The Next Chapter

Chapter 123

Chapter 123

Buffy opened her eyes and looked over at Damon's side of the bed. It was empty. Her cell phone ringing was what had woken her up. She turned and grabbed it, hitting the answer button. "Did you find her?" She asked.

"No." Stefan said.

"Everything at the dorm that belonged to her is gone." Elena said.

"And everything at her house is gone."

Buffy sat up and rubbed her face. "What about the cabin?"

"I should go check that." Elena said. "But none of this makes sense."

"This is coming from the girl that burned her house down when she flipped her humanity switch." Buffy said. "No offense, Elena, but Caroline is going to be smart about this."

"Do you think she's trying to cut off all the ties to her past?"

"She's not having a yard sale."

"Don't be mad at me. I didn't do this."

"Nobody said you did. This is no one's fault. It's just grief. We all choose to deal with it differently."

"Ok, I'm just going to look around campus. Maybe someone's seen her."

"I'll keep looking, too." Stefan said.

"Wait, you guys aren't together?" Buffy asked.

"We three way called you." Elena said.

"Ok. Just…. Keep me posted, ok?"

"What are you doing today?" Stefan asked.

"Dealing with Damon. Who is also missing at the moment." Buffy sighed. "Call me if you find anything out. Elena, I've sent you a present today."

"What?" Elena asked.

"You'll love it. I promise. Talk later. Bye." Buffy hung up.

Bonnie had said she was going to go see Elena when she woke up. Judging by the lack of breathing from the room Bonnie had slept in, Buffy assumed she was already gone. She listened closely and heard her husband downstairs in the kitchen talking to someone. Buffy got up and got dressed fast before heading downstairs.

Damon was standing in the kitchen talking to Kai. "Good morning, sunshine." Kai said with a grin in her direction.

"You are definitely the last person I want to see right now." Buffy said, walking over to the Keurig to start brewing some coffee for herself.

"Kai is the resident expert on prison worlds." Damon said. "So, I figured I'd ask him what he knows."

"Does he know anything?"

"I'm right here. And yes I do." Kai said.

Buffy waited for her coffee to finish before she turned around. "Ok, so is it possible that the woman on that video is my mother-in-law?"

"It's not her." Damon said.

Kai ignored Damon. "Yes, it is entirely possible that that is the other Mrs. Salvatore. Is that going to be awkward for you? Aren't mother-in-laws supposed to be a nightmare?"

"I don't know. I've never had one." Buffy turned to Damon. "Why do you suddenly think that's not your mother?"

"Because it can't be." Damon said. "That woman was young and beautiful and living in 1903. My mother died of consumption in 1858. There is no way that was her. And I'm going to prove it."

"How?"

"We're going to visit the Salvatore crypt."

Buffy looked at Kai and blinked at him. He mouthed the word "denial" at her and shrugged. She turned back to Damon. "I really have no desire to dig up your mother's grave today."

"It's ok. You can keep me company." He leaned down and kissed her before walking out.

Buffy shook her head. "Great. Everyone is losing it today. Guess I get to put off my grieving session till later. Again."

"Are you ok?" Kai asked. He was being sincere.

She turned to look at him incredulously. "Seriously?"

"Yes, seriously. I like you. And my emotions are all weird and when you said you were grieving, I felt bad for you and wanted to make sure you were ok. So, are you?"

"No. My amazing friend is dead…. Taken by cancer, by the way…. A stupid human thing I can't stop…. It dug up a lot of feelings about my own mother's death. Then Caroline has gone crazy and turned off her emotions and disappeared after I promised her mother that I would look out for her. On top of that, Bonnie is back and she's brought the revelation that my mother-in-law is probably a vampire and probably a really bad one at that and it has sent my husband over the deep end apparently because we're going on a field trip to dig up his mother's grave!" She took a deep breath. "No. No, Kai, I am not ok."

"Do you want a hug? Isn't that what I'm supposed to offer you now?"

Buffy shook her head at him and turned around, marching out of the kitchen after her husband.

Kai stood in the doorway of the mausoleum playing on his cell phone. Buffy sat off to the side, leaning back against the wall, while Damon worked on bringing his mother's coffin out of the ground. She hated to admit it, but this new Kai wasn't so bad. He liked to talk and sometimes he actually had decent things to talk about.

However, now was not one of those times.

"I can't believe Bonnie made it out." He was saying. "Actually, I can. She's plucky." Damon started pulling the nails out of the coffin. "Need some help? Before you answer that, I'd rather not. I just keep experiencing these pangs of guilt just watching you." Kai looked at Buffy. "Feelings are hard."

"So is the end of this crowbar." Damon said.

"I'm just saying. Digging up mommy's grave? That's dark, even for me. And totally unnecessary."

"I hate to agree with the little twerp," Buffy said. "But Bonnie saw your mother alive in a 1903 prison world."

Damon turned and glared at her. "My mother died of consumption in 1858. I did not go through the trouble of moving this thing into the family crypt only to find out that she's not even in here."

"Oh, so you just called me here because you needed a friend?" Kai asked. "No. You wanted to know if it was possible for her to exist in another prison world to which I responded yes to which you responded with denial."

"Whatever or whoever is on that tape was not her."

"Then who is it?"

"I don't know. A ghost? Maybe she has an evil Gemini twin?"

"Nice."

"If my mother was imprisoned in 1903, she would've been in her 70s."

"Not if she were like you."

"I know my mother! She is not a vampire! She is not in a prison world! She died of consumption in 1858." Damon threw the crowbar down and turned to the coffin.

Buffy stood up. "Ok, before you open that." She walked over to her husband and took his hands. "Damon, sweetie, can we just take a brief, slightly more sane moment to think about the possibility that your mom might actually be a vampire?" He started to protest, but she squeezed his hands hard to stop him, turning his words into a pained groan. "I mean, Mystic Falls was being run by the anti-vampire Council. Your dad, her husband, was super anti-vampire. He shot and killed you and your brother because you were helping a known vampire escape."

"Ouch!" Kai said.

Buffy shot him a withering glare and he backed up. She turned back to Damon. "Maybe your mom was run out of town because of your dad and the Council."

"She would've come back for me and Stefan."

"She couldn't. She was supposed to be dead of consumption."

"All those years, though…."

"Maybe she didn't know about you and Stefan becoming vampires. Maybe she did come back one day and saw that both of her sons had died and she didn't even think that they could've been turned, too."

Damon shook his head. "Too many maybes."

"You have to at least admit that there is a possibility that that coffin is empty."

He looked down and gripped Buffy's hands tighter. "Buffy…."

"I know." She slipped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "I know, baby." He held her for a moment before she took one of his hands and reached out to the coffin. "We'll open it together, ok?" Damon nodded and they wrapped their fingers around the lid. A moment later they pulled and the coffin opened to reveal that it was empty.

"Congratulations. Everything you know about your mom is wrong." Kai said before walking out of the crypt.

Buffy looked up at her husband's face. "Ok. So, we'll deal with this."

"How?"

"We figure out why she's there and then we go save her." She reached up and kissed him gently. "Hey, Kai!" Buffy walked out after him. He had stopped a little ways away from the crypt. "Wanna come over to our house? I'll make dinner."

Buffy paced the hallway as she talked to Stefan later that afternoon. Damon was in the living room with Kai trying to convince him to help them rescue Lily Salvatore. Stefan had called to tell Buffy that Caroline had shown up at the dorm with new clothes and sheets for her bed and she hadn't cared that Bonnie was back. She'd also told Elena and Bonnie that she had fed on Liam but didn't kill him and that she would continue to feed without killing if they agreed to give her a year of no humanity.

"So the ever in control Caroline is still walking her tight rope of control even without her humanity." Buffy shook her head.

"Until she snaps and strangles someone with it." Stefan retorted.

"You know, this no humanity thing might be good for her if she's keeping it under control."

"If she kills somebody…."

"Then we'll worry about turning her humanity back on."

"Just…. Will you do me a favor and check around Mystic Falls? See if anybody is missing."

"I'll add that to my ever growing list of things to do today."

"What's going on?"

"It's a list that is longer than me and some of it sucks beyond anything you can fathom at the moment."

"Sorry I asked. I'll call you later."

"Ok." Buffy hung up and headed back into the living room. She and Damon had decided to not tell Stefan about Lily yet. Not until they knew more.

Of course, Kai had to comment on this. "You're not telling your brother-in-law that his mother is still alive?" He said. "Hey, I get it. It's difficult to say 'Hey, your mom's in a prison world and therefore is an evil psychopath.'"

"We'll tell him." Buffy said, going over to take the glass bourbon away from Kai that he had just poured himself. "When we know the truth about her."

"Which is why you're still here." Damon said. "Your sister sent my wife and I back to 1994, so you can send us back to 1903."

"Technically, yes, I am able to do that." Kai said. "But I'll need the Ascendant for the 1903 prison world."

"Well, as the newly elected president of the Gemini Freaks, I assume you know where it is. So get it."

"It's my pleasure."

"But you want something from us." Buffy said. "Color me shocked. All right, weirdo, what do you want?"

"Well, ever since you guys told me that Bonnie was back, I, uh…. I can't stop thinking about her. About what I did…. How she is…. It's annoying, really. Look, I need to see her. I need to apologize. And you two are going to make that happen."

Buffy shrugged. "She's Damon's BFF. I think she'll at least listen."

"Good."

"She's not my BFF. You're my BFF." Damon said. "But ok, I'll call and ask her about it."

"Great. When's dinner?"

Buffy's phone started ringing. "It's Stefan again." She got up and walked out. "What's up?""Hey, uh…." Stefan said. "I know that you're busy today and I never thought I would ask this, but, uh…. Do you want to go to a rave?"

"Why would I ever want to go to a rave? I'm too old for that."

"Think about who you're saying that to."

"You're definitely too old to go to a rave."

"Caroline is throwing the rave tonight, so she'll be there. Elena and Bonnie are coming, too."

"Why are you going after Caroline?"

"We need to flip her humanity switch before she hurts someone."

"She's not going to hurt anyone. She's the queen of control."

"But for how long? She'll listen to you, Buffy. You're the only one she'll listen to."

"We shouldn't push her, Stefan. Just let her have her fun."

"You don't know what it's like to have your humanity switch turned to off. She can talk about control all she wants, but in the end, the hunger will end up controlling her and she won't care. I'm going to that rave tonight and getting Caroline back." He hung up.

Buffy groaned loudly. "Damon, I've got to go out for a little while."

Damon walked into the hallway. "What's wrong?"

"Caroline told Elena and Bonnie that she wants one year of no feelings and no interference or else she'll start killing pretty much everyone she comes in contact with. But Stefan is bound and determined to interfere."

"Of course he is. Do you want some help?"

"No. You stay here and see what Kai knows. I'll talk to Bonnie about that whole forgiveness thing. She'll be at the party Caroline's throwing."

"Well, that's not fair. You get to go to a party and I have to hang out with a psycho?"

"Trust me, I don't want to go to the party because the party is a rave. Hanging with the psycho sounds more fun than going to a rave."

"Oh, a rave?" Kai asked from the living room. "I like raves!"

Buffy pointed at him. "You're staying here with Damon. I'm going to go talk to Bonnie." She looked up at Damon. "And try to stop your brother from making Caroline do something she'll regret later." She turned to the coat closet.

"You're wearing that to a rave?" Kai shook his head in disapproval at her jeans, boots, and dark green tunic top.

"I'm not going to the rave to party." She put her leather bomber jacket on. "I'm working, not playing." Buffy pulled Damon to her by his shirt and kissed him."Good luck." He said."Love you."

"Love you more." He swatted her backside as she walked out, winking at her.

Buffy sighed as the music pumped around her. Sweaty bodies covered in neon gyrated around her. She shook her head at them and continued to look for Bonnie. A familiar blonde stepped in front of her looking.

"Please tell me you're not here to talk to me, too." Caroline said.

"Dreads, Care?" Buffy flicked one of the chunky strands near Caroline's face. "It's not your best. And no, I'm not here to talk to you. I'm here to talk to Bonnie. Have you seen her?"

"She's around here somewhere. She came in with Elena. So, you're not with them?"

"No. That's reason number two why I'm here. I'm trying to get them out of your hair."

"Why?"

"I get what it's like for you. I get why you don't want to feel any of it. My mom was taken from me by something stupid and human, too. Something I was powerless to stop. And afterwards, I had to face that same pain and anger and responsibility because I didn't have the option to stop caring like you do. You don't have a little sister to take care of. You don't have a world to keep safe or a hell god to stop. I want you to be able to feel free to live and enjoy life until you're ready to face the sucky part."

Caroline shook her head. "This better not be some ploy…."

"Ok, the world doesn't revolve around you right now, Caroline. I need to talk to Bonnie." Buffy turned away and started to walk off.

She was stopped when Caroline grabbed her arm. "Buffy…. Thanks."

"Careful, Caroline, that's gratitude and last I checked, an emotion."

Caroline rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the tip. Bonnie is somewhere that way." She pointed off towards where a large screen was hanging and showing flashing colors and random clips.

Buffy nodded. "Thanks for the tip."

Before she could walk off, Caroline said, "I meant what I said. If anyone tries to interfere with my year free of emotions, I promise that I'll make Angelus look like a cake walk."

Buffy smiled and laughed at her. "Caroline, you're not that good." She turned and headed off to find Bonnie. Finally, she spotted her looking panicked near a corner. It made sense, the girl had been tortured and then left alone for weeks. Now she was surrounded by people. The PTSD was strong with Bonnie Bennett. "You ok?"

Bonnie jumped and glared at her. "Make noise when you sneak up on people."

"You don't have to yell. I can hear you just fine. Are you ok?"

She shrugged. "If scorching some douchebag with my magic is ok, then yeah. Peachy."

Buffy nodded. "Coming back from the dead is a real bitch, yeah?"

Bonnie nodded. "Yeah. Yes, it is."

"I had trouble adjusting, too. You'll get there eventually."

"What are you doing here?"

"Couple of reasons. Not one of them is to party. I hate raves. I've got a favor to ask of you."

"What?"

"When Kai went through the merge with Luke, he kind of…. Well, he changed. Not quite Angelus to Angel changed, but he's not as murdery psycho as he used to be."

"Anyone who believes that is an idiot. Don't ever repeat that name to me again."

"You don't believe in forgive and forget, huh?"

"Are you crazy? Do you have any idea what he did to me?" Bonnie turned and stormed off.

Buffy shook her head. "I can't imagine it's anything worse than some of the stuff I've been through in my life." She pulled out her cell phone and called her husband.

"Hey babe," He answered. "Did you find Bonnie?"

"I just talked to her."

"And?"

"She really doesn't want to see him."

"Did you tell her he was a new man looking for forgiveness?"

"I used Angel and Angelus as an analogy."

"Damn it."

"I'm sorry, babe.""Don't be. We'll get her to talk to Kai."

"I don't see how."

"I'll figure something out. Just…. Keep track of Bonnie. I'll call you soon."

Damon hung up and Buffy sighed. "Great. I get to stay at the rave."

"Talking to yourself, love?"

She turned around to find Enzo standing behind her. "Never pictured you as someone who likes raves."

"Nor I you."

"Trust me, I don't want to be here."

"Then why are you here?"

"Babysitting. Caroline wants to be left alone and Stefan doesn't want to leave her alone."

"I saw that she's flipped her switch. She just hit on me in the parking lot."

Buffy laughed. "Hmm…. Maybe she has lost her mind if she's hitting on you."

"Oh, come now, love. Be nice."

"I'm not in a nice mood."

"Where's your husband?"

"Home."

"He didn't want to help you babysit?"

"Oh, he's doing some babysitting of his own."

Enzo nodded. "Would you care to dance?"

"Not a chance."

"All right. Then I'm going to go enjoy myself. Have fun with your babysitting." Enzo blew her a kiss as he walked off.

Buffy shook her head and wandered over to the bar. There was no sign of Stefan and Elena, so maybe they'd gotten the hint and left Caroline alone. She ordered two bourbons and went to find Bonnie. Eventually she found her in the bathroom hallway leaning against the wall. "Thought you could maybe use this." She handed Bonnie one of the bourbons.

"Thank you." Bonnie said.

"You're welcome. Why are you still here if it bothers you?"

"I'm here because Caroline needs us."

"Caroline will be just fine if you all leave her alone. That was the deal, wasn't it? One year and she won't kill anyone?"

"And you actually think she can do it?"

"Yes. I haven't known Caroline as long as you and Elena have, but I've known her long enough to know that once she sets her mind to something, she will get her way. I believe her when she says she won't kill anyone if she's allowed one year without her humanity." Buffy took a sip of her drink. "I'm not above keeping an eye on her, though."

Bonnie nodded. "That makes sense."

Damon walked around the corner. "Hey."

"Damon…." Buffy sighed.

"Hey!" Bonnie said, not hearing the warning in Buffy's voice. "What are you doing here?"

"Don't freak out, but…." Damon cleared his throat and Kai walked out from around the corner.

"Hi." Kai said.

"Just get this over with."

"Um…."

"Spit it out."

"Um…. I wanted…. To apologize…. For anything I did that hurt you." Bonnie didn't move. "Bon, did you hear what I said?"

"If I see your face again, I will melt it off." Bonnie threw the glass at Buffy's feet and stalked past Kai and Damon, using her magic to slam the door open in front of her.

"I imagined that going a little differently." Kai said.

"Why did you do that?" Buffy asked Damon.

"I…." Damon started.

"She wasn't ready, Damon. We can't force her to be ready to forgive someone who tortured her like he did." She kissed him and pushed him after Bonnie. "You go. Apologize to her." Buffy turned and grabbed Kai's arm, pulling him in the opposite direction to leave through the back of the warehouse. "You, you're coming with me."

"What did I do?" Kai asked as they made it outside.

"Nothing. And that's the problem. You got apologize to Bonnie, now it's time for you to help us out. I don't know who you need to contact or what you need to do, but we need to find out why my mother-in-law is in that prison world."

Kai sighed. "Ok. But, you're not going to like what I know."

"Wait, you've known this whole time why she's there?"

"Of course I have. And of course I've been leading you on a wild goose chase."

"Kai…." Buffy took a threatening step towards him and he held up his hands.

"It's because it's nothing good and…. I feel…. Bad…. About how much it's going to make you both upset."

She lifted a disbelieving eyebrow at him. "What do you know, Kai?"

Kai sighed and started walking. When Buffy caught up to him, he said, "I know we shouldn't bring your mother-in-law back."

"Why?"

"Because there are only two prison worlds in existence. Mine, created in 1994, and the one created in 1903 for the sole purpose of locking up Lily Salvatore and her closet full of crazy pants. As a semi-sane person, I'm pretty sure that's not what you want roaming around here."

"What do you even mean?"

"Damon's mom is a ripper. She turned in 1858, faked her death, went to Europe, where she went a little nuts. Bodies piled up, she moved, killed some more until she had to move again. They think 3,000 in total. And for some reason, my coven made it their duty to stop her. So, they cut her off at New York Harbor before she could tear through Manhattan. Granted, by the time they got to the ship, they found everybody dead. It was so gruesome they had to burn it there at the harbor." Kai finally noticed that Buffy wasn't with him anymore. She was a few feet behind staring straight ahead. "Hey…." He walked over to her and gripped her upper arms. "You're not gonna, like, faint or anything are you? Can you faint? I have no idea what a Vampire Slayer vampire can and can't do."

"How am I supposed to tell Damon this?"

"Uh, you walk up to him and say 'Damon, your mom is a psycho ripper and we can't let her out of her prison world.'"

Buffy looked up at Kai with an annoyed glare. "That'll go over about as great as the time Katherine in Elena's body told him I kissed Klaus."

"While you were married?" The glare she shot him told him everything. "Oh my god!" He started to laugh. "You kissed another guy while you were married!? That's…. Why would you do that?"

"Not that it's any of your business, but Klaus said that he would walk away and concede his loss to Damon if I kissed him."

"Ew! Really?" Buffy nodded. "And you did it? Ew! Man, that's…. Wow. Damon hates him, you know."

"Not anymore. We're all friends now."

"That's ridiculous. That's like saying I'm your best friend."

"It's not ridiculous."

"Damon hates him. He used to talk about how much he hated Klaus and he was super worried that Klaus had swooped in and stolen you away while he was gone."

Buffy laughed. "Now that is ridiculous." She shook her head. "We went to New Orleans and spent time with Klaus after Damon came back and Damon is actually friends with him now. He's not Klaus's biggest fan, but he doesn't hate him anymore."

Kai laughed. "I'd have to see it to believe it."

She rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Is there anything else you want to spring on me about the other Mrs. Salvatore?"

"Nope. Just that she's a ripper and she needs to stay locked up."

"Ok, thanks." Buffy turned on her heel and walked away.

"Where are you going?" Kai asked, hurrying to catch up.

"I'm going home to figure out a way to talk to Damon about his mother."

"I could tell him if you want. So he's not mad at you."

"Thanks, but no thanks, Kai. This kind of news…. It's better if it comes from me."

"It's no problem. I can handle myself."

"Are you lonely or something? Is that why you keep following me around?"

"No!" Kai looked away. "Ok, maybe a little. But you can't tell anyone I said that."

Buffy chuckled. "You have definitely done a 180."

"Trust me, I don't like it."

"I bet you don't. Go home, Kai. Wherever that is. I'm going to talk to my husband by myself."

"Ugh! Fine. But if he goes crazy, call me. I can't decide if I want to relish in it or help you out." Kai turned and walked off.

Buffy sat in the living room staring at the fire in the fireplace. She had two glasses of bourbon sitting on the coffee table. Damon had texted her and said that Bonnie hadn't been happy with him and he was on his way home. She was starting to get nervous about telling Damon about his mother. He was going to be so upset.

Finally, the door opened and Damon strode in. His shirt was covered in blood and he looked upset. "Oh my god!" Buffy rushed over to him. "What happened to you?"

"Bonnie. She made me feel everything that Kai did to her." Damon said.

"What about your protection spell?"

"She pulled my ring off with her magic. We gotta talk to Willow about locking them on our fingers so that can't happen again." He walked over and grabbed up one of the glasses of bourbon. "Did you get Kai to tell you what he knows?"

"Yes."

"And? What did he say?" Buffy looked away, feeling horrible for her husband. "Babe? What did he say?"

"We can't release her from that prison world."

"What? Why not?"

"Damon…. Sit down."

"I don't want to."

"Please?"

Damon couldn't deny her when she looked so upset. He sat down. "Well?"

"Baby…." Buffy sat down on the coffee table in front of Damon and took his hands. "Your mom…. She, uh…. She…. She was turned in 1858 and ran away to Europe where she became a ripper." Damon pulled his hands away. Buffy took a deep breath and continued. "Kai said it was estimated that she killed around 3,000 people before his coven stopped her in New York in 1903. I called both Angel and Spike to verify and they both said…." Damon jumped to his feet and walked angrily over to the fireplace. She took a deep breath and continued. "They both said that they'd heard of a vampire that was tearing her way across Europe in that time period. Angelus wanted to meet her, but she was always gone before he got there. He never knew her last name. Just that she went by Lily."

"It's not true." Damon growled.

"Angel got his soul back in 1898 and gave up looking for Lily. Eventually he went to New York in 1902. He'd been there barely more than a year when he heard about a vampire being captured by a coven of witches. The word among the demon circles was that it was Lily. After that, the killings stopped, so he figured the rumors were true." Buffy reached over and picked up the book that she'd dug out from Giles' collection. She slid it across the table towards Damon. "That's the Watcher's Journal from 1887. Her Slayer, Daniella, faced Lily and lost. She watched as Lily tore her Slayer to pieces and got high off her blood." Damon threw his glass into the fire, shattering it and creating a small fireball with the remaining bourbon. "You know how potent a Slayer's blood is. Lily actually got…. Well, high from it. It's the only reason that the Watcher managed to escape a similar fate as her Slayer. She ran back to the Watcher's Council headquarters in London, but what she'd witnessed happen to Daniella was too much for her…. She wrote one last entry in her Journal before she hung herself."

Damon turned and looked at the page in the Journal. Under a perfectly sketched picture of his mother it simply said, "May God have mercy on your soul if ever you run afoul of this vampire." He dropped to his knees as he stared in horror at the unquestionable evidence that his mother was a ripper.

Buffy went to him and pulled him to her. "I'm so sorry, Damon." He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her neck, clinging to her tightly.

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