, I-”

“No,” Elena said tightly as she pulled back from their hug, “you’re obviously not. There’s a bruise around your neck.”

“What!?” Caroline’s eyes went wide and she stepped closer to inspect it.

Angela sighed. “Look, I’m sorry I worried you. I was taking care of a future thing.”

“Wh- by getting yourself strangled to death!?” Caroline looked near to tears. “God, couldn’t you have said something first? I thought… we thought that someone killed you or kidnapped you or something…”

Angela wrapped her arms around her friend’s shivering body. “I’m so sorry, you guys… I just didn’t want to put anyone else in danger. Things would’ve probably gone a lot worse if I’d dragged you along.”

She glanced at Bonnie who was looking down at the sidewalk guiltily. Ugh, she probably feels horrible at having kept it a secret…

Elena sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “Tyler got into a fight.”

Her eyes widened and she pulled back from the hug. “What?”

Caroline nodded minutely. “Yeah. He was drunk and worried and this one kid said something or did something and…” her eyes flicked down, “you know how he can be when he’s stressed…”

Fuck, now I feel horrible.

“I should call him,” she said, already scrolling through her contacts.

“Um, actually?” Bonnie finally piped up. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean?”

Caroline was biting her lip nervously.

Her sister spoke. “He seemed pretty angry when we told him you called.”

“I think he felt betrayed,” said Caroline. “I-I feel pretty betrayed, too, but,” she let out a chuckle, quiet and humorless, “I’m not gonna knock someone’s teeth out.”

Her insides felt like they were being pulled and twisted around, and though she wanted to ignore their words she put her phone back in her purse.

“We should get home…” she muttered guiltily. “I’m sorry for ruining your night.”

Elena scoffed. “Are you kidding?” She shut her mouth and let out a long sigh. “I’m just glad you’re okay. Just… promise me you’ll say something next time.”

Caroline didn’t give her a chance to respond. “Uh, no! There won’t be a next time! I am not letting you out of my sight ever again. And you are totally explaining yourself tomorrow! No more ‘future thing’ garbage.”

She took another look at their three worried faces. To lie or not to lie?

“…Okay.”

 

The walk back to their house was filled with awkward silence. Bonnie and Caroline had left for their respective houses a while back, and now it was only her and her sister.

Angela glanced over at Elena’s face which was tight with an emotion she couldn’t quite discern. When they reached the porch, she grabbed her wrist before she could unlock the door.

“Wh-”

“You want to say something,” she said. “Don’t you?”

“No, I-“

“Elena,” she gave her a stern look, “I know you want to say something.”

Elena closed her eyes and when she opened them they were filled with unshed tears. “It was just… It’s what would’ve happened. With Mom and Dad. I go to a bonfire party and then our parents die.” She bit her lip to stop the tears from spilling out. “I was so sure you were dead.”

I totally fucked up, didn’t I? Her stomach hurt from the guilt and she could feel her nose burn the way it did before she cried. “Lena, I am so, so sorry.”

Her sister shook her head and unlocked the door. “No, just… We’ll talk about it tomorrow. With the girls and Tyler. Okay? I… I just need to be alone tonight.”

Before she could get a word out in response, Elena had all but run up to their bedroom.

She stepped inside the house and closed the door behind her. She walked up the stairs to check on Jeremy, but before she could open his door she saw her sister exiting their room with a pillow and blanket in her arms.

Angela blinked in confusion. “What are you doing?”

Elena glanced at her and immediately looked away. “I’m sleeping on the couch.”

“Seriously?”

Her sister only sighed and started walking down the stairs.

Greater good, huh? She pressed her lips together in an effort to stop their wobbling. She slowly opened Jeremy’s bedroom door and when she found him safely in bed, stayed a moment longer to make sure he was breathing. He was, and she closed the door as quietly as she possibly could.

She entered her and Elena’s room. When even was the last time we slept apart? She gave up on trying to remember, and after kicking her shoes off she sat down at the window seat. She reached down into its right-hand drawer and retrieved the notebook she’d gotten mid-July.

The first day Sherriff Forbes was sure she’d recovered from the shock she’d suffered she had sat her down in the living room and taken her testimony. They found that they both suspected whoever killed her parents to be a vampire, and a week later – after much pleading on Angela’s part – Liz had given her their case file. Most of the injuries they’d sustained she’d seen before the police arrived, but what she hadn’t seen was that in addition to his missing eyes her father had also had his hand cut off.

Angela’s eyes skimmed over the bullet point that read “Killer knew about the Gilbert rings.”

That bit of information had shortened the suspect list by quite a bit.

The first person her mind had gone to was Isobel. She obviously knew about the rings because of John, but why would she murder them? Could it have simply been an act of reckless bloodlust? No, she’d decided, because if it was she’d have drained her mother.

The second person her mind had gone to was Katherine. She knew about the rings because of either Emily or Isobel, but again, what would her motive have been? Besides, why would she have come to Mystic Falls before she was ready to get everything together for Nik? Angela tried to recall if there was anything said in the show about Katherine wanting to mentally break Elena in order to make her give herself up but came up blank.

Then again, in the show my parents’ deaths were an accident…

Finally, she thought of Augustine. The vampires that were held there had more than enough reason to want to kill her father, and her mother by proxy. They might have overheard something about his ring.

But wouldn’t he have been acting weird if any of them got out?

She tried to recall his behavior in the days just before his death, but couldn’t remember him acting any differently.

They could have escaped that evening…

She’d made a note to visit – or break into, if it came to that – Whitmore College at some point, but hadn’t felt herself strong enough mentally. She still wasn’t sure if she was. She would visit at some point however, she’d resolved, and even if she found nothing to point her to her parents’ murderer, she would at least rescue Enzo.

Enzo…

She felt her heart drop in realization.

…and Damon.

He had been there the day of the murder. They had spoken mere minutes before she had found her parents’ bodies. He’d learned her surname.

Wait. No. Don’t freak out. He didn’t know about John’s ring, remember?

Or maybe he only pretended not to…

“I could just – oh, I don’t know – chop your hand off.”

Her heart felt like it was going to burst from her chest and she found herself shaking her head in disbelief.

Things have changed, Angela. It used to be a car accident. An accident. How do you know this hasn’t changed as well?

She looked at her list of suspects, and with a cold, clammy hand wrote down “Damon.”

 

The next morning she woke to find her sister asleep in her own bed. She glanced at the alarm clock on her nightstand and found the time to be ten minutes before it was due to ring.

Wonder what caused her to have a change of heart…

She decided she would ask her when she thought she’d be willing to talk about it and made for the bathroom.

The shower’s water was scalding hot and very nearly burned her skin before she saw the steam, but she quickly pulled her hand back and fiddled with the knob until it was the right temperature. She stepped inside with a sigh.

Tomorrow’s the night of the comet. That means Anna will be here. Anna and that man… who was he, again? She decided it was unimportant. She remembered him being young and Caucasian, and that was all she needed. Mystic Falls wasn’t a very large town after all, and it was home to only one motel.

She heard the alarm clock go off just as she finished patting herself down with a towel. She wrapped it around her body and exited the bathroom to find her sister blearily reaching over to try and shut it off. It seemed a hair’s breadth too far from her though, and Angela decided to take pity.

With a quiet click the ringing stopped and Elena flopped back onto her bed in relief.

Angela tentatively decided to test the waters. “Good morning.”

Elena rubbed her eyes and sat up. “Morning.”

She awkwardly shifted her weight from one foot to the other and pointed back at the bathroom. “I, um… The bathroom’s free if you want to use it.”

Her sister looked at her with a small smile. “I’m sorry.”

For some reason her words made her feel even guiltier. Angela shook her head. “No, Lena, you were totally right. I-I should’ve known. All I wanted was to keep you safe, but I didn’t stop to think how my actions would affect you…”

Elena got up from her bed and stretched. “Well, you’ll have plenty of time to explain yourself later today.” She started walking towards the bathroom, but Angela spoke up.

“Hey, um, what made you sleep here after all?”

Elena glanced down at the floorboards bashfully. “Stefan stopped by. We talked for a while and…” she looked back up at her, “he helped me realize how important family is.”

That’s right… He would’ve come over last night.

Angela raised a teasing eyebrow. “You just… talked?”

She rolled her eyes, smile growing wider. “Yes, Angie, we just talked.”

“Wait… Did you invite him in?”

Her smile dimmed. “No. We talked out on the porch swing. I didn’t want to take the chance.”

Should I tell her? If I’m gonna tell everyone the truth about last night I need to tell her this as well.

Angela took a long breath. “Elena… You were right.”

She looked confused. “About…?”

“Stefan’s a vampire.”

As the words left her mouth she immediately regretted them. It was too late to go back however, and so she steeled herself for her sister’s reaction.

She could see her breath get caught in her throat and her face pale a couple shades. “Oh my God…”

Angela hurried to speak before she could jump to any conclusions. “But he’s one of the good ones! I promise. He wouldn’t… He wouldn’t hurt you unless it was in self-defense or something and even then, he wouldn’t like it.”

Elena’s face regained some of its color and she swallowed. “A-are you sure? Was he in the… um… TV show?”

She nodded. “He cared about you a lot. And you cared about him. He’s one of the good ones, Elena, I swear. I, um, I was gonna let him tell you, but… you don’t seem to like it when I keep secrets from you, and I can’t really explain what happened yesterday without you knowing about him… I-I mean I could, but you’d probably be even madder at me when you found out…”

Her sister took a deep breath and exhaled with a nod. “Thank you. I… wow.”

She chuckled breathlessly. “I know, right? But, um, you can’t let him know you know. He’ll want to know how you know and you know that we shouldn’t tell people about what I know and wow that’s a lot of knows. Can you tell I’m nervous?”

Elena let out a laugh. “I won’t let him know. I promise.” She reached over and pulled her into a hug. “Thank you, twinny. It… it really means a lot.”

She sighed. “If I ever lie to you it’s only because I think it’s for your own good, you know…”

Elena pulled back, hands still on her shoulders. “Angie… I can handle the truth. What I can’t handle is you lying to me so many times that I don’t feel like I can trust you anymore.” She shook her head. “If you want me to pretend like I don’t know something because it’ll put me in danger, I can do that. Okay? But just… don’t hide it from me.”

Angela smiled sadly and reached up to pinch her cheek. “But you’re terrible at pretending.”

Elena looked at her indignantly, causing her to emit a soft chuckle. After a moment, her expression morphed into a loving smile. “I can be good at it for you.”

 

Tyler had been avoiding her all day. He would look away with an angry, hurt expression on his face whenever she tried interacting with him, and with a lump in her bruised throat she simply had to accept that they would speak later, at the meeting.

She had the sneaking suspicion that Bonnie was avoiding her as well; likely more out of guilt than anything. She imagined that helping her lie to their closest friends was taking a bit of a toll on her, and though it made her heart hurt she knew that she would probably do the same if she were in Bonnie’s shoes.

Caroline was at least attempting to hide her feelings, but there were awkward silences where there had been none before, and she made excuses to leave whenever their conversations dragged on for a second or two too long.

Angela didn’t want to burden Elena by making her feel like she had to choose between her and the rest of the MFMs, so she made some half-assed excuse about needing to study and went to spend her lunch break on her own.

Until Stefan Salvatore approached her.

She’d been sitting under the large oak tree behind the school, having finished the apple she had gotten only so her nervous stomach wouldn’t be completely empty. She was reading from her history textbook when she heard the sound of footsteps on grass drawing nearer.

Glancing up when she noticed a figure in front of her, she saw him looking down at her with a confused expression on his face.

She smiled at him. “May I help you?”

He huffed in amusement, hands going to rest in the pockets of his hoodie. “I just… thought you’d be with Elena and the others.”

She shrugged. “We kinda got in an argument last night. Me and Elena are okay now, but she shouldn’t have to sacrifice time with her friends for my sake. I can survive being alone for a day.”

He took a hand out of his hoodie and gestured next to her. “Mind if I join you?”

Her eyebrows rose in surprise. “Oh, uh, no. Not at all. Go ahead.”

He shot her a smile and lowered himself down onto the ground, arms moving to rest on his folded knees. He looked over at her textbook and seemed amused by what he saw. “Victorian period, huh?”

Oh. Yeah, guess that is what I was reading about, wasn’t it?

She shrugged one shoulder with a grin. “Always had a thing for silly-looking hats and poofy dresses.”

He chuckled. “Always preferred the famine and slavery myself.” He glanced to the side. “Uh, I’m… joking of course.”

She let out a laugh. “You know, by saying I’m joking afterwards you kinda ruin the joke.”

He nodded slowly, as though memorizing her words. “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”

She closed her textbook with a chuckle. “What’s your favorite time period, anyway? You seem to know your history pretty well.”

His head leaned back to rest against the tree and he hummed in thought. After a moment he turned his head to look at her and she fought to keep her heart from fluttering at their proximity. “Would you hate me if I told you it’s the 1980s?”

She looked at him in disbelief. “The 80s? Really?”

He scrunched up his face. “You hate me, don’t you?”

She shook her head with a breathless chuckle. “No, no, of course not, I just… I wasn’t expecting something so… recent.”

He shrugged with a smile. “Hey, you have a thing for silly-looking hats; I have a thing for hairspray and rock music.”

She sat up with a start. “No way! I love 80s rock! Who’s your favorite artist?”

His eyebrows rose. “Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a soft spot for Bon Jovi. You?”

“Oh man, there’s so many… Rolling Stones, Queen, Billy Idol, Guns n Roses, I don’t know if I can pick just one…”

He seemed to be considering something. “You know… I have an early copy of The Works that was autographed by Freddie Mercury himself.”

She felt her eyes widen. “Seriously!?”

He chuckled. “Yeah, my, uh, my dad was a fan. I could give it to you if you want.”

She tried to calm her tone, but her body was still shaking from excitement. “Oh, well, I don’t want to make you have to part from something that was your dad’s…”

He shook his head with a smile. “No, don’t worry about it. I have boxes of his stuff I’ve been trying to get rid of for years now.”

She bit her lip in an effort to keep from grinning. “Well, if you’re sure…”

“I’m sure.”

Her grin broke free and she couldn’t keep herself from squealing in delight. “Okay!”

His laugh was warm and genuine, and she couldn’t help but feel as though she might be making a new friend. The thought, though somewhat rare, wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest.

 

Caroline approached her after school, with Elena and Bonnie in tow.

Angela had gotten her iPod out of her bag and was in the process of plugging in her earphones when she heard her bright voice from behind her.

“Angie!”

She turned around and looked at them curiously. “Uhhh, yeah? What’s up?”

They stopped in front of her and Caroline bit her lip nervously. “Um, well, I asked Lena and Bonnie to go to the Grill with me, but it just wouldn’t feel right without you there, and God!” she slapped some hair out of her face with a huff.Today’s just been so sucky without you! I miss you…” She stuck a hand out and looked at her hopefully. “Friends?”

Angela shook her head with a smile and pulled her into a tight hug. She felt Caroline relax against her as she quickly reciprocated.

“Friends.”

 

Their time at the Grill passed uneventfully. Angela didn’t mind. After last night’s events, uneventful was more than welcome. The awkwardness between her, Bonnie, and Caroline had dissipated for the most part when Caroline insisted Angela finish both their burgers after she accidentally found out that she’d barely eaten all day. The girls had parted, with Angela telling her sister that she would be home in time for their sign language study session and the MFM meeting that would follow. Then, she was off to the Iron Horse Motel.

The receptionist was a kind middle-aged man named Marcus. She asked him if there had been any rooms checked out by a young Asian woman by the name of Anna who was with an equally as young Caucasian man, but he told her that nobody matched that description. She gave him her phone number in case they did stop by and decided to head back home. She would’ve liked to scope out the place some to see if Marcus had been telling the truth, but without a witch or a vampire to help her she was sure she would look quite suspicious.

Her, Elena, and Jeremy’s study session had been rather pleasant. Jeremy was a very smart kid, even if he didn’t like to put in the work a lot of the time, and he quickly caught up to them in one short hour. She had to credit her sister for the idea, as studying together was indeed a lot more fun. At one point, Angela and Jeremy had taken to pelting each other with balls of paper when Elena wasn’t looking, but a cheerful giggle of his got them caught. Elena had tried to be stern when chastising them, but Angela and Jeremy both had seen the smile she’d been trying to hide.

The clock read eighteen. First to arrive was Bonnie, as she lived closest. She brought the spelled bundle of sage Angela had asked for and had it lit in her and Elena’s room. Next had been Caroline who, bless her heart, had brought a ton of junk food. Her reasoning had been that people wanted to eat when they were having stressful conversations, but by the glances she kept shooting her when she thought she wasn’t looking, Angela suspected that she was trying to make sure she wasn’t starving herself. She made a mental note to buy her something in thanks. Last to arrive was Tyler, who still seemed to be avoiding her.

Earlier in the day, she and Elena had debated whether or not to involve Jeremy in the conversation, as he had no idea what had happened last night, and eventually decided that they would have a private conversation with him later. Their discussion had been somewhat in vain however, as right after their study session he had gone off to play video games at one of his friends’ house. They were glad that at least they wouldn’t risk him feeling excluded.

They were all sitting on the floor of her and Elena’s bedroom with the bags of chips and cookies and licorice sat in the middle like they were attempting to conjure some kind of sugar-coma demon.

Angela’s heart was pounding in her chest and she was doing her best to sit calmly and not fidget like she wanted to.

She took a breath. “Okay… I don’t have a speech prepared or anything, so how about you guys ask me questions and I’ll do my best to answer them?”

They all looked at each other and she expected Caroline to jump at her with a question, but to her surprise it was Tyler that spoke.

“Why’d you freak out and run into the woods?”

She took a look at his tensed jaw and thought on how to string her words together. “There was a man in there. A man I wanted to make a deal with before he hurt anyone I love.”

Elena furrowed her eyebrows. “What do you mean a man?”

She looked to the side nervously. “I-I mean a vampire.”

Their eyes widened. “What?”

Only Bonnie had stayed silent. She looked at her with a relieved smile. “We’re telling the truth, then?”

Elena, Caroline, and Tyler turned their heads to look at her in bewildered confusion.

“What do you mean, Bonnie?” Caroline asked.

Bonnie closed her eyes and shook her head. “This is Angela’s story. She should be the one to tell you.”

They snapped back to look at her and she gave an awkward smile. “Thanks, Bon…” She cleared her throat. “Um, anyway, I thought that the man would attack and feed on Vicki Donovan. That’s why I asked you about her, Ty. I’d initially planned on just saving her, but then realized that I could do so much more…”

And so she told them everything. She told them about Damon – “Wait, so Stefan’s brother is a vampire?” – and about the tomb – “And you want to help him why exactly?" – and about the deal they made – “I am not going to let you die.” – and by the time she had finished a few tears had been shed, a lot of hugs had been shared, and they’d all told her how much they cared about her. She’d sworn them to secrecy, saying that only Sheila Bennett knew the truth and that it was imperative Damon not find out.

Bonnie nodded firmly. “I can keep a secret.”

Caroline nodded as well, far more enthusiastically. “So can I, if it’s life or death like this.”

Elena smiled and squeezed her shoulder. “You already know I’m good for it.”

Tyler sighed and brought her into a tight hug. “Anything for you, Angie.”

Surrounded by the people she considered family, Angela felt confident that she could tell them anything. Keeping secrets was Elena’s biggest mistake. She closed her eyes with a smile. One I won’t be making any time soon. Aunt Jenna, she decided, would know about vampires within the week. And this time, she wouldn’t let her die.

Chapter Text

Sheila’s house, like most of the houses in Mystic Falls, was quite simple in its design. Unlike most other houses, however, its wooden shingles, quaint little porch, and red-brick chimney always made Angela feel at ease. With all the evenings she and her sister had spent inside, it had practically become a second – or third, after Caroline’s – home. Sheila wasn’t only Bonnie’s grandma, but the twins’ as well. Bonnie was their sister. And the sight of the older witch glaring at her from the other side of the door was an all too familiar one.

“The hell you doin’ here?” She was dressed in a soft-looking robe with her hair tucked away in a patterned silk wrap. As if that wasn’t enough to clue her in, her slurred words threw away any doubt she might have had.

Angela gave an awkward grin. “Besides waking you up?”

Sheila glared harder as if to say “exactly.” She sighed. “This gonna take long?”

“Umm… depends?”

She rolled her eyes and walked away from the door. “Come in then. Crazy girl…”

Angela did as she was told. She heard Sheila turn the kettle on and made to follow her into the kitchen. Sheila was on her way out, however, and gave another glare when they bumped into each other.

“Now,” Sheila sighed as she sat on the couch, “what do you want?”

“Um, well, I think that first an apology is in order? I didn’t realize you were still asleep.”

“Thank you,” she drawled in that lovingly sarcastic way of hers.

Angela cleared her throat and dug the plain-looking box out of her bag. “I think it’s about time we separate these. Keeping them together isn’t convenient anymore.”

Sheila raised her eyebrows and hummed in acknowledgment. “I was going to come to you about that later today.” She yawned and took the box. “Give me a minute and I’ll get a second one ready for you.” Her words were much clearer now that she’d woken up a bit. She disappeared into her bedroom and Angela followed out of curiosity. She was looking through her dresser drawers.

“Don’t you have any spare ones on hand?” Angela asked; not in a demanding way, but in a simply curious one.

“I do, but since we aren’t in a hurry it’d be best for me to make you a new one.” It turned out that what she was looking for was – surprise, surprise – a box, not too dissimilar in appearance from the one she’d previously given her. When she finally found it, she stood back up to her full height and made to exit the room. Angela had the foresight to move out of the way this time. “I keep one or two of these things in case of emergency, and besides, they’re spelled differently than yours.”

She wanted to ask “What sort of emergency requires a magically sealed box?” but the mental image of someone breaking into the house and looking to steal something important was enough to answer her question.

“Sit down. You’re giving me a headache,” Sheila’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts and she realized she was still following her around the house. Angela sat down on the comfortable, beige couch and waited for Sheila to return. She did so shortly thereafter, with the box in one hand and a cup of Bennett brand whiskoffee in the other.

Angela scrunched her nose up at the smell. “How much did you put in there?”

Sheila set the box – which she could now see contained a needle and a lighter – onto the coffee table and took a sip. She narrowed her eyes thoughtfully and Angela could see the liquid sloshing around in her mouth. Finally, she swallowed and nodded. “Enough.”

Angela shook her head in disgust. “Right… anyway, is this gonna be the same as last time?”

Sheila hummed affirmatively and looked up at her with an apologetic smirk. “Been asking you to bleed an awful lot lately, haven’t I?”

She chuckled. “At least you don’t make me slice my palm open for no good reason.”

Sheila picked up the needle and muttered a spell on the hand that was holding it. It’s so she doesn’t burn, she remembered, but thought it was a bit pointless to do in her own home. “Why don’t you just get an oven mitt? Doesn’t this waste your energy?”

She raised an eyebrow and picked up the lighter. “I do hope you know it’s impolite to criticize a witch’s work when you’re so young and human.”

Angela leaned forward and rested her arms in her lap. “I’m not criticizing… I’m just curious.”

Sheila started sterilizing the needle. “When you’re hungry, do you always order take-out? Or do you sometimes cook to make sure you haven’t forgotten what to do? Magic is natural, just like one’s inherent ability to make food. Cooking is a craft. Witchcraft is a craft.” She winked at her and snapped the lighter closed. “That’s why it’s in the name. Now, give me your hand.”

Angela did as she was told. Sheila’s hand was warm and motherly, and she didn’t realize that her shoulders were tense until they relaxed at the feeling. The needle neared her index finger.

Sheila stared at her. “You’re doing this willingly, correct? You don’t feel pressured by me or anybody else to be a part of this.” The words were unnecessary on a personal level, but needed for the spell. If the box was sealed by her blood voluntarily, then it could only be opened by her blood voluntarily. This was so it couldn’t be broken into. Not easily and not without repercussion, at least.

Angela nodded. “I’m doing this willingly.” The needle stung a bit and her eye twitched, but it was nothing compared to the pain she felt the night she spoke with Damon. That pain she was reminded of every time she spoke.

Sheila let go of her hand. “First we need to open the old box, so could you please touch it with your finger?”

As she did so, she swore she could feel it unlock, though she had no magic herself. She swung the lid open to see the smooth, pearlescent moonstone lying right next to the old and intricate-looking amber talisman. She withdrew the stone, and after placing it inside the new box, she closed them both. She looked to Sheila. “How do I re-lock it?”

“It’s bound to you,” she said. “Will it to lock.”

Angela furrowed her eyebrows and looked at it so forcefully she thought she must have been glaring. “Lock,” she thought, and felt it comply. It was an odd feeling, and one that made her feel stupidly powerful for a human. I can only imagine the rush witches get… “I think I did it.”

Sheila wiped away the blood that remained on the box and tried hard to open it with her hands. It didn’t budge, however, and she nodded with a kind smirk. “Well done. You remember what happens now, right?”

She nodded and placed her bleeding finger on the box that contained the moonstone. This one was a bit smaller, she noticed, and a lighter wood. It’s good they don’t look the same. Wouldn’t do to get them mixed up.

Sheila rested her hands on top of her finger and began muttering in that language she always used when casting. Angela wondered if it was possible for her to learn it. It might come in handy, even if she couldn’t use it for spellwork.

A few seconds later, Sheila took a breath. “Take your finger off the box.” Angela did so and immediately stuck it in her mouth to try and stop the blood flow. It was a shallow injury, if it could even be called that, and wouldn’t take long to heal. Sheila wiped the blood away from the lid and tried to pry it open, once again, to no avail. She nodded in satisfaction. “All done. Where are you planning on hiding this? Keeping them both in the same place would be unwise.”

Angela drew her finger from her mouth and nodded. “Agreed. Would you happen to have any wolfsbane on hand? Say… enough to make a well’s worth of water really hurt?”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Odd request, but I should’ve known better. Are the Lockwood boys getting into trouble?”

Of course she’d know about them. She tilted her head and thought about Mason, who Tyler had said was always good to him. “Not if I have anything to say about it.”

Sheila stood up. “I never use it,” she called as she walked into the kitchen, “but I should have enough for you somewhere. You don’t need much, to be honest. Even two or three little stems full of flowers would sting, but…” She came back to the living room with a bucket in her hand. She set it down on the floor where Angela could see. She couldn’t possibly count it all. Sheila tapped the bucket with her foot. “This should be more than enough. I’d like to keep some for myself, of course, now that I know we’ll be having wolf trouble.”

Angela nodded and placed the boxes into her bag. “Of course. It’s yours, keep as much as you want.” As much as she wanted, apparently, was about a third, though the remaining amount still looked like it was enough for what she had in mind.

“I assume you’re planning on hiding the stone in a well?”

She smiled. “Taking a page out of the Katherine Pierce Book of Bitchery. There should be enough vervain stored in our house now that we don’t really use it on anyone but Jenna. If I dump both herbs in a well along with the moonstone, only a witch or a human could swipe it. Even then, it’d be pretty damn hard to break into the box, and with a locator spell we’d hopefully be able to find it before anything horrible happens.”

“Katherine Pierce…” Sheila narrowed her eyes. “That’s your sister’s doppelgänger, isn’t it?”

“Sure is.” Her smile turned sarcastic. “Did you know she was one of my favorite characters?” She shook her head. “Now that she actually exists, I don’t quite feel the same way.”

“I’d imagine.” She glanced at the black analog clock above the television. “You should head to school. Leave me to gussy up and put my face on.”

Angela grabbed the bucket and stood. “Yes, Ms. Sheila.” She neared the front door before she remembered something and spun back around. “Oh! Don’t forget to stake out the motel tonight, pretty please.”

They’d had a bit of an argument over that. Sheila had, surprisingly quickly, caught on to the fact that Anna’s timely arrival had to do with the tomb. She’d argued in favor of killing both her and Pearl before they had a chance to wreak havoc on the town, but Angela had brought up the fact that it’d be far more beneficial to keep them as allies. She had to appeal to Sheila’s emotions a bit, bringing up her own dead mother as a reason for why this was important to her, but she finally relented.

Sheila rolled her eyes. “Please. I never forget a thing.”

She smiled in relief and opened the door. “Great! Have fun getting dolled up.”

Sheila smirked and laughed deep in her throat. “Trust me, baby, if I ever got dolled up, I’d steal Stefan Salvatore away from you.”

She nearly choked on her own spit. “Wh- he’s Elena’s to steal from!”

Sheila raised an eyebrow. “Why’s your face burning up, then?”

She brought a hand up to her cheek and saw that it was very, very warm indeed. Not that she’d ever admit that. She scowled, embarrassed. “Get dressed, you old hag!”

Even through the door she slammed shut she could hear the witch’s cackling.

 

School was boring, as per usual. Boring teachers, boring lessons, boring, boring, boring. That is, until Bonnie touched Stefan.

It happened in front of the Geometry classroom. They were on their way to Spanish class and the hallway was jam-packed full of students. She should have seen it coming, really, considering how impossible it was to move without grazing somebody.

“Ugh,” Bonnie grunted as a senior shoved past her, “can’t you just tell me? I need to know if my boys’ll defeat Lucifer.”

Angela shook her head with a smile. “Sorry, Bon-Bon. Maybe you could try a divination spell or something.”

She breathed a sigh. “I’ve been trying all sorts of different stuff recently, but nothing’s been working. I can’t help but feel like there’s something wrong with me.”

“You’re a Bennett. I’m sure things’ll come to you naturally.”

“Yeah, that’s what Grams keeps saying, too. I don’t know… I feel like I might just need that one initial push or some-”

A gasp cut her off, and Angela turned her head to see her frozen in shock, eyes locked on an apologetic-looking Stefan.

“Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to bump into you that hard.”

Of all the times he had to have his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, it was when the only witch in school was wearing a tank top. He had to have heard Angela’s pulse quickening.

Bonnie seemed at a loss for words, so she decided to help her out. “Don’t worry about it,” she forced a laugh. “Talk to you later, Stef!”

Bonnie swallowed and tried to smile at him, but she looked too bewildered for it to be convincing. “Y-yeah, don’t worry about it.”

He looked at her oddly, but flashed another apologetic smile before he disappeared into the crowd.

As soon as they reached their destination, Angela sat in the desk right next to Bonnie’s. “Are you okay?”

She looked at her, wide-eyed and confused. “I-I don’t know? When he bumped into me, I felt… weird.” She shook her head. “It’s probably nothing. Don’t worry. It’s nothing to worry about.” She sounded more like she was trying to convince herself.

“Bonnie. It’s me you’re talking to. There are few things weirder than me and my situation. You can tell me anything.”

She closed her eyes for a few seconds, and when she opened them they looked significantly less wild. She gave a tight smile. “It’s nothing to worry about.”

Angela frowned.

“Hey, uh…” She looked up to see Chad Isaac, a boy that Klaus might one day use. “You’re in my seat.”

She blinked. Do I care about him? Do I have enough energy to care about him? She leaned back and cocked a brow, feeling somewhere inside of her like she might be a monster. “Sit somewhere else.”

 

“Well, anyway, you guys’ll be there, right?” Caroline stirred her lemonade with her thin, black straw.

They were sat around one of the outdoor tables of the Mystic Grill. Practice would start next week, so Angela had called for them to all hang out while their workload still allowed it. Or at least, that’s what the official story was.

Bonnie gave a sarcastic laugh. “I might. Wouldn’t be too happy about it, though…”

Tyler crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat. “Yeah, didn’t you say something about the comet being a bad omen?”

She snorted. “Try sign of impending doom. Grams seemed pretty worked up about it, but said I should enjoy myself regardless,” she snatched one of Angela’s curly fries, “the crazy old bat.”

Angela huffed. “You have your own fries, you know.”

She smiled. “Not my own curly fries, I don’t.”

“Well it’s not my fault you didn’t think to order some.”

“Well it’s not my fault you chose to sit right next to me.”

“And to think you two are the oldest,” Elena giggled.

Angela straightened up. “You’re right! I am the oldest, which means you have to do what I say. And I say you have to answer Caroline.”

Elena groaned as the blonde perked up. “Seriously?”

“Seriously?” Caroline mocked her. “Is it so wrong that as your best friend I want to know if you’ve banged the hottest guy in town yet?”

Tyler’s eyebrows rose. “I take offense to that.”

Bonnie rolled her eyes and grabbed another curly fry. “As your other best friend, I just want to say that you don’t have to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

“Okay, the fact that you keep taking my fries is making me uncomfortable, you little thief,” Angela pulled the basket closer to herself in mock irritation.

Elena gave an amused smile. “Appreciate that, Bonnie. To answer your question: no, we haven’t slept together. We haven’t even kissed yet. We’ve just been talking.”

Caroline looked flabbergasted. “You’re kidding.” She turned to Angela. “She’s kidding, right?”

She shrugged. “She told me the same thing.”

Caroline spluttered for a moment. “Elena! He’s new, and sexy, and mysterious, and super into you! Capitalize! Do you know how many girls would kill to be in your position?”

Angela nodded towards her. “See, Lena? That’s why she’s Cheer Captain.”

Elena’s eyes widened. “Oh, God, don’t remind her about cheer, too.”

“Well she doesn’t need to, right?” Caroline asked expectantly. “Because you’re definitely showing up.”

Elena just groaned.

“Hey,” Tyler frowned. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to pressure her, Caroline. It’s been a pretty rough year.”

“Not all of it,” she wanted to object. “We went skiing with Mom and Dad in February. Before they were dead. February wasn’t rough.” Instead she shrugged and said “It’s her choice. And not one she needs to make right this minute. Isn’t that right, Care?”

She deflated a bit. “Well… but wouldn’t it help things go back to normal? You know, doing things you’ve always done?”

“I appreciate you trying to help, Caroline,” said Elena, “but I’ll come to you when I’m ready.”

She bit her lip. “Right. Sorry…”

Angela couldn’t help but smile to herself. If only Caroline knew the kind of person she’d have been without her help, perhaps she could be as proud of herself as Angela was. That person would have kept pushing, not apologize. She grabbed a curly fry and looked at her sister. “So, anyway… Stefan.

Elena adopted a dry look. “And here I thought you forgot.”

“You are into him, are you not?”

“I already said that I thought he was attractive.”

“Well, duh,” Caroline rolled her eyes, “you’re not blind, but are you into him? You said that all you’ve done is talk.”

“I’m just… I don’t know. Trying to take things slow, maybe? I don’t know if I’m ready yet.” Elena’s words were reasonable, and had Angela not known the things she knew, she would have believed her. She saw the lie in her sister’s eyes however, and the fear. It’s not that she isn’t ready to be with somebody so soon after what happened. It’s that she isn’t ready to be with a creature Dad had so adamantly hated. It wasn’t like she knew how harmless he was in his current state, no matter how much Angela had insisted he was, and maybe a part of her felt like she’d be betraying their father’s memory.

Tyler threw his head back and groaned. “Are we seriously gonna have girl-talk right now? ‘Cause I do have other friends I could go hang out with.”

Caroline smacked his shoulder. “Hey, this is serious! It’s our best friend’s happiness we’re talking about here!”

He raised an eyebrow. “You know, there’s five of us. I think the term best friend lost meaning three friends ago.”

“How about the term ‘sister?’” asked Bonnie. “We’re all basically family.”

There was a pause before Caroline scrunched up her nose. “Ew! Does that mean Ty’s been my brother this whole time?”

As they succumbed to laughter, Angela could almost fool herself into thinking that everything was going to be fine.

 

Sheila’s talk of cooking had made her want to try a new chicken curry recipe, never mind the fact that she was doing her best to keep her mind off of tonight. She’d just covered the skillet and set a timer for 20 minutes when Elena walked through the archway.

“Mmm, that smells good.”

She went to wash her hands and glanced back. “You hungry?”

Elena leaned against counter next to her. “Yeah, but I can wait. Don’t worry.”

She set about washing the dishes she’d dirtied and snorted. “I’m not worried. The kid that burned his tongue trying to eat straight from the pan is at therapy.”

Her sister chuckled. “Caroline said that his obsession with food makes sense since he’s a Taurus.”

Angela rolled her eyes fondly. “Of course a Libra would be into astrology.”

She shrugged. “Hey, knowing that witches and vampires and reincarnation are a thing, it doesn’t seem that crazy anymore.”

Slightly disappointed in her sister not acknowledging her joke, she hummed. “You can say that again.”

Elena fidgeted a bit. “Speeaking of Caroline… Are you gonna be doing anything this year? I know cheer’s not your thing, but… if I go back to it, it’d be nice to have you around. And you’re not too out of shape.”

She ignored the implication that she was at least somewhat out of shape, but made a mental note to start working out regularly. It would be smart to eventually ask Alaric or – God forbidJohn for vampire hunting lessons. “I don’t know, honestly. Guess I could always continue theater, but without Mom being here…” The reason she’d joined in the first place was because Miranda said she’d love to practice all the songs with her.

“You should,” said her sister. “She was right, you know. Caroline. It’ll help bring a sense of normalcy to your life.”

She raised an eyebrow and dried her hands. “Practice what you preach, sis. If you continue cheerleading, I’ll continue theater.”

Elena seemed to be considering her options. She nodded and stuck a hand out. “Deal.”

Angela shook it firmly. “Deal.”

They sat down on the island’s barstools, waiting for the food to finish cooking in comfortable silence. After a while, her sister spoke. “What do you think he talks about? Jeremy.”

The psychiatrist Jenna had taken him to see was one of the best this side of Virginia. Daniel Gills, his name was, and Jenna couldn’t understand why she burst out laughing when she heard it.

She shrugged, chin resting in her palm. “Dunno. It’s not like we can ask him. Jen said to let him come to us.”

Elena’s nails clacked against the smooth wood. “Yeah, I know, but… I just can’t help but be worried about him, you know?”

She petted her back with a gentle smile. “You worry too much about all the wrong things. He’s already come so far. We just need to give him more time.”

Her shoulders sagged. “Right. You’re right. Sorry.”

“You’re just being a good sister, Lena. You don’t have to apologize.”

She stood and gave her a peck on the cheek. “I had you as a role model. If I’m not a good sister, I’m doing it wrong.”

 

Angela had barely changed her appearance since getting ready in the morning. She’d added a bit more makeup, almost compulsively re-drawing the brown winged eyeliner that had smudged during the day and patting a hint of red onto her lips, but she couldn’t bring herself to do much more.

Ideally, she’d hang out around the town square with the rest of Mystic Falls until Sheila texted to tell her that Anna had arrived. After which she’d have a calm, civilized conversation with the half-a-millennia-year-old teenager and they’d politely agree to open the tomb and retrieve Pearl with minimal casualties. Then again, ideally, her parents would still be alive.

She shook her head. There’s no room for self-doubt. If I doubt myself I’ll break. That thought, however, only made things worse. If she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the thought of talking to one of the tamest vampires she knew of, she had no idea how she’d ever handle the Originals. She leaned against the bathroom sink and groaned. She had already used the toilet twice, but now her insides were causing her a different type of anxiety-induced distress. She figured she’d just have to live with the ulcer forming in her stomach for the next few hours.

We do have some strong red wine downstairs… She rolled her eyes at the thought. No. There are enough alcoholics in this town. I shouldn’t learn to rely on something to get me through tough shit. It’d just make me weaker. I can’t afford to be weaker.

She straightened up, and after giving her reflection a kind, practiced smile, left to join her sister outside the house.

She found her glued to her Motorola Razr. She looked up when she heard her approach, however, and stuck the phone back in her purse. “Jeremy texted me saying they just got there. You ready?”

“They” being him and Jenna. She had treated him to dinner and ice cream, as was routine whenever they visited Dr. Gills. He’d hated seeing him at first, but then Angela had suggested it might help him learn to like it if he had something yummy to look forward to afterwards. Jenna gave her an excited, double-handed high-five when it worked like a charm.

She smiled her kind, practiced smile, and nodded. “Ready.”

The street they lived on wasn’t busy, but then again it never was. She could see the odd person here and there, most of them heading in the same direction they were, but the closer they got to the town square, the more people that crowded the sidewalks. Eventually, the sound of cars passing by and voices speaking melted together to create a loud, monotonous sort of buzz that could almost be called comforting.

“Oh!” Elena exclaimed and waved her arm at something. “I see them!”

She followed her line of sight and found Jenna by one of the park’s lampposts, cupping her hands around her mouth and shouting something that was just shy of intelligible.

“What!?” Elena yelled out, making Angela flinch and immediately bring a hand up to her ear.

“Hey!” she yelled back in what would have been humor had she felt better. “How about we get closer before you burst my eardrum?”

Her sister nodded, seemingly oblivious to her sour mood, and started speed-walking towards Jenna and Jeremy. Angela’s comparatively short legs struggled to keep up. A child is taller than me. The shame.

“You guys made it!” Jenna still had to raise her voice in order to be heard over everybody’s chattering, but at least she didn’t make her ears bleed.

“We made it,” Elena smiled and ruffled Jeremy’s hair. “Did you have fun, Jer?”

He nodded, his round, blue eyes just about sparkling. That made Angela relax a tiny bit and she allowed herself a smile. Seeing her baby brother happy, after all that he’d suffered, never failed to lift her spirits.

“What’d you have to eat this time?” she asked, unable to stop her hand from petting his brown hair back into place.

He glanced up, likely trying to remember how to sign it, and then brought his head back down determinately. He confidently signed the word “China.” Angela almost snorted at the coincidence. If she remembered correctly, Anna and Pearl were of Chinese heritage. Anna and Pearl… Her smile was gone in an instant.

“Oh yeah?” she asked, fingers still running through his hair. “Was it good?”

He nodded rapidly, inadvertently knocking her hand off his head.

“Elena! Angie! There you are!” It seemed to be becoming a pattern for Caroline to be the first of their friends to greet them. Tyler trailed close behind and gave a grin when he noticed the only other male member of the MFMs.

“Hey there, big guy!” He made a fist with the hand not occupied with holding candles, and Jeremy bumped it with no small amount of gusto. They even did the whole explosion thing afterwards, which made her smile again. “How’s it hanging?”

He gave two thumbs up and grinned. Caroline gave him a pinch on the cheek, causing him to rub it in mock annoyance. “Hey, Jeremy!” She handed the two candles she was carrying over to the twins. “I grabbed these as soon as I saw you guys. Tyler has-”

I’ve got the one for the coolest kid in town,” he handed one to Jeremy. “And Aunt Jenna.”

She grabbed hers with an eye-roll. “Thanks, Lockwood.”

Elena chuckled. “You forgot to get ones for yourselves.”

“Well, I don’t know about you,” Caroline adopted a haughty look, “but I was raised with manners. And manners say that I serve myself last.”

Angela reached up and gave her a peck on the cheek. “Do ignore my sister, well-mannered lady. We believe she might have been raised by wolves.”

Caroline’s face briefly twitched in a way that betrayed her mirth before she schooled it again and doubled down on her haughtiness, going so far as to raise her head up slightly. “Why yes, I do believe you’re correct. Shame that such beauty is wasted on a great, lumbering beast.”

Try as she might, she couldn’t stop the loud, surprised laugh from escaping her lips.

Elena’s mouth dropped open in indignation and she smacked a giggling Caroline’s arm. “Lumbering beast? I’ll show you lumbering beast! You have three seconds to start running. One…”

Caroline took off with a squeak. Elena followed suit, shoving her candle into Jenna’s arms and not even bothering to count all the way.

Jenna sighed wistfully. “Ah, to be young and student debt-free.”

“Oh, come on, Aunt Jenna. You’re still young.” Tyler wiggled his eyebrows. “And beautiful.”

Jeremy made gagging noises before a very unimpressed Jenna spoke. “Kid, you don’t get to call me ‘aunt’ and hit on me in the same breath.”

Angela could hear them going back and forth as she checked her phone for any activity from Sheila. She found none, so she started pushing Tyler forward. “Give it up, bud. She was way more into your uncle, anyway.”

She heard rather than saw Jenna gasp and say “Jeremy, I swear, I don’t know what she’s talking about.”

They stopped in front of the candle suppliers. “Is Bonnie here?”

He gave a nod of thanks at being given a plain, white candle. “Haven’t seen her yet.” They moved away to a quieter spot and he sounded nervous as he spoke. “Hey, was it just me, or did she seem kinda weird? After school.”

It wasn’t just him. Nor was it meant to be. She’d seemed fine enough, but her movements were just a bit too forward; her words louder than usual. Angela wasn’t sure she’d have noticed had they not spent so much time together, and she was surprised at how good an actress she was.

She shrugged nonchalantly. “Didn’t she say that the comet was a bad sign? Maybe she was just worried.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

Somebody slammed into her back, making her move her legs apart to steady herself.

“Ha!” Elena’s hands grasped her shoulders. “Safe! Touching Angie means I’m safe!”

She turned her head to see her sister being followed by an exasperated-looking Caroline. Hair that was earlier styled prettily was now unruly and wind-swept.

Caroline rolled her eyes. “That was never a rule! What are you talking about?”

She could feel her sister’s sweat sticking to her skin as she adjusted her hands to grip her better. “It’s a rule now.”

“You’re just saying that because you knew you were gonna lose!”

Elena let go and moved to where she could see her. “I have no idea what you mean.”

Angela snorted. Elena had a bit of a reputation as a cheater when it came to any games they’d play. When they were thirteen, she’d almost managed to convince everyone that she – and only she – had the right to make a second prediction every turn in Clue. Angela had called her out on that bullshit hard. She loved her twin, adored her even, but she sometimes wanted to strangle her and her competitive little ass. A sentiment she often shared with Caroline.

“Ugh,” she flicked some blonde hair out of her face, “whatever. I didn’t want to get all sweaty anyway.”

Angela’s cell phone pinged.

All eyes fell on her.

Swallowing nervously, she brought it out of her purse.

Sheila: They’re here.

Her throat dried up. Here we go… “I, um, I don’t feel so good.”

Caroline moved close and muttered as low as she could. “Are you sure-”

“Yeah,” she cut her off. “I don’t know, I feel a bit dizzy.”

The plan, quite simply, was to act like she was deceiving them into thinking she felt unwell and had to go home. In reality – rather, in the reality she wanted Damon to believe – she’d decided to ditch them and go see Bonnie at Sheila’s house. She figured that he might be tailing her, and she didn’t want him to suspect anything was off.

If she wasn’t pretending to deceive them and flat out said that she was going to see Bonnie, the most logical conclusion would be for at least one of them to insist they tag along. Why did she not want them to tag along, then? Because Bonnie needed moral support for something related to witchcraft, of course, and Angela was the only one that knew she was a witch. It’d be quite out of character of her to drag her out of the broom closet like that. In truth, nobody would be joining her because taking them to speak to Anna would make them a liability, no matter how much Caroline had tried to convince her otherwise.

“Do you need some air or something?” Tyler asked, voice a bit too loud to be inconspicuous.

Elena shot him a look. “Yeah,” she said, much more convincingly. “I can go get you some water.”

“No, I… maybe it’d be best if I went home. I think I need to lie down.”

Her sister furrowed her eyebrows. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“No. No, I’m okay. I don’t feel like I’m about to pass out or anything. I promise I’ll call you as soon as I get there.”

Caroline rubbed her back a bit too forcefully. “Don’t forget, okay? And tell me if you want me to bring over some chicken noodle soup.”

She smiled weakly and gave her her candle. “Of course. Tell J and J what happened. You guys enjoy yourselves, alright?”

Tyler nodded firmly. “You too.”

She was surprised at how well she was walking, considering her legs felt like jelly. After a while, she passed the wrap-around porch that marked their house and dug her phone out. She dialed her sister’s number to say that she made it to their bedroom.

“I love you,” she responded, and Angela almost wished she hadn’t. It made the possibility of her never seeing her again feel all the more real. She said “I love you” back all the same.

The cicadas’ song that rung out in the still September air helped ground her as she knocked on Sheila’s door.

After a moment, Bonnie swung it open and gave a tight smile. “Hey,” she moved out of the way, “I assume this means you got my text?”

“Yeah,” Angela walked inside and heard the door closing behind her. “What was it you were trying to do exactly?”

Bonnie brought up a piece of paper to show her a note she’d written out. Follow my lead and then take the candle I point to - as long as you hold it no one will be able to hear you or any objects affected by you. “A divination spell,” she said, “like you suggested. Not to see what’ll happen in Supernatural. Just to see what’ll happen tomorrow at school.”

She nodded to indicate she’d finished reading the note. “And?”

“And,” Bonnie quietly set it down, “nothing. Nothing happened. How original. God, I feel so useless.”

She frowned. She knew there was some truth mixed in there. “Hey, don’t say that. You shouldn’t try to force it. It might have the opposite effect.”

“Yeah… My brain knows you’re right, but it’s hard for my heart to, too.”

Angela reached forward to bring her into a hug. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

She felt her sigh. “A sleepover might be nice?”

“I told the guys I was feeling dizzy and went home.”

Bonnie pulled back. “I can tell them you were lonely and decided to pay me a visit. Now,” she gave her a meaningful look, “do you want to watch a movie?” Oops. Guess I don’t have a choice.

She paused for a moment before shrugging. “Sounds good to me.”

Bonnie smiled in relief and led her to her room. “Might as well get comfy on the bed. Any suggestions on what to watch?”

“Not really.” She sat down. “You choose.”

“We… could re-watch High School Musical?”

Her eyes widened in genuine excitement. “Oh, man! Ugh, it’s been so long. Shame Caroline isn’t here, too.” And shame I won’t actually get to watch it.

Bonnie snorted and joined her, sliding the laptop to rest between them. Angela knew she didn’t have to bother with grabbing the DVD. The girls had been so obsessed with the movies when they first came out that they’d all ripped a copy onto their computers. Or rather, Bill Forbes had, seeing as he actually knew how.

“It’s only a shame for you and Caroline,” she said. “If I have to sit through another live performance of Bop to the Top, I might just rip my hair out.”

Angela snickered. “I make a hot Ryan and you know it.”

Bonnie shook her head with a smile and double-clicked on the file. “Whatever you say, Ann.”

As the title screen faded into view, Bonnie gently nudged her and pointed to the stout, blue candle on her vanity. Angela carefully got up, the sound of the duvet shuffling easily being able to be interpreted as her getting comfortable. She walked over as quietly as she could and picked it up.

Funny. The others are all holding candles for a fun bonding experience and I’m doing it to save my life. Or potentially save my life, assuming he’s even following me. She couldn’t take that chance, however. It was better to be covered on as many fronts as possible.

She saw there was a snuffer covering the wick and went to remove it when Bonnie moved her hands in a frantic “stop” motion. She took her phone out of her pocket and after a bit of clicking – during which she said “I should probably tell them you’re staying over” – she showed her the message she’d constructed: remove it+the spell breaks. fire is bright 2. he has eyes.

Angela nodded to show she understood. She took a long, steadying breath. There was absolutely no guarantee that, even after the lengths they’d gone to, this would work. Hopefully, if Damon was following her, he’d believe that she was still in Sheila’s house when she was actually speaking with Anna. That was the reason she couldn’t have genuinely gone home: there was no way she could think of to sneak out. The back door led to a fenced garden with no gate, all the windows she could climb out of were visible from the front, and the time it’d take for Sheila to cast the spell on the candle, leave to stake out the motel, and for Angela to arrive home and grab it would potentially be too long. Candles are still made of wax after all, and wax melts. By leaving it with another Bennett, however, the spell could be activated right as Angela arrived to the house by way of DNA; saliva in this case, as far as she knew. Not to mention that Sheila’s house was closer to the motel in the first place.

Angela opened her eyes, and after swallowing to try and calm the storm in her mind, gently waved goodbye. Bonnie’s eyes softened and she smiled reassuringly. “I believe in you,” she seemed to say. Her chest warmed. Children as she might sometimes see them, she was incredibly lucky to have such good friends.

She walked out the room and into the kitchen, where she saw the back door. Bonnie’s note had said that any objects affected by her would also be silent, but she still couldn’t bring herself to open it normally. She slowly, quietly twisted the doorknob and stepped into the night air, eyes immediately scanning it for any sign of Damon. She hesitantly started walking when she saw nothing.

There was a cluster of trees behind Sheila’s house that led to the other side of the block and she moved through it as sneakily as she could. They’d tested it last night, the Bennetts, and found that someone could go through it without being spotted from most angles. From there, she only needed to cross the open street, trespass on some houses, cross the street again, and she’d arrive at the motel.

She was lucky she didn’t encounter anybody. Constantly glancing around as she was must have made her look quite suspicious, especially when she slipped in between private property. At one point, she saw light streaming out though a ground-floor window and noticed a kid from her school playing Minecraft in his underwear. She’d nearly had a heart attack until she realized he hadn’t seen her, after which she’d nearly blown her cover by laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

She could see the motel’s neon blue sign. All things considered, it was a handsome-looking place. No Four Seasons, but certainly not sleazy either. She noticed Sheila’s car and approached. Checking briefly that, yes, she was inside, she opened the passenger’s seat door and sat down. The smell of sage was almost overwhelming.

“Do you sense him?” she asked as soon as Sheila took the candle.

She shook her head, extinguishing the spell. “Just the two in there.”

She felt a weight lift off her shoulders and allowed herself a deep sigh. “That was a bad plan.”

She could see the edge of Sheila’s lips quirk upwards. “Full of holes. But you worked with what you had. Are you ready to go in?”

“Before we do… If something happens to me tonight and only you are able to escape, I want you to tell Elena something.”

She made an inquisitive noise.

“First, tell her that I love her and all, but… tell her to check the baby stuff.” She had hidden clues around the house that only Elena would be able to follow; a treasure hunt that began with a picture book they’d loved as toddlers and ended with the bottle in the yard.

“The baby stuff?”

She nodded. “It’s important, I promise.”

Sheila sighed. Angela could hear the beige, leather driver’s seat creak as she turned to pull her into a hug. “I won’t let anything happen to you,” she spoke against her head. “You drive me insane, you worry me sick, but I care about you too much to let anything happen to you. So don’t be stupid and die, alright?”

She nodded into her shoulder. “I won’t.” Wouldn’t those be some funny last words?

Sheila pulled back and gave her a stern nod. “Good. Now let’s go.”

They climbed up the stairs to reach the second floor and stopped in front of a plain, white door labeled “14.” After a shared glance, Angela raised a hand and knocked twice.

They waited for approximately ten seconds before the door opened a crack to reveal a young man’s face. A familiar young man.

Ben… it’s Ben.

Ben McKittrick was older than her by two years and had been a star football player at their school. She’d been hoping that Anna would be the one to greet them, truth be told, as, though she hadn’t remembered exactly who he was, she remembered him having considerably fewer brains than her. Meaning that he was more likely to immediately try and eat them.

He swung the door open a bit more and gave a charming smile. His eyes were dark. “Can I help you?” He doesn’t even remember me.

She smiled back, much tighter than he did. She felt safer knowing that Sheila could stop him if he tried something, but her heart was still pounding against her ribcage. I wonder if he can hear. I wonder if all he can think about is draining me. “Not really. I believe that Anna and I can help each other, though.”

He tensed for a second before his face twisted. She could see his eyes turning red, the veins beneath them becoming prominent. He made to lunge at her before he was flung back into the room. The door opened completely from the force, and she could see a young woman standing behind it. Anna. She could practically hear the wheels spinning in her mind.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Sheila hissed, eyes intense. They rested on Anna. “We didn’t come as enemies. We came as allies, much to my protest, but if that baby vampire can’t keep his fangs in his mouth, I’ll do it for him.”

Anna’s posture was tense; alert. Her dark brown eyes shifted to and fro between them until she blinked and addressed Ben. “Do as she says.”

He pushed himself off the ground and looked back at her in disbelief. “What, are you serious?”

She swiveled her head to glare at him. After a moment, he huffed and crossed his arms. “Fine.”

Sheila closed the door. Angela nodded and tried to smile at them, but she was sure she looked frightened. “Thank y-”

“Start talking,” Anna snapped.

Now that she could see her properly, she had to admit that she was quite pretty. With long, black hair that fell in choppy waves, a smooth, oval-shaped face, almond-shaped eyes, a button nose, and plump, pink lips, she was sure she would have described her as cute if she didn’t know how easily she could snap her neck.

“My name is Angela Gilbert,” she said, “and this is Sheila Bennett. We want to help you get your mother out of the tomb.”

Anna shifted minutely. “What do you know about my mother?”

“I know that her name is Pearl. I know that she was turned in by my ancestor, Johnathan Gilbert, a man who let his bigotry win out over the affection he had for her. I know that she’s not a bad person, and I know that you’re not a bad person, either.” She nodded towards Sheila. “If you were, you’d be dead by now.”

“And you know this how?”

She hesitated. Last time she tried to tell someone about her situation, he threatened to kill her. How would she explain how she knew in a way that would make Anna believe her? And why, why hadn’t she already thought of this?

“Have you ever heard of the term parasite?” It was Sheila who spoke. Angela furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Parasite? Like plants? Recognition shone in Anna’s hard eyes, however, and they relaxed in surprise before looking at her.

“How old are you?”

Angela blinked at the question. “Uh, seventeen. Why?”

Anna let out a breath of disbelief. “You’re Elena Gilbert’s twin. That’s impossible.”

Her eyebrows furrowed even more. “What are you talking about?”

“It’s impossible for a doppelgänger to be a twin,” she said. “No one knows the exact magic behind them, but doppelgängers come alone. They’re a unique magical event. I heard Emily Bennett talking about it.”

“People have studied them,” Sheila cut in. “Doppelgängers. Only a few people, and most of it is theory, but you’d be hard-pressed to meet a witch who hasn’t read up on the topic at least a little bit. And a witch as powerful as Emily? There was little she hadn’t read up on.

“There existed a warlock a few centuries ago named Ahmad Fahim. He was mentally unstable; a complete paranoiac. But, he came up with the theory that if a doppelgänger was born a twin, the other twin would actually be a devil that would bring about the end of the world. Most of his ramblings are nonsensical, the product of too much time spent in isolation, and I found the question he posed completely useless… until you were born. What if a doppelgänger that comes into this world is plagued by a parasite?”

Angela wasn’t given any time to process this information before Sheila addressed Anna. “What other interesting things did Emily say?”

“I… she told my mother about the very first vampires. Mainly that they were ruthless and cruel. She told her about what happens after a supernatural creature dies. About the other side. She said that it’s dark and lonely.”

“Did she say anything else about the afterlife?” Angela wanted to shake her as they kept talking like nothing was wrong. “I’m a parasite,” she wanted to cry out. “A creature that was never meant to be. I knew I was a curse, didn’t I? Who says I’m not a devil, as well?”

“She said that it’s possible to find peace or fall into oblivion.” Anna paused for a moment. “They had a conversation about reincarnation once. Mother was raised a Buddhist. She didn’t really believe in anything by the time they met, but she asked if there had been any truth to it after all. Emily said that there was, but that people rarely got reborn no one knew how it really worked.”

Sheila’s eyes narrowed. “That’s all she said?”

“You’re saying there’s more?”

She hummed. “Nothing that would be relevant to what your mother wanted to know, but… yes.” She rested a hand on Angela’s shoulder. She barely felt it. “She’s a very special girl, this one. Rather, a very special woman.”

She couldn’t hold her tongue. “A very special parasite.”

“Yes,” said Sheila, and she felt as though she’d slapped her. “Not only is she a parasite, but she was reborn into a universe different than the one she lived her previous life in. She’s even more special than her sister, I’d say.”

She heard a snort from across the room and saw Ben leaning against the wall. She’d forgotten he was even there. “Doppelgänger? Parasite? Alternate universe? They can’t seriously expect you to believe this horseshit, right?”

Anna remained silent for a moment, staring straight ahead with unseeing eyes. Finally, she focused her gaze to meet Angela’s. “You may be a parasite,” the term wasn’t used maliciously, but it still stung, “and you may be from an alternate universe. It sounds completely insane, but Emily…” She sighed and shook her head. “Still, none of that explains how you know about me and my mother.”

“Well, if that sounded crazy,” she sighed, “get ready for this horseshit…”

 

“So… you’re telling me,” Anna spoke slowly, “that you were born in a world where the events surrounding this town were a fictional story?”

“Basically.”

“Babe,” Ben scoffed. “They’re obviously lying, there’s no way in hell-”

“Ben,” Anna snapped, never taking her eyes off of her. She looked close to murderous. “Shut. Up.”

His teeth made a sharp click sound as he shut his mouth, and Angela could easily imagine steam exiting his ears. Anna’s face turned calmer as she addressed her.

“The founding family patriarchs kept journals. You’re a Gilbert. How do I know you didn’t just read about my mother?”

“How would I know she was in the tomb? How would I know you’d arrive tonight to begin your quest in releasing her?” Anna didn’t seem completely convinced, but she’d been open to hearing her out so far. Angela’s anxiety still hadn’t completely vanished, but it’d diminished somewhat. Things were going better than expected. She sighed. “What do you have to lose by accepting my help?”

Anna gave a small, sarcastic smile. “I’ve learned you can lose quite a lot by doing just about anything.”

“You can lose a lot by doing nothing, as well.”

“Is that a threat?”

“It’s a fact. You and your mother will likely lose your lives if you choose to do things without my help. That’s my end goal in all this: to prevent as many pointless deaths as I can. That and to protect the people I care about.”

Anna tilted her head. “And if those two interests ever conflict? If somebody needs to die for no good reason other than to save the people you love some grief?”

She was silent for a moment. “No death is pointless if it results in helping the people I love. I’m sure you can understand my viewpoint, having turned this one for that sole purpose.” She heard Ben growl at her not referring to him by his name.

Anna smiled. It wasn’t a sarcastic smile, and though it was still small, it looked sincere. “If your story is true… why are you trusting me with it? You don’t know me personally. You don’t know whether I’ll sell you out to someone that could rip you from your life and use you for their own gain. You don’t know whether I’d use you for my own gain.”

“Maybe… maybe it’s because you need to give trust in order to get it in return. Or,” she grimaced, “maybe it’s because I need you to help me as well. With something relatively small, but still very important.”

Anna raised her eyebrows as if to say “go on.”

“Do you remember the Salvatore brothers?”

She rolled her eyes. “Who doesn’t?”

“Well,” she winced, “I may have told Damon that you wanted me to help free Katherine from the tomb…”