The Next Chapter

Chapter 48

A/N We're catching up to the show now, so it's about to be only one update a week after the next chapter. This chapter is kind of explosive (just like the show was). I hope you all enjoy it. :)

Chapter 48

Buffy, Elena, Angel, and Damon followed Stefan into the library. They'd come up with a plan to kill Klaus. "So, we'll say that Mikael followed Elena in here," Stefan said. "And he tried to grab her so he could use her as bait."

"And you what?" Elena asked. "Vervained him?"

"No." Damon said. "We vervained him."

"Try again, boys." Buffy said. "I vervained him. After all, the guy's an Original. Let's try to make this a little more realistic."

"Fine." Stefan said. "Buffy vervained him and in the process, she discovered that he had a dagger."

"Which he planned to use on Rebekah, but instead…." Elena said.

"You drove it through his heart." Buffy finished for her.

"What?"

"No supernatural being can use the dagger."

"I'm supernatural."

"You're still human. I'm not."

"What happens when Klaus asks to see Mikael's body?" Angel asked.

"Good point." Damon conceded. "You, my brother, have been compelled to do what Klaus says. So, the idea is to lure him back here and kill him. Last thing we need is you getting tripped up and tongue tied."

"Well, don't look at me." Stefan said. "I'm just in charge of getting him back here."

"Klaus is smart." Angel said. "If you tell him that Mikael's dead…. He'll want proof."

"Then I shall be dead." Mikael said, walking in carrying a cloth containing a vile of ash and dagger.

"What if he wants to see you in person?" Elena asked, walking over to Mikael with Stefan and Angel. Buffy and Damon stayed on the landing by the door.

"Then that means our plan is working. Klaus will absolutely want to see my body. You lure him here and I will kill him."

"With what?" Buffy asked. "Those daggers won't work on him."

"Oh, I'm in possession of a stake fashioned from the wood of the ancient white oak tree. The one that left these ashes when it burned." Mikael held up the vial of ashes.

"Where is it?" Damon asked.

"Not here. You see, knowing its location is my insurance policy." Mikael dipped the dagger tip in the ashes.

"Against what?" Stefan asked.

"You leaving this in my heart. You see, a vampire…. or Slayer…. can't dagger an Original without dying. So, Buffy's right." Mikael held the dagger out to Elena. "It falls to you."

"You want me to actually dagger you?" Elena asked, obviously stunned.

"Klaus will leave nothing to chance. Especially when it comes to trust."

Elena looked at Buffy as Stefan moved away to sit down. Angel moved back, but stayed close to Elena. Buffy shrugged at Elena. "Ok." Elena said. "Are you sure I'm not going to die too?"

"Buffy was right. You're human. She's not."

"Right. Here goes…." Elena shoved the dagger into Mikael's heart. He started to wither and decay as he fell to the ground. Within seconds, he was dead.

Rebekah walked into the room just then. "How did…."

"It's all part of the plan." Buffy said. The blonde vampire had been almost attached to Buffy's hip. She wasn't happy with what was going on, but her anger at Klaus was overpowering. "Stefan, it's your turn."

Stefan sighed and pulled out his cell phone. Klaus answered on the second ring. "Portland is fantastic. Once you get over all the whiny music and healthy looking people, it's virtually a breeding ground for werewolves."

"You're father's dead." Stefan said.

"What did you say to me?"

"Well, my mistake. Not your actual father. And not dead. Mikael. Daggered. What do you want me to do with the body?"

"Well first, I want you to explain to me exactly what happened."

Stefan sighed. "He came here looking for Elena. Apparently he wanted to use her as bait to lure you back. Buffy came to the rescue and vervained the hell out of him."

"Buffy?"

"Yes. She really didn't like him."

"I knew I liked her for a reason. Daddy issues and all…."

"He had a dagger and some of the white oak ash on him. Buffy figured that he was going to use it on Rebekah, but we turned the tables."

"Really?" Klaus sounded shocked and saddened. "Why would she sacrifice herself like that?"

"She didn't."

"She can't use the dagger, Stefan. Not without dying herself."

"While he was down, Elena daggered him."There was a long pause before Klaus said, "I want to see him. I want to see his rotting body for myself."

"Well he's here." Stefan said, standing up. "Come by whenever."

"If you're lying to me, Stefan, your compulsion will expose you. So answer with your life…. Is what you're saying the truth?"

"It's true. I saw it with my own eyes."

"I want to talk to Rebekah."

"Well, that's not a problem. She's right here." Stefan walked over and handed Rebekah the phone.

She stared at it for a moment before putting it to her ear. "Hello, Nic."

"Rebekah, love. What's this I hear about Mikael's tragic run in with a dagger?""It's true. He's finally out of our lives for good. I miss you. I'm miserable here."

"I'll be home soon."

"Good. I'll see you then, brother." Rebekah sighed and hung up, handing the phone back to Stefan. "He bought it. He's coming home."

"Now, was that easy or what?" Damon asked.

"Let's just get this over with." Elena said. They all nodded and she knelt down to pull the dagger out of Mikael.

Buffy opened Damon's bedroom door and let Elena in. Mikael had woken up and Rebekah had been there waiting. After she'd given him a piece of her mind, she'd alerted Buffy before going up to her room to start preparing for the homecoming dance.

"You called?" Elena asked. "Whoa." She eyed the array of weapons on Damon's bed. Damon was in the bathroom mixing wolfsbane water in the sink for the grenades.

"Yeah. I have something for you." Buffy went over to Damon's closet.

"What is it?"

"I'm pretty sure this will fit you. You're about the same size I was back then." Buffy came out with her white dress from her sophomore year of high school. "My mom got this for me for the spring dance as a surprise. She didn't know I was a Slayer back then, and she didn't know that I had just found out about a prophecy saying that I was going to die. She just knew that I was feeling kind of depressed."

"It's beautiful."

"This dress…. It means a lot to me. I managed to save it before Sunnydale went to hell. This dress represents a horrible time in my life that I overcame. Just like you are now."

"Buffy, I can't take this…. It's yours."

"It's a loaner." Buffy held the dress up to Elena so she could look at it in the mirror and Elena started to play with the fabric. "And the cleaning bill was outrageous."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure that you're going to look beautiful in it. The only thing is…."

"What?"

"Well, I died in this dress. Drowned."

Elena pulled her hand back slightly. "What?"

"I know that's weird, but…. It's pretty."

Elena looked back at her reflection, still admiring the dress. "You died and came back."

"White's really fitting for that sort of thing." Damon said from the bathroom.

Buffy and Elena rolled their eyes. Elena turned to Buffy. "It is kind of weird that you died in this dress, but…. You came back better than ever and you defeated the Master. Maybe it's good luck." She hugged Buffy tightly. "Thank you."

"If you're really lucky, then maybe I'll loan you my purple prom dress from my Senior year."

"Did you die in it?"

Buffy laughed. "No, but I won the Class Protector award in it. So it's still pretty special."

Elena smiled. "So, what are you guys doing?"

"Oh, just…. Sorting through my weapons and getting things ready for Klaus's arrival." Buffy held up a grenade. "I've gotta fill these up with wolfsbane."

"Need some help?"

"Sure. Why not?"

Elena picked up a grenade and started cleaning it. "You know…. We can't trust Rebekah not to turn on us."

"Oh really?" Damon said sarcastically. "Cause Original vampires are usually so reliable."

"Bonnie was right."

"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.

"Rebekah may be mad at Klaus now, but he is her brother."

"Her lying, killing, dagger happy brother." Damon said. "Wolfsbane's ready."

"There are too many things that can go wrong with this plan. Too many people that can make it go wrong."

"That's why Buffy and I are forming a secret contingency plan."

"Really? What is it?"

"Well if we told you, it wouldn't be a secret." Buffy said, motioning with her head to the world outside the bathroom.

Just then, Stefan walked in. "I need to borrow a tie."

"You have your own ties." Damon said.

"I'm 162 years old and I'm going to a homecoming dance. I need better ties."

"You could not go." Elena suggested.

"I'm compelled to protect you. And if I look at your track record at high school dances, it's pretty tragic. It'd be my luck, you'd go and get yourself murdered by the homecoming queen." Stefan wandered over to check out Damon's closet. "Nice dress." He called over his shoulder.

"Ah!" Damon looked over and smacked Elena's hand. She was trying to load a grenade. "No."

"I know how to do it. Alaric taught me." Elena said.

"Elena. If this thing blows up in our faces, just remember: Only two of us heal quickly."

Buffy smiled slightly as Damon took the grenade from Elena. He made a face at her, but Stefan walked back in. "Oh, please tell me that you have a better plan than wolfsbane grenades."

"Never you mind, brother. The less you know, the better." Damon shot back.

"My freedom from Klaus rests entirely upon you three executing your plan perfectly. So, excuse me if I'm a bit cynical."

"Honestly Stefan, you're the one we should be worried about." Buffy said, crossing her arms and following him into the bedroom. "If Klaus asks you one wrong question…. Just one…. The whole thing falls apart."

"You do have reason to worry, but if I look back at our history of epic plan failures…. It's usually because one of us let our humanity get in our way. So if I'm taking odds on how this thing goes down? It's certainly not going to be me who screws it up." Stefan looked at Elena. "I'll see you at homecoming. I can't wait."

Angel walked in with a knock on the door a few seconds later. "Hey, did I hear something about a homecoming queen murdering someone a minute ago?"

"Just Stefan being funny." Buffy said.

"Good. I thought maybe you were going to run again."

"Aren't you a riot?" Buffy said sarcastically.

Elena smiled and looked at Buffy as she put together another grenade. "Whoa, whoa, whoa…. You ran for homecoming queen? And someone please tell me why you would murder someone for it."

"There was no murder." Buffy said. "Angel's just being overdramatic. As usual."

"You were seconds away from killing Cordelia for that crown."

"Oh, what do you remember? You were still recovering from your 100 year stint in hell."

"Someone please tell me what happened." Elena said. "I love dirt on Buffy."

"She didn't kill Cordelia, but there was killing though." Angel said.

"They were assassins hired by the Mayor's freaky vampire sidekick for some stupid game." Buffy said.

"Assassins? Seriously?" Elena asked.

"They had this game called Slayer Fest where they hired some of the best supernatural assassins to take out Buffy and Faith. They mistook Cordelia for Faith, though."

"And what about the homecoming queen thing? You ran for homecoming queen?"

"I'm not proud of it." Buffy said defensively. "I just wanted a nice, normal-ish Senior year. But everything kind of crapped out on me. My boyfriend dumped me…. Then spread rumors that I was gay and that's why I'd broken up with him. Turns out, though, that he was gay." Damon laughed and Buffy elbowed him in the ribs. "Then Cordelia didn't tell me about Senior picture day, so I didn't even get a picture in my Senior yearbook…."

"Not that that mattered." Damon said. "You blew the school up and then blew up the town."

"Every girl wants a picture in her Senior yearbook." Elena said. "So…. Why'd you run for homecoming queen? That doesn't seem like you at all."

"I got pissed at Cordelia and wanted to reclaim a little bit of my old life back in LA." Buffy said with a shrug. Elena looked confused.

"She used to be the Cordelia of her old high school. Or the Caroline of yours." Angel explained. "The most popular girl. A star cheerleader. Took every crown there was to have…."

"So, I ran against Cordy." Buffy said.

Angel leaned in to Elena and whispered loudly. "She resorted to bribing the student body."

"My girl!" Damon said proudly, nudging her with his shoulder.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "It didn't help. There was a tie, but it was the other two girls running that won." She glanced towards the door. "Speaking of homecoming queens, where's Rebekah? I haven't heard from her since Mikael woke up."

"I'll go find her." Elena said. "Since I'm no use here." She smiled playfully and walked out.

"She's a good kid." Angel said.

"I like to think so." Buffy said.

"You're doing good with her." Buffy smiled at him, but continued working on her grenade. "So, I wanted to talk to you about something. You got a minute?"

"Now?" Damon asked. "We're in the middle of something."

"It's fine. We're as alone as we're ever going to be." Buffy said.

"I was hoping to speak with you privately." Angel said, looking at Buffy and ignoring Damon.

Buffy sighed. "Fine." She handed the grenade to Damon. Angel led her out to the gardens. "What's up?"

"I, uh…." Angel stopped walking and turned to her. "I'm going to leave."

"What?"

"I've got a flight out of Richmond tomorrow to head back to LA."

"Why? I thought you liked Mystic Falls."

"I do. But I don't like Damon. And since he obviously comes with the Mystic Falls package…."

"That's a little unfair of you. You don't even know him."

"I don't need to. I just know what I see."

Buffy crossed her arms. "Think what you like, but just because you don't like him and you're leaving Mystic Falls to prove a point or whatever this is for…. I love Damon. He's a good man. And I'm not going to just dump him because you're jealous."

"Come with me."

"What?"

"Come with me, Buffy. Get out of this place."

"Angel…."

"You once told me that it would be me."

"I told you that I sometimes thought about the future. I remember that conversation very well. But the future is funny because it changes in the blink of an eye. Things happen that we can't predict and Damon…. I would never have predicted him."

"Buffy, my soul's permanent. It's what we've always wanted. We can be together now."

"I'm sorry, Angel, but it doesn't matter."

"It does to me. I'm the right choice here, Buffy."

Buffy shook her head. "Do you hear yourself right now? Seriously?"

"Tell me you don't love me." Buffy was silent. "Then what's the problem here?"

"There's no problem."

"Obviously there is."

"There's no problem for me." Buffy placed a hand on his cheek. "I do love you, Angel. I always will. That will never change." She dropped her hand and took a step back. "But, I love Damon. I'm choosing Damon. And I'm sorry if that pisses you off, but right now…. He's all I want. He makes me happy. Happier than I've been in a long time. You once said that's all you wanted for me."

"I never meant with a vampire like him."

"I know you hate this. I do. And I almost wish that things were different for us, but I'm sorry. I'm choosing Damon." She started to walk away. "Have a nice flight back to LA."

"Buffy…. Come on! Buffy!"

Buffy ignored him and kept walking. When she made it back to the house and shut the door behind her, Elena called her name from upstairs. Her tone sounded urgent and scared. Buffy ran up the stairs and found Elena standing over a daggered Rebekah. "Oh! Wow…."

"I'm sorry. I couldn't leave anything to chance." Elena said. "Tonight can't go wrong."

"What's going…. Wow." Damon said, walking up behind Buffy. "In the back? Harsh."

Buffy threw a sheet from the bed over Rebekah's body.

"It had to be done." Elena explained. "Rebekah was never going to be completely on our side."

"Hey, I'm not judging you. It's very…. Katherine of you."

"Not the way to make me feel better about myself, Damon."

"It was a compliment." Buffy arched an eyebrow at her boyfriend. "Sort of." He amended.

"Stefan's right. Someone's going to let their humanity get in the way and screw this whole thing up. It's probably going to be me."

Buffy smiled slightly and sat down next to Elena. "You just daggered somebody. In the back. You're going to be fine."

"Yeah, but I feel bad about it. I care too much. That's the problem! I'm the weak link."

"If it makes you feel any better, she's not really dead." Damon offered.

Elena looked at Rebekah's body for a long moment before looking back at Damon and Buffy standing in front of her. "Do you guys trust him? Mikael?"

"Nope." Damon answered while Buffy shook her head.

"What about Stefan?"

"Nope."

"Not as long as he's under Klaus's control." Buffy added."Then we need a better plan." Elena said emphatically.

"Oh, we know what to do." Damon said.

"You're just not going to like it." Buffy said.

"Why not?" Elena asked.

"Because when this all goes down, we don't want you having any part of it."

"What does that mean?"

"Do you trust us?"

"Yes."

"Then you have nothing to worry about." Damon said.

"Can you at least tell me the plan?"

Buffy looked at Damon and he shrugged. She nodded and said to Elena, "I'll tell you your part of it."

"Ok."

"Katherine."

Elena's forehead creased. "What?"

"She's going to go to the homecoming dance." Buffy glanced at Rebekah's sheet covered body. "And since Matt's date is now…. Not available…. She's going to go with Matt. As you."

"Are you kidding me?"

"Not at all. You're going to go home where Bonnie has put up wards to keep everyone but you, Alaric, Jeremy, myself, and Damon out."

"What about your dress?"

"Katherine's not wearing it." Buffy shook her head. "There's going to be plenty of occasions for you to wear it. I just wanted to make sure you had it. It was important to me."

"Do you guys think something could go wrong tonight? Is that what the dress was for?"

"Elena…."

"Buffy, don't do anything crazy…."

"She's not." Damon said. "You know I wouldn't let her."

"It's a just in case kind of thing, Elena." Buffy said, sitting down next to the teen. "Going up against Klaus like this is dangerous. That's why I want you as far away as possible."

Elena's phone started ringing. She thought about not answering it. "It's Caroline."

Buffy smiled encouragingly. "Answer it and make sure she knows you're going to the dance."

"Ok." Elena got up and walked out of the room.

Damon looked down at Buffy. "Everything ok?" Buffy sighed and looked up at him. After a second, she groaned and laid her head against his stomach. Damon played with her hair, stroking it slightly. "Hey, what's wrong?"

"Angel's leaving." Buffy said.

Damon sat down next to her. "He's moving out?"

"He's leaving town."

"Why?"

"Because he hates you. And he hates me being with you."

"Well that's a given."

"He asked me to leave with him." Damon didn't look too shocked. He'd noticed the looks Angel had been giving Buffy lately. And he knew the other vampire's feelings about his and Buffy's relationship. Buffy sighed, "He said that he's the better choice now that his soul is permanent."

Damon snorted. "He probably is the better choice." Buffy started to protest, but Damon silenced her with a kiss. "But I couldn't bear to let you go."

"I'm not going anywhere." Buffy took his hand. "I love you."

"I love you more."

She kissed him gently, knowing in her heart he was what she wanted. "So…. Our plan hinges on Katherine. Where is she?"

"She's in your room getting ready."

"Good." Buffy looked out the door into the hallway. She could hear Elena answering the front door. "Cause Matt's here."

Later that night, Damon was pouring himself a glass of blood from a blood bag. Buffy sat on the couch and stared into the fire. Elena was safely tucked away at her house and Katherine had accompanied Matt to the dance. Angel was upstairs packing his belongings.

Mikael walked into the library. "Did my daughter go to the dance?"

"Yup." Damon said. "You missed the photo op."

"Did you get the stake?" Buffy asked.

"I did." Mikael said. He made no move to show them.

"We're not going to take your word for it." Damon said. "No offence to your honor and all."

"None taken." Mikael opened his coat and pulled out an intricately carved stake.

"Fancy."

Buffy walked over and held out her hand. "May I?"

"It's the only weapon on this earth that can kill an Original, so I think I'll hold on to it. No offence."

Buffy shrugged. "I'm only the Slayer. I would have no idea how to use it." Mikael sighed at her sarcasm and handed it to her to inspect.

"So I'd offer you a drink, but Katherine says that you're a vampire on the rocks kind of guy." Damon said.

"Well, technically you could still offer." Buffy cleared her throat and Mikael glanced over at her. Considering she held the weapon that could kill him, he didn't press the threat on Damon.

"Why feed on vampires?" Damon asked. "Don't tell me it's for the smooth aftertaste."

"I had a hand in creating vampires, but bloodlust was never my intention. Over the centuries, I learned to feed from the predator. Not the innocent."

Stefan walked in suddenly. "Change of plans. Klaus is back, he's at the Lockwoods…. And he wants your body delivered to his doorstep."

"I'm afraid he's in for a colossal disappointment." Mikael said.

"Well, he's certainly not going to come here. Hope your plan didn't depend on that."

"It didn't depend on that." Damon said."But you do have a plan, right?"

"Oh yeah. We got a plan. Right, honey?"

"Yup." Buffy said, keeping the stake behind her back. "It just doesn't involve you."

Mikael attacked Stefan and sunk his teeth into Stefan's neck. After a long moment, Mikael dropped Stefan to the ground, drained and unconscious. "You couldn't just break his neck?" Damon asked.

"Well, it certainly occurred to me." Mikael wiped his mouth and walked out.

Buffy sighed and checked on Stefan. "You ready to do this?" Damon asked her.

"As I'll ever be." Buffy took her coat from Damon and slipped it on. She slid the stake into a hidden pocket on the inside. Damon grabbed his coat and a bag of weapons and they headed out.

Buffy and Damon strode across the Lockwood's front lawn and headed for the front door. There were people milling about, but Buffy could smell that they were hybrids. She leaned close to Damon and whispered it in his ear. He nodded as they kept moving. One of the hybrids stopped them.

"Invite only vampire." The hybrid said to Damon. He looked at Buffy. "Slayer."

Buffy rolled her eyes as Damon said, "Here's our RSVP." The hybrid gasped as Damon tore through his chest and pulled out the thing's heart. "Hybrid."

Buffy handed Damon a towel from the bag. "Ew." He smirked as he started cleaning his hand.

They made it inside the house and ran into Tyler. Damon grabbed him and hauled him into the Mayor's office. Tyler stumbled as Damon tossed him aside. Buffy shut the doors. "As the host, you should know these hybrids don't make the first impression."

Tyler backed away from Damon. "Whatever move you're making, Klaus is going to be ready for you. He'll kill anyone at this party if he has to."

"Tell someone who cares." Damon attacked and Tyler's eyes turned yellow and his fangs dropped. He tried to bite Damon, but Buffy was suddenly there grabbing his head. She threw him back against the wall. Tyler came at her, but she kicked him in the head, knocking him down again. Before he could attack again, Buffy kicked him across the room and he slammed against the wall. Damon took the stake out of Buffy's pocket and was about to shove it in Tyler's heart.

"Damon no!" Buffy yelled. Bonnie showed up behind them and Damon and Tyler both grabbed their heads in pain. Tyler passed out as Bonnie let go of Damon and focused on him. "Hey! You're not supposed to witchy migraine Damon!"

"He wasn't supposed to kill Tyler." Bonnie said.

"Ok, I'll give you that."

"He tried to bite me!" Damon protested. He reached down and picked up the white oak stake.

"What is that?" Bonnie asked.

"Nothing." Buffy said.

"Oh my god, is that the…."

"Shh!" Buffy waved her hands to silence Bonnie. "They're everywhere." She mouthed.

"Why do you guys have it?" Bonnie whispered.

"I'm the Slayer. Who else would have it?" Buffy shrugged and walked out. Damon glanced at Tyler and went to follow Buffy, but his girlfriend had disappeared.

Buffy stared down at Damon from the top of the stairs as he walked by. She didn't call out to him because Klaus was standing behind her, his hands on her waist. He'd nabbed her and taken her upstairs just a split second after she'd walked out of the office.

Klaus yanked her into a bedroom. "Hello, Buffy!" He closed the door behind them.

"Welcome back." Buffy said, crossing her arms.

"I'm glad to see you're still alive. Where's Mikael?"

"He's supposed to be rotting down in the basement of my house." She lied.

"So I'm told. I'm very skeptical on that." Klaus moved towards her, but she stood her ground. That made him smile. "You're not dressed up for homecoming."

"I heard you were here. I came to check on Elena."

"Why don't I believe that?"

"I have no idea."

Buffy suddenly found herself pinned against the bed by her neck with Klaus on top. "Don't play games with me, little girl." That pissed her off. She hadn't had Damon's blood since the day before, but she still had most of the strength. Buffy shoved him backwards and he stumbled away. She sat up and he glared at her. After a moment, he smiled. "I liked that. The feel of you beneath me…."

"What do you want, Klaus?"

"Besides you?" Her eyebrow lifted and she crossed her arms. Klaus smiled again. "Elena's fine. I just talked to her. I did, however, leave her with a warning. One you would do well to hear yourself." He strolled over to Buffy and sat down beside her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. He leaned in close and said into her ear, "I am always one step ahead. For a thousand years, I've made sure of that. Elena swears to me that you lot aren't trying anything tonight, but your presence here just proves to me that she's a liar. So here's the deal: No matter what you try, you won't succeed."

"What are you talking about?"

"You should reign in your leash on your boyfriend. Get his manners…. And yours…. In check."

"He's not on a leash."

Klaus chuckled, obviously not believing her. "Keep a close eye on him. Because if I die, I've insured that he'll die along with me." Buffy stiffened, her eyes growing wide, for a split second. The thought of losing Damon was too much. Klaus smiled. "Like I told Elena: even in death, my hybrids have their orders. You kill me, you're killing him too. And as good as you are, pet, you're not that good. This place is crawling with my hybrids. They'll rip you to shreds." He nuzzled her neck, enjoying her scent. "Which would be a real pity." Standing up, Klaus stared into her cold, angered eyes for a long moment. With another smile, he kissed her, hard on the mouth. His hand held her head to his, forcing her to go along with the kiss for longer than she was comfortable with. And then he was gone.

Buffy shook her head, wiping fiercely at her mouth. Her mind swirled with what Klaus had said and with ideas on any way around it. Any way to keep Damon alive and kill Klaus. But it was hopeless. Without her army of Slayers or even just Faith's help, there was no way that she could take on the band of hybrids out there alone. Bonnie's powers were severely diminished now that she'd lost contact with the witches, so she wouldn't be of any use against them. Willow wasn't here. Angel was gone. The only option to keep Damon alive…. was keeping Klaus alive.

Buffy growled and threw a vase against a wall, smashing it and just barely missing Stefan as he walked into the room. "Katherine must have told you."

"What?" Buffy asked.

"About what Klaus has done to ensure his survival."

"Klaus told me himself." Buffy eyed Stefan warily. "Why do you care?"

Stefan sighed. "Because that's my brother down there."

"Careful, Stefan. Your humanity's showing."

"Even when I've turned it off, even when I've been compelled to turn it off…. I still care about my brother. It's the bond of family. Even Klaus can't break that."

"So you're here to save Damon?"

"Yes."

Buffy was silent for a minute, thinking again. "What about Klaus? You want your freedom from him."

"I made him a deal."

Buffy crossed her arms. "What deal?"

"If I help save him, then he'll release me."

"Win, win situation for you, but what about us? Klaus still needs to be dealt with."

"Then deal with him." Buffy's eyebrows shot up incredulously. Stefan rolled his eyes at her. He gripped her shoulders, just like the old Stefan would have. "You're powerful, Buffy. And you're smart." He dropped his hands to his sides. "You can handle it."

"Why did you come to me?"

"Because I had to let you know. You would've stopped me from stopping Damon. Honestly…. You're the best. I can't really take on the best and win, now could I?"

"I guess not."

Buffy's and Stefan's heads whipped around to the entrance. They could hear Klaus fighting with Mikael at the Lockwood's front door. They heard Katherine's voice and Mikael laughing. And then Klaus screamed.

"Damon!" Buffy and Stefan said. They ran out of the room and down the stairs. Damon held the white oak stake over Klaus's heart, ready to strike.

Buffy found herself frozen to the spot, Klaus's words echoing in her mind. Stefan was suddenly down the stairs and tackling Damon away. Damon dropped the stake and it rolled away.

"What are you doing!" Damon demanded.

Buffy finally moved and rushed down the stairs. She was afraid of Klaus stopping her, but she didn't need to worry. Klaus had picked up the white oak stake and rushed Mikael, stabbing it through his heart. Mikael screamed and began to burn. Buffy watched in dismay as the stake burned with him. Suddenly, Stefan knocked Buffy's legs out from under her and she hit the marble floor just as Klaus walked back into the house.

"What the hell did you just do?" Damon demanded of his brother.

"He's earned his freedom." Klaus said. Stefan locked eyes with Buffy for a split second and she gave a subtle nod. Damon didn't miss the exchange as she pulled him to her and away from Klaus. Stefan stood up and walked over to Klaus. "Thank you, my friend. You no longer have to do as I say. You're free."

Stefan gasped and turned to look at Buffy and Damon, but they were gone. Buffy had gotten herself and Damon the hell out of the house and as far away as possible. Klaus would retaliate and she wasn't prepared for it. Not yet.

"What happened?" Damon demanded when they walked through the door of their house. "I don't understand! What happened!" He poured himself a drink as he yelled, "We thought of everything! Klaus having hybrids, Mikael turning on us, we brought in Katherine so Elena wasn't in danger! Anything that could've gone wrong, we were prepared. But Stefan! He wanted Klaus dead more than anything. I had him, Buffy! I had Klaus! This could've all been over!" He threw his glass into the fire and it flared up. "And where the hell were you?"

"Damon!" Buffy touched his shoulder, but he shrugged her off. "Hey! Damon, listen to me. Damon!" He stopped and looked at her. "You would've died."

"What?"

"Klaus…. He told his hybrids that if he died, you were to be killed too."

"You would've stopped them."

"I'm happy that you have that much faith in me, but…. I couldn't have stopped that many by myself. Klaus was right…. I may be good, but I'm not that good. There were too many of them. Even for the both of us."

"How do you know this?"

"Klaus grabbed me when I walked out of the office. He told me about what he had done to make sure he survived. Katherine told Stefan since Klaus told her too…. Thinking she was Elena."

"Stefan saved me."

"Yes. Stefan came to me with his plan. He knew I would've stopped him."

"Klaus is going to come after us. He's going to retaliate for this."

"I know."

Damon shook his head, despair in his eyes. "We can't take him on. He can't die. He'll just keep coming."

"We'll survive." Buffy took his face between her hands. "We'll survive this." Her phone started ringing and she grabbed it. "What?"

"I'm just calling to say goodbye." Katherine said on the other line.

"Are you going back into hiding?"

"At least my life's not boring. Bye, Buffy."

"Take care of yourself, Katherine." Buffy hung up and looked back at Damon. "I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault." Buffy hugged him tightly. Damon sighed against her hair. "What are we going to do now?"

"I think it's time to bring out my plan B."

"Plan B?"

"Remember what we said just before you gave Elena your blood to save her from the sacrifice?"

Damon looked down at her. He didn't have to think very hard to remember that particular conversation. "Are you serious?"

"'Making a Slayer would be like making an Original.' We can't trust any of the other Originals. But we need someone as powerful as they are." He let go of her and walked away a few steps. "What's wrong?"

"I don't know if I can do it."

"Why?"

"This was meant as a last resort."

Buffy moved up behind him and hugged his waist, laying her head against his back. "We're at our end here, Damon." He turned in her arms and held her to him. "Klaus will come for us and we need to be ready." She pulled back to look up at him. "I have to be able to protect you and Elena and Jeremy. I can't think of any other way." Damon stared at her for a long moment. "He'll take me away from you and I don't…. I can't let that happen. I have to be able to fight for you. For Elena. For everyone. This is our family and we need to protect our family."

Damon nodded slightly and sliced open his wrist on his teeth. Buffy took in a few mouthfuls, refreshing the blood that was already in her system. With the most pained look Buffy had ever seen, Damon took her head between his hands. "I'll be ok." She said with a nervous, encouraging nod.

"I love you." Damon kissed her gently before looking away and twisting. He would've thrown up if he could as her body started to crumple. He caught her in his arms and looked at her, praying this would work. He couldn't stop the tears as he took her up to their room and placed her body on their bed.

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