Kol had protectively put his arm around her as they walked back to Rousseau’s. He couldn’t be happier about the turn around with Bella; he had honestly believed that she wouldn’t want him anymore and it hadn’t been the case. His magnificent goddess was back where she belonged; with him.
He did notice, though, as they made their way through the crowd, she was tensing up again at the sight of Niklaus whispering something in Myriam’s ear. “Don’t worry, darling,” he said encouragingly. “Nik only told Myriam to behave.”
“Oh yeah, that helped,” Bella said sarcastically.
He let out a snort and shook his head. “You’re a goddess; you could always bend them to your will as a last resort.”
“No, don’t be an idiot,” she smiled at him. “That’s an abuse of power and highly irresponsible.”
“Sounds like fun to me.”
When they got to the table, Bella could see their food had already been brought to the table. Why she was the only one with a cheeseburger was beyond her understanding, but she was going to figure that out soon enough. “Uhm… before I sit down, I want to apologize.”
“That’s alright, love,” Klaus said as he pointed to her chair. “You needed some time to adjust. But do realize in this family, we help each other out. We can’t help you if you push us away. Now sit. Eat.”
“Just don’t think we’ll be letting you off the hook this easily next time,” Rebekah added as she watched Bella sit down. “You still have a lot to learn about this family.”
“Aw, Bekah, you’re only nice to her because technically she’s your boss,” Kol teased his sister, causing his sister to scowl.
“Oh, about that. I uh… think it’s sweet and generous, Klaus, but I think Rebekah should be the boss of the animal shelter. She seems to be enjoying her work immensely, and I think I’ll only be intruding as I’d have no idea what to do.”
“See? I don’t need a supervisor,” Rebekah smiled widely at her brother.
“Very well, what will you be doing then, Bella?” Klaus wondered as he watched her hesitantly taking a chip off of her plate and pop it into her mouth.
She blinked at the taste of the fry but chewed and swallowed it anyway. The cook must have mistaken the chili powder for paprika powder, which was fine. Nothing Bella couldn’t handle. “Uh, I had some ideas, but they can wait. I think what’s more important is we’re all alright together as we were before. That we’re comfortable again in each other’s presence.” She put another fry in her mouth and was surprised that the chili hadn’t ruined the taste of the fries.
“But still, you could assist Rebekah-”
“Klaus, I appreciate it, but no. I’ve spent the last two years working my ass off without much to show for it other than ruined relationships and a healthy dose of anxiety,” she said determined before she took a bite off of her burger and wishing she hadn’t. She had regretted it immediately as her mouth was on fire. According to her taste buds – that were now shot – the beef patty was filled with peppers and hot as hell. No proper sauce other than Sriracha and oh god, her mouth was on fire.
Swallowing, she reached for her glass of water and took a few sips, only then remembering that water only antagonized the burning sensation. Looking around, everyone was eating their food, except for Myriam. The guilty party was looking away while she sipped on her glass of wine. “Game on,” Bella muttered as she took another bite off of the cheeseburger and thought of how fun it would be if Myriam believed her wine had vervain in it.
Almost immediately, Myriam began choking on her drink, reaching for her throat as she gasped for air. Her eyes flashed up to the only capable party at the table, careful to keep her vampire visage from overtaking her face due to the public setting they were in. Growling low, she gratefully took Klaus’ drink as he shoved it into her hands as he checked to see what was wrong. “Vervain,” she managed to choke out.
Klaus took a sip of her wine and shrugged. “No vervain.”
She glared at him, sipping his drink only to choke again, dropping it to the table. “Fuck-”
Bella, now red-faced because of that second bite of the burger, felt victorious and smirked as Myriam looked at her. “Is there a problem?”
“Yes,” she answered, her voice raspy from the vervain she was suffering from. “You!”
“It’s only fair, seeing as you gave me this burger,” Bella shrugged and defiantly took another bite. “If I can do it, so can you,” she said as she chewed on, her voice a pitch higher than it normally was.
Myriam was tempted to jump across the table to get the girl. “A little heat won’t kill you. Vervain, on the other hand, would cause severe damage and can kill us and you know that,” she argued, slight hurt hiding behind her eyes.
“You’re not listening to Klaus,” Bella pointed out as she quickly took another bite of the burger. Her face getting redder and redder and her sinuses were trying to clear themselves out. “He tastes no vervain, how do you explain that?”
“Bella’s no witch,” Kol was amused. “She’s in your head, creating an illusion. It won’t kill you, Myriam. You can stop now, Bella, so that she can enjoy her wine.”
“Nope,” Bella shook her head. “I can’t enjoy my food; she can’t enjoy her wine until I’m done.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks now, but she was determined not to show Myriam that she wanted to give up.
Elijah had enough by this point, flagging down the passing waitress as he pulled the plate with the offending food away from Bella. “Bloody hell. Both of you drop it. I can’t see you force yourself through her punishment any further. Waitress! Can you please bring another order for her without the peppers, please? And perhaps a pint of milk for the young lady?”
The blonde woman looked around the table for a moment before nodding. “Right away,” she agreed before heading over to the bar to put the order in, having kept an eye on the group the entire time.
Bella pouted as she removed the illusion from Myriam’s mind. Myriam reached for the bottle, and instead of refilling her glass, she started to drink it from the bottle.
“Sweetheart, you might have a drinking problem,” Klaus said playfully.
“Screw you, Mr. Bourbon.”
“Absolutely. Once dinner’s over.”
“That’s the same, dear.”
Myriam slammed her hand on the table and looked at Bella. “Don’t you ever ruin good wine like that again, you hear me?”
“I didn’t ruin anything. Your brain did,” Bella eagerly took the glass of milk that the waitress was bringing over and downed it one go; loving the science behind drinking milk after eating something spicy. “I might have tricked it, though.”
“That was so not fair.”
“I know, and I’m sorry.”
“Good,” Myriam said as she sat down again, now refilling her glass with the bottle she’d just drunk from. “Spa day tomorrow?”
“I hate the spa!” Bella whined. “I only go because you like it!”
Myriam shrugged. “What other plans do you have?”
Bella looked over to Kol, hoping he was going to help her bail out of going to the spa with Myriam. Surely they had better ways to spend the day?
“Bella’s mine tomorrow,” Kol replied. “And tonight, as well. And the days after and… maybe she has a free slot next week, Myriam,” he said playfully, a wide grin on his face. “She and I have a lot of catching up to do. And also; I’ll be packing some of my stuff tomorrow as I’ll be moving out.”
“You’re not moving out,” Klaus said flabbergasted.
“No, you’re like a warhead ready to be detonated, you are not going to move out,” Rebekah shook her head. “New Orleans wouldn’t be safe with you on the loose.”
“I’m not that bad!” Kol shot at his siblings. “Honestly!”
“Do I have to remind you that you killed Davina?” Rebekah told him. “Or what about those ten people in the Ninth Ward? If it hadn’t been for Nik’s constant supervision of you-”
“Davina had it coming for what she did to us, and those ten people were drug dealers, so what’s your problem, sister?”
“I don’t see a problem with you moving out, brother,” Elijah spoke after his siblings shot daggers at Kol. He had a feeling that his youngest brother wasn’t going to move far, anyway. “It’ll free up Niklaus’ time to spend with Myriam or his art, and it will save us the worry that we’re leaving you unattended.”
“He’s not a little child,” Bella muttered, taking a sip of the second glass of milk that the waitress brought over together with her new burger. “Stop treating him like one.”
Klaus huffed. “And where will you be going, Kol?”
“Right across the street,” he simply said. “Until we decide we’ve had enough of New Orleans for a while and went on another road trip.”
Rebekah’s jaw fell on the table. “Oh, you have lost your mind, haven’t you?”
“No,” Kol replied. “Bella and I were already planning on getting our own apartment two years ago before everything went wrong as we did everything together and didn’t want to intrude on Nik and Myriam. Because despite everything, you still don’t trust me and the only reason I’m not currently daggered is because I haven’t done anything to warrant that – that, and you’re all afraid of Bella. She treats me as a person and not as a child or a burden. So yes, I’ll be moving across the street.”
It was quiet for a while while Bella ate her burger and the rest of the family could mull over the words. “Fine, but the day after tomorrow, Bella’s mine,” Myriam piped up. “She and I have a lot of catching up to do, too.”
The rest of the evening was friendly and relaxed; certainly not the way Bella had thought it would have gone in her mind. No, in her mind she had to turn everyone into animals and one by one reason with them, but she didn’t have to. She realized she had been wrong by not including them in the last few weeks and that seemed to have been enough.
Kol had taken her hand while they were walking home and was telling stories from way-back-when as they were walking down the streets. He told her about the 1909 hurricane that caused 5000 people and more to lose their houses and how the Mikaelsons were one of the main forces of rebuilding; supplying the city with building materials, funding, and whatever the city needed. How Rebekah loved to play nurse and became a nurse at the height of the bubonic plague and continued for years when influenza struck New Orleans.
Bella merely smiled at him, loving to hear his voice and talking so vividly about the past. If it were up to her, he could recite the entire phonebook, and she’d happily drift off to sleep. “What did you do for the last two years?” She eventually asked, curious. “And I don’t care if you involve Davina – after all, she was a big part of your life regardless of what she’s done.”
Kol let out a breath. “Well, I suppose…” He nervously ran a hand through his hair. “Are you sure?” He wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. Despite everything, he didn’t feel that he lived in the past two years, he merely was, and there was nothing really to talk about.
“Kol, I missed two years of your life. Fill me in, tell me!” Bella smiled at him as she squeezed his hand. They were almost at the apartment now, but she wanted to know.
It was sweet though, that Bella was actively trying to engage him. Bless her heart. Even after the night she had, no doubt freaking out a lot, she wanted to have this conversation now. Come to think of it, it was likely he was going to have to omit a few things, such as finishing the dagger that could neutralize Niklaus. She would not like it that in her absence, he wanted to protect himself. “Do you have any alcohol in your house?” He definitely needed more alcohol for this.
“I do. And snacks. So many snacks. And ice cream. Chips with ice cream is heaven.”
“Good,” he nodded. “Because we’re going to need it.” He then thought for a moment. “Uhm… on second thought… let me get a few blood bags from the compound?”
Bella narrowed her eyes at him. “I thought you had it under control.”
Kol winced almost as if he was scolded for being a wayward child. “Had.” She stopped in front of her door and turned to him, hands on her waist. Oh yeah, he was in trouble alright. “It was all right; I had it under control while I was in Forks, I swear. Then Nik called me back, and I met Davina and then… I started to spiral out of control and…”
She had forgotten that Davina managed to have Kol live on the edge for so long. Enough blood to sustain and appear fine, but not really not enough to fight whatever she was doing to him. “Fine. Get your blood bags.”
Was she actually giving him her permission or mocking him? He wasn’t sure. “I just don’t want to accidentally end up hurting you or someone in the street…”
At least he was being upfront about his inability to control himself, although he had shown tremendous restraint during dinner – apart from attacking that one guy who bought her a drink. It was likely more like a safety blanket for him now, to just have the blood bags just in case. This whole need to explain himself felt wrong to her. He almost sounded like an addict. Which, basically, vampires could be classified as anyway. “And while you’re at it, bring a change of clothes too,” she winked at him before turning around and unlocking the door. “I’ll be right here.”
He wasn’t even gone for five minutes, but when he returned with a bag of clothes and a few blood bags, she was still standing at her door, smiling invitingly at him. Oh, he had missed that smile of hers. “Sorry I took so long.”
“Dude,” Bella rolled her eyes at him and took his hand. “Kol Mikaelson, please come inside and allow me to welcome you to your new home.”
Closing the door behind him, he followed Bella up the stairs and was surprised by the immense space the apartment had. The fixings were all made out of wood, too, much like the guest house she had – or still has – on the Salvatore property. It was very calming, very earthy and the fairy lights made it look absolutely magical. If it weren’t for the discarded bags, cartons, bottles, clothes and dishes laying around. “Wow, Bella.”
“Awesome, isn’t it? Helios gave it to me,” she said as she showed Kol the kitchen so he could put his blood bags in the fridge. “I think there’s more to this gift of his, but I reckon I’ll be told later.”
The kitchen was even worse. There were dirty dishes everywhere, and her dishwasher was stuffed. There was a small area that was clean, which was likely what she kept clean but other than that, the house was a mess. Opening the fridge, he noticed a few bottles of wine and some leftover food, but at least it wasn’t moldy or anything.
This mess was unlike his Bella. She always kept things tidy and clean. Even when they were traveling together, she made sure the car was spotless. That they always had food and water on them and that there was no mess.
It kind of made sense, though. Bella had been this tiny ball of anxiety all evening that didn’t quite go away until he and her were by themselves, and he was now worried if she was doing okay. He and his siblings were used to events having a huge impact on them, getting blindsided. It was never fun, but it happened. Because of who they were. Because of their name. Because of the amount of years they were alive. But Bella? This was all new to her, and she had done what she always had done; retreated and tried to make peace with it all by herself.
Screw his blood lust; there were worse matters at hand. “You’re a mess.”
Bella huffed as she rinsed two glasses and got a bottle of wine out of the fridge. “No, I’m not,” she smiled at him as she walked to the living room. She set down the glasses and the bottle before getting rid of the blanket on the couch. “You were going to tell me about the last two years.”
“Yeah, before I noticed that you’re a mess!”
“My house is a mess,” she pointed out as she poured them wine. “Just for your information, I didn’t think that this evening would have a positive ending with you coming here, so I didn’t get to clean up. It doesn’t mean that I’m a mess.”
Oh, he definitely sensed some hostility there.
“Do you want me to clean up?”
He smiled at her as he sat down. “No, darling, it’s alright,” he took a glass and took a sip of it. He was determined to fix this. “Well, after I returned from Forks upon Nik’s request, I was told to make nice with the witches. While Myriam had taken care of Marcel – I’ve told you about him, haven’t I?” When Bella nodded, he continued. “The witches were still not quite at ease. Seeing as my relationship with the witches has always been better than the ones they have with my siblings…” Kol shrugged. “As it turned out, Marcel used this witch to control the other witches. Nik and Myriam took a liking to the local bartender, the waitress you’ve met this evening. Camille. I don’t know; perhaps they wanted to have couple’s therapy or more kinky things. It’s a surprise she’s still alive. Uh… Marcel had somehow convinced his super witch that while she was a Harvest girl – it’s a stupid little thing the Ancestors want to happen every 300 years, involves a lot of blood, dying and then being resurrected. Like a cult. Like… they want the witches’ power to return it to the community, that sort of nonsense – that this witch didn’t have to go through with it. This angered the Ancestors and nearly destroyed New Orleans.”
“It’s Davina, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t matter,” he said as he downed the rest of his glass and reached for the bottle. “Elijah and I had to save Nik and Rebekah from a witch from our past, which we did. We had to deal with a powerful warlock from our past, which we did and survived. And then? The whole thing with the Guerrera’s started, and you’re responsible for its conclusion,” Kol beamed proudly at her. “And you came back and saved us from the clutches of the Ancestors.”
“I’m just glad you’re all yourselves again.”
“Almost,” he replied, setting down his glass and turning towards her, searching her face for – he wasn’t sure what. Anything out of place. “Your turn.”
“What did you do in the last two years?”
She smiled then. “In the last two years I met this awesome guy, but our first meeting was kind of strange. He was in a coffin, you see.”
Blinking, he didn’t understand her response. What kind of morbid answer was that?