The Next Chapter

Chapter 97

Chapter 97

Caroline sat with Buffy outside the Salvatore house. She was surprised at Buffy's look. Instead of being rumpled and tired, Buffy was looking fierce. She had on black leather pants and a deep emerald green, flowy, lace, long sleeved top. Her hair was down and she'd let it dry naturally into its soft, messy waves. She was a woman ready to get her man back.

Inside the house, Elena and Stefan were lounging around while Stefan quizzed Elena on history. Buffy had asked Sheriff Forbes to see if she could track down Damon and Enzo. Caroline had brought the information over. "You were right." She was saying. "He's off the rails. This is from my mom."

"Missing persons and animal attacks?" Buffy asked, flipping through the folder.

"Check and check, but there's something else. All of the victims were found inside their homes without their head…. and their skin was dessicated."

Buffy gasped and dropped the photographs of the dead vampires. "No. No, no, no, no, no…. Damon's feeding on vampires." She put her face in her hands. "I shouldn't have let him go."

"No. Uh uh. No. You are not turning Damon's roosting chickens into a Stefan Salvatore worthy guilt trip. No one could've stopped him from going after Wes the other night."

"Wes must have injected him with that crap he was trying to hit me with. It makes vampires feed on vampires."

"Ah. Good news, bad news. Bad news is that when this happened to Jesse, we had to kill him, but the good news is…. I'm sorry, usually there's some good news."

"I have to find him. Now." Buffy stood up and walked into the house. "Stefan!"

Elena and Stefan jumped up off the couch. They'd obviously been making out. "What's wrong?" Stefan asked.

"Wes got Damon with that drug he was trying to inject me with. He's been feeding on vampires."

"How do you know?" Elena asked.

"Elena, hey! I didn't know that you were here." Caroline said.

"Well, Stefan has been helping me study."

"Oh. Stefan who doesn't go to college."

"Stefan, who's an expert in history."

"Uh-huh."

"Come on, Stefan. We need to find Damon now." Buffy said.

"Ok." Stefan said, following her upstairs and into her room where she started packing a bag. "Why are you packing?"

"Because I don't know how long we'll be gone."

"Good reason. Ok, I'll go pack a bag of my own and meet you at your car."

Stefan pulled up at an old gas station on the side of the road and parked by a pump. Buffy sat in the passenger seat, studying the file that Caroline had given her. Elena had decided to come along and she was sitting in the backseat. She got out of the car with Stefan.

"You know, uh, I appreciate you being here, but you didn't have to come." Stefan said.

"I told you, I'm doing this for Buffy. She's still holding on to hope that maybe this is the time that Damon can be saved." Elena said.

"And you don't think he can?" Stefan glanced at Buffy, but she was still buried in the file. "Look, I know that he crossed the line with Jeremy, but, you know, he has crossed many lines before."

"You mean when he actually killed Jeremy. Yes, I recall."

"I'm just saying, you've always been for Damon and Buffy and now it seems like you're going back on that."

"I guess I feel bad for her. If I were her, I'd want off the emotional rollercoaster that is Damon's redemption. It's just…. Just…. Dizzying."

"Well, I still believe in my husband and I will never give up on him." Buffy said, suddenly standing next to Elena.

"God! I didn't even hear you open the door." Elena gasped.

"I'm hungry." Buffy walked towards the store.

"I'll come with." Stefan said. "Elena, do you want anything?"

"Whatever you're having…. With a lot more salt and hot chocolate." Elena said in a flirty tone.

"Coming right up." Stefan turned and followed Buffy inside the store. She went over to the chips and pretended to look at them. "Elena's just worried about you."

"Mmm hmm." Buffy said.

"Don't be mad at her. She didn't mean to tell Damon about you and Klaus."

"I'm not mad at her."

"You're acting like it."

"I'm mad at myself, Stefan. I'm mad at myself." Buffy grabbed a bag of pepperoni pizza Combos and turned to Stefan. "This whole situation is my fault." She moved towards the back of the store where the drinks were. "Damon would never have gone off and gotten himself injected with that crap if I had just kept my lips in my marriage. Now he's been dosed with something that, as of yet, doesn't have a cure." She pulled out a large bottle of Fiji water and headed over to the candy bars. "When we find Damon and get him home, I'm going to go after Maxfield and that son of a bitch is going to know what it's like to be on the other end of experiments until he works out a cure."

Stefan looked at his text messages. "Caroline says that Willow is coming back today and she's going to have her locate Damon through witchcraft."

"Maxfield is going to be harder to find. I don't have anything of his."

"We'll find him. Damon did it with a witch that's not experienced at all. Willow is a seasoned pro." Stefan moved closer to Buffy and lowered his voice. "If he's feeding on vampires, we're in danger. You're in danger. He's angry at you."

Buffy smiled slightly and gently patted Stefan's cheek. "I'll be ok." She kissed his cheek and headed up to the counter to pay.

Stefan sighed and grabbed an armful of random snack foods and joined Buffy at the counter. He paid for everything and they headed outside where Elena was waiting against the car. She smiled brightly at Stefan as he handed her the bag of goodies. The three of them climbed into the car and Stefan turned the key. The engine made a grinding sound and didn't start. Buffy and Stefan exchanged glances and he tried again.

"I know what you're going to say, but I got the car serviced two weeks ago." Buffy said.

"I'll take a look." Stefan got out of the car and popped the hood. Elena jumped out after him and followed him to the hood. Buffy decided to stay in the car and eat her combos. Stefan inspected the inside of the engine and picked up a piece that had been broken off. He handed the piece to Elena. "Hey, can you hold this for a second?"

"Yeah." Elena said.

"Careful, there's grease on it."

"Oh. Ok."

"I have no idea how this hose ripped out, but we're not going to be able to go anywhere until I get a new one."

"It's a Mercedes." Buffy said out the window. "See if that mechanic has a spare."

Stefan looked up at Buffy and noticed that Elena's shirt was covered in black grease. "You weren't careful at all."

"What? What?" Elena looked down at herself and groaned. "Ohh! I love this shirt!"

"You loved that shirt."

"Great. Awesome…." Elena looked up at pushed her hair out of her face, smearing grease on her face. "That's just awesome."

"Now there's grease all over your face."

"UGH! Well, you've got all that engine stuff on you, and I clearly have to change. I saw a hotel, like, a couple streets down that way. Do you think we should get a room, so that we can shower while we're waiting for the car?"

"No. I should probably stay here in case they finish early, but you can go."

"Give them your phone number. I assume that your phone does receive incoming calls, right?"

"That's funny."

"Will you grab my bag?"

"Sure. Be right there."

Buffy stuck her head out the window. "Seriously? We need to find Damon. Now."

Stefan glanced after Elena. "She's already on her way there. Look, we'll get cleaned up and by the time we're done, Willow will be back and she'll have done the spell."

"Fine." Buffy got out of the car. "I'm going to find somewhere to charge my phone. It's getting low."

"Do it at the hotel." Stefan said, opening the trunk and shaking his head. "Why did she bring her entire closet?"

"I think she sees this as some sort of impromptu getaway with her boyfriend instead of a rescue Damon mission."

"I'm sorry. She asked if she could join us and I didn't think…."

"It's ok." Buffy grabbed her one duffel bag and shut the trunk. "I'm glad you guys are happy again."

"Thanks. You and Damon will be too soon enough."

"I hope so."

Buffy walked around outside talking on her cell phone with Willow. She was working on a locater spell to find Damon and Enzo. Stefan and Elena were in the hotel room getting cleaned up. The mechanic was putting the new piece in the car and it would be fixed in about an hour.

"Don't rush me, Buffy." Willow complained.

"I'm sorry, but Damon is feeding on vampires now and…."

"I know, Buff. I'm going to head to Elena's dad's office and see if there's anything left down there. If I can find a sample of that serum that Maxfield used, then I can start working on finding a cure. Mystical or otherwise. I'm also going to see if I can use anything down there to track Maxfield."

"Thanks."

"Ok, I need both of my hands now. I'll text you what the spell says."

"Ok. Good luck." Buffy hung up and glanced back at the hotel. She debated on whether or not to go get Stefan and Elena. The sun had gone down and the moon was on its way up. Her phone rang suddenly. "That was fast." She looked at it and answered it quickly. "Damon!?"

"Hello Buffy.""Enzo. What the hell do you want?"

"I'm in a spot of trouble, actually."

"Where's Damon?"

"Oh, he's here, salivating, about to chomp into my neck and feed until my head pops off in a grotesque but slightly comical fashion."

"Wes infected him."

"You know about the virus. Good. We could use a hand. Wes enlisted some of those singing witches and trapped us in the house."

"Do not come here!" Damon yelled from somewhere in the background.

"He doesn't want to risk feeding on you. That's sweet really, but you'll be fine. You're a strong vampire. Besides, if he does feed on you, I have orders to kill him."

"Ok." Buffy said. "Text me the address to my phone, and I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Fine. And, uh, tick-tock. I managed to restrain him, but you know how persistent Damon can be when he wants something."

"I'll be there soon." Buffy hung up and sent a text to Stefan and Willow letting her know that Enzo had called her. She forwarded the address to them both before taking off. It took her a long time to find the address. She moved too fast for the GPS on her phone. When she finally found the place, there was no one outside. The front door of the house was open and a light was on. She walked up to the door and found Damon sitting on the floor leaning against a wooden post.

He turned his head when he heard her approach. "Buffy…. Don't. Do not…." She ignored him continued up the porch and towards the door. "I said don't! If you come in here, you ain't coming out."

"Ok." Buffy stayed at the door. "What happened here?"

"I wanted revenge. I got stuck with a vampire virus…. Almost killed my last friend…. Typical Damon."

"Enzo texted me the address here. He asked me to come help."

"You can't help me! I feed on vampires now. You're a vampire. Do yourself a favor and leave."

"You and I both know that's not going to happen."

Damon charged at her, but was stopped by a boundary spell. "Stay back!"

"You know damn well I'm not afraid of you, Damon."

Damon sighed and turned his back to her. She decided she didn't care about the boundary spell and stepped over the threshold. Damon wheeled around, panic in his eyes. "No. No! No!" He tried to force her back out of the house, but the spell was stopping them from leaving. "You gotta get out!" He pushed harder, but Buffy reached up and gently squeezed his wrists. Damon hung his head, his forehead meeting hers. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"A lot of things." She let go of his wrists and placed her hands on his cheeks. "I'm an idiot."

"In more ways than one." He turned and walked away from her.

Buffy followed. "Please talk to me. I don't know how many more ways to apologize for what I did."

"You kissed Klaus!"

"I did. I'm and idiot and there's no good excuse for it, but it never for one second made me change how I felt about you. I love you with everything I am."

"You broke my heart. I love you and you broke my heart."

"I didn't want to. My intentions were…. Not all good." She leaned against the wall and looked down at her boots. "There's no saying about the road to hell being paved with more than good intentions, but mine was. Good, stupid, selfish, temporarily insane intentions and it's a road I never want to take again because I can't stand the fact that I hurt you."

"Well you did."

"And I will spend an eternity making it up to you in any way I possibly can. I meant it, Damon. If you want to tie me up, beat me, stab me, yell at me…. I don't care. I deserve it. If you want to do to me what you did to those other vampires, go ahead. I won't stop you."

Damon let out a dark laugh. "I don't want to do any of those things to you."

"Then what can I do to make this up to you? What do I do to make you come home?"

"Don't you understand? Even if I hadn't already forgiven you, I can't come near you without wanting to rip your throat out."

Buffy shook her head and stood up straight. "Wait, what?"

"I feed on vampires…. I rip their heads off every time and I can't stop myself."

"Yeah, no…. I got that. The first part."

He smiled slightly. "I've had some time to think in all of this screwed up mess. And all I could think about was protecting you from me because I love you and if anything ever happened to you…. I wouldn't care about living one more second. Yes, it sucks that you kissed Klaus and that you had feelings for him…. And I am still royally pissed at you about it…. But being without you has been the worst thing in my life. I mean, look at me! I've been injected with crap that turns me into a Vampire Ripper."

"We'll fix it."

"I don't see how."

"Did you forget that my best friend is a witch? She's out there right now trying to find Wes Maxfield and put a stop to this. She'll find a cure."

"And what if she can't? What if there is no cure?"

"Then you and I will leave Mystic Falls together and you can be like Lestat…. Only feeding on the bad guys. There are lots of bad vampires out there. I bet you could be sustained off the bumpies, too."

"But you would be in danger from me every day."

Buffy shrugged. "Damon, the last two decades of my life have been non-stop danger. My relationship with Angel could've caused the world to end and we still made it work."

"He broke up with you."

"Because he wasn't willing to fight. But you are. And I am. And we will make this work somehow. I can't go another day without you."

"I can't either." She started towards him, but he held his hands up. "Don't. I need you to stay over there. You have no idea how amazing you smell right now and I don't want to hurt you."

"I'm not a porcelain doll. I'll just break your neck if you come after me with those teeth. Besides, it looks and smells like you fed recently."

"On Enzo before he ran off with Wes. The only reason he's not dead is because Wes had his Travelers poison Enzo's blood."

"Yeah, that douchebag Maxfield has a serious date with death when I get a hold of him. See how he likes being poked and prodded with needles and experimented on. Maybe I'll turn him and see how he likes being prey to his Patient Zero."

"How did you know that's what he called me?"

"It's what he called me before Stefan stopped him from injecting me. I told him I'd seen enough zombie movies to know that Patient Zero isn't on the list of names I'm willing to be called."

"Great. Damon, husband, sexy vampire, and now zombie Patient Zero."

Buffy shrugged. "The sexiest zombie Patient Zero I've ever seen."

He smirked. "You know it." With a sigh, he closed the distance between them and hugged her tightly. "I've missed you."

She held him tightly to her, burying her face in his neck. "I've missed you." Damon released her and stepped back. "I'm sorry, Damon."

"I know. You have no idea how much I want to kiss you right now, but I don't want to hurt you."

"If you need some blood…."

"I don't need yours, Buff. It's the last thing I need is to get hooked on your blood and then you end up my only prey. Not sure our relationship would survive that."

Buffy snorted. "Well, Klaus has this theory…." She noticed the angry and annoyed look on his face. "Sorry. He said it a long time ago, but he thinks that I can't be killed…."

"Like him."

"Like an Original."

"I'm not willing to put it to the test."

"Ok." She glanced at the doorway. "Will this spell wear off or do I need to call Willow?"

"Dr. Psycho Pants said it will wear off with the moon."

"Ok." She nodded. "So, let's clean this mess up and settle in until morning."

"Buff…. I'll be hungry before then."

She gently placed her hand on his cheek. "We'll deal with that when it happens."

He kissed her palm. "Maybe we should call Willow."

"And maybe you should take a deep breath and have some faith in yourself." Buffy reached up and kissed him, leaving her lips against his for a few seconds before pulling away. "See? You're not ripping my head off." She started around the room, cleaning up the mess Damon and Enzo had made.

He joined her and after a while, he said, "What happens when I get hungry?"

"I told you. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." Buffy picked up the couch and moved it to a different side of the room.

"Are you rearranging the furniture?"

She shrugged. "I didn't like the way the room was set up."

"Damon? Buffy!?" Stefan called from outside before appearing on the front porch.

Buffy moved quickly to block him from entering. "Stop." Elena joined Stefan on the porch. "Stay outside."

"What's going on?" Elena asked.

"We're kinda trapped in here."

"Wes had his troope of Travelers put a spell on the house so anyone who enters can't exit." Damon said.

Stefan looked at Damon and then at Buffy. "Are you ok?"

"I'm fine." Buffy took Damon's hand. "We're fine."

He smiled slightly. "Glad to hear it." He looked at his brother again. "Are you ok?"

"I'm not ok with my wife being stuck in here, smelling so amazing, and me craving vampire blood." Damon said. "I fed on Enzo a little while ago, but it wasn't much. I'm already starting to get hungry again."

Buffy reached down and picked up the chains she'd stashed by the door. "We've always got these."

"I broke through them already."

"You didn't have me to hold you down."

"And you didn't have me to pull down this shoddy spell." Willow said, appearing on the porch.

"Willow!" Buffy said. "I didn't know you were coming."

"You sent me the address."

"How did I not hear you walk up?" Elena asked.

"I'm not actually here. I astraled over." Willow ran her hand down the invisible barrier on the door, making it glow a light pink wherever her hand ran across it. "Geez, I could push right through this. I thought these Travelers were supposed to be pretty powerful."

"You can get the barrier down?" Damon asked.

"Please." Willow slapped her hand on the barrier and glowing red ripples emanated from the slap. It looked like fire consuming the air around the house. She smiled and crossed her arms as the last of the barrier disintegrated.

Buffy put her foot over the threshold. "Cool." She looked over at Willow. "Good job. Have you found Wes yet?"

"By the time you guys get home, I'll know where he is. Meet you there." Willow disappeared.

Buffy turned to Damon. "Where's your car?"

"Around back." Damon said.

She turned to Elena and Stefan. "You guys take his car back to the house. Damon can ride with me in my car."

Stefan held out her keys. "Are you sure you'll be safe?"

"I'll be fine."

"Maybe you could donate some blood?" Damon suggested to his brother.

"Damon, no." Elena said. "You've got a wife. Drink from her. Isn't that what married couples are supposed to do? Share or something?"

"Look, there's no way I'm going to drink Buffy's blood. The last thing I need is to get addicted to that kind of drug."

"I'll get a glass." Buffy said, heading for the kitchen. She had a suspicion about Elena and now that she wasn't all-consumed with finding Damon and making amends with him, she could focus some of her energies on that. Heading back out into the living room with a glass, she reached into the hidden pocket of her jeans and pulled out a knife. "Here, Stefan. Just a little. Just enough to last him for a few hours."

"What will we do when we get home?" Stefan asked.

"Chain me up." Damon said. Before Buffy could protest, he cut her off. "There's too many vampires around the house and I'm not interested in ripping any of their heads off…. Today at least." Stefan nodded and cut into his wrist. Damon's eyes changed and he turned away from Stefan, taking shallow breaths. "Buffy…."

Buffy grabbed his arms and held him against her in a vice grip. "It's ok." She said soothingly, but Stefan's blood was too much for Damon, he tried to lunge at his brother, but Buffy's arms around him held him still. "Damon, stop."

"If he gets a hold of Stefan, he'll kill him!" Elena cried. "He'll kill me too!"

"Then leave!" Buffy growled at her. "Stefan will follow."

"Come on, Stefan!" Elena tugged on Stefan's arm.

"It's ok." Buffy said to Stefan. "Set the glass down and run. I've got him."

"Will you be ok?" Stefan asked Buffy.

"I'll be fine. Go." Buffy watched Stefan set the glass down and rush out the door with Elena. Damon continued to thrash in her grip and Buffy squeezed enough for his arms to crack loudly. It had the effect she wanted. The pain cut through the hunger and he yelped in pain, his eyes changing back. She let go and scooped up the glass. "Drink." Holding it to his lips, she helped him to drink the half full glass. He calmed down and she heard his arms heal. "I'm sorry."

"No. Thank you." Damon moved his arms to make sure they had healed right. "The pain helped."

Buffy nodded and went to make sure that Elena and Stefan were gone. "Come on." She pulled her keys from her pocket. "Let's go home." He followed her out to her car where Stefan and Elena had parked it in the yard. She climbed behind the wheel and started the car.

"What's wrong?" Damon asked after they had pulled out onto the highway.

"Elena." Buffy glanced at Damon. "She's off."

"Off how?"

"She's been…. Obsessed with Stefan and she didn't seem to care about either of us just now."

"I noticed that."

"And I'm pretty sure she broke my car just to get a hotel room with Stefan."

"It's running fine now."

"That's what money is for." Buffy's cell phone chirped and she pulled it out of her pocket. It was a text from Matt. "'Help. K'"

"What does that mean?"

"No idea." She swiped her phone and called Matt, but he didn't answer. In fact, the call was ignored and sent to voicemail. "That's weird." Buffy called Caroline and waited for the other blonde to pick up.

"Hey! Did you find Damon?" Caroline asked when she answered.

"Yeah. We're on the way home. Have you talked to Matt today?"

"Yeah. Tyler and I have been trying to talk to him all day. Nadia has been compelling him to forget things."

"What do you mean? What kind of things?"

"Who knows?"

"He tried to message me, but I guess he got interrupted and he ignored my phone call when I tried to call."

"Nadia must have stopped him. What did the text say?"

"'Help. K' was all I got."

"What does that mean?"

"I have a theory."

"Well, share!"

"Katherine took over Elena's body."

"What!?"

"She hasn't been acting like Elena. She tried to get Damon to kill me."

"I wouldn't call it that." Damon said.

"I would. She told you to drink my blood. You've been killing vampires every time you feed. Ripping their heads off. She knows that because Stefan and I were talking about it in the car on the way here. She had absolutely no qualms about you feeding off me, but when you asked Stefan to donate…."

"She got protective."

"Even further back, she heard Stefan try to stop her, but she bulldozed right over him because she saw you walking up that night. Then she said that she never thought you were good enough for me."

"Oh my god!" Caroline cried. "Elena doesn't think that way at all!"

"And when Katherine was dying, Nadia figured out a way to put Katherine's spirit inside Nadia's body."

"Yeah, but that didn't happen because Katherine had a change of heart." Damon said.

"Has Bonnie mentioned anything about Katherine crossing over?"

"No." Caroline said.

"She popped up, but then disappeared again." Damon said. "Bonnie never saw her again after that."

"No. It's impossible that she'd be…. We would have noticed! It's Elena. We know her…."

"Katherine has gotten good at impersonating Elena," Buffy said. "Especially if Nadia is in on it, then she's been compelling Matt to give Katherine information on Elena because he's…."

"An Elena encyclopedia." Caroline finished. "Oh my God…."

"Yeah."

"Does Stefan know?"

"No. I haven't shared my theory with him. He's safe for now since she's more into getting into his pants than killing him."

"We need to fix this."

"We're on our way home now. We'll see you soon." Buffy hung up and pressed harder on the gas.

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