Buffy woke up and found she was curled up on Damon's chest. He was smiling down at her. "Hi."
"Hi." Buffy stretched and realized she was slightly bruised.
"Sorry. We got a little carried away." They were silent for a long moment before Damon sighed and said, "So…. I lied."
"Labels. I don't know what happened tonight, but…. The thought of losing you was almost too much to bear. I saw John put that drug into you and I was helpless to stop him…. It killed me that I couldn't stop him from hurting you. And then we were trapped down in that basement and I wasn't able to save you myself. I think a label would be good…. For us."Buffy looked up at him. "Are you asking me to be your girlfriend?"
Damon smiled slightly. "Possibly."
Before Buffy could answer, her cell phone beeped. She considered ignoring it, but after the events of the night it was impossible to. She got up and picked it up. It was a voicemail.
Sheriff Forbes was standing alone in the ER when Buffy and Damon arrived. "Liz, we came as soon as we got the message." Buffy said. "Is she ok?"
"She's in surgery. It's …. They're doing everything they can. I need your help." Liz said, looking at both of them.
"Sure, anything Liz."
"Mayor Lockwood is dead. They thought he was a vampire. They put him in the basement."
"Mayor Lockwood is a vampire?" Damon asked, trying to look stunned.
"No, no. A mistake was made. They said he dropped like the others when John's device went off but he…. he couldn't have been a vampire. I've known him my whole life and I know Carol Lockwood is gonna want answers and all I can think of right now is Caroline and…." Liz started to cry.
"Hey, it's ok." Buffy said, hugging Liz. "We'll look into it, I promise. You just focus on Caroline. She's more important than the Mayor or Carol or anything else."
"Thank you." Liz said. "Oh, Bonnie's here. She's out near the waiting room."
"Ok. Let us know when you hear anything more." Liz nodded and Buffy and Damon headed towards the waiting room.
"How's Caroline?" They heard Elena ask.
"She's weak. They don't know if she's going to make it." Bonnie replied.
"What?" Bonnie embraced Elena tightly as Buffy and Damon rounded the corner. "Is there something that we can do? Like a spell or something?"
"She doesn't know how, do you?" Damon said.
"No, I don't." Bonnie admitted.
"No, you don't because it took Emily years to learn a spell like that."
"Well, I can take down a vampire. That spell was easy to learn."
Damon rolled his eyes and turned to Elena. "I can give Caroline some blood…."
"No. No way." Elena said.
"No, just enough to heal her. She will be safe in the hospital and it will be out of her system in a day. She will be better Elena."
"It's too risky. I can't agree to that."
"Do it." Bonnie said. "This is Caroline. We can't let her die. Do it."
"If I do this, you and me call truce?" Damon said.
"No but you'll do it anyway, for Elena." Bonnie looked at Elena, who nodded, then turned and walked off.
"Buffy, one of the tomb vampires got into to house tonight and almost killed John."
"What? When?" Damon asked. "What are you talking about? After I left?"
"You were there?" Buffy and Elena both asked.
"Come on, Elena, you know I was."
"When were you at the house?"
"Really? Earlier, on the porch, we were talking. I snapped at you to stay out of my business?"
"Ok, I don't have time for this, Damon."
Just then, Jenna arrived. "Elena, I came as soon as I got your message. How is John?"
"Where have you been?" Elena asked.
"At the fire department. I had to fill out a report. I told you earlier."
"No, you didn't."
"Yes I did."
"No, Jenna, you didn't."
"Yes I did."
"Oh!" Everyone looked at Damon's outburst. "You have got to be kidding me!" He took Buffy's hand and pulled. "We've got to go."
"Wait…. Caroline…." Buffy started.
"No time right now."
"What's going on?" Elena asked, following them.
"I have no clue." Buffy said.
"Katherine." Damon said.
"She's the one who hurt John. She's the one I talked to on the porch. She's the one that Jenna talked to. Katherine's here."
Elena, Buffy, and Damon walked into Elena's house to find Stefan on the floor. He stood up and looked at Elena. "Stefan?" She said.
"Elena…." Stefan said.
"Katherine happened." Damon said.
Buffy turned to Elena. "Jeremy's home. Go upstairs and warn him."
"What…." Elena started.
"Katherine's been invited in."
Elena nodded and ran upstairs. "So psycho bitch is in town. Did she say what she wanted?"
"No." Stefan said.
"The woman certainly knows how to make an entrance." Damon said.
"She said she fooled one of us at least. What does that mean?"
"She pretended to be Elena too when I showed up earlier tonight."
"Did she try anything?" Buffy asked.
"No. She just pretended to be Elena until…. Until Jenna invited her in." Damon shook his head. "Why didn't I see it?"
Elena came back downstairs. "Are you alright?" Stefan asked her.
"No, I'm not all right." Elena said. "I thought that with all the tomb vampires gone things were getting better.""I know."
"We all did." Buffy said. "So…. Katherine was in this house. She's been invited in. What are we gonna do?"
"Move." Damon said.
"Very helpful, thank you." Elena said.
"Katherine wants you dead, there's zero you can do about it. You will be dead. But you're not. So clearly she has other plans."
"Right and we need to find out what those other plans are and not provoke her in the process." Stefan said. "What happened tonight when you thought she was Elena?"
Damon laughed. "We argued…. about Buffy."
"Why?" Buffy asked.
"Because she said that I didn't deserve you and that I should stop trying to have something with you."
"You think she's jealous?" Damon shrugged. "I told you when we walked in the tomb that she would be."
"I don't care about her." Damon said pointedly. "And you and I have a discussion to finish."
"But not right now." Buffy turned to Elena. "John must know something. There has to be a reason why Katherine tried to kill him."
"She's Katherine. She loves to play games and you're fooling yourself if you think you're going to find out what she's been up to before she wants you to know." Damon said.
"Damon, I've dealt with sneaky, manipulative, psycho vampires before. I know all of that."
"But Buffy's right." Stefan said. "John could know something through Isobel. She was in touch with Katherine so maybe we can go to the hospital and talk to John."
"I've got a better idea." Damon said.
"What's that?" Elena asked.
"I'm just gonna ignore the bitch. See you." He started to leave.
"Is that smart?"
"If Katherine thinks she's being ignored…. It will lure her out. She'll make a move."
"Yeah? And then what?"
"Anybody else realize that we have a Slayer who's more powerful than Katherine? She can stake her…. rip her head off…. something poetic. We'll see."
"Are we forgetting that I'm kind of powerless right now?" Buffy asked.
"Wait, what?" Elena asked. Damon turned to head out to the foyer. Stefan followed him, leaving the girls to talk.
"John got a hold of this drug that temporarily takes a Slayer's powers away. I won't be back at full strength for another couple of days I think."
"Oh my god." Elena hugged Buffy. "I'm so sorry about that. How did he even know about it?"
"It's almost common knowledge for people who know about Slayers. When…. Or rather if they turn 18…. Their powers are taken away with that drug and they're locked up in a house with a vampire. To pass the test, the Slayer has to kill the vampire using only her wit instead of her strength and speed and all that good stuff that comes with being a Slayer. That's why most Slayers don't live that long."
"But you did."
Buffy shrugged. "The vampire they gave me had a pill popping problem. I switched his water for holy water and poof."
Stefan caught up with Damon in the foyer. "You need to protect her until she gets her strength back. If Katherine finds out about this…."
"I've already thought of that." Damon said. "That's why she's not leaving my sight until she's better."
Stefan nodded. "Good. Thank you."
Buffy walked out. "So…. Damon, you have a stop to make at the hospital." He looked at her with a confused expression. "Caroline."
"Oh. Right. Come on. Let's go." Damon opened the front door.
Buffy looked around at the gathering. She hated wakes and funerals. She'd seen enough of them in her lifetime. At the moment, though, she, Damon, and Liz were talking with Carol Lockwood. "I want to know exactly who's responsible for killing my husband." Carol was saying.
"I'm looking into it but you have to be straight. Is there any reason Richard was affected by the vampire device?" Liz said.
"Are you implying that he was one of them?"
"No, no one's implying that." Damon said.
Carol ignored him and pointed at Liz. "Your deputies screwed up, plain and simple…. Which makes you responsible."
"Carol…." Damon tried again.
"Your husband is the one who helped John Gilbert execute his idiot plan in the first place." Liz snapped.
"Liz…." Buffy warned.
"Someone got my husband killed." Carol said.
"Hey! Time out." Buffy demanded. "We're all on edge here, ok? You've suffered a great loss…. The whole town has. We have to stick together ok? We have to trust each other so we can all get through this."
Carol huffed and walked off. Liz looked at Buffy gratefully. "Thank you."
Buffy shrugged. "I'm used to this whole grief thing. You just have to know how to handle it."
"Who's the guy with Carol?" Damon asked. Carol had gone off and was talking to a tall, handsome man that had just walked in with Tyler.
"It's the mayor's younger brother, Mason Lockwood." Liz said.
"Is he on the council? Like John Gilbert when he rolled in?"
"He's nothing like John. For one, he's not an ass. He's not a believer either. He wants nothing to do with the council. He's too preoccupied with finding the perfect wave."
"Thanks." Damon took Buffy's hand as Liz moved off. "See you." He stared at Mason for a long moment.
"He's kinda cute." Buffy said.
Damon looked down at her. "But I'm cuter, right?"
"Oh, I don't know." She smiled. "I've lived in California most of my life…. Right next to a beach…. Guys like that…."
"Don't do it for you." Damon cocked his eyebrow at her. "You like em dark and sexy."
Buffy laughed slightly. "You're an ass. Come on. I'm starving and they've got a nice little spread going in the dining room." She pulled on his hand and they headed for the food.
Bonnie appeared behind them as they checked out what foods were offered. "Did you know the Gilbert device affected Tyler Lockwood?"
"Well, I know it took the mayor down." Damon said.
"Don't you want to know why?"
"Yes Bonnie, I would love to know why a non-vampire, non-Slayer was tortured by the vampire torture device that you let John Gilbert use against us. Speaking of your guilt…. how is Caroline?"
"No, you're welcome."
"Why am I welcome?"
"You live to see another day."
"No good deed goes unpunished with you, does it?"
"Doesn't undo the bad. I know what you are Damon, you might have Elena and the sheriff and everybody else fooled but not me. One wrong move and I'm gonna take you out."
"Bonnie, I'd appreciate it if you backed off, ok?" Buffy snapped. "Your whole witch act isn't impressive. My friend Willow is about a million times more powerful than you could ever dream of being and one phone call from me could find you in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest with no clue how you got there and no powers whatsoever to lean on."
"Why do you care for him?"
"Because I do. That's my business and no one else's. I got sick of people dictating who I can and can't care about a long time ago. If I or Elena or anyone else for that matter sees Damon as fit for being, then that's our business. Just because you don't like him doesn't mean that nobody else does. So stop please…. find some other vampire to torture. There are plenty of bad ones out there who deserve it way more than Damon."
Bonnie looked at Buffy for a long moment then marched off, obviously pissed. Damon shook his head. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. I'm just sick of her whining. I'm a witch, I'm surrounded by vampires, my life sucks…. Boohoo. Go cry to someone else that hasn't lived through worse."
"What happened to that whole 'you just have to know how to handle grief' thing?"
"That's not grief. That's feeling sorry for yourself and having just enough power to make yourself feel better. And in case you've forgotten, that device worked on me too. I didn't very much appreciate her little lie because I ended up with no powers and in a burning basement."
Damon smiled and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her in to him. "You'll get your powers back soon enough and then I'll take you on a road trip so you can find some demons or vampires or both to wail on."
"Throw in dinner and drinks and you've got yourself a date."
"Well, aren't you two just adorable?" Matt said behind them.
"Hey Matt. How's Caroline?" Buffy asked.
"She's doing much, much better."
"I was going to go out and see her after we left this."
"She'd like that. I don't know what it is about you, but she and Elena seem to adore you."
Buffy shrugged. "I'm just the cool, older sister like person I guess.""Well, whatever it is, just keep it up. Hey Damon." Matt walked off.
"You are impressive." Damon said as they headed out onto the porch. "Everyone just falls at your feet."
"I think it has something to do with me being a Slayer." Buffy said. "Even back in high school, people seemed to follow me without asking questions. Willow always said it was because I was pretty, but I was at the bottom of the totem pole of popularity…. Pretty didn't factor in. Not to me, anyway." She looked at her plate of cheese and fruit. "This is not going to sustain me for very long."
"I'll cook you a big meal when we get home."
"Whatever you like."
"You just want an answer to your question and are willing to do anything to get it, aren't you?"
"Maybe a little. But can you blame me? I've fallen at your feet."
Buffy rolled her eyes and spotted Elena walking up the stairs with Jenna and Jeremy. "Hey!" Elena said, walking over.
"How's Jeremy doing?" Buffy asked, hugging Elena.
"He's…. Jeremy. Still pretty pissed off, but I think he's starting to get over it. Have you seen Stefan?"
"Yeah. He said he would meet me here."
"We haven't seen him. Though, I do need to talk to you about Bonnie."
Just then, Bonnie ran up looking panicked. "Elena!"
They all turned to her. "Bonnie, what happened?"
Elena and Stefan were sitting on a bench as she washed his wound. Katherine had run him through with a metal yard pole. "You're gonna be ok?" Elena asked.
"Yeah, it'll heal." Stefan said.
"That's not what I meant."
"I was trying to figure her out. I was playing along and let her get to me."
Damon walked up to them. "I tried to track her but she's gone. Ouch, cover up Fabio. You have a crazy ex on the loose." He looked at Elena. "You better watch out. Looks like Katherine is trying to steal your guy."
"That's not what's happening." Stefan protested.
"I'm gonna go check on Jenna and Jeremy." Elena said. "Let me know when you guys are done." Elena walked off.
"So, what is happening, Stefan?" Buffy asked, sitting down in Elena's vacated seat.
"Katherine is gonna try to play us…. All of us…. against each other." Stefan said.
"Brother, don't you worry, our bound is unbreakable." Damon said sarcastically.
"We need to stay united against her. Look…. I may not like that you and Buffy have bonded so much because I care about her and I don't want to see her hurt."
"Sitting right here." Buffy said.
"Sorry. I'm just saying that…. Buffy, you being here has brought something out in Damon." Stefan looked at his brother. "You seem to actually care about her and I'm not gonna let Katherine come in here and destroy that part of you that is finally, after all of this time, willing to feel something. She will try to break you. She will try to break us and how we respond to that will define us. It's our choice."
Later that night, Damon was moving between the kitchen and the dining room putting the finishing touches on dinner. Buffy had gone to the hospital to visit Caroline and bring her some flowers and a stuffed animal. He'd promised her dinner when she came home and she'd promised to talk to him about his unanswered question.
Deciding they needed some wine to go with dinner, he headed down to the cellar to grab a bottle. As he came back upstairs and walked past the living room, he spotted Katherine sitting on the couch. "Very brave of you to come here." He said.
"I wanted to say goodbye." Katherine said.
"Leaving so soon?"
"I know when I'm not wanted."
"Don't pout. It's not attractive in a woman at your age."
"Ouch. What, no goodbye kiss?"
"What if I kill you instead? What are you doing here?"
"Nostalgia, curiosity etc."
"I'm better at the enigmatic one liners, Katherine. What are you up to?"
"Trust me Damon, when I'm up to something you'll know it. Come on, kiss me or kill me. Which will it be Damon? We both know that you're only capable of one." She tried to kiss him, but he turned his head so she pushed him on the floor, landing on top. "My sweet, innocent, Damon." He reached up and strangled her, rolling them over and putting himself above her. He had every intention of getting up for a stake, but her hand wove into his hair and pulled him down to her for a kiss, ripping open his shirt with the other hand.
"Well…. I guess I don't need to worry about an answer to your question now."
Katherine let him go and he was up in a flash. "Buffy…." He started.
Buffy turned to Katherine. "I heard you were smart." Katherine shrugged. "Coming in here where a Slayer lives…. Who, by the way, is more powerful than you…. and screwing with her friends? That's not smart. Get out before I kill you."
"Why don't you just kill me now?" Katherine asked.
"Well, if you're asking…." Buffy pulled out a stake from her bag.
Katherine smiled and blew a kiss at Damon. "Tell Stefan to call me." She walked out the front door leaving Buffy and Damon alone.
"Buffy…." Damon started.
She held up a hand to stop him before walking up the stairs. She heard glass break downstairs, but she wasn't going to let herself worry about it. Katherine had come back and Buffy was a moot point now.
Buffy came out of the bathroom an hour or so later and Damon was sitting on her bed. She jumped a little, not expecting him. "You scared me."
"I'm just doing my part for the neighborhood watch until you get your powers back."
"You've been drinking?"
"Just a little…."
"And you're upset. Why are you upset?"
"You think I kissed her."
"All we've been doing here…. You and me? It means something. There is something going on between the two of us and I don't want to ruin that."
"She's older than me. She's stronger than me. I was trying to kill her. She grabbed me and kissed me, but I didn't kiss her back."
"Why were you on top?"
"I was trying to kill her."
"And your shirt was torn open in the fight?" Buffy touched the flap of his shirt with the missing buttons.
"She tore it open."
"Damon…. I don't want to talk about this, ok? You can't have both of us and I understand if you want her. You've spent a 140 odd years trying to get her back and now that she's…."
"That's just it…. I don't want her. I want you."
"Didn't look like it earlier."
"Stop! Stop bringing that up." He grabbed her face and crouched down to look her in the eyes. "That was not me. That was all Katherine. I want you. Do you understand that?" He pulled her to him and kissed her passionately.
Buffy waited until he was done before pushing him gently away. "Damon…. I care about you, but…. You and I? Not right now, ok? You've got a lot of issues to deal with…. Katherine being one of them." He started to speak, but she stopped him. "It feels a little like you're trying to use me as a rebound…. To get over her."
"I'm not." Damon shook his head. "I don't do…. Rebounds. What does that even mean?"
"It means that when you're really ready to try a relationship with me…. Then…. We'll talk about it then. And until then…. Work out your issues with Katherine, ok? When she wasn't here…. It was easier for you to forget her. Trust me, I know all about it. But she's here now and she kissed you and she's not going away any time soon…. I don't think."
Damon stared at her incredulously for a long moment before turning and storming out. Buffy hung her head. She'd wanted to say yes to him, but she just couldn't. Not with the Katherine issues hitting so close to home.