The Next Chapter

Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Alaric finally arrived at the Salvatore house and Damon answered the door. "Thanks for coming, Rick." He said. "Can I get you something to drink? Coffee, bourbon? Bourbon and coffee?"

"Elena mentioned you needed my help." Alaric said, walking into the living room where Stefan, Elena, and Buffy were.

"Yeah, we were hoping you could help shed some light on the Lockwood family." Stefan said.

"Now, why would I know anything about the Lockwood's?"

"Well you wouldn't. But your dead…. not dead vampire wife might." Damon said.

"Isobel's research from when you guys were at Duke together." Elena elaborated.

"You said that she had spent years researching this town." Stefan added.

"Isobel's research here in Mystic Falls rooted in folklore and legends but at the time I thought much of which was fiction." Alaric said.

"Like that amazing vampire story." Damon said.

"Aside from vampires, what else?" Buffy asked.

"The lycanthrope." Alaric said.

Buffy looked at Damon. "Told you so."

"No way. Impossible." Damon said. "Way too Lon Chaney."

"Is it?" Stefan asked.

"I've been on this planet one hundred and sixty some odd years…. never came across one. Where the hell are they?"

"I told you they were real. But the ones born into it are rare." Buffy said. "I talked to Giles and he said that most people believe that they're extinct and the only werewolves around now are the ones that have to bite someone to pass on the lycanthrope curse."

"Why do you suspect the Lockwood's?" Alaric asked.

"Because vervain didn't affect the mayor at Founder's Day but the Gilbert device did and it affected his son Tyler." Damon said.

"And at the school carnival his uncle Mason exhibited inhuman behavior when he fought one of the carnival workers." Stefan said. He'd followed Tyler and Mason had intervened on the fight Damon had set up between Carter and Tyler. "It suggested some sort of a supernatural entity. Buffy believes it's lycanthropy."

"We were hoping that Isobel's research could help us figure if that's true or not." Buffy said. "Giles still isn't sure and he doesn't know the area very well. And god knows the man is terrified of a computer."

"Well, all her things are still at Duke." Alaric said. "I mean her office is still there. She's technically still missing."

"So can we get access to it?" Damon asked. Alaric looked at Damon suspiciously.

"Rick, we don't know what we are dealing with exactly." Buffy said.

"She's right. If this born-werewolf thing is true, we have seen enough movies to know it's not good." Damon added. "It means Mason Lockwood is a real life Lon Chaney and that Tyler punk may just very well be Lon Chaney junior which means Bella Lugosi, meaning me, is totally screwed."

Buffy looked at him incredulously. "Wow. Way to make it all about you."

Damon shrugged. "It's a gift."

Buffy sat in the backseat behind Alaric as they waited outside of Elena's house later that morning. Damon was waiting outside the SUV. He was still upset with Buffy for turning him down. "How long can he stay that way?" Alaric asked.

Buffy shrugged. "As long as he wants. But we both have forever. So somebody's going to outlast the other."

"I only require one word from you and poof…. Anger gone." Damon said, sticking his head in the car."No one asked you to eavesdrop on our conversation." Buffy shot back.

"I don't know why you won't just believe me that I'm over Katherine and ready to move on to much better things."

"Because 145 years is a long time to obsess over someone. You don't just get over that in a week."

"I do."

"So if she were to walk up to you right now and profess her love for you and not Stefan, you would still want to kill her?"

"Yes." Damon sighed. "She's had 145 years to let me know she wasn't in that tomb and she didn't. She moved on with her life and I realize now that my brother was right. It was all a game to her." Stefan and Elena walked up just then and Damon turned to them. "Sorry you can't go too, Stef."

"Call me if you need anything." Stefan said to Elena.

"Ok, time to go." Damon said.

Elena kissed Stefan goodbye and climbed into the car next to Buffy with her bag. "Thank you so much for coming, Buffy." Elena said. "I know you wanted to stay and help take care of Caroline…."

"But this is important, too." Buffy finished. "Stefan is perfectly capable of taking care of Caroline alone until I get back. Besides, a road trip with no girlfriends to share it with sucks."

"Hey. I'm hurt." Damon protested.

"I'm sure you are."

"I'm fun." Elena and Buffy didn't say anything. "You can't tell me that the last road trip we went on wasn't fun." Damon looked back at them, but they were staring out their windows.

Alaric, Elena, Buffy, and Damon arrived at Duke and Alaric led them up to an office on the second floor of one of the buildings. "Isobel was officially employed by the anthropology department given that most paranormal phenomenon was grounded in folklore." He was explaining. Alaric opened the door and a pretty, honey blonde woman greeted them. "Excuse me, hi. I'm Alaric Saltzman. I called earlier."

"Yes, of course. I'm Vanessa Monroe, research assistant comparative folklore." She looked strangely at Elena and Buffy moved closer to the teenager. "Uh, let me just grab Isobel's keys."

"These are my friends Buffy, Elena, and Damon. I hope this isn't too much of an imposition."

"Oh please…. Isobel's office is right through there. Isobel was one of my first professors. I'm a grad student. She was brilliant and one of the reasons I went to folklore. Uh I have to ask, has there been any news?"

"No, I'm afraid not."

"It's this way." Vanessa opened Isobel's office door and they all followed her into the office. "I'll grab the light. Feel free to look around. It's fascinating isn't it?" She walked out of the office and Buffy thought that was a little strange since the light switch was by the door.

"Uh…. Guys…. Where did she go?" Buffy asked.

Vanessa came back with a crossbow and shot an arrow at Elena but Damon put himself in front of Elena to protect her. The arrow landed in his back just as Buffy grabbed Vanessa by the throat and pinned her against the wall, taking the crossbow from her.

"Damon, are you ok?" Buffy asked, not taking her eyes off of Vanessa.

"I'm gonna need someone to take this out." Damon said.

Buffy snapped the crossbow in half with her free hand and tossed it aside. "Alaric, please take this girl to the outer office and make sure she doesn't do anything else stupid while I deal with Damon." Alaric nodded and took Vanessa's arm, hauling her out the door.

"I'm gonna go with him." Elena said, following Alaric.

"Squeamish, Elena?" Damon called.

Buffy flicked the arrow and Damon yelped. "Be nice." Buffy said.

"Would you just pull the damn thing out? It hurts."

"Big wimp."

"I'll show you 'big wimp'. Ow!" Buffy had yanked the arrow out without any warning. "No countdown? That's cruel."

"Seriously, are you ok?"

"I'm fine. That bitch is dead."

"You're not gonna kill her."

"Watch me."

"You touch her and I'll kill you." Buffy waved the arrow at him.

"What makes you think that has any power over me?"

"You think I wouldn't do it?"

"I know you wouldn't. You don't commit murder."

"My bad. I forgot that I was speaking to a psychotic mind that snaps and kills people impulsively." She started to leave, but he grabbed her arm.

"You wouldn't kill me."

"Wanna try me?"

Damon pulled her to him and kissed her fervently. Her arms wrapped around his neck and one of his hands wove into her hair. When she needed to come up for air, they both pulled back. "So…. Tell me again you could kill me."

Buffy smiled. "I shoved a sword into Angel's heart and sent him to hell for 100 years. Don't think that if it came down to it, I couldn't take you out, too." Damon's smirk melted. "But right now? No, I won't kill you." She kissed his cheek and walked out into the outer office.

"I'm Elena Gilbert." Elena was explaining to Vanessa. "Isobel's daughter and a descendant of Katherine Pierce. And this is Damon Salvatore, who you just shot, and Buffy Summers."

"I'd be extra nice to me right now." Damon warned.

"Look, we need your help ok? We need to see all of Isobel's research. Anything related to Mystic Falls."

Vanessa brought another box into the office and set it in front of Elena. "This box checks Katherine's arrival to Mystic Falls in April 1864."

"Is that all there is about her?" Elena asked.

"All that I'm aware of."

Elena spotted vervain in the box and looked at Damon. She gave some of it to Vanessa. "Here, take this."

"Does vervain really work?"

Damon walked back in from the other office where he'd been scoping out books. "Nope, not at all." He said.

"Can he hear us?"

"No, that would be creepy.""Can he read minds too?"

"You know, if you want to see me naked, all you have to do is ask."

"No, that he can't do." Buffy said. "Though he surely wishes. He is highly capable of being a first rate jackass, though." Vanessa put the vervain in her pocket and Damon smiled brightly. Buffy looked at the book that Elena was reading through. "Any luck?"

"There's nothing in here about Katherine that we don't already know." Elena said.

"Ah, you know, it's a bummer we're not friends because I could tell you what I know." Damon said.

"Hey guys, check this out." Alaric said, looking at one of the books.

Vanessa took the book from Alaric and held it out to show them. "There's no record of werewolf mythology in Mystic Falls but here are some records of some the lesser known legends. Everything from Scandinavian skin walkers to Aztecs legends." She pointed to one of the pictures and she read the inscription. "It translates into the 'curse of the sun and the moon.'"

"It's Native American?" Alaric asked.

"Aztec. It explains one origin of the werewolf curse traced through Virginia. The short story: 600 years ago, the Aztecs were played by werewolves and vampires. They terrorized the countryside, made farming and hunting impossible until an Aztec shaman cursed them, making vampires slaves to the sun and werewolves servants of the moon. As a result, vampires could only prowl at night and werewolves could only turn on a full moon. When the full moon is crossing the sky, whoever's unlucky enough to fall into the werewolves curse turns into a wolf."

"Can they control the transformation?" Buffy asked.

"If it were a choice, it wouldn't be called a curse. Werewolves will attack humans but instinct and centuries of rivalry have hardwired them to hunt their prey of choice: vampires."

"Well, if werewolves were hunting vampires, I would know about it." Damon said.

"I would know more about it." Buffy said. "And like I said, this type of werewolf is pretty much extinct."

"She's right." Vanessa said. "There aren't many werewolves left alive. Hundreds of years ago vampires hunted them almost to extinction."

"Why would they do that?" Elena asked.

"To protect themselves. According to the legend, a werewolf bite is fatal to the vampires."

Buffy shook her head. "I've seen a vampire bitten by a werewolf. Nothing happened except he had a chunk missing."

"Werewolves that are turned by a bite don't pose any danger to vampires. Werewolves that are born into lycanthropy are 100% pure bred. Their bite is fatal."

Elena pulled out a picture of Katherine. "Hey, have you done any research on doppelgangers?"

"Well, the world means a lot of different things to different cultures but typically a doppelganger is a living, breathing double of oneself."

"Did Isobel have anything that explains the link between me and Katherine?"

"That's all she had on Katherine, unfortunately, but I can tell you that doppelgangers usually torment the people they look like, trying to undo their lives. It's not exactly uplifting."

"And more things we already know. Just…. I want to know why we look alike."

"Head scratcher isn't it?" Damon asked.

"Do you know something or are you just being yourself?" Elena shot back.

"Well, if I know anything, I'm not gonna tell you with that attitude."

"That's good, Damon. And this is coming from someone who wants to be my friend but you know what? Friends don't manipulate friends, they help each other."

Buffy was waiting by the car with Elena. It was dark outside now. Elena was trying to open the car but it was locked. Damon walked up then and pushed the button to unlock it. "You're not gonna be able to hate me forever." He said to Elena.

"Can we just go?" Elena asked.

Damon handed her a book. "You didn't dig deep enough."

She looked at the book and read what was written on it. "'Petrova'. I saw it on the shelf."

"Katherine originally came from Europe. Petrova was her real name. Katarina Petrova, to be exact."

"How did you know that?"

"Back when, I saw it engraved on an old heirloom." Elena looked surprised. "Men snoop too, you know. Let me know what you find, I'm very curious myself."

"Thank you for the book, Damon." Elena got into the car.

"Where's Rick?" Buffy asked.

"He's saying goodbye to Vanessa." Damon said.

Buffy was sitting on her bed later that night reading a book. She heard him well before he walked into the room and was waiting for him expectantly. "Listen…. You're wrong about me not being over Katherine." Damon said, standing in the doorway of her room. "Being hit with the bomb that she's been alive and roaming free this whole time and she didn't care enough about me to come find me and tell me…. It was enough for me to say to hell with her. And even before then…. There's something about you I just can't bring myself to let go of. I want to fight for you. I want a shot with you."

"Damon…. I don't want to get hurt. Ever again." Buffy said.

"You can't build a wall around you and never let anybody in. I tried that already. Doesn't work." He sat down. "Buffy, I can't promise you that I won't hurt you. Nobody can promise that, but I can promise that I will try my hardest not to."

Buffy sighed. "One wrong move from you and I won't hesitate to put a stake in your heart."

Damon looked seriously confused. "Wait…. Was that a yes?"

"It was a tentative yes."

He smiled. "I'll take tentative." She blinked and found herself pulled and then rolled on top of him as he moved over her and then onto his back on the bed. They both laughed as he brought her lips to his and kissed her gently.

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