The Next Chapter

Chapter 54

A/N I can't believe we have to wait until March 5th to continue! Stupid cliffhangers...

Chapter 54

Buffy heard movement coming from somewhere in the house and she opened her eyes. The sun was streaming in and she groaned, covering her face with her pillow for a second. Then she realized she wasn't holding a pillow to her face, but a pile of clothes that had been pulled off the racks above her. The mattress she was laying on was a pile of more clothes.

"Morning sleepy head." Damon said.

Buffy turned her head and gasped. "Oh!" There was a big purple and black bruise healing on Damon's shoulder. "Did I do that?"

He looked down at his shoulder. "At some point."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not. Why don't we ever get that crazy on a regular basis?"

"I have no idea what came over me." Buffy sat up and realized they were in the closet of their room.

"Pissed off makeup sex?"

Buffy shook her head. "I almost killed you last night."

"Lucky for me, I know how to channel your emotions into something more…. Productive."

"You're not mad?"

"Why would I be?"

"Uh…. I almost killed you last night."

Damon shrugged. "Wouldn't be the first time. Probably won't be the last. At least I hope."

"I hope not! I don't even want to hurt you, let alone kill you." Buffy glanced out into the bedroom and realized the room was trashed. One of the bed posts was broken off. "This is going to take forever to clean."

"Well, it's a good thing we've both got forever." Damon kissed her lightly and stood up. He held out his hand to help her stand up. "Drink?"

"I'm going to need something more than a stiff drink. I'm hungry."

"Got that covered." Damon searched around for a pair of pants and pulled them on. "Be right back." He walked out and Buffy looked around for something to wear. She grabbed a pair of jeans and a simple blue spaghetti strapped tank top. By the time she had her hair brushed, Damon walked back in with two glasses filled with blood.

"Thank you." She said, taking one and going to sit on the bed. "Is that even repairable?"

Damon fingered the broken bed post. "Probably. I'll just have to make a call."

"When did that happen?"

"Somewhere between the third time and the sixth."

"Wow." Buffy shook her head.

"So, what happened with Esther last night?"

"She's got a plan." She took a sip of her blood and looked out the window.

"What's the plan?"

"She's going to kill Klaus…. And the rest of the family. The champagne toast last night was spiked with a spell using a little bit of Elena's blood. It bound all of the Originals together so that what happens to one happens to all of them."

"That's great. Klaus will finally be dead. We win."

"I don't think Elena's too happy with that plan."

"Why?"

"Because of Elijah. He's been a help to us. And I admit, that's really the only downside to this whole plan…. But if it gets rid of Klaus…."

"Then it's a win/win for everyone."

"I just get the feeling that she's going to find a way to stop it."

"So…. Stop her. Lock her down in the basement if you have to." Buffy shot him a glare. "What? I love Elena, you know I do, but she just has a way of screwing things up one way or another."

"Be nice." Buffy stood up and stretched. "I should probably find Spike and apologize for leaving him high and dry last night."

"Yeah…. Spike…."

"He actually had good things to say about you, you know."

"Did he?"

"The only thing he doesn't like about you is that I love you."

"Really?"

"Really, really." Buffy finished her glass and looked around at the mess. "What are we going to do about this?"

"Don't worry about it. I'll compel us a maid and a carpenter." Buffy rolled her eyes. "What?"

"I got on to Klaus about that last night."

"When were you with Klaus?"

"Just after the toast. He walked up and showed me his art collection."

"He's into art?"

"Yeah." Buffy shook her head. "He's actually pretty good at it, too. He had these beautiful sketches…."

"Stop. Please stop."

"I'm just saying: He's got talent. Doesn't make me like him, though." She sighed. "I'm still hungry."

"I'll get you some more." Damon took her glass and stood up.

"I'll come with. Stefan's downstairs and I'd like to bring him up to speed if Elena hasn't already." Buffy followed Damon down the stairs and headed into the library where Stefan was staring into a fire. "Hey."

"Good morning." Stefan said.

"Did you get Elena home safely?"

"Of course. She filled me in on the meeting between you, her, and Esther."

"Good. I was just filling Damon in."

"She's not happy with it."

"Nope." Buffy sat down and Stefan walked over to join her. "But this is the way to get rid of Klaus."

"I agree. She wasn't too happy with me when I told her that."

"Me either." Buffy shrugged. "If this is the way to be rid of Klaus and the Originals, then so be it. I know Elijah has helped us, but he's also double crossed us."

Damon walked in carrying three crystal glasses filled with blood. "Good morning, Stefan. Care to join in a little victory drink?"

"We should wait until Klaus is dead." Stefan said.

"Why are you so extra broody?"

"I'm not." Stefan looked at Buffy. "Spike said to give you this." He handed Buffy a piece of paper and walked out of the room, ignoring the glass of blood Damon set in front of him.

Buffy glanced after him. "There's the old Stefan." She said once he was out of the house.

"What do you mean?" Damon asked. "He's still all dark and pissy."

"Never mind." She opened the paper from Spike.

I'm glad you're safe and happy. Tell Damon I'll stake his ass if he hurts you. I'll tell Angel to back off. He's not happy with you and he's really going to have a Kracknir demon when he finds out you've joined the ranks of the undead. I look forward to being the one to piss him off that bad. Stay safe. I'll see you around.

-Spike.

"What's he say?" Damon asked.

"He's left town." She folded the paper. "But he's not mad."

"He'll tell Angel."

"Yeah. But he's going to keep Angel off my case."

"That's the last thing we need is to have him come back into town."

"Damon…."

"Sorry, but the guy just gets under my skin."

"What about Spike?"

"Spike…. Is interesting. I'll give him this, though: He knows when he's beat."

"He's a good guy." Buffy sighed. "I'm gonna call Elena and make sure she's not doing anything crazy." She headed back upstairs to grab her phone and was back downstairs in barely two seconds. Damon moved behind her to fix himself a bourbon as Buffy waited for Elena to pick up. She didn't answer her house phone or her cell phone. After a few minutes, she dialed another number. "Have you talked to Elena today?"

"I haven't seen Elena since this morning." Alaric said.

"She's not answering her phone." Buffy sighed. "Did she at least tell you about Esther's plan?"

"Yes. And she doesn't sound like she wants to go through with it."

"She doesn't have a choice. It's the only way…."

"To get rid of Klaus. I know. I'm not going to judge her for having a conscience."

"I don't care if you judge her or not. She can't ruin this. Can you tie her up and lock her in her room? It's a lot nicer than our little basement dungeon over here."

"Well, I wouldn't if I could…. And I can't cause I'm busy."

"Busy? You're never busy. What are you up to?"

"Don't worry about it."

"Rick…. Are you with the psycho doctor?"

"Goodbye, Buffy."

"Rick! I still have a bad feeling about her no matter what Liz…. Hello? Rick?" Buffy looked at her phone and then up at Damon. "He hung up on me."

"I'll kill him later." Damon said. "Now what were you saying about Stefan earlier?"

"Oh come on! You've spent how many years with him? You can't tell that he's stopped drinking human blood?"

Damon glanced at the glass that Stefan had left sitting on the table. "Hmm…. You may be right."

"Of course I'm right."

"Cocky. I like it." He leaned over and kissed her neck as he plopped down on the couch next to her.

"Maybe I should try to find Elena." Buffy said.

"She's just pissy about the plan."

"I don't think so." She was suddenly gone from the room. Damon sighed and headed off to find her. He didn't have to look too hard. She'd gone up to Stefan's room.

"Yeah, she called earlier, but I didn't answer." Stefan was saying.

"This isn't like her."

"It's exactly like her." Damon said.

"Not with me."

Stefan sighed, "I'll get my coat."

"Thanks." Buffy followed him out.

"You should stay here and keep trying to call her."

"I can track her better than you."

"But if she has gone missing, whoever took her will come here."

Buffy sighed. "Fine. Damon?"

"I'll go with Stefan." Damon set down his drink and walked out with Stefan.

Buffy tried calling Elena again and again with no luck. She tried Bonnie, but Bonnie wasn't answering. Buffy tried Elena again, but she still wasn't having any success. Caroline had joined the search for her with Damon and Stefan.

A knock on the door almost startled Buffy out of her reverie. She stood up from the couch and rushed to the door. "Elena…." It was Elijah. "Oh. Elijah…."

"Hello Buffy. May I come in?" He pushed past her and walked into the living room.

Buffy knew something was up because he'd skipped the manners. She closed the door behind him and followed. "You're not still doing Klaus's bidding are you?"

"No." He sat down in a chair with his back facing the fire. "I'm working on a little something of my own."

"Really? Should I be worried?"

"Yes."

Buffy nodded and crossed her arms. "And why is that?"

"Because I have Elena and you will do exactly as I say or I will kill her."

"Why do you have Elena?"

"Oh, come now, Buffy. You're one of us now. You heard Elena's heartbeat speed up when you lied to me at the party."

Buffy knew he was right. Of course Elijah knew she'd lied to him. "So you know about Esther's plan."

"And here I thought we could be friends."

"Don't get me wrong, Elijah…. I do sort of like you, but I hate your brother, Klaus. If getting rid of you gets rid of him…."

"And what of your precious Elena?"

"Klaus won't allow you to kill her."

"Klaus has no idea what's going on."

"I can't find Elena anywhere." Stefan said, walking in the house. He stopped dead when he saw Elijah.

"Hello, Stefan." Elijah said.

"He has Elena." Buffy said. "Where's Damon?"

"Not far behind." Stefan said.

"Elena is actually with Rebekah." Elijah said. "As you can imagine, my sister's just dying to tear her throat out. So, if you want to save Elena's life, I want you to help me stop my mother."

Buffy smirked. "I hate to admit this…. Being the greatest Slayer of all time and all…. But when it comes to killing thousand something year old resurrected witches, I'm actually kinda rusty."

"Yes, unfortunately even when killed my mother doesn't seem to want to stay dead. She's a lot like you, Buffy."

"So what are we supposed to do?" Stefan asked.

"The witches that released my mother…. She's drawing her power from that bloodline. That line needs to be broken."

"Broken?"

"He means he wants us to kill them." Buffy said.

"You know I'd do it myself, but I have absolutely no idea where they are." Elijah said. "Besides, seeing me…. They would immediately know my intentions. They won't expect to be harmed by the likes of you." Elijah stood up. "In any case, you have until six minutes after nine."

"Specific much?"

"By 9:07, the moon will be full, my mother will have the power she needs to kill me and my family. If you do not stop her before then, Rebekah will kill Elena. So, we all have our timeline…. I suggest you get started." Elijah moved past Stefan and Buffy and walked out the door.

The two of them were silent until Damon walked in. "No sign of her." He paused in the doorway. "What'd I miss?"

"Fill him in." Stefan said. "I'll be back in a minute."

"Where are you going?" Buffy asked, but Stefan kept walking. He seemed to be headed for the basement.

"What's going on?" Damon asked.

"Elijah and Rebekah have Elena. They're going to kill her if we don't stop Esther from doing that spell tonight."

"How are we supposed to do that?"

"He wants us to kill Bonnie and her mother."

"Well, that's simple enough."

"Damon!"

"What?"

"Sometimes I wonder what happened to your compassion." She walked out and went to find Stefan. He was down by the refrigerator filled with blood bags holding one of the bags. "Clock's ticking, Stefan. Are you going to help me brainstorm a plan or are you too busy fixing a snack?"

"We need to call Bonnie." Stefan said, shutting the refrigerator. "There's gotta be a way for her to get Esther to stop channeling all that power."Buffy sighed. "She's with Esther. And even if she wasn't, what if she can't cut Esther off? I don't know how any of that channeling stuff works. That's Willow's area of expertise. So unless you've got insight, then we need a better plan."

"Worst case scenario…." Damon said, joining them. "It's simple mechanics. You can't draw power from a dead battery.""Kill them." Stefan said.

"If it comes to that."

"Damon…." Buffy started.

"Buffy." Damon mocked. "I know you hate this, but which one is it? Bonnie's mother or Elena?"

Buffy sighed and took the blood bag from Stefan. She pulled it open and downed a couple of gulps to try and calm her down. She didn't want to hurt Damon again. "There's gotta be another way."

"What if I told you I have a less diabolical plan?" Damon smirked and held up a dagger.

"You want to dagger Elijah?" Stefan asked.

"Well, they're all linked. One goes down, they all go down. The witches live, Elena's safe…. Problem solved."

"We don't know how that will affect Klaus." Buffy said.

"Ironically Klaus isn't our current problem."

"Damon, the dagger is lethal to any vampire who uses it. I'm short on human friends at the moment."

"Actually, you're not. I just so happen to know one who's crazy enough to give it a shot."

"Rick?"

"I talked to him a few minutes ago. Klaus and his brother Kol are at the Grill."

"So what's your plan there?"

Damon sighed. "This part I'm not crazy on, but…. You get to go distract Klaus."

"Wait, huh?" Buffy shook her head.

"Divide and conquer. You get Klaus out of the Grill so Rick can dagger Kol."

"Does Rick get to have a say in this? He's on a date."

"Of course he doesn't have a say. He's the only human we've got to do this. Stefan and I will hold Kol down while Rick daggers him. Boda bing, boda boom, problem solved."

Buffy sighed. "Fine. If that's the best we have."

"Just…. Don't kiss him."

She gave her fiancé a glare. "You're hilarious."

Buffy walked into the Grill with skin tight jeans, knee high boots, and a midnight blue, lace, off the shoulders tunic that hugged the right curves and flowed gracefully down her arms. She spotted Alaric with Meredith over by the pool table and then saw Kol and Klaus by the bar. Alaric had said they'd made their way through most of the Grill's alcohol supply.

"I remember her from last night." Kol said. "She looks like a tasty little thing.""Say another word and I'll tear out your liver." Klaus said as Buffy made her way up towards the bar. "Buffy!"

Buffy stopped in front of them and lifted an eyebrow. "Klaus."

"Join us for a drink?"

"Sorry, but I'm meeting my fiancé…. But thanks. I'll just wait outside for Damon." She turned and headed back towards the door.

"Isn't she stunning?" Klaus said to Kol.

"She certainly looks good walking away from you." Kol said.

"I'll take that as a challenge." Klaus put his drink down and followed Buffy outside. She laughed when he was almost hit by a car as he crossed the street. "Buffy!"

She wheeled around. "Seriously? I'm meeting my fiancé. Take a hint."

"Don't be angry, love. We had a little spat. I'm over it already."

"Well, I'm not."

"How can I acquit myself?"

Buffy sighed. "You and your expensive jewelry and your romantic drawings and your grand gestures can leave me alone."

"Oh, come on…. Take a chance, Buffy." He sat down on a bench and motioned for her to sit next to him. "Talk to me. Come on, get to know me. I dare you."

Buffy looked at him for a long moment. He was quite charming when he wanted to be. "Fine." She sat down and looked over at him. The look he was giving her was so far from any other look he'd ever given her. He seemed actually interested in her. To Buffy's annoyance, she actually genuinely smiled at him. "What do you want to talk about?"

"I want to talk about you." Buffy laughed a little. "Your hopes…. Your dreams…. Everything you want in life."

Buffy laughed a little harder. "Just to be crystal clear…. I'm too smart to be seduced by you."

"Well, that's one reason why I like you." He reached out a looped her hair behind her ear. "Oh, Buffy…. You're still so young. There's so much more to the world than what Lexi could've shown you."

"And I suppose you're the vampire to show it to me."

"I could be."

Buffy looked out at the darkened town square around them. "Why do you even try? I'm engaged to Damon. I love him."

"I know you do, but you're so very young. Have you thought about the long run? Really thought about it?" He reached out and gently cupped her chin, turning her face back to him. "You're immortal now, Buffy. Really and truly immortal. I doubt even I could kill you. We're two of a kind, you and I."

"This kind of talk gets you into trouble."

Klaus smiled. "I apologize then. Let's talk about something else. If you weren't bound to this lovely little town because of your…. Obligations…. Where would you go? What would you do?"

"I'm not bound. I love Mystic Falls."

"Really?"

"Really, really. It's my home now."

Klaus smiled. "If I kissed you right now, Buffy, would you be upset with me?"

"Probably." She held up her left hand. "I made my engagement ring my daylight ring for a reason. I meant what I said when we first met…. I'm a one vampire kind of girl."

"I could change your mind. Besides, you also said I was handsome when we first met." Buffy shook her head slightly with a smile and Klaus leaned in to kiss her. Before his lips met hers, though, he grabbed his chest in pain and stood up.

"What is it?" Buffy asked.

"What did you do?"

"Nothing."

Klaus grabbed her arms. "What did you do!"

"I didn't do anything."

Klaus gasped and turned towards the Grill. "Kol." He rushed away and Buffy sighed, following. He made it to the alley before she did and removed the dagger from Kol as Alaric was carrying him out of the Grill. Stefan and Alaric both went flying and Damon was left facing Klaus. "I should've killed you months ago."

"Do it." Damon said.

"Stop it." Buffy said, suddenly appearing next to Damon. "Leave him alone."

"It's not going to stop Esther from killing you."

"What did you say about my mother?" Klaus asked, taking a step forward.

"You didn't know we were friends with your mommy? Yeah, we have a lot in common. She hates you as much as I do."

Klaus started to attack, but Buffy's hand shot out and sent him flying. He jumped up and Buffy prepared for the onslaught, but Elijah appeared at the top of the stairs. "Leave them." Klaus turned to look at his brother. "We still need them Nicklaus."

"What did mother do?" Klaus asked. "What did she do Elijah?"

Elijah walked down the stairs and up to Buffy. "You tell me where the witches are or I'll tell my sister to kill Elena right now."

Buffy looked at her watch. "You told me we had until after nine."

"I'm sure Rebekah would be more than happy to start her work early.

"I don't know where they're at."

"Sure you do."

"No, Elijah, I really don't. I haven't talked to Bonnie at all today."

Elijah glanced at the clock on City Hall. "Find them now and sever the connection or I'll call Rebekah."

Buffy rode shotgun in beside Damon in his car with Stefan in the backseat. Damon pulled up to the end of the lane in the woods and stopped the car. "So how do we know they're going to be at the old witch house?" He asked.

"We don't." Stefan replied. "But if they're not, we have about 10 minutes until Rebekah tears Elena apart."

"You know, if we sit this out…. Esther completes the spell, Klaus dies, you get your revenge…. It's what you wanted the whole time. The only collateral damage is…."

"Elena." Buffy said.

"You know what she'd choose."

"Stop, Damon."

"She'd let herself be killed to save her friend. You know it's true. She's too much like you."

Buffy shook her head. "I already feel sick to my stomach about this plan. Don't make it any worse."

"If we do this, it'll wreck her." Stefan said.

"I know that."

"She'll hate us." Damon said.

"Damon…." Buffy started.

"The thing is…. She'll only have to hate one of us."

"What?"

"Only one of us has to do the actual deed." Damon turned and looked at Buffy. "Don't worry. It won't be you." He took her hand and kissed her palm.

"So…. Who's it gonna be, brother?" Stefan asked.

Damon took a coin out of his coat pocket. "Heads I do it, tails you do it."

"Awful lot of effort for someone who pretends not to care about her."

"Would you like to be the pot or the kettle, Stefan?" Buffy asked, getting out of the car and leaning against the hood. She knew that no matter what that coin said, Damon would be the one to kill Bonnie and her mother. She wasn't angry at him because he was doing what needed to be done. She was angry at the situation that Elijah had put them in. But no matter what, she would always choose Elena over anyone else. Elena was not only her friend, but her daughter. She would do anything to protect her.

"I won the coin toss." Damon said, getting out of the car. Stefan's face told Buffy that it wasn't true.

Buffy sighed. "The Originals are coming. I can hear them. You guys better hurry."

"You're not coming?" Damon asked.

"No."

Damon nodded. "I'll see you at home." He kissed her gently before she disappeared into the night.

Buffy sat on her and Damon's bed looking at her laptop screen. Angel had called and she was talking with him via Skype, much to her amazement.

"Are you sure you're ok?" He asked again."I'm fine. Just a really bad day." Buffy said. "Thank you for not blowing up at me."

"I can't lie and say that I'm ok with you becoming a vampire. I'm not. I punched Spike for being the messenger of that news."

"Angel!"

"But…. I've been in your shoes and if I would've had a way to get more power to protect the ones I love…. I wouldn't have hesitated. I know I don't like Damon…."

"Hate is the word I think you were going for."

Angel smirked. "Yeah…. I know I hate Damon, but I believe in you. I think you'll handle this new super-powerful vampire thing pretty well."

"Well, I'm still pretty emotional. It's sometimes really hard to get that in check. And my strength still surprises me, but it's not as bad as my first week. I broke Damon's hand and we pretty much had to buy a new set of glasses because I destroyed all of ours."

Angel laughed slightly. "You'll get the hang of it in no time. You're pretty good that way."

"Thanks."

"I know what the answer is going to be, but I still have to ask…. Do you need me to come back and help with everything?"

Buffy smiled. "Thank you, but no. Things do tend to get a little crazy out here, but it's nothing I can't handle. It's definitely not any worse than Sunnydale." She looked up as Damon walked into the room. "I'll talk to you later, ok?"

"Bye, Buffy."

Buffy shut the laptop and looked at Damon expectantly. "I didn't touch Bonnie." He said.

"What?" Buffy asked.

"I changed her mother into a vampire. Stefan came up with the idea."

"Oh."

Damon moved into the bathroom and turned on the sink. He started washing his hands of the blood that was dried on them. Buffy walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, laying her head on his back. He sighed and hung his head.

"She won't hate you forever."

Damon looked up into the mirror and met her eyes. "What about you?"

"I could never hate you, Damon. I was never mad at you. I was mad at the whole situation." He turned in her arms and pulled her closer to him. "Even if you had killed Bonnie, I still wouldn't have been mad at you."

Damon sighed. "You really do have better vision than me." They stayed holding each other tightly for a long time until Stefan walked in.

"Is she safe?" Buffy asked as Damon released her but still kept one arm around her waist.

"Elijah kept his word. Rebekah let her go." Stefan said.

"Good. All's right in the world again." Damon said.

"I lost that coin toss, Damon. It should've been me who turned Abby. Why'd you do it?"

"Cause I'm not blind. I see what's going on around here. You're hanging on by a thread, Stefan. You're barely over your last Ripper binge and all you want is to be the old Stefan again."

"That part of me is gone for good."

"Oh yeah? How long has it been since you had a drop of human blood?"

"How'd you know?"

"You spend 146 years with someone, you kinda start to pick up on their tells. Even Buffy, who's only been with you barely two years caught on. So answer the question: How long has it been?"

"Since the night I threatened to drive Elena off of Wickery Bridge."

"See? You have enough to feel guilty about. Why add to the list? By the way, you're welcome. I'm better at being the bad guy anyway." Damon kissed the side of Buffy's head and walked out.

Buffy waited till he was gone before turning to Stefan. "Elena still loves you. And I know you don't feel like she should…. You're right there…. But she'll take you back in time."

Stefan looked away guiltily for a moment. "I don't want that."

"You do. I know you do. And it's ok. I've been in her shoes. I know exactly what she's feeling right now."

Stefan sighed. "If you don't want me to be near her, just tell me."

Buffy shrugged. "Elena knows what's best for her."

"You're her guardian. What do you want?"

"I want her to be happy." Stefan sighed and Buffy smiled. "Look, I'm not going to tell you no. You guys love each other. When someone told me to stay away from Angel when I was her age…. It only made me want him more. She can decide for herself and so can you. I will say, though, that if you hurt her…. I'll shove a stake through your heart." Buffy patted Stefan's cheek and went to find Damon.

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