The Next Chapter

Chapter 109

Chapter 109

Jeremy sat between Buffy and Alaric in the hospital waiting room. Buffy didn't look too happy as she as Jeremy leaned down and vomited into a vomit bag. Alaric shook his head and patted his back. "Atta boy. Get her all out."

Matt, who was on the other line of Buffy's phone, said, "Is he seriously still wasted?"

"Yes. Yes, he is. He showed up on our doorstep at four this the morning beyond drunk. Pretty sure there's not even a word for how drunk he was. What happened to you two looking for Sarah together?"

"I did my part." Jeremy groaned. "She is definitely not hiding in the Salvatore liquor cabinet."

"You are in major trouble if you've destroyed my husband's liquor collection." Buffy smacked Jeremy on the back of the head, causing him to retch. "Matt, what about your vampire-hating neighborhood watch guy? If Sarah goes to him for help, that's a problem."

"I'm on my way to Tripp's office now. I think I can get him to trust me and tell me what he knows."

"Ok. Be safe." Buffy hung up as she spotted Jo walking down the hall.

"Hello, Buffy." Jo said. She saved a smile for Alaric. "Hi Alaric."

"Hi." Alaric stood up.

"Who do we have here?"

"This is Jeremy." Buffy said, hauled Jeremy up on his feet. "Jeremy Gilbert. He's a little…."

"Underage?"

"Pretty much."

"Yeah, I can see that."

"We were hoping you could give him one of those, uh, rapid-rehydration hangover-cure-type things." Alaric said.

"Oh, yeah. You mean, the ones we reserve for professional athletes and starving children in third-world countries? Yeah. I think we'll start with a full workup…." Jo held up an empty urine cup up and handed it to Jeremy. "Physical, blood, toxicology…."

"Hey, can you throw in an STD screening while you're at it?" Buffy asked cheerfully.

Jeremy took the cup and rolled his eyes at Buffy. "Really?"

"Oh yeah!"

Jo stepped out of the way and gestured at Jeremy. "Down the hall to the right." Jeremy groaned and walked away. Jo turned back to Alaric and Buffy. "Do I want to know?"

"It's just another day in the wacky life of a legal guardian to a hormonal, angsty teenage boy and an occult studies professor." Buffy said.

"Well, if that entails supervising drunk morons, then we have a lot more in common than I thought!" Alaric laughed as Jo handed Buffy a clipboard. "Oh, what beautiful rings!"

"Thank you." Buffy smiled slightly, trying to stifle the sadness that hit her when she looked at her wedding ring and engagement ring.

"Your husband has good taste."

"I like to think so."

"Will I ever get to meet him? Every time I see you, you're with Alaric, here."

"Oh, Damon is…. Away."

"On business." Alaric added. "He's away on business and Buffy's living with me until he gets back."

"Oh. What does he do?" Jo asked.

"He's…."

"A travel guide writer." Buffy finished. "He writes travel guides."

"Exotic." Jo said.

"I usually travel with him, but with Elena in college and Jeremy acting like…. Well, Jeremy…. I decided to stay here this time. Alaric was kind enough to open his spare bedroom up for me while Damon's…. away."

Jo smiled up at Alaric. "You're so sweet."

Buffy glanced between them and stepped back. "I'm just going to go fill this out now." She gave a quick wink at Alaric and walked over to sit back down.

Jo joined Buffy and Alaric in the waiting room again. They'd been there for a couple of hours making plans for what they were going to do with Jeremy. "Quite a boozer, that kid." Jo announced. "Put him on a saline drip. He's lucky I didn't pump his stomach."

"Yeah, you know, he's had a rough couple months." Alaric said.

"Did you bring him in here to put a Band-Aid on it and make some more excuses?"

"Oh, I like her." Buffy said.

Alaric blushed. "No, actually…."

"He really wanted to see you." Alaric gave Buffy a death glare, but she wasn't fazed. "I was really hoping for the stomach pump for Jeremy, but since that's a no go, the next step is a swift kick in the ass."

"Well, if he's anything like his sister, I'm sure he'll be fine." Jo said. "It's nothing I don't treat every single night on campus or didn't do myself when I was a student."

"Ok." Alaric said.

"What about you two? Born party animals?"

"Not really." Buffy said. "Mom died when I was young, so I ended up taking care of my teenage sister. Then I traveled the world a bit and met my husband and we ended up taking on Elena and Jeremy when their aunt…. Who was their legal guardian and one of my cousins…. Died."

"You didn't miss much."

"So I hear."

"What about you Alaric? Did you have any wild tendencies?"

"Oh, yeah, yeah…. I used to get kicked out of the library all the time, you know. Because it was closing." Alaric said.

"Right. Head in a Wiccan bible?" Buffy noticed Alaric's face and realized that there was a boy with blood on his face next to them. He had smelled the blood and was now trying not to show his vampire face. He wasn't paying attention to Jo at all. Jo noticed Alaric's attention wasn't with her either. "Ok, one more piece of professional advice: When a successful, sexy, and only moderately insecure doctor is flirting with you, give her your undivided attention." She turned and marched off.

"Why can't I control that?" Alaric hissed at Buffy.

"It takes time."

"You were among people after two weeks."

"You're among people just fine. Hospitals are different." Buffy gently gripped Alaric's bicep and pulled him away from the bleeding boy. "My first time in a hospital wasn't pleasant. I had to run out. You're doing good, Rick. I promise."

Alaric sighed and sat down. "I don't feel like it."

"Well, I could ask Elijah to come help you again. He knows what it's like to go through the exact same thing as you. I'm just a cheap copy."

"Ok, one…. You're not a cheap copy. You're unique and amazing. And two…. I don't want any of the Originals here again."

"Don't be so mean. Elijah was a big help when he was here."

"He was a big help to you. He didn't like me very much. And don't even get me started on Klaus."

"He liked you just fine. Elijah was just worried about me. And you didn't even interact with Klaus that much. He was hurting too bad." Alaric snorted. "Don't. He lost his daughter. For him to even come all the way here hurting as bad as he did…. It just shows how much he actually does care about people other than himself."

Alaric shook. "It amazes me sometimes that you can see the good in them."

"Because they're not all bad." Buffy wrapped her arms around Alaric's arm and laid her head on his bicep. "Rick, it's just like your relationship with Damon. You hated Damon when you first knew him, but now he's your best friend. It's the same thing with Elijah and Klaus for me."

He sighed. "I'll take your word for it."

"They're my friends. And they could be yours, too, if you'd give them a chance."

"Lucky for me, they live in New Orleans now."

Buffy released his arm and shook her head. "I'll never understand why I'm the only one willing to give them a chance. You went psycho and tried to kill us all, but I'm not holding that against you." She stood up. "I'm going to go check on Jeremy."

Buffy sat on the ground, leaning against a tree, and watched Alaric and Jeremy spar. She was texting Enzo to see where he was, but getting no answer. It wasn't like him to just disappear on her with no warning. At least not since Damon had died.

"You call this a fair fight?" Jeremy complained. "You're basically an Original Vampire."

"You've killed an Original before." Alaric said.

"Jeremy, quit whining and keep your head in the fight." Buffy said.

"And maybe keep it out of the bottle."

Jeremy threw Alaric to the ground. "Happy?"

Buffy was suddenly pinning Jeremy to a tree across the clearing. "We're trying to help you pull yourself together, Jeremy. Now what is your problem?"

"My problem is that everyone thinks I shouldn't have one." Buffy released him and stepped back. "I have the right to be myself right now. Bonnie is dead. She knew it was gonna happen and she said goodbye over the phone! Just so you…." He trailed off.

"Keep going. So what? So we could come back to life, right?"

"You two, Elena, Stefan, Tyler, Enzo…. She saved everybody but herself!"

"Did you miss the part where my husband is dead too?"

"But you got to say goodbye!"

"It doesn't matter!" Buffy took a deep breath to calm herself. "It doesn't matter that I got to say goodbye, Jeremy, because it still hurts. My husband is still gone. I'm still left to walk eternity without the man I love unless I can find some miracle to bring him and Bonnie back. So if you want to talk about resentment, then be my guest, but you're barking up the wrong trees with Alaric and I."

"But…."

"My wife ran away," Alaric snapped. "Because she would rather be a vampire than be married to me. Came to find out it was Damon who turned her. And then she died. And then Jenna…. she died. And then I died. And then the guy who killed my wife died. And I actually kinda miss him. And now I can't even talk to a girl without fantasizing biting into her neck. I mean, Jeremy, I have resentment for years. Years!"

Buffy nodded at Alaric and turned back to Jeremy. "We get it. We do, Jer. But we've got to find a way to keep going."

"I don't want to keep going."

"Neither do I. Not without Damon. But do you honestly think that Damon or Bonnie would want us to just stop existing?"

"What if you don't find a way to bring them back?"

"That's not an option for me."

"But what if…."

"Jeremy, I am standing in front of you and I was in my coffin for three months. If there was a way to bring me back, then there is a way to bring them back. But until then…. You need to take it one day at a time." She lightly punched Jeremy's shoulder. "And stay out of my liquor cabinet. Damon's going to be pissed when he gets back and finds out you drank it all."

Buffy sat in the Salvatore crypt where she'd last seen Damon. Jeremy was sleeping on the couch at her and Alaric's apartment after a long day of training and getting the booze completely out of his system. He swore that he wasn't going to drink anymore. Buffy had decided that the crypt was the place to go when she wanted to talk to Damon. It was the last place she'd seen him. The place he'd been when the Other Side had collapsed. So she figured that if he could hear her from wherever he was, this was the place he would be able to hear her.

As she sat there in the quiet dark, her cell phone started vibrating. She pulled it out and answered it. "Klaus."

"My parents are alive." Klaus said with no greeting.

"What?"

"My father is back from the dead. My mother is possessing a local witch."

"Well, good news? No one can get to the white oak stake. It's locked up in my house where no supernatural creature can get to it. And compulsion doesn't work in Mystic Falls, so that's a major plus."

"I'm asking for your help, Buffy."

"How am I supposed to help?"

"I was hoping you would come to New Orleans with Willow and see what she can do."

"Willow would never help you, you know that."

"But she would help you. Buffy, you know exactly what my mother and father both planned for me individually. Now that they're both back at the same time…."

"I get how bad it is, Klaus. They manage to kill you, I die too. There's no need to tell me."

"Then convince Willow of it. I need your assistance. Elijah and I both do."

Buffy sighed and looked around the crypt. This would put a hold on her efforts in searching for a way to bring Damon back. But then again, Esther had actually liked Buffy. Maybe she would help her bring Damon back. "I'll talk to her. I don't know if I can convince her, though. She's pretty anti-Klaus."

"Does that mean you're coming to New Orleans?"

"It means yes. I'm going to come help you. There's not much going on here that I can do. Give me a day or so to let me talk to Alaric about taking care of Jeremy and getting my things packed and…. I'll come down there."

"You have no idea what this means to me, Buffy."

"Yeah, well it's not an affirmation of love. I'm still looking for a way to bring my husband back from the dead. I'm just coming down to help a couple of friends who were there for me when I needed them."

"I'll see you soon, love."

"See you soon." Buffy hung up and looked around the crypt. "Please don't be mad at me for this, Damon. Maybe a trip to New Orleans will dig up something new to bring you back. I promise that I am not giving up on you. I love you." She stood up and headed out of the crypt.

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