The Next Chapter

Chapter 72

Chapter 72

Music was playing and dead bodies were lying all around the bar. Klaus had told Buffy and Damon where to meet him. He'd already taken it upon himself to start turning the town. Jeremy, Matt, Buffy, and Damon walked in and Jeremy and Matt gawked at all the bodies. Klaus was sitting at the bar pouring himself a drink.

"I was beginning to worry you boys wouldn't find the place." Klaus looked at Buffy. "And lady."

"What the hell?" Jeremy asked.

"Did you kill all these people?" Matt asked.

"Not exactly." Klaus stood up. "They're in transition. Killing them is your job." He pointed at Jeremy.

"You said you were going to convince Klaus to do this another way!" Jeremy accused, looking at Buffy and Damon.

"Well, we thought about it, and then we realized: his idea was better." Damon said. Klaus smiled and Jeremy stared at Damon in disbelief.

Buffy started to say something, but one of the bodies on the bar started to move. "Crap." She turned to Jeremy. "Look, we need vampires that we know will grow your mark."

"No way. I'm not doing this." Jeremy said.

"What makes you think you have a choice?" Klaus asked.

"Jer, you have to kill vampires to complete the hunter's mark so we can get this cure for Elena. She needs it. You're in a bar full of…. Well, almost vampires. It's time to get your hunt on."

"You said I wouldn't have to kill any innocent people." Jeremy yelled.

Buffy closed her eyes and sighed. "I know. But I got a phone call from Elena earlier this evening and…. We need this to happen sooner rather than later."

"Buffy…."

"I'm going to be right here beside you, ok? You're not in this alone."

"They're innocent people, Buffy."

"They're not people anymore."

"Enough!" Klaus shouted. "Have at it or else."

"I don't take orders from you, dick." Jeremy dropped the stake he was holding and stepped away from Buffy. "Hunters can't be compelled."

Klaus laughed and walked up to Jeremy. Buffy moved to stand beside him, glaring at Klaus. He stopped and looked at Jeremy. "You're right. I can't compel you. But if your conscious is getting in the way, then, allow me to make this easy for you. Because, I can compel them." He gestured at the vampires in transition as a compelled woman walked around feeding them her blood. "I'm going to give you a two minute head start. Then, I'm going to send every vampire in here after you. You kill them or they kill your friend Matt."

"Oh, wait a second!" Matt protested.

"No, no!" Damon protested. "You turn them, he kills them. That was the deal, Klaus."

"I'm taking artistic license." Klaus said.

"You know he can't take them all at the same time." Buffy said.

"With the greatest Vampire Slayer to ever walk this earth as his coach, he'll be fine. It's Matt I'm worried about."

"Damn you, Klaus." She turned to Jeremy. "Go get the weapons out of the car. Damon and I will be right behind you." Jeremy ran out of the bar. "Both of you." Matt followed Jeremy.

"If I hear an engine start, I'll kill Matt myself!" Klaus called.

Buffy turned to Klaus and decked him hard, knocking him to the ground. "My kid. My rules. Stop putting him in danger!"

"I wouldn't have to if you would do your job and grow that mark!"

"I am doing my job as his legal guardian by protecting him and teaching him the right way to kill vampires. This little set up you've created is the complete opposite!" She turned and stormed out after Jeremy and Matt.

Damon smirked at Klaus. "Defriended." He followed Buffy outside and found her grabbing two stakes.

She handed him one. "Go after the boys. I sent them through the woods back towards the cabin."

"What are you gonna do?"

"Be a Vampire Slayer." She twirled the stake in her hand and smirked.

Vampires started to pour out of the bar and Damon headed after Matt and Jeremy. Buffy waded in and used her heightened abilities to disable the ones unlucky enough to be near her. A few managed to get past her and into the woods, but she trusted Damon to take care of them.

Klaus came out and grabbed her arm, hauling her out of the fight. "What are you doing?" He demanded, gesturing at the five dead vampires on the ground.

"What's it look like?"

"Those are for Jeremy."

"I've just made his odds a little better." She glanced after the vampires running after Jeremy and Matt. "Let me go."

"No. You're not supposed to kill them, Buffy. Jeremy is. Don't ruin this."

"This cure is important, but I will not allow you or anyone else to harm those kids. And you know I can stop you."

Klaus glared at her for a moment longer, but sighed and held his hands up in surrender. "I'll call them off Matt and back here. They'll be waiting for Jeremy in the bar."

"Thank you."

"I wouldn't do it for anyone else." He headed into the woods, leaving Buffy standing by her car.

Buffy glanced around and then got in her car and headed back to the lake house. Jeremy, an injured Matt, Damon, Willow, and Elena were all in the house. She parked the car and got out, looking around for any stray vampires. Klaus had managed to get them all before they attacked the house.

"Buffy!" Damon opened the door and she walked in. "Are you ok?"

"Klaus called them off." Buffy said, shutting the door and locking it. "Just in case."

"I put up a protection spell." Willow said. "No vampires in or out with the exception of you, Elena, and Damon."

"Thanks." Buffy hugged Willow quickly and then walked over to Matt. "Are you ok?" She inspected his neck.

"I'll be ok." Matt said.

"What is going on, Buffy?" Elena asked.

"When did you and Willow get here?" Buffy asked, grabbing the first aid kit.

"Don't change the subject."

"Klaus, Damon, and Buffy made a deal to have Klaus make vampires for me to kill." Jeremy said. "But in true Klaus form, he changed it up and compelled them to go after Matt to force me to kill them."

"You didn't kill any." Damon said. "Buffy did all the work."

"What the hell were you thinking?" Elena snapped. "All I wanted you guys to do was to teach him how to fight."

"He's not the best student in the world."

"Wait. Now, this is my fault?" Jeremy asked.

"Stop talking."

"Elena," Buffy sighed and paused in her cleaning Matt's wound. "I know you're angry, but this way was the easiest, fastest, and safest way to complete his mark to get you the cure."

"I don't care about the cure, Buffy." Elena said. "Not if it means putting the people that I love in danger."

"Hey, there would of been no danger if he hadn't gone all bleeding heart." Damon said.

"He killed someone. These were innocent people."

"The mark grew, didn't it?"

"Ok, look, we just need a plan." Buffy said. "There's a group of compelled vampires hanging out at the bar in town. The sun is about to come up, so they'll have no way to escape. Jeremy, Damon, and I can head down there and take them out."

"Just line them up for the slaughter?" Elena gasped.

"That was the plan." Buffy put the gauze on Matt's neck and taped it off. "Elena, I know it's tragic. I get it. We also agreed that he had to kill them. So you get to take Matt home and Jeremy, Damon, and I will finish this."

"Are saying I should leave him here?"

"Yes. He will be safe. I promise. Completely controlled slayage. Ok?"

"I don't like this."

"Yeah? Who does?" Buffy shook her head and headed back to her room.

Willow glanced at Damon and followed her best friend. "Is everything ok?" She asked, shutting the door behind her.

Buffy was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling. "I don't feel guilty, Wills."

"What do you mean?""About letting Klaus turn those people. I don't feel bad about it. Hell, I would've done it myself."

"Are you planning on going on a massacre soon?"

"Not that I know of."

"Then you're fine."

"I should feel guilty about those people. I signed their death warrants."

Willow shrugged. "I'm not gonna lie. It is kinda messed up." Buffy snorted. "But you do know that Klaus would've done it anyway, right? Whether you asked him to or not. He turned that pizza girl without you telling him to."

"Yeah."

"Buff, I get it. You're not human anymore. You haven't been for a long time. I think it's my fault."

"What?" Buffy sat up and looked at Willow.

"When I brought you back…. And it went wrong, but you still came back…. You weren't the same. You were different. Not in a bad way. But you just weren't you. You were harder and less forgiving than you used to be. I just wrote it off as being disoriented and angry about coming back from heaven…. But I think it wasn't that."

"Spike did say I came back wrong."

"You're not evil. Not by a long shot. You're just…. Not human. And I'm floating in the same boat. Ever since I did that spell to change all the Slayers, I've been…. More.""You haven't aged."

"I noticed." Willow shrugged. "I kind of always knew that we would end up like this one day. I knew the witchcraft would do something to me. I just always thought it would kill me, honestly. Especially after what happened when Tara died."

"I'm glad it didn't. I'm glad you're here and I won't lose you, too. I'm tired of losing people I love."

"I am too." Willow smiled and took Buffy's hand. "We'll get through all of this and on the way, I think we'll figure out where our lives are heading."

"I can only hope for the good." Buffy said.

"Do you really think they're at the bar?" Jeremy asked as he, Buffy, and Damon got out of the car.

Damon opened the trunk as Buffy said, "Klaus promised."

"Yeah, cause that's always reliable."

"Look, where else are they gonna go anyway?" Damon asked, pulling out weapons and handing them out. "It's all cabins and vacation homes. They can't get in anywhere."

"Fine. Let's get this over with." Jeremy locked the crossbow into place

"Listen, just go one at a time." Buffy said. "Only shoot for the heart. Don't hesitate and don't miss."

"I got it."

Buffy eyed the crossbow. "Maybe I should've given you a sword."

"You still could."

She shook her head after a moment. "No. Distance is good." Jeremy sighed and headed for the bar. Buffy and Damon followed him in. Music was playing on the jukebox in the corner, but other than that it was deathly quiet. They walked in cautiously, Buffy taking the lead. A giant blood smear covered part of the floor. "Something's not right." She glanced at Damon and then followed the trail of blood to the back storage room. They were greeted by a giant pile of vampire corpses in the corner.

"Looks like we're going to have to find some new vampires to waste." Damon said.

"What the hell happened?" Jeremy asked.

"I confess." They turned around to see that Kol had entered the room. "I did it."

"Kol?"

"Jeremy, good to see you, mate. Sorry about the mess. Ugh, it was a little crowded when I arrived, and I prefer more intimate gatherings. We four need to have a little chat." Kol took a sip of alcohol. "Care for a drink?"

"He's underage and I don't like you, so let's just cut to it." Buffy said, moving Jeremy behind her.

"You know, my brother bragged about his plan to complete Jeremy's hunter's mark. It's easy enough to track this lot down. They were all hiding in the shadows. Now, killing young vampires is easy…. Or old ones, for that matter."

"Why? What's it to you?"

"Because you fools in your zeal to find the cure, you risk waking somebody very dangerous."

"Oh…. You must be talking about Silas." Damon said.

"What do you know of him?"

"Nothing. I don't want to. Not our problem."

"Isn't it? A few hundred years back, I came across a group that worshipped Silas. His followers told me that he would rise again, and when he did, he would trigger the end of all time. You know, being an immortal, you can see why I'm opposed to time's ending. So I murdered all of them. And now, here you are willing to risk raising him in your search for the cure. I can't exactly sit back and let that happen, can I?"

"We're not going to back off the cure because you were told one too many scary bedtime stories." Buffy said.

"Jeremy, we were mates in New York. You're a smart lad. Would you call off this imbecilic treasure hunt?"

Jeremy held up the crossbow. "I'm not calling anything off, mate."

"I could kill you. But then, I'd have to deal with the hunter's curse. And I…. I don't particularly feel like being haunted for the next century. Better idea. I'll just rip off your arms." Kol rushed at Jeremy, but Damon rammed Kol into the wall.

"Buffy, Jeremy, run!" Damon yelled.

Buffy grabbed Jeremy and hauled him out with her super speed. She got him to the car and shoved him in, handing him the keys. "Go home."

"But…." Jeremy started."Go!" Buffy ran back into the bar, but Damon and Kol were gone. She did a perimeter search, but they were just gone. She punched the wall beside her and left a gaping hole before yanking out her cell phone.

"Did Jeremy kill all the little vampires, love?" Klaus answered.

"No. Your little brother did."

"What? Kol?"

"Yes. And he took Damon. Where are you?"

"I'm at my house."

"I'm on my way." Buffy hung up and took off running. She was at Klaus's door in less than half an hour. He opened the door and she pushed past him. "This is your fault, you know."

"Come in."

"You started this when you forced Jeremy to kill those vampires."

"And now my little brat of a brother has gone and made things worse. Well, he never did like Damon. I suppose I should do something, shouldn't I?"

"Call him off, Klaus."

"You are in no position to make demands, love."

Buffy shoved Klaus to the ground and pinned him there by his throat. "How about now?"

"I do love this position." He smirked and bucked his hips against her. She shook her head at him and moved away, sitting against a wall. Klaus sat up and smiled. "Whilst I'd like to cure your daughter to make more hybrids, I do have other reasons for finding the cure. Not the least of which is destroying it so you lot can't use it against me. Besides, if he kills Damon, I get you all to myself."

"Klaus…. Please…. I'm begging you."

Klaus sighed, slightly hating his love for her for making him soft. He rolled his eyes as he got out his cell phone and called Kol, standing up. "Little brother. Just two days home, and I'm told you've already gone and made a mess."

"Come on, Nik. I was only having some fun." Kol said.

"Those vampires were for my hunter."

"I'll make some more. There's no shortage of people."

"Where's Damon Salvatore?"

"I gave him a good and proper beating just for old time's sake."

"Yes. Well, you've had your fun. Now let him go and come home. Avoid any more trouble, or you'll find yourself back in a box."

"Hey. No need to be nasty about it."

"On the contrary, I find nastiness to be essential whenever my siblings try to sabotage me. Listen closely, Kol. Stay away from the Gilbert boy. You understand?"

"Fine. I won't touch him. You have my word." Kol hung up and Klaus looked at Buffy standing by the fireplace.

"You see? Damon's fine."

"You're incredibly thick then." Buffy snapped. "Your brother has compelled Damon to hurt himself."

"Probably."

"Klaus…."

"He's going to let him go once he's gotten it out of his system."

"Klaus!"

"Buffy…. Just go home and watch Jeremy closely. Kol will go after him eventually and he'll need your protection."

"Can't you just dagger your brother?"

"Are you asking?"

"Sure."

"I'll think about it."

Buffy shot him a glare and marched out of the house. She headed over to the Gilbert house and found Elena in the kitchen with Willow. Buffy's car was parked out front, but Jeremy wasn't in the house. "Are you ok?" Elena asked, walking over and hugging her.

"I'm fine." Buffy looked at Willow and Elena together. "But Kol got Damon."

"What?" Elena gasped.

"Klaus called him and he's supposed to be letting Damon go. I don't trust him though."

"Do you know where they are?" Willow asked.

"No. Kol ran off with Damon while I was making Jeremy leave."

"I can try a locator spell. I just need some supplies." Willow walked out of the room and started to head into the study, but a knock on the door surprised her. She opened it and sighed in relief. "Damon."

Buffy was suddenly there, startling Willow, and had her arms around Damon. "Are you ok?"

"I'm ok. Nothing a little bourbon can't fix. Is Jeremy here? I just want to talk to him really fast."

"He's at the Grill." Elena said. "He wanted to check on Matt."

"Well, I should go apologize to him. I was…. I was pretty tough on him today."

"No you weren't." Buffy said.

Damon shrugged. "I feel like I was. He really doesn't believe that I have his best interests at heart." Buffy looked at Damon curiously, feeling like something was off. Damon noticed. "What?"

"Nothing."

"Why are you giving me your creepy stare?"

"Am I? Guess I'm just looking for anything Kol did to you."

"I told you I'm fine."

"Ok. I want to check on Jeremy, too. Willow, can you stay here with Elena?"

"Of course." Willow said.

Matt was clearing a table at the Grill when Buffy and Damon walked in. Damon headed straight for him. "Don't you ever take a night off?"

"I took two days off to help you out at the lake house, remember?" Matt said. "I almost got killed."

"Where's Jeremy?"

"He's in the back I think."

"Hmm." Damon walked around Matt, heading for the back room. Buffy spotted Jeremy first and noticed Damon make eye contact with him. From her vantage point, she saw Damon's eyes start to vamp out and he crossed the restaurant toward Jeremy.

Buffy used her much faster speed and grabbed Jeremy, taking him in the back. She ripped off the metal plate covering the entrance to the tunnels and shoved him in. "Go. Run fast."

Damon rushed in and looked surprised that she was there. "Damon, just stop."

"Where's Jeremy?"

"Gone. Kol must have compelled you. He knows that if he kills a Hunter, he'll go through the hallucinations until a new one is activated."

"If I find Jeremy…. I'm gonna kill him." He tried to run down into the tunnel, but Buffy caught him.

"Damon, stop!"

"You need to kill me."

"Oh yeah, cause that's happening." She said sarcastically, stopping another attempt to get down into the tunnels.

"Then knock me out and go after Jeremy. Get him far away."

"I can't knock you out and leave you here unconscious for anybody to find. What if Kol…."

"Then get Matt to move me."

Buffy sighed. "Fine." She backhanded Damon and he fell to the ground, unconscious. She pulled him into the back of the room and went after Matt. She found him by the bar. "I need your help."

"With what?" Matt asked.

"Damon. He's been compelled by Kol to kill Jeremy. I've knocked him out and stashed him in the back. I need to go after Jeremy so I need you to babysit Damon until he wakes up."

"How am I supposed to babysit Damon when he's bent on killing Jeremy?"

"I'm sure you'll think of something." She grabbed his wrist and pulled him to the supply room. The empty supply room. "Damon?"

"Where did he go?"

"He was knocked out!"

"Are you sure?"

Buffy shifted her weight from foot to foot. "Ok, I didn't use all of my strength cause I didn't want to give him permanent brain damage. But I thought that was enough to keep him out for a little while." She glanced at the entrance to the tunnel and sighed. "I'm going to stop him. Cover this up as soon as I'm through." Matt nodded and watched Buffy disappear into the tunnels.

Buffy moved into the tunnels and closed her eyes, stretching out her senses for Jeremy. She heard Damon yelling, "Jeremy! Get out of here! Do you hear me? Don't stop. Kol compelled me. There's nothing I can do!"

Buffy used her super vampire Vampire Slayer speed to whiz past Damon and after Jeremy. He was hiding in an offshoot where Tyler had been hiding out when he was just a werewolf. Jeremy started to let out a yelp, but Buffy had her hand clamped over his mouth. She looked down at his bleeding hand with a questioning look. He held up his gun with the wooden bullets.

"Seriously? You're being hunted by a vampire, and now you're bleeding?" Damon appeared a moment later to find Jeremy's jacket on the ground in front of Buffy and Jeremy missing. "Where is he?"

"You're not getting to him, Damon." Buffy said. She held up the gun and pointed it at him.

"You hate those things."

"It's all I've got at the moment."

"I know. You're gonna have to shoot me." Buffy cringed and shot Damon in the stomach. He fell to his knees, but looked back up at her. "In the heart, Buff. I'm not gonna be able to stop myself."

"I just need to hit you harder this time." She aimed the gun at his head and fired. Jeremy came out as Damon hit the ground and she grabbed him to her, running as fast as she could through the tunnels before Damon woke up. They made it out into the woods and Buffy held Jeremy's hand up. "Well, at least it's healing." She tore off part of her shirt and wrapped it around his hand.

"Should we keep moving?" Jeremy asked.

"We can't run forever. I gotta marry him at some point." Buffy heard footsteps behind her and she turned, gun pointed, as Damon came running out of the tunnels. "How the hell do you keep waking up so fast?"

"It's the compulsion." Damon said. "You need to shoot me in the heart."

"I will not kill you."

"Jeremy…. You're a Hunter. You do it. You know you want to."

"No. I don't."

"What!?"

"You're Buffy's fiancé. I don't want to hurt her."

"Thanks." Buffy said.

"Two vampire killers standing here and neither one of you will humor me."

"Nope." Buffy and Jeremy both said.

"Maybe I can help." Stefan said, suddenly holding Damon against a tree. "Hey, brother. Long time, no see." He snapped Damon's neck and Damon collapsed.

"You have a serious issue with snapping your brother's neck all the time." Buffy said, hugging Stefan tightly. "I am so glad for that right now."

"You're welcome. Are you guys all right?"

"Yeah. Kol compelled Damon to kill Jeremy. We need to contain him so he doesn't do that."

"Well, the cell downstairs at our house is vacant."

"Good. You take Damon there. I'll take Jeremy home and away from Damon."

Buffy sat in the living room at the Gilbert house staring at nothing. Willow and Elena were cleaning up in the kitchen and Jeremy was sitting at the table watching them all. There was a knock on the door and Elena, Willow, and Jeremy all turned to look. Buffy was already at the door, opening it before Klaus could knock a second time.

"Good evening, love." He said.

"What do you want, Klaus?" Buffy asked.

"I've come to fetch my Hunter. Seeing as how my brother's become a liability, Jeremy will be safer with me."

"I think I'll pass. I've killed enough people for you today." Jeremy said.

"You think you're safer here? Clearly you don't know Kol. He'll stop at nothing to get what he wants. So, strange as it may seem, I'm your best bet."

"Sorry, but I think we'd rather take our chances." Elena said.

Klaus looked at Buffy. "You speak for them. What do you think?"

"I think I've got this one covered." Buffy said. "Goodnight, Klaus."

"Fine. But when Kol does come…. And he will come…. Be sure to let me know. Preferably before he burns your nice little home to the ground. And as for you, Hunter, there's no shortage of people to turn or loved ones to threaten, so sleep well. We'll plan on finishing our work tomorrow." Klaus blew a kiss to Buffy and turned to leave.

Buffy rolled her eyes and shut the door. She turned to look at everyone and a brilliant idea came to her. "We're going to kill two birds with one stone."

"What?" Willow asked.

"This is never going to end at this rate. If Kol doesn't kill Jeremy first, then Klaus is just gonna force him to kill more innocent people. How many is it gonna take? 10? A hundred? A thousand? But, if you kill one Original vampire…."

"Their entire sire line will die with them." Elena said, catching on to Buffy's plan.

"That's thousands…. Maybe tens of thousands of vampires. Kol compelled Damon to kill you, Jeremy. So, my little non-girl Vampire Slayer in training…. You're gonna kill Kol instead and I'm gonna help you." Buffy smiled brightly.

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