The Next Chapter

Chapter 120

Chapter 120

Caroline walked into the room where Buffy was setting up the cake table. She was on the phone with her mother again. "Mom, I'm not calling to check up on you, ok? I'm just about to start making Bonnie's birthday cake and want to make sure that your recipe called for 3 eggs instead of 4, right?" Buffy looked down at the cake that was already made. "All right. I'm just a phone call away in case you need any…. Bye."

"Caroline, I know you want to control the uncontrollable situation, but you're going to drive your mother over the edge with the hovering." Buffy said.

"I'm not hovering."

"Says the girl who just called her mom for the third time in an hour."

Caroline joined Buffy at the table and let out a gasp when she saw Miss Cuddles. "Is it just me, or do her eyes follow you around the room?"

"It's definitely you."

"I haven't seen Miss Cuddles in 12 years."

"You know that's the bear Bonnie sent back from 1994, right? Damon said she was really excited about it. I guess she lost the original."

"No. She didn't lose her. I took her. Yeah. When Bonnie and I were little, we got in this huge fight, so to get back at her, I bearnapped Miss Cuddles, and then I didn't want my mom to come home and find out, so then I buried her in the woods. I even left some M&M's to mark the spot where I left her, but something must have eaten them."

"Well, I'm pretty sure that Bonnie is over it by now."

"Miss Cuddles isn't. She's out there all alone like Bonnie. You know what? I'm gonna go find her."

"I'm sorry…. You're gonna what?"

"Yeah. It's Bonnie's birthday."

"Time out. Caroline, you've been going through a lot. Do you think that maybe you're just a little confused about what you're actually upset about?"

"Yes, probably, but my mom's dying, and my best friend is stuck in an alternate universe, and her bear is in a hole in the woods, and there's only one of those things that I can do anything about."

Caroline started to leave, but Stefan and Elena walked in together. "Where are you going?" Elena asked.

"To find Miss Cuddles."

"She's right there." Stefan said.

"The real Miss Cuddles. The one that belongs to this day and age."

"You're going to traipse through the woods to find a bear you buried ages ago?" Elena asked.

"Yes." Caroline headed for the door.

Buffy waved at Stefan and Elena. "Go with her, please. Make sure she doesn't completely lose it out there."

"Got it." Elena took her coat from Stefan and they headed out after Caroline.

Buffy headed into the kitchen and began arranging the cupcakes again. She decided against mixing the flavors together and started organizing them so each flavor was together. Caroline wasn't the only one that was upset and fidgety. She heard Damon come in behind her a few minutes later and she tried not to sigh. She was still upset with him for what he'd done with Kai. It had killed Luke and it had almost killed Liz.

"It looks good." Damon said, standing behind her. "I like the color coordination." He put his arms around her and rested his hands on the counter.

"Thank you." Buffy said.

"Do you think we can sneak one before the party?"

"Caroline might kill us."

"It might be worth the risk." He kissed her shoulder, but she didn't give him the usual reaction of leaning back into him. He sighed. "Buffy, how many times do I have to say I'm sorry?"

"You don't need to say it anymore because I know you are." Buffy turned around, but Damon didn't move his arms. She was trapped.

"Then why the cold shoulder?"

"I'm not giving you the cold shoulder, I'm just…. I'm still upset. Kai is on the loose and he's powerful."

"Because of me."

"Yes."

"I was just trying to help."

"I know."

"Willow wasn't here to do the voodoo and I didn't want to see Liz go out that way."

"I know. I didn't either." She sighed. "Look, maybe it's taking me so long to not be upset about this is because it's gotten mixed in with all of the upset that I was already feeling. Everything with Liz…. It's really digging up things that I thought I'd buried a long time ago."

Damon wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. "I'm sorry. I'm such an insensitive jerk and I still have no idea why you married me."

Buffy laughed against his chest. "Because despite your jerkiness, I love you and I don't want anyone else."

He leaned down and kissed her, lifting her up to sit her on the counter. Reaching over, he grabbed one of the cupcakes and unwrapped it. "Here," He held it up to her and she took a bite, closing her eyes at how good it tasted. Damon took a bite himself and then smiled at her. She had a bit of frosting on the side of her mouth.

"What?"

"You've got a little…." Damon leaned in a licked the frosting off before kissing her deeply, stepping between her legs and sliding her to the edge of the counter.

"Damon…." She breathed, pressing against him.

"Hello?" A very unwelcome voice called from the hallway.

Buffy and Damon froze. "No." She growled. "Just…. No. Why would he…."

"He didn't. He's all merged, he's packed, and he's on his way to Portland!"

"Woo!" Kai appeared in the doorway. "I forgot how massive this house was." He gasped. "Oh yum! Cupcakes! Sorry am I interrupting something?"

"What are you doing here?"

"Funniest thing…." Kai pointed at Buffy. "I need your help."

Damon stepped back and Buffy slid off the counter. "No." She said.

"Please?"

"It must be nice in your world where you can kill people and destroy lives and think that because we had a chat while you were torturing me that we're buddy buddy enough for you to ask favors of me."

"But this is a good thing. I promise." Kai took a cupcake. "You're gonna like it."

"What?" Damon snapped.

"I need you to deliver a letter to Jo."

Buffy and Damon exchanged looks as Kai went to sit on the kitchen table. "I'm sorry, what?" Buffy asked.

"I need you…."

"No. I heard that part. Why would we give your letter to Jo?"

"I haven't been able to find her using a locater spell. And, you know, good on her cause under normal circumstances I'd be super jazzed to gouge out her belly button."

"I'm going back to: why would I help you?"

"Well, cause if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a sociopath. I know, shocker. I like being a sociopath, you know? I'm not burdened by things like guilt or love. So then this merge happened with my brother Luke and I won…. Which is great…. Because I absorbed his ability to do magic…. But now I can't stop thinking about how he died. How Liv's life is just ruined. And for some horrible reason I can't shake how badly I feel about it."

"Let me get this straight. You feel bad?"

"Yeah. So when I absorbed Luke's magic I must've gotten some of his qualities or something. Like empathy. So I Googled 'how to process emotional pain' and they said if you write everything down in a letter and burn it, you'll be healed. So I started writing and this water literally started pooling in my eyes…. Does that ever happen to you? Like, water's just oozing out of my eyeballs like…. Like I'm some alien creature excreting fluids."

"That's called crying. You cried."

"Yes! And after that was done, I burned the letter, but the feelings…. Whoop…. They're still there. So I really feel strongly that Jo needs to know how sorry I am for destroying our family. But let's face it guys, all right, I mean Buffy…. You of all people should be willing to look past all the questionable things I've done to see that there's…. There's good somewhere in me. You did it with Damon."

"Ok, I think we're done here." Damon said, moving to pull Buffy out of the kitchen.

"Actually…." Buffy leveled her gaze at Kai. "There's something you can do for us…. In exchange for giving Jo your letter."

"Good! Yes! What? I'm in! Whatever it is."

"Bonnie."

Kai blinked. "Ok. What about her?"

"We want her back."

"Well…. Um…. I destroyed the Ascendant. Another thing to feel bad about. Thanks."

"Actually, Elena and I have been working on that." Buffy turned and headed out of the kitchen with Damon just behind her. Kai jumped up and followed them to the dining room. Buffy grabbed a box from one of the bookshelves and took the Ascendant out.

Kai took it and began to inspect it. "Sad attempt at iron welding."

"We at least tried to fix it. I never said it was going to perfect."

Kai opened it and a couple of parts fell off. "I can't bring Bonnie back with this."

"And here I was thinking you were the all powerful leader of the Gemini coven now."

"I destroyed this so that it couldn't be used again."

"Well, can we use that hunk of junk to send a message?" Damon asked.

"This?" Kai held up the sad looking Ascendant.

"It is her birthday."

"It is?"

"Yeah. It's really sad. I mean, poor Bon Bon, getting all dressed up for a party that no one's even going to show up to. I wonder if she even knows that it is her birthday or do all the days just blend into one vast sea of misery…. I wonder…."

Kai took a moment and then looked back at the Ascendant. "One of the crowned wheels survived. That's a positive. Plus I am mega-powerful."

"Yeah."

"What do you want to say?"

"Well, I mean, Bonnie needs magic to get out. We just need to tell her where to find some."

"Ok." Kai clapped his hands excitedly. "I need a space to work and you two need to figure out where there's magic in 1994."

Buffy shook her head as she walked back into the dining room. Kai had spread out on the pool table and was working on the Ascendant. Damon was at the drink cart behind him pouring some bourbon for himself. "Apparently Caroline is officially having a bit of a break down in the woods. I'm glad Stefan and Elena are with her."

"What's wrong?" Damon asked.

"She decided earlier that she needs to find the Miss Cuddles of this world and she's having trouble locating the spot where she buried her in the woods."

"What will finding Miss Cuddles solve?"

"Nothing. Did you miss the part where she's having a break down? She's about due for it, really."

"Did you tell them what we're doing?"

"Nope. Caroline needs support. I'll let Elena and Stefan handle it for right now." Buffy put her phone back in her pocket. "Ok, so we know that Jo stored her magic in a hunting knife. Bonnie sent hers over with Miss Cuddles. What are we not thinking of?"

"I'll give you a hint. Scorned lover."

"Katherine?"

"Older."

"Silas."

"Hotter."

Buffy grinned. "Well, I just can't think of anyone hotter than Silas."

"Ew."

She laughed and leaned against the doorframe as Damon walked over to her. "Hmm…. Tessa."

Damon pointed at her. "Yes! Her blood is on Silas' headstone. It's filled with magic. So in Bonnie-land that means on an island off Nova Scotia is a big magical battery waiting to be tapped. We just need to remind Bonnie of that."

"What reminded you?"

"I was just gonna plan a trip there. Change of scenery, you know. There's only so much you can take of Mystic Falls on repeat. But then I changed my mind and went to Sunnydale."

"Oh thank god!" Kai cried. "You two? Together? Still totally revolting to me! Finally a familiar feeling. Luke didn't take me over completely."

Jeremy walked into the room behind Buffy. "What the hell is he doing here?"

Kai looked up at him with a grin. "Hi."

Buffy turned to Jeremy. "Kai is helping us."

"Kai doesn't help. He just destroys."

"Well, yes, but he's…. changed."

"People don't just change like that."

"People usually don't merge with their siblings either." Damon said.

"Uh, for the record, I would've been fine with any of Luke's qualities." Kai said. "You know, the hair…. The whole gay thing…. You know, maybe not the height, actually."

Jeremy looked at Buffy. "You seriously buy this?"

"I'm not saying that we have to like him…. I hate him, actually…. But if there's a way to tell Bonnie how she can get out of that place…."

"We should trust a guy that changed personalities overnight?"

"Think of it like…." Kai glanced at Buffy. "Her in reverse. You know, she was this beacon for all that was good. A Vampire Slayer. Then she met Lexi and Lexi brought her here and she met Damon and slowly slipped into his world of…." He stopped to think of the right term. "Terrible horribleness," He said with a bright smile before shrugging. "She stopped caring about right and wrong and then she became an undead blood vacuum."

Buffy shook her head. "That's not what happened."

"Hmm…. I'm sure I missed a detail or two, but I'm just paraphrasing what Damon told me in the prison world."

"Speaking of, there's a witch over there we'd like to save, so why don't you get your Gemini jumper cables and fix that thing?" Damon snapped.

Kai shrugged. "Ok." Buffy's phone began ringing and she pulled it out. She turned and walked away suddenly. Kai looked at Damon. "Does she have a secret lover?"

"Of course not." Damon snapped. He looked at Jeremy. "Keep an eye on him."

Buffy was standing in the library talking on the phone when he found her a few minutes later. "I'm glad you're ok." She was saying.

"I am too." Rebekah said with her new voice.

"I'm sorry I haven't been there to help."

"You've got a life of your own to live. I wouldn't expect you to leave it to be with this…. Insane family."

"You're not that bad, really. To be honest, Jeremy is about done with high school. Elena doesn't need any help. Damon and I are getting antsy to try and start our lives again."

"You do seem to get interrupted at every turn."

"You're not lying." Buffy sighed. "How is Elijah doing?"

"I'm not sure. Nik is going to call him soon so we can all talk. I thought I should warn you as well…. My sister is back."

Buffy had to think a moment. "Freya? The one that's supposed to be dead? Boy, your family has never learned the definition of dead."

"Neither have you."

"Touché."

"If she's alive, does that mean your psycho aunt who took her is too?"

"I don't know."

"That's probably something you need to find out. And soon. If she goes after Hope…."

"I know."

"So what does your sister want?"

"I don't know that either. She said she would be paying a visit to my brothers soon. She's powerful, though."

"I'm starting to think that maybe I shouldn't have left."

"I'm starting to think that maybe we should tell Willow about Hope."

"That is the absolute last resort." Klaus said in the background. "Too many people know about her already."

"Willow is certainly more powerful than Finn and she's probably more powerful than Freya. If we need her…."

"Then I will contact Buffy myself and give her permission. Until then, Hope stays a secret."

Jeremy walked in behind Buffy and Damon. "Hey, the freak says he's got it."

Buffy turned to look at him. "We're coming. Rebekah, I've got to go. Keep me updated on everything?"

"Of course." Rebekah said.

Buffy said her goodbyes and hung up. "Did you hear all of that?" She asked Damon.

"I heard enough." Damon said.

"If we need to…."

"Then we'll go help." He smiled slightly. "In the few years that I've known you, I've become such a sap. You've got me willing to jump in to help the baby of a guy I hated not that long ago."

Buffy shook her head and placed her hands on either side of his face, rubbing his cheeks with her thumbs. "I don't think you're a sap. You're still the same Damon I fell in love with. I saw past that guy you pretended to be and right to the guy you really are. And slowly, you've realized that it's ok for everyone else to see him, too." She lifted up on tiptoe and kissed him gently. "Come on, let's go save Bonnie."

"Ugh, finally. You two done making out?" Kai said as Buffy and Damon walked back in. Damon blew Kai a kiss and wrapped an arm around Buffy's waist. Kai made a face and shook his head. "Ew. So I can't send us back physically, but I can probably send a part of us back."

"Probably?" Buffy asked.

"You remember that movie 'Ghost'? Ok. Well, Bonnie's gonna be Demi Moore because she's the alive one obviously, and, uh, we'll all be a collective Patrick Swayze, the ghost. By the way, how much does that suck about Patrick Swayze?"

"Will she be able to us or not?"

"I don't know. I've never done this before. So let's all just take a deep breath, right, close our eyes, and…." Everyone closed their eyes as Kai began to chant.

A wind kicked up and then suddenly died. "What happened to the pool table?"

"Bonnie?" Jeremy said as Bonnie walked into the room and sat down at the dining room table. "Bonnie! She can't hear me."

Damon ran his hand through the glasses on the drink car. "And we can't touch anything either. Nice spell, Kai." In front of Bonnie on the table were pictures from a Polaroid that she and Damon had taken. There were some drawings of Buffy that she'd taken down off the walls. Damon walked up behind her and watched her pour herself a glass of bourbon. "No."

"What?" Buffy asked.

"That bottle of bourbon is the oldest one in the house. We made a pact if we couldn't take being trapped here alone for one more day we'd…. We'd kill that entire bottle. Then we'd kill ourselves."

Buffy, Damon, and Jeremy gasped and opened their eyes. They were laying on the floor of their present day house. "What happened?" Buffy asked. "Why are we back?"

"I don't know." Kai said. "Spell must require too much magic. I lost my connection."

"Then reconnect." Damon snapped.

"It's not that easy." Kai pointed to his bleeding nose. "You see this blood? I'm guessing that's not a good sign."

"Bonnie is going to kill herself?" Buffy asked.

"Can she do that?" Jeremy asked. "Can she die in the prison world?"

"I couldn't." Kai said. "Of course, it was my own personal solitary confinement. Didn't want me to end my sentence early by killing myself. Ooh! I tried every method in the book. Heh…. I drove down to D.C. because there was this museum that has an actual guillotine…."

"We get it. For whoever's not lucky enough to be you, dead means dead."

"We have to send her a message somehow." Buffy said.

"How? She couldn't hear us."

"The message is already there in the atlas." Damon said. "I scribbled some notes on Nova Scotia. We just have to get her to see it."

"How do we open an atlas we can't touch?" Buffy asked.

"We need to get Kai to crank up his witchy-woo, don't we, so we can make physical contact."

"All while sending the three of you back over there?" Kai asked. "Sure. Yeah. Hey. Why don't I reanimate your dead parents for a tea party while I'm at it?" He paused. "Sorry. Insensitive."

"What if you just send me back?" Jeremy asked.

"That might work. Focus all of my magic on one person. It might be enough of a boost that you could physically interact if I can hold the spell."

"And if you can't?" Buffy asked.

"The magic overwhelms me, and I can't pull Jeremy out. He'll be stuck over there for eternity."

"Don't." Jeremy said before Buffy could say anything to him. "Don't say anything. If I can get through to her, we save Bonnie's life. If not…. At least I'll be with her when she dies."

Buffy looked over at Damon. She would've done the same thing for him. "Fine. But Kai…. If he doesn't come back, I'm making your life a living hell."

"Here's hoping he comes back." Kai said, laughing nervously.

Damon sighed and walked out of the room. Buffy waited a moment as Kai started the spell and then turned to go after Damon. He was standing in their room at the window looking out over the gardens. "You never told me that you and Bonnie had a death pact."

"It was my idea. I thought of it after we watched 'The Bodyguard' for the billionth time." Buffy wrapped her arms around his waist, laying her head on his shoulder blade. "I never thought she'd go through with it." He reached over and picked up the bottle of bourbon that was older in this time than it was in Bonnie's. Apparently he'd gone down to the cellar and gotten it before coming up here. "Our suicide bourbon. Bonnie and I made a pact we'd drink this together. That's what I'm gonna do." He popped it open and took a long sip.

Buffy took the bottle from him and held it out. "To you, Bonnie." She took a long drink herself and gave a little shudder. "Whew, that's strong."

Damon chuckled. "It's old and never been opened."

"This might actually get me drunk."

He took the bottle back. "You're not going to drink the whole thing."

"I'm not going to need to."

"Then we'll get drunk together."

Suddenly downstairs, Jeremy yelled, "No! What are you doing?" The smell of blood hit Buffy and Damon. They exchanged glances and rushed to the door only to hit a barrier.

"What the…." Buffy smashed her fist against the barrier to no avail.

There was a loud crash downstairs followed by Kai saying, "Dang, sis. That was harsh."

"Shut up!" Liv yelled. Kai started to yell in pain. Liv started to chant, but she let out a yelp.

Kai started to laugh. "It's all coming back to me, Livvie poo. You know, the charge….

"Stop it, Kai!"

"That races through your bones…."

"Stop it!"

"At the prospect of watching someone burn to death? I really missed that feeling."

"Just kill me, Kai. You already killed my best friend. So just do it. Get it over with."

"Oh good, a witch with a death wish." Buffy groaned.

"Why can't I do this? I don't care about you." Kai said. "Why can't I kill you? Come on. Kai, do it. Do it. Come on! Kill her!"

Liv said something in Latin and Kai groaned loudly. "What the hell is happening?" Damon asked.

"Apparently Liv is trying to kill Kai."

"Jeremy! Jeremy!" Damon yelled.

"Shh…." Buffy said.

"Kai! Get out here!" Liv yelled.

"She's right below us." Damon said.

"You can't hide from me!"

Damon walked over to the fireplace and began kicking the back wall. "What are you doing?" Buffy demanded.

He grabbed the bottle of old bourbon. "I said I was saving this for something special." He dropped the bottle down the fireplace and listened as it exploded below them. The sound of a body hitting the floor made Buffy turn to the doorway. The boundary spell was down. She and Damon rushed down to try and find Jeremy and Kai. Liv was unconscious on the library floor. They finally found a bloody and unconscious Kai on the kitchen floor across from an unconscious Jeremy.

"Jeremy. Wake up." Buffy said, going to Jeremy.

Damon went to Kai and slapped hit cheeks. "Kai, hey! Damn it!" He bit into his wrist and fed Kai some of his blood. Kai woke up and with him Jeremy opened his eyes.

"I'm ok." Jeremy said.

"Bonnie, is she…." Buffy asked.

"I saw her. Sh-she's gonna be ok."

Buffy and Damon both breathed a sigh of relief.

Buffy stared at the cake sitting on the table. It had been nearly destroyed in the fight between Liv and Kai. Tyler had come and taken Liv away after Damon had healed her. Kai had actually felt bad for everything that had happened. He'd actually offered to help clean up, but Buffy had kicked him out. It was dark outside now. Stefan and Elena had taken Caroline home.

"I don't think Bonnie would want us to let cake go to waste." Jeremy said, walking up next to her.

"I might be able to salvage a piece if you're interested. I'll just have to pick out the shards of glass and wood…. And then find a blood free slice." Buffy said.

"You know, I get it. I get what she was going through, why she would want to end it, feeling trapped and alone. Every day is the same…. disappointment, misery. You go to sleep and wake up and do it all over again? But she's not the only one that's trapped."

"Jeremy, I know what you've been going through."

"Don't tell me I've got to be strong."

"God no. I get tired of hearing that, too. Actually, I was gonna say 'it's ok to move on'. Bonnie decided to save herself and from what you told me I think she wants you to do the same. Go to art school. Damon and I will help you. Just…. Find the life that you want and be happy."

"What about you?"

"Don't even worry about me. Once you find your happy ending, Damon and I will finally find our way in this thing called marriage, so when you come home for your first summer break we'll be the vampire versions of Ricky and Lucy. You just get out of here…. And don't look back."

"Thank you, Buffy." Jeremy said, giving her a tight hug before heading into the kitchen to dig his application out of the trash.

"So Jer's applying to art school." Damon said behind her from the dining room. He was leaning against the pool table. "Hmm. Might want to compel him a decent portfolio because he ain't that great."

"Don't be mean. He needs to move on with his life."

"So do we." Buffy walked up to Damon and he set his drink down. "You think we'll get to once baby Gilbert goes off to art school?"

"I think I really hope so." She lifted up onto her toes and kissed Damon. A frantic knock on the door interrupted them. Buffy used her super-vamp speed to be at the door between one heartbeat and the next. "Cami?!"

"I'm sorry." Cami said, holding Hope in her arms. "Elijah and Klaus said that if anything ever happened, I was to come to you. Klaus gave me your address."

"Come in." Buffy looked around the yard to make sure there was no one unwanted there before shutting and locking the door.

"What's going on?" Damon asked."I don't know." Cami handed Hope to Buffy and Damon led her over to the couch, handing her his drink. "Hope and I went shopping for some groceries and when we pulled up to the house, the car stopped…. I think Hope did it…. And then the house blew up."

"Wait…. You think Hope stopped the car?" Buffy asked, looking down at the beautiful little baby in her arms.

"I don't know. I just…. Everything in the car died and then the house blew up and it came back on. I know it sounds crazy…."

"Trust me, it's not the craziest thing we've ever heard." Damon said.

"Was Elijah in the house?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know." Cami said. "He's not answering."

"Klaus?"

"I left him a message."

Buffy nodded. "You look like you're about to fall over."

"I am. I drove straight here. I didn't stop."

"Ok. Damon, can you take her up to the guest bedroom? Get some sleep, Cami. I'll keep trying Klaus and Elijah."

"Are you ok with her?"

"Of course." Buffy smiled at Hope and Hope made a happy giggling sound. "Hope and I are great friends. Aren't we?"

"Thank you." Cami followed Damon upstairs.

Buffy bounced Hope lightly, cooing at her. "Let's call your daddy and see what's going on." She reached behind her and fished out her cell phone. Klaus's phone went to voicemail. "Klaus, I'm holding a beautiful little girl who's found her way to my door all the way from Arkansas. Call me back. I need to know what's going on." She called Elijah next, but his went straight to voicemail. If he'd been in the house when it exploded, then his phone would definitely not be working.

Damon came back into the living room. "She's out. Did anyone answer?"

"No. No one."

He sighed. "What are we going to do with a baby and a New Orleans refugee?"

"Well, take care of them until someone gets back with us."

"Do we tell Willow? Get her to cloak Hope? Obviously someone found her and tried to hurt her."

"Klaus doesn't want anyone else to know. Maybe we could tell her that Cami is Hope's family and they both need to be cloaked."

"Shh…." Buffy said.

A moment later, Jeremy walked in. "Buffy, I need…." He stopped when he saw Buffy holding a baby and Damon with an arm wrapped around Buffy's waist. They looked like a couple of doting parents and it was a look that threw Jeremy for a loop. "What…. Did I miss?"

"Oh…. She's not ours."

"Yeah, I didn't think so. Who is she?"

"She's…. our friend Cami's…. niece." Damon said. "Cami just got here from Arkansas. She's upstairs sleeping."

"We volunteered to watch Hope so she can get some rest." Buffy said.

Jeremy gave them a slow blink. "You two with a baby? Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Hey!" Buffy and Damon protested. Hope let out a loud laugh and Jeremy came over to get a better look.

"She's cute." He said, letting Hope grab his finger. "How long is she staying?"

"Not sure." Buffy said. "We weren't expecting Cami." She hugged Hope to her. "I hope for a little while at least, though."

"Have I met Cami?"

"No." Damon said. "She's from out of town."

"I didn't know you guys knew anyone from Arkansas."

"She's not from Arkansas." Buffy said. "She was just staying there for a while."

"Because of her job." Damon added.

"Ok." Jeremy said.

"So, what did you need?" Buffy asked.

"Huh?"

"You came in here saying, 'Buffy, I need….' but you didn't finish."

"Oh, I need my transcripts to send to the school."

"Ok. We'll get those from your principal when we talk to him about letting you graduate early."

"Thanks. See you later, kid." He wiggled his fingers at Hope and she grinned at him as he walked away, heading upstairs.

Damon looked down at Buffy. "If Hope is going to stay here for any length of time, we need baby stuff."

"Do we have any baby stuff in the attic?" Buffy asked.

He shrugged. "Let's go find out."

Thirty minutes later, Damon had dug out a bassinet and some old toys. He was still looking for a baby blanket and the sheets to go with the bassinet. Buffy was sitting in an old rocking chair, rocking a now sleeping Hope in her arms. Her cell phone began to vibrate and she pulled it out of her pocket.

"Klaus! Finally!" She answered."How did Hope come to be with you?" He asked.

"Cami showed up at our door with her tonight. She said your Arkansas safe house blew up in front of her. Have you talked to Elijah?"

"Not yet."

"Cami thinks he was in the house when it blew. What's going on, Klaus?"

"Finn knows about Hope. He went after her."

"How did he find her?"

"He was channeling my parents which gave him massive amounts of power. He broke through the wards and cloaks on the house and Hope."

Buffy took a deep breath and looked down at the sleeping baby in her arms. "What do you want to do, here, Klaus?"

Klaus was silent for a long moment. "I can't bring her home. Not yet. Hayley is marrying Jackson soon and when she does, we'll have an army to protect Hope."

"What do you mean?"

"It's a werewolf thing. Two alphas get married and anyone in their pack gains their power. Hayley is offering her powers as a hybrid to turn at will. There've been a great number of wolves that have pledged their loyalty to them. When they get married, then Hope can come home."

"When's the wedding?"

"Not for another few days."

Buffy nodded. "Hope is safe with Damon and I. We'll get Willow to make sure she's cloaked."

"You can't tell…."

"Willow is going to need an explanation. You can trust her, Klaus. She won't do anything to hurt Hope. You're going to tell the world in a matter of days that Hope is alive, are you not?"

"Yes."

"Then trust me when I tell you that Willow will keep Hope safe. She's your best chance at it for the next few days."

Klaus was silent again. Buffy could hear the sounds of New Orleans floating in and out as he paced from his balcony back into his room and then back to his balcony again. "Very well. Tell Willow and have her put her most powerful cloaking spell on my daughter. Send Cami home. I'll call you with updates and when to deliver Hope home."

"Klaus."

"Yes, Buffy?"

"You know Hope is safe with me, right?"

"It's the reason we told Cami to come to you and only you if anything was to go wrong." Klaus hung up and Buffy set her phone down on the box next to her.

"So, Hope is staying with us for a little while." Damon said. Buffy nodded, smiling slightly down at Hope in her arms. He smiled at the sight of his wife with a baby. "Cool."

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