The Hunters: Destiny Rising
Chapter 28

 L.J. Smith

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Bonnie was padding across campus in bare feet, her ice-cream-cone pajama bottoms flapping around her ankles. Oh, great, she thought dismally. I forgot to get dressed again.
"Are you ready for the test?" Meredith said brightly next to her. Bonnie stopped and stared at her suspiciously.
"What test?" she asked. "We don't have any classes together, do we?"
"Oh, Bonnie," Meredith said, sighing. "Don't you even read your email? There was some kind of mix-up, it turns out, and we all have to pass a big high-school Spanish exam we missed, or we won't really have graduated."
Bonnie stared at her, frozen in horror. "But I took French," she said.
"Well, yeah," Meredith said. "That's why you should have been studying all this time. Come on, we're going to be late." She broke into a swift-footed run, and Bonnie stumbled after her, tripping over the laces of her Converse high-tops.
Wait a second, she thought. Wasn't I barefoot a minute ago?
"Hang on, Meredith," she said, drawing to a halt to catch her breath. "I think this is a dream." Meredith ran on, though, straight and sure down the path, her long, dark hair flying out in the wind as she left Bonnie behind.
Definitely a dream, Bonnie thought. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've had this dream before. "I hate this dream," she muttered.
She tried to remember the conscious-dreaming techniques she'd been talking about with Alaric. This is a dream, she told herself fiercely. Nothing is real and I can change whatever I want. Glancing down at herself, she made her sneakers tie themselves and changed her pajamas into skinny blue jeans and a black top. "Better," she said. "Okay, forget the exam. I think I want . . ." Possibilities were flying through her mind, but then she forgot them all, because suddenly in front of her was Zander. Wonderful, darling Zander, who she missed with all her heart. And Shay.
"I hate my subconscious so much," Bonnie mumbled to herself.
Zander was gazing down at Shay with a small smile, giving her that adoring look that was supposed to be reserved for Bonnie alone. As Bonnie watched, he ran his hand gently over Shay's cheek, tipping her face toward him. Change it! Bonnie inwardly screamed at herself as Shay's and Zander's lips met in a soft, lingering kiss.
Before she could focus, though, everything went black for one second, and she felt a powerful, painful yank as she was torn from the dream. When her eyes opened, she was somewhere new, a breeze ruffling her curls. And watching her, standing alarmingly close, his face alight with laughter, was Klaus.
"Hello, little redbird," he said. "Isn't that what Damon used to call you?"
"How do you know that?" Bonnie said suspiciously. "And where am I, anyway?" The wind rose, blowing strands of hair across her face, and she shoved them back.
"I've been having a good rummage around in your mind, redbird," Klaus said. "I can't get to everything yet, but I can pick up bits and pieces." He smiled widely and engagingly. He'd be quite handsome, really, Bonnie thought wildly, if he weren't so obviously insane. Klaus went on. "That's why I picked this place to have our chat."
Bonnie's head cleared a little, and she looked around. They were outdoors, on a tiny platform sheltered by an arched cupola. In every direction, a blue expanse spread out, and far below, a touch of green. Oh, jeez. They were somewhere really high.
Bonnie hated heights. Forcing herself to look away from the long drop on every side, she stayed still, in the middle of the platform, as far as possible from the sides, and glared up at Klaus. "Oh, yeah?" she said. It wasn't the best line, but it was the best she could manage under the circumstances.
Klaus smiled cheerfully. "One of the pieces I came across was your memory of the orientation tour of campus. They offered to take you up in the bell tower, didn't they? But you said" - and suddenly an eerie echo of Bonnie's voice rose up all around them, joking, but with a touch of actual fear - "'No way, Jose, if I go up that high I'll have screaming nightmares for a week!'" As the memory of Bonnie's voice died away, Klaus grinned. "And so I thought this might be a good place for our heart-to-heart."
Bonnie remembered the incident on the tour vividly. The bell tower, the highest spot on campus, was a popular place, but Bonnie couldn't look at it without her stomach clenching up. Zander and his friends liked to party on the rooftops of buildings, but rooftops tended to be a lot bigger than the bell tower, and there Bonnie could stay away from the edges. Plus, at those parties, she'd had big, reassuring, protective Zander with her, which made all the difference.
Still, she wasn't going to let Klaus see he was getting to her. Crossing her arms defiantly, she carefully looked only at Klaus. "I was kidding on the tour," she lied. "I just didn't want to climb all those stairs."
"Interesting," Klaus said, his smile widening, and then he raised his hands. He didn't touch Bonnie, but she found herself suddenly skidding back away from him, as if he was pushing her very hard. Her back collided at last with the railing at the edge of the platform, and she let out a helpless little whoof of air.
"Don't lie to me, redbird," Klaus said softly, walking toward her. "I can smell your fear."
Bonnie clenched her teeth and said nothing. She did not look behind her.
"Tell me Elena's secret, little bird," Klaus said, his voice still soft and coaxing. "You're her witch, so you must know. Why couldn't I kill her in the battle? Did you do something?"
"No idea. Maybe your knife was dull," Bonnie quipped.
She squeaked involuntarily as her feet suddenly left the ground. She was - oh, God - dangling in midair like a puppet suspended by invisible strings. Then those strings yanked her backward, her ankles banging painfully against the top of the railing as she was swept powerlessly out to hang in empty space. Bonnie caught one terrifying glimpse of the campus far below her before she slammed her eyes shut. Don't let me fall, she prayed. Please, please. Her heart was pounding so hard she couldn't breathe.
"You know, they say that if you die in your dreams, you really die in your bed," Klaus said softly, sounding like he was right next to her. "And I can tell you from personal experience that the saying's quite true." He let out a low, sickeningly excited laugh. "If I drop you, they'll be picking pieces of you out of your bedroom walls for weeks," he said. "But it doesn't have to come to that. Just tell me the truth and I'll let you down gently. I promise."
Bonnie clenched her eyes and her jaw shut tighter. Even if she were willing to betray Elena - which she wasn't, she never would, no matter what, she told herself firmly - she didn't believe Klaus would keep his promise. She remembered dazedly how Vickie Bennett had died, though, at Klaus's hands. She'd been torn to shreds, her blood spattered like a kid had swung around a can of red paint in her pink room. Maybe Klaus had killed Vickie in her dreams.
Klaus chuckled, and the air around Bonnie shifted again.
"What's going on?" a confused, frightened, and oh-so-familiar voice asked. Bonnie's eyes snapped open.
Next to her in midair dangled Zander. All the color was bleached out of his face, so that his wide, terrified eyes looked even more impossibly blue than usual. He was grasping at empty air with both hands, struggling to find something to hold on to.
"Bonnie?" he croaked. "Please, what's going on?"
"Your girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, is refusing to tell me something I want to know," Klaus told him. Klaus was seated on the railing of the bell tower, his own legs dangling off the side. He smiled at Zander. "I thought if I brought you in, you might provide some incentive for her."
Zander looked at Bonnie pleadingly. "Please tell him, Bonnie," he begged. "I need this to stop. Let me down."
Bonnie gulped, panicking. "Zander," she said. "Zander, oh, no. Don't hurt him."
"Whatever happens to Zander now is your fault, redbird," Klaus reminded her.
And then something clicked together. Hang on, a voice said inside Bonnie's head. The voice, cool and cynical, sounded sort of like Meredith. Zander's not scared of heights. He loves them.
"Stop it," she said to Klaus. "That's not Zander. That's just something you made up. If you're finding stuff inside my head, you're doing a terrible job. Zander's nothing like that."
Klaus gave a sharp growl of irritation, and the Zander he'd created went limp in the air beside her, his head flopping to one side. He looked disturbingly dead like that, and even though Bonnie knew it wasn't real, she had to look away.
She'd known all along this was a dream, of course. But she'd forgotten the central thing about controlling dreams: they weren't real.
"This is a dream," she murmured to herself. "Nothing is real and I can change whatever I want." She looked at the false Zander and blipped him back out of existence.
"Clever, aren't you?" Klaus commented, and then, as easily as opening his hand, he let her fall.
Bonnie sucked in one frightened breath, and then remembered to make a floor under her feet. She stumbled as she landed, her ankle turning under her, but she wasn't hurt.
"It's not over yet, redbird," Klaus said, climbing down from the railing and walking toward her across the air as if it were solid, his dirty raincoat flapping in the breeze. He was still chuckling, and there was something about the sound that frightened Bonnie. Without even thinking about it, she flexed her mind and threw him as far as she could.
Klaus's body flew backward, as floppy as a rag doll, and Bonnie had just a second to see his startled expression turn to rage before he was only a falling black speck on the horizon. As Bonnie watched, the speck stopped falling, turned, and rose, coming back toward her. It moved alarmingly fast, and soon she could make out the outline of some great predatory bird, a hawk perhaps, swooping toward her.
Time to wake up, she thought. "It's just a dream," she said. Nothing happened. Klaus was getting closer, much closer.
"It's only a dream," she repeated, "and I can wake up anytime I want. I want to wake up now."
And then she really did wake, warm under her comforter in her own cozy bed.
After one gasp of pure relief, Bonnie began to cry - great, ugly, choking sobs. She reached onto her desk, feeling for her cell phone. The images of Zander, his face intent, kissing Shay, hanging powerlessly in the air, stuck with her. They hadn't been the real Zander; Bonnie knew that intellectually. But she needed to hear his voice anyway. Just as she was about to push the button to dial, she hesitated.
It wasn't fair to call him, was it? She was the one who had said they should take some time apart, so Zander could think about what would be right for him, not just as a person, but as the Alpha of a Pack. It wouldn't be fair to call him to make herself feel better, just because Klaus had used his image in Bonnie's dream.
She turned the phone off and shoved it back onto the desk, sobbing harder.
"Bonnie?" The bed dipped as Meredith crossed the space from her own bed and sat on the edge of Bonnie's. "Are you okay?"
In the morning, Bonnie would tell Meredith and the others everything. It was important that they know that Klaus had gotten into her dreams again, and that the techniques Alaric had researched had let Bonnie fight him off this time. But she couldn't talk about it right now, not in the dark.
"Bad dream," she said instead. "Stay here for a minute, okay?"
"Okay," Meredith said, and Bonnie felt her friend's thin, strong arm wrap around her shoulders. "It'll be all right, Bonnie," Meredith said, patting her on the back.
"I don't think so," Bonnie said, and buried her head on Meredith's shoulder and wept.