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Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Buffy walked with Stefan around the house while Damon was visiting with Carol Lockwood. "Did I do the right thing?" Buffy asked. "I mean, was I right to say 'not right now' after everything?"

"If that's how you feel." Stefan said. "Then it's the right thing."

"I'm just worried that I've pushed him over the edge. He was already unstable when it came to her…."

Stefan stopped and took Buffy's shoulders, looking her in the eye. "Damon cares about you. If getting over Katherine is what needs to be done, he'll do it. I think he really cares very deeply for you. You're the first girl since Katherine I've ever seen him act like this over."

"Good thing?"

"I think it can only be a good thing…. For everybody." Stefan wrapped an arm around her shoulders and continued walking. "So, are you coming to this carnival at the school?"

"I suppose. There won't be any clowns, will there?"

"I don't think so, why?"

"Clowns give me the heebie jeebies."

"So you can fight vampires and demons and not even bat an eye at magic, but clowns are what scares you?" Buffy shrugged sheepishly. "I kinda love you, you know that?" Stefan laughed as he opened the door for her and they walked in to find Damon pouring a blood pouch into a glass.

"Do you care for one, Stefan?" He asked.

"No, thank you. I'm not hungry. Just ate." Stefan said.

"Are you worried that one day all the forest animals are gonna band together and fight back? I mean, surely they talk?"

"I'm just happy that it's a blood bag and not a sorority girl supplying your dinner."

"I like this. You, walking on eggs shells around me because you think I'm gonna explode. Very suspenseful. Are you worried too, Buffy?"

"Have you heard from Katherine?" Stefan asked, making Damon's attention come back to him.

"I think the Lockwood's have a family secret because the Gilbert device affected them but vervain didn't. So they're not vampires. They're something else."

"Is this your new obsession?" Buffy asked.

"You'd rather some unknown supernatural element running upon our town? Fine. I'll drop it." Buffy rolled her eyes at him.

"We haven't seen the last of Katherine, you do know that right?" Stefan asked. "We have no idea what she's up to."

"Sure we do. She came back to profess her undying eternal love for you so I'm gonna let you deal with her because I have more important things to do…. Like explode. Cheers!" Damon walked out.

"He's so mad at me." Buffy said.

"Yup!" Damon called from down the hall.

Buffy closed her eyes and shook her head. Stefan smiled and gave her a reassuring hug.

Buffy walked around with Elena at the carnival. Elena was having a panic attack because she had to put the whole thing together since Caroline was in the hospital and she felt like everything was going wrong. Bonnie didn't help by catching up to them and saying, "The ring toss is out of Bart and Homer dolls and team Jacob teas."

"Ok, I can grab some from the science club. Also we lost a speaker in the karaoke booth."

"Elena, take a breath." Buffy said. "Look around. This is a huge success."

"You mean I can do more than just wreak vampire havoc?" Elena asked.

"Go figure." Buffy smiled and Elena laughed, lightening up.

Elena turned and looked at a man who was repairing one of the stands. "Hey, Carter, right? You're with the carnival?"

"That'd be me." Carter said.

"Ok, great."

Carter looked at Bonnie. "Wow, what do you need beautiful?"

"What do you know about karaoke speakers?" Bonnie asked.

"Why don't you show me the problem?"

"Yeah Bonnie. Show him the problem." Elena said.

"Ok, come on." Bonnie led Carter off.

Elena looked at Buffy. "So, are you…. Feeling better?"

"Yes. I am back to full Slayer power." Buffy said. "Good thing since Damon is mad at me."

"Buffy, you did the right thing. He can't make you the rebound. You deserve better."

"Thank you."

Elena spotted something that needed her attention. "I…."

"Go." Buffy smiled and watched Elena run off. She turned to find Damon standing off in a corner watching Tyler Lockwood arm wrestling. "You're lurking." She said as she walked up to him.

"I'm observing." Damon said.

"It's more like obsessing." Stefan said, appearing out of nowhere.

Tyler won yet another round. "He's got strength." Damon observed.

"He's a triple varsity athlete, of course he has strength. You're reaching."

Mason arrived to do arm wrestling against Tyler. "I bet I could beat you." He said.

"Enter the uncle." Damon said.

"That's ridiculous." Stefan argued just before Mason beat Tyler.

"Ok, he's the champ." Tyler announced. "Who wants to go next?"

"Stefan wants a go!" Damon called.

Stefan sighed. "Yeah, sure. I'll…. give it a shot." He walked over and joined Mason.

"Get him, Stef!" Damon cheered.

"My brother over there thinks I could beat you." Stefan said.

"Your brother's wrong." Mason said. Stefan and Mason began their battle when the bell rang. It lasted longer than the other matches, but in the end Mason beat Stefan. Stefan nodded and joined Buffy and Damon.

"You didn't put in any effort at all." Damon accused.

"Yeah, actually I did."

Buffy shook her head and started towards Mason. "I want to try."

Damon stopped her. "Uh…. That might look a little suspicious." Buffy looked at him, confused. "Buffy, sweetie, you seem to have forgotten that you're a teeny tiny thing. You look like you couldn't hurt a fly." He knew he was about to get hurt, so he amended, "Though you could definitely kick that fly's ass. And Mason's. At the same time with your hands tied behind your back." He gave her a smile. "Come with me." They moved out of the way into a hallway inside the school. "Is he…?"

"No, no…. It wasn't that kind of strength but it was more than human." Stefan said. "It doesn't make sense."

"What is up with that family? They're not vampires, what the hell are they?"

"Maybe they're ninja turtles." Buffy said.

"You're not funny." Damon said.

"Guys, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say they're werewolves."

"No comedic timing at all."

"Not being comedic. I'm serious. This type of lycanthropy is rare. Most people have to be bitten to become werewolves, but this type…. It's genetic."

"What do you know?"

"That's pretty much the extent. I only know one werewolf personally and he was bitten. I'd have to call Giles for more info."

"Good. Call Giles." Damon glanced at Carter working behind him.

"What are you up to?" Stefan asked.

Damon went over to Carter. "Hey you!"

"I have a name." Carter said.

"Yeah I don't care." He caught Carter's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "I need you to pick a fight with someone, a kid named Tyler Lockwood."

"Damon, don't do this." Buffy warned.

"It's just an experiment. Get him mad, don't back down no matter what he does ok?"

"I won't back down." Carter said.

"I know you won't." Damon released him and Carter walked off.

"You do realize someone is going to get hurt, right?" Buffy asked.

"No, someone is going to get mad, as in rage."

"What's that going to accomplish?" Stefan asked.

"That Tyler kid is incapable of walking away from a fight. Let's see who intervenes, maybe the ambiguous, supernatural mystery uncle?"

Buffy, Elena, Stefan, and Damon were in a classroom talking about Caroline. Damon had had a run in with her and she was a new vampire. Courtesy of Katherine.

"How did this happen?" Stefan asked.

"Well, I fed her blood and Katherine obviously killed her and a plus b equals…" Damon said.

"But why?" Buffy asked.

"Because Katherine is a manipulative nasty little slut."

"And she said 'game on'? What does that even mean?" Stefan asked.

"It means she's playing dirty and she wants us to know."

"But why Caroline?" Elena asked.

"I don't know." Damon said."Caroline must be completely out of her mind." Buffy said. "She doesn't even know what's happening to her."

"Oh I think she does. All of my compulsion from the past started wearing off the minute she was in transition."

"We have to find her."

"Yep and kill her."

"We're not going to kill Caroline."

"She knows who we are. She's officially a liability and we've got to get rid of her."

"Absolutely not."

"Need I to remind anyone of the tragic little story of a girl named Vicki Donovan? Yeah, Caroline, of all people, will not make it as a vampire. Her mother is a vampire hunter. Guys come on, we all know how this story's gonna end. Just flip to the last chapter and…."

"It's not an option, Damon." Buffy snapped.

"No?" Damon looked at his brother. "Your silence is defining, Stefan. Wait, wasn't there a school carnival the night you staked Vicki? Talk about a town where history repeats itself. You know I'm right."

"We're not gonna kill her." Stefan said.

"It's the only way." Damon argued. "You know I'm right here."

Damon started to leave, but Buffy was suddenly standing in his way. She grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the wall with one arm, cracking it slightly. "I am not going to kill Caroline. Nobody is. We are going to help her." He struggled to get out of her grasp, but it was only when she released him that he fell to the ground. "Let's go." Buffy walked out and Stefan and Elena followed.

"Damon's right." Stefan said as he, Buffy, and Elena went looking for Caroline. "Not about what we should do but about what's gonna happen. Katherine has all but signed Caroline's death sentence."

"We can't let it end that way." Buffy said.

"She's doing this to me isn't she?" Elena asked.

"No, she's doing it to me." Stefan said.

"We've got to find Caroline before Damon does. Despite my violent outburst, he's still going to find her." Buffy said.

"You can find her quicker than I can." Stefan said.

"Try to keep up." Buffy took off running, following her senses for an unfamiliar vampire. She finally felt it and followed it until she saw Damon holding Caroline with a stake raised behind her back. She moved faster than the human eye could track and had the stake out of his hand, thrown a few hundred feet away, and he was on the ground.

Elena made it to them with Stefan and Caroline panicked. "Get away from me! You killed me!"

"No, no, no, no Caroline!" Elena said. "That wasn't me. You know that! That was Katherine."

"No! Then why did she look like you? And why…. why did she do this to me?"

"We've got to get her inside."

Buffy walked over and hugged Caroline. "Shh…. It's ok Caroline. Come with me."

"She will die." Damon said. "It's only a matter of time."

"Yeah but it's not gonna happen tonight." Stefan said.

"Oh yeah it is." Damon produced another stake and rushed over to Caroline, but Buffy was faster. She was in front of Caroline and her foot connected with Damon's chest, sending him flying back about 80 feet. Damon got up and came back, but didn't fight Buffy. He stayed a few feet away from her. He finally shook his head and pointed at Buffy. "Whatever happens, it's on you." He walked away.

Buffy turned to Caroline and smoothed down her hair. "Shh…."

Bonnie walked up just then. "Caroline?"

"It's ok, come on." Stefan said.

"No, you're not…. You can't be." Bonnie marched over and grabbed Caroline's arm and then stared at her in horror.

"Bonnie?" Caroline asked.

Bonnie spotted the body on the flatbed and realized it was Carter. "Oh god!"

"Elena…." Buffy said. Elena nodded and went over to Bonnie as Buffy and Stefan led Caroline away.

"Where are we going?" Stefan asked.

"Bathroom." Buffy said. "You don't mind coming in the girls' restroom, do you?"

"No."

Buffy opened the door and led Caroline in. "Come on. Sit right here." She grabbed some paper towels and wetted them down.

"She hates me! Bonnie hates me." Caroline cried.

"No, sweetie, she's just in shock. We all are." Buffy soothed as she washed Caroline's face off.

"And what…. What…. What about…. What about Matt?" Caroline was starting to lose it.

Buffy grabbed her into a tight hug and refused to let her go. "Shh…. Calm down, sweetie. Shh…. One thing at a time, ok? Breathe. Shh…. Let's get this blood cleaned off, ok?"

"I'm a m-m-murderer. I'm a monster!"

Buffy pulled back a little and smoothed Caroline's hair away from her face. "Look at me. Your emotions are heightened right now. It's part of the transformation and it is completely normal. I promise, ok?"

Caroline's face changed and she panicked again. "Why does this keeping happening to my face? I'm hideous!"

"Look at me, look at me, look at me!" Stefan said. "Caroline, Caroline! Look at me! Look at my face, look at my face!" His face changed too. "You see that? When you feel the blood rushing, you tell yourself that you're going to get through it. That you're strong enough. No matter how good it feels to let yourself over to it, you fight it off, you bury it. Watch me, watch me." Stefan made his face normal again by breathing in and out slowly and rhythmically. "It's the only way you're gonna to survive this thing. Try." She took a few breaths and her face went back to normal.

Buffy smiled. "That's good, Caroline. Shh…." She hugged Caroline again, silently mouthing thank you to Stefan.

"Why did Katherine do this to me?" Caroline sobbed.

"I don't know. I wish I did. But I promise you I will not let anything happen to you. Me or Stefan. I promise, ok?" Buffy held the teenager tightly, stroking her hair as she sobbed. "It's going to be ok. You know…. It's very hard to comfort someone taller than you." Caroline laughed slightly. "See? You're going to be ok. Let's finish getting this blood cleaned up, ok?" The younger blonde nodded and settled down to let Buffy and Stefan clean her off. "I'm going to go check on Elena. I'll be right back."

"Wait…." Caroline cried.

"I'll be right back. Stefan isn't going to leave you. I promise." Buffy waited until Caroline was reassured and then headed outside. She found Damon on fire and Bonnie casting the spell to make it happen. Elena was trapped by the flatbed because of the flames. Buffy sighed and grabbed Bonnie, shaking her harshly. "Stop it. What did I tell you?" The flames died away when the spell was broken.

"I didn't do it!" Damon screamed.

"This wasn't his fault." Buffy snapped.

"Everything that happens is his fault." Bonnie retorted.

Buffy shook her again. "If I recall, it was you who made the decision to let Damon give Caroline the blood."

"Buffy…." Elena started

"No, Elena. I have had it with Bonnie's attitude. Vampires are real and sometimes they're not a good thing. But this little wannabe badass witchy 'tude you've got going on doesn't fly. Caroline is your friend and now she just happens to be a vampire. She knew you were a witch and she didn't stop being your friend. Elena knows you're a witch and she's still your friend. But the path you're headed down? You're not going to have any friends when it's all said and done. Now if you can't control yourself, I will call Willow and she will bind your powers. Do you understand me?" Bonnie didn't say anything. "Do you?" Finally the little witch nodded. "Good. Now go away and get a hold of yourself." Bonnie ran off and Buffy looked at Damon. "Are you ok?" He nodded and Buffy turned to Elena. "Caroline is ok for now. Stefan and I are going to make sure she gets home."

"What about the guy she…." Elena started.

"It's taken care of." Damon said, grabbing a shovel. He grabbed the body and drug it off to bury it.

"Damon's right, isn't he? It won't end well for her?" Elena asked, looking hopeless.

"No. He's wrong. And I'm gonna make sure that he's wrong." Buffy said.

"I just can't believe what this day has turned into."

"Not a normal day, nope."

"I was stupid to think that it could be. I mean, nothing about my life is normal. My best friend is a witch, my friend is a vampire, and I have a doppelgänger who wants to destroy all of us."

"Hey, normal is boring. Take it from me, this is much more exciting."

Elena sighed. "I'm gonna to call you tomorrow ok?" Buffy nodded. "Good night, Buffy."

Buffy walked into the house later with Stefan after making sure Caroline was safely in her house. They'd convinced Liz to invite her in without letting her realize that her daughter needed the invitation. Damon was sitting in the living room drinking a glass of scotch. Buffy sighed. "Go." Stefan said as he walked up the stairs.

She walked into the living room. "Got enough for two?"

"You're not a guest, so I don't need to serve you." Damon said. "Help yourself."

Buffy just took his glass from him and downed the rest. "How's your chest?"

"It hurts, but I'll live."

Buffy nodded. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have hurt you like that. You were only doing what you thought was best.""But not what you thought was best."

"No. I believe that Caroline can make it through this. She'll need some help, but that's what Stefan and I are here for."

"But not me."

"You can be, you know."

"Why?"

"Because it's the right thing to do and the Damon that I've come to know…. He does the right thing."

"Right. Are we done?" Damon stood up. "Cause I'm kinda tired." Without letting her get in another word, he was gone.

Buffy sighed and made her way up to her bedroom. Damon was royally pissed at her and it wasn't going to get any better any time soon. So she now had Damon and Caroline to deal with. Two unstable vampires. "Boy my life is fun."

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