"Uh…. Lexi…. Where are we going?" Buffy looked out the window of the moving vehicle at the unfamiliar landscape.
"Sorry I'm hijacking you, but I want to make a pit stop in Virginia to see if an old friend wants to join us. It's his birthday."
"And how many candles will be on his cake?"
Buffy shook her head. "I swear, I've become more involved with vampires since I retired than I was when I was active."
"But you can't tell me your retirement hasn't been a blast."
"Considering you've dragged me all over the place to enjoy some seriously beautiful vistas…. I can't argue."
Buffy Summers had retired after four years of hunting down Slayers all over the world and training them to hunt and kill vampires and demons. She was tired of fighting the forces of darkness on a nightly basis. She'd been mulling over it for a good year on whether it was a good idea or not and then she'd met Lexi. There weren't many of her kind of vampire. They were a newer form of vampires. "Evolution" was Giles' explanation.
Either way, Buffy liked Lexi. The two had become close friends and eventually Buffy had confided in Lexi about her wish to retire. Lexi had encouraged it completely, even putting it into terms that Giles could accept without much argument. It's not like Buffy would completely ignore her calling, she just wanted to capture some semblance of a life. She wanted to live rather than die young.
The night everyone had agreed to it, Buffy had come home to find Lexi standing amongst numerous and completely packed suitcases and Lexi had planned a massive world tour beginning that very night. She'd swept Buffy everywhere: Paris, Dublin, Sydney, Madrid, Berlin, Moscow, Athens, Amsterdam, Cairo…. Everywhere. Lexi showed her all the sights and all the great places to eat and just enjoy life.
Buffy's favorite had been when Lexi had taken her into Rio de Janiro, Brazil with a friend of Lexi's and they'd gone up into the rainforest for almost a month. Buffy had discovered hidden tribes of people and beautiful creatures who hadn't been seen by human eyes. She explored ruins and swam under waterfalls.
All the time she'd spent in the jungle, she'd had to use her heightened senses to really get around. When they finally moved on, Buffy had discovered she was stronger and faster and all of her powers were even more powerful than before. The power boost hadn't been expected, but Buffy was more in tune with herself and her body than ever before. Of course, that had been Lexi's plan.
Now they were headed up to New York City for a Bon Jovi concert at Lexi's insistence.
"Ok, so…. Is there a back story on your friend? Does he have a name? Is he like you?"
"His name is Stefan and I met up with him not long after he was turned. He was a mess…. Killing people and just acting crazy. I helped him get on his feet and showed him how to be subtle and not kill humans."
"You're a sucker for charity cases."
"So are you." Buffy stuck her tongue out at her friend and they both laughed. Lexi turned the car into a large driveway and pulled up to a massive Tudor style house.
"Wow!" Buffy said. "This place is huge." She shook her head. "What is it with vampires and huge houses?"
Lexi shrugged. "Not all of us can walk in the daylight so a big house keeps us from being completely bored during the day."
"Wait…. Some of you can walk in the day?"
"Well, Stefan can. He has a ring that a witch put a spell on so he can walk in the sunlight." Lexi pouted slightly. "Lucky."
Buffy shook her head. "Learn something new every day." They got out and walked up to the front door. "Should we knock or ring?"
"Neither." Lexi moved around the side of the house and found the windows into the library. She cracked it open and stepped in. Buffy sighed and followed. She hoped Stefan wasn't in a bad mood. She quietly followed Lexi into the large library where a sleeping Stefan was sitting on one of the chairs. She directed Buffy out into the hallway as Lexi moved in and knocked the book Stefan was holding onto the floor before dashing away.
Stefan, of course, woke up at the noise. He got up and noticed the window was open. Quietly, he moved over and shut the window. All around the house, Lexi made noises and caused Stefan to start searching. "Damon?" He called. Lexi attacked, knocking him to the floor and then spinning him over. She bared her fangs at him. "Lexi?"
"What are you doing here?" The two were up in a second.
"How could you even ask that?" The two embraced tightly.
"I missed you."
"Happy Birthday." She smiled brightly and Stefan hugged her again. "Hey, there's someone I want you to meet. Buffy." Buffy stuck her head in from the hallway and then walked over to Lexi. "Buffy, this is my friend Stefan. Stefan, this is my very good friend Buffy. She's a Vampire Slayer." Buffy cleared her throat. "Well…." Lexi shrugged and amended, "Retired Vampire Slayer."
Stefan smiled. "Any friend of Lexi's is a friend of mine. It's nice to meet you." He said, shaking her hand gently.
"You too." Buffy said. He was handsome. He kind of reminded her of Angel a little bit. Buffy shut those thoughts down automatically. No Angel thoughts.
"You're not here to kill me, are you?"
Buffy laughed slightly. "Nope. Strictly vacation time. Lexi has been showing me the sights of the entire world. At some point she wants to check out an ashram in India. Not sure if I'm down for that one."
"Oh come on!" Lexi protested again. "You won't go because you know I'll win the bet that you can't stick with a vow of silence." Buffy playfully rolled her eyes at Lexi.
Later that day, after Stefan and Lexi had caught up and regaled Buffy with stories of their friendship, Stefan had had some errands to do. He had given Buffy and Lexi free reign of the house. Lexi had decided to take a nap while Buffy had decided to take a shower and roam the house. At the moment, her long, wet hair was hanging down her back and she changed into a pair of jean shorts and a hot pink tank top. She wandered the house checking out all the old portraits and some of the old books in the library.
"Who are you and why are you in my house?"
Buffy spun around and was completely bowled over by the amazing set of eyes fixed on her. By the looks of him, he must be Stefan's brother Damon. "Hi. Sorry, uh…. Stefan said we could explore while we waited for him."
"Uh huh. Friends of my brother's?"
"Yes. Well, I just met him. But Lexi knows him."
"You know Lexi?"
"Yup. Sorry…. I'm Buffy. You must be Damon."
"So Stefan and Lexi talked about me? All bad I hope."
"Yeah, they mentioned you were like that."
Damon moved faster than the human eye could track to stand right in front of her, but since Buffy wasn't exactly human…. She wasn't standing where she'd been a split second ago. She stood across the room. "Vampire?" Damon asked, turning to her.
"Vampire Slayer." Buffy answered.
"They don't usually move that fast."
"Well, I'm not exactly new at the game."
"Thirteen years give or take."
"You don't look a day over 18."
Buffy shrugged. "Apparently Slayers don't age."
"Most of them don't live long enough to find out if it's true."
Damon nodded. "You're prettier than the ones I've met."
"You're welcome." Damon took a few steps towards her and Buffy held her ground. "So Lexi's here?"
"Yes. We got in this morning. She's sleeping."
"Why aren't you?"
Damon nodded and walked out of the library. "How old are you?"
"28." Buffy said, following. She had a feeling he was headed for Lexi. She could take care of herself, but Buffy wanted to keep an eye on Damon if what Stefan said about his brother was true.
Damon waltzed into Stefan's room and slid onto the bed next to Lexi. She stirred and looked up at him. "Boo." Lexi groaned. "Hello Lexi . What an unexpected surprise."
"Unexpected surprise?" Lexi said, sitting up. "I think the wrong brother went back to high school."
"How long you here for?"
"Just for Stefan's BDay."
"You mean you didn't come all this way to see me?"
"That's it, Damon." Lexi said sarcastically. "After a century I finally realized death means nothing without you. Do me."
"Why are you so mean to me?"
"Have you met you? You're not a nice person."
"Because I'm a vampire."
"But you're only the bad parts."
Damon leaned into her and got a little too close for Lexi's comfort. "Teach me to be good."
Lexi grabbed Damon by the neck and slammed him against the mattress. "I'm older and that means stronger."
"Sorry." He choked out.
"Don't ruin my time with Stefan cause I'll hurt you and you know I can do it."
"And don't touch Buffy."
"Take all my fun."
"She'll rip you to pieces before you could blink."
Damon glanced at Buffy and she smiled at him. "I won't touch her if she doesn't want me to."
Lexi rolled her eyes. "Trust me…. She doesn't want you to." She looked at Buffy. "Has he been bugging you?"
"Nope." Buffy said.
Lexi smiled. "You look cute."
"Thanks. I borrowed one of your tanks. I hope that's ok."
"It looks good on you. Keep it."
"You've got to stop doing that. I've got no room for your clothes and mine."
Lexi shrugged. "Then you should stop borrowing my clothes and making them look better than me."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Right." She noticed Damon slink out while they were talking. He cast one long, last look at Buffy before exiting completely.
"Seriously, was he bothering you?"
"Really he wasn't. I think I kinda startled him." Buffy sat down on the bed next to Lexi. "So, what's the plan for tonight?"
Lexi, Buffy, and Stefan were sitting in the study talking. He'd gotten back about an hour before and they'd all started chatting again. This time it had been Buffy regaling Stefan and Lexi with stories. Somehow it had turned into a love life conversation since Lexi had mentioned that Buffy had dated two vampires before. That had led into a conversation on Stefan's current love life since it paralleled Buffy's past situation.
"So this Elena…. She'll come around. I'm sure of it." Buffy said.
"Have you had sex yet?" Lexi asked.
"No." Stefan said.
"Sex always works. I mean you'll rock her world so hard with your vamp sex, she'll be yours forever."
"Yeah, but see, this isn't about sex or…. or compulsion or any of our other tricks. She has to want to be with me on her own terms."
"Wow that sounded all mature and grown up."
"I'm not getting any older."
Lexi grabbed one of her travel bags and pulled out a bag of blood. She grabbed a straw and stabbed it through the bag like a Capri Sun and began to sip. She looked up at Stefan. "Want some?"
"No thank you." Stefan got up and moved away.
"Relax. I didn't kill anyone for it. This phlebotomist I went out with a few times…. he's my supplier." Lexi laughed at Stefan's expression. "Oh don't judge ok? Listen I tried the animal diet. Lasted three weeks."
"It doesn't matter . Cause if I started again…. I just don't know if…."
"You could stop."
"Lexi, I'd never judge you."
"I'm just jealous of your restraint. I have none. I delight in hedonism. Speaking of which, what are we doing tonight?"
"Funny you should ask." They all turned to find Damon standing in the doorway.
"Well I wasn't asking you." Lexi shot back."There's a party at the Grill. You'll love it. Banquettes, tacky wait staff, all of Stefan's friends."
"Oh I don't want a birthday party." Stefan said.
Buffy nodded. "Good choice." Stefan smiled at her and Lexi rolled her eyes at Buffy. The bad birthday curse the petite blonde was convinced she had had been a bane in Lexi's side ever since they'd med.
"Well, it's not for you, Stefan." Damon said. "It's a party party. No one's gonna know it's your birthday. Caroline's throwing it."
"Damon, stay away from Caroline." Stefan warned.
"We're friends. It's cool. It's important for the town to see us out and about like normal folk. We need to blend." Damon scoffed at Lexi's stock of blood. "I prefer mine at 98.6." He walked out of the room to eye rolls all around.
"Let's go." Lexi said. Stefan rolled his eyes. "Please?" She added sarcastically. Stefan smiled slightly and Lexi knew she had him. "Great. I'm going to go get ready!" She bounced out of there, playfully slapping Buffy's arm on the way out.
Buffy laughed. "She's a handful sometimes."
"Truer words have never been spoken." Stefan said.
"What's your brother's deal with this Caroline? You seem kinda on edge about it."
"He's got her under his compulsion."
"So, she's his toy basically?"
"Want me to kick his ass?"
Stefan laughed. "No. You're my guest and I want you to enjoy your stay here."
"Well thank you."
Lexi walked out of a shower in Stefan's room and found Stefan and Buffy lounging on his bed talking about music. "I'm almost ready." Lexi announced.
"I can't believe you actually think that we should go to this thing." Stefan said.
"It's not like I'm asking you to run outside midday without your ring. I mean seriously…. it's a party."
"A party that Damon wants us to go to. So my question is: why? I think he's up to something."
"Who cares? What can he possibly do to all those people in a public place?"
"He knows how to keep a low profile. Believe me."
"Ok, so he'll behave. Come on. One day a year I get you. One day that you're not brooding and existing in your own head."
"It's my birthday, right?"
"It's my day and that guy that jumped naked in the Trevi Fountain…. And got drunk on the torch of the statue of Liberty….. That guy can take a break from all of his worrying one night. And go to a stupid party. So quit your whining and go get ready."
"Fine." Stefan said, disappearing into the bathroom.
Lexi set her sights on Buffy. "You are wearing something fabulous."
"What's wrong with what I've got on?"
Lexi grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the doorway. "It's way too casual. It's a party and you are dressing for the occasion." They headed downstairs to get into their luggage. Just as they reached the study, the doorbell jangled. "It's open! Come on in." Lexi called. A girl who looked exactly like the picture that Stefan had of his maker Katherine walked in and Lexi nearly dropped her towel. "Oh my god! How…. How…. Who?"
"I'm Elena." The girl said. "Who are you?"
"Lexi. A friend of Stefan's. And this is Buffy. A friend of mine."
"Is Stefan here?"
"He's in the shower. Do you want to wait?"
"I'll tell him you stopped by."
"That's ok." Elena dashed out of the house.
Lexi stormed back up the stairs and marched into to Stefan's bedroom. Buffy followed closely behind. "Are you out of your freaking mind?"
"What are you talking about?" Stefan asked.
"We just met Elena." Lexi grabbed the photo of Katherine. "You have some serious explaining to do."
Stefan sighed. "Start getting ready and I'll explain everything."
Lexi sat on the bed with Buffy doing Buffy's makeup. "You have some serious emotional damage." She said over her shoulder to a pacing Stefan.
"No it's not what you think. She's not Katherine." He protested.
"So they're related? Cause they can be twins." Buffy said.
"Stop moving your lips." Lexi demanded, trying to apply a coat of lipgloss.
"I don't know." Stefan said.
"You don't know or you didn't find out?" Lexi asked.
"Maybe I don't want to know. I have no desire to tie Elena to Katherine. Ok yes. Yes the resemblance is what drew me in. But that's it. Katherine and Elena may look the same on the outside but on the inside they are completely different."
"So Elena is not a raging bitch then, huh?"
"No. Elena is…. Elena's warm and she's…. She's kind and caring and she's selfless and it's real and honestly when I'm around her…. I completely forget what I am."
"Oh my god! You're in love with her."
"Yeah. I am."
"I think it's sweet." Buffy said, hopping up off the bed. "Probably doomed, but incredibly sweet."
Stefan sighed. "Probably doomed is right."
"It's how it works with regular Janes and their vampire boyfriends." She shrugged. "But I'm always rooting for the underdog."
Stefan laughed. "Are you ladies ready to go?"
"Yes." Lexi said, closing her mirror.
"Ok. I will meet you two there. I have something I need to do."
"Sure." Lexi turned to Buffy. "Shall we?"
Damon spotted Buffy and Lexi walking in to the Mystic Grill. He moved away from Caroline and over to the two blondes. "Where's my brother?"
"He said he'd meet us here."
"Buy you a…." Damon trailed off as Lexi dragged Buffy past Damon and into the thick of the party.
When Stefan made his way over to them a few minutes later, they were dancing in the middle of the crowd. Lexi smiled and pulled him in. "Ok, I'm gonna need a little more foot movement."
"Yeah not really interested in making a fool out of myself." Stefan countered.
"Come on you're not that bad."
"Do me a favor…. Tell me if you see Damon with his camera phone."
"Right." Lexi laughed and tugged on Stefan to get him moving.
While Lexi and Stefan played pool, Buffy went over to order a round of drinks. Lexi had requested tequila shots. The bartender smiled at her. "What can I get you?
"Three shots of tequila." Buffy said,
"I need to see some ID."
"No you don't." Lexi said, suddenly standing next to Buffy.
"On the house."
"Thanks." Lexi and Buffy gathered their shots and headed back towards the pool table. They were stopped by Elena. "Oh! The famous Elena."
"Towel girl and towel girl's friend." Elena said.
"I've been called worse."
"I didn't know that you guys could drink."
"Oh yeah. It helps curb the cravings but makes for lot of lushy vamps."
"I've never seen Stefan drunk. He always seems so…."
"But not with you."
"Well that's the benefit of knowing someone for over a hundred years. You can just be yourself."
"Yeah he can't be himself with me."
"Well not yet." Buffy said. "The first step is him telling you, the rest comes with time."
"You seem so sure."
Buffy shrugged. "The love of my life was a vampire. I went through everything you're going through. Denial, anger, et cetera…."
"But at the end of the day love really did conquer all." Lexi finished. "Just like with the love of my life. He was human. Are you gonna drink that?"
"Go for it." Elena said. "I'm scared."
"But you're here." Buffy said.
"You're crazy about him. We get it ok? I mean what's not to love? Listen. Take it from someone who's been around a long time…. When it's real, you can't walk away." Lexi said.
"Hey…. it has been really nice meeting you two." Elena said. Lexi smiled and walked off towards the pool table.
Buffy smiled at Elena. "Watch. He's going to stare at you for a while and that will be your cue to get over there." Elena looked over at Stefan and he looked back at her. "Go." Buffy pushed her towards Stefan.
"Love advice?" Damon asked behind Buffy. "A Slayer and a love doctor?"
"Not hardly. I don't do the whole love thing anymore." Buffy moved away from Damon and over to the bar.
"Burned one too many times?"
"Something like that. Can I get a Malibu Baybreeze?"
"On my tab." Damon said.
"What do you want?"
"What do you mean?"
"Stefan and Lexi have warned me about you. Why are you even talking to me?"
"You're new and very interesting."
"Thanks." Buffy said to the bartender as he handed her the drink. She looked up at Damon. "You are aware that if you piss me off, I can kill you right?"
"Hmm…. I've never fought a Slayer before."
"You'd lose." Lexi said, coming up on Damon's other side. "Buffy's the best." She set two shot glasses down in front of Damon. "All right, the shots are a bribe. I need you to answer a question. What are you really doing in Mystic Falls?"
"Have you tried the brittle? It wins awards." Damon said.
"Cut the crap."
"Ok. I have a diabolical master plan."
"What is it?"
"If I told you, it wouldn't be very diabolical, would it?"
Just then, two deputies and a woman sheriff walked up. Lexi was suddenly gasping and she started to fall. "What are you doing?" Damon demanded.
"Thank you for the vervain." The sheriff said. "Now if you'll excuse me." The deputies dragged Lexi off.
"Lexi!" Buffy called, looking at Stefan for help. They made their way towards each other, both following Lexi at the same time. Two officers blocked the exit. "Can't go out this way." One said.
Stefan grabbed Buffy's hand and pulled her in a different direction. Elena followed them and they all headed out a side door that wasn't blocked. They heard gunshots and rounded the corner just in time to see Damon slide in between the sheriff and Lexi and shove a stake through Lexi's heart.
Stefan had to work to keep Buffy restrained. He wasn't as strong as she was. "Buffy, stop. They'll kill you too."
"Lexi…." Buffy cried, sinking down to the ground. Stefan knelt down beside her, hugging her tightly and fighting back his own tears. A growl erupted from him and he stood up.
"This won't stand." He said.
"Stefan!" Elena called, rushing after him. "Stefan!"
"He killed her. He killed Zach. He killed Tanner. He turned Vicky…. I have to kill him."
"No you can't do that."
"Why are you trying to save him? Elena, he's never gonna change. Don't you see that? He's not gonna change."
"I'm not trying to save him. I'm trying to save you. You have no idea what this will do to you…. Please Stefan."
"Everywhere I've been…. pain and death follow. Damon follows me. No more."
"Stefan please. Please just talk to me. Let me be here for you. Talk to me."
"No. You were right to stay away from me." Stefan moved away.
Elena sighed and turned to go back to Buffy, but the Slayer wasn't there anymore.
Buffy burst into the Salvatore's house and found Damon sitting at a desk drinking from a glass of dark colored liquor. "How could you?" She demanded. Damon suddenly found himself pinned against a wall.
"I had to take care of it." Damon said. "I did this for my brother. To get them off our trail."
"She was my friend!" Buffy broke off a chair leg suddenly and aimed it for Damon's heart. A hand suddenly grabbed hers, stopping the downward arc. "What…."
Stefan grabbed Damon away from Buffy and slammed him against the wall across the room. "You saved my life. I'm sparing yours. We're even. And now we're done." He shoved the stake into Damon's gut, purposely missing the heart.
"Why!" Buffy demanded, following Stefan up to his room. "Why did you let him live?"
"Because Elena was right. I can't kill him."
"Then I'll do it!"
"Buffy…. I know you don't know me very well, but I'm asking you as a friend of a friend…. Please respect my choice."
Buffy looked down. "Stefan…. She was my friend."
"She was mine too."
Tears started to fall. "I don't have anywhere to go now…."
Stefan sighed sadly. "I'm sorry." He hugged her tightly and let her cry into his shoulder.
"I sold my apartment and Lexi and I still had another year on our world tour…. I don't know what I'm supposed to do now."
Stefan leaned back to look at Buffy. "You can stay here. At least until you figure out what's next for you. There's plenty of room for you here."
"Stefan…. I might kill your brother for what he did…."
"You won't. Lexi said you were honorable and you stick to your word. Give me your word you won't kill him."
Buffy sighed. "I won't kill him. But I will make him miserable."
Stefan smiled slightly. "That was my plan."
"Well now it's ours."
"Now it's ours." Stefan hugged Buffy again, glad he had someone to share his grief over Lexi with.