15: The blurring of lines

[The Abattoir, French Quarter, New Orleans. March 13rd, 2115. 2:50 pm]

KJ was excited, his big brother Nick was coming to New Orleans, and he had missed him. Klaus thought it was adorable to see someone excited about a sibling returning, and it had been a very long time since he, himself, had been that excited to see his siblings again.

Rebekah and Elijah were still out of town. Rebekah made a habit of checking in on the Mikaelson family line, being the doting aunt to some, hated by others. No doubt Elijah was doing the same, but in his way or maybe he wasn’t even on the same continent anymore. Klaus could understand that his siblings wanted distance from him, that Bella and Kol filled the void, but on the other hand, it would have been nice to see them again.

But Nick coming to New Orleans worried him. Unlike the rest of the family – so far, Nick decided to do something entirely different with the powers given to him by his ancestors Bella and Kol. He had turned himself into some con man, a paranormal investigator, a magician or whatever. Working for the silly humans with their simple minds. Of course, Klaus knew a lot of those people as they worked in New Orleans too, but none was as powerful as Nick.

At least Nick wasn’t going to go for regent of the covens. Sameen had asked their mutual friend about the possibility of Nick relocating, and the Machine had told her that the chances were slim. He had left his wife and son in Texas. After it had checked all the reasons why Nick would be in New Orleans and coming up with nothing, Klaus grew worried.

With his line of work, Nick had acquired a lot of contacts with a lot of different witches, shamans and other supernatural beings and Klaus had been impressed by that. From what the Machine told them, Nick’s list could rival their own. Nick would be a great asset to have on his side, in his army, but unfortunately, he was the first born of this generation and Klaus left those alone.

It was tempting, however, seeing as Nick had already produced one child.

He and Sameen watched as KJ welcomed his sibling to the compound, they had allowed them to meet there, seeing as they were family after all. He was surprised that after hugging KJ, Nick immediately went straight for Klaus. “We need to talk.”

“Well hello to you too,” Sam said as she casually sipped her coffee. “Long time, no see… well never, to be honest.”

Nick smiled at her. “Hello, Sameen. Your lackeys have been keeping an eye on me so don’t tell me you’ve never seen my face.”

Sam shrugged and continued to drink her coffee.

Klaus expected as much that Nick only came to New Orleans to talk. “It must be pressing news that you wish to speak to me about,” he said as he pointed to a chair. “Please, sit.”

Nick did as Klaus told him to and sighed. “I’ve heard the news, and it’s not good. While you’ve been trying to make sure that your family didn’t grow out of control like the rats that we are, other influential witch families have been growing out of proportion and are now making their way to New Orleans, to take over.”

“What is it about New Orleans that they’d like? Can’t they leave us in peace?” Sam asked. They had destroyed a few werewolf families over the last few months upon the New Orleans witches’ request as they, too, were allowed to grow in numbers. But it was in their own territory.

“I suppose witches migrate, just as most vampires and werewolves do,” Nick said as he helped himself to the coffee pot and poured the liquid into one of the other mugs on the table. “Honestly, staying in one place for a long time is no fun.”

“I wasn’t one to really wander, why to start now?” Klaus watched Nick like a hawk. Even though generations removed, he reminded him of his brother Kol. “I suppose wanderlust is in your genes, with Kol being your ancestor.”

“We all know that technically, we’re not Mikaelsons and just carry the name,” Nick snorted and shook his head. “For which we’re grateful, of course. Your name opens a lot of doors in the supernatural community.”

“What witches are going to make a play for New Orleans? My lieutenant already spoke of several families moving in from out of state, he and some of the Claire witches are keeping an eye on them.”

“The worst of them all. The rabble rousers. Salem witches. The Bennetts,” He replied mournfully. “And you should know better than to trust Claire witches, especially with your history.”

Klaus sneered at that.

“I’m not telling you what to do, just that you have to be careful. The Bennett witches want more power, they want access to the powers of the Regents and they want access to ancestral magic. For what reason? It’s unclear as of now, but my guess is that they want to turn New Orleans into a safe haven for witches of all walks of life. New Orleans is isolated from the rest of the country, it makes sense.”

“New Orleans is my town. They’re not going to take it,” he snapped. “As I said, we have it under control.”

“No, you don’t.” Nick spat at him, not flinching at the hybrid as he sneered again and shifted in his seat. “If you truly want to keep your beloved city yours, I suggest you remove the new witches from your city to prevent dead vampires.”

“Why do you care?”

“Why don’t you care?” He shot back at Klaus. “Your city, you said. Do you want it to be run by witches or do you want to keep your delicate balance?”

A vampire ground to a halt next to Nick, and he blinked before hugging him. “Brother!”

“Hey Eddie,” Nick smiled at him. “What’s the hurry?”

“Klaus, you need to come,” Edward said to his boss. “Something’s happened. Marcel-”

“Whatever it is, Marcel can deal with it,” Klaus said to the young vampire. “I was having a nice chat with your brother.”

“Marcel’s dead. A group of new witches tore him apart while we were heading back to his apartment in Algiers. I barely escaped.”

Nick simply smirked. “Told ya.”

[The Abattoir, French Quarter, New Orleans. May 25th, 2260. 5:32 am]

Maybe turning Duke Remus Mikaelson, great great grandson of Bella and Kol, son of Nick, hadn’t been such a great idea, but hindsight was always 20/20, wasn’t it? The young man had been trouble to begin with, but he’d been looking for a good replacement for Marcel, who’d been gone for 40 years now.

It was proving difficult to place his dear Marcel. His first attempt at replacing him had been KJ, who had been mentored by Marcel for a good few years, but the boy was still unpredictable, and he didn’t seem to be able to gain the respect of the other vampires. Duke, however, was a trained fighter, and he was always getting into trouble with the police. To save his parents some more grief and headaches, Klaus had his vampires take Duke out of New York and turned him when he laid eyes on him.

Duke was a big fellow. Angry. Strong. Even stronger as a vampire. And for a good while, Duke served him well, until he found different interests. Until his anger consumed him and became a ripper. It took some time to get him out of that stage, and by then it was too late. James had put up the barrier and Duke wanted to take him out while he was being evicted from New Orleans.

Granted, Klaus was pissed off beyond imagining when it happened, but he knew it had only been a matter of time. They had been killing too many Mikaelsons over the cause of a period and sooner or later someone would get pissed off about it. But, he also knew that it was only a matter of time before they could enter New Orleans again and wasn’t too vengeful about it.

However, it was now months since it happened and getting back into New Orleans and killing James had become an obsession for young Duke. Even generations apart, Klaus could see Bella’s determination in him and probably his arrogance, but instead of trying to keep things together like a real leader should, he was unraveling. Fast.

“I’m sorry,” Sameen said as she watched Duke from her position. The vampire had rallied all of them together in the beautiful town square of Mystic Falls and was spewing nonsense again. This time he wanted to go after the few Bennett witches in Mystic Falls. “But if we wish to keep the peace in this town, he has to go.”

It was never good to piss off witches. But the Bennett witches didn’t have anything to do with what James Edward Mikaelson had done. Far from it, he had been of sound mind and true heart. The best intentions as possible. Of course, Klaus would have loved to slaughter some of Bonnie Bennett’s descendants, they were all as equally annoying as the witch had been, but his Sameen was right.

Klaus watched as Sameen leapt up and ripped out Duke’s heart in one quick movement. “Now, listen up, you idiots,” she said as she held his heart in her hand as the body dropped to the floor. “We will not retaliate by killing witches that didn’t have anything to do with what happened to us in New Orleans. We’re simply going to start a new life, here. If you do not want to stay here, you’re more than welcome to leave and seek your fortune elsewhere.”

Klaus blinked at that. He and Sameen had not agreed to that, but perhaps she was right. Mystic Falls was a small town after all, and if they wanted to play things safe, their numbers had to severely diminish. Maybe it would be better if they’d go somewhere else for the time being. His hometown wouldn’t fall off the face of the Earth any time soon, and maybe a change of scenery would be good.

However, he didn’t want to stray too far from what he knew. “Relocate to wherever you want, however, be aware that we can call upon you at a moment’s notice, and we’d like you to come back when we do. Have I made myself clear?”

He saw some faces nod and then speed off. “Anyone else wishes to leave?” When no one spoke up, he let out a deep breath. “Then let’s move to our temporary location before the sun rises, seeing as most of you haven’t earned your rings yet.”

[Accessing current feeds]
[The Abattoir, French Quarter, New Orleans. January 27th, 2311. 10:44 pm]

Bella was stuffing her face when Kol and Klaus returned with the grimoires she had requested. They both didn’t quite understand what had happened other than it involving the Ancestors and had made it their mission to ask Bella once she had calmed down somewhat.

But even when stuffing her face, she was in a frenzy.

“Bella, stop,” Kol said as he put his pile of books on the table and moved to her to stop her from eating. “Take a breath.”

“There’s no time,” she whined. “I have 24 hours… 21 hours left in this body. I can’t fix the mess with the witches in a day; there’s no way that even with your help that they’re going to listen or heal.”

“Tough. You need to slow down. Otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy, and you’re going to miss something,” Kol lifted her up and turned her away from the books and the food. “It’s great that you’re buzzing with energy and that you’re more than healthy for a day. You’re so powered up on magic that you forget to tune it down, filter it. Don’t allow it to take you over.”

“I’m not.”

“Yet.”

She eyed him before letting out a loud burp. “Sorry, I ate too fast,” she apologized and then sighed. “You’re right. I suppose I could spare one hour. What do you want to do?”

“I want you to relax before you bring down the building,” he said with a grin. “You need to take control over every sensation you’re currently experiencing. Your fear, your anxiety, but also your hope and your wishes.”

“Oh goodie,” Sam remarked as she stood in the doorway. “I just arrived at the right time to pull Klaus away from the boring shit.” She then winked at Bella. “Good to see you don’t like to stay dead either, Bella.”

Klaus turned to his mate, surprised to see her in one piece and moved to her to kiss her. “How did it go? Did you learn anything?”

Sam sighed as she put her arms around Klaus’ neck and pulled him out of Bella and Kol’s room. “I tried my best not to kill them; I suspect they were manipulated by Mandy like Bella had been, although some of them were quite content when they heard that Bella was dying. Something about the biggest mistake they ever made. I guess when people are desperate they don’t think correctly.” She jerked her head towards the room. “Divine witchy intervention?”

Klaus grumbled as he nodded his head. “I am not sure why she wanted us to get the grimoires. There could be a variety of reasons, but I’m sure that once Kol calms her down, she’ll tell us.”

“You think we’re going to be up all night?”

He smiled at that. “Given the limited time given by the ancestors, I suppose so.”

Sam groaned. “I need coffee.”

Klaus’ head snapped to the entrance of the courtyard and was on the human before it could even blink. “You have some guts to walk through those doors,” he said threatening, pushing the human against the gate. “Old man.”

“Yes, and as an old man, I expect to be treated as such,” the man scowled, pushing Klaus away with his index finger. “I come in peace, old man.”

“Peace,” Klaus huffed.

“Hey, I saw you at the witches when they asked me for their help,” Sam said as she moved beside her mate. “You said your father was responsible for the barrier.”

Duke nodded slowly. “I’m Duke Oliver Mikaelson, ma’am, not to be confused with Duke Remus, who’s been in your vampire army for years.”

Klaus let out a grunt as Sam pushed herself between him and Duke.

Sam nodded. “I killed him 50 years ago for wanting to go after your father.”

They had the Machine track all of the Mikaelsons for them because Klaus didn’t mean to have any personal dealings with his extended family. There were so many of them, and it was hard to keep track, but the Machine had a great and expansive mind. She didn’t forget. She told them who to kill – even though it was against her programming. Sam had reasoned with her, that it was important that they kept the amount of Mikaelsons to a bearable, tolerable, level, so there was less chance of them wanting to kill people. It was for the greater good that they were checked.

The perimeters had been easy enough; every first-born survived and their children. Or, once technology started to take over, the Machine made sure that all the other lines were made infertile without them knowing about it. It wasn’t ideal, but Klaus was a paranoid fucker, obsessive, even. She had begged the Machine – a machine – to do this so that Klaus wouldn’t go crazy and obsessive about it all; she wanted him sane.

For years, Sam had cursed Bella and Kol for making babies in the first place, but she could understand a basic human need to created clones of themselves. But, had Klaus eliminated everyone after Bella and Kol died, maybe they wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

While Sam didn’t hold a grudge against Duke because of who his father was, Klaus was less inclined to let bygones be just that.

“Oh, well, good to be the only Duke then,” Duke replied, focusing his attention to Sameen. “I saw you leave the loft today. Do you trust them?”

“No.”

“Good, you shouldn’t.”

“I don’t trust you either.”

“Good,” Duke said with a slight smirk on his face before looking at Klaus, who looked as if he was eating himself from the inside. “Relax, I have no witchy powers. I’m not a vampire. I’m not a werewolf. I’m just an old geezer, and I’m offering you my help.”

“What could you possibly have to offer?” Klaus demanded as he walked back into the courtyard. He had made the decision to keep the man alive as long as he gave them the information they could use.

Duke followed Klaus, undeterred with the other vampire following him. “Unlike any of you, I know my family. At least what’s left of it. I know the ones who are willing to change and the ones who want to use Bella to grab the regent position for themselves.”

Klaus couldn’t help but sneer at that. “You could have warned Sameen about Mandy.”

“Mandy is a Claire.”

“Was a Claire,” Klaus pointed out. “But I suppose the word of her recent demise hasn’t reached you yet.”

“And your point? A Claire is a Claire. They’ve been deviant little bitches for centuries.” Duke stopped dead in his tracks. “Mandy’s dead?”

“As you said, she was a deviant little wench,” Klaus countered as he sat down in one of the chairs they had put in the courtyard for the vampires who were out all night protecting them. He wasn’t inclined on taking Duke anywhere other than have him in the courtyard. “While there is no doubt that your little witches had a hand in poisoning Bella to make sure she’d be dead again after helping them with their problem – concerning the state of the witches, Mandy had other plans and managed to influence Bella in a different way,” he explained and then a broad smile appeared on his face. “Safe to say that Mandy’s learnt her lesson after Bella confronted her.”

“Of course, they’re Mikaelsons. Even with the chip in their heads they are conniving little girls,” Duke said as a matter of factly. “However, they’re not all that bad. There is some truth to their madness.”

“Such as?”

“The regent’s insanity and the way the Bennett witches influence her. They have a handful of werewolves in their pocket too; she’s well protected.”

“And yet, Kol and Bella were able to walk on the Cemetery with ease.”

“Because they’re not there. They’re hiding out near the Old Lakewood Golf Club, in one of the mansions on Lennox Boulevard.”

“Of course they are. Why make it easy?”

Duke smiled at that. “Surely with a reputation like yours you already have a plan?”

Klaus didn’t say anything. Their numbers had faltered, quickly, in the last few days. Every time he sent out a handful of vampires to go after some of the werewolves and chase them out of the quarter and back towards the Bayou and the Ninth Ward, only half of them returned if they were lucky.

“Scouting trip?” Sam smiled brightly. “My friend and I are itching for one.”

“Be careful. I’d like to come with, but I don’t want to leave this geezer alone.”

“Don’t kill him.”

“I won’t, I believe he’s telling the truth.”

“Good,” Sam smirked before running upstairs to get her things. “A good old fashioned hunt is just what I need!” She called out from upstairs before coming back down and kissed Klaus. “See you later. Have fun.”

[The Abattoir, French Quarter, New Orleans. January 28th, 2311. 12:21 am]

Once he had Bella somewhat centered and calm, Kol decided it was time to invite the rest of the family back so that Bella could explain her plan, what she was doing – or wanted to do anyway. She mentioned something along the lines of having a surprise for Sameen as well, but seeing as she was still trying to get eyes on the Regent and the Bennett witches, she wasn’t there, and Bella was simply going to make it a big surprise.

Kol hated it that Bella didn’t want to share what it was. He hated secrets, especially when his wife had them. He liked it, though that she didn’t want to leave him, that she wanted to stay and he suspected that her plan had something to do with it – and he liked it.

“Are you all fed and not going to rip off my head if I say things you don’t like?” Bella smirked as she looked at the vampires sitting at the table. She was sitting on top of it, surrounded by her books, just like old times. But in a different body.

“You’ve strategically placed yourself in the middle of us; I’m sure you have a nice little spell that will blow us all away if we so much attempt to drink from you,” Klaus looked at his sister-in-law. “Besides, when have we ever taken a bite out of you?”

Bella smirked. “August 8th, 2050. From me and Kol.”

“What?”

“You’ve forgotten?” She grinned. “Nina’s kid had accidentally cursed you, and you had to drink from the both of us to cure you of it.”

Klaus huffed. “I always thought it was an elaborate plot from you and Kol to experience what it felt like to be fed upon.”

“Aha! But you did drink from us!”

“And you tasted very nice, now, get on with it, your time is limited, if I remember correctly,” Klaus said, apparently not amused.

“Yep, but it doesn’t have to be,” Bella said as she pointed at her books. “Look, I love you guys, you’re my family, but I also know how conniving you are and what you are capable of when you’re bored.”

“What do you mean?”

“I knew you were going to resurrect Kol eventually, despite his wishes,” she smirked and pointed at her husband. “I also knew that eventually, Kol would want me back. So, after he died, I spent most of my days doing research. It’s one thing to resurrect an Original vampire; it’s pretty straightforward magic. It needs a lot of power, sure, but it’s pretty straight forward as your body doesn’t age, even when they’re ash.”

“I wouldn’t say it was straightforward,” Klaus said, mumbling. “It cost me a lot of money to pay the right witch to do so. To find her, in the first place, someone who didn’t have any ties to our lives, knowledge of who we are.”

“It were a handful of ingredients and a spell or two, yes?” Bella smiled at Klaus before sighing. “Anyway, I left instructions with Hope, that, should the need arise, she’d be able to resurrect me.”

“Hope?” Klaus blinked. He hadn’t seen his daughter in a very long time. Hope was like her mother, free spirited and doing whatever she pleased. He wouldn’t be surprised if Hope lived among the werewolves in secret. “Why her?”

“She’s a powerful witch. She’s a tribrid. She’s a Mikaelson. Would you like me to continue?”

“Look, I want to extend my life so I can help the witches find their balance again, kick those other witches out and deal with the werewolves. Help you with it. I can’t do that in this body. There’s a time limit on this one.”

“Cuddles? You want to hijack a healthy body?” Kol smiled hopeful.

“No. Well, yes, probably. If this fails. But I prefer to have my own back so that nobody else has to sacrifice themselves,” Bella smiled at him. “I died an old lady, but with these spells, I can rewind time for my bones and skin. Hopefully. I mean, I was old when I thought of this combination, and I was probably losing my mind.” She ran a hand through her hair and sighed. “If this fails, you might have to find someone that’s aesthetically pleasing, and we’ll get me in that.”

Elijah and Rebekah had remained quiet until now, but they had been listening intently. “Won’t the Ancestors be infuriated with you for cheating death?” Elijah inquired.

“Of course, but my daughter alerted me to the loophole. This body has 24 hours in full health. Everything else is me. So, this body. She never said anything about me jumping bodies or resurrecting myself. I figure that if I do it without casualties, I can get away with it.”

“But dead is dead.”

“Not always,” Bella said with a smirk. “I’ll deal with the consequences myself, but they need my help and by the time they want to sanction me for abuse of power, I’ll have fulfilled my duties as a witch.”

Kol’s smirk grew wide. “Are you saying?”

“I am, if you want me to.”

“I do! Very much so!” Kol got up from his seat and kissed her. “You are brilliant! What do you need?”

Bella blinked when the door opened, and Hope walked in with a bag. “Greetings family, I come bearing some old bones!”

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