The Next Chapter

Chapter 119

Chapter 119

Buffy stood in the doorway of her guest bedroom glaring at a comatose Kai lying prone on the guest bed. He was attached to fluids and a steady drip of pentobarbital to keep him knocked out. They'd brought him to Buffy and Damon's Whitmore house to keep him out of the way. Willow and Alaric had gone off on a trip to find a mystical something or other to help boost Jo's powers. Tara had stayed behind to help coach Jo with Liv.

Downstairs, the front door opened and Damon called, "Babe?"

Buffy turned away and walked down the stairs. "Hey."

"Got us lunch. Liquid and actual food. Is he still counting sheep or whatever the hell psychopaths dream of?"

"Yeah. I really hate that they left us to baby-sit Kai and they expect us to not smother him with a pillow."

"Well, it means that we get to be left alone." He headed into the kitchen. "So, if you're free tonight I know this little Italian joint that has eggplant so good you actually think you're eating people." Damon set the food down on the counter. He turned to Buffy and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close. "I'm thinking maybe after that, go the Arthouse Theater. They're playing some pretentious French flick."

"I suck at French."

"Well, not to see the movie, silly. To hide in the back and throw popcorn at the hipsters."

Buffy laughed. "That sounds like it could be fun. Count me in. I'm going to Caroline's in a little bit to help Liz with whatever she needs help with. Pick me up about six?"

Before Damon could answer, his phone started ringing. He sighed and pulled it out of his pocket. "What?"

"Can you and Buffy meet us at Whitmore hospital?" Stefan asked.

"What's going on?"

"We've got a problem."

"When don't we? Fine. We're on our way." Damon hung up. "We're needed at the hospital."

"We don't get to eat?" Buffy asked.

"Thank god for to-go cups full of some yummy B pos." Damon handed her one of the cups and they headed out the door, locking up behind them.

Stefan met them outside. "What's going on?" Buffy asked as they headed into the hospital.

"Caroline went to Duke to see about a man that has the same cancer as her mom. His name is Colin. She wanted to talk to his doctors about their findings and show them her mom's charts." Stefan said.

"Is it good news?"

"No. She fed Colin some of her blood and he seemed to be doing fine until he showed up on her doorstep this morning."

"Why didn't she compel him to forget?" Damon asked.

"She did. He showed up as a vampire."

Jo and Elena were in there waiting in a darkened room. They were staring at an X-ray on the board. "I had Duke send over Colin's medical records. This head scan is from earlier this week." Jo said before placing another scan on the board. "This one was taken right here ten minutes ago. See all that red?"

"Well, I'm no doctor but that guy is screwed." Damon said.

"So the blood didn't heal him, it sped up his cancer and killed him." Stefan said.

"So now, I have a stage 10 cancer patient." Jo said "Which, by the way, doesn't exist. Who is beyond terminally ill and a vampire, meaning all of his emotions are heightened and he can't die."

"Hey, no offense, but could someone tell me why my wife and I were called down here to listen to the story of Colin the Cancer Vamp?" Damon asked.

"Because Caroline fed me her blood last night." Liz said from the doorway. "So the same thing is gonna happen to me." Caroline was standing behind her mother looking like she was ready to crawl under a rock.

Buffy looked at Liz and gave her a quick hug. "I'm sure Jo will figure something out."

"Let's get you to a room." Jo said, leading Caroline and Liz down the hall. Elena, who was working at the hospital that day, followed them.

As soon as they were down the hall, Buffy turned to Stefan. "What is the matter with you?"

"Did you know that Caroline was going to give her mom vampire blood?" Damon asked.

"Yeah, I was there when it healed Colin." Stefan said.

"And then you left and he died."

"Caroline had every reason to think it would work."

"But you didn't, Stefan." Buffy said. "You're 167 years old. You worked as a paramedic at hospitals…."

"So that makes me an expert in supernatural cancer-treatment?"

"No, but you're old enough to know that you should've done a little more research. Or, I don't know, waited a day."

"Because you were thinking so rationally when Damon died."

"I was rational enough to stay in bed until you gave up."

Stefan sighed and shook his head. "Buffy, her mother is terminal. You didn't see the hope in her eyes when she thought that maybe her mother didn't have to die."

"I don't have to see it, Stefan. I've been there. I know that there is no magic out there that is going to fix cancer. If there was, then my mother would still be alive."

Caroline cleared her throat from the doorway. "Um, Jo has an idea." She said.

Buffy sighed and walked over to her. "Let's take a walk. Just you and me." Caroline nodded and walked with Buffy down the hallway. "Look, I'm sorry."

"No, you're right. You've been here. You know what's coming."

"I don't. Really. There may be a miracle cure out there."

"But it's not magical. I should've listened to everyone. Willow, Tara, you, Stefan…. You all said that vampire blood doesn't cure cancer. I screwed up. Big time. Why did I feed her that blood?"

"You were trying to help."

"No, I was trying to fix something that I had no business trying to fix. It's like textbook definition of control freak from Hell."

"You're an optimist. You want to believe that anything is possible. And believe me, Caroline, that is exactly what your mom needs to hear right now." Buffy wrapped Caroline into a tight hug. "So, what is Jo's idea?"

"She, uh…. She wants to do a complete blood transfusion. Get the vampire blood out of her system."

"That's smart. That's really good."

"Can we get some coffee?"

"Are you sure you don't need something a little stronger?"

"I'm not walking around the hospital with a cup of bourbon, Buffy."

"I meant something a little more red."

"Oh. No, I'm ok right now."

"Ok. Let's go get some good coffee. Your mom is going to be getting that transfusion for a while, so we've got time to leave and get Starbucks."

Buffy and Caroline made their way back into the hospital a while later. As they headed to Liz's room to see how the transfusion was going, they heard a commotion coming from a room near them. Caroline looked over at Buffy and said, "That's Colin's room." She and Buffy rushed into the room and found Colin stabbing himself in the chest with a metal bar.

"I can't die." Colin pulled the bar from his chest and dropped it on the floor as Buffy shut the door behind her. "Why can't I die?"

"Calm down." Buffy said. "It's ok."

"It's not ok! I'm in agony. I can hear my tumors growing!"

"Ok, we'll try to help, but just please stop hurting yourself." Caroline said.

Colin tried to vamp over to Caroline and grab her, but Buffy was suddenly in front of her and blocking him. He grabbed Buffy's shoulders instead and cried, "You wanna help me? Help me die."

Buffy heard Damon come in and wasn't surprised when he appeared behind a collapsing Colin holding his heart. "Why the hell did you do that?" Caroline cried.

"He made a wish, I granted it." Damon said.

"God."

"The blood transfusion didn't work. So you didn't just kill him, Blondie."

"Damon!" Buffy snapped.

"No, it's fine." Caroline said. "You know, he's just saying what everyone else is thinking. I killed my mom." She ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Buffy looked up at her husband. "I know that you're upset about this whole thing, but Liz is Caroline's mom. You can't be that insensitive."

"I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking." Buffy wrapped herself in Damon's arms. He kissed the top of her head. "Are you ok? I know this is all hitting close to home."

"It's hard, but I'm worried about Caroline. I know the feelings she going through and they're overwhelming." She pulled back enough to look up at her husband. "So the transfusion didn't work?"

"No. It didn't even slow it down."

"I'm going to go sit with Liz."

"Elena is in there with her now."

"Ok. Would you mind going out and getting some good food for Liz? The hospital food is going to get old really quick."

"Of course." Damon leaned down and kissed her, letting his lips linger for a long moment.

Buffy watched him go and then headed to Liz's room. Elena was leaning against the wall beside the door and she gave Buffy a tight hug as soon as the blonde walked in. "Hey." Buffy said.

"What are we going to tell her?" Elena asked.

"The truth. It's really no good lying to her."

Elena shook her head. "I forgot you know firsthand what they're going through."

Buffy shrugged. "It's not exactly the same situation." Liz began to stir in her bed and Buffy and Elena walked over to stand next to her. "Hey."

"Hey." Liz said weakly.

"How are you feeling?" Elena asked.

"Like a human pin-cushion. So, what's the verdict? Did the blood-swap work?"

Buffy sighed and shook her head. "It, uh…. It didn't work. I'm so sorry, Liz."

"How's Caroline?"

"How do you think? She just took off."

"She's not gonna forgive herself for this, is she?"

"She will. I'll make sure she will. When my mom got sick, I would've done the exact same thing. I'm going to give her some time to cool off and then I'll go find her and bring her back."

"Thank you."

Buffy and Elena were sitting with Liz chatting about anything that came up and eating ice cream that Elena had brought them. It had been about an hour since Damon had left to get food. Buffy couldn't think what was taking him until he walked in the room with a very awake Kai.

"Damon, what the hell!?" Buffy asked, standing up and moving to attack Kai.

"Don't!" Damon held his hands up, stepping in front of Kai. "He's here to help."

"I do not see how he would ever be able to help anything."

"Look, he sucks up magic. That's what's wrong with Liz. Magic. He can suck it out of her."

Buffy turned her attention to Kai. "Why?"

"Didn't you say that you liked reformed psychopaths?" Kai asked. "This is just me trying to help."

"Apparently you still missed the part where I'm married."

Kai smirked at Buffy's left hand and the new rings she was wearing. "Nice rings." He walked over to the sink and started washing his hands.

"Damon…." Elena started.

"He swears this will work." Damon said.

"All right. I need a 12-gauge needle, stat. I don't know what I'm gonna do with it, but I need it."

"Stop playing games, Kai. I will rip your head off if you screw this up." Buffy snapped.

"What she said." Damon agreed. "So do your stupid little magic-suction trick and suck the magic out of her. Right now."

"I get what you two see in each other. It's very dys-FUN-ctional." Kai laughed as he dried his hands. "See what I did? Stressing the 'fun' in dysfunctional…."

"Just get on with it, Kai." Liz snapped. "Listening to you talk makes me wanna die."

"That's good." Kai put one hand on Liz's arm, the other on her cheek, and began sucking the magic from her.

"Is it working?"

"I have no idea." Elena said.

Jo walked in just then and stopped in horror. "What the hell is going on? What is he doing here?"

"Hey, sis." Kai said. "Little busy. Be with you in a jiffy."

"Buffy?" Jo asked.

"We're gonna let Damon explain." Buffy said. She wasn't happy with him pulling this little stunt. Even if it did save Liz's life. She grabbed her husband's arm and led him to the door. "Elena, keep an eye on him." Outside in the hallway, Buffy shut the door and said, "I need to go get Caroline. She needs to be here. You get to explain to Jo your completely insane idea."

"Buffy…." Damon started.

"Don't. I'm really not happy with you right now." Buffy walked away from Damon and Jo and left the hospital.

Caroline was browsing flowers in the Whitmore flower shop. Buffy had gotten Tara to do a quick locater spell. She walked up behind Caroline and the taller blonde turned around. "Good, you're here. I actually need a second opinion. I kind of like this because sunflowers are her favorite flower, but at the same time, I was also thinking maybe they're a little too over-the-top cheerful for a memorial service." She walked over to a display of roses. "So this was the second option, um, because roses are classic, right? I mean, especially in this shade of pink. Obviously, I would change out the vase, but…. Caroline looked over at Buffy. "If you're thinking of saying something to make me feel better, don't. I don't deserve to feel better."

"I wasn't going to say anything."

"Good."

"Actually, that's a lie. I was going to tell you that you have more important things to do than plan a memorial service for your mother. Who, for the record, is still alive."

"Yeah, but all of this still needs to be done, right? She's not gonna want to live out the rest of her life as a vampire in excruciating pain. So I should do something that I'm good at, instead of making everything worse. Which arrangement?"

Buffy reached out and gripped Caroline's shoulders. "You took a risk that didn't pay off, but you did it out of love. You made your mother sicker, but you're plan can't be to just go bury your head in the sand."

"I don't…. I don't know what to say to her."

"You don't have to say anything to her. Just sit with her."

"I can't. I can't even face her."

"I get it. I do. But I can tell you that if I'd known that our time together was so limited…. I would've spent as much time with my mother as possible. Every moment counts. Even the boring ones where all you do is sit in the hospital room eating gross hospital food and watching cheesy soap operas."

"What if she can't forgive me?"

"There isn't anything to forgive. She just wants you to be with her." Buffy held out her hand to Caroline and waited. After a moment, Caroline sighed and took her hand. "Good choice." As they got into Buffy's car, she looked over at Caroline. "I was also going to tell you that Damon came up with a plan to keep Liz around for a while longer."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not too happy with him about it, just so we're clear."

"What is it?""He woke Kai up and when I left, Kai was sucking the magic out of your mom."

"What?! Is he crazy?"

"Well, Jo said that it was the magic from the vampire blood speeding everything up, so he got someone who sucks magic to…."

"My mom is with a psychopath? Drive!"

They made it to the hospital in record time and ran upstairs. From Liz's room they could hear the steady noise of a flatlined heart monitor and Elena crying. Buffy and Caroline ran in. Caroline rushed to her mom's side crying, "No, no! Mom, mom! Mom, mommy! No, mom, no. Don't leave me, please. Please, no. Please don't leave me, mom."

Buffy grabbed Damon's arm. "What happened!? What did Kai do?"

"He…." Damon started.

Suddenly, Liz woke up and her heart monitor started beeping again. "Mom?" Caroline said.

"It's ok, baby, I'm right here." Liz said weakly.

"Mom!"

"Ohh, it's ok. I'm right here. I'm right here, baby. It's ok, it's ok."

Elena turned and walked out of the room. Buffy pulled Damon after her and he shut the door behind them, leaving Caroline and Liz alone together.

"I need some air or some water or something." Elena said.

"What happened in there?" Buffy asked.

"She almost died in my arms. Caroline's mom almost died in my arms." Elena shook her head. "Kai sucked the magic out and he said that her heart couldn't take it. She…. Her heart…. It failed…."

"You did good, Elena." Buffy said, hugging her tightly.

"I really need some air."

"Ok." Buffy watched Elena walk down the hall and then turned to Damon.

"I'm sorry." Damon said.

"What you did was stupid and reckless and it almost got Liz killed."

"I know. I didn't mean for that to happen."

"Seriously, Damon, you have got to start thinking these things through. You can't just release psycho killers. Where is he, anyway?"

Damon sighed and looked down. "He pulled a disappearing act and broke my neck." Suddenly he looked up. "I was with Jo when that happened. It was just after you left."

"Rick's gonna kill you if his girlfriend is dead." Buffy said, moving past Damon and down the hall. He followed her and they started asking if anyone had seen Jo. They finally found her in the park across the street. She was holding an unconscious Luke in her arms and sobbing while Kai lay a few feet away, also unconscious.

"Luke. Luke, wake up. Luke." Jo cried.

"Good. You're still alive. That's gonna save me a huge blowout with Rick when he gets back." Damon said to her. "We are definitely coming into something late."

"Luke showed up and he merged with Kai."

"Huh. So I guess adding the words 'twin merge' to my vocabulary was pointless, 'cause they ain't twins."

"Damon!" Buffy said, kneeling down next to Luke.

"He's not supposed to be here." Jo looked up at Damon. "The only reason he's here is because you let Kai out!" She looked back down at Luke and brushed his hair out of his face. "Luke. Luke, wake up. Wake up, Luke."

"What if I gave him some of my blood?" Buffy offered.

"It wouldn't help. It's up to them now. Whoever wakes up is the winner. And whoever doesn't…." Luke suddenly took a breath and opened his eyes. "Can you hear me? Can you hear me?" Luke's eyes fluttered shut and he stopped breathing. "Oh, my God. Luke. He's gone. He saved me and he's gone."

"You win some, you lose some." Kai said behind Damon. "Except for me. I always win." Damon moved toward Kai, but Kai disappeared.

Buffy sighed and stood up. "What now?"

"What do you mean?"

"He just did a merge with someone who isn't his twin and he obviously won, so what happens now?"

"I don't…." Jo shook her head. "I don't know."

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