Buffy poured herself a drink at the drink trolley in the living room while Damon and Stefan sat on the couch talking. Angel was standing by the fireplace sipping on his own glass of bourbon. Elena was downstairs drying out still. Willow was visiting Xander in South Carolina. She'd left a couple of days after the prom and was supposed to be back before the end of the week.
"She's the calmest desiccating vampire I've ever seen." Damon said. "I remember when you starved me down there for three days. I would've wept at your feet for an orange peel."
"She's not gonna beg for blood." Stefan said. "Begging means desperation, emotion. She's still in no-humanity zone."
"How hungry does she have to be before we can torture some feelings back into her?"
"A lot hungrier than she is now, apparently."
"So what are we supposed to do in the meantime?"
"Maybe I can provide a little excitement." They all looked over to see Katherine walk into the room.
"Katherine." Stefan said.
"The one and only…. sort of. So, when's the 'Welcome Home' party?" Katherine walked over and tried to pour herself a drink, but Buffy grabbed her wrist and crushed the bones.
"I'm sorry, but you're not invited." Buffy growled. "Get out before I call Klaus."
"It doesn't matter if you do." Katherine said, shaking out her healing arm. "Klaus is gone."
"What do you mean he's gone?"
"Let's just say that werewolf girl, Hayley, turned out to be just the thing we needed to get Klaus out of our lives…. for good."
"Our lives?" Buffy grabbed Katherine by the hair and yanked her towards the door. "You're not a part of our lives, Katherine. You're not a part of anyone's life because you destroy them. Now get out of my house before I take your daylight bracelet and toss you out into this beautiful sunny day." She shoved Katherine towards the door. Katherine huffed and walked out, slamming the door behind her.
"You really don't like her." Damon said with a smirk.
"Not in the least." Buffy said.
"I still haven't figured out why you haven't just killed her yet."
"Because having no friends, no love, and no freedom is the worst possible thing to live with."
"I wonder if she was serious." Stefan said.
"About Klaus?" Damon asked.
"Only one way to find out." Buffy said. "Don't start the torture without me." She headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Angel asked.
"To see if the rumors are true." She opened the door to find Elijah standing on the other side. "Elijah!"
"Hello, Buffy." Elijah said.
"What are you doing here?"
"I was hoping to speak with you." He glanced inside at Damon, Stefan, and Angel. "In private, preferably."
"Ok." Buffy stepped outside and shut the door behind her. "Let's move away from prying ears, shall we?" She led the way out towards the woods behind the gardens. It was far enough away that the other vampires inside couldn't hear them. "Is it true? Did Klaus leave?"
"For the moment."
"Where did he go?"
"New Orleans. Evidently there are witches conspiring against him."
"I'm guessing it's one of his special shut up and kill trips, then."
"Willow's told me about the witches there. They're not something to be messed with. Do you think they've found a way to kill him without the white oak stake?"
"I don't know. I was hoping you would assist me in finding out. I may be an Original, but you're Buffy Summers the Slayer. That name carries a lot more weight than mine."
"You want me to go to New Orleans?"
"What if I side with the witches?"
"Then I'm sure you'll have a good reason. I might help them as well if my mood fits the situation."
Buffy sighed. "Damon's not going to like this."
"I would imagine not."
After a long argument with Stefan, Damon, and Angel and then a short flight from Richmond to New Orleans, Buffy now stood on a rooftop with Elijah. They were on top of a bar that Klaus just happened to be in. After asking around, they'd discovered the name of one of the witches involved in the plot against Klaus. She worked at the bar. Earlier that night, her sister had been killed by the vampire that supposedly ran New Orleans. Buffy was giving serious thought to putting an end to his reign.
Down in the alley, Sophie walked out the back exit, down a few stairs, and stopped at a small table covered with lit candles. Her cheeks were wet with tears from what Buffy could see. As she tended the candles, the door behind her suddenly swung shut with a bang and startled her. What she hadn't seen was the vampire that slammed it. Curious…. She didn't run inside. She was wary though. At least she was smart enough to keep a sharp eye.
Elijah looked at Buffy as two shadows started to converge on Sophie. She rolled her eyes at him and dropped down silently just as one of the vampires walked up behind Sophie.
"The doors work, you know." Sophie said.
"You're doing magic?" The vampire asked.
"I'm praying to my dead sister. Go ahead, pay your respects."
"Don't make this a thing, Sophie." The second vampire said. "The hybrid was looking for Jane-Anne. Marcel wants to know why."
"Oh, that sounds like witch business. I'd say ask her yourself, but I guess you can't, seeing as Marcel killed her." Sophie turned back to the first vampire just as the second one began to attack her from behind.
He suddenly found his heart missing, though. Buffy dropped it to the ground and looked at the other one. "Hi."
"Who the hell are you?" The vampire asked as his comrade dropped dead to the ground.
"You're telling me you don't know?" Buffy was suddenly standing in front of him. "Take a big whiff."
"Ding, ding, ding! And you must be a dead vampire." She grabbed his shirt and threw him against the wall above their heads where a wooden pole stood out.
"A little dramatic, don't you think?" Elijah asked, walking into the alleyway and glancing at the staked vampire.
Buffy shrugged. "You wanted the Slayer."
He smiled slightly and said, "This is true" before turning to Sophie. "I'm Elijah. You've heard of me?"
Sophie nodded fervently. "Yes."
"This is Buffy. She's…."
"The Queen of the Slayers."
Buffy cringed at that name. "God, I really thought I'd escaped that name. Seriously, you can just call me Buffy."
"Why are you here?"
Elijah walked forward a few steps to catch Sophie's attention. "So, why don't you tell us what business your family has with my brother?"
Buffy sat on the rooftop looking out over the skyline of New Orleans. Elijah stood next to her. Both of them were still completely stunned at the revelations that Sophie had heaped on them. Buffy's mind whirled with what everything meant. It wasn't the first time, really. But then again, this was a different case.
"Look at that skyline, huh?" A voice said as a vampire that had to be Marcel emerged onto the roof with Klaus. They obviously didn't notice Buffy or Elijah. "That there…. that's progress. More hotels, more tourists, more fresh blood. And the humans? I taught them to look the other way."
"And what of the witches?" Klaus asked. "In my time, they were a force to be reckoned with, and now they live in fear. How do you know when they're using magic?"
"Maybe I got a secret weapon…. an ace up my sleeve. Something that gives me complete control over all the magic in this town."
"Hm…. Is that a fact?"
"Might be. Maybe I'm just bluffing." Marcel put something in his mouth that sizzled slightly.
"You take vervain?"
"Burns like a bitch, but I figure I should limit the number of things I'm vulnerable to. Don't be mad about that chaperone thing. I've told my guys to look out for you, that's all. That's what we do here: look out for each other." Marcel spotted a woman walking down the street below. "Mm, m-m-mm. New blood."
"Bartender…. walking alone at night. She's either brave or dumb."
"Let's see: brave, I let her live; dumb, she's dessert." Marcel hopped the gallery's wrought-iron railing down onto the sidewalk below.
"I don't like him very much." Buffy said, moving out of the shadows towards Klaus.
Klaus turned, completely surprised to find her there. "What…." Then he saw Elijah. "Evening, Elijah."
"Niklaus." Elijah said.
"What an entirely unwelcome surprise on your part, but Buffy…." He moved closer. "You, I'm pleasantly surprised to see. You came down here for me?"
"I came down here because Elijah asked me to help him." Buffy said, stopping him with a hand. "Nothing more."
"I'll believe that when pigs fly."
"I'll call Willow and she can make it happen. Look, I don't want to argue or banter. There's something you need to see."
"I'm not going anywhere. Not till I find out who's conspiring against me."
"I believe we just found that out for you." Elijah said.
Klaus turned to look at Buffy and Elijah as they entered Lafayette Cemetery. "What are we doing here?"
"You wanted to know what the witches have in store for you? Follow us." Elijah said, taking the lead.
Klaus looked at Buffy. "Famous cemetery for a famous Slayer."
She smiled slightly. "Well, the only vampires here are the three of us. And sadly, this little Slayer has no plans to kill any of them." Elijah held open the door to one of the larger mausoleums. Klaus allowed Buffy to go first, but Elijah refused to enter until after Klaus had gone in.
Klaus spotted the witch. "Sophie Deveraux. What is this?"
"He's all yours." Buffy said.
Sophie nodded. "You know you're famous in this town?" She said to Klaus. "Witches tell bedtime stories about the powerful vampire Klaus. We know Marcel was nothing but an orphan street rat, until you made him what he is. And now he's out of control. He does what he wants, he kills who he wants. I'm gonna stop him, and you're gonna help me."
Klaus smiled, obviously amused. "This is why you brought me here?"
"Hear her out." Elijah said.
"I don't need to hear her out. I assure you, love, there is not a thing on this earth that will matter enough for me to waste even thirty more seconds of my time." He turned to Buffy. "What madness is this?"
Hayley entered the mausoleum surrounded by a few other witches. "Klaus…. You need to listen to them." Hayley said.
Klaus laughed. "You're all out of your minds if you think some liquor-fueled, one-night stand…. no offense, sweetheart…. means a thing to me."
"Marcel may be able to keep up from practicing real magic in this town, but as keepers of the balance we still know when nature has cooked up something new." Sophie said. "For example, I have a special gift…. of sensing when a girl is pregnant."
All amusement left Klaus's face. "What?"
"I know it's impossible…." Hayley said."Actually, it's really not." Buffy said. "He's not the first vampire to procreate."
"What are you saying?" Klaus asked, looking at Buffy.
"She's…. Pregnant. With your child."
"No. It's impossible. Vampires cannot procreate."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Are we forgetting about Angel and his son Connor!? Seriously! It's like I'm speaking in tongues." She shook her head. "Look, Klaus…. It's not just a vampire thing."
"Magic made you a vampire, but you were born a werewolf." Sophie said, picking up on Buffy's cue. "You're the Original hybrid, the first of your kind, and this pregnancy is one of nature's loopholes."
Klaus fought for control over his facial expression before he turned to Hayley and shouted at her. "You've been with someone else, admit it!"
"Hey, I've spent days held captive in a freaking alligator bayou because they think that I'm carrying some magical miracle baby." Hayley shouted back. "Don't you think I would've fessed up if it wasn't yours?"
"My sister gave her life to perform the spell she needed to confirm this pregnancy." Sophie said. "Because of Jane-Anne's sacrifice, the lives of this girl and her baby are now controlled by us." This was news to Buffy, Elijah, and Hayley. "If you don't help us take down Marcel, so help me, Hayley won't live long enough to see her first maternity dress."
"Wait, what?" Hayley said.
"Ok, enough!" Buffy said, letting a bit of her Slayer power leak out to shut everyone up. "If you want Marcel dead, then he's dead. As the Slayer, I'll do it myself."
"No. We can't." Sophie said. "Not yet. We have a clear plan that we need to follow, and there are rules."
Klaus, who had turned away, turned slowly to face Sophie. His was anger barely restrained and his voice was frighteningly quiet. "How dare you command me…. Threaten me…. With what you wrongfully perceive to be my weaknesses."
"Klaus…." Buffy started.
"I won't hear any more lies!" He shouted.
"It's not a lie!" Buffy yelled back, getting in his face. "Pull your head out of your ass for five minutes and just listen!"
"Who are you to talk to me…."
"Shut up and listen!" She yanked him towards Hayley. "Just…. Listen." Everyone was quiet so Klaus could hear the rapid little heartbeat coming from Hayley's abdomen. Klaus listened in wonderment for a few long moments before meeting Hayley's eyes. Then the window closed and he shut himself off again. "Kill her and the baby. What do I care?" Klaus stormed out of the mausoleum.
Buffy looked at Elijah. "Me or you?"
"Both." Elijah said. They followed Klaus to a deserted but well-lit street where he was stomping off. "Niklaus."
"It's a trick." Klaus said.
"No, brother. It's gift. It's your chance…. It's our chance."
"To start over. Take back everything we lost, everything that was taken from us. Niklaus, our own parents came to despise us. Our family was ruined…. We were ruined. And since then, all that you have ever wanted…. All that we have ever wanted was a family."
"I will not be manipulated."
Elijah looked at Buffy as Klaus turned away. Buffy sighed and blocked Klaus's path. "So they're manipulating you? So what? That's your child, Klaus. Let it live."
"I'm gonna kill every last one of them." Klaus tried to turn away, but Elijah was blocking him. He turned back to Buffy and she crossed her arms.
"And then what, huh?" Buffy asked. "You go back to Mystic Falls to pick up where you left off as the evil hybrid? The guy that is constantly trying to steal me away from Damon at every turn? The guy with no friends and no family?"
"I don't need friends."
"Then why are you so desperate to have me in your life?" Buffy moved closer to him. "Klaus, is it really that important to you that people shake in their boots at the sound of your name?"
"People shake in their boots because I have the power to make them afraid. What will this child offer me? Will it guarantee me power?"
"Family is power, Niklaus." Elijah said. "Love, loyalty…. That's power. Why do you think Buffy is the longest living Slayer? She is loved and her friends and followers are loyal to her. You're loyal to her. And that love and loyalty…. That is what we swore to one another a thousand years ago, before life tore away what little humanity you had left. Before ego, before anger, before paranoia created in this person before me someone I can barely even recognize as my own brother. This is us. The Original Family. And we remain together, always and forever. I am asking you to stay here. I will help you and I will stand by you. I will be your brother. We will build a home here together. So save this girl. Save your child."
"No." Klaus turned and walked off, leaving Elijah and Buffy standing in the street.
"You've seriously put up with that stubbornness for over a thousand years?" Buffy said to Elijah. "Someone should give you a sainthood or something."
Elijah chuckled. "Yes. I suppose."
"I'll go after him." She turned and headed off after Klaus. It took her a bit to find him. The smells of the city were kind of intense. Eventually she found him wandering around the French Quarter. She walked up to him and hugged him tightly. He was stunned at first, but after a moment, he hugged her back.
"What's this for?" Klaus asked.
"I get it." Buffy pulled away and took his hand. She led him over to a bench and sat down. "The being scared of taking this on. I get it."
"I'm not scared."
"It's ok if you are, Klaus. I was terrified of taking on Elena and Jeremy. And they weren't even mine."
"You don't even want kids of your own."
Buffy shrugged. "I wouldn't turn them down." He looked at her, surprised. "If Damon and I could have kids, I wouldn't turn them down. But we can't and I'm ok with that." She smiled. "I've got pain in the ass Elena to watch after for all eternity."
"She won't be a pain in the ass forever. You'll get her back." He looked around the Quarter. "I forgot how much I liked this town."
"It is nice here."
"For a thousand years, I lived in fear. Any time I settled anywhere, my father would hunt me down and…. chase me off. He made me feel powerless, and I hated it. This town was my home once, and in my absence, Marcel has gotten everything that I ever wanted. Power, loyalty, family. I made him in my image and he has bettered me. I want what he has. I want to be king."
"I don't think he bettered you, Klaus. I mean, he doesn't have the most powerful Slayer as his friend, does he?"
Klaus smiled. "No. That he doesn't."
"And he doesn't have a baby on the way to carry on his family name…."
He started to glare at her, but she was right. "I suppose every king needs an heir." Buffy smiled at him. "And every king needs a queen…."
"Klaus…." She started to protest, but he cut her off.
"You know, I'm sitting in one of my favorite places in the world. I'm surrounded by food, music, art, culture…. And all I can think about is how much I want to show it to you."
"Maybe one day I'll let you."
"Do you mean that?"
Buffy shrugged. "We'll see." On a whim, she leaned in and kissed him gently but quickly on the lips. "I've gotta go home and fix my kid. Keep in touch, Klaus." And she was gone in the blink of an eye.
Buffy opened the door to the cell in the basement and looked in on Elena. She was in bad shape. Her skin was gray and mottled. She was looking like she was starting to decompose. There was a part of her that wanted to spare Elena what was coming, but she needed to get the old Elena back.
"You look terrible." Buffy said.
"I'm hungry." Elena said. "Not that you care."
"Of course I care. That's the whole point. I care, you don't care. It's about time for that to change." Buffy held out a blood bag. Elena's eyes widened and she reached for it hungrily. She began to drink it, moaning with pleasure, but then tasted the unsavory extra Damon had added and began to spit up the blood.
"How does that make you feel? Hurt because I'd betray you? Angry because I'd cause you pain? Or scared, because you know it's gonna get a lot worse?" Elena used her vamp speed to try and leave, but Buffy was already in the doorway. "Did you think that was going to work?"
Elena shrugged. "You wanna play games? Go ahead. Let's see who breaks first. Me or you."