Buffy walked back up to hers and Damon's bedroom after searching the house for Stefan. "He's not here." She said to Damon.
He was putting on a shirt and stopped mid-button. "He's probably pissed at us for last night."
"Yeah, but he doesn't usually dodge my calls. He at least picks up and growls at me."
"He'll turn up."
"Indulge me, sweetheart. With Connor running around trying to kill us all, I'd like to keep tabs on everyone."
Damon sighed and picked up his phone. He dialed Stefan's number, but it rang and rang before going to voicemail. "Not answering me either. He's probably still at Elena's."
"He came home last night. I heard him upstairs writing in his journal."
"He hasn't done that in a while."
"Something's gotta be up."
Damon finished buttoning his shirt and walked over to her. He grasped her hands in his and gave them a squeeze. "Are your spider senses tingling?"
"I'm not joking. You've still got that uncanny ability to call trouble before anyone else. If I could find a way to put money on it, I'd be a billionaire by now."
"Yes. I feel like something is wrong."
"Come on. Let's go see Elena. If anyone knows where he's at, it's her." He dropped one of her hands and led her out of the house.
Buffy used her key to get in and they headed upstairs to Elena's room where they heard her moving around. Just as they reached her door, she opened it. Damon walked in and looked around as Elena looked at Buffy leaning in the doorway. "Uh…. Hi?"
"Where's Stefan?" Damon asked.
"Good morning to you, too."
"How are you feeling?" Buffy asked.
"Ok…. I guess. Why are you looking for Stefan?"
"He's not answering his phone and he's not here." Damon answered. "Which, you know, big deal…. We've only got a killer vampire hunter on the loose."
"I haven't talked to him yet today."
"Can I see your phone?" Buffy asked.
"I think maybe he's dodging me and Damon."
"Why would he be dodging you?"
"Because you probably spilled your guilty little guts out to him the minute we left last night." Damon said.
Buffy sighed and shook her head as Elena handed her her cell phone. "Sorry."
"I didn't tell him." Elena said.
"Why not?" Damon asked as Buffy dialed Stefan's number.
"Why would I tell him that I got high on blood like some crack head and then dirty danced with complete strangers? It was a mistake. I wasn't myself. And besides, he's already got enough to deal with trying to get me through this vampire stuff."
"Classic shame spiral. You called it, Buff."
Elena looked at Buffy. "I'm not in a shame spiral."
"Oh, you so are!" Damon said. "Newbie vampire remorse? It's worse than a hangover."
"I'm not in a shame spiral, Damon!"
Buffy handed Elena's phone back to her. "It went to voicemail. So he's either dodging all of us, or…."
"Now that I did call." Just then, all three of their cell phones went off. The messages all said the same thing: Hunter at Mystic Grill with hostages. They all die at sundown. It had come from Jeremy's phone. "Something tells me that wasn't from Jeremy."
"We have to go over there." Elena said.
"No. We need to make a plan. You call Stefan and leave him a voicemail. Tell him we're meeting at Tyler's house."
"Why Tyler's house?"
"Because he has an army at the moment and if need be, we can use it."
"What about your army?" Damon asked.
Buffy shook her head. "The Slayers are too far spread out. It would take too much time to get a good number of them here."
"We've got to do something!" Elena said.
"Thank you, Captain Obvious." Buffy said as she headed out the door. "We're going to form a plan." She dialed Tyler's number on the way out.
Damon, Buffy, Elena, Tyler, and Caroline were convened at the Lockwood house. Caroline was on the phone with her mother getting some help in blocking off the Grill. "So we each take a different entrance and hit him at the same time." Damon was saying just as Stefan walked in.
"Stefan!" Elena rushed over and wrapped her arms around him.
"Where have you' been?" Buffy asked.
"Coming up with a plan." Stefan said.
"Yeah?" Damon said. "We have a plan. Plan is I'm going to rip Connor's heart out and feed it to him."
"That's not a plan. We need to be careful. Connor has Jeremy and who knows how many other hostages."
"Hence the open heart surgery."
"Damon's right." Elena said. "Connor is strong but he's not going to be able take all of us."
"I called hybrids. They are up too." Tyler said.
Caroline walked back into the room. "My mom put squad cars blocking the streets. They're saying it's a faulty gas main. We're good to go."
"Good. Great." Damon said. "No cops, no witnesses, no reason to wait around."
"All right, hold on. We are not all going." Stefan said.
"He shot me like nine times." Tyler protested. "If we are killing him I want in."
"He's got Jeremy." Elena said. "I'm going."
"Listen, nobody is going anywhere until I figure out what we're walking into." Stefan said.
"Until you figure it out?" Damon asked. "Is that where you've been all morning? Out buying bossy pants?"
"This guy is known for setting traps, all right? We'll be pretty dumb to walk into him especially if has werewolf venom."
"Does he?" Elena asked.
"He's had it before."
"Fine." Buffy said. "You want to take some time to do recon? You get one hour. After that, we're going with our plan. But we do need some extra help. We need to try and get Willow and Bonnie here."
"Bonnie can't do magic." Caroline said.
"Really? Call her. Tell her Jeremy's life is in danger." Damon said. "Maybe that'll bring her out of retirement."
"We don't need her." Buffy said. "If we can get Willow back here, then we're good on the magic front. Damon, you and Elena are with me."
"Where are we going?" Elena asked.
"We're doing some recon of our very own."
Buffy stood in Alaric's apartment and stared out the window at the town square below. Stefan was out there walking around the Grill. He was on the phone at the moment, but she wasn't sure with whom yet. She blocked out Damon and Elena searching the apartment behind her and listened to Stefan's half of the conversation.
"Well you should. Damon does. So do Buffy, Caroline, Tyler, Elena…. If any of them get to Connor, then you just wasted a trip to Italy. I can buy us some time, but Buffy's getting antsy. So is Damon. So if you want Connor alive, you better get your hybrids on board with my plan."
Klaus. Stefan was talking to Klaus. Buffy shook her head. That didn't make any sense. And why was Klaus in Italy?
"Who was he talking to?" Elena asked, walking over to Buffy.
"Bonnie, hopefully." Damon said before Buffy could answer. "Maybe she decided to make herself useful again. I got it, babe." Damon held up the tunnel map and looked over to see that Buffy was gone. "Babe?"
"Where'd she go?" Elena asked. "I didn't even hear her leave."
"I hate it when she does that."
Buffy had gone out of Alaric's apartment and down to meet Stefan outside. She grabbed him before he could make it to the building and tossed him into the alley where she pinned him against the wall. "Why are you calling Klaus?"
"How did you…." Stefan started.
"You're seriously asking me that?" She rolled her eyes. "Why were you calling Klaus?"
"To let him know what's going on."
"You're trying to sabotage our rescue mission. Why?""I can't tell you."
"Oh? Well, you're going to."
"Klaus will kill us all."
"He can try. You forget that I'm Original strong and he's in love with me. Two very powerful things. So start talking or I knock you out and lock you in the police basement and go ahead with the plan."
Stefan sighed. "There might be a cure."
"Impossible. In all of Giles' books and Willow's books and everything we've gotten from the Watcher's Council, there is no mention of a cure. We would've found it by now."
"There's also no mention of The Five in any of those books."
Buffy paused and thought about it. Klaus had mentioned something called The Five before they'd blown up the hospital supply room. "Half point to you because there were a couple of mentions, but nothing informative. So, Connor is one of the Five, but what do they have to do with a cure for vampirism?"
"Connor's tattoo is the map to the cure."
Buffy shook her head. "Klaus told you this?" She laughed. "Stefan, this is Klaus we're talking about."
"He and Rebekah told a pretty convincing story."
"Klaus compelled you."
"I promise you, he didn't."
Buffy looked at Stefan for a moment and decided to switch topics. "Why is Klaus in Italy?"
"He's searching for a sword. Rebekah said it's the key to reading the map."
"You do realize how absurd this sounds?"
Buffy sighed and paced away a few steps. "So we have to keep that wannabe Slayer alive?"
"Damon won't listen. He wants him dead."
"Then we need to stop him."
"What is it with people stating the obvious today?" She shook her head. "Let's find out what's going on in the Grill and then we'll figure out what to do next." Buffy moved off and before Stefan could step out of the alley, she was back. "Jeremy, Matt, and that girl April are all in there."
"No." Buffy pulled out her cell phone and called Damon."Where did you go?" He asked as soon as he picked up the phone.
"To help Stefan. My hearing's better. I worked out that there are three hostages. Along with Jeremy, Matt, and April are in there."
"Those two idiots are like danger magnets." Damon snapped.
"We have to get them out of there." Elena said.
"Again with the obvious." Buffy shook her head. "Damon, the rules of the game have changed. We need a new plan."
"Buff, the plan is to kill him." Damon said.
"I know, but with Matt and April in there, things are more dangerous."
"You are incredibly fast, babe. Clock's ticking. When it hits zero, we're going in." Damon waved from the window and hung up.
"Did he just hang up on you?" Stefan asked.
"I'm gonna kick his ass." Buffy growled."Welcome to my world." Stefan glanced up at Alaric's loft windows. "We need to subdue him.""Stefan…."
"I know you don't like hurting him, but a little vervain and he's out cold. It buys us time." Buffy started to protest again. "I'll do it. He only needs to be mad at me."
"Then you have to do it alone. I'll stay down here."
"Has to stay up there with him."
"Got it." Stefan started to move off, but his phone rang.
Before he could answer it, though, Buffy had it out of his pocket and to her ear. "Hello, Klaus."
"Buffy! It's so lovely to hear your voice. But why are you answering Stefan's phone?""Why did you take a trip to Italy to dig up a sword that supposedly leads to a cure for vampirism?"
"I can't trust Stefan with secrets, now I may just have to kill him."
"Oh, he can keep a secret, but you forgot how good my hearing is."
"All right, I'll give you that."
"So, what are you planning?"
"I've sent one of my hybrids to go in and handle the situation. You just need to keep Damon out of the equation."
"Stefan is on it now." Stefan nodded and headed back towards the loft. Buffy tossed him her phone. "Get the maps from his phone and load them onto mine."
"Got it." Stefan headed into the building.
Buffy turned and looked at the Grill. "Do you honestly believe this cure exists?""Rebekah better hope it does." Klaus said.
He sighed. "I honestly don't know, love, but it never hurts to look."
"Yeah." Buffy hung up and looked at the Grill. Upstairs in Alaric's loft, Stefan and Damon were arguing. Then Elena and Stefan were arguing.
After a few more minutes, Stefan finally came out and joined Buffy on the street. "She's agreed to stay up there."
"I heard." Buffy said as he handed her phone back to her. "I also heard your plan."
"Well, I had hoped it was a Buffy worthy plan. Sounded like something you might do."
She brought the maps up on her phone. "Sounds like the exact plan I was going to suggest. We need to get some tools. Looks like we're busting through a wall into an old wine cellar."
Buffy and Stefan headed for the entrance to the tunnels that was deep in the woods. Stefan was carrying a pickaxe. He'd been filling her in on the information Klaus had given him about the Five. Buffy had found a couple of mentions of them in Giles' books, but they weren't substantial. Klaus's information filled a lot of gaps.
Buffy hit the send button on her phone and waited. Connor picked up the phone. "We're closed."
"From a real Vampire Slayer to a wannabe, this isn't how the job gets done." Buffy said. "So, I'm going to give you some advice that will do you a world of good: Free the hostages."
"Sure. I'll free them. As soon as you give me what I want. You and everyone like you dead."
"There's no one like me."
"You're a vampire."
"And you're an idiot. But I can help with that. I have some knowledge that you might be interested in."
"What you are. What that tattoo means once you're done growing it out. I'll even throw in a bonus track about the Brotherhood of the Five. But all that pretty knowledge stays in my head unless you free the hostages."
"That's a weak move. You must be desperate."
"Use your brain. Klaus needs you alive. Whenever I get put into a situation like that, my curiosity is off the charts. How about yours?" The line went dead. Buffy shrugged and put it back into her pocket. "I guess his philosophy is 'ignorance is bliss'."
"Did you really think that would work?" Stefan asked as they descended into the tunnels.
"No. But it was worth a shot." They moved through the tunnels towards the Grill and Buffy stopped Stefan. "Do you hear that?" There was a clanging up ahead like someone was trying to chisel through rock or brick. "I'll bet that's Matt." She moved off and by the time Stefan caught up to her, she'd already broken through the bricks and climbed up into the Grill just as an explosion went off. Klaus' hybrid must've set off a booby trap.
Matt and April were standing at the kitchen doors watching the main room. April turned around and started to scream at Buffy's sudden appearance, but Buffy clapped her hand over the girl's mouth. "Shh!" She turned and helped Stefan up through the hole.
Matt came over and hugged her. "I have never been so glad to see you guys."
"Yeah, still not 100 with you." Buffy said as she wriggled away. "Turn your Bluetooth on." Matt did as she said and Buffy sent him the picture of the tunnel map. "Climb down and follow that map. Then give her to Caroline so she can compel her."
"What?" April squeaked as Matt pulled her away.
"Buffy, that guy's armed. If you go out there, he's going to kill Jeremy." Matt said.
"Not on my watch."
"Go." Stefan said, herding Matt and April towards the hole.
Buffy inched out into the main room and peeked around the corner. Jeremy was standing near Connor as Connor watched his tattoo grow from the fresh hybrid kill. Connor looked over and spotted her. He grabbed Jeremy and started shooting. Buffy dove behind the bar just as Connor pushed Jeremy away.
"Would you chill out?" Buffy called. "I'm here to help you."
"Buffy…." Jeremy said. The fear in his voice and the beeping sound meant that Connor had shoved Jeremy onto a detonator.
"That's my kid you just put in danger!" Buffy growled. She looked out and saw Jeremy staring at her in fear. The detonator was attached to a jar with nails floating in what had to be werewolf venom. She closed her eyes and sighed.
Stefan was lurking in the doorway to the kitchen, just out of sight of the main room. If he stepped out, Connor would shoot him. Good for Buffy, bad for Stefan. She needed to get to Jeremy since she was the fastest. She could get him away from the blast before the trigger even realized he was gone. She was also fast enough that Connor wouldn't realize it either.
Buffy waved Stefan back. "Connor! Put your gun down. I told you that real Vampire Slayers don't use those."
"Too bad you're not a real Slayer."
"I told you there's no one like me. Yeah, I'm a vampire, but somehow, I'm also the Slayer. I can still feel the Slayer power in me."
"That's the vampire power in you."
"I also said you were an idiot and you just proved me right again. I'm stronger and faster than any other vampire out there. Including the Originals. It's because I'm part Slayer, part vampire. And I did that to protect my family." Connor didn't reply. "You want to know how to hunt vampires and grow that tattoo? I'll show you. I can make you better. I'll even show you the other species of vampire."
"The vampires don't have species."
"You're wrong there. How about demons? Does that tattoo work on killing demons?"
"Vampires are demons."
"Not all of them. And I was talking actual demons. You know, crazy skin, weird eyes, sometimes they even come with tentacles or horns…. Or bone knives that pop out of their forearms."
"Not a very good hunter if you don't know what's out there to be hunted. Don't you own books? Or a computer? Google Der Kindestod or Lurconis or a Thesulac demon. Seriously, there's so many of them. You could do a world of good taking those things out. Just put the gun down."
"Sure, I'll put the gun down as soon as you come out."
"If that's what it takes, then fine." Buffy started to stand up, but the side door suddenly burst open and Elena rushed in. Buffy and Stefan both sighed and rolled their eyes.
"Please!" Elena begged. "Don't hurt him."
Connor trained the gun on Jeremy. "You come any closer and he's dead."
"Elena, get out of here!" Jeremy said.
"He and Buffy are the only family I have left. Just let them go."
"You hear that? Your girl is watching. I will shoot the boy right in front of her." Connor yelled. "On the count of three. One! Two!" Stefan suddenly appeared in the main room, stepping out of his hiding place by the kitchen door. Connor trained the gun on him and Elena attacked. The gun went off and Buffy smelled Jeremy's blood on the air. She was grabbing him between one heartbeat and the next and disappearing with him behind the bar before the explosion went off. Stefan ducked back into the kitchen to avoid the venom soaked nails.
"Jeremy?" Elena called. Connor used the distraction and pinned Elena to the floor. She managed to stop the stake, but he was close to her heart.
Buffy grabbed Connor by the neck and tossed him away. "Stop trying to kill my family!" She hauled him up by his arms behind his back. "Elena, go to Jeremy." And with that, she was gone with Connor. Stefan followed her down into the tunnels.
"What now?" Stefan asked.
"We take him back to Klaus' place."
"Good work." Damon said, appearing in the tunnel ahead of them.
"It's over, Damon." Buffy said.
"I had to punch through a boiler room basement into a septic tank to get into this stupid tunnel…. Only to discover my brother and my fiancée have betrayed me!"
"Stop being dramatic."
"Oh no, dramatic is how I'm going to kill that hunter."
"You're not going to kill him. Nobody is."
"Give me one good reason."
"I'll explain it to you later."
"Not good enough." Damon grabbed Stefan and shoved him against the wall. He pushed his fingers into Stefan's chest and grabbed his brother's heart. "I think you should explain now!"
Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes. She turned Connor in the opposite direction, back towards the Grill. "Run. But just remember, I will catch you." Connor took off and Buffy turned back to Damon. "Let your brother go."
Buffy grabbed Damon's wrist and squeezed until it cracked. He let go of Stefan's heart and she pulled him away.
Damon looked at her in shock as he held his wrist. "You broke it."
"You were trying to kill your brother." She stepped towards him, but he backed away. It broke Buffy's heart to see him scared of her. She glanced at Stefan and sighed. "You can't kill the hunter because his tattoo is the key to a cure."
"A cure for what?" Damon asked.
"Being a vampire."
"Klaus told you there's a cure for vampirism?"
"Yes." Stefan said. "If Connor dies, then we'll lose it forever."
Buffy stepped towards Damon again, pleased that he didn't step away. "I know it sounds completely out of this world bonkers, but…. It's hope." She said. "Elena is suffering and I can't watch her go through it anymore. If there really is a cure, then I'm going to do whatever it takes to find it for her." Damon looked at her and nodded. "And for the record, I was not ok with Stefan vervaining you, but you are so stubborn!"
Damon smirked. "I thought you liked that."
"Not always." He moved towards her, but she held out her hand. "Uh…. Baby, you stink."
"I had to crawl through a septic tank because someone took my daylight ring." Damon said pointedly to Stefan."Sorry." Stefan handed the ring back to Damon. "I had to buy us time."
"Can we go find the hunter guy now?" Buffy asked. "I'd prefer it if he was locked up and not trying to kill us all."
"Sounds like a plan." Damon said.
They headed back through the tunnels with Buffy following Connor's scent. She began to panic, though, when Elena's scent showed up with the strong smell of blood and death right behind it. "Oh no." Buffy said. She rushed off towards the entrance, hopping over the small pool of blood on the ground. Damon and Stefan tried to keep up. At the entrance to the tunnel, Buffy listened hard. There was digging happening a little ways off and she followed the sound to where she found Elena digging a grave for the dead Connor. His throat was ripped out and his head was at an odd angle. Buffy closed her eyes. "Elena…."
Elena gasped and stopped digging. Her mouth was stained with blood. "I need to bury him. I killed him. I should…. I should bury him." She resumed digging and Buffy sighed.
Stefan walked over and went to touch her shoulder. "Elena…."
She jerked away from him. "Don't! Damon told me about your phone calls with Klaus. You said you were going to protect Jeremy! Keep me from this." She gestured at the dead Connor. "You said that I could trust you, Stefan."
"Elena, it's complicated." Buffy said.
"No, it's not complicated, Buffy! You wanna know why? Because he's dead now." Elena started to cry and looked at Damon. "You told me to kill him. So I did."
"I'm sorry." Damon said.
"I killed someone…. I killed someone…. I…. I killed…. I killed someone!" Elena started to sob and Buffy moved towards her. Elena tried to bat her away, but Buffy was too fast and too strong. She wrapped her arms around Elena and held her until she wrapped her arms around Buffy and sobbed into her shoulder.