The Next Chapter

Chapter 82

A/N There's a surprise at the end of this chapter. Let me know how you like it!

Chapter 82

Buffy smiled into Damon's mouth as he kissed her against the shower wall. The water was cascading over them as they made love slowly. It had been way too long since they'd had a quiet moment together, let alone whole day. Stefan was down the hall working on focusing Elena's hatred into something else. Willow was at the Grill with Matt and Rebekah trying to help him study. Angel was downstairs reading a book by the fireplace in the den.

Damon let out a low moan as Buffy nipped at his neck, licking the blood away as the wound healed. Before they could go any further, Buffy's cell phone started ringing. "Let it go to voicemail." He growled. Buffy nodded and ignored the phone as Damon continued to push into her. A few moments after her phone stopped ringing, Damon's phone started ringing.

"Voicemail." Buffy breathed. Damon nodded and pinned her arms above her head.

Again, Buffy's phone started to ring. Damon groaned in frustration and Buffy moved away, answering it. "This better be good. I'm busy."

"Buffy? I'm sorry to bother you, but we have a problem." Liz said on the other end.

"Ok." Buffy put her phone on speaker. "What's wrong?"

"How fast can you get down to the hospital?"

"About thirty minutes. Why?"

"I'll see you then." Liz hung up.

"See, this is why we should start putting our phones on silent." Buffy tossed her phone on the bed.

Damon rushed over and pinned her to the bed. "I wasn't finished."

Stefan and Angel walked down the hospital corridor to meet Buffy and Damon. They stood by a counter talking quietly between themselves. Buffy's hair was in two French braids around her head to entwine into a messy bun at the base of her skull. Stefan chuckled because it was wet. He'd thought he'd heard them get interrupted earlier.

"You just missed the doughnuts." Damon said, noticing Angel and Stefan.

"Yeah, I was with Elena, burning off a few thousand hate-filled calories." Stefan said. "What happened to you two helping me?"

"Help, yes. Prolong the inevitable? Waste of our time." Damon slipped his arm around Buffy's waist. "It doesn't help a relationship to put everyone else ahead of us."

"You're avoiding."

"We're not avoiding. Elena's only goal is to end Katherine's life, and that's not gonna just magically disappear with pilates and a juice cleanse." Buffy said. "But we figured that you had a handle on it this morning, so we spent some us time."

Sheriff Forbes approached them before Stefan could respond. "Hey guys, thanks for coming."

"Hey." Stefan said.

"Why were we invited?" Damon asked.

"Well, the hospital has kept the blood banks empty ever since they were raided last month. We thought at the very least it would help keep the vampire population away."

"It didn't?" Angel asked.

"See for yourselves." Liz led them into a patient's room where a body was laying on a bed with its wrists bloodied torn into.

"Whoa." Buffy said.

"There are four other victims in this wing, each one almost completely drained of blood. You think it's Silas?"

"Or a doctor with some very questionable bedside manners." Damon said.

"But 5 victims? That's a lot of blood, and it's not like he can take it with him."

"Unless he's fueling up for something big." Angel said.

"Big? Any details would be helpful, considering I'm dealing with 5 grieving families out there and a psychic killer on the loose."

"Silas wants Bonnie to do a spell to drop the veil from the Other Side." Buffy said.

"I have no idea what that means."

"It's an invisible wall that separates our plane from the plane of all dead supernatural creatures. Now, Silas wants that to go away so he can take the cure, die, and not have to spend an eternity in a supernatural purgatory."

"And when do you suppose Silas plans on doing this?"

"Tomorrow night."

"Why tomorrow?"

"It's the next full moon."

Just then, the power went out. It took a few seconds, but the emergency lights came on. Doctors out in the hallways started to scramble about. Someone said the generator wasn't working. A wind was howling outside. Liz rushed out of the room.

"That can't be good." Damon said, taking Buffy's hand.

They headed out to find where Liz had gone. They finally found her on the phone in an empty hospital room. She was talking to someone from the station.

Buffy pulled out her phone. "Who are you calling?" Damon asked her.

"Willow. Something doesn't feel right about this wind."

"Buffy? Are you ok?" Willow answered.

"Yeah. Damon, Stefan, Angel, and I are at the hospital with Liz."

"Elena's here with Caroline. I'm keeping an eye on her."

"Thank you. Listen, something doesn't feel right about this wind."

"It's magical, if that's what you mean."

"I think it is."

"I didn't have anything to do with it. But I haven't seen or heard from Bonnie today."

"Great."

Liz got off the phone and pulled out a map from somewhere on her belt. She laid it out and grabbed a marker from her belt. She marked the map with a marker as she talked, "The power outages originated at three different places in town." She said. "The Young farm, the Lockwood estate, and a blown transformer off Old Miller Road."

Stefan picked up the marker and connected the dots. "Well, these are the locations of the Silas massacres. It's the Expression triangle. Bonnie must be doing the spell."

"So much for needing a full moon." Damon said.

"Did you get that Will?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah. I'll try and find her. Put a stop to it." Willow said, hanging up.

"And there's something else," Liz said. "One of the power company guys has a daughter who goes to school with Bonnie. He saw her leaving the Young farm an hour ago…. with Elena."

"Elena's with Caroline." Buffy said. "Willow just confirmed that."

"Looks like Bonnie Bennett has a new doppelgänger friend." Damon said.

"So how do we find them?" Liz asked.

"Willow's working on it." Buffy said. "But my guess would be that they're right in the middle." She drew a point in the middle of the triangle, then circled it.

"And where exactly might that be?" Damon asked.

"The school." Angel said.

Angel and Stefan followed Buffy and Damon into the parking lot of the school. Stefan pulled in next to Buffy and they all piled out of their cars. The winds were still blowing fiercely around them and Buffy was grateful she'd actually put her hair up. Elena and Willow came out to meet them. They had to shout to be heard.

"Where's Caroline?" Buffy asked.

"Inside looking for Bonnie. I think we should split up. Buffy, Damon, and I can look outside while you, Angel, Willow, and Caroline look inside."

"All right, let me know if you find anything." Stefan said as he and Angel headed for the school while Buffy, Elena, and Damon started walking.

"Someone's an eager beaver." Damon said.

Elena walked in front of them. "Where's Katherine?"

"Seriously?" Buffy shook her head. "You need to get this out of your head."

"You know, don't you?"

"Do you not notice all of the end-of-the-world crap going on right now?"

"Tell me that either of you don't want her dead. After everything that she did to you? Stringing you along for hundreds of years, Damon? Taking away your family, Buffy?"

"Elena, we don't need to list all the reasons that we hate Katherine." Damon said. "What we need to do is find Bonnie. Come on."

"I don't care about Bonnie. I care about killing Katherine."

"They're together." Buffy said. "So maybe you should do a little less threatening and a little more looking. Come on." Buffy marched past Elena and headed for the woods around the school.

"Why is Katherine with Bonnie?" Elena asked.

"I don't know. But I'd really like to find out. Damon, watch her." Buffy disappeared for a few seconds and came back on Damon's other side. "They're not out here. I can't find a scent."

"Nothing?" Damon asked.

"They're below the school. The cave formations around here probably stretch to under the school.

"So let's head to the basement." Elena said. "There's gotta be a way in to the caves from there."

Buffy smiled slightly. "There is always a way into a weird cave formation in the basement of a school."

"Was that sarcasm?" Damon asked.

"Nope." Buffy laughed. "I feel like I'm back at Sunnydale High."

"Welcome home." He took her hand as they headed towards the school.

Buffy reached in her pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She dialed Stefan's number and waited. "They're underneath the school." She said when he picked up.

"That's what we figured, too." Stefan said. "But where's the basement?"

"Off the boiler room." Elena said, able to hear the conversation now that they were out of the wind.

"Did you hear that?" Buffy asked.

"All right, we'll meet you there." Stefan said.

Buffy hung up and stopped suddenly. She turned around to face Elena. "What?" Elena asked.

"You're going to stay here." Buffy said.

"Are you kidding me?"

"We really need to stop Bonnie from doing the spell, and if you get all murderous and screw it up…."

"Is that really the reason?"

"Behind your rage is a tidal wave of feelings…. All of your guilt…. All your grief…. Every emotion you've ever put off…. And killing Katherine's gonna let it all in. And if you can't handle it, then we're back to square one."

"And if I can? What if killing Katherine takes away all that grief and guilt? What if killing Katherine finally lets me feel all the good things that I've lost? Buffy, you're the only family I have left. Help me."

"Elena…."

"As soon as I get over this hurdle, I'll be me. I'll be able to think clearly. I'll be myself and everything will go back to normal."

Buffy sighed. "Revenge doesn't work that way, Elena. Killing Katherine will not take away anything. Jeremy will still be gone. Damon and Stefan will still have been turned into vampires by her. All those people that she's made suffer…. They'll still have suffered. You will still suffer. And the best thing that you can focus on right now is that she's suffering now, too. I took away Elijah from her. I took her freedom from her. Klaus will always be out to kill her and Elijah will always know that she only cares for herself."

"That's not good enough."

"It'll have to be because she's strong and crafty and you'll die."

Elena sighed and it seemed to be in surrender. Buffy turned away and started to walk down the hall, but Elena suddenly stabbed Damon in the stomach with a stake. He groaned in pain and sunk to the floor. Buffy went to help him and Elena turned away.

"At least I'll die trying." She said as she disappeared around the corner.

"Go after her." Damon said.

"What's the point? Let her kill Katherine if she wants." Buffy said.

"Buff…."

"Damon, I'm done trying to coddle her." She pulled the stake out of Damon's stomach and bit into her wrist, feeding him her blood so he would heal faster. "It's time she started to grow up. Katherine won't actually kill her. She could, but she won't. She'll hurt her pretty bad, but nothing that Elena won't heal from. As a mother, the best thing I can do is to let her make her own mistakes."

"I think you would've made a great mother." Damon and Buffy turned to find Alaric standing behind them.

"So this is either really good, or really bad." Damon said.

"It's good to see you too, Damon."

"I'd say the feeling is mutual, except a lot of people aren't exactly who they say they are around here."

"You think I'm Silas? Are you kidding me?"

"Can't blame him." Buffy said, helping Damon to stand up. "I mean, that is exactly what Silas would say."

Alaric stopped to think for a moment, then walked away towards a locker. He pounded his fist on it once and it sprang open. With a smirk, he pulled out a bottle of liquor. "Now, would Silas know about Locker 42?"

"Alaric!" Buffy gave him a big hug and Damon joined in a minute later. They stood there laughing for a bit before Damon pulled away.

"Ah, hang on." He said. "If we can see you and we can touch you, that means the little witch did it. She dropped the veil."

"Well, not completely. It's only down inside the Expression triangle. If I step outside of it, it's back to ghost world."

"Well, where is everybody?" Buffy asked. "I figured with the veil down, it'd be like Ghost-a-palooza."

"Well, not every ghost has a reason to come back to Mystic Falls. Just the ones like me, looking after their idiot best friends."

"I'm more worried about the ones looking out for their enemies." Damon said.

Buffy hissed slightly. "Damn. I've got a lot of enemies on that side." She glanced around her suspiciously. "No offence, Alaric, but we should probably get to Bonnie and get that veil up."

"Who are you worried about?" Damon asked her.

"Oh, just every vampire, demon, and hell goddess that I've put down in the last seventeen years. I may be super strong, fast, and almost unkillable, but…. They've had time to work out that little issue."

"You've got backup now." Buffy smiled at voice behind her. "Hi, Buffy."

"Tara!" Buffy turned and walked over to her, hugging her tightly. "Long time no see."

"Who's that?" Damon asked.

Tara glanced at Damon and smiled at Buffy. "Willow was right. He is a cutie."

Buffy smiled. "And a keeper. Damon, Alaric…. This is Tara." They each waved at Tara. "Have you seen Willow?"

"Not yet. I'm not sure if I should."

"Why?" Alaric asked.

"I don't want her to be sad. She's…. moved on."

"She should have the chance to say a proper goodbye." Buffy said. "You were taken so fast."

Tara nodded. "Do you think she'll be ok?"

"I think she'll be happy to see you." Buffy looked around. "We should definitely try and find her now. She's our only hope against Silas." They all moved off to the basement.

"I'm surprised you two aren't married yet." Alaric said.

"We keep trying." Damon said.

"But something always comes up." Buffy added as her phone rang. "Hello Matt."

"We have a big problem." Matt said.

"Of course we do."

"Caroline, hey, snap out of it!" Rebekah said in the background.

"I need to bleed. Silas wants me to bleed!" Caroline cried.

"Stop it, you're hallucinating!"

"Um…. Caroline? She's here." Buffy said.

"She's been here this whole time." Matt said. "That means Silas is with you."

"Perfect."

"Yeah, it gets worse. The veil's down. Kol came by looking for Elena, and he seemed a little pissed."

"You got any good news for me?"

"We'll handle this, just…. watch your back."

Buffy sighed and hung up as they reached the boiler room. "Ok, we've seriously got to find Willow and, or Bonnie." She tossed Alaric her phone. "Call Stefan and tell him about Caroline. Tell him to keep an eye on Elena." Before anyone could say anything, Buffy grabbed Damon and disappeared with him down into the tunnels.

"What was that about?" Damon asked.

"Silas. He came here as Caroline. She's actually at the Grill with Rebekah and Matt trying to cut her hand off because Silas compelled her to."

"She's on vervain."

"Aren't we all? We need to find Bonnie and get her to put the veil back up."

"Bonnie!" Damon yelled suddenly.

"Bonnie!" Buffy called. They rounded a corner to find Alaric standing there.

"Whoa, it's just me." He said. "I called Stefan, he's heading for Elena. Did you find Silas?"

"Yep." Buffy backhanded Silas, knocking him to the ground. She took the length of chain Damon tossed her and wrapped it around Silas's neck.

"Buffy, it's me!"

"No, you're not. There's no way you just came from the school where I left the real Alaric. I'm a Vampire Slayer, Silas. Your mind games don't work on me."

Silas couldn't break free of her no matter how hard he struggled. Buffy was just way too strong. Bonnie and Willow showed up just then.

"I may not be able to kill you, but I will stop you." Willow said. Her eyes were black with power and Bonnie looked scared. Willow had obviously laid into her about her use of dark magic. It had taken the red head years to master her powers. Even now the darker parts of herself still scared her. Bonnie was young and didn't have the experience that Willow did. That's why Willow was able to harness the darker magic she was using now on Silas without fear of going evil again. "The blood is clotting in your veins and every bone, muscle, and joint in your body is turning to stone. You have no power over us anymore." They all watched as Silas turned away as his body hardened. He groaned in pain as his face started to change back to what it really looked like.

"What the hell is happening?" Damon asked.

"He can't hide behind his mind-control anymore." Bonnie said. "He's becoming his true self."

Silas hardened completely with his hand covering his face. Damon, despite Buffy's protests, walked over to look around to at his hidden face. "Who exactly might his true self be?"

"We'll never know." Willow said, her eyes turning back to normal.

Buffy smiled brightly. "Oh!"

"What?"

"Come on." Buffy took her best friend's hand and led her back towards the boiler room of the high school where Alaric and Tara were waiting. "There's someone here to see you, Will." She moved her best friend around in front of her as they walked in.

Willow gasped, tears springing to her eyes. "Tara?" She whispered. "Baby…." She fell to her knees, hugging Tara around her waist as she cried into her abdomen. Tara held onto her tightly, crying into Willow's hair.

Damon wrapped his arm around Buffy's waist and kissed the tears off her cheeks. She laid her head down on his shoulder as she watched her best friend reunite with her long lost love. Bonnie watched in silence, tears falling down her face.

Alaric walked over and handed Buffy her phone. "Are you guys ok?"

"Yeah." Buffy said. "Silas is now an ugly stone statue." Stefan walked in just then. "Where's Elena?"

"She punched me and then left." Stefan said. "I stopped her from killing Katherine."

Buffy sighed and pulled out her cell phone. She brought up the tracking app and brought up Elena's phone. "She's at the cemetery. I'll meet you guys there." As she disappeared with her lightening fast speed, she heard Alaric say, "Damn, she's fast!"

She made her way to the cemetery and heard the sounds of a struggle. Great. Kol. Matt had said that he was looking for Elena. "How many times do I need to kill you?" Jeremy asked. Jeremy!

"Jeremy Gilbert…. Welcome back." Kol said. "Now, what's the saying? Kill me once, shame on you. Kill me twice, shame on…."

Buffy snapped Kol's neck before he could finish. "Let's leave it at that, shall we?"

"Elena!" Jeremy rushed to her side with Buffy. "Elena." Elena weakly lifted her hand and placed it on Jeremy's arm. "Hey."

She scrambled up and wrapped her arms around him, sobbing. "Jeremy." Jeremy held her to him and then pulled Buffy into the hug. The little torn apart family held each other and cried. It wasn't until they heard voices that they pulled apart. Jeremy kept his arms around them as they walked over to join Damon, Stefan, and Bonnie. Willow, Tara, Angel, and Alaric were missing.

"Bonnie?" Elena said. "I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything." Bonnie said.

"But I was so horrible to you."

"You weren't you. I know what that's like. I wasn't me for a long time. We can talk about that later. You've got some catching up to do."

"Thank you, Bonnie." Jeremy said, moving towards Bonnie.

"I'll give you guys as much time as I can." Jeremy hugged her tightly. "But I have to go put the veil back up." Bonnie nodded and left.

"We should make sure Kol's body is somewhere safe until the veil goes back up." Buffy said.

"I'll do it." Stefan offered.

"Stefan, wait…." Elena started.

"Welcome back." They smiled at each other before Stefan headed into the cemetery.

"There isn't enough time." Buffy said.

"It'll never be enough time." Damon said. "I'll grab Alaric and Angel…. We'll get Silas into the trunk of a car and ready for a trip to the ocean."

"Thank you." He kissed her quickly and headed off with Angel. Buffy turned to Jeremy and Elena. "Let's go back to my house."

"Ok." Jeremy said. "You know, since someone burnt ours to the ground."

"I wasn't myself." Elena defended.

Damon found Elena, Jeremy, and Buffy in her little hidden gazebo in the garden curled up on the day bed. "Hey." He pulled Buffy to her feet. "Willow had a great idea while there's still time."

"Why are you in a tux?" Buffy asked.

"Because I'm going to marry you guys." Willow said, appearing in the doorway.

"What? No. I don't have a dress. Nothing's planned. I…."

Willow snapped her fingers and the entire garden lit up with tiny lights that seemed to be floating. Buffy looked down to find herself in an ivory lace, strapless, trumpet gown. There were intricate designs in the lace with pearls scattered here and there. The back was corseted up with an ivory satin ribbon and a large, dark pink ribbon ran around the waist with a large ribbon flower bow sitting just above her left hip. Her hair was suddenly in waves and half pinned back. In her hand was a bouquet of roses in white, red, and dark pink.

Behind her, Jeremy was suddenly in a tux and Elena was in a tea length, halter, satin dress the same color of dark pink as Buffy's ribbon. Her hair was up in a sleek ponytail. Alaric and Stefan stood outside of the gazebo in their own tuxes and even Lexi was there in a dress matching Elena's.

Tara smiled brightly at Buffy. "Welcome to your wedding."

"Every time you try to plan your wedding, something gets in the way." Willow said. "So, while we've got everyone here…. Dead and alive…. Let's make it happen." Willow grabbed Jeremy and Elena and took them off to get them in their places.

Alaric walked over to join Buffy and Damon. "You look beautiful, Buffy." Buffy just nodded sadly.

"What's wrong?" Damon asked her.

"Everybody's not here." She sighed and looked down. "There's one person that I wish more than anything could be here but…. She was just human." Buffy said.

Alaric smiled and shook his head. "She was the mother of the greatest Slayer to ever walk the earth. She wasn't ever considered 'just human'." He turned Buffy gently around to see her mother standing with Giles inside the gazebo.

"Mommy?" Buffy rushed over to her mother and folded herself in her arms as they both cried.

Joyce stroked Buffy's hair holding her tightly. "My beautiful little girl is all grown up and getting married."

"I miss you so much, mom. Every day I miss you so much it hurts my heart."

"I miss you too, baby. But I am so very proud of you. You'll never know how proud of you I am." She held Buffy out at arms length to look at her. "I never thought I would get to see the day you got married."

Buffy wiped at the tears on her cheeks. "Me either."

Joyce smiled and laughed slightly. She looked up at Giles. "Rupert, will you give her away?"

"It would be my honor." Giles said.

"Now, we need to meet Damon." Joyce took Giles' arm and pulled him over to meet Damon.

Lexi and Elena came over and hugged Buffy. "I told you life was a funny thing." Lexi said.

"Yeah!" Buffy didn't want to look away from her mother. She was scared she would disappear at any moment. "You guys look beautiful."

"Us?" Elena cried. "Look at you, Buffy! You look amazing!"

Buffy finally looked at Elena. "I am so glad to have you back." She hugged her tightly. "I've missed you."

"Buffy." Willow said, walking over. "We should probably get this done before you get in your own way."

As soon as Giles approached, the rest of the evening was a blur. Willow performed a handfasting ceremony on them, binding their hands with a red ribbon. Stefan had the rings on him that Buffy and Damon had picked out months ago. Buffy's eyes never left Damon's the whole time. The world slowed down when Willow said, "Then as the Goddess and the God and the Old Ones are witness to this rite, I now proclaim you husband and wife." She smiled brightly. "Now kiss her already!" Damon grabbed Buffy to him and kissed her deeply as everyone clapped.

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