The Next Chapter

Chapter 36

Chapter 36

Buffy made it to the house, but there was no one there. She couldn't decide whether to go meet up with Stefan, Alaric, and Elijah, or meet up with Bonnie and Willow, or to go hunt Angelus. In the end, she finally decided to hunt Angelus. He was dangerous. The others knew what needed to be done and she trusted them to do it. So, she set about following Angelus' trail.

Of course it led into the woods. She was super glad for her night vision as the trail led deeper and deeper into the woods. She had a pretty good feeling of where she'd end up, but the sight that appeared before her when she broke through the tree line was not expected. Elena was surrounded by a ring of fire and Jenna was sitting on the ground next to Elena surrounded by her own ring of fire.

Elena spotted Buffy run into the clearing. "Buffy!"

The flames flared and Buffy was thrown back when she tried to get to Elena. Buffy landed painfully on her back. "Ow!"

"What are you doing here?" Elena asked.

"Following Angelus' trail." Buffy said, getting to her feet.

"He's locked up."

"Klaus somehow set him free. What's Jenna doing here?" Buffy's eyes widened as she realized that Jenna was no longer human. "Oh god…."

"She's the vampire sacrifice." Elena said sadly.

"Oh, Jenna…." Buffy looked around and spotted a woman standing by a group of rocks. "Who's that?"

"That's Greta."

"The Martins' long lost family member?" Elena nodded. "She wasn't ever really lost, was she?"

"No. She's with Klaus." Elena's eyes widened suddenly and Buffy didn't have to turn around to know who was behind her. The chilling tingle that sent ice water through her veins told her everything she needed to know.

"Hello, lover." Angelus purred behind her. "You should really get those locks reinforced. They're not very strong."

"I'll have to remember that." Buffy said, turning around. She was prepared for an attack, but Angelus just stood his ground. "So what's on the menu tonight?"

"You."

Suddenly a ring of fire formed around Buffy and Angelus. Buffy turned to find Greta smiling at her. "Klaus doesn't want any interference from you, Slayer." Greta said. "Angelus will keep you busy while the ritual happens."

"What about after?" Buffy asked.

"That's for Klaus to decide." Greta turned and Buffy was suddenly attacked from behind.

"Buffy!" Elena and Jenna cried.

Buffy managed to dodge the mystical flames and roll away from Angelus at the same time. She came up minus her leather jacket and Angelus laughed. He tossed the jacket to the side and charged at her again, but Buffy was faster. "I've got eternity to play this out, Buff." Angelus taunted.

"So do I." Buffy said.

"Not if I kill you first."

Angelus charged her again and she kicked him in the stomach. He doubled over and Buffy slammed her elbow onto his neck, knocking him to the ground. She launched a vicious kick at his stomach, but he grabbed her ankle and twisted. Buffy flipped in mid air and landed on her back. The hard impact made the air whoosh out of her lungs and Buffy felt rocks bite into her back through her shirt and her bare arms were riddled with cuts from the rocks.

Angelus moved to kick her, but she shot out one leg and caught him in the kneecap. He went down and Buffy rolled to cough painfully on her hands and knees. She spotted Angelus coming at her again from her peripheral and dropped down to flatten herself on the ground. She felt Angelus graze her as he sailed over head. She rolled the opposite direction and jumped to her feet. Her lungs burned painfully as she tried to suck enough air back in to regulate her breathing. She was not going to lose this fight.

The whole thing was a deadly cat and mouse dance. Buffy didn't want to use the stake that was hidden in her inside coat pocket, but if it came down to it…. She shook that thought away and shoved Angelus back again. They danced around each other, taking the other's measure. The circle was a bit bigger than Elena's and Jenna's circles, so Buffy had more room to maneuver, but eventually she was going to tire out. It just had to be after Angelus tired out first.

Angelus came at her again and she allowed him to tackle her. Elena screamed her name, but Buffy rolled onto her back, planting her knee between her body and Angelus', and kicked up. Angelus went flying into the mystical flames and slammed into the barrier there. He landed on his head and was unconscious.

"Are you ok?" Jenna called.

"Peachy. But I need to get out of this circle." Buffy said through clenched teeth as she swiped at the rocks in her arms. "How are you feeling?"

"I feel like myself…. Only not." Jenna shook her head. "Everything is brighter. The fire's hotter. Part of me is terrified, but there's another part of me that doesn't want to feel anything."

"Your type of vampire can turn off the part that's human. That's the part that hurts."

"I'm gonna die, aren't I?"

"No!" Elena cried. "Jenna, I'm not going to let that happen. I don't care what I have to do."

They heard someone screaming. "Who's that?" Jenna asked.

"That must be the werewolf." Elena said.

Greta arrived with Jules in tow and threw her on the ground. "What's happening to me?" Jules cried.

"I cast a spell to slow down your transformation." Greta said. "Your insides are trying to tear themselves free." She created a fourth circle of fire around Jules.

"Witches are supposed to maintain the balance in nature." Elena said. "It's your duty to them to keep this curse sealed."

"My duty is to Klaus! The new order."

Klaus arrived just then saying, "Glad to know I still have a dance partner." He looked at Elena, Jenna, and Jules. "Hello, my lovelies. Are we ready?" He spotted Buffy and the unconscious Angelus. "Ah, Buffy. He said you were a sucker for traps. How do you like mine?"

"Not very original for an Original." Buffy said.

Klaus nodded with a chuckle. "Well, most traps aren't, my dear." He strolled over to her, walking through the magical barrier with no problem. "I like you, Buffy." He moved behind her and played with her hair. She kept still, knowing that he was stronger and faster than she was. "I think I might keep you after this is all over." He glanced at Angelus. "If he doesn't kill you first."

Buffy turned and looked him dead in the eye. "You may be handsome and powerful…. And don't get me wrong, I'm flattered…. Really…. But I'm a one vampire kinda gal and that spot's already filled."

Klaus chuckled and leaned in close, whispering in her ear, "We'll see." He turned to Greta, walking over to her through the barrier and handed her the moonstone. "I spent 500 years looking for this. I hate to part with it."

"The moon has passed its apex." Greta said. "Remember everything you need to do?"

"I remember."

Greta threw the moonstone in a stone bowl and it exploded. Buffy turned to check on Angelus, but he was still unconscious. The barrier had really hurt him. She hoped Willow and Bonnie showed up soon. Jules groaned her name and Buffy turned to look at the werewolf.

"Everything I did…. I was just trying to help Tyler." Jules said

"Save it." Buffy snapped. "You I don't really care if Klaus sacrifices."

"I didn't want him to be alone!"

"So torturing Damon and killing Rose was all helping Tyler? Stabbing me in the gut while I was knocked out on tranquilizers that you shot me with was helping Tyler? Go to hell, Jules."

Klaus walked over to Jules. "The Slayer has spoken. Shall we?" The circle of fire disappeared around Jules. Her transformation had begun and she tried to run but Klaus caught her and ripped her heart out. Jenna and Elena were obviously shocked, but Buffy had no sympathy for the werewolf.

Angelus groaned behind her and Buffy turned so she could watch Klaus and keep an eye on Angelus. Klaus took the heart and walked over to Greta and her stone bowl. He held Jules' heart above the bowl so the blood poured into the bowl over the ashes of the moonstone.

"Tell me it's working." Klaus said.

"It's working." Greta said.

"The day that the lawyers called to tell me that I was going to become your guardian, you know what my first thought was?" Jenna asked Elena. "Isn't there someone else who can do this?"

"Jenna, there was no one else who could have gotten me and Jeremy through all of that." Elena said.

"It's just the thought that I almost passed up taking care of you."

"But you didn't. You put your entire life on hold to help us."

"Look around, Elena. I failed you."

"You didn't. I failed you. I'm so sorry."

"Jenna, being a vampire intensifies your guilt." Buffy said. "But it also makes you stronger and faster. You can fight back."

"I'm gonna get through this." Elena promised. "I'll be ok. I need you to believe that. Promise me, when you get the chance…. Run." Jenna looked between Buffy and Elena and then finally nodded.

"Thanks for the rest, Buff." Angelus said behind her. "Shall we continue?" Buffy sighed as he jumped at her again.

While Buffy fended Angelus off, Klaus walked over to Jenna's circle. "Hello, Jenna."

"Let her go. I understand that I have to die, but she doesn't!" Elena begged. She got too close to the fire and it flared up, keeping her back.

"Careful." Klaus chided.

"Elena, don't!" Jenna cried.

"No, Jenna! We can't leave Jeremy without a family." Elena looked at Klaus. "I followed your rules! I did everything that you asked. I didn't run. Please."

"Well, well…." Klaus raised his head. "I don't recall you being on the guest list." Elena and Jenna raised their heads to see Stefan was at the top of the cliff. Buffy glanced up, but she had already known he was there. Angelus took the distraction to his advantage and tried to sweep Buffy's feet out from under her, but she moved too quickly and was out of his reach in the blink of an eye.

"I'm here to talk." Stefan said.

"Very well, then." Klaus joined Stefan at the top of the cliff, using his vampire speed to get there between one heartbeat and the next. "What can I do for you, Mr. Salvatore?"

"What's going on?" Jenna asked.

"I-I don't know." Elena said.

"Jenna!" Buffy called, dodging Angelus again. "You can hear them. Your senses are heightened. You can hear anything. Just focus on them." She would've told Elena what was happening, but she couldn't focus on the fight with Angelus, Klaus and Stefan's conversation, and tell Elena and Jenna what was being said on the cliff all at the same time.

"You don't need to kill Jenna." Stefan said. "I'll take her place."

"Oh, I don't know. I rather appreciate the symmetry of three women… Three goddesses…. Sacrificed at nature's altar." Klaus said.

"What are they saying?" Elena asked.

"I can't…. I can't make it out." Jenna said.

"You can do this. Just relax. Focus."

"Don't play games with me." Stefan said. "You'll get what you want."

"You're quite the hero, aren't you?" Klaus said. "I've heard that about you."

"Just make the trade. Me for Jenna."

"Oh, my god." Jenna said.

"What is it?" Elena asked.

"He wants to take my place."

"Geez, Buff!" Angelus said. "How did you manage to find a whole town full of martyrs just like yourself?"

"Oh, shut up!" Buffy snapped, knocking him down again.

"Elena…." Jenna started.

"I have to do something." Elena said. "This can't happen. None of it."

Klaus and Stefan arrived in front of the fire circles. "Quite the predicament." Klaus said. "You know, it's funny…. All this talk about preserving family and here's Stefan…. Granting your wish.""Stefan…." Elena started.

"It's ok." Stefan said. "Buffy, are you all right?"

"Oh yeah. This fending off a psycho killer is fun." Buffy kicked Angelus is the head. "You should try it some time." Stefan smiled as Buffy sent Angelus into an airborne flip across their circle.

"Well," Klaus said. "Who's it going to be, Elena?"

"No." Elena cried.

"Oh, don't worry. There's actually no choice." Klaus staked Stefan in the back.

"No! Stefan! No!" Elena screamed.

Buffy turned to see if Stefan was ok and Angelus grabbed her from behind in an awkward choke hold.

"I have other plans for your boyfriend." Klaus said. "I want him alive. But for now…." He punched Stefan and knocked him to the ground. "Whenever you're ready, Greta." The circle of fire around Jenna disappeared and Klaus turned his attention to her. "Your turn."

"No, Jenna, no!"

Buffy struggled to get out of Angelus' grip, but he had her arms pinned in such a weird way that her windpipe was being crushed by her own arms. With nothing for her legs to get leverage with to push against, Buffy was starting to struggle to breathe.

Jenna looked at Elena. "It's alright, Elena. I know what I have to do." Jenna suddenly rushed over to Greta and bit her but Klaus stopped her and shoved the stake into her side. Jenna fell on the ground.

"Just turn it off." Elena sobbed. "Jenna. Turn it off. You won't be scared anymore."

Jenna looked at Buffy. "Take care of Elena and Jeremy. For me."

Klaus staked Jenna through the heart.

"No! Jenna! No! Jenna! No!" Elena screamed as Jenna let go of her last breath and then began to decay.

Buffy struggled against Angelus, tears running down her face at the loss of her friend. "Poor, Buff…. People should really think twice before they become friends with you. They all seem to wind up dead." Buffy kicked backwards and up and nailed Angelus in the crotch. He doubled over in pain, still holding onto Buffy, but his grip loosened enough that she could drop down and away and kick Angelus backwards.

As Buffy coughed and sputtered, Stefan woke up. He still had a piece of stake in his back. He spotted Jenna's dead body and looked at Elena. "I'm so sorry." He whispered.

"Are they going to kill him?" Elena whispered back. Stefan nodded.

"It's time." Klaus said to Elena. The circle of fire disappeared around Elena and he held his hand toward Elena. She didn't take it and marched on her own to the altar. Angelus kicked Buffy in the small of her back and knocked her forward. She just barely missed slamming into the fire barricade. While Buffy went on the defensive against Angelus, Klaus moved up to Elena and gently turned her face towards him. "Thank you, Elena." He said.

"Go to hell." Elena said.

Klaus moved behind her and bit into her neck, drinking deeply. Stefan and Buffy looked at her, powerless to stop Klaus. Elena looked at Stefan, a tear running down her cheek. "Elena!" Buffy screamed, punching at the barrier in front of her. Her fists singed and burned with every punch, but she had to find a way out. Klaus released Elena as her eyes rolled up into her head and she fell to the ground, dead. "Elena!"

Angelus grabbed Buffy by the hair and slammed her onto the ground. "Buffy!" Stefan yelled.

"I can feel it." Klaus said. "It's happening. Yes, yes!" His transformation began, but the wind suddenly picked up and lightening began to strike. One bolt hit Klaus in the chest and threw him back. Buffy looked up to see that Bonnie and Willow had arrived. Damon appeared suddenly behind Greta and brutally snapped her neck. With Greta's death, the fire circle around Buffy and Angelus died away. Damon rushed over to her, but she was back on her feet and had Angelus on the run.

"You were dead!" Klaus screamed at Bonnie.

Bonnie used her powers to make Klaus suffer while Willow held out an Orb of Thesulah. "Get Elena." Buffy said to Damon as she viciously backhanded Angelus, causing her burned knuckles to send fresh chutes of pain up her arm. Damon was torn between helping Buffy, who was bruised, burned, and bleeding, and getting Elena. In the end, he figured Buffy could hold her own until she needed him and went to carry Elena's body over to Stefan.

"Elena." Stefan whispered. He screamed when Damon pulled the broken stake from Stefan's back. After a long, painful moment, Stefan looked up at Damon. "I need you to get her out of here!"

"What about you?" Damon asked.

"I'm not leaving until he's dead. Go!" Damon glanced at Buffy. "I'll tell her where you went."

Damon sighed and left with Elena.

Bonnie was still hurting Klaus with her spell. All around them the fires raged and the lightning struck and the wind swirled. Klaus was screaming from the pain Bonnie was inflicting on him while Willow yelled the Restoration spell over everything.

Elijah calmly walked up and knelt down by Klaus. "Elijah?" Klaus asked in disbelief.

"Hello, brother." Elijah shoved his fist through Klaus's chest and held onto his heart. "In the name of our family, Nicklaus…."

"I didn't bury them at sea! Their bodies are safe. If you kill me, you'll never find them."

"Elijah! Don't listen to him!" Stefan cried.

"I can take you to them. I give you my word…. Brother." Klaus said.

"Do it or I'll take you both out." Bonnie warned.

"You'll die." Elijah said.

"I don't care."

"I'm sorry." Before anyone could do anything, Elijah left with Klaus.

Willow finished the Restoration spell and Angelus gasped. Buffy kept him in a headlock until she knew for sure the spell had worked. "Buffy?" Angel asked, confused. "I don't…. Where am I?"

Buffy let Angel go and went over to Stefan and Bonnie. "You should go check on Elena."

"What about you?" Stefan asked, hugging her gently as he tried to avoid the bruises he knew were there. He was relieved she was ok after having to fight Angelus for as long as she had.

"I'm staying with Angel. Call me when she wakes up."

"I will."

"Good job, Bonnie." Buffy hugged the young witch.

"I'm glad you're ok." Bonnie said.

"Buffy…." Willow started.

"Hey, Wills. Thank you." Buffy hugged her best friend. "Is Dawn…."

"I've got Greta's grimoire now," Willow held up the book Greta had dropped. "So I should be able to break the spell and unfreeze Dawn."

Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. "Good."

"Do you want me to stay?"

"No." Buffy glanced at Angel looking around in confusion. "I've got this. Tell Damon I'll see him later."

"Buffy…." Bonnie held out a man's ring to her. "This is for Angel. I figured he might like to have something to help him walk in the daytime."

"Thank you. I'll make sure he gets it." Buffy watched them walk away before turning to Angel. It was just the two of them in the clearing now surrounded by the bodies of Jenna, Greta, and Jules. Everything was eerily quiet except the waterfall in the distance."I don't understand…." Angel said. "How did I get here?"

"Your memories haven't come back to you yet?" Buffy asked, kneeling down in front of her ex.

"Memories?" Realization dawned on him. "I was Angelus?" Buffy nodded sadly. "How long?"

"I'm not sure. I guess about two weeks. You showed up here about a week or so ago."

"Where's here?"

"Mystic Falls, Virginia."

"The last thing I remember was sitting at a bar in Germany." Angel shook his head in confusion. "Why are there bodies? Did I…."

"No." Buffy glanced at Jenna's body sadly, a tear slipping past her eyelashes. "You didn't."

"Did you know her?"

"Yes. She was a friend."

"I'm sorry."

Buffy stood up and helped Angel to his feet. "Come on. Let's get you back to my house and I'll explain everything."

"You live here?"

"Yes."

"I'd heard that you had settled somewhere. The last time I talked to Giles…." He noticed Buffy's flinch at her Watcher's name. "What's wrong?"

"Let's get back to my house, ok?" Buffy kept walking. She wanted to get back and see if Willow had broken the spell on Dawn.

Buffy was sitting in the living room holding Angel tightly. He'd regained his memories on the walk home through the woods and had become almost catatonic. If she tried saying it was ok, he kept saying that she should hate him. She had to remind him that she knew it hadn't been him to kill Giles and almost kill Dawn. The front door opened and Buffy heard Damon call her name. Buffy wouldn't stand up and leave Angel, so she called Damon into the living room.

"Are you ok?" Damon asked, warily looking at Angel.

"I'll heal." Buffy said. "Is Elena….?"

"She's human."

"How?"

"John sacrificed himself using one of Bonnie's spells."

"Wow. I didn't see that coming." Buffy shook her head and laid her forehead down on Angel's broad shoulder.

"I'm sorry." Angel said quietly. "I'm so sorry."

"It wasn't you, Angel."

"I'm sorry."

Buffy looked at Damon helplessly. "Angel, sit up." She gently forced him to sit up. "I don't blame you."

"I'm sorry."

She gripped his face and made him look into her eyes. "I don't blame you, Angel."

"I'm sorry."

"I know. But it wasn't you." She stopped him from looking away. "It was Angelus. Don't forget that I know the difference between you and him better than anybody. I don't blame you." Angel shook his head and looked away.

"How's Dawn?" Damon asked.

"Willow's upstairs breaking the spell on us." Buffy said. "I'm glad you're here. She's going to need vampire blood to heal."

Damon was grateful that she missed his hesitation since the front door opened and Stefan ran in. "Buffy!"

"In here." Damon called.

Stefan walked in and stopped. "Elena's ok!"

"Damon told me." Buffy said.

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah."

"Stefan, can you go check on Dawn?" Damon asked. "Willow's breaking the spell and Dawn needs vampire blood. I'm going to stay here with Buffy."

"Yeah. Ok." Stefan nodded. "Buffy, I know now's not the best time, but Elena's asking for you."

Buffy nodded. "Ok."

Stefan headed upstairs as Damon sat down next to Buffy. He gently stroked her hair and lightly touched the large bruise surrounding a nasty looking gash on her forehead. Angel stood up suddenly. "I should go." He said.

"Angel, no…." Buffy grabbed his arm and stopped him.

"I can't be around you."

"Why?"

"Buffy, I killed Giles. I nearly killed Dawn. That's unforgivable."

"Yes. It is. And I will never forgive Angelus for that."

"Angel, I think you should stay." Damon said. "We could really use you around here since we now have a vampire/werewolf hybrid on the loose. And since your counterpart spent so much time with him, maybe you could help us out." Buffy smiled slightly at Damon and took his hand.

Angel shook his head. "How can Dawn even look at me after…."

"Angel!" Dawn came bounding into the living room and hugged Angel tightly.

"Dawnie!" Buffy cried. Her little sister turned and hugged Buffy tightly. "You're ok. God, you're ok."

Dawn wiped the tears off of Buffy's face. "Hey, I'm a Summers woman. It takes more than a psycho soulless vampire to kill me." Dawn turned to Angel and hugged him again. "I'm so glad you're ok."

Angel was obviously very confused. "Dawn…."

"I can look at you because you're Angel. Please, I've spent enough time with my sister after everything she went through back in Sunnydale to know the difference between Angelus and you. You're not him."

Buffy smiled at her sister. "She's all grown up, isn't she?" Angel just nodded his quiet agreement. Stefan walked back in. "Thank you, Stefan."

"Anytime." Stefan said.

"I've got to call Elena." Buffy looked up at Angel. "Please, make yourself at home. We've got plenty of bedrooms. And if you go anywhere, I will track you down." She gently touched his arm and then walked out.

Buffy brushed Elena's hair and set it back in a loose ponytail. They were both in black dresses for the funeral that Stefan and Damon had arranged for Jenna. Elena stared at the pictures of her parents and Jenna on her mirror while Buffy played with her hair.

Jeremy joined them, quietly knocking on the door. He looked handsome in his suit. "We're almost ready." Buffy said.

"Take your time." Jeremy said. He gave Elena a letter. "John wanted me to give you this. And this." He also gave her John's ring.

"Jeremy…. I'm so sorry." Elena said. "I'm so sorry that you've lost so many people."

"I still have you." They embraced each other tightly before Jeremy walked out.

"I'm going to head downstairs to check on the food." Buffy said. "If you need me…."

"Thank you." Elena hugged her tightly, burying her face in Buffy's shoulder.

Buffy kissed Elena's hair and released her. She walked downstairs to where Damon and Stefan were waiting. "Are we all set?" She asked.

"Yeah. There's plenty of room at the Gilbert family plot and I compelled two of the gravediggers to do the dirty work." Damon said. "How's she doing?"

Buffy glanced up the stairs. "She lost the only parents she had. She's in shock."

"How are you holding up?" Stefan asked.

Buffy shrugged. "I've got a lot on my plate, but I think I'll be ok." She glanced into the living room where Angel was standing with Dawn. "I handled raising Dawn as a teenager…. Jeremy and Elena will be no problem." She kissed Damon's cheek as she took his hand and walked over to Angel and Dawn. "Hey, we're getting ready to leave."

"Are you sure it's ok if I come?" Angel asked.

"Yeah. Elena wants this to be for Giles, too."

"Are you going to the funeral in England?" Dawn asked.

"Yes." Buffy glanced at Damon and took his hand as he walked up behind her. "Damon and I both are."

"What about Klaus?" Jeremy asked, walking in with Bonnie from the kitchen.

"We'll deal with it. We won't be gone long. Maybe a week at the most. I've got to go through his stuff and figure out what to do with it and his lawyer wants to read his will."

"Who's staying with us?"

"Alaric's agreed to watch you guys while we're gone. I talked to him last night." Buffy and everyone else turned when they heard Elena coming down the stairs.

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