[Stefan, still in his bloodstained gray shirt, is in the middle of packing another bag while Valerie argues with him about his plans]

VALERIE: Stefan, you can't go.

[Stefan throws his bag onto the couch before anxiously peeking out through the closed blinds over the window to make sure the mysterious huntress hasn't followed him. Once he's sure the coast is clear, he turns back to Valerie, who looks at him with worry]

STEFAN: She has Damon and Caroline.

[Valerie gives him a frustrated look]

VALERIE: Because she wants you.

[Stefan returns to packing his bag, and throws in what look like several vervain bombs]

STEFAN: Well, then she's gonna get me. Oh, and I, uh, burned my Porsche, so I kind of need to borrow your car...

[Valerie walks over to him and stares at him intensely]

VALERIE: I'm coming with you.
STEFAN: No, you're not.
VALERIE: Stefan.
STEFAN: She already has two people that I care about.

[Stefan sighs and walks closer to Valerie so he can caress her cheek with his hand. When he speaks again, his voice is even more gentle]

STEFAN: I'm not gonna let her have a third, okay?

[Valerie sighs in defeat, though she is visibly unhappy about having to stay behind and gives him a very serious look]

VALERIE: If anything happens to you, I will rain hell down on anyone responsible.

[Stefan smiles weakly at her before chuckling softly]

STEFAN: Don't be so dramatic.

[Stefan leans forward and kisses Valerie softly for a long moment before he pulls away, sighing unhappily at the thought of leaving her]

STEFAN: I'll be back before you know it.

[Stefan grabs his bag heads out the door, leaving Valerie behind at the apartment to worry about what Stefan is walking into]



[Night has fallen at some point shortly after Lily's death, and Damon and Stefan are silently carrying Lily's coffin to the family plot where they have dug a hole to bury her. They join Nora and Valerie, the latter of whom has a bouquet of white flowers in her hands. Damon looks unimpressed]

DAMON: Well, this it? This the whole funeral party?

[Damon looks directly at Nora]

DAMON: Where's your girlfriend?
NORA: [uncomfortably] Not your concern.
DAMON: [amused] Trouble in paradise?
STEFAN: What about Julian? Where is he?

[Nora looks even more uncomfortable, though she gives them an unamused look]

NORA: I haven't heard from either of them in days. I sided with Lily, or did you forget?

[Valerie, feeling badly for Nora, cuts in before Damon can make any more comments]

VALERIE: It's just us.

[Valerie looks over at the coffin holding Lily's deceased body]

VALERIE: Beau couldn't bring himself to say good-bye.
DAMON: I'm sure he just couldn't find the right words to say.

[Damon chuckles at his own joke before walking toward Lily's casket to place it in her grave]

DAMON: Heh. All right. Let's get her done.
STEFAN: Wait. We should say something.
DAMON: [rolls his eyes] No, we shouldn't.
NORA: [appalled] Yes, we should.

[Nora walks over to Lily's grave and stands in front of it before making her eulogy]

NORA: When I was a girl, I loved my mother deeply. She loved me, too, until she found out about my little siphoning problem. If she only knew that was just one of the things that made me different. When she turned her back on me, I thought I'd never find that kind of love again. You proved me wrong. Thank you, Lily.

[Nora pauses before walking away, and Damon impatiently gestures for the others to get on with it]

DAMON: Next.

[Valerie walks over to the coffin to say her goodbye]

VALERIE: You knew me at my brightest and my darkest. No matter what my mood, you always saw the light in me.

[Valerie reaches out and touches the wooden coffin lid with her hand]

VALERIE: I'll miss you, Lily.

[Valerie nervously holds up her small bouquet of white flowers, and Stefan smiles weakly at the gesture]

STEFAN: Cream violets. You remembered.
VALERIE: Of course I did.
STEFAN: Thank you.

[Valerie walks over to join Nora]

VALERIE: We'll leave you two.

[The two Heretics walk away, leaving Damon to look expectantly at Stefan]

DAMON: Well?
STEFAN: How many times do you get a second chance to deliver your mother's eulogy?
DAMON: Good point, brother. How's this? Ahem.

[Damon clears his throat dramatically before leaning forward toward Lily's coffin]

DAMON: Lily, you were a terrible mother when you were alive, and you were a terrible mother when you were dead.

[Damon smiles and straightens up, looking over at a very unimpressed Stefan with a smirk]

DAMON: You're right! It does feel good. Huh.

[Damon walks away, leaving Stefan alone with Lily to say his final goodbye. He lifts the lid of the coffin and looks down at Lily's body, which is gray and desiccated from death. Her face still shows the ghost of her disappointment and hurt of Damon's final words]

STEFAN: I'm so sorry. I promise I'll make this right.


[Several weeks have passed since the funeral, and it's almost Christmas now. Caroline is wearing an elf's hat at her dorm at WHITMORE COLLEGE as she multitasks between talking to Stefan on the phone and organizing the school's Toys for Tots toy-drive. Stefan is walking down a SUNBURY STREET while he talks to her and waits for Damon to join him]

CAROLINE: Last year, we filled ten crates. This year, I am aiming for twenty.
STEFAN: You know, compelling people to donate doesn't actually count as donating...

[Caroline chooses to ignore this comment and instead rubs her belly, which has grown into a small baby bump in the time since she was last seen]

CAROLINE: Wait 'til you see me. I popped this week. I have a pot belly.
STEFAN: Yeah? Put on a Santa hat, you'd fit right in here.

[Stefan looks around at all of the Sunbury residents who are celebrating the holidays by drinking and visiting the shops]

STEFAN: Sure you don't need me over there?
CAROLINE: To do what? Come to boring birthing classes? You're chasing after an immortal jerk who basically killed your mother. That's much more important. I can handle this...

[Caroline trails off and becomes distracted by a young college boy standing nearby. She becomes transfixed by the sight of his neck, and nearly starts to salivate as she watches his carotid artery throb as his blood pumps through his body]

STEFAN: Of course you can.

[After Caroline is silent for a long moment, Stefan becomes concerned]

STEFAN: Caroline? You still there?

[Caroline, realizing that she almost lost control of her bloodlust, looks panicked and ashamed as she shakes her head to break herself out of her trance and returns to her phone call]

CAROLINE: Yes. Here. How are you?
STEFAN: I'm good. I'd be a lot better if my traveling companion would actually stick to task instead of stopping by every single bar we pass by.

[Just then, Damon appears behind them, carrying a beer stein full of bourbon and eggnog that has reindeer antlers attached to each side of the mug]

DAMON: It's a pub crawl, Stef! That's the whole point. Don't be such a Grinch, or you'll get coal in your stocking.

[Caroline, hearing Damon's complaints, rolls her eyes, just as Bonnie, wearing an elf's hat as well, approaches her]

CAROLINE: : And that's my cue. I'll call you later.

[Bonnie gives Caroline a teasing smile as she starts to put the wrapped toys into Santa Claus bags]

BONNIE: "Hey, Stefan. Did I mention Bonnie saw me mix a blood bag with a jar of mayonnaise at 2:00 in the morning?"

[Caroline blushes in embarrassment and starts to help Bonnie with the work]

CAROLINE: Okay. One, that was marshmallow fluff, and, two, I'm feeding for three now, so I get cravings.
BONNIE: Fair. Why not just tell him?
CAROLINE: Because he doesn't need to worry about the specifics of my magical pregnancy with Alaric's babies.

[Alaric appears behind them with a bemused expression]

ALARIC: Words that should probably not be spoken at that volume.

[Alaric looks over at Caroline]

ALARIC: You ready to go to this class?

[Caroline takes off her elf hat before gathering up her study materials in preparation to leave with him]

ALARIC: [confused] You know it's a birthing class, right, Caroline, and not SAT prep?

[Caroline ignores him and turns to Bonnie, who has picked up Caroline's clipboard to lead the toy drive]

CAROLINE: You sure you can handle this on your own?
BONNIE: If you can handle all of this while pregnant, I can handle a fraction of it while not. Go to your class.

[Caroline sighs and hands Alaric some of the study materials she collected]

CAROLINE: That was the least graphic one I could find. Study up.

[Alaric can't help but scoff at her as she walks away to go to the class, and he quickly follows after her as Bonnie gives him a sympathetic look]


[Damon and Stefan are still walking down the streets of Sunbury as Damon continues to drink his mug of spiked eggnog]

DAMON: So what's it gonna be... Uncle Stefan? Unkie Stefy?
DAMON: I got it! "Creepy Dude Who Hangs Out With Mom Who's Not Dad."
STEFAN: Ooh. See, the thing is, she's not their mom.
DAMON: [scoffs loudly] Oh, come on! It's Caroline. You think she's gonna turn those kids over to a functioning alcoholic with no supervision?
STEFAN: [shrugs] Whatever she wants to do.
DAMON: So diplomatic. You're gonna make an amazing not-father. It's kind of your thing, isn't it, hmm?
STEFAN: What's that, Damon?

[Damon holds up his hand and pinches his index finger and thumb together until there is only several centimeters between them]

DAMON: Just barely not being a father.

[Stefan just rolls his eyes, seemingly unbothered by Damon's glib remark]

STEFAN: Oh, wow. You know, in these last few weeks, your jokes, they've gotten quite sad.

[Damon stops walking and looks Stefan in the eyes]

DAMON: You know what? You need me, little brother. Sucks for you, but Julian's almost 500 years old, and you ain't taking him alone--

[Damon reaches out and lifts up the lapel of Stefan's jacket, revealing that the inside of his coat has been packed full of anti-vampire weapons in preparation for a possible fight with Julian]

DAMON: --No matter how many vervain darts and stakes you have on you. Hmm?
STEFAN: What I need, Damon, is your actions, not your words.
DAMON: Sounds like you should have brought Beau then. I'm here to help. Trust me. I got more vervain syringes and grenades strapped to my body. One wrong step, and I'm vampire shrapnel. Relax!

[Damon holds up his mug and smirks]

DAMON: Eggnog?

[Stefan shakes his head in exasperation]


[Valerie has just quietly slipped into the Salvatore Boarding House, where she quickly looks around before trying her best to make it to her bedroom without running into anyone. Unfortunately for her, Mary Louise comes out behind her and stands in the middle of the hallway as she calls out to her with a cold expression]

MARY LOUISE: Julian's not here... if that's what you're worried about.
VALERIE: Is he coming back?
MARY LOUISE: None of your concern.
VALERIE: I left a few things. I'll just grab them and be on my way.

[Valerie is about to leave to find her things when Mary Louise hesitantly speaks up again]

MARY LOUISE: Have you seen her?

[Valerie, who realizes she's talking about Nora, frowns before she replies]

VALERIE: We've spoken.

[Mary Louise seems upset by this and glares at her angrily]

MARY LOUISE: This is your fault, you know. This fracturing?

[Valerie, unamused by Mary Louise's pettiness, rolls her eyes sarcastically]

VALERIE: Yeah. If only I hadn't fallen in love and placed my pregnant womb in front of Julian's boot...
MARY LOUISE: [scoffs] Sticking to your story, are you?
VALERIE: It's not a story.

[Mary Louise walks toward her with a menacing expression]

MARY LOUISE: Even if by some stretch of the imagination it's not, the timing is awfully suspect, isn't it?
VALERIE: [annoyed] What's that supposed to mean?
MARY LOUISE: Well, you had over one hundred years to tell this story, and you only did once you were back in Stefan's life. 'Til it served you. Gained you sympathy.

[Valerie is visibly hurt by Mary Louise's words and scowls at her]

VALERIE: And I always thought you were the nice one, that you had a heart deep down. Guess I was wrong. Nora will blossom without you.

[Valerie angrily turns and walks away, leaving a hurt Mary Louise behind to ponder what just happened]


[Nora has just appeared at the toy drive and walks up to Bonnie with a gift in her hands. It's clear she wants to befriend Bonnie, but she's unsure of how to do so]

NORA: You appear tired.

[Bonnie, visibly irritated, turns to Nora with a fake smile on her face]

BONNIE: Nora. How unexpected. What are you doing here?
NORA: Uh, I have a toy... for a tot.

[Nora holds out her toy, the board game Sorry!, and Bonnie gives her another mocking smile]

BONNIE: You shouldn't have.

[Nora shrugs bashfully]

NORA: I didn't, actually. It was a passive aggressive gift for when Mary Louse came crawling back to me, but that hasn't happened, so...
BONNIE: [nods] Still very generous of you.
NORA: I know.

[Bonnie assumes that their exchange is now over, but when Nora doesn't leave, Bonnie's tone becomes more sarcastic]

BONNIE: Okay. You delivered it. Yay! That's the end.

[Nora seems sad that she's been dismissed and frowns]

NORA: But how will the tot know the toy's from me?
BONNIE: I'll tell them.

[Nora still remains where she's standing, and Bonnie gives Nora a look]

BONNIE: And you're still not leaving...

[Nora seems nervous and hesitates for a moment before she replies]

NORA: I want to be more involved. See, I recently enrolled in classes, and...
BONNIE: [surprised] You're going to school here? Why?
NORA: Because I was curious about college and, well... Mary Louise hated the idea, so...
BONNIE: [nods] Spite. That's a good reason for higher education.

[Nora looks frustrated that Bonnie isn't more open to attempts at bonding]

NORA: Look, you clearly need help.
BONNIE: [scoffs] Not from an evil Heretic who kidnapped my friend.
NORA: Are you going to let that old news get in the way of a little charity? And I'm not evil.

[Bonnie sighs before pointing across the room]

BONNIE: Collection booth. The far one, like, way over there.

[Nora looks at where Bonnie is pointing and starts to walk in that direction as Bonnie shoos her away]

BONNIE: Yeah. You see it? See?

[Bonnie gently shoves Nora in that direction and watches her as she heads toward the collection booth]


[Damon and Stefan are still walking down the streets of Sunbury, which have been decorated with lights and garlands for the holidays]

DAMON: Just so we're clear, me helping you kill Julian is your Christmas present, so don't be expecting any socks or a TV or anything.
STEFAN: Yeah. Well, we got to find him to kill him.
DAMON: We will. Bonnie did the locator spell, and she said Sunbury. We're in Sunbury, so...

[Damon gulps down the rest of his eggnog and frowns when he notices his reindeer mug is empty]

DAMON: Oops. I'm dry. Pit stop.

[Damon and Stefan walk into the nearest bar, but as soon as they're through the threshold, they stop and gape in horror at what they see. The bar is full of Santa Claus impersonators, all of whom have been killed and are laying scattered across the room. Some are laying on the floor in pools of blood while others are bent face-first over the tables]

DAMON: Merry Christmas, brother. Think we found him.

[Stefan continues to stare in horror at the carnage]

[After the break, Damon has shut the front door of the bar and flipped the sign around to closed so no one comes inside to see what Julian has done while Stefan takes a look around. Damon then looks out the window at all of the people on the streets]

DAMON: Gonna be a lot of disappointed faces Christmas morning.
STEFAN: [irritably] Yeah, well, maybe if we hadn't stopped at every single bar for eggnog, we could have done something about it.
DAMON: [scoffs] Yeah, and maybe been two more bodies in this pile.

[Stefan stops and gives Damon an annoyed look]

STEFAN: What are you trying to say?

[Damon walks toward Stefan, knowing that his brother won't like what he has to say]

DAMON: I'm not trying to say anything.

[Stefan gives him another look, and Damon sighs]

DAMON: What I am saying is... maybe we should just take a little bit of a beat, you know? I mean, look around. Julian is clearly off the proverbial rails here.
STEFAN: What? Since when you do you think logically?

[Damon waves at Stefan theatrically]

DAMON: Hi. I'm level-headed Damon. I only come out when Stefan goes a little cuckoo, and since you're letting your mommy and could-have-been-daddy issues drive you right now...
STEFAN: So you don't think that Julian deserves to die?
DAMON: I do! 100%. But not if it means us dying. So, I think we should just stop and think about some backup.
STEFAN: You are my backup. You're just terrible at it. And if Julian's off the rails, then good. It means he's careless. I mean, look at these wounds. They're fresh, which means he's obviously still in town, so either you help me find him, or...
DAMON: Don't be so dramatic, Stefan. I got this.

[Damon pulls out his phone and calls Bonnie, who is still working at the toy drive at WHITMORE COLLEGE]

BONNIE: Hello, Damon.
DAMON: Bon Bon, sorry to do this to you, but...

[Bonnie rolls her eyes good-naturedly]

BONNIE: What a lovely way to be greeted. "Hi, Bonnie. I need something."
DAMON: Well, isn't it so great to feel loved and needed? So, Julian...
BONNIE: Yeah. I've already done a locator spell.
DAMON: Yes, yes, you did, which led us to this Santa-infested hell-hole. But is there, like, a way to do, like, a zoom-in spell, or something maybe a little more accurate? Like an address or...
BONNIE: It doesn't work that way, Damon.
DAMON: Right. Well, here's the deal, Bonnie. Stefan's here, and he's being kind of a crazy person. He's breathing down my neck, and I was just kind of hoping you might have some information for me, you know what I mean?

[Bonnie looks across the room and sees Nora collecting toys from some donors and gets an idea]

BONNIE: Hmm. Actually, there might be something I can do.
DAMON: Brilliant.
BONNIE: I'll text you in a bit.

[Bonnie and Damon hang up their phones, and Damon smirks at Stefan smugly as he puts his phone away]

DAMON: Look at me, pulling my weight.


[Caroline and Alaric are at the pregnancy training class, where they are joined by several other women and their partners. The instructor is near the end of her lecture]

GRANOLA INSTRUCTOR: And what if, no matter how much you plan, your water breaks at home?
CAROLINE: C.O.A.T. Note the color, odor, amount, and time, keep your birth plan on hand, and call your care provider.
GRANOLA INSTRUCTOR: [smiles] Wow! Someone really dug into that suggested reading list.
CAROLINE: Well, yeah. I hope everyone did. It's a baby. I mean, each and every one of us are bringing a life into the world. That is a huge responsibility.
GRANOLA INSTRUCTOR: Encouraging words, Caroline, as always. Thank you. Okay. Let's pick this back up next time.

[The class members all start to pack up their things, and Alaric gives Caroline a wary look]

CAROLINE: Don't give me that look.
ALARIC: What look?
CAROLINE: That is a "Your hormones are making you crazy because you are pregnant"- look, which I will have you know is really just a man's attempt to minimize the gift that our bodies bring into this world.

[Alaric looks at her with exasperation, and Caroline shrugs]

CAROLINE: It's from A Feminist Guide to Pregnancy, Chapter 4, page 43.
ALARIC: Actually, I believe that particular quote is found in Chapter 3.

[Now it's Caroline's turn to give Alaric a surprised look]

ALARIC: What? You think I'm not gonna read every book that you're reading?

[Before Caroline can answer, she's quickly distracted by a man and a woman who are gossiping about her by the entrance]

WOMAN: [quietly] Isn't he a professor at Whitmore?
MAN: [quietly] Yeah, and she's a student.

[Caroline's face becomes furious, and Alaric looks at her with concern]

ALARIC: What? Is everything okay?

[Caroline pretends as though she's not hurt by their words and smiles fakely]

CAROLINE: Yeah. It's just my vamp-hearing is working a little too well lately.

[Caroline then hears the woman again, only this time, she talks loudly enough that Alaric can hear as well]

WOMAN: What do you want to bet she's doing really well in his class?

[Alaric sees the furious look on Caroline's face and becomes even more worried]

ALARIC: Uh-oh.

[Caroline tries her best to reassure him that she's fine, but he's obviously not buying it]

CAROLINE: No. It's okay. They're just having a difficult time with the subtle realities of the 21st century, where families come in all shapes and sizes.

[Suddenly, Caroline's vampire face and fangs come out, though she doesn't seem to notice it as she walks toward the couple]

CAROLINE: I think I should explain it to them...

[Alaric starts to panic and tries to talk her down]

ALARIC: Caroline...
CAROLINE: ...That I have a boyfriend, and while he may not be the father...

[Just as she's about to lunge for them, Alaric moves so he's blocking her and tries to get her attention as quietly as possible]

ALARIC: Caroline, Caroline, Caroline, Caroline! Your eyes! Your eyes!

[Caroline, horrified, realizes that she's vamped-out and immediately stops herself, causing her human face to return. Mortified, Caroline tries her best to downplay the situation]

CAROLINE: It's just the... hormones.

[Alaric looks both concerned and skeptical as she walks away, and he follows behind her to return to his apartment]


[Nora is in the middle of collecting a gift from a college student when Bonnie approaches her. However, she pauses for a moment to take in Nora's attitude toward the student]

STUDENT: Here you go.
NORA: [scoffs] That's your gift? Stickers? Did you stop by the gas station on the way over, or just fish them from the rubbish?

[The college student, offended, walks away, and Bonnie looks at Nora with a mixture of amusement and exasperation when she joins her]

BONNIE: Professor Dowling or Marcus?
NORA: [confused] Excuse me?
BONNIE: You're taking freshman English, right? Who's your professor? Please tell me it's Dowling and not Marcus.
NORA: I can deal with difficult people.
BONNIE: Oh, I know you can. Which is why I'm saying take Dowling. I don't want Professor Marcus to end up dead. I'm joking... sort of.
NORA: Let me guess-- hot cocoa and vervain?
BONNIE: Close. Bourbon. I'm sorry I was harsh earlier. I heard you listened to Valerie and that you sided with Lily against Julian. I mean, you must be attempting to turn over a new leaf, and you clearly don't have anyone else...
NORA: [rolls her eyes] Lovely. A pity friend. Just what I always wanted.
BONNIE: [shrugs] A pity friend is still a friend.
NORA: What do you need from me?
BONNIE: ...Excuse me?
NORA: I wasn't born yesterday. It's all right. I want to do some charity. I might as well start.
BONNIE: [sighs] Have you heard of a town called Sunbury?


[Damon and Stefan continue to discuss Lily's death as they sit in the BAR IN SUNBURY, which is still full of the dead customers left by Julian]

STEFAN: So, when do you think this denial phase of yours is gonna come to an end?
DAMON: [scoffs] What?

[Stefan gives him a look, and Damon rolls his eyes]

DAMON: What are you waiting for, Stefan? A breakdown? A teary, emotional, "I'm sorry. It's all my fault?" Well, you're gonna be waiting a long time, bro.
STEFAN: Yeah, I just refuse to believe that you care so little about your own flesh and blood.
DAMON: [confused] Why is that? Death doesn't erase all the crappy things she did, Stefan. If anything, it lets me care about her even less.
JULIAN: Oh. Hello, boys. If you'll just pardon me a moment.
STEFAN: [coldly] What are you doing?
JULIAN: I seem to have misplaced my cellular telephone. These things have a way of, you know, jumping out of your hand and just...

[Julian, visibly wasted on alcohol, gestures drunkenly around with his hands for a moment]

JULIAN: Scurrying off.

[Julian reaches into the pocket of one of the dead Santas and manages to find it despite how drunk he is]

JULIAN: Oh! Stop looking. Here it is.
DAMON: [sarcastically] Well, I feel stupid. Don't you feel stupid?
STEFAN: [unamused]' Hmm...
DAMON: Because, see, Stefan and I thought you had some really great maniacal plan, but it turns out you're just a drunk sorority girl who ruins everyone's night by losing her cell phone.
JULIAN: Well, it has been a rough few weeks for all of us, I suppose, after what we went through.
STEFAN: [offended] "We?"
STEFAN: What do you mean by "we?"
JULIAN: Well, you lost your mother, and I lost the love of my life.
STEFAN: [angrily] She meant nothing to you.
JULIAN: [upset] She meant everything to me!

[Julian, realizing he's lost his temper, forces himself to reign it back in as he reaches into his inner jacket pocket]

JULIAN: Heh, heh, heh. Sorry. Oh, yes...

[Julian pulls out the shortsword that Enzo and Bonnie found in Oscar's car, and that Julian stole back in Mommie Dearest]

JULIAN: Do you remember this sword? When you, you know, drove it through my chest? You didn't quite have all the pieces together, though, did you? Literally.

[Julian holds up the sword so he can see that the Phoenix Stone has been affixed to the end of the handle]

JULIAN: See, when a vampire is stabbed through the heart with, uh, the completed sword, it acts as a magical conduit, transferring their spirit into this particularly nasty stone. And the purpose of the stone is to punish vampires like you boys. Every sin you've committed goes into creating your own little personal hell. I spent over one hundred years inside.

[Julian, nearly hysterical with grief and glee at the thought of torturing Stefan and Damon, laughs and blows a raspberry]

JULIAN: Pbbbt! One hundred. Then, Lily saved me. And for the briefest of moments, oh... I had her back in my life. So, she was the only thing that kept the madness of the stone at bay. You know, the only thing that kept me... sane.
DAMON: [snarkily] Wait-- that was you sane?
JULIAN: Well, it was. But, uh, now... These have been dark days for me.

[Just then, at least a half dozen vampires start to flood into the various entrances of the bar and surround Stefan and Damon. Some of them stand at Julian's side as the elder vampire stares smugly at them]

[At WHITMORE COLLEGE, Bonnie and Nora are sitting at a nearby table as Bonnie explains what she learned from Damon]

BONNIE: So then they followed him to Ridley Park, Old Saybrook, and finally Sunbury.
NORA: [alarmed] They need to leave. Immediately. Julian is not one who enjoys solitude. Those towns are places he used to live.

[Back in the SUNBURY BAR, Stefan is trying to remain calm in the presence of Julian and his companions, while Damon looks as though he has regretted agreeing to help his brother in his mission to kill Julian]

JULIAN: Then, I remember what my old life looked like. And, I... I realized... I mean, it was a good life. I was surrounded by the people that I cared about-- my friends. Two, two. Heh, heh, heh. Raphael, here, I met in Florence in the 1600s.

[Julian wraps his arms around Raphael's shoulders]

JULIAN: He was a painter-- terrible painter, though-- but a painter.

[Julian claps Raphael on the shoulder as the vampire nods in agreement with Julian's assessment of his artistic talents. Julian then walks over to a surly woman on his right and squeezes her shoulders affectionately]

JULIAN: Oh, Dirty Robin, I found in a convent in Massachusetts in, uh, 1802, was it? Hmmm. She loved those nuns.

[Julian points toward the two men standing behind Stefan and Damon, who politely turn to see who they're dealing with]

JULIAN: Seth over there, I rescued you from a claim-jumper in California during the Gold Rush, and Xi Nguyen, I met you last week, actually, in Portland.

[Julian turns back to Damon and Stefan, who look bored, worried, and anxious for something to happen]

JULIAN: Now, I know you two have been following me for quite some time, right? I hope it wasn't for nefarious reasons.
STEFAN: [smiles coldly] Well, that depends. Is killing you nefarious?
DAMON: [panicked] All right, guys. Listen... I'm sure we all miss Lily. Well, most of you. You guys in particular. But I'm sure, wherever she is, she's looking up and thinking, "I wish those boys wouldn't fight..."
STEFAN: [annoyed] I'm not going anywhere.
JULIAN: [smiles] Good.
DAMON: [sighs] Fine. Plan B-- booze-soaked flammable costumes.

[Damon throws what looks like a lit lighter at Julian and his friends, which immediately sets the bodies of the dead Santas ablaze, revealing that Damon and Stefan had soaked them in alcohol prior to Julian's arrival. Though the flames are extinguished much sooner than Damon and Stefan expected, it still gives both brothers time to run away]


[Nora is passing out toys from the toy drive to the pediatric patients and has just approached a young girl in her room]

YOUNG GIRL: Can I have one of the boy toys?
NORA: [smiles] Of course you can! You can be anything you want. Don't let society tell you differently.

[Bonnie walks in while Nora is helping the girl and watches as she picks out a football and starts to play with it. Nora turns, and when she sees Bonnie, she rolls her eyes]

NORA: What? Surprised I'm not massacring the leukemia patients?
BONNIE: [jokingly] It's still early.

[The two girls start to walk down the hallway together]

NORA: [quietly] Christmas was always my favorite holiday. When I was growing up, it was much different than all this. I would have been happy with a hoop and a stick! But still, being surrounded by your loved ones...

[Nora suddenly sees a doll in her sack of toys that has blonde hair and blue eyes]

NORA: This looks like her...

[Bonnie realizes what she means and rolls her eyes in exasperation, which doesn't escape Nora's notice]

NORA: What?
BONNIE: [sighs] You and Mary Louise broke up. She made her choice. It was a bad one.
NORA: [sadly] But...
BONNIE: [cuts her off] No "buts," okay? You need to move on and become your own person. You can only do that if you're living in the present, not the past, which means you need to stop thinking about her and talking about her, okay? She's dead to you.

[Just then, a hurt Mary Louise appears behind Nora and calls out to her]


[Nora looks shocked to see her, and Mary Louise squirms awkwardly]

MARY LOUISE: Can we talk?


[Caroline is in the middle of anxiously pacing around in Alaric's living room when he comes in with a blood bag for her and a beer for himself]

CAROLINE: Ohhh, I was two seconds away from tearing their heads off!

[Alaric hands her the blood bag and smiles reassuringly]

ALARIC: They were jerks. They deserved it.

[Caroline rips the top of the blood bag to drink it and moans in relief]

CAROLINE: Oh, I've needed this all day!
ALARIC: Yeah, you and me both.

[Caroline is in the middle of gulping down her snack when she suddenly stops and makes a face]

CAROLINE: Do you think this is okay for the babies?
ALARIC: [exasperatedly] Caroline...
CAROLINE: I'm serious! What if blood is like alcohol? What if it's bad for them?

[Caroline quickly drops the blood bag onto the coffee table, and Alaric looks at her with an exasperated yet concerned expression]

ALARIC: [gently] Look, if it's good for you, how can it be bad for them?
CAROLINE: [panicked] I don't know, but you don't know either, because there's no studies on this! There's no books, there's...

[Alaric walks toward Caroline to comfort her, but she's only becoming more agitated]

ALARIC: Look, Caroline, you're doing a great job.
CAROLINE: [groans] Would you stop saying that?

[Caroline turns her back to him and tries her best to keep herself from losing control]

ALARIC: But you are! I mean, do you realize how happy you've made me? I mean, this is a miracle. You've turned my life around--

[Just then, Caroline snaps and vamps-out before turning around to face him]

CAROLINE: I said, stop!!

[She vamp-speeds toward him and shoves him against the wall in a choke-hold for a brief moment before she instantly comes back to herself and becomes horrified at the sight of what she's done. Alaric looks terrified for a brief moment before he recovers. Caroline shakes her head in disbelief for a second until she finally speaks]

CAROLINE: I... have to go.

[Alaric, who looks worried about Caroline, starts to chase after her, but he's not fast enough]

ALARIC: Caroline!


[Nora and Mary Louise have just walked into a hospital room for some privacy, and after a long moment of awkward silence, Mary Louise gives Nora an expectant look]

NORA: [sighs] Well, what?

[Mary Louise frowns in confusion]

MARY LOUISE: Are you going to apologize?

[Nora scoffs loudly]

NORA: Am I going to apologize? For what?
MARY LOUISE: [hurt] For telling me that you would marry me, and then throwing the ring I gave you back in my face?
NORA: Oh, you mean the ring that Julian gave you?
MARY LOUISE: Is that what's bothering you?
NORA: He's the reason Lily is dead!
MARY LOUISE: No, he's not! Julian is just as upset as any of us. Valerie's story is responsible.

[Nora glares at Mary Louise in disbelief]

NORA: You still believe him? He's a liar! Why can't you see that?

[Mary Louise sighs before smiling weakly at her]

MARY LOUISE: If I say he's a liar, can we go back home? I'm tired of fighting.

[Nora doesn't return Mary Louise's smile, and instead looks guilty about what she's about to say]

NORA: So am I. I'm done, Mary Lou. Okay? It's... it's over.

[Mary Louise looks hurt and scoffs bitterly]

MARY LOUISE: You've been wanting this for a long time, haven't you? Almost like you've been planning it all along.
NORA: [rolls her eyes] You're paranoid.
MARY LOUISE: Am I? It took you no time to enroll in classes, move into a dorm, make friends with our enemies...
NORA: [appalled] Have you been following me?
MARY LOUISE: I've been following someone, but she certainly hasn't been acting like my girlfriend. I wanted to do something different with you, actually.
NORA: Yeah, but you're too scared to go out into the world. Too scared to change.
MARY LOUISE: [angrily] You think I'm scared to play Santa for some pathetic humans?
NORA: And when was the last time you even did any charity?
MARY LOUISE: I don't know.
NORA: Hmm?
MARY LOUISE: Probably when I started dating you.

[Nora looks hurt by this statement and watches as Mary Louise storms away, leaving her alone to deal with what just happened]


[Damon has left the bar and is walking down an alley on the Sunbury streets as Stefan follows behind him and brainstorms a new plan]

STEFAN: Okay, so we re-load, we figure out a way to separate him from his friends...
DAMON: [frustrated] We do no such thing! We get in the car, and we go home.
STEFAN: [confused] What? What are you talking about? He's building a small army back there. He's obviously up to something.
DAMON: [scoffs] He's getting wasted with his friends! You're delusional. Trust me. That? That is a hornets' nest, and take it from an expert-- you do not want to kick it.
STEFAN: You of all people should not be the one to give up! You're the reason he's alive and she isn't.
DAMON: [appalled] What kind of backwards-ass logic is that?
STEFAN: Because we would have killed Julian the minute he showed up into our lives, but no. You wanted to punish Lily with a long-con, didn't you?
DAMON: [rolls his eyes] She punished herself with a short stake.
STEFAN: Huh. You know, for weeks, I've been watching you. I've been trying to catch even the slightest bit of regret on your face.
DAMON: [exasperatedly] Regret for what, Stefan?
STEFAN: She was dying, Damon? How difficult would it have been to say something nice?
DAMON: Well, I didn't want to lie to the woman.
STEFAN: All she wanted was forgiveness, and you practically spat in her face!
DAMON: She didn't deserve my forgiveness.
STEFAN: What, because she made some mistakes? Or is it because she didn't choose poor you over Valerie?

[Damon is clearly offended and hurt by Stefan's words, but he just smiles coldly at Stefan]

DAMON: Giving her a hall pass, like always. Her little angel.
STEFAN: You acted like a spoiled little brat. A coward. You had a chance to make things right, and you still do.

[Damon, no longer willing to play this game, glares at Stefan angrily]

DAMON: Road trip's over, brother. You want to go back and risk it? Go for it. I'm going home.

[Damon walks away, leaving a frustrated Stefan behind in the alley]


[Outside the SALVATORE BOARDING HOUSE, Valerie is packing her bags of belongings into her car, including Stefan's leather-bound journal from 1863 that she brought back from the prison world. She looks at it sadly for a moment before her phone rings, and she pulls it out of her pocket to answer it and finds that Stefan is calling her from his car on the way back to Mystic Falls]

VALERIE: Please tell me this is the "Julian is dead" call.
STEFAN: I wish. I'm headed home. Damon bailed on me.
VALERIE: [sighs] And here I was looking forward to leaving all this behind me.
STEFAN: He thinks I'm overreacting.
VALERIE: Any reaction is appropriate when it comes to what he's done to us. I am sick of everyone giving this monster a pass!

[Valerie sighs again, looking upset]

VALERIE: I should have gone with you. We could have ended this.
STEFAN: We still can. Have you seen Mary Louise?

[Valerie realizes what he's suggesting]


[Mary Louise is sitting at the empty Scull Bar, which has been decorated with Christmas lights and decorations. However, all of the chairs stacked up on the tables indicates that the bar has been closed for the holidays. She downs a glass of bourbon and scowls for a moment before drunkenly yelling at no one]

MARY LOUISE: I've been here all day. You'd think that would earn me better service!

[Just then, Stefan appears in the doorway next to the bar and smiles mockingly at her]

STEFAN: I think you've had enough.
MARY LOUISE: [groans] You have no idea how poor your timing is.
STEFAN: You sure about that? You look like you could use a friend. Things with Nora didn't quite work out, did they?
MARY LOUISE: [coldly] I would hold your tongue if you value its existence.
STEFAN: [smirks] And I would not make threats when there's a cloaked Heretic behind you...

[Mary Louise looks confused for a moment, and before she can react, Valerie releases the cloaking spell and appears behind her as she jams a syringe full of vervain in her neck, knocking her out instantly. Valerie looks satisfied as she smiles at Stefan]

VALERIE: Payback's a bitch.
STEFAN: Stay with her and make sure she's unconscious until Julian's dead.

[Valerie nods as Stefan leaves to continue his plan, though she does look worried]


[Bonnie returns to her room after the toy drive to find a crying Nora sitting on her bed. She looks surprised for a moment before giving the Heretic a sympathetic look]

BONNIE: Guess it didn't go well...
NORA: She called me a charity case.

[Bonnie takes in the tears trailing down Nora's cheeks and tries to comfort her]

BONNIE: Why don't I get you a tissue?

[Nora holds up a bundle of cloth in her hands]

NORA: Oh, it's all right. I used one of your hideous tops.
BONNIE: [chuckles] Which is now your hideous top.

[Bonnie sits down next to Nora on the bed and looks at her for a moment before speaking]

BONNIE: Can I ask you what might seem like a mean question?
NORA: [shrugs] Fire away. It's not like I'm in a fragile state or anything.
BONNIE: [sighs] What do you see in her? Aside from the fact that she looks like a blonde Angelina Jolie?

[Nora laughs weakly at this comment]

NORA: She's loving, protective, kind...
BONNIE: But just to you.
NORA: [nods] That's fair. She does always think of me first. Maybe I'm spoiled, or old-fashioned, but it's nice having that one person who doesn't need anything from you. Who just loves you and thinks you're the most amazing, beautiful girl in the whole world, you know?

[Bonnie seems to disagree with this remark, but smiles anyway, and Nora suddenly becomes self-conscious]

NORA: Maybe... Maybe you don't.
BONNIE: I don't need someone to tell me I'm pretty.
NORA: [smiles] Nobody needs it. That doesn't mean it doesn't feel good to hear it.

[Bonnie smiles at her affectionately, and Nora seems genuinely touched by her sympathetic reaction. It almost looks as though Nora is starting to develop feelings for Bonnie]

NORA: Thank you for today. You're a very kind person, and... beautiful. Even if you do wear hideous tops.

[Bonnie and Nora both giggle and smile at each other as Nora stands to leave. However, before she makes it to the door, Nora's phone buzzes, and she checks it to find a text message from Julian that reads, "They've taken ML hostage. Thought you should know." Nora's eyes widen in horror, and she turns to look at Bonnie with a betrayed expression]

NORA: I guess I was wrong.

[Bonnie, who has no knowledge of Stefan's plan, nor did she play any part in it, looks at her in confusion]

NORA: You and your friends are not kind at all.

[Bonnie stands to her feet to try to figure out what is going on, but Nora roughly grabs Bonnie by the arm and siphons her magic until she falls unconscious onto the floor]


[Damon is standing in front of the fireplace in his old bedroom, where he's burning what appears to be Lily's clothing in the roaring fire as he reclaims the room for himself. After a moment, a very unhappy Julian walks into the room]

JULIAN: I'm sure there are places that would have loved those as a donation.
DAMON: [sarcastically] Back so soon?
JULIAN: That tends to happen when I'm threatened. Where is she?

[Damon frowns in confusion and turns to face Julian]

DAMON: I'm not exactly sure who "she" is.

[Julian's tone and expression only become colder, assuming that Damon is involved in Stefan's plans]

JULIAN: Don't play dumb. I got your brother's text message. I was told to come alone. I am here alone. Now, where is Mary Louise?

[Damon's eyes widen in shock as he realizes what is going on]

DAMON: Stefan kidnapped Mary Louise? Ballsy.
JULIAN: I just spent two hours crammed in a small metal tube, flying across the country to be here. It was hell.

[Julian takes the Phoenix-Stone-clad sword and aims it at Damon's heart]

JULIAN: But that is just a fraction of the hell that this sword will put you in if I don't get her back.

[Damon sighs in frustration before addressing Julian with a fake-nice tone]

DAMON: Look, Jules. You and I, we got no beef, okay? You didn't kill my baby, and I don't blame you for Lily's death. It was her own stupid fault.
JULIAN: [angrily] Kindly do not speak that way about your mother.
DAMON: Let's just stick with "Lily." Mother's incidental.
JULIAN: Right. I forgot. You don't care about your mother. Look at you not caring as you burn her clothes, attempting to erase every trace of her existence.
DAMON: I needed space in my closet.
JULIAN: See, I always knew that her love for you would get her killed. It was toxic.
DAMON: No. It was nonexistent.
JULIAN: Heh. It's easier for you to think that way, isn't it? Because then you don't have to take any responsibility for her death.
DAMON: She killed herself.
JULIAN: Because she couldn't turn her back on you.
DAMON: [unamused] Funny, because I would have had no problem turning mine on her.

[Julian angrily vamp-speeds toward Damon, shoving him backward onto the floor and aiming the sword at Damon's heart as he grimaces in fear and defeat]

JULIAN: I don't know what your hell will be, but I hope she's there.

[Before Julian can stab Damon, Stefan vamp-speeds into the room and shoves Julian away from him, saving his brother at the last moment. Stefan glares at Julian, who vamp-speeds out the door before anything else can happen]


[Caroline has brought flowers to her mother's grave at the cemetery, and she stops for a moment before she speaks to it as though Liz is there with her]

CAROLINE: Hi, Mom. I just realized that this is going to be my first Christmas without you. That sucks. I still got you something. Two somethings actually. I will spare you the details of how, because honestly? I am sick of talking about it. But it's happening. I'm pregnant. I used to picture us having this conversation. It looked different, obviously. I was a human carrying my own children, and you... were... you were alive. I know they're not mine... But they're still my responsibility, you know? And I want to... I have to do this right. And I have no idea what I'm doing. And all I want to do is just sit on our kitchen counter while you burn our dinner and ask you a million questions.

[Caroline's eyes fill with tears, and she pauses for a moment before sighing loudly]

CAROLINE: God, I miss you.


[Stefan and Damon walk downstairs to the parlor to find Julian standing in front of the lit fireplace there. They both glare at him angrily]

STEFAN: Thought you ran away.
JULIAN: Heh heh heh. In my own house? I'm twice your age. I could take both of you.
DAMON: Well, you could certainly try.

[Damon picks up a ceramic vase from the table and throws it at Julian at vampire speed, but Julian uses the sword to smash it before it can hit him. Julian vamp-speeds toward Stefan and shoves him across the room, causing him to fly over a table and shatter the glass dishes on top of it. Damon angrily shoves Julian against the fireplace mantle and holds a knife to his neck, but Julian uses his strength to turn the blade on Damon. He then snaps Damon's forearm and head-butts him in the face]


[Julian head-butts him three more times in quick succession until Damon's nose is gushing blood, and though Damon punches Julian in the face through his daze, Julian easily kicks him backward onto the floor and flips his sword in his hand to prepare to stab Damon with it]

JULIAN: I would have killed you on sight if it weren't for your mother. I respected her.

[Julian hits Damon in the back of the head with the hilt of the blade, knocking him on his face on the floor. However, Stefan once again rushes toward Julian and shoves him away from Damon before he can hurt him. He then throws a vervain dart at Julian, which embeds itself into his neck]

STEFAN: Clearly the feeling wasn't mutual.

[Stefan pulls out a small stake and lunges for Julian, who stabs Stefan in the stomach with a broken piece of wood from the table. Damon, afraid that Julian killed him, shouts out to him]

STEFAN: [groans] Unh!
DAMON: Stefan!

[When Damon manages to get to his feet and vamp-speed toward Julian, Julian stabs him in the heart with the Phoenix Sword, which starts to glow from within as his soul is trapped inside. Stefan, still recovering from his stake wound, yells out in fury]


[Julian smirks at Stefan]

JULIAN: Now I'll run.

[Julian vamp-speeds out of the house, and Stefan stumbles over to check on Damon, whose body is motionless, though it is not desiccated like most "dead" vampires]

STEFAN: Damon?


[Valerie has taken Mary Louise to the room currently under construction at the hospital where Damon, Alaric, and Bonnie kept Oscar earlier in the season. Mary Louise is laying on an autopsy table in the middle of the room as Valerie paces around in the doorway. After a moment, Valerie hears a whooshing noise and immediately walks away to investigate it]

VALERIE: Who's there?

[Valerie walks back into the main room, only to find that Mary Louise's body has completely vanished, presumably by Nora. She looks horrified as she looks around the room]


[Caroline has just arrived to the SALVATORE BOARDING HOUSE and walks into the parlor to find a distraught Stefan kneeling over Damon's motionless body, gaping in horror at the sight]

CAROLINE: Oh my God.
STEFAN: [numbly] Damon wanted me to let it go. I should have let it go. I couldn't...

[Caroline sighs and gives him a sympathetic look as she walks toward him]

CAROLINE: She was your mom, Stefan. And if you think it's easy to let something like that go, take it from a girl who just got back from her mom's grave, it's... it's not. Let's figure out a way to save your brother.

[The scene cuts to moments later, as Caroline calls Bonnie. At BONNIE AND CAROLINE'S DORM, Bonnie's phone starts to buzz on the floor next to Bonnie, who still lays unconscious there from Nora's attack. She slowly begins to stir, but is still too weak and confused to answer her phone. Back at the BOARDING HOUSE, Caroline groans in frustration and hangs up her phone and returns to Stefan, who still looks devastated]

CAROLINE: Oh, she's not answering. We need to call Valerie.

[Stefan remains silent, and Caroline looks even more concerned]

STEFAN: He's not gonna make it in there.
CAROLINE: Yes, he will.
STEFAN: That stone is punishment for every bad thing you've ever done. This is Damon. I don't even want to know what he's going through.

[The camera zooms in close to Damon's still-bloody face before we're transported to inside the PHOENIX STONE, in Damon's personal hellscape. It is the Civil War, and Damon is still a 24-year-old human man serving in the Confederate Army. Exploding shells and gunfire are ringing through the woods, and soldier after soldier falls as they're hit with bullets and shrapnel. Damon is laying flat on his back on the floor of the forest, where a large bloody wound on his stomach is staining his uniform. Damon suddenly comes to and groans in pain as he tries to figure out where he is and how he got here. He rolls over on his side and watches as several soldiers hiding behind trees get shot down. Despite his wounds, he stumbles to his feet and looks around as landmines explode around him, shaking in fear and watching the chaos around him in horror]

[Back at the SALVATORE BOARDING HOUSE, Caroline and Stefan continue their conversation]

CAROLINE: Hey. He can survive this.

[Just then, Nora, who was cloaked and has been standing with them for an unknown amount of time, appears out of nowhere with the Phoenix Sword in her hands and looks at Stefan]

NORA: Even if he can, he'll be different... Just like you.

[Nora quickly vamp-speeds toward Stefan and stabs him in the heart with the sword as Caroline gasps in horror]


[Stefan grabs the hilt of the sword and falls backward against the nearby armchair, and Nora and Caroline watch as Stefan's soul is sucked into the now-glowing Phoenix Stone]


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