The Next Chapter

Chapter 25

Chapter 25

Buffy followed Stefan and Damon under the church ruins. They were there to talk to Katherine since Buffy's feeling of something bad wasn't going away. They had talked it over extensively and had decided to try talking to her.

"Let's do it." Damon said to Stefan. They both looked at Buffy and then grabbed the tomb slab and pulled it away from the door.

After a long moment, Katherine appeared. "Please, come on in. There's plenty room for all of us."

"I'd rather poke my eyes out." Damon retorted.

"Hmm, they are such pretty eyes."

"We're here for the moonstone." Stefan said.

"Feel like tossing it over?" Buffy asked.

"Tell you what, Buffy, you get your little witch to hocus pocus me out of here and you get whatever you want." Katherine said, making fun of Buffy's name.

"I thought you liked it in here." Stefan said. "Nice and safe where Klaus can't get to you."

"I've had time to reconsider."

"Meaning you're hungry." Damon said.

"I'm starving, Damon, and dirty…. but above all, I'm bored. At least running from Klaus was not boring. So here's the deal: you get me out of here, you get the moonstone, and I'll disappear from Mystic Falls forever. Let me know what you decide." She flashed them the moonstone as she turned and walked away.

Buffy nodded. "That went well!" She sighed and set her coffee down. "I'll go in there and take it by force."

Damon stopped her. "Hey, whoa…. You're not at one hundred despite what you told us. You still wince whenever you rollover at night…. So those ribs of yours are still broken somewhat."

"So? I can take her."

"Damon's right." Stefan said. "I don't want to risk her hurting you any more than you already are."

Buffy sighed. "Fine." Damon handed her her coffee.

Buffy, Elena, Damon, and Stefan were in Elena's kitchen talking. Buffy was sitting on the edge of the island counter, leaning back on her hands to keep weight off her ribs. Damon was bent over across her, leaning on his elbows while his torso leaned on Buffy's thighs. Stefan was on the other side behind Buffy while Elena stood in the doorway.

"You don't believe her, do you?" Elena asked.

"No, of course not." Damon said. "We just wanted the moonstone."

"According to Rose's friend Slater, there's a way to destroy the spell that Klaus wants to break." Buffy said.

"No spell, no doppelganger sacrifice, so…. Ergo…. you live."

"How do you destroy it?" Elena asked.

"By releasing it from the moonstone." Stefan said.

"You guys have been busy."

"Willow and Giles have done most of the work." Buffy said. "They've got all the best research books."

Elena sighed. "How do you guys even know this is gonna work?"

"Cause we have a crafty witch on our side." Damon said.

"You discussed it with Bonnie?"

"She's in contact with Willow, so she's all set to go. And she's agreed to do anything she could to help us." Buffy said.

"It's Katherine who has the moonstone. She's not gonna give it to you."

"We're gonna get it from her." Stefan assured her.

"Well, what he means to say is we will pry it from her cold dead hands if we have to." Damon said.

"Courtesy of me once Damon and Stefan realize that I can still fight even with some broken ribs." Buffy said, glaring at her boyfriend's back laying across her thighs.

"Bonnie just needs to find a way to release the seal long enough for us to get in, get the moonstone, and get out in time for her to return it." Stefan said. "That way Buffy doesn't have to fight. She can just rest and heal like she's supposed to."

"Whoa, seems like you guys have already got it all planned out." Elena said.

"Yep, we're awesome." Damon said.

"Except for one thing. I don't want you to do it."

"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked.

"Elena, we don't have a choice." Stefan said.

"What about Klaus?" Elena asked.

"We'll find him right after we get the moonstone." Buffy said.

"Is that before or after he kills everyone that I care about, including the three of you."

"Elena, if we can despell the moonstone, we can save your life." Stefan said.

"I know. Everybody keeps saying that." Elena turned and walked out, leaving Buffy, Damon, and Stefan to stare after her.

"Willow says there might be a way to lower the tomb spell long enough for you to get in there and grab the moonstone from Katherine." Bonnie said. She, Jeremy, Buffy, Stefan, and Damon were all standing in the library.

"How?" Jeremy asked. "It took both you and your grams last time and look what happened to her."

"I'm aware of what happened. I've learn a few new things."

"Bonnie…."

Bonnie looked at Stefan. "How will you get it?"

"She hasn't been feeding. She's weaker, we're not." Stefan said. Damon showed her a glass of blood he was drinking.

"You wouldn't be underestimating her, would you?"

"It's a plan. Is it perfect? What plan is?"

"I still don't understand why you guys won't let me just go in and knock her ass out while I look for it." Buffy said.

Damon poked Buffy in the ribs and she yelped. "That's why." He countered.

"Let me do it." Jeremy said. "I've got my ring. I could get in, get out, and no spell necessary."

"Gee thank you 16 year old child. Why didn't we think about that? Why are you even here?"

"Maybe I can help better the plan." Bonnie said. "Do you have anything that belongs to Katherine?""I'll be right back." Stefan walked out of the room.

Buffy turned to Damon and smacked his arm. "That hurt."

"It was meant to." Damon said. She jabbed him hard in the ribs. "Ow! That hurt!"

"It was meant to." She shot back with a smirk.

Damon smiled seductively, moving closer to Buffy. "Don't make me feisty."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "There are children present."

"And we're kinda grossed out." Bonnie said.

Stefan came back in with his portrait of Katherine. "This belonged to Katherine. I found it with her things after I thought she was dead but it was hers." Bonnie took the portrait and put it in a bowl on the table. She put a few drops of water on it and it began to burn. She closed her eyes and started her spell. The flames died down after the portrait was consumed.

"What will this do?" Damon asked.

"I can turn the metal into ash. Blow the ashes on her and it will incapacitate her for a minute or two. Long enough for you to get the stone and get out." Bonnie said.

Damon nodded. "We should get weapons." He smirked at Buffy and walked out.

"Why do you need weapons?" Buffy asked, following them up to the room where her weapons were stashed until the other room was finished.

"She's stronger and faster." Stefan said, grabbing some short swords.

"So am I."

"But you're hurt."

"I'm tender. There's a difference." Buffy grabbed both of the brothers' arms and pulled them back, slamming them against the wall behind her simultaneously and effectively stopping them in their tracks. "Look, I appreciate the whole protective thing, but I've been at this gig a long time. I can handle Katherine on a bad day better than the two of you on a good day. So, let's make this easy, ok? I'll go in the tomb and get the moonstone."

Damon was the first to recover from the sudden outburst. "Look, if she did anything to you…. I wouldn't be able to help you. Neither would Stefan. We can't go in there. I don't want that." She started to protest, but he held up his hand. "You can go in the tomb with us. And if anything happens and Bonnie can't do the spell, then you'll be the backup plan."

"I'm not the backup plan."

"Then we're saving the best option for last."

"Don't coddle."

"I'm not. I just…." Damon sighed and gently gripped Buffy's upper arms. "I just don't want anything to happen to you." Damon smiled at her and Stefan did the same.

She glared between the two of them. "Fine. But only because Bonnie won't be able to do that spell. She's not strong enough."

"How do you know that?" Stefan asked.

"Because Willow told me that these spells were a slight drain on her. Which means they require a massive amount of power. Bonnie's just starting out. Didn't anyone else notice the nosebleed she got in there? And Willow told me that just sending that message to Elena sent Bonnie into seizures."

"Why hasn't she told us?"

"Because she doesn't want to seem weak. She's a teenager and they think they're the best. That they're invincible. That no one can ever beat them. So when someone can and does…. It wounds their pride and they have to prove they can be bigger and badder. Jeez, don't you guys remember being teenagers?" Buffy rolled her eyes and headed back to the library.

Damon and Stefan exchanged glances and then followed her. "We should get the torches." Stefan said.

"Buffy, your stakes are in my trunk." Damon said. "Bonnie?"

"Go ahead. I'm almost done." Bonnie said.

"Buffy…." Damon allowed her to go first, twirling her scythe the whole way. He and Stefan followed at a safe distance behind.

Bonnie finally joined Buffy, Stefan, and Damon at the church ruins. "Sorry I'm late. I had to grab the grimoire from home." She said.

"Jeremy couldn't take the pressure, huh?" Damon asked.

"He said he'd be here." Bonnie said as she and Stefan headed down to the tomb.

Buffy's phone rang, so Damon waited with her. "Not really the best time right now, Rose." Buffy said.

"Don't be angry with me." Rose said.

"Why? Rose, what did you do?"

"You need to get to Richmond immediately."

"Tell me why, please?"

Rose sighed. "Elena wanted answers, so she asked me to bring her to Slater. She bribed me with the chance to walk in the sun. But when we got here, we found Slater dead in his apartment. His girlfriend was here and Elena convinced her to hack into Slater's computer and get a message to Klaus."

"What message?"

"She's on a suicide mission, Buffy. She told this contact of Slater's to let Klaus know that she's alive and ready to surrender."

"Oh my god…." Buffy looked at Damon. "We're on our way."

"What's going on?" Damon asked.

Buffy went to the stairway. "Stefan!"

"What's up?" He asked, appearing at the bottom of the stairs. "Damon and I have to run. Rose has a problem. Can you handle this?"

"Yeah. Sure."

Buffy nodded and started a fast hike back to the car. "Where are we going?" Damon asked.

"Elena's trying to get herself killed."

Damon stopped dead. "What?"

Buffy turned and grabbed him, pulling him with her. "She convinced Rose to take her to Slater, but Slater's dead. So she convinced Slater's girlfriend to get a message to Klaus."

"What is wrong with this girl!" Damon and Buffy sped up.

Elena was drinking a glass of water. She looked at Alice, but Alice was staring in awe behind her. Elena turned around and was face to face with an angry Buffy and Damon standing right next to her.

"What are you doing here?" Buffy asked, hands on her hips. Despite her small size, she was incredibly imposing at the moment.

"W-What are you doing here?" Elena asked. She turned to look at Rose. "You called them?"

"I'm sorry, Elena." Rose said.

"You said that you understood."

"She lied." Buffy said.

Alice rushed over. "Damon Salvatore! No way!"

"Get rid of her." Damon said. Rose caught Alice's arm and took her to another room.

Buffy looked at Elena. "We're leaving."

"No." Elena said.

"I said we're leaving and that's final."

"I'm not going with you."

"You do not get to make decisions anymore."

"When have I ever made a decision? You or Damon or Stefan do that for me but this? This is my decision."

"Whose gonna save your life while you're making decisions?"

"You're not listening to me. I don't want to be saved. Not if it means that Klaus is gonna kill every single person that I love."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I've done the whole martyr thing, Elena. It's old news and it doesn't really do much."

"It will save my family."

Buffy sighed and put a hand to her forehead as she shook her head. "Damn it, Elena! It won't! Klaus will go after everyone you love whether you're alive or dead. That's what bad guys do." She grabbed Elena's arms. "And that's why I'm here. You need to have faith in me. I will stop Klaus."

"Elijah beat you. If it hadn't been for Damon, he would've killed you."

"What's your point?"

"My point is that you can't save me. Not this time."

Damon sighed and grabbed Elena's arm, turning her to him. "Get your ass out the door before I throw you over my shoulder and carry you out myself." She struggled to get out of his grip, but he held firm. She went to hit him with her fist but he caught it and leaned closer to her. "Don't ever do that again."

Buffy sighed. "Damon, let her go." He looked at her and then let Elena go. Buffy turned to the teenager. "You sit down right there. Rose?" Rose appeared. "Please guard her while Damon and I take care of the creepy goth chick and don't let her do anything stupid…. er."

Buffy and Damon went into the room where the goth chick was and shut the door. "Oh my gosh! This is so wild!" She said. "I'm Alice. I'm such a huge fan! You're the Slayer! I can't believe it."

"Shut up." Buffy ordered. "Please god, shut up! Damon…."

Damon grabbed Alice and made her look him in the eyes. "All right, listen up. You are not going to remember that we were here."

"I'm not going to remember." Alice repeated.

"You are going to go to sleep and when you wake up, you are going to go home and you are going to forget about vampires. You're not ever going to believe in them again."

"I won't believe."

"Good. Now go to sleep." Alice slumped in Damon's arms and he placed her on the bed.

"Thank you." Buffy said.

"Let's just get Elena home." Damon opened the doors and Buffy followed him out as he said, "Time to go. Alice is sleeping and won't remember a moment of this horrible stupid day."

Three men suddenly threw open the doors and entered the apartment. "We're here to meet the doppelganger." The first one said.

"Thank you for coming." Elena said as she started to move towards them.

Damon, who was closest, caught her arm. "I will break your arm." He threatened as she tried to struggle.

Buffy took a step towards the men. "There is nothing here for you." She said.

Suddenly the third man in the doorway was killed and his body fell on the floor. Elijah was standing there, alive and well. He moved closer to the two other men. Rose panicked and ran out of the apartment.

"I killed you." Damon said. "You were dead."

"For centuries now." Elijah said. He looked at the ring leader of the three men. "Who are you?"

"Who are you?" The man demanded.

"I'm Elijah."

"We were gonna bring her to you for Klaus. She's the doppelganger. I don't know how she exists but she does. Klaus would want to see her."

"Does anyone else know that you're here?"

"No."

"Well, then you have been incredibly helpful." Elijah shoved his hands into the two men's chests and ripped their hearts out, throwing them on the floor. Buffy sighed and dropped down into a defensive crouch, ready to fight, but Elijah just looked at them and left. Buffy turned to look at Damon, confused.

Elena was walked to her door by Buffy on one side and Damon on the other. "Thank you for bringing me home." She said to them, though the car rise home hadn't been the most pleasant.

"Well, your ride left you." Damon said. "We didn't want to leave you stranded."

"She was just scared. She didn't mean to run."

"Yes she did." Buffy said. "She's been running for 500 years."

"I can't believe Elijah is alive. Why do you think he killed those two vampires and just let us go?"

"If I had a dollar for every time some evil vampire surprises me…." Buffy caught Elena's arm before she could open the door. "What you did today was incredibly stupid."

"Actually the only thing that was stupid was that I got caught. I don't question why you two and Stefan and everyone else try so hard to save me. You shouldn't question why I would try to save all of you. Good night, ok?"

Just then, Jeremy opened the door. The look on his face wasn't a good one. "What's wrong?" Buffy asked.

Jeremy looked at his sister. "It's Stefan."

Elena rushed down to the tomb calling Stefan's name. Buffy and Damon were right behind her. She stopped at the tomb's entry and waited for Stefan. When he didn't appear, she started to go in, but Damon grabbed her and pushed her against the wall.

"Don't you dare." He said.

"Stefan's in there, Damon! How could you let this happen?"

"What are you talking about? We were too busy saving you from your crazy kamikaze mission."

"You didn't have to go after the moonstone in the first place!"

"It was the right call, Elena!" Buffy said.

"The right call? How would any of this be the right call? Damon, let go of me! Let go of me!" She hit him with her fists but he didn't release her.

"Elena, calm down!" Buffy snapped.

"Please…." Elena sobbed.

"Are you done?" Damon asked. He released her and she went towards the tomb again but he stopped her. She glared at him before shoving past Buffy and leaving. Stefan appeared at the entry of the tomb. "Of all the idiots plans, Stefan…."

Stefan nodded. "Yeah."

Buffy walked up to Stefan. "I'll find a way to get you out."

"Oh, it's alright. I'll handle myself. Bonnie has the moonstone. Work with her. Try to figure out how to despell it."

"You martyr yourself into a tomb and we get to partner with a semi competent witch?" Damon asked. "Wonderful."

Buffy shook her head. "I'm calling Willow. She'll get you out, Stefan, while psycho bitch stays entombed."

"Heard that." Katherine called from further in the tomb.

"Meant for you to." Buffy called back.

Stefan smiled and hugged Buffy. "Keep Elena away from here."

"Oh yeah…. Give me a hard task why don't you?"

"Promise me. No matter what happens, you'll protect her."

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, of course. I promise. You know I will."

"Thank you." She hugged him again and then backed up to where Damon was waiting on the other side of the barrier. He took her hand and they walked out of the tomb.

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