The Lady in Red

Beaten to the Punch

Selina had fallen asleep seated at her desk with the book she'd been reading underneath her cheek. She groaned as she sat up, yawning and rubbing the crick in her neck. "God," she whispered to herself, "what a night." She stood up and began to pace around her room, shaking out the muscles in her arms and legs, looking as if she were doing the hokey pokey. When she'd gotten through all her limbs, there was a knock at the door. "Come in," she called.

The door opened and Matthew strode in the room. "Good morning," he said. "How are you feeling?"

Selina sat down and thought a moment. "Fine, I guess. A little stiff, but fine."

Matthew nodded. "I thought as much. Do you want to come downstairs and do damage control now, or do you want to wait a little while?"

Selina's eyes widened "Damage control?"

"Yeah," Matthew nodded. "Do you remember what happened yesterday?"

Selina lay back on her pillow and shut her eyes. "It's a little fuzzy."

"Well," Matthew supplied, "for one thing, Stefan's downstairs unconscious."

"Why?" Selina asked. "How did it happen?"

"Well," he said hesitantly, "you're kind of responsible. You and Damon got back early from Charleston and found Stefan and Elena in the cemetery with the grimoire. They wanted to keep it away from you because they thought you would unleash hell on the town. And when they wouldn't let you have the grimoire, you punched Stefan and knocked him out."

"I couldn't. I wouldn't." Selina was shaking her head.

"Actually, you did. It was a very good punch. I was impressed." Selina and Matthew both turned to see Damon standing at the doorway with his hand on the frame.

"You were?" Selina asked. "I bet. Any time something bad gets done to your brother, you want to break out the bubbly." Damon smirked and she continued. "Did I do anything else I might regret last night besides knocking Stefan out cold?"

Matthew and Damon looked at one another for a moment, before Matthew said quietly, "Selina, look down and see if anything's missing."

"Why?" Selina asked. "What could possibly be miss---oh God, where's my necklace?!" she gasped.

"You stomped it into the dirt," Damon said. "Apparently, it wasn't worth anything to you anymore because I'm a no good liar."

Selina's eyes widened. "Did I say that?" She looked at her father. "Why would I say that? It's not true! I mean if I can forgive him for Katherine, everything else is gravy." She put her arms around Matthew's neck. "I didn't mean to say anything I said," she sniffled.

"I know," he hugged her back. "But sadly, we can't change what's happened. We just have to move on."

Selina nodded and looked up at Damon. "I don't know why I said those things, but I didn't mean them. I was just angry. People say a lot of things they don't mean when they're angry. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"

Damon just stared back willfully for a moment. But then he realized that if he didn't forgive her, he'd look like an awful hypocrite. She had, after all, forgiven him for Katherine, which was a much bigger issue. "All right," he said finally. "I forgive you."

"It's good we got this all sorted out," Matthew said. "Let's go downstairs and see how Stefan's doing."

Selina and Damon both nodded and the three of them walked downstairs one right after the other.

When they arrived downstairs, they found Elena on the couch, holding Stefan's head in her lap. "Did you leave at all last night?" Selina asked.

"Yes," Elena nodded. "Just after you went upstairs for the night. But now I'm back because Stefan isn't doing his best and I want to be around until he gets better."

Selina nodded, perching herself carefully on the one bit of couch cushion that wasn't already occupied. "I'm really sorry about yesterday," she said.

Elena nodded. "Matthew told us about your mother and how she was during full moons. And he did say that she was better afterwards, like you seem to be."

"Yeah, I am." Selina nodded. "Much."

"So is the plan with the grimoire halted now that you're in a more rational frame of mind?" Elena asked hopefully.

"No," Selina shook her head. "I'm still bringing Katherine back. But the spells are going to be done by professionals and so it should be easy to get her here, take my vengeance and get rid of her."

At that moment, Stefan stirred. "No," he said weakly. "No." His eyes opened and he slowly sat up. "Don't, Selina. You're going to be sorry if you do."

"Are you psychic now?" Selina asked. "Nothing bad is going to happen to anybody, I swear."

Just then, the phone rang. Selina got up to answer it, and the voice on the other end cheered her up immensely. "Hi Bonnie!" she said brightly. "What? Your grandmother says she wants to go ahead and do the project tonight? That's perfect. Seven? I'll be there. See you then. Bye."

After Selina hung up the phone, she noticed that the others were all staring at her. "What?" she asked. "I suppose you all want to come too?"

"Sure," Matthew said. The other three nodded as well. There was no doubt in their minds that she'd need them later.

Since it was still several hours until seven, Selina decided to occupy herself by doing errands out around town. But first, she stopped off at the Grill for some people-watching. She ordered a coke and sat down at a barstool, sipping it leisurely. She'd just about finished it when she heard the voice at her elbow.

"Well, well, well. What's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?"

Selina put the glass down and sighed. "What do you want, Tyler?"

Instead of looking perturbed, he just grinned easily and sat down on the bar stool next to her. "I just wanted to say hi. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

"No, I guess not."

"And," he continued, "I wanted to know if you were all right. I don't see that you're wearing the necklace that your fiancé got you. Am I correct in assuming that all is not copacetic?"

Selina frowned. "We had a little upset, but we're working things out."

Tyler frowned, but then smiled instantly. "Well, you know, if things don't work out between the two of you, I found somebody who I think would be just perfect."

Selina frowned. "You've been looking up dates for me?" she asked incredulously. "Well, I thank you for your concern, but everything is going to be all right. All relationships have bumps in them. So you can just tell whoever it was that you found thanks, but no thanks."

Tyler hopped off the barstool and put his arm around her shoulders. "It's nice to see you feeling so strong. But he's come such a long way. And he's waited so long to see you again. Five minutes with him won't hurt you, will it?"

"I'm not going to see him, Tyler. And that's it. I'm perfectly happy with the way things are in my life and I don't want to change a thing." She slammed her glass down on the counter and left, leaving a generous tip.

Tyler watched her as she went. "She'll be back," he said confidently. "She'll be back."

Elena was standing on the front steps of the boarding house when Selina got back. "You okay?" she asked when she noticed the look on Selina's face.

"Yeah, I'm all right." Selina said. "When I was at the Grill, I ran into Tyler. He's apparently found a guy for me."

"Found a guy for you?" Elena repeated. "What do you think that means?"

Selina sat down. "He saw that I wasn't wearing the necklace and I guess he assumed that Damon and I got into another fight. And because we're family and he doesn't want to see me 'suffer,' he took it upon himself to find another man for me."

"But you and Damon are going to be all right!" Elena said incredulously. "Every relationship has bumps in it! What's Tyler got against Damon anyway?" She paused, Damon's talk about Selina's cousin Michael coming back to her. "Selina," she asked, "how did your Lockwood relatives feel about you and Damon being engaged?"

Selina thought a moment. "The only one who was really against it was Michael," she said finally. "When he heard, he started acting a lot like Tyler is now, throwing out other options and even suggesting that I come live with them and not marry at all. I will never forget the look on his face when his father told him he was being foolish and that being married would be the best thing for me."

"And he thought Damon was a good match?"

"Yeah, he did. I mean, he never said anything against him."

Elena thought that over a moment. "Who do you think Tyler found?"

"Someone I've known before, obviously, because he said it's been such a long time since he's seen me. But I can't think of anyone off the top of my head."

"Well, whoever he is, he's probably a vampire. If he wasn't, he wouldn't still be attractive enough to date you now and still have known you a long time ago." Elena shivered. "I'm a little chilly. Do you want to go inside?"

Selina nodded and they headed inside. It was starting to get dark. They spent the remaining hours engaged in a marathon monopoly game, and then at 6:45 left to meet Bonnie and Grams.

And when they arrived, they got some very interesting news.

"Somebody's already been here," Bonnie informed them. "Grams and I were setting up all the ingredients to open the seal, but we saw that somebody's already opened it."

"What?" Selina asked, eyes wide. "What do you mean somebody's already opened the tomb? It's weird, I admit, but it saves us a lot of work." She started to head toward the opening, but turned when she realized no one was following her. "Doesn't anyone want to come with me and savor the moment?" she asked.

"No," Matthew said. "We'll stay out here and share the joy with you when you get back."

"All right." Selina shrugged and headed into the tomb on her own. It was dark and creepy, and lined wall to wall with vampire corpses. One seemed to be missing, however, and after what seemed like hours of looking, Selina was forced to conclude that none of the bodies belonged to her sister. She looked over the bodies one last time and strode out.

"How'd it go?" Matthew asked when he saw her.

"She's not down there," Selina said. "She and Emily probably used some dark magic to get her out." She paused at the looks on their faces. "Why aren't you looking at me?" she asked them. "Why doesn't any of this surprise you?"

Elena, Stefan and Damon sat around her, then looked to Matthew to deliver the bad news. "Katherine was never down there," he said finally. "I saw her awhile back, in Chicago, 1983."

"What?!" Selina exclaimed. "Why didn't you tell me this before? You just let me make an idiot of myself."

"Sweetie, would you have believed us if we would have told you earlier?"

Selina looked at Matthew. "I guess you have a point."

"Are you going to be okay?" Damon asked.

"Yeah, I guess. I just wan to go home," she said, letting Damon half-carry her back to his car. As they drove away, two figures stepped out from the bushes.

"My God, it is her," one of them whispered. "She's as beautiful as I remember."

"See?" said the other, Tyler. "I told you she was here."

"How long until I get to talk to her?"

"You wait just one more day and then you'll get to see her all you want."

"And what about the others?"

"Don't you worry about a thing," Tyler reassured his companion. "Just leave the details to me."

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