Chapter 22

He waited for his brother to appear next to him as they were on the light side of Bella’s psyche with all the houses in various states of disarray, wondering if he should show him house 15, where the events of their family’s reunion 8 years ago were branded inside, along with Bella’s trip in the asylum, it would make things better to understand for Nik, wouldn’t it?

“Such a neat place to be,” Klaus remarked as he appeared next to Kol, looking around. “So well organized.”

“Bella likes to be in control over everything,” Kol explained. “Took her quite some time to accept that there are certain aspects of her life were quite alright to leave in my hands or Jeremy’s,” he added before leading his brother down the road. “She’s put everything in houses, but don’t let their size fool you, there’s a lot of space in them and it changes all the time.”

“I’ve been inside many heads, brother, but this one…”

“I know, it’s a little bit strange, wait until you meet tiny Bella and her pack.”

“Pack?” As if right on cue, wolves could be heard howling from around the corner. “Wolves? She has a pack of wolves inside her mind?”

“To keep the darkness on their side of Bella’s mind,” Kol said amused as the wolves flew past them and disappeared into the darkness. Tiny Bella emerged soon after. “Hey Bella.”

“You’re back,” the girl replied, cocking her head. “Without me, but with him? What happened to me? Am I in danger? Dead? Coma?”

“You’re taking a nap,” Kol explained to her. “This is Niklaus, I’m sure you’ve seen him before.”

“But what are you doing here?”

“Well, you must know by now that we’ve learned a great deal about you and we want to find some answers, if you don’t mind,” he replied. “Big you doesn’t like to be confronted with some of the things here, but that’s why I brought my brother along, to make you feel safer, too.”

Bella huffed as she pushed her hair out of her face. “I’m a shithead,” she said as she turned around and motioned for them to follow her. “Don’t go into the darkness. The wolves will eat you if it doesn’t consume you first,” she reminded them. “And don’t destroy the houses, they are crumbling already because of big me’s interaction with you guys, making her give up control over herself because she feels comfortable and safe and stuff.”

“What would happen, I wonder,” Klaus said amused, “If we were to tear down all those houses? Would it make Bella remember more? Gain more control? Remember the full extent of her abilities? Or remember how she came to be?”

“I wouldn’t even remember how to pee!” Bella exclaimed angrily, balling her tiny fists at her side. “Don’t test me, Niklaus Mikaelson, because you will be sorry.”

“Nik, we’re inside Bella’s head, be nice,” Kol was surprised by tiny Bella’s behavior, but then again, his brother always knew how to get the best or worst out of people, and Bella wasn’t having it.

They passed a house that was being built, also bearing the mark of 23, but there was something familiar about the way it was being built, looking quite different from the rest in the row down the road. Klaus paused for a moment as he scratched his head. “Is it me or does this house look like a mini version of our Compound? I remember the plans for it as if it were yesterday, look at the entrance gate and how the tiles are arranged.”

He had seen this building before, but it was unrecognizable then, now that he truly stopped and looked, listened to his brother’s words, he agreed. “Bella, why does this house look different from the others?”

“Because that’s home now,” Bella pointed out. “You can go inside if you wish, and see? We both know that for an empath we’re not really forthcoming in some areas.”

“That’s not true, you are very honest and forthcoming about your feelings,” Kol pointed out. “You communicate your feelings very well.”

“Coolbeans,” Bella replied as she continued to walk past the houses, some of the most recent ones a bit smudged in darkness. “Icky years,” she pointed out. “Glad I got some sense after the mutt left.”

“Not a fan of Jake then?”

“Oh please,” Bella rolled her eyes as she turned around to face Kol. “You’ve heard the stories, the reality is a lot worse. Jake was only pretending to be mildly interested in me because it was fun to make fun of me behind my back. Plus, Renée paid him a lot of money to tag along. I was stupid enough to fall for it all and continue to be nice about him, but that’s what I do, trying not to think the worst of people, or spirits, for that matter. I still don’t see why we have to flaunt our abilities like that, it’s best to remain hidden and be a protector.”

“A protector of what?” Klaus asked curiously as the houses became a bit smaller after the mucky houses.

“Balance, be a positive force and not a negative one,” Bella stopped again to look at the two Mikaelsons. “You still haven’t figured it out?”

“What?”

“Okay, not saying anything else about it then,” she said before she turned around again and skipped ahead. “You’ve been in 15, where do you want to go next?”

“Can Niklaus experience one of those moments where you were with him, but not really? Like in 15?” Kol asked carefully, scratching his head due to Bella’s confusing words.

“He can go in 15, those are the most powerful memories,” Bella said as a matter of factly. “But the house is in really bad shape, it wasn’t a great year. All years were crappy until 23, but 15 takes the cake.”

“We know,” Klaus said gently. “And I’m truly sorry that you had to go through that.”

Bella shrugged as she stopped in front of 15. “Welcome to sideshow Bella, you have reached your destination, enjoy,” she said as she bowed and opened the door. “Keep your hands to yourself and whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for us. Be amazed by the wonders of our mind and the connections we’ve built.”

“Bella,” Kol scolded her. “You are not a sideshow.”

“Says you,” she said as she sat down, crossed her legs over each other and stuffed her thumb in her mouth. “Maybe I should wake myself up, allow me to catch you red handed…”

“No,” he told her before following his brother inside where the same imagery as before washed over him, his brother in awe of what they were experiencing. Kol didn’t want to see Bella’s treatment in the hospital anymore, but Nik needed to see Esther there. With Bella. And hear her words. He then noticed a trapdoor, likely leading to the basement, that he hadn’t seen the first time. Curious, he pulled it open and found a staircase leading down to a smelly kind of sewer. “Huh,” he said as he pulled his brother along. “What’s this then?”

“Heads don’t need sewers,” Klaus muttered, the stench unbearable.

There was a small layer of water, but also a ridge where you could safely walk on and Kol decided to follow it, curious now. There were reflections in the water of things he couldn’t place, a jungle of memories, likely. When they turned a corner in the darkness, they both covered their ears when Bella’s loud screaming echoed through the area as a greeting, several dark red aura’d reflections floating by, taking the screams with them as they went. “What is this?” Kol muttered to himself once his ears were able to function again, an annoying beeping tone still in his ears, but at least he could hear again.

“Very bad dreams,” a soft voice replied, a tiny light appearing around the corner. “Come.” The voice was female, that was just about everything he recognized about it. “You’ve made it this far.”

As he walked towards the light, he could see a very small woman standing in the light, the size of perhaps a 6 year old, but she looked old. Ancient. Familiar eyes. “Bella?”

“Oh, that’s my name?” she hummed to herself and nodded. “I suppose it fits, come, let us get out of this nightmare,” she said as she shuffled along the tiny ledge towards some stairs leading back into the light.

When they emerged from the sewers, they were standing in the fields of Mystic Falls, where they grew up, both brothers remembering it well. The little house greeting them was familiar too, granted, their house was bigger, but it was almost a carbon copy of it, just a lot smaller.

“Don’t be afraid, only good memories here,” the old woman said as she opened the door. “Tea?”

Klaus was growing more unnerved by the tour of his friend’s head and waved the offer off as he looked around the small cabin. “No thank you,” he murmured, taking notice a particular wooden toy on the floor that he knew quite well. “Perhaps you can explain how you are familiar with our childhood home?”

Bella smiled then as she sank into her chair. “I could, but I would love to hear your theories first, surely by now you’ve gathered some information?” She poured herself a cup of tea from the kettle that had been on the fire and poured another for Kol.

“We figured you have something to do with the Volturi, but being that the Bella we know is only 23, it’s impossible that you would know so much of our pasts when she never existed until now,” Kol spoke, his eyes dark with suspicion on the woman.

“Ah, still alive and kicking then, those damn Volturi…” she muttered under her breath. “Answer me this; am I human? Is your Bella human?”

“Of course she is,” Kol and Klaus chorused, confused by such a question.

She smirked as she took a sip of her tea. “Are you absolutely certain?”

“Well, she’s not a vampire!” Kol objected. “Though she does take my blood in case of something unseen should happen.”

She quietly watched him for a moment. “You don’t have to worry about her death, we are eternal, as you are. Now that we’ve joined you, she won’t age beyond her years and cannot die. Granted, should something unforeseen happen that would result in a loss of blood or getting stabbed through the heart, we might need a couple of days to get better and back on our feet.”

“This doesn’t make sense,” Klaus spoke. “If you or Bella isn’t human or vampire, then what in the bloody hell is she?

“What do the Volturi say about us?”

“Pure immortality, but that would be impossible. Even Niklaus has a weakness and he’s next to impossible to kill. But there is always a loophole,” Kol reasoned.

Bella hummed as she took another sip of her tea. “Doesn’t the Volturi scroll state that they’re looking for a being created out of dark magic, that a shot of dark magic supposedly hit an angel?”

“Energy. It’s a fable to help them seek some divine happenstance. If anything like that existed, we would have heard something through witches or someone else beside the Volturi. It sounds more like a bedtime story for their devout to keep them entranced,” Kol scoffed. “Besides, Bella was found as an infant 23 years ago.”

“Tell me, did you have an imaginary friend growing up, Kol Mikaelson? Because your siblings were too busy ignoring you for your antics?”

He sighed and shook his head. “She was not imaginary. She was always there and real.”

“What was her name? Ylva, wasn’t it?”

“Does her name have anything to do with the wolves outside?” Klaus asked, recognizing it.

“No, the family who found her in the woods had an obsession with the wolves, so they called her Ylva. They found her the day after Kol was born and they grew up together. She liked to help him with his magic and give him the attention that he craved from his siblings,” Bella replied.

“And she died amongst the villagers, likely at my father’s hand,” Kol frowned.

“I didn’t,” Bella replied, looking up at him. “I witnessed my own creation and then I poofed out of existence again, didn’t have control over it, so I learned control and kept an eye on you as pure energy as I learned and tried time and time again to return to you but failed. Until 1994.” Upon seeing the cogs work in his head, she let out a small chuckle before taking a sip of her tea. “I’m pure energy, eternal. Time is irrelevant. Not to worry, we’ve managed to get rid of that ability as it was giving us a headache.”

“But… Bella has those memories.”

“I am Bella, just a part of her that failed but did get to spend time with you,” she said calmly as the hybrid paced around in the little home. “I believe that the both of you find this story quite incredulous and impossible, am I correct?”

“Of course!” Klaus cried out. “This is all a fairy tale, a legend, a scary story to tell the children! Beings of pure energy don’t exist!”

“Ah,” Bella pointed out. “Vampires don’t exist either, and yet, there are currently two inside my head,” she said with a tiny smile on her face as she took a sip of her tea. “Look at it this way, I’m a byproduct of your mother’s dark magic, the spell that she cast to create you. If it hadn’t hit that Angel in the process, I wouldn’t have been here.”

“If you are a byproduct of what my mother did, then you’re a threat to the family!” Klaus said angrily as he pointed at Bella. “Is that’s what you’re doing? Use my younger, more excitable brother to get to us? Lure us into a false sense of security and then when we least expect it, you’ll destroy us? Do her bidding?”

“Niklaus, you know very well that Bella’s not that kind of a person.”

“She’s not even a person, Kol! She has never been human!” Klaus defended his rage. “She’s something that shouldn’t be possible!”

“Hey, sunshine!” Old Bella snapped her fingers to get his attention. “Newsflash, you’re impossible too!” Ignoring the hybrid’s antics, she addressed herself back to Kol. “You’re likely worried that the relationship you have with me now has everything to do with our connection, but I promise you that everything I feel for you is natural. Pure. Nothing fabricated or placed.”

He gently took her hand and kissed it. “I know that, darling, I’ve known that since the moment I laid eyes on you… I just can’t believe you were there with me growing up, that you and Ylva are the same person.”

She smiled then. “I’m not going to explain it again, it’ll make me sound insane.”

“Some things don’t need to be explained.”

“Exactly.”

“But how do the Volturi know about you? What do they want with you?”

Bella slightly shrugged. “Likely to replicate the process or maybe see if my blood can give them the eternal life they want without having to turn into a vampire. My parents – Ylva’s parents – were Volturi worshippers and that’s how they know about me. Because I told them everything I knew as soon as I could,” she let out a sigh and shook her head. “This is why I’m still here, inside my head, keeping this to myself, and not share it with…” she let out a snort. “It makes it all sound like we’re different people, but we’re not, we’re all the same, but different versions. Improvements. Unfortunately, the only flaw that I currently possess is that I can’t look after myself properly. I can feed myself, find a place to live, but…”

“Yeah, you’re a little blind to danger,” Kol grinned. “Just a tiny bit.”

“I just want to see the best in everyone, and when burned, I tend to avoid those people for the rest of my life,” she gently squeezed his hand. “But I can understand that you’ll eventually grow bored and tired of me.”

“Never,” he smiled at her. “Don’t you worry about that. I’ll keep you safe. I’ll protect you from yourself and the Volturi, that’s my job. That’s what was in my job description and even if it wasn’t, I still would do it. You have no idea how your presence in my life, in our family’s life, has made us all better and calmer – although Nik doesn’t seem to be at this moment.”

“I do,” she smiled at him. “Now, it’s time for you to leave.”

“Can I ask you one more question?”

“Of course.”

“Why this house?”

“Just like house 23 that’s currently being built, this was my home. Despite everything, this felt like my home, and it was only fitting that I constructed it inside my head so that I always had a safe place to go to to hide,” she replied as she slowly rose to her seat, once again revealing that this Bella was indeed, an old lady, despite her choice of words. “I am sorry it unnerves you both.”

He planted a kiss on her forehead. “Whatever makes you happy and feel safe. I think it’s sweet. Thank you for giving us some answers and validation of the Volturi scroll that we found.”

“You need to leave now,” she said a bit more urgently. “I’ll have myself remember a little of what happened now, no need to worry.”

He slowly nodded before grabbing his brother and pulled him out of Bella’s head. “For a moment there I thought you two were stuck,” Myriam greeted them, her arms crossed over her chest. “It’s a good thing that Bella tends to talk in her sleep, you haven’t been on your best behavior!” she said as she smacked Klaus on his head. “That girl has been nothing but kind to us and the mention of her being a result of your mother’s doings was enough to send you in a rage,” she hit him again. “You’d better apologize to her when she wakes up!”

Klaus huffed. “I will not. I’m well in my rights.”

“No, you’re not,” Kol shot at his brother as he pulled the still sleeping Bella closer to him. He had given her mind a little nudge to wake up before he left her mind, knowing that they spent quite some time stomping around in her head and she had told him she needed most of the day to talk to the Elementals. The truck with the flowers had arrived too, and she needed to have something to eat. But she needed to wake on her own and that meant he had to deal with his brother for a while longer. Fortunately, Myriam was on their side too.

“She’s a danger to us all.”

“You don’t believe that,” Myriam hit Klaus on the head again. “You’re simply threatened by her because she’s impossible. And that girl won’t even hurt a fly so you’d better stop thinking like this right now, Niklaus Mikaelson.”

Bella stirred in his arms, letting out a frustrated whine. “Why did you stomp around in my head without me?” She whimpered, eyes still closed. “And I can’t believe you knocked me out!”

“I figured you needed a little help,” he smirked as he caressed her hair out of her face. “Hope you’re well rested.”

She huffed as she opened her eyes and squinted at him. “We were supposed to go together… now it’s like I’ve been watching a movie or something.”

“So, what do you think?” Kol asked carefully as he helped her to sit up.

“I don’t care what I am. I bleed and therefore I’m human,” she huffed as she pushed her hair out of her face. Finally fully awake, she looked at Klaus, feeling the paranoia, pain and anger roll off of him even though he seemed to be calmer now. “You want me to leave, don’t you? You want me to get rid of Esther and then leave New Orleans.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Myriam warned her with a growl. “You’re staying right where you are, with us. Klaus will get over himself,” she added as she handed Bella something to drink. “Now, eat, drink and don’t you worry about Grumpy here.”

Bella looked at Kol, his feelings were a lot calmer, towards her and Myriam, but there was anger towards his brother. Shaking her head, she ignored the emotions for now and did as she was told in silence. After finishing her sandwich, she spoke again. “I find it strange though that I didn’t know the information that you got from my brain. It’s my head, all me, and I didn’t remember? I still don’t, but the information is there.”

“Sometimes our brains do the funniest things to protect ourselves,” Myriam explained. “I doubt it’ll be the same for you, but I think that’s why the earliest version of you lingered around, to keep the information within you, but not immediately present and available to you to protect you.”

“To be fair, if it hadn’t been for our trip to the Cullen House, we would have never known about the threat against you. Now that we do, and were able to validate that, we can take every precaution, such as killing them all. Hunt them down, tear them apart and paint the walls red with their blood. You’re too adorable to be hunted,” Kol said as he softly kissed her. “Enough of that for now, we’re here for a different reason, remember?”

“I sincerely hope that us being here outside of New Orleans will have her give it another shot, otherwise, we’re going to be here for awhile,” Bella let out a breath before getting to her feet and dusting herself off. “Unless Myriam can do a little Voodoo thingy to pull Esther here, that would be helpful.”

“Oh, I could,” she replied thoughtfully. “We still have time, don’t we? I could zip back home to get some stuff? I’ll leave the grumpy hybrid with you though.”

“Thanks,” Bella smiled at her before heading over to the van as Myriam sped off. It was filled with flowers, no spot untouched or unfilled, the only space that was in the van was the driver’s seat. She admired the flowers for a few minutes, allowing herself to be hugged by the different scents, before she pulled off her shoes to ground herself to the ground, to get a better connection. “I don’t really need to go barefoot,” Bella said to Kol. “But it helps so much. Or it used to. Perhaps now that I’m stronger I don’t need it anymore. But it feels nice to walk on the grass with no shoes on.”

“Darling, you can do whatever you feel the need to,” he smiled as he got out the camera. “I should film you a little bit, to show a different side of you for your channel as you pay your respects to the Elementals and the Native American deaths.”

“Sure, just don’t come too close, okay? Maybe later, but not now.”

“Got it,” he smiled as he settled in the grass to get a great angle of her ass as he zoomed in. “Oh… yep, great angle.”

“Stop staring at my butt,” she laughed as she took some of the flowers and headed towards the trees.

“What’s this about not coming too close?” Klaus asked as he finally sat down to eat some of the food that Bella had bought. “Aren’t you two supposed to be close?”

Kol briefly turned to face his brother before looking back at Bella, keeping an eye on her. “We’re vampires, Nik,” he reminded his brother, “Some spirits and entities just don’t like us. You know this. It’s always been this way, it’s that we’re now surrounded by it at all times that we’re confronted by it.”

“What about her wandering off?”

“It’s daylight. There’s two of us and one of her, we’ll be fine,” Kol smiled as he kept watching Bella. Their vampire hearing made it possible to hear what she was saying if she was vocalizing, and he loved hearing her talk. Granted, he was a tad controlling outside, when at the Sanatorium, to make sure she wouldn’t get lost inside everything and he had to admit, it’s what he was looking out for right now, too.

He often wondered how the hell she functioned over the years without him. That Jake person never seemed to be all that interested, other than being more than willing to fight people who had found them because Bella always advertised it to her loyal viewers but then again, she’d been working on half of her powers, but even that was too much.

Kol then realized that Bella hadn’t been functioning at all, mostly she’d been navigating through life as well as she could, but ever since they met and he started to help her, she’d been so much better. Despite everything that had happened in this short time, she’d become a real force to be reckoned with. Especially if she’d gain more control over her ability to possess someone or to poof out of existence, for her own protection.

Granted, should the family be in trouble, those abilities could prove to be a great asset to them as well, but he would never ask. Niklaus might demand it, but Myriam would give him hell for it too. In all honesty, the Volturi were the biggest threat to Bella. Those pesky humans were very very adaptable and versatile. Perhaps they could have a family outing to Volterra for Christmas and slaughter them all.

“What are you grinning about?” Klaus asked curiously.

“Ideas for a family trip for Christmas,” Kol replied with a big smile on his face. “To our home in Rome.”

Klaus was quiet for a moment before nodding. “Sounds like a plan. Volterra is only a quick sprint away from Rome, she’d never know what happened, only that we’ve been having fun.”

“We’ll tell her after the fact.”

“Of course, it’ll be her Christmas miracle,” Klaus mused as he, too, was now looking at Bella who was walking back to the van to get more flowers. “Well, you tell her, Myriam and I will probably be defouling their throne room,” he said with a knowing smirk. “She can never truly hold her blood.”

“We’ve noticed,” Kol replied and then noticed the little device sticking out of Bella’s back pocket. “Little minx, she has her recorder on her, she never stops working.”

“Perhaps soon, she is, after all, on a mission,” his brother replied. “Perhaps you should take her some place magical this coming weekend after she’s achieved what she’s set out to do. You both deserve a break from all this madness.”

“I’m not ever going to let her go, Nik. You better get used to all this extra madness.”

“Nevertheless, you two deserve a break, you could even take young Gilbert with you.”

“No,” Kol shook his head. “No freaking way. It’ll be me and Bella. Jeremy can have fun on his own, Bella and I are going to have a magical weekend alright, in the most magical place in the world.” He then winked at Klaus. “Cinderella’s castle.”

‘He’s talking about taking you to Disney World and have sex in Cinderella’s Castle,’ Demi told her as Bella was putting down the flowers. ‘That’s what I miss about being alive.’

“What? Disney?”

‘No! Sex!’

Bella let out a snort as she shook her head. Demi had followed her after having spotted her in Walmart and she had allowed her to, she was a recent death, somewhere in the last ten years, and she was fun. Demi certainly wasn’t ready to move on yet as someone needed to keep an eye on her sister, who worked at Walmart.

‘I mean, I can still get down to music, all I need to do is go to a club and all, but sex… I miss it.’

“You do know that I’m trying to appease the Native Americans here right? And their Elementals? I sincerely doubt that talking about sex is something that they’ll respect.”

Demi shrugged as she followed Bella around. ‘Nobody’s talking to me, you’re the first one who sees me in years and who’s talking to me as if I’m a normal person and not dead.’

“I could, if you wanted me to,” Bella offered with a smile as she turned to get some more flowers.

‘No.’

“Didn’t think so,” she let out a snort as she looked over to Klaus and Kol. “Everything okay?”

“Everything is great, darling,” Kol grinned as he popped another strawberry in his mouth. “Although I doubt you should be doing this after we trampled around in your head.”

Bella huffed. “I need to do this, can’t allow her to become stronger, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

‘That’s quite an insensitive remark, you don’t sleep when you’re dead,’ Demi deadpanned. ‘I wish!’

“Well, you would get some rest if you’d move on. Your sister will be fine without you,” Bella replied as she rolled her eyes at Demi. “She seemed to be doing okay when we were at the register and I didn’t feel she was all over the place,” she then turned back to Kol. “I’ll be fine.”

“Ghost?” he laughed.

“Yep, her name is Demi and she’s a recent one. She misses the sex,” she said chipper as she scooped up a few flowers. “She’s worried about her sister, the person behind the register at Walmart.”

“In what way?”

“All of the ways, I suppose, but she felt good, so I think it’s more of a financial aspect.”

‘She’s made some questionable choices in the past, she’s doing good now, but what if something bad happens again?’ Demi wondered.

“That’s life, nothing is perfect,” Bella shrugged and blinked when Klaus sped off. “Where is he off to?”

“Ah, I think he’s going to make a contribution to Demi’s sister’s account, she’ll be comfortable for the rest of her life, I promise,” Kol said, looking at the space next to Bella. “You can watch him do what he does and then still decide if you want to go or not.”

Bella pointed towards Walmart as Demi poofed out of existence. “He, nor you, should be doing that to appease the lost, before you know it, you’ll be broke as fuck.”

“And how many times do I have to tell you that money isn’t an issue anymore?” He got to his feet and gestured to her to put the flowers down before hugging her tightly and kissing her. “Besides, Nik is impatient, he wants to get this over with.”

“But there’s no guarantee your mom will show up.”

“Oh, she’ll be here. Especially when aided by Myriam’s voodoo magic. Don’t worry.”

“I think she’ll be tough to get rid of, even with the help of the Elementals. I might have to pop over and use a lot of force.”

“As long as you come back to me in one piece,” he kissed her again. “Now, continue spreading your flowers and please ignore the wayward spirits, you have a job to do.”

“Yes sir,” she giggled as Kol playfully slapped her ass.

Leave a Reply