The Next Chapter

Chapter 68

Chapter 68

Buffy sat at the kitchen table sipping her coffee and reading the morning newspaper. Both Jeremy and Damon were still asleep. Elena came bounding down the stairs with a bunch of magazines in her hand. She trotted over to Buffy and smiled brightly. "Good morning!"

"You're up early." Buffy said, looking up at Elena. "And you're very cheerful for someone who just broke up with her boyfriend."

Elena shrugged and sat down across from her. "I refuse to dwell on the negative."

"Thinking positive? Good direction. What are all those magazines?" Elena dumped the magazines on the table and Buffy choked on her coffee. They were all wedding magazines. "Elena…."

"I just thought we should start planning. I read that it takes at least a year to plan a good wedding and since you're going to be a Salvatore that means it's going to have to be kinda big and…. What?"

Buffy was staring at Elena patiently, but something in her expression stopped Elena. "Look, I know exactly what this is about."

"What?"

"You're trying to get your mind off everything. I get it. But planning my wedding to Damon is not the right way to go about it."

"Why not?"

"Because one: I'm not even sure we'll be getting hitched any time soon."

"Why?"

"We've got a lot on our plates right now. And two: The Miss Mystic Falls pageant is coming up. You should be focusing on that."

"I'm not in it this year."

"But you're helping Caroline with it. You promised her."

Elena sighed. "I was really looking forward to helping you plan your dress and your bridesmaids' dresses and your flowers and, well, everything."

Buffy smiled. "I'll worry about all that planning when there's no more crazy to deal with."

"Crazy doesn't die down around here!"

"I don't really want my wedding crashed by the hounds of hell or something equally as crazy. Fighting in a wedding dress has never been high on my priorities. It's bad enough in formal wear."

Elena sighed again and put her chin in her palms. "Fine. What are you wearing to the pageant?"

"I haven't decided. All of my fancy dresses are at the boarding house."

"Most of your clothes are at the boarding house."

"Well, I live in two different places."

Damon came into the kitchen and kissed Buffy's hair. "Good morning ladies." He spotted the magazines and smiled. "Oh, did you convince her to set a date?"

Buffy started to answer, but Elena butt in. "Not yet, but we should all sit down and work on it." She smiled brightly. "I bought all of these for your bride to be in the hopes that we could start planning soon."

"Good idea. I knew I liked you for a reason."

"I can't win." Buffy said.

"Nope." Elena said. She grabbed one of the magazines and flipped to a marked page. "What do you think of stargazer lilies?"

Damon sat down with his own cup of coffee and looked at the magazine. "That's a lot of pink."

"Buffy likes pink. Besides, they'll go with red roses. See?" She showed him the picture of the bouquet she'd marked while Buffy groaned and slammed her forehead on the table.

After Elena had left to go help Caroline with the pageant, Damon and Buffy had gone home to the boarding house to figure out what Buffy was going to wear the next day. They'd gotten tangled up in each other all morning and well into the afternoon after arguing about him influencing Elena to pressure Buffy about a wedding. Apparently he'd talked to Elena in the middle of the night while Buffy slept and expressed his desire to marry "the woman of his dreams".

While they were dressing after a shower, Stefan had come home. Now he walked down the stairs with a bag over his shoulder. Damon intercepted him on his way out. "Where have you been?"

"Ah, you know, out." Stefan said. Stefan walked past Damon and towards the front door, but Buffy was walking down the hallway from the kitchen.

"Hey! Where are you going?" She asked brightly.

"Out."

Buffy looked at Damon and he shrugged. "Ok, I see shady Stefan is back." Stefan stopped and realized he was between both of them. "Please don't tell me that you're still working with Klaus."

"You obviously haven't heard. Elena and I broke up."

"Oh. Well, yeah. We knew that." Buffy shrugged. "It's your fault, though." Stefan looked at her incredulously. "Well, it is…. Sort of…. But that's…. whatever. Listen, I need to catch you up on everything. So, apparently, if we want to find the cure, we have to find a vampire hunter who can kill enough vampires to reveal the map on the hunter's mark. I really don't want Jeremy to be the sequel to Connor, so we need to find a different hunter."

"Ok. And?"

"And we were gonna ask Professor Shane, but it turns out he's shadier than you are." Damon said. "Matt Donovan connected him and the Pastor through phone records. Apparently, the two were very chatty the day that the Pastor blew up the Council."

"Ah, so you two are gonna confront Shane, threaten him, possibly kill him, that sort of thing?"

"Yeah, unless he tells us what he's up to." Stefan started to leave again, but Damon stopped him. "Or we could just blow it off and go get drunk. Brother bond over some Tri Delts while Buffy takes care of the kids."

"Hey!" Buffy protested.

"I'm not interested. Have fun." Stefan ducked out of the house and Buffy and Damon exchanged looks.

"This stinks of Klaus." Buffy said.

"I agree." Damon nodded. "Maybe we should go talk to him."

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because he's not going to just spell his plans out for us. I had to threaten Stefan last time."

"So you want to threaten Stefan again? Cause I am definitely down for that plan."

"Actually, no. I figure their plan is to find a hunter of their very own. I want to talk to Willow about the shady professor. She knew he was shady before we did."

"She did mention that."

"And if we can get him to tell us where another hunter is before Stefan and Klaus pick one up, then yay for us."

"Call your BFF." Damon smirked and ushered her towards her the stairs.

Willow shook her head. "He refuses to leave me alone with his books. Bonnie won't even help me because I think she's got a bit of a crush on him. And now all he wants to talk about when I'm around is you."

"Me?" Buffy asked. She and Willow were at the Grill with Damon having dinner and drinks. Damon had gone to the bar to get their drinks refreshed. "Why me?"

"Because Damon mentioned you were a Slayer and then my big mouth mentioned that I helped you make thousands of Slayers around the world. Now he knows you're the Slayer because apparently he's been digging and he found stories on the internet about the collapse of Sunnydale. And he's smart, so two and two isn't a hard math problem for him…. Especially after we've given him big, honking, neon light clues."

"No, this is good."

"How is it good?"

"Because he's a fan."

"Who's a fan?" Damon asked, coming back and handing them their drinks."Shane."

"Oh yeah, he really did seem interested in getting your autograph the other day."

"Well, they say you should never meet your idols."

"Buff, he knows some serious witchcraft." Willow warned. "I'd tread lightly."

"Don't need to." Buffy said with a smile.

"Why?"

"Because you're coming to the pageant tomorrow. You're going to keep an eye on Shane and if he tries anything, you can shut him down with a wiggle of your witchy nose."

"I love your brain." Damon said, kissing the side of her head.

Willow shook her head. "Why would he even be there? It's a silly pageant."

"He's a judge. Elena texted me about it earlier."

The red headed witch sighed. "I have to get dressed up again, don't I?" Buffy nodded. "Fine. I'll go. How fancy dressed are we talking?"

April was preparing for the Miss Mystic Falls Pageant up in the room that Buffy had helped Elena get ready in. Elena and Caroline were with April helping her choose a dress. April held up two dresses, one red and one blue.

"Blue." Caroline and Elena both said.

"Really? The blue seems a little safe." April said.

"Safe is good when it comes to the judges." Elena said.

"She's right." Caroline said. "Gracie Lockwood had a three foot slit her year and practically got laughed off the court." Elena smiled and laughed just as Buffy and Damon walked into the room.

"She got my vote." Damon said.

"Pig." Buffy retorted.

Caroline threw a black pair of balled up pantyhose at Damon. It hit him in the chest as she said, "Get out, lurker!"

"Ouch." Damon said sarcastically. "Where's Professor Shane?"

"Check the judges' table." Caroline pulled Buffy into the room and started to close the door on Damon, but he put his hand up and pushed it back open.

"Red one, definitely." Damon said.

"We've already agreed that the red one is a little bit too showy." Caroline said.

"It's a pageant. That's the whole point."

Caroline looked at Damon and placed her hands on her hips. "Did you win Miss Mystic last year? No. I don't think you did."

"Neither did Elena and she wore blue."

"Damon!" Buffy glared at her fiancé.

"Nobody cares what you think." Caroline said.

"I care." April said.

"See? April cares." Damon said. "Red, right, Elena?"

"The red is pretty." Elena agreed. Caroline's face fell and Damon smirked.

"And my work here is done. I'll meet you downstairs, Buffy." Damon walked out of the room.

Caroline looked back at Elena. "Uh, what happened to thirty seconds ago when you hated the red one? What happened to safe is good?"

Elena looked at her with a glazed look over her eyes. She shook her head and turned back to April. "Whichever one you want to wear, April." She walked out of the room and Caroline and Buffy watched her leave.

"What just happened?" Caroline asked.

"I'm sort of wondering that myself." Buffy said.

"Buffy, which dress do you think?" April asked.

"Uh…. The blue is pretty, but I agree with Damon. The red will get you noticed. And yes, Caroline, I've been in a pageant or two and I know what I'm talking about."

"Whatever. Listen, I need to talk to you." Caroline grabbed Buffy's hand and pulled her out of the room and across the hall into another room. She made sure there was no one there and shut the door. "Have you noticed that Elena has been strange lately?"

"Well, yeah…." Buffy started.

"I don't just mean the vampire thing. I mean…. Haven't you noticed the way she's been looking at Damon?"

"Not really."

"She told me that one of the reasons she broke up with Stefan is because she was starting to feel something for Damon. I know you're not threatened by her or anything, but…. That's weird, right?"

"Really weird, actually. Why didn't she tell me?"

"She's been scared of how you'll react."

"Does Damon know?"

"No. I don't think he does. He would mention that to you, wouldn't he?"

"Yeah. He definitely would." Buffy shook her head. "I don't understand…. Feelings are amplified after you're turned, so that means she's had feelings for Damon all along?"

"Actually…. She met Damon before she met Stefan. Damon compelled her to forget because that was before he met you and became sort of nice and slightly bearable. She told me all about it yesterday while we were setting up."

"Damon's never mentioned it to me. What exactly happened between them?""They flirted. It was before Elena's parents died and she was a really different girl back then. She would've done some serious flirting with a hot stranger like Damon. I guess when she started the transition and she started getting her compelled memories back…. Those flirty feelings came back and, well…. Amplified."

"Did she tell Stefan any of this?"

"Yes. I told her she shouldn't have, but the damage was done. Stefan's really torn up about it."

"Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"I'm telling you!"

Buffy sighed. "Thank you. I appreciate the head's up."

"What will you do?"

"I don't know. Talk to Damon about it first, I guess. See if he knows anything about it." Buffy sighed again and looked at the ceiling. "As if I don't have enough to deal with."

"I'm really sorry. I just thought you should know."

"It's ok. I'm glad you told me."

"Oh, and while we're sharing…. Klaus is here."

"What? Why?"

"To see you! He is completely obsessed with you."

Buffy groaned and walked out of the room. "Good luck, April." She called as she headed for the stairs. Damon was waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

He smiled and met her half way. "Still not proper for a lady to walk down the stairs unaccompanied in a dress like that." Buffy was wearing an oxblood colored, lace, boat neck, long sleeved, mini dress that exposed her entire back and showed off her legs. The black, platform heels made her legs look longer than they really were. Her long hair was pinned up in a retro hairstyle with the left half of her hair pinned back and the rest flowing in long finger waves.

"You're hopeless."

"So what were you doing up there?"

"Talking with Caroline."

"What did Vampire Barbie have to say?" Damon stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to face her. "Anything interesting?"

"Actually, yes."

Professor Shane walked by just then, but stopped when he saw Damon. "Damon Salvatore. Looks like we travel in the same circuit."

"Professor Shane. Just the guy I wanted to see." Damon said, looking annoyed at the intrusion.

Shane looked at Buffy. "Hi, I'm Shane."

"Buffy." Buffy said. "Damon and Willow have told me about you."

Shane's face lit up like it was Christmas morning when he realized who she was. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Willow and Damon have told me a lot about you."

"Not too much, I hope."

"All good things."

"Well, I hate to cut this meeting short, but I promised Caroline I would help her keep an eye on things outside while she helped April." Buffy looked at Damon and then headed outside. She stood on the green among the tables and listened to Damon and Shane's conversation.

"So, I'm in search of another hunter." Damon was saying.

"Hunter?" Shane asked. "With a capital H? Why?"

"Same reason anyone needs a hunter. Loneliness, drinking buddy, or for golf."

"I thought you said you already had a potential."

"I did, but he ended up being a potential problem."

"There's nothing I can do to help you."

"Hmm, why don't you help me with this…." Damon stopped and faced Shane. "Why are you here? What's in your little lesson plan there, Professor?"

"You think too highly of me, Damon. I'm gonna go find the other judges." Shane started to walk off, but Damon stopped him.

"Hey, no pity votes for April Young, ok? I mean, just because her dad blew up a house with a dozen people in it doesn't mean she should get a tiara. But you knew him, didn't you? Because I hear you two racked up a pretty impressive phone bill.""If you want to know something about me, Damon, just ask."

"Ok. How did you convince the Pastor to kill all those people?"

"Did you just accuse me of mass murder in the middle of a high school pageant?"

"Where's your date, love?"

Buffy looked over to see Klaus standing next to her. "He's around. I'm helping Caroline."

"You look ravishing in that dress."

Just then, Willow walked up and gave a death glare to Klaus. "Still bothering Buffy, Klaus? Shouldn't you have found somebody else by now?"

"There won't be anybody else. She'll come to her senses one day." Klaus took Buffy's hand and kissed her knuckles before walking away.

"You just scared off an Original, Wills." Buffy said. "You're getting pretty scary."

Carol Lockwood took the stage to begin introducing the pageant. "Welcome to this season's Miss Mystic Falls." Everyone clapped as Damon and Shane stared each other down. Shane finally walked away and Damon watched him walk off. "We are so excited to showcase our most outstanding community leaders in the making."

"He's not that bad." Buffy said quietly.

"What?" Willow asked.

"Klaus. He's not that bad…. Once you get to know him."

"Oh, no…. Please tell me you're not thinking of…."

"No! I'm not. I'm just saying. He's a jerk, yeah, but he's not that bad. Deep down."

"I think you need to get your head checked." Willow shook her head and walked off to go find Shane.

Caroline was onstage now and was about to introduce the contestants. "Hi, everyone, I'm Caroline Forbes. As the reigning Miss Mystic Falls, it is my honor to introduce this year's Miss Mystic Court." Everyone clapped for the girls. Buffy noticed Elena standing closer to the stairs, but she wasn't paying attention to Caroline. She was looking across the lawn at Damon. Music started playing for the introduction of the girls. "We begin the procession with Valerie Fell accompanied by Dylan Clark." There was a round of applause for Valerie as she walked down the stone steps. "Next, we have Amber Wolvertine accompanied by Hector Lindsay." Another round of applause was given for Amber.

"Have you seen Jeremy?" Matt asked, walking up to Buffy.

"He's probably with the escorts." Buffy said. She looked over to where the escorts were, but she couldn't see him.

"Yeah, Caroline told me to wrangle the escorts, he's not here. Did he tell you about his nightmares?"

"What nightmares?"

"The ones where he kills you and Elena."

Buffy looked at Matt in surprise. "Does Elena know about them?"

"I don't think so."

"Katherine Wilson accompanied by Eric Hanson." Caroline announced.

"I'll find him," Buffy said. "But…." April started to descend the stairs. "April's about to get abandoned."

"I got this."

"Ok."

Matt walked away as Caroline said, "And finally, we have a last minute entry, April Young accompanied by Jeremy Gilbert." April continued to walk down the steps but stopped and looked around for Jeremy. Caroline also looked around for Jeremy but kept a large smile on her face. Elena looked over at Buffy finally, but Buffy was melting back into the crowd. Matt walked up to where the escorts were lined up and held out his arm for April. Everyone applauded and April breathed a sigh of relief. She walked down the remainder of the stairs with a smile and took Matt's arm.

Buffy made her way over to Damon as the girls and their escorts began their dance. Damon watched them for a moment then looked over at Buffy. Caroline quickly walked down the steps and over to Buffy, who was getting on her phone as she made her way towards Damon. "Hey, what's with the last minute escort change? Where is Jeremy?"

"I'm calling him right now." Buffy said.

Elena caught up to them just as they made it to Damon. "What's going on?"

"He's not picking up."

"Who?"

"Your brother. He's missing."

"Do the math." Damon said. "Emo teen, open bar, it's fine."

"Matt said that Jeremy's been having nightmares about killing vampires and he's been hiding it from me."

"Relax, I'm sure he's fine."

"I have a bad feeling, Damon."

"If I'm not worried, you shouldn't be worried."

"Remember that whole 'I have a bad feeling and you need to trust it' thing? This is one of those."

Damon sighed. "Ok. I'll go look for him."

"Thank you." Buffy kissed him quickly before he ran off.

"What do I do?" Elena asked.

"You go home. Caroline and I will start asking around here."

"Maybe Damon's right. Maybe he grabbed a bottle from the bar and snuck off to the woods."

"No, Damon is never right." Caroline said. "Damon is sneaky and manipulative and rude, but he's never right. How can you not see that?"

"Uh, hey!" Buffy objected.

"I don't know, but why do I think that you won't hesitate to tell me?" Elena said, ignoring Buffy.

"Fine, friend-tervention. I think your so called 'feelings' for Damon are really starting to cloud your judgment and I don't like it." Caroline said. "And neither does Buffy!"

Elena looked at Buffy with wide, panicked eyes. "I…. Uh…."

"She told me." Buffy said. "I didn't say the cloudy judgment thing, though, since I only just found out. But you could have told me yourself."

"It's not like I'm in love with him or anything, but…. He…. I…."

"You don't even stand a chance!" Caroline said.

"Caroline, calm down." Buffy said.

"And this is why I didn't want to tell Buffy because now she thinks I'm trying to steal her fiancé." Elena said.

"I don't…."

"Well, the thought of you two together really makes us both want to barf." Caroline said.

"No…."

Klaus noticed Buffy's rising panic at the situation and made his way over. "Easy, Caroline, you're making a scene." He said.

"Wow, Caroline, thank you for making this very difficult time so much easier." Elena said before walking away.

Caroline stood there with a blank look on her face. "How did I become the bad guy?" She marched off in the opposite direction and left Buffy standing with Klaus.

Klaus moved from standing next to her to standing in front of her. "Let's get you a drink. You look like you could use one." He led them inside to get a bottle of champagne and two glasses as Buffy told him what had just happened. They were walking around the pond by the time she finished. "So, being a vampire's changed her?" Klaus asked.

"But being a vampire only amplifies who you already are. It doesn't turn you into a completely different person."

"It's very peculiar." Klaus smirked and Buffy knew that look. It meant he knew something she didn't.

"What am I missing?""It'll all make sense eventually."

Buffy sighed. "I hate cryptic."

"You're a smart girl. It won't take you long to figure it out."

Buffy sat down on a stone bench. "We just need to find the cure for her and this will all go away."

Klaus placed the champagne down next to her. "I'm working on it." He sat down next to her and started to open the champagne bottle.

She watched him for a moment as he poured the liquid into the glasses. "Would you ever take it?"

"Now, why would I want to cure myself of being the most powerful creature on the planet? Hmm?"

"So there's not one single moment in your whole life that you wanted to be human?"

"How about you?"

"Sure. Lots of times."

"Why?"

"Because I hated being the Slayer. It ruined my life. I lost friends. At first it was just because they didn't like who I'd become, then death started taking them away. I lost the first man I ever loved and I ended up having to send him to hell. I had a boyfriend that tried to compete with me. He ended up letting vampire whores suck his blood because he wanted to know what I felt when I let Angel bite me. He wanted to…. Understand me. My little sister was the target of an angry hell god bent on killing her. And every night was a life or death battle that I never knew if I was going to win or lose."

"And now?"

"Now…." She looked across the yard for her friends or Damon, but they weren't there. Off trying to find Jeremy she hoped. Klaus patiently waited for her. She finally looked back at him. "Now I wouldn't trade any of it in. I like who I've become."

"You should. You're amazing." He handed her one of the glasses and sipped at his.

"Your turn."

"My turn?"

"To answer my question."

He looked at her for a long moment, holding her inquisitive gaze. To his amazement, he realized that she really did want to know. That she really was interested in his answer. "Once…. I was on a trek in the Andes and a hummingbird flew up to me. It just hovered there, staring at me, its tiny heart was pattering like a machine gun. And I thought, what a thing, you know, to have to work that hard every day just to stay alive. To be constantly on the verge of death and how satisfying every day must be that it survived. And that was the only time I thought about being human."

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Being honest with me."

"You're welcome."

"Jeremy…." Buffy noticed him come out of the house with a determined look on his face. He made his way through the maze of tables, but April intercepted him.

"Hey, where have you been?" April asked.

"Hey, sorry…. I, um, I got stuck at work." Jeremy said.

"Jeremy, if you were too chicken to do the dance thingie then you should have just told me."

"No, no, I knew the dance. I watched some lesson online like a hundred times."

"You did?"

Jeremy saw Professor Shane get up from a table. "Hey, what's that Shane guy doing here?"

April turned and looked at him. Shane waved at her and she waved back. "He's a judge. I talked to him about my dad. I mean, he said that he had never seemed depressed or suicidal or anything, so…."

Jeremy spotted Elena across the lawn talking to a girl. Buffy didn't like the look she saw on his face as he continued to stare at his sister. "Your dad?" Jeremy asked distractedly.

"Yeah, um, you know, I figured I'd explore every possibility, even the bleak ones. What are you looking at?" She turned around to see what Jeremy was staring at.

Jeremy looked down at her as she looked back at him. "Your dad was doing the right thing for this town. The whole Council was. They died heroes." He pushed past her and headed towards Elena.

"Not good." Buffy said. She headed towards Jeremy as Caroline, Elena, and Carol took the stage.

"And now, the moment you've been waiting for." Carol announced as the girls lined up. "Caroline, would you do the honors?"

Caroline walked to the microphone as Elena stood behind her with the tiara and sash. "This year's Miss Mystic Falls is…." Caroline opened the envelope. "April Young." Everyone in the crowd applauded as April smiled and looked as if she was about to cry.

Jeremy changed course and headed inside the house. Buffy glanced at the stage where Caroline was taking the tiara off the cushion Elena was holding. Elena looked out into the crowd, but Buffy and Jeremy were already inside the house. When Buffy found him, Jeremy was sitting in an empty room. He placed one of the stakes against his palm and pushed on it until he began to bleed.

"Where have you been?" Buffy demanded.

Jeremy stood up. "Connor was right. All I can think about is killing vampires."

"You're nothing like Connor."

"I want to believe that. And I know I don't want to hurt you, but everything inside of me is telling me to drive this stake through your heart."

"That would be the hunter thing, then. No wonder Connor was a psycho."

"And you're a vampire."

"Yeah, but I'm also a Slayer."

"You're a vampire."

"Whatever. Drop the stake, Jeremy." Buffy grabbed Jeremy's hand and noticed that he was bleeding. "Really? Trying to trap me?"

"It was for Elena."

"Well, she's not here, so you'll have to deal with me." Jeremy tried to lunge at Buffy, but she easily held him at bay. "Stop it." He lunged again. "I don't want to hurt you." He activated a wrist launched stake and managed to stab her through her forearm with it. She knocked him backwards and went to rip the stake out of her arm.

Jeremy kneeled down to pick up his stake, Matt walked into the room. "Jeremy!"

"Get out of here, Matt." Jeremy said.

"Jeremy, you don't want to do this, ok. That's Buffy! It's that stupid mark on your arm."

"Shut up, Matt!"

"Jeremy, look at me! I'm human and I'm telling you not to hurt her."

Suddenly, Stefan rushed into the room, grabbed Jeremy, and held him against the wall. "Get him out of here, Matt!" Stefan pushed Jeremy towards Matt and Matt grabbed him, rushing out.

"This is your doing, isn't it?" Buffy said, crossing her arms and glaring at Stefan.

"I'm starting to think that when a Hunter kills a vampire, the urge to keep killing gets stronger."

"Jeremy's been with you this entire time, hasn't he?"

"Yes."

"Tell me that you haven't been making him kill vampires, Stefan."

"We need the map to get the cure."

"If getting my humanity back means stripping Jeremy of his, then I don't want the cure." Elena said from the doorway. Damon had heard the commotion and gone to get her. He stood just behind her, looking at Buffy's bloody arm.

"He's the only way to fix all of this." Stefan said to Elena.

"You mean me. The only way to fix me. You don't have to love me like this. This is who I am now. The old Elena died when she went off that bridge. Let her go." Elena turned and walked away. Stefan looked at Buffy, knowing that she was going to hurt him if he stayed, and ran out after Elena.

Damon walked over to Buffy. "Are you ok?" He inspected her arm, but it was already healed.

"I'm fine." Buffy said. "Where have you been?"

"Having a little talk with Shane. He told me something interesting."

"What's that?"

"The cure is sealed by magic. The only person who can break the seal is a Bennett witch."

"Of course it is." Buffy rolled her eyes. "Why does she always have to be the answer to magical stuff in this town? Why can't it be Willow? I'll even take the psycho Amy Madison over Bonnie!"

Willow walked in just then. "What about Amy?"

"Even if we find the cure for Elena, we need Bonnie to open the seal on it." Damon said.

"No wonder you'd would take Amy. Bonnie's useless. I'm getting frustrated trying to help her. Honestly, I'm thinking about calling the coven that Giles sent me to. They'd probably do more good than Shane."

Buffy sighed. "I just want to take a vacation far, far away from all of this."

Damon smirked. "It's called a honeymoon."

Willow laughed and Buffy shook her head. "I need to talk to Elena and Matt." She moved off to find the two teenagers.

Damon opened the front door and found Elena waiting outside holding her luggage. She walked in the house and Stefan walked out of the parlor. They looked at each other for a long moment. Buffy took Damon's hand and pulled him away.

"I can't stay at home anymore." Elena explained as Buffy and Damon headed upstairs.

"Pick a room. I'll crash somewhere else." Stefan said. The front door shut and Buffy assumed Stefan had left. Elena made her way up the stairs and past Damon and Buffy's room.

"Are you ok?" Damon asked, watching Buffy's worried face.

"So, I've been meaning to talk to you all day…. About Elena." Buffy turned to look at him. "Did she tell you one of the reasons that she broke up with Stefan?"

"No. When I talked to her the other night, she asked how the wedding planning was going since you won't discuss it and I told her I wish it was going, but you're slightly opposed to it."

"I'm not opposed to it, I just don't want to add the stress of planning a wedding to a Founding Family member to everything else that we've got to deal with." Buffy waved her hand, swiping away that branch of conversation. "What else did you talk about?"

"Nothing. Just the wedding and that I wanted it to happen and I wished someone would knock some sense into you that crazy in this town doesn't go away."

"What?"

"Crazy doesn't die down around here."

"Elena said that earlier."

"Well, it's true."

"No…. She said the exact same thing."

"She was just repeating what I said." Damon shrugged, but Buffy's worried face didn't dissipate. It only deepened. "What are you thinking about?"

"She's acting like…." She placed her palm against her forehead and shook her head. "He said I would figure it out. This is what he was talking about."

"What are you talking about? And who's 'he'?"

Buffy started to pace and talk to herself. "Every time Elena's had a problem, you've been the magic solution. Today, Elena was worried about Jeremy and you told her to relax and she listened. When Elena started feeding, you said that she could only drink blood straight from the vein. When she tried to drink from animals, she couldn't keep it down. And blood bags…. There's not one vampire in the history of vampires who couldn't drink blood from a blood bag. Not even the other kind of vampire."

"Babe, I don't understand."

Buffy stopped pacing and looked at Damon. "You said she couldn't, so she couldn't. You like the red dress, Elena likes the red dress. You said to kill Connor and she killed Connor."

"Are you saying…."

"What if it's possible? Your blood made her a vampire. I mean, it's rare, but it happens."

"She can't be sired to me."

"What if she is?"

"She can't be."

"One of the reasons she broke up with Stefan is because she has feelings for you."

Damon blinked. "What?"

"Caroline said that you and Elena flirted when you first met her. She said that Elena remembers that meeting now and when you become a vampire, feelings get magnified. Honestly I don't think a simple flirtation would actually result in feelings strong enough to break up Stefan and Elena, but being sired…. That's a whole different story."

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