The Next Chapter

Chapter 92

A/N So sorry about the loooong dely. My router decided to die and I didn't have the money for a new one. Thanks to some awesome friends, I now have a new router. Chapter 93 is coming, I'm just not happy with it (still). I've been poking at the ending for a few weeks. Any helpful hints?

Chapter 92

Damon opened his eyes to see Wes Maxfield injecting him with vervain. "What the hell are you doing to me?" He demanded.

"Vervain. To keep you calm." Wes said.

"Wes? Why am I here?"

"I lost a test subject last night, and you're gonna replace him." Wes walked out and closed the gate to the cell.

"Where's Buffy?"

"Don't worry about it." Wes walked away and headed down the hall to where Buffy was strapped to a table.

"Where's Damon?" She demanded. "What have you done with him?"

"Oh no. I'll be the one asking questions. Let's start with: What are you?"

"I'm the one that's going to rip your throat out if you've done anything to Damon."

Wes picked up a recording device. "Subject 83182 doesn't respond to vervain like a normal vampire. It took a much longer time for the atomized vervain to affect the subject and the effects wore off much quicker." Buffy yanked at one of the restraints and it broke off. Wes panicked and grabbed a dart gun. Just as Buffy broke the other arm restraint, Wes shot her twice with vervain darts. Buffy groaned and started to undo her leg restraints. Wes shot her twice more and she slumped back. "Subject 83182 is also much stronger than an average vampire. Subject 21051 referred to her as a Slayer. What is a Slayer?"

He turned off the recording device and picked up an IV needle that was hooked up to a glass bottle with vervain water in it. He stuck the needle in Buffy's arm and made sure the drip worked. He went over and grabbed an empty blood bag and hooked up another IV to her other arm to begin draining her of blood while she was out. Grabbing his notebook, he headed back to Damon's cell and sat down in a chair outside of it.

Damon was sitting against a wall looking a little worse for the wear. While he'd been out, Wes had drained him of blood to keep him weak. "Where's my wife?" Damon demanded.

"I told you not to worry about it. You'll see her eventually." Wes said.

"Just so you know: didn't end well for the last Augustines. You're inviting bad karma in by holding me here."

"Is that what you told Dr. Whitmore?"

"Dr. Whitmore wasn't much for conversation. So you Augustine freaks are still at it, eye exams and that sort of thing?" Damon sat up a little straighter. "Is that where Buffy is? Are you hurting her?"

"Not at the moment. But your wife could be the key to the next level of my research. Jesse was proof that my research goes far beyond that. I trained him to crave vampire blood instead of human blood. I need to know what a Slayer is."

"You're barking up the wrong tree."

"Fine," Wes stood up. "I'll just go open her up and see what I find."

"Don't!" Damon sighed. "She's not just a vampire. She's a…. Sort of…. Hybrid….""A hybrid?"

"A vampire/Vampire Slayer. I turned her, but she somehow ended up staying part Vampire Slayer."

"Vampire Slayer?"

"One girl in all the world? Built to kill vampires? All this time torturing vampires and you've never heard of them?"

"No."

"Well, now you know what she is. Let her go. She can't help you because she's not a normal vampire."

"I need to do some research." Wes got up and headed back into the lab where Buffy was nearly drained of her blood.

"You should start running." She threatened, even though her voice was weak. "When I get out of here, you're going to wish you'd never messed with me."

Wes ignored her and injected her with vervain mixed with an incredibly strong tranquilizer. She was out soon and he undid her leg restraints and carried her to the cell next to Damon's. Damon struggled to his feet when he saw the unconscious Buffy and grabbed the bars. "What did you do to her!?" He growled.

"Sedated her. She won't be out long." Wes dumped Buffy on the floor of the cell and locked her in. He ignored Damon growling and yelling obscenities and threats at him as he left.

Damon dropped to the floor and grabbed the bars in the little window between the cells. "Buff?" He reached through, trying to touch her, but his arm wasn't long enough. "Buffy? Come on, wake up, baby." He spent the next fifteen minutes trying to rouse her. She finally groaned and moved around, opening her eyes. They came to rest on Damon and she lit up, clearly happy she'd found him. "Hey." He said, relief evident in his voice.

"You're ok!" Buffy moved towards him and he could tell she was a lot weaker.

"I'm fine. What did he do to you?"

"He took most of my blood and pumped me full of vervain…. And I think elephant tranquilizers…."

"Maybe when it all wears off, we'll be able to…." Damon grabbed the bars and tried to shake them "Break through these."

"Where are we?"

"We're in an old residence of mine. It seems that Wes is carrying out the grand Augustine tradition: Getting his kicks off with vampire torture."

"I gathered that much." She crawled over to the window and laid down beside it, taking Damon's hand. "Well, I guess we have some time to kill while I get my strength back. Tell me about what happened."

Damon kissed her palm and squeezed it. "Someone in my family sold me out to the Augustines in 1953. Every day, this nut job Dr. Whitmore tortured us, cut into us, took pieces of our eyes out, pushed us to every limit he could imagine, and he had quite the imagination."

"Sounds like I have a lot to look forward to."

"Don't."

"Sorry. Gallows humor. How long were you here?"

"5 years, give or take."

"Sweetheart, why didn't you tell me about this?"

"It didn't matter. It was in the past."

"How did you not go crazy?"

"Believe it or not, I made a friend. He was in the cell you're in. Between breaks we used to dream up different revenge plans. His name was Enzo. He was a soldier in Europe during World War II."

"How did he end up here?"

"Dr. Whitmore was working in a battlefield hospital when he discovered Enzo was a vampire, so he drugged him, locked him in a coffin to ship him overseas. He'd been here for 10 years by the time I joined the party." Damon turned over on his back, still holding her hand, and looked over at her. "I am so, so sorry I got you caught up in this. I promise you I will get you out of here, ok?"

"I know that tone. I'm not going anywhere unless you're with me."

"I don't want you to go through what I went through. I couldn't bear it."

"And you think I could bear anyone torturing you while I just sit here? I'll get my strength back and we'll get out of here. Together."

Damon smiled slightly. "I love you."

"I love you." She squeezed his hand and moved closer to the window so she could slip her arm through and be a little closer to him. "How did you survive all those years?"

"Enzo's friendship kept me alive. He gave me a reason to hang on to my humanity."

"I'd like to thank him for that."

Damon shook his head. "There's more to this story, Buff."

"Then tell me."

"I'm scared I'm going to have enough time to go into every detail of those five years."

"I'll get my strength back."

"That's just it, Buff. Once your strength gets taken away, they make sure it doesn't come back."

"Fine. Then Stefan is going to figure out something's wrong when we don't come home and no one hears from us. He'll get Willow on the case, she'll do a spell and poof! We'll be out of here and the good professor will be a little warty toad we can smoosh under our boot heels."

"Points for optimism. But unfortunately, Stefan doesn't even know this place exists."

"You were here for 5 years."

"Yeah, and in the first year, I'd thought he'd rescue me. He didn't. Once I escaped, there was no point in giving him more to feel guilty about, so I never told him what happened here. I never told anyone."

"Well, you did escape…." She smiled at him. "Unless you've been a ghost for the last few years and you were leading me here to find you. Like that Reese Witherspoon movie where she was in a coma and the Hulk guy from The Avengers was living in her apartment." Damon let out a snort of laughter. "So, how did you do it? How did you escape?"

"They let us out of the basement once a year. Every New Year's Eve, the Augustine people had a little cocktail party with a vampire buffet on the side. We were weak from vervain injections, half-starved from living on a glass of blood a day, chained up like animals. This little annual shindig is where Dr. Whitmore got to show all of his Augustine friends what he'd found in his research. He let his guests drink from us to demonstrate the healing power of vampire blood. But on the plus side, that's how Enzo came up with his plan."

"What was the plan?"

"One of us would drink the other's ration. We would gain strength over the year and at the next party, we would get out of there."

"It worked, obviously."

"More or less."

"Ok…. The mood just got serious…. If that's even possible considering a measly human managed to best me, pump me full of drugs, and steal all of not only my blood, but my husband's too. What happened?"

"It doesn't matter. I got strong. I got out. It wasn't pretty. That's all you need to know." Damon stood up and moved towards the back of his cell.

"Ok, Mr. I'm-Hiding-Something."

"I'm not."

Buffy sat up and leaned against the wall beside the window. "Damon, you're my husband. I know when you're keeping something from me." Damon snorted. "Would you tell me what happened?" He was silent. "Doctor Annoys-A-Lot is gonna come back down here and you and I will be the latest Augustine experiments. So, start talking, babe. Tell me how you got out of here."

"You don't want to know."

"Is this a thing where you think I'm going to judge you? Cause I seriously stopped doing that a long time ago. I think it's all part of this weird thing where I love you." She heard Damon try to hide a chuckle. "Baby, these people tortured you for 5 years. Whatever you had to do, I don't care."

"All right. All right. The Augustines' next party was in 1958. I'd been drinking Enzo's rations for an entire year. I mean, he kept a few drops here and there so he wouldn't desiccate and as he starved himself, I got stronger from all the extra blood just like he said I would. Dr. Whitmore locked us in the cage as usual and I waited." Damon moved around the cell. "When he came to take blood from one of us, I made sure I was the one he grabbed. I let him think I was still weak and while I followed him, I broke my hand to get out of the chains holding me. When the good doctor turned around, I blinded him first and then I tore his throat out."

"He deserved it."

"Buff…."

"Sorry. Continue."

"While people were running away and while I was killing everyone I came across, a fire got started. Enzo was still trapped in the cage. I went over and tried to save him, but the bars were laced with vervain. Enzo trusted me with his life. The fire was getting out of control and I would have burned up…. or they would have captured me again. There's no way I would have ever gotten another chance of escaping. So I chose to save myself. And I knew if I was going to save myself…. That I had to stop caring about Enzo. So I turned off my emotions." Buffy closed her eyes and felt tears roll down her cheeks. "I left my friend to die. After that, everything was fine. Everything was fine."

"Damon, I am so sorry."

Damon snorted. "For what?"

"Don't. Don't do that. Don't play it off like this was nothing. This changed you dramatically."

"I'm fine."

"You're not. Damon…."

Suddenly the door leading to the line of cells flew open and Elena's little friend Aaron walked in. He looked shocked. "What the hell is this place?"

"Aaron?" Buffy asked.

"Great. Mini-Wes." Damon groaned.

"I didn't know what Wes was doing. I didn't even know there was a basement down here." Aaron said.

"Earth to Aaron." Buffy waved her hands at him. "Hi! You need to help us."

"I wanna know the truth." Aaron was trying to load a gun with wooden bullets, but he dropped some of the bullets.

"Slick hands, cowboy." Damon said.

"Yeah? Well, I've never used a gun before! And I never killed anyone either…. Unlike you."

"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked when she realized Aaron was talking to her.

"Wes said a vampire killed Megan." He aimed the gun at Buffy.

"And you thought it was Buffy?" Damon asked. "You don't even know her."

"Not to mention, I wasn't even here that weekend." Buffy said.

"Wes also said a vampire killed my parents." Aaron said. "Maybe that was you, too."

"I'm so confused right now. And it's not the lack of blood. Could you explain to me why you think I'm the crazy vampire that kills people around you?""Because you've had Elena asking questions about me."

"Um…. No. Elena's been curious about you all on her own."

"Elena has been asking around about you all day with her boyfriend. She said she believed you were missing. She said that you had been with Wes when she'd seen you last. I came to ask him if he'd seen you and he…. He told me…."

"A bunch of lies?"

"They're not lies!"

"How do you know?"

"She's not the one that killed your parents." Damon said. "That was all me."

A stunned Aaron lowered the gun. "What did you just say?" He moved over to stand in front of Damon's cell, pointing the gun at him. "Start talking."

"Damon, what are you doing?" Buffy asked.

"In 1958, after the fire…. Enzo was dead, so I had to take on my revenge plan solo." Damon said. He took a deep breath. "After I had taken out the entire Augustine society, I was going to kill every member of the Whitmore family…. Except one person. I was going to let that person grow up…. Start a family…. And then I would start killing Whitmores again. And then I would take out the generation after that…. Leaving only one person to carry on the name…. And then I would take out the generation after that…. And so on, and so on, and so on. And that's exactly what I did."

"How many Whitmores have you killed?" Aaron asked.

"Since 1958? I lost count."

"When was the last one?" Buffy asked quietly. Damon didn't respond. "Damon, when was the last one?"

"A few months ago. Her name was Sara. Had to go all the way to Charleston to find her."

Buffy shook her head. "That weekend we took off after Elena got her emotions back? That's what that was for?"

"Just before we got married. Just before we started the summer of our lives."

"I…. I had no idea…."

"Told you it wasn't pretty."

Aaron shot Damon in his fury. Buffy screamed and dropped down to the window between the cells. He'd shot Damon in the forehead. She didn't even care that Aaron was leaving them locked in the cells. She just sat down in shock and stared at her unconscious husband. The trip to Charleston was supposed to be a quickie romantic getaway. They'd actually picked out their wedding bands on that trip. The two of them had been strolling down a cute little street and had passed the window of a little jewelry shop. The wedding bands had been on display and both of them had fallen in love with the rings.

"We don't need to have a date set to buy the wedding bands." Damon had said. "At this rate, we're never going to have an actual wedding anyway. We should just put the rings on and lie about running off to Vegas." Buffy had laughed and had been in such high spirits, she'd agreed that they should buy the rings.

She was so lost in her thoughts, she didn't even hear Wes come back down and shoot her with the vervain elephant tranquilizers. When she finally woke up, she realized she was strapped to a lab table again. Buffy shook her head and looked around at her surroundings. The room seemed slightly familiar, but she couldn't place it. She heard cheerful humming from somewhere in the room.

"What the hell?" Buffy pulled on the restraints, but she was still weak from blood loss, vervain, and tranquilizers.

"Ahh. Welcome." Buffy turned her head to find a handsome vampire strapped to a table next to her. "I'm 12144. My name's Enzo."

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