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Chapter 115

Chapter 115

Buffy and Damon sat in the car looking out at Alaric and Stefan standing outside of the car. Alaric was on the phone with Elena. She was pissed that "everyone had abandoned Friendsgiving." Buffy was pissed that Alaric had brought Stefan with him. Stefan had spent the entire time saying that he'd already looked into this lead and there was nothing here in Portland.

"I don't need him here." Buffy said to Damon. "I don't know why he even came."

"He came because he wants to spend time with his brother." Damon insisted.

"Then why is he being Debbie Downer with every word he says? I'm going to punch him in the neck."

Damon laughed and leaned over to kiss her. "I'll punch him for you." They got out of the car to join Alaric.

"Well, if it's any consolation, our Thanksgiving was roadside chili." Alaric was saying to Elena.

"Not us." Damon said loudly. "We had a great Thanksgiving dinner."

"With the Mikaelsons." Stefan said, his tone of voice expressing that he wasn't impressed. Damon wrapped his arms around Buffy's waist before she could jump at Stefan. He kissed her neck and chuckled at his brother. "Hey. Were you guys invited to Friendsgiving?"

"Of course we were." Buffy said. "Caroline demanded we bring string beans."

"Why? Were you not invited?" Damon asked.

"Nope."

"Well, I wouldn't want a spoil sport at my Thanksgiving celebration either." Buffy said.

"Is that the reason Caroline assigned me the turkey and the cranberries." Alaric asked. "Stefan wasn't invited."

"See what you did?" Damon said to Stefan. "Now we're pulling your weight. I really hope you figure this out before Christmas."

"Yeah. Well, I'm glad you're all finding amusement in this."

"You've got a lot of making up to do with Elena after the crap you pulled over the last few months." Buffy said.

"Yes. I've got a lot of making up to do with a lot of people in my life. That's why I'm here to help."

"Really? Cause it sounds like you're just here to bring the party down."

Stefan didn't miss the looks being exchanged between Alaric and Damon. "I did explore this lead, Buffy. There was nothing here." He swept his arm across the large yard in front of them. "Behold the Gemini Coven exactly how it looked 4 months ago. Still nothing here."

"Did you even think to knock on the door?" Buffy asked.

"What door?"

"What do you mean 'what door'? The big grey door with the big window in it right in the middle of the big porch on the big white house!"

Stefan and Alaric looked at Buffy with confused looks. Even Damon looked confused. "Babe…. There's no house." Damon said. "It's just a really big field."

"I'm not crazy." Buffy waved her hands at the house she could see. "There's shrubs for god's sake!" She left Damon's arms and walked towards the house. When she turned around, Damon, Stefan, and Alaric were looking around in confusion and calling her name. She looked at the house. "It's a cloaking spell."

Damon and Stefan were now arguing about something and Damon was waving Ms. Cuddles, Bonnie's teddy bear, at Stefan. Stefan took the bear and kicked it away from them. Buffy reached up and caught it out of the air.

"There you are." Damon said, walking up to her. "Hey! And there's the house you could see."

Buffy looked at Stefan. "See!? Big grey door!"

"Buffy and Ms. Cuddles, one. Invisible creepy mansion, zero." Damon walked up the stairs to the door and rang the doorbell.

"Anybody want to take a stab at how Bonnie's teddy bear undid whatever was cloaking this place?" Stefan asked.

"He said without laughing."

"Jo told me she got rid of her magic by putting it away for safekeeping." Alaric said. "Maybe Bonnie put her magic away in this."

"Why would Bonnie put her magic in Ms. Cuddles?" Stefan asked.

"To keep Kai from using her to get out." Damon answered. He looked down at Buffy. "How could you see the house?"

"I don't know." Buffy said with a shrug. "I don't explain things. I just kill them."

"Touché." Damon opened the door, but he hadn't been invited in so the invisible barrier stopped him.

"Can't say I miss that." Alaric said.

"It's all yours, brother."

Alaric walked up the stairs of the porch and entered the house. While he was in, Buffy turned and stared at Stefan. He glanced at her, but tried to ignore her. Damon chuckled at his brother. "She's giving you her creepy stare. You'll break eventually, so you might as well give her what she wants."

Stefan sighed. "You were right. I shouldn't have given up on Damon. I shouldn't have run away from my life. And you were right about this place."

"And?" Buffy said.

"And I'm sorry."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Alaric came back outside sifting through a handful of photographs. "Jo lived here." He said. "There's a drawer inside full of stuff…. Newspaper articles about Jo's medical clamp, pictures of her as a kid, pictures of her as a teenager…."

Damon grabbed a photo out of the stack. "Hold, please. Rewind. That's Kai from planet 1994."

"Wait…. Jo is his sister?" Buffy asked.

"Either that, or they both have a thing for Cosby sweaters."

A man appeared from behind the tree several feet away. "I didn't know I had guests. You've met Kai?"

"Met him? Watched him die, watched him come back to life. Why? You know him?"

"Yeah. He's my son. I'm Joshua Parker." The man held his hand out and Damon reached out to shake it.

"Damon Salvatore."

"Invisique."

"What the hell just happened?" Stefan asked behind them.

"I don't know." Alaric said.

"What's wrong with you guys?" Damon asked them.

"They can't see you anymore, Damon, which means they also can't see this." Joshua held up his hand toward their heads, but Damon didn't budge.

"Sorry to ruin your migraine, but we're protected." Buffy said.

"You shouldn't even be able to see me or this place."

"Yeah? I've always been a bit of a conundrum."

"Who are you?"

"Buffy Salvatore. Look, we're not here to hurt anyone or ruin your Thanksgiving or anything. We just need some answers."

"So do I."

"Why don't you invite us in and we can chat?" Damon asked.

Joshua glanced at the house and finally relented. "Very well. Come in." He led them into the house and shut the door behind them. "You said you were trapped with Kai. I need to know how you got out."

"Ohh…. Strangest months of my life. That whole repeating the same day thing, phew, disconcerting."

"Is Kai still there?"

"Yeah he is, with our friend Bonnie, which leads me to why we're here."

"Does Kai know how to escape?"

"Look, I'll tell you everything you want to know, but first, I need something from you. It's round, about yea big, a bunch of little gears and wheels and things. It's a lot harder to describe than I thought."

"The Ascendant."

"Yeah. You know it. Where is it?"

"Why would I give you the key to my son's prison?"

"Because I'll say please?"

"Do you have any idea what it feels like to come home and find 4 of your children dead, another one impaled, two running for their lives? Do you think that image has ever left my mind?" Joshua turned around and walked into the dining room.

"I can't imagine it ever will. The image of my mother lying dead on the couch when I came home has never left mine." Buffy said.

"Look, we don't want to let Kai out. We want to get our friend out and leave Kai there because he's nuts." Damon said.

"You don't know the half of it."

"I've met him. Pretty sure I know the whole of it."

"We locked him there to protect my family."

"Yeah, we've met Jo."

"Jo…. She's Kai's twin. And she's in the most danger from Kai. You see, in our coven twins merge their strength after their 22nd birthday. The stronger one wins, absorbing their twin's power, and that twin becomes the leader of our coven."

"So when you say merge, you don't actually mean merge, do you?"

"That's exactly what I mean. If Kai gets out, he'll head straight for Jo. His ability to siphon magic will overwhelm Jo, and she will die, and our coven will be left to the whims of a madman."

"Which is now moot thanks to Blond and Blonder, thank goodness. Look. Let's talk about this Ascendant."

"I won't let him out, Damon."

"All right. I wasn't gonna say anything because you're his dad and all, but if he gets out, I'll just kill him. It's that simple."

"I've watched Jo her whole life. She's done well on her own, survived war, become a doctor, but if Jo merges with Kai, she will cease to exist. Kai won't just be our coven's problem. He'll be everyone's problem." Joshua dropped a locket into a bowl he'd been preparing. "Phesmatos incendere ad pulvox."

"What the hell are you doing?" Buffy asked.

"If Kai has access to an Ascendant and is sharing his prison with the Bennett witch, he will eventually find his way out. At least, this will keep him from merging."

"You're going to kill your own daughter?"

"The coven comes before family."

"Nothing comes before family!"

Suddenly Stefan rushed into the house, holding a knife against Joshua's throat. Joshua held up his hand and Stefan fell to the ground in pain. He clapped his hands loudly and disappeared from the house. "Well, I guess the, uh, disappearing act's their shtick." Stefan said as Damon helped him to his feet.

"Yeah. Hey. Anybody hear from Jo?" Damon asked.

Buffy walked over and blew out the candles. She rushed into the kitchen and got a glass of water to dump on the melting metal of the locket in the bowl. Alaric walked in just as she crushed the bowl with her hands.

"Jo?" Buffy asked.

"Elena said she healed her with her blood." Alaric said.

"Good. Let's go home."

"All right." Damon said as they walked back to the car. "So let's just get this straight. We drove cross country in a rental car just so we could come out here, have a useless talk with papa Kai, who by the way can disappear into thin air…. Poof…. only to find Jo's rusty knife full of magic."

"And we learned that the Ascendant, i.e. the only reason we flew our asses out here in the first place, is actually with Jo at Whitmore, 5 minutes from where we started. Great." Stefan added.

"Jo said she kept it with her to ensure that Kai would never be released." Alaric said.

"Genius. Great." Damon said. "Then we go home." He looked at Buffy. "You and I are riding in the back. Come on."

"Guys, hey. We can't do this, ok? We need to find another way, and one that doesn't end up with my girlfriend dead."

"Girlfriend? You've been on, like, 3 dates."

"Nice, Damon." Stefan said.

"What? I'm just saying he barely knows her, and her literal evil twin is over there with Bonnie right now."

"Guys, I will do what I can to help, but we're not letting her brother out, all right?" Alaric said. "The Ascendant is off the table."

Damon walked over to Alaric. "Ok….""Damon, really?" Buffy asked.

He shrugged and caught Alaric's gaze. "Get the Ascendant from Jo. Do whatever you got to do to get it, you understand?"

"I understand."

"What are you doing?" Stefan asked.

"What? You got a better idea?"

Stefan didn't say anything. He just got into the passenger's seat and shut the door. Damon grabbed his bag and got into the backseat. Buffy sighed and got in behind him. He gave her a grin and she just shook her head at him.

Buffy and Damon sat on the couch in front of the fire back at their apartment in Whitemore. Damon had his arm wrapped around Buffy's shoulders as she was curled into his side. There was a knock on the door and a moment later, Elena walked in.

"Hey." Buffy said.

"How was your trip?" Elena asked.

"It was…. Interesting. Esther is taken care of, but Mikael is still out there. Lucky for us, the white oak stake is back home in the safe thanks to Willow."

"I meant your trip to Portland."

"Well, as you know it was a bit of a bust."

"You should have brought me with you. Well, first, you should have told me that Bonnie was alive, and then you should have brought me with you."

"Rick had more frequent flyer miles." Damon said.

Buffy waved him away. "Elena, I couldn't bring you with me because I already had too much on my plate. But we're back on the right track to getting Bonnie back."

Elena sighed and looked at Damon. "So you and Bonnie spent the last 4 months together?"

"Yeah." Damon said."What did you do?"

"Bicker, mostly. Cooked, ate…. We went through a Tetris phase, but I beat it, and she got mad. We talked. A lot. Apparently there are a lot of words in the English language, and Bonnie knows just about all of them."

"Yep. I know this is gonna sound pretty strange, but I'm really happy that the two of you had each other."

"She sacrificed herself so I could come back. Hmm…. Wow. Because when she wasn't talking, she was listening. She listened for hours and hours and hours, so when the opportunity presented itself for me to come back, she made sure I took it."

"What did you talk about?"

Damon looked down at Buffy. "What do you think?" Elena nodded and smiled slightly.

"So, how's it going with…. Liam?" Buffy asked.

"I broke up with Liam." Elena said.

"What went wrong?"

Elena sighed deeply. "I'm still in love with Stefan. And as mad as I am at him for everything he's done in the last five months…. I'm at a crossroads right now where I could go live my life the way I think I probably should and be successful and safe and probably very happy. Or I could risk all that for these feelings I've had for Stefan since the moment I laid eyes on him. I love him and we've hurt each other a lot, but I just can't shake what I feel for him."

"It makes sense. I think you need to talk to your best friend about it."

"Bonnie?"

Buffy nodded. "We've got a plan to bring her back."

Elena smiled brightly and was suddenly laying on top of Damon and Buffy, hugging them tightly.

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