The Next Chapter

Chapter 101

A/N I'm not dead, I promise! I'm just super busy. Between work and getting ready for this charity event next Friday, I've got a lot on my plate and not enough time in the day. How heartbreaking was that season finale, though?! I couldn't stop crying. They really stabbed me in the heart with that. I wrote this chapter before I watched it, so going back and reading this chapter made me cry all over again. So, if you end up in tears, I'm so sorry!

Chapter 101

Enzo was setting up a shot on the new pool table that Buffy had bought for Damon. Damon leaned against the side of the lounge chair where Buffy was sitting. "This is a sweet setup." Enzo said.

"My wife is the best." Damon said, leaning down to kiss her.

"I've gotta say, Damon…. I never thought I would see the day that you were happily married. Especially after you were ready to rip her head off not that long ago."

"It surprised me too. But what can I say? I love her."

"Not to be a total bitch, but why are you even here?" Buffy asked.

"I came to see my friend." Enzo said. "And, believe it or not, I like you Buffy."

"Oh good. The guy that took my husband on a killing rampage likes me."

"Take it as a compliment, babe." Damon said, bending over to shoot. "Enzo doesn't like many people."

"Oh, then yay!" Buffy said sarcastically, looking at her watch.

"Do you have somewhere to be, love?" Enzo asked.

"I have some people coming over. So, if you could skedaddle…."

Enzo laughed. "Did you just say 'skedaddle'?"

"Hey, does your mysteriously missing girlfriend know how insufferable you are?" That caused Damon to laugh. "Maybe that's why you haven't found her. She doesn't want to be found."

Enzo sighed and set down his pool cue. "I haven't found her because the Travelers, i.e. my only lead, decided to play a fun game of spontaneous combustion before giving me what they promised."

"Right. Now you're here annoying us."

"We could always go kill people. I hear you're pretty brutal."

Buffy leveled a look at Enzo. "Wanna find out?"

Damon smiled and set down his pool cue. "All right, Enzo. Let me show you the door. I'll call you later."

Enzo reached down and took Buffy's hand, kissing her knuckles. "Mrs. Salvatore, it is always a pleasure."

"Quit flirting with my wife." Damon said, pulling Enzo to the door. Not even two minutes after Enzo left, Matt and Tyler knocked on the door. "About time."

"We're not late." Matt said.

"Do you have it?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah." Matt held out the knife wrapped in a thick cloth.

"Where's this witch at?" Tyler asked.

"Willow's driving her in now." Damon said.

"Why are we here first?" Matt asked.

"Because we need the Traveler's knife." Buffy said, unwrapping it.

"Where's Jeremy?"

"Up in his room studying. He has one month to get his grades up or I'm sending him to a boarding school."

"Is that necessary?"

Buffy glared at Matt. "If you'd seen his grades and heard the way his guidance counselor talked about him, then you wouldn't be asking me that question."

"Well, shouldn't he be in on this, though? He's a Hunter. They're immune to the Travelers taking them over."

"Then he'll be perfectly safe…. Up in his room studying." The door opened and Willow walked in with Liv and a boy that looked a lot like Liv. "Great!"

"Sorry we're late." Willow said. "Long story. What did we miss?"

"Nothing. The boys just got here. Who's that?"

"I'm Luke Parker." The boy said. "Liv's twin brother."

"Liv has a twin?" Damon asked. "Is it possible for there just to be one of someone around here?"

"Seriously?" Liv scoffed at Tyler and Matt. "Townies? No. We don't need them."

"If the Travelers have taken over people in town, then the more people to help the better." Buffy said.

"We only have one dagger."

"Which Damon or myself will be using after these guys find out who's possessed and who's not."

"We need to make sure they're not possessed." Liv said, pointing at Matt, Tyler, and Damon.

"What?" Matt asked.

"The Travelers are here, and our goal is to get rid of them, but before I put my faith in the human, the vampire, and the hybrid, I need to make sure that they're not harboring a passenger."

"So you want us to stab ourselves?"

"This knife is the only thing that will get rid of them." Luke said.

"Again, you want us to stab ourselves?"

"Just do it so we can get on with this." Buffy snapped.

"Says the Vampire Slayer with the Traveler-proof head."

"I'll do it." Tyler said.

"And the hybrid, who heals."

"Dude, you have a magic ring that brings you back from the dead. Quit bitching." Tyler took the knife from Buffy and stabbed himself in the gut.

Buffy took the knife back and cleaned it off. "Wouldn't want to accidentally turn you into a bloodsucker." She said to Matt as she handed him the knife. "Do it in the shoulder. It won't hurt as bad."

"Ok." Matt said, positioning the knife just above his shoulder blade.

"Not too deep."

"Got it." Matt pushed the knife into his shoulder and gritted his teeth, trying not to cry out.

"So much testosterone, so few brain cells." Liv quipped to her brother.

Matt handed the knife to Damon and without hesitation, Damon shoved the knife in his stomach. Buffy took the knife back from Damon and turned to Liv. "Everyone's in the clear. Satisfied now?"

"Not really."

"Are you serious?" Damon asked.

"You have to do that about a hundred more times, only to other people. Look, the truth is that my coven have been tracking the Travelers for thousands of years. They're always on the move, but there have been a few times in history when they have stopped to gather. Freaky part is that no one's ever noticed because one by one they've taken over towns by putting passengers inside the townsfolk. We think they're doing the same thing in Mystic Falls."

"Isn't there a spell to make this a little easier?" Willow asked. "I mean, sending Buffy and Damon out with one dagger to stab, heal, and compel an entire town seems like a serious effort."

Buffy's phone started ringing and she picked it up. "Hello, Caroline."

"Hey." Caroline said. "Have you heard from my mom?"

"No. Why?"

"Well, she was supposed to meet me here, and now she's not texting me back. If you see her, will you just let her know that something came up?"

"Yeah. Is everything ok?"

"I don't think so. There's something going on with Elena and Stefan."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you know how we all laughed off the notion that the universe is drawing Stefan and Elena together?""Yeah."

"Well, that's happening."

"What's happening?"

"Now that Stefan's doppel-him…. Tom…. Now that Tom is dead, Stefan and Elena are the last pair of doppelgängers, which might explain why Stefan and Elena are suddenly having vision-type situations of each other."

"What kind of visions?"

"Somebody's having sex dreams." Damon said, standing next to Buffy.

"They're not sex dreams." Elena protested in the background.

"Yeah." Caroline said. "They're more like romance dreams."

"Where's Stefan?" Buffy asked.

"He went to the Traveler camp to see if anyone's still there that can tell him what's going on. It's our only lead. Look, all we know is that Tom is dead, the Travelers just committed a mass suicide, and now Stefan and Elena are having intense visions of each other."

"Ok, Willow's here. We'll figure out what the hell's going on." Buffy hung up and Willow looked at her expectantly. "Stefan and Elena are having dreams about each other."

"Um…. Well, they are giving their relationship another try…." Willow said.

"Well, they're apparently having the same dreams at the same time."

"Oh, like you and Angel had when the First was trying to get him to kill himself." Willow noticed Damon's look and shrugged. "Sorry."

"As long as she's not having those dreams anymore, I'm ok." Damon said.

"Don't worry." Buffy said. "I'm not. Ok, Matt and Tyler, you guys get out there and figure out who's possessed. Damon, you and I will stay here with the witches and figure out what's up with Elena and Stefan. We'll head out when we've heard of a possession."

"Why don't you just give me the knife?" Tyler asked. "I'm just as fast as Damon is. And I can heal the ones that are possessed."

Damon scoffed at Tyler. "You should probably leave it to the adults."

Buffy shook her head. "Actually, that's fine. He can do it. Honestly, I think I need to stay here and make sure Jeremy doesn't go anywhere."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. We'll be HQ. They can report back to us who's been possessed. We can keep a record or something."

Damon shrugged. "Fine. I wanted to play with my new pool table anyway."

Buffy handed the knife over to Tyler. "Don't lose it."

"I won't." Tyler and Matt headed out the front door.

Willow walked over to the pool table and smiled. "When did you guys get this?"

"I ordered it a couple of days ago." Buffy said. "I thought Damon would like it. Besides, he needs to work on his game if he ever plans to beat me."

Damon smiled and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. "Cocky little thing."

"You haven't beat me yet." Buffy laughed and he kissed her.

Liv made a gagging noise. "You two are so gross."

"Awe, poor little witch." Damon said. "Never had someone love you before?"

The front door opened and Elena walked in with Caroline and Enzo. Damon looked at Enzo with an annoyed look. "I thought you left."

"I saw a little blonde that I like talking to and followed her back." Enzo said.

"You got a pool table." Elena said.

"A gift from Mrs. Salvatore." Damon said. "You like?"

"It's pretty sweet." She turned to Buffy. "Good wife skills."

Buffy shrugged. "I'm making amends." She took a sip from her bourbon and offered Elena a glass. Elena took it and put the liquid to her lips. "So having sex dreams about Stefan, huh?"

Elena spit the liquid back out. "Wow! Ok. Yeah, that's definitely one way to jump right in."

"I couldn't think of a better Segway."

"Ok, so it's just random snippets of Stefan and me living in some alternate reality."

"Well, that's new." Willow said.

"The prophecy does say that you they're fated to be together." Damon said.

"But why an alternate reality? Why not a 'this-is-your-love-life' type deal?" Buffy asked. "Wouldn't that be more effective?" Before anyone could respond, there was a knock on the front door. Buffy sighed and walked over to answer it. "You had better be a Girl Scout with some Thin Mints and Samoas." She opened to the door to find Bonnie standing there. "Definitely not a Girl Scout."

"Hey, I haven't heard from Jeremy in the last couple of days." Bonnie said, walking into the foyer. "Do you know where he is?"

"He's up in his room studying because he's grounded."

"What? Why?"

"Because he's flunking school."

"Can I see him?"

"Sorry, but no. When I say he's grounded, I mean it. The only people he's allowed to see are the people living in this house at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. He doesn't have his phone or TV privileges or music. He's got his schoolbooks and that's it."

"That's a bit harsh."

"Not really. Even when I saved the world on a regular basis, I still managed to graduate high school. I managed to get Elena across the stage and I will get Jeremy there, too. I've talked his teachers into giving him extra credit to help him pass his classes between now and the end of school."

"You're really not going to let me see my boyfriend?"

"I'm really not going to. Sorry, Bonnie."

Bonnie looked at Elena, but Elena shrugged. "I've got to be with Buffy on this. Jeremy needs to pass his classes."

"What can I say, Bon Bon?" Damon said. "This stuff happens when you're dating a minor."

Bonnie shook her head. "That's really not funny." She spotted Liv and Luke standing in the living room with Willow. "What are they doing here?"

"Nunya."

"Seriously!? She lied to my face and tried to kill Elena! Tell me what's going on."

"Nothing personal, Bonnie, but sneaking up on the Travelers requires them not to know that we're doing it." Buffy said. "You're not exactly stealthy. Every time a supernatural thing dies, you make noises when they pass through you."

"So what am I supposed to do?"

"Go back to school and get good grades." Buffy opened the door and Bonnie walked out.

"She's not happy." Elena said.

"She'll get over it." Buffy walked back over and sat down. "Ok, so we've got three witches in the room and a mystical problem with a couple of doppelgängers having visions of each other."

"How do we make them stop?" Elena asked.

"Not enjoying them?" Damon asked.

"I…. Well…. They happen at random times and I completely space out. Stefan almost got hit with a car."

"Cause he wouldn't survive that."

"Damon." Buffy waved a hand at him. "Be nice." She turned to Willow. "Anything we can do about it?"

"To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I can stop the visions." Willow said.

"What do you mean you can't stop their visions?" Damon asked.

"Our magic doesn't work like that." Luke said. "We're not bigger than the universe."

"Why are you in my house?"

"Because my sister asked me to help."

"We think the Travelers are about to make their move." Liv said. "Their leader Markos is here."

"From where? Chant camp?" Damon asked.

"The other side." Luke said. "He's been dead for centuries and we think the fire sacrifice allowed him to escape."

"Perfect. A dead old guy with a mysterious, evil plan." Elena said. "I'll take a drink now."

Buffy turned back to Willow. "So, you don't think you can stop the visions?"

"Well, they're not like yours with Angel. That was the First manipulating them. If this is some doppelgänger thing, then I wouldn't even know where to begin."

Caroline's phone rang and she pulled it out. "It's Stefan." She walked over to the foyer and answered it.

"You two seem to know a lot about doppelgängers." Damon said to Liv and Luke. "Why don't you whip up a spell or something."

"Did you miss the part where he said 'we're not bigger than the universe'?" Liv snapped.

"Back off baby witch." Buffy said. "He was just asking."

Caroline came back into the living room. "Stefan said the scrap yard's been completely cleared out."

"And let me guess…. The witches don't know where Markos is."

"You guys said the visions are trying to draw Elena and Stefan together for something." Willow said.

"For our doppelgänger blood." Elena said. "The Travelers need it for some prophecy."

"If the Travelers are the ones who need your blood, doesn't it make sense that you're not only being drawn together but also being drawn to them."

"Well, this just keeps getting better and better." Damon said.

"Wait. I don't get it." Caroline said.

"If the visions are a road map, then we need more clues." Enzo said. "Break out the popcorn, blondie. Elena's little sex romp isn't over yet." Elena groaned and walked out of the room. Caroline sighed and followed her.

Liv looked at Buffy. "Where's your kitchen? I'm hungry."

Willow walked to the hallway. "Come on, wonder twins. I'll lead the way." She led Liv and Luke out of the living room.

"So this is the little gathering you kicked me out for?" Enzo asked Buffy. "It's lacking a bit of finesse, love."

"Are you absolutely necessary?" Buffy asked.

"Why do you insist on disliking me?"

"I don't know, maybe it's because you held my husband hostage, threatened to kill him more than once, and then took him on a killing spree."

"That's the nature of our friendship, love. But what you don't know is that I spoke in your favor, tried to convince him that leaving you was a mistake, and as soon as he was in real trouble, I took the opportunity to call you so you could be the one to come save him."

Buffy blinked. "What?"

"Well, and save myself as well, of course. But it became quickly apparent that Damon was miserable without you. He couldn't even talk trash about you with any sort of gusto. Even drunk off his head, he was sick in love with you."

"You promised you wouldn't tell." Damon said.Enzo shrugged. "Sorry, mate, but I'm throwing you under the bus. Your gorgeous wife has my friend's heart and I'd like to get to know her. And for me to do that, she has to be willing to get to know me."

"You're lying." Buffy looked at Damon. "Is he lying? I can't tell."

Damon sighed and sat down. "He's not lying. I was so pissed off at you, but I couldn't hate you. I tried to hate you. I wanted to hate you."

"He thought if he avoided you as much as possible, he could start to hate you." Enzo said.

"But I just ended up missing you more and more."

Buffy looked at Enzo and narrowed her eyes. "Why?"

Enzo shrugged and pushed one of the pool balls in the corner pocket. "Damon is my friend." He levelled a stare at her and she sighed.

"Ok, fine. I'll ease up."

He took her hand and bent down to kiss her knuckles. "Thank you, love."

"Uh…. Let's not call her that." Damon said, taking his wife's hand. "There's one too many vampires calling her that already."

Buffy's phone rang and she looked down to see that Bonnie was calling her. "Ugh!" She answered it. "He still can't come out to play, Bonnie."

"Matt's dead." Bonnie said.

"What?"

"He just passed through me, but before he did he told me to tell you that the Sheriff is in trouble and that you would know what that meant."

"Yeah, I do."

"What's going on, Buffy?""Don't worry about it." Buffy hung up and called Tyler. "Where are you?"

"Waiting for Matt to call."

"Well, he's a little on the dead side, so I'm calling."

"What?""When I sent you guys out there, you weren't supposed to get yourselves killed. Get over to the Sheriff's office and de-Traveler her. And make sure Matt was wearing his ring. That's the last thing I need is to tell Elena that her BFF ex is on his way to being permanent worm food."

"I'm on my way." Tyler hung up and Buffy slipped her phone back in her pocket.

"Maybe we should've gone?" Damon asked.

"Yeah. Maybe."

"Maybe you two should think about moving." Enzo chimed in.

"And give up this great house?" Buffy asked.

"Buy another one."

"We do have a gorgeous villa in Italy." Damon said. He looked at Enzo. "Wedding present."

"Nice."

"Jeremy will be finished with school soon enough." Buffy said. "Then Damon and I can concentrate on being…. Damon and I."

Damon smiled and took her hand, kissing her knuckles. "I think once we finally have an empty nest, we should celebrate with our best booze and our birthday suits for at least a month straight." He pointed at Enzo. "Sorry, but you're not invited."

"Pity. Sounds like a roaring good time to me." Enzo chuckled. "Well, speaking of a roaring good time…. Where did Caroline go?" He headed out of the living room.

Damon pulled Buffy into his lap and wrapped his arms around her. "Why didn't you want Enzo to tell me that?" She asked.

"Because I was a pathetic wreck and I didn't want you to know how right that you were about me."

"Stubborn ass."

"I'm a work in progress."

"We all are." Buffy leaned in a kissed Damon as she snuggled closer to him. "Don't leave me again, Damon."

"Never. It's you and me, Mrs. Salvatore, for the rest of eternity." He kissed the side of her hair and nuzzled her neck as they snuggled into the couch together to watch the fire.

Elena found them there a couple of hours later. They were still wrapped in each other's arms and sleeping peacefully with Damon spooning Buffy's back. It made her happy to see them happy. She didn't want to wake them, so she turned to leave.

"Any visions yet?" Buffy asked.

Elena turned back around. "I thought you were asleep."

"I'm a light sleeper." She gently sat up, not disturbing Damon. "Him, however…. He could sleep through Godzilla attacking New York around him."

Elena laughed and sat down. "I haven't had any visions in a while."

"It's ok. They'll happen eventually."

Buffy looked out the window. "Wow, it got dark. How long were we out?"

"A couple of hours."

"Where is everyone?"

"They're around. Caroline and Enzo are in the library trading snide remarks."

"That's how Cordelia and Xander got started."

"Don't put the eggs in the microwave!" Damon cried suddenly. Buffy and Elena turned confused eyes at him as he realized he was awake."Weird dream?" Buffy asked.

"I watch too much Discovery Channel." He said, sitting up and rubbing his face. "That was a nice, unplanned nap."

"Elena?" Buffy asked. Damon turned to see that Elena was staring off into the distance, her eyes not focusing on anything. "That's a vision look if I've ever seen one."

"It's creepy."

"Damon!"

"What? It is."

She rolled her eyes at him and moved over to sit next to Elena. "Elena." Buffy moved Elena's hair behind her ear and Elena woke up from the vision. "Hey."

"Did I just…." Elena asked.

"Yeah."

"He's here. I know where Markos is. 4620 Walnut Drive."

"Ok, you stay here and make sure Jeremy stays grounded. Damon and I will go over there.""I should come with you."

"Nope." Damon said, standing up. "That's what he wants. Call Stefan and make sure he doesn't go over there."

As Buffy and Damon headed for the door, Buffy pulled out her cell phone. "Huh…. No calls from Tyler or Matt."

"We can check on them after we get this crap sorted out."

"Where are you two off to?" Enzo asked, appearing in the hallway. "Headed out for an evening romp in the woods?"

"How did you guess?" Buffy said sarcastically.

"Care if I join you?" He joined them without waiting for the invitation, slipping into the backseat of Buffy's car. "This is a nice car. Bit modern for my tastes."

"Well, I like it and that's all that matters." Buffy started the engine and drove them to 4620 Walnut Drive. The place was nice if you liked that suburban look.

Damon stuck his hand in over the threshold to test the entryway. "Huh. Clear." He and Buffy exchanged looks and walked through the door. "Not my kind of place."

"It's a bit…. Bland." Buffy agreed.

"I wonder if this is where Stefan and Elena had crazy vision-sex." Enzo said. Buffy and Damon turned to give him annoyed glares. "Eh, it's probably the bedroom. Stefan's pretty vanilla, but apparently that's Elena's favorite flavor."

"I'm gonna staple your tongue to your chin." Buffy said.

"Not in my house, please." A voice said from a dark corner. They turned around to see a figure sitting in the shadows beside a fireplace.

"Markos I take it." Damon said.

"That or it's Hannibal Lecter." Buffy said as Markos stood up.

Damon chuckled. "Well, I'm not Stefan, and this is not Elena."

"Why are you here?" Markos asked.

"We were about to ask you the same question. Plus, what do you want, and why are the doppelgängers having visions of each other?"

"First two are complicated. Last one's easy. I'm the reason Stefan and Elena are having visions of each other."

"You?" Buffy asked.

"Well, would you look at that." Enzo said. "I think we just met the universe."

Buffy looked up at Enzo. "Well, if that's the universe then I'm seriously disappointed."

"You and me both."

"You mind telling me what the hell is going on?" Damon asked.

"I'm afraid the doppelgänger lore's been misinterpreted over the ages." Markos said.

"As in there is no prophecy?"

"The prophecy is that the doppelgänger blood can help the Travelers, but they're being drawn together because of a spell I cast 1500, years ago. I had no idea where they were, and it turns out the best way to get people to go searching for each other is the promise of true love. Is it stuffy in here? Why don't we take a walk?" Markos pointed at Enzo. "You stay here."

"Not bloody likely."

"You want to find Maggie? You stay here." He turned to Buffy and Damon. "Shall we?" Without waiting for an answer, Markos headed for the front door. Damon sighed and he and Buffy followed while Enzo rolled his eyes and sat down. A couple of blocks down the road and they were in the town square. "Mystic Falls is a beautiful town."

"Oh, yeah. Picket fences, block parties, uncannily high death rate." Damon said.

"You take your homes for granted."

"I'm sorry. Are we walking so I don't fall asleep?"

"Two thousand years ago, Silas and Qetsiyah cast a spell for immortality. It created a schism in the Traveler community, giving rise to the witches. They tried to keep us scattered to make us forget how powerful we can be."

"And thus began the war between the Travelers and the witches." Buffy said.

"And it's still rages on and on…." Damon yawned. "Sorry. I just nodded off."

"The witches put a curse on us that kept us from settling down as a tribe. Whenever we've tried to gather, disaster struck…. Plagues, earthquakes, fire…. Something inevitably wiped us out."

"Let me guess," Damon moved in front of Markos to stop him in his path. "The doppelgängers can fix this. So you found them. Now what?"

"We simply need their blood, but we're not your enemy, Damon, and to prove that to you, I'm gonna stop their visions." All around them, townspeople stopped what they were doing and turned to face Markos. At some unseen cue, they all started chanting. "The curse might prevent us from gathering in our own bodies, but we've found ways around that."

"Passengers." Buffy said. "So how many of you are there?"

"A few…. Here and there. Shall I continue?" Markos joined in on the chanting and all around them, the creepy Latin words built until he stopped and opened his eyes. "It's done." The passengered townsfolk went about their business. "The visions are no more."

Buffy looked at Markos. "You know, I get it. The need for a home and all. But why here?"

"Why did you settle here?"

"Because I found what I didn't know I was searching for."

"I know what I'm searching for." Markos turned and walked off.

Buffy sighed and turned to Damon. "We need to find Matt and Tyler. They obviously didn't get anything done today."

"Well, Matt's truck is over there by the sheriff's office." Damon said. "I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's where he is."

"I'll call Tyler." She pulled out her phone as they headed for the sheriff's office and dialed Tyler. He answered on the fourth ring. "Where have you been all day?"

"I took care of Sheriff Forbes." Tyler said. "She was hijacked. I just dropped her off with Caroline at their house."

"Did you get anyone else?"

"Yeah. A couple of people. It's hard to tell who's been hijacked and who hasn't, though."

"Uh, pretty much everyone in town. Look, Damon and I are going to make sure Matt wakes up. Bring us the dagger and we'll get working on it."

"Yeah, ok. See you in a little while."

Buffy hung up. "Useless teenagers."

Damon opened the door to the sheriff's office and found Matt lying on the ground, dead from a stab wound to the neck. "The quarterback with the letter opener in the sheriff's office. I win."

"Did you ever actually play Clue?" Buffy chuckled. She looked around. "Well, this is a mess." Suddenly Matt gasped and woke up. "Are you ok?"

"I…." Matt looked around.

"You died and came back from the Other Side." Damon said.

"I know. I remember."

"You remember?" Buffy asked. "That doesn't happen."

"One second, I was holding Vick…."

"You saw your dead sister?" Damon asked. "How?"

"I don't know, but she pushed me away, and then…. And then she just disappeared. What's going on over there?"

Buffy and Damon exchanged worried glances.

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