"What color is your dress?"
Chloe had expected the excited question to be posed by Caroline, not by Elena. That was why she hesitated for a second before answering. "Uh, green?"
"Okay." Elena nodded, huge grin in place. "Jenna has a handkerchief that Jeremy can use so that you two are matching."
So this was the reason for the question.
"So Jeremy told you guys we're going to the Mystic Festival together, huh?" Chloe hugged her books to her chest.
"Not really - but we figured it out when he asked where the costume dad used to wear to the festival was since he'd outgrown his old one." Elena was all sorts of giddy. "We knew that if he was going to go you had to be involved."
"Well, I'm basically forcing him to come with me, so, uh, sorry if he's in a mood considering this really isn't his type of thing." Chloe apologized.
"If by "in a mood" you mean he's humming to himself and grinning an insane amount - I'll somehow find it in my heart to forgive you." Elena winked as she lopped an arm around Chloe's. "I'm so glad you came to Mystic Falls."
"Uh, thanks." Chloe blinked, a little embarrassed.
Elena cleared her throat. "I was worried for a second there when Caroline hogtied you into agreeing to come that you'd end up going to the festival with Tyler."
Worried? "Do you like Lockwood? Do you want to go with him?"
"What? No!" Elena made a face. "I'm going with Matt!"
Chloe smiled, able to see the reconciliation between those two in the works. "That's nice. Matty must be ecstatic."
Elena blushed. "We're only going as friends."
Still, it was a progress. Some weeks ago Elena wouldn't have even gone with Matt "as friends" considering she'd been scared she was giving him wrong signals while her head was so mixed up. So just that fact that she was doing this meant that she and Matt were slowly working their way back to being what they'd once been before her parents' deaths had caused her to break up with him and reevaluate her life.
Chloe's smile disappeared though when she noticed movement across the lawn and watched Jeremy walking, earphones in his ears and gaze firmly ahead of him, until Vicki Donovan waylaid him and grinned up flirtatiously at him as she clasped her hands behind her back, which had the effect of making her boobs stand out more in the barely-there shirt she wore. Chloe did her best not to growl at the sight. The blonde might like Matt, but she seriously didn't like his sister.
Elena looked at Vicki and Jeremy with worry before she turned to Chloe and opened her mouth.
"CHLOE ALEXANDER!" Tyler yelled in fury.
Chloe jumped and turned towards the voice to see the guy storming towards her. "What's twisted your-?" She screamed when Tyler forewent an explanation and instead grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder, beginning to storm away with her as if she was a sack of potatoes. "Put me down you neanderthal!" She slapped at his back and kicked her legs and yet the laughs of those watching made her lessen her struggles, the girl horrified and mortified. "I'm going to kill you when I get down!"
"Not as much as I'm going to kill you." Tyler sounded seriously pissed.
That in itself made her stop struggling completely as she eyed his back curiously. "What do you have to be angry about?"
"You have to ask? You harpy from hell?" Tyler wanted to know, fuming. "I deserve a medal for having to put up with you!"
"You're kidding, right?" She scoffed, giving his back a nasty pinch.
"Hey! Damn it!" He slapped her butt harshly. "Stop that!"
Her eyes went wide at the sniggers and giggles coming from the students not even trying to pretend they weren't watching. "Hands off, Lockwood!"
He slapped her butt harder, leaving her stinging.
"Stop that!" She pinched him harder.
"Jesus-!" Tyler finally got them to a more isolated place and put her down before throwing her back against the wall and slamming his hands on each side of her head, trapping her there as he glared furiously at her. "You had no damned right!"
"What the hell man?" She snapped and tried to push him away but he was too close and too strong. "I didn't do anything!"
"Stop lying!" He snarled viciously. "You told them and you had no right to do so!"
She blinked, more intrigued now than angry. "Told who what?"
"Don't play stupid, Chloe. It doesn't suit you." Tyler's voice dripped acid.
"That's probably the nicest thing you've ever told me." She placed her hands on his chest to try and put some distance between them. "And I still don't know what you're talking about."
"Then let me remind you." Tyler's eyes were so narrowed they were almost slits. "You. Told. My. Parents. That. I. Was. Dating. Vicki."
Chloe blinked at him in shock. "Uh, no, I didn't."
"Don't deny it when-!"
Chloe snapped and grabbed his shirt with the hands she had on his chest, surprising them both as she twirled them around and slammed Tyler back against the wall. "I'll deny it as much as I want to considering that I didn't tell them anything!"
Tyler still looked angry, but he always looked shocked. "You're, uh, strong for a little thing."
She ignored him, not wanting to think about this right now. "Listen here Tyler Lockwood, you owe me and my ass-which is seriously stinging right now-an apology because I didn't tell your parents who you were really dating."
"You're lying." Tyler frowned at her. "You were the only one who knew. There's no one else who could've-." His eyes then widened. "She wouldn't."
Chloe opened her mouth to ask him what he was thinking when suddenly she was pulled back and away from him, the girl squeaking in surprise, and her eyes widened when suddenly Jeremy was in front of her and Tyler was on the ground, bleeding from his broken lip.
"Don't you ever touch her like that again!" Jeremy snarled down at the jock he'd punched so viciously.
"Jeremy! Don't hurt him!" Vicki cried as she went to her boyfriend.
Tyler looked up at her with narrowed eyes as he wiped the blood form his mouth. "Did you tell my parents we were dating?"
Vicki's eyes widened. "I, uh-."
"Did you?" Tyler snapped at her.
Vicki glared at him. "And what if I did? They deserved to know! We shouldn't have to hide the fact that we're dating! They'll accept us and-!"
"That's the thing, Vic, they won't." Tyler shook his head at her. "After my parents were finished preaching to me about how disappointed they were in me for dating 'beneath me' they ordered me to neversee you again. Do you get what you've done?"
Vicki's eyes were wide, the girl pale and visibly hurt to hear what her boyfriend's parents thought of her. "Beneath you?"
Chloe didn't like Vicki, but she didn't want to see this either. She reached out and grabbed Jeremy's hand, pulling the still visibly pissed off guy away from the couple. "Come on, they need their privacy."
"He still hasn't apologized to you." Jeremy pulled his hand free as he swung to Tyler. "Apologize to her."
Tyler glared up furiously at Jeremy before he took in a deep breath and turned his eyes on Chloe. "My bad."
She raised an eyebrow. She hadn't asked for an apology, but if he was going to give one to her it better not be that half-assed… "You're kidding me, right?"
A muscle jumped in his cheek. "I'm sorry. Please. Forgive. Me."
That wasn't great either, but it was better. "Fine. Whatever." She grabbed Jeremy's hand again. "He apologized. Now let's go."
This time Jeremy let himself be led away, but from the tension in his body and the look on his face, Chloe knew that he was still furious and that this conversation was far from over.
"That goddamn Tyler Lockwood!" Jeremy snarled fifty steps from the others. "He thinks he owns the damned town and that he can do whatever the hell he wants!" His eyes flashed. "He-he-he slapped your butt."
"Twice," Chloe mumbled as she reached behind her to rub the sore cheek, a flinch on her face. "He didn't hold back either. It hurts damn it."
Jeremy turned as if to go right back and punch Tyler again.
Chloe forced the younger male to turn around once more. "Jeremy, just let it go."
"How can you tell me that?" He ran lean fingers through his hair.
"Look, it's water under Wickery Bridge." She then froze when she remembered that that was the bridge that Jeremy's parents had run off of and died. "I'm so sorry Jere, that was so thoughtless of me."
He shook his head. "It's okay."
She sighed and wrapped her arms around his arm, resting her forehead against it. "No, it's not."
Jeremy cleared his throat. "So, Elena and Aunt Jenna are trying to make my outfit match yours." He made a face. "While I get the reason why, I don't like the idea of being a part of a matching set. Plus, it's a hassle having to find different colors when my dad's suit is basically ready."
"What color are the accents?" She asked curiously, relieved for the change in conversation.
"You always looked good in red." Chloe then blinked and blushed hard. "Uhm, that was, uh, Thaddeus."
Jeremy was grinning brightly down at her. "You know, I like you more as a girl, you tell me more than you ever did as a guy."
"While you are no different. You're still ready to scratch someone who comes too close to me." Chloe gave him a teasing smile. "Remember Margaret Fell?"
Jeremy grinned even brighter. "That was a satisfying day."
They shared laughs despite how very odd it should be that they were so aware of their past lives.
"So, you still haven't told me what I should expect at the Mystic Festival." Chloe hugged Jeremy's arm and ignored the stares they were getting, having decided that if she had to have rumors about who was she was dating, she preferred the pretend-boyfriend to be Jeremy.
"Don't know what to tell you." Jeremy shrugged. "The Founding Families throw the festival every year, people get dressed up in period clothes - like in so many of our festivals or parties - and there is music and dancing. It's nothing grand."
Chloe opened her mouth to ask for more details than that when she noticed someone off to the side and gave a gasp as she let go of Jeremy to hurry off towards the parking lot, where Lex Luthor leaned against a car he'd obviously rented. She reached him and hugged the billionaire on instinct.
"I think I'm slowly getting used to you being affectionate," he announced as she pulled away. "You mind skipping the last class? We need to talk."
Chloe tensed at that, worried. "Of course."
Lex gazed over her shoulder. "You should join us."
Jeremy nodded as he came to stand next to Chloe. "Sure."
They got into Lex's car and the bald billionaire waited until they'd joined traffic to start talking, shooting Jeremy a glance in the backseat through the rearview mirror. "So, I'm going to go straight to the point, since it's obvious she's told you the truth about her."
Chloe's eyes widened in horror. No! She hadn't!
Lex kept his eyes on the traffic. "The trial is coming up and my spies in Lionel's camp say that they're being sent out in droves to try and find you. I didn't want to contact you on the phone in case it was being monitored, and this is only a quick stop on my trip so that I can visit you incognito and warn you. I'll have to stop communication for a while, and you should only call me if it's a matter of life or death." He turned his blues on Chloe and mistook her paleness for worry about the situation and not because she was terrified about how pissed off Jeremy was at this moment. "Don't worry. The trial will be here soon enough and you'll be able to testify against my father and put him away for life-for what he did to me, and what he did to you."
Chloe gave Lex a weak smile and nodded.
"That's why I also wanted to talk to you." Lex's gaze went back to the rearview mirror, to Jeremy. "I saw how you reacted back there, how you protected her, and while my father's assassins are definitelynot high school bullies I want to ask you to please keep a good eye on her. You're the only one who knows the fact that she's basically in the witness protection due to all of the many attempts on her life, many of them which have almost been successful, and I'd feel better if I knew that there was someone keeping a close eye on her twenty-four-seven."
Chloe closed her eyes tightly as Lex laid it out to Jeremy so bluntly.
"You can count on me." Jeremy's voice was calm.
That was never a good sign.
"Good." Lex sounded pleased. "Again, I know there is little you could do if an assassin finds her again, she barely survived it the last time one found her here in Mystic Falls, but knowing that there is someone looking out for her makes me feel better."
Jeremy was extremely quiet in the backseat.
Lex occupied the rest of the drive telling Chloe about her friends in Smallville before he stopped outside of the Salvatore Boarding House and let them out. "Be careful." And with that he drove away, leaving Chloe to deal with the fallout.
Jeremy stood by her side, gaze on the car as it disappeared. "Witness Protection?" His voice was still horribly calm. "Assassins?" His gaze finally lowered onto her, and they were furious. "Which found youhere?"
Chloe licked her lips. "Jere-."
"Why didn't you tell me any of this?"
She took in a deep breath and couldn't meet his eyes. "It wasn't important."
"How the hell can you say that?" He snapped at her. "Assassins!"
Chloe looked away and hugged herself. "You weren't supposed to know about this. You were never supposed to be involved in this." She shook her head and ran her fingers through her hair in agitation. "It's not safe for you to know this."
"It's not safe for me?" Jeremy looked livid. "Chloe! You're in danger! Someone is tracking you down to kill you!"
"You think I don't know that?" Chloe snapped at him, green eyes flashing with anger. "I've gotten away from this guy before! My father wasn't so lucky!"
Jeremy went still, the boy knew her father was dead but had never heard the true circumstances surrounding his death. "You told me he'd died in an accident."
"Yeah, the accident was that I didn't die alongside him." Chloe looked away from him, still hurting. "I know that when you found out that ghosts were real you were psyched because that meant that one day you might see your parents again-but the thought of seeing my dad once more terrifies me because I can't handle seeing the man I got killed. Because of me he died while I-I seem to have the luck of the devil and keep surviving!" She hated herself for this, for living when he'd died. He'd been innocent and had paid the ultimate consequence for her actions. "I'm like a bad weed-I can't die-and sometimes I hate it more than I hate the man who killed my father! I should've died! I should be dead! I-."
Jeremy grabbed her and pulled her to him, hugging her tightly as she broke down crying against him. "When will you start relying on me?" He whispered into her hair, voice trembling with emotion. "Am I really that unreliable?"
She held onto him tightly and shook her head, her voice muffled in his shirt. "I got my father killed, Jere. I could never handle it if something happened to you as well because of me."
"Don't you think I'd be safer knowing instead of getting caught unaware if another assassin finds you here?"
"An assassin would wait until I was alone so they could kill me cleanly without interference. You would've been safe." She resented Lex so horribly for continuously displaying her secrets to Jeremy and getting the boy into more and more danger. "I know you, Jere, you're not going to let this go. You're going to start looking for assassins all around me, and if one does find me you're going to somehow be there at the exact moment you shouldn't be-and I'm terrified you're going to die because of me just like he did!"
He cursed softly into her hair. "I'm not going to die."
"You don't know that." Her voice was still muffled by his shirt as she clung unto him.
"I'm not." He held her so tightly it nearly hurt. "It's Thaddeus that gets killed. Not Evelyn."
She closed her eyes and gave a dark laugh into his shirt. "Yeah, but Evelyn was idiotic enough to kill herself for me." She tightened her grip on Jeremy's shirt and lifted her head to look up at him. "You still end up dead, Jere."
"You die first." His eyes were extremely dark. "Don't you get that? You die first."
The blonde pushed away and hugged herself, remembering Thaddeus telling her that she was living out the life he hadn't been able to, that her father had had to die because Thaddeus' own family had been killed as well. She was an echo of someone else's short-lived life, one half of star-crossed and doomed lovers, and she was terrified that if she let herself get closer to Jeremy, if she allowed them to become what they were both slowly heading towards, that history would repeat itself once more. Thaddeus had been running from this Klaus person and she was running from Lionel, both monsters who'd killed her family because of something she'd done. Didn't that mean she was cursed? Everyone she'd loved had died violently, Evelyn included. She should prove herself a better person than Thaddeus and send Jeremy away for his own safety.
She looked up to tell Jeremy that maybe they shouldn't go to the Mystic Festival after all, but instead of Jeremy the man standing in front of her was George Lockwood.
This was another memory.
"George." She took in a deep breath.
"Thaddeus." George looked around him, clearly uncomfortable and worried they were being watched. "Were you followed?"
Chloe raised her eyebrow. Why exactly was he so jumpy? "No."
"Will you stop being such a scared child, George?" Katherine's voice betrayed her presence as she emerged from the shadows, far too finely dressed for a secret rendezvous. "Thaddeus can not turn into a wolf and yet you do not see him shaking in his fur with his tail between his legs, do you?"
George glared at her. "You do not understand the meaning of caution, Katherine. Sleeping with both of Salvatore's sons? Feeding on them under his own roof? What sort of suicide wish are you harboring?"
Katherine smirked. "Stefan and Damon are faithful to me, they love me, they would never let their fool of a father hurt me."
"Pride cometh before the fall," George cautioned. "And you are due one terribly hard fall upon your pretty derrière."
Katherine appeared quite pleased. "It is quite attractive," she angled herself towards Thaddeus. "Do you not agree?"
Chloe raised an eyebrow before she turned to George. "Is there a reason why you are so nervous? We are alies now. You can tell us. We would help you." She paused. "I would help you."
George gave her a little smile. "Thank you, I do believe you would, and I appreciate that, Thaddeus." He sent Katherine a sideways glance that proved he didn't believe she would help him in the least bit before he turned his gaze back to Chloe. "There was an odd fellow in the center today and I thought I should warn you two as he was asking about you."
Katherine frowned, all her previous arrogance gone. "About Thaddeus and I?"
"He did not call you by your names though, he called you Thackery and Katerina." George nodded. "He goes by the name Fritz and is staying at Hannigan's Inn. I thought you would want to know."
Chloe went still at the mention of Thaddeus' real name, before she cleared her throat. "He might have the names wrong, but I do not appreciate the fact that he was enquiring after me."
"I agree with you." Katherine's voice was dark, her face expressionless. "We shall have to give this gentleman a little visit."
Chloe nodded before she turned to George. "Thank you, my friend."
George nodded before he turned and left, obviously still very uncomfortable with these midnight meetings.
As soon as George was out of hearing and gone from their sight, Katherine turned to Chloe, eyes bleeding black. "It has to be one of Klaus' men. We need to go there and kill him."
"Really, Katerina. Do you not think that Klaus would find it a little suspicious if one of his men were killed here?" Chloe folded her hands over her chest.
Katherine's veins were appearing on her face, the girl visibly fighting her vampiric instincts and desire to kill. "And what other brilliant idea do you have, Thackery? To let him live to tell Klaus about us?"
Chloe gave her a little smile. "That's exactly what I have planned."
The shock made Katherine's black eyes and veins fade away as she stared at her in confusion and suspicion. "Is that so?"
Chloe opened her mouth to explain her plan (or Thaddeus' plan, because she had no idea what it was, the girl only a part the memory, reliving actions Thaddeus had already performed centuries ago) when suddenly she found herself lying on the bed, Jeremy's voice coming from the bathroom.
"She's never fainted before, Bonnie. What in the world is going on?" There was a pause. "No, I don't know what she saw! You're the only one who's ever hijacked her mind and seen what she's seen." And he sounded resentful of that. "All I know is that she fainted and I only just managed to get her inside and in her room before Zach came back home." He made a grumbling sound. "Bonnie, I have no idea what that even means!"
The blonde groaned as she sat up in time for Jeremy to exit the bathroom, the phone cradled between his ear and shoulder, a bowl with water and a washrag floating inside in his other.
Jeremy hurried towards the bed and put the bowl on the nightstand. "She's conscious." He switched the phone to speaker and put it on the bed as he wrung the excess water from the washrag and placed it on Chloe's forehead, the girl jumping slightly. "It'll help with the fever, try and bare it."
"Fever?" Only then did Chloe realize she actually did have a fever.
Bonnie's voice came loud and clear from the phone. "How are you?"
"I'm fine." Chloe's teeth chattered slightly from the coldness of the water in the washrag against her hot skin. "A bit tired, but fine."
"She fainted, she's not fine," Jeremy spoke to Bonnie.
"I'm coming over." Bonnie announced.
"You don't have to-." Chloe tried.
"Yeah, come over." Jeremy surprised her. "I'm getting worried and I think it's time you and I started sharing ideas."
"I'm already on my way." Bonnie hung up.
Chloe stared up at Jeremy as he continued to press the cold washrag against her forehead. "I'm fine."
He didn't answer, jaw tense as he continued to do his best to cool her down.