An incessant beeping sound broke through Buffy's unconsciousness and she opened her eyes. She and Damon were wrapped tightly together in the sheets. Her hair covered everything her vision could see. She decided that it may be time to get a haircut as she fought her way out from under her hair. Damon felt her movements and groaned, opening one eye to look down at her.
"What's that noise?" He asked groggily.
"I have no idea." Buffy raised her head up to look around and spotted her cell phone flashing on the nightstand. Struggling out from Damon's limbs and the sheets, she rolled over and picked it up. It was her calendar reminding her that Jeremy's parent teacher thing was today. "Ugh!"
"Jeremy's parent teacher conference thingy is today."
Damon wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her back to him, nipping at her neck. "Skip it."
"Say you're sick." His fingers began roaming on her hips as he kissed her shoulder.
One finger trailed up the inside of her thigh. "Say you're still recovering from that bought with werewolf venom."
"Yes, because his teachers will believe that."
Damon sighed and took the phone from her. "We don't need to be there until noon. It's nine." He tossed the phone back on the nightstand and rolled her under him.
Buffy rolled again and Damon wound up on the floor. "Oh…. Didn't realize we were that close to the edge."
"Sorry." Buffy stood up, sheets wrapped around her, and helped Damon to his feet.
"Well, that just killed the mood." He smiled down at her and kissed the tip of her nose. "Good morning."
She smiled back. "Good morning."
Damon wrapped her in his arms and held her close. "Three weeks without waking up to your hair in my mouth should sound like a great thing, but I actually missed it."
"And here I was thinking about cutting it."
He wrapped his fingers in her hair and tugged so she looked up at him. "Don't you dare." His fingers brushed through her tangled hair and he kissed her hairline. "I'll divorce you if you cut it."
"I love your hair. I love this flowing mass of gold when it ripples through my fingers and surrounds me in the mornings."
"It's your fault." Damon looked down at her seriously. "I mean it. Please don't cut it."
Buffy smiled and squeezed him tighter. "Ok. I'll leave it long and flowy just for you."
"Good. Then I'll buy us brunch at the Grill."
"It's not Sunday."
"Who says it has to be Sunday for us to get brunch?" Damon released her with a small slap on her backside as he headed for the bathroom. "We're vampires, baby. We can compel ourselves a good brunch any day of the week."
"As long as we're not late to the school." Buffy headed over to the closet to pick out her clothes. "We've been seriously slacking on our parental duties for way too long."
"I can't wait until Little Gilbert turns 18 so we can have our lives back." Damon called from the shower.
Buffy laughed. "Actually, it'll be the first time we have kid-free lives."
"That'll be the day! I'll break out the oldest bourbon in our cellar to celebrate."
Damon's cell phone started ringing from his pants on the floor of the closet. Buffy reached down and pulled it out, surprised to find Klaus's number on the caller ID. She looked at it in confusion, glancing out of the closet to see Damon enjoying his shower. With a sigh, she answered it. "Why are you calling my husband?"
"Buffy?" The relief in Klaus's voice was palpable.
"I didn't know if…. Damon said that you…." He let out a breath, obviously trying to form a full sentence. "Are you all right, love?"
"I'm alive. It got a little sketchy before Enzo brought the cure, but I'm not dead."
"When Damon called, he was so desperate for me to tell him that you were like me…. To assure him that you wouldn't die from the venom. I didn't know, though. I wanted to tell him you were going to live. You don't know how badly I wanted to."
Buffy smiled slightly. "I know."
"He should've called to let me know you were all right."
"We were a little busy." Buffy sighed and leaned against the dresser. "He found out about my feelings for you and that kiss when you were here. He didn't take it so well."
"I imagine not."
"We were…. Making up…. After weeks of nearly being divorced."
"And your love is stronger than ever now, yes?"
She nodded, knowing that it was time to end the conversation with Klaus before it ventured any further down this path. "Thank you for being concerned and for checking up on me."
"Do me a favor? Please stop getting into situations that test your immortality. I couldn't bear it if you actually died." Klaus hung up and Buffy set the phone down, glancing down at the sheet she was still wrapped in.
Damon turned around to find a naked Buffy standing behind him. "I thought you didn't want to be late."
Buffy and Damon sat at a table at the Grill and waited for their check. Damon played with Buffy's hand, kissing her palm and nipping at the skin on her wrist. Matt walked by and laughed slightly. "Absence really does make the heart grow fonder." He quipped.
"Don't be jealous, Donovan." Damon said. "I'm sure you'll find a nice little cheerleader to settle down with and get lots of annoying little brats off her."
"That was almost nice." Buffy said. She put her palm to Damon's forehead. "You don't feel warm."
He smiled and took her hand, kissing her palm. "Oh, I'm warm."
"And that's my cue to run away." Matt said, walking off.
Buffy's brow furrowed and Damon looked over to where she was looking. Jeremy had just walked into the Grill and sat down at a table. He had company already waiting in the form of the baby witch Liv. She'd helped out when Damon had been on a rampage and needed a witch to find Maxfield. Bonnie had decided to take her under her wing and teach her magic.
"Why is he here with her?" Damon asked.
"She helped save his life." Buffy said. "Maybe he's thanking her?"
"With booze and brunch?"
"We had brunch because we compelled it. They're having lunch. And he better not touch that booze." She looked at her watch. "We don't have time to chaperone, though. We've got to go find out how grounded he is."
Damon pulled out his wallet and dropped money on the table to cover the bill and the tip as Buffy walked across the Grill and made eye contact with Jeremy. He sighed, knowing he was probably going to be in trouble after she talked with his teachers and knew she was telling him not to drink. Jeremy gave her a nod and shooed her on. Damon caught up with Buffy and they headed out.
At the high school, people were lined up by the dozens. They were standing in front of a table where Mrs. Douglas was giving a speech. "As the guidance counselor, you'll first meet with me individually and then you'll have an open house with your child's teachers…." She spotted Buffy and Damon and waved them over. "Mr. and Mrs. Salvatore. It's good to see you."
"So we're giving our parents their kids' class schedule and you'll go through the school like they do each day and the teachers will talk with you individually. The first stop will be with a counselor, though. And to be honest, Mrs. Salvatore," Mrs. Douglas leaned in and lowered her voice. "I'm really worried about Jeremy."
"We both are." Damon said.
"He's been through so much in the last year alone." Buffy said.
"I realize that," Mrs. Douglas said. "But he's come close to expulsion more than once in the last year. People are starting to talk about your competency as his legal guardian."
Damon squeezed Buffy's hand hard, knowing she was about to jump across the table and rip into the old woman. "Listen, Mrs. Douglas, it's not just Jeremy that's gone through a lot." He said. "My wife has been dealing with just as much on top of trying to be a guardian to a stubborn teenage boy. But she is an amazing parent. Her sister is the prime example there. She went through a rough transition after their mother died and she was nearly expelled a couple of times, but now she's got her own apartment in New York City, she's going to college, and she's even got a steady boyfriend." Damon winced at Buffy's angry squeeze on his hand at the mention of her sister dating Spike. "Things will get better. They will. This is just a rough transition time."
"I understand." Mrs. Douglas pulled out a piece of paper from her accordion file and slid it across the table. "Here's Jeremy's schedule. Your first stop is just down the hall."
"Thanks." Buffy got up and walked off. Damon caught up to her and she wheeled around, making him stop and backpedal a few steps. "'People are starting to talk about your competency as his legal guardian'." She mocked. "Who the hell does she think she is?"
"She doesn't know what's been going on." He soothed. "You are a damn good guardian. Even with everything that's happened."
Buffy looked at Damon for a moment and then deflated. "Oh, who the hell are we kidding? I suck. Jeremy isn't better off with me."
"What?" Damon shook his head and pulled her into an empty classroom. "Babe…."
"I suck. Seriously. Jeremy has been kidnapped, tortured, and killed under my watch."
"It's not your fault he's an idiot."
"Buffy, one of those times he was kidnapped by me."
"Because I hurt you."
"Yes, you hurt me. But it was my fault that I didn't deal with it the right way." He shook his head. "Jeremy is his own person. He knows that his choices have consequences."
"It's my job to help him make the right choices. Instead I'm spending time making out with Klaus and fighting with you." Buffy moved over to the windows. "They're going to tell us that he's flunking. That something needs to be done." She turned back to Damon. "He had a better life in New York."
"We compelled him into a better life that wasn't actually better. He made a friend out of an Original looking to kill him and your sister and us."
"Then we should compel him again and send him back. If he stays in Mystic Falls, he doesn't have much of a future. Just death and destruction and flunking out of school."
"Hey, that was your future and you still graduated high school and got some college credits under your belt. I think Jeremy will be ok. Let's just see what his teachers have to say and then decide whether or not to go extremes again." Damon held out his hand and Buffy sighed, taking it. He looked at the schedule and led them down the hall to the first class. They took seats at two of the desks and Damon leaned back. Buffy fidgeted in her seat, though. He looked over at her and laughed slightly. "Is it burning you?"
Buffy chuckled. "No. It's just…. I wasn't a big fan of school and being shoved back into desks like these makes me uncomfortable."
"Maybe we should've sent Willow. She loves school."
"She always has."
"Weirdo." Damon glanced at the clock. "Look. The clock's busted. What are we paying our PTA dues for?"
"We should file a complaint. That'll teach those pesky teachers."
He smirked. "How much time do you think we have until this counselor walks in?"
"About twenty seconds." Buffy gestured to the door. "I hear footsteps headed our way."
Mrs. Douglas appeared in the doorway and Buffy groaned. "Ok." The woman said. "Sorry to keep you waiting. Bad news first: Jeremy's missed 11 days of school, he's started three fights, and he's been caught cheating in math class…. twice."
Buffy blinked. "Do you even have anything good to say about Jeremy?"
"He used to be a good student."
"Then his parents died. And then his aunt Jenna. And his uncle John. And his mentor Alaric. And somewhere in all of that, he found out that Elena isn't actually his sister, but his cousin. The poor kid has had so much piled on him that it's incredibly hard on him to find his way out from under it all."
"I understand that. I also understand that you and Mr. Salvatore were separated for a few weeks recently."
"How is that even relevant to this conversation?"
"Most problems in school are rooted in problems at home. Jeremy's in desperate need of a stable living situation. People who care about giving him that, more than their own needs…."
"Someone's in desperate need of a less judgey counselor." Damon said.
"I agree." Buffy said, standing up. "I'm starting to think that a new school is what he needs."
"There's a couple of nice private schools in Richmond we could look into." Damon said as he got out of his seat and followed Buffy out while Mrs. Douglas sputtered. He caught up to her in the hall and noticed her eyes were doing that supernatural thing where they were turning ice blue and were about to go full vampire. She stopped looking human when that happened. "Hey." He grabbed her hand and pulled her into an empty side hall. "You need to calm down. You're vamping out."
"That woman has some serious nerve." She growled. Her eyes were showing the dark veins and her teeth were elongating. The woman was an amazing vampire, but she still had trouble with her temper.
Damon pushed Buffy back into the lockers, pressing himself against her, and lowered his voice. "I want to rip your clothes off right here in the middle of this hall, and throw you into one of these classrooms and kiss every square inch of your body, while a bunch of people that drive minivans listen, wishing they were us." Buffy blinked in surprise, her eyes returning to normal. He gave her a sexy little smirk. "Works every time. Better?"
"Because now all I can think about is what you just said."
Damon looked at the people milling about in the main hall. "That's probably a bad idea."
He laughed and took her hand as the bell rang. They hurried to the next class and sat down at one of the tables. Poor Jeremy had to deal with chemistry class in the morning. The teacher, Mr. White, began to drone on about what he liked to teach his students. Damon's hand wandered onto Buffy's thigh under the table and she smiled, turning her lower body more towards him.
He leaned in and whispered, "Wanna skip your next class? I've got study hall after this and I was thinking about skipping it and heading for the bleachers on the football field."
"So I tell my students, chemistry is about attraction and reaction." Mr. White was saying. "Sometimes it's beautiful, just as often, it's destructive…."
"Shh…." Buffy scolded. "You're missing an incredibly boring presentation."
"As you can imagine, it's the more destructive reactions that your students are the most interested in…."
"Don't be a square." Damon joked, running his hand up her inner thigh.
She caught his hand and stood up. "Let's go." They headed out of the classroom, ignoring the looks from the other parents. Damon grabbed her hand and led her down the hall towards the wood shop. He shut the door behind him and pressed Buffy against the wall beside it, nipping at her collarbone. She groaned and pushed him away, leveling a glare at the baby witch standing in the middle of the room. Damon turned around to look as well. "We're busy. Take Jeremy out for his last night of freedom because he's going to be really grounded."
"I need Elena." Liv said, holding a broken piece of wood in her hand. "Where is she?"
"She's not here right now. Obviously." Liv held her hand in front of her and tried to use her magic to fling Buffy across the room. "Sorry," She was suddenly standing in front of Liv, holding her up by her neck and swatting the stake away. "I've got protections from a much more powerful witch."
"Oh, a toy." Damon said, inspecting a powerful vice grip. "You should bring her over here."
Buffy kept a hold on Liv's neck as she made her way over to Damon. He grabbed some rope and a rag, tying her hands together and shoving the rag in her mouth. She began to struggle as Damon stuck her hands in the grip and closed it so she couldn't move.
"So it turns out you're a liar." Buffy said to Liz. "You've got real power. No wonder you stayed away from Willow. So," Liz screamed into her rag as Damon tightened the grip. "What do you want with Elena?"
"I'm going to rip this nasty rag out of your mouth." Damon said. "And if I hear so much as one syllable of hocus pocus, one of us is going to break your neck. Spoiler alert: It's gonna be me." He pulled the rag out of Liv's mouth. "Talk." Liv looked up and Damon, but said nothing. "All right." He turned the grip again and Liv screamed.
Buffy leaned down and got in her face. "If you want to spare yourself anymore pain, you'd better start talking. He won't stop until you sing. Why are you looking for Elena?"
"She's the last female doppelganger." Liv cried. "After tonight, there might only be one male doppelganger. And if that happens, the Travelers will come for Elena. To use her. The witches can't let that happen."
Damon looked up at Buffy. "If she's determined to kill Elena…."
"You know what the answer to that is." Buffy said.
"Are you freaking kidding me?" Jeremy cried, running in and placing himself between Damon and Liv.
"Oh god." Damon groaned.
"If you want to kill Liv, you're going to have to kill me too. What are you waiting for, Damon? Go on. It wouldn't be the first time you killed me."
"She is trying to stake your sister." Buffy said.
"She won't, though."
"She's gonna help keep Elena safe. I will make sure of that."
"How? You can't even get a passing grade in penmanship!" Damon said.
Jeremy turned and looked at Buffy. "Trust me, I won't let anyone hurt my sister."
"Jeremy, after all of the things you've been pulling at school, how can I trust you?" Buffy asked. "You haven't exactly been making good decisions."
"Neither have you!"
"I'm about to make a decision that will keep you locked in a room until you're 18."
"How can you expect me to care about school, when this is my life? You of all people should understand!"
"Yes, Jeremy. I do understand. But there is a glaring difference between my life and yours. I'm a Slayer. I didn't have a choice. You do."
"I'm a Hunter!"
"Then you can take care of yourself in a fight. Good for you." Buffy gripped his shoulders. "But the weight of the world doesn't rest on your shoulders. You get to tell the Apocalypse to shove off because you have a chemistry test to study for because you have me to handle it."
She held up her hand to stop him. "No. You're a kid, Jeremy. Be a kid. Go to school and study and graduate and have a life! Do the things I didn't get to because I didn't have anyone to shoulder that burden for me."
"Liv knows more about the Travelers than she's letting on!"
"Then I will deal with that."
"Now is not the time to start acting like a mom."
"Now is when it's happening, though. It may not be convenient for you, but it's what's going on. Go home, Jeremy. When I get there later, you had damn well better be studying because you've got one month to get your grades up or I'm sending you to a boarding school in New York." Jeremy glared at her before turning and stomping off.
"Bravo." Damon said.
Buffy turned to Liv and grabbed her face. "All right, your turn. What do we need to do about the Travelers?"
Liv stared at Buffy for a moment before sighing. "Will you let me out of this thing?"
"Are you going to try to kill Elena or my brother in law?"
The blonde witch leveled her stare at Buffy. "No. I'll work with you."
"Good." Buffy released the vice grip and Liv stood up, rubbing her hands. "Talk."
"If the Travelers are coming for Elena and Stefan, or making a move on Mystic Falls, or both, we'll need someone who's going to see it coming before we do."
"Who's we?" Damon asked.
"Me and my brother."
"Why were you involving Jeremy?" Buffy asked.
"Because he's a Hunter. They can't use him as a host."
"What about me?"
"They've never used a Slayer as a host before that I know of. But, I guess, seeing as how Hunters are just…. Watered down versions of Slayers, I'd say you're just as good as Jeremy."
"Get your brother and meet us back at our house." Buffy said. "You're going to meet Willow."
"We can't involve any more people."
"I'll involve whomever I deem necessary. And if it's witches versus Travelers, you're going to need Willow on your side."
"Fine. I've been wanting to meet her anyway." Liv sighed and walked out of the wood shop.
Buffy turned back to Damon. "So, we're having company over."
"I love it when you get all authoritive and Slayer-y." Damon said. "May I make a suggestion?"
"If we're going up against Travelers that can possess people…. We're going to need that magic dagger you stabbed Katherine with."
"Matt has it."
"Then let's give the Quarterback a call and get our ducks in a row." Damon threw his arm around Buffy's shoulders and led her out of the wood shop.