Buffy sat on one side of the cell with her knees drawn up to her chest. Damon sat on the other side of the cell, chained up, and watched his wife. Willow had put up a spell that covered the whole cell and then split the room in half, keeping them safe inside the room on opposite sides so they didn't try to kill each other. There was a line in the dirt across the middle of the cell where the barrier between Buffy and Damon was. It met up with a line on the threshold of the door where another barrier was, creating a T in the doorway.
"I'm so stupid." Buffy said. "I should've known she wouldn't go quietly."
"It was a surprise." Damon said. "You're not stupid. We just didn't know Katherine managed to get her hands on the virus."
"Or that she would use it on me."
"She did say she'd never done anything to you directly. I guess she couldn't go out without finally getting you, too."
Buffy shot to her feet. "God, I'm starving!"
"Yeah. This diet sucks." Damon chuckled. "Pun intended. You're going to be craving carbs constantly, but hey, you know what? There's a plus side. You get to keep your girlish figure."
Buffy shook her head at him and sighed. She looked paler than usual, but Damon figured it was just because she was hungry. He probably didn't look so hot himself. "It's been almost two days!" She complained. "What's taking so long?"
"Willow is working on a cure. She's got her hands on some of Wes' notes and she's got some of the virus itself. I trust her."
Elena walked up to the door and stopped at the threshold. "Elena, you're awake." Buffy said, walking over to the door.
"Yeah." Elena said, stopping herself from crossing over the barrier to hug Buffy. She'd been in and out since they'd ejected Katherine from her body. "Stefan has been filling me in on what's happened over the last three weeks. Are you guys ok?"
"Well, we were." Damon said. "But then we got injected with this lovely virus that makes us want to kill our friends."
Elena nodded. "I'm sorry about Katherine spilling the beans about you and Klaus." She said to Buffy.
"Yeah, we're not rehashing that one out." Buffy said.
"I second that motion." Damon added. "We just want to get this thing cured so we can get to the making up part."
"Caroline is headed for the place where Willow tracked Wes to. She's going to see if he left anything useful there."
"She might find Wes himself." Damon muttered. "Or what's left of him anyway."
"You killed him?" Elena asked.
"We both did." Buffy said. Elena started to say something, but Buffy cut her off. "He deserved it."
Before Elena could say anything, Jeremy came in with two glasses of blood. Instead of handing one of the cups to Damon, Jeremy sat it down in the floor just out of Damon's reach. "Hilarious." Damon said. Jeremy, looking pleased with himself, gently scooted the cup of blood toward Damon.
"Jeremy, give him the damn cup." Buffy snapped.
"Touchy." Jeremy said, sliding the cup to Damon.
He grabbed it up and guzzled the contents down in seconds. When he was finished, he threw the cup at Jeremy. "Wipe that smile off your face."
"Hey! You're lucky I'm even helping you! Considering the last thing you did for me was to tell Enzo to strangle me to death." Jeremy said.
"Quit crying! You're still around."
"Um…. Stefan failed to mention that part." Elena said.
"It's a long story."
"He was hurt and did some stupid stuff." Buffy said. "Where's my cocktail?"
"Sorry." Jeremy walked back out and slid a cup across the line at the door into Buffy's side of the room. "You're extra touchy today."
Buffy picked up the cup. "Just because I'm in here doesn't mean I can't ground you." She tossed back the blood as Jeremy laughed. "Don't think I won't."
"Come on, Jer." Elena said, pulling on her brother's arm. "You can fill me in on what else I've missed."
Buffy watched them go and paced back over to her corner, sitting down again and massaging her temples. Damon watched her, knowing she was worried about Elena and this virus and everything else. "The second we are cured of this and don't want to rip each other's heads off, I am going to take you upstairs and give you the most mind-blowing night of your life."
Buffy smiled slightly and looked over at Damon. "It's a good thing I don't have anything else on my plate then."
Damon pulled on his chains and sighed. "I wish I could be closer to you."
"Me too." She moved closer to him and sat down, leaning against the barrier. "I really missed you."
"I really missed you, too. I'm sorry about how I reacted. I was an idiot."
"You really were. What made you come around? Besides the Ripper virus."
"You won't believe it."
Damon smiled slightly. "It was Katherine." Buffy raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. "I don't wanna be another Katherine Pierce. Katherine spent her whole life running from her problems only to die here in this house…. All alone. You were right. I need to face my problems. I realized that I had someone who was willing to look past all of my faults and help me face them. And yes, even though I am upset that you kissed Klaus and you had feelings for him and you didn't share that fact with me…. I realized that if I didn't get over it, then I would lose you forever. And I love you too much to let you go anywhere."
Buffy pressed her hand against the barrier. "Willow needs to hurry up and cure this."
Stefan appeared at the door and smiled at the scene in front of him. "She's working on it." He said. "I'm really happy you guys are back."
"Me too." Buffy stood up and walked over to the door. "So, how is it really coming up there?"
"She's doing her best. This virus is…. Complicated." Stefan's phone rang and he sighed, answering it. Buffy began massaging her temples again.
"Bad news." Caroline's voice said. "It's not the same virus."
Stefan looked at Buffy with a worried look. "What is it?"
"Dr. Creepenstein was working on the next phase of the virus. When Nadia was sick, he was experimenting on her blood and he figured out a way to extract werewolf venom from her blood and put it in the virus."
"Wait…. What do you mean 'werewolf venom?' That means it's fatal."
"What!?" Damon yanked on his chains, trying to get to Buffy.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me!" Buffy snapped. "Is that why I'm so much hungrier and on edge than usual?"
"Hello!" Caroline said. "You don't think I would just drop this on you without a silver lining! There's an antidote. It just requires you to come meet me. I'll text you the address."
"Or you could just bring it over here." Stefan said.
"No. You have to go there. And don't ask me why, because I can't tell you."
"Caroline…. This doesn't make any sense. Just tell me exactly…."
"If I could tell you, don't you think I'd be there right now to help Buffy? I'll text you the address!"
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what is going on."
"The travelers don't want anyone to know what they're up to, and by anyone, I mean Willow. Just get there fast, ok?"
Stefan hung up and looked at Buffy. "Go." She said.
"What about Klaus's blood? I'll grab it."
"It's in the safe under the gazebo."
"I didn't know there was a safe there."
"It's under the boards under the bed." Damon said. "I thought it would be an unlikely place to have a safe, so no one would think to look there. The combination is Buffy's birthday."
"I'll be right back." Stefan disappeared up the stairs.
Damon turned to his wife with a worried look on his face. "Are you ok? How do you feel?"
Buffy shrugged. "Hungry. Agitated. Cooped up. I've got a headache." She looked around. "Why do I smell blood?"
"Your nose is bleeding." He yanked on the chains. "These damn chains!"
"Got it." Stefan came back to the door with the glass bottle Klaus had given Buffy as a wedding gift. He grabbed a little paper cup and filled it half way, leaving plenty of blood in the bottle. He set the cup on the floor and scooted it across the threshold into Buffy's section of the cell.
Buffy picked it up and gulped it down, grateful for the little extra blood. "How do you feel?" Damon asked.
"I don't feel any different. Am I supposed to feel different?"
"Well, you weren't feeling bad before." Damon looked at his brother. "I need out of these chains. I need to be closer to her."
"Damon…." Stefan started.
"She's my wife, Stefan. If Klaus's blood didn't do anything, then I need to be closer to her. The barrier will still be there, just let me out of these damn chains."
"Ok." Stefan grabbed the keys and walked over the threshold, unlocking the chains. Damon ignored him and went over to the barrier, placing his hand against Buffy's. "I'll be back. With a cure, hopefully." Stefan walked out, shutting the door behind him.
Damon ran his finger down Buffy's hand, wishing he could actually touch her. "I wish I could hold you."
"I don't think Klaus's blood did anything." Buffy said, placing her other hand on the barrier to steady herself.
"Cause I don't feel so good." She collapsed to the floor.
"Buffy!" Damon dropped to his knees, hitting the barrier with his fist.
Buffy heard her name being called and she looked up. She was sitting at the table in the library at Sunnydale High School and Giles had been reading from a book. "Buffy, are you even listening to me?"
"Buffy, if you're going to stop the Mayor, then you need to pay attention.""The Mayor? I stopped him already."
"Really, Buffy." Wesley said, walking out of the office. "This is serious. This is no time to play games."
"Buffy doesn't play games." Xander said from beside Buffy. "She's gameless."
"What?" Buffy asked.
"Well, not gameless. You've got plenty of game, Buff." Xander looked at her sheepishly and slid a pink box full of donuts at her. "Jelly?"
"Xander, you wouldn't know game if it was a big stinky demon that just slapped you in the face." Cordelia quipped from her seat next to Buffy.
"Cordelia?" Buffy asked, confused.
The doors opened and Willow came bouncing in with Oz. "Oh! Donuts!" She grabbed one of the powdered jelly donuts up and turned to Oz. "Wanna split?"
"So, Mayor…. Ascension…. Do we know when it is?" Xander asked.
"No. No, we don't yet." Giles said. "But we know it'll be soon."
"It's graduation." Buffy said. "We covered this. I blew this place up."
"Buffy, come on! Wake up!" Damon's voice broke through the fog and Buffy looked up at her husband's worried face.
Buffy reached up and wiped sweat from her forehead. "Oh…."
She coughed and closed her eyes, sitting up to lean against the wall behind her. "Why didn't Klaus's blood work?"
"I don't know. Maybe because that bastard worked the venom into the virus so it's part of it. So, maybe Klaus's blood needs to be worked into the cure." Damon stood up and went to the door. "Willow!"
"Damon…." Buffy tried to stand, but she began to cough again.
"What's going on?" Jeremy asked, appearing at the door. He spotted Buffy looking a bit gray and sweating. "What's wrong?"
"The virus…. That bastard Maxfield laced it with werewolf venom. There's a glass bottle of Klaus's blood by the supply…. Get that up to Willow and tell her to find a cure now." Jeremy nodded and grabbed the bottle. "And tell her to take down the barrier between me and Buffy."
"Don't argue. I'm not going to hurt her, but I can't just sit here and watch her wither away. She was with me every second I was going through the venom. I'm need to be there for her. Just make sure you keep the blood supply up, ok?"
Jeremy sighed. "Ok. Fine."
Damon turned to Buffy. "Hey."
She looked up at him. "Man, this thing hit me fast and hard, huh?"
"The hallucinations…. For you…. What were they like?"
"A walk through my past. Not all of it was good." He pressed his hand against the barrier. "But it was everything that led me to you."
She gave him a small smile. "I was back in Sunnydale."
"Who was there?"
"Giles. Willow and Oz were sharing a jelly donut. Xander was putting his foot in his mouth as per usual while Cordelia was making snide comments at him. And Wesley."
"No. My old Watcher."
"The one you didn't like."
"Yeah." Damon's hand suddenly wasn't leaning against the barrier and he tumbled forward.
"I guess Willow pulled our barrier down." Damon was suddenly behind her, holding her in his lap. "Do you realize how dangerous this is? Every time I cough, I…."
"I know. But I couldn't just sit there and watch. You were by my side the whole time I was going through this."
"I didn't want to rip your head off and suck you dry."
"Not that day, anyway." He kissed her forehead. "Rest, Buffy. I'm right here." Buffy closed her eyes and let herself drift in Damon's arms.
Angel stood in the doorway, the moonlight making him a silhouette. Buffy looked up at him from her seat on one of the beds. They were at a seedy little hotel between Sunnydale and LA. "Angel…." She breathed as he pulled her into his embrace.
"I can't believe you're really here." Angel said, kissing the top of her head. She began to cry and he held her closer. "I know it's hard readjusting…."
"I don't want to readjust. I want it to stop."
"This pain. This hole that's been ripped out of me."
Angel looked down at her. "You weren't in hell."
She shook her head against his chest. "No. I was happy. I was warm and loved and…. Now it's all hard and cold and that's all I feel inside."
"I'm so sorry."
Buffy looked up at him, but he was no longer standing in front of her. Angel was suddenly sitting on the other bed across from her and their bags were sitting by the door. They had spent three days together and now, on the third night, they were going back to their separate lives. He reached out and took her hands. "You'll find your way back to yourself, Buffy. It won't always be this way. You'll find something that will spark that fire in you again."
Damon watched his wife sleep in his arms and mutter a past conversation she'd had with Angel. He pulled out his phone and dialed Klaus's number. "Damon Salvatore, you are the last person I ever expected to talk to." Klaus answered.
"You're the last person I want to talk to, but I need answers."
"Answers to what?"
"Buffy's been injected with werewolf venom."
"She has my blood. Once she takes it, she'll be fine."
"She's already had some and it didn't work."
"What do you mean? It should've worked."
"This insane scientist made a virus that turns vampires into Ripper cannibals. But he got ahold of some werewolf venom and worked it into the virus and Katherine managed to inject Buffy with it. Your blood didn't work."
Klaus took a deep breath and Damon knew he really did care about Buffy just in that small, pained noise. "She's dying."
"I don't know. That's the worst part. But she said that you thought she was like you. That because she's two things that shouldn't mix…."
"Like a vampire and werewolf."
"Like a vampire and a Vampire Slayer. She said you thought that she couldn't be killed."
"It just a theory, Damon. She wasn't made the same way I was. I don't know if the venom will affect her like a normal vampire or like one of my siblings."
"What happens to them when they're infected?"
"They suffer for a day or so as the venom works out of their systems, but they don't die."
"She's more like you than she is like me…. Physically, I mean…. Maybe…."
"I don't know, Damon. I just don't know. I wish I had an answer, but…. I'll ask around and see if anyone knows of a way to cure her. Keep me posted. I will kill you if you let her die."
"If she dies, I'll beat you to it." Damon hung up and looked down at Buffy who was just opening her eyes. "Hey gorgeous."
"How long was I out?" She asked.
"Not very long. A couple of hours tops. You were talking to Angel."
"It was just after I'd been brought back…. We met up at this hotel halfway between Sunnydale and LA. We spent three days talking."
"He said that I would find something that would spark that fire in me again." She reached up and gently touched his cheek. "He was right."
Damon kissed her palm. "You need to feed again."
"It hasn't been eight hours."
"No, but I remember how hungry you get." Damon eased out from behind her, leaning her gently against the wall, and got up, walking over to the door. "Little Gilbert!"
"He has a name." Buffy said.
"Yeah. Little Gilbert." Damon smirked at her and banged on the door. "Jeremy! Get your ass down here!"
"What?" Jeremy asked, appearing at the door.
"I need one of those little bottles of blood."
"It's not time."
"It's not for me. It's for Buffy. She needs to eat more often than me."
"Jeremy." Damon mocked. "Just give me a bottle and quit arguing." Jeremy picked up a bottle and handed it through the window. "Thank you." Damon turned his back to Jeremy and walked over to Buffy. "Here, drink."
As Buffy took the bottle and drank, Damon took his place behind her again. She laid her head back on his shoulder and he smoothed the hair off her forehead, noticing the cold sweat that had developed on her skin. It killed him that there was nothing he could do for her. That she was possibly dying in his arms and there was no cure yet.
Buffy held up the bottle to him. She'd left a third of the contents. "Here, you need strength too."
"No." He pushed the bottle down. "You drink all of it. Wouldn't want you to take off my head when the cravings hit."
"I won't. You'll make sure of that." She pushed it back into his hand and Damon sighed, drinking the rest. He tossed the bottle across the room and wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in her hair as she drifted off again. For another three hours, he watched her get paler and mumble in her sleep. When she said something about death being her gift, it scared him enough that he shook her awake. "Don't worry. I already gave that gift once." She said, coughing slightly.
"Stay with me, ok? I can't bear not knowing if you're going to wake up again."
"Do you remember what you did for Rose?"
"Gave her a nice memory to die to? I'm not going to do that for you because you're not going to die."
"No. I want to show you Sunnydale."
"You need to save your strength."
She laughed slightly. "Use your powers to take a walk inside my head, silly."
He smiled slightly. "If you insist." Damon placed his fingers on her temples and closed his eyes, concentrating his power. When he opened his eyes, he was standing in a large library with a book cage on one side opposite an office and a counter. There was a large oak table sitting between the stairs to the second level where all the bookshelves were located.
"Welcome to the Sunnydale High School Library." Buffy said from the doorway to the office.
Damon smiled. "So this was Scooby HQ?"
"For a little while." She walked over to him and took his hand. "Come on." They made their way through the school with Buffy pointing out different classrooms and commons areas and telling him stories about what had happened there. Then suddenly they were standing in a cemetery. "One of the many I patrolled on a regular basis, but this one…." She turned around and pointed at a willow tree at the very back of the cemetery. "I was back there."
"A willow tree. Appropriate. Do you mind if we skip that part? Considering the current situation, I really don't want to dwell on your death."
"Ok." Buffy turned around and they were standing in the front yard of her house.
"Is this where you lived?"
"1430 Revello Drive, Sunnydale, California." She walked up to the door and opened it. The stairs stood in front of her with the hallway to the back. On their left was the living room and on their right was the dining room. "It's one big circle." Buffy said, taking him through the dining room, into the kitchen, around to the living room, and then back to the foyer. "My room is upstairs."
Damon mounted the steps. "I can't wait." He took her hand and she led them up to her old room decorated in the green stripes. "It's so…. Sixteen year old girl."
"I was sixteen when I moved in. So, yeah." Buffy fiddled with the cross necklace that Angel had given her hanging on her necklace hanger. "I moved down the hall into mom's room after I came back from the dead the second time."
Damon touched the little memory board hanging by the mirror and examined the pictures. This room belonged to someone he didn't know. It reflected a girl that no longer existed. But he still loved this girl because she'd grown up into the woman he'd fallen in love with. "This is Angel's Buffy." He said, playing with a stuffed pig on the bed. "This is who he remembers and who he expects you to be."
"Yes." Buffy touched the picture on her mirror of her and Angel when she was 16. "She's long gone." They were suddenly standing on a sidewalk outside of what looked like a coffee shop. "Welcome to the Espresso Pump. We hung out here a lot."
"Sometimes. That was mostly what the Bronze was for. I'll show you that in a minute. First," She pulled him across the street and down the block a bit. "This is The Magic Shop."
"The place that Giles owned?"
"The very one." Buffy watched him walk around the Magic Shop, checking out all the little artifacts and heading into the back where the training room was. She leaned heavily against the door, suddenly not feeling so good. She struggled not to cough. If Damon thought something was wrong, he would stop the tour. She managed to compose herself just as Damon walked back into the main area.
"This place is pretty cool." He said. "Where to next?"
"How about," Buffy held out her hands and they were now standing in a club with numerous catwalks, a bar, a pool table, and a stage with booths and tables strewn about. "The Bronze." She looked around the room. "This is the old Bronze…. Before it got redecorated."
"Why did it get redecorated?"
"A troll pulled down the catwalks and destroyed most of the inside."
"Oh. Standard reason, then." Damon took her hand and led her out onto the dance floor. He pulled her into his arms and started dancing.
"There's no music." Buffy said, laying her head on Damon's chest. A soft song started playing and Buffy heard Damon softly humming along to it. She started feeling weak again and knew that Damon was holding her up now. "Damon…."
"Nope." He said, holding her tightly.
"I don't think that Willow's going to find a cure."
"Stefan went to get it. He'll be back soon."
Buffy started coughing and she opened her eyes to find herself back in the cell in Damon's arms. She was coughing up blood. A lot of it. Damon's eyes changed and he was suddenly across the room, fighting the urge to tear into Buffy's neck. She doubled over in pain, coughing up more blood. Damon turned and punched the rock wall, burying his fingers into the stone and gripping it tightly.
Enzo suddenly appeared in the doorway and saw Damon ready to attack his ailing wife. He decided to save Buffy first and kneeled down next to her, lifting her up in his arms. "Hey, gorgeous. Got a little something for you."
"Horrible come on line." Buffy rasped through her coughs.
"Well, it's something you're gonna love." Enzo pulled out the vile of the werewolf venom/vampire ripper cure that he'd gotten from the Travelers and injected it into Buffy's shoulder. Damon was suddenly grabbing him away and tossing him across the room, ready to bite into Buffy's neck. Enzo grabbed Damon before he could do anything stupid and stabbed the ripper cure into his neck. Willow appeared at the door and sent Enzo flying across the room with her magic.
"Hey! I was saving them!" He complained, getting painfully to his feet.
Damon looked at Buffy, still lying on the ground weak from the werewolf venom. He was horrified that he'd just tried to kill her. "Buffy…." Damon dropped to his knees and pulled her into his arms. "I'm so sorry."
"I'm still alive." Buffy said against his chest.
"What happened?" Willow asked, coming over to check on her best friend.
"I brought the antidote." Enzo said. "I saved my friend's wife and I saved my friend from killing said wife. I think that would've ruined any future chances for a threesome."
"Those chances were already dead." Buffy said as Damon stood up with her in his arms.
"I'm going to take her upstairs." Damon said, moving past Enzo and Willow and heading for the door.
Willow let the spell drop as Damon walked out the door. She turned to Enzo. "Where did you get the cure?"
"From the Travelers. Now I've got to go make good on my half of the bargain." Enzo rushed out of the room, leaving Willow to pick up the two syringes. She examined them, taking them upstairs to analyze the compounds and see how close to the cure she was.
Buffy laid her head back on Damon's shoulder and closed her eyes. They were sitting in the bathtub together with Damon behind her. He'd cleaned her up and cared for her, drawing this hot bath just for the two of them. While she'd soaked and sipped on a glass of O positive to get her strength back, he'd lit candles all around the room before joining her in the bathtub.
Damon kissed the side of her head. "Care to share anything churning around in that beautiful head of yours?"
"I almost died today…. Again." Buffy said.
"I noticed. It was me trying to rip your throat out."
"No…. From the werewolf venom. I was just thinking that it's sad I've lost count how many times I've actually died."
"Three." Damon said. "It's only been three and it's only going to be three." He sighed. "It was all my fault. This whole situation we found ourselves in."
"No, it was mine. I kissed Klaus."
"But I overreacted. I should've stayed and talked it out with you. Instead I went crazy and killed Elena's friend, she got taken over by Katherine, I got injected with the ripper virus, you got injected with the ripper virus laced with werewolf venom…." He moved to sit up and turned Buffy to face him. "Things are going to be different from now on, Buffy. It's you and me against the world and nothing will take me away from you again. I'm going to face my problems head on with you by my side. I love you."
"I love you." She leaned forward and kissed him. After weeks apart and then days without being able to take anything further than a chaste kiss, the heat between them flared suddenly and Damon was pressed back against the back of the tub, sinking under the water with Buffy on top of him.