Chapter 20

“Okay, so you’re going to see everyone, okay?” Jeremy said as they were standing in front of the Sanatorium, gearing up with their cameras. “Do things we’ve practised over the last few weeks, everything we can’t use, we’ll edit out.”

“We’ve been over this,” Bella replied, slightly nervous as she fidgeted with her flashlight after turning on her recorder and putting it on her backpack. While she had used her abilities somewhat before, even on her day out with Rebekah, this was going to be more difficult. Kol and Jeremy wanted her to try everything, which included using all of her senses. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, the emotions. And they were going to start in the room she’d been in before.

She felt a little apprehensive, although she’d become stronger and was more in control over things. Bella wasn’t entirely complete and there were still many answers still to find, but she was doing this because both Kol and Jeremy made her excited about this. She was ready, and she was the only one holding herself back, afraid of what she’d see.

According to her friend Astaria, the spirits could look quite different in mental asylums. Bella knew this. While Kol’s apartment was supposed to be void of bad dreams, Bella had a nightmare the night before, although it could possibly have been a memory, of her own time in one of these facilities and what she saw. The dead. How terrible some looked, some had even turned even into bonafide Frankenstein monsters.

She wasn’t afraid of monsters, or perhaps she was, despite having accepted the true face of a vampire that easily when she met Kol and his family. It was a part of them. No, it was when the emotions and the energy matched the monster that she was afraid. But she needed to have the fear. She needed to experience the fear because what if they’d go to another place like the Cullen House? What if what she’d see there, what Kol saw, what Jeremy possibly saw, and it’d freak her out? Make her lose control?

No, going to the sanatorium was a good idea. And the feeling of Kol clipping the leash through the belt loop on her jeans was a good idea too, snapping her out of her thoughts. “Ah, back to earth.”

“Thanks,” she muttered as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear before deciding to check over the contents of her backpack again. This was the first time they went somewhere after the Cullen House and after practising with Myriam’s ghosts. The encounters she had with Rebekah were normal compared to actually going somewhere with purpose. Energies had already attacked Kol and Jeremy in this place and she needed to be sure she had everything on her.

Kol’s dagger was in a handy place, easy to grab should they need it, but she really wished they wouldn’t have to use it on him. She stuffed some vervain in her back pocket before looking up to him, apologetically. Kol had fed properly and had received a blessing from Myriam, but that didn’t mean that it would stop strong entities from taking him over.

Bella said that she never would, but she honed in on his deeper emotions and all she felt was the same apprehension and fear as she felt. The ‘what if’ feeling. What if the same thing happened here? She got to her feet and gently rubbed his arm. “This is not the Cullen House. We’re prepared now.”

“Yeah, get back on that horse,” Jeremy grinned as he checked his camera. “Come on.”

Protection mantra wouldn’t work. It never worked, but it had been something Bella did anyway to make herself feel better and the people with her safe, but they all knew better now. She scooped her camera off the floor and put a hand on the door, taking a deep breath as she allowed herself to see, feel and hear everything. She could feel the energy pass right through her, enveloping her, sending tiny sparks over her skin, igniting every follicle. When she opened the boarded up door, she was greeted by a lot of spirits in the reception area, they merely shuffled along, looked up for a moment and continued to shuffle. Some even still with their IV’s attached. Or with an axe in their skull.

Kol was wondering why Bella wasn’t moving. “Bella?”

“Yeah, just give me a minute here,” she said in barely a whisper before taking a deep breath and stepped inside, sticking to the wall closest to the door as she made her way to the room they’d been in before. However, before she turned into the corridor, she turned around to face the entrance. “I’m Nurse Bella and I’m telling you all to go back to your rooms, someone will be with you shortly, you’re mucking up the reception area,” she said slightly irritated, but surprised that everyone started to move and do as they were told. “Oh, that’s definitely better.”

“We’re not going to do every single room tonight,” Kol warned her.

“No, but I needed the entrance cleared,” she responded simply before turning into the corridor where she saw the large beam hanging from the ceiling. “Hey look, it’s your friend the beam.”

“Very funny.”

‘You’re back,’ a voice spoke before the body came into focus, emerging from the wall. ‘And you can see me.’

“Yeah, I can see you,” Bella said as she focused on the man in front of her. He was tall, perhaps a little bit taller than Kol was. Dark hair, beard and he was wearing a nurse’s uniform. “You were a nurse here?”

^Orderly^

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she apologized. “Your name is Derek, isn’t it? You were here the first time,” she continued before she saw the dark aura around the ghost that he was trying so hard to keep away from her. “Yeah, buddy, you’re bad news. Go away.”

It was fascinating to see how easy it was for Bella to fall back into her habits. She’d been scared before, he could tell by how fast her heart had been beating, but once she was dealing with the spirits, she was fearless, which, in turn, made him feel a bit more at ease, too. However, her new found self confidence could get her and them in trouble, couldn’t it? “What do you see?”

“Dark aura, he’s trying to hide it,” she explained. “But if he’s just bad news. Not bad bad. He doesn’t want to be evil,” Bella continued as she tried to make sense of Derek’s emotions. “He was a bad boy, he didn’t even work in this facility but was put here as a punishment, that’s my guess.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Kol huffed.

Bella turned to him with a smile. “You know how all the girls like the bad boys? Like… in the old days they’d be like… James Dean or The Fonz from Happy Days.”

“Right…”

“That’s Derek. He likely did something shitty for him to be put here though,” she turned back to Derek and cocked her head. “Can I try something on you, Derek?”

‘What do you mean?’

“I won’t hurt you, I promise, but since you’re actually here and talking, I want to try something on you. Maybe get rid of that dark thing, help you move on.”

‘You can do that? I mean, you said so last time, but I couldn’t.’ There was hope in his voice, and his emotional state shifted as well. Bella knew he was ready. Whatever he was put in here for by whomever, he had done his penance.

Bella carefully reached out with her hand, focussing on bumping the dark away from him with her energy, feeling the discharge in her fingertips and the dark crumbled to the floor. She slightly jumped back when Derek transformed into a werewolf, only briefly to flex his muscles, a loud roar coming out of his mouth, and she could tell that both Jeremy and Kol heard this too.

‘Thank you,’ Derek said as he was back to his human appearance. ‘I ate a few witches in my day and they killed me, put me in here. I am sorry for what I did and I want to thank you for bringing peace to me, Bella,’ he replied before he poofed out of existence.

“Oh, that was awesome!” Bella cheered as she turned around to look at the stunned faces of her two boys. “What?”

“Wolf?” Jeremy questioned.

“Yep,” Bella said with a slight giggle as euphoria washed over her, the good vibes that Derek had showered her with upon leaving. “Nommed on witches, he said. They put him in here,” she continued before focusing on the room next to her, the room where she knew that held at least twenty spirits, including Anna, who couldn’t speak and was left here after her parents died. The room where she had felt uncomfortable. The energy coming from that room already feeling dense, almost as if it was pulling her in, but she didn’t allow it to. She only stepped inside when she was a bit more comfortable. “We’ve been in this room the first time we were here,” she said as she shone her flashlight around, unnecessary now that she could see the spectral images, but it was good for the views.

She didn’t seem to see Anna and was happy to know that she moved on, but there were certainly more than twenty spirits in the room. However, everyone was still talking at the same time, and upon noticing Bella, they turned to her, talking gibberish. There were men, women of all ages, some in the state they were in when they died, others showing her the version of who they wanted to be in life. But they were all patients, that much was clear. She could feel how lost and alone they were. The confusion, and the realisation that Bella was likely there to help them, but communication wasn’t going to happen.

They didn’t understand much, and she had already established that, but the emotions, the grief and loss, the loneliness were affecting her badly. It didn’t help that she was now seeing them, too, and merely looking at their state made her want to move them on. But she wasn’t sure how. “They didn’t understand me the last time when I told them they could go,” Bella said as she started to walk through the room, her arms spread to her side, her fingertips touching the shoulders of the people inside, jolting them into moving on. “I’m helping a little bit, they can’t stay here.”

“You can’t move on everybody in this place, Bella,” Jeremy warned her. “It’ll drain you immensely, and it’s not what you do.”

“No, I like to tell stories. Make the spirits feel better by interacting with them, but just let me do this room, I promise, I won’t do anybody else by force. Besides, all I’m doing right now is to give them a little nudge before we leave and head to another room somewhere else.”

“Why are your arms spread out then?” So far, they could hardly use things, and if she continued to do this with her hands, they needed an explanation for her channel. “Does that make it easier for you?”

Bella stopped for a moment as she considered his question and then shrugged. “I like to imagine the span of my thoughts gets bigger by stretching myself like this. Looks silly?”

“Yep.”

Sighing, Bella dropped her hands to her side and continued to walk around for a few more minutes. “Okay, let’s go and find us some stories,” she said before wiping her hands off on her pants and left the room, followed by Kol and Jeremy. “Hey, Jer, if you want, you could take the Wonderbox and wander around here in this corridor by yourself.”

“Are you sure?” Despite his bravado, he didn’t want to leave Kol and Bella alone by themselves like he had in the Cullen House.

She let out a breath and nodded. “Yeah, we need to be alone to show ourselves that it was a one time thing. We’ll take the corridor on the other end of the reception area, we won’t go far. We’ll be fine,” she smiled at him. “Go have fun with that box. I’m sure you’ll run into some ladies who’d want to see you shirtless.”

“Not fair,” Jeremy let out a snort but took the Wonderbox out of his backpack. “Okay, first sign of trouble…”

“Don’t worry,” Bella said bravely. “Kol and I are going to be just fine.” When Jeremy walked off, Bella looped her arm through Kol’s and slowly walked to the corridor on the opposite side of the reception area. “Relax,” she said in barely a whisper. “Take a deep breath and relax, you’re making me nervous.”

“I thought you wouldn’t pick up on my emotions?”

“I told you, I always have a shallow connection to those who are with me when I’m doing this to make sure they’re safe,” she replied calmly. “I merely decided to go a little bit deeper as this is a unique situation where we both are uncomfortable due to things that happened in the Cullen House.”

“In all fairness, I’m surprised by this,” he replied, after calming down a bit more. “Over the years we’ve learned to protect ourselves from empaths and mindreaders.”

“I’m not a mindreader and if it makes you feel better, I don’t sense Jeremy at all, likely due to his special skillset, I don’t know,” she shrugged as she pulled him inside a room and found a decent spot on the floor for them to sit down. “Don’t worry, keeping tabs on you is just a precaution.”

“Wouldn’t want me to nearly kill you again,” Kol snapped. “I still feel guilty about it and now you’re even… you don’t trust me?”

“I do!” Bella said as she switched on her flashlight and crawled into his lap, making sure the pocket with vervain in it didn’t touch him. “I do trust you, it’s that you don’t trust yourself,” she put her arms around his neck and softly kissed him. “You don’t trust yourself with me in this type of environment when we’re alone, even though Jeremy is close by. So, you and I are going to sit here all night.”

“What about your stories?”

“Plenty of stories to tell, there are a handful of spirits here waiting and willing.”

“You didn’t say anything.”

“No, because while I use my words a lot, I don’t really need them to communicate with them, remember?” She softly kissed him again as she ran a hand through his hair. “Who knows? We might find a good natured spirit and maybe they want to help you out by testing your limits, because make no mistake, Kol Mikaelson, where I’ve become stronger in the last few weeks, so have you, and you can deal with a lot more than you think when it comes to energies and ghosts.”

“I know, but-”

“No buts,” she interrupted him before shifting a little to get the vervain out of her pocket and stuffed it into her backpack. “See? No buts. Well, your butt is extremely well shaped and mine, but no but buts.”

“You’re insane, I could kill you.”

“Feed me some of your blood and we’re sure I’ll come back,” she grinned as she playfully ground her hips down to his groin. “Nothing is going to happen here. This Sanatorium has insane energy, there’s darkness, but it’s nowhere near to the levels as the Cullen House,” Bella then turned around in his lap so she could lean against him and moved her camera around to show the complete darkness. “There’s an older woman here, she claims to be in her sixties. Immaculately dressed, it’s like one of those fancy ball gowns you saw women wear in… the thirties, maybe? No, it’s not flapper… perhaps late 1800’s. She was a kept woman, her husband Jeffrey was a rich man, dealing in textiles and other things. Oh, he wasn’t a faithful man, he liked to sleep with the female slaves they had on their property, but she didn’t mind, she had a wonderful life. A handful of children. And then she died here, in this hospital of a broken hip of all things. Complications. And rather than to be at her plantation, she decided to stick around here, because she likes watching people. And there is no way she’s going to move on, apparently this place is a dumping ground for victims of witches and the second floor is filled with angry people.”

“What’s her name?”

“Uh… Countess Amelia Persephone du Plessis, but she said that I could call her Amy.”

“Oh, a Countess,” Kol cooed as he wrapped an arm around her to hold her tighter. “Is she going to help you with getting good stories?”

^Offended^

“She’s offended. Her story was a good one,” Bella let out a chuckle. “But she does know of a retired police officer wandering these halls who still has an unsolved murder, she’s offering to find him for us so we can help him solve it.”

“No. Absolutely not.”

Bella let out a snort before noticing a shy ghost, hiding near the door. “Hello, it’s okay, they won’t hurt you and Kol and I won’t either, what’s your name?”

^Stella^

As the spirit moved closer, Bella could sense the energy coming off of her. “Not too close, you’re really really… Present,” she said as she nearly dropped her camera. Her energy was different from the others, and Amy warned her that Stella was a basement dweller. Stella didn’t stop approaching her, however, and Bella tried to put up a barrier. “I said stop. Talk to me, stop.”

‘You’re a curious little thing,’ Stella replied as she was held back by Bella’s barrier, but tried her best to break through it. ‘You’re not like the others, making noise and demanding we show ourselves, you are merely letting it happen.’

“What are you?” Bella narrowed her eyes on the spirit, trying to push through the facade this Stella had thrown up.

‘I told you she’s a basement dweller,’ Amy said, still an alarming tone in her voice. ‘Witches and evil witches used to do a lot of stuff there that weren’t all good.’

‘You tell me, little girl,’ Stella replied. ‘What am I? And do you think your barrier is going to keep me from coming?’

“Jesus, she’s strong,” Bella muttered as she slowly got to her feet, not breaking eye contact with this Stella. “You didn’t die here, nor were you a creation of any kind from whatever’s going on in the basement.”

“Bella?” Kol was slightly worried as he got to his feet too. A strong spirit? Like in the Cullen House? “How strong?”

“Oh, strong,” she let out a breath. “I could get rid of her, but hey, she’s contained for now. Myriam’s lackeys were weak, Stella provides a challenge.”

“Yeah. No. I’m calling Jeremy.”

“No, it’s a different kind of strong, she poses no threat to you, in fact, whenever you speak, she’s rolling her eyes. She’s focused on me,” she replied as she wrapped her arms around herself. “She’s scared off most of the spirits here. Amy is at the door, but I think she’s leaving soon, too.”

‘Oh, I’ve been around, little girl,’ Stella replied. ‘I am not restricted by any laws or boundaries and soon enough I’ll be able to get past this thing you’ve put up.’

“And here I thought she was incredibly shy,” Bella let out a snort. “Quite the opposite. Says she’s been around and not restricted by any laws or boundaries.” She had a feeling that the brown haired ghost was a facade, that this Stella looked different in her normal form. If she even was a she. “She’s trying to scare me.”

“Is it working?”

“Maybe a little,” Bella said calmly as she tried to put more energy towards the barrier. It seemed like Stella was absorbing it all. “I uhh… might be fuelling it. Stella might have been a witch, a very powerful one,” she continued as she tried to push through Stella’s appearance and connect to her on a deeper level. “She feels familiar, or at least there’s a familiarity that I can’t place.”

“Maybe it’s Valerie in disguise?”

“No, it’s definitely not Valerie. I have no idea where she is, but she’d never hide her true self from me. Val also has a different kind of energy and she’s certainly not as strong as Stella,” Bella cocked her head as she remained quiet for a while longer before the silence was disrupted by Jeremy yelling at someone.

“You can’t be here! I don’t want you to be here and why can’t you just leave me alone?”

“Well, Jeremy, she is your sister and worried about you. Seeing as I’m dating your sister, that makes me worried about you, we’ve been over this. It wasn’t hard to find you on youtube, you know. Do some digging.”

“Oh, bloody hell,” Kol muttered under his breath. “Brace yourself, Bella, we’re about to receive an earful from Jeremy’s sister. No doubt she believes we’re putting him in danger.”

“Is he alright?” Bella asked Kol, not removing her eyes from Stella. If you didn’t know any better, Bella seemed to be staring at the wall, intently.

“You can’t be here, we’re in the middle of something!” Jeremy exclaimed angrily before the sound of something breaking could be heard. “Oh, you’re a dead man. Do you have any idea how much this thing costs and how rare it is?!”

“And Damon just broke the Wonderbox, he’s dead,” Kol deadpanned as he detached himself from Bella. “Will you be alright here? I’m going to kill someone.”

“Oh, I’m coming with you,” Bella replied quickly. “I’ve been hearing so many stories about these two that I must see who they are. No doubt Stella will be following me anyway, but I’ll feel a lot better in the wide open space of the reception area,” she said before taking Kol’s hand so he could pull her along with him. “And destroying the Wonderbox deserves a good punishment because you bought it for us.”

“Money isn’t an issue darling,” he reassured her. “It’s the fact that he’s here and destroyed our property and is interrupting our things here.” He let go of Bella and ran up to Damon, punching him in the face. “Damon Salvatore, you have some nerve coming to New Orleans.”

“Oh, hey, it’s the attack dog, wasn’t he supposed to be dead?” Damon replied as he got back to his feet and rubbed his jaw. “No, wait, attack cat, because you certainly seem to have more than nine lives!”

“We’re here to see my brother,” the girl replied quickly. “You’ve been keeping him from me.”

“No we haven’t,” Kol scoffed, shoulders tensing. “He just didn’t want to deal with your shit anymore.”

Bella observed the four people in front of her, all with annoyed looks on their faces and Kol’s emotional state was through the roof in a very bad way. “Could you guys maybe calm down a little?”

“And he’s left us for some witch,” Elena said as a matter of factly, pointing at Bella. “Typical. Can’t get Bonnie, let’s find someone else.”

“Elena,” Jeremy warned her. “I’m an adult.”

Damon had been largely silent since the two arrived, watching the girl speculatively. “Actually, Elena, I think she’s with the happy maniac.”

“Or maybe she’s with both of us,” Kol snarled as he found Bella looking at the wall again. “You can meet up tomorrow or something, if I don’t kill you first.”

“They can also replace our Wonderbox too,” Bella murmured, glancing at him.

“Yeah, I worked really hard for that. Took Nik every ounce of control not to kill the people he got it from and to compel them instead,” he said before realizing he had run his mouth. “Uh…”

Jeremy let out a snort as he noticed Bella’s incredulous look on her face as she turned back to Kol. “Do I even want to know who he got it from?”

“A local paranormal society… these things are really hard to get, you know.”

“Orleans Supernatural?” Jeremy threw out, already suspecting as much.

Bella blinked as she looked back and forth between the two. “Klaus is going to be pissed when he hears about this…”

“Oh yeah, he’s going to want to kill young Salvatore himself, but not if I can get to him first!” Kol grinned, rubbing his hands in glee. “And after Damon, I’ll rip Elena’s little neck to shreds…”

“Hey, she’s my sister, you will not kill her,” Jeremy scolded Kol before ducking as a large beam fell down from the sky, right through Damon, impaling him. “Ah, should have seen that one coming.”

Kol stopped short, a smile playing on his lips as he glanced up. “Thanks guys!”

“Just let them go. It’s not like there is anywhere they can hide in this city,” Bella murmured, her phone to her ear already as she dialed the Mikaelson compound. No one would get away with breaking her precious equipment, even if it was obtained through nefarious means. Plus, she actually liked Klaus after the way he helped with the equipment and later her father. As the phone rang, she watched as Stella sauntered in, her facade fizzling around her upon the sight of Elena and Damon. It was quick, but Bella immediately recognized the person underneath it all as she dropped her phone. “Uh. Shit.”

Kol had already had his hands around Damon’s throat, pulling him from the beam and cracking the bones underneath when he heard his girlfriend. Looking over his shoulder, he froze at her expression, letting the irritating vampire loose. “What is it?”

“Stella,” Bella replied as she took a few steps back. “She broke through the barriers I put up around her.”

Kol looked over at Jeremy, who hadn’t learned of their recent encounter yet. “Let’s get out of here,” he ordered, moving over to help Bella with her equipment.

‘Ah, why do I bother? You’ve seen it, haven’t you?’ Stella said as she dropped the facade. ‘You must realize by now that nothing can stop me.’

^Nothing^

^Stop me^

At the warning words, Jeremy picked up his pace and on his way past his sister for the exit, grabbed her arm to drag her with him. “What? Let me go!”

“Shut up and let’s get out of here. It’s no longer safe,” Jeremy argued, pushing her forward.

“Jeremy, it’s a ghost,” Elena said as she struggled against her brother. “Ghosts can’t hurt the living or undead.”

“If Bella is afraid, then there is a good damn reason. And ghosts can most certainly hurt us,” he hurried, glancing over his shoulder to find Kol carrying the equipment over his back and Bella in his arms before they zipped past them. “No fair! That’s cheating!”

“Then ask your bloody sister to pick you up and run you out of there!” Kol called after him and put Bella down on the steps of the sanatorium. “Myriam gave you something to temporarily seal the building with?”

“I don’t know…” Bella replied as she was watching the door. “Myriam tries new things every day, she really needs to stop that because nothing truly works and I don’t think it’ll work against her.”

“Try, just try anything. It’s gotta be within you then. You sealed those portals, you can seal this building,” Kol suggested, trying to be encouraging.

“I don’t think that I’ll be able to contain her, she can be anywhere, everywhere, moving beyond the realms of the dead… she broke through my barrier, Kol.”

Damon made his way out, pulling the pieces of wood from the beam that embedded in his shoulder out in the process. “What the hell do you mean? You all sound like raging lunatics, you know that?”

“And here I thought you saw her youtube videos in your search for me,” Jeremy quipped as he put his sister down.

“She recognized her,” Bella pointed to Elena. “It was then I saw the crack in her mask. So, she is helluva lot more than a random haunt and knowing what I know, she could be a lot worse than the Cullen House, because at least they remain there and this ghost said she could go anywhere.”

Kol narrowed his eyes as he blocked her view of Elena. “Who was it? Who did you see?”

Bella let out a small whimper, looking towards the building briefly. “You and Klaus won’t like it at all…”

“Bella…”

“Remember that nurse we saw when we went in my head?”

Kol was quiet for a moment as he tried to remember and then blinked, shaking his head. “No fucking way. No…way…in…hell.”

“Klaus is going to be pissed,” Bella repeated, but now for an entirely different reason.

“And Myriam is going to have a blast trying to make you do new tricks to try and stop her.”

Bella then let out a snort. “But hey, bright side? At least it’s not the Cullen House!” she smiled sweetly, only to get a groan from Jeremy and a growl from Kol.

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