“I met you, dumbass,” Bella let out a snort after seeing the dumbfounded look on Kol’s face. “It hasn’t been two years for me, remember?”
“That’s not funny. For a moment there I thought I had to go and kill someone.”
“No killing,” she replied as she, too, set down the glass of wine and pulled him into her arms, holding him close. “I’m sorry for the last two years, Kol. I’m sorry for what she did to you.”
Alright, this certainly was strange, but he decided to roll with it because it was actually quite nice to be in her arms. Shifting so that he was comfortable too, he sighed as he laid his head on her breasts – comfy pillows. “It’s alright, Bella, you know I’ve been through worse.”
“It’s still not okay,” she replied softly as she ran a hand through his hair. “You were violated and taken advantage of. That’s not alright.”
He let out a huff. “Good thing I killed the bitch, then. I took my revenge, Bella. It’s alright now. Now tell me about your time spent with Hades.”
“Hades had me clean up my own mess, there were thousands of souls that I brought to him – apparently I freaked out that much that I did a very big ghost cleanse,” she said hesitantly, not sure how to explain the experience to him. “It was strange, you know. All these people from different times, different ways that killed them… there were small children… who wants to kill kids, Kol? Who does that?”
He knew damn well that she knew that he once considered killing Marcel when he was still a child. “Very disturbed minds, I suppose.”
“But also happy stories, you know. Like Virginia and Elizabeth. Elizabeth died a long time ago, she was drowned in the water by a very powerful man, and her spirit rested at the banks near the bridge. Virginia wasn’t a witch, but slightly sensitive and a believer of anything supernatural, and she happened upon Elizabeth’s energy one day. And never stopped bringing Elizabeth gifts, even in her old age. Until she died herself; at the same time I freaked out while we were crossing the bridge, Virginia had a massive heart attack and died on the spot she came to to visit Elizabeth. They were both at Hades, and finally able to meet and interact and… It was so sweet, Kol. And they decided to stay with Hades. I mean… that was beautiful.”
“No, I’m not,” Bella replied, shaking her head. “I even went to visit Virginia’s urn at the Columbarium at Mt. Olivet in Gentilly and she died on the exact date as we crossed that bridge.” She smiled then. “I know she’s not around anymore, but I brought her flowers and a teddy bear anyway, just like she’s done for Elizabeth all these years.”
“You need to start protecting your heart more, Bella,” he looked up to her from his comfortable position, still in her arms, still his head resting on her breasts. How they made it work, was beyond him. “You care too much about people.”
“It’s my caring too much that got you back in the land of the living so don’t even start,” she said with a warning. “Hades dialed down the whole ghost thing for me so I can have a normal life as much as I can. Anytime I want, I could open myself up again, he showed me how, but I am so glad that for the first time since it all started, I can breathe.”
Kol could feel her getting restless, but didn’t move. She was going to have to sit down and deal with whatever was bothering her.
“He also opened up other things for me, such as me being able to turn invisible or to turn into someone else on the surface; it’s all an illusion. If you look real close or if you know; you can see right through it. And other stuff. And stuff I didn’t want. Either never or not yet. I’m not ready for it all and Hades understood that. He was so… understanding and pissed off at the same time. Patronizing. But understanding and kind.”
“When you were Davina… at some point I thought I was seeing things because Davina sounded so unlike herself and more like you, I thought I saw a shimmer of you.”
“Yeah, you could have,” she replied with a smile. “My abilities aren’t fool proof because I’m a demi-Goddess, I’m not a full God. Like… with Henrik? I had to have Hades with us because I can’t do the things he can do. Well, that, and he’s the friggin’ God of the underworld.”
“And I saw your confrontation with Hades in the street,” Kol moved so that he was sitting upright and could pull Bella into his arms. “My little tiny ball of fire.”
“Yeah well, I was angry with Davina and the witches and I would have done something stupid if he hadn’t stopped me.”
“And I would have lost you again. This time for good.”
“Yeah,” she let out a breath as she tried to relax. “Don’t have to worry about that anymore, either. With this apartment came the gift of sense. It’s likely the result of Helios making a bargain with Hades.”
“Just wondering, who made Hades the boss of you? Shouldn’t it be Zeus or someone else?”
Bella shrugged. “According to Hades, Helios fucked up big time with me. Treating me like a grand daughter instead of a human girl who got into her powers and not knowing what to do with them. There’s this whole story to the Battle of the Gods that isn’t in the history books but compared to the Titans, the Olympians are innocents and that’s why Hades and his brothers went after the Titans in the first place. To restore order.”
“And Helios is a Titan.”
“And I’m the daughter of a Titan’s daughter,” Bella nodded and let out a breath. “Everything I do gets scrutinized because I’m the first one in centuries that’s shown promise of being a good girl and not something chaotic or unbalanced. One of the first things Helios said to me was that Psyche said I was a good egg. Promising. And because I said I was afraid of myself and of what I could do, we tested a few of my abilities, and I decided I don’t want them active. Most of them. Jesus, Kol, I could take over the world if I wanted to – cause chaos all over and fuck, I don’t want that.”
“No, I know I won’t because I’m in control now. I know what I can do. I just need to manage my anger a little bit so I don’t fuck up and do a lot of damage because in the end, it’ll be me who’s caused harm or mayhem. It’ll be on me and even now that I don’t have a permanent eviction order over my head, it’ll be on me. I’ll have to clean up my own mess – or else.”
Kol let out a snort. “You know what you sound like?”
“No,” He kissed the top of her head. “A vampire. Granted, a very souped up vampire who’s more powerful than Niklaus Mikaelson the big bad hybrid, but a vampire nonetheless. We can break someone’s neck with our pinkies. Take over countries by compelling people. Power is all consuming and it’s difficult to find a balance and not let it take you over.”
Bella let out a huff and yawned, the events of the evening finally wearing her down. “I’ve got control over that. Don’t worry, I won’t take over the world or anything.”
“Could be fun.”
“No,” she shook her head, yawning again and shifting to get more comfortable. It didn’t take long for her to doze off completely as Kol remained quiet, knowing that she needed her sleep.
He had to admit, he was loving this. His girl back in his arms where she belonged, happily snoozing away as if nothing was wrong, but then there was her apartment and it was a mess. She was likely dealing with a lot more stuff than she was letting on and he felt like he needed to fix it. Fix her.
After a couple of hours, he carefully brought her to her bedroom and tucked her in. There were even more wayward clothes in the space and he simply couldn’t deal with this himself. Using his speed, he picked everything up and made sure the bedroom was nice and tidy before heading downstairs. Putting a load of laundry in the washing machine and cleaned up the rest of the apartment.
Kol knew that he was risking Bella’s anger, for cleaning up, but he just couldn’t bare to see her like this. Her problem wasn’t her abilities. No, she was emotionally a mess, because of the witches, because because of them, she got hurt. Her heart was broken.
Yeah, he needed to fix that. This wasn’t about him, this was about her.
Bella felt slightly disoriented when she woke up to the smell of fresh bagels, coffee and orange juice. While she felt as if she had had a decent sleep, a long sleep, something was off. There was no one else in the house that could have made the- Shit. Bella shot up straight in bed, finding her bedroom clear of her clothes and items. Had she been sleep cleaning? No.
Realizing she was still dressed, she carefully made her way out of the bedroom. Her house smelled of cleaning detergent. Items that were previously on the stairs were now gone, everything looked clean and organized. It didn’t feel like her cozy home anymore. “No,” she said softly as she stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked around, devastated – almost as if someone had kicked a puppy or as if she had lost everything.
“Morning,” Kol greeted her as he walked up to her with a steaming hot cup of coffee.
Right. Kol came home with her last night. Last night had been fun and she had taken him back home with him. They had talked. They had kissed and she had fallen asleep against him. Last night had been the first time she’d been around the family again. Kol was in her house. It had been a spur of the moment thing because she wanted him back and she hadn’t cleaned up her house, which only meant that he cleaned up. “You cleaned up,” it was a statement, not even a question, as she kept looking around. “Why?”
“Well, if I’m going to move in, there needs to be space, right?” He smiled at her as he handed her the mug of coffee. “Are you okay?”
“Waking up, thanks,” she muttered as she forced her head to jolt in gear. It had been difficult lately, sleeping in late, or not leaving bed at all. “You cleaned up my mess.”
“Yes I did. The last load of laundry is currently in the washer as well.”
“But it’s my mess. Not yours to clean up.”
“Oh, but now your mess is my mess too,” he said as he pointed to the coffee. “Drink up and come join me in the kitchen for breakfast, we’re going to have a little chat.”
Right. Kol was moving in, because that was what she wanted last night, what she’d wanted for weeks now, because she loved him. He was hers. But she wasn’t ready. Whatever the alcohol had her think last night, she wasn’t ready for this. Following him to the kitchen, she was amazed by the amount of food for the two of them.
Kol helped her to sit down on one of the bar stools and made her a cream cheese bagel before putting it down on a plate in front of her, carefully watching her as she slowly woke up while sipping her coffee. When she started to nibble on her bagel, curiously eyeing him, he knew she was ready for a conversation. “You do know that I know what it’s like to be taken out of life only to return years later. It sucks. I suppose you’re lucky that it was only nearly two years instead of a hundred,” he said with a slight chuckle, earning him an angry look from his goddess. “It’s alright, Bella. I understand that it’s frightening as well, because you’re in this completely different world where you’re aware of time passing and knowing that down here, it passess differently. And I am sorry, truly, I am. But look at it this way; it’s another part of you that you’ve discovered.”
Bella let out a grunt as she chewed on her delicious bagel. “It’s the stupidest part of being what I am.”
“Yes,” he said wholeheartedly. “But know that I understand how it feels. Besides, two years, no big deal, I’ve done longer!”
“It’s not a joke, Kol,” she said angrily. “What if it happens again?”
“It won’t. And if it does, well, I’ll just have Nik dagger me until you come back so I don’t get into trouble.”
“Don’t you dare,” she told him before she took another bite of her bagel.
He cheekily smiled as he took a sip of his bloodied up coffee. It was the worst mistake he’d ever made, but he was hungry. He’d gone through quite a lot of blood bags during the night while he’d been fretting and cleaning, but it was all out of love, for her. As was him trying to mask the blood by mixing it with coffee. Kol knew that he’d even out again soon, Bella’s presence had always made him feel better and more in control. It’d just take a few days – worst case scenario would be weeks. “We have all missed you very much, despite what happened with the Ancestors. Ever since you freed us all, we have this Bella shaped hole in our lives, so last night was brilliant. It was fun, wasn’t it?”
Bella nodded as she took a sip of her coffee.
“The last thing you should be afraid of is for us to reject you. Myriam, for one, kept texting me all night, seeing if she could break the deal we made last night as to who gets to spend time with you first. Nothing has changed, Bella.”
“But it has.”
“No, it hasn’t. You really need to get that out of your head, darling, because you’re the one who distanced yourself from us, not the other way around. You shouldn’t punish yourself for what happened after Hades took you for some lessons, you shouldn’t. You needed it, even I couldn’t help you with that. We all just wished that he would have said something before taking you away like that. That would have made it a lot better for all of us,” he set down his mug and made his way over to her, kissing her on top of her head. “Hadn’t the Ancestors meddled with our lives, we would have never turned our backs on you. Ever. You’re family, Bella. You’re mine.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if I-”
“When you get to live as long as we have, you tend to forget that events like these – attacks like these – can have a big impact on someone who hasn’t. We brushed this off while our hatred towards the witches grew. We know that what made us act differently was beyond our power – of course, then you’ve got Nik, the special snowflake, whom they had a harder time controlling,” he said slightly frustrated, he always hated that special side of his brother. “I understand that it might be a little bit harder for you to trust us again. To allow yourself to be loved and adored as before. So, here’s my proposal to you,” he tucked an unruly strand of her hair behind her ear. “You and I aren’t going to move in together. Not just yet.”
“What?” She nearly dropped her mug of coffee in shock.
He had thought long and hard about this while cleaning up the mess that was her apartment. She needed room to grow. Room to heal. He understood her distancing now. It wasn’t good, but she really needed more time. And he figured the best way to do that was to give her everything she’d never had before; new experiences. Being treated proper. Like the lady she was.
“No, darling,” he smirked as he placed another kiss on top of her head. “Oh, make no mistake, you and I are together. There’s no looking at other guys for you or I will snap their neck or make a meal out of them, but… you see, Bella, your only experiences with men are with boys, high school. No real dates, no real courting… even you and I didn’t quite date. We met and we were together. Just like that. And that’s not going to change. I plan on being here with you as often as you allow me to, but no sleepovers. No. I’m going to court you as well as I can. Treat you to dinners, the cinema, the whole potential eternal and forever love experience before I’m moving in. To show you that it’s possible.”
“You can do that while being here.” Why was she feeling so panicky? She had admitted to herself only moments ago that she wasn’t ready for him yet, and now he was giving her the space that she still needed, and it wasn’t good enough. She wanted him close.
“Oh, there’s nothing more that I’d want, but you are not ready for me yet, for us. Not in that way. I’m going to talk to Elijah to have us swap bedrooms so that all I have to do is jump balconies to be with you, but I’m going to make you feel like the beautiful girl that you are again. Do things proper, like making you breakfast. I’ll do that every morning.”
She couldn’t breathe.
“I’m not rejecting you,” he said, slowly prying her hand off of her coffee mug and put his arms around her. “I am loving you. I’m not moving in, I won’t sleep here, but I will be with you every day to hang out. Or go on silly little dates.”
“What if Myriam wants to hang out?”
“Then you and Myriam hang out and I’ll stay here. Or I’ll be at the compound waiting for you to return so we can watch a movie. Or for me to watch you slave away over that laptop of yours was you type your stories. It’s going to be alright, I’m going to show you that you can trust me. Prove myself to you.”
“But I do!”
“No, not fully, darling, I can feel it,” he sighed as he lifted her chin and softly kissed her lips. “But that’s alright. I can be very patient when it comes to you.” Kol kissed her again and then released her from his arms. “Finish your bagel and go take a shower, freshen up. Oh, wear something pretty. I have the perfect idea for our first date!”