Chapter 02

Bonnie, Elena and Stefan were having lunch at the Grill as the girls discussed planning a surprise party for their friend, Caroline’s, upcoming birthday. Having asked to use the boarding house as the location, they wanted to include Stefan in with the arrangements. Something that afternoon changed. The vampire felt strange as he sat in the restaurant while the girls went on with their plans, his gaze drifting over the other customers. He couldn’t quite place the feeling he had while he listened to Elena list of things that they needed still had to out and purchase.

On a passing glance, Stefan met Bonnie’s eyes and she seemed to have the same confused expression on her face but didn’t know what to make of it, so neither said anything. Probably for the same reason of not wanting to alarm Elena as this was the first time in since the drama that was named Katherine, or even Klaus, had been in town, that she found something to be excited about.

As the three were leaving, Elena pointed out a moving van that was coming through town. “That must be the new chief and his daughter. Caroline heard from her mom they’re moving here all the way from Washington state,” she said with a smile as she watched them drive by.

Stefan, on the other hand, could only stare confoundedly at the girl in the passenger seat. He swallowed involuntarily as he suddenly felt as if he should fear this obviously human girl that had the face of someone he once knew. Slowly, he pulled his eyes away as the vehicle turned the corner, out of sight, to Bonnie as she too remained fixed on the corner where they disappeared. “Did you feel that?” Stefan asked.

She nodded, unsure. “I felt a shift of power…” she said slowly. “I don’t understand it.”

“Do you know where they are supposed to be moving into?” he asked Elena as she looked at them confused.

“Um, yeah. The old Swan manor,” she answered. “From what I understand, they are the last of the missing founding family that moved away like twenty years ago that finally decided to come back. What is going on, Stefan? Is something wrong?”

He didn’t answer right away as he grabbed her hand and started down the sidewalk towards the direction that he remembered of the old house. “Yes Elena, something’s very wrong,” Stefan said through gritted teeth as he tried to figure out a way to understand what the hell was going on and how to break this kind of news.

“What? Tell me!” she exclaimed as she tried to keep up with his pace. Bonnie was just as curious but remained quiet as she understood more about the need for silence about the power this girl might have until they knew what kind of threat she might be or what she actually was. “Stefan! Slow down! Ow…”

Not realizing in his panic that he was starting to hurt her, Stefan froze and let her go. “Sorry,” he muttered, running his hands over his face and through his hair as he paced just around the corner from the old house. He peered around an old fence from the neighbor’s property to see the girl staring curiously at the building as if she was in a trance which, in truth, kinda freaked the vampire out. “Okay…I don’t know quite how to say this…”

“Then just say it Stefan because right now you are really starting to scare me,” Elena whispered. “What about this family is bothering you?”

“It’s – the girl,” he said slowly, looking at her.

She stared back at him, waiting. Of course she wouldn’t get it because he didn’t give her enough information. Damon was so much better at just laying information out and not caring. “That girl, well, she’s a doppelganger. I knew her original, Isabelle…” Stefan started to explain but trailed off as he tried to find the words that weren’t exactly his to share.

“Isabelle was what? Were you and her together?” Elena asked nervously, causing Bonnie to frown at him.

“No,” he said immediately, looking her in the eyes. Smiling slightly as he thought about her, Stefan laughed some. “No, she and I were only ever just friends. Teased each other mercilessly like siblings. No. She was Damon’s – until just before Katherine came. She disappeared and we never knew what happened to her.”

The girls’ eyes widened in their understanding. “No wonder you started to freak out. So how are we going to tell Damon? When was he supposed to be back?” she asked. “Oh my god! He will freak out!”

“This weekend, but I don’t think we should really wait,” he said as he pulled out his phone anxiously. “The last thing we need is him to stumble on her accidentally and we all know how he loves to overreact.”

“Do you think she knows anything?” Bonnie interrupted as he started to dial, making him pause. “I mean, she is emitting some serious power for a doppelganger. Nothing like Elena so she’s something more than just that.”

That had him thinking too, because as a vampire, he shouldn’t have felt something that strong himself the way a witch would. “You think she might be a witch?”

“It’s very possible,” she shrugged. “There are hundreds of reasons for that kind of power that I don’t want to speculate on without knowing her. I’d have to at least meet or touch her to get some kind of idea of her history.”

Stefan cleared his phone, deciding to hold off on calling his brother as he thought about that. Usually Damon was the impulsive one but in this case, he knew he needed to do something because he would be even worse off upon seeing this girl. Looking over his shoulder, back in the direction of the house, he grimaced as he came up with an idea. “I can’t believe I’m suggesting this but I say we just go up and introduce ourselves. Welcome them to the neighborhood?”

“Play the friendly welcoming committee,” Bonnie said, catching on with a nod.

Elena frowned as she eyed the two. “If Damon came up with this you two would be telling him what a bad idea it was,” she pointed out.

“And this time, I’m doing it to protect my brother,” Stefan said sadly. “You don’t know what the loss of Isabelle did to him and he was human then. You only know how he reacted to losing Katherine as a vampire. If he was one with her…His humanity likely would never have come back.”

“He loved her a lot?” she asked curiously, but Stefan was reluctant to give out more information about the relationship.

“They were close. That’s all I’ll admit to,” he said firmly, not looking back at them he headed towards the Swan house.

Stefan didn’t stop but he heard the girls’ footsteps pause as they faltered. The Damon they knew now might not be into the idea of marriage anymore but he knew his brother still had his emotions no matter how well he masked them to protect himself. As his brother, he’d be damned to let him go through that again if he can help it.

As soon as they were all on the porch, Stefan knocked on the door. He was surprised to find himself nervous as they waited for someone to come answer, and even more so when it was the girl. He stared at her as she greeted them, at a loss for words just how much identical she really was to the Isabelle he had grown up with.

He was actually rather grateful that Elena had taken charge of speaking with her because he knew he would have really screwed something up bad but she threw him for a loop when she invited her to join their group for dinner that night. Initially she refused, but something about her dislike of crowds bothered him because his friend had loved throwing parties. Then Elena suggested Damon’s cooking, Stefan inwardly grinned because he knew exactly where he had learned the recipe for that particular sauce and was right on board with that suggestion but was more interested in her dazed look when he mentioned his brother.

“Yeah, I’m sure that we can work something out there if you prefer that. I’m so sorry, we didn’t get your name. Elena can come pick you up before dinner if you want to join us. Have Jeremy bring some movies to choose from?” Stefan asked, glancing between the girl and Elena, trying to move the conversation along and get more information quicker.

When she said her name was Isabella, it took everything in him not to give an outward reaction. He merely smiled at her as she excused herself to get permission from her father to join them. As soon as she was out of earshot, he continued staring into the house as he spoke to the girls. “It’s her. I don’t know how, but I’m positive it’s her.”

“A doppelganger or reincarnation?” Bonnie asked, whispering. “I couldn’t get into her head. I tried creating a small headache as a test, but she didn’t react to anything, and I didn’t see anything when I shook her hand.”

“I don’t know, but Damon is going to need to be headed off on this. If he sees her before dinner…I just don’t know. I don’t know,” he repeated, frustrated with the situation but they couldn’t continue the conversation further because Bella, as she preferred to be called, was returning.

As they squared away the details and said their goodbyes, Stefan started dialing Damon as they walked away from the house. Grimacing, he wasn’t looking forward to this discussion. “Damon…I need you to come back tonight,” he said as soon as he picked up before anything was said.

Whatever for little brother?” Damon’s sarcastic tone replied back.

Sighing, Stefan pinched the bridge of his nose. “We have a problem. Someone just moved to town and – well, you need to come home. We need to talk.”

Why would I care if someone moved to Mystic Falls? Why the hell would someone decide to move to Mystic Falls to begin with?” he asked back, both curious and irritated.

Thinking quickly, he decided to go with the band aid method as he looked back at the girls as they watched him with concern. “They moved into, um, the Swan manor…” he started, and at that he waited for some reaction but there was nothing but silence on the other end. “The daughter, she’s around Elena’s age and I think…”

Don’t say it,” Damon snapped over the line loud enough that Bonnie and Elena could hear it. “Don’t. She’s dead.”

“I know! This has to be a doppelganger or something. Bonnie thinks a possible reincarnation maybe. We don’t know. Something is off about her and that’s all we know. She felt a power shift when she came into town,” Stefan rushed out the words before his brother had the chance to hang up on him. “We were planning on trying to lay out details that only you and I would remember and see if she picks up on it. We need to find out what she is because Bonnie couldn’t get in her head nor could she see anything when she touched her. Whatever she is, she’s powerful enough to block her. If Klaus or his psychotic family finds out about her and gets their hands on that kind of power – everybody is screwed so we need to know what we are dealing with and see if we can do something to protect Bella.”

Damon was still quiet on the phone and Stefan wasn’t sure if he took anything from what he said. Hearing the sigh come across the phone line, he knew he caved. “We’ll be back in a few hours,” he said before hanging up

Stefan swallowed as he turned back to the girls. “This is going to be a long night,” Bonnie said as Elena went to hug her boyfriend who shifted his attention back to the house where the girl was looking out the window absently.