The drive was relatively short. Another car was parked in the drive and as soon as they pulled up, the driver’s side door opened. Another young woman got out, grabbing her purse and a pillow. Caroline rushed over and gave her a hug. When Elena went to the trunk to get her things, Buffy pulled her bag out and handed it over, keeping her eye on the new girl. “That’s Bonnie?”
“Yeah,” Elena said with a small smile. “We’ve all been friends for a while but we haven’t done this for a long time. It’ll be good for all of us, I think.”
As Elena walked over to her friends, Buffy felt another supernatural presence and tensed. Willow stepped up beside her, looking off to the bushes to the side of the house. “Looks like someone didn’t heed your warning,” Buffy said in a low voice. She could sense the werewolf hiding and slipped her stake into her hand.
Willow put her hand on Buffy’s arm to stop her. “It’s Tyler and he means her no harm. Relax. He just wanted to check on her. I’ll let him know to stay back,” she replied, tapping the side of her head.
Buffy glanced over at Caroline who was oblivious to the unwelcome guest they had in their midst. She was in the middle of a three-way hug and trying to hold back tears. The three girls started walking toward the house.
“I want to stay here tonight just in case any werewolves think they should make a return visit.”
Willow nodded in understanding. “I’ll put up some wards as well, but I’m not staying the whole night.”
“You need to get caught up on your rest. Warding always did wear you out.”
Her friend gave her a small smile. “It’s not too much, but I’ll sleep well tonight.”
Buffy’s face darkened. “I don’t like leaving you alone with Damon, though.”
Willow shook her head. “I can take care of him, Buffy. If he gets too annoying, I’ll just come back over here. Promise. He’s kind of like Spike and Anya rolled into one body. I’ll be fine.”
Buffy snorted at the visual and kept her stake in her hand as they walked up to the front of the house. The girls already went inside, so Buffy followed them as Willow did her walk around to set up the wards.
“Elena?” Buffy asked in the foyer. The young girl came down the stairs. “I just wanted to let you know I’m staying here tonight, just in case there’s any more trouble.”
“Do you think there will be?” she asked worriedly.
“No, and Willow is putting up wards, but I just want to be double sure.”
“Won’t you be tired staying up all night, though?”
Buffy grinned sardonically. “I’m used to pulling all-nighters. I’ll be fine. Besides, I got plenty of rest on the plane from London.”
Elena nodded and started to head up the stairs. Bonnie passed her coming down. “I’ll be up in a minute, Elena.”
When she was sure that Elena was out of ear-shot, Bonnie held out her hand to Buffy. “We didn’t get to meet. I’m Bonnie Bennett. Did I hear that someone is putting up wards around the house?”
The witch had power at her fingertips, but it wasn’t nearly as strong as Willow. Buffy felt the static across her skin when she shook Bonnie’s hand.
“Yes, my friend Willow is outside. She should be finishing up if you’d like to see.”
Simple 24-hour warding didn’t take much time to put up, but it did require Willow to pull a lot of power from the earth to protect the house. When they walked outside, Willow was just finished chanting under her breath. The breeze that surrounded her died down. When she turned around, her eyes were darker than normal, but most of the black had bled out of them. After blinking a few times, they were back to their normal moss green color.
She smiled when she saw Bonnie. “Hi! You must be Bonnie, the witch Damon told me about. I’m Willow.” She held out her hand. Bonnie hesitated, but eventually took Willow’s hand. When she did, wind blew around them gently, ruffling their hair. Buffy just raised her eyebrow at the faint hint of magic in the air.
“Wow,” Bonnie said breathlessly. “You’re very powerful.”
“You’re no wimp yourself,” Willow said.
Bonnie bit her lip in hesitation. “I have so many questions for you. Do you think you could answer some?”
“Later,” Willow confirmed, “When you don’t have a best friend crisis to deal with.”
The witch nodded and smiled, turning and going back into the house. Buffy turned to Willow with a questioning look on her face. “What was that?”
“Bonnie is powerful,” Willow said softly, “But she’s wild. Her grandmother taught her about her powers, but she died trying to help Damon and Stefan with a spell. Bonnie holds a lot of hatred for vampires because of it. And since her grandmother is gone, no one is teaching her about her powers.”
“You taught yourself about your powers,” Buffy said, pausing when Willow sent her a significant glance. “Oh. Right.”
“She’s hanging by a thread. If something were to happen to someone she cares about, she would snap like I did and do something without thinking of the consequences. It could be bad.”
“So we have two projects now,” Buffy said with a sigh. “We need to stop the vampires from breaking the curse and make sure we don’t have another out-of-control witch on our hands.”
“Three projects,” Willow said making a face. “When I touched Bonnie’s hand, I got a flash of something.”
Buffy groaned and leaned against the side of the house, letting her head fall back. “Why don’t I like the sound of that?”
“There’s another witch in town,” Willow explained, “and he’s very
powerful. He’s going to be a problem, Buffy. He doesn’t have the same agenda that we do.”
“This night just keeps getting better and better.”
The sudden presence of a vampire put Buffy on edge. Willow’s power flared up briefly before calming. Buffy relaxed her grip on her stake at the sight of Stefan walking up the sidewalk.
“Well, then I have more bad news.” Buffy glowered and he winced apologetically. “John is on his way to see Damon. He said he has something for us.”
“And you couldn’t find out what it is?” she snapped.
Stefan shook his head. “He said he’d tell me later and I wanted to check on Elena.”
“Well, I’m staying here tonight,” Buffy said. “We had a visit from a harmless werewolf so Willow put protection wards around the house, but I still want to keep an eye out.”
He nodded and turned to Willow. “Will you be staying too?”
She shook her head. “All this warding and magic drained me a bit. I need a good night’s sleep. I don’t suppose you came in a car?” Willow asked, looking behind him at the empty street.
“I didn’t. I’m sorry. I plan on returning there later tonight. I could take you there, but I don’t know if you want me to carry you over that distance.”
Willow paled a bit. “No, I don’t do well with the fast speeds. Buffy’s driving is just about enough for me to lose my lunch.”
“Hey,” Buffy said, making a face. “I resent that remark.”
After pausing a moment, Willow huffed in thought. “Do you have anything of Damon’s with you or something that ties you together? I can focus on that and teleport there.”
Stefan’s eyebrows rose. “Won’t doing more magic just tire you out?”
“Teleporting doesn’t really drain me, at least not when it’s over a short distance,” she replied.
In answer, Stefan held up his hand. A large blue signet ring rested on his middle finger. “This ring is our family crest. Damon has one exactly like it.”
Willow reached out, but didn’t completely touch it. “This is embedded with magic,” Willow said. “Old magic.”
Using his thumb, he spun the ring on his finger, a wry grin on his face. “When I was first turned into a vampire, a witch I knew, Emily, put a spell on this ring and another ring for Damon. It allows us to walk in the sun.”
Buffy’s eyebrows shot up. “Whoa. You don’t burn in the sun?”
“With these rings, we don’t,” he replied, “But that is the only thing it protects us from. We’re still able to die a myriad of other ways.”
She let out a breath she was holding. The last thing she needed was to get in proverbial bed with vampires she couldn’t kill if something went wrong. Damon with a replica Gem of whatever the hell that was would have made the trip even less fun.
If Stefan noticed her relaxing, he didn’t comment on it. He still held his hand up with the ring glinting in the porch light.
Willow took a deep breath. “I’ll see you both tomorrow. I plan on going to sleep as soon as I get there.” She paused with wide eyes. “There is enough room, right? I know Damon invited us just to get back at John, but I’m not kicking anyone out of their house, am I? And I can totally bunk on a couch or something because Buffy and I totally have done that before.”
Buffy put her hand over Willow’s mouth to stop her rambling. Stefan gave them an amused grin.
“Sorry,” Willow muttered from behind Buffy’s hand.
“She has a good point, though, all babbles aside,” Buffy said. “Do you have room for us to stay?”
Stefan’s grin grew. “It’s an old boarding house. There is plenty of room for both of you.”
Willow nodded and reached out her hand, touching the ring. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then, in an abrupt fashion that Buffy was slowly getting used to, Willow disappeared, the sound caused from the magic not even a whisper.
Stefan’s eyebrows went up in surprise. “That was…”
“Anti-climatic?” Buffy finished with a wry grin. “Tell me about it.”
She seated herself on one of the chairs on the porch, settling in. Stefan seemed surprised.
“Are you really going to stay here all night?”
“I might as well. It seems like all the action is going to start here anyway.”
Stefan chuckled. “Well, when you put it that way…”
Buffy looked over at Stefan. “So how old are you anyway? Hundred? Hundred fifty?”
She filed that away in the back of her brain. He was younger than Angel but older than Spike.
“So…” he began, breaking the silence. “A vampire slayer. Been doing that a while?”
“A decade,” she answered.
With a whistle, Stefan settled in. “That is quite a while for a slayer.”
“You know about slayers more than ‘Mmm-mm good’?”
Stefan chuckled softly. “Yeah. I’ve been around a while. You don’t get to my age without hearing about the slayer.”
Buffy frowned. “But you’re a different species than what I deal with. Most of your kind don’t know about me.”
“Well,” he began, “I actually met and eventually grouped with some vampires in the early 1900s. I was heading to South America from Canada and they were coming to America from China. They were the species of vampire that were hunted by slayers. One of the vampires actually just killed a vampire slayer during the Boxer Rebellion.”
“God, no,” she blurted. No. It just wasn’t possible. Before she could help it, the song “It’s A Small World” started looping through her mind. “Tell me you don’t know Spike. Please.”
When Stefan’s eyebrows shot up and a look of surprise swept across his face, Buffy started banging her head against the house siding. She shouldn’t have been surprised. Katherine ran with Darla and Angelus so why wouldn’t Spike hang out with an evil Stefan?
“You know of William the Bloody?” Stefan asked.
?” she asked incredulously. “If only. He’s a permanent pain in my ass.”
Buffy pulled out her cell phone with a huff. Before she left, Spike kept smirking in her direction, like he knew something she didn’t. John threw around the names Stefan and Damon Salvatore, so Spike knew exactly who she would run into. She was so going to kick his ass when she got back to England.
She wasn’t sure how, but sometime after Willow programmed her phone’s speed dial with all of the important numbers she would need, Spike’s speed dial number was changed from 11 to 666. She didn’t know who managed that until Angel called one day and the name “The Great Poofter” showed up as the caller ID. Then she had a pretty damn good idea.
“What are you doing?” Stefan asked.
After pounding the number 666 and hitting ‘dial’, Buffy held the phone up to her ear. “Let me guess. Also hanging around Spike was a slightly nutso chick with an affinity for dolls and tarot cards?”
“Drusilla?” he asked in surprise. “It’s a Small Word” looped through her head again.
Before should respond, the call was picked up. “Bloody hell, Slayer, it’s four in the morning and I just got back from a long patrol. Can’t you call your other vampire ex-shag and wake him up at this ungodly hour?”
Stefan probably got whiplash from jerking his head in her direction so fast. Even without his supernatural hearing, Spike’s voice came across her cell phone loud and clear.
“I’m going to kill you,” she said calmly, “And I’m going to damn well enjoy it.”
“Aw, pet, you promise the sweetest things.”
“Pain. Lots of it.”
He snorted. “As much as I love this familiar conversation of how you’d like to wear my guts for garters, if you rang me up to tell me you wanted to kill me every time I annoyed you, there wouldn’t be a large enough mobile minute plan in the world to cover it. Why are you calling?”
“Why didn’t you tell me you hung out with Stefan Salvatore back in the day?” she snapped.
“You didn’t ask.” Her eyes widened in anger. She heard him flick his lighter open over the call and take a deep drag of a cigarette. If he was smoking in the Council, she was going to beat him. After she killed him.
“As it is, yeah, I ran with the bloke, although he went by a nickname back then.” There was a pause while he tried to remember the name and then he chuckled. “Completely forgot it until now. You’ll get a laugh out of this. He was called ‘Ripper’.”
Buffy blinked, slowly turning her head to stare incredulously at Stefan. He looked highly uncomfortable and embarrassed. He probably thought she was horrified at the name, thinking up the grisly meanings behind it. It was most likely the reason for his confused expression when she had to clap her hand over her mouth to stop from laughing too loudly.
“Oh God,” she said, trying to control her giggles, “I—I can’t…” she trailed off, her snickers overtaking her. “That is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while. Ripper.”
“Think I should tell Rupert?”
“Oh God, no,” she laughed. “He’d probably get all indignant about it and start cleaning his glasses again. Although, I do wonder if Stefan was the inspiration.”
“I’m confused,” Stefan said slowly. “What are you talking about?”
“Is that him?” Spike asked brightly. “Have to say it’s a shame I got left behind. Would have liked to catch up with him.”
Buffy huffed, her humor mostly dissipated. “I didn’t call you so you could reminisce with your boyfriend, Randy
. I promised I would check in. We hit the ground running and this is the first free chance I’ve gotten.”
“Well, why didn’t you call Rupert or the Whelp?”
“Because it’s four in the morning and I didn’t want to wake them up,” she said innocently.
Spike growled. “I’ll tell them you rang. Now bugger off.”
“I’ll tell Katherine you said hi,” she chirped.
“You tell that bitch tha—
She quickly hung up the phone and dropped it in her lap. Stefan looked at her curiously after Spike’s outburst. “They don’t really get along. Like, at all.”
“I wasn’t aware he knew Katherine.”
“He nailed her in the head with a crowbar once,” she explained with a shrug. “She’s not really the forgive-and-forget type.”
He chuckled wryly. “And how do you know Spike?”
Buffy sighed. “You want the long version or the short version? Keep in mind that the long version is like the Energizer bunny on steroids.”
“The short version then,” he replied.
“I met him when he tried to kill me once. We were evenly matched and both walked away, but not before my mother hit him in the head with an axe.” Buffy smiled at the memory. “He left town for a while, came back drunk when Drusilla dumped him, actually kidnapped Willow to make her do a love spell for him, and then left again when that failed. Then he came back, got kidnapped by a demon-hunting secret agency, had a computer chip put in his head to stop him from hurting humans and we’ve been fighting together ever since.”
“Just like that?” Stefan asked disbelievingly.
“Short version, remember? Other version is the ‘roided bunny.”
He laughed. Before their conversation could continue, her phone rang again. Buffy quickly pulled it out and frowned at the caller ID. “Why the hell is John calling me? I thought he was going to see Damon?” she asked Stefan. He shrugged and she answered the call.
“What do you want now, John?” she asked with a sigh.
“Where are you?”
“I don’t like you. You’re not my boss. My boss doesn’t like you either and even though he told me I couldn’t kill you, he said nothing about not breaking every bone in your hand if you piss me off,” Buffy snapped.
“Would you please answer the question?”
“I’m at Caroline’s house. Why?”
“I’m going to come by,” John replied. Buffy heard him get into a car in the background. “There’s something I want you to see.”
“If it’s a severed head, I’m going to be very upset.”
Stefan snickered. John gave her one of his annoyed, long-suffering sighs. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
He hung up the phone and Buffy smiled.
“Any idea what John wants to show you?” Stefan asked.
“None whatsoever. Think you can hold down the fort?” she asked, gesturing to the house. The girls had finally settled down and gone to sleep and no werewolves made a surprise appearance.
Stefan nodded. “I’ll probably head back to the boarding house since it’s been so quiet. I need to get some blood in me. My back still twinges a bit.”
“Happy hunting,” Buffy quipped as Stefan sped off into the night. It was silent until John pulled up in front of the house. She bounded down the sidewalk, taking stock for a final time of anything supernatural around the house. Sensing nothing, she got in the car.
As she buckled her seatbelt, she noticed John’s tight grip on the steering wheel and his irritated expression. “Are you okay?” she asked with a small grin.
“You should not stay with the Salvatore brothers.”
“Well, you just came from there, right?” Buffy asked, glancing out the window as they sped out of the suburban neighborhoods. “Did you see Willow?”
“Yes,” he snapped. “She and Damon were talking.”
At his sour tone, Buffy raised her eyebrow. “Talking? Is that illegal now?”
“It’s not safe for you there.”
“No offense,” she began with a snort, “but did you really think this through? Me and Willow staying with you? What were you going to tell Elena’s aunt?”
John didn’t reply. Buffy sat back in her seat as they drove farther from town and into the woods. She fought back nervousness. “You know I was just joking about the severed head, right?”
He glared at her and pulled off onto a dirt road. Shortly after, he slammed the car into park and killed the engine. “Come on. We have to walk from here.”
“Walk to where?” she asked as they got out of the car. “What the hell am I doing out here?”
John remained annoyingly silent as they walked until they came to stone stairs leading underground. Buffy’s nervousness grew. “If I live through this, I promise I’ll never be bored again,” she muttered.
The moment she took the first step down, she felt a flare of magic and goose bumps popped up on her arms. A vampire was near, she could tell, but she couldn’t figure out where or how far away it was.
Now fully underground, Buffy looked through the cave. John stopped at an opening with his hands folded in front of him. “I know you were expecting someone else.”
Her brow furrowed until she heard the voice respond from the darkness.
“I sent Stefan to find Isobel.”
John informed the Council that Katherine was imprisoned in a tomb and unable to get out, which Buffy really got a kick out of, but she wished she had more of a heads up from John that they were making a house call. Hearing a voice she hadn’t heard in close to eight years wasn’t a pleasant experience, especially since they both vowed to kill the other the last time they faced off. Now it seemed they had to call a truce. Again.
Buffy shook her head and remained farther back. Katherine was in a simple black dress and obviously starved of blood. She allowed herself to be smug about it before focusing on the conversation.
“She got your message,” John replied. “She was busy so she sent me instead.”
“Does Stefan know that you’re here right now?”
“No, no one does.”
“Except me,” Buffy said, taking a step forward. She relished in Katherine’s shocked expression. Without a steady supply of blood, her senses were dulled and she hadn’t sensed Buffy also enter the tomb. “I’ve gotta say, you are seriously rocking the whole ‘Imprisoned In A Cave’ look, Kathy. I kinda like it.”
Katherine growled and glared at John, her eyes blazing with unconcealed anger. “You brought her
“And Willow,” he replied firmly, standing still and calm in the center of the open area outside of the cave. Buffy walked over and joined him, getting a good look at the space inside. It wasn’t much and that made her happy. “They will both be extremely important in helping stop the curse from being broken.”
“I don’t care. She’s just going to screw everything up.” Before Buffy could retort, she sneered at John. “I want to be out of this tomb, John.”
“I’m already on it.”
Buffy sighed. “Never. Bored. Again.” -FIN-
Notes and Acknowledgements
Thanks for reading! Just a few notes--there is more in this universe to come. I am working on an outtake from this fic--a snapshot of what happens when Willow headed over to the boarding house and runs into Damon. The prequel, telling how Buffy first met Katherine, is also in the works. Be looking for those in the future!
Many thanks to my lovely beta, best friend, and brain twin jacyevans. She helped me work through this and helped me get everything in the proper place. She also let me flail on her couch on the day rough drafts were due and panic at the lack of a summary. This would suck (no pun intended) without her.