The Next Chapter

Chapter 49

Chapter 49

"Oh, damn it!" Buffy cried, dropping the glass shards in her hands to the floor.

Damon came rushing in. "What's wrong?"

Buffy looked up at her boyfriend with annoyed eyes. "I broke it."

Damon looked at the glass shards on the floor from the decanter she'd just shattered with her bare hands. Her shoes and the carpet around her were wet from the liquid the decanter had once held. He smiled. "Sweetheart, it's ok."

"It's not! I can't get this down! My strength isn't what I'm used to and…."

"Calm down. Breathe." Damon placed his hands gently on her cold cheeks. "Breathe."

She sighed. "I'm sorry."

"It's ok." He kissed her lightly. "You're new at this."

Buffy walked over to the couch and sat down. "It's been a week! You'd think that I would be good at this by now."

Damon sat down beside her. "Rome wasn't built in a day." He took her hand and hoped she didn't break it again.

Buffy had woken up a couple of hours after Damon had turned her. He'd been waiting with a blood bag and when she'd taken it, it had exploded everywhere. So had the glass he'd handed her right after the bag. Once she'd managed not to break anything, including his hand when he'd grabbed hers to calm her down, she'd discovered that her strength was limitless. She was now working on learning how to be gentle with things. It frustrated her because her senses were also seemingly limitless. The things she did super-fast as a Slayer now seemed so slow to her. Damon couldn't keep up with her at all.

No one knew about her transformation yet. Buffy didn't want to tell anyone until she got her powers under control. Elena, Bonnie, Alaric, Jeremy, and Caroline had all come to check on her at some point during the week, but Buffy had pretended to be asleep when they'd come over. Willow had called, but Buffy had crushed the phone in her excitement to talk to her friend. Her new phone was supposed to arrive today. Klaus was still in town, but he wasn't coming near Buffy or Damon yet. They didn't know why. Elena hadn't seen him either.

"What if I never get these stupid powers under control? How am I going to take on Klaus then?" Buffy asked as she fretted with her fingernails.

Damon squeezed the hand he held. "You will figure this out. I promise. We'll figure it out together. And then we'll find a way to take down Klaus." Buffy sighed and then was suddenly across the room. "What…."

"Elena's pulling into the driveway."

"You've gotta tell her sometime."

"I know, but…. What if she gets mad? What if she hates me? What if I accidentally hurt her?"

Damon walked over to his girlfriend. "You won't hurt her. And she won't hate you."

"But she'll be mad."

"I don't know. You should stay and find out instead of hiding." He could tell she was debating it. "Buff, she's gotta know."

Elena knocked on the door and Buffy's eyes widened. Damon gripped her hand and pulled her towards the door. She didn't budge at first. "If I keep pulling, which I will, you're going to break my arm." Buffy looked guiltily at Damon. She'd hated that she'd hurt him, so she relented and allowed Damon to pull her to the door. Damon threw open the door, careful to keep Buffy in the shadows. "Good morning sunshine."

"Buffy!" Elena smiled and stepped across the threshold to hug her friend. Buffy didn't wrap her arms around Elena and the teen pulled back. "You're so cold! Are you feeling ok? Can Slayers get sick?" Elena looked from Buffy to Damon and back. Buffy wasn't looking at her. She had turned her face away. "Is everything ok?"

"We have something to tell you." Damon said, looking at Buffy's slightly panicked face. He knew that she'd smelled Elena's blood and it was getting to her. Her eyes had darkened and her fangs were out. "You might want to sit down for this."

"What's going on?" Elena walked into the living room and sat down, facing Damon. Buffy was standing slightly behind him, looking at his back. "Is it Klaus?"

"It has something to do with him. The night of the homecoming dance…. After everything that happened…. Buffy came up with a plan B. Well, she'd already come up with it. She just didn't want to use it until it was absolutely necessary."

"What's the plan? Will it defeat Klaus?"

"Maybe."

"So what is it?"

"Me." Buffy said.

Elena looked confused. "Buffy…. You are not going up against Klaus. He'll kill you."

"Not like this, he won't." Damon said.

"What does that mean?"

"Can you get Bonnie to make another daylight ring?" Buffy asked suddenly.

"Why?"

Damon pulled a little box out of his pocket and handed it to Elena. She opened it to see a small, antique looking diamond ring. The middle stone was square and set up higher. It was surrounded by a square of tiny diamonds and the tiny diamonds continued all the way around the band. "It's for Buffy."

"It's gorgeous! Buffy…." Elena stood up. "Are you…. Are you guys getting engaged?"

"She's a vampire, Elena! I bought her the ring so Bonnie could spell it so Buffy can walk in the sun."

Elena gasped and dropped the ring and box. It was barely out of her hand before Buffy was suddenly in front of her and catching it. Elena gasped and moved back a step, startled by Buffy's sudden appearance. "Why?"

"Why what?" Buffy asked, giving the ring box back to Damon. She didn't want to put it on yet.

"Why did you let him do this to you?"

"Because it had to happen. Do you trust any of the Originals?"

Damon took Buffy's hand to calm her down. She'd been getting angry. "Making a Slayer is like making an Original." He said. "With Buffy…. We have a shot at beating Klaus. Her powers are…. They're ridiculous. She heard you drive down the road and pull in the driveway just now. I didn't hear you until you were half way down the driveway."

"What happened here?" Elena asked, gesturing to the shattered decanter and puddle of liquor on the carpet.

"I'm still trying to figure out my strength." Buffy said sheepishly.

"I just…. Buffy…. One minute you said Damon would never taste your blood. Then you let him one day and all of a sudden…."

"It wasn't all of a sudden. I planned this, Elena. Long before Damon started drinking my blood. That day Damon tried to turn you…. That's what we were talking about when you walked in. That's where he got the idea from. I said if it was ever necessary for me…. And now it is. Klaus is coming and it's not going to be pretty. I have to be able to protect my family."

"I get that, but wasn't there any other way?"

"If there was, we couldn't see it." Damon said. "Now, we're ready for Klaus."

"Almost." Buffy said.

"Well, you need the ring."

"And I need to learn to completely control myself."

"Wait, stop!" Elena said, shaking her head. "I can't seem to process this. Why didn't you talk to me about this?"

"Why did I need to?" Buffy asked.

Elena blinked. "Because…. You're one of my best friends. You're family. This affects me too. And Jeremy."

"I'm still the same Buffy. I haven't changed."

"You're a vampire Vampire Slayer now. You've changed."

"I mean personality wise." Buffy shook her head and took a breath to calm herself. Getting annoyed at Elena wasn't going to help the situation. "Elena, I was immortal before. The only thing that's changed is my powers are way more…. Powerful."

"And your diet." Damon added.

"And my diet."

"This isn't because of Angel leaving, is it?" Elena asked.

"What does he have to do with anything?"

"You were pretty annoyed by it. Are you sure you did this to beat Klaus and not to make Angel mad?"

"That was his choice to leave. I'm not mad at him for it. Just annoyed at his reasons. But he was the farthest thing from my mind when I came up with this plan. And he wasn't even a blip on my radar when everything happened with Klaus that night."

Elena nodded. "Are you sure this is what you want?"Buffy laughed. "Even if it wasn't, I can't do much about it now."

"I wish you wouldn't laugh about this."

"Why? I'm still me. I still find the humor in seemingly humorless situations."

"So, can you get your witchy friend to spell this ring?" Damon asked. "It's about time my girl started wearing some jewelry that I bought her."

Elena sighed. "I'll ask her. She's going to want to know who it's for."

Damon shrugged. "Then tell her."

"Why have you been hiding for the last week?"

"Because I was scared I was going to hurt someone I cared about." Buffy said. "I had to get myself under some semblance of control. My emotions are still kind of crazy and I'm getting a little better controlling my strength, but I'm still very new at this. You're the first human I've been around and I didn't rip your throat out…."

"That's progress." Damon said with a smile. "Wanna get a drink at the Grill?"

"Damon…."

"Come on, baby. You're doing so good. Elena's still alive, my hand isn't broken and you've been holding it this whole time…."

"Maybe later? It's daylight out."

Elena pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number. "Hello?" Buffy heard on the other line. It was Bonnie. "Hey Bonnie, are you busy?"

"Well, I was actually on my way to check on Buffy and talk to her about my dreams."

"What dreams?" Buffy asked.

"Is that Buffy? Are you with her? Is she ok?"

"Well…. Uh…. She's…. She's ok. Different, but ok." Elena said, looking at Buffy like she was an alien.

"Different?"

"You'll see. How far away are you?"

"She's turning onto our street." Buffy said.

"How did you hear that?" Elena asked.

"What's going on?" Bonnie asked.

"Just…. Get here soon."

"Ok." Bonnie hung up and only a few minutes later, she was knocking on the door. Elena walked over and opened it while Buffy was suddenly sitting on the couch. "Why is it so dark in here?"

"Because there's a vampire here without a daylight ring." Damon said, handing Bonnie the ring box. "Spell this so I can give it to her."

"I'm not spelling a daylight ring for anyone."

"Not even for Buffy?"

"Why would Buffy…." Bonnie stopped and walked farther into the living room. She spotted Buffy sitting on the couch staring at the fire in the fireplace. Bonnie turned on Damon. "You turned her!"

Damon moved over and was standing behind Buffy between one heartbeat and the next and avoiding the slap headed towards his face from Bonnie's hand. "I asked him to." Buffy said. She stood up and walked towards Bonnie carefully. "Klaus is coming and I'm the only one powerful enough to take him on now."

"This is…. Why?" Bonnie demanded.

"I was going to live forever anyway, why not get some power out of it? So can you spell that ring and tell me about your dreams? I'm actually pretty good at interpreting those since I have them myself." Bonnie started to protest, but Buffy held up her hand. "Bonnie, if you don't spell it, then I can't take on Klaus. He can walk in the day. I can't."

Bonnie sighed. "Fine. I'll need my grimoire. It's in the car."

Damon led Buffy, Elena, and Bonnie into the Grill. Buffy looked nervously at the people around her. The pressure on Damon's hand started to turn into a vise grip. "Damon, maybe I shouldn't be here."

"Sweetheart, you're doing fine." Damon said, squeezing her hand. She relaxed her grip.

"I'm hungry."

"Come on, let's get something to drink then."

"Damon!" Elena said, smacking his arm.

"Not blood. An actual drink." He motioned to the bar.

"Oh."

"We'll get a table." Bonnie said, pulling Elena away.

Buffy watched them go and then turned towards the bar with Damon. "Oh god…. Alaric's up there."

"Yeah, he's probably going to lose his marbles." Damon said cheerily.

"I may have to hurt you."

Damon leaned down and gently kissed Buffy. "It'll be ok." He liked that his kisses still had an effect on her. He'd been scared that she wouldn't like him the same way once she'd changed. The tension eased out of her for a moment, but she spotted Alaric walking up to them with a smile and the tension came right back. "Be calm. Breathe."

"Buffy! You're ok." Alaric came over and hugged her. She barely touched him. "What's wrong?"

"Wrong? Nothing. Now." Buffy said nervously as Alaric held her hands in a friendly grip.

"Nice ring." He examined the beautiful antique diamond ring. "Damon finally spent some money on you?"

"Yeah."

"Good job." Alaric said to Damon. He looked back at Buffy. "So have you been sick or something this last week or just hiding?"

"Uh…. Hiding." Buffy eased around Alaric and headed for the bar. Damon stayed right behind her and Alaric followed them. Damon ordered them two doubles of whiskey.

"Since when do you drink whiskey straight?" Alaric asked Buffy.

"Since I needed to start curbing my cravings."

Alaric's entire face turned dark. "What?"

"I had to do something to protect you guys. I came up with this emergency plan B a while ago…."

"You let him turn you?"

"Yes."

"Why! What is the matter with you!"

"Nothing is the matter with me. Thanks." Buffy took a sip of her whiskey after the bartender gave her a glass. "Klaus is coming. He's pissed off at us because we tried to kill him. There was no other option. I'm stronger than a normal vampire."

"Original strong." Damon interjected.

"I can fight Klaus now."

"You could fight him before." Alaric said.

Buffy laughed slightly. "I wished. I moved him a little…. But only with Damon's blood in me."

"This is extreme."

"Extreme is what's coming. What have you been doing to prepare for it?" Buffy plucked at the papers in front of Alaric. "Homework?"

Alaric sighed. "While you've been turning yourself into a vampire and hiding from your friends, Jeremy has been failing school."

"What?"

"I was supposed to meet him here an hour ago at the beginning of his shift, but he's late." Alaric slid one of the packets of paper over to her. It had the title American History 201 with Jeremy Gilbert written under it. Next to that was an F written in red ink. "That's his midterm paper. Copied it straight off the internet. He didn't even try to hide it."

"Somebody's getting grounded." Damon said, sipping his drink.

"This isn't funny, Damon." Buffy said, looking at the paper.

"Did you say you're waiting for Jeremy?" The bartender asked. "As in Jeremy Gilbert?"

"Yeah." Alaric said.

"He was fired last week." The bartender walked off.

Buffy shook her head and pulled out her new cell phone. She searched for Jeremy's number and dialed it. Of course it went straight to voicemail. "Jeremy, the minute you get this…. Call me. I mean the absolute millisecond you hear my voice on this message." She hung up and Damon took the phone from her so she wouldn't destroy it. Buffy walked over to where Elena was sitting. "Where's Bonnie?"

"She said she'd be back. What's up?" Elena asked as Buffy sat down across from her.

"What's going on with Jeremy? Apparently he got fired."

Elena sighed. "That doesn't surprise me. Ever since Bonnie broke up with him he's moody and he's not really talking to anyone."

"Typical teenager." Damon said, standing behind Buffy.

"Who's seeing ghosts and who's lost every woman he's ever cared about." Elena looked at Buffy. "And you disappearing for a week didn't help."

Buffy sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't know I wouldn't be able to control my powers. I've got them in check enough now and I'm back. So, we'll fix this. He hasn't lost everyone. He still has us."

"Don't mind me." Elena, Buffy, and Damon turned to find Klaus standing next to the table with a hybrid behind him.

"Klaus…." Elena breathed."You're gonna do this in the Grill?" Damon asked. "In front of everyone? That's a little bit beneath you, don't you think?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. I just came down to my local pup to grab a drink with a mate." He turned to the hybrid behind him. "Get a round then, would you Tony?" The hybrid moved off to the bar. Klaus turned to Buffy. "I hear you've been hiding in your house. Have you been sick, love?"

"If I was, it was your fault." Buffy said, staying completely still.

Klaus picked up her hand and admired the ring on her finger. "Pretty. Did your boyfriend get it for you? It's not nearly big enough."

"I'm not a gaudy person." She took her hand back. "Why are you really here, Klaus?"

"My sister seems to be missing. I need to sort that out."

"Yeah? A bunch of my clothes seem to be missing, too. Think you could help me find those? I'm sure you're psycho sister won't be far behind them."

Klaus smirked. "Truth is I've grown to rather like your little town. Think I might fancy a home here." He looked at Damon and Elena. "I imagine you're wondering: How does this affect you? The answer is: Not in the slightest. As long as I get what I want and everyone behaves themselves, you can go on and live your little lives however you choose. You have my word."

"What more could you possibly want?" Elena asked.

Klaus got in Elena's face. "Well for starters, you could tell me where I might find Stefan."

Damon moved to stand next to Buffy, saying "Stefan skipped town the moment he saved your ass."

"Well, you see that is a shame. Your brother stole from me. I need him found so I can take back what's mine."

"That sounds more like a Klaus and Stefan problem." Elena said.

Klaus moved towards her threateningly, but Buffy was suddenly standing between them. He smiled and moved even closer to Buffy. "Well, this is me broadening the scope, sweetheart." His eyes flickered down her body. "Something's different about you, love." Before anyone could say anything, Klaus was gone along with his hybrid.

Buffy looked at Elena. "What was with that look you were giving the hybrid guy?"

"He was following me on my run this morning." Elena said.

"You were running?" Damon asked.

"I've been working out like Buffy told me. Well, I've been running a lot since your gym has been off limits for the last week. Did Klaus know you're a vampire now?"

"I don't think so." Buffy said. "But all this stress…. I need to go home before I grab a random bystander."

Damon nodded. "Yeah. Come on. You've done good for your first big outing."

"Elena, go straight home. And find Jeremy if you can. I need to figure out what to do with him."

"Ok." Elena said. "I'll call you if anything happens."

Buffy sat on the couch in the library and watched Damon pour himself a drink. She was nursing a glass of blood that he'd warmed up for her. Damon put down the decanter and turned around when Buffy was suddenly standing next to him looking at the entrance.

"I thought it was about time we had a drink, don't you?" Klaus said, standing at the top of the stairs.

"I'd say we were overdue." Damon said.

"Well, you've been so busy with all your plotting and scheming…. And turning Slayers." Klaus looked at Buffy. "I thought it was a bit funny I didn't have to knock to come in to your house. Why the sudden change, love? I liked you as a Slayer."

"Well, there's that reason." Buffy said.

"And you're doing good, I hope." Klaus grabbed a glass and tossed it to Buffy. She caught it reflexively, but it shattered in her grasp. Klaus chuckled when she hid the annoyed expression on her face. "Not quite under control yet, are we? I could help you with that."

"Thanks, but I'm more of a hands-on, learn myself kind of girl." Buffy was tensed for a fight.

"Don't worry, darling, I'm really not here to start a fight. Just a friendly chat."

"About what?" Damon asked.

"Your epic failure in killing me. Who could've guessed your own brother would betray you?"

"Well, we did have a front row seat when your sister lied to you.""Yeah, well, she's fickle that one. And you say you have no idea of her whereabouts?"

"That's the thing with younger siblings…. You never know what they're gonna do." Damon downed his glass. "Drink?"

"I think I'll share Buffy's." Klaus touched her hand holding the glass of blood and she let it go into his grasp, recoiling from him.

"You can have it." Buffy said. "I was finished anyway."

"Can't stomach it? It's better straight from the vein anyway."

"I'm full." Buffy turned and walked away to stare out the window. Her mind ran a mile a minute trying to figure out what to do with Klaus.

"Cheers."

"Down the hatch." Damon said.

"You know, we've actually got a lot in common, you and I."

"Really? Well, maybe we can bond over our mutual loathing of my brother."

"How about our mutual adoration of the lovely Miss Summers here?" Klaus said, reaching out to touch Buffy's hair. She was suddenly standing next to Damon and leaving Klaus a little surprised at her speed.

"Why are you so mad at Stefan?" Buffy asked. "He saved your life."

"He stole my family. The Originals. I had them daggered, boxed up, awaiting the day when I saw fit to wake them and he went in and pinched the bloody lot."

"Of course he did."

"Oh, such a buzzkill, my baby bro!" Damon said. "We'd love to find him."

"The trouble is, though," Buffy said. "I sure as hell don't want to find him for you."

"You know, your boyfriend's drink stinks of vervain." Klaus said. "So I can't compel him. But you…."

"I'm still part Slayer. You can try." Buffy said, crossing her arms and arching an eyebrow.

Klaus smirked. "Well, there'd be no point killing either of you. You're both actually the ones with the most hope of getting me what I need. Yet, it would seem a demonstration is in order. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough when I told you to find Stefan. Oh well, it seems you people respond best to displays of violence. Why don't you take this as an example of my reach?" Klaus pulled out his cell phone and hit a speed dial number. "There he is. So, that thing I told you to do…. Why don't you go ahead and get on with it?"

"What did you do to Jeremy?" Buffy asked as Klaus hung up.

"Heard that, did you?" Klaus found himself pinned against a bookcase, the books falling out around him. Buffy's eyes had changed and her fangs had dropped. "That's a good look for you, love. I like it." He shoved her back, sending her flying across the library before disappearing.

Damon rushed over to help her up. "Are you ok?"

"I actually pinned him. It took him a minute to get free." Buffy smiled. "Did you see that?" Her smile faded. "Oh god…. Jeremy!" Just then her phone started ringing. It was Elena. "Is Jeremy ok?"

"Yeah, he's fine. Rick's dead, though." Elena said. "Klaus compelled Jeremy to stand in front of a speeding car. Rick managed to shove him out of the way, but he got hit instead."

"We're coming right over." Buffy hung up and headed for the door.

Damon couldn't keep up with her. "Hey! Wait for the regular vampire!"

"How is he?" Buffy asked as Damon opened the front door to Elena's house and walked in. She tried to walk over the threshold, but a barrier stopped her. "Crap…. Uh, Elena?"

"Come in, Buffy." Elena said, smirking slightly. "He's dead, but he had his ring. Klaus's hybrid hit him. Now we just wait."

Buffy walked over to Jeremy sitting in the doorway. "Jeremy, why aren't you wearing vervain?" She grabbed his arm. "Where's your bracelet?"

"I don't know." Jeremy said, looking genuinely confused.

"It was Tyler." Elena said. "It had to have been. That's why he was hanging out with you. To get you off the vervain."

"Klaus is trying to send us a message." Damon said. "He wants us to find Stefan who stole his coffins full of his dead family members."

"Coffins?" Elena asked.

"Yup. So all we have to do is find four coffins and voila! No one else on your family's Christmas list needs to die."

Jeremy stood up. "Wait…. That's your big plan? To steal back four dead Originals so this evil hybrid doesn't kill me and everyone else we know?"

"You got a better idea?"

"Yeah! Let's get the hell outta here. Pack our bags and go!"

"Jeremy, calm down." Elena said.

"No! I'm not going to calm down, Elena."

"You will calm down or I'll put you down." Buffy snapped. "You're in enough trouble with me as it is."

"Buffy, this happens every time no matter what we do! You can get on my case about school and work…. Who cares? None of us are gonna make it out of this town alive." Jeremy grabbed his jacket and ran upstairs.

"He said he wants his family back." Elena said.

Buffy looked at Elena. "No. No! I know what you're thinking. The answer is no."

"If we give him Rebekah…."

"Yeah, then Klaus un-daggers her and the first thing she does is kill you." Damon said. "Frying pan. Fire. Not an option."

"Klaus's coffins…. How many did you say there were?"

"Four. Why?" Buffy said.

"Bonnie." Elena grabbed her cell phone and headed outside.

"Where's she going?" Damon asked.

"Calling Bonnie." Buffy went over to the window and listened.

"Klaus is looking for four coffins." Elena said. "Just like in your dream. I'm guessing it's not just stress."

"Elena, don't get involved." Bonnie said on the other line. "Whatever Klaus wants, stay as far away from it as you can."

"Klaus won't let me. Bonnie, he tried to kill Jeremy."

"What do you want me to do?"

"We need to find Stefan. Look, I know that you don't think your locater spell still works, but we have to at least try."

"You don't need a locater spell."

Buffy, Damon, and Elena headed through the woods towards the old house where the witches burned. Bonnie had said that Stefan was hiding out here. "I thought Bonnie said this place lost all its mojo." Damon said.

"The dead witches were angry at her for bringing Jeremy back to life." Elena said. "I guess now they have something they want her to know."

"That's why I hate witches. So fickle." Damon caught Buffy's glare and he held up his hands in defense. "Except Willow. She's actually pretty cool." Buffy raised a skeptical eyebrow. "I'm serious!" He said with a smile and Buffy smiled too. "Can you still feel the bad juju like the last time we were here?"

"Actually…. Yes, but it doesn't bother me like it did before." Buffy said. "Is that a bad sign?"

"I don't know."

Elena opened the front door. "Stefan?" She called out.

"Come on Stef!" Damon called. "Oly oly oxenfrie." He walked into a patch of sunlight and started to burn. Buffy yanked him into a dark corner with her, moving faster than even his skilled eye could track. "Really! Still?"

"What?" Elena asked.

"The witchy spirits aren't a big fan. And they used their juju to screw with my daylight ring." He looked down at Buffy pressed against him. "Thank you. Is your ring working?"

She shook her head, looking at the sunlight with distaste. "They don't like that you turned a Slayer."

"Go wait outside." Elena said calmly.

"Elena…." Buffy started.

"I'm not leaving until I know if he's here." She marched off, leaving Buffy and Damon stranded in the shadows.

Buffy looked around at the house. "I asked him to change me so I could fight Klaus!" The witches stopped whispering and Buffy stuck her hand out into the sunlight. She yanked it back when it burned her. "You guys suck!" She grabbed Damon, steeled herself, and then she and Damon were standing outside the house.

"That didn't hurt so bad." Damon smiled. "You're quick."

Buffy shrugged. "I just wish I could walk in the sunlight like a real Original." Damon started to say something, but Buffy waved him to silence. She could hear Elena in the basement.

"Stefan?" Elena called."Go away." Stefan said. "You shouldn't be here, Elena."

"Stefan, I need your help. Bonnie said that you would be here."

"Well, Bonnie sucks at keeping secrets."

"Listen, you need to give Klaus his family back."

"Oh really? Is that what I need to do?"

"Klaus compelled Jeremy to stand in front of a speeding car. Don't you get it? Stefan, he's not going to stop until he gets what he wants. He…."

"Elena, stop talking. I'm not giving Klaus anything."

"Are you listening to me? He's going to kill Jeremy."

"Not really my problem."

Buffy growled in anger and down in the basement, Elena slapped Stefan. "You can go to hell." Elena stormed out.

Damon looked over as Elena walked out of the house. "That didn't go over well."

"Don't even start, Damon."

"Let me talk to him."

"You can't get in. The witches won't let you. Either of you."

"I'm fast, Elena." Buffy said, walking over to her. "Here," She handed the keys to her BMW. "Take my car keys. You go deal with your brother and Damon and I will deal with his." Elena sighed, knowing she wasn't going to win an argument. She turned and walked off. As soon as she was out of sight, Buffy and Damon walked up to the entrance of the house. She looked at her boyfriend. "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be." Damon said.

Buffy took in a deep breath, grabbed Damon's jacket, and yanked. She may have been fast, but the sun's rays hurt like hell. She bumped into a wall twice and then they tumbled down the stairs into the basement. They landed in a patch of sunlight and Buffy pulled Damon to her and rolled into the shadows. "OW!" Buffy griped, looking at her healing burns.

"Wow." Stefan said behind them. "That was impressive. But the coffins aren't here, so…. You two can go away now." Buffy rolled her eyes. She was suddenly standing in front of Stefan. His eyes widened as she grabbed him and rushed up the stairs, too fast for his eyes to really take in, and out of the house. It had been easier the second time since she'd known exactly the route to take.

Damon came out growling only a few seconds behind her. "Thanks for the warning." He said.

"Sorry, sweetie. You ok?" Buffy asked.

"Fine. You?"

Buffy's eyes had changed and her fangs had dropped in her pain from the sun and the anger at Stefan. Stefan looked down at her, shocked. "What the…." He started.

"Not what you were expecting, huh?" Buffy asked with a smile. She took a deep breath and her face returned to normal. "Thanks for teaching me that trick. It's helped."

"What have you two done?"

"What was necessary." Damon said. "We need to talk."

Stefan looked at Buffy, still in a bit of shock at her transformation. She didn't miss the flicker of worry in his eyes. "Ok." Stefan said, his demeanor turned icy again. "Let's talk."

"Why did you steal Klaus's family?" Buffy asked. She saw his eyes flicker back to the house. "I'm faster than you, Stefan."

Stefan sighed. "Klaus took everything from me piece by piece. I'm doing the same to him."

Buffy growled and her eyes changed. "You're an idiot." She took a deep breath to calm herself. "He didn't take everything from you. I'm still here. Damon's still here. Elena still loves you, though you've given her every reason to hate you. You're still like this because you can't get yourself back to the old Stefan."

"I don't have you. You've let Damon turn you into a monster."

"I haven't fed on humans and I have no intention of it. I'm still me!" Buffy turned and stomped off a few paces. "Why does everybody think otherwise?"

"By the way…." Damon broke a tree limb off and stabbed Stefan in the gut with it. "Stop saving me!"

Buffy shook her head. "Damon, I was in on that plan."

"I know, but it still pisses me off that he does this crap every single time!"

"He's your brother. Did you expect differently?"

"I expect you to save me because you're my girlfriend. Him being all Ripper-fied…. I don't want him to save me. Even before then I didn't want him to save me. I don't need his help!"

"Maybe sometimes you do." Stefan said, pulling the branch out of his stomach.

"I'm agreeing with Stefan on this one." Buffy said.

"Don't you gang up on me." Damon snapped.

"I'm not ganging up on you. I'm just saying. Everybody needs saving at some point."

"Well, you're much sexier riding to my rescue."

"Granted…. I won't always be there."

"Don't you two have somewhere to be?" Stefan asked.

"Deflection?" Damon said. "That's not gonna work on me. I invented that."

"We're done. Can't you guys just go away?"

"You know what? Not until you tell me why you saved me."

"I don't owe you anything."

"Fine. Next question. Why'd you steal the coffins?"

"Because Klaus's family is one weakness I can use against him."

"Use against him to do what?" Buffy asked.

"She's right." Damon said. "You're not gonna kill him. There's only one way to kill him and you blew that to save me."

"You're wrong Damon." Stefan said. "Klaus doesn't just get to live forever. There's another way. There has to be." He looked over at Buffy. "That's why you turned. Because you believe that."

Buffy shrugged. "Fair enough. Whatever you're doing, though, I want in." She looked at Damon.

"Where the blonde goes, so goes I." Damon said.

"I don't need your help." Stefan said. He turned to head back into the house, but Buffy was blocking him. He hadn't seen her move.

"Is that so?" Buffy asked. "The last time I checked you were hanging out in a haunted house."

"I'm in this alone."

"You go after Klaus, you're going to have to be cut throat and devious." Damon said. "I'm so much better at that than you."

"He's right." Buffy said. "And you don't have the strength to go up against Klaus. I do."

"Come on, brother. What do you say?" Damon slung an arm over Buffy's shoulders as they looked at Stefan. "If you're gonna keep saving my life, at least make it for a good reason."

Stefan nodded, looking at them both. "You want in, huh?"

"Yeah."

"Ok. Then it's just the three of us. Elena stays out of it."

"I was gonna suggest that." Buffy said with a smile.

"Follow me." Stefan moved around them and headed for the house.

"Uh…. We're not so welcome in there." Damon said.

"Don't you worry, Damon. We all want the same thing." Buffy and Damon exchanged glances and then followed Stefan into the house. He led them back down to the empty basement. "Have a look."

"What? Klaus is allergic to dust?" Damon said.

Stefan smirked. "Look again." Damon and Buffy looked back at the room and it was suddenly filled with coffins. "The witch spirits hate Klaus as much as we do. They're using their powers to hide the coffins."

"So even if he comes in the house…." Buffy said.

"He won't be able to find them."

Buffy smiled. "That's kind of ingenious!"

"So is changing a Slayer to give her the powers and strength of an Original."

Buffy's phone chirped and she pulled it out of her pocket. It was a text from Elena. "Rick's in the hospital."

"Why?" Damon asked.

"Apparently his ring brought him back, but it didn't heal him this time."

Damon sighed. "I guess we better get over there and heal him."

Buffy looked at Stefan. "I'm not going anywhere." Stefan said. She looked at him for a moment longer and then walked out.

"Good work, little brother." Damon said before following Buffy.

Buffy walked up to Elena's porch to find her trying to clean around a headless body that was haphazardly wrapped up in a sheet. "Whoa. What happened here?"

"He sent the paramedics away. He tried to kill Alaric." Elena said. She was obviously in shock.

Buffy looked at the head at the bottom of the stairs. It was Klaus's hybrid that had followed Elena. "Did you…."

"Jeremy."

"Oh. Wow." Buffy knelt down and pulled Elena to her feet and away from the body. "I've got this."

"Where's Damon?"

"He's taking care of Rick. He'll be here shortly."

"Buffy…." Elena started to crack.

"Shh." Buffy pulled her to her and hugged her. For the first time in a week, she wasn't worried about her strength. Elena's distress made her forget about being oh so careful and it all just came naturally. "Go inside. I've got this." She pushed Elena gently inside the door and shut it behind her.

As Buffy finished wrapping the corpse, head and all, Damon walked up. "Whoa."

"That's what I said." Buffy said, getting to her feet. "And no, this wasn't me. It was Jeremy."

"Jeremy did this?"

"Yeah. I think we need to send him away. He's not safe."

"How do we do that?"

"You need to have one of your talks with him."

"You're powers are stronger than mine."

"But you're more experienced. Will you take care of this body while I talk to Elena?"

Damon sighed. He knew she was right. "Yes." He kissed her gently and then scooped down to grab the body.

Buffy watched him leave before turning and walking into the house. Elena was scrubbing at her hands trying to get the blood off. "How are you?"

"I think I got most of the blood off the porch." Elena said. "Now that the body's gone, I'll have to go finish it."

"Elena." She didn't stop scrubbing. "Hey, look at me." After a moment, Elena turned to look at Buffy. "It's going to be ok."

Elena nodded. "I have to tell you something. I, uh…. I made a deal with Klaus. I gave him Rebekah."

"What? No. Elena, please tell me you did not really do that! She's going to come here and try and kill you!"

"No she won't. Klaus won't let her because he needs me."

"And suddenly you just trust him?"

"No I don't trust him! But what other choice do I have? I don't trust Stefan. Do you think he's just going to give up the coffins?"

Buffy sighed. She was not bringing Elena in on this. "Yeah…. Damon's little brother is running his own show."

"And my little brother just chopped off someone's head! It's not right. It's not fair. He's 16 years old. He shouldn't have to live like this." She went back to scrubbing in the sink. "There has to be another way. We have to fix it."

"We will." Buffy walked over and turned the water off. "Elena…." She turned the teen around and made her look at her. "I'm going to send Jeremy away."

"What?"

"Damon's going to have a special chat with him and he's going to be ok. Just tell us where you want him to go."

Elena looked at Buffy. "You mean that?"

"Yes."

Buffy walked up to Jeremy's room with Elena, Alaric, and Damon right behind her. Jeremy was putting some clothes away in his dresser when Buffy knocked on the doorframe. "Hey. Can we talk?"

Jeremy sighed. "What did I do now?"

Buffy smiled slightly. "I've been thinking about what you said earlier. About how we should pack up and go…."

"Buffy, I didn't meant any of that."

Buffy shrugged. "But you were right." She sat down next to him on the bed. "You shouldn't have to give up a normal life just because of the crappy things happening to the people around you."

"What's going on?"

"You and Damon are going to have one of your talks." Jeremy looked at her incredulously as Damon walked in and sat down on his other side. "It's for the best."

"Here's the thing, Jer," Damon said. Buffy got up and walked over to Elena. "You're gonna go out of town for a while. A long while. You're gonna stay with Dawn up in New York City. You're gonna be at a new school. You're gonna meet new girls. Living girls. You're gonna drink a few beers. Take an art class. Do whatever you want."

"Tell him he's going to leave Mystic Falls behind." Alaric said. "And never think twice about it."

Damon looked at Elena for confirmation and she nodded. He looked back at Jeremy. "You're gonna leave Mystic Falls and never think twice about it. You'll have a better life, Jeremy." Buffy gently squeezed Elena's shoulders as she started to cry. Elena turned and walked out of the room. Buffy glanced at Damon and Alaric and then followed her out onto the front porch. "I feel like a horrible person." Elena said.

"We just saved his life, Elena." Buffy said. "Take it from me. Strange is bad. Dead is worse."

"I just can't stop thinking about the last time I asked Damon to compel him."

"He found out and he got over it. Again…. Not dead."

"He's so lucky to have you two in his life." Damon said from the doorway.

Elena smiled slightly. "Thank you."

"No problem."

Elena turned to Buffy. "And thank you for everything. Even turning into a vampire to protect us. I honestly don't know what I would do if you weren't here."

Buffy smiled slightly. "I have something to tell you. Stefan didn't screw us over. Well…. Ok, he did, but he actually had a good reason."

"What?"

"He saved Klaus to save me." Damon said.

"And then he stole the coffins to get even." Buffy added.

"That's…. If he…. If he did it to protect Damon, why would he even do that? I mean…. What does that even mean?"

Buffy shook her head. "I don't know. So, try not to think too much into it." Buffy took Damon's hand. "We're going to leave now, though. I'm actually really hungry and I don't need to be around humans anymore."

"You're doing good." Elena said.

Buffy shrugged. "Well, I have a good reason to be." She kissed the side of Elena's head and followed Damon off the porch and into the darkness.

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