The Next Chapter

Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Buffy opened the door to let Alaric in. He was carrying a box with him. Jeremy and Damon were in the living room. Jeremy had come over and told them about Mason Lockwood being after a moonstone and that Tyler Lockwood had to kill someone to activate the werewolf curse. Buffy didn't really want him involved, but he was stubborn.

"Rick!" Damon said as Alaric and Buffy walked into the room.

Alaric looked at Jeremy. "What are you doing here?"

"Helping Damon and Buffy." Jeremy said. "I'm the one who found out about the moonstone."

"Does Elena know you're here?"

"Not exactly."

"What do you got?" Damon asked.

Alaric set the box down. "This is Isobel's research from Duke. Her assistant sent it to me."

"Vanessa, the hottie."

Buffy smacked Damon's stomach. "Vanessa yes." Alaric said, chuckling. "Do you remember the old Aztec curse she told us about?"

"Son of the moon, blah, blah, blah, blah…."

"An Aztec curse?" Jeremy asked. "Cool."

"Yeah, supposedly vampires and werewolves used to run freely until a shaman put a curse on them, limiting their power." Alaric said. "Since then, werewolves can only turn on a full moon and vampires are weakened by the sun."

"Most of them anyway." Damon waved his ring.

"According to the legend, the werewolf part of the curse is sealed with a moonstone."

"What do you mean sealed?" Jeremy asked.

"It's a witch thing." Buffy said. "Whatever seals the curse is usually the key to unsealing the curse. Unless there's a loophole, which in this case, there doesn't seem to be. Hey, maybe Mason believes he can use the moonstone to break the curse."

"If we start believing in some supernatural witchy mojo legend from a picture book, we're idiots." Damon said. "Where is the stone now?"

"Tyler." Jeremy said.

"Can you get it?"

"Yeah."

"You see, now your life has a purpose."

"So you do believe it?"

"This is the same book that says the werewolf bite kills a vampire. Ignoring it makes me an even bigger idiot. Let's go."

Buffy walked over to Elena with Damon not far behind her. Elena was helping set up the masquerade ball for the following evening. Elena turned when she heard them walking up. "What are you guys doing here?" Elena asked.

"Looking for my baby bro." Damon said. "Speaking of…. you should tell yours to stop following me around."

"What's going on?"

"Ask him." Damon nodded towards Jeremy walking up and he and Buffy walked off to find Stefan.

"What are you two doing here?" Stefan asked.

"We need to talk." Buffy said.

"I was just going to call you guys."

"News, news all around." They walked off a little ways for some privacy. "You first."

"Bonnie bumped into Mason Lockwood today and had a vision. She said she saw Elena kissing him."

"Elena doesn't even know him."

"Katherine's with Mason Lockwood?" Damon cried.

"He got into town after she did. It makes perfect sense." Stefan said.

"I know but Mason Lockwood? Werewolf thing aside, the guy is a surfer. She's got to be using him. It has to be."

"Using him for what?"

"Mason Lockwood's looking for a moonstone that allegedly can break the full moon werewolf curse." Buffy said. "Maybe Katherine wants it too."

"Why?"

"No idea."

"This is the beauty of Katherine, though." Damon said. "She's always up to something."

"So how are we gonna find this moonstone?" Stefan asked.

"Jeremy is gonna get it from Tyler."

"Why would you involve Jeremy?"

"He's playing Indiana Jones. He involved himself."

"I'm not partial to it, but he's stubborn. Kinda like his sister." Buffy said. She spotted Jeremy walking over to Tyler. "Hey man." He said.

"Hey!" Tyler said.

"Hey, so I did a little research on that stone you showed me."

"What? Why?"

"I don't know. Curiosity? Boredom?"

"What did it say?"

"Well, it turns out that it's part of this Aztec legend but I want to make sure it's the same kind of stone. You think I could check it out again?"

"No. I gave it to my uncle."

"Why did you do that?"

"Because I'm done with legends and curses. I don't want anything to do with it, ok?"

" Yeah. Yeah sure."

Buffy stopped listening. "That's not good."

"Not at all." Stefan said.She smiled suddenly when she spotted Bonnie. "We need bait." The guys looked at where Buffy was looking.

"What are you planning?" Damon asked.

"Bonnie's going to help us get Mason Lockwood."

"Why would she do that? She hates us."

"But she likes Stefan. And Stefan's going to ask nicely." Buffy walked over and caught up with Bonnie. She grabbed the girl's arm and pulled. "Come on."

"What are you doing?" Bonnie demanded, trying to wriggle free.

"We need to talk to you." Buffy said. She stopped well away from people.

"This is as far as I go."

"Yeah, that's why I stopped."

"What do you want?"

"A favor." Damon said.

"That's not gonna happen."

"Predictable much?" Buffy said. "That's why we brought him." Buffy hooked her thumb at Stefan.

"I know how you feel about helping us out but since you're the one that linked Mason with Katherine, we finally have an opportunity to get an upper hand on both of them so just hear us out." Stefan said.

"Pretty please." Damon said sarcastically.

"I'm listening."

Stefan's phone started ringing. It was Elena. "I have to fill Elena in on what's going on. Can you two play nice please?" He answered his phone and walked off.

Buffy looked at Bonnie. "All you have to do is touch Mason Lockwood again to see if he gave Katherine the moonstone."

"My visions don't work like that. I don't get to ask questions." Bonnie said.

"How inconvenient." Damon said. "Although, let's talk about that witchy mojo you do with me. You know the fun one when my brain bursts into flames? What is that?"

"That's me giving you an aneurysm. Your blood vessels go pop but you heal quickly so I do it over and over again."

"Is it vampire specific?" Buffy asked.

"It'd work on anyone with a supernatural healing ability."

"Good."

"I'm not gonna help you hurt him."

"Mason Lockwood's a werewolf." Damon said. "Katherine's evil. They're the bad guys. Really? You're gonna play morality police with us right now?"

"Let me explain it to you another way." Buffy offered. "They're a threat to Elena. You're gonna get over yourself and help us."

"Yeah, she meant that as a question with a 'please' on the end." Stefan said, rejoining the conversation.

"Sure." Buffy said with a sarcastic smile.

Mason was heading to his car when he noticed a moving van in his way. "Hey, can you move your van? I'm blocked in." Then he noticed Bonnie trying to remove a table from the truck. "Hey, how did you get sucked into that by yourself?"

"All the guys baled." Bonnie said. "Something about draft picks…. I don't know. I don't speak that language.""Here, let me give you a hand." Mason helped her with the table but she used her powers on him and he held his head in pain, falling to the floor.

"Sorry." Bonnie said.

Damon arrived and kicked Mason in the face, knocking him unconscious. Bonnie went into Mason's car and Damon and Stefan put Mason in the trunk. Buffy jumped into the driver's seat with Damon and Bonnie climbing in on the other side.

Damon carried Mason into the library and set Mason in a chair. Buffy stood guard while Bonnie brought in Mason's bag and handed in to Damon. "Here's his bag as requested." She said.

"Ok, grab that corner." Damon said, pulling out a tarp.

"Why are we doing this?"

"Because I don't want to stain the carpet."

"I knew you were gonna say something like that."

"You're judging again." Buffy warned as she lifted the chair and Mason so Damon and Bonnie could maneuver the blanket under the chair. "FYI: He's not gonna be out much longer."

Damon found chains in Mason's bag. "Looks like this guy is used to being tied up."

"Can I try something?" Bonnie asked Buffy. Buffy stepped away and Bonnie took Mason's head in her hands.

"What are you doing?" Buffy asked.

"You're looking for a moonstone and I'm trying to help you find it."

"Oh good, yeah." Damon said. "Find out if he gave it to Katherine and find out where she is and find out what they're gonna do with it once they get it." He started tying Mason down to the chair.

Bonnie concentrated herself while she touched Mason's head. "Somewhere small, dark…. there's water."

"Like a sewer?" Buffy asked.

"No. Like a well…. That can't be right…. Yeah. It's a well."

"Why would it be in a well?"

"I told you…. I only get what I get." Mason caught Bonnie's wrist but Buffy grabbed his wrist and squeezed, making Mason release her. "That's it. That's all I got." She was obviously wigged.

"Hey judgy. Thank you." Damon said sincerely. Bonnie just looked at him and scurried out.

"This part sucks." Buffy said.

"Which part?" Damon asked, joining her in front of Mason. He was starting to come around.

"The waiting part."

Damon smiled and stepped up to Mason. "Come on. Wake up wolf boy!" He punched Mason in the face.

"What do you want?" Mason demanded.

"To torture you." Damon grabbed an iron poker from the fireplace and started heating it up in the fire he'd built there while Bonnie had been looking in Mason's head.

Mason looked at Buffy in a panic. "Are you going to let him do this!"

Buffy bent down to be eye level with Mason, bracing herself against the back of the chair next to his head with one arm. "You've threatened people I care about and you're shacking up with someone who has threatened people I care about. And, oh yeah, you got me shot. I don't take very kindly to being shot."

"You're human! You can't let this happen."

Buffy laughed. "Oh, sweetie. I may look human and I may sound human. I may even have a beating heart. But I am far from human. Not anymore. And by the way…. Just to give you something to think about…. I dated one of the world's most notorious serial killers. He liked to torture his victims in some seriously twisted ways and guess what? I learned some things." She stood up with a bright smile and Mason started panicking. He struggled against his bonds, shaking the chair.

"Someone's feisty." Damon said as he moved toward Mason with the now orange tipped poker. Buffy calmly sat down near Mason and watched. Mason wouldn't stop moving and he toppled to the floor with the chair.

"What?" Mason screamed.

Damon shoved the iron poker into Mason's chest and caused him to scream in agony. "You can hurt. Good to know. I was afraid you were gonna be some beast master with no affinity for pain." He looked at Mason's wound to find it was healing. "Oh, you heal quickly. Not good."

"Way good." Buffy interjected. "Means he'll last longer. It's no fun if they talk too quickly."

Damon shrugged as if this were an everyday conversation. "I guess I'll just have to keep applying pain." Damon grabbed a chain and hauled Mason and the chair back upright. He calmly walked back to the fireplace and heated up the iron bar again. "So…. Katherine. How do you know her? What is she up to?" Mason spit on the ground.

"You know…. We have all day." Buffy said. "And we can take turns."

"You wanna…?" Damon offered her the hot poker.

Buffy shook her head. "I'm content to watch you for right now. Gives me something to think about for later."

Damon laughed at Mason's appalled and terrified expression. "That's my girl." He stabbed the iron poker into Mason again. Mason screamed as it seared his insides. After a minute, Damon pulled it back out and took back to the fireplace. "So…. When did you two meet? Did she seduce you and tell she loved you? You're supernatural so she can't compel you. I'm sure she used her other charms. Katherine's good that way."

Buffy stood up and blocked Jeremy's path. He'd just walked into the room with Alaric's box. "Hey, Jeremy, I thought I asked you to leave." She said.

"I found something in Rick's box of stuff." Jeremy said, setting it down.

"Oh…. What is it?" Damon asked, dropping the poker and walking over.

"I did a search on my phone. It's a plant: Aconitum Vulparia. Grows in the mountains of the northern hemisphere, communally known as 'Aconite', 'blue rocket' and 'wolfsbane'."

Buffy took the plant from Jeremy. "Hmm…. Willow uses this in her spells sometimes. What else did you read?"

"Well, every source says something different. One myth says it causes lycanthropy, which sounds bogus. Another one says that it protects people and another one says, well it's toxic."

Mason whimpered and Damon looked over at him. "I'm guessing toxic." Damon said. He took the plant from Buffy and went towards Mason. "What's Katherine doing in Mystic Falls?" Mason didn't answer so Damon trailed the plant down Mason's cheek. Where the wolfsbane made contact, Mason's skin burned. "Why is she here?"

"She's here with me!" Mason screamed. "Why are you asking? Jealous?"

"How rude of me. I just realized I didn't offer you anything to eat." Damon shoved the plant into Mason's mouth. "Yummy!"

Buffy noticed Jeremy flinch. "Hey," She said softly. "Maybe you should head out."

"Why do you want the moonstone?" Damon demanded.

"Screw you!" Mason choked out.

"Ahhh! Wrong answer!"

"If he was gonna say anything, he would have already!" Jeremy cried.

"Jeremy…." Buffy warned, holding him back.

"I'm taking your eyes now." Damon held up another sprig of wolfsbane.

"The well! You'll find it there!" Mason said.

"I know where it is. I want to know what it does and why you want it."

"I'm getting it for Katherine."

"Why?"

"She's gonna use it to lift the curse."

"Of the moon? Now, why would a vampire help a werewolf break a curse that keeps him from turning whenever they want?"

"So I wouldn't have to turn anymore."

"Why?"

"Because she loves me!"

Damon laughed and looked at Buffy. "Now I get it." He looked back at Mason. "You're just stupid. Katherine doesn't love you. She's using you, you moron!"

"I'm done talking.""Yes you are." Damon handed the wolfsbane to Buffy. "It's time to take a walk, Jeremy."

"I'm staying." Jeremy said.

"You should go." Buffy said.

"I'm staying. He's had enough."

Mason looked at Jeremy. "Just help Tyler. Don't let this happen to him."

"Damon…."

Damon rushed over to Jeremy and strangled him. "Damon!" Buffy cried.

"You want to be a part of this?" Damon growled, releasing Jeremy when Buffy tugged on him. "Well, here it is! Kill or be killed!"

Buffy pushed Damon away and pulled Jeremy gently aside. "Jeremy, he's a werewolf. He'll kill Damon and Stefan the first chance he gets. I need you to leave, ok? You do not need to be a part of this." Jeremy looked horrified, but he left.

"You really want me to kill you anyway, don't you Mason?" Damon asked, moving back towards the werewolf. "Really is a curse, isn't it? You know…. when I look at you I see myself. A less dashing and less intelligent version."

"I love her." Mason said.

"Oh, I know! I've been where you are. But Katherine will only rip your heart out. Let me do it for her." Damon shoved his hand into Mason's chest and pulled out his heart. It was the only time Buffy ever flinched.

Damon was wrapping Mason's body in the tarp when Stefan arrived. He tossed the moonstone to Buffy. "All this for that?" Damon asked.

"Yep." Stefan said. He looked at Damon. "I see you've exercised your usual restraint."

"Had to be done." Damon grabbed Mason's phone and texted Carol Lockwood from it. "'Carol…. big opportunity in Florida. I'm gonna be gone for a long time. I'll send for my things once I get settled. Much love, Mason.'"

"Let's get rid of the body." Buffy said.

"Oh, last number dialed. I wonder who that could possibly be."

"No, Damon! Don't provoke her!" Stefan said.

Katherine answered, thinking it was Mason. "Mason, you should have been here an hour ago.""Wrong boy toy." Damon said.

"Damon. For once you surprise me. I guess Mason's with you."

"He's right beside me…. Although his heart's across the room."

"You shouldn't have."

"I've had a very busy day today. I killed a werewolf, found the moonstone…. Hey, did you know that he hid the moonstone at the bottom of a well full of vervain? I guess he didn't trust you very much but he did love you. Poor guy. Hey, where are you? Because I could bring him over. Last goodbyes and all that."

"You have no idea what you've just done."

"Awe, did I put a kink in your master plan? I'm so sorry."

"Do you honestly believe that I don't have a plan B? And if that fails a plan C, then a plan D and…. you know how the alphabet works, don't you? Send my love to Stefan." She hung up and Damon looked at Stefan and Buffy.

"Why did you do that?" Stefan asked.

"I couldn't help myself. You know me."

"She's going to retaliate." Buffy said. "And soon."

"Let's just get rid of the body." Damon stood up and looked at Stefan for some help.

While the boys were gone, Buffy's cell phone rang. It was Elena. "Hey."

"Buffy…." Elena was crying.

"Oh god…."

"Jenna…. She stabbed herself. Katherine…. She made Jenna stab herself. Alaric and I are behind the ambulance."

"I'll be right there, ok?"

"Is Jeremy with you?"

"No. He left a while ago. Keep trying him and if I see him, I'll pick him up."

"Ok."

Buffy hung up and grabbed her car keys.

"Where are you going?" Damon asked, walking back in with Stefan.

"Katherine retaliated."

"What happened?" Stefan asked.

"She compelled Jenna to stab herself. Elena's on her way to the hospital now with Alaric. I'm going to meet them there and try to find Jeremy."

"I'm coming." Stefan started to follow her.

"No. You stay here. You and Elena are supposed to be broken up, remember? Damon…."

"I'll make sure he doesn't leave. Go." Damon said.

Buffy sat with Jeremy in the waiting room. She'd found him near the town square heading for home. Finally Elena came out of the back. "Is she ok?" Buffy asked.

"The doctors told Alaric that she got lucky. She's gonna be ok."

"Did she remember what happened?" Jeremy asked. Buffy had filled him in.

"No, nothing. It's all part of Katherine's mind compulsion."

"Why would Katherine hurt aunt Jenna?"

"Because she's trying to send a message that she could get to anybody." Buffy said. Elena started to cry and Buffy hugged her tightly. "It's gonna be ok."

"No it's not." Elena sobbed.

"She's gonna pay Elena. I promise you that she's going to pay." Buffy smoothed out Elena's hair like she would Dawn's. "Come on, you two. Let's get you home. You can pack up some stuff and stay with me and the guys."

Buffy opened the door and let Jeremy and Elena in. "There's a spare bedroom a couple of doors down on the left from my room, Jeremy. You can stay there." Jeremy nodded and headed upstairs.

Elena sighed. "I need to talk to Stefan."

Buffy nodded. "Ok." She watched Elena walk off. A minute later, Damon was standing next to her.

"What's going on?" He asked.

"I don't feel safe with Katherine out for blood and those two don't have anyone at their house. They're staying with us till Jenna comes home. Alaric's staying at the hospital."

"We were stupid." They heard Elena say. "Sneaking around, thinking that we weren't gonna get caught."

"I know." Stefan said.

"We did this. Stefan, Jenna's in the hospital and Jeremy could be next all because we didn't listen to her…. Because we're together. Stefan…."

"I know what you're gonna say to me."

"Then let me say it. I've been so selfish because I love you so much and I know how much you love me but it's over. Stefan, it has to be."

"Elena, I….""No, Stefan. It has to be."

Damon hung his head. "I'm so stupid."

"Yeah. You are." Buffy said. She sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Damon." She wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his bare chest where the buttons on his shirt were undone. "I'm just upset and worried."

He kissed her hair. "It's ok." Damon looked over at Elena. "Elena." He went over to stop her from going upstairs. "I riled Katherine up. I wasn't thinking. I didn't think!"

"It doesn't matter, Damon." Elena said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "She won. Katherine won."

Buffy walked up to Elena. "You don't have to stay here if you don't want."

"Can I just stay with you?" Elena begged. "I don't want to be alone."

Buffy nodded. "Sure. Yeah, go on up and get settled and I'll be up in a little bit."

Damon watched her walk up the stairs, a pained expression on her face. "I hate that I did that to her."

Buffy gently touched his cheek and made him look at her. "We're going to fix this."

"How?"

"We're going to kill Katherine. Once and for all."

"Easier said than done."

Buffy shook her head. "I've taken down bigger and badder things. I've taken down a god before. Katherine's nothing compared to that."

"What do we do?" Stefan asked behind them.

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