They were trekking through the woods towards the tomb the vampires had been sealed in until recently.
“Why did she do this again?” Buffy asked.
“Who knows why Katherine does the things she does,” Damon said flippantly.
“Crazy ex?” Buffy said. “I’ve so been there. Couple of times.”
Damon chuckled. He sort of liked Dawn’s sister. Which was odd since big sis was a slayer.
“So which wizard is it?” Dawn whispered.
Buffy gave her a look. “We’re talking about this now?”
“No,” Dawn said. “You’re right. Saving and staking first, girl-speak later.”
Stefan just kept looking at them like they’d grown two heads each.
Damon slipped an arm around Dawn and whispered in her ear. “Don’t mind him. I mentioned that he’s the less fun brother, right?”
“Damon, I find it funny that you aren’t worried about Elena,” Stefan said.
Buffy stiffened. “Guys-“
“So do I,” another voice said.
They all turned. Katherine was leaning against a tree with her arms folded. Damon could tell the difference now. There was a lack of honesty to her that Elena had.
“Where’s Elena?” Stefan snapped.
“Easy there, Snappy Snapperton,” Buffy said. “Let me handle this.”
Katherine raised a brow. Damon started smirking. This was going to be good.
Buffy waved her hand dismissively. “Whatever. Why don’t you just hand over Stefan’s girlfriend, so I don’t have to drive a stake through your heart?”
“Think you can, mortal?”
Buffy looked at Dawn and Damon. “She just called me mortal. Like I’m just some girl. It’d be cute if it wasn’t so, I don’t know, annoying. Not to be all ego trip, but it always amazes me when people don’t know who I am now. I mean, even Dracula knew who I was.”
Damon watched a flicker of understanding pass through Katherine’s eyes before she schooled it away.
“You’d send a slayer after me?” Katherine practically hissed, glaring from Stefan to Damon.
“Oh, I volunteered, girlfriend. I’m always up for staking hearts and chopping heads… off,” Buffy said, making a face. “So where’s Lorena?”
Everyone frowned, confused.
“She means Elena,” Dawn offered. “She does that. You learn to translate or guess.”
Buffy glared. “Dawn.”
“Look, can we just do this already?” Dawn snapped. “I could be having sex right now, but no. Oh, no. No sex for Dawn. We have inn employees checking on stuff and big sister crashing and brothers needing help because of crazy vampire ex-girlfriends who are stealing current girlfriends.”
Damon reached over and swatted Stefan on the arm. “See? Sassy.”
“Fine,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “My sister wants to have sex. Which I can’t even, like, try to think about because it so gives me the wig.”
“The wig?” Dawn snapped. “Is it because it’s me or because it’s a vampire? You get to be the only one that dates dead guys?”
“Sex in a hotel room is a date?” Stefan asked.
Damon raised his brows. “This was a date? Dates sure have changed since I was a lad.”
Dawn looked at them. “Shut up.” Then she looked at Buffy. “Well?”
“It’s the dead guy thing. I knew it. You think you need to be the only one for some reason. Hello, you slept with the Scourge of Europe and William the Bloody. I just want to sleep with Damon Salvatore.”
Stefan’s eyebrows went up.
“Oh, my God, you guys are the Salvatore brothers?” Buffy asked with wide eyes.
“Doesn’t anyone care that I have Elena?”
Buffy moved quickly. The next thing anyone knew, Katherine was on her back in the dirt, and the slayer’s designer boot was on her throat. Buffy looked at Stefan.
“Looks like we find Alonna ourselves,” Buffy said with some authority. “I’m betting she’s close. Go find your girlfriend.”
Damon was betting she was right. Katherine always kept her enemies close and her leverage against those enemies even closer. The less than warm reception she had gotten from him and his brother upon her homecoming had apparently made himself and Stefan her enemies. Not that Damon cared anymore. She’d let him think she was trapped in a tomb when really she was walking around, so he wasn’t feeling the love. Due to this, Katherine had been acting bitchy and, well, crazy all summer – killing John Gilbert in Elena’s own home, kidnapping people, sending minions after him and Stefan, popping up and generally being annoying. It was getting to be extremely irritating.
Stefan had already sprinted off.
“Damon, are you going to let some slayer kill me? After all-“
“After all you’ve done for me?” Damon started laughing. “You really want to use that as an argument for my helping you?”
“You’re still mad about the kiss,” she said, eyeing Dawn. “So disappointed I wasn’t Elena, but I see you’ve moved on to another sad human. Did he tell you that he always covets his brother’s lady? You’d have a much better chance of it if you’d been interested in Stefan first, my dear.”
“Yeah,” Dawn said. “Interesting. Nice try too. I might be upset if I wanted a boyfriend and not just sex, but I know firsthand how vampires and humans who fight demons don’t work out. I watched it unfold. Twice. So what else have you got?”
Buffy pressed her boot harder against Katherine’s throat and the vampire winced. Damon smiled. There was once a time when he could not bear for Katherine to be in pain. He was finding that he sort of liked it now, though. This, right here, right now, was particularly amusing to him – especially after all she had put him through just by being a selfish bitch.
“Damon,” Katherine snapped with the slightest bit of whine in her voice.
He smirked at her. “Begging?”
Dawn swallowed nervously. If she knew her sister, and Dawn liked to think she did, she knew that Buffy wouldn’t just stake Katherine. Buffy would leave it to Damon this time, but if Katherine crossed her again, Buffy would not leave it up anyone else. Her sister would make it so that Katherine no longer had the option to irritate her – or anyone else.
Katherine’s eyes were narrowed in anger. Damon loved this. He had never felt in control with Katherine. Now he did. It was a near euphoric experience.
When she moved suddenly and grabbed Buffy’s ankle, Dawn shouted in surprise. Damon moved to help, and he was surprised to find he had not been going to help Katherine. There was really no need, however. Before he could even get close, the slayer had her subdued. This was more proof to Damon that he very much did not need to be killing her sister or even thinking about it.
“Salvatore?” Buffy asked, looking at him.
Damon was surprised she recalled his surname. She’d mangled everything else so far.
Everyone looked when they here voices and bodies coming through the underbrush. It was Stefan and Elena. Dawn raised a brow. She looked exactly like Katherine.
Damon cut Stefan off. “Katherine made Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here, mad. Now I am trying to decide if she gets staked or not since apparently it’s being left to me this time.”
“You know,” Buffy said. “If she walks tonight and she starts giving me trouble again, I will stake her.”
“I know,” he replied. “I’m just not sure if she deserves to walk tonight.”
“Damon…” Stefan began.
Damon glared at him incredulously. “You want to let her go? After everything she’s done? To Elena? Her family? To us?” Then he looked at Elena. “She kidnapped you. What do you think?”
“She also killed my… father,” Elena said.
Damon rolled his eyes. “That’s a reason to let her go. Hell, that’s a reason to throw her a party. No offense, Elena, but John was an ass.”
“Just let her go,” Stefan replied sadly.
Damon groaned and rolled his eyes again. “Are you serious? She’s only going to come back later as a bigger pain in our asses. You know this, right? This is always your problem, Stefan. You make what you consider kinder choices and pay later. You give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Except me.”
Dawn was looking from brother to brother. Buffy was watching Katherine, as was Elena. The teenaged girl was holding on to her boyfriend tightly, but her eyes had not left Katherine at any point. Smart girl.
As much as he hated to admit it, it just was not within Damon to be the figurative hand holding the ax to Katherine’s neck. He still felt things for her. Damon just had not decided it they were good things or bad things yet.
“Fine,” Damon said, literally throwing up his hands. “But don’t come crying to me when this blows up in everyone’s faces, and she has to be staked anyhow for trying to get revenge or something typically Katherine like that.”
Stefan was glaring at Katherine. “You leave town. Now.”
“He said leave now,” Buffy said. “I’ll be sticking around for a day or so. Just until my sister there has resolved sexual tension, and I like to patrol. If I see you, I’ll kill you. It’s a promise.”
Katherine glared at Damon and Stefan in a way that promised she would be back, and they would pay; then she rushed off.
Damon sighed. “Yeah, that’s not good. Should have staked her.”
Stefan glared at him.
“Oh, take your girlfriend home,” Damon snapped, rolling his eyes. “So annoying. Such a buzzkill.”
Dawn pinched him.
“That’s your brother,” she said. “Be a little nicer, okay?”
Damon gave her a look. “Not my girlfriend, so you don’t get to order me around.”
“Oh, my God, Damon your mutual ex just kidnapped his current who is a dead ringer for her, no pun intended. That’s got to be a little wiggy. Also, you didn’t even ask her if she was all right. Some slack could be cut here.”
He smirked at her.
“I am so sorry for being insensitive, Stefan and Elena,” Damon announced, tone chock full of sarcasm. “I’m glad everyone seems okay.”
He had not even taken his eyes off of Dawn the entire duration of his ‘apology’. Stefan’s eyebrows were so furrowed that he appeared to have a mono-brow.
“You’re kind of a jerk,” Dawn replied, grinning at him.
“And you like me anyway. What’s that say about you?”
Buffy groaned and started stalking off, muttering about how she refused to believe she had ever been this ridiculous with any of the guys she’d been with, undead or otherwise.
“Should she be going off alone?” Elena asked.
“They said she’s a vampire slayer,” Stefan whispered, still watching Dawn and his brother just stare. “Which doesn’t explain why any of us are still walking around. From what I have read on slayers, they kill vampires. It’s supposedly what they were specifically designed for.”
Dawn finally looked at him. “My sister is different. She mostly stakes on a case by case basis. We’ve found over the years that not all demons are necessarily evil. Morally ambiguous, sure, but evil? Not always. Did you guys want us to walk you home?”
Damon groaned. “No. Stefan is a big boy. He can see Elena home all by himself. We have other stuff to be doing or did you forget?”
“I did not forget. Did you just whine like a little boy about it, though?” Dawn asked, making a face at him.
Damon scowled and looked away.
“You did. Oh my God. That’s so cute.”
“Maybe I’ll kill you anyway,” Damon snapped, but he knew wouldn’t.
He actually liked her. Like he said – sassy. Sure, she’d just called him cute, and was that
ever annoying, but no one was perfect. She had other attributes that made up for that in his opinion – attributes he planned on getting a little more familiar with very soon. Maybe repeatedly. He just hoped all this anticipation wasn’t better than the real thing. Then again, someone that sassy had to have passion in spades. The passionate ones always made for the best times.
“I think I can handle getting Elena home,” Stefan replied, grinning. “You two go on and do… whatever - that I never want to hear about.”
Dawn hooked her arm through Damon’s as they walked in the general direction of town.
“Think I can get another room?” Dawn asked. “I really want to lock the door and pretend we’re not in there. If we get interrupted again, I think I’ll be the one doing the killing. I mean, that was ridiculous.”
“We could always go to my place,” Damon suggested, then marveled at himself for even suggesting it.
Dawn looked at him. “Are you beginning to get attached to me?”
“Not in the way I’d like to be.”
Dawn snickered and leaned up to place a playful bite on his neck.
“Hey, you said no biting.”
“I said no biting me, not that I couldn’t bite you,” she replied.
Damon looked at her. “This could get really interesting.”