The Next Chapter

Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Buffy came out of the bathroom and searched for her ringing phone. She assumed it was her sister calling again, but when she answered, the voice was unexpected. "Hello, Buffy." Liz Forbes said on the other line.

"Sheriff. Hi."

"I'm sorry to call you out of the blue. Damon gave me your number."

"Is everything all right?"

"Uh…. Yes. As far as we can tell. Actually, the reason I'm calling is that Damon has spoken with me about you and your…. Abilities."

"My abilities?"

"About you being a…. Vampire Slayer."

"I'm going to hurt him."

"Please don't. He's mentioned before that you knew about vampires and I pushed him recently to tell me how. It's an honor to have you in our town."

"Thank you."

"I'm calling to extend an invitation to the Council meeting today. You don't have to join us permanently, but I would like it very much if you would just come today and tell us what you think."

"Um…. Ok. Sure."

"Thank you, Buffy. It really is an honor to have someone like you in Mystic Falls." The sheriff hung up and Buffy set her phone down on the nightstand.

"Damon!" She yelled. A moment later, he appeared in her doorway. "What is the matter with you? Does secret identity mean nothing to you?"

"I guess you talked to Liz." Damon said. "Look, I thought it would be a good thing. They'll rely more on you to look out for the vampires since, technically, it is your job and they'll back off. They will never be on mine or Stefan's trail again because they won't believe that a Vampire Slayer is living with two vampires."

"Why didn't you talk to me first?"

"This was before our…. Whatever that was the other night."

Buffy sighed. "What am I to expect at this meeting?"

"Just some talking and probably some oohing and aweing at you."

She shook her head. "I guess I'll go. How's Stefan?"

Damon sat down on Buffy's bed and watched her as she went to her closet. "Well, before he left today, he was exercising like a maniac and swearing that he's fine."

"But really he's not?"

"He's been on animal blood for how many years now? And all of a sudden he's gotten a taste of that sweetest of elixirs and he's hooked…. Again."

"Again?"

"He wasn't always Mr. Uptight. When he was first turned…. Well, let's just say thank god for Lexi." Buffy shot a glare at Damon. "Sorry. Touchy subject."

"So what am I supposed to wear to this meeting? Is there a dress code? The Watchers Council was anything with tweed, but I'm guessing they're a little less stuffy at this Council."

Damon laughed slightly, but went to her closet and picked out a pretty white and pink summer dress that was very flowy. "I think you should wear this."

"I have to dress up?"

"No. But I think you'd look pretty in it." He smiled and Buffy couldn't help but be charmed. "Oh, I have a present for you."

"You do?"

Damon smiled and left the room. A minute later he came back in holding a garment bag and something else behind his back. "I hope this fits. I peeked at your dress size to make sure."

Buffy opened the bag and found a black, satin, knee length, one shoulder cocktail dress with a fitted silhouette inside. "Wow. This is gorgeous."

"I thought you could wear it to the Founder's Day kickoff party this evening."

"I wasn't planning on going."

"Oh, but you have to. Since you're a member of the Council now, they'll expect you to be there. And…." Damon produced a shoe box from behind his back. "I bought some shoes to go with it."

Buffy shook her head at the shoes. They were a pair of incredibly high heeled, royal blue satin dress sandals with a peacock feather and rhinestone broach embellishment at each ankle strap. "Really Damon?"

"I know they're a bit much, but I think you'd look amazing in them."

"Ok, what am I supposed to be giving up here?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're giving me presents, so you're obviously buttering me up for something."

Damon shook his head. "Absolutely nothing. Just…. You can't tell anyone I got these for you. They'd think I was going soft or something." He smiled and walked out.

Buffy and Damon arrived at Founder's Hall and he escorted her up the stairs. A deputy led them into the room where the Council was already in session. Sheriff Forbes was at the front of them in the middle of a speech. "The coroner office has officially ruled Vicky's Donovan's death a drug overdose. Her family has been notified, the truth will stay in this room and we can put this behind us."

"Thank you Sheriff." Mayor Lockwood said. "And on to a more pressing issue, John Gilbert has asked to say a few words." Buffy and Damon exchanged glances. "Welcome back John, it's good to see you."

"Hello everyone, it's wonderful to see you." John said. "I wished it were on better circumstances. As a founding family member I found it my duty to report some very distressing news."

Damon leaned in to Liz. "He's a Gilbert?"

"Elena's uncle." Liz said. "His name is John but I call him Jackass."

"A hospital blood bank in the neighboring county of Amherst has reported several break ins over the past two weeks. 7 hunters, 4 campers and 2 states employees have been reported missing as well. All of this was in a 75 miles radius of Mystic Falls."

Mayor Lockwood interrupted John. "Ok, ok, no need to get alarmed right at this moment."

"He means he doesn't want to cancel the Founders' Day kickoff party." Liz whispered.

"You think all of your problems are over but I'm here to tell you, nothing's been solved." John said.

"Actually, John, I believe they have." Liz countered. "Ladies and gentlemen, I've recently discovered that the newest member to our community and a close personal friend of our very own Damon Salvatore is a…. Vampire Slayer." All eyes were on Buffy now. "Buffy Summers."

Damon leaned over and whispered, "Spotlight's on you."

"I hate you." Buffy whispered to Damon as he gently moved her up in front of the small crowd. "Um…. Hello. It's, uh…. It's true. I'm a Vampire Slayer. But this information cannot leave this room. Liz has trusted my secret to you because of the problem this town has been facing. I've been working behind the scenes since I got here to help rid the town of its vampire problems."

"How is that possible?" The Mayor asked. "You're so…. Little."

"Don't judge a book by its cover, Mayor." Damon said. He picked up a letter opener and threw it with deadly accuracy at Buffy's head. She caught it out of midair, stopping it dead right in front of her face, with a glare at Damon. The room gasped.

Buffy sighed and set the letter opener down. "I would also appreciate it if you would stay out of my way and not try to take on vampires yourselves. They're dangerous and strong and none of you would survive a one on one. The sheriff has my number, so if you need my help, please feel free to call."

Damon and Buffy strolled through the town square discussing the meeting. "I'm still not sure how I feel about this." Buffy said.

"Just feel honored. They know about you and they'll hopefully leave the vampire hunting up to you. The professional."

"Something tells me that it's not going to be that simple. Especially from Elena's uncle. I'm getting some weird vibes off of him."

"Yeah. Me too. And Elena's never mentioned her uncle to me."

"Or me." Buffy shrugged. "Maybe they don't get along." Her cell phone started ringing in her bag. "Speaking of Elena." She answered it.

Buffy knocked on Elena's door and waited. Elena was the one that answered. "Oh good you're here. With Damon…."

"Sorry. We were already together, so…."

Elena shut the door and pointed upstairs. Buffy noticed Jeremy sitting in the dining room eating cereal so she guessed this wasn't a social call. Buffy started to follow when Damon randomly cried out, "No Elena I will not go to your bedroom with you." Buffy rushed down the stairs and smacked his arm before grabbing him and pulling him upstairs. "Oh, just like I remember." Damon quipped as Elena shut her bedroom door behind them.

"Stop messing around." Elena said. He laid on her bed and took the teddy bear with him.

"Did you know that your uncle has been kicking it with the founder's council?"

"What?" Elena looked at Buffy.

"He's right. I went to my first meeting with them today because someone here doesn't know how to keep a secret." Buffy shot a look at Damon.

"Perfect. We'll just add it to the list of how everything is falling apart."

Buffy noticed a broken lamp. "What happened right here?"

"Uh…. Nothing."

"Elena…."

"Look, I'm worried about Stefan. He says that everything's ok but he's clearly struggling. How long is it gonna take before he's going back to normal?"

"A few days. Give or take." Damon responded.

"It's been a few days."

"Give then, I don't know. What's the big deal?" He got up and handed Elena the teddy bear.

"He's not himself, Damon."

Damon opened the drawer of her dresser and looked in it. "Well, maybe his problem is that he has spent too long not being himself." He took a bra from the drawer and Elena took it from him and put it back in the drawer.

"Please don't make me sorry for inviting you along." Buffy said. "You can go through my drawers at home, but stay out of the minor's."

He took a picture from the mirror and Elena tried to take it back. "It is what it is Elena." Damon said. "The Stefan you know was good behavior Stefan, under control Stefan, fight his nature to an annoying excessive level Stefan, but if you think there isn't another part to this then you have not been paying attention."

Buffy grabbed the picture back from Damon in a lightning fast move and handed it to Elena. "Thank you." Elena said to Buffy before turning to Damon and saying, "And he's not you, not even close."

"Because he doesn't want to be me. That doesn't mean that deep down he's not." Damon smirked at Elena at walked out.

"I'll check on him." Buffy said.

"Are you coming to the party tonight?"

"Yes. I'm Damon's plus one. I'll see you there." Buffy waved and followed Damon down the stairs.

Stefan, Buffy, and Damon walked into the Founders' Day party. Buffy kept her arm through Damon's for balance in the heels that he'd bought her. When she'd walked down the stairs, Damon had practically been drooling on himself. Stefan had even taken a moment from his frenzied attempt to get the cravings under control to admire Buffy. She'd done her hair in a simple messy ponytail just above the base of her skull.

"Oh god! I shouldn't be here." Stefan said.

"Come on, don't be a downer." Damon countered. "It's a party for the founding families! That would be us. That would be rude to skip it."

"You know, I really liked you a lot better when you hated everybody."

"Oh I still do. I just love that they love me.

Buffy rolled her eyes and looked up at Stefan. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm good. I'm fine." Stefan noticed the skeptical look she was giving him. "Really."

"No cravings? No urges?" Damon asked. "Is that whisky you've been drinking all day doing its job? We are who we are Stefan. Nothing's gonna change that."

"Ah! Nothing will make you happier to just see me give in, Damon."

"Whatever, it's inevitable."

"Well, I'm gonna go find Elena. Buffy, I will see you later." Stefan walked off.

"Don't embarrass me young man!" Damon called out. He laughed at himself and then looked down at Buffy. "Would you like something to drink, Miss Summers?"

"Sure." Buffy said. "Lead me to the bar."

They headed that way, but the Mayor stopped them. "Hello Damon. Miss Summers. You look…. Amazing."

"Thank you." Buffy said.

"Listen…. I would love to sit down and talk with you sometime about…. What you do."

"Oh, uh…. It's pretty simple. No explanation needed. It's all in the title."

"Yes, well…. Nevertheless, I'd still like to sit down and discuss everything. Get to know the newest member of our town."

"Ok…."

"I'll call you soon." The Mayor walked off, glancing back.

"Curious." Buffy said.

"He just wants to try to get in your pants." Damon said.

"I don't trust Mayors. Ever. The last one I knew turned into a giant snake and tried to eat my graduating class."

"So, whenever I pay up on my debt, will you tell me some of your stories?"

"Sure." They walked into the bar area where the music was suddenly bumping. Stefan was out on the dance floor with Matt's mother.

Elena was standing at the bar watching. "Have we entered an alternate universe where Stefan is fun?" Damon asked.

"Is he gonna be ok?" Elena asked.

"Eventually. One way or another." Damon smiled and went to order himself and Buffy drinks.

Elena sighed and turned to Buffy. "Wow! You look…. Wow!"

"Blame it on Damon." Buffy said.

"He picked this out?"

"Yes. He did.""Buffy!" They turned around to find Jenna walking up to them. "You look amazing!"

"Thank you."

"I love those shoes."

"You can have them."

Jenna laughed as she hugged her friend. "I'd break my neck."

"History teacher at three o' clock." Elena said.

"How do I look?" Jenna asked.

"Beautiful." Buffy and Elena said.

Alaric joined them. "I was looking for you." He said to Jenna.

"Here I am. I haven't seen you in a while."

"Well uh…. Things have been a little crazy but I'm here now. Do you want to get a drink?"

"Sure."

"Ok cool." Jenna and Alaric left.

Damon handed Buffy a Malibu Bay breeze. "My lady."

"Thank you." Buffy said.

"Come on, newest Council member. You have some mingling to do." Damon hooked Buffy's free arm through his and escorted her off.

They found the sheriff in a different room. Buffy almost didn't recognize her. "You know I love a woman in uniform but I have to side with this look." Damon said. "You look…. you look smashing."

"Thank you, Damon. Cheers! I needed that. But I don't hold a candle to your date. Buffy, you look absolutely amazing."

"Doesn't she?" Damon said, smiling at Buffy.

"Thank you." Buffy said.

"You know, Damon, I had my doubts about you at first but like everyone else in the Council you've won me over." Liz said.

"Thanks Liz. It's really nice how welcoming the Council has been." Damon said. "I like my life here in Mystic Falls. Sort of feels like home again."

"And with this recent addition to our community and the Council, I feel like Mystic Falls will be a much better place. Buffy, thank you so much again for coming to the meeting. Everyone wants to know more about you."

"Yeah. The Mayor has already asked to sit down and talk with me." Buffy said.

"Well, I hate to do this because you're not gonna like what I have to tell you. Jonathan Gilbert's claims check out. Blood bank, the missing people, all of it is true. We might have a problem."

Jeremy walked up and interrupted them. "Excuse me Sheriff. I was curious if there's been any more information about what happened to Vicky Donovan?"

"It was an overdose Jeremy."

"Yeah but her body was buried. Somebody must have done that."

"We're aware of that. The investigation is ongoing but there's nothing more I can tell you at this time. I'm sorry."

"It's ok." Jeremy walked off.

"I'm sorry about that. They apparently had a history together."

"It's ok." Damon said. "Grief can make you think and do crazy things."

"Yes. Excuse me." The sheriff smiled at someone across the room and walked off.

Buffy looked at Damon. "Well, this is fun. I think I'm going to need more to drink if this fun stays at this level."

"Well, let's go refresh that glass then, shall we?"

At the bar, Elena found Buffy and Damon waiting for their drinks. "Have you noticed what your brother has been up to?" Elena asked.

"No, I have been too preoccupied with yours. Jeremy has been asking questions about Vicky Donovan's death."

"He knows that her death was ruled as an overdose."

"Really? 'Oh but sheriff, someone buried her. Who would do that?' I know! I know! Me! I mean I could compel him but he's wearing vervain."

"No, I don't want you to compel him."

"If he keeps asking questions…."

"Damon no. I'm serious. I'm not going to do that to him again. I'll handle it."

Damon sighed. "Ok. Don't say I didn't warn you." He grabbed his glass and left.

"Are you sure you can handle your brother?" Buffy asked.

"Yes. I just want to keep him away from everything."

"I hate to agree with Damon, but he's right. Jeremy can't keep asking questions or he's going to end up finding out the truth. If that's not what you want, then you should go talk to him."

"I will."

"Hey, where'd Stefan go?"

Elena shook her head. "I don't know. I had to get away from him."

"I'll find him."

"Thanks."

Buffy wandered off and ended up finding Damon out on a balcony. "Enjoying the view?"

He turned to her with a smile. "Even more so now."

"Flattery will get you nowhere, sir."

"Is that so?" Damon grabbed her waist and picked her up, setting her on the ledge of the balcony. "There. Now the view is complete." He moved closer to her and leaned up to kiss her

Buffy shook her head. "Someone might see."

"Let them see and be jealous." He smiled and took her hand, kissing her wrist instead.

"It's Buffy and Damon right?" They turned to look at John Gilbert standing in the doorway.

"John." Damon said.

"We didn't get the chance to meet at the council meeting."

"Yeah. It's a pleasure. Are you enjoying the kick-off?"

"Oh yeah. I forgot how much fun these small town celebrations can be."

"Yeah. When was the last time you were here?"

"Hasn't been that long…. my brother's funeral. How long have you been in town?"

"Well, not long at all have we, sweetie?" Damon smiled up at Buffy and she nodded.

"So what do you two think? You know this vampire problem is real right? It's a potential blood bath."

"I wouldn't overreact, John." Buffy said. "It's under control now."

"I think it's like 1864 all over again. Vampires running amuck. I guess we're just gonna have to hunt them down, throw them in a church, and burn them to ashes."

"That is the story huh?"

"Part of the story, yeah."

"Oh, there's more?"

"Oh there's lots more. See, it seems there was a tomb under the church, where vampires were hidden, waiting for someone to come along and set them free. But you already knew that didn't you?" Damon and Buffy kept their eyes on each other. "Because you're the one that did it."

"And you're telling us this why?"

"I just thought we should get the introductions out of the way."

"You know that I or Buffy could rip your throat out before anyone would notice?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah, ok. But you probably ingested vervain so…."

"Why don't you take a bite and find out?"

"It's not worth my time." Damon helped Buffy down off the ledge.

"Damon, he doesn't exactly smell human." Buffy whispered. "There's something…. More."

Damon glanced at John as they walked by him. John watched them go and just before Buffy and Damon walked through the doors, Damon rushed at John and snapped his neck, tossing the body over the balcony.

"Subtle." Buffy said.

Damon shrugged. "It'll look like an accident."

"And what if he was human?"

"You said he didn't smell human."

"I said he didn't smell exactly human. I was kind of hoping to find out what that meant."

"Well, now you don't have to. Let's go find Stefan and update him." They found Stefan lurking in a corner and drinking yet another glass of scotch. "You want to hear the bad news or the really bad news?"

"Actually I don't want any news, Damon."

"All right, let me rephrase. Do you want to hear how the Council is back in vampire mode or how I just killed Uncle John Gilbert?"

"What?"

"Great party by the way huh?" Damon smiled and walked away with Buffy being towed along on his arm. "I have a spectacular idea."

"It's gotta be better than killing Elena's uncle." Buffy countered.

"It is. Let's dance."

"In these heels? I can barely walk without assistance."

"And…." Damon turned and spun her into him. "You'll still have my assistance in dancing." She smiled slightly and decided to just go with it. They made it through two songs when a door across the room opened and Damon saw John Gilbert walk in. "You've got to be kidding me."

"What?" Buffy asked, confused. Damon pointed and Buffy turned to see the not-dead John walk past them and into another room. She smacked Damon's arm. "I told you!"

"He's not a vampire, too, is he?"

"No. I would've sensed that."

"Then what's going on?"

"I don't know, but I fully intend to find out." Buffy pulled on Damon's arm and they went to follow John Gilbert.

In another room, Mayor Lockwood was addressing the crowd. "Thank you all, thank you very much, thank you. Thank you all for joining us tonight in just a few minutes we will officially begin the countdown for our upcoming Founders' Day Celebration and it's a very special one this year." Buffy and Damon walked in and joined the crowd behind John. "The one hundred fiftieth birthday of our town and I would like to welcome back one of our town favorite's sons to do the honors of ringing our official bell. John Gilbert, would you please join me up here?"

John shook the mayor's hand and turned to address the crowd himself. "One hundred and fifty years of community, prosperity, family. We take care of each other, we look after each other, and we protect each other." His eyes met Damon's. "It's good to be home." Everyone applauded as Damon moved over to Alaric. "Look at his right hand."

"Who?" Alaric asked.

"The town favorite's son. Look at his ring." John rang the bell and revealed that he was wearing the same ring that Alaric wore.

"Well, it looks like mine."

"Yeah, and that would be a big coincidence if he didn't just come back from the dead five minutes ago. Where the hell did you get that ring?""Isobel…. my wife."

"Who gave birth to Elena, under the medical care of the esteemed Dr. Grayson Gilbert, John's brother!"

"Do you think John knew Isobel?"

"I think John knows a lot of things." Buffy said. "And I think curiosity is going to kill this cat if I don't find out exactly what those things are."

"I like it when she gets all determined." Damon said.

John headed outside and Buffy, Damon, and Alaric followed him. "Going somewhere?" Damon asked.

"I've never liked to be the last one to leave a party." John said. "It's too desperate. You going to kill me again or you're gonna let Mr. Saltzman do your dirty work?"

"Ok, you obviously know who I am." Alaric said.

"I do. Alaric Saltzman, a high school history teacher with a secret.""You sure know a lot for someone who just got to town." Buffy said.

"More than you can imagine. My knowledge of this town goes beyond anything that you or you or you or the Council knows. So, if you're planning on some clever high speed snatch ring vamp kill move, know that if I die, everything I know goes to the Council. Including the fascinating little tale of the original Salvatore brothers and their present day return to Mystic Falls."

"How did you get that ring?" Alaric asked.

"I inherited one, my brother Gray the other. This was his." He showed the ring on his hand to them. "And I wouldn't have given mine to Isobel if I'd have known she'd hand it over to another guy."

"So you did know her." Damon said."Who do you think sent her your way when she wanted to become a vampire?"

"You sent her?"

"Guilty. Why? Did you think someone else sent her? Maybe Katherine Pierce?"

"How do you know about Katherine?"

"How do I know anything, Damon?"

"What do you want?""So many questions. It was a pleasure meeting you Rick. I heard so much about you." John turned and walked away. Damon and Alaric watched him go.

"Is it just me, or does that guy kind of look like a turtle on crack?" Buffy asked. The two men looked at her. "Just saying."

Damon couldn't help the laugh that escaped him. "Buffy Summers, ladies and gentleman."

"Can we go home now? These shoes are really starting to hurt."

"Yes. We can go home now. Alaric, thank you. We'll see you later." Damon took Buffy's hand and slipped it through his arm as they started to walk to her car.

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