The Next Chapter

Chapter 46

A/N Can't wait for the return of Vampire Diaries tomorrow! Ian Somerhalder posted that his first day back after the holidays, he filmed a nude scene. Can't wait for THAT episode!

I hope you all enjoy this chapter. It's one of my favorites because an old friend of Buffy's makes a return. Happy Reading!

Chapter 46

Buffy woke up and shook her head to clear the cobwebs. The first thing she realized was that she was chained to a chair and her arms were in a weird position. She tried to break the chains, but she couldn't get any leverage. With a sigh, Buffy looked up. Damon was chained in a chair across from her with a fire poker sticking out of him. She rolled her eyes and spotted Mason Lockwood standing by the window.

"Now why is it that you can see me, but he can't?" Mason asked.

"I don't know." Buffy said. "Every time there's a ghost situation, I tend to end up either possessed or Dr. Laura for the deceased."

"I'm not going to possess you."

"Good."

"I don't think I'd like being a girl. Especially you."

"Why?"

"You're so…. Little. I'd feel cramped." Buffy nodded, agreeing with Mason's logic. "And I don't need any kind of therapy…."

"Could you please release my boyfriend and me, then?"

"Not yet."

"Are you going to kill us?"

"No."

"Then what's the point of this?"

"Just having some fun. I figure since you like to watch, you could watch me torture your boyfriend for a little bit."

"Really? Torture? And then what? A cup of tea?" Buffy strained against her bonds.

"You're not getting out of that. Unless you want to dislocate your shoulder."

"Boy, cause I've never done that before." Buffy spotted Damon's ring laying on the floor. "Sunlight?"

"Yup."

The Slayer rolled her eyes. "I can't believe I'm doing this." She looked at the ceiling. "Stefan!" She would've called for Angel, but he wasn't home.

Damon groaned and started to come around. "Oh…. You've got to be kidding me."

"Hurts doesn't it?" Mason said.

"Would you hush?" Buffy snapped.

"I'm hurting and you're telling me to hush?" Damon asked.

"I'm not talking to you."

Damon looked around. He spotted his ring on the floor. "Low blow."

Stefan stood in the doorway and laughed at Buffy and Damon's situation. "What the hell happened to you two?"

"Whatever twisted Ripper game this is…. Leave me out of it."

"Stefan didn't do this." Buffy said.

"Thank you." Stefan said, walking over to Buffy. He snapped the chains binding her arms and she snapped the rest of them. "This is pretty messed up, though, isn't it?"

As Stefan snapped a couple of chains on Damon, Damon asked, "If you didn't, who did?"

"Don't know. But I'd like to congratulate them." Stefan yanked the hot poker out of Damon's chest and Damon yelled.

"Shut up, Stefan." Buffy growled, walking over and undoing the rest of Damon's chains. Stefan walked out of the room and Buffy rolled her eyes. "Here," She offered Damon her wrist, but he didn't bite. "What?"

"I'm agitated. I woke up in chains with a hot poker sticking out of me with no clue who did this other than my little brother."

"Stefan didn't do this."

"Well then who did?"

"Chained to a chair? Hot pokers? One guess who did this."

"He's dead."

"Yeah, well…." Buffy looked over at Mason. "He's back." She sang, impersonating the Poltergeist movie. Mason took that opportunity to open the curtains and Damon started to burn. He dove out of the light and Buffy scooped up Damon's ring, fast as lightening, and shoved it back on his finger. She glared at Mason. "You are so going to get your ass exorcised."

"Mason Lockwood is doing this?" Damon asked.

"Yup."

"And you can see him?"

"You can't?"

Damon looked at where Buffy was looking, but he didn't see anything. "No. If I could, I'd be killing him again."

"We need to pay a visit to Bonnie. I think her spell went crazy." She glanced over at where Mason had been, but he was gone. "Good riddance."

"What?"

"He disappeared."

"Why can you see him and I can't?"

"I don't know! I'm a Slayer, not a Watcher. I don't explain things. I just kill them."

"Then let's go find Bonnie so she can explain things and then we can just kill Mason…. Again." Damon said, heading out.

Buffy rode shotgun in Damon's car as he pulled into the town square. People were out hanging lanterns for the Illumination that night. Damon spotted Caroline and Bonnie near Elena's house a few blocks away and pulled to a stop. "Greetings, Blondie. Witchy." He said. "I think you got your voodoo wires crossed when you got rid of Vicki Donovan."

"What do you mean?" Bonnie asked. "Why?"

"Because Mason Lockwood's ghost tried to torture us this morning." Buffy said.

"What!"

"Why would you think that?" Caroline asked.

"Uh, because I saw him. With my own two eyes. While I was chained to a chair." Buffy said.

"Did I mention there was a hot poker stuck in my chest?" Damon said.

"No." Caroline said. "Why?"

"Because there was."

"I thought you said ghosts couldn't physically interact with people." Caroline said to Bonnie.

"They can't!" Bonnie said.

"Yeah, well…. We don't have time for vengeful Lockwood. When I kill someone, they're supposed to stay dead. Whatever you screwed up…. Fix it." Damon stepped on the gas and sped off.

Buffy and Damon walked into the Grill and saw Alaric and Elena walking through the restaurant.

"I'll grab Jeremy." Alaric said.

"I'll be right back." Elena said, heading for the bathroom. "Hey Buffy!"

Alaric spotted Damon. "You know, I've had enough vampires today, thanks."

"Oh, come on." Damon said. "Have a drink with us. We've got troubles."

"No. You've got troubles. We're not a team. You tried to kill me, Damon. We're not friends. I don't like you anymore." Alaric looked at Buffy. "And you're not on my good list either."

"Rick, do you remember back when you liked him…. And me…. We all conspired to kill uncle werewolf Mason Lockwood?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah. And?"

"Well…. He's still a little pissed."

Alaric stared at them for a moment. He sighed. "All right, fine. What happened?"

"Drink?" Damon asked. "On me." He walked over to the bar and the three of them sat down.

"Something's wrong." Buffy said.

"What?" Damon asked. He was learning to really trust Buffy's instincts.

"I don't know." She shook her head. "Something…. Something's calling me, but it's faint."

"Calling you?" Alaric asked.

"Yeah." Buffy shook her head again. "It was like…. A cold chill."

"What do you think it was?" Damon asked.

"It was calling…. The dead."

"But you're alive." Alaric said.

"I haven't always been. Ever since I came back from the dead…. Well…. I don't know. I can still sense the dead and see their ghosts and everything because I think that other side still has a bit of a hold on me." She looked over at Damon. "I think someone was doing a spell involving the dead."

Before Damon could respond and blame Bonnie, the bartender brought them their drinks. Damon's was suddenly taken out from under him. They all looked up to see Mason Lockwood downing the drink. "Great!" Buffy said.

"That was my drink." Damon said.

"Wait…. You can see him now?"

"Mason…." Alaric said.

"You can too!"

"God, I miss whiskey!" Mason said. He looked at Damon and then slammed the glass against his forehead.

"Damon! Hey! If you can hurt him…." Buffy punched Mason in the jaw. "Then I can hurt you! Yay." When Mason stumbled away after Buffy's punch, she gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. "Oh my god…."

"What's wrong?" Damon asked.

Buffy couldn't tear her eyes away from the sight. "Oh my god…." She stood up and walked across the restaurant. "Lexi?" Tears sprang to her eyes as her friend smiled brightly.

"Hey, Buff." Lexi said. She held out her arms and the Slayer rushed into them, hugging her friend tightly.

"How are you here? How is this happening?"

"I don't know, but I'm not complaining." Lexi hugged Buffy tightly again. "I have missed you so much!"

"Me! I've missed you terribly!" Buffy let out a small sob. "Oh, Lexi! With everything that's happened…. Is happening…."

"I know." Lexi pulled back from the hug and glanced at a stunned Damon.

Buffy shook her head when she saw where Lexi was looking. "Oh, Lex…. I'm sorry…. I…. We just…."

"I know." Lexi smiled. "It's cool. I'm happy for you. I'm not happy he killed me, but…. You've changed him, Buff. He's actually pretty decent now. Almost the Damon I first met back in the 1800s. I don't think that would've happened if I was still…. Around."

"Oh! Stefan! Lex, you've gotta help him! You're the only one…."

"Already working on that. Have you seen Elena?"

"Yeah. She was headed for the bathroom a few minutes ago."

"So, I know you've got issues with that whole werewolf thing going on over there, but would you stay with me today? Help me fix Stefan?"

"Are you kidding me? I'm not going anywhere. Well…. Let me go tell Damon what's going on and then I'm not going anywhere but with you."

"Sure. I'll get Elena. Tell Damon I said hi."

Buffy had a hard time walking away from her deceased friend. Damon looked stunned still as she walked up to him. "Sorry, sweetie, but I'm going with Lexi."

Damon shook his head. "No, yeah. I understand."

Buffy glanced at Mason. "Will you be ok?"

"Well, since I know that I can at least punch him…. I'll be great. He says there's a weapon to kill Klaus."

"And you're going after it with him?" She looked at Mason again. "Are you sure this isn't a trick? Maybe I shouldn't leave…."

"No." Damon grabbed her shoulders. "Buffy, that's your dead friend over there. She's here and we don't know for how long. I took her away from you." He cupped her face between his hands lovingly. "The least I can do is let you be with her for however long you've got with her."

"Thank you, Damon."

"Go." He kissed her gently and then let her walk away to catch up with Lexi and Elena.

Buffy walked back over to Lexi. The taller blonde wrapped an arm around Buffy's shoulders and looked at Elena. "Ready?" Lexi asked.

"Yes." Elena said. "How are we going to capture him?"

"Already took care of that."

"What do you mean?"

Lexi led them out of the Grill and across the street to the police station. The three of them snuck down to the old Forbes vampire holding cell. Lexi opened the door to reveal Stefan passed out and chained to the chair in the middle of the room.

"Klaus really did a number on him, huh?" Lexi said.

"He compelled him to turn off his humanity." Elena said.

"Well, we're just going to have to convince him to turn it back on. I have to warn you, it's not going to be pretty."

"I can handle it."

"Elena's pretty tough." Buffy said affectionately. Elena smiled slightly, happy that Buffy's friend was back and she was getting the chance to see her.

Lexi walked over to Stefan and kicked his foot. "Wake up, sleepy head." Stefan came around and looked at his surroundings. "How're you feeling?"

Stefan struggled to get out of the chair, but he was tied down nice and tight. "What is this? Let me out of here!"

"Shh! Inside voices, please. I'm trying to get inside your head."

Stefan laughed and looked at Elena. "Elena, get rid of her please."

"No." Elena said forcefully.

Buffy smiled and Stefan turned to her. "Uh, I don't think so, pal." She said. "Lexi's here to stay until she's ready to go." Stefan growled slightly.

"First step: Drying him out." Lexi said. "Starve away the blood lust, strip away the temptation."

Stefan laughed and shook his head. "This isn't going to work, Lexi. You can't do this."

"You heard the not pretty part?" Lexi asked Elena.

"I heard you." Elena said.

Lexi nodded and leaned down to look Stefan in the eye. He looked a little nervous and then started to panic. He began to struggle. "What are you doing Lexi!"

"I'm doing what I do best, sweetness." Lexi said. "I'm saving your life." Stefan screamed and struggled and Elena took Buffy's hand. Buffy squeezed it gently and looked at Lexi. She moved around Stefan as he struggled and screamed.

"I'm starving! I'm starving! Let me out! Let me out. Please let me out!"

"What's happening?" Elena asked.

"He's hallucinating." Buffy said.

"That's three months without any blood." Lexi said.

"Let me out!" Stefan cried.

"Now he's at nine months. Two years." Stefan lunged. "Five."

"Did I ever tell you how glad I am that you're dead?"

"Awe, I missed you too friend."

Elena's phone started ringing. She grabbed it and looked at the caller. Buffy gently pushed her towards the door. "Hello?"

"So, the necklace isn't where Damon said it would be and now we can't reach Damon." Caroline said on the other end.

Buffy held out her hand for Elena's phone. Elena handed it over. "Caroline, why are you looking for Elena's necklace?"

"Bonnie needs it to send the ghosts back where they came from."

"No. Caroline, I need Bonnie to hold off on sending the ghosts back."

"What? Why?"

"Look, I know Bonnie's pissed about this whole Anna thing and I'm pretty annoyed about the Mason torturing Damon and me thing, but…. Lexi's here."

"You're dead vampire friend that Stefan knew?"

"Yes. And she's helping with Stefan right now."

"Can we find the necklace at least and then deal with boyfriend ghost dramas?"

"The necklace is in Damon's room in the top drawer of his dresser on the left. It's in the pocket of a pair of his black jeans."

"Yeah, he told us and we've gone through every pair of pants that he owns. It's not there."

"Then someone stole it because it was just there. He checked it this morning."

"We'll keep looking." Caroline hung up.

Buffy handed Elena back her phone. "Everything ok?" Lexi asked.

"I think we have a thieving ghost at the house, but other than that…. Yeah."

"You know, I could've sworn the word 'retired' once applied to you."

"I guess retirement and me don't really see eye to eye."

Lexi smiled slightly. "At least you get to use those months of training in the Amazon."

"Yeah."

"Elena…. Elena, I'm hurting." Stefan said. He was sweating and looking seriously haggard. "Please help me."

"Don't listen." Lexi said. "Shut him out."

"I am helping you, Stefan." Elena said.

"I'll do anything. I'll change. I promise."

"It's a lie. He'll say anything right now."

"Elena, I'm sorry. I'm sorry! Just make it stop! Please, just make it stop."

"You have to separate yourself from your emotions." Lexi said. "Don't let him play on them."

"Elena, look at me. Look at me. Elena, I love you. Ok? I love you. I love you so much. I love you so much."

"You got a stake in your bag?" Lexi asked Buffy quietly.

"Of course." Buffy said.

"I'm sorry Stefan, I just don't believe you." Elena said.

"You know what? I don't want your help anyway. I wish I'd never met you." Stefan said. "Every single moment that I've spent with you has been a complete and total waste!"

"You see that?" Lexi asked. "That's the Ripper talking. Once he's weak enough, you have to cause him pain. Make him feel things. Anger. Rage. Anything! You have to make him see past the blood." Lexi took the stake she'd gotten from Buffy's bag and stabbed it into Stefan's arm. He screamed and Elena flinched back, bumping into Buffy. Buffy wrapped an arm around Elena. "Think of it as a regimen. Day in and day out. Like running the tread mill. Like making coffee. Until he's ready to be saved." Lexi went to stab Stefan again.

He growled, "I will rip you apart Lexi!"

"You can't. I'm already dead." Lexi stabbed Stefan in the shoulder and Elena jumped with a gasp.

"I can't!" Elena said, backing away.

"Elena!" Buffy called, but the teen ran out of the room and up the stairs.

"It's ok." Lexi said. "This is the hard part."

"I can tell." The Slayer sighed as Lexi stabbed Stefan again. "What if…."

"What?"

"What if this doesn't work? I mean, it's not like before. Klaus compelled him to become like this."

"But compulsion can be broken. Look at Bill Forbes."

"You saw that?"

"Well, the only thing ghosts really have to do on the other side is watch over the people we care about. You and Stefan are the two people I care about the most."

Buffy smiled slightly. "So you think Klaus's compulsion can be broken?"

"Yes. You know, Damon really has rubbed off on you. You're not as optimistic as I remember."

Buffy shrugged. "You made me optimistic."

"And I haven't been around in a while."

"So, if you've been watching over us, why haven't I been able to see you?"

"I don't know. Cause I'm not really on this plane, I guess."

"Until now."

"We're all alone over there on the other side."

"So you haven't moved on?"

"I've got people to watch over." Lexi glanced at Stefan and then stabbed him again.

"Buffy…." Stefan said."Save it, Stefan. I'm not going to run out because it's a little messy. I want to save you as much as Elena does."

"I hate you! You've made me nothing but miserable.""Well, that's what little sisters do."

"You're nothing to me."

"Not right now, no. But the Stefan I know and love…. Well, he thinks differently."

Lexi stabbed Stefan again. "Quit fighting me Stefan. I know you're in there."

"Not anymore Lexi." Stefan said.

"You know you say that every time? Until I make you feel again." Lexi stabbed Stefan again.

"Ahh! You wasted your whole life taking care of me and now you're dead and you still have nothing better to do."

Elena came running down the stairs. "We're running out of time!"

"You gotta give me more." Lexi said.

"I can't."

"No! Not until I break through."

"I can't, Lexi."

"Elena, what's going on?" Buffy asked.

"They have the necklace. They're going to close the door."

"The necklace…." Lexi said.

"I thought they were going to wait." Buffy said to Elena.

"The tomb vampires are back and they're killing the Founders' family members." Elena said.

"What?"

"Ok!" Lexi said. "That necklace. At least tell me you remember how you felt about that. You found it during your darkest time. And you said that when you made it through that that necklace represented hope."

"Ironic then that it's about to get blown to pieces." Stefan said.

Buffy felt something like a breeze and Lexi looked up. "No!" Buffy said. "Lexi!" She rushed over to her friend and embraced her tightly. "Please don't leave. I need you here."

"No, you don't, Buff." Lexi said, tears sliding down her face. "You've got this. You always have." She looked at Elena over Buffy's shoulder. "He's still in there, Elena. You just have to break through."

"It's ok, Lexi. I know what to do now." Elena said. "You can be free."

"Lexi…." Buffy said.

"Love you, Buff. You and Stefan are my best friends. You're family. Remember that." Lexi gave one last tight hug and then she disappeared.

Buffy gasped and shook her head. "Bye, Lex…." Elena came over and hugged her tightly. Stefan seemed to ignore them as he looked down at the floor. Buffy's phone started ringing and she answered it. "Hey."

"Hey." Damon said. "Are you ok? Is Lexi…."

"She's gone." Buffy said, holding back the sob.

Damon didn't miss the hitch in her voice. "I'm sorry."

"Where are you? You sound distant."

"I've got something I need help with. Can you….?"

"Yeah. I'll meet you."

"I'm at the old Lockwood cellar."

"Ok." Buffy hung up. "Elena…."

"Go. I've got this." Elena said. "Just…. Come back and help?"

"Of course." Buffy walked over to Stefan and leaned down. He looked up at her. "We're family and family doesn't walk away when there's a member in trouble." She kissed Stefan's cheek and walked out.

Alaric was walking down the street away from the Grill when he spotted Buffy. "Are you ok?"

Buffy wiped at the tears. "Yeah. Rick…." She sighed. "I'm sorry for the way I've been acting. With everything that's been going on…. Everything that's happened with Klaus and Angelus…. I didn't know how to really act. I just kind of reacted and people got caught in the crosshairs. You're my friend and you're helping me out with Elena and Jeremy and I'm very grateful for that."

Alaric nodded, a slight smile spreading across his face. "Apology accepted."

"Thank you. Well…. Damon needs my help."

"I'll come with. Three heads are better than one."

"Yeah." Buffy smiled.

Alaric and Buffy walked down into the old Lockwood cellar and found Damon waiting for them. He stood up and hugged Buffy tightly. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah. There's never enough time even when you have forever." Buffy said.

"Did you get to say goodbye?"

"Yes. I needed that. Thank you."

Damon looked at Alaric. "What are you doing here?"

"Helping Buffy out." Alaric said. "I ran into her in the square and she was crying."

"I thought you were mad at her."

"She apologized." Alaric said pointedly. "What's going on?"

"I needed a non-vampire to get into this cave and there's only a certain amount of people that I trust. Buffy being one of them." Buffy nudged Damon with her elbow. "And…. You're another one."

"You have a crappy way of showing it."

"Look, if Mason Lockwood can get over the fact that I killed him, can't you cut me a little slack, Rick?"

"I shouldn't have to get over it. I was your friend, Damon. You shouldn't have done it in the first place."

"Well, sometimes…. I do things I don't have to do."

"You're going to recycle that same crap-ass apology you gave Mason Lockwood?"

"Yeah, well…. I didn't mean it with him." Damon smiled slightly and Buffy gently squeezed him with the arm she had around his waist.

Alaric nodded and smirked. "Thanks. Now where's this cave?"

"Through there." Damon motioned towards a hole in the wall.

"You take me to the craziest places, Damon." Buffy said.

"Ladies first." Alaric said, holding out his hand.

"Oh sure. Chicken." She smiled and ducked through the hole. Alaric and then Damon followed. Damon took Buffy's hand and led the way through the tunnel. "Why do I smell fresh blood?"

"That's still creepy." Alaric said. Buffy shrugged.

"Because the place was booby-trapped with giant wooden stakes." Damon said."Are you ok?" Buffy asked.

"I'm healed." Damon stopped. "We're here." He gave Buffy the lantern he'd been carrying as she followed Alaric and his flashlight into the cave. "So, is Mason screwing with me or is there something in there? Rick? Buff?"

"Wow." Buffy said, staring at the wall.

"We found something." Alaric said.

"What is it?" Damon asked.

"I have no idea."

"They're…. cave drawings." Buffy said, moving closer to the wall.

"Cave drawings?" Damon asked. "That's it? Mason said there was a weapon to kill Klaus."

Alaric studied the drawings. "And maybe this tells us where it is."

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