The Next Chapter

Chapter 32

A/N I'm going to go ahead and post this because the ending is doubly explosive. This is one of my favorite chapters because it shocked me even as I was writing it. I didn't plan on writing it this way, but my brain apparently did. Enjoy!

Chapter 32

Stefan and Buffy walked downstairs the next morning. Damon was in the shower. He was going to go over to Jonas and Luka's apartment with Bonnie to gather some grimoires and get rid of Luka's body. Buffy and Stefan were headed over to Elena's house.

"Isobel just showed up at their front doorstep." Stefan was saying.

"What's she doing here?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know. That's what we're gonna go find out."

Katherine appeared in the hallway. "I don't think that you should tell her that I'm here."

"What? Why?" Stefan asked.

"It's better if she and John not know that I stayed in town after I got out of the tomb."

"Why?"

"What do you know, Katherine?" Buffy asked, exasperated.

"I know that I want Klaus dead, which puts me squarely on team you. Besides, if you two ever need me to swap places with Elena again, the less people know that I'm here, the better. Think about it. Come on. Be smart."

"Tell you what." Stefan said, turning to Buffy. "Can you call Alaric while we're on the way and let him know that his wife's just showed up on his girlfriend's doorstep?""Sure." Buffy made sure she had her cell phone as they walked out, leaving Katherine standing in the hallway.

Buffy, Elena, and Stefan were in Elena's bedroom talking. "This is bad." Elena said. "Between Isobel and Jenna and now Matt, this is disaster bad." Caroline had called Stefan on her way to the luncheon at the Lockwood estate to let him know that Matt has disappeared. Jenna had stormed out and was going to stay on campus.

"Yeah." Stefan said.

John walked in. "Elena, can you come downstairs, please? I need to talk to you."

"I have nothing to say to you." Elena snapped.

"Please. It's important. You, too, Stefan and Buffy."

Elena looked at them and they shrugged. The three of them followed John down the stairs. Isobel came out of the kitchen. "I asked John for a do-over." She said.

Elena looked at John incredulously. "You invited her in?"

"She has information about Klaus." John said. "Please, just listen to her, ok?"

Elena looked at Stefan and he sighed. "All right. What do you know?"

"Since I was last here, I've been doing everything possible to find Klaus." Isobel said, moving into the kitchen to sit down at the table. "We knew our best chance was to find him before he could find you."

"Best chance at what?" Buffy asked.

"Keeping Elena alive." John said."You don't get to talk, ok. Not after everything you've done." Elena snapped.

"Were you able to find Klaus?" Buffy asked Isobel.

"No. Nobody knows where he is but there are these rumors that are flying around. That a doppelganger exists."

"Which means any vampire that wants to get in favor with Klaus will be lining up to capture you." John said.

"I'm not buying any of this." Elena said. She looked at Isobel. "The last time that you were here, you made it clear that you didn't give a damn about me. Now all of a sudden I'm supposed to believe that you want to help?"

"Klaus has been obsessed with finding Katherine for centuries." John said. "All it would take was any one of those 1864 tomb vampires to spread the word around that Katherine was still alive and it would bring him straight here to Mystic Falls, where you were bound to be discovered. So we killed them."

"And almost killed Stefan, Buffy, and Damon in the process.""By the way, I owe you for that." Buffy said, glaring at John. "Sleep with your windows shut cause what Katherine did to you was nice compared to what I'm thinking about."

Isobel stood up and moved closer to Elena. "I have a safe house that I can take you to. The deed is in your name. No vampires can get in without your permission, not even me. Let me help you."

"You wanna help?" Elena asked. "Then get the hell out of my house."

Later that afternoon, Buffy, Elena, and Stefan met up with Damon to discuss everything. They were in the library spread around the room. Damon was lounging in one of the chairs and Buffy had gone to sit on the chair's arm. Damon was resting his head in her lap with his legs dangling over the other chair's arm. Elena was sitting on the couch and Stefan was across from her in another chair.

"Do you really think that Isobel's telling the truth that word's gotten out about the doppelganger?" Elena asked.

"I don't trust a word that she says," Buffy said. "But I think we'd be stupid to ignore the warning."

"You know, you should just stay here." Damon said. "It's better for us to keep an eye on you."

"What, in the house that any vampire can enter?" Stefan asked. "No. Her house is safer."

"Well, then we'll stay there."

"So is that the plan?" Elena asked. "None of you will let me out of your sight again?"

"Let me know when you come up with a better one." Damon countered.

"Fine. Then one of you three bodyguards is gonna have to come with me to the Lockwood luncheon."

"That'd be me." Stefan said.

"Not me. I have witch stuff to attend to with Bonnie." Damon said. He looked up at Buffy. "Care to join?"

"Sure." Buffy said. "Does that mean that we're taking her….?" Buffy trailed off and rolled her eyes.

"Don't get quiet on my account." Katherine said, strolling in. "If you have a plan to combat the impending vampire doom, please do tell." No one answered her. "Seriously, what is the plan to get us out of this mess, hmm? I delivered you a moonstone, a werewolf, and the dagger to lure and kill Klaus, and right now all you have is a moonstone. Or so you tell me."

"No, we have it." Damon assured her.

"Where is it?"

"It's in a very safe place."

"I've been honest with you. Time to return the favor."

"Let me be honest with you." Buffy said. "Don't mistake the fact that I haven't staked you or set you on fire in your sleep for trust. It just means I still think you've got some useful information."

"Fine. Be that way." Katherine huffed and walked out.

Damon, Buffy, Bonnie, and Jeremy walked through the woods towards the site where the witches were burned. "Is this the spot Emily Bennett was killed, too?" Jeremy asked.

"Founders thought it was poetic burning her where the other witches burned." Damon said, grasping Buffy's hand.

"How do you know where the witches were burned?" Bonnie asked.

"Cause I tried to save her. Emily was my key to getting Katherine back before I knew what a nasty little bitch Katherine was." Jeremy laughed. They all stopped and looked at the rotting old manor house standing before them. "Hmm…."

"You sure it's the right place?" Jeremy asked.

Buffy took a few steps closer and her blood ran cold. She shuddered violently and fell back the few steps she'd taken. "Are you ok?" Bonnie asked as Damon caught Buffy.

"Can you guys feel that?" Buffy asked, her voice barely above a whisper. The fear and despair and pain she was getting off the place was so palpable, she could taste it on her tongue. She knew that taste intimately.

Bonnie shook her head. "I can feel something…. But I'm not sure what it is."

Buffy looked up at Damon, "Death. It's death. God…. These women died horribly."

"I guess this is the right place." Jeremy said.

"Can you feel their deaths?" Bonnie asked.

"Yes. And it does NOT feel very good." Buffy said.

Damon kept his arm tightly around Buffy as they moved closer to the house and walked inside. They made it through the once grand foyer and Jeremy stepped on a board that cracked loudly, causing himself and Buffy to jump. Damon pulled her closer to him and shot a glare at Jeremy. The teen just shrugged sheepishly. Damon walked over to look through a boarded up window and then turned around, standing in the sunlight from another window. He suddenly couldn't move. Buffy tried to wriggle out of his grasp, but his arm was frozen in its place around her waist.

"Whatever witchy prank you're playing, don't. It's not funny." Damon said.

"I'm not doing anything." Bonnie said.

"I can't move."

"Damon…." Buffy said. His skin was starting to burn.

"Oh, my ring's not working."

"Do something!" Buffy demanded of Bonnie as she tried to move Damon out of the sunlight. Bonnie lowered her head and concentrated, closing her eyes. Buffy and Damon stumbled forward suddenly.

"I don't think the witches like you being here, Damon." Bonnie said.

"I'm gonna go wait outside." Damon looked down at Buffy and she nodded emphatically. They made a beeline for the front door and stopped once they were on the porch. Damon looked down at Buffy. "Are you ok?"

"Me?" Buffy gently touched where Damon had nearly been burned alive. "Are you ok?"

"I'm healed."

"I really don't like this place."

"Well, damn. I was thinking of buying it and fixing it up for us."

Buffy shook her head. "No thank you. I like our non-haunted house." Damon smiled. "How long is this going to take?" Buffy glanced through the open door. "I really don't like this place."

Damon turned and called through the door, "Wanna hurry it up in there?" He went to walk in, but the door slammed shut in his face. "Screw you, too, Emily. You know, you're on your own in there!" He turned and wrapped his arm around Buffy's shoulders. "We're leaving."

"But…."

"They'll be fine. They came in Bonnie's car, so we're good to go. I just needed to show them where to go."

Buffy's phone rang as they made their way through the woods. It was Elena. "Hey!"

"We have a problem." Elena said.

"What's wrong?"

"John's been killed at the luncheon. Stefan and I are leaving now. It was Isobel, Buffy. It's gotta be."

"Tell her she and Damon need to get over here and deal with John's body." Stefan said in the background.

"You've got some serious explaining to do to the Council about John being not so dead."

"Yeah." Buffy hung up and looked at Damon. "We've got to get to the Lockwood estate."

"Why?" Damon asked.

"Isobel killed John."

"I'm sorry for the scare." Carol said as people made their way out her front door. "It was just a bad fall. Paramedics are on their way."

Buffy and Damon pushed through the people and into the foyer. "How is he?" Buffy asked Liz.

"He's dead." The sheriff answered.

Damon looked at the body and saw the ring on John's finger. "He'll be fine in a couple hours." He said.

"What are you talking about?" Carol asked. "Damon, he's dead."

"Well…. Here's the thing. John's ring? It's an old Gilbert family heirloom that protects its owner from death by a supernatural entity."

"But he's not breathing. He has no pulse."

"He will be." Buffy said. "Trust us. We're gonna need a cover story though. Epileptic fit, alcohol binge…."

"Banana peel!" Damon said has he hauled John's body off.

"Whatever works." Buffy finished. "But right now we just have to get him out of here."

"We'll take him out the back way and put him in my trunk. When he wakes up, he'll be at our house."

"Are you certain he'll wake up?" Liz asked Buffy as Damon left the room.

"Yes. I've seen it happen before." Buffy followed Damon. "No worries."

Buffy opened the door for Damon as he carried in John's body fireman style. Damon dumped John on the ground in the living room. "Oh, ew." Buffy said. "You've got weasel blood on you."

Damon laughed. "Guess I better go wash up and change shirts."

As they made their way up to Damon's bedroom and bathroom, Buffy looked around. "Hey…. Where are Stefan and Elena?"

"I don't know."

"That's weird." Buffy was distracted by Damon pulling his shirt off.

He smiled when he noticed her expression. "Hey, we've got time to take a shower."

Buffy was about to start stripping down, but her phone rang. She rolled her eyes and looked at her phone. "Oh." She answered it and Damon washed his hands. "Stefan! How'd we beat you and Elena home?"

"That wasn't Elena." Stefan said.

"What?"

"It was Katherine. She's kidnapped Elena. I think she and Isobel are working together."

"Ah crap!"

"I'm on my way home."

Buffy hung up and looked into the soap bowl where Damon had stashed the moonstone. It was gone. "That's it!" Buffy stormed out and headed to her unfinished weapons room. "I'm staking that bitch!"

Damon followed her. "Finally!"

"She's working with Isobel and they've kidnapped Elena. She wants to stab people in the back, then she's going to find out what it feels like."

Stefan, Buffy, and Damon walked up to the house that Damon had searched for. "Think this is the house?" Stefan asked.

"Better be." Damon said. "It's the nicest foreclosure in town."

"I swear to God if she's not here…."

"Don't be such a pessimist."

They entered the house through the unlocked front door. "I got upstairs." Stefan said, heading up the stairs.

Damon took one side of the house while Buffy took the other. Everyone met back up in the foyer a few minutes later. Nobody was there. There was luggage sitting by the stairs, though. "This is Isobel's stuff." Damon said. "It's definitely the right place."

"Where are they?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know."

Elena held Isobel's necklace in her hands as she sat in the living room with Buffy. Damon and Stefan joined them. Elena had called Stefan from a graveyard in another town. Isobel had kidnapped her and had handed Katherine over to Klaus before taking off her necklace and incinerating herself in the sunlight.

"Is that Isobel's?" Stefan asked.

"I never thought I would feel bad about her being dead, and yet…." Elena said.

"She was your mother." Buffy said. "Bad parent or good parent…. They're still your parents."

"Why did they let me go?"

"Well, anything John told Isobel, we have to assume that Klaus knows, right?" Stefan asked. Buffy nodded. "So he knows that you're not gonna turn yourself into a vampire. He knows that you have us keeping you safe."

"He knows I'm not gonna run."

"Which is why we need to take some precautions." Damon said. "Cause we got played. All of us." He put papers on Buffy's legs.

"What's this?" Buffy asked."It's the deed to our house." Stefan said. "It's in Zach's name. As soon as you sign it, it'll be in your name."

"Wait…. you're giving me your house?"

"Isobel had the right idea with the safe house. Since you already live here, Buffy, it makes sense to give it to you. Plus, you have better instincts on who's a human and who's…. not. Elena can just stay here till it's all over. That way, the Slayer can control who gets invited and who doesn't."

"I'll be super pissed if you lock me out." Damon said playfully to Buffy. She smiled slightly, still stunned that they were giving her the house.

John woke up suddenly and Damon rushed over him, hauling him up. "I swear I had no idea what she was gonna do." John cried. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

"Damon, let him go." Elena said. "He and I need to talk."

Damon and Buffy were standing in the library. Buffy had just gotten off the phone with Bonnie when Stefan walked in. "Hey, Bonnie said the spell worked." Buffy said. "She's locked and loaded."

"At least something went right today." Stefan said. "Katherine has no idea that Bonnie got her powers back and Isobel had no idea what you two and Jeremy took Bonnie to do today. We're the only ones who know."

"That literally makes Bonnie our secret weapon." Damon said. He sighed and turned to look at Buffy. "I don't know about you, but I need to get out of here and get some fresh air. Walk with me?"

"Sure." Buffy said. She smiled slightly and followed him out, taking his offered hand. They headed out to stroll in the gardens.

"Hell of a day, huh?"

"Yeah. I just hope it doesn't get any worse too soon."

"Don't jinx us." Damon laughed. He raised his arm up, still holding Buffy's hand, and twirled her into him before leaning down to kiss her.

"Hello, lover." A familiar voice purred behind them. Buffy stiffened and Damon felt the blood drain from her face. Her lips and her hands were suddenly ice cold. He turned to see who the voice belonged to, but Damon was thrown across the yard where he smacked hard against a tree at the edge of the woods.

Buffy's muscles bunched up for a fight, but Angelus just laughed. She didn't release her defensive posture as she said, "How?" Her voice was barely above a whisper.

"Your friend Klaus had one of his witches free me." Angelus took a moment to admire the Slayer. "You're looking good."

"Buffy…." Damon was getting to his feet.

"I always said that you needed a demon in your man to make you happy." Angelus glanced at Damon. "Guess I was right. But is he enough demon for you, lover?"

"You're a pig." Buffy growled, slapping his hand away from her hair.

Damon was suddenly at her side. "Are you ok?"

"Don't worry about her, boy. This one's mine." Angelus said.

"Yeah, I don't think so." Damon started to pounce, but Buffy stopped him. "What…."

"He'll kill you." Buffy said, softly.

"That's right, Buff." Angelus gloated. "He's touched what's mine. I have every right to kill him."

"You can try." Damon taunted, his voice verging on a growl..

"I'm not yours." Buffy said. "I never was."

"Yeah?" Angelus taunted. "That one night tells me differently."

"That night was with Angel, not you."

"You and I both know I'm not talking about the night you gave your virginity to Soul Boy." Angelus laughed at the blush that took over her face. "God, I have missed you."

"The feeling's not mutual."

He changed the subject suddenly. "Hey, have you talked to Giles lately?"

Buffy's heart stopped and the world seemed to stop with it. "What have you done?"

Angelus smiled. "The games are just beginning, lover." He blew her a kiss and disappeared into the woods.

"Buffy…." Damon started, but she tore past him and back into the house, taking the back door off its hinges.

A startled Stefan was nearly knocked over as she ran past him, up to her room. "What's…."

"Not now." Damon rushed after Buffy up the stairs and Stefan followed.

Elena came out from shutting the door and saw the two vampires chase after Buffy up the stairs. She ran after them and heard Buffy's frantic voice talking on the phone.

"Giles is he…." Buffy was standing in the middle of her room with Damon at one shoulder and Stefan at the other. "I…. I understand…." She was completely pale and looked like she was about to faint. "He…." The phone slipped from her fingers and she stood frozen as the back of the phone broke off and the battery skittered across the floor.

"Buffy?" Stefan asked gently, reaching out to touch her shoulder.

"Giles…." Buffy couldn't say anymore as the tears started to spill down her cheeks and her breaths came in shallow gasps. Her knees gave out and Damon and Stefan caught her before she hit the ground.

"Oh god…." Damon said, pulling Buffy tightly to him as she started to sob.

"What's going on?" Stefan asked.

Damon looked at Stefan over Buffy's head. "Angelus is back and he killed Giles."

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