The Next Chapter

Chapter 24

Chapter 24

Buffy walked painfully down the stairs the next morning. She'd slipped out of Damon's grasp and out of his bed to go get some food. Her stomach had woke her up. She hated that she was still healing and that her ribs still felt broken. They must've had some serious breaks.

"So it was you yesterday." Buffy's eyes snapped up and she found Rose standing in the hallway. "I thought I'd recognized your voice."

"Rose? That was you yesterday?" Buffy asked.

"Yes."

"You kidnapped Elena?"

"I'm sorry. Trevor and I were tired of running. She was our answer. I didn't know that you were involved. I swear if I'd have known, I would've come to you."

"I still don't understand why you didn't come to me in the first place. After Lexi explained everything to me…. I could've helped."

"Not against Klaus."

"Klaus may be big and bad, but he doesn't have what I do." Rose cocked her eyebrow questioningly. "Willow."

"He's got plenty of witches at his beck and call."

"But he doesn't have Willow."

"You're so sure of her abilities?"

"Damn skippy."

Rose smiled and hugged Buffy gently. "It is so good to see you." Buffy hugged her friend back with a wince. "Elijah really did a number on you." Rose touched the bandage on Buffy's cheek. "Are you ok?"

"I'll heal." Buffy shrugged. "Why haven't you called?" She asked as they made their way to the kitchen.

"Trevor and I were in hiding planning Elena's abduction. We wanted Elijah off our backs."

"Well, that's understandable." Buffy opened the fridge and got out some fruit. "You've been running for 500 odd years."

"So Lexi introduced you to the Salvatores?"

"Yes."

"And you're shacking up with the older brother?"

Buffy smiled slightly. "Yes."

"Didn't he kill Lexi? At least, that's what I heard…."

"Make me feel guilty."

"I'm sorry. Life is unexpected and I suppose he was unexpected."

"Way unexpected." Buffy paused. "When did you get here?"

"Last night. I talked to Stefan. He's going to call Elena over here before school so I can apologize and explain."

"Good. Because I'm still not clear on what he wants with Elena."

"Buffy?" Damon called, walking in a split second later. "There you are. You shouldn't…." He spotted Rose and was suddenly standing in front of Buffy, blocking her with his body. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Damon, it's ok." Buffy said, gently grasping Damon's arm. "She's my friend."

He looked at her, then at Rose, then back at Buffy. "How many friends do you have?"

Buffy chuckled. "More than you. Damon, this is Rose."

"Still going with 'what the hell are you doing here?'"

"I came to apologize." Rose said. "And to see my friend."

"Right." Damon turned to Buffy. "You weren't in bed."

"I was hungry. My stomach was threatening to kill you if I didn't eat something, so I got up."

"You should've woke me up. I would've gotten it for you."

"That's sweet, Damon, but I don't need a protector."

"Right now you do and right now you need to heal."

"And I will. Before the day's out, I'll be healed." She took the bandage off her cheek to show the small bruise and thin pink line where the horrible looking gash had been. "See?"

He gently touched it and sighed. "Where's Stefan? Does he know she's here?"

"Stefan invited me to stay." Rose said. "At least until I can explain everything."

"Good." Buffy said. "We need to catch up."

"How do you know the person that kidnapped Elena?"

"Lexi introduced us." Rose said.

"Rose was with Lexi and I in the Amazon." Buffy said. "She's been around a long time and she knows more about the Slayer line than even Giles does. She helped me figure out my powers and between her and Lexi, they turned me into the badass Slayer you see before you."

"The potential was there. You just had to unlock it. The Watchers Council hid those facts from Slayers."

"They hid a lot of things."

"It's a good thing that you fixed that."

Buffy smiled. "Yeah. The stuffy tweed people had to go."

Stefan walked in. "Good, you've met Rose." He said to Damon.

"You know her too?" Damon asked.

"No. We only officially met last night. But she explained to me her and Buffy's history with Lexi." Stefan turned to Buffy. "How are you feeling?"

"Better. Still healing, though." Buffy said. "My ribs were pretty broken, but I'll be back to normal by the end of the day."

"Good. So, I've called Elena over. She'll be here in a little while."

"I'll go wake up Willow. She'll want to be in on this."

Elena knocked on the door and Damon opened it. "Hello, Elena." He said.

"Stefan's here? He called. He said it was important." Elena said.

"Right this way."

"How's Buffy?"

"She's better. Willow made her some kind of witchy tea to help her heal faster than she already does."

Stefan met them in the hallway. "Hey." He said.

"What is this about?" Elena asked. Behind Stefan, Rose stepped into the hallway. "You."

"She's here to explain."

"Explain what?"

"The reason why you were kidnapped."

"This ought to be good."

"His name is Klaus."

"Let's go join Buffy and Willow in the living room." Damon said. "They want to hear this too."

Elena followed them in and sat down on the couch between Buffy and Willow. Damon stood in front of Buffy, but off to the side so she could see. "Ok, you have to understand I only know what I've picked up over the years and I don't know what's true and what's not true." Rose said. "It's the problem with all this vampire crap but Klaus, I know he's real."

"Who is he?" Elena asked.

"He's one of the originals."

"He's a legend." Damon interjected.

"From the first generation of vampires." Buffy said.

"Kinda like the Master." Willow chimed in.

"Like Elijah?" Elena asked.

"No." Rose said. "Elijah was the Easter Bunny compared to Klaus. He's a foot soldier. Klaus is the real deal."

"Klaus is known to be the oldest." Buffy said.

"Ok, so you're saying that the oldest vampire in the history of time is coming after me?"

"Yes." Rose said.

"No." Stefan argued.

"What they're saying is, I mean if what she's saying is true…." Damon started.

"Which it is." Rose said.

"And you're saying it so I don't kill you."

"Which I'm not."

"Then we're looking at a solid maybe."

"Look, Elijah's dead, right?" Stefan said to Elena. "So no one else even knows that you exist."

"Not that you know of." Rose said.

"That's not helping." Damon said.

"They've been like that all morning." Buffy said to Elena.

"Look," Stefan said. "I've never even met anyone who's laid eyes on him. I mean, we're talking centuries of truth mixed with fiction. We don't know if he's real. For all we know he could just be some sort of stupid bed time story."

"He's real and he doesn't give up." Rose said. "If he wants something, he gets it. If you're not afraid of Klaus, then you're an idiot."

"All right, we're shaking." Damon said. "You made your point."

Elena shook her head and got up. "Where are you going?" Stefan asked.

"To school. I'm late." She said.

"Let me grab my stuff. I'll go with you."

"It's ok. I know where it is." Elena waved at Buffy and walked out.

"She's in denial." Damon said, sitting down on the arm of the couch next to Buffy.

"Shut up, Damon." Stefan snapped.

Damon looked at Buffy. "So, do you feel up to some more planning for your room up there?"

Buffy shook her head. "I'm gonna take it easy today. Catch up with Rose and Willow."

"Actually…." Willow said. "I've got to finish packing because I've got to get back to England."

"Today?"

"Yeah. Giles needs my help. Besides, I want to research more into this Klaus guy. What better research than Giles' collection?"

"It's a good thing we didn't blow it up with the school."

Damon finished packing Willow's car while Buffy and Willow said their goodbyes. "Promise me you'll call the minute you land." Buffy said.

"I promise. I've got a layover in New York, so I'll get to see Dawnie."

"Tell her that I promise she can come down as soon as everything gets cleared up."

"Really, Buff? Your life is never calm. She might as well come down now."

Buffy shook her head. "No. Klaus is big and bad and scary and I don't want him anywhere near Dawn. If he's after Elena, eventually he'll come here."

"And you will have all the information myself and Giles can find to help you defeat him. Cause that's what we do."

Buffy hugged Willow tightly. "I'll talk to you soon, ok?"

Damon wrapped an arm around Buffy's waist as they watched Willow pull out and drive down the driveway. "You ok?" He asked.

"We never get to hang out much." Buffy sighed. "I miss the old days where we turned on a foreign movie, turned off the subtitles, and made up our own story."

"Think you can get your friend Rose to give us more info on Klaus?"

"I think she's tapped, Damon."

"She's got to know more. Come on." He tugged her inside the house and they went looking for Rose. They found her in the library crying. "All right Rosebud. I need some answers. Oh please don't tell me you're crying 'cause your buddy Trevor lost his head."

"Damon!" Buffy cried, smacking his arm. "Hold on, Rose. I'll get you some tissues." She went off into another room to find some tissues.

"You've always been this sensitive?" Rose asked.

"Little vampire switch for this very reason." Damon said. "Takes the emotion out of it."

"Yeah, you switch yours, I'll switch mine."

"Is that a dig?"

"It's an observation. Being in love with Buffy…."

"I'm not in love with anyone."

"You want to try that again?"

"Don't get on my bad side."

"Then show me your good side."

"Here, Rose." Buffy handed Rose some tissues. "I'm sorry about Damon. He lost his manners somewhere along the way."

"How do I find Klaus?" Damon asked.

"You don't find Klaus, he finds you." Rose said.

"Come on. Somebody's got to know somebody who knows where he is, right?"

"Add another two hundred somebodies to that and you're still not even close."

"Humor me. You got in touch with Elijah. How did you do it?"

"Through a very low somebody on the totem pole. A guy named Slater in Richmond."

"Perfect. I'll drive."

"No. You forget not all of us can do sun."

"Then you drive. Come on."

"Wait…. How can you drive?" Buffy asked.

"My SUV is specially tinted." Rose shrugged.

"Oh. Nice. Let's go then."

Rose parked the SUV in an underground parking lot. Damon got out and helped Buffy out of the car. The bumps in the road hadn't helped her broken ribs much. She'd been gasping for breath at one point.

"Back entrance." Damon said. "How convenient."

"That's the point." Rose said. "We can't all have little daylight rings."

"How do you know this Slater guy is even here?"

"I called him. He's here. He's always here."

"Good." Damon suddenly slammed her against the wall. "Just one thing. If you're setting us up in any way, I will rip your heart out and shove it down your throat. It's something I'm very good at."

Buffy rolled her eyes as Rose turned Damon's arm backwards and slammed him face first against the car. "I'm older than you and stronger." She said. "Don't get on my bad side." She released him.

"Damon, you can trust her." Buffy said, taking his hand. "She's not going to hurt me or Elena." Damon looked at Buffy until he saw what he was looking for. He gripped her hand and they headed into a little coffee shop through a back door. The place was bathed in sunlight streaming in through the windows. "Rose, what about the sunlight?"

"Double paned and tempered." Rose said. "UV rays can't penetrate. You see the appeal now?"

A vampire Buffy presumed was Slater joined them saying, "That and the free Wi-Fi."

Rose embraced him warmly. "Hey, how are you?"

"Good. I saw you come…. What are you doing here?"

"Mmm, it's a long story but I want you to meet…."

"Damon Salvatore. Turned 1864 in Mystic Falls by Katherine Pierce aka Katerina Petrova. And the lovely Buffy Summers. The oldest living Slayer who changed the game by turning all potential Slayers into actual Slayers. I am honored." He did a small bow towards Buffy and then looked at Rose. "So I take it I was right, what I told you about the tomb under the church was true?"

"Yes. It was right. Thank you for the tip."

"It's nice to meet you." Slater said to Damon. He didn't respond. "Maybe."

"It's nice to meet you, Miss Summers. It truly is an honor. You're like a celebrity!"

"Thank you, Slater." Buffy said.

"So…. What's going on Rose? Where is Trevor?"

Slater led them over to a table by the window after Rose had explained everything. "And you're sure Elijah's dead?" He asked.

"Beyond dead." Damon said.

"Trevor was a good man. He helped me with my dissertation on sexual deviance on the baroque period. I was schooling for my psych PHD."

"Slater's been in college since 74." Rose said.

"When I was turned." He said proudly. "I have 18 degrees, 3 masters, and 4 PHDs."

"The point?" Damon asked.

"Exactly, I mean, what is the point? What should I be doing with my eternity? If you have an answer, please enlighten me." Damon scowled, but Buffy laughed.

"I like him." The blonde said.

"We need your help." Rose said. "If someone wanted to get in touch with Klaus, how would you hook him up?"

"Craigslist." Slater said simply.

"Really?" Buffy and Damon asked.

"Seriously. I respond to a personal ad to get sent to somebody who knows somebody who knows Elijah…. Who's dead and that's where my connection ends."

"Here's what I don't get: Elijah moved around during the day, which means the original people knew the secret of the day ring." Damon said. "Know why would Klaus want to lift the curse of the sun and the moon?"

"To keep the natural born werewolves from lifting it. If a vampire breaks the sun curse then the werewolves are stuck with the curse of the moon forever and vice versa."

"But natural born werewolves are extinct." Rose said.

"True. I've never seen one but rumor has it…."

"Not such a rumor." Buffy said.

"Mystic Falls?" Buffy nodded. "God, I have got to visit this place. It sounds awesome."

"Can we stop the curse from being broken at all?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, what if we make the moonstone useless? Would it stop the curse from being broken?"

"Yeah, probably but why would you want to do that?"

Buffy went off into thinking mode, so Damon picked up the conversation. "Tell me how." He said.

"You think I'm gonna help you figure out how to do something that will piss of an original? And keeping them from walking in the sun?"

"You want to walk in the sun? I can make that happen if you help us."

Suddenly all the windows shattered. Slater and Rose's skin began burning. Rose started screaming as Slater managed to get up and run. Rose was trapped in the sunlight. Damon looked outside as Buffy shoved people away to get to Rose.

"Here!" Damon tossed Buffy his jacket and she covered Rose's exposed skin with it. She helped get Rose away from the windows and over to Damon as they ran out of the coffee shop. Damon didn't stop running as he scooped Rose up and carried her to the car. Buffy opened the back door and Damon put her in the backseat.

"You're gonna be ok." Buffy said.

"I know." Rose said.

"Who's behind that?" Damon demanded.

"I don't know. Where is Slater?"

"Iowa by now. Who the hell knows?"

"He's not behind this. He's a good guy. He wouldn't betray me."

"Who did it?"

"It's Klaus, don't you understand?" Rose sobbed. "You don't know this man. We're dead. We're all dead."

Buffy shook her head and gently hugged Rose. "Rose, I've heard that before and I'm still here."

Rose let out a sob and said, "You've died twice."

The Slayer shrugged. "Death and me? We're just not a good match so our relationship doesn't ever stick. Trust me, ok? We are going to get out of this." Buffy looked at Damon with a worried expression.

Damon was drinking in the living room while Buffy was upstairs talking to Willow and Giles. Rose joined him. "I'm sorry about today." She said. "I didn't know that was gonna happen."

"I believe you." Damon said.

"I wish we could save Elena. I know that you want to. I know Buffy wants to."

"And we will."

"You remind me of Trevor."

"Why? Why him?"

"Because he always talked a big game…. Always working an angle but underneath all that, he was the best friend anyone could hope for."

"And where did that get him?"

"Dead. And my loyalty to him almost got me dead too."

Damon gave her a glass of scotch. "To friendship."

"You're right to fight it…. How you feel about her."

"And why's that?"

"Because if you want to survive, you need to not care about anyone."

"Caring gets you dead, huh?"

"It might just be time to turn the switch off on your emotions." Rose said sarcastically.

"I will if you will."

Rose laughed slightly. "I was being sarcastic." He shot a glare at her. "It's a lie, you know. There's no switch you can turn. Sure when you're a newbie but after a couple of hundred years…. you just have to pretend." Damon gave her a sour look. "That woman up there…. She's the best thing that will ever walk into your life. Honestly, she's a once in a lifetime deal. You should fight your feelings for anyone else because they will never be worth it…. But her…. Her you should fight for."

"Why?"

"Because she is the best person I have ever met in my many hundred years. Lexi couldn't speak highly enough of her. And in my many, many years, I have never come across anything or anyone quite like her."

Buffy walked in. "Giles says that he's trying to track a way to get to Klaus…. What did I miss?"

"Nothing." Damon said. "Just drinking." He handed her a glass of scotch. "What else did the Watcher man have to say?"

"That he's incredibly excited to find that natural born werewolves aren't extinct." Buffy rolled her eyes playfully. "He's such a nerd."

Rose's phone rang and she answered it. "Hello?"

"Rose?" Slater said on the other end.

"Slater? Are you ok?"

"Yes. I took off. I'm sorry. I was freaking freaked."

"No, I'm sorry to have involved you."

"Look, I want no part in any of this but I did some digging."

"Ok, what did you find?"

"You can destroy the curse but you need the moonstone."

"How? What do you mean? I don't follow."

"Can your friends get the moonstone? You need it."

Rose looked at Buffy first, then Damon. Damon nodded his head and Buffy shot him a worried look. "Yes, they can get it. What next?"

"You need a witch. Get the moonstone…. A witch should be able to figure out the rest. Good luck, Rose." He hung up.

"What was that about?" Buffy asked, confused. "He didn't want to break the curse earlier."

"You think something's wrong?" Rose asked.

Buffy sighed. "Well, I don't ever ignore my spider senses, so yeah…. I'm going with Big Problem for $800, Alex."

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