The Next Chapter

Chapter 110

A/N Sometimes things never go according to plan...

Chapter 110

Buffy walked around her apartment in a pair of shorts and her bra and talking on the phone as she gathered odds and ends to throw in her suitcase. She'd spoken with Alaric that morning and he wasn't happy with what she was doing. They'd argued about it, but in the end Alaric finally admitted that making sure Klaus wasn't killed so none of his friends would die was a smart idea. Now she was trying to convince Willow of the same thing.

"I can't, Buffy." Willow said. "I've got classes and Tara…."

"Tara can come, too." Buffy insisted, grabbing her shampoo and conditioner from the shower and drying it on her towel. "Alaric can compel your teachers to believe you were there. This is important."

"So is bringing Damon back. I've been working on that…."

"What would be the point in bringing him back if the sire of our bloodline is killed and all of us with him?" Willow was quiet for a long moment. "You didn't hang up. I can hear you breathing."

"I'm thinking."

"What's there to think about, Willow? We go to New Orleans, we save Klaus and a good portion of our friends, and maybe get some help from Esther who has managed to come back from the dead all on her own!" There was a knock on the door and Buffy growled. "Hold on, Willow." She walked over to the door and opened it. Stefan was standing on the other side of threshold with a large black trunk in tow. "Stefan? What the hell do you want?"

Stefan pushed past her into the apartment. "I need a favor." He dropped the trunk on the floor.

"I don't think so." Stefan was moving around the room closing the curtains. "What are you doing? Get away from my curtains. And what's with the trunk?" She leaned down to open it.

"Hang on." Stefan managed to get the last curtain closed as the trunk lid opened and Ivy popped out of the chest.

"Where am I?" Ivy asked. She glared at Stefan. "What did you do?"

"Ivy…." Buffy looked between Stefan and a newly turned Ivy. "She's a vampire! How did this happen?"

"Uh, Enzo turned her." Stefan said.

"Then Stefan broke my neck and I woke up in a trunk." Ivy said.

"Right. So, I need a little bit of help."

"No." Buffy shook her head. "A thousand times no."

"Just watch her for a little bit while I get Willow to make her a daylight ring. Show her the ropes, teach her some control."

"Ok, one: Willow and I are going out of town for a few days. And two: This is not my mess. This is your mess. Therefore you get to clean it up."

"This is a mess that wouldn't have happened if you had just left me alone."

"Excuse me?"

"Um, I can hear you, you know?" Ivy said. "I can hear everything, like, perfectly."

Buffy ignored her. "Do I need to remind you that there is a vampire hunter lurking around?"

"He's not here. He's in Savannah, which is why we're not."

Ivy plopped herself down on the couch. "You know the real tragedy in all this? I read He's Just Not That Into You, and…."

"Shut up!" Buffy and Stefan snapped at her.

Stefan grabbed Buffy's arm and pulled her a few steps away. "Look, Tripp Cooke has somehow decided to become the eastern seaboard's self-proclaimed vampire hunter. None of us are safe if we can't control ourselves. If anybody can teach her, it's you."

"Caroline is better at it. Dump this on her. I've got a friend to save."

"What friend?"

"None of your business."

"Can it wait just a couple of hours? Then you'll never have to deal with me again."

"As tempting as that offer is, my answer is no. My problems trump your problems. Deal with your newbie vamp girlfriend yourself." Stefan looked at her for a moment and then disappeared out the open doorway. Buffy rushed over to go after him, but realized she would be leaving a newbie vamp with no training alone in her apartment. "Oh, damn it!"

Ivy grinned at her when she turned around. "When do we eat?"

"Buffy?" Willow's voice came from the phone.

Buffy moved the phone to her ear. "Hey."

"What's going on?"

"Stefan just dumped his newly turned girlfriend on me and ran away."

"Are you serious?"

"He said he was going to have you make her a daylight ring." Buffy glanced at Ivy and then shut the front door and walked into her bedroom. She started opening and shutting drawers as she finished getting dressed. "If he shows up…."

"Oh, I'm not making a daylight ring for a vampire I don't know."

"Good." Buffy stuck her head out of her bedroom door. "Just sit tight, Ivy. I'll be with you in a minute."

"Hey, if you want to go on your trip, don't let me stop you." Ivy said. "I can come too."

"Uh, yeah…. No. Not happening. Too important and you're too new." Buffy tossed Ivy a shirt and a pair of yoga pants. "Here, change into those. You're covered in blood." She went back into her bedroom and said to Willow, "We're still going, it just may not be until later tonight."

"I still haven't agreed to go." Willow said.

"Willow, be reasonable. Just because you don't like Klaus doesn't mean that you can't help him. You hated Cordelia and you helped her a lot."

"Cordelia wasn't a psycho serial killer trying to get between you and the love of your life." Willow paused. "Ok, well she wasn't at first." Buffy stayed silent, letting Willow work out her own issues. "Fine. I'll go. But only because I feel like I owe you big time for the whole hallucinating-your-husband-without-your-permission thing. Tara and I will start getting packed."

"Thank you, Willow. I'll call you when I manage to dump Stefan's mess back in his lap." Buffy hung up and put her phone on the nightstand next to the picture of her and Damon's wedding picture.

Ivy walked into the room dressed in the yoga pants and shirt Buffy had given her. "Oh, is that Stefan's brother? He's a hottie."

"He's married."

"Yeah, I know. To you. Don't worry. I'm not a homewrecker. Just a hungry vampire."

"There're bloodbags in the fridge. They taste better if you heat them up in a mug."

"Why?"

"Because it tastes closer to straight-from-the-vein."

"Will you teach me that?"

"What part of 'I'm going out of town' is everyone missing?"

"Well, why can't I come with you?"

"Because it's dangerous and you're a new vampire. Not to mention I would like to leave sooner rather than later and you don't have a daylight ring." Buffy picked up her phone again and dialed Stefan's number. It rang twice and went to voicemail. "It's not nice to ignore my calls, Stefan. I really don't have time for this." She hung up and stuck her phone in her pocket.

"What's so dangerous about it?"

"It's dealing with vampires that are way more powerful than you could ever dream of being. Vampires like myself. And hybrids and werewolves and witches and a lot of really angry people in all of those categories. It's not exactly a situation I want to be joining, but because I've got friends there that need me and if one of those really powerful vampires dies, then I die. And Stefan dies. And Elena and Caroline and Damon…. If I manage to get him back…."

"Whoa."

"Yeah. He's the sire of our bloodline. If he dies, then everyone he ever sired and everyone they ever sired and so on and so on dies. I'd like to avoid that."

"So go. I'll be fine here."

"I can't. Sorry, but I just don't trust you. You seemed like a nice girl when you were alive, but now that you're a vampire, your emotions are heightened and people change after they…. Change. Who's to say you're not bipolar and your crazy side is the side that chooses to be permanent for all eternity?"

"I'm not going to tear your place apart. I'll leave as soon as it gets dark."

"And let you roam about in the unsuspecting public with your bloodlust not under control?" Buffy sighed. "And this is exactly why Stefan came to me. Jerk." She glanced at the clock and made a decision. "Ok, you're going to go to Caroline if Stefan doesn't come back for you by dark. Which he better. Until then, I'm going to teach you some of the ins and outs of being a vampire. Better me teaching you than Stefan anyway."

"Why?"

"Because Stefan has a problem controlling himself sometimes." Buffy gestured back to the living room. "Sit on the couch and try to keep up."

Buffy and Ivy made their way through the people at the Corn Maze Party. Elena had said that Caroline was supposed to be there. Stefan still hadn't shown up, so Buffy was going to give Ivy to Caroline.

"Can I practice that snatch, eat, erase thing on one of these people?" Ivy asked again.

"No." Buffy said. "And the answer will be no every time you ask."

"Buffy?" Alaric asked, appearing with Jo a few feet ahead of her. "I thought you were leaving for New Orleans this afternoon."

"Well, my wonderful brother in law left me to babysit his girlfriend." Buffy said.

"Why would she need a babysitter?" Jo asked.

"It's a long story." Alaric said. "Excuse me for just a second, Jo." He walked a few feet away and Buffy pulled Ivy along to follow. "Why did you bring her here?"

"I'm looking for Caroline. Stefan ran out on me and I've left him numerous messages, but he's not answering me. So I was going to hand her off to Caroline to teach her some control. I don't have the patience for control what with Klaus being in danger of death and all."

"I saw Caroline a little bit ago. She and Elena were with some guy that Elena has been talking to."

"Elena has a boyfriend?"

"I don't think they're actually dating, but she can't wait for Stefan forever." Alaric glanced at Ivy and then looked back at Buffy. "Stefan came by to see me earlier."

"What did he want?"

"He wanted me to compel her to control herself and to move on with her life."

"That's not a half bad idea."

"I wouldn't do it for him."

"Would you do it for me so I can go keep the sire of my vampire bloodline alive?"

"Yeah. I'll do it for you." He turned to Ivy and caught her gaze.

Suddenly people started yelling and Buffy and Alaric looked up to see what was happening. A large truck was plowing through the corn maze. People were dodging out of the way as it sped past them. Buffy grabbed Ivy and jumped out of the way just before the truck hit them. She groaned as she realized a large piece of wood from one of the shattered posts in the field was now sticking out of her leg. She pulled on it and growled. The thing was pretty deep in her thigh. With a final yelp, she managed to pull it out and watched as the wound closed.

Alaric had landed near Jo and he had part of a broken wooden post protruding from his torso. He ripped it out and looked over at Buffy. Buffy looked around and realized that Ivy was gone. She decided to grab a stray piece of fabric and tied it around her thigh. It would be hard to explain to civilians why her jeans were torn and bloody with no wound.

"You're bleeding." Jo said to Alaric.

"I'm fine." Alaric said.

"No, you're not. Let me see." She raised his shirt and saw that there was no wound. "Wait, how the hell…."

"I don't think it's his blood." Buffy said, coming over before Alaric accidentally revealed his vamp face to Jo.

Jo's arm was cut and bleeding. "Oh. Ok. That's gonna make things more difficult."

"I really think I should get you out of here." Alaric said.

"No. That's not an option." Jo looked at Buffy and realized she'd injured her thigh. "Your leg…."

Buffy waved her away. "It was only a scratch. I'm not very happy about my jeans being torn." She grabbed a random strip of material that was fluttering off one of the broken posts. "Here, for your arm.

"Thank you." Jo wrapped her arm in it and noticed Alaric's strained face. "You look pale. Does blood make you squeamish?"

Alaric exchanged glances with Buffy. "Yeah. Something like that."

"Don't worry. You'll get used to it. Buffy, where's your friend?"

"Oh…. She must've run off when I wasn't looking. She was really freaked out."

"Ok. Alaric, you call 911 and catch up. Buffy, you follow me." Jo stood up and started to walk.

"We'll both catch up." Buffy said to Jo. "I just want to make sure Alaric doesn't faint or anything." She turned to Alaric and pretended to help him up. "Ivy is gone."

"I noticed." Alaric said."If you're having trouble controlling your cravings around all this blood, think how bad it is for someone who doesn't really know what's going on."

"You're better at controlling your cravings. You go help Jo, I'll look for Ivy."

"Are you sure? Weren't you on a date?"

"Does it really matter if I was now?"

Buffy looked around at the destruction. "Guess not. Ok, call me if you find her. She's probably not too far." Alaric nodded and pulled out his phone. "I'll let Stefan know what's happening. Maybe he'll come look for her." She pulled out her own cell phone, pleased to see that it hadn't been crushed, and dialed her brother-in-law's number as she went to find Jo. It went to voicemail. "Stefan, I'd just like to let you know that your little she-vamp has run off in the midst of a serious crisis at the corn maze party. There are a lot of people hurt…. Which means blood…. Which means that she's not going to be able to control herself. Alaric and I are looking for her, but just to let you know, every dead college kid tonight is officially on you. Call me back, jerk!" Buffy found Jo tying a cloth around a severely bleeding leg. "Rick is calling the ambulance now."

"Good." Jo said. "Get over here, I need your hands." She grabbed Buffy's hands and placed them on the wound. "Put your fingers right there. That should stop the bleeding while I get a look at the rest of them." Jo looked at Buffy. "How are you doing? Are you ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Just keep your finger on that femoral artery."

"Ok."

"His pulse is still dropping."

"Have you seen this kind of action before?"

"I was in the army right out of med school. Family stuff. Just had to get away. You seem pretty cool-headed about all of this. What's your story?"

"Oh, uh…. Well, like I said, I travel a lot…. With my husband. We spent some time in some war torn countries."

Blood suddenly spurted from the wound Buffy was pressing on and she and Jo jumped back. Buffy got back in there and put pressure on the wound as Jo tightened the tourniquet. She would've given the man some of her blood to heal him, but Jo would definitely notice that.

Elena suddenly ran up to them with her cell phone at her ear. "Dr. Laughlin, my friend Tyler, he's in trouble, and its sounds really bad, and…. I don't know where he is."

"Call me Jo." Jo said. "Put him on speaker."

"Ok." Elena held the phone out.

"Tyler can you hear me?"

"I-I don't know what to do. I think he's losing consciousness." Tyler said over the line.

"Need you to answer my questions as accurately as you can. Is there blood?"

"Tons." Apparently Liv was with Tyler as she was the one who answered Jo.

"Is it still flowing? Is he bleeding now?"

"No." Tyler said. "No. I…. it looks like it stopped."

"Is there any coming out of his nose, or his mouth?"

"Yes."

"What color is it? Is it red, or is it black?"

"It's black." Liv said. "It's really freaking black. What do we do?"

"Take his hand."

"Now what?"

"Just try and keep him comfortable…. Won't be long now."

Alaric walked up to Buffy. "I can't find Ivy."

"That's ok. Help Jo. I'm going to go with Elena." Buffy stood up.

"Buffy…."

"Alaric, you'll be fine. Just take shallow breaths and stay calm." Buffy squeezed his arm before walking off with Elena.

"What are you doing here?" Elena asked her. "Alaric said you were going to New Orleans to help Klaus and Elijah."

"Stefan stopped by this afternoon and left me with his newly turned girlfriend."

"What?!"

"Enzo turned Ivy. Stefan dumped her on me. I was here to see if Caroline would help, but we got caught up in this mess and Ivy disappeared. Was Tyler in that truck?"

"Yeah. He said there were some college kids playing in the road on his way to the party and he swerved to miss them.""If any of these people die…."

"Yeah.""I hope for his sake that no one dies."

"I'm trying my best to make that happen."

"Elena, be careful. With a vampire hunter on the loose…."

"I know. I'm being careful. I need to get back to Liam."

"Liam? Boyfriend?"

"Uh…. Maybe."

"Will I get to meet him?"

Elena smirked slightly. "Maybe." She started to head off.

"I promise I won't embarrass you!" Buffy called after her.

Elena waved at her and disappeared into the throng of people. Buffy decided to head back to her apartment and get changed. Hopefully she'd find Ivy on the way, but if not she'd get Willow to do a locater spell. When she got closer to her apartment, Stefan dislodged himself from the shadows.

"Where the hell have you been!?" Buffy snapped at him.

"You lost her?" Stefan asked.

"Oh, so you finally decided to listen to your messages? No, I didn't lose her. She ran away after Tyler lost control of his truck and plowed through the corn maze party and everyone in it."

"Why would you take her to the corn maze party?"

"To see if Caroline would take over. I really need to leave. What the hell took you so long?"

"I got caught up."

"Caught up doing what?"

"Driving halfway out of town."

"You were leaving?"

"I slid Ivy's daylight right under…."

"No! I don't care about a stupid ring, Stefan! Wait, where did you even get one?"

"Luke."

"What an idiot!" She shook her head and got back on track. "Were you really going to dump your vampire girlfriend in my lap and then just skip town?"

"Yes."

"Who the hell are you right now?"

"I'm someone who's trying to start over, and then suddenly you and Enzo show up and now I have hunters on my trail and a brand new vampire who wants to kill me and everyone else in her path! And that's not how someone starts over, Buffy!"

Buffy slapped Stefan hard across the face. She took a deep breath to try and calm herself. "Do you know what the worst part about all of this is? I don't just want to bring my husband back for me because I feel incomplete without him. I also want to bring him back for you because I knew that if he came back, then you would too. That maybe you'd be Stefan again. But right now, all I want is for you to just leave. Just get in your car and get the hell out of my life!" Buffy turned and headed into her apartment. When she was putting on a new shirt, her cell phone started ringing. It was Ivy. Buffy answered it. "Where are you?"

"I did a really bad thing.""Yeah, I figured you probably had. Tell me where you are and then don't move. I'll come get you." Buffy grabbed her jacket and headed out to where her car was parked."I'm on the road not too far from the corn maze. I found some kids and I…. I tried to snatch, eat, and erase, but I couldn't figure out the erase part and then I was just so hungry…."

"Just…. Calm down. And stay out of sight." Buffy sighed as she got in her car. "I'll show you how to hide a body." She hung up and stuck her key in the ignition. When she came up on the road where Ivy said she was, there was a large van parked on the road. As she drove up beside it, she saw Ivy turn and rush forward to bite the man from the van, but Buffy heard the tranquilizer gun go off and Ivy fell limp into the man's arms. He drug her toward his van and dumped her inside.

Buffy decided to keep going instead of stopping. She felt bad, but Ivy wasn't her problem. She'd call Stefan and let him know what happened, but this was the end of her involvement. Realizing how close she was to the Salvatore crypt, she decided to head there and grab her bottle of bourbon she'd hidden inside. The day had been a disaster and it was all her brother-in-law's fault.

She was going to have to call Klaus and let him know she was running late. Sitting down on the bench inside the crypt, she pulled out her cell phone and grabbed the bottle of bourbon under the bench. She tipped it back while she waited for him to answer. It ended up going to voicemail. "Hey, it's me. I haven't had a chance to leave yet. Stefan dumped a major problem on me today and as I was trying to get rid of it, I ended up caught in the middle of a Halloween disaster. I'll call you again when I'm on my way. See you soon." She hung up the phone and sighed when she felt Stefan's presence in the doorway behind her.

"Buffy…." He started.

Buffy didn't turn around as she put her cell phone back in her jacket pocket. "What more could you possibly want, Stefan? How much more grief can you pile on me that you haven't already? And what part of 'get out of my life' did you not understand?"

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah? Well, you've got a lot to be sorry for." She took a long sip and glanced up at Stefan as he walked around to stand in front of her.

"I miss my brother. I'm not doing so great without him. I keep trying to start over, but I can't get anywhere. Because I'm lost without him, Buffy."

Buffy stared at him for a long moment. A thousand different snide comments ran through her brain. She had a lot of anger towards Stefan. Finally she settled on, "Answer my question."

Stefan turned and sat down beside her. "I tried to leave you behind, too, but…. I just couldn't. You're a piece of him. He loved you so much and…. I just couldn't let that piece go. No matter how hard I tried to walk away…. I needed to connect with him somehow."

The tears that fell down Stefan's cheeks opened up a floodgate in Buffy she'd been holding onto tightly the last few weeks. She stood up furiously and turned on him. "You told Elena to make sure that I kept my head above water! To make sure that I didn't completely lose myself to this misery I've felt for four months! And I tried. I tried so hard because you promised you wouldn't give up! You promised you would find a way to bring him back! But you broke that promise, Stefan!" She started to sob. "I'm your connection to Damon? Well, you're mine! You're his brother! I needed you and you left me alone!"

"I'm sorry." Stefan stood up. "I'm so very sorry, Buffy."

Buffy back up a couple of steps to get away from his arms trying to pull her into an embrace. "You left me, Stefan! Sorry doesn't cut it!" She flung the bottle of bourbon behind her, but it didn't crash. Stefan's eyes widened as he stared at something behind her. The look on his face and the sudden familiar presence in the room made Buffy too scared to turn around.

"So, what, I'm gone for a couple of months and you think it's ok to waste a perfectly good bottle of bourbon?" Damon's voice said behind her. "Baby, I know I taught you better than that. What the hell have you been doing to her, Stef?"

"Damon?" Stefan said.

"Yup. In the flesh."

"How am I seeing you right now?"

"Cause I'm not dead, Stefan. I mean, I know this stuff is good, but it's not I-see-dead-people good."

Buffy had stopped breathing as she felt Damon move closer to her. She could still see Stefan's shocked face in her vision. Closing her eyes, she turned around and tilted her face up to exactly where she knew Damon's gaze would be watching her. When she opened them, his amazing blue eyes were staring back at her with tears shining in them. She took a halting breath and said, "Damon?" Her voice cracked and more tears began to slide down her face.

"It's a hell of a long story, baby, but…. I'm back. I'm back."

"You're…. You're real?" Buffy's hands were shaking as she reached out to run them up Damon's chest. Her heart stopped when her palms touched solid flesh. "Damon…." His arms came around her, one hand wove its fingers tightly in her hair, and his lips pressed to hers and she felt whole again. The place in her heart that had been ripped away with his death was returned to her. She couldn't stop the sobs that escaped her as she buried her face in his chest, breathing in his scent and holding him to her like a life raft. He held her tightly, relishing in the feel of her body against his for a long moment.

"God I dreamed about this!" Damon said into her hair. Buffy let out a strained laugh, wanting to tell him about the dreams she'd had, but her voice just wouldn't come to her. Instead, it came out in steady sobs of joy and relief. Stefan was still standing there behind her with his mouth agape. "Hey brother." Damon held his hand out and pulled Stefan into the embrace and the Salvatore family was restored as all three of them cried from sheer joy.

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