[Continuing from the previous episode, Damon is standing around the unconscious bodies of Stefan and Caroline and the near-dead bodies of Matt and Bonnie. Damon looks around to realize that he is in fact in the real world.]
- DAMON: No.
[Damon walks over to Matt, who is also laying on the floor unconscious]
- DAMON: [worriedly] Donovan. Hey, wake up.
[Damon bites his wrist and puts it to Matt's mouth to heal him]
- DAMON: [frantically] You do not get to die. Donovan, drink.
[As Matt wakes up, Damon pulls back his wrist and looks over at Bonnie, who is still sitting on the floor with her back to the wall, a large bloody smear above her from where her head slammed into it]
- DAMON: Bon.
[He makes his way over to her, bites his wrist, and puts it to her mouth.]
- DAMON: [worriedly] Bonnie. Bonnie. Oh, I'm so sorry.
[Bonnie coughs as she wakes up]
- DAMON: I didn't know where I was. I didn't know I was out--
[Just then, Caroline stakes Damon in the back and knocks him out.]
[Later, Damon wakes up chained to the railing of the staircase by his wrists]
- DAMON: Ohh.
[He looks up at his chains and sighs]
- DAMON: Oh, yup. I saw this coming.
TITLE CARD & OPENING CREDITS
[Stefan is asleep on the couch and dreaming intensely. The sounds of water bubbling are heard as Bonnie, Nora and Mary Louise chant around him]
- BONNIE, NORA, & MARY LOUISE: ...Ababbas Dogoineh... Ababbas Dogoineh... Melunah... Washaset...
[In the real world, Damon calls out Stefan's name, causing him to stir in his sleep]
- DAMON: Stefan.
[In Stefan's dream, he's seen underwater with a red light shining on him. He suddenly wakes up as Damon continues to call from the hallway]
- DAMON: Stefan.
- STEFAN: Yeah. Yeah I heard you.
[Stefan finally gets up and walks over to Damon, who is still chained in the hallway.]
- DAMON: No vervain this time? We switching up the menu?
[Damon seems unnerved by how calmly Stefan is acting]
- STEFAN: Nah, I just wanted to make sure you had a chance to calm down.
- DAMON: Oh, I'm calm.
[When Stefan remains silent, Damon becomes confused]
- DAMON: No, no, no. You're gonna say to me. You're gonna say to me, I screwed up so bad. I nearly killed all of our friends because I thought I was stuck in a fake hell-world.
[Stefan's face is grim, but it's clear he's sympathetic]
- STEFAN: You don't have to explain. It wasn't your fault.
[Damon is completely confused and stunned by this uncharacteristic reaction]
- DAMON: Huh?
- STEFAN: It was an honest mistake. You're getting a pass.
[Damon, still confused, thinks Stefan is playing a joke on him]
- DAMON: Wait. You skipped a bunch of stuff. First, I'm supposed to say I see the error of my ways, and then you tell me that that's not good enough, and then you judge me harder. And then I say something mean, but true, that totally throws you off balance.
[Stefan kneels down in front of Damon so he can look him in the eye]
- STEFAN: You came out of the Phoenix Stone but you thought you were still inside of it. Everybody understands.
- DAMON: Oh. That's pretty generous, considering I just stabbed your pregnant girlfriend in the chest...
- STEFAN: Yeah, well the hellstone does a number on you.
- DAMON: Yeah, Yeah it does. Well I'm here. And it's real. I'm ready for my bro hug.
[Damon spreads his arms as wide as the chained shackles around him will allow]
- DAMON: I'll wait until you've unchained me, brother.
[Stefan frowns, and it's clear he's worried about Damon]
- STEFAN: Here's the thing, Damon. Um, Hell messes with you, but post-hell is much worse.
- DAMON: [concerned] Oh.
[The front door opens and Stefan turns to see who it is. Tyler walks in, and when he sees Damon and Stefan, he scoffs exasperatedly]
- TYLER: You guys gotta be kidding me!
[Tyler throws up his hands and gestures to the house as Stefan stands to his feet.]
- TYLER: This is still my house.
[Damon smirks at the sight of Tyler in Mystic Falls]
- DAMON: Tyler Lockwoof.
[Tyler turns toward Damon and gives him an annoyed look]
- DAMON: Yeah, Stefan, I thought my allergies were acting up.
[Stefan doesn't seem that thrilled to see Tyler and frowns in concern]
- STEFAN: I didn't know you were back.
- TYLER: Caroline invited me to her baby shower. Although she failed to mention the part about Mystic Falls going to crap. What the hell happened out there?
- DAMON: Oh, you know. We had to evacuate. Scary Heretics. Fictional mining fires. You weren't CC'd on the memo?
[Stefan sighs before turning back to Damon]
- STEFAN: I don't think he's talking about the evacuation, Damon.
- DAMON: So what is he talking about? I know you didn't manage to screw the whole town up all over again while I was on my weekend trip to limbo.
- STEFAN: [sighs] That's the thing. You weren't gone for just the weekend. You've been gone for weeks.
DOWNTOWN MYSTIC FALLS
[Julian and many other vampires are partying in town with garbage can fires all around the sidewalks and two cars revving for a drag race in the street. Julian walks up to a vampire named Ellis, who is preparing to kick off the race]
- JULIAN: Ellis, tell your friends to bring something back from their hunt. We need to stock the bar for happy hour.
[Julian walks away, leaving Ellis to pass on the instructions to the vampires in the car]
- ELLIS: Hey! No killing dinner. On my count.
[Ellis walks past the cars as he counts down]
- ELLIS: Three, two, one. Go!
[The cars take off as vampires cheer and watch them speed away. Julian holds up his hands]
- JULIAN: Who's thirsty?!
[The crowd cheers.]
MYSTIC FALLS BORDER
[Matt and Bonnie are preparing a trap for the vampires. Matt gets out a sheet of spikes from his car and prepares to lay it on the road while Bonnie frowns and looks down at her phone.]
- MATT: What's wrong? Damon text-bombing you empty apologies?
- BONNIE: No, I'm letting Stefan deal with Damon.
[Matt lays out the spikes on the road.]
- MATT: Oh, that's smart. Until Damon manipulates Stefan into thinking he's changed and then he's our problem again.
- BONNIE: [sighs] I'm trying to be positive. Okay?
[Bonnie's phone goes off buzzes, and she looks shocked when she sees it]
- BONNIE: Oh, my God.
- MATT: [worried] What?
- BONNIE: [amused] Are you on matchasingle.com?
- MATT: [confused] Why?
- BONNIE: 'Cause it just matched us.
[Bonnie smiles and shows Matt her phone. Matt's picture on his profile shows him in his uniform. Matt walks over to get a closer look and chuckles]
- MATT: Oh, you wish, Mystic Queen.
- BONNIE: Okay, we gotta get you a new profile picture. Is that a gun?
- MATT: Yeah, I was in my uniform. I'm not gonna crop my gun out.
- BONNIE: Okay, I'm not trying to be in your business, but maybe showing a softer side will get you more hits.
[As the cars from earlier drive by, Matt and Bonnie duck behind Matt's car. The cars pop their tires over the spikes and swerve to a stop. Matt gets out his rifle. One vampire gets out and Bonnie gives him an aneurysm. Matt fires his rifle. The other vampire gets out of his car,]
- BONNIE: Errox femus!
[The vampire's bones break and he collapses. Matt fires again. Bonnie is relieved at their victory but Matt is not satisfied. He walks over to the vampire and begins to stomp on him. Bonnie rushes over to him and looks at him with concern]
- BONNIE: Matt. Matt! Okay, he's dead.
[Matt reluctantly stops, but it's clear he's still mad]
- MATT: At least Lily kept her Heretics on leash. I guess it's safe to say I lost my soft side.
[Bonnie, still worried, decides to drop the topic for now]
- BONNIE: Okay. Come on. Let's get these bodies out of here.
[Damon struggles against his chains while Stefan gets a chair and leans against it. Damon looks at him exasperatedly]
- DAMON: You delegated Deputy Doolittle to patrol the streets with his witchy ride-along? Are you sure Bonnie put the right soul back in your body? I mean, what happened to your hero-hair campaign to protect Mystic Falls?
- STEFAN: [rolls his eyes] Well, I've been busy trying to raise you from the dead.
- DAMON: [scoffs] It's called multitasking!
[Stefan clenches his jaw before he speaks]
- STEFAN: You have no idea what I have been through.
- DAMON: Alright, brother. You have a captive audience. What'd I miss?
FLASHBACK-- SEVERAL WEEKS EARLIER, CLASSY RESTAURANT
[Stefan and Caroline, dressed in fancy evening clothes, have just arrived at a high-class restaurant, where Stefan has just pulled out Caroline's chair for her. While the scene goes on, Stefan narrates the story in voiceover for Damon]
- CAROLINE: [smiles] Thank you.
- STEFAN: [voiceover] After Bonnie did the spell to bring me out of the stone, all I wanted to do is get back to normal with Caroline...
[Caroline looks happy to be doing a normal date-night activity, but Stefan looks haunted and still out of it]
- CAROLINE: Super fancy. Even my purse has a chair.
- STEFAN: Well, we're celebrating, so I figured we'd take it up a notch, right?
- CAROLINE: Absolutely. So, what wine are you feeling like?
[Stefan zones out slightly before he answers]
- STEFAN: I don't care. Whatever you want.
[Caroline looks slightly concerned as she looks down at her pregnant belly]
- CAROLINE: Well, I'm drinking water...
[Stefan looks embarrassed to have forgotten that Caroline is pregnant and can't drink]
- STEFAN: Right. Sorry.
[Caroline looks at Stefan with concern]
- CAROLINE: Are you sure that you're up for this? I know it's the first time you've really been out since you woke up.
[Stefan is visibly worried himself, but doesn't want to give her more stress, so he lies]
- STEFAN: I'm... I'm fine. Thank you, though.
- CAROLINE: Okay, good. Because Bonnie thinks she's close to pulling Damon out. She said that she felt especially strong today.
[Caroline pats her swollen belly, but Stefan suddenly gets a ringing noise in his ears that drowns Caroline's voice out slightly, causing him to zone out again while she speaks]
- CAROLINE: And with any luck, we'll be celebrating something else soon.
[Just then, Damon, still wearing the same clothes he wore the day he was stabbed with the Phoenix Sword, appears and walks toward them]
- DAMON: Hello, lovers. Miss me?
[Stefan gapes in horror at the sight of him]
- STEFAN: How'd you get here?
[Damon walks toward Caroline with a huge knife in his hand and holds it up to stab her, and Stefan reflexively grabs his fork from the table and lunges toward him]
- STEFAN: Get away from her!
[Stefan tackles "Damon" and holds the knife Damon was holding against his neck, and Caroline, horrified and worried, jumps up and rushes over to them]
- CAROLINE: Stefan, stop. What are you doing?
[Stefan suddenly snaps out of his hallucination, and realizes that he's actually pinning down one of the restaurant's waiters, who looks terrified. The rest of the restaurant customers look at them with scandalized expressions. Stefan is horrified by what he's just done and quickly backs away from him]
- STEFAN: I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
PRESENT DAY-- LOCKWOOD MANSION
[The scene returns to the foyer of the Lockwood Mansion, where Damon is trying to make Stefan feel better about what he just confessed]
- DAMON: So you got out of hell, you're on the up-and-up, and then you started hallucinating me as a waiter. I mean, I couldn't be a manager or something?
- STEFAN: I think you're missing the point.
- DAMON: [sighs] I get the point, Stefan. I have no desire to kill Caroline. I mean, other than the last time I tried... But we can all agree that that was a huge misunderstanding.
[Stefan doesn't look convinced, so Damon continues pleading his case]
- DAMON: I'm not gonna have a psychotic break, brother. I promise.
- STEFAN: [sighs] Okay. Here's how this is gonna work. I'm gonna unchain you, and you're not gonna leave my side until I'm convinced that you're okay.
- DAMON: I'm 100% okay.
- STEFAN: Good. Then you can prove it to me while I drive you around the new Mystic Falls.
- DAMON: Great.
[Stefan leans over to unshackle Damon's wrists from the chains suspended from the staircase when Damon suddenly hears a man whispering from above him]
- MAN: Damon...
[Damon looks up at the staircase and is horrified to see that it's Henry, still dirty and in his Confederate uniform, just like from Damon's hellscape]
- HENRY: Peek-a-boo.
[Stefan finally finishes unshackling Damon while he panics over this new hallucination]
- STEFAN: Ready?
[Damon quickly covers up any concern over seeing Henry and gives Stefan a weak smile]
- DAMON: Yeah. All good.
WHITMORE COLLEGE / DOWNTOWN MYSTIC FALLS
[Damon and Stefan are walking around the town square while Stefan talks on the phone to Caroline, who is in the common room of her dorm at Whitmore and is setting up for the baby shower]
- CAROLINE: Are you really worried about Damon or is this just a convenient excuse to get out of the baby-food-tasting game?
- STEFAN: Well, if that is what I think it is, then I would rather be sent back to the hellstone.
- CAROLINE: Honestly, I don't blame you. But Alaric needs this. You know, he doesn't have the necessary accouterments of a single father-to-be.
- STEFAN: Well, don't worry. I'm gonna still get him that Baby Bjorn thing, or whatever you made me click on when I was drunk.
- CAROLINE: Thank you. Hey, be safe today, okay? I finally got you back to reality. I want to keep you in one piece.
- STEFAN: Don't you worry. I will. Bye.
[Stefan and Caroline hang up. Damon gives Stefan an amused look]
- DAMON: Oh, boy.
- STEFAN: What?
[Stefan and Damon walk past a large crowd of vampires drinking beer on the street as they walk toward the Mystic Grill, and Damon mimes hitting Stefan with a whip to tease him about Caroline]
- DAMON: Wah-psh!
[Stefan rolls his eyes and leads him into the Grill]
- STEFAN: Just get inside.
[Stefan and Damon enter the Grill, and Damon scoffs and makes a face as he looks around. The main room is dark, with only a few overhead lights turned on and some lit candles scattered around the tables. It is also packed full of men and women in leather jackets and biker boots, presumably all vampires who are friends of or were turned by Julian]
- DAMON: Lovely.
- STEFAN: Yeah. Well, you get used to the smell.
- DAMON: [sighs] And this is why they should've gotten me out first.
- STEFAN: Well, they tried, but apparently, you weren't ready to be pulled out.
[Stefan looks at Damon with concern]
- STEFAN: What happened to you in there?
- DAMON: Picture me as a soldier in gray being shot to death over and over and over again while the ghost of Mommie Dearest floated on her harpy wings, saying, "I told you so, Damon."
- STEFAN: Sounds pretty miserable, if you ask me.
[Damon leads them to the bar, where he finds a half-full bottle of bourbon next to a bunch of empty glasses and beer bottles
- DAMON: Well, I think that was the point. I just realized all I had to do was cry some big-boy tears and tell Mommy I was sorry.
- STEFAN: [nods] Glad you got some closure.
- DAMON: It did the trick, because right after that, I went toward the red light in the sky....
[Damon is momentarily distracted when he sees Henry across the room, walking toward a crowd of vampires. However, when Stefan frowns and turns to see what Damon is looking at, Damon snaps out of it and changes the subject so as to not cause him more stress]
- DAMON: What about you? How'd you pass your existential dealio?
[Damon takes a swig from the bottle of bourbon, but before Stefan can answer, Julian appears behind them with a devilish smirk]
- JULIAN: Look who survived.
[Damon glares at Julian]
- DAMON: Look who infested my town because he has nothing better to do with his eternity.
- JULIAN: [pleasantly] Your brother and I called a truce.
- STEFAN: Well, I wouldn't call you taking over my town without my permission a truce exactly...
- JULIAN: [shrugs] Well, I suppose it wasn't so much of a "takeover" as a "walk right in, and nobody stopping you."
[Damon suddenly gets angry and claps Stefan on the shoulder]
- DAMON: You gonna take that, hmm?
[Julian looks amused by Damon's outburst, but Stefan immediately tries to calm him down by putting his hand on Damon's chest and pushing him backward away from Julian]
- JULIAN: Ooh.
- STEFAN: Hey, hey, hey, hey. Today's all about proving that you can play well with others, all right?
- JULIAN: There's no need to pout. I'm not gonna hurt your precious town. It holds sentimental value for me as well. This was Lily's home once. Now it's mine.
[Damon and Stefan both scowl at him for his mention of Lily, which only amuses Julian more]
- JULIAN: Well, anyway...
[He gasps in mockingly as though he's ashamed of himself for being impolite]
- JULIAN: I'm making this about myself when here you are, back with the living. Congratulations! Although, now's where the real work begins, doesn't it?
[Julian smiles at them fakely and squeezes Stefan's shoulder with mocking affection]
- JULIAN: Good luck to you both.
[Julian leaves, and Stefan continues to scowl at him as he walks away. While Stefan is distracted, Damon suddenly hears Henry's voice from behind him]
- HENRY: Can I get you another one, soldier?
[Damon turns around and stares at the hallucination of Henry standing before him, but after a moment, Stefan turns to see Damon has zoned out again and becomes concerned]
- STEFAN: Damon...
[Damon hears him, but hasn't quite snapped out of it yet]
- DAMON: Yeah...
[Stefan reaches out to turn Damon around, which finally brings him back to reality]
- STEFAN: Hey, what are you looking at?
[Damon looks behind him, and when Henry is no longer there, he becomes embarrassed. Once again, he tries to brush off his concerns and lies to Stefan about what he saw]
- DAMON: One too many pieces of vampire trash.
[Damon, still blinking and slightly disoriented from the hallucinations, sets the bottle of bourbon back on the bar and walks outside to get some air. Once he's gone, Julian approaches him]
- JULIAN: Are you certain you're still suited to be his wing man? I expect you're still adjusting yourself.
- STEFAN: I think I'm handling it. Thanks.
- JULIAN: Yes. When I first got out, I thought I was... Handling it, too.
[Julian takes a large gulp of his drink and exhales dramatically]
- JULIAN: Ahh.
[Julian once again takes his leave, and Stefan closes his eyes and sighs, obviously overwhelmed by the stress of everything that has happened recently]
[The baby shower is in full swing, and Alaric, Matt, and Tyler are blindfolded with baby bath towels and are about to start a game to see which of them can put a fresh diaper on their baby doll the fastest. One of the guests starts the clock for the race]
- GUEST: And GO!
[The rest of the party-goers cheer excitedly as the men race to beat each other in who can do it the fastest. Caroline and Bonnie watch from the other side of the room, where Bonnie has her phone out and is video recording the game with an amused smile. However, Caroline just looks worried and anxious]
- CAROLINE: This is a nightmare.
- BONNIE: Are you kidding me? This is the best blackmail material ever.
- CAROLINE: [sighs] In T-minus a few short weeks, these babies are popping out of me and being handed to him--
[She gestures toward the boys, where Alaric is trying to beat Matt and Tyler in the game]
- CAROLINE: --Their only parent. A man who's hardly inspiring any confidence...
[Just then, a bell dings, and the announcer calls them to stop]
- GUEST: Time!
[The boys take off their blindfolds, and when Alaric sees that he won, he fist-pumps excitedly]
- ALARIC: YES!
[Caroline smiles and looks proud when she sees that Alaric managed to diaper the baby perfectly]
- CAROLINE: Huh!
[The girls and Alaric watch as Matt and Tyler take off their blindfolds and gape in shock when they see their results-- Matt has put the diaper on the babies head, and Tyler has accidentally popped the baby's head off the doll entirely. Tyler looks up at Caroline with an embarrassed grin]
- ALARIC: That's terrifying.
[Caroline and Alaric shoot Tyler and Matt a look]
- ALARIC: You're never babysitting. Neither of you. Ever.
[Alaric stands to his feet, and Caroline smiles happily as she walks over to congratulate him. Over at the table, Matt is still looking at the baby doll whose head he covered with the diaper]
- MATT: I made a helmet!
[Tyler still has the baby bath towel (with a pink owl on the hood) on his head, and he still looks embarrassed about his now-headless baby doll. Caroline starts a conversation with Alaric]
- CAROLINE: [smiles] Hey, how did you do that?
- ALARIC: [shrugs] Well, it's a diaper not a bomb.
[Alaric pauses and considers this for a moment before smirking]
- ALARIC: Though, I could dismantle a bomb blindfolded if I needed to...
[Caroline laughs sarcastically]
- CAROLINE: Ha ha. There's nothing funnier than newborns and C4!
[Alaric smiles cheerfully as he teases Caroline]
- ALARIC: So I shouldn't store my explosives in the nursery? I think I read that in one of the twentyparenting magazines you left in my office...
- CAROLINE: [giggles] Okay, okay, I get it. I'm the overprotective, no-fun surrogate.
[Alaric's teasing smile turns into a genuinely kind and grateful one]
- ALARIC: No, no! Actually, you are an incredibly generous friend, who I will forever be indebted to.
- CAROLINE: Well, it's not about debt...
[She hesitates for a moment before she continues]
- CAROLINE: As long as you understand... once these babies are born, I will not be on-call 24/7 to burp and bathe and feed and diaper...
[Alaric gives her an understanding smile]
- ALARIC: I get it, Caroline. I... I don't expect that to be your problem.
[Caroline almost looks as though she feels guilty about what she just said as she replies to him]
- CAROLINE: Well, it's not a problem. It's just that there's-- Oof!
[Caroline suddenly grabs her stomach and smiles]
- CAROLINE: Baby A just kicked.
- ALARIC: Oh, she did? Really?
- CAROLINE: Mmhmm.
[Alaric hesitantly reaches out and touches her belly, and when he feels one of the babies kick, he laughs excitedly]
- ALARIC: Haha! Oh, damn! My daughter's a ninja!
- CAROLINE: [laughs] Oh, yeah.
[She continues to hold her belly to feel the babies move]
- CAROLINE: There goes Baby B.
- ALARIC: [curiously] Oh, you can tell 'em apart?
[Caroline, surprised and impressed by how devoted Alaric is being to the babies, smiles sweetly at him despite herself]
- CAROLINE: Of course!
[Over by the bar, Tyler has poured himself a shot of bourbon, and he drinks it down in one while Matt stands next to him]
- TYLER: Ahhh. And I almost have my manhood back.
[Matt holds up a baby bottle that is sitting on the table next to him and chuckles]
- MATT: Yeah, "almost" being the operative word.
- TYLER: [rolls his eyes] You just suffocated a doll with a diaper, Donovan. Drink up.
- MATT: I can't. I'm on duty.
- TYLER: [scoffs] I don't know why you even bother. The bad guys aren't going anywhere, man. I mean, if anything, they're multiplying.
[Matt looks at Tyler with an incredulous expression]
- MATT: So, that's it, huh? You're just gonna give up? We grew up there, Ty. That is your town.
- TYLER: Was my town. Now it's a cesspool that's not worth getting killed over. Getting out was the best thing that ever happened to me.
[Matt seems appalled by this response from Tyler, but before they can get into it further, Nora arrives to the dorm and stands hesitantly in the doorway, unsure of what to do. Tyler looks intrigued by her and starts to check her out, but Matt looks angry at the sight of her]
- TYLER: Who's that?
- MATT: [coldly] Someone who wasn't invited.
[Bonnie walks over to Nora to greet her with a weak smile]
- BONNIE: Hey. Wasn't sure you'd make it.
- NORA: [shrugs] Well, anything to postpone studying for midterms.
[Nora holds up a gift, and Bonnie looks at her curiously]
- BONNIE: Did you buy off the registry?
- NORA: [frowns] You mean that list of demands? No. See, I refuse to purchase anything called a "milk warmer." So instead, I bought these tiny little socks that for some reason look like laced-up sneakers.
[Bonnie considers this for a moment and nods]
- BONNIE: Socks count as practical. Good. That's how we'll sell it to Caroline.
[Bonnie takes Nora by the arm and leads her toward the bar]
- BONNIE: Come on. I'll get you a drink. Although, fair warning, they're in baby bottles.
- NORA: Ah. Infants drinking. What a lovely image. Can't say I'm surprised.
[Bonnie and Nora join the party while Matt scowls at them from across the room]
[Damon has just walked outside the Mystic Grill to get some air, where his hallucination of Henry follows him and continues to talk to him despite Damon's best efforts to avoid him]
- HENRY: Are you just going to surrender your town to the enemy?
- DAMON: [frustrated] I get it. You're a hell-world hangover. But I already passed the test, Henry. I already admitted my fault. You can leave me alone.
- HENRY: You passed the test, yes, but you haven't completed your liberation.
- DAMON: [loses his temper] Oh yeah? Liberate this.
[Damon plunges his hand into Henry's chest and rips out his heart, "killing" him. However, when Damon looks down at his hand, it's covered in blood and has an actual heart in it, which confuses him]
- DAMON: ...Very realistic head-trip.
[Just then, Damon looks down at the ground and is horrified when he realizes that he actually killed Julian's vampire friend Ellis, thinking he was Henry. Before Damon can react further, Stefan walks outside, frowning and sighing at the sight of Damon and Ellis. Damon looks embarrassed]
- DAMON: We should probably skip the check.
[Damon, still horrified by how realistic his hallucination was, drops the heart on the ground and walks away. Stefan looks seriously stressed about Damon's condition]
[Bonnie has just returned from grabbing a bag of ice and a bottle of alcohol for the party drinks when Matt confronts her in the hallway]
- MATT: So, you want to tell me what the Heretic's doing here?
- BONNIE: [confused] Probably 'cause I invited her?
- MATT: [sarcastically] Oh, so we spend all morning killing Julian's vampires, then you invite one to Caroline's baby shower?
- BONNIE: [frowns] First of all, she's not Julian's. And second of all, she helped us get Stefan out of that stone.
- MATT: [irritably] After she put him in! After she killed my graduating class, kidnapped Caroline, and then murdered every human at her anniversary party.
- BONNIE: I see her studying by herself every day. And honestly? I felt bad. So, I invited her. It's better to have a powerful Heretic as a friend than an enemy.
[Just then, Nora appears in the hallway behind them]
- NORA: And I'm quite good at gifts-- don't forget that.
[Bonnie looks over and feels guilty for what Nora just overheard, but Matt simply glares at her. Nora looks awkward and a little hurt]
- NORA: Perhaps it's time for me to leave...
- MATT: Yeah, perhaps you should.
[Bonnie shoots Matt an annoyed look before turning back to Nora]
- BONNIE: No, I invited you. You should stay.
- NORA: I would, but I'm afraid your friend here may say something inappropriate to me, and then find himself never able to speak again.
- MATT: [scoffs] Did you just threaten me?
- NORA: Oh, I didn't, actually. That would have looked like this.
[Nora thrusts out her hand and turns her wrist, telekinetically choking Matt from down the hall]
- NORA: Take another step toward me, and I'll pluck your vocal cords from your throat and use them to play a rather sporting game of "Pin the tail on the Deputy."
[Matt clutches his throat and coughs and chokes as his face starts to turn red, causing Bonnie to drop the bag of ice and rush over to take Nora by the hand]
- BONNIE: [gently] Stop... Please.
[Nora finally does as Bonnie requested, and Matt gasps deeply as he tries his best to catch his breath. Nora looks mildly ashamed of her behavior]
- NORA: The party was lovely. Thank you.
[Nora turns and leaves the party. Bonnie, overwhelmed and feeling guilty, looks back at Matt, who has only become more furious. He walks past her and yanks the bottle of bourbon out of her hands and shoots her a dirty look before he leaves as well]
DOWNTOWN MYSTIC FALLS
[Stefan and Damon are walking back to their car while Stefan confronts him about what just happened]
- STEFAN: When were you going to tell me that you lost your grip on reality?
- DAMON: [embarrassed] I just did. I like to use visual aids.
- STEFAN: [sighs] You need to tell me what you're going through, because it only gets worse from here.
[Stefan and Damon get into Stefan's car, and Damon scoffs in annoyance]
- DAMON: Worse than you envisioning me as a waiter? Who was I next? A busboy? A valet?
[Stefan sighs once again before sitting back in his seat]
- STEFAN: You were everywhere.
FLASHBACK-- SEVERAL WEEKS EARLIER, LOCKWOOD MANSION
[The scene cuts to a flashback to just after Stefan was brought back from the Phoenix Stone, which Stefan narrates in voiceover. Stefan is in the middle of dreaming about drowning at Steven's Quarry with Damon when he suddenly awakens with a gasp on the couch in the late Mayor Lockwood's study]
- STEFAN: [voiceover] I couldn't sleep. Couldn't eat. Couldn't get you out of my head. The only constant I had was Caroline.
[Caroline, looking concerned in her bedclothes and robe, rushes in to check on him]
- CAROLINE: Another nightmare?
[Stefan continues to pant anxiously as he tries to catch his breath]
- STEFAN: Yeah. The same one. I was in the quarry. I was... I was drowning, and Damon was there.
- CAROLINE: Damon was there? Then what?
[Stefan hesitates for a moment before he stands up and heads toward the bar]
- STEFAN: Doesn't matter. Its over.
[He rubs his eyes with one hand while he pours himself a drink, and Caroline looks worried about him as she walks over to join him]
- CAROLINE: Clearly it's not. Whatever you experienced in that rock is still torturing you somehow.
[Just then, Hallucination-Damon appears behind Caroline, and Stefan's eyes widen in horror at the sight of him]
- DAMON: You're lucky you have her to hold onto, brother.
- STEFAN: [anxiously] You're not here.
[Caroline looks confused and even more worried]
- CAROLINE: Who are you talking to?
[Stefan, overwhelmed, groans in frustration]
- STEFAN: Get out of here, Caroline.
- DAMON: Yeah, get out of here, Caroline! Before I rip those babies right out of your belly.
- STEFAN: [furiously] ENOUGH!
[Stefan throws his glass at the hallucination of Damon, which flies across the room and shatters against the wall. Caroline, looking panicked, tries to get through to him]
- CAROLINE: Stop! It's not real. It's not real!
- STEFAN: [voiceover] But then I pushed her away, too. I lost sight of everything. I barely even noticed when Julian took over our town.
[The scene cuts to downtown Mystic Falls, where Stefan is walking through the town square. The park is full of Julian's new vampire friends, who are gathered around trashcan fires and are generally causing a ruckus. When he hears a motorcycle race going by on the nearby street, he stops walking and turns to watch for a moment as Julian and his friends splash liquor around the road]
- STEFAN: [voiceover] All I could see was you.
[Once again, Hallucination-Damon returns to haunt Stefan]
- DAMON: Where's Mom when you need her? 'Cause fat chance you're winning this showdown.
[Stefan looks as though he's unable to bear another moment of this torture and grabs Damon by the front of the shirt]
- STEFAN: Why are you still here?
- DAMON: I'm a piece of the stone puzzle. If you figure it out, I'll leave you alone. Until then...
[Damon swats at Stefan's hands until he lets go before backing away with his arms spread wide and a devilish smirk on his face]
- STEFAN: [voiceover] I couldn't get rid of you.
PRESENT DAY-- DOWNTOWN MYSTIC FALLS
[In the present, Stefan continues his story to Damon]
- STEFAN: I couldn't stop seeing you. I couldn't stop hearing you. Nothing else mattered. Not our town, not Julian, not even Caroline. All I cared about was making you go away.
[Damon makes a face at Stefan, but Stefan remains silent]
- DAMON: So? Pins and needles over here, brother. What did you do?
[Stefan sighs in shame before he's transported into another flashback]
- STEFAN: I got a can of gasoline...
FLASHBACK-- SEVERAL WEEKS EARLIER, LOCKWOOD MANSION
[In flashback, Stefan is in the middle of dousing Damon's body with gasoline
- STEFAN: [voiceover] I was convinced that the only solution was to burn your actual body. I had to stop you from haunting me. I had to get rid of any reminder of what I went through in the hellstone.
[Stefan pulls out a lighter and lights it, and his eyes are filled with tears as he tries to muster up the courage to drop it. Just then, Caroline walks in, and when she sees what he's doing, she rushes over to him in a panic]
- CAROLINE: What are you doing?
- STEFAN: [hopelessly] I don't want him to come back, ever. I have to get rid of him.
- CAROLINE: [worriedly] This isn't who you are, Stefan. You love your brother. And I know that you would rather die than let him go.
[Stefan, overwhelmed by all of his Phoenix Stone trauma, starts to breathe heavily as he tries to compose himself. He finally shuts the lighter, and Caroline pulls him closer so she can hug him comfortingly]
- STEFAN: [voiceover] Caroline found me just in time. Without her, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself. I would have set your body on fire to end my own suffering.
PRESENT DAY-- DOWNTOWN MYSTIC FALLS
[Stefan looks over at Damon, who is clearly affected by what he's just been told]
- DAMON: Well, that explains why I smelled like gas when I woke up.
[Stefan nods, visibly ashamed by what he almost did, but before either of them can react further, the windshield to the car is suddenly smashed with a wooden baseball bat by an unidentified man in a blue blazer and jeans. When the brothers look around to see who it was, the man beats in the driver's side window before hitting Stefan in the head with it]
DOWNTOWN MYSTIC FALLS
[Stefan's ears are ringing when he wakes up, and he has a bleeding wound on his left temple and hairline. He seems dazed and disoriented as he looks over at Damon, and the scene gets a blurry quality to it when he finds his brother staring at him without injury. Stefan looks at him with concern]
STEFAN You okay?
DAMON I'm not the one you should be worried about.
STEFAN [confused] Huh?
DAMON You should have left me at the Grill, Stefan. Let me deal with the consequences of my actions, but no-- Saint Stefan to the rescue. Always there to clean up his big brother's messes.
STEFAN [overwhelmed] What are you talking about?
DAMON Quit trying to save me, brother.
[Suddenly, Julian appears with the wooden baseball bat still in hand as he pulls Stefan out of the car and pins him to the door with his arm. Stefan puts his hands up in a non-threatening gesture, and he's clearly still disoriented from the head trauma]
- JULIAN: This is what your brother did to Ellis!
STEFAN He didn't know what he was doing.
- JULIAN: [sarcastically] Really? He was just fishing around for his liver and came across his heart?
STEFAN [sighs] I promise I will get him under control.
- JULIAN: Well, I strongly recommend that you find him first.
STEFAN [frowns] What?
[Stefan looks back at the car to find that the passenger's seat is empty]
STEFAN He was just here.
- JULIAN: Hmmm. No, I assure you, he was not.
[When Julian realizes what's going on, he smiles smugly at Stefan]
- JULIAN: You were alone when I arrived. You were talking to yourself. Perhaps that stone isn't finished with you after all?
[Stefan looks horrified when he realizes that his own hallucinations have returned, which pleases Julian]
- JULIAN: In the meantime, if either you or your brother harm one of my men again, I will gut one of you and feed the other the entrails.
[Julian clicks his tongue as he walks away, leaving Stefan completely shocked over what has just happened]
[Tyler is walking through campus, checking his phone, when he finally meets up with Damon, who is sitting at a picnic table with his feet propped up. He wiggles his fingers at Tyler as he stands to his feet and approaches him]
DAMON Thanks for stepping away from Babyland.
- TYLER: Anything to avoid a guessing game about how big Caroline's belly is.
DAMON [nods] Yeah.
[Tyler looks at Damon in confusion]
- TYLER: What do you want?
DAMON I need to see Elena.
[Tyler gives Damon a knowing look]
- TYLER: That's not an option.
[Tyler turns to walk away, but Damon chases after him and grabs him]
DAMON Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. I just want to see her face for a minute. A little reminder that everything's gonna be okay, you know?
- TYLER: When you gave me her coffin, you made me swear to not let anybody see her. Especially you.
[Damon scoffs and shrugs]
DAMON I was feeling a little sentimental.
[Tyler gives him another look, though he does look slightly amused at how predictable Damon is being]
- TYLER: You told me that's what you would say. You figured at some point, you'd get impatient, or lose your nerve, or have a really bad day. You said under no circumstance am I allowed to give her to you.
[Damon, getting impatient, shoves Tyler backwards]
DAMON [sighs] I changed my mind.
- TYLER: [rolls his eyes] I know what happened the other night. I know you're sick. Where is Stefan anyway?
[Damon grabs Tyler by the front of the shirt and pushes him backward against a streetlight]
DAMON Listen to me-- we can walk upstairs right now and turn that baby shower into a bloodbath, or you can take me to see my girl. No muss, no fuss. Just... Just a little visit, okay?
[Damon, seeing all of the people staring at them from the other tables, lets go of Tyler and smooths out his shirt and jacket before tapping him on the shoulder and smiling fakely]
GROVE HILL ROADS
[Matt is on his way back to Mystic Falls from the baby shower when his phone suddenly buzzes. He pulls it out to check it, though the screen is too far away to see the message or who it is from. Whatever it says, he's momentarily distracted by it, and when he looks back up at the road, he realizes he's driven into the nearby lane and is about to run head-on into oncoming traffic. Fortunately, he manages to swerve out of the way just in time, but in an unlucky twist, a Grove Hill police officer is behind him and turns on their lights and sirens on their car to indicate Matt should pull over]
- MATT: Damnit!
[Matt pulls over his truck and sighs, looking into his rear-view mirror to see the female officer getting out of her cruiser and heading toward him]
- MATT: Oh, man...
[When the officer, whose name is Penny Ares, taps on his window, he rolls it down so he can speak to her]
- PENNY: Grove Hill PD. License and registration, please.
- MATT: Officer, look... I'm a cop, too, if you let me just show you my badge.
[Matt grabs his badge from the center console of his truck and holds it up so Penny can see it. She takes it and examines it before checking out the ID that is with it]
- PENNY: Mr. Donovan. The good news is you actually have a valid license, which means at some point, you did learn how to drive. The bad news is, that can only mean you're swerving between lanes because you're drunk.
- MATT: [flustered] I'm not drunk. I had a couple drinks at a party...
- PENNY: [sighs] Step out of the car, please. Now.
- MATT: [stunned] Are you kidding me?
[Penny rolls her eyes and steps backward so she can open the door for him, and he sighs as he reluctantly gets out of the truck]
STORAGE FACILITY-- GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
[Tyler and Damon have just arrived at the storage facility where Tyler has hidden Elena. Damon doesn't look at all impressed about Tyler's choice of secure hiding places]
DAMON [mockingly] "Nice security," he said with contempt.
[Tyler sighs as he leads Damon toward a large, red metal shipping container and starts to unlock and open the door, revealing Elena's coffin resting on a metal stand in the middle of the otherwise-empty space inside the container]
- TYLER: [exasperatedly] You told me to keep her safe, and I did. You don't need to secure someone if no one knows where they are.
[Damon's expression has softened considerably as he slowly walks in toward Elena's coffin. Tyler watches him warily as Damon approaches her, resting his hand on top of the wooden lid before pulling the coffin out on its wheeled stand. Tyler, who looks like he's up to something, backs up away from him and ducks behind a nearby container, but Damon is too distracted by his reunion with Elena to pay attention. However, when Damon opens the lid, he finds Henry laying inside with a satisfied smirk]
- HENRY: Me again.
DAMON [horrified] Oh, no. No, no, no...
[Just then, a clicking noise is heard from behind Damon, and he turns, still shell-shocked by the hallucination of Henry, to find that Tyler is now pointing a loaded gun at him. He shoots Damon, hitting him in the hand and making Damon angry enough to vamp-speed toward him and backhand him across the face before flipping him onto the ground. Damon pins Tyler to the ground face-down by the neck and slams his head against the concrete until his skull cracks and starts to bleed everywhere. Once Tyler is incapacitated, Damon stands to his feet]
[A frantic Stefan has just arrived to the baby shower, where he finds Caroline talking to a guest and rushes over to her]
[Caroline smiles politely at the guest she's talking to]
- CAROLINE: Excuse me for one second.
[Caroline rushes over to Stefan and looks worried when she sees how overwhelmed he looks]
- CAROLINE: Hey...
STEFAN Why didn't you answer your phone?
- CAROLINE: I'm sorry, I was using it for the playlist. Are... Are you okay?
[Stefan continues to look frantic]
STEFAN Has Damon been here?
- CAROLINE: [frowns] No. Why would he be?
STEFAN [panicked] I don't know where he is. I thought he was with me, and then he wasn't, and...
[Caroline is clearly concerned, but she calmly grabs Stefan by the arm and pulls him into the adjacent hallway to talk to him]
- CAROLINE: Okay, okay. Stefan, just calm down. Focus. Okay? Wha... What is going on?
STEFAN [anxiously] It's happening again. Look, I was talking to Damon, and I think he was there, but now I don't know when he left.
- CAROLINE: [worriedly] It's okay... You're okay.
STEFAN [sighs] No, I'm not. And neither is he.
STORAGE FACILITY-- GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
[Damon has just stood up after checking on Tyler's unconscious body, but is startled to see Henry sitting up in Elena's coffin and staring at him. He starts yelling at the top of his voice as he walks toward him]
DAMON Can't you find someone else to haunt?
- HENRY: I can't leave until you find liberation. You're still denying your nature. You haven't let go of what's holding you back.
DAMON [scoffs] What does that hellstone have to do with my true nature?
- HENRY: A Phoenix Stone. It doesn't trap you. It frees you... to be reborn as your true self.
DAMON You want to see my true self?
[Damon scowls and walks away]
[Stefan and Caroline have moved into Caroline and Bonnie's dorm room to continue their conversation]
STEFAN I need to go find Damon.
- CAROLINE: [sighs] No, you don't. You know what? We are going to take care of you first.
STEFAN [frustrated] How are you gonna take care of me? My soul was literally trapped in a rock.
- CAROLINE: Yeah, until you passed some kind of test. You never told me how you earned your freedom.
[Stefan looks away, clearly uncomfortable about where this conversation is heading]
STEFAN Bonnie pulled me out with a spell. You know that.
- CAROLINE: [frustrated] No. Something else happened in that Hell-world, something that you won't admit.
[Stefan still can't meet Caroline's eyes, and she sighs]
- CAROLINE: You can't keep hiding like this, Stefan. You can't. Just please, let me help you.
STEFAN [sighs] There's nothing we can do about it now, okay?
- CAROLINE: [groans] You have to tell me. It's the only way we're gonna get through it. You have to try. Just...
[Caroline sighs deeply before she continues]
- CAROLINE: God. You can't go on like this.
[After a moment, Stefan finally decides to tell his story with tear-filled eyes]
STEFAN I was living in a repeating loop of misery.
[Suddenly, he's transported into a flashback while he narrates in voiceover]
FLASHBACK-- STEFAN'S HELLSCAPE, STEVEN'S QUARRY
[Stefan is drowning face-down in the quarry]
- STEFAN [voiceover] I was living in a repeating loop of misery. Every loop ended with Damon dragging me into the quarry. The water was black and freezing. We were drowning together. Every time I tried to swim to the surface, he dragged me back down.
[In the flashback, Damon is losing consciousness below him as Stefan holds onto his hand as tightly as he can]
- STEFAN [voiceover] Every time I tried to save him, I died too. I finally realized that there was only one way to escape. If I wanted to survive, I had to go on without him. So, I let him go.
[Stefan lets go of Damon's hand, and he slowly sinks to the bottom of the quarry. Stefan's face is suddenly illuminated by a red light, and he's able to swim up to the surface]
PRESENT DAY-- WHITMORE COLLEGE
[Stefan and Caroline are still sitting on her bed while Stefan finishes his story]
STEFAN I abandoned him. I let my brother drown so I could save myself.
- CAROLINE: [softly] So... that's why you're hallucinating him? Because some faux-version of your brother is upset with something that you did in a fake reality?
STEFAN The hellstone is trying to tell me something. It's trying to prove a point. I will never be happy until Damon is out of my life for good.
[Caroline looks horrified by this confession]
- CAROLINE: Do you really believe that?
STORAGE FACILITY-- GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
[Damon has just returned to where the hallucination of Henry is still sitting in Elena's coffin, and he has a large can of gasoline in his hand]
- HENRY: You took my words to heart, did you?
DAMON Shut up.
[Damon punches him hard in the face, and he's knocked back against the pillow inside the coffin]
DAMON I'm not doing this with you anymore.
[Damon starts dousing Henry in gasoline]
DAMON I told you to leave me alone. Now I'm gonna end this.
[Damon is so caught up in his hallucinations that he doesn't realize what he's doing when he lights a lighter and throws it onto Henry's body. Once it goes up in flames, Damon backs off and watches in satisfaction, not initially noticing that Henry has appeared behind him]
- HENRY: You're right. You're not doing it with me anymore.
[Damon's eyes widen in alarm when he turns and sees Henry behind him]
- HENRY: I promised you liberation.
[Damon, eyes wild with horror and fear, turns to rush over toward Elena, but Henry stops him and holds him back]
DAMON No. Elena!
[Damon is completely devastated by what he's just done, and his eyes are filling with tears]
- HENRY: This was necessary, Damon. She held you back from being the monster you really are!
[Damon finally pushes past Henry and rushes toward the burning coffin, but the flames are so hot and intense that he can't get any closer to her than where he already is]
DAMON No. Elena! Oh, my god. No. Elena!
[He looks into the coffin and sees Elena being consumed by the flames (though she doesn't appear to actually be burning) and begins to truly panic]
DAMON No! No, Elena! Oh, god. Elena.
[Night has fallen, and Bonnie has just arrived at an outdoor bar, where she finds a sullen Nora sitting with a drink]
- BONNIE: In case it wasn't obvious, today was supposed to be a fresh start.
- NORA: Oh, spare me the lecture.
- BONNIE: What the hell is your problem? I was trying to be nice to you.
- NORA: After I left your wretched party, I found this in my mail.
[Nora picks up a postcard and sets it onto the table in front of her. There is nothing written on it except for a large red X scrawled in marker]
- NORA: [coldly] Is this your idea of a joke?
[Bonnie frowns in confusion]
- BONNIE: Postcard? You have a pen pal.
- NORA: [unamused] If you sent this, you'd best admit it now before I squeeze the truth from your trachea.
- BONNIE: [scoffs] Why would I send this to you? And even if I did, what's so scary about the alphabet?
[Nora's eyes widen in alarm and fear when she realizes what is truly going on]
- NORA: It's a warning... From the Huntress.
- BONNIE: [sarcastically] You're saying that like I should know who that is.
- NORA: You certainly know her weapon.
[Bonnie suddenly has a dawning realization]
- BONNIE: ...A sword.
[Bonnie sits down at the table across from Nora, who sighs]
- NORA: Yes. Custom-made for her. She used it to put Julian in the stone, along with thousands of other vampires. She's ruthless. Once you've been marked by her sword, she never stops hunting you. That's how Beau got his scar. She'll come to him now. She'll come for all of us.
- BONNIE: Then how do we stop her?
- NORA: There's no stopping her-- ever. And there's no "we" involved. Besides, she's not after you, so it's really not your concern.
- BONNIE: [firmly] If my friends' lives are in danger, I'm not gonna stand by and do nothing.
[Nora sighs, but seems both surprised and impressed by the fact that Bonnie wants to help her]
- NORA: Then what do you propose we do?
GROVE HILL POLICE DEPARTMENT
[Matt is sitting in a holding cell at the police station when Penny comes in to check on him]
- PENNY: All right, Officer Donovan, you're clear to go. But I can't let you drive yourself home.
[Matt, looking miserable, doesn't even move]
- MATT: I think I'll wait it out.
- PENNY: Sure you don't want to call a friend? That girl who does our turn-down service just left.
- MATT: [sighs] I'm a little light in the friend department right now.
[Penny pauses for a moment and gives him a sympathetic look]
- PENNY: I heard about your graduation... the whole freak mining fire thing? I can't imagine what it'd be like to lose half my class. Sorry you had to go through that.
- MATT: Thanks.
- PENNY: It's weird town officials didn't get FEMA involved, or at least increase emergency response. It's almost like everyone's resigned to letting the fires burn out on their own.
[Matt sighs bitterly once again]
- MATT: Yeah. That's the way it seems.
- PENNY: Except if everyone sits around doing nothing, there's not gonna be a town left.
[Penny pauses awkwardly for a moment before she speaks again]
- PENNY: Anyway, good night.
[Penny turns to walk away, but after a moment, she stops, grabs a duffle bag from the table, and carries it over toward his cell. It's Matt's bag, full of stakes, a crossbow, and other vampire-hunting weapons]
- PENNY: Oh, and, uh, one last thing. What the hell did we find in your truck?
[Caroline is in Alaric's apartment, opening and putting away all of the gifts they received at the baby shower, when she suddenly notices a letter on Alaric's desk. It's from Southern Methodist University's Department of Anthropology, offering him a job as a tenured professor. Caroline's eyes fill with tears when she realizes that Alaric is planning on moving away with the babies. After a moment, she hears Alaric come in with several more gift bags, and she quickly puts the letter back where it was and goes back to folding the new baby clothes, trying her best not to look upset when Alaric walks in and joins her]
- ALARIC: Ugh, phew!
- CAROLINE: Um, I think that I should wash these onesies with the... hypoallergenic detergent first. Where are the keys to the laundry room?
[Alaric frowns, clearly confused by her behavior]
- ALARIC: It's midnight, Caroline. I mean, we've got plenty of time to take care of all this stuff.
[Caroline, trying her best not to let it show how sad she is, starts rambling in an effort to distract him]
- CAROLINE: Yeah, I know. I know. We should also really get a head start on those car seats, because I read somewhere that first-time parents are just always messing those up. And did you happen to notice if the monitor came with little batteries? You don't have any around here. And the last thing that you need are just these screaming, crying babies in the middle of the night, and you can't even hear them...
[Despite Caroline's best efforts, Alaric can tell that something is wrong and looks at her with concern]
- ALARIC: Hey, what's going on with you? You okay?
[Caroline hesitates for a moment before she sighs and replies]
- CAROLINE: When were you gonna tell me that you're leaving?
[Alaric looks at her bashfully]
- ALARIC: ...When I officially got the job.
- CAROLINE: And what's wrong with the job that you have now?
- ALARIC: There's nothing wrong with the job. It's the place.
- CAROLINE: [fake scoffs] Faculty day care, hello! And you have preschool right here on the campus...
- ALARIC: Caroline, I am not raising my kids anywhere near Mystic Falls or Whitmore College or...
[Caroline, realizing where he's going with this, finishes his sentence for him]
- CAROLINE: Vampires.
- ALARIC: [sighs] That's right. Look, I'm sorry. I thought all this baby stuff bonanza, you know, all this single parent on their own...
[Caroline, looking embarrassed, tries her best to backtrack]
- CAROLINE: Yeah. No, it was--
[Alaric gives her a sympathetic look before he gently continues]
- ALARIC: Caroline, I was under the impression, you know, that once the babies were born... That you weren't gonna be involved.
[Caroline once again puts on a fake-happy tone of voice to try to shut their conversation down]
- CAROLINE: Uh, no. I won't, because they're not mine. They're yours and Jo's. Anyway, I actually think it's really smart. You know, safety first. You and your babies should get as far away from here as you can.
[Damon, still devastated by what happened, is sitting in front of the fire in the fireplace in Mayor Lockwood's study when Stefan finally returns home, looking frustrated and worried]
STEFAN Where were you?
DAMON Out. I had to clear my head.
[Damon doesn't turn around to face him, and Stefan pauses for a moment before making the same confession he made to Caroline earlier about his Phoenix Stone hellscape]
STEFAN I let you go. In my virtual hell, we were drowning together. And the only way for me to escape was to turn my back on you. And everything I've been hallucinating since was to drive that point home.
[Damon doesn't seem surprised or even hurt about this, he just nods in understanding]
DAMON Of course it was. The only way for you to be the hero and have a happy ending is to leave me in your wake.
STEFAN How do you figure?
DAMON Because my true self is dark, brother. And all that light just keeps getting in the way... Keeping me from being who I really am.
[Stefan seems very concerned by this answer and walks in front of Damon to look him in the eyes]
STEFAN Which is what? Reckless? Manipulative? Selfish?
DAMON Sounds about right.
STEFAN Yeah. It is. But you're also my brother.
[Damon, shocked by this unexpected twist, looks up at Stefan, whose eyes are filled with tears]
STEFAN I'm not gonna give up on you. Not now, not ever. You're stuck with me, Damon. I need you to know that.
[Damon, now overwhelmed with guilt, tries his best to confess what happened earlier with Elena]
DAMON Stefan, I...
[Damon can't find the words to say, and Stefan looks concerned]
STEFAN What is it?
DAMON I, um...
STEFAN [gently] Whatever it is, you can tell me.
[When Damon sees the concern and worry in Stefan's face, he looks down at his almost-empty glass and loses his nerve]
DAMON We're out of bourbon.
STEFAN [surprised] Is that it?
DAMON That's it.
[Damon raises his glass and smiles weakly]
DAMON Here's to drowning together.
FLASH-FORWARD-- KQBC CHANNEL 3 NEWS, DALLAS, TEXAS, 2016
[A man with a gun is walking through the news station where Caroline works with a gun in his right hand. Caroline's pre-recorded message to Stefan continues to play on a loop on the nearby television screen]
- CAROLINE: [voiceover] We apologize for the interruption to your current program. My name is Caroline. Please listen carefully. I have an urgent message for Stefan Salvatore.
[The man walks through the dark studio toward a large box, which he opens to reveal a bloodied, but otherwise unharmed Caroline inside with her mouth duct-taped shut and her hands bound. When the camera pans away, it's revealed that the man is Matt, who has a gun aimed at her. Caroline winces as he rips the tape off of her mouth and looks at him in surprise]
- CAROLINE: What are you doing here? I thought you were in Mystic Falls.
[Matt breaks the restraints off of her wrists, though his gun is still aimed at her]
- MATT: [coldly] I had to stop by and visit some buddies at Dallas PD and convince them that this hostage thing was a hoax. Get up.
- CAROLINE: [anxiously] You can put the gun down...
- MATT: [firmly] Get up.
[Caroline stands to her feet and looks at him with both shock and appreciation]
- CAROLINE: Thank you.
- MATT: You can go now.
- CAROLINE: [confused] That's it?
- MATT: You already did what we needed.
[Caroline is horrified when she realizes what's going on]
- CAROLINE: We? You're helping her?
- MATT: You're the easiest way to get to Stefan. Don't take it personally.
- CAROLINE: "Don't take it personally?" I have a family, Matt.
- MATT: [coldly] So did I. And a girlfriend, and a life... And now I don't. So, your problems don't mean anything to me anymore. Now, go. Get out of sight and stay out of sight until Huntress gets what she wants.
[Matt turns and walks away, leaving a horrified and stunned Caroline behind]