Bella had almost two hours of sleep when she was roused from her slumber by her phone ringing. Not bothering to see who it was – as she already knew, she answered by putting it on the speaker. “Hi dad,” she greeted him as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.
“Bella, I left you a message to come and get me from the airport, where are you?”
“Oh,” she said sheepishly. “Somewhere along the Mississippi river,” she looked around to confirm. “Yeah, we left town this morning, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were coming.”
“ISABELLA! You turn right back around now!”
“No, we have plans, dad,” she replied. “I’m sorry you made the trip out for nothing, but you can go home now.”
She could hear his breathing and cringed, curling up into the fetal position in her seat. “Bella. I took a week off from work to make sure you were okay here.”
“You used to trust me on my word,” Bella replied, holding out the phone. “What changed?”
“When I knew the person you were traveling with. I want to meet these guys. It’s not too much to ask to make sure my daughter is safe.”
“So what you’re saying is that Jake kept an eye on me because of you and now you want me to return to keep me away from the world, is that it?”
“You know who you sound like right now? Mom. Everything was fine, but little Bella needs some help because she has too many invisible friends and she’s seeing things, ooh, she’s doing something scary, let’s get her another shrink. Found Bella wandering the cemetery at night, let’s put a lock on the door. Oh, and Bella feels a lot of pain, let’s take her to the fucking mental asylum to fix her!”
“You were only fifteen. We didn’t know what to do to help that. You screamed about being stabbed in the chest and we panicked. We never anticipated you having such abilities and your mother isn’t as open about it as I am. But you were a child!”
“Nah,” Bella huffed as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “You don’t trust me to make my own decisions, trust my abilities in knowing that I have found the right people. I’m a grown woman and I’m not your little girl anymore.” She opened her window and threw out her phone. Anyone of importance reached her through her email anyway.
Kol and Jeremy remained quiet as she calmed down and only then did Kol risk speaking. “So… we’re not going to be planning a trip to Washington anytime soon?”
“You want that asshole to be your father in law?” Bella said bitterly, hugging her knees to her chest.
“He’s your family,” he mumbled, focusing on driving again. “Give it time. I’m sure Myriam and Nik will come across him and deal with it for us.”
“I don’t want to risk going to Washington because he’ll find a way to keep me and keep you away from me. He’s really tight with Jake’s dad and their tribe, god knows what they could do,” she said softly, looking at him. “I know I’m strange and weird and I try to be good. Dad thinks he’s the only one who can take care of me but his solution is to lock me up so I don’t end up hurting myself…” She then let out a snort, realizing something. “Seems like we’ve got more in common than we both realized.”
“I believe you and we’ll deal with everything. We will try to make things work with him. Just relax now and let’s enjoy this trip. We have plenty of time and can go anywhere,” Kol smiled at her, reaching for her hand.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the mental hospital… it’s uh… kinda embarrassing.”
“It happens. Humans don’t know how to handle the paranormal or supernatural most times. They fear what they don’t understand, but it does sound like he tries to understand you.”
“He’s been controlling me through Jake, don’t see how that’s understanding,” she sighed and shook her head.
“He could have tried to keep you from going on the road at all if that was the case,” Jeremy offered.
“But still, he didn’t allow me to go alone. I was 19 when I started this, all of this.”
Kol pulled out his phone and handed it to Bella. “Text Nik or Myriam to give them the heads up that he is officially in town. They already know he might find his way around.”
“Yeah, no doubt he pinged my phone when we were at the apartment,” Bella huffed as she started to text Myriam. “I’m sorry I freaked out.”
“It’s fine,” Jeremy smiled at her, giving her a gentle squeeze on her shoulder. “I think you’re amazing in any case, certified crazy or not.”
“Not certified. I learned quickly enough to be somewhat normal and they released me to my parents. Don’t remember much, it’s all a blur.”
Kol was curious at that, knowing what he knew of mental facilities. “Did they do shock therapy on you?”
She put the phone down in her lap after texting Myriam and went quiet for awhile, almost as if she was searching her memories. “Likely. I see baths, darkness… syringes… Well, if anything, if they did do shock therapy on me, I wouldn’t be awake for it, they knock you out these days,” she said with a slight chuckle. “It’s also possible that I might have fought back… can’t help but to think that I swung a chair at someone.”
“When we stop for the night, I could try and see if I can get into your mind and see what memories are hiding from you if you want,” Kol volunteered, kissing her hand.
“Oh, I think that’s a great idea,” Jeremy said, intrigued. “Who knows what’s hiding up in your mind?”
“I wouldn’t want to remember, though,” Bella said, squeezing Kol’s hand. “But you can have a look if you want.”
Kol nodded but was still concerned. “I can look and depending on what kind of blockage there is in your mind, it should still hold. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an idea of what happened in case the memories come back to you suddenly?”
“Yeah, I mean, we went to a flipping former Sanatorium in New Orleans, at night, what if you get triggered by something during one of our trips?” Jeremy piped up. “Freaking out on the spot is never a great feeling.”
“I’m only curious as to what lead my parents to have me admitted. Dad just said that I saw people getting stabbed and all, but I’m not visual in any way, apart from that skidmark of Klaus in New Orleans, but that’s different, because there’s a connection with him through Kol.”
Jeremy was curious as to what she saw and certainly felt that she wasn’t crazy. “How were they stabbed? Do you remember?”
“I don’t remember that at all,” Bella shook her head. “I don’t remember a lot from my childhood leading up to my ‘vacation’.”
Kol was unsure about the growth of her abilities now. “So you were able to see things before? The thing with Klaus isn’t new then. Perhaps a suppressed ability from whatever happened in your past.”
“I don’t know,” Bella repeated herself. “I only know what Charlie told me about seeing things, but young children usually see spirits, because they’re open. It’s when they get older they stop seeing things, or not. They stop believing, or not.”
“We just keep track of your gifts. We will figure it out why you are changing.”
“Whatever, I just want to avoid Charlie,” she shrugged as she lowered her legs again, trying to relax. “Any idea where you want to stop for the day?”
“Oh, what about Memphis?” Jeremy said, bouncing in the back seat. “I hear it’s a great city. Very haunted, too.”
“No,” Bella shook her head, eyeing Jeremy curiously. “It’s a very haunted town and I’m not going to set foot in that. You can compare it to New Orleans. I’ve been to Memphis before and it was a nightmare.”
“Maybe you should check out Myriam’s present to see what she gave you? I had asked if she might be able to devise something to help so she may have something in there,” Kol suggested.
Bella sighed as she looked at Jeremy. “Could you hand me that small suitcase, please?”
“This one?” He lifted it up, it was more like a beauty case that women tended to carry around, usually filled with make up. Jeremy moved it over and Bella was surprised by the weight of it.
“Hmm, I’m a little scared, now,” Bella said as she opened the case and the first thing that stood out to her was Myriam’s note. Written in cursive. So beautiful. “Bella,” she started to read out loud. “Don’t read this letter out loud… oh, whatever. I managed to pull some stuff together for you to ensure your safety, but also that of others. The little angel statue, yes I’m well aware that it’s ridiculous, but it’s the smallest thing I could find that you’d be able to carry and hide. If it works the way it’s intended, all you need to do is place it underneath your pillow or in the car and it should block the spirits.” Bella gasped as she grabbed the angel and blinked as she set it down between her feet. “BUBBLE! My own personal bubble!”
“So Memphis is back on the table,” Jeremy grinned. “Awesome! Elvis, here we come!”
Kol looked over to Bella and saw the relieved smile on her face, almost as if a lot of weight had been lifted, and was happy that Myriam had been able to do this for Bella. He was sure to send her some goodies from the voodoo centre that Memphis had as a thank you. Bella deserved her bubble.
Bella started to read again. “Next you’ll find various satchels of herbs that you’ll recognize. There’s vervain; please please please don’t hurt Kol with it. There’s ground sage, a lot of salt, some black salt if you need to do a quick exorcism and of course, lavender. Because I know you like the smell of it and it calms you down. Now, keep the next object out of Jeremy’s paws at all costs because I don’t trust him,” Bella flashed a grin over her shoulder to Jeremy. “Aww.”
“What did I ever do to her? I mean, she’s hot, yes. But I didn’t do anything to her.”
Bella peeked into the case and saw a familiar object, one that she did remember, somehow. “Kol, pull over,” she said softly.
Kol looked at her surprised and hurriedly jerked the car off onto the shoulder of the highway. “What is wrong? What happened?” He questioned the moment he threw the gear into park.
She lifted the dagger out of the case, showing it to him and Jeremy. “This is what I saw. I remember this. I drew this over and over again to prove it was real. Why is it here? It’s real?”
The vampire eyed the weapon and ground his teeth together, not believing that Myriam would actually send something that could put him down. “How could you have seen that? At the time you were a teenager, I was still in my box with that in my heart.”
Jeremy stayed back as he wanted to snatch that dagger out of Bella’s hand and use it on Kol. “Dude, eight years ago you guys were all out of the box and your mother had linked you all together.”
“It’s been that long since that?” he asked, looking to his friend. “You okay there? Any urges to kill me yet?”
Bella grabbed one of the little herb sacks and tossed it back into his lap. “How about now?”
“Oh, that’s great, thanks,” Jeremy replied. “Much better.” He then scratched his head. “Uh, yeah, you guys were all linked and Alaric managed to put you down for a brief period, causing Rebekah and Finn to fall too, Klaus with merely a pain in his chest.”
Bella scrunched her face as she looked over at Kol. “It’s strange that I remember this. Hey, did any of you get lit on fire? Because I seem to remember fire around this thing.”
“Different weapon,” Jeremy explained. “A few weeks after the dagger incident, we were all armed with stakes that could put down an Original. Thinking they were still linked together, my friend Matt killed Finn, the oldest after Elijah, and his entire sireline went poof. Of course, they were no longer linked together so none of the other Originals died. Kol was stalking me in Denver at the time.”
Kol pointed to the dagger in her hand. “You keep that far away from me, you hear? I’m going to murder my brother’s girl when we get home.”
“It’s safe with me,” Bella said reassuringly as she picked up the letter and continued to read. “Kol might not like this, but I’ve included a dagger and some ash of the White Oak Tree. I trust that you and Jeremy will do everything in your power not to have him possessed or go insane, but in case he gets overtaken or out of control – even not listening to you, use this to knock him out, take him to safety and remove it again.”
“So if you saw all this years ago,” Jeremy started, eyeing Kol then Bella. “What if you were somehow linked then? That this whole thing between the two of you was meant to happen or you coming to their family? It’s actually really weird because I should have wanted to kill you, but I don’t.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Bella huffed, burying the dagger deep into the case and moving everything over it. “How or when should that have happened then? I’m 24 years old, never ran into the Mikaelsons before New Orleans.”
Kol reached over and grabbed his phone from Bella’s lap and dialed his brother. It wasn’t long before the hybrid answered. “Greetings brother! How is the wide open road?”
“First off, tell Myriam that I am going to kill her.”
“She suspected as much and she told me she’d like to see you try.”
“What the hell was she thinking? And has she found anything with Bella’s blood yet?”
“Safety for all, especially with you going to new places, but she trusts Bella’s good judgement of you. And no, the spell is still ongoing, why do you ask?”
Bella eyed Kol curiously, wondering what he was thinking. She could tell that his mind was going a million miles per second, but why?
“We’ve had some… developments in the car, and I will help Bella with one obstacle, but I need to know if the spell shows if Bella’s messed with magically.”
“There’s no indication of that,” Myriam’s voice sounded. “I would have sensed that from the very start. It’s likely that Jeremy would have sensed that too. Is this about the connection you two seem to have?”
“It may be larger than that… If you find anything, call us right away.”
“I told you I would,” Myriam sighed. “Don’t worry, Kol. I’m sure that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for what’s going on between you two, and if not, well, blame it on hormones.”
“You should ask Bella’s father about what he did to her and why,” he said angrily.
Klaus practically grinned through the phone. “I’ll be sure to question our guest now that I know what to look for.”
“Especially what happened when she was fifteen.”
“Fifteen? Care to elaborate?”
“Not yet…” he looked over to Bella who was basically shooting daggers at him with her eyes. “It’s a delicate subject and this is the thing I’m going to help her with once we settle for the day. Or I hope, at least, it might not even be possible with the suspected damage done to her.”
“Intriguing. I shall go have a chat with Daddy Swan. Give my love to Little Bird.”
Bella scowled upon hearing her last name and the pet name Klaus had chosen for her.
“Isabella Marie Swan, such a nice name for such a pretty lady.”
“Shut up,” Bella muttered.
“Yeah, Nik? It’ll likely be difficult not to hurt him, but despite Bella’s anger towards her father right now, do keep him in one piece,” Kol reminded his brother. “I want to be the one to kill him if it’s needed.”
Bella stared back at him, open mouthed. “Kol!”
Kol shrugged as he disconnected the phone call and put his phone back in Bella’s lap before pointing at her suitcase. “Since you’re carrying your backpack everywhere we go, I want that dagger on you at all times so that Gilbert here can’t nick it.”
“It is probably a good idea,” Jeremy agreed. “If I forget this little satchel, I’m going to want to put him down first chance I get.”
“Great,” Bella said sarcastically. “We’d make a great subject for a road movie; the vampire, the vampire hunter and the medium: Where will their control issues lead them next? Find out after this commercial!”
“It’d make a fun special for YouTube,” Kol grinned.
Bella thought for a moment before eyeing the angel between her feet and then smirked. “You know what? After you’ve sifted through my mind, I want to get drunk off my ass.”
“Drunk sex is fun sex. I’m game,” Kol eagerly agreed. “Let’s get back on the road so that we can get there sooner.”
Dropping their bags into their hotel room, Kol tossed a key card at Jeremy. There was no way he was going to share a room with the guy now. “You’re next door. I’m not having you within spitting distance of my girl’s bag.”
“Don’t worry, I completely understand,” Jeremy nodded as he picked up his bag. “Good luck, you two, I hope that what you find buried will be helpful to you both. Uh, how about I go into town to get her a new phone?”
“That is a great idea, Gilbert,” he said as he handed him some money. “Hey, Bella, how about an upgrade from your old iPhone? You had what? A 3?”
“Ouch,” Jeremy sucked in a breath.
“It served it’s purpose until my father tried tracking me,” she grumbled as she put the angel underneath her pillow. “I don’t need anything fancy. Really.”
“Are you kidding? You can tweet your followers with pictures from new phones using the internet without wifi! You’re going to be in the 21st century,” Jeremy said as he looked at the money Kol had given him. “What am I going to do with the rest of the money?”
“Buy booze and snacks?”
Jeremy got the keys to the truck and left, closing the door behind him. With Kol and Bella now alone, the vampire sighed as he sat on the bed, watching her. “We will figure out everything. Knowing the truth can only make you stronger. You deserve to know the truth about your past.”
“Even if it’s really horrible?” She crawled towards him over the bed, still feeling safe and quiet in her bubble as she settled on his lap, her arms around his neck.
“You’re with a terrifying vampire that can only be killed by one thing, and here you are within killing distance, yet, you’re fearless. You’re stronger than you think, Bella,” he softly kissed her. “Your memories might not be all rainbows and unicorns, but that’s okay. You’re safe now, you’ll be safe in the days to come.”
Sighing, Bella toyed with the collar of his shirt as she considered what he was asking, and she was still terrified and skeptical of the entire thing. Mediums weren’t unheard of to have terrifying experiences as they learned their abilities, but Kol was so convinced there was something there. Especially as they all had already acknowledged their unusual attraction to one another. “Will it hurt?”
“No,” he smiled at her. “I don’t expect it to hurt, but we can stop at any time if it does.”
Nodding, she bit her lip. “Okay then. Let’s do this and get it over with before I chicken out completely.”
Kol kissed her and tugged her to the bed. “Lay down. You’ll be more comfortable.”
Bella did as she was told and sighed deep, trying to relax. “This good?”
“As long as you are comfortable. Close your eyes and you may feel a little intrusion, but I ask that you try not to fight my entering your mind. It can make it more difficult,” he explained as he touched her forehead.
She closed her eyes and took another breath. “You should have an all access pass, everything that I am is yours,” she said bravely. “I’ve opened the doors wide and it’s still so quiet, it’s so nice.”
Kol took his free hand and held hers as he closed his eyes to slip inside her mind. It was easier than he anticipated despite her opening up to him. He wasn’t sure what to make of what he initially saw.
It was almost as if she had a whole city inside of her head, a whole world; one side being completely in the dark and the other one in the light, some homes crumbled, some were being built. But of course, there wasn’t a whole world inside of her head, just her memories.
He started walking through the scene, trying to search for the Bella he knew and for anything that might help with what had been happening in the conscious world.
Bella let out a giggle. “You’re going the wrong way, stay in the light,” she said as she appeared before him and hummed in appreciation of her surroundings. “And here I thought there was just a void inside my head.”
“No, you’re pretty organized,” Kol replied appreciatively, pointing at the numbers on the houses. “I guess I’ll be looking for 15 and below?”
Bella watched on as he continued to walk down the street, listening intently. “Careful, there’s something there and I don’t think it’s nice.”
“I’m here with you. Or you can wait here while I look,” he offered as he turned to look at the houses again.
Bella let out a whine and followed him. “This is so weird,” she said as she kept an eye on the darkness, content that it stayed on their side of the street, although she had seen it casting dark shadows over the first three houses Kol had encountered. It figured as much, she’d been in a pretty dark place because of a dark entity.
She followed him around the corner, just shy of 15, and stopped dead in her tracks upon seeing the ruins and several grey wolves growling at them, seemingly protecting the street. They didn’t look particularly friendly.
“Hm,” Kol hummed. “Come now doggies. We’re not here to hurt anything. Just an exploratory journey for Bella,” he tried to calm the wolves, who were essentially a piece of Bella.
The wolves slowly parted, but didn’t move otherwise to let a small figure through. It was a younger version of Bella, and she looked slightly confused. “I’ve seen you,” she said, almost in a dream state. “Many times.”
“Trippy,” Bella said from beside Kol.
“No kidding,” he replied, staring at the girl. “You were adorable though!”
“You were asleep for so long and then you woke up,” Young Bella said, not taking her eyes off of Kol. “And got stabbed and then when I was inside, you were on fire but I felt it.”
He nodded confirming her story and that he understood. “We are trying to find out how or why you saw my family and I? And where you are from.”
The wolves growled as young Bella shook her head. “No, we’re not supposed to see things,” she said agitated. “Or hear things or be different. I’m a freak and fixing me is hard.”
“That’s what the humans made you think, Bella. We aren’t normal and it’s okay not to be normal. They don’t understand creatures like us, beings that are different. You know so much but they were wrong for what they did,” he pressed gently.
The wolves ran off into the darkness, chasing something as something stirred there, leaving young Bella alone and vulnerable, looking like a scared little child.
“Where do you want me to go? Where do I need to go?”
“Fifteen,” she replied, looking at older Bella. “It’s not pretty, but maybe we can be whole again so we’re stronger to fight that,” she said as she pointed to the darkness. “Fifteen and you’ll see what you did to make everyone happy.”
Nodding, Kol took his Bella’s hand and they slowly made their way down the street until they reached house number fifteen. From the outside, it appeared rather non descript. A typical small house. “I was expecting something – more.”
Bella was quiet as she stood behind him, not particularly wanting to go forward. “We don’t need to do this…”
“Come now Bella. We are so close and this will give some answers. I’ll go by myself and tell you what I see?”
She thought for a moment. “No, I’m safe with you. Little me was right, if this is the state of my head, my memories, I need to know how and why so I can fix it.” Bella took a few steps forward and swung the door open, her screams coming out to greet them. “See? I’m the life of the party.”
“That you are,” Kol held her close as they pushed through the dark entrance only to find themselves somewhere he didn’t particularly care for. “Well, this is strange considering you were never here.”
“What is this place?” Bella asked as she looked up to him.
“Klaus’ place in Virginia when I was undaggered. But why?”
She heard some voices coming from the next room and pulled him along with her, stopping dead in the doorway. Klaus, Kol, Elijah and likely Rebekah were sitting in the living room, actually laughing and being normal siblings. “Oh, I remember this, I thought that it would be so great to have a big family to talk to and have fun with.”
Kol watched the scene with mixed feelings. “Let’s look around some more?” He worded it like a question but he did not want to watch that scene as he knew it eventually led to more hurt for himself and his siblings.
Starting up the stairs, he looked around hearing music playing downstairs and remembered the night of the ball his mother hosted. “Witches…” he murmured, heading for the room his mother had locked herself in frequently.
Opening the door, instead of a room, he found himself outside in the woods behind the house he grew up in. “Now this is just wrong.”
“Oh, my forest!” Bella smiled, remembering now. “I retreated here whenever I was lonely up until… yeah, until I was fifteen. Playing with other kids,” she smiled as she pointed at a young boy coming out of the bushes. “Like him!”
He smiled, taking her hand. “Is that so? Did you play chase?”
“No,” she smirked as she pointed at him. “He liked to show me magic tricks whenever I was sad. Made dead leaves fly around me or ordered starlings to spell my name in the sky,” Bella saw as the boy started to grow older. “He grew older with me. I don’t know why but I kept coming back here. And-” she then blinked as she saw the boy as a fifteen year old and looked over at Kol, the resemblance now clear to her. “That’s you! How? Why?”
“I don’t know. I don’t recall much before we were changed. I spent time right behind our land but I don’t remember a girl, you,” he said, looking around. “It was a few years from then that we lost my brother and mother created the spell and potion for vampires.”
“But this place is real? It’s not a part of my imagination?”
“Very real. It is where Mystic Falls was established. Only a thousand years before. Let’s go look in my family’s building.”
The house started to shake and wobble before everything changed, Bella in her bed, screaming that she was being stabbed, clawing at her chest as tears fell down her eyes. Her concerned parents and a doctor who believed she had a mental break. The scenery changed again and now it was Bella in the mental hospital, still sobbing as she sat in a corner. “No, turn it back!” Bella screamed at the house.
“Wait,” Kol held her, staring intently at the staff around here. “What in the world is she doing in Washington? That nurse,” he pointed at her. “She’s no nurse, that’s my mother!”
“I wasn’t in an institution in Washington,” Bella replied with a sigh. “It was somewhere in Virginia, per recommendation of the army of shrinks who assessed me, they believed that being away from my parents while I ‘recovered’ would do me some good.”
“Why would your mother be interested in me?” She whispered, knowing the stories of the evil woman who wanted to kill her children.
“My mother spent a thousand years on the Other Side before she was released like the rest of us,” Kol sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “It’s very likely that she picked something up on that side about you.”
“I didn’t like her but she also felt like she was my mother at times. I wondered why she would do what she was doing to me there,” Bella admitted.
“What did she do?” Even more reasons to hate his mother, likely.
Hesitating, she looked away. “She tried to talk to me about killing her family in the future. I ignored her as if she wasn’t there.”
“Oh, that’s something she’d do alright,” he pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. “What happened?”
“Well, eventually she realized I wasn’t going to budge, no matter how drugged up I was and she left, I didn’t see her again. But while I was here, I felt as if I was on fire at some point, I was physically burning up and they dunked me in an ice bath to cool me off, afraid I had some dangerous infection or something,” she sighed. “And then they pulled me out and shocked me because my heart stopped from the shock.”
Kol scowled. “What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know,” Bella whispered as the scene changed again, rapidly this time showing flashes of shock therapy, Kol raging on the Other Side, drugs, isolation and eventually how she was released back into her parent’s custody, images of the wolves outside showing up next, biting her whenever she slipped back into seeing things. “I’ve had enough for now,” she said as she looked up to him. “Can we stop for today? Maybe go through the other years some other day?”
While he wanted to continue to find out why she had been so connected to his family, he nodded and leaned in to kiss her. The next moment they were back in the hotel room.
It was as if her head had been hit by a wrecking ball and smashed some wall to pieces as the memories of the institute came back to her and she crawled against him to try to make it stop, or at least ride out the waves. “It wasn’t just you and the family that I saw over the years,” Bella said with a whimper. “I do believe I saw the dead, too.”
“You might not have been ready for your gifts yet. We’ll help you control them. There is no one better than me!” He kissed her and helped her up.
“You’re the best,” Bella smiled at him. “Sorry I’m such a basket case, you can trade me in for a different model if you want to, no hard feelings.”
“As if,” Kol grinned as he helped her to her feet. “Come on, let’s walk it off and get a little bit of fresh air outside.”