The Next Chapter

Chapter 53

Chapter 53

Buffy sat in the living room holding a glass of bourbon and staring at the fire. She, Elena, and Matt had taken Alaric to the hospital. Elena and Matt had opted to stay with Alaric. Buffy had called Caroline, but Caroline had promised she was ok and that she would see Buffy in the morning. Now Buffy was alone in the living room with nothing to do but think about Klaus's words. Damon was upstairs asleep and she was pretty sure Stefan was in his room reading.

She knew she was deep in thought because she didn't hear Stefan walk in. "You're home."

Buffy looked up at him. "Yeah."

"Everything ok at Elena's?" He sat down across from her.

"Alaric's in the hospital. His ring is…. Slow. I need to call Willow and ask her to look into it." She looked at Stefan. "What are you doing awake?"

"Can't sleep. You?"

"Same."

"Klaus was wrong." Buffy looked at him surprised. "You're not going to hurt Elena."

"Not intentionally."

"Not ever. If anything happens to Elena, it's her fault, not yours. You do everything you can to protect her, but sometimes…. You just can't."

"You used to be comforting."

"I used to be a lot of things."

Buffy looked down at her vibrating phone. It was Elena calling. "Hey."

"I can't stay at my house alone." Elena said. "Is it ok if I come over and stay with you?"

"Of course. What's going on?"

"Rebekah just attacked me."

Buffy's eyes darkened. "She did what?"

"Elijah stopped her."

Buffy sighed. "At least he's true to his word."

"He also told me something incredibly interesting. I'll tell you when I get there."

"Do you need me to come get you?"

"No. I'm in my car now. I'll be there soon."

"Ok." Buffy hung up and looked at Stefan. "Rebekah attacked Elena.""That didn't take long." Stefan said.

The next morning, Buffy, Damon, Elena, and Stefan were all gathered in the living room. Buffy hadn't slept at all, so she'd made breakfast for everyone. Elena had told her something very interesting about the contents of the coffin. Now she was relaying the information to Damon and Stefan.

"It was their mother Esther in that coffin." Elena said.

"As in the Original Witch?" Stefan asked.

"What? How is she even alive?" Damon asked. "I thought her hybrid freakshow of a son ripped her heart out a thousand years ago."

"I don't know." Elena said.

"I'm guessing she has a couple of connections in the witching community." Buffy said.

"Elijah said she wants to live in peace with her family. Including Klaus."

"She was supposed to be the weapon to help us kill Klaus." Stefan said.

"Yeah, well, not anymore. Not according to Elijah."

"That coffin was the only thing keeping Klaus from tearing us to shreds."

"Anyone else feeling a little used right now?" Damon asked. Buffy raised her hand in agreement.

"Look, Elijah promised me that his family wouldn't hurt any of us." Elena said.

Just then there was a knock on the door. Everyone looked at it in confusion. "That was slightly ominous." Buffy said, walking over to the door. She opened it, but there was no one there. On the ground was an envelope with her name written in beautiful script. She picked it up and shut the door.

"What is it?" Damon asked as she walked back into the room opening the envelope.

"It's an invitation. 'Please join the Mikaelson Family this evening at seven o'clock for dancing, cocktails, and celebration.'" Buffy read.

"Who the hell are the Mickaelsons?" Stefan asked.

"The Original Family." Elena said.

"That would be my guess." Buffy said.

"It's not bad enough they're moving into town, now they want a house warming gift?" Damon said.

Buffy shrugged and flipped the invitation over. "There's a note on the back. 'Buffy, I think it's time I finally met you and your ward, Elena. Esther.'"

"Me?" Elena asked.

"Well, we are the two women that Klaus obsesses over the most."

"Don't remind me." Damon said.

Buffy smiled. "Don't worry. You put a ring on it."

"You can't seriously be thinking about going." Stefan said.

"Why not? If Esther wants to talk with me, I think I should find out why."

"She also said to bring Elena." Damon said.

Buffy looked at Elena and felt a pang of sadness. "Yeah. I guess we should both be there."

"Well that's a dumb idea. She already tried to kill Elena once."

"No, Buffy's right." Stefan said. "Bonnie was allowed to open that coffin for a reason. I think there's more to this than some family reunion."

"Can we go back in time to the old Stefan who cared if Elena lived or died?"

"What for? Buffy's always had that covered."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I should find out what she wants."

"You'll be surrounded by Originals and a super witch." Damon said. "There's no way you can protect yourself and Elena."

"Thank you for that vote of confidence, honey." Buffy said sarcastically. "I was going to ask you to be my date to this thing, but never mind. Stefan?"

"Sure. I'll go." Stefan said.

"You pissed off enough Originals to last a lifetime." Damon said. "I'll go."

"How about we all go?" Elena asked.

"You're not going." Damon said to her. "It's too dangerous."

"Esther wants to speak with myself and Elena." Buffy said with a sigh. "She's going."

"With the three of us around her, she'll be fine." Stefan said.

Buffy turned to Elena. "Let's go shopping."

Elena and Buffy sat in the Grill later that afternoon holding menus for a late lunch. They'd just gotten back from Richmond with Buffy's car trunk full of dresses, shoes, makeup, and jewelry. They were going to do each other's hair and makeup before they left for the ball.

"It's all so weird. The Originals are throwing a ball. An actual ball." Elena said.

"It's a twisted Cinderella fetish is what it is." Buffy said. "Caroline!" The other blonde had just walked in. She spotted Buffy and Elena and came over to join them.

"Hey." Caroline said, grabbing a menu.

"How are you doing?"

"I'm good…. Considering. What are you two talking about?"

"The Original Family's ball this evening." Elena said."They're throwing a ball?"

"You didn't get an invite?"

"I haven't been home." Caroline shook her head. "I wouldn't go anyway."

"We have to." Buffy said.

"Why?"

"Esther wants to meet with us."

Caroline shook her head. "Why would the evil witch want an audience with you guys?"

"I don't know. But there's only one way to find out."

"How's Damon taking this?"

Buffy shrugged. "He's worried as usual, but he's going.""Those jealousy issues are going to cause trouble."

Buffy laughed. "I think it's cute. But I am secure in our relationship and nothing will come between us. Especially not Klaus."

"Careful girls." Buffy, Elena, and Caroline looked up to see Rebekah walk up to them. "It's all well and good till Elena stabs you in the back."

"What are you doing here?" Elena asked. "I know your mom's rules. No hurting the locals."

"Get over yourself Elena. It's not all about you." Rebekah walked over to Matt and handed him an invitation to the ball.

"Oh my god!" Caroline said. "She's inviting him to the ball? Why is she inviting him?"

"Probably to get this reaction from us." Elena said.

"I can't let Matt go alone. What time is this stupid dance?"

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "I thought you wouldn't go even if you were invited."

"Hello! Matt can't walk into that snake pit without protection."

Buffy smiled. "You can raid my closet."

Buffy followed Elena and Caroline up the stairs and into the renovated mansion of the Original family. Damon and Stefan had gone ahead of them at Buffy's insistence. Two men opened the front doors for them and Elena looked back at Buffy nervously. Buffy smiled slightly at her in encouragement. She'd been telling herself all day that Elena was going to be fine. That Esther had to be on their side and there was no danger to either of them. But no matter what, she felt guilty for involving Elena in something dangerous once again.

"Stupid Klaus." Buffy muttered to herself.

Caroline leaned forward and whispered. "Damon's just spotted you."

Buffy looked over to see Damon making his way towards her. His eyes didn't see anyone but her. "You look amazing." He said in awe.

"You say that every time I wear a formal dress." Buffy countered.

Damon smirked. "This time trumps those other times."

Buffy looked down at herself. She was in a deep purple, strapless, form-fitting, satin A-line gown with pickups all through the skirt. The top had a slash of tight ruffles that looked like flowers that had sparkles throughout them. At her hip was another set of ruffle flowers that sat atop a deep, daring slit that exposed her entire left leg. The back of the dress was laced up tightly like a corset. Her shoes were the same shade of purple, high-heeled peep toes. Elena and Caroline had curled her hair and teased it so she looked like she'd just rolled out of bed. Caroline had done her makeup very subtle, but made sure that her skin glowed and her eyes popped.

"I love the slit." Damon reached down and touched her leg, happy to note that she wasn't wearing hose.

"Well, if I need to fight, it'll come in handy."

Stefan walked up to the three girls and Damon. "Shall we?" He held his arm out to Elena. She hesitated, but sighed and slipped her arm through his. Damon did the same, making sure that Buffy's ring was on display in the black folds of his tux sleeve. Caroline sighed and followed them.

"Have you seen Klaus?" Buffy asked Damon.

"Not yet. I did meet Kol, though." Damon sneered.

"Don't like him?"

"Not in the least."

"What about Esther?"

"Haven't seen her yet, either."

"Buffy, you look absolutely stunning." Carol said, walking up to them.

"Thank you, Carol. You look pretty amazing yourself." Buffy said.

"I have someone that would like to meet you. Excuse us, Damon. Hello, Elena, Stefan, Caroline." Carol took Buffy's arm and steered her away from her friends and fiancé. "His name is William."

"And he is….?"

"He's here from out of town, but he's interested in your work here on the Council and as a Slayer."

"And he came to you instead of me?"

"Well, I've tried going to your house a few times, but you're never home." A familiar voice said in front of her. She looked up to see Spike standing there.

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me." Buffy rolled her eyes. "First Angel, now you?"

"Well, from what Peaches told me, I got worried. Thought I'd come check on you."

"You two know each other?" Carol asked.

"Unfortunately." Buffy said, glaring at Spike. "Excuse us, Carol." Buffy grabbed Spike's arm and dragged him off. "What in the world are you doing here?"

"You look amazing, by the way. How come you've never dressed up like this before?"

"Stop stalling. Why are you here?"

"I told you…. Wait…. Why are your hands so cold? And your eyes are different…." He looked at her, taking a whiff of the air, and shook his head. He took a step back. "No…."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah…. I'm a vampire."

"Are you out of your sodding mind!"

"Keep it down, would you? And no, I'm not out of my mind."

"Buffy! There you are." Klaus said, walking up to her and wrapping an arm around her waist and taking her hand to kiss her knuckles.

"Just what I need!" Buffy groaned.

"Who's your friend, love?"

"Oh, I see…." Spike said. "You must be this Damon Angel keeps ranting about."

"No. He's Klaus." Buffy said, dislodging herself from Klaus's grasp. "Damon is somewhere else at this party."

"So you're the big bad, eh?"

"More like the big thorn in my side."

Klaus chuckled. "You look utterly ravishing tonight, darling. I'm so glad you could come."

"I need a drink." Buffy turned and marched off, away from the two vampires. She went to the bar and asked for a double of the stiffest drink they were offering.

"Buffy Summers, I presume." Buffy looked up to see Finn, Klaus's brother, standing next to her. "I'm Finn Mickaelson. You and Elena are here to see my mother."

"Is she here?"

"I see you've brought friends."

"Well, your mother has tried to kill Elena before and neither Stefan nor Damon would allow us to come alone."

"Well, if you want to see my mother, it needs to be just you and Elena."

"Uh, if everyone could gather please!" Elijah called from the stairs. Buffy looked over to see Kol, Rebekah, and Klaus all gathered there and Finn walked over to join them. Buffy looked around for Damon, but she didn't see them. Spike, however, was making his way towards her. "Welcome. Thank you for joining us."

"What kind of friends do you have here, pet?" Spike asked.

"Shh!" Buffy waved him off when she spotted a woman who had to be Esther walking down to join the Originals.

"You know, whenever my mother brings our family together like this, it's tradition for us to commence the evening with a dance. Tonight's pick is a century's old waltz. So if all of you could find yourselves a partner, please join us in the ballroom." Elijah moved down the stairs.

Spike held his hand out to her. "How well can you waltz?" She looked at his hand for a second, but she never got to answer.

"There you are." Damon said, walking up. He looked at Spike with wary eyes. "Who's your friend?"

"Damon, Spike. Spike, Damon." Buffy said.

"Spike? As in….?"

"Yes." Buffy looked at Esther making her way back up the stairs and spotted Elena across the room looking for her. Damon noticed her looking from Elena to Esther. "She wants to see Elena and I alone." She explained.

"Well that's not going to happen." Damon said.

"Damon…."

"You may be all-powerful, but she's an all-powerful witch."

"What am I missing?" Spike asked.

"A lot." Buffy looked up at the now empty staircase and then at the people grouping up around them and heading for the ballroom.

"It would be rude not to dance, you know." Damon said, holding out his hand.

Buffy sighed. "It is tradition." She took his hand and looked at Spike.

"Oh balls…." He turned and walked off, but Carol grabbed him and pulled him towards the ballroom to dance. Buffy had to smirk at that. She spotted Elena grabbing Stefan and pulling him towards the ballroom as well.

As they moved into formation and started to dance, Damon said, "Why do your exes keep popping up like this?"

"I have no idea." Buffy said, keeping up with the steps. If it wasn't for her heightened eyesight making everything seem clear and dream-like-slow, she probably wouldn't be able to keep up with the dance. And, she had to admit, Damon was a very good lead.

"How are we supposed to plan a wedding," Damon turned her into hold and pulled her close as they moved in the box steps around the room. "When these distractions keep appearing?"

Buffy smiled. "Who said we're planning a wedding? I thought you just wanted a more solid title."

"Well, 'husband' is a very solid title." She shook her head. "Besides, I just remembered how stunning you look in formal wear."

"You're biased."

"Maybe. But I'm not the only one in this room staring at you."

"Yeah. A good portion of them are vampires."

"You'd be surprised how many human men stare at you." He turned her and she ended up trading partners into Klaus's arms. Damon tried to come back to her, but Rebekah had him and was dancing him away."Alone at last." Klaus said. Buffy didn't say anything. "Why is your old flame crashing my mother's party?""Angel went and told him about everything that's been going on here. How much I've changed because of Damon…."

"And neither of them like it?"

"Of course not."

"And now Spike knows about your new lifestyle. How's that going?"

"He seems pretty upset."

"I could have him ejected for you."

"Please don't. I don't want any drama tonight."

"As you wish." Buffy noticed that Elena and Stefan weren't in the ballroom anymore. She sighed, knowing that Elena was off planning something. "What is it, love?"

She shook her head. "I'm just…. Overwhelmed."

"It happens to us all in the beginning. You'll get used to it."

"I meant…. I think Damon wants to actually have a wedding, Spike's suddenly in town, you're after me, and now Stefan's…." She shook her head again, trailing off.

"Stefan's what?"

"I think he's still in love with Elena. Which puts Elena in a situation because she's finally become stronger and independent from her and that makes me mad." She looked at Klaus. "Why am I even telling you all of this?"

"Well, I am a good listener."

Buffy spotted Elena and Stefan walking back in. Elena motioned to her to follow and then disappeared into the hallway. "Excuse me…." Buffy moved away from Klaus using her superspeed and followed Elena. Spike dislodged from his partner and followed as well. Damon didn't notice that Buffy was missing until she'd already disappeared.

"What's going on?" Buffy asked. She glanced at Spike as he walked in behind her.

"We need to talk to Esther." Elena said. "But Damon won't allow it."

"Oh, he's talked to you, too, huh?"

"Yes."

"Who's this?" Stefan asked, eyeballing Spike.

"He's…. Spike." Buffy said, glancing at her ex. "So, what do you have in mind?"

"You're not going to like it." Elena said.

Buffy sighed. "Guys, I don't want to hurt him just to get upstairs to see her."

"You may be able to get past Damon, but Elena won't. Not without a scene." Stefan said. "I'll just incapacitate him…."

"How? By breaking his neck?"

"That would work."

"No! We are not hurting him. I'll talk to him."

"Which will take too much time. I think this offer might be time sensitive."

"Can someone fill me in here?" Spike asked. "I'm really lost."

"It's too much to cram in a nutshell." Buffy said before looking at Stefan. "He just needs to be distracted so Elena can get past him."

Stefan looked at Spike. "Well, he could act like Angel and tell Damon to take a break from you."

"It wouldn't be acting, mate." Spike said. "From what I've heard…."

"You heard wrong." Buffy snapped. "But that plan could work."

"Wait, is what you're planning to do dangerous?"

"Maybe."

"Could it get you killed?"

Buffy shrugged. "Maybe."

Spike sighed. "Well, you've always been good with maybe situations. I'll go pick a fight with your sweetie-bear. But I bloody well better get some explanations before the night is out." He turned and marched out.

"He accepted that fast." Elena said, surprised.

"Well, that's Spike for you." Buffy grabbed her hand. "Come on." She walked out to see Spike pulling Damon outside and Damon looking royally pissed. As soon as they were out of sight, Buffy and Elena rushed up the stairs.

As they made their way down a hallway, Elijah caught up to them. "Buffy…. Elena…. I understand my mother requested to see you?"

"Yes." Buffy said. "Is something wrong?"

"Well, her ability to forgive my brother after everything he's done to destroy this family strikes me as a little…. Strange. To say the least."

"Do you think that it's an act?" Elena asked.

"It has me asking questions I never thought I'd ask. Can I depend on you two to tell me what she says?"

"Of course." Buffy lied smoothly, subtly squeezing Elena's hand. "We'll find you later, ok?" She and Elena kept moving down the hall to a closed door. Buffy knocked gently and heard someone inside say, "That would be the girl and her Slayer."

A moment later, Finn opened the door. "No protectors, I see." Finn said. "Wise choice."

Buffy eyed the burning herbs in Esther's hand. "It's only sage." Esther said.

"I know." Buffy replied. "My best friend is a witch."

"Yes. She is quite powerful."

"You know her?"

"I know of her. A witch with almost as much power as myself is very rare." Esther held up the sage. "I've spelled it so we can speak freely without being overheard. That will be all, Finn. Thank you." Finn nodded and shut the doors behind him as he left. "You two must have a million questions for me. Please."

Buffy and Elena exchanged glances as they moved to the couch and sat down, but Elena let Buffy speak. "How are you alive? Are you a ghost?"

"Are you?" Esther smiled warmly and patted Buffy's hand. "You are not the Slayer who's died three times and come back by magic, are you not?"

Buffy laughed slightly. "Yes.""I'm not exactly a ghost. When I died, the witch Ayana preserved my body by a spell. She was a close friend of mine. An ancestor of your friend Bonnie."

"So that's why only Bonnie and her mother could open up the casket." Elena said.

"They complete the Bennett bloodline. I drew power from them and their ancestors who were on the other side."

"So you've been on the other side for a thousand years?" Buffy asked.

"Nature's way of punishing me for turning my family into vampires. But there is a way for me to undo the evil I created."

"You're going to help us kill Klaus, aren't you?"

"One thing at a time. For now I simply need Elena's help."

"Mine?" Elena asked.

"Yes." Esther got up and moved over to a table where a dagger, some candles, and other magic artifacts were laid out. "I understand Rebekah shared the story of my family. How I upset the balance of nature by turning my children into vampires."

"She said you did it to protect them from the werewolves." Buffy said.

"It's true. But in no time at all, they began to feed on human blood. They ravaged the town with no remorse. Eventually Nicklaus turned against me."

"How are you going to kill him?" Elena asked. "He's immortal."

"It will take time. Magic. And your assistance."

"What do I have to do?"

"My children believe that I'm holding this ball to celebrate our reunion, but in truth I've gathered them together to perform a ritual. The first step requires blood from the doppelgänger." Buffy growled slightly. "Only a drop. Its essence will be in the champagne toast later on this evening."

"Why did you bring me up here?" Buffy asked.

"Because I know that you're the more powerful of Elena's friends. You would never allow her anywhere near me and you have the power to make that happen. Also…. I'm very curious about you. Everything you and your friend Willow did to change the destinies of Slayers around the world…. You are a most intriguing person, Buffy."

"Oh."

"Now, will you do it?" Esther asked Elena, pulling out a dagger. "Or shall I?" Elena looked at Buffy and walked over to Esther, taking her glove off. Esther gently pricked Elena's finger and dropped a few droplets of her blood into a goblet of water. "Elijah is more suspicious than the others, so he may need more persuasion. But they must all drink of the toast to be linked as one."

"What do you mean 'linked as one'?" Elena asked.

"You said yourself that Klaus can't be killed. But tonight's spell links all my children together, so if one goes…. They all go."

"What?"

"I love my family, but they are an abomination. I betrayed nature when I created them. It's my duty to kill them."

Elena looked stunned, but Buffy just nodded. "That makes sense."

"I am very sorry for what you've had to become to protect your family, Buffy. I hope that this plan will make things right for you."

Buffy shrugged. "Don't worry about it. I was already immortal…. Now I'm just harder to kill."

"I know the strain Klaus has put on you in particular with his obsession and the releasing of Angelus last year."

"I've gotten used to the obsession thing, to tell you the truth."

"You shouldn't have had to." Esther paused and looked at the door. "You two should join your friends. I don't want anyone getting too suspicious."

"You know where to find us if you need us." Buffy led Elena out of the room. "Breathe, Elena."

"She's going to kill them all." Elena said.

"Shh. They can hear us now."

"I can't lie to Elijah."

"I can." Buffy took her hand and they walked down the stairs. Spike and Damon were nowhere to be seen and Stefan was lurking off in the corner near the stairs. "Stay close to me."

"Don't worry about that."

Buffy finally found Spike by the bar, but Damon was still missing. "Where's my fiancé?"

"He's off somewhere with a stiff drink." Spike said. "Like myself." He held up a glass of scotch.

"You didn't kill him?"

"Turns out, I actually like him."

Buffy shook her head. "Elena, this is Spike. Spike this is….""Your surrogate daughter. Yeah, Little Bits told me about her. It's nice to meet you."

"Little Bits?" Elena asked.

"That's his little pet name for my sister. Careful, he might give you one before the night's out." Buffy said. "So, you like Damon?"

"He's not a bad apple like Forehead says." Spike said. "Angel just doesn't like him because he's got your heart." He took the final swig of his drink and set the glass down on the bar. "Can't say I fault him for that, though. It's the only thing I don't like about your beau."

"I'm glad you approve."

"Not sure I approve of this little change of yours, though."

Buffy shrugged. "A lot of people don't. But…."

Spike held up his hands. "It's your life. At least you're not a soulless beastie. I'd hate to have to kill you." He smiled and Buffy could remember why she had loved him once.

"The champagne toast will be given out shortly. We'd better go take up our positions." Buffy kissed Spike's cheek and headed off with Elena.

"So how is my mother?" Elijah asked, moving up beside them.

"Intense." Buffy said, taking one of the champagne glasses Elijah offered her and Elena.

"And for what reason did she need to speak with you ladies in private? Should I be concerned with my mother's intentions?"

"Not at all. She wanted to apologize to Elena for trying to have her killed and she wanted to meet me."

"So it's true then? She's forgiven Klaus?"

"It's true." Buffy smiled and Elena actually believed her.

Esther clinked a spoon to her champagne glass to get everyone's attention. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Waiters are coming around with glasses of champagne. I invite you all to join me in raising a glass. It provides me with no greater joy than to see my family back together as one. I'd like to thank you all for being a part of this spectacular evening. Cheers."

"Cheers!" Everyone answered back. Buffy and Elena watched as everyone, including Rebekah, Finn, Kol, and Klaus sipped their champagne. Elijah turned to Buffy and Elena. "Cheers." He clinked his glass to theirs and sipped his champagne with them.

Klaus walked up just then and took Buffy's glass. "Come. I have something I wanted to show you." He led her off with her arm linked in is. Elena looked after Buffy with slightly panicked eyes.

"Really?" Buffy asked.

"I think you'll enjoy it." He led her into a room filled with beautiful paintings. "This is one of my passions."

"Impressive." Buffy said, looking at a massive painting decorating one wall. "I take it the curators at the Louvre aren't on vervain?"

"Yeah, well…. That's their mistake." He took her hand and she felt him slip something cold onto her wrist. She looked down to see a beautiful and intricate diamond bracelet.

"Klaus…."

"It's a gift."

"I get that. And it's beautiful, but where did you steal this from?"

"Well, that's a long story. Rest assured, though, that it was worn by a princess almost as beautiful as you."

Buffy shook her head at his come on line. She was beyond letting Klaus's obsession with her get to her. Besides, with Esther's plan, Klaus would be gone and soon. She looked down and spotted some sketches on the desk in front of her. They were all signed with Klaus's name. "Did you do these?"

"Yeah. Uh, actually one of my landscapes is hanging at the Hermitage, not that anyone would notice. Have you been?"

She sighed. "No. I didn't have time to enjoy the sights until Lexi came along and she never had time for art museums. She said they were too slow for her plans for us."

"I'll take you. Wherever you want. Rome. Pairs. Tokyo."

"Wow. It must be so nice to snap your fingers and get whatever you want. Is that why you collect hybrids? A little servant army to take you places and bring you things?""You're making assumptions."

"So are you."

"I don't know what you mean."

"You assume that just because you do nice things for me or give me presents or show me the things that you enjoy that I'm going to just fall at your feet and leave Damon behind. You could be the king of England and I still wouldn't love you."

"This has been a fun evening, but I think it's time for you to go."

Buffy shook her head. "I get it, Klaus. I do. Been there done that. You think that your father never loved you, so no one else ever will either. That's why you compel people or you sire them or you try to buy them off, but that's not how it works. You don't connect with people because you don't even try to understand them. If you want something real, then learn some humanity." She tore the bracelet from her wrist and handed it back to him before storming out of the room.

Damon intercepted her before she got to the front door. "Buffy. Hey."

"Damon." Buffy said.

"Are you ok?"

She wiped at the tears she didn't know she'd been shedding. "I'm just angry."

"You didn't get what you wanted out of your little chat with Esther?"

"Actually, I did. That's not what I'm mad about."

"Well I'm mad. You cut me out of your plan. You had Spike distract me."

"It was better than what Stefan wanted to do."

"You shouldn't have cut me out at all, Buffy. We're supposed to be together…."

"Do you think I liked going behind your back? I didn't. I don't! But Elena and I needed to be up in that room and you…."

"You could've been killed."

"It was a risk I was willing to take."

"Well, I'm not!"

"Calm down, Damon. You're overreacting."

"What if that had been me up there?"

"I would've worried, but I trust you. Why can't you trust me?"

"I do."

"Obviously you don't. I'm not a fragile little human anymore."

"Have you guys seen Matt?" Caroline asked, walking up to them.

"I'll go find him." Buffy said, moving away from Damon. He went in another direction, still upset with Buffy. A few moments later, she heard a scuffle outside. Stefan caught up to her as she rushed outside to see Damon snap Kol's neck. "Damon!" She cried.

"What are you, crazy?" Stefan demanded.

"Maybe a little." Damon said. "Far be it for me to cause a problem." He turned and walked off. Buffy growled and shook her head angrily. Spike walked over to her from the small group of people gathered on the front stairs and ushered her back inside.

"Let him cool down." He said.

"No. I need to talk to him." Buffy sighed. "I need to sort this out. I'll find you later, Spike. Stefan, get Elena home please." She walked past Spike and Stefan and headed after Damon.

Damon poured himself another drink at the liquor counter in the library. He was still angry with Buffy for cutting him out of her plan like she had. That's where Buffy found him. "Can I buy you an apology drink?"

"I only take written apologies." Damon said.Buffy sighed. "Verbal is all I've got."

"Gonna take a lot more than that. I've suddenly become the guy who cares too much."

"No, you haven't.""Then explain this evening to me."

"Damon, I am so happy that you care enough about me to want to protect me, but I don't need protecting. I need you to trust that I know what I'm doing."

"I can't just stand by and watch you walk into these dangerous situations."

"Sometimes you'll just have to."

"I can't accept that. We're supposed to be a team, Buffy. If you put your life on the line, then I should be right alongside you."

"Sometimes you can't be. Like tonight with Esther."

"I should've gone with you. What you and Elena did tonight was stupid and reckless." Buffy's eyes darkened in anger and Damon realized that he'd pushed her too far. Her emotions were still heightened. He found himself pinned against a wall across the room.

"What you did tonight with Kol was stupid and reckless. You're lucky that Esther didn't have your head for it."

Damon grabbed the back of her neck, pulling her to him to kiss her passionately. He wanted to turn her anger into something else so she didn't accidentally kill him.

It worked.

She kissed him back eagerly and he heard buttons rip as she yanked open his shirt. He felt her fangs graze his tongue and he shoved her backwards onto the sofa. She bounced once before he was on top of her, ripping her dress at the slit all the way to the top of the dress. She flipped him and he suddenly found himself on the stairs. He moved behind her, kissing and nipping at her neck as she raked her nails across his pants, leaving them in strips. They quickly made their way into their room, nearly taking the door off its hinges when they closed it.

A/N This was a pretty awesome episode. I can't wait to see what happens next! And if you want to check out Buffy's dress, here's the link for it:

www. new york dress .com /Maggie _ Sottero / P1602 .html

(Just erase the spaces. It was the only way to put the link in.)

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