The Next Chapter

Chapter 43

A/N I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Chapter 43

"I just don't know why you want to bring chili to a potluck." Damon said, putting the lid back on the pot. "Everybody brings chili."

"Hey Rick." Buffy said, looking up from her chopping as Alaric walked in the kitchen. "What's up?"

"What time do you want to go to the Lockwood party?" Elena asked Alaric.

"Uh…. Those founders parties aren't really my thing." Alaric said.

"You show up, there's gonna be nine other people who brought the same thing." Damon said, standing behind Buffy now and playing with her hair.

"It's an old family recipe, ok?" Elena shot back.

"Yeah. I know. I knew your old family. They made sucky chili."

Buffy laughed and Elena shot her a glare. The Slayer smiled brightly. "Oh come on! That was funny." Elena rolled her eyes and laughed.

"Why are you guys here exactly?" Alaric asked.

"She knows." Damon said, glancing at Elena before moving his face back to Buffy's neck.

"They think I'm going to break." Elena said. "I'm not going to break. I'm just going to keep making chili and pretend I didn't just spend the entire summer looking for someone who didn't want to be found."

"She's in denial." Damon whispered loudly.

"I'm not in denial."

"No?" Damon moved away from behind Buffy and stepped over to Elena. He held up the locket Stefan had given Elena that was still around her neck. "You're still wearing this necklace. Isn't this a reminder of your unbreakable bond with Stefan?"

Buffy rolled her eyes and pulled Damon away from Elena. "Ok, leave her alone. I still wear the claddagh ring Angel gave me." She held up her right hand to show it on her index finger.

"While you're my girlfriend." Damon reminded her, pulling her to him.

"Well," Buffy turned in his arms to look up at Damon and her hair fell down her back and off her shoulders. "Give me some pretty jewelry and I'll wear it." He smiled and kissed her.

"What is that?" Alaric asked.

Buffy turned to him. "What is what?"

Alaric moved over and held Buffy's hair up off the left side of her neck. "That!" There were two healing holes in her neck where she'd obviously been bitten by a vampire.

"That's none of your business." Buffy jerked away from Alaric and put the green onions in the pot of chili.

"You're letting him feed off you?"

"It's none of your business, Rick." Damon warned.

"The hell it is. You're Elena and Jeremy's legal guardian! This is unacceptable behavior from you."

Buffy turned and glared at Alaric. "You don't have any right to tell me what I can and can't do with my boyfriend. And don't you dare question my behavior around my kids Mr. Drinks A Lot. I at least keep my personal business personal."

"Hey!" Elena said, getting between them. "Though I am worried about this, Buffy…. You and Damon are right." She looked at Alaric. "It's none of your business."

Buffy's cell phone rang and she moved out of the kitchen to answer it. "Yeah?"

"Hi, Buffy." It was Liz Forbes.

"Hey Liz."

"Are you and Damon busy?"

"No. What's up?"

"I have a favor to ask of Damon."

"Oh, sure."

"Can you meet me in the square?"

"On our way." Buffy hung up and looked at Damon. "Come on. We've got somewhere to be."

"I'm sure it's better than Judgmentville here." Damon said, glaring at Rick on his way out.

"Elena, I'll see you at the Lockwoods' house later." Buffy said, walking out the door with Damon.

Buffy and Damon followed Liz towards the jail. "So Mayor Lockwood called your gay ex-husband to torture your vampire daughter?" Damon asked.

"Yes. I've been keeping him detained till the vervain's out of his system so you could…." Liz held her fingers up to her eyes and waved them back and forth. "You know."

"You want me to just kill him?"

"No, Damon!" Liz said. "He's Caroline's father."

"Sounds like a douchebag to me."

"Yeah, well, just cause you and I are on ok terms doesn't mean I'm suddenly a big advocate for your lifestyle."

"Is that what you told him when you two got divorced?" Buffy asked, causing Damon to laugh loudly. Liz shot Buffy a look and then smiled. "Sorry. I couldn't let that one just sit there. Damon's really rubbed off on me."

"Funny." Liz said, opening the door to the jail. She led them to a secret door and then down into a cave-like basement via a winding staircase.

"Double check him for vervain before you compel him." Buffy said to Damon. "Just in case. I don't want Caroline going through that again."

"Neither do I." Liz said, opening a big iron door. There sat Bill Forbes, Caroline's father. He kind of looked like Buffy's father, which made her hate him all the more.

Damon walked over to Bill and slowly pulled the duct tape off his mouth. Bill looked at Liz. "You brought more vampires into this?"

"It's the best thing for all of us, Bill." Liz said.

Buffy bent forward to look at Bill and pointed to herself. "Not a vampire."

"But I am." Damon said, moving next to Buffy. "So, Bill, I hear you're into the whole daddy/daughter/vampire torture thing."

"I was trying to help her." Bill said.

"Well, if there's anyone who doesn't need help, it's your annoying control freak of a daughter." Damon let his fangs drop and bit into Bill's neck. After a second, he pulled back. "Yup. He's vervain free."

"Just erase his memory, Damon." Liz said.

"Wait, I have a question." Buffy said. "What makes you think you can change the basic nature of a vampire?"

"The mind's a powerful tool." Bill said. "It can be trained and retrained. You just have to be strong enough."

"God, what were you? A part of the Initiative? That sounds like their cup of BS."

"You know what, sweetie? I completely agree with Bill." Damon said. He knelt down in front of Bill. "I actually happen to love mind control myself." He grabbed Bill's face and forced him to look at him. "You will leave town immediately. All you remember is that you came to bring your daughter back to school shopping." Damon turned to Buffy. "Shall we?"

She took his hand and they walked out. "See you at the party, Liz."

As soon as they were out in the sunshine of the square, Damon turned to Buffy. "You taste much better than that douchebag down there."

"I would hope so." Buffy said, pushing Damon and forcing him to walk backwards with his arms around her waist. "I think we have plenty of time for a little stop at the house before the party starts."

Damon smiled sexily. "I like the way you think." He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards his car.

They drove towards their house, but stopped just inside the long driveway, not able to go any further. Damon pulled her to him and began to kiss her fervently. Buffy moved on top of him, grinding down slightly. He groaned and maneuvered a hand between them, working at the button and zipper on his pants. Buffy moved his head to the side and licked and kissed her way up his neck as he moved her skirt up and nipped at her collarbone.

"Hmm…. Nice…." He groaned. "Commando."

Buffy laughed as she nipped at his earlobe. "You've ruined the last four pair. I've learned my lesson." She wriggled as his fingers played inside of her. "God…."

Damon couldn't take anymore waiting. He pushed her down onto him and she began to move. Slowly at first, but then building speed and friction as she went on. He felt himself getting close and his fangs dropped, eyes changing. Buffy's head fell back, baring her neck to him. As he neared his end, he bit into her neck, right where he had before, and she let out a yelp, coming to her end with him and biting into his neck. She licked up the blood she'd spilled, breathing heavily.

This had been their new routine for the last couple of weeks. The first time it had happened, he'd gotten so lost in the moment that his fangs had dropped and his eyes had changed against his will. Buffy, to his surprise, yanked his head down to her neck and he bit in, sure she would throw him off. When she'd bitten into him, though…. It had been the hottest moment of his entire existence.

Buffy's blood was sweeter than anything he'd ever tasted. The one time he'd gotten to drink from her before was now a hazy memory thanks to that werewolf bite. So when her blood poured into his mouth and his into hers, it had started something new between them. They were both stronger and faster and the more they did it, the longer the effects lasted. It was bordering on addiction.

Buffy giggled. "I need a new shirt."

Damon smiled at the small blood stain on her tank top. "Whoops." He licked at the trail of blood that was already starting to dry.

"Sloppy." She kissed him gently as she moved off of him and sat down in the passenger's seat.

"Let's go get you a new shirt and then head to the party." Damon put the car in drive and headed up the driveway. "Huh."

Buffy turned away from Damon and saw the black 67 Plymouth GTX sitting next to her silver Mercedes Benz E-Class Cabriolet convertible. "Angel's back."

"I guess he would be since our search for Stefan is over." Damon parked and they got out. "Though our weeks of peaceful alone time is now interrupted."

"Yeah." Buffy shrugged. Damon opened the door for Buffy as she moved her hair to cover the fresh bite mark. Just because it was healed didn't mean it wasn't still red and obvious. "Maybe I can make it upstairs before…."

"Hey guys." Angel said, coming out of the living room.

"Angel. We didn't expect you back." Damon said.

"Well, I figured since Stefan's been found and unwilling to leave Klaus…. Why not? Mystic Falls is a nice town." Angel sniffed the air. "Are you ok?" He asked Buffy. "I smell your blood."

"Keep your nose to yourself." Buffy said. "It's nothing."

"Are you hurt?"

"No. I'm fine."

"Then why…."

"I'm fine, Angel." Buffy said forcefully.

"Oh." Angel nodded knowingly. "He fed off you."

"Standing right here." Damon said. "Why do people keep doing that?"

"Buffy's blood…."

"I know about her blood."

"You could lose control and…."

"He's not going to." Buffy interrupted. "And like I told Alaric, this is none of your business."

"If you're not being careful…."

"What are you? My mother? Cause we already had this talk a long time ago. Everybody needs to stay out of our business. This is between Damon and I and nobody else." She turned and marched upstairs.

"Damon…." Angel started.

"Don't lecture me, grandpa." Damon snapped. "I'm not going to put her in the hospital." Angel looked away, still ashamed that he'd lost control of himself and nearly killed her all those years ago. "Buffy and I are grownups and we can make our own decisions."

"What if you accidently kill her?"

"Then she'll be like me. Only a hell of a lot more powerful." Damon turned and headed for the stairs. "There's a party at the Lockwoods' today. Why don't you go hang out with Alaric and talk about how reckless I am with my Slayer?" And with that, he disappeared up the stairs.

Buffy walked arm in arm with Damon across the Lockwood's backyard and shook her head at the party around them. "I feel like I've died and gone to a warped version of the 50s." She eyed the old red truck sitting as a prop near the picnic tables.

"Oh look!" Damon said, holding up a sign that read Fell Family Chili. Behind that was the Lockwood Family Chili and then the Gilbert Family Chili. "I told her so."

Buffy laughed. "Oh look! An anesthetic!" She held up a beer that she'd plucked from Alaric's grasp across the table. He'd walked up with three of them.

"Let me let you two in on a little secret." Damon said. "Founders parties are just an excuse for the Council to gather in back rooms and plot against vampires."

"I got that." Buffy spotted Liz. "Excuse me, boys." She walked over to meet up with the sheriff.

Alaric turned to Damon. "I think you need to take a beat with Buffy."

"Excuse me?"

"Look…. She obviously loves you and would do anything for you and I don't think she's in her right mind after everything that's happened."

"'Her right mind'?" Damon scoffed.

"Look, you feeding off of her is not only dangerous for her, but it's dangerous for everyone else."

"I don't think it's any of your business what my girlfriend and I do behind closed doors, Rick."

"Angel told me that you don't care if you accidentally turn her."

"I know this is none of Angel's business."

"We're just worried about her." Angel said, walking up next to Rick.

"Buffy can take care of herself."

Angel moved closer to Damon. "You're a bad influence on her, Damon. Before she met you, she was all about the good fight. Now she doesn't care who gets hurt."

"Take it up with someone who cares. Which, by the way, is not Buffy or myself." Damon turned and walked over to Liz and Buffy.

Buffy smiled up at him. "Good timing, sweetie." She said. "The Mayor just called for the Council meeting."

"Well, let's not be late then." Damon wrapped an arm around her shoulders and they followed Liz into the meeting.

Damon took a seat in a wingback chair and Buffy sat on the arm of it with his arm between her legs and his hand curled around her knee. She was warmer than usual and he knew exactly what that meant. He smiled up at her. They pretty much ignored everyone else as they secretly played with each other.

"There have been no incidents of question since spring." Liz was saying. "It's been quiet."

"Anyone else have anything to add to the minutes?" Carol Lockwood asked. "Buffy?"

Buffy looked up and realized that she'd missed pretty much the entire meeting. "Uh…. No. Nope. Nothing to add. I think the sheriff covered it, Mayor Lockwood. I guess we've made it through the worst."

"Well, I have nothing new to add, so…. Thank you all for coming." Everyone stood up and filed their way out of the study. Damon got up and went over to the board to get himself a drink. Carol made her way over to him as Liz joined Buffy.

"Carol." Damon said.

"Damon…." Carol started.

"I have a question." They all turned to find Bill Forbes standing in the doorway.

"Bill." Carol said.

"Do you four think that everybody on the Council is clueless or just stupid?"

"What are you doing here?" Liz asked.

"Carol, could you give us just a moment?"

"Uh, sure…." Carol looked at Liz with a confused expression, but she left the room anyway.

Bill shut the door behind her. "To answer your question, Liz, I feel that this Council has been compromised and I came to expose your little vampire friend over there, but I just missed the meeting."

"Vampire? Damon? What are you talking about?"

"Let's not play this game, Liz."

"He compelled you." Buffy said.

"Didn't work. It's time for this town to truly be protected. I'll be talking with Mayor Lockwood about putting vervain in the town's water supply. Excuse me." Bill turned and walked out of the room. "Uh…. Confused." Buffy looked at Damon. "Are your powers not working?"

"They work just fine." Damon said, staring at the door where Bill had disappeared.

"Then how…." Liz started.

"I don't know. Excuse us." Damon took Buffy's hand and walked out. They found Alaric, Angel, and Elena walking out the door. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait! Huston, we have a problem."

"Where've you two been?" Elena asked.

"Managing Bill Forbes." Buffy said. "Apparently he's impervious to compulsion."

"How?" Alaric asked.

"I have no idea." Damon said. "He threatened to out me."

"Don't get me started on the irony of that." Buffy said.

Damon smiled. "That's two!"

"What did you do to him?" Elena asked. "How do you know the compulsion doesn't work?"

"That's not the most important piece of information that we mentioned, Elena." Damon said.

"What does he want?" Angel asked.

"Well, to control the Council. He says it's been compromised."

"And it has." Alaric said.

"He wants to put vervain in the town's water supply."

"Maybe it's not a bad idea." Elena said. "I mean, it'll help you keep yourself in control now that Stefan's not here to….""To what?" Buffy asked.

"To keep me in check." Damon said. "Make me behave. I should've killed that guy this morning!"

"He's Caroline's dad, Damon." Elena argued.

"Yeah, when I kill him, she'll have one more parent than we do."

"Oh come on, Damon!" Alaric said.

"Step aside." Damon warned.

"Not gonna happen." Angel said, taking the spot next to Alaric and blocking Damon.

Damon shrugged. "Your temporary funeral." He suddenly snapped Alaric's neck. Angel went to attack Damon, but Buffy intercepted him and threw him away, across the expansive front lawn.

"Damon, no! Buffy!" Elena screamed. "What is wrong with you two!"

"He'll wake up." Buffy said, moving past Elena with Damon. She turned to Angel as he moved towards them. "You touch him and I swear you will have a scar when I'm through with you." She nudged Damon towards the house, giving him her silent permission to go end Bill Forbes.

"This isn't you, Buffy." Angel said. "He's influenced you."

"Yeah? So? What's your point?"

"You used to care!"

"Oh, what do you know? You haven't been around."

"I know that before you came here and met him, you were a good person."

"Was I?"

"You have always been a good person. You were just confused and lost for a while. But you found your way and this person that you are now? She's not the Buffy I know."

"You don't know me."

"This all started when you became friends with Lexi."

"Don't you dare bring Lexi into this. She was my friend. My sister. And you didn't know her at all." Angel made to reach out to her, but Buffy backed away. "Let me get something clear with you that I learned a long time ago and something that's been made even clearer in recent months. I'm the Slayer, Angel. Sometimes my job requires me to do bad things."

"Your job does not require you to allow your boyfriend to kill your friend's father."

"Bill Forbes is a nuisance. He will expose Damon and that will lead to all sorts of trouble not only for Damon but also for Caroline. I'd like to avoid that as would Damon."

"Maybe Damon needs to be ran out of town."

"Then I'll go with him."

"You need to take a break from him."

"Why does everyone think it's ok to dictate my love life?"

"He's a bad influence on you, Buffy. Need I remind you that he killed your friend, 'your sister' Lexi?" Buffy's fist balled up at his sarcastic tone towards her relationship with Lexi. Angel softened his tone. "I think if you just took some time…."

"To what? Miss him? Absence makes the heart grow fonder." She paused. "Oh wait, that's not true. You've been absent and my heart's not fonder." Buffy marched past Angel towards the house and Damon, but he grabbed her arm.

"Buffy…."

"If you want to keep that hand and the arm it's attached to, I suggest you let go of me." Angel let her arm go and Buffy headed into the house. She was almost knocked over by Caroline flying out the front door with her father. In the study, Damon was sprawled on the floor against the wall, blood running down his chin. "Damon!" She rushed over to help him up.

"You can't do this anymore, Damon!" Elena said. She'd snuck away during Buffy and Angel's fight. "Not in this town. Not around me."

"Why not? Nothing I haven't done before. Why is it suddenly so important for everyone to keep me in check?"

"Because I don't want you to be what other people think that you are."

"What? A monster? Sorry to disappoint you Elena, but the last time I checked I was still a vampire."

"I just wish that you didn't have to act like one!"

"Hey!" Buffy yelled. "Let's get something straight here. Damon is not Stefan. How about everyone just stop trying to turn him into his brother?"

"And you! You've changed, Buffy." Elena accused. "You used to say that you would never let Damon drink your blood."

"Things change, Elena. People change. And if I decided that Damon drinking from me isn't such a crazy, horrible thing anymore, then that's my decision. I don't need anyone's permission to do something intimate with my boyfriend."

"What about you letting him come in here to kill Caroline's dad?"

"I do what's best for everyone and sometimes that recipe requires a little pinch of bad. Sorry if you don't like that, but you just have to accept that this is the way it is. So does everyone else." Damon took Buffy's hand and she followed him out. He stopped to pick up Alaric's body and dump him in the trunk. "Are you ok?" She asked him.

"I'm fine." Damon said.

Buffy rolled over to find a red rose laying on Damon's pillow. She smiled and brought it to her nose, inhaling its pretty scent. After getting up and getting dressed, she made her way downstairs to find Damon mixing drinks. "Oh, mimosas."

"Good morning." Damon leaned over to kiss her. "I made them with vodka."

"That's fine." Buffy took the offered glass and looked over to see that Alaric still hadn't woken up yet. "Oh…. Does the ring not work?"

"No. He's fine." Damon picked up his glass and another for Alaric and walked over to sit next to the couch. He shook the glass next to Alaric's head. "Wake up." Alaric shot up, gasping desperately for breath. "Wow. Took a bit longer than usual, huh? You might want to get that ring checked. I hope it's not going bad."

"You killed me." Alaric said.

"You pissed me off."

"You killed me!"

"Rick. No hard feelings. I was on a bit of a terror. Everyone was telling me and my girl how to behave."

"Well, maybe they finally realized you're just a manipulative dick." Alaric stood up and walked out, slamming the door behind him.

Buffy shrugged. "You're my manipulative dick."

"That's all that matters." Damon said, pulling her to him. "You're not a bad person."

"You heard that?"

"Yeah. You were yelling kind of loud." He reached up and moved her hair behind her ear. "You are not a bad person."

"Neither are you."

Damon smirked. "Your underwear thinks differently."

Buffy laughed. "It's a good thing they're inanimate objects!" She leaned down to kiss him and he laid back, pulling her on top of him. Before anything could get started, there was a knock on the door.

"Really!"

"Ignore it." Buffy said, kissing his chin. The knock sounded again, more forceful this time. Buffy sighed and rolled off of Damon. "Whatever."

Damon growled and stood up. He walked over to the door and opened it to find Elena. "I will accept written apologies only."

Buffy walked up behind Damon before he could say anything else. She laughed slightly. "Well, well…." She crossed her arms. "Hello Katherine."

Katherine began to laugh and Damon groaned, laying his forehead against the door. "Wonderful!"

"What do you want?" Buffy asked.

"I'm just a girl looking for a couple of partners in crime. You guys feel like hitting the road? Getting the hell out of dodge?"

Buffy and Damon exchanged glances. "You have impeccable timing." Damon said. He'd been planning on asking Buffy if she wanted to skip town for a while. Finish their trip to Richmond and maybe take New York afterwards. Katherine's sudden appearance and offer…. It wasn't ideal, but it could prove interesting."Is that a yes? I'll drive."

Damon looked at Buffy. Apparently she'd been thinking the same thing as he had. "Why not!" She said. "The walls are starting to close in on us around here. My guardianship of Elena is technically over with now that she's 18 and she can watch Jeremy till I get back. Where are we going?"

"Away from here. That's all I'm going to give you for right now." Buffy stepped closer to Katherine menacingly. Katherine stepped back. "Hey, hey…. I promise. It's good." She held up Elena's necklace that Stefan had given her.

Buffy sighed. "Fine. I'll get packed. Don't think that Mr. Pointy isn't coming too, though." Damon laughed slightly as he followed her upstairs with Katherine not far behind him.

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