The Next Chapter

Chapter 103

A/N Everybody just calm down. There's a reason I killed Willow. It wasn't a cheap shot thing. I have a plan. Just wait.

Chapter 103

Buffy came down the stairs and Stefan spotted her. He smiled at her. "Hey, looks who's up and moving around!" She looked like hell, but he wasn't going to tell her that. This was the first time she'd left the bed in two days. Damon had kept a steady supply of blood and food headed up to her, but most of it came back uneaten.

"Xander called me." Buffy said. "Where's Damon?"

"I'm right here." Damon said, walking out of the library. He wrapped her in his arms and smoothed her unruly hair down. "Xander called?"

"He, uh…. He said that he hadn't heard from Willow for a couple of days and he wanted to know if I'd talked to her." She was fighting not to cry again. "I told him that she'd been busy because they offered her a job at the school."

"We'll get her back, baby. I promise." He kissed her hair and hugged her tighter. The front door burst open and Tyler rushed in. The three of them looked at him in confusion. "Where the hell have you been?" Damon asked, the first one to find his voice.

"There's a Traveler hitching a ride in my head." Tyler said. "I've been at their base camp." He finally noticed Buffy's disheveled look and red eyes. "What did I miss?"

"A lot."

"What did you find out?" Buffy asked, moving everyone towards the living room.

"We have a problem. Markos turned Sloan into a vampire, had her drink doppelgänger blood, and after some chanting ritual thing, she turned human again."

"He cured her?" Damon asked.

"He cured her to death. The blood took away her vampirism but left her in the state that she was in just before she turned."

"That state being dead." Stefan said. "Got it."

"So it kills vampires." Buffy said. "That's worrisome. Keep going."

"The point is they feel if they can get rid of all magic they'll break some lame-ass witch curse." Tyler said.

"Markos said they can't settle anywhere without evoking earthquakes or hellfire, but they break that curse, and they just move right on into Mystic Falls." Damon said.

"And come after Elena and me today, as in now." Stefan said.

"Oh, well. Markos had a good week or two in the land of the living. Now where is he so I can kill him?"

"No idea." Tyler said. "They were moving camp when I got out. Maybe Willow could track them and…." He trailed off when he noticed Buffy tear up and look away and Damon and Stefan move to each side of her. "What did I miss?"

"Enzo killed Willow." Stefan said. "It's a long story."

"We still need to keep Elena and Stefan protected." Buffy said. "We aren't losing anyone else in this family." She stood up and took a deep breath. The change was visible. She shook off the grieving friend and became the Slayer ready to protect her family. "Stefan, get packed and get Elena. Damon, get us packed and then get Jeremy and tell him he's temporarily ungrounded. He's going to call Matt over here and help Tyler."

"Help Tyler what?" Damon asked.

"Tyler, you're going to avoid the entire Czech language while you figure out how to find Markos."

"How am I supposed to do that?" Tyler asked.

"You have a Traveler inside of you. Figure it out."

"Where are we going?" Stefan asked.

"It's a secret." Buffy pointed at Tyler and Stefan nodded.

"Got it."

"I've got some calls to make." She took another deep breath to compose herself and then headed upstairs.

Buffy followed Caroline into the cabin that her father had owned. Luke was setting up his cloaking spell on the front porch while Stefan and Elena unloaded the car. Damon carried the grocery bags into the kitchen and started putting them away. Caroline showed Buffy the master bedroom where her and Damon would be staying before heading out to the car to help with the bags.

Damon walked in behind her as she looked out the window. "Everything look ok for our hideaway getaway?"

"Yeah." Buffy said, turning around and giving him a small smile. "It's a nice place, huh?"

"Well…. It's not our Italian villa, but it'll do in a pinch." He pushed her hair behind her ears and kissed her forehead. "How are you doing?"

"Don't ask me that."

"Sorry. I'm just…."

"Worried. I know." She laid her forehead down on his chest and he wrapped his arms tight around her. "There's no spell."

"What?"

"There's no spell. There's no way to bring Willow back. She's gone."

"You don't know that."

"I do know that, Damon. She's been my best friend since the moment I met her in Sunnydale way back when. She's grown and changed and she became this all powerful witch right in front of me." Buffy moved away from Damon and sat down on the bed. "If there was any way to bring someone back to life, she would've done it."

"She brought you back."

"With the last Urn of Osiris…. That got broken while resurrecting me. Any other spell means they come back wrong. I don't want her to come back wrong. She doesn't deserve that."

"And the tables turn." He squatted down in front of her and took her hands. "Usually you're the one begging me to have hope. Now I'm begging you. We will find a way to bring Willow back. I am so sorry for what Enzo did and I will find a way to fix it. I promise." Damon kissed her knuckles. "Why don't you take a nap? I'll work on dinner."

Buffy shook her head. "I'd rather just stay busy. Mind if I help?"

"Sure. Whatever you wanna do." He stood up with one of her hands still in one of his and they headed back downstairs.

"For a couple of doppel-targets, you two seem to be taking this all in stride." Caroline was saying to Elena and Stefan.

"Yeah." Stefan said. "Well, you know, a tribe of ancient wannabe witches want to drain of us our blood and eliminate supernatural beings? I've had worse."

"Buffy and I are making dinner." Damon announced. "What are you people gonna do?"

"Caroline and I used to come here before her parents split." Elena said. "Her dad could tell a pretty good ghost story. Maybe we should try that."

"Well, I hope that dickwad's spirit isn't floating around anywhere."

"Have a little respect for the dead."

"I respect that he's dead. How about that?"

"Ok, if there's going to be ghost stories, then there needs to be a fire." Stefan said. "I'll go gather some firewood."

"I'll help." Elena offered.

"No getting nasty in the woodshed." Caroline called after them.

Buffy felt a chill and looked around. She couldn't see any ghosts around, but that chill was definitely from a ghost. She took a step forward and Damon's voice broke through her concentration. "Buff?"

"Yeah?" Buffy asked.

"Everything ok?"

"Uh…. Yeah. Just paranoid, I guess. What's up?"

"What are we having for dinner?" Caroline asked.

"I don't know." Buffy looked at Damon.

"I brought enough to make a feast for Henry VIII, so I'm sure we'll figure something out." Damon said.

"I'll work on games." Caroline offered.

"Games?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah. We'll need something to occupy us since there's no TV." She wandered off to collect supplies.

Damon grinned at Buffy. "Well, I can think of something to occupy us and it doesn't involve a board." Buffy cracked her first smile in days and shook her head at her husband. He smiled brightly and pulled her to him. "You have no idea how happy I am to see that smile."

"Let's work on dinner before the wolves get hungry and attack."

A little while later, Buffy was working on making drinks while Damon worked on the frying squash. Caroline was snacking on maraschino cherries while writing down prompts for charades on slips of paper. Buffy looked over and realized Caroline was eating all the cherries for the drinks and took the bowl away. "Hey, munchie. Those are not for you."

"Shh, I'm thinking." Caroline said.

"Did I mention that I hate charades?"

"No."

Buffy took some of the slips of paper out of the hat and read a few of them off while Caroline protested. "Area 51, J.F.K. Assassination….""You're ruining the game."

"What game?" Damon asked.

"Charades. Our theme is secrets that people think they're getting away with."

Damon looked over Buffy's shoulder at one of the slips of paper. "Well, Meryl Streep, I'd love to know how we're gonna act out Watergate."

"Well, I'm sure team Stelena will figure it out."

"Teams? You do realize there's an odd number of people here, right?"

"Luke is here."

"He's indisposed with keeping his spell going." Damon paused. "Do Buffy and I have a couple's name?"

"Of course."

"What is it?"

"Duffy."

"Cute." Buffy said. She looked up and realized that Elena and Stefan still hadn't returned from getting firewood. "It's been almost 45 minutes. Should I be worried that our doppelgangers aren't back from getting firewood?"

"They're probably doing the nasty." Damon said. "They've been spending a lot of time together lately."

"That's because they're dating again." Caroline said.

Buffy looked at Caroline with a confused look. "I knew they were taking things slow, especially after the whole Katherine thing, but they're officially official again?"

"Oh yeah. Stefan hasn't mentioned anything to you?"

"No. Well, I've been a little preoccupied."

"Right." Caroline shifted uncomfortably. She didn't want to upset Buffy any further. "Well, Elena didn't want to flaunt it in your face. Especially after the last few days and everything that happened with Damon before that."

Just then, Elena and Stefan came back into the house carrying firewood and laughing. They stopped laughing and Elena looked at Buffy. "Cocktails. Good call."

"I'll, uh…. I'll make a fire." Stefan said, making a hasty exit with a grin on his face.

"I'll help." Elena said, following him quickly.

"They're being very obvious." Buffy said.

"You think?" Caroline said, shaking her head and going back to her charades.

After dinner, Stefan, Elena, Buffy, Damon, and Caroline sat around the fireplace playing charades. Caroline had made herself in charge of the hat since she didn't have a team. Damon had been keeping Buffy's drink topped off and she was getting drunk. She was loosening up and smiling a little more as Elena mimed for Stefan.

"Uh, ok." Stefan said. "Think. Ponder. Brain. I don't know. Uh, skull!"

"Yes!" Elena cried.

"All right! Skull, skull. Ok. Limb. Joint. Bone. Bone, bone. Skull and bones."

"Yes!"

"Skull and bones! Got it! Five-zero, five-zero. Come on, guys. Zip."

"Ok." Damon said. "Let's play a game called Never Have I Ever, hmm?"

"Oh, I don't think I'm drunk enough." Buffy said.

"Oh, come on! It'll be fun!" Caroline said.

Damon filled Buffy's drink back up and said, "Come on, babe. It'll be fun."

"I'll go first. Never have I ever died."

"Cheers to that one." Damon said as they all took a drink.

"Buffy, you should be drinking two more times to that one." Elena said.

"Cheers to that."

Buffy sighed and took two more drinks.

"Ooh! Ok." Stefan said. "Um, never have I ever been possessed by my evil doppelgänger."

Elena huffed. "Mean." She took a drink. "Never have I ever been fooled by my evil doppelgänger while she was pretending to be me."

"Low blow." Caroline said.

"Tough but fair." Damon said as everyone but Elena drank.

"Never have I ever kissed a Salvatore brother." Caroline said.

"Mm-hmm." Elena laughed as she and Buffy got ready to drink.

"Today." Caroline added.

"Cheater." Buffy said, taking a drink with Elena. "I know you've kissed Damon before."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't remind me. Your turn."

"Fine. Uh, never have I ever had a spell gone wonky on me."

Damon laughed and everyone but Caroline drank. Stefan looked at Caroline in disbelief. "Seriously?"

Caroline shrugged. "Seriously."

"Ok," Elena said. "Never have I ever lied to my parents to do something they wouldn't approve of."

"Well, that's too easy." Buffy said as everyone took a drink. "Here's one…. Never have I ever had a parent show up while something supernatural was happening."

"That was too easy!" Damon said.

"No. Elena didn't drink." Caroline said.

"My parents died before anything supernatural started in my life." Elena said.

"What about John and Isabelle?" Stefan asked. "They don't count?"

"Nope. They weren't really my parents."

"Touché." Stefan looked down at his drink. "I'm out, so I'm gonna get another round. Does anybody else want anything?"

"Actually," Buffy stood up. "I'm officially buzzed, so I'm gonna go and get ready for bed."

"I think I'm going to join my wife." Damon said, standing up as well.

"You don't have to."

"But I want to." He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed the side of her head. "I'll draw you a nice hot bath in that big tub."

She smiled slightly. "Well, I can get on board with that idea."

"Don't make too much noise." Caroline joked. "We have vampire hearing."

Upstairs, Damon went into the bathroom to start the bath water going. Buffy sat at the vanity and brushed her hair out. She started to dwell on the sound of her best friend's neck snapping and her eyes unfocused. Damon saw her start to brood and he rushed over and started massaging her shoulders. She looked up at him in the mirror and gave him a small smile. "Thanks."

He took the brush from her and started to run it through her hair. "I made the water nice and hot just like you like it."

"Oh, good."

Damon pulled her hair into a loose ponytail, twisted it, and pinned it up with a claw clip he'd grabbed from her bag. "There." He leaned down and kissed her neck. "You get in and start relaxing. I'll be in in just a minute."

"What are you gonna do?"

"Set out some clothes for us. And find some towels."

"Ok." Buffy headed into the steamy bathroom and turned off the water so the tub didn't overflow. She looked around her, suddenly feeling like she was being watched. There was no one there and the window was too steamed up to see through it. "Willow?" She asked hopefully. She let out a sigh when there was no answer and removed her clothes, slipping into the hot water. She laid her head back, resting her neck on the edge of the tub as she waited for Damon.

Suddenly a hand grabbed the top of her head and shove her under the water. She struggled to surface, screaming for Damon when she managed to get her head above water. Just before Damon rushed in, Buffy could've sworn she saw Enzo standing over the tub.

"Buffy!" Damon helped her out of the bathtub and wrapped a towel around her. "Come here. Come on. What happened?"

"There was…. Someone in here." Buffy gasped.

"Who?"

"I think…. I didn't see anyone, but I could feel someone pushing me under the water. I think it was Enzo."

"Enzo?"

"The other side is falling apart. I think it's letting Enzo mess with us."

Damon wrapped his arms tighter around her. "Enzo! You in here? Because knock it off!"

"What's going on?" Stefan asked, rushing in with Elena and Caroline behind him.

"Enzo is here. He just tried to drown my wife." Damon growled at the room. "Because killing her best friend wasn't bad enough!?"

"It doesn't make any sense." Caroline said. "If Enzo wanted to kill Buffy, drowning her wouldn't have worked.""Maybe he's just trying to scare us." Elena said.

Damon looked down at Buffy. "Drowning you was just a distraction. He figured out a way to kill us all in one fell swoop." He turned to Stefan. "Check on Luke." Stefan, Elena, and Caroline ran out of the room as Buffy went over to get dressed.

"Go with them." She said. "I'll catch up."

"No." Damon shook his head and moved closer to Buffy. "I'm not leaving your side if Enzo's out to kill you."

"He's out to kill us all." Buffy reminded him.

"Well, he's after you first because of me."

Buffy yanked on her boots and twisted her wet hair back up into the claw clip. "Ok, let's go witch hunting." They headed outside and went in a different direction than the others.

"Can you pick up his scent?"

"Enzo's? No, he's dead."

"No. Luke's scent."

"Oh, sorry."

"It's ok. It's been a hard few…. Months." He took her hand as they continued searching.

"I'm catching faint hints of his scent, but it's not anything concrete."

"Are we at least heading in the right direction?"

Buffy stopped, pulling Damon to a stop. "Do you hear that?" She pointed through the trees at what appeared to be the wood shed. There was a sloshing noise coming from the shed."

"Yeah." Damon pulled her towards the shed. "Come on."

They found Luke tied up in the shed and laying on the floor. "He's barely breathing." Buffy said, checking Luke's pulse.

"Why the hell would Enzo dump him here?"

Buffy froze and looked around, sniffing the air. "Damon…." She spotted an overturned, empty gas can in the corner just before the lamp above them smashed to the ground, igniting a rapidly spreading fire.

"Grab him. Let's go." Damon turned to the door, but it slammed shut in front of him. Buffy went to pick Luke up, but a long wooden pole was suddenly protruding from her chest. She groaned in pain and dropped Luke. "Dick move, Enzo."

Damon moved towards Buffy to help her, but a large burning beam came between them. Suddenly, a large hunk of wood through Damon's stomach pinned him to the shed wall. "Damon!" Buffy cried.

"If only this wasn't totally avoidable."

Buffy pulled on the long pole in her chest and gritted, "This is in no way my fault."

"This isn't gonna stop, Buff. I killed his girl, he killed your best friend, you killed him. This is not gonna stop. You listening to me, Enzo?" The wood was shoved harder into Damon. "Is that a yes or a no? Because I can bring you back. Bonnie came back, Markos came back. I'll find a way, but this has to stop. How do you think you're able to do all this stuff, huh? The Other Side's falling apart, Enzo, so you can either help me, or you can blink out of existence. It's your choice." Buffy finally pulled the pole completely out of her body. "Go on, baby. Get Luke out of here. He's the only one that can hide Stefan and Elena."

"Enzo, let him go." Buffy growled.

"Buffy! Go now!"

Buffy glanced at Luke and sighed. She picked him up and kicked a hole through the nearest wall. Once she got Luke far enough away, she went back to the shed and shoved her arms through the wall and pulled Damon out. Apparently Enzo was still holding the large piece of wood because as Buffy pulled Damon out, the piece of wood was pulled out of him. As she held Damon up, she caught a glimpse of Enzo and focused on him, making him clearer to her. "You don't deserve to come back." She growled at him.

"You can see me?" Enzo asked.

"It's a talent. I was willing to give you a chance. I was willing to be your friend and you killed my best friend because you're upset with yours."

"Collateral damage to get my point across."

"What point!? Willow had nothing to do with what happened in 1960!"

Enzo pointed at Damon. "He killed Maggie!"

"He didn't know that she was your Maggie! If his emotions had been turned on, he wouldn't have killed her."

"Well, then he knows how I feel!"

"Why did he even need to know? He's sorry for what happened! He's apologized."

"He can apologize by reversing what you did."

"What you made me do!"

"It doesn't matter. If you want this to stop, then you find a way to bring me back. Otherwise, I will keep coming after you and your sweetie bear."

Damon groaned and looked up at Buffy. "What is he saying?"

"That you need to make good on your promise to bring him back." Buffy said.

"I will, Enzo. I promise."

"Don't disappoint me again." Enzo said before walking away.

Damon leaned back against a tree, holding his abdomen. Buffy bit into her wrist and offered him her blood so he could heal the gaping hole the wood had created. Luke groaned behind them and stood up. "Could someone get these ropes off me?" He asked.

Buffy and Damon walked in the house and found Stefan standing there. Luke was heading back outside past them. Damon had texted Stefan that they'd found the witch and they needed to go back to the house. The Travelers had to know where they were now, so they were going to pack up and move to a new location and let Luke start his spell again.

"I guess Enzo bought it." Stefan said.

"Bought what?" Damon asked.

"Bring him back. I mean, how do you plan on doing that?"

"The same way that I'll bring Willow back. Markos found his way back. It's not impossible unless you want him terrorizing us for the rest of eternity."

"Not particularly."

"Uh-uh." Damon turned to looked at Buffy. "I'll get our stuff down to the car." Buffy nodded and Damon headed upstairs.

Stefan moved over next to Buffy. "I thought that you said…."

"I did."

"Then why…."

"He has hope, Stefan. He really believes that he can find a way to bring Willow back." Buffy looked up at her brother in law. "When has he ever had that much hope in something?"

"Never. Not until you came along, at least."

"I have to believe that if someone like Damon can find that much hope inside himself that he can find a way to do the impossible."

Stefan gave her a small nod. "Ok. Good. I'm going to go get Elena and Caroline."

"Yeah. We need to hurry." Buffy headed upstairs to help Damon get the bags. She watched him pack up the few items that they'd unpacked and he turned around to smile at her. Buffy walked up to him and kissed him passionately.

Damon blinked. "What was that for, baby?"

"It was a thank you."

"For what?"

"Everything. I've had a pretty horrible few days and you've been the one to make me smile."

He leaned down and kissed her gently, moving her hair behind her ears. "I love you. I would do anything to make you smile."

"I love you, too."

Damon reached behind him and zipped up the last bag. Without letting her waist go, he picked up the three bags on the bed and they headed downstairs. Luke was sitting in the car and Caroline was standing on the porch. Elena and Stefan were missing.

"Hey, where're the lovey dovey doppelgangers?" Damon asked. "We've gotta go."

"What?" Caroline asked. "Elena said she was going to pack."

"She wasn't up there."

"Stefan said he was coming to get you guys." Buffy said.

"I haven't seen him."

"Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!" Damon said, dropping the bags.

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