Buffy woke up and looked around her surroundings. She was leaning against Alaric's headstone with six empty bottles of bourbon sitting on the ground beside her. Her cell phone was sitting on top of the headstone. She groaned and sat up, blocking the sun with her hand. At first it was a haze as to why she was waking up next to Alaric's headstone, but then the events of the night before came back to her.
She'd been walking and had broken into the liquor store after her fight with Damon. After she'd downed the first bottle, she'd come to Alaric's grave and ranted at him about what had happened. He hadn't shown up, so she'd grabbed her cell phone and had apparently called Xander, Angel, Spike, Dawn, Willow, Elijah, Rebekah, Giles' old cell phone number (which had been given away and the poor woman who had inherited it from the phone company had gotten an ear full), and much to her now sober dismay, Klaus. Luckily all of them, minus Elijah, hadn't answered. For Klaus, she'd left him a message…. Something along the lines of calling him names and blaming him for being a Damon-wannabe to get into her pants.
She and Elijah had talked for a while. He'd assured her that Damon would come to his senses and he'd apologized for his brother more than once. He said that being honest with Damon would only strengthen their bond in the long run. "It's absurd to think that secrets that large could be kept in a relationship if you expect it to last. While your feelings for my brother have made him a little more bearable and I thank you for that, it does not lessen your feelings for Damon in any way. If anything, it made you realize how important Damon is to you. You're a fighter, Buffy. Fight for your relationship."
She stood up and stretched out before grabbing her phone. She'd missed a lot of calls from Caroline and Stefan. None from Elena, oddly enough. Bonnie had called once to check on her and Jeremy had left a bunch of text messages. Matt had actually left her a message, too. Her battery was almost dead, though.
Buffy glanced down at the headstone and gave it a small kick. "I could've used you last night." She shoved her phone in her pocket and started walking with no idea where she was going to go.
Stefan approached Damon's car in front of the boarding house's door. The car had been crashed into a plant pot. He noticed that there was blood on the car's trunk door. With a sigh, he opened the trunk and found Aaron's body in it. Great. Buffy was MIA and Damon had gone on a killing spree. Stefan closed the trunk and walked inside.
Damon was drunk on the couch with broken glass everywhere. "Hey." He slurred. "Sorry about the mess. I had some company and things got a little out of hand."
"You want to tell me what the hell's going on out in the driveway?" Stefan asked.
"Ah. I let Enzo drive last night. He's a little out of practice." Damon struggled to his feet. "Almost ended up in the damn foyer."
"Oh. You mean Aaron."
"Yeah. Well, last night, we hunted him down, and I ripped his throat out. Yeah. I just figured it's time to shove the last branch of the Whitmore family tree into the…. wood chipper." Damon found a bottle with bourbon still in it and took a long swig.
"So you have a fight with your wife and your first instinct is to go on a killing spree? Could you be any more predictable?"
Enzo walked into the living room. "It was my idea if it makes you feel any better." He offered his hand to Stefan. "Enzo. Remember? We met when…."
"When you were trying to tear Damon's head off." Stefan interrupted him. "Yeah. I remember." He turned to face Damon. "So, what, you guys are old pals again, murder buddies, is that it?"
"Oh, you know how it goes." Damon said. "I mean, I left him for dead, he tried to kill me, we worked things out. You spend 5 years with someone in a dungeon, you have a pretty unbreakable bond." He gave Enzo the bottle over Stefan's shoulder.
"Say, you haven't heard from Dr. Wes Maxfield by any chance?" Enzo asked. "Bloke's next on the Augustine hit list, and he's a slippery little devil."
"Is that the plan?" Stefan asked. "Kill off Augustine and then go back to your sadistic, psychotic old self?"
"I happen to like my old sadistic self, Stefan." Damon said. "In fact, I miss that guy. That guy was dumb enough to try and change himself to get a girl. So, get another hobby, brother, because I'm not in the mood to be saved."
"Hmm…. Last I checked, you did get the girl. And that girl is missing. You broke her heart and now we can't find her." Stefan didn't miss the look of worry that crossed Damon's face, but it hardened again.
"She broke my heart. She kissed that jackass Klaus and she has had feelings for him all this time…. So good riddance."
"You don't mean that."
Damon hesitated before saying, "Of course I do."
Enzo wrapped an arm around Damon's shoulders. "What do you say? Shall we get you a new hobby? Golf? Scrapbooking?"
"Come on, Damon. You're better than this." Stefan said.
"On the contrary, brother. I'm better like this."
Stefan sighed and walked back out, deciding to search for Buffy again. It was a miracle that he found her an hour later sitting at the Grill. She was hiding in a back corner away from everyone and in as dark a corner as she could find. And apparently she'd gotten Matt to give her a whole bottle of bourbon that she was currently a third of the way through already.
Stefan slipped into the booth across from her. "You look like hell."
"I feel like hell." Buffy said, not looking up.
"Where were you last night? Caroline and I looked everywhere for you."
"Not everywhere. I was at the graveyard."
Stefan lifted up the bottle of bourbon. "How many bottles of this stuff have you gone through?"
Buffy yanked it away from him. "Apparently I'm on number nine."
"Well, you're about neck and neck with Damon then."
"You've seen him?"
"He and Enzo trashed the living room in their booze fueled whatever."
"How many people has he killed?"
"Just one that I know of."
"How'd you know?"
"Because it's who Enzo wanted him to kill. If they're buddy buddy again, then Aaron's dead."
"Listen, why don't you come home and get cleaned up? We can figure out what to do next." Before she could protest, Stefan stopped her. "You kind of smell."
"Thanks." Buffy grabbed her bottle of bourbon and followed Stefan out of the Grill. They headed back through the woods and when they got closer to the house, they found Enzo digging a grave.
"I see Damon's got you on shallow grave duty." Stefan said to him.
"Be a mate. Grab a shovel." Enzo said. He noticed Buffy taking a drink from her bottle. "Ah, the lovely Mrs. Salvatore. Your husband had a lot to say about you last night."
"Back off." Stefan growled.
Enzo laughed. "Sensitive subject for the whole Salvatore family."
"I think you need to find yourself a new best friend. Damon's in a bad place right now and you're not really making things better. I know you just got out of captivity and you're looking to blow off a boatload of steam, which is fine. Just…. do me a favor. Leave my brother out of it."
"He mentioned you were a bit of a do-gooder."
"Yeah. You know what makes somebody walk a straight line? When they have no choice but to be the balance for somebody who's about to fall off the edge."
"Ah, but it's so much more fun when you can just commit to the leap. You're welcome to join in on the fun." Enzo offered Stefan a shovel. "Looks like you both could use it."
"Screw this. I need a shower." Buffy said, tossing the now empty bottle behind her and walking off.
"Good man." Enzo said when Stefan grabbed the shovel from him.
Instead of digging, Stefan used his vampire speed and hit Enzo across his legs, knocking him down. He tried to get up, but Stefan kicked him on the chest and pushed him down on the floor again. "Why don't you be a mate, huh?" Stefan said, putting the end of the wooden handle on Enzo's chest. "Get in my car, start driving, and don't look back."
Enzo smiled and grabbed the handle, piercing his own chest with it without even flinching. "You think that hurts? I'm curious, Stefan. What do you think you can possibly do to me that hasn't been done a hundred times before? Go on. Give it your best shot."
Stefan pulled out the shovel and turned it around, placing the metal part on Enzo's neck. "What I do to you, Enzo, will be final. You got it? Be sure I never see you again." He took the shovel and threw it as he walked away.
Buffy sat on Stefan's bed wrapped up in a towel with her knees up to her chin as she stared off into space. She hadn't wanted to go into her own bathroom and she hadn't wanted to spend any time in her old room where Katherine had died. It still stank of her death. So, she'd commandeered Stefan's bathroom. He had set out some clothes for her on his bed and given her some privacy.
When she had walked into the house, Damon had been coming up from the cellar. They'd locked eyes for a long moment, but Damon had walked away without saying anything. She had spent an hour in the shower crying before she'd even tried to wash her hair.
Stefan knocked on the door and stuck his head in. "Hey…. Oh, you're not dressed."
"Sorry." Buffy said, wiping at her eyes.
"I'll come back."
"It's ok. I haven't worked up the strength to start getting dressed yet. Not sure when I will."
"Well, I hope it's soon. I promised Caroline that we would come to this dance thing."
"Oh, Stefan, no! I don't feel like going to any dance."
"She thinks it will lift your spirits. It's something about a Lonely Hearts theme."
Buffy shot Stefan an agitated look. "Yes, that will definitely make me feel better."
Stefan chuckled. "I know, but let's humor her, ok?"
"I'm going to just take over your room and sleep for a couple centuries. Maybe Damon will be over being mad at me by then."
"He'll be over being mad at you soon enough. You don't need to sleep for centuries." Stefan came over and sat down next to her. "When I told him you were missing, he got really worried. But of course, Damon being Damon…. He covered it up with his devil may care attitude."
"He ran away from me when I saw him. He didn't say a word. Just stared at me and ran away."
"Well, you hurt him and he doesn't know how to deal with that. I think the fact that he's only killed one person says a lot about the influence you have over him."
Buffy let out a snort. "You know, I never thought in a million years that I would ever marry someone. I never thought that I would find someone that stacked up to Angel…. Let alone surpass him. When he left me…. I was a wreck. But I never wanted to just stop going. I never wanted to give up. When Riley left, it hurt…. A lot. But I never lost sight of who I was and what I wanted from life. Right now…. Loosing Damon…. I want to stop. I want to hide under a rock and not come out until he forgives me. I don't know what to do without him, Stefan. He walked into my life and I was his…. Completely."
Stefan wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. "Buffy, you didn't lose him. He's not gone. He's just dealing with this the only way he knows how. He will be back. He will."
"You don't sound certain."
"I don't? Because I am." He looked at the clothes he'd laid out. "You know what? These won't work. You need to get hot. I'm talking so hot that the only person crazy enough to lay a hand on you would be Damon Salvatore." Buffy let out a little laugh. "I'll lure him to the dance…. Somehow…. And he will be reminded of the first thing that drew him to you. Now go. Get hot. I'll wait."
Buffy rolled her eyes at his encouraging smile, but she got up headed down to her and Damon's room. He wasn't there and it was clear he hadn't been there in a while. She took a moment to bury herself in his clothes hanging in the closet, relishing the scent of them, before she went to her side and picked out a dress.
Stefan escorted Buffy into the dance and they headed down the stairs. He had to admit that he was impressed. Buffy had chosen a deep red, satin sheath dress that clung to her body from her chest to just below her knees. The dress pushed her…. Assets…. Up and highlighted them. She had on sexy black, strappy stilettos that made her almost five inches taller. Her long, blonde hair was in loose ringlets down her back and her makeup was straight off Marilyn Monroe's face.
Buffy noticed him starting. "What?"
"Nothing. I'm just…." Stefan shook his head and blew out a breath.
"This was your idea."
"And you came through."
"Quit checking me out. You're my brother in law. Is Damon coming?"
"I couldn't get a hold of him, but I left him a message."
"Wait…. I'm here with no guarantee that he's going to show? Stefan…." She started to turn away, but Stefan tightened his grip on her arm.
"Stay, Buffy. Dance." He glanced at the shredding station they were passing. "Shred a picture. Just…. Try to have a little fun."
"I should be at home doing penance or something."
"If you go home, you'll get into bed and not get out."
"Buffy!" Caroline squealed behind them. Stefan and Buffy turned around. "You look amazing!" She hugged Buffy tightly and looked at Stefan. "Is Damon here?"
"Not yet. He's ignoring my phone calls."
Elena sauntered up just then and wrapped an arm around Stefan, pulling him away from Buffy. "I'm glad you made it." She purred. "Dance with me?" Stefan looked at Buffy, but Elena said, "Buffy will be fine. She's a big girl."
"I'll take care of her." Caroline said, taking Buffy's arm.
"Great!" Elena smiled brightly and pulled Stefan onto the dance floor.
Buffy looked at Caroline. "Is it just me, or is she acting differently?"
Caroline shrugged. "She's happy that she's back with Stefan. Come on." She pulled Buffy towards the shredding station. "Did you bring anything to shred?"
"No. I didn't even plan to come to this thing, let alone bring a printed picture. Do people actually print those out anymore?"
"Well, I brought pictures." Caroline grabbed two pictures of herself with Tyler and shoved them in the shredder.
"I thought you were going to work things out with Tyler?"
"Right now, that's not an option. He chose his vendetta over me and I'm choosing my college career over everything else…. Right now. Now, I brought something for you because I figured you wouldn't bring anything to shred."
"What are you talking about? I don't want to shred anything."
"Are you sure?" Caroline produced some pictures that Klaus had drawn for Buffy.
"Where did you get those?"
"I rummaged. Sorry. But I think you need to shred these."
Buffy looked at the drawings and ran her fingers down them. "They were a gift."
"From a guy who has been trying to ruin your marriage and has pretty much succeeded." Buffy looked up at Caroline sharply. "We're not going to let that happen, though. So…. Start shredding." Buffy sighed and put the drawings in the shredder. She watched them be torn into thin strips and drop into the trash bin. "Do you feel cleansed?"
"I still feel like my husband is gone."
"Well, he's not. We're going to get him back. I mean, look at you! You're hot! He'd be crazy to give you up."
"I really thought that you hated Damon."Caroline sighed. "I do, but…. When he's with you, he is a much better person. And I don't like to see one of my best friends unhappy."
Buffy walked over to a chair and sat down. "I'm an idiot, Caroline. I'm the biggest idiot that ever lived."
"No, you're not." Caroline sat down next to her. "There are people out there who have done much worse than kiss another guy. And you did it to get rid of Klaus."
"That was part of it. The other part was that I was curious. You guys don't see him like I do. He doesn't show you that side of him. It's like Damon and I in the beginning."
"But you don't love Klaus."
"No. I don't. I love Damon. More than I realized."
Stefan and Elena walked over to them hand in hand. "What are you guys talking about?" Elena asked.
"Purging our systems of bad Klaus juju." Caroline announced. "Buffy shredded some drawings he gave her as a gift."
"Do you feel better?" Stefan asked.
"No." Buffy said. "Because I should be dancing with my husband instead of being a damn wallflower." She looked around. "It's high school all over again. Except my best friend is missing. Where is Willow?"
"She's not here." Caroline said. "She said something about meeting a coven in Williamsburg."
"Oh. That was this weekend?"
"Well, as an apology from all of those idiots in high school that made you a wallflower," Stefan held out his hand. "May I have this dance?"
"That's so sweet." Elena said. "You're so sweet, Stefan!"
"Come on." Stefan waved his hand at her. "Let's dance."
Buffy groaned, but took his hand. "Ok. Fine."
Stefan led her out onto the dance floor and turned her into a dance hold. "You know, you and I have never danced together."
"We have, actually. When Lexi first brought me here."
"That's right! At the Grill. That seems like ages ago."
"Lifetimes. Because I'm fairly certain it was."
"When you first met Damon, what were your first thoughts?"
Buffy looked up at him incredulously. "Really?"
"I couldn't look away from his eyes for the longest time. It took me a minute to even notice the rest of him. There were no thoughts in my head. I was speechless."
"You know he was hooked from the moment he laid eyes on you?"
"No. He was so hung up on Katherine…."
"Until Lexi swept you into his life. That was the end of Katherine for him. I overheard him trying to talk himself out of liking you. He tried to talk himself down from a ledge he didn't know he was ready to jump off of."
"He has no idea I heard him. I've never told him either."
"And you're telling me now to torture me just a little bit more, right?"
"No. I'm telling you now to remind you what you're fighting for. To let you know that you belonged to him completely from the get go just like he belonged to you completely from the get go. And he just walked in."
"What? Really?" Stefan's face and sudden tight grip stopped her from turning around. "What's wrong?"
"He's got Bonnie." Buffy turned around and followed Stefan' eye line. Damon was sauntering up to them with Bonnie in his grip. He was working really hard to not look below Buffy's face. "What are you doing here?" Stefan asked.
"Bonnie, what's going on?" Buffy asked.
"Oh, don't worry. I'm not her date." Damon said. "We're not going to break any Bitter Ball rules. I need to know where your BFF is."
"Well, it's nice that you're talking to me again."
"I'm not. But I need Willow."
"She's in Williamsburg. Why do you need her?"
"I need a witch to do a locator spell on the elusive Dr. Wes Maxfield. I was hoping Willow would be here, but my backup plan is right here." He hauled Bonnie closer. "She's going to find me a witch and that witch is going to find him and I'm going to kill him."
"I don't get an invite to that? I hate him, too."
"Sorry, but it's guys only. Besides, you only endured a day. Enzo and I endured years." Damon sneered at her before looking at Bonnie. "Bon-Bon, should I tell them?"
"Enzo has Jeremy." Bonnie said. "If I don't get a witch to find Wes by midnight, he'll kill him."
Damon sarcastically cut his throat with a hand signal. Bonnie passed her phone over to Stefan and Buffy, showing them a texted image of Jeremy tied up somewhere. Buffy's eyes changed from deep blue to their light, supernatural blue. She was pissed now. "I get that you're pissed off at me. You have every right to be, but you don't get to take this out on Jeremy or Bonnie or anyone else."
Damon gave her cold eyes. "I do what I want."
"Fine. Then do what you want to me. Take your anger out on me. I won't fight back. Tie me up, torture me, yell at me, break out the hot pokers, shove a stake through my heart…. I don't care…. But let Jeremy go."
"Don't tempt me with the stake idea."
"I'll give you Mr. Pointy to use."
"Buffy, don't." Bonnie said. "Let me just go get the witch from school."
"You don't have to give in to him, Bonnie. He's pissed at me and he needs to learn to place his anger in the proper place."
"Go." Damon shoved Bonnie away and gave Buffy a glare. "You, stay right here."
"Are you going to talk to me?"
"I have nothing to talk to you about."
"Then I'm going to go after Bonnie." Buffy started to leave, but Damon grabbed her arm.
"This is happening."
Buffy yanked her arm out of his grip. "You can't run away from your problems. You need to deal with them."
"I'm not running. I'm taking care of Maxfield. He's a problem of mine and I'm going to deal with him."
"That's not what I'm talking about."
"Then maybe you should just stop talking."
"Don't be a dick." Stefan snapped. "She feels bad enough."
"I don't know why." Damon leveled a stare at Buffy. "She chose the vampire for her."
"Yeah, you. So stop being an idiot and deal with this."
"You guys are making a scene." Elena said, walking up to them.
Buffy grabbed Damon's arm and hauled him towards the door. "Let go of me." He growled. She tightened her grip and kept going. He yanked harder as they made it outside, but she was stronger and it only annoyed her. She turned, her face vamping out in her anger, and shoved him against the wall, holding him there with a hand on his chest.
"People keep telling me that I need to let you get through this on your own, but 'your own' is getting out of hand. Be mad at me, Damon. Scream at me. Throw things at me. Hit me if you want! But take it out on me." She ran her hand up his chest and cupped his face with both hands, pressing her forehead against his. "Send Enzo away and come home. We can fight it out and deal with this messed up situation I put us in."
Damon ran his hands up her arms and gently curled his fingers around her wrists. "Tell you what," His grip tightened and he pushed her away. "You deal with it. It's your situation, Buffy. Not mine." He glanced down at her body. "Nice dress." He walked past his brother standing in the doorway with Elena and back into the school.
Stefan walked over to Buffy. "Are you ok?"
"This is slowly becoming the worst day of my life." Buffy said, leaning against the wall.
"I always thought you were too good for him, anyway." Elena said.
"No you didn't." Stefan said.
"I said I thought. I never said it out loud to anyone."
Buffy shook her head at Elena. "As much as I love you, you're the reason I'm in this mess."
"No, you got yourself into the mess. I just…. Accidentally let the cat out of the bag before you. And I'm sorry."
Damon came back out with Bonnie, Caroline, and a young girl that Buffy assumed was a witch. "Got my witch. Now to get my doctor. Have a nice night." He called as he walked past.
Bonnie shot Buffy a look and then looked at her cell phone purposefully before disappearing around the corner. Buffy reached inside Stefan's coat and pulled her phone out of his inside pocket. Bonnie had texted Buffy the picture of Jeremy with a text attachment asking if she recognized where he was being held.
"Is that Jeremy?" Elena asked.
"You didn't tell her?" Buffy asked Stefan.
"What is going on? Why is my little brother tied up and bleeding?"
"Enzo has him." Stefan said. "He's holding him hostage until Bonnie's witch friend finds Wes Maxfield for him and Damon."
"You were going to hide it from me?"
"No. But I was hoping Buffy could talk some sense into Damon before anything bad happened."
"I don't think anyone can talk sense into Damon now. He's lost it."
"He's still mad." Stefan said.
"He's going to get Jeremy killed. We have to stop him."
"We don't know where Enzo took him."
Elena looked at the picture again on Buffy's phone. "That's Whitmore House."
"What?" Buffy asked.
"I recognize the curtains. That's Whitmore House."
"That makes sense. That's where Enzo was held for so long." Buffy glanced in the direction where Damon had disappeared. She needed to get to Jeremy because Enzo would kill him. He was crazy enough and she wasn't sure Damon would care if he did. With a sigh, Buffy turned and headed towards Whitmore House with Stefan and Elena.
When they arrived, Buffy heard Jeremy struggling from a room near the back. She rushed away from Elena and Stefan and grabbed Enzo away from Jeremy, slamming him against the wall. Stefan and Elena came in a second later and rushed over to Jeremy. Enzo struggled in Buffy's grip, but she was too strong for him.
"He said you were strong." Enzo choked out.
"You're lucky I don't break your neck again." Buffy growled. "That's my kid you're trying to kill."
"Damon did mention that you would probably be angry about that."
While Elena gave Jeremy CPR, Stefan came over to Buffy. "You should've left when I told you to."
"Did I give you the impression that I was taking orders from you? My bad." Enzo tried again to get out of Buffy's grip, hitting her arm over and over.
"Seriously? Did Damon fail to mention that I'm not your average vampire?" Buffy asked, letting her face change. "I squeeze hard enough and your head pops off like a champagne cork. And I'm pretty unstable myself right now, so I have no idea if I'm going to kill you or not."
"Do you think I care? I've spent the last few decades near death and welcoming it. I'm not afraid of it."
"So would it be strange if I let you live?"
"I couldn't care either way, actually. But I think Damon might have a problem with you killing me. You've already screwed him over once. Why would you kill his best friend and add to the list?"
Buffy shrugged. "He killed my best friend when we came to town way back when. I could kill his and we'd be even."
"But you still kissed another man with that pretty wedding ring on your finger."
"And my husband had his friend hold my kid hostage and almost kill him. I'm starting to think that we're evening out, here." Buffy glanced at Elena. "Is Jeremy ok?"
"He's going to be fine." Elena said, holding Jeremy in a tight hug.
"What did I miss?" Buffy, Stefan, and Enzo looked over at the door where Damon had just walked in.
"You missed all the fun." Enzo said.
"The spell worked. Wes is in Richmond."
"Brilliant. If you could get your wife to let me go, I'll drive."
"Wife is such a strong word."
"How about ex friend with benefits?"
Damon shrugged, but didn't look at her. "That could work."
"Damon!" Buffy cried, letting Enzo go in her shock.
Enzo patted Buffy on the shoulder as he walked over to join Damon. "Tough luck, love."
"Hey, Damon." Stefan said, walking over and wrapping a protective arm around Buffy's shoulders. "Don't bother coming back."
Damon looked visibly upset by Stefan's words before he turned away from them. "I wasn't planning on it." He walked out with Enzo.
Stefan turned Buffy into him and hugged her tightly. She suddenly couldn't feel anything. Her entire body and mind went numb. He turned to Elena and Jeremy. "I'm going to get her home.""That's a great idea." Elena said. "This has been tough night. Jer and I will meet you guys there later."
Buffy sat curled up in a little ball in her and Damon's bed a couple of nights later. She was still numb and cold. Her eyes didn't focus on anything. Not even Stefan when he walked in with a mug of hot tea. He sat down beside her and set the mug down on the nightstand.
After a moment, he moved her hair out of her eyes and said, "Ever since the first time I noticed you falling for my brother, I have been waiting for him to screw something up so badly that you hate him. I've been waiting and watching him do all these horrible things and then every single time I think he's gone too far, he's there for you. So the truth is, after a while I just stopped waiting for him to fail because I liked the person he had become and I don't want to lose that person. I know I told him to leave and never come back, but…. I can't do that to you and I don't want to do that to him. We need to save him from himself."
"I don't know what to do, Stefan." Buffy said in a tiny, far off voice. "I lost him."
"You didn't lose him. He's just saying these hurtful things to you because he's hurt. He's never been good with being hurt. We're going to have to go with Caroline's plan B, though." Buffy looked up at Stefan expectantly. "Kidnap him, lock him in the cellar, and don't let him out until he sees reason. I don't want to lose him or you. So get some rest. We're going to track down your husband tomorrow."