“How are you feeling?” Kol asked Izzy as he had slipped out of her mind. “Headache?”
“Slightly,” she said as she slowly sat up. “Dizzy,” she frowned then as she looked at him. “Why do I remember everything you did in my head? I told you, I didn’t-”
“Must be Ylva’s fault, but that makes our conversation a lot easier.”
Izzy sighed. “Well, at least she confirmed my feeling of being basically useless and only a template waiting for something to happen,” she said as she held out her hand. “Can I have your phone please? I’ll call my father.”
He was slightly unnerved by the girl’s defeat. “But what about you?”
“I was never supposed to be here, right? Your girlfriend lost everything apart from her last year of life. She’ll get my memories of a happy childhood and loving parents. She’ll be stable. And I’ll disappear. I was made for her.”
“What about your parents?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d known about this outcome all along but hid it from me,” she reached out to touch his cheek and smiled at him. “It’s alright, crazier things have happened, right? I mean… I was an impossible being and now made human. For her. For you.”
“But you have your whole life ahead of you.”
“To be honest, I doubt that,” Izzy shook her head with a chuckle. “I came here because my parents sent me here. Then I found your home. My entire life has been me preparing for this. So yeah, if my journey ends so that she can continue another, then that’s alright with me.”
Kol frowned as he stared at her, unsure and conflicted about the whole situation Bella and Ylva put them in. “It’s really not fair to any of us for this to be the only option.”
“Maybe my dad knows another way, but I’m a part of them, you know. They created me so that she could live forever with you. And maybe they hadn’t anticipated the destruction of most of her memories but that’s just how things go.”
“But it’s wrong of them.”
“Maybe, yeah, but my daddy always used to say that mostly everyone in the supernatural community are selfish cunts, I suppose your Bella isn’t any different,” Izzy said with a shrug as she got off the bed. “If you’re not going to let me call my dad just yet, I’ll go back into the kitchen to finish the lasagna.”
Kol sighed as he watched Izzy walk out of his room and cursed himself for having been so enthusiastic about seeing Bella again and agreeing to turn her so Bella could come back. Of course, it was morally wrong. It was a question of morality like Ylva had said, but what if he decided not to turn Izzy because he wanted Bella back but wanted her to remain Izzy? Would he have to make sure that Bella and Ylva were forcefully evicted? Or would Bella be alright with this?
He’d been so focused on getting Bella back, so angry with Bella for what she’d done, and here there was this beautiful young girl looking somewhat like Bella, wasn’t Bella, and yet was Bella in tiny ways, and he wanted to kill her so that Bella could come back? He’d go far to get Bella back, but this far?
Jeremy would skin him alive, if he’d still be around, no matter his age.
Yes, Kol loved Bella. With everything he had, and then some. She’d been a broken little bird and with him, she blossomed into a beautiful swan. But then she left him. Because she had to save him after he put himself in a situation where he could have been killed. She just had to expel all that energy to level that castle to the ground.
And the worst part was that she’d known what she was doing.
He had thought about this for a very long time, but more and more Bella had dipped into the darkness that she swore to stay out of and Kol believed it was because she was around death and destruction all the time, and not to mention a vampire family who were just as destructive.
If they’d bring Bella back, what was to say that she wasn’t going to do the same? Sure, she wouldn’t be an energy being anymore and not being able to pick up on feelings and emotions of others, but she’d be a destructive vampire.
Izzy was like Bella, but not. And even if becoming Bella had been her destiny, her journey, things could change. He hadn’t thought of the possibilities until now. Yes, he was going to be selfish, but not because he was going to get Bella back, but he was going to make Izzy his. Even if that meant having to start from scratch.
And he’d find a way to destroy Bella and Ylva forever.
He headed over to his flat to clean up and make it liveable for Izzy. He put all of Bella’s things in a box and stuffed it under the bed in his guest room. The fridge he had used five decades ago was still working so he moved the blood bags to that fridge in the guest room and put the loveseat chair he had bought for him and Bella in the compound’s basement. Including Bella’s gift that he had opened in front of Izzy.
Satisfied with his handiwork, he went back to the compound and had a snack before walking back into the kitchen where Izzy was her usual cheery self as she was still stirring the sauce. “Wow, how long does that have to cook for before you make your lasagna?”
Izzy shrugged. “Another half an hour will do, I’m preheating the oven right now,” she put her spoon down and looked at him. “I know you want your girlfriend back, but before you kill me, I’d like to have this lasagna as my last meal.”
Kol sat down on top of one of the counters and looked at her. “It doesn’t bother you at all?”
“But what would you do if I decide it’s not worth it?”
Izzy blinked at him as she crossed her arms over her chest. “What do you mean?”
He let out a breath and tried again. “Well, you now know that you’ve been drawing this place and our faces for a reason, you’re a new version of someone who’s been here before. What if we leave it at that, what would you do? What were your plans after New Orleans?”
“Oh, uhm… vet school. We have this awesome vet in Texas where I usually help out anyway and he sees a good vet in me. I’d love to earn my money with my art but yeah, good luck breaking through with that. Maybe animate children’s books. I don’t know. My parents always told me not to worry, that there were bigger things planned for me.”
“Well, I suppose you can’t go any bigger than to find out your feelings of not belonging are true and you’re going to have to make room for someone’s epic love,” she smiled bravely. “Who will inherit my past, my parents, my life, because hers got ruined. She’ll be human, because she burnt herself out while taking out her enemies and saving the love of her life. I suppose that’s a good reward for saving someone’s life, although flowers would have been nice, too. A thank you,” Izzy took a deep breath as she tried to remain neutral on the subject but simply couldn’t. “The supernatural community can do whatever the fuck they want, no matter who gets hurt in the process, and while she had the best intentions with her spirits, she’s not concerned about her creation and the life her creation has made because she’s going to take it away. For you. Seriously, if you’d write a book about all of this crap, I’m sure it’ll be a bestseller. Epic loves.”
“Don’t hold back, darling,” Kol encouraged her, he knew his brother and Myriam were listening behind the door, he’d seen the pained and conflicting looks on their faces as they listened.
“If she was supposed to hold a balance, where would she draw the line? Certainly not with playing God! And yes, I’m fine with her taking over my life, why not? You want it, because you believe that you’ll get back what you had, but you won’t, because she’ll be human. And she’ll hate it because she won’t be able to do what she used to do. You’ll both be miserable and then you’ll end up killing her and you’ll be wasting a life. Mine,” she turned back to her pot to stir it again. “But yeah, we should call my dad to see what he has to say about the matter. Maybe there’s a way for you to get your girlfriend back without me fading away or perhaps it had been my destiny all along, to just go poof. In any case, I don’t even want to know what she felt for you, have her memories of you.”
Izzy let out a breath as she took the lasagna pan and started to layer her lasagna. “Because if you decide not to bring her back and allow me to continue living, I might want to stick around and get to know you better myself,” she said softly before she looked up with her sad blue eyes. “And this is going to sound strange, and stalkery, but for the first time in my life I truly feel like I belong and not out of place. And that might be Bella, or that might be just me, I don’t know. It’d be nice to explore that.”
Kol hopped off the countertop and slowly walked over to Izzy. “I loved Bella and for the last fifty years I’ve held on to the idea of her someday returning to me, but never in a million years I would have believed it was going to be at the expense of someone else, because that’s not what she was about. For her to do something like that now… yes, of course I’d be happy to have her back, but like you said, she likely won’t be the same.”
“And technically it wasn’t Bella who offered the transfer, it was Ylva,” Izzy said with a sigh. “She might be fine where she is.”
“How about you and I go talk to Bella after dinner? We’ll just ignore Ylva and see what happens?”
“But don’t you want your girlfriend back? I thought you wanted to be selfish.”
“Yeah, I am. If I want Bella back, I want all of her, not something slapped together with superglue. The Bella we all know and love is gone, and I think it’s time to accept that, for all of us,” Kol said as he opened the oven for her so she could push the dish in. “You deserve to be your own person, Izzy and I’m selfishly calling dibs on you even though I still need to get to know you, and not because you remind me of Bella, but because I’m just as curious as you are.”
“I still think we need to call my dad to see if this is a bad idea or not. What if what we’re planning not to do will be a catastrophe?”
“We’ll just see how it goes,” Kol laughed as he shook his head. “Know-it-all fathers are a pain in the ass.”
“He’s still a great dad, and I don’t want to mess with things if they’re supposed to be set in stone.”
“Nothing is set in stone but history.”
She leaned against the counter as she looked up at him. “Why the change of heart? You’re a vampire, you can take whatever you want, why not my life for hers?”
“Because she taught me that every life is valuable and you just reminded me that it was Ylva who said they could put Bella into you. If Bella’s truly at ease with you continuing your life as yourself, then that should happen, don’t you think?”
“But I don’t want you to hurt, you love Bella. As you said, you’ve waited for fifty years and-”
“I want her. Whole. Not half or a third. Don’t worry about me, you better start thinking what you’re going to do with your life other than sticking around,” he took a step closer to her then. “Because I think you and I will have a lot of fun together.”
“I’m not going to be your rebound.”
“Already had a few of those in the past few years, darling,” he smiled at her. “We’ll start with being friends, how about that?”
“Sounds good,” Izzy smiled at him.
Izzy was happy that the three vampires liked her lasagna as much as she did. They were happily chatting about their lives and catching up and about Myriam’s hobby of being a voodoo priestess. She was adamant that it wasn’t a hobby, and that if they had to leave New Orleans again, she was bringing her ancestors with them.
“So, Kol said you had my little totem,” Myriam smiled at her as she held out her hand. “Can I touch it?”
“Uh…” Izzy said as her hand quickly traveled into her pocket and clutched the statue. “I’d rather not.”
“But I made it.”
“And I’m grateful that you did, but if I hand it over to you now, I’m afraid I’ll see you and your husband have sex on this table again and it made me feel sick yesterday, I’d rather not regurgitate my lasagna.”
Kol nearly spat out his wine as he looked at Izzy in shock. “That’s what made you feel sick yesterday? I thought it was something I had said.”
“No? Was that why you got so sad?”
“You’re a freaking sensitive?” Myriam blinked at Izzy. “How bad?”
“I can see and feel things, and see residuals, but I can’t actually talk to them or help them move on, so it kinda sucks. I wish I could help them, but I can’t, so in favor of not getting hit all the time or strangled by frustrated spirits, I keep your totem on me at all times. I’m kinda grateful to Bella now for having left me with it for my parents to find. Without it I’d probably have gone mad,” she said with a slight chuckle as she used her free hand to take a sip of her wine. “An off switch would be nice.”
“Yeah,” Kol sighed. “She won’t make me one.”
Izzy looked at him then. “But you’re a vampire and you told me that vampires don’t possess magic or gifts.”
“No, but in the past, I’ve ingested Bella’s blood a few times, and after she made sure that I didn’t die when I was dying, something of her remained. I don’t have it that bad, really, but it does get annoying sometimes. It took me a while to find a witch capable of making my new place in Mobile as quiet as the apartment here,” Kol explained. “I don’t see the residuals, thankfully.”
“Bella called them Skidmarks,” Myriam laughed. “Residual hauntings.”
“Oh, that’s gross,” Izzy let out a snort. “Why on earth would she do that?”
“Because the first one she encountered was one of Nik and my sister and they were running,” Kol explained, a small smile on his lips. “It annoyed me and Jeremy that she refused to call them anything but skidmarks.”
“It certainly is… unusual,” Izzy shook her head as she finished her wine. “Why did you decide to keep her website up? Or the youtube videos?”
Kol shrugged. “She was a legend in the field and I want people to remember that. She cared for people and spirits, it was only after… the Cullen House that she changed. She still cared, a lot, but she was more hellbent on taking revenge. We allowed her to take that, of course, so I suppose we all have a hand in her leaving.”
“We’ve been over this many times over the past years,” Klaus said as he looked at his brother. “We could have gone after the Volturi ourselves but we wouldn’t have made it out alive. She saved you, us.”
“We should have said ‘no’, compelled an army of vampires to march the bloody hell in there so our hands would remain clean, but we didn’t,” Kol snapped at his brother. “And hindsight is always clearer so yeah, what the fuck can we do about it now?”
Izzy put her hand on Kol’s arm and squeezed it as she smiled at him. “We’re going to talk to Bella and I think you should tell her how it made you feel after she did what she did, just to get it off your chest.”
“I told you, to stop psychoanalyzing me!”
“She’s right though,” Myriam pointed out. “Bella deserves to know.”
Kol looked at Izzy with panic on his face. “Can’t you just tell her?”
Izzy let out a chuckle. “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
“Myriam could take you inside your mind. Or Nik.”
She sucked in a breath. “I think this is something you have to do on your own,” she said softly, squeezing his arm again. “And you can do it.”
“But do I want to?”
“Might make you feel better?”
Kol nodded and got to his feet before going over to Izzy’s bag and lifted it up. “Fine, but we’re going across the street because I don’t want anyone else to hear what we’re doing. And you’re going to stay in the flat. I’ll be here or stay in the guestroom.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, you deserve some freedom of movement without anxiously holding on to that little statue like you have. My flat is a nice little bubble that I’m sure you’ll appreciate.”
Myriam rushed over to hug Izzy gently. “Thank you so much for the delicious lasagna! Feel free to cook more of that whenever you feel like it!”
“Well, I am a decent cook… I make a nice roast?”
Myriam let out a squeal of delight while Klaus let out a disapproving sigh. “Have fun, you two and good luck.”
Kol asked for the angel statue the moment he closed the door behind them and she reluctantly handed it over. He set it down on the stairs and lead her up the stairs to the now clean apartment.
“Oh, okay,” Izzy said in awe as she looked around. “You cleaned up.”
“Of course, I can’t let you stay in a dusty environment, you’re human!” He replied chipper and put her bag in her bedroom. “So, what do you think? It’s nice and quiet here, isn’t it?”
“It’s like a bubble,” Izzy replied and even tried to focus on something but wasn’t getting anything. She’d been in his apartment before, of course, after he’d kidnapped her, but this was the first time without her statue. “Oh, this is brilliant.”
Kol smiled when he saw the familiar look of relief on Izzy’s face. “Your bedroom is this one,” he said as he thumbed over his shoulder. “Are you ready to go back inside your mind?”
“It’ll be my first time actually inside my head myself. And that sounds so strange,” Izzy sighed and nodded as she walked into the bedroom. “Let’s do this then.”
“I love how all your memories are these beautiful horses,” Kol said to her as they were standing in the pasture.
Izzy looked around in surprise, perhaps shock. “This is a part of our farm, how is that inside my head?”
“Well, Bella has a bunch of houses in a row for her memories and not a lot of people are this neat and organized. It truly reflects you as a person. With other people and even with vampires we usually have to dig and sift through everything,” he replied as he took her hand and lead her off the property into the residential area. “Don’t be alarmed of what you’re about to see.”
Izzy hesitantly followed him over the fence and through the woods and was surprised to see a road split perfectly in half, most of it dark with the exception of one house with the number 23. The other houses were derelict and in the dark.
They had to stop at the tape when a pack of wolves appeared and started to snap at them. “We think that these wolves represent other versions of you who didn’t quite make it.”
“Finally, he gets it,” young Bella appeared and froze upon seeing Izzy. “You brought her here?!” She screeched. “She can’t be here!”
“Tough, we want to talk to Bella, and it would be nice if Ylva wasn’t there to speak for her,” Kol said as Izzy looked at the child with a look of horror on her face. “You think you can get her to Izzy’s pasture?”
Young Bella sighed and shook her head. “She’s confined to that house, Ylva doesn’t want her to wander off.”
“Okay, then we are going inside,” Kol ducked underneath the tape. “Your wolves better not bite me or Izzy,” he warned her before taking Izzy to Bella’s version of the compound. “She’s surrounded by nothing but good memories,” he explained to Izzy.
“Do you think she’ll be capable of having a serious conversation?”
“Let’s hope so,” he sighed as they walked in. Earlier he had been so excited to see Bella again that he hadn’t really looked around much, not taken inventory. But there were gaps in the compound. Large portions of the roof were gone and she may have been broken more than he initially thought.
He’d been so blinded by the prospect of seeing Bella again and getting her back, that he hadn’t seen just how bad she was. And it hurt. He looked up to see her sitting in the chandelier again. “Darling, why won’t you come down here?”
“Oh, you’re back!” Bella laughed and let herself fall off the chandelier right into Kol’s arms. “I told you we’d see each other again!”
“Yes, you did,” he smiled at her before finding a place to sit down with her and nodded towards Izzy. “Bella, meet Izzy, Izzy, this is Bella.”
“You brought her here? Why did you bring her here? She’s not supposed to be here,” Bella said quickly. “What if Ylva finds out? Ylva won’t be happy and-”
“It’s okay,” he shushed her as he pulled Bella against him. “I actually wanted to talk to you.”
Bella sighed and relaxed against him. “As long as she doesn’t move, I’m happy to talk to you. I don’t want to ruin her brains, she’s so beautifully human.”
Kol looked at Izzy who pushed her hands into her pocket. “I’m not moving.”
“Don’t you think that I did a good job with her?” Bella looked up at Kol. “Ylva helped but I couldn’t just let you be on your own until I’d be fixed, because I don’t think there’s anything left to glue back together, no matter what Ylva says. I kept nagging her and nagging her because you needed me.”
“I did need you,” Kol ran his fingers through her hair and smiled at her. “But then you made some bad decisions and burnt yourself out, saving me and blowing up the castle.”
“I already told you, I couldn’t let you die. And I thought I could come back, as me, but I wasn’t aware of all the damage I was doing to myself and now I’m ruined. Broken. I don’t deserve another chance and you shouldn’t listen to Ylva that I can come back.” Bella briefly looked over to Izzy before smiling at Kol again. “She’s her own person. Human. I would only ruin things.”
Kol let out a breath and nodded. So it had been just Ylva’s influence to do that. “I must admit, darling, I’ve been very cross with you. For the last fifty years I never stopped looking for you or stopped looking for ways to bring you back but since you’re so special, I couldn’t find anything. And I was angry, I was hurt, because you knew what you were doing and you left me. You said you’d never leave me.”
“And I wanted you to live,” Bella countered. “Call me selfish, but life without you… I couldn’t even imagine that.”
“And instead, I’m living a life without you,” he shot at her. “They could have brought my ashes back home and find a badass witch to resurrect me, anything if that would have made you not do what you did.”
“If. It’s always ‘what if’, after the fact. We could have done things differently, yes, but we can’t change that now,” she looked at Izzy. “What are your thoughts?”
“Oh no, this is between you and Kol, leave me out of it,” Izzy shook her head. “You two need to work through your feelings. You’re going to leave my feelings out of it.”
“But surely you had some thoughts about Ylva’s suggestion?”
“This is between you and Kol,” Izzy said as she walked out the door and waited outside, only to be stopped by little Bella and her wolves. “Fine, I’ll stay here.”
Kol sighed. “Bella… I never gave up on you because I love you, but I never stopped to think if it was actually possible for you to return. And then you send Izzy to me. Izzy. Not you. Even with Ylva’s suggestions you will never be you again, because you’ll be part Izzy. Do you realize how stupid that sounds?”
“I don’t want to come back, Kol. I can’t. I’m too broken. You’re not listening to me. We made Izzy so you wouldn’t be alone. And Ylva is just afraid that our light is going to dim for good, well, if you’ve seen the state of everything, we’re fucked anyway,” she said as she made him look at her. “I love you so much, Kol Mikaelson, but I can’t have you bring me back. There are no guarantees. You need to let me go.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You’re going to have to, because once you leave Izzy’s head, I’m going to make sure that she’ll be alone inside her mind like a normal human being. She’ll be in her own mind. Alone. Without us. And I don’t care if you two don’t end up together, but I want you to take care of her until she’s adjusted to being autonomous. No more whispers in her dreams, nothing.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to do the right thing,” Bella said determined. “And so are you. And you’re going to heal and move on with your life, Kol. I don’t want you to stand still and wonder if I’m ever going to come back. I can’t. And Izzy is not me, you got that?”
“For the girl. She deserves better than being used by me or Ylva. That was never my intention for her, and you’re the one who can help her through this, because it’s likely she’ll feel off for a while after I’m done with us,” she softly kissed Kol’s lips. “I’m one of those creations of your mother’s who doesn’t deserve your kindness, your love, after what I’ve done to myself to save you and our family.”
“But you do, after all that you’ve done for the spirits.”
“I suppose, but I’m not that person anymore. I wouldn’t be able to. And I don’t know what I am without them, what I would be,” she kissed him again. “You have to let me go, Kol.”
“Why couldn’t you have been a normal supernatural being? That way we could have brought you back fully.”
“Because I’m not,” she gently caressed his face and smiled. “I died, Kol. And I’m not coming back. This is the last of me that you’ll see, and I’m going to make sure that Izzy will be free from me,” she kissed him again. “Don’t look back to the past, but look to the future. Keep moving forward. I will always love you, Kol.”
“You were stupid.”
“Not in my eyes. I saved you. It was either you or me, I suppose.”
“I hate you.”
“I know,” she softly kissed him again and pushed him off the couch. “Grab Izzy and get out. You’ve been here for far too long and her human mind can’t handle that. She’s going to have headaches for days even when I’m done with our mind. Take care of her, see what you want to do, but please don’t kill her. Send her back to her parents if you don’t want her.”
“We’re going to be friends, Bella,” he smiled sadly. “She’s not you.”
“You’re stalling,” she said as she rose and pushed him towards the door. “Grab Izzy and go.”