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Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Buffy and Damon walked through the high school and headed to Alaric's classroom. He opened the door for her and followed her in. "Buffy, Damon, thanks for coming." Alaric said.

"Sorry we're late. We were making out in a broom closet." Damon said. Buffy glared at him and smacked his arm. She gestured at the somber faces of Stefan, Elena, and Alaric. "What's with all the furrowed brows?"

"I saw Isobel last night." Alaric said.

"Isobel is here? In town?" Buffy asked.

"She showed up at the Grill last night."

"Did you ask her about Uncle John? Are they working together?" Damon asked.

"No."

"No they're not?"

"No I didn't ask."

"What about the invention?"

"Didn't ask."

"Did she know about the tomb vampires?"

"I don't know."

"Did words completely escape you?"

"You know, I was a little too distracted by my dead vampire wife to ask any questions."

Buffy shook her head at the two and looked at Elena. "What did she want?"

"She wants to see me." Elena said.

"Alaric is supposed to arrange a meeting." Stefan said. "We don't know why or what she wants."

"You don't have to see her if you don't want to." Buffy said.

"I don't really have choice." Elena said.

"She's threatening going on a killing spree." Alaric said.

"Oh!" Damon said. "I take it that's not ok with you guys."

Elena looked at Buffy. "I want to do it. I want to meet her. If I don't…. I know I'll regret it."

"Ok, but we've got to keep it public." Buffy said. "The Grill would be good. We can all be there to watch over you."

"She doesn't want any of us in there." Alaric said.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Of course not. Ok, Stefan, you go in there and keep enough distance that you can hear everything." Stefan nodded. "Damon, Alaric, and I can cover the outside and make sure she doesn't have any tricks up her sleeve."

Damon paced the grass in front of Buffy and Alaric. "We should be in there." He said, motioning towards the Grill.

"Isobel made it clear we're not to step foot inside." Alaric said.

"I'm not going to kill her in a crowded restaurant."

"You're not going to kill her period!"

"She ruined your life and you still want to protect her?"

"She's my wife…. Was my wife. I looked for the woman I married but she wasn't there. The woman over there is just cold and unattached."

"Yeah, she's just given up her humanity."

"Yeah…. See, I don't get that. Stefan has his humanity…. He's a good guy. And you're a dick and you kill people but I still see something in you. But with her there was…. nothing."

"You can turn it off, like a button you can press. I mean, Stefan's different. He wants the whole human experience. He wants to feel every episode of How I Met Your Mother, so he shuts his feelings out. The problem is, as a vampire, your instinct is not to feel. Isobel chose the easier road…. no guilt, no shame, no regret. I mean, come on, if you could turn it off, wouldn't you?"

"You haven't." Buffy said, staring him directly in the eyes.

Damon looked away. "Of course I have. It's why I'm so fun to be around." He walked off.

"Where are you going?" He didn't answer.

"What was that?" Alaric asked.

Buffy shook her head. "He tries so hard to fight the fact that he is a good person…. Deep down."

"You care for him." Buffy shrugged. "Well, maybe you'll do him some good. If only he'd just let you in."

She looked up at Alaric. "Who says I want to be let in?" He looked a little stunned. "Look, I've done the whole falling-for-the-enemy thing. It nearly ended the world. And then I used another one for sex just so I could feel anything after I came back from the dead. He tried to rape me after I brought that 'relationship' to a screeching halt and then he went and got himself a soul thinking that it's what I wanted.""Wow."

"My love life is a lot less complicated when I just forget about even trying to have one."

Alaric smiled knowingly. "Doesn't stop you from caring for him, though."

"Nothing stops me from caring for people close to me."

"You can't block out love forever."

"Who says you can't if you've got forever to try?" Buffy put her sunglasses on and turned back to the Grill.

Buffy sat alone in the library browsing through a book she'd picked randomly off the shelf. Stefan had stayed with Elena after the meeting with Isobel and Damon had disappeared. Alaric had headed back to the school to grade papers. So, Buffy had gone home to guard the device Isobel was looking for. She had nothing better to do anyway. It was now dark outside.

Finally Damon walked in. "What have you been up to?" He asked as he poured himself some bourbon.

"I could ask you the same thing." Buffy said without looking up from her book.

He sat down next to her and put her legs in his lap. "I found Isobel."

That made Buffy look up. "And?"

"She says that Katherine is behind all of this. That Katherine is the one who wants John Gilbert to have that device."

"And how did you get her to tell you all of that?"

"She's a talker."

"Uh huh."

"Jealous?"

"We'd have to actually qualify as a couple for me to be jealous."

"Ah." Damon took a sip of his drink and then offered it to Buffy. She shook her head and he shrugged, downed the rest, and set the glass on the side table. "So, no one's here. Whatever shall we do?"

"Read? It's what I've been doing."

"That's boring." He slid a hand up her leg. "How about…. Strip poker? I was playing a game earlier with a minion, but Isobel showed up."

"Strip poker?"

"It might be a game I'm better at than you."

"Doubt that. I once played poker for kittens and by the end of the night, I could've ran my own shelter."

"Kittens?"

"I was playing with demons. It was their preferred…. Meal choice. I set them all free."

"Of course you did."

"Right. Cause I'm a do-gooder that way."

Damon laughed. "Come on. I'll get the cards."

"I am not playing strip poker with you."

"Then just play with me."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I am staying right here and not moving until I go to bed."

"I could make you move."

"You could certainly try."

Damon was suddenly standing next to the couch. He bent over to pick her up, but Buffy was suddenly not there anymore. "See. I told you I could make you move." He moved over in front of her, pressing her against the table. Just then, the front door opened and shut and Stefan called out. Damon sighed. "Damn."

Buffy moved away and picked up her book. "Hey Stefan."

"I see your alone time was interrupted."

"I wasn't bothering her. We were just talking." Damon said.

Stefan looked at Buffy. She smiled. "He's fine. I was just going to head to the Grill and get some food."

"How about I cook instead?" Damon offered. "We can have a little family dinner. Just the three of us."

"Are you going to spike the food with vervain?" Stefan asked.

"Now why would I do that? I'm going to eat it too."

"Then sure. A family dinner sounds nice. Buffy?"

"Why not?" Buffy said.

"Why am I never around when this bitch shows up?" Buffy asked. Elena had called to tell her that Isobel had attacked Matt, breaking his arm, and taken Jeremy. Now she, Elena, Stefan, and Bonnie were in Alaric's classroom discussing what to do.

"I think she plans it that way." Stefan said. "She knows that you could kill her before she even blinked."

"Where is the device?" Bonnie asked.

"Damon has it." Buffy said. "He's going to be difficult to reason with."

"We'll go to him. I'll talk to him." Elena said.

"He's not just going to hand it over." Stefan said. "Especially if it's harmful to vampires.""What if it's not?" Elena asked.

"What?"

"Bonnie, you could deactivate it, right?"

"Remove the original spell? Sure? I've got Emily's grimoire."

"Then that's our bargaining chip with Damon." Buffy said. "But…. Let me talk to him. He responds better to me than anyone. And by the way, Elena, when I get this device from Damon…. You are not meeting Isobel by yourself. I'll be with you this time."

"Absolutely not." Damon said.

"Hear me out." Buffy argued. She and Damon were standing in his room. Stefan, Elena, and Bonnie were waiting downstairs in the library.

"I'm not gonna give the device to Isobel so she can give it to John who's going to turn around and kill me. I like being a living dead person."

"But it would be useless. Bonnie can take its power away."

"I don't trust her."

"She can remove the original spell. And we'll all be there to make sure that happens. John and Isobel will never know."

"No, I'll get Jeremy in my own way.""Really? How are you going to do that? Because Isobel is a vampire and Jeremy could be dead the second you walk in the door."

"You'll go with me. I'll distract. You'll kill."

"I'm not taking that risk with Jeremy. Elena's had enough loss already."

Damon sighed. "Do you trust Bonnie?"

"Not particularly. She's not been our number one fan, but I think she'll do this to keep Jeremy safe."

"Fine." Damon walked out of his room and down the stairs to the library. "Are you even up for this?" He asked Bonnie. "I mean no offense, you're not Emily Bennett. Emily knew what she was doing."

"I've been practicing." Bonnie said.

"It's not piano lessons, honey."

"What's your favorite book?"

"What?"

"Name a book. Any book."

"Name a book…. How about Call of the Wild by Jack London?" Bonnie turned and looked at the library. A book flew off the shelf and landed in Damon's hands. He looked at the book. "Jack London."

"We're doing this Damon." Elena said. "I'm gonna do it in my way. Now give me the device. We're wasting time!"

Damon ignored Elena and looked at Bonnie. "I don't trust you. I tried to kill you."

"You're right, you can't trust me." Bonnie said.

"But you can trust me." Buffy said. "We talked about this." Damon looked at her for a moment, then handed over the device. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Buffy turned to Bonnie. "Don't screw this up please."

"I'll try not to." Bonnie took the device and walked over to a table in front of the fireplace. She opened the grimoire and set the device next to it. She read the book for a moment, then held her hands over the device. The lights started flickering and the flames got bigger as the device floated between her hands. After a long moment, the device stopped floating and Bonnie caught it. "Done." She handed the device to Elena.

"Great, now what?" Damon asked.

"Now we give it to Isobel."

Buffy and Elena walked around the square waiting for Isobel. Damon and Stefan weren't too far away. "What if she doesn't show?" Elena asked.

"You have what she wants." Buffy said. "Trust me. She'll risk confronting me for that thing."

As if on cue, Isobel arrived. "Where is the device?"

"Where is my brother?" Elena asked.

"This is not a negotiation."

"Oh, but I think it is." Buffy said, crossing her arms.

Isobel looked at her. "The Slayer, I presume."

"Presume away."

"Do you really think that I came alone?" Two minions arrived behind Buffy and Elena.

Buffy shook her head. "They're human. And I heard you were smart."

"You don't kill humans."

"But I do." Damon said as he and Stefan walked up behind Isobel.

Isobel sighed, realizing she was in no position to argue. "For god's sake, call home."

"What?" Elena asked.

"Call home and ask to speak to your brother Jeremy."

Elena looked at Buffy and the Slayer nodded. Elena took out her phone and called home. Jeremy picked up after the first ring. "Jeremy, are you ok?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Uncle John hit his head. It was an accident."

"And we're all laughing." Jenna said in the background.

"But yeah, I'm ok."

"I'll be home soon alright?"

"Yeah."

Elena hung up and looked at Isobel. "You were never gonna hurt him."

"No, I was going to kill him." Isobel said. Elena looked disappointed. "Don't look for any redeeming qualities in me. I don't have any, Elena."

"But you took a risk with Damon. How did you know that he was gonna give it to me?"

"Because that little Slayer standing next to you? He's in love with her. And considering she sees you as a little sister…. He'll do anything to make Buffy happy. If she's on your side, so is he."

Buffy and Damon exchanged brief glances before Stefan looked at them both. Elena gave Isobel the device. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For being such a monumental disappointment. It keeps the memory of my real mother perfectly intact."

"Goodbye, Elena." Isobel looked at her biological daughter and left. Stefan walked up and embraced Elena tightly as Damon and Buffy looked uncomfortably away.

Damon was pouring himself a glass of scotch when Stefan walked in. Buffy was up in her room taking a shower. "Would you like one?" Damon asked his little brother. Stefan just looked at him. "Say it, whatever it is…. purge, get it out."

"It's about what Isobel said."

"What about it?"

"Well, I know Buffy and you have bonded and I know she cares about you and…. I know you care about her."

"Well, this is going in an interesting direction."

"I'm just concerned about Buffy being hurt. She's gone through enough in her life and she doesn't need any more grief. She considers you a friend."

"Same here. Buffy is a very good friend. Actually, she might qualify as my only friend. Is that a problem?"

"So, at the risk of sounding like uh… like her father…." Damon rolled his eyes. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"Sure."

Buffy walked in. "Hey guys."

"Feeling refreshed?" Stefan asked.

"Yes. Though I still really wanted to kill Isobel tonight. She pisses me off."

"So…. Who's going to tell Elena the truth?" Damon asked.

"What truth?" Stefan asked.

"About John. Because I know you guys don't like to keep secrets."

"What are you even talking about?" Buffy asked.

"Am I the only one around here who has the ability to put everything together? Isobel! Hello? She dated John when she was 15. She gets pregnant and ends up in the doctor's office of John's brother. Now, what do you think John's role is in all this? I mean, go ahead, and think about it. I'll wait. Did you get it? Is it in?"

"So you think that John is Elena's father?" Stefan asked.

"Ding, ding, ding!"

"What proof do you have?"

"I don't need any proof. That's a DNA test for John, Elena, and Maury Povich to deal with, but I know how well you deal with these bombs so…. Sleep tight." Damon headed upstairs.

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