The smell of formaldehyde and detergent penetrated his nose the moment they set foot inside the building. It masked the smell of all the animals in the backroom. As always, the little gate to the back was closed, so all they could do now was to stand around and hoped that Deaton had heard the door.
Although, knowing the man, he’d just make them wait for a long time for no reason.
“Nice place,” Bella said as she looked around. “Very much like a veterinarian’s office.”
“Try opening the gate,” Isaac smirked as he nodded to it.
“You just told me about the mountain ash.”
“I did, but you still don’t think you’re anything supernatural, so… consider this a good test,” Isaac nodded, a playful smile now on his face. “Go on then, I dare you.”
Bella huffed as she took a few steps forward to the gate and the moment she reached out to push it open, an invisible barrier stopped her from doing so. “What the fuck,” she muttered to herself before trying again. And again. And again. She turned around to see Isaac snicker. “What!”
“If this was an elaborate prank, like you believe, how is that possible?”
“I don’t know! Electricity?”
“Nah, you’d feel electricity, trust me. It hurts,” he replied as he kept his eyes on her. “You want to try that again or shall we wait for Deaton?”
“Isaac, I’m not a werewolf. I have anger issues, they call it Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED. You threw my pills out of the truck!” This was stupid. This was the worst idea ever. Stupidity again. Always not thinking. She was so angry with herself, with Isaac, with her dad, with Edward. “Fuck this shit!”
“Then if you’re not a werewolf, then we’re in the right place anyway because this is where your pills were coming from.”
She glared back at him. “From a vet, right,” she grumbled. She couldn’t quite argue against it because of everything her father had admitted to, but it was disturbing at the same time. Her eyes glanced over the gate and counter area with a deep breath. “So what do we do? Wait? Is this guy gonna shove a thermometer up your ass?”
“Up yours maybe,” Isaac grinned. “He’s likely going to scold me for being back in Beacon Hills.”
“You’re correct,” Deaton’s voice sounded as he came through the door and stood at the closed gate. “Welcome back, Isaac. You look… well.”
Bella turned around to the new voice. Her eyes roamed over him a couple times, dismissing him easily, unimpressed. “So you’re my dealer? I kinda expected, I dunno – more.”
Deaton blinked at her before looking at Isaac, then back at the girl. “Excuse me, young lady?”
“This is Bella Swan, you owe her some answers,” Isaac said as he walked to the gate. “Open the gate, we need privacy.”
Deaton paled as he quickly opened the gate to allow the two youngsters in. Isaac headed straight to the exam room with Bella in tow and Deaton couldn’t help but follow. Bella. She was here. And that was not good.
Bella watched as Isaac pushed Deaton against the wall after the vet closed the door. “Isaac, hey, don’t.”
“It’s alright,” Deaton said reassuringly as he looked at her before looking at the man in front of him. “What’s going on, Isaac?”
“How dare you to interfere with someone’s life like that? I can understand that her father would, but you? You’re supposed to help. Not hamper,” Isaac said, still holding Deaton against the wall. “And don’t give me that bullshit about only doing what you were told.”
“But I was,” the vet said calmly. “Now, please let me go so we can talk like the civilized people that we are, or I’ll make you let go of me and it will be painful.”
Isaac let out a frustrated grunt and let go of Deaton before walking to the furthest wall and crossed his arms over his chest, keeping an eye on all the doors, Deaton and Bella.
Deaton cautiously looked at the werewolf before looking at Bella with a kind smile. “Now, what can I do for you, miss Swan?”
Bella tilted her head as she studied the man, trying to get a feel for him and trying to think of exactly what it was she wanted to say, or ask. She walked along the examination room touching a few items along her path before pausing and narrowing her eyes on him when one word came to mind. “Why?” She cautiously looked at Isaac for a moment as she saw a hint of embarrassment flash over his face, and he shifted his stance a little, slouching, but aware of what was being said.
“Because your mother asked me to keep you safe, human, until you were ready and capable of taking care of yourself,” he replied kindly. “Now, with the war going on, your father and I decided to keep you in the dark.”
“If what I hear of my family is true, do you truly think that was a wise idea? Keeping me naive of my history?” she quietly questioned him. “I would be left defenseless and nearly vulnerable.”
“Especially with your family’s history. Your father could have protected you.”
“Uhm, she was involved with a handful of Cold Ones,” Isaac piped up, still slouching, as if he was trying to make himself smaller. “There is no way that Charlie could have done something about that.”
Bella scowled at the man’s statement, allowing Isaac to explain her supernatural interactions back in Washington. Holding up her unhealed wrist as proof of that lack of knowledge could have cost her her life.
“Interesting,” Deaton said as he observed her wrist. “Have you ever had broken bones or the flu?”
Sighing irritably, she looked over at Isaac with a roll of her eyes. “No flu or anything like that, but I broke my hand punching a shifter in the face, and my left leg when I was hunted by a Cold One. He stepped on it.”
“But it didn’t take the normal eight weeks to heal, did it?”
“I wasn’t paying attention,” Bella frowned.
“Interesting,” Deaton said thoughtfully. “It’s likely that the wolf lichen shut down the most explosive parts of being a werewolf – mostly your heightened emotions – and only lessened others, like your ability to heal. I’m not sure, but it’s quite possible that once it’s fully out of your system that it will heal. Unless you decide after this trip to go back on the pills.”
“If you say interesting one more time, I’ll punch you in the face. You’re supernatural, right? We can test on you,” she smiled.
“I’m a human, Miss Swan, I do get hurt,” he reminded her playfully. He then walked to a cabinet and grabbed a small folder from a hidden compartment and handing it over to her. You were born on September 13 1997 here in Beacon Hills. Right here at the clinic. Your dad was present upon Talia’s request.”
“No, that can’t be me then, I was born in 2002, I just turned 18.”
“Small children have a skewed sense of time. Charlie told me that he and Renee celebrated your birthday every two years until you were five years old – ten years old – so you could start school as part of your new identity. Being small and looking younger than you actually were worked for you,” Deaton explained. “As you can see in the file I registered how much you were getting and my instructions to your father. I even had the Quileute shaman in the loop for when you were there every full moon to have a sleepover at your friend Jake.”
Crossing her arms, Bella paced the floor as her anger continued to rise as she listened to him speak. “And what of the family I heard I have? Do they know anything about me? Do they even know I exist?”
“No, they don’t,” Deaton sighed. “Your mother liked to roam around for months at a time and kept her pregnancy a secret. Because she wanted her bloodline to survive in case anything happened to her family here in Beacon Hills.”
“Do you really think that was fair? To them, to me? Especially after all that I’ve heard?” she hissed, swinging her arm, knocking a shelf full of supplies onto the floor.
“No doubt Isaac has already told you about your family, and, as you will learn yourself, the Hales have always been slightly… out of step with the rest of the community here in Beacon Hills. They did use their wealth to build most of Beacon Hills, wanting the town to thrive.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t give a shit about money. All I ever knew was my father and the woman I thought was my mother. I found out that I actually have some family out there and deserve to at least know them in some way. And to wanting to try to do something for the city isn’t a bad thing. Seems to me that everyone else around took it for granted.”
“That file contains everything you need when going over to your brother, uncle and cousin, they’re a paranoid bunch and usually stubborn to work with.”
“Glad to know it must be a family trait because I can out stubborn a vampire,” Bella said as she snatched the file and walked past him. “Coming Isaac?”
“Yeah… since you have no idea where you need to go,” Isaac let out a breath and wanted to follow Bella out before Deaton stopped him. “What?”
“Are you going to see Scott while you’re in town? Meet the new recruits?”
Bella turned around and glared at the vet. “He ain’t got time for people who don’t give a shit about him. Besides, we got plans of our own to tend to after my little family reunion.”
“N-no, I told you, I likely need your family’s help with you when the full moon arrives in a few days,” Isaac said, shaking his head. “But definitely trying to avoid Scott, yes.”
“Yeah, my brother and uncle, right?” she asked with a stupid look on her face. “Isn’t that what family is supposed to be for? I’ll just guilt them into playing a role. It’ll be fine. No need to play with useless alphas and puppies.”
Deaton sighed. “Isaac, what have you been telling her?”
“Nothing, just my experiences with them and my feelings,” he replied as he pushed past Deaton and pulled Bella along with him. This had been a bad idea. Of course he was going to run into Scott in the few days that they were going to be in Beacon Hills. Scott would catch his scent, even though Isaac had pretty much learned how to mask it. No doubt Deaton would call Scott the moment he was out of earshot. He fucking hated Beacon Hills.
Once outside, he let go of Bella and tried to shake this feeling of loss of self. The experiences he had had in the past, he wouldn’t be good to anyone this way. He had believed he had worked through all of his issues while he was in France, but apparently they hadn’t. And yes, he was older now. He should know better than to freak out over things and let it all go, because just as he was older, so were the others and maybe they’d feel bad about ignoring him. “So uh… how does it feel to be 5 years older than you believed you were?” He asked as he climbed into the truck.
“It makes a lot of sense now, but it’s still not fair, I’ve basically missed years of my life, experiences,” Bella replied as she got into the truck as well, but stopped him from starting the truck by placing her hand on his arm. “What happened in there?”
“It’s one thing to know that people you know from your past are fucking idiots and another to find out that the one person you should be able to trust has been fucking with someone’s life in a major way.”
“I don’t blame him, or Charlie,” Bella replied as she gently rubbed her thumb over his arm. “It’s a bit short-sighted, sure, but they clearly weren’t happy about it. They were merely fulfilling a promise they made to someone they both loved, trusted and respected. And she’s dead. So, unless you have found a way to travel back in time, there’s nothing we can do but to find some sort of peace in all of this. It sucks balls, yes. But what’s happened, happened and all we can do now is look to the future. Since that’s in my own hands now, isn’t it? You saved me from the Cold Ones and uncovered my secret life and now it’s on me to take care of myself for the rest of my life.”
“Still, doesn’t stop me from wanting to beat Deaton up for you,” he eventually said. “He shouldn’t have agreed to it. As Talia’s emissary, he shouldn’t have agreed to it. You would have been safer.”
“Again, you can’t change the past. We need to look forward and I think it’s brave of you to even want to stay here longer so that I can get the help that I need when that full moon hits,” she was still rubbing his arm with her thumb. “The past is the past, Isaac. Everyone’s gotten older, and hopefully wiser. Jesus fuck, I became five years older in a span of five minutes. No more slouching, okay? I saw what you did in there, you tried to disappear and that’s not healthy. Show them that you’ve become better, stronger. That’s the best revenge you can have on them by showing that you’re not bothered.”
“You don’t know-”
“I don’t have to. The past is the past. From what I can tell you’re pretty good at moving forward and that your issues are tied to this town. This is just any other town,” she smiled at him. “Stop hiding.”
He shook his head. Peptalks never worked on him much, and she was thinking about all of this way too easy. “Sure. You want us to find a place to stay first, freshen up, before we go to Derek and Peter?”
“Nah, let’s go to them first and then find a hotel,” she sighed, nodding. “Get this over with.”
“Okay,” Isaac started the car and drove off the parking lot. He took Circle Street to drive passed Beacon Hills College and then crossed the bridge to head back into the warehouse district to go to Derek’s loft. Again, a recent scent of Argent mixed with the scent of Mrs. McCall was found on the parking lot, but an even more recent one of Scott. And Scott’s bike was right there. “Ah, let’s uh, wait for a bit,” he said as he got into the back of the truck and grabbed some more leftovers and poured them another mug of coffee, as the pot was still somewhat fresh. Peptalk or not, he wanted to avoid Scott.
“Maybe this is an opportunity to tell Scott how you really feel about him? That you’re angry because he didn’t reach out to you in the years you’ve been gone?”
“Oh, I’m not going to seek him out. Let’s wait until he leaves.”
“Well,” Bella took a sip of her coffee before putting it down again. “I hate waiting, let’s just go.”
Before Isaac could object, Bella was already out of the truck and heading to the entrance to the building. Letting out a groan, he set everything aside himself and followed her. “You’re crazy.”
Bella huffed. “I’m not scared by the premise of meeting a few bullies and someone who doesn’t look after his friends – a pack member, after everything he’d been through. You can always decide to stay in the truck, but I’m going.”
“And you’re not going alone.”
Bella smirked then as she opened the door. “See, this is why I’d love to stick around with you for a while, the future could be very interesting.”
The scents got stronger as they climbed the stairs to the floor where Derek lived and Isaac could feel a knot forming in his stomach. But, he decided to keep going anyway. Bella seemed to be wanting the one to run the show, so he was simply there in case something went wrong. For her.
“Is this it?” Bella asked as she pointed at the closed rolling door and Isaac nodded. Seeing no doorbell, she decided to bang on the door. “Hello? Anybody home?”
The door opened in one fell swoop, revealing Derek, who looked at Bella first with a puzzled look on his face, before noticing Isaac. “Welcome back, Isaac,” he said, a small smile on his face. “How was France? Who’s your friend? Argent didn’t say you were bringing someone.”
“This is Bella Swan, I’m here because of her.”
“Swan? As in Charlie Swan?” Peter’s voice sounded from back inside. “Are you kidding me?” He pushed his nephew to the side and looked at Bella. “Fuck me, you are Charlie Swan’s daughter,” he said breathlessly as he looked at her. “You look just like him, just far more aesthetically pleasing.”
“How do you know my dad?” Bella asked as she pushed past the two werewolves to enter the apartment, not really wanting to have this conversation outside. The loft was spacious. Far too spacious, not enough walls and definitely under utilized.
“He and my sister were classmates, he came over to the house a lot for homework,” Peter replied as he watched the girl. “Of course I know him. I always believed he was uh… Derek’s father.”
Isaac got inside and closed the door before leaning against it. Really? Derek Hale was the full brother of Bella? Oh man. He tiredly rubbed his face as he watched the people in front of him. He had already clocked Scott to be at the window, cautiously observing the people too, not sure what was going on.
“Cool, here I thought finding a half brother and an uncle, but it turns out you’re my full brother,” Bella said as she handed the file to Derek. “I’ve only known this for about a day, didn’t want to believe it and it was confirmed by your emissary Deaton. My dad’s going to be pissed though, he thought it was just me all these years.”
Derek looked at Isaac with an incredulous look on his face. “Is this a joke? You came back to Beacon Hills and you decided to pull a prank on us? Seriously?”
“I wish it was,” he replied with a sigh. “But I have no reason to return to Beacon Hills, so why would I prank you? She thought it was a prank at first too, until there were more details and facts resurfacing.”
“No reason? What about us?” Scott asked out loud, taking a few steps towards everyone. “We’re still here, Isaac. We’re still your friends.”
“We’re here because of her, leave me out of it,” he countered, pushing one of his hands inside his pocket and balled it into a fist.
Peter had snatched the file from Derek’s hands and was reading it. “You were born in september 1997… Yeah, of course, makes sense. Talia was in South America a lot during that time, trying to establish a dialogue between the wolves and the Calaveras. She failed, of course. But of course she would have failed at it if she spent most of her time in Forks instead.”
“You’re not surprised, at all?” Derek asked flabbergasted.
“Nah. Talia likely had a vision or had someone predict the future for her and she saw that most of her family would perish,” Peter absentmindedly waved his hand around, dismissing his sister’s silly ideas. “Always making sure there was a backup somewhere. It makes sense she had a backup Hale. She couldn’t bear the thought that her bloodline would die out and have the Alpha spark jump to my line.”
“Why did you bring her here, Isaac?” Derek asked him. “Have you lost your mind completely? Beacon Hills is the last place to be completely safe from the hunters! Especially if my mother wanted to keep her away from all of this!”
“We came here for answers, and you all deserve to get to know each other. We’re fine, don’t worry about it,” Isaac replied, thankful for the wall to give him the support that he needed as not to automatically slouch. Bella didn’t want him to do that.
“And I am right here!” Bella said angrily.
“I’m going to kill Deaton,” Peter muttered. “He has you on wolf lichen?”
“Had. He had me on that shit and I thought it was because of my anger disorder,” Bella said as she looked at him. “Isaac threw them out when we left Forks yesterday.”
“You can’t leave, not until you’ve had had your first full moon,” he said as he handed the file back to Derek. “You’re a werewolf and have never turned. At your age… things could prove to get interesting… and Isaac won’t be equipped to deal with that.”
“I think he would be,” Bella said with a shrug. “But like yourself, he believes he’s not,” she then rubbed her hands together in glee. “You know what that means? We have the next few days to get to know each other!”