Buffy shook her head and tossed the papers she was leafing through on the desk. "A whole lot of nothing. I don't understand. Klaus doesn't have a witch with him. How can he be hiding himself with magics?"
Damon picked up one of the papers. It was a printout of an email that Willow had sent. It wasn't good news. "She'll figure it out."
"You're way too confident." Buffy stretched in her seat. "It's like Stefan and Klaus have completely gone off the grid. No bodies. No massacres. Nothing." Damon leaned down and kissed Buffy gently. "What was that for?"
"You're way too stressed."
"Yes, Damon. I am stressed." He started to massage her shoulders as she continued. "Saving your brother is a full time job. Keeping Elena out of trouble is a full time job. Keeping an eye on Jeremy is a full time job. Being a Slayer is a full time job. Being your girlfriend is a full time job. Between all these jobs, I just don't know how to NOT be stressed."
"You think it's a job being my girlfriend?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Sometimes it feels like it. Especially when you're acting like a jackass to everyone else."
Buffy's phone rang and without even looking at it, she answered it. "This better be good."
Buffy sat up and looked at Damon. "Katherine." She said for Damon's benefit. "How did you get my number?"
"I have my ways."
"Where are you?"
Katherine laughed. "Why? So you can kill me?"
"Uh, yeah. That was the thought. What do you want?"
"I'm home sick. What have I missed?"
"Well, Stefan is still Klaus's little prisoner and we're finding a way to save him and no one's thought about you since you left. Except Mr. Pointy. He's been asking when you'll come play with him."
"Do you have any leads on Stefan?"
"Why? Do you know where he is?" Katherine made a noise that suggested she did. "You do, don't you? Are you trailing them?"
"A hybrid who wants me dead and his sidekick who's off the rails? I couldn't be further away."
"Something tells me that means you know exactly where they are."
"All I know is that Klaus pitched a fit once his hybrids didn't work. Now he's looking for some answers."
"How do you know that?"
"You spend 500 years running, there'll be a few people along the way that are looking out for you."
"Is that what you're doing? Looking out for Stefan?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. I'm conflicted."
"And I'm bored. Where are they?"
"They're in the lovely land of Oz."
"And you're going to be in the lovely land of dead if you don't tell me."
"You're no fun." Katherine huffed. "They're in Chicago. Damon can fill you in on that history." She hung up.
Buffy looked at her phone and then up at Damon. "I'm assuming you heard that."
"Every word." Damon said.
"So…. History in Chicago?"
Buffy moved around Elena's bedroom and filled a travel bag with clothing as she waited for the teen to wake up. Damon was off filling the car up for their road trip and filling Angel in on what was going on. He'd gone back to LA to dig up some old contacts to see if they knew anything more about Klaus that could help them track the hybrid.Elena finally started to stir and she sat up. She let out a gasp when she saw Buffy. "God, Buffy! You scared me!"
"Sorry." Buffy said. "Do you have a travel thingy for your toothbrush?"
Elena looked at her clock. "6am? Seriously? You came over here to borrow a travel thingy for a toothbrush?"
"No. I came over here to get you all packed and ready while Damon finishes running some errands."
"Packed and ready for what?"
"To bring Stefan home."
"Wait…. What? What are you talking about? Where is he?"
"The windy city."
"He's in Chicago?"
"No. Bali. Yes, Chicago."
"How do you know?"
"I got a lead."
"Is he ok?"
"He's not there to meet Oprah, Elena. Now, can you please get up and pack? If Damon gets back before you're done, he's gonna pack for you."
Elena's eyes widened and she jumped out of bed.
Buffy looked out the window at the passing scenery. It was Damon's turn to drive, so she was kicking back and relaxing. Damon, however, was incredibly worried. Klaus and Buffy would be way too close for his comfort. They'd had a huge fight over whether they'd actually go to Chicago or not because of Buffy's plan. She wanted to distract Klaus while Elena worked her magic on Stefan.
"Why am I sensing some seriously bad vibes from you two?" Elena asked from the backseat. "You've barely said two words to each other."
"That's what happens when your boyfriend calls you stupid." Buffy said.
"I did not call you stupid." Damon argued. "I called your plan stupid."
"You also said I was stupid for wanting to be in the same room as Klaus."
Damon paused. "Ok, I did say that. And I still think that."
"And I think you're stupid for not trusting me."
"I think you're both stupid." Elena said. "Buffy's plan will work, even though it is a crazy one, and Damon…. You need to learn to trust your girlfriend."
"I do trust her." Damon retorted. "It's Klaus I don't trust."
"I don't trust him either." Buffy said. "But I don't think he wants me just yet."
"Why do you think that?" Elena asked.
"Because if he did, then he would've come for me already."
Damon sighed and reached down beside Buffy's leg. He pulled out an old journal and handed it to Elena. "Here. Read this. It paints a pretty little picture of Stefan's first experience in Chicago."
"It's Stefan's diary." Elena said, surprised. "I'm not going to invade his private thoughts."
"You need to be prepared for what you're about to see."
"I've seen Stefan in his darkest periods." She handed the journal back to Damon. "I can handle it."
Damon rolled his eyes and opened the journal, reading while he drove. "Here's one. 'March 12, 1922: I've blacked out days. I wake up in stranger's blood in places I don't recognize with women I don't remember." Damon gasped dramatically. "I'm shocked!" He looked over at Buffy. "Stefan's not a virgin?"
"Eye's on the road, grandma." Elena said, taking the journal from Damon."Fine. Back to my game. Tell me if you see a Florida plate."
Buffy rolled her eyes and glanced back at Elena reading Stefan's journal. "You don't have to read that if you don't want to."
"No. Damon's right. I need to really prepare myself." She smiled at Buffy and settled back in her seat to read.
Buffy looked at Damon. She sighed and took his hand, pulling it into her lap. "I'll be ok."
"I don't want him to take you." Damon said, lowering his voice.
"He won't." Buffy leaned her head against his shoulder. "I won't let him." Damon kissed the top of her head, not soothed at all by her reassurances.
Damon pulled his car over next to an old apartment building in the city. They all piled out and followed Damon into the building. The place obviously hadn't been used in years. Maybe even decades.
"Stefan could live anywhere in Chicago and he chose this?" Elena asked.
"There used to be an all-girls high school around the corner, but it shut down for attendance issues." Damon said, leading them down a hallway and stopping in front of a door. "Weird."
"If you're trying to scare me into giving up and going back, it's not going to work."
"Shh." Damon shushed her and gripped the doorknob. With a yank, the knob and lock broke off. Damon shoved the door open. They walked into a sparsely decorated apartment that was covered in dust. "Here we are." He shut the door behind them. "Stefan's second personality home."
Buffy moved some dust around. "He obviously hasn't been here."
"Tour's not over yet." Damon made his way over to a large pantry shelf that was built into the wall. He felt around the side of it and found a latch. The shelving opened like a door with a loud creak. He motioned for them to follow and turned on a bare light bulb.
"Stefan hid his alcohol. What a monster." Elena mocked.
Elena moved past Damon into the hidden alcove. Buffy moved behind Damon, her hand snaking down his arm and weaving her fingers with his. On the inside wall was a long, multi-columned list of names.
"It's a list of names." Elena said.
"Mm-hmm." Damon said, squeezing Buffy's hand.
"Are these all of his victims?"
"Still handling it?"
Buffy let Damon walk out of the alcove before she moved up behind Elena. "Hey, this is nothing. My ex's list of names wouldn't fit inside this entire…. Building. Not exactly comforting, I know, but this…. This we can save."
"What were you doing in the 1920s?" Elena asked Damon accusingly. "Paving the way for women's liberation?"
"I was around." Damon said. "Chicago's a big city. Stefan was a cocky ripper douche, but I could avoid him and still indulge in a few Daisy Buchannans of my own."
"Uck." Elena rolled her eyes. Damon headed for the door. "Where are you going?"
"His old stomping ground."
"I'm coming with you."
"No. You stay here and whip up your part of the plan. Buffy and I will come back when we find him."
"Wait, we can't leave her here." Buffy protested. "What if Stefan shows up?"
"Then you won't have to distract Klaus."
Buffy crossed her arms. "They're practically attached at the hip, Damon."
"I'll be fine." Elena said with a sigh. "Just go find him. If anyone shows up, I'll just hide."
Buffy reached into her bag and handed Elena a vervain dart. "Even if it's only Stefan, don't be afraid to use this. Got it?" Elena nodded and Buffy followed Damon out. "I want to stop somewhere first."
"I've got a friend in Chicago."
"What's up, B!" Faith cried, hugging the other Slayer. "Long time no see."
"Yeah." Buffy said, hugging her friend back.
"You doing ok?"
"As good as can be expected."
"Come in." Faith held open the door to her apartment. "Robin's not home right now."
"How is he?"
"Five by five. You know the drill." Faith gave Damon's backside the once over. "Damn, B. Still like em dark and broody."
"Dark, yes." Buffy smiled at Damon. "Not so much with the broody anymore."
"I like." The dark Slayer nodded approvingly. "I like a lot."
Buffy nudged Faith with her shoulder, prying the other Slayer's eyes off her boyfriend's backside. "Damon, this is Faith. Faith, this is Damon."
The two shook hands. "Nice to finally meet you. Sorry I missed you guys in England. I couldn't get a flight back in time. So what brings you to my neck of the woods?"
"Oh, I was wondering if you'd like to go Stefan hunting with us?"
"Stefan's here in Chi-town, huh?"
"He's back to his old tricks." Damon said.
Faith shook her head. "Yeah, Angel mentioned that. He stopped by on his way to LA."
"You haven't heard anything about Stefan or Klaus?" Buffy asked.
"No. You'd think with a big bad hybrid running around in my city with a crazy ripper vamp, I'd hear about it."
"You'd think, but they've been pretty low key lately."
"All right, I'm game. Let me just leave Robin a note and we can head out." Buffy laughed slightly. "What?"
The blonde Slayer grinned. "You're so…. Domesticated."
"Shut up." Faith tossed a pillow at Buffy and went into the kitchen.
Damon led Buffy and Faith into a bar called Gloria's. The building was old, so Buffy figured it was definitely a Stefan stomping ground. Damon took her hand as they walked up to the bar where a middle aged dark woman with white blonde hair cut close to her head was working. The woman turned around and recognized Damon.
"Well, look what the wind blew in." She exclaimed. "Last I heard, you hated this place."
"Gloria!" Damon said. "Damn! If I knew you were gonna age like this, I woulda stuck around."
"I always did like you better." She looked at Buffy and Faith. "And you're running with a good crowd."
"Gloria, this is my girlfriend, Buffy, and her friend Faith."
"Slayers." Gloria pointed at Buffy. "You must be the one that everyone's talking about. I sense some serious power coming off of you."
"That would be me." Buffy said.
"It's nice to meet you."
Gloria looked at Damon. "It's too bad your brother is still running in the wrong crowd."
"You've seen him?" Damon asked.
"With Klaus. Bad combo."
"You know where they went?"
"They'll be back here later tonight. They're out running a little errand for me.""Gloria, don't be a tease. What kind of errand?"
Gloria smiled. "I don't think so. You may be cute, but you're still a vampire." She looked at Buffy and Faith. "You two can have any drinks you want on the house. I love Slayers."
Faith smiled. "I just found myself a new hang out."
Buffy's cell phone went off. It was Elena. "Hey, we…."
"Buffy, Stefan and Klaus were just here."
"Please come back!"
"Yeah. Ok. We're on our way." Buffy hung up. "Elena was almost discovered by Klaus."
"That's not good." Faith said, looking at her drink with a longing in her eyes.
Buffy chuckled. "Faith, can you stay here while we go collect Elena? Keep an eye out for Stefan and let me know when he shows up?"
"Best plan ever." Faith smiled and took a sip of her drink. "I got you covered."
"Thank you." Buffy and Damon headed back outside.
An hour later, they made their way back to Stefan's apartment. Elena came out from behind the kitchen wall holding the vervain dart. "Finally! I called you an hour ago."
Damon tossed her a bag of her clothes. "Make yourself presentable. We know where Stefan's going to be tonight."
"I told you I was practically discovered by Klaus and you're worried about what I'm wearing?"
"We had an hour to realize how bad of an idea it was to leave you here alone, process it, and move on."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Are you ok?"
Elena nodded slightly. "Yeah."
"Ok, good." Buffy pulled Elena into the kitchen. "Get dressed. You need to look your best to make Stefan stick around long enough to listen to you."
"So you know where he's gonna be?"
"Yes. With Klaus. Damon and I will distract Klaus and you deal with Stefan."
"Ok. Thank you."
"You're going to have about five minutes, tops, before Klaus rips Damon's heart out and possibly runs off with me. I really, really don't want that to happen, so please tell me you can do this."
"I can do this."
Buffy nodded. "Good. Get dressed." She headed out to where Damon was sitting.
"You don't want to get all pretty for Klaus?" Damon asked.
"What? You don't think he'll like the jean shorts and blue tank top?" She sat down on his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. "We'll be ok. I'll be ok. Faith's not going to let anything happen to me. And neither will you." Buffy's phone rang. "Yeah?"
"Guess who just walked in and made themselves comfortable at the bar?" Faith said.
"We're on our way." Buffy hung up. "Elena, it's showtime."
Buffy stood outside with Elena and waited for Damon. He'd gone inside to get Stefan's attention. After a long couple of minutes, he finally came back out. "Did he see you?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah." Damon said. A blur moved past Buffy and shoved Damon against a car.
"What is wrong with you!" Stefan asked.
Buffy pulled him away as Damon straightened up. "What is wrong with you?" He asked. "You try to kill Buffy one day, you're saving our lives the next. What are you? Good, bad? Pick one!"
"Klaus almost saw Elena today." Stefan said. "You have to get her out of Chicago."
"She's not going anywhere until she's got you checked into vampire rehab and on the mend. Trust me, we tried."
"She is the key to everything. Klaus can't know she's alive."
"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked.
"She was supposed to die in the sacrifice and she didn't. Now Klaus can't create any new hybrids. His witch is seconds away from figuring that out. Tell Elena to go home and forget about me."
Buffy moved slightly to reveal Elena standing behind her. "Tell her yourself."
Damon looked at Buffy. "I'm going in first."
Stefan held Buffy's arm while Damon walked back into the bar. "Let him. Klaus may not be focused on you right now, but he will be if you give him the opportunity. Let Damon go in first to show Klaus you're not alone."
"Faith's in there."
"Good. The more powerful people around you, the better. He's distracted with this hybrid plan of his, so as long as you're not alone, he won't fight too hard to get you."
Buffy nodded and walked over to the entrance of the bar. She glanced at Stefan and then walked in. Faith was standing by the entrance. "I was just about to come get you."
Buffy looked over at the bar and saw Klaus lifting Damon up by the neck. "I'm a little boozy, so you'll forgive me if I miss the heart the first few tries."Buffy spotted the little umbrella Klaus was holding. It was the little wooden kind. "Faith, back me up if I need it?"
"You got it."
Buffy walked over just before Klaus stabbed Damon again and said, "Put him down Klaus." Damon's eyes widened and he tried to shake his head.
Klaus tossed Damon across the room, breaking one of the tables. He turned around with a smile. "Buffy! Here we thought you were keeping your distance. I didn't expect you to show up here."
"Where Damon goes, I go."
"You should really rethink that."
He was suddenly standing mere inches in front of her. "Because I'm the better choice. I'm so much more fun."
Buffy looked up at him, staring him in the eyes. "Well, I'm not looking for that much fun. I've had plenty and now I'm looking for a slower paced life."
"Oh come now." He reached out and brushed her hair behind her ear, running his finger down her jaw and then cupping her chin. "You're not one for the slow paced anything." Faith helped Damon up and they stood back. Damon made sure to stay in front of Faith since the darker Slayer was gearing up for a fight that would get her killed. "You brought a friend?" Klaus looked at Faith. "A Slayer friend!"
"I've got lots of them."
"I know." He turned back to her. "If my hybrids plan doesn't work out…. I could always just turn your little army of Slayers."
"You could try. Going up against that many Slayers would be suicide. And you just don't strike me as a kill-yourself kind of guy."
"Just everyone else." Klaus was suddenly standing behind Damon with a broken chair leg and Faith found herself flying across the room. He held the stake near Damon's heart. "I'll just sever those ties to a slower pace and…."
"Don't!" Buffy cried.
Klaus smiled. "Let's make a deal, shall we?"
"No." Damon growled."Let him go. Please." Buffy took a step forward and Klaus pushed the stake harder against Damon's chest, making him bleed and Buffy stop in her tracks. "Klaus…."
"Here's the offer: I'll make you the queen of an army of incredibly powerful Slayer-vampires in exchange for your boyfriend's life. How could you possibly turn that down?"
"Easy." Buffy's hands curled into fists and she was moving into a fighting stance. She knew she had no chance against Klaus, but if Damon could get away….
Gloria suddenly appeared next to the bar and held out her hand. The chair leg caught on fire and Klaus threw it away. "Really?" Klaus groaned.
"Not in my bar." Gloria said. "You take it outside."
Klaus rolled his eyes. He moved over to Buffy and stood just behind her, brushing his lips against her ear. "Don't worry. We'll make that deal soon enough. As for Stefan, you don't have to negotiate for him. When I'm done with him, he won't want to go back." Klaus looked at Damon as he kissed Buffy's cheek slowly and then disappeared.
Buffy wiped away the kiss and rushed over to Damon, hugging him tightly. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine." Damon said. "You're getting yourself bloody."
"I don't care." She still clung to him. They'd been moments away from actually dying.
"What is wrong with you? You were going to fight him?"
"I had to make sure you could get away any way that I could."
"Are you kidding me? You sacrificing yourself for me is the last thing I want."
"Don't kid yourself, man." Faith said, getting to her feet. "B's in love with you and she'll do anything to make sure you're safe. Even if it means dying. She's always been that way."
"Thanks for the help." Buffy said, turning to her friend.
"Wasn't much help, but hey…. It got me a new hang out, a new friend, and free drinks whenever I want." Faith smiled at Gloria. "If those are the perks of you showing up? You should come around more often, B."
After saying goodbye to Faith, Buffy and Damon got in the car where Elena was sitting in the backseat. She looked completely devastated. Buffy looked at her, knowing what Stefan had told her. "Are you ok?" Buffy asked gently.
"Just drive." Elena said.