The Next Chapter

Chapter 91

A/N New chapter! Yay! It's a long one, but I hope you all enjoy it.

Chapter 91

Buffy walked back and forth between Elena's suitcase and her dresser at the dorm. Since Bonnie's dad was dead and her mother was keeping her distance, Buffy had been elected to come help her get settled into college life. Damon was hanging out with Willow while Buffy stayed with the girls. Jeremy was roaming around campus checking the place out.

Bonnie moved around the room recording a video of herself on her cellphone. "Hi, Mom. I know we haven't seen each other, or talked in a while…. so I wanted to make you a video update. I finally finished my whirlwind summer tour, got a new do and I'm in college at Whitmore, where Grams taught. And this is my dorm! It's huge, right? It even has a fireplace! I mean, what dorm has a fireplace? There's Buffy." Buffy waved at the camera as she unpacked for Elena. "She's taking good care of me, so don't worry. She's a good mom." The door opened and Caroline and Elena walked in. They had been out gathering things for the welcome home party they were throwing for Bonnie. "Oh, here they are. Hey, guys! Say hi to my mom!" Caroline and Elena waved excitedly to the camera. "They're planning me a welcome party. Just something, just low-key. I miss you. Please come visit when you get a chance. I'll, um, talk to you soon. Bye!" She planted a kiss on the screen with her hand before ending the video.

"By the way, Mom; I'm not a witch anymore, because I died and then came back from the Other Side." Elena said, mimicking Bonnie's voice.

Caroline laughed and picked up the conversation. "Yeah, I'm this supernatural anchor that connects the two worlds together, so…."

"Technically, I'm a ghost, that people can still see, and touch, so…." Buffy finished.

"Ok, so I left out a detail…. Or two. I'll explain when she visits."

Buffy looked at the supplies the girls had gotten. "Um…. How big is this party going to be?"

"Well, let's see," Elena said. "Silas and Tessa are gone, and Bonnie finally isn't…."

"Which equals a massive cause for celebration!" Caroline said.

"Which equals a massive party. Hopefully. I mean, since each of us have only made one friend in college so far."

"And given that mine went radio silent after he kissed me, and yours was last seen at a tea party for a vampire-hating secret society…."

"Hmm…. Augustine, right?" Bonnie said. "The one who covered up your roommate's death and wants you kicked off from campus." Both girls gave her a look. Buffy wasn't surprised in the least bit. "What? I've kept up! The Other Side is boring. What else am I supposed to do?"

"All right." Elena said. "So, Augustine wants us gone. Who cares? It doesn't matter. It's not gonna happen. We're moving on with our lives, together, as functional vampires, a former witch, anchor-thing. I don't know. And we have a party."

"With Jell-O shots." Caroline said, holding up the cups.

Bonnie looked at her phone. "Oh, shoot. Um, I have to go register for classes." Buffy, Caroline, and Elena shared a look. "What?"

"Nothing." The three of them said. Bonnie turned around smiling.

"Have fun registering." Elena teased. Caroline grabbed Elena and acted like they were making out.

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" Bonnie rushed out of the room.

"I second that." Buffy said. "Let's not remind me that Jeremy is back into the sex scene."

"It's not like he can get her pregnant…. Right?" Caroline said.

"Uh…." Elena said.

"I don't want to know!" Buffy said.

"Where's Damon at?" Caroline asked.

"He's roaming around with Willow." Buffy finished putting the last of Elena's clothes in her dresser. "And I am going to go catch up with them."

"I'll come with you." Elena said, grabbing a stack of printed flyers. "I need to hand these out and I wanted to invite Aaron to the party."

"Are you crushing on him?"

"No. He just…. He seems like he needs a friend."

"She's crushing on Stefan." Caroline said.

"Caroline!"

"What? You are!"

"That's awesome." Buffy said, following Elena out the door. "I'm happy for you."

"He turned down my invitation." Elena said as they headed for the stairs.

"Well, he's going through a lot right now. Damon offered to stay with him, but he just wanted some alone time."

"I'm worried that he blames me for being down there for three months."

"He doesn't. Really, Elena, he doesn't. He's just going through…."

"A lot. I know."

"Torture like that isn't something you get over just like that." Buffy snapped her fingers. "He's going to take some time to heal."

"Could you put in a good word for me when you go back home?"

Buffy smiled slightly and pushed open the door to the bright sunlight. "I suppose."

"Thanks." The two of them made their way across the courtyard, heading for the cafeteria where Willow and Damon were supposed to be. Elena spotted Aaron walking ahead of them. "Hey! Aaron, hey!"

Aaron turned around. "Hi."

"Long time, no see. Hey. This is my legal guardian, Buffy."

"Hello." Buffy said, shaking Aaron's hand.

Elena handed him a flyer. "You're coming?"

Aaron glanced at the flyer. "Party in a dorm? No, thanks."

"I know what you're doing. You like to push people away, but the thing is…."

"How do you know that about me?"

"Because you told me at the costume ball…. When I compelled it out of you." Elena glanced at Buffy with a panicked look. "Ok." She grabbed Aaron by the shoulders, forcing him to meet her gaze. "Forget I said that, forget that I know anything. We're starting over. You're coming to my party. There will be free beer, and it will be really good for you."

"See you then." Aaron said with a smile.

"See you tonight!"

"Well, that was just a bit careless." Buffy said after Aaron was out of earshot. "Maybe I should stick around so you don't spill all of our secrets and make out with a moody mystery guy."

"The only moody mystery guy that I want to make out with is Stefan." Elena's eyes widened when she realized that she'd said that out loud.

Buffy laughed. "Your secret's safe with me…. And Caroline."

"Buffy!" Willow yelled from behind them. Buffy and Elena turned around to see Willow and Damon making their way towards them.

Damon picked up his pace and scooped Buffy up into his arms, kissing her. "There's my beautiful wife!"

"We weren't separated for very long." Buffy laughed.

"I know, but we've got a car ride home with just the two of us. I'm really looking forward to it." He slipped his hand in hers and kissed her again."Ew." Elena said, handing a flyer to Willow.

"A party, huh?" Willow asked. "Are you sure I'm not too old?"

"Nah! You're more than welcome to come."

"She doesn't have a lot of friends here." Buffy explained. "Since she doesn't stick around long enough to make them."

"I get the hint. 'Go to class, Elena.'"

"Hey, we're not paying for you to skip classes."

"I know. I know. I'm going to go hand out flyers." Elena headed off towards the cafeteria where the most students were at this time of day.

"Try not to get kicked out of your dorm." Buffy called.

"I'll keep an eye on her." Willow said. "Make sure she doesn't get herself into any trouble."

"Thanks." Buffy realized she didn't have her purse. "Crap. I left it in the dorm."

"I'll go with you." Damon said.

"I've got a study group to get to." Willow said. "I'll see you guys later." She hugged Buffy quickly before trotting off.

Damon shook his head. "She is way too excited about higher education."

"She always has been." Buffy said, cuddling into Damon's side as they headed back towards the dorm.

"Let's hope our car ride home is nice, cause when we get home we've got a PTSD Stefan to deal with."

"Be nice. He's your brother and he needs our help."

"I know. I'm just saying if it's not one thing, it's another. I thought the first year of marriage was supposed to be the honeymoon phase. Then the realities of real life set in."

"We got a nice honeymoon."

"We did."

"It was longer than most honeymoons."

"True."

"So, I think we ended up with a fair trade off. A nice long honeymoon to get our lovey doveys out so our real life realities could resume as soon as we got back home."

"I guess." Damon held open the door to the dorm for Buffy. They headed upstairs to the girls' dorm and found Caroline sorting the booze in the fridge.

"Do me a favor and make sure you guys don't get arrested." Buffy said, heading over to Elena's dresser where her purse was sitting.

Caroline laughed. "We've got compulsion powers on our side."

The phone sitting on the dresser started ringing and Buffy picked it up. It was Caroline's phone. "Well, well, well…. Look who it is." She held out the phone to Caroline. "It's your hot biology TA."

Caroline smiled and answered it. "Well look who rose from the dead."

"I need your help." Jesse's voice said in a panicked tone.

"What happened, Jesse?"

"Just come to my room, please."

"Ok….. I'm coming, but what's going on?"

"It's a long story. My roomate's going to be home."

Caroline headed for the door with Buffy and Damon hot on her heels. "You're faster." She said to Buffy. "His dorm is number thirteen in the next building over."

"Go figure!" Buffy said, taking off with her super vampire speed. She broke the lock on dorm 13 and rushed in to find Jesse sucking violently on Aaron's neck. "Of course!" She pulled Jesse off of Aaron and shoved him back against the wall. Aaron collapsed to the floor. "Crap."

Damon and Caroline showed up a moment later. "Oh, my God!" Caroline cried. She noticed that Jesse's eyes were vamped out. "Who the hell turned you into a vampire?"

Jesse growled and Buffy pushed on his chest. "Deep breaths, baby vamp." Caroline and Damon moved Aaron up onto the couch. Buffy turned back to Jesse. "Good. Keep breathing through your mouth and tell us how you became a vampire."

"It was Wes Maxfield." Jesse said, taking deep breaths.

"The good professor?" Damon asked. "Really?"

"Hey sweetie, could you break into our stash that we brought Elena?" Buffy asked Damon.

"Sure." Damon kissed her quickly and headed out the door.

"He…. He kidnapped me. It was torture. I was in a cell all day and at night, he would take me out and do experiments on me."

"What kind of experiments?" Caroline asked.

"I don't know. He would starve me and then inject me with some weird blood. What am I supposed to tell my parents? They left me all of these messages. They're wondering where the hell I am."

"You're going to call them and tell them that you lost your phone, but you're ok." Buffy said. "Where's Wes now?"

"I locked him in his lab after I attacked him. Honestly, the whole escape was kind of a blur. I wasn't exactly in my right mind."

"Well, you're new and you're hungry." Caroline said.

"Not for long." Damon announced, walking back in with a cooler. "Got our stash. You and Elena need to put this in the fridge before it starts to curdle." He opened up the small cooler full of blood bags and took one out. He handed it to Jesse.

"Isn't that what the cooler is for?" Caroline asked.

"Not if there isn't any ice in there to keep them cool."

"Our stash?" Jesse asked. "You're vampires too?"

"Say it like it's a bad thing." Damon shook his head.

"Buffy's not just a vampire, either. She's a different, super vampire." Caroline said. Buffy shrugged and gestured at Jesse to drink up. He opened the blood bag and started drinking from it.

Damon glanced over at the unconscious Aaron. "Is he going to make it?""Elena might be mad if we let her first friend at college die…." Buffy said.

"He's all right." Caroline said. "He's alive."

"Somebody should probably heal him." Damon said.

"I was thinking that Jesse could do it." Caroline turned to Jesse. "You're a vampire now. You may have hurt him, but you can also heal him with your blood." She grabbed Jesse's arm and bit into him. She guided Jesse over to Aaron and fed him his blood.

Jesse watched as Aaron began to wake up as his neck wound closed up. "Holy crap. That is insane."

"Who wants to teach him about compulsion?" Caroline asked enthusiastically.

Wes Maxfield was tied up in his lab and just starting to come around. Caroline had taken Jesse to the dorm party and Buffy and Damon had gone to interrogate the good professor. Buffy was sitting by a table full of medical instruments while Damon was going through the things in the refrigerator.

"What do you want?" Wes asked as he finally came all the way back to consciousness.

"What we want is to be headed back to our lovely abode back in Mystic Falls and making a few sexy pit stops on the way, but unfortunately, we can't do that until we get a bunch of answers out of you." Damon started playing with a tray of vials.

"Careful with those!"

"These?" He held up the tray of vials from the refrigerator. "These, right here? What? I mean, we're on a college campus, right? Full of students? I mean, I can't imagine an M.D. with a bunch of infectious diseases just lying around."

"M.D. PhD. I'm a researcher."

"That explains it." Buffy said sarcastically, inspecting a weird looking metal thing.

"I know a lot of people like you." Damon said, taking the tray over to a table. "Science over medicine, right? Let me guess. You use these on your little vampire lab rats, don'tcha?" Wes refused to answer Damon's question.

"Not in the mood to talk?" Buffy asked. "I'd rethink that. He really likes to torture people and there's a lot of cool stuff in here for him to use. And since he probably has no idea what half of it is, it's going to be interesting to see what he can come up with. I mean," She held up a weird looking tool. "What the hell is this?"

"It's a wire speculum." Wes said.

"Oh, that question you'll answer?" Buffy rolled her eyes and tossed the crazy metal thing back on the table.

Damon selected a vial at random from the tray. "It's ok. We're going to play a little game, where I inject him with whatever the hell 'necrotizing fasciitis' is."

"It's a flesh-eating bacteria." Wes said.

"Gross." Buffy and Damon said.

"So, I'm going to do that and we're going to ask you a bunch of questions and if you answer us correctly, I'm going to give you some of my delicious vampire blood and heal you on up." Damon said.

"Is it weird that I don't want him to answer correctly cause I'm curious to see what a flesh eating bacteria looks like? I feel like the Discovery Channel isn't showing everything."

"Nah. It's not weird." Damon injected Wes with the necrotizing fasciitis.

Buffy leaned in close to their captive. "Wes, am I right? Does the Discovery Channel cut out the really bad stuff?"

"Probably." Wes said. He was starting to sweat.

"Well, I gotta say: Turning a kid into a vampire so you can experiment on him? That's a bit crazy. And wrong."

"She's a bit of an advocate against hurting kids." Damon said.

Buffy shrugged. "As someone who was forced into a life of death and destruction and no social life whatsoever at a very young age…. Can you blame me?"

Damon shook his head. "Nope."

Buffy nodded and turned back to Wes. "So, why, Wes? Why did you do it to Jesse?"

"Human trials are a vital part of modern medicine." Wes said.

"Don't people usually volunteer, or sign waivers to get some cash for tuition or beer?"

"Sometimes, you do what's necessary for the greater good."

"Do you know how many times I've heard that phrase uttered to me in my thirty two years?" When Wes didn't answer, Buffy waved her hand in front of his face. "That wasn't rhetorical."

"I don't know." Wes said.

"The answer is: a lot." Damon said.

"Correct." Buffy said. "And do you know how many times I haven't listened to it?"

"Every time?" Damon asked.

"Every time!" She turned and smiled at him. "You know me so well." Buffy turned back to Wes and her eyes were cold as ice. "There is absolutely nothing you can tell me that will justify hurting innocent kids."

"Oh, she brought out the Slayer. Not good for you."

"What's a Slayer?" Wes asked.

"Nope. No questions from you." Damon sat down next to Buffy. "So, I'm not the greatest guy in the world, but all of this sounds like some Mengele-level crap that you're spouting out, so I gotta ask, what is your greater good?" He pulled the cap off from a needle and held up a vial.

"What did you get this time?" Buffy asked.

"Rabies. Sounds fun, doesn't it? And appropriate, given the circumstances." Looking quite pleased with himself, Damon injected Wes with a vial of rabies.

"Ew. Foaming at the mouth."

"You're not a vampire?" Wes asked Buffy.

"Did you miss the part where you don't get to ask questions?"

"Rabies takes too long to set in. It takes a while. And apparently so does the flesh eating thing."

"I guess I'll find something a little more immediate." Damon got up and went back to the tray of vials.

"I wanted to turn Jesse into a new kind of vampire." Wes said.

"That's awfully ambitious of you." Buffy said.

"I'm awfully smart."

Damon rolled over on his chair to face Wes. He held up a little glass vial with some liquid inside. "Ebola." Buffy read on the label. She turned to Wes. "That's pretty immediate. So, tell us: Why?"

"Your kind…. Vampires…. Are dangerous to humans. You're dangerous because we're your food source. I want to change that. If vampires don't need to feed on humans, they're no longer a threat."

Buffy and Damon exchanged glances. "Yeah, we're not buying the good doctor bit." Damon said.

"Human blood will only satiate Jesse temporarily until he gets a taste of what he really craves."

"What does he really crave?" Buffy asked.

"Vampires."

Buffy shook her head. "Vampires? He craves his own kind?"

"Yes. And once he gets that taste in his mouth, he won't be able to stop."

"So vampire blood to him is like a can of Pringles? One drop and he can't stop?"

Damon chuckled. "That's good."

"Thanks." Buffy's phone started ringing and she stepped away to answer it. "Hello, Elena."

"Don't kill Wes." Elena said.

"Presumptuous much?"

"You're with Damon."

"That doesn't mean anything. Is that all you called for?"

"No! I also wanted to see if you've found anything out."

"Actually, we have. We just learned that Jesse craves vampire blood."

"Jesse feeds on…. vampires?"

"That's what Doogie said."

"Tell her about the Pringles." Damon said. "That was great."

"And I need to add that apparently once he starts, he can't stop."

"Hey…. Um, the fact that he told you this means that he's still alive, right?" Elena asked.

"For right now."

"Good. Please don't kill him, Buffy."

"I'll think about it."

"Tell me that you won't kill him."

Buffy sighed. "Ye of little faith. Fine. We won't kill him. Talk later." Buffy hung up and put her phone back in her pocket.

"Problem is," Damon said, looking at Wes. "I know people like you a lot better than you realize. If I let you live, you're just gonna do it again. You're gonna turn another vampire, you're gonna do another experiment. The only way to really handle you is just to snuff you out."

"You're lucky I don't feel like burying a body." Buffy said. She bit into her wrist and offered it to Wes, but just before Wes took the blood, Jesse stormed in.

"What the hell did you do to me?" Jesse yelled at Wes.

"Easy there, killer." Damon said.

"Wasn't bad enough that you locked me up and poked me full of needles? Now I want to feed on the girl I like?"

"You feed on monsters, Jesse." Wes said.

Jesse noticed Buffy's wrist with her blood on it. He smelled the blood and his eyes went dark. Buffy grabbed him by the neck and held him away from her. "You need to chill. I'm a lot stronger than you and…."

"Actually that's not 100% accurate." Wes said.

"Actually, it is." Buffy said, not even budging as Jesse tried to lunge at her. He clawed at her arm, trying to draw blood, but she moved faster than anyone's eyes could track and had Jesse pinned to the floor by his neck.

"What are you?" Wes asked.

"Your worst nightmare if you don't fix this."

"I can't reverse it."

"There has to be an antidote. You just need to work at it. Isn't that what you scientist types do? Create horrible viruses and their antidotes?" Buffy shot a look at Damon and he came over to hold Jesse down. She walked over to Wes and got very close to him, grabbing his face harshly and shoving a scalpel against his skin. "You are going to find a way to fix him or I am going to see what being a plastic surgeon is all about on your face." Buffy turned around at Damon's yell to see Jesse surge up and tackle him through the glass door and out into the hallway. She turned to Wes. "You are going to fix this, so start thinking up antidotes." She bit into her wrist and forced her blood into his mouth.

He jerked back. "That's not normal vampire blood."

"No, it's not. Now, stay here."

"Damon!" Elena yelled out in the hallway.

Buffy rushed out to find Jesse latched onto Damon's neck. "Jesse, let go." She ordered."He's gonna tear my head off, Buff!" Damon said, his voice getting weaker.

Buffy grabbed Jesse's shirt and yanked, but the shirt just tore. Elena called her name and Buffy turned to catch a wooden piece from the broken door. She kept the momentum going and spun the stake into Jesse's back, not seeing Caroline walk in behind her.

"No! No!" Caroline yelled. Jesse fell on the floor and she rushed to help him. "No, Jesse! Jesse, come here. Hold on. Hold on. Just stay with me, please. Jesse, just stay with me, please." Buffy checked on Damon's neck and Caroline looked up at Buffy. "What did you do?"

"He was gonna kill Damon." Buffy said. "It was that or rip his head off."

"We promised that we would help him."

"I didn't have a choice. Once he had the taste of vampire blood, there was nothing stopping him."

"Go ask Dr. Frankenstein." Damon snapped.

"We need to deal with him." Buffy said.

"Right." Damon moved past her and headed into the lab.

Buffy looked at Caroline. "I'm sorry about Jesse." She followed Damon into the lab.

"You're looking less death-like." Damon said to Wes.

Wes ignored him and set his sights on Buffy. "What are you?"

"I'm none of your business." Buffy said. "Because of you, an innocent kid is dead."

"You staked him."

"Because of what you did to him!"

"I'm thinking your number may have just jumped to the front of the line." Damon said.

"Well, if you're gonna do it, I'd much rather prefer a bullet through the brain." Wes said.

"Actually we're gonna wait until we can compel all this out of your head." Buffy said. "That way you'll never do this to anyone ever again."

"What the hell's that?" Damon had grabbed the tray of vials and taken it back to the refrigerator. He was holding up a blood bag. "Why does this say 12144?"

"What do you care?" Wes snapped.

"Because I was 21051."

"What?" Buffy asked.

"21051." Wes said. "Hang on. You were an Augustine vampire?"

"What's an Augustine vampire?" Buffy asked.

"Augustine. I haven't heard that name in decades." Damon said, his eyes becoming distant and disturbed. Buffy walked over to him and placed a hand on his cheek. "Vampire lab rats, coded subject names…." He said quietly. "I thought you guys shut down 60 years ago."

"You thought wrong." Wes said.

Damon threw the blood bag back in the fridge and slammed the door shut. "You know how she said we weren't going to kill you? She lied." Damon started filling up a syringe from a vial. Wes suddenly jumped out of his restrains and tried to run away. Buffy was suddenly standing in front of him, but he'd made it to a red button on the wall and pressed. A gas released from the sprinklers above them and filled the lab with it. Damon fell to the ground coughing. Buffy released Wes and coughed, stumbling into the wall as she tried not to inhale the gas.

"Atomized vervain." Wes said. "When working with vampires, you can never be too careful. I'm sure Augustine will be thrilled to have you back, Damon." He turned to Buffy leaning heavily against the wall, desperately trying not to give in to the effects of the vervain. "And as for you…. I can't wait to find out what you are." Buffy coughed a few more times and the world went black.

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