The Next Chapter

Chapter 94

Chapter 94

Buffy rolled over in her half asleep morning haze to curl up to Damon, but he wasn't in bed. She lifted her head and looked around. He wasn't even in the room. Getting up and pulling on some yoga pants and a tank top, she headed downstairs. It turned out that she was the only one in the house. With a sigh, she made herself a cup of coffee, grabbed her cell phone, and headed out to her gazebo.

"Hey Buffy." Jeremy said, answering Damon's phone.

"Jeremy? Why do you have Damon's phone?" Buffy asked.

"Matt and I found him. He's completely trashed at the Grill."

Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes. Guilt was not an emotion her husband was equipped to deal with. "Would you mind…."

"Nope. I'll get him home."

"Thank you."

"See you soon."

There was a message on her phone from Stefan saying that Katherine had suffered a heart attack last night and was at the hospital. He was bringing her home later that morning because the doctors said she wasn't going to make it through the day. She couldn't bring herself to care, but it gave her an excuse to call Klaus. Just to let him know that his 500 years of trying to kill her was about to end.

"It must be destiny." Klaus said by way of answering. "I was just looking at a picture of you."

"I didn't know you had any." Buffy said.

"I stole a couple from Damon."

Buffy had to laugh at that. "We didn't even notice."

"Are you calling to tell me you need directions to my humble abode as you're on your way here?"

"Not today."

"Ah, but that gives me hope that you'll actually visit."

"I like New Orleans." She smiled and shook her head at his laugh. "Actually, I was calling to tell you that Katerina Petrova is on her deathbed."

"Did you finally get tired of letting her wander around breathing and taking up space?"

"No. I'm still finding pleasure in her suffering."

"That's my girl."

"She's actually dying of old age. All those centuries of desperately trying to survive are finally catching up to her now that she's a human."

"It's almost poetic."

"I thought you'd like to come gloat with me. I've got a cellar full of bourbon that I'm ready to use to send the bitch off to hell in style."

"I like the way you think." Klaus chuckled. "I'll see you shortly."

"See you soon." Buffy hung up and let out a sigh.

Damon wasn't going to be happy about Klaus showing up, but of all the people she knew, Klaus's desire to see Katherine suffer and die matched hers. Stefan was too forgiving. He would always believe that Katherine could be saved. Damon, though he would deny it with gusto, couldn't bring himself to actually kill her. He'd loved her for a very long time and that wasn't something he could ignore. Elena hated Katherine. She had every reason to hate her since Katherine had ruined her life more than once, but Elena wasn't a killer. Jeremy hated Katherine, she had killed him after all, but he wouldn't kill her because she was human now.

With a sigh, she finished her coffee and headed upstairs to get dressed. While she was doing her makeup, Stefan sent a text saying that he was on his way with Katherine. Buffy rolled her eyes and finished her makeup. She headed into her old room and made sure the bed was ready. Just as she was slipping on her boots, the front door opened and Stefan called her name. She made her way downstairs to see Stefan carrying a gray haired Katherine down the hall.

"I set up my old room for her." Buffy said.

"Thanks." Stefan said. "Where's Damon?"

"He's on his way. Apparently he spent the night getting trashed at the Grill. Jeremy's bringing him home."

"Guilt is not something he handles very well."

"I know."

"Thank you for letting me stay here." Katherine said weakly to Buffy. "It was nice of you."

"Trust me, I would've left you at the hospital. My brother in law has a weak spot for Elena lookalikes. You can thank him."

"It's your house. You're Mrs. Salvatore, now. You could've said no. Thank you."

"Uh…. Yup. I need booze." Buffy hurried down to the cellar. No way was she letting a remorseful Katherine get under her skin. Not on a good day like today.

Upstairs, Damon, Jeremy, and Matt walked through the front door. Buffy came up the stairs and stared down her husband. "I needed a drink." Damon said. She held up the bottle of bourbon in her hand. "I didn't want to waste our supply…. And you looked too peaceful to wake up."

Jeremy and Matt headed into the living room, leaving Damon to deal with Buffy. "If you're feeling upset or guilty, you can wake me up. You don't need to sneak off in the middle of the night."

"I don't know how to talk about these feelings."

"You have to learn sometime, Damon. We're a team. We're husband and wife."

"And right now, we're celebrating the death of Katherine Pierce!" Damon took the bottle from her and headed into the living room. Buffy sighed and followed him, sitting down on the couch arm next to him. She was frustrated with him, but that would have to wait. Today was a day of celebration.

"So, what are we doing?" Jeremy asked.

Damon opened the bottle of bourbon and began pouring it into numerous shot glasses. "Rule number one: Name the worst thing Katherine Pierce has ever done. Rule number 2: Toast to the glory of her impending death. Rule number three: If you come across something that's worse, which you will, repeat rules one and two. She pretended to be buried in a tomb for 145 years, while I waited for her lying ass." Damon picked up a shot and tossed it back. "Wait…." He looked at Jeremy. "Does that beat pretending to be Elena and trying to convince me that I wasn't good enough for Buffy on the front porch of your old house?"

"I don't think so." Jeremy said.

"I don't think so either. Damn." Damon took another shot. "Mrs. Salvatore?"

"She walked into my life." Buffy said.

Damon handed her a shot and grabbed one for himself. "That goes double for me." He and Buffy toasted and tossed back their shots.

"I'll never have kids of my own and I came to terms with that, but then Jeremy and Elena walked into my life and I became their guardian. I love them like they're mine. And that bitch killed the only son I'll ever know and sent the only daughter I'll ever know into an emotionless spiral of crazy."

"Doozy. Another shot." Damon filled her shot glass back up and she tossed it back. "Quarterback, go."

"Uh…." Matt said.

"Think on that." He then passed the shot to Jeremy. "Little Gilbert."

"She fed me to Silas and I died." Jeremy said.

"Doozy."

Jeremy took a shot. "Then, she made me crash my car into a pole and left me for dead…. again."

"Double doozy. Drink." Damon handed Jeremy another shot and Jeremy tossed it back.

"My sister's dead because of her." Matt said.

"Yes she is…. Because I wouldn't have even been in town to turn Vicki into a murderous vampire if I wasn't trying to get Katherine out of a tomb she wasn't in." Damon handed a shot to both Jeremy and Matt. He handed one to Buffy and declared, "Group shot!"

Before they could toss it back, Elena, Caroline, Willow, and Bonnie walked in. "Seriously?" Elena said.

"Elena…. We're were just…. uh…." Matt said.

"I know what you're doing." Elena took Jeremy's shot glass. "You're cut off."

"Hey." Buffy said, handing Jeremy another shot. "Today's a good day. I'll allow it."

"Thank you." Jeremy said.

"Fine." Elena said. "But if anyone is drinking to Katherine's last days, it's going to be me." Elena took a shot. "She impersonated me…. repeatedly." She took another shot. "Made Aunt Jenna stab herself in the stomach and she cut off Uncle John's fingers."

"He might have deserved that." Jeremy said.

"My Grams died trying to close a tomb she wasn't in." Bonnie said.

"Tyler's werewolf curse got triggered because of her." Caroline said.

"Klaus followed her to Mystic Falls and because of that, we lost Jenna." Elena said.

"And Alaric." Damon and Buffy added.

"I burned down my home because she killed my brother." Elena said. She clinked glasses with Buffy and they both took shots.

"Shots." Damon said, filling Elena's and Buffy's glasses up and signaling for everyone to drink. "Rumor has it, she burnt down the entire city of Atlanta once."

"That might win." Willow said.

"All right," Stefan said as he walked into the room. "Knock it off or take it somewhere else. You guys are being insensitive."

"Come on, Stefan." Damon said. "Don't let the sight of a frail, human Elena-look-alike cloud your memories of the manipulative psycho that she is."

"In 1864, Katherine moved into my home, she compelled me to love her, seduced my brother, fed us full of vampire blood and then started a war with the town that got us killed."

"Exactly. Bottoms up."

"But, centuries before that, she was just an innocent girl that was shunned by her family. So for 500 years, she lied and manipulated and did whatever she had to do to survive. And she did. She's a survivor, right? So that's the girl I will drink to today. Cheers."

Buffy shook her head. "And this is why I went to get the booze earlier. I will not feel bad for her. Not after everything she's done."

"Buffy…."

Buffy held up her hand. "Nope. Just because she helped you get over your PTSD does not make up for all the other, horrible things she's done." She stood up. "The bottle's empty. Willow, come with? I'm going to…. Oh, great." Nadia was suddenly standing in the doorway. "It's the devil's spawn."

"What?" Elena asked.

"You didn't tell her about that Caroline?" Damon asked.

Caroline smacked her forehead. "We were all a little…. busy."

"I think my mind just exploded." Elena said.

"Katherine's upstairs." Buffy said as she headed for the cellar.

"Actually, I'm here to see all of you." Nadia said. "I found a way to save my mother and I need some help."

"No way." Damon said. "Even my biased brother knows I will kick his ass from here to Kentucky if he helps Katherine Pierce live one more day on this Earth. No volunteers."

"I figured as much, which is why I found that old safe your brother spent the summer drowning in and buried it on this property with your friend Matt inside of it. Oh, without this." Nadia placed Matt's Gilbert ring on the table.

Buffy sighed. "If I threaten to tear you to pieces, will you change your mind?"

"No."

"How about if I skip the threatening and go right to the tearing?" Nadia just glared at Buffy. "Ok, I'll just go up and kill off your mother before she goes in her sleep. Maybe I'll rip her to pieces."

That got a worried reaction from Nadia, but she put on her cool face again. "Then you won't find Matt and he'll die."

"I'll help." Stefan said.

"I will too." Elena said.

"I knew it would be you two." Buffy groaned. She turned to Nadia. "If anything happens to them, your mother will be in pieces and you can kiss saving her goodbye."

"They'll come back safe. Let's go." Nadia turned and headed back out the front door.

"Ok everybody, let's split up and find Matt." Caroline, Willow, Bonnie, and Jeremy headed for the front door. Buffy turned to her husband. "We'll take the back of the house, then."

"I'll stay here." Damon said.

"Why?"

"Someone needs to make sure that bitch suffers before she dies." He stood up and headed for the stairs.

"What are you going to do?"

"Help her take a walk down painful memory lane." And with that, Damon disappeared up the stairs.

Buffy shook her head and walked out into the gardens. She was marching angrily past her gazebo, muttering about her damn husband. "Troubles, love?" Klaus's voice floated to her from inside the gazebo.

She wheeled around and changed direction, walking into the gazebo where Klaus was sitting on the daybed with a glass of bourbon. She took the glass from him and sat down next to him. "My husband doesn't deal with the emotion of guilt very well."

"How so?"

"He tried to break up with me because an old cell mate of his made him feel like he didn't deserve the life he has."

Klaus's ears perked up at that. "He tried to break up with you?"

Buffy rolled her eyes at him. "Tried. Key word. But I threatened him with torture."

"Oh, come now. You shouldn't have to threaten someone with torture to make them stay with you." She leveled a glare at him. "It's true. I would let you come and go as you pleased."

"You and I both know that's a lie." She sighed. "Damon doesn't know how to deal with guilt, so I'm trying to help him with it. He keeps pushing away, though."

Klaus shrugged. "I could compel him for you."

"No. No compulsion. Especially not from you."

"Why not from me?"

"Because you would secretly make him want to leave me and you think that I would come crying to you with a broken heart that you would magically mend with your fancy house and pretty art."

"You think my art is pretty?"

"That's not the point. Oh! I'm supposed to be looking for Matt."

"Yes, I thought I heard Matt's distant and desperate screams on my way here."

"What? Where?"

"Don't worry love, I've got it covered. Trust me, he'll be quite happy with his rescuer."

Buffy narrowed her eyes. "Who?"

"Rebekah."

"Oh god, your sister is here?"

Klaus shrugged. "She wanted to see Matt."

"What about Elijah?"

"He's still in New Orleans guarding my interests, but he sends his love and well wishes."

She smiled. "Awe, tell him I said hi back. How is the heir to your empire doing?"

"Growing." He poured her more bourbon. "Can we please not talk about that? I'm here to celebrate Katerina Petrova's impending death."

Buffy held up her glass in a toast. "To the closing of a chapter."

He raised his glass to hers and toasted. After taking a drink, he leaned back. "You know, it's almost sad. All these years trying to kill her myself and old age gets to her."

Buffy slouched. "Damn…. You're right." She leaned back next to Klaus. "Maybe we should go up and kill her ourselves."

"There's no sport in it now. She can't run from us."

"You're right again." She sighed and lifted up her glass, clinking it against his. "Oh well, to a better, Katherine-less future." After taking a drink, she laid back into the fluffy pillows.

Klaus followed suit, laying back into the pillows next to her. Their legs dangled off the side. "So what have you been up to?"

"The usual. Mayhem, torture…."

"I hope you were doing the torturing."

"Not this time."

He turned worried eyes to her. "Are you ok?"

"Well, some freaky scientist who was friends with Elena's dad wanted to turn me into a vampire killing machine. He had me drained of all my blood and pumped full of vervain while he did experiments on me."

"He's dead, yes?"

"No. Stefan knocked him out and saved me."

"What was his name?"

"It's ok. We'll deal with him in due time. We've just…. Had a lot on our plates in the last couple of days."

"Tell me something, love." He said after a long time in silence.

"What?"

He slid his hand into hers. "Do you miss me even a little?"

"Klaus…." She started to pull her hand away, but Klaus held firm.

"Seriously, Buffy. I'll admit it. I miss you. I miss your company and…. I miss your uncanny ability to make me think twice about my decisions."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," He rolled onto his side and looked down at her. "I find myself asking 'would Buffy approve of this?' It's incredibly annoying. Especially because you tend to surprise me and I don't always know the answer to that question."

"Do you always do what you think I would approve of?"

"Of course not. But you wouldn't expect me to, would you?"

"No." She closed her eyes and took a breath. "Ok, fine…. If you want the truth, then…. Yeah. I miss having you around sometimes."

"Then come away with me."

"You already know the answer to that."

"Sometimes you surprise me."

"Is that why you never give up? Because you think that one day I'll just stop loving Damon?"

"Because one day you will stop loving Damon. You're immortal, Buffy. You will live forever. You can't love one person forever."

"I can damn well try. And I want to try with Damon." Buffy pulled her hand away. "Besides, you're contradicting yourself. You're begging me to leave Damon and be with you, but your argument for me leaving him is saying that immortals can't love one person forever."

"Essentially it's true. Look at Rebekah. How many loves of her life has she had?"

"Because you keep killing them all, you big oaf!" Buffy stood up and waved her hands. "Even if I did lose all of my marbles and walk away from the best relationship I've ever had in my life, what's to stop you from doing the same thing to me that you do to Rebekah?"

"Because we're different, you and I. Two of a kind. I would be enough for you. You wouldn't stray."

"Oh, I would be enough for you? I wouldn't stray? What about you being enough for me? What about you straying? It's a two way street, Klaus. A real relationship is a 50/50 thing and Damon and I are enough for each other." She gasped and slapped her forehead. "Oh my god! It just hit me! You've never been in a relationship before, have you?"

"I've been in many."

"A real relationship where you're both equals? A real relationship where you're in it because you both want to be? Because you respect each other and care what the other one has to say?"

"Of course."

"A relationship where you would rather die than have any harm come to her?" Klaus hesitated. "Of course not, because you've only cared about yourself."

"I care about you!"

"I'm married!"

"You called me here."

"Because of all the people in my life, you're the only one who wants to see Katherine Pierce suffer and die as much as I me. Yes, I care about you, Klaus. You're my friend. And last time I checked, friends share their excitement in their enemy's impending deaths together." She shook her head and leaned against the side of the doorframe. "I thought we laid this to rest after Elena's graduation."

"I can't stop thinking about you. I just took back the city from Marcel and more than anything, I want you by my side."

Buffy shook her head. "Klaus, you are sexy and charming and the very epitome of a bad boy. Women must fall at your feet on a regular basis."

"Not the woman that I want."

"I'm sorry you fell for a taken woman. I am. But I seriously think it's because people never say no to you. Am I the first person to say no to you?"

"That I didn't kill? Yes."

Buffy shook her head. "Well, that explains everything right there."

"Fine." Klaus stood up. "As soon as we're done here, I'm going to walk away and I'm never coming back. You'll never again have to look me in the eye and pretend that you don't feel something more than friendship for me. You'll never again have to loathe the parts of yourself that truly care for me. I will be gone and you will be free to love your husband."

"There's always a catch with you. So what's the catch?"

"You send me off with a proper kiss."

"Klaus…." Buffy put her face in her hand.

"I promise. I won't bother you again until you're ready."

She looked up at him. "And how will you know if I'm ready?"

"Because you'll come to me." He picked up the decanter and refreshed her drink before filling his glass back up. He lifted his glass in a toast. "To a better future." Buffy sighed and tapped her glass against his. Klaus tossed back his bourbon and set the glass down. "Now, about that kiss…."

"You're leaving already?"

"As much as I would like to be around for Katerina's final end, I feel that I've overstayed my welcome." He stepped closer to her and placed his hand on her neck, pulling her closer to him. Their lips met and Buffy had to admit, the guy knew what he was doing. She took a step back to move away, but he followed and pressed her against the wall beside the door. Despite wanting to end the kiss, Buffy found her hands gripping his shirt at his sides to keep him close. His hand slid down her side and pulled her thigh up to his hip, pushing against her.

After another long and breathless moment, Buffy finally came to her senses and pushed Klaus back. He moved towards her, but she locked her arms and kept him at bay. "No."

"You want more." Klaus purred.

"Yes, but I'm not going to hurt Damon like that. This was bad enough." He made a move towards her again, but she kept her arms locked. "You promised, Klaus."

He took a deep breath and straightened up. "Very well." Taking her hand, he bowed and kissed her knuckles. With a devilish smirk, he dashed out of the gazebo.

Buffy took a long moment to compose herself before heading back into the house. There was no one around, so she headed up to her old room to see if Katherine was dead yet. Instead she found Damon laying on the floor. "Damon!" She knelt down and lifted his head up into her lap.

"Ouch." He groaned.

"What happened?"

"In a shocking twist, Katherine's daughter is a psycopath."

"Color me stunned." Buffy helped Damon to his feet as Stefan walked into the room.

"She's all yours." Damon said to his brother. "I've had fun messing with her mind all day."

"Damon…." Stefan started.

"I know, Stefan. I know. It's been a rough couple of days. I needed an outlet, ok?"

Buffy watched her husband walk out of the room and Stefan came up to wrap her in his arms. "Are you ok?" He asked.

Buffy shook her head. "Way too much heavy crap going on the last couple of days."

"I know."

She looked up at him. "I need to talk to you."

"Ok." Stefan kissed her forehead and released her. "I'll come find you."

"Thanks." Buffy walked out to go find Damon. She found Willow first. Her best friend was walking through the front door with Elena, Caroline, Bonnie, and Jeremy.

Willow looked at Buffy and knew something was up. She caught up with the blonde and steered her away from the others. "What's wrong?"

Buffy looked at her with a surprised face. "Is it that obvious?"

Willow shrugged. "To me, yeah. Best friend since 1997, remember?" Buffy took Willow's hand and pulled her down to the cellar. She led her to the deepest part where no one would hear. "Ok, getting a little scared now."

"I kissed Klaus."

Willow rolled her eyes. "Yeah. I know you did. When you were fighting Alaric's crazy vampire killing self. He kissed you."

Buffy sighed with exasperation. "No. Today. In the gazebo. I called to tell him Katherine was dying and he came up to gloat with me. We talked…. We drank…. We talked…. He held my hand and told me that he missed me…. We talked…. And then he told me that he would leave for good and never bother me again until I came to him…. If I would kiss him." Willow stood there and stared at Buffy, only managing to blink a couple of times. "Say something."

"Um…. I'm torn between 'ew, gross' and 'what kind of kiss?'"

"It was a kiss. There was…. Tongue."

"Now it's just plain 'ew, gross'."

"He wanted to take it further, but I stopped him."

"Well…. That's…. Good…. I guess…."

"Stop hesitating." Buffy fell back against the wall and groaned. "I'm a horrible person! I kissed another man behind my husband's back! I should be flogged."

"Probably." Buffy's eyes widened in shock. "Ok, no flogging, but you've got some serious making up to Damon to do."

"I haven't told him."

"You need to. Buffy, you have feelings for Klaus and Damon needs to know that. And he needs to know that you love him and aren't planning on leaving him."

"Damon's fragile. If he finds out about my actual feelings for Klaus, it will hurt him more than he can handle."

Willow took Buffy's hands. "Buff, I kept secrets from Tara. Secrets that hurt her and she left me. I don't want that to happen to you and Damon, ok? You need to talk to him." She gripped Buffy's shoulders and gently guided her towards the door. "Go. Go find him and talk to him."

Buffy sighed and walked out. She searched the house for Damon and heard him and Stefan out on the roof talking. "You know, I was in a dark place, Damon." Stefan was saying.

"And Katherine pulled you out of it…. irony abounds." Damon said.

"You know, whatever's going on with you and Buffy…. you need to fix it. She's the best thing that ever happened to you."

"You think I don't know that? I can't live without her, but when you think about it, I'm no better than Katherine. Buffy would be happier without me."

Buffy had been about to climb out and join them, but Damon's words stopped her. Was he thinking about actually leaving her?

"What? I'm being selfless." Damon said. "Don't give me that look."

"I'm not giving you a look." Stefan said.

"Katherine-freaking-Pierce has a selfless moment, but I'm not allowed to have one? Fine…. Fine! When I fix this mess with Buffy, just remember you…. you're the one who pep-talked me out of doing the right thing for her and…. all of mankind."

"I will keep that in mind."

"You do that." Stefan appeared in the window and Buffy sank further back into the shadows. Damon crawled through next and walked right by Buffy. She slid down the wall and put her forehead on her knees.

"You're really going to tell him?" Alaric asked, suddenly appearing squatting in front of Buffy.

"Yes. No. I don't know."

"He's going to freak out."

"I know. I know! Willow's right, though. Secrets hurt relationships."

Alaric sighed and moved to sit down beside her. "I know they do."

"How bad do you think he's going to freak out?"

"On a scale of 1 to 10? Probably 13."

"You're not helping."

"When have I ever made your life easier?" Buffy snorted. "Cheer up, though. It may send him off the deep end, but you're not going anywhere. You love him and he knows that. He'll remember that and come back to you."

"I don't want to send him off the deep end. You know what he's like in the deep end. He drowns."

"Buffy?" Stefan called from down the hall. He appeared in the doorway and found her sitting on the floor. Of course, he couldn't see Alaric. "Hey, you ready to talk now?" Buffy held out her hands to him and he helped her up. She didn't say anything just wrapped her arms around him. He held her tightly. "Is it that serious?" Buffy nodded. "What happened?"

"I'm about to send Damon off the deep end." She said quietly.

"What do you mean?"

Buffy glanced at Alaric. "I'll see if I can distract him through Bonnie." Alaric said before he disappeared.

Buffy looked up at Stefan. "I kissed Klaus today."

"He was here?" Stefan asked.

Buffy nodded. "He came to gloat over Katherine's death. We were talking in the gazebo and before he left he said that he would leave me alone until I came to see him if I would just kiss him. So…. I…. kissed him."

"He's going to be mad, but…."

"Stefan, you know how I feel about Klaus. I don't hate him."

"I know."

"And I can't lie to Damon anymore."

"I don't want to encourage you to continue lying, but…. I'm not sure now is the right time to tell him. He's really down and he's scared you're mad at him. He was talking about leaving you to make you happier."

"I heard. Eavesdropping isn't much of a sport when you can hear pretty much everything within a mile radius. And I was standing by the window."

"You're incredibly sneaky when you want to be. I had no idea."

"I know."

"Look…. Don't tell Damon yet, ok? Let him recover from this horrible ordeal and then we'll sit down together and talk to him."

"It's my problem, Stefan. You shouldn't have to feel obligated to sit in as a referee."

"I don't feel obligated. We're a family, Buffy. We're all Salvatores. We need to start dealing with problems together."

Buffy wrapped herself in her brother-in-law's arms again. "You're too good to me, Stefan."

"No, Buffy. You're too good to me and my brother. I don't know what we did right to deserve you in our lives, but I am so glad we did."

She sighed and pulled back from Stefan. "Guilt is an emotion I don't seem to be very well equipped to deal with anymore. I'm becoming more and more like Damon every day."

"Well, they say couples start to resemble each other after a while." Stefan gently gripped her shoulder. "Don't worry. Everything will work out ok."

"Famous last words." She muttered.

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