The man came back with a bowl of her water and oats and had something to eat for himself, too. He handed her the bowl and a spoon while he sat down on the cot and started to eat. “Now, what’s your name, darling?”
“No one, sir,” she replied as she brought the bowl to her lips and took a swallow of it. It didn’t taste like home, but she had to eat it. She had requested it and there wasn’t anything else that she ate. She needed to get used to this. Or perhaps her punishment would be death, too, then it was alright not to get used to this.
“I call shenanigans. Tell me your name,” the man said as he took a bite off his bread and sighed happily. “Are you sure you don’t want anything else for food? This sandwich is pretty decent!”
“Bella, sir,” she replied softly before shaking her head. “No sir, water and oats,” she took another swallow from her food. She hadn’t had any in days, perhaps even weeks, and the last time Sam had taken it from her. She needed to take it easy or she’d throw up and then be punished for that, too.
“Well, Bella, pleased to meet you, I am Kol Mikaelson.”
Mikaelson. Klaus had called himself that. Were they a family like the Cullens? She hadn’t seen any medical equipment around and she didn’t smell antibacterial soap, either. Not that her room was clean and free from bacteria, that was hard to achieve with a wolf in there and the occasional dead vampire. And of course, whenever she had to pee or do her stool. Just like the wolf. Which is why she was usually hosed down before her examinations. Before the experiments, before everything. Her current situation was a lot cleaner, though she had spotted some rats.
“Are you a victim of those Cold Ones too?”
Victim? No. Nobody was a victim. The children weren’t victims either, they were helped. Bella helped just the extreme sad ones to leave. She shook her head. “Renée is the birthgiver, Doctor Carlisle and his family and scientists helped me grow. Trained me. I am one of them.” Bella liked Kol’s energy, while she sensed that his emotions could get all over the place, she had a feeling he had a better handle on them than Klaus, his brother. “I was supposed to keep Hope with me.” And the more she talked, the more they’d believe that she’d be the leader of them, wouldn’t they? They’d punish her and leave her family alone.
“And instead she kept you with her,” Kol grinned. “Us Mikaelsons are a crafty bunch and that little devil might be worse than all of us combined.”
“Hope would have a good life with us, sir,” Bella replied, not understanding his reason to grin or to be joyful. “She would have been trained and well taken care of.”
“Children need their family, Bella, taking them away from them is a bad thing.”
“Is it? Doctor Carlisle made them better. Stronger. Flourish,” Bella countered as she took another swallow from her food. “And when they’re of age, they get sent to other places to serve.”
“What about you, then? You’re no longer a child, are you?”
“I am defective, sir. It was safer for everyone if I remained where I was. Even the big bosses are afraid of me,” she said sadly. “I would have gladly served and on occasion I can.” She put her bowl down then, only half empty. “But I failed. Again. Hope was too strong for me, I wasn’t my best. Had Klaus returned me to Edward, I would have been punished severely, perhaps even destroyed. But he didn’t want to return me.”
“And you’re here so Nik can interrogate you.”
“And punish me.” Yes. She had resigned herself to the idea that death was imminent. Perfect.
Kol nodded then. “Knowing my brother, he’d likely kill you, but he doesn’t know your story, does he now? You told me. Why did you tell me?”
Bella thought for a moment, eyeing her bowl, wondering if she should eat more of that, too. “You truly wish to know why I am here. What happened. You are curious and not angry. Or sad. Or filled with hate. Your behaviour is strange, sir.”
“Do you wish me to be angry?” The moment he realized she’d been telepathic he had shut down his mind and made sure he had at least some control over his emotions. Despite what she was saying, she was a victim in all of this as well, but that she was raised to believe otherwise. That what the Cullens were doing was alright. Nik needed to know this, badly, or this girl could end up dead, and it would be a shame. She was innocent.
“I don’t wish for anything, sir.” She quickly replied, slightly spooked. “But you asked and I gave you an answer.”
“Bella, do you know what kindness is?”
She nodded then. “Doctor Carlisle calls his experiments kindness. He prides himself to be kind. Emmett says that kindness is when they don’t have to punish me and Jasper says I’m being kind whenever I help a child escape.”
“Why would you do that?”
“They were extremely sad and hurting my head, they didn’t belong with us. I would release them in Jasper’s custody and he’d find their people for them.”
Highly unlikely. “So you know what they were doing to those children was wrong.”
“Not wrong, sir.”
She wasn’t tripping up. She truly believed that what she had been taught was the truth. Was this girl even salvageable? “Kindness is what you did, releasing those children,” he said as he looked at her. “Kindness is me asking you what you want to eat and then bring it to you. Kindness shouldn’t ever hurt. As a human, it should make you feel all warm inside when you experience kindness.”
“I don’t feel anything, sir.”
“Yes you do. I can tell you’re sad because Nik is hunting down your family.”
“My people. The Cullens are a family, but not to me,” she quickly said and shook her head. “And I am not sad. They have abandoned me and I’m alone. Should my people die, I’ll be truly alone. It’s my punishment, sir. Should Klaus return and choose to kill me, then I welcome it.”
“Why? Because you fear what will be next in your life? The future is exciting, Bella. The world is a big place, so much to see, so much to do.”
“I am dangerous. Defective, sir. I’m a good girl.” She then thought for a moment and pushed her bowl of food away. “I don’t deserve more. I failed. I should not have vocalized my thoughts. Exposed my people. I should not have done that. I’m a bad girl.”
His heart broke then as he nudged the bowl back with his foot. “But wouldn’t that be my fault, then? I’m asking you questions and you feel like you can answer them with me. So basically I have made you fail.”
“No sir.” She had a feeling that her people would escape Klaus Mikaelson’s clutches and they’d come for her knowing that she was with him. She couldn’t allow herself to get complacent and form thoughts, let alone speak them out loud. Her food had been good, but it had been wrong. She hadn’t earned it. She should have resisted Kol’s line of questioning, but somehow couldn’t. She hadn’t slept in a while, perhaps that was it. But had she deserved sleep? No. Not anymore.
He let out a cry of frustration and squatted down in front of her, moving the bowl into her lap. “Bella, I want you to finish this food, do you understand?”
“Yes sir,” she whispered.
“And when chef brings you another bowl in a few hours, you will eat that too.”
“Yes sir…” More food? She was going to explode! If Sam had been with her, she could have allowed him to eat her food.
“Good. Now, I’m going to wait for Niklaus to return and have a chat with him to see if we can move you to some warmer accommodations. You don’t deserve to be down here. You deserve kindness,” he said as he made sure she was eating before he left, leaving the door open again. Bella was her own prison, why need a door?
It was hard watching the Forks center burn to the ground, and she sincerely hoped that the two traditional vampires had freed all those children in there, first. She wasn’t worried about her, due to her vampire hearing she heard the two men talking about her, the younger admitting that he brought something home with him. To interrogate.
They were burning the place to the ground because the Cold Ones came after his daughter and the other’s niece, so the two men must be brothers, Myriam concluded. If someone loved someone this passionately, she would be safe, for now. Myriam had other things on her mind, such as tracking down the Cold Ones who escaped and pay a visit to the Phoenix center, because she realized that these guys didn’t know about it.
Niklaus and Elijah were all joyful in deciding to go and kill some wolves. Good, that meant that Myriam could leave and catch up with the Cullens. Kill them all, extract Jasper. And ruin the Phoenix center, the least important one of the two here in America, but still worth destroying. It’s what Myriam wanted, it’s what she had been training for and it was her fucking duty. But first, she needed to make sure that these two vampires killed Renée and Charlie. If not, Myriam was going to take them with her so that her parents could handle the sorry excuses for humans.
It wasn’t that Myriam hated Cold Ones. No, absolutely not. She hated the bad ones, which was about 75%, or perhaps more, of the Cold One population, including the all mighty Volturi. They were the ones who had set this in motion centuries ago, and it was Carlisle Cullen who revolutionized everything within the organisation and took things a few steps further.
In the beginning, Aro Volturi wanted the gifted children. Not to break his own law of creating immortal children, he instructed a few of his vampires to raise the children and then they’d turn them upon coming of age, to go and work for the Volturi.
In the middle, gifted children were drying up, or, were better hidden, and the Volturi had a dry spell until Carlisle Cullen joined the Volturi. He had been a promising young doctor when he was turned, and he found that with his immortality he could learn more, do more and perhaps create more. It all started off with employing alchemists, snatching regular children and trying to make them special. Then, witches joined him, dark witches and warlocks. Werewolves. Traditional vampires. Despite the dry spell, the organisation grew.
Partially to the end, about 22 years ago, Carlisle and his coven met Renée and Charlie Swan, not the best kind of people despite one being the town’s sheriff and the other a deranged hippie, but then again, who expected a sheriff and a hippie of child abduction? Murder was never proven, either. The Forks center was filled with normal children who were getting treatments, but Renée and Charlie came with a great offer; Carlisle was allowed to create and modify embryos using Renée’s eggs and Charlie’s sperm. And, after many tries, 2 years later, Renée was pregnant with a souped up baby.
The last twenty years were the golden age. Believing the child had been a mistake, they reverted back to child snatching and went all over the world in search for special children.
Up until now. Myriam had wanted to burn the center herself; it was what she came here to do and to get her and Jasper out, but she’d been too late. Myriam had finally been ready to do this on her own, and others took it out of her hands. She had been dismantling similar centers all across the world, killing the Cold Ones attached to them as she went along, looking like someone who couldn’t possibly be in two places at the same time.
Her parents, a lovely set of Cold Ones, thought it’d be poetic to appear as a victim of the Cold Ones as she slaughtered them, and she always choose her. Whenever Jasper managed to get her a picture, she used her, as a reminder that she hadn’t been lucky, and Myriam had been.
Myriam’s parents were fantastic. They were funny, loving and they didn’t mind to train hard, something Myriam had demanded the moment she could speak. For a human, she’d been extraordinary strong and she’d wanted to be a warrior like Xena: Warrior Princess or Robin Hood, to help those who couldn’t help themselves and this was even without knowing her own story.
When Myriam turned 18, she asked to be turned. She didn’t want anything else for her birthday, she simply wanted to be turned. To become stronger. Faster. To help more people, and that was what she had done for the last two years or so. Free the children. Kill the Cold Ones. The only thing that she missed about being human was the food. Human food was good, so good, especially ice cream and pancakes, but her tastebuds were dead now. All she could taste was sand.
She was going to need an army to defeat the Volturi, but it was fun to make serious dents in their organisation.
It was likely that the Cullens were going to Alaska to lick their wounds and to regroup before going to Phoenix. While the need to kill them was strong, she couldn’t help but wonder if she would want to help killing them. Take her revenge and take her life back. Sighing, she sent Jasper a text to come home, and headed to Phoenix. And after that? She was going to track down the traditional vampires to get her back, no matter the costs.
“Nik, we need to talk,” Kol said as he watched his brothers walk into the courtyard.
“Not now, Kol,” Klaus shot at him, annoyed, as he marched to his study. “Now is not the bloody time!”
“Well, then you’ll have to make time,” Kol followed him and blocked his path. “Why didn’t you tell me about the girl in the dungeons? See, I thought I was going mad when I heard an extra heartbeat in the Courtyard, thinking it’d be likely a rat of some sort. Until Chef came to me telling me that the girl hadn’t touched his food. You should have told me, before you left.”
“She’s not your problem, Kol, she is a means to an end and I will release her once I’m done.”
“She tried to take Hope. Your release will be her death.”
“Nonsense,” Klaus huffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “I will not lay a finger on her if she tells me what I want to know, but she was uncooperative two days ago so I decided to put her in the dungeon, talk to Elijah, and he mentioned he knew about some Cold Ones up in Washington, you know the rest of the story.”
“Seems like you’ve already taken care of the problem, why not release her now?”
Klaus sighed then. “It’s true, I could have gone down to release her immediately upon my return, if it hadn’t been for this,” he pulled a folder from underneath his shirt and handed it to his brother. “Before Elijah and I tore the place apart, I wanted to know about her and we went looking for information. I found more than I bargained for.”
Kol only had to look at the first page knowing that this was Bella’s file, every detail of her life and how to take care of her written down as if she was some sort of labrat. “Good,” Kol said as he handed the file back. “Now I don’t have to convince you she’s another victim.”
“How would you know?”
“She and I talked, quite happily, until she realized she was talking too much and shut down.”
“I’m not. Her name is Bella, she knows how to use her words and she loves water and oats. I doubt she’d ever had anything else, to be honest. The way she looks makes me think she’s a victim of war, of concentration camps or our experimental period in France. Oh, and her worldview is skewed, that’s a lot of fun.”
Klaus handed Kol the file back. “Well, seems like you found yourself a project, brother,” he smiled. “Now I can truly focus on finding the Cold Ones as they’ve absconded once Elijah and I arrived.”
“No! Nik, I have things to do, whores to see… I was going to join Rebekah in France!”
“And now you have a little bird in need of your help. Help her, or kill her, it’s your choice,” Klaus shrugged, already knowing what his brother would choose. Ever since Kol had been a human and then returned as a vampire, he had changed. He saw the world differently and enjoyed it more. He had gone through the pain of losing Davina – Klaus thought that Kol was overreacting, but who was he to judge? – and came out stronger. Klaus had always thought to put a dagger into Kol and forget about him for centuries, again, but family was important. Hope deserved to know all of her aunts and uncles.
Kol narrowed his eyes on his brother. He couldn’t believe this, he was supposed to party, go out, have fun, not worry about Nik’s problems and now he was responsible for Bella. Well fuck. “Fine. But she’s getting her own room, she’s not staying down in the dungeons.”
“What room would you think is suitable? The one next to yours, perhaps?”
He sighed as he made his way down to the dungeons, he wasn’t surprised that in the last 24 hours, Bella hadn’t tried to escape through the open door. A stink of vomit and excrement wafted in his face as soon as he opened the door and he took a step back to clear the air a little. There was no way he was going down there. “Darling, it’s Kol, are you okay down there?”
“Y-yes sir,” Bella didn’t sound okay. The smell wasn’t okay.
“Be a dear and come to me, just follow my voice.”
“I-I’d need to be hosed down first, sir… I’m afraid that my body failed to keep everything on the inside…”
Hosed down? Seriously? He fought the urge to look through the file, he’d rather not know. Stuffing it inside his trousers, he sighed. “Just come to me, it’s alright if you’re a little smelly.” He sure hoped she knew how to use the shower or how to take a bath. She was even paler than the day before, he noticed as she emerged from the dungeons, hesitating, not daring to look at him. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up,” he said as he gently pushed her with his finger on her shoulder.
His room was on the ground floor, right off the Courtyard. Annoying when there was a party, but it was the only place where he wouldn’t disturb his siblings. The room next door to him was free, and while he didn’t fancy having Bella so close to him, it was for the best. This way, she was out of everyone’s way too.
He opened the door and smiled at her. “Welcome to your room,” he said as he lead her inside. There was a mini den with a sofa and a table, a small kitchenette, a bedroom and a bathroom. Like all the other rooms in the compound it was a mini apartment, this happened to be the smallest. “If there’s anything not to your liking, tell me and I will have someone change it for you,” he said as he nudged her towards the bathroom. “Go take a shower and clean up, I’m going to see if I can find some clothes you can wear.”
When he returned, he was surprised not to see any water damp coming out of the open door of the bathroom, but he could hear the shower running. When he peeked around the corner to check and to grab Bella’s dirty clothes to burn them, he was shocked to find out that she was standing under the cold water alone, still fully clothed, standing still.
He needed his sister. There was no way that he was going to instruct Bella on how to take a shower or a bath, and have her undress in front of him. No. Absolutely no way, that would be perverted and disrespectful. If his sister would help out, she could quickly check Bella over for cuts and bruises that needed to be tend to, or do a quick magic spell to see about her health.