The Next Chapter

Chapter 28

Chapter 28

Buffy sat on Damon's bed while he was in the shower. He hadn't been the same since the night they'd killed Rose. Something had changed in him. He'd been a little colder to her and she wanted to know why. She also wanted to inform him that Stefan had called in John Gilbert to help Elena.

Finally the shower shut off and Damon appeared in the doorway in a towel. "Hey." Buffy said.

"What?" Damon sneered.

"That's what. What is the matter with you?"

"Nothing's the matter with me."

"You haven't had much to do with me in a couple of days and…."

"And what? You're worried? Don't be. I'm fine."

"I'll believe that never. What's going on?"

"What's wrong is that I'm not having any fun."

"Fun?" She shook her head, confused. "I am so lost right now. Are you trying to say that we're over?"

"Is that what you want?"

"I don't think this is about what I want. But I'm really not 100 on that, so you've got to tell me."

Damon sighed and stood in front of her. "What do you want from me?"

"O-k…." Buffy said slowly. "Is this that talk where we're supposed to either make world shattering promises of undying love or break up? Cause that's what it feels like…. A little bit. And I'm not saying I want to break up…. But…."

"Are you making a world shattering promise of undying love?"

"No."

"Then this isn't that talk because I'm not doing either of those."

"Ok?"

"So what do you want from me?"

"Nothing right now. Mostly because I'm really off balance with you at the moment. So I'm just going to jump to the next, less confusing topic of: Stefan called in John Gilbert to help us with Elena."

Damon blinked a couple of times, translating what she'd just said, and then took a step back. "He did what?"

"Yeah. Elena called me this morning and told me. I haven't confronted Stefan about it because I thought you might want to go yell at him with me."

"How very thoughtful."

"It's what I do. I think."

Damon sighed. "Let me get dressed and we'll go yell."

Buffy grabbed his hand and stopped him. She stood up and stayed close to him, their bodies nearly pressed together. "Are we ok?"

He stared at her for a long moment. "As long as no one makes those promises, we're ok."

"Ok. No promises." She wasn't sure whether she should kiss him or not, so she just gently touched his chest and sat back down.

"You brought back John Gilbert?" Damon demanded. "That was your big save Elena move?" They were standing in Stefan's room with Buffy blocking the doorway.

"I went to go look for Isobel and I got John instead." Stefan said. "He said he can help us and we're desperate."

"We're not that desperate, Stefan." Buffy said. "The guy tried to barbecue Damon and I!"

"Bonnie's new witch friend is working with Elijah so we have to assume that the moonstone was never destroyed. Elena is putting all of her faith into some deal that she made with Elijah to keep everyone safe. I mean, do you trust Elijah? I don't trust him. He's an original, he can't be trusted. It's not like we can just go up and kill him because apparently he can't die!"

"I'm still waiting for the part where John Gilbert is the answer."

"He knew about the sacrifice. Isobel told him. He said he knew of a way to keep Elena safe."

"And how do we do that?" Damon asked.

"He's not talking. At least not to me anyway."

"Great work Stefan. Top notch. As if I didn't have enough problems."

"Hey, I'm sorry about Rose."

"Whatever. I knew the woman for 5 minutes."

"And you cared about her after 5 minutes. And Buffy cared about her. I wonder what that means."

Damon glanced at Buffy. "It means I care, Stefan. That means I'm changing…. evolving into a man capable of greatness. Better watch your back because I may just have to go get a hero hairdo of my own and steal your thunder." He walked out.

Buffy shook her head. "I have no idea what is going on with him."

"What do you mean?" Stefan asked.

"The night we killed Rose…. He left to go get a towel and came back different. He's been a little…. Harsh."

"He hasn't hurt you, has he?"

"No. Not like that. Just…. Cold. I confronted him about it this morning and he didn't say much."

"Do you want me to talk to him?"

Buffy sighed. "No. I'll figure it out one way or another. We're just off balance right now, I guess."

"Well, just make sure it doesn't affect anything…."

"Anything with the Elena mess. Right." Buffy stood up. "I guess I should head over and talk to her. She called me earlier."

When Buffy made it to the front door with her purse and jacket, Damon appeared behind her. "Where are you headed?"

"Elena's. Hopefully John will be there and I can beat some answers out of the little twirp."

"Oh, now that sounds like fun. Mind if I join?"

"Be my guest." Buffy held open the door for Damon and then followed him out. The ride to Elena's house was tense because Buffy wasn't sure what was up Damon's butt. Damon was still fighting with the emotions rolling around inside him. He wanted to be near her, but if she didn't return his feelings, then what was the point? It would just be Katherine all over again.

Buffy knocked on Elena's door and waited. Elena opened the door. "Hey Buffy. You brought Damon?"

The blonde looked up at Damon. "Yeah. He wanted to have some fun. Where's John?"

"He's not here. He left. I don't know where he went. He just blew in, announced to Jenna that he's my dad and then took off."

"It's public knowledge now?"

"Apparently."

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah. Jenna's head is spinning but I'm ok."

"He say what he was doing here?" Damon asked.

"No. You know, Stefan thinks that he's telling the truth about wanting to help me."

"Do you believe him?" Buffy asked.

"No. I don't believe him for a second."

"Me either."

"What are we gonna do?"

"Kill him." Damon said.

"Damon…." Elena started.

"I'm joking. Ok, I'm a little serious."

"Damon!"

"I'm not gonna hurt him, Elena. I'm the good guy now, remember?"

"What does that mean?" Elena asked, glancing at Buffy.

"I'm gonna have a civil conversation with your father." Damon answered, walking back out the door.

Elena and Buffy exchanged worried glances and then followed him out. "Wait, we're coming with you."

Buffy, Damon, and Elena arrived at the Grill. John was standing at a table with Jenna and Alaric. He turned his head and saw the three of them. Buffy rolled her eyes as Elena said to Damon, "We just need answers. Please don't do anything stupid."

"Yeah but stupid is so much more fun." Damon retorted.

"Damon, I mean it. All I'm asking is that you try to keep it together. Be the better man."

Damon rolled his eyes. "Ok then." He headed over to John with Buffy and Elena trailing behind. "John, buddy, how have you been?"

"I've been all right, Damon. It's good to see you. Hello, Buffy." John said.

She snorted and looked at Jenna. "Hey, Jenna."

"Hey, Buffy! Care to join us?" Jenna asked.

"Sure. I'm hungry."

"You're always hungry." Damon said, sitting down next to her. Elena grabbed a chair and pulled it up.

"I'm not always hungry." Buffy protested.

"You weigh, what, 110 pounds soaking wet?" Alaric joked. "I can't blame you for being hungry all the time."

"I guess there's no more room at the table, then." John said.

"Nope. Sorry." Jenna smiled sarcastically. "Guess you'll have to find somewhere else." John sighed and walked off. "Jerk."

"I second that." Buffy said. "Why is he even back here?"

"Oh, just to make our lives a living hell and to drop bombs on me that my niece should've told me."

"I've apologized!" Elena said.

"Not enough." Jenna shot back.

After everyone had enjoyed a nice lunch, they'd split up to go play pool or check out the memorial by the fireplace. John was lighting a candle for the victims at the memorial when Damon joined him. "So John, rumor has it that you know a lot and won't say anything." Damon said. Buffy stayed with Elena, but kept her ears on the conversation.

"How do I know you can be trusted, Damon?" John said. "Originals can compel vampires and according to Stefan, that's why Katherine's still in the tomb, because an original has compel her to stay there."

"Only because all of the vervain has left her system. Stefan and I, on the other hand, are chock full."

"You guys are drinking vervain?"

"It's an acquired taste. I don't see that magic little ring on that stitched finger so if you know something about Klaus, you better start talking or I will kill you in your sleep."

"Is that any way to convince me that you and I are on the same side? First, I need to know that I can trust you, Damon. That I can count on you. Then we'll talk." John walked off and Damon shot a look at Buffy. She shrugged and watched John leave.

Damon sighed and went to the bar. He ordered a scotch and stayed at the bar while Buffy and Elena stayed at the table they were occupying.

"So, what's going on with you two?" Elena asked.

"Is it that obvious?" Buffy asked. Elena shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know. He's been grouchy since the night we killed Rose."

"Did something happen?"

"Other than me killing a friend? No. He did apologize for not being the hero I think he should be."

"Do you think he should be a hero?"

"This is Damon we're talking about. I find it a miracle that he's even helping at all."

Elena laughed. "Well, did you tell him that?"

"He doesn't really give me the chance." Buffy's face suddenly turned dark and Elena looked at where she was looking. Andie Star, the news reporter from the television, had made her way over to Damon and was flirting with him.

"Hi, I'm…." She started.

"I know you." Damon said. "The news lady."

"Yeah, Andie Star. Nice to meet you. Can I buy you a drink, Damon?"

Damon glanced at Buffy and then shook his head. "My glass is all full, Andie. Thank you." He left and joined Buffy and Elena.

"You totally blew her off." Buffy said, trying to act nonchalant.

"I'm staying clear of other women."

"You didn't have to be rude."

"Didn't I? That look you were giving her…. I think it's in the best interest of women everywhere if I steer clear of them." He smirked. "Though that jealousy is kind of intriguing. Maybe I should flirt with other women more often."

"Maybe you could be locked up down in the basement and never let out. I'm sure Stefan would go along with it."

Damon smiled. "Jealousy becomes you."

Elena's phone rang just then. "Stefan? What is it?" She looked at Buffy worriedly as Stefan started talking.

Damon, Buffy, and Elena were in the restrooms arguing about Stefan's phone call. "Why am I just finding out about this now?" Buffy asked.

"Stefan was worried that you…." Elena trailed off.

"That I'll what? That I'd kill Tyler? No. I wouldn't kill Tyler, I'd kill that stupid Jules bitch."

"Killing them both is what needs to happen." Damon interjected.

"No Damon, not Tyler." Elena said. "Do whatever you need to do to get Caroline back but just leave Tyler out of it, ok?"

"Why? He's a werewolf. He needs to die. I'm willing to kill him. It's win-win."

Elena touched his arm. "Damon please, ok? Too many people are dead."

"You need to stop doing that."

"Doing what?"

"Assuming that I'll play the good guy because it's you who's asking."

"Be the better man, Damon."

John entered the room. "Do you mind?" Buffy snapped.

"What's going on?" John asked.

"Nothing." Elena said.

"It doesn't look like nothing."

"Well guess what John? Trust works both ways. Get out." Damon said.

"Look, we don't have time for this." Elena cried. "We need to get Caroline back."

"You don't have to do anything. Buffy and I'll take care of it." Damon turned and looked at John. "First dad duty: ground your daughter. Keep her here." Damon grabbed Buffy's hand and pulled her out the door.

"You do realize that I'm not going to kill Tyler." Buffy said as soon as they were in the car and headed towards the spot in the woods where Stefan was meeting Jules with Tyler.

"I'll do it." Damon shrugged.

"I don't want you to."

"Why?"

"Because he's just a kid."

"He's a werewolf. If I don't kill him, he's just going to kill me."

"He's a kid who's scared and confused and he has that psycho whispering in his ear. We'll take care of her and deal with Tyler afterwards."

"'Take care of her'?"

Buffy smiled slightly. "I wouldn't mind doing to her what we did to Mason. Just gotta make it last longer."

Jules was alone by the trailer in the woods. She heard something of in the distance and sniffed. "I know you're out there." She called.

Stefan came out of the woods with Tyler. "Where's Caroline?" He asked.

"Locked up tight."

"Let her go and I release Tyler. The situation doesn't have to get any messier than it already has. I'm not your enemy, Jules."

"It's a little late to be waving the white flag, don't you think?"

"You need to leave town. No one else has to get hurt."

"I'm not leaving without Tyler."

"Tyler is free to make his own decisions as soon as you release Caroline."

Buffy and Damon arrived just then. "My brother the peacemaker." Damon said. "Since Stefan got here before us, we're gonna let him try it his way before we resort to our way…. Which is a little bloodier. So give us Caroline."

"Let go of Tyler." Jules said.

"Give us Caroline." Buffy said. "Without a full moon, it's not an even fight and you know it. We will take you."

"I'm not so sure about that." Jules whistled loudly and a group of werewolves surrounded them with stakes, crossbows, and fire. "Let's try this again. Give us Tyler."

Buffy shook her head and was about to laugh, but Damon looked at Tyler and said, "You heard her. Go. Get over there." Tyler joined Jules.

"Which one of you killed Mason?" One of the weres asked.

"Uh, that'd be me." Damon said.

"And I helped." Buffy added.

"Boys, make sure those two suffer." The were said.

Damon looked at Buffy. "We can take them."

"I don't know about that." Stefan said.

"I do." Buffy grinned, ready for the coming fight.

"Well then…." Damon rushed over to Jules but she jumped on the top of the RV.

Tyler ran inside as one of the weres tried to burn Stefan. He took the were out and yanked the flame thrower out of his hands, turning it two other weres. Two weres jumped at Buffy, but she moved out of their way too quick for them to track. She grabbed one by the head and twisted, snapping his neck, as she kicked the other in the chest. He went soaring and slammed against a tree.

One of the weres jumped on Damon but he ripped his heart out. Stefan took out another were as another shot a bolt from a crossbow. Buffy caught it out of midair and tossed it at the were she'd kicked against the tree, killing him. Stefan nodded at her as he took on another were. Buffy dodged a female and threw her against a tree. The female came back at her, trying to claw at Buffy's face, but Buffy just shoved her down and kicked her in the face. She turned just in time to see Stefan's were drive a stake through his torso.

Another were shot a bolt at Stefan, but again, Buffy caught it and launched it back, pinning the were to a tree by his neck. Another went behind Stefan and drove a stake through his back and Stefan fell on the ground. Buffy launched herself at that were and used the heel of her palm to break his nose and slam the cartilage up into his brain, killing him.

Damon was fighting with the were that had threatened him and Buffy. He got the were on his back, but Jules arrived and shot Damon with a wooden bullet. He fell to the ground. Buffy growled and tackled Jules away. The gun went off and Buffy felt a searing pain in her left arm. A wooden bullet had torn its way through Buffy's upper arm. She clamped her right hand over the wound and kicked Jules in the face. Jules kicked Buffy in the back as she got up and Buffy stumbled.

"Not so tough when you're hurt, huh?" Jules taunted.

"You shot my left arm, you idiot." Buffy backhanded Jules hard with her right hand, slamming her against the RV. "I'm right handed."

Caroline suddenly appeared in the doorway of the RV, but Jules grabbed her and pushed her against the RV, aiming the gun at the back of her head. Everything froze as Tyler came out and looked at Caroline but didn't move to help her. The were that had threatened Damon and Buffy had a stake and was about to drive it into Damon's heart. Buffy started to move towards him, but suddenly the were screamed and grabbed his head. All around them, the other weres did the same thing as they fell to the ground.

"What's happening?" Caroline asked. Buffy kicked the were away from Damon and stood over him protectively as she held her bleeding arm.

"What the hell is going on?" Tyler asked.

Jonas, the witch working for Elijah, walked into the clearing casting a spell on the werewolves. Damon and Stefan got up, moving towards Buffy. "Elijah made a promise to Elena." Jonas said. "I'm here to see it's upheld. You need to go. Get out of here. Now." Buffy and Stefan took Caroline and helped her out of the clearing with Damon tying a strip of his shirt around Buffy's left arm.

Damon sat in his bathtub with Buffy sitting opposite him. She'd followed him in and had refused to leave him alone even as he'd drawn the bath and put the bubbles in. John Gilbert had paid Buffy a visit after she'd bandaged up her arm and he'd given her a weapon to kill an ancient with. She wasn't quite sure what to do with it at the moment, so she was going to ignore it and deal with Damon. She sat across from him and stared until he couldn't take it anymore.

He sighed, "Fine. You're driving me crazy with your creepy little stare."

"So start talking." Buffy said.

Damon hesitated, trying to figure out what to say. "I feel like I'm not in control of myself anymore." He said after a long moment.

"What are you talking about?"

"Buffy, I don't trust myself around you. I'm bad. I do things. I kill people. I like it. It's in my nature. It's who I am. But then I have to stay together to protect Elena and everyone, you included, wants me to be a better man which means I can't be who I am. Do you see the problem I'm having?"

Buffy shook her head. "Not really."

"I don't want to change."

"Damon, do you really believe that I want you to change?"

"Isn't that what you've been doing all along? Changing me…. for the better?"

"Not intentionally, no. I'm just being myself…. Which, for some reason, is easier to be around you. You're not the only one with a darkness in you that demands to be fed. It used to scare the hell out of me, but I've accepted it. Embraced it. Like you have. Damon…." Buffy sighed and slid closer to him. She positioned herself in his lap, facing him, and wrapped her legs and arms around him. She wove her fingers into his wet hair and tugged gently to make him look at her. "I want you to be you. I don't expect anything else from you. I like the Damon I'm holding now."

"Why?"

"Because he's exactly who I want in my life right now. Everything happens for a reason and if you feel like you're changing because of me…. Then maybe it's just meant to be. But I couldn't care less. I like you. I care about you." Buffy leaned closer till her lips were grazing his ear. "And you know what else I really like?"

"Hmm?"

She slid onto him suddenly, making them both gasp. "This." He pulled her to him and kissed her deeply as she started to move on top of him.

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