The Next Chapter

Chapter 114

A/N Welcome to the lighter side of things. Hope you guys enjoy this. It's just a chapter full of a lot of happiness.

Chapter 113

Buffy bounced Hope in her arms, cooing and smiling at the gorgeous baby. Elijah was upstairs resting. He'd woken up not long after they'd driven out of Virginia and decided that he wanted to be left alone for a while. Damon sat on the couch and watched Buffy, a small smile playing on his lips. Every time she walked by, he would reach out a hand and touch her. Their eyes would meet and they would share a smile with each other, obviously incredibly happy.

Rebekah watched the husband and wife, happy for them and their reunion after such an unhappy time. She'd known about Damon's death after Elijah had called her about it. Despite their sordid history, Rebekah had wanted desperately to go and comfort her friend, but Hope was too important and she knew that Buffy would understand.

"You two should consider adoption." Rebekah said.

Buffy laughed. "I've got Elena and Jeremy. That's enough for me. Besides, I don't want kids."

"Look how good you are with Hope. She adores you."

"Buffy would make an amazing mother." Damon said. "I'm not sure I would make a good father."

Buffy looked at her husband. "We've had this discussion before. I think you would make a great father, Damon." She kissed Hope's temple and handed her to Damon. He held her to him like an expert, tenderly stroking his thumb on her head.

"Look at you two." Rebekah walked over to them. "How could neither of you want children?"

"Well, I was 15 years old when I became the Slayer. In this generation, 15 year olds don't actually think about kids in the sense of parenthood. They just think about how much money they can get babysitting them. By the time I got old enough to actually contemplate kids…." Buffy shook her head. "My life was never meant for children and I'm ok with that." She smiled down at Hope, laughing as the baby gripped her finger tightly. "I can live vicariously through Klaus now."

"Damon? You come from a different generation. Surely you've thought about it."

Damon smiled at Hope now chewing on Buffy's finger with her toothless gums. "I did want kids at one point in my life…. Back when I was human. But Katherine came into my world and the rest was history. I may have been cut out for parenting at one point, but now?" He looked up at Buffy. "My life wasn't meant for children and I'm ok with that."

"You know," Buffy said, changing the subject. "It'll be Thanksgiving in a couple of days. We should decorate and make a big dinner. Celebrate the happy reunion of parents and daughter."

Rebekah smiled. "I like that idea."

"Damon, you and I should go grocery shopping. We've got a while before Klaus and Hayley get here."

Damon stood up with Hope. "Sounds fun." He gently handed Hope over to Rebekah as she handed him her keys. "We'll be back in a little while."

"Don't forget sweet potatoes." Rebekah called after them.

When Buffy and Damon returned an hour later with all of the groceries they'd bought, Rebekah was standing at the front door hanging a festive wreath. She walked over to them and helped them carry in the bags. Elijah was downstairs standing by the fireplace, staring into it. He glanced up at them carrying in the array of bags as Rebekah was saying, "I've already preheated the oven. We just need to get the turkey in there. Wherever did you find a turkey that was already dethawed?"

"Believe it or not, the little grocery store had a few of them for us last minute stragglers. Hey, Elijah." Buffy said, smiling brightly at him as she set the bags down on the dining room table. "Happy Thanksgiving."

"Happy Thanksgiving." Elijah said.

"Isn't this place rather nice?" Rebekah picked up a bottle of wine and showed it to Buffy. "Nic must have compelled a wine-lover to keep it up, because I found a 2005 Bordeaux!" She held it out to Elijah, but he didn't seem at all excited. "Fancy a sip?"

"I appreciate the sentiment, but I do recognize when I'm being handled with kid gloves."

Rebekah sighed and set down the wine. "I'll go put the turkey in."

Buffy walked over to Elijah. "How are you feeling?"

"Patronized!" Elijah looked down at Hope in her playpen. "I am here to protect you."

"I know you didn't mean to, Elijah…."

"And yet, you and my sister found it necessary to render me unconscious and set me in manacles before bringing me here?"

"You weren't yourself! We needed to get us out of that diner and fast before Esther showed up. What exactly happened back there, anyway, Elijah?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know. Niklaus sent me to protect Hope. My job is to keep her safe." Elijah sat down and looked at Hope worriedly.

Buffy sat down next to him and leaned against him. "He sent both of us."

"And I attacked you. For that I am truly, very sorry."

"All's forgiven and forgotten."

Elijah looked up at Damon. "Rebekah says that Niklaus has allowed you to be here. I don't have to stress…."

"No. You don't." Damon said. "I get it. Hope is safe."

He nodded and stood up, helping Buffy to her feet. "I look forward to the dinner you're cooking. Your food is always a treat." Elijah kissed her knuckles and walked outside to the front porch.

Buffy sighed and looked at Damon. "I guess we should get to work." She picked Hope up and put her in her bouncy chair, carrying it into the kitchen and setting it on the table.

Rebekah was just shutting the oven door. "It'll be a couple of hours now." She walked over to Hope. "Hello, sweetheart!"

"Elijah is sulking."

"Yes, he's been that way since he came downstairs not long after you two left. If you have everything covered in here, I have an idea on how to cheer him up a bit."

"Yeah, sure. Damon and I got this."

"Great. Come on, little one." Rebekah picked Hope and her bouncy chair up and carried them outside.

Buffy looked over at Damon as he was pulling the sweet potatoes out of the bag and dumping them in the sink to wash them. She wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his shoulder blade through his shirt. "Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Salvatore."

Damon smiled and turned his head to kiss her forehead. "Happy Thanksgiving, Mrs. Salvatore."

"I am so glad that we don't have to spend it apart." Buffy's phone rang and she reached in her back pocket to answer it. "Hello, Elena."

"Where are you?" Elena asked. "And where's Damon?"

"I told Alaric to tell you. We're out of town for a few days."

"You guys can't miss Friendsgiving. I mean, Matt and Jeremy are already cleaning up the whole Tripp mess, and Caroline's mom has to work. We're already low on friends as it is."

"I'm sorry, Elena. We had something we needed to take care of."

"What's so important?"

Buffy glanced at Damon and spotted Bonnie's bear sitting in one of the chairs at the breakfast table. "We're following a lead on how to get Bonnie back."

"What do you mean?"

"Ok, I mean…. Bonnie's in the prison world where Damon was stuck. Damon found her teddy bear at the crypt where he came back. When I got back from New Orleans, we left again to go hunt down a lead."

"What do you mean Bonnie's in the prison world? Damon said that she wasn't there, that she found peace with…. Why didn't you guys tell me this?"

"Why wouldn't we consult you in a decision that might permanently change your life? Hmm." Damon asked. "I wonder."

"We didn't want to get your hopes up." Buffy said, smacking Damon's arm. "He thought Bonnie died trying to free him. If she sent her bear over, it could mean she's still…."

"Bonnie's still alive? Oh, my God!"

"Yeah. We're on our way to Portland soon to track down the Gemini coven that Stefan said he looked into, but I don't believe him."

"This is amazing. Oh, uh…. Hold on."

"You guys are looking for Bonnie?" Alaric's voice came over the receiver.

"Yeah. We're headed to Portland soon to…."

"Portland is where the Gemini coven lead was."

"That's what we're after."

"I've still got all the info on it. Do you guys want some help?"

"Oh, uh…. I don't know…."

"I can fly in and meet you guys there."

"That's up to you, but I'm not sure when we'll get there. I've still got some business with Klaus that I'm trying to wrap up, and…."

"That's fine. Just let me know when you guys will be there and I'll come help."

"Sure. Talk later?"

"Ok." Alaric hung up and Buffy put her phone back in her pocket.

"Looks like we're headed to Portland soon." Damon said.

"Looks like." Buffy shook her head. "Problem for another day. Let's get this stuff fixed."

Damon walked out onto the front porch and looked out over the land. Buffy came up behind him wiping her hands on a dish rag. Everything was now cooking and the pumpkin cheesecake was setting up in the refrigerator. Dinner would be finished not long after Klaus and Hayley got here. Elijah was sitting on the porch in front of Hope in her bouncy chair. Rebekah was working on making a pile of wood for what looked like a bonfire.

"It's alright, Elijah. She won't break." Rebekah said. "Everything you did was in the name of protecting her. I'm not worried."

Elijah relented and picked up Hope. "Hi, sweetheart." He said to her.

"What is the hell is your sister doing?" Damon asked.

"It's bonfire season!" Rebekah said cheerfully, walking over to them. "And I am reviving a family tradition! Especially since we're all going to be together."

"Only because we're fleeing from one of our deranged parents." Elijah said. "Another Mikaelson tradition. It's a peculiar thing: never to be tired, yet forever exhausted by the sameness of things. Why is our family always at war?"

"I don't know. But being away with her made me see things differently. We're not so bad. We're not the monsters that our parents think we are."

"No." Buffy said, joining Rebekah and Elijah with Damon holding her waist. "You're not. So what's with the bonfire?"

Before anyone could say anything, Klaus's black SUV sped down the driveway. Klaus barely had time to park before Hayley rushed out of the car and sprinted toward them. She stopped in her tracks as soon as she saw Hope. Klaus caught up with them and Elijah didn't waste any time handing a smiling Hope to Hayley.

"Hi!" Hayley hugged Hope tightly and breathed in a sigh of relief. Behind her, Klaus was near tears and too overwhelmed to move. Hayley turned so Klaus could see his daughter as well. Hope cooed happily as Klaus took her in his arms. He and Hayley both laughed as they smothered their baby girl with kisses.

Damon wrapped his arms tighter around Buffy's waist and kissed her neck. She leaned back into him and closed her eyes, completely content with it just being the two of them for the rest of eternity. When she opened her eyes, Klaus was handing Hope back to Hayley and making his way over to her and Damon.

"Hey." Buffy said, looking up at Klaus.

He reached up and gently cupped her cheek. "Thank you for keeping her safe."

She smiled slightly. "You're welcome."

Klaus dropped his hand and looked at Damon. "Do I need to compel you to keep quiet about all of this?"

Damon shook his head. "Trust me, you don't scare me half as much as my wife. She's made plenty of threats towards me about it. Hope's secret is safe with me."

"Thank you." He turned around to look at Rebekah and Elijah. "We have much to discuss."

"What did you get out of Kol and Finn?" Buffy asked.

As Rebekah piled on more wood to create the traditional bonfire shape and Buffy and Damon took turns checking on dinner, Klaus told them what he'd learned from Finn and Kol. Hayley played with her daughter, half listening since Klaus had already told her all of it in the car. "Curse on the first-born?" Rebekah asked. "What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Well, according to Finn, our sister Freya didn't die of plague. She was taken as payment by our aunt Dahlia, who then cursed all Mikaelson first-borns for eternity." Klaus said.

"Is any of this true?" Buffy asked.

"It is if we are to believe Finn." Elijah said. "Who learned it from the bastion of truth, our mother."

"Well, no wonder Finn hates us." Rebekah said. "He lost the sister he adored and instead got a judgy pack of siblings who found him unbearably dull."

"Great." Hayley said. "So, is there any chance of us running into your loony aunt Dahlia any time soon?"

"The fable's over a thousand years old." Elijah said. "Dahlia is long dead."

"Like Esther?"

"No one's going to hurt Hope, because no one's going to find her." Klaus said. He looked at Rebekah. "There's enough wood, Rebekah. You'll burn down the whole bloody state of Arkansas."

"Well, we're just missing a key ingredient!" Rebekah said.

"No, we're not."

"Yes, we are, Nic! Back me up, Elijah!"

"I suspect Niklaus would rather choke on the ashes." Elijah said.

"What are you all talking about?" Hayley asked.

"Well, before we light it, we write down our wishes for each other to burn for luck!" Rebekah said. "It was Kol's favorite part when we were kids!"

"It's further evidence as to why we should ignore it!" Klaus said.

"I think it sounds fun." Buffy said.

"Hope's first bonfire season. I like it!" Hayley smiled. "We're doing it!" She headed inside to find paper and Rebekah, pleased with herself, turned to her brothers and smiled smugly.

"Can we do it after dinner, though?" Damon asked. "The turkey's about done and the rolls smell like they're getting ready to start burning."

After dinner, Damon was doing the dishes while Buffy and Klaus sat at the table playing with Hope. Elijah was outside on the porch with Rebekah and Hayley was searching for paper to write wishes down on. The sun was just beginning to set outside and cast a pretty glow over everything in the house.

"I can't believe how much she likes you." Klaus said, watching his daughter playing peek-a-boo with Buffy over his shoulder.

"Really? I could say the same for you." Buffy joked, poking Klaus in the ribs. He shot her a playful glare before chuckling. "I've been meaning to ask you, do you know anything about the Gemini coven?"

"I've heard the name before. Why?"

"Well, they're connected to the prison world that Damon was stuck in…. That Bonnie is still stuck in…. We were going to head to Portland and see if they've got an ascension thingy…."

"Ascendant." Damon corrected from the kitchen.

"Yeah, that thing…. To get Bonnie back."

"I've never heard of an ascendant." Klaus said.

Damon came in from the kitchen and sat across from Buffy and Klaus. "It's a little round metal thing that moves and sends people to and from a pocket prison universe when activated by Bennett blood."

"I've never heard of this ascendant, but the Gemini coven was in the news in the mid-90s."

"Yeah. One of the brothers went crazy and killed pretty much everyone in his family but one of his sisters. I met him. The prison where I was…. It was made for him by the remainder of his coven."

"How did you come to be there?"

"Bonnie's grandmother made a deal to save Bonnie by sending her to this prison that only her blood could open and I was with Bonnie when it all went down, so I ended up there too."

Hayley walked in just then with paper and pencils to write their wishes down on. "Here," She held out the supplies. Buffy and Damon each took a pencil and a couple of pieces of paper, but Klaus didn't move.

"I'm holding a small child, Hayley. This silly wish game will have to wait." Klaus said.

"You write, I'll hold." Hayley said.

"You do realize it is not I who is to be the husband you can boss around?"

"You do realize that I had to endure horrendous labor and actual death birthing the child that you're holding?"

Klaus chuckled and sighed as Hayley walked over and took Hope from him. "Fine." He picked up the pencil and started to narrate what he was writing. "'I wish Hayley would tell Elijah you're marrying your werewolf suitor, at which point I will pour him a scotch and congratulate him on the bullet he dodged.'" He ripped off the page and handed it out to Hayley, who just glared at him, not amused. She snatched the paper from his hands and crumpled it up in a ball before she tossed it on the ground and left the room. Klaus smirked, pleased with himself, until Buffy slapped him upside his head. "Ow!"

"That was rude!" Buffy scolded.

"She needs to tell him."

"Maybe so, but she'll do it in her own time. She may not be your wife, but she is the mother of your child and she did go through a lot to give you that baby. The least you could do is show her some respect."

"Yes, mother." Buffy pinched Klaus's arm. He pinched her back and they both laughed at each other. "What did you write?" He reached past her and grabbed her piece of paper. She didn't make a move to stop him. "'I wish for Klaus to finally find happiness in his life without waiting for the bad to happen.'" He looked over at her. "You mean this?"

"Every word."

Klaus looked at her for a moment before grabbing a piece of paper. He wrote down his wish and slid it over to Damon. Damon picked it up and read it aloud. "'I wish to never see my best friend that sad, lost, and hurt ever again.'"

"She suffered the true loss. You died. I still had hope of seeing my daughter." Klaus said to Damon. "It was unbearable to see Buffy in that much pain over losing you. Don't ever do it again."

Damon gave Klaus a small smile. "I'll try my hardest." And in that small moment, Buffy realized that Damon was completely over his jealousy towards Klaus and had accepted the friendship between them.

"What did you write, Damon?" Buffy asked him. Damon slid his paper to her and she read it aloud. "'I wish we could save Bonnie so I can properly thank her for what she did for me and the love of my life.'" Buffy reached across the table and took Damon's hand. "We'll save her."

Rebekah walked into the house. "Ok, you three, get your asses outside so we can light the bonfire."

Klaus rolled his eyes and stood up. Buffy and Damon followed him outside where Elijah and Hayley were standing. Hope was in Hayley's arms watching everything going on. Damon slipped his hand into Buffy's and she moved closer to him. He leaned down and said in her ear, "If you'd told me two years ago I'd be attending a Mikaelson family gathering and actually feeling like a part of the family, I'd have killed you for lying such a horrible lie."

Buffy laughed and laid her head on Damon's shoulder. "It's pretty surreal."

Klaus lit a match to light the bonfire and threw it in just as Rebekah came outside to join them. "Hey! Look what I found!" She held up a Polaroid camera. "I wonder if it'll work."

"Oh, bloody hell." Klaus said. The look on his face made Buffy laugh at him.

"Come on, let's try it! Hey, Nik, do you think you can cram us all into a selfie?"

"Oh, Niklaus is a virtuoso at cramming his siblings into confined spaces." Elijah said.

"Well, I'm just glad I traveled hundreds of miles to visit my mentally ill brother, only to have him insult me to my face!" Klaus shot back.

"Oh, just take the picture!" Buffy said, poking him in the arm.

Klaus sighed and held up the camera to take a picture of the seven of them together. The picture popped out of the camera and they all watched as the it slowly developed. "Aw, see? I wish that it could always be like this." Rebekah said.

"If wishes were horses…." Elijah said.

"Beggars would ride." Klaus finished. He let out a deep sigh. "You realize we'll have to burn it. You want me to make a wish for the family, Rebekah? I wish it didn't have to be like this. But, it does." He handed the photo to Hayley. "We can't risk it falling into the wrong hands." Hayley took a long look at the photo before reluctantly throwing it into the bonfire.

"No! This isn't right. We deserve this. We've earned this." Rebekah said angrily. "I won't let it slip away. I know what to do to stop Esther."

"Rebekah, no…." Elijah said.

"I'm going to take her deal. And, when I do, I'm taking her down with me." Rebekah nodded defiantly and walked into the house.

"Rebekah!" Klaus headed into the house after her. Elijah and Buffy exchanged looks and followed them.

Damon and Hayley looked at each other for a moment. "I need to feed Hope." Hayley said lamely.

"I guess I better follow the blondes." Damon said.

"I didn't get to tell you before…. Welcome back."

"Thanks."

"Sorry I dragged you guys into all of this."

"Don't worry about it. This is more fun than socializing with people I don't know or don't like."

"You don't like most of the people here."

Damon shrugged. "They're not so bad." He turned and headed into the house in search of his wife.

"It'll work." Rebekah was saying. "She'll be distracted during the spell. She'll be vulnerable."

"No. If we kill her, she body-jumps." Klaus said.

"Then stop her from jumping!"

"If I knew how to bloody stop her from jumping, don't you think I would have happily murdered her ages ago?"

"Well, ages ago, you didn't have a Harvest girl or a Mikaelson witch or even Willow bloody Rosenberg! Kol knows all of her tricks."

"Now, you're both insane." Elijah said.

"Hardly, Elijah. It was your idea! You're the one who said she needed a win, and if we get this right, then she'll have one."

"And if we get it wrong, you're no longer in your own body." Buffy said calmly.

"Would that be the worst thing?" Rebekah looked at Elijah. "You were ready to do it yourself."

Buffy and Klaus looked at Elijah with shocked expressions. "It was a foolish moment, and one that you sagely dissuaded me from."

"Hopefully, we'll get lucky and stop the spell before I jump."

"And, if we're not, you'll get what you always wanted." Klaus said. "I mean, that's what you're saying, isn't it? You're willing to lose."

"I'm willing to risk losing, yes."

"Well, we need to find someone for her to jump into. Someone anonymous. Someone who could disappear with Hope."

"Rebekah, we've been together for centuries." Elijah said. "If you were human…."

"When I'm old and wrinkly, you can dump me back into my old body. Nik already has a coffin he can store me in."

"But to trust Kol?" Buffy asked. "I don't know."

"It's not about trust. It's about finding the proper leverage."

"She's right." Klaus said. "Kol will do what's best for Kol. We just have to meet his price." Klaus pulled out his phone and dialed Marcel's number.

Buffy sat on the couch in the living room holding a sleeping Hope and waited for Klaus. He and Rebekah were leaving for New Orleans soon while Hayley and Elijah were staying here with Hope. Buffy and Damon were going to go on to Portland to look into getting Bonnie back. Before they left, Buffy had had an idea she wanted to talk to Klaus about. She'd sent Damon on to get the rental car without her.

"You look beautiful holding a baby." Klaus said, walking in the room to sit next to her.

Rebekah was with him and she stood behind Buffy to look down at Hope. "He's not lying." She said, reaching over Buffy's shoulder to stroke Hope's cheek.

"When will Damon be back?" Klaus asked.

"Soon." Buffy reached looked at both him and Rebekah. "You guys be careful, ok? And if you need me again, I'm only a phone call away."

Klaus took her hand and kissed her knuckles. "I'm going to miss your company."

"I think Hope is going to miss Buffy, too." Rebekah said.

"I'm going to miss all of you, too." Buffy looked at Hope for a moment before turning her gaze back to Klaus. "I had an idea."

"About what?"

"Your mother. How to prevent her from doing any more harm."

"I've thought of everything. There are no spells…."

"No. There aren't. The answer is actually quite simple and non-magical." Klaus gave her a confused look. "When you turn a witch into a vampire…. She's no longer a witch. She won't be like any of us…. Hybrids and Originals…. She'll be a run of the mill vampire, so she won't have any kind of power to go up against you or anyone else in this family. It'll also be payback for all the mental torture she's put Elijah through. Make her choose to become the thing she hates or not complete the transition and die for good. And bonus? There's no Other Side for her to lie in wait on anymore."

Klaus smiled brightly at her. "You diabolical genius."Buffy chuckled. "I'm like a Bond villain."

"I can find a way to slip her some of my blood." Rebekah said.

"And then we'll just have Mikael to deal with." Klaus said.

"Well, I've got the white oak stake with me." Buffy said. "It'll get locked back up in Mystic Falls when we get back. So, at least that's out of the equation." Headlights turned into the driveway and they all looked out the window.

"That'll be Damon, then." Rebekah said.

Buffy stood up with Hope and kissed her forehead gently. "Be safe, little one. I hope to see you soon." She set Hope carefully in her bouncy chair and turned to Rebekah. "And you…. Please be safe. Don't stick around if anything goes wrong."

Rebekah hugged Buffy tightly. "It was so good to see you, Buffy."

"You too, Beks." Buffy and Rebekah both chuckled at the nickname as Buffy turned to Klaus. "And you…."

"I know," Klaus said. He began ticking the list off on his fingers as he spoke. "Be careful. Don't be stupid. Play nice with my family. Call if I need you. Keep Hope safe no matter what. Did I miss anything?"

"Nope. You covered it." Buffy laughed as Klaus hugged her tightly.

He kissed the bend in her neck. "Be careful, Buffy. Don't do anything stupid that will cause me to mourn for you."

"I won't." She pulled back from the hug as Elijah walked into the room.

"Are you leaving?" He asked.

"Yes." Buffy walked over to him and hugged him tightly.

"It was lovely to see you. Don't be a stranger, Mrs. Salvatore." He kissed her forehead.

"It's going to be hard to stay away once Hope is allowed to come home. I think I'm in love."

"That's never what you want to hear when you walk in on your wife in another man's arms." Damon joked as he walked in the front door.

"I meant Hope, you fool." Buffy laughed.

Damon grabbed their bag and said his goodbyes to everyone and the two of them headed out to their rental car. As he drove them down the road, he said, "Rick is flying to Portland tomorrow night. We're going to meet him there."

"Ok." Buffy said, taking Damon's hand. "Let's go get Bonnie back."

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