Damon held Buffy tightly to him and stroked her back soothingly. After Stefan had told her what had happened, Buffy had started sobbing. Now she was quiet and deathly still, but she didn't come out from Damon's embrace. Rebekah had disappeared while Stefan had been explaining what had happened down in the cave.
"How'd this happen?" Damon asked Stefan.
"It was Katherine." Stefan said, rubbing Buffy's shoulder. "She must have been following us this whole time."
"What about the cure, or Silas?"
"If there was anything in there at all, it's all gone."
"Where the hell is Bonnie?"
"I have no idea. She went looking for Jeremy last night. She never came back. Damon, Elena is in there waiting for the Gilbert ring to bring Jeremy back to life."
"Ok, fine. We'll wait with her."
"Jeremy was one of the Five." Buffy said, uttering her first words since the awful news. "He was a Hunter."
"He was supernatural." Damon said, understanding. "The ring won't work anymore." He looked down at Buffy, kissing the top of her head. "She won't survive this."
Buffy turned and looked at Stefan, surprising both men with the fact that her eyes had changed and her fangs had dropped and she looked pissed. "Get Willow and get Elena off this island."
"Are you sure?" Stefan asked.
"I'm sure that once I find Katherine Pierce, Klaus will have nothing on the tortures I'm going to inflict on her." She moved past Stefan and headed out.
Damon rushed out after her. He had a hard time keeping up with her as she made her way back towards the campsite. The tents were torn down in seconds and the shed was about to be next, but a rustling in the trees made her stop.
"Unless you're a Bennett witch or a doppelgänger, I suggest you steer clear." Buffy growled. Rebekah walked out of the trees with her hands raised slightly. Buffy just rolled her eyes and went into the shed.
Rebekah turned to Damon. "Where's the cure? I know someone has it."
"Yeah, someone." Damon said.
"Katherine." Buffy said as she came back out.
"Katherine? The doppelgänger?"
"Sneaky little bitch must've been spying on us for weeks." Damon said. "She killed Jeremy…. Or somebody did." Rebekah looked sad all of a sudden. "He killed your brother. Let's not with the fake sad face."
"I didn't say I was going to miss him, but I'm not heartless. He was Elena's only blood family…. And he was Buffy's kid." She walked over to Buffy and hugged her tightly.
"I don't want pity." Buffy said, yanking away as her eyes turned dark again. "I don't want condolences. I want revenge."
"I'm pretty good at that. How can I help?"
"You can find Bonnie."
"I thought you were trying to find Katherine."
"Sadly, I can't leave Elena's friend stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn't really lose too much sleep over it since it's Bonnie and all, but after…." For a split second, the pain that Buffy was feeling leaked into her eyes and her entire angry façade seemed ready to crumble. But as quickly as it had come, it was gone even quicker. She hardened back up and said in an even, dead voice, "Elena needs her friends. So unfortunately that means that we need to find Bonnie. And if Katherine is smart, she'll have high tailed it to the center of the Earth by now. Klaus' half assed hunting will look like a kiddie game of hide and seek compared to my hunting skills." Buffy started to stalk off, but she stopped and looked back at Rebekah. "Oh and FYI: Silas? If he was asleep in that cave, he's awake now." She turned and walked off. Rebekah looked at Damon nervously, but he shook his head in warning and followed Buffy.
"Do you think Bonnie is dead?" Rebekah asked after a few minutes.
"Never thought I'd say this, but I hope not." Damon said.
"I don't like being out in the open like this."
"Afraid of the big, bad Silas?" Buffy taunted.
"Scaredy cat." Damon said in a sing-song voice.
"I'm not a scaredy cat! My brother Kol drove himself mad worrying about Silas rising. It would benefit us all to be a bit concerned."
Buffy stopped and turned around so suddenly that not even Rebekah saw her do it. "Let's get something straight. Silas doesn't scare me. I've stopped countless apocalypses. I've defeated a hell god. I've defeated the First Evil. Silas has nothing on them." Suddenly, Buffy had a crossbow bolt in her hand and she was turned away from Rebekah.
Vaughn was about 50 feet away, aiming his crossbow at them. Another bolt flew at her, but she caught that one and broke both bolts with one hand. She was across the 50 feet and had Vaughn pinned against a tree by his neck before the pieces of the bolt even hit the ground.
"She's scary when she's mad." Rebekah said.
"You have no idea." Damon said as he and Rebekah joined Buffy.
"Is this the idiot that tried to kill you?" Buffy asked Damon.
"Yup. That's him." He confirmed.
"Go ahead. Kill me." Vaughn said."No. I don't think so. See, I'm actually in the mood to torture someone. It's a lot more fun than just outright killing you." Buffy said. "And just so you know? I dated the world's scariest serial killer once. I know things." She yanked his backpack off him and used rope to tie him securely to a tree before opening the pack. "Oh, you come with toys." She pulled a wicked looking knife from the pack and turned to Vaughn. "By the way, I'm Buffy."
"I know who you are." Vaughn said.
"Good. Then you should know that I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to people messing with my family." She pressed the knife's point into Vaughn's shoulder just under his collarbone and pointed it upwards. "Katherine Pierce just had a hand in killing my kid, but you know what? Even though I'm pretty pissed off right now, or maybe because I'm so pissed off right now…. My mind is moving at about a trillion miles a second. And you know what I'm thinking right now? I'm thinking that there's no way that this whole Katherine being here and you being here at the same exact time is a coincidence. So, you're going to tell me everything I want to know."
"Torture me all you want. You can't kill me. The Hunter's curse will torment you forever."
"Actually, you're wrong. I can kill you. See, I'm not your Average Joe vampire. I'm also a Vampire Slayer. I'm thinking that I'm the only person here that could kill you and not even worry about the stupid curse." Buffy shrugged and dug the knife in a little bit further. "But killing you would mean that I can't tear you apart piece by piece, nerve by nerve, until the pain is so intense, that your brain shuts it off to give you one tiny moment of blessed relief…" She leaned in closer and growled, "And just because I can…. Then I'll heal you and do it again and again and again until you tell me exactly what I want to hear."
"You are creepy." Rebekah said. "No wonder I like you."
"I thought you hated me." Buffy said.
"It's off and on."
Vaughn squirmed uncomfortably from the dagger in his chest. Buffy pushed the dagger in a little further. "Start singing, birdie, or I start plucking your feathers."
"I was tracking dens of vampires across Colorado." Vaughn said, gasping with pain. "Katherine found me…. Said she could help me find Silas. She already knew about the Hunter's mark…. The cure."
"Oh, she had someone on the inside, some werewolf girl, friends with your professor."
"Hayley, Tyler Lockwood's old friend." Damon said. "I knew she was shady."
"Where did Katherine find her?" Buffy asked.
"New Orleans." Vaughn said. "That's all I know."
Buffy eyed him for a moment and decided he was telling the truth. She pulled the dagger out, buried it to the hilt in the tree next to Vaughn's head, and turned to Damon. "Let's throw him in the well." He said. "If he starves to death, it's not our fault."
"Good plan. Then we should probably go find Bonnie." Buffy said.
"We've got a lead on the cure, Buffy. I'm gonna find it." Rebekah said.
"Honestly, Rebekah, you do whatever you want to. Just drop him in the well before you do it." Buffy headed off and Damon followed her. "I should probably check and see how Elena's holding up."
"How are you holding up?" Damon asked, taking her hand and stopping her progress.
"I'm not worried about me." Buffy pulled out her cell phone and was relieved to see there were bars.
Stefan answered on the fourth ring. "Did you find Katherine or Bonnie?"
"We're still looking." Buffy's features softened a bit. "How's Elena?"
"She's losing it, Buffy. We can do what we can to delay things here, but we've got to get Jeremy to the morgue before it gets ugly."
"What do I need to do?"
"You're Jeremy's legal guardian. You need to release his body to Meredith."
"I'm sure Elena won't like that."
"Buffy, you need to get here. Elena needs you. I can go back to find Bonnie."
"What about Katherine?"
"You're immortal. You've got lots of time to find her."
Buffy sighed. "We're on our way." She hung up and turned to Damon. Before she could say anything, Bonnie emerged from behind a tree. "Where have you been?" She demanded. "How did you even find us?"
"Shane led the way." Bonnie said. "He told me what to do, Buffy. I know how to bring Jeremy back."
Buffy rode shotgun as Damon drove her car to the Gilbert house. Bonnie was in the backseat and Buffy had refused to talk to her the entire way back. Caroline was standing out on the sidewalk and she hung up her phone as she saw them pull up.
Bonnie was the first one to get out of the car and Caroline rushed over and hugged her. "Thank god. We were so, so worried."
"I'm ok." Bonnie said.
"Could you get Stefan and Willow out here?" Buffy asked, not even looking at Bonnie.
"They said that she knows what to do." Caroline said.
"Caroline, I need to talk to Stefan and Willow."
"What's wrong?" Buffy glanced at Bonnie and Caroline understood the look on Buffy's face. "Yeah. Ok." She headed inside with Bonnie following.
A moment later, Stefan and Willow walked out. "What's going on?" Willow asked, hugging her friend tightly. "I've been so worried!"
"Bonnie needs to have her powers bound. Sooner rather than later." Buffy said.
"What happened?" Stefan asked.
"She's out of her mind, Stefan." Damon said. "The nutty professor's got her totally brainwashed."
"I thought she knew how to fix it." Willow said.
"Yes. By killing twelve more people." Buffy said.
"What?" Stefan cried.
"She can't do that!" Willow said.
"Professor Shadypants says she can and she's really planning on doing it." Damon said. "The whole flight back home, all she could talk about was how she's the one that can drop the veil between this side and the Other Side."
"Drop the veil?" Stefan asked. "What does that even mean?"
"The myth about Silas being able to raise the dead is not just one or some…. It's every supernatural being on the Other Side." Buffy said.
"That would take a massive amount of power." Willow said. "It would probably kill her."
"Not to mention if she does this, it would probably kill the population of the entire world. Three massacres, three hot spots, and the witch spell of the century, and every supernatural being over there is back with a vengeance."
"I get why you want me to bind her powers now."
Buffy walked over to the front porch and sighed. Damon was there suddenly, holding her hand tightly. "I have to face this part of my life first." She said.
"I know. I'm here."
With another sigh, she opened the front door to hear Bonnie saying, "I can do it. I have the power. We can bring everyone back…. Jeremy, Alaric, Vicki…."
"Bonnie, stop it. You can't just say these things." Caroline said.
"It's gonna be fine…." Bonnie insisted.
The phone started ringing and ended the conversation. "I'll get it." Elena said, standing up and walking over.
"Elena, I'll get it…." Buffy started, walking towards the phone.
"I said I'll get it." Elena answered the phone and looked at the wall. "Hello?"
"Elena? It's April…. Young." April said on the other end. "Um, I was looking for Jeremy, his cell phone keeps going straight to voicemail."
"Jeremy can't come to the phone right now. He's not…." There was a long pause and then Elena said, "I'm sorry. He's dead." She hung up and walked out of the room while the others looked at each other.
Buffy closed her eyes and worked hard to hold back the flood of emotions that threatened to overwhelm her. She'd been holding them at bay with her anger, but faced with the sorrow and utter desolation in this house…. It was all too much. Damon and Stefan were on either side of her and Willow was standing in front of her when she opened her eyes.
"Get Bonnie out of here, Matt. Take her home." Buffy said.
"That's a good idea." Matt said. "You should rest, Bonnie."
"Yeah." Bonnie said. "That spell is kinda big. I should probably sleep." She and Matt headed out and Caroline stood up.
"I should head out, too, I guess." Caroline said.
"No. Please stay." Buffy said. She glanced up the stairs. "I think you'll be needed." Buffy took a deep breath and headed upstairs to Jeremy's room. It was where the scent of death was coming from. Upstairs, Elena reached out and lifted the blanket from over Jeremy's face with a trembling hand. She backed away when she saw his face and began to breathe heavily. It was a shock to Buffy, too. It was the first time she'd seen him since finding out he was gone. "Elena…."
Elena spun around to look at Buffy, tears streaming down her face. "He's dead. He's dead. Buffy, he's dead, and he's been dead this entire time, and I…." Her hand flew to her face, covering her mouth and stifling the sob. "Oh, my god. I can smell him. How long has he smelled like that?"
"Elena…. Talk to me. Let me help you."
"How? How are you gonna help me? How?" Elena sniffled and wiped her hand over her face. "Ok. Ok. We…. we have to…. we have to take care of his body. We should bring him downstairs."
"I'll just go get Damon to carry him down." She left the room and hurried down the stairs.
Damon came up, having heard the conversation and looked at Buffy. "What do you want me to do here, Buff?"
Buffy sighed. "Bring him downstairs, I guess."
He gently kissed her forehead. "Ok."
She walked down stairs as Elena demanded, "Where's Bonnie?"
"Buffy told Matt to take her home." Stefan said.
"We thought it'd be best." Caroline added.
"Ok, then Willow, I need your help." Elena said, turning to the red head.
"O….Ok." Willow said. "What do you need?"
Elena looked at Damon who had just arrived downstairs with Jeremy's body. "Put his body on the couch." She went into the kitchen and started opening and closing cabinets.
"Elena? Do you need me to you help you find something?" Buffy asked, moving closer to her.
Elena grabbed a bottle of lighter fluid out of a cabinet and started squirting it over the counter. "Got it."
"What are you doing?" Buffy asked, not wanting to get too close to the flammable liquid, but needing to stop Elena from losing it. Willow uttered a Latin word and the lighter fluid stopping squirting.
Elena looked at Willow with a slightly annoyed expression. "We need a cover story, right? You think I didn't hear you guys talking earlier? Well, what are we gonna say…. Animal attack? Tumbled down the stairs? No. We burn the house down with him inside of it." She made it to the living room and tried to squirt the couch and Jeremy, but Willow's spell had clogged it.
"Elena, stop it." Buffy ordered.
"Why? Because you want me to not be in denial? You want me to face the truth? This is the truth. I don't want to live here anymore. I don't want these sketches." She broke the carton of lighter fluid in two and splashed it on the sketches Jeremy had left lying on the floor before kicking his pencil box across the room. "I don't want this Xbox." She threw down the pieces of the now empty bottle and reached into a cabinet. "Not gonna need this bourbon anymore. Alaric's not here to drink it…. I mean, unless you guys are willing to bring back every supernatural creature on the Other Side to get him back." She looked at Damon. "Would you? I know you want your drinking buddy back. And, Buffy, I know how much you miss Lexi. Would you do it, Buffy? Because I wouldn't." She walked back over to Jeremy's body and splashed bourbon over him. "I don't know! I mean, does that make me a bad person? I…. I have no idea." She pulled the Gilbert ring off of Jeremy's finger and tossed it to Buffy. "He's not gonna need that anymore."
"Elena, stop it!" Buffy yelled. "That's enough!"
Elena took down a picture frame from the fireplace mantle. It was one of Jeremy, Elena, and Buffy that Elena had taken while it was just the three of them. It hadn't been the happiest time, but they'd been happy that Buffy had agreed to stay with them and watch over them as their guardian. "What else are we supposed to do with the body? I mean, there's no…. There's no room in the Gilbert family plot." She threw the frame down on the floor and the glass cracked. "Jenna and…. and John took the last spots." She threw the empty bottle of bourbon against the wall and it shattered. "So, Willow, start a fire."
"Elena, I…." Willow looked at Buffy, not sure what to do.
Buffy stepped forward. "This isn't the way, Elena." She moved closer and held out her hands, tears streaming down her face as the emotions started to take over. She didn't even remember when she'd started crying. "Just…. We'll figure this out, ok? Let's just go to the boarding house and get some rest. Meredith can come get Jeremy's body. I'm sure she's already come up with a good cover story. We can figure it out from there and…."
"There's nothing here for me anymore, Buffy." Elena screamed as she grabbed a fireplace match and lit it. "Every inch of this house is filled with memories of the people that I love that have died. My mom, my dad, Jeremy, and Jenna and Alaric…. John! Even John! I mean, they're all dead. Everyone is dead. So what am I supposed to…. I mean, how am I gonna…. I can't even…. There's nothing left for me…." She yelped when the flame had burned down on the match and started to burn her hand. She dropped the match but Buffy had it in her hand before it could ignite on the lighter fluid everywhere. Elena sobbed and started to crumble.
Buffy set the match down safely away from the lighter fluid and closed the distance between her and Elena. She didn't know what to do. She didn't know how to make this better. "Elena, calm down, ok?"
"No, no, no, I can't. I can't. I can't. I…." She fell into Buffy's arms and they went down on their knees. Elena's immeasurable pain and grief distorted her face and she grabbed at her head. "No. It hurts. It hurts. Just make it stop. Please make it stop, Buffy. It hurts."
"I know, sweetheart." Buffy sobbed as she held Elena tightly and rocked her. "I know it hurts." She didn't know what to do and looked around for help. Her daughter was in too much pain and she didn't know how to fix it.
"Damon…. Help her." Stefan said.
Damon crouched down next to the girls and pulled both of them to him. "I can help you." He said to Elena. "I want you to let me help you." Elena shuddered as Damon touched her face. She sat up, pulling away as Damon gently smoothed her hair back behind her ears. "I can help you."
"How?" Elena sobbed.
"Turn it off."
"What? No, no." Stefan protested.
Damon held up a hand to stop him from intervening. "Just turn it off and everything will go away. That's what you have to do. It's what I want you to do. Just turn it off."
Buffy watched as Elena's tear-stained face turned utterly expressionless and still. The light left her eyes, as though something inside of her had died. Elena stood up and walked over to Jeremy.
Damon turned to Buffy and she shook her head. "What did you do?" She followed him and Stefan out onto the front porch. Willow came too and Caroline said she needed to go. Damon shut the door and turned to Buffy. "What did you do, Damon?"
"He took her humanity away." Stefan said. "He had her shut it off."
"It was the only way." Damon explained.
"It was a mistake."
"It wasn't and you know it." Damon turned back to Buffy who was holding Willow's hand. "This is the only way she's gonna survive. We'll help her, keep an eye on her. When she's ready, I'll use the sire bond to bring her back."
"Her humanity, Damon…. That was all she had left." Stefan insisted.
"Humanity means nothing when you don't have anyone to care about, Stefan."
"She had Buffy."
"She lost her brother." Buffy said quietly. "He was her only living blood family. I'm not enough." Willow hugged her tightly as she started to cry again. "I'm not enough."
"Shh…." Willow said, stroking her best friend's hair. "She'll be ok. And she'll have you to help her pull through. You are enough, Buffy. You're the closest thing to a mother she has."
"What am I going to do?" Buffy asked. "How can I make this better?"
"By helping her." Damon said. "Little by little, I can give her her humanity back. She'll heal." He stroked her hair and she let go of Willow and buried herself in his arms.
Stefan sighed. "Damon…."
"I know. You're pissed at me."
"No. I just…. I know we've had our differences…."
"I get it Stefan." He patted Stefan's shoulder. "I get it."
"We should probably go check on Elena." Willow suggested. Inside, Elena put down the frame she'd broken earlier. Still expressionless, she crossed the living room to grab and light another match as Buffy, Willow, Damon, and Stefan came back inside.
"Elena, don't do this." Buffy said. "We can find another cover story."
"This is the best one." Elena said. "No one will ask questions."
"If you burn down the house, it'll be gone." Willow said gently. "What if one day when this is all over, you want to come home again? Buffy and I can tell you first hand, it's not a pleasant feeling to not have your home to go back to."
Elena watched the flame, then looked up at them. "I won't." She tipped the match out of her fingers and the floor immediately ignited. Willow looked at Buffy's pained face as she watched the home go up in flames. Elena walked past them and opened the door. She waited for the four of them to catch up and they walked out of the house.