Myriam and Klaus’ home in Las Vegas was completely different from the home they had had in New Orleans. It was a 100-year-old home on a huge plot of land, surrounded by nothing but trees and gates in front of the house to keep unwanted people out. Izzy got very excited upon seeing the pool and hottub at the back of the house, and the kitchen was to die for.
Unlike at the compound, this kitchen was new and had all the latest technology. The landscape around the home was pristine and the home had enough rooms for everybody.
Klaus and Kol weren’t all too happy that Izzy wanted to come to Las Vegas with Klaus and Myriam, but Myriam and Izzy were already plotting to go on a shopping trip so that Izzy could get a bikini to use in the pool. As Izzy felt as if she’d slept long enough and didn’t need a nap, she and Myriam went out to get groceries and that bikini.
Izzy wasn’t aware that they’d been that close to the well known Las Vegas strip and was confused for a moment. “Don’t you like your privacy?”
“The compound is in the middle of the French Quarter, be grateful we’re not immediately on the Strip,” Myriam laughed. “That gets a little bit too crazy at night,” she looked over to Izzy from the driver’s seat and then erupted in a big smile. “I’m going to treat you to some clothes as well.”
“What’s wrong with my clothes?” Izzy said offended as she looked down on herself and tugged on her shirt. “I’m dressed, aren’t I?”
“Yes, but you look cowgirl chic.”
“And? I live on a farm.”
She let out a chuckle then and shook her head. “How much clothes do you have with you?”
“Enough for a week,” Izzy replied. “If I decide to stay longer I could always wash them.”
“Wait, you’re thinking about leaving, already?”
“No! It’s just… I took a week’s worth of clothes with me when I went to New Orleans. How was I supposed to know I had to plan ahead? Worst case scenario I’ll just borrow one of Kol’s shirts to wear over my jeans while my stuff is in the wash.”
Myriam stopped the car at the side of the road and looked at her. “I’d strongly advise against that.”
Izzy didn’t like the serious tone of voice that Myriam was using. “Why?”
She sighed then. “Kol must have neglected to mention that apart from having temper issues and our bloodlust, us vampires are also extremely possessive.”
“If you’d wear one of Kol’s shirts, he’ll become extremely possessive over you.”
Izzy huffed as she crossed her arms over her chest. “We’re friends. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“No, you don’t get it. Even when you’re just friends, his urge to kill anyone who even looks at you will become even stronger and he’ll want you all to himself. It’ll be dangerous for you and anyone else.”
“He has excellent control over himself.”
“That’s what you think, but you’ve only known him for what? A couple of days? One of these days he’ll do something you don’t agree with and I suggest not to poke the proverbial bear by wearing one of his shirts. So, we’re going to get you some extra clothes that you like in case you want to stay longer or run out of shirts. For your safety, for our safety and especially that of Kol’s.”
Izzy took in a deep breath and nodded. “Okay. Tell me more. What are the rules if I have to make sure my daddy won’t kill you guys for killing me?”
Myriam barked out a laugh as she started the car again to drive towards the store she wanted to take Izzy to. “I doubt your father will be able to kill Klaus or Kol. Me, maybe, with a lot of effort.”
“He’s very creative,” Izzy mumbled as she looked out the window and sighed. “Have I made the wrong choice in staying around for a bit longer?”
“What? You don’t want to be friends with us?”
“I just went through the horrible experience of making sure that a vampire doesn’t get reunited with his long lost love who sacrificed herself for him because I’m selfish and want my life to be my own. I’m now hanging around with him and his family and who knows? Someone gets angry and can kill me? I…” Izzy sighed as she looked at Myriam. “I don’t want to die, you know.”
“But we’re doing the best we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Myriam assured her. “And as long as Elijah doesn’t come back from France, there’s a bigger chance of you surviving.”
“You’re not even saying I’m safe!”
“Because you’re not, simple as that. We want to keep you safe, yes, and we will.”
“That so doesn’t make any sense,” she muttered.
“Sucks being a fragile human, doesn’t it?” Myriam smiled at her. “The thing is, Klaus and I know how to control our emotions, Kol is slightly less able to do so, but if he really wants, he can be on his best behaviour. The blood lust… that’s something we’re going to have to work around with because he’s been drinking like crazy. The only one who could stabilize him a bit was…”
“The ghost from Christmas past.”
“The thing is, when or if Elijah comes back from France… well. Elijah is a douchebag who likes to push the buttons of his brothers. So if he comes back when you’re around, you’ll definitely be in danger.” Myriam replied. “Remind me to ask Klaus where he put the daggers.”
“Original vampires, you know, all the Mikaelsons except for me, can’t be killed with a normal stake. But, with a special stake they can get a time-out and boxed for a very long time.”
“Oh, Kol told me about that,” Izzy said as she scrunched up her nose. “Didn’t sound like a pleasant experience.”
“No, but I’ve been wanting to shove a dagger into Elijah’s heart for a very long time now, he was actually down for the count before we went to Italy fifty years ago but we needed him so…” she shrugged then. “He then left as soon as we cleared the city.” Myriam parked the car in the parking lot. “Coffee first? Or are you still contemplating to leave?”
“Coffee sounds good.”
“There’s a herb place right around the corner, I want you to buy something there for your own protection and put it in something you’ll always have on you.”
“Like my wallet?”
“Yes, that’ll work. It’s called Vervain. If you have it on you, you won’t be able to be compelled. You could even ask for vervain tea that you can drink once a day to make your blood undesirable as well.”
“Is it harmful?”
“To you? No,” Myriam said as she got out of the car and waited for Izzy to follow her. “To us? Yes. It stings and makes our skin burn.”
“Then maybe in a house full of vampires loose vervain leaves aren’t the best idea?”
“We’ll live,” Myriam smiled. “So, give me your coffee order and you go to that shop. The old lady who runs it used to have the same shop in New Orleans but she moved because she wanted to be in a nicer climate. Her name is Ann. She must be about 75 years old now but she’s still sharp as a whistle. If not, her daughter Lynn might be in the house and she’s good too.”
“Um, okay?” Izzy agreed, though reluctant as she was still learning a large deal about the world she was thrust into. If she was this overwhelmed, she could only imagine how the Bella they were still grieving took the news of everything.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it,” Myriam smiled at her and watched Izzy walk off to the shop after giving her her coffee order. As expected, Izzy returned ten minutes later with a confused look on her face. “Ah, you’ve met Ann.”
“Yep, but did you get the vervain?”
“Yeah,” Izzy nodded as she pat her pocket. “I didn’t want to go for the tea though, I don’t want to hurt you guys.”
“Izzy, we’re vampires. The best way to get us off of you is to hurt us.”
“Which might escalate into more violence and you ignoring the pain and killing me anyway.”
“Ugh,” Myriam rolled her eyes. “I hate Ann.”
Izzy gratefully took a sip of her coffee as she sat down. “She said that it was useless anyway seeing as I didn’t listen to her fifty years ago and had thrown the tea out.”
Myriam winced. “Sorry about that.”
“I don’t look anything like her.”
“No, but Ann works in mysterious ways, we’ve never truly figured out how or why. Or even what she is,” Myriam shrugged. “We stopped caring and only go there for the herbs that I need when I do my rituals. Some things are better left unexplained.”
Izzy sighed as she took another sip of her coffee. “Okay… what else do I need to be mindful of?”
“I think they’re still around… yeah, they must be. You need to avoid anyone with the last name Salvatore.”
She stared back at the vampire. “Do I even want to know?”
“Let’s just say that for vampires, they make the worst decisions. One munches on animals because he’s a killer and the other is a killer with a big heart and is stupid and has a bitch for a wife. She didn’t even come back to take care of her very human brother when he needed it. Kol did everything. Even organized a nice little funeral for him.” Myriam smiled then. “Jeremy would have been thrilled to know that there’s another version of Bella around.”
“I’m me. Izzy. No more Bella.”
“But you’re a product of-” when Myriam saw the murderous look on Izzy’s face, she sighed and nodded. “Anyway, the Salvatores are best to be left alone.”
“Great. Are there any vampires beyond your family you approve of, less I start a war?”
Myriam thought for a moment and then shrugged. “We’re pretty much keeping to ourselves these days, but vampires, in general, are a thing to be avoided for a human.”
“So you suggest I leave.”
“No!” Myriam said quickly. “Oh, please don’t.”
“Are you sure? Because I’m not interested in being a human pet,” Izzy said sharply before taking another sip of her coffee. “If I’m going to stay, I want us to be equals. I can take care of myself. And let’s change the subject, you’re giving me a whiplash.”
“Let’s go shop.”
Izzy didn’t know what she did to deserve great parents as her, they had put some money into her account so she could buy a new phone with sim card so that she could send pictures to them and she had the feeling Myriam was offended when she paid for her new clothes and swimsuit herself.
She also bought herself a new sketch pad, deciding to stop in her old one as she wanted to forget about Bella and her influence and wanted to start anew. Izzy hoped that she had retained her drawing skills.
So after dinner, when Kol went out, Izzy took her pad and pencils and found herself a quiet spot in the garden and took a moment to herself to just draw and not to think about anything. She felt like her head was about to explode with information overload and she needed to clear her mind.
She was relieved when she discovered that her artistic skills had been hers, and continued to draw the farm in Texas. She didn’t forget the silly bathtub underneath the watermill either. It was a quirky little thing and great in the hot summer to fill with water and cool off. Farms didn’t have pools. At least not theirs.
After a while, she let out a deep breath. “What the hell am I doing?” she quietly asked herself as she kept her eyes fixed on her paper. Izzy usually gave herself the best advice. “Well, I am hanging out with a bunch of vampires who think I’m someone I’m not and now they’ve truly lost her because I wanted to live my own life. It’s likely they still hope that I turn into her. It’s so sad to see the hopeful look in their eyes when they look at me and it hurts. I shouldn’t be here. They’re stupid or delusional for not minding having me around.”
Frustrated, she turned the page and started a new drawing, one that wasn’t as familiar as her farm but more in tune with her own feelings at the moment. “I fucking hate it when I break their hearts. So far, they’ve been nothing but kind to me. Because there was a possibility that I was her, but I’m not. But their tolerance could end. I don’t even know what the fuck I’m doing here. Looking for a purpose? Validate that my life was indeed more important than hers? The only way I can do that is to do what I want. Live my life. Vet school… I don’t know. I don’t know anything at this point,” she muttered as the strokes on her paper turned darker and thicker. “Who the fuck am I anyway?”
She kept furiously drawing until she felt like she was done. Izzy groaned when she saw the result. It wasn’t even a drawing. It were just words in a dark vacuum in space. Farm girl. Blank slate. “Jesus fuck, brain,” she sighed. “You’re not helping me at all here.”
Klaus had kept an eye and ear on her for the last two hours or so as he had opened the doors of his study. It was strange to hear her talking to herself like that, in a moment of taking a moment for herself. She appeared to be more lost than any of them had imagined.
Granted, she had a lot to deal with in the past few days; a whole lot of new experiences and Kol had told them that Izzy was likely going to have to adjust to being just herself.
He wasn’t sure if her leaving would solve her problems and he also wasn’t sure if he, Myriam and Kol would be the right people to help her to rediscover herself.
And she was wrong about thinking that she shouldn’t stay around either. If anything, they could help her if she let them, but Izzy was very independent. Likely more so than Bella had ever been.
Klaus caught himself comparing Izzy to Bella and now realized what the girl must feel like; like someone who had big shoes to fill. The girl was going to drive herself mad by thinking that and they all had to stop treating her like a new version of their beloved Bella as Izzy was her own person.
Because she was. Bella was truly gone even though Izzy was made by her. It was why Kol was out of the house at the moment to let off some steam and why Myriam was playing with her spirits or doing rituals in her own voodoo room. It was why Klaus was distracting himself by painting and listening in on the muttering young girl in their garden.
Sighing, he put down his paintbrush and headed over to the girl to stop herself from thinking herself into a hole she couldn’t crawl out of. He wasn’t sure how, though. While he and Myriam were now enjoying themselves immensely without having to scheme or fight their way out of something, Izzy was still a human, a young one at that. They still had dreams. Hopes. She wanted to be a veterinarian, didn’t she? “Do you mind if I joined you?”
Izzy looked up and quickly closed her sketch book and nodded. “Sure, why not, this is your garden.”
“Ah, but you’ve chosen this spot to be alone, so it’s only fair if I ask if I could join you,” he smiled at her and sat down on the ground, opposite of her. “I was wondering, how are you faring? Truly?”
“Myriam put you up to this, didn’t she?”
“Did something happen between you and Myriam? What did she do now?” Klaus sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry if-”
“No, it’s alright. She gave me vampire 101 after I said I didn’t need more clothes because I could borrow a shirt from Kol when needed.”
He was surprised by the casualness of that sentence. “That’s a bad idea.”
“She told me,” Izzy replied. “So I bought new clothes.”
Klaus nodded and let out a breath. “You still haven’t answered my question, how are you faring? Are you noticing any change in yourself after Bella made sure that you’re alone inside your head?”
Izzy thought for a moment before a small smile appeared on her face. “I feel like a whore in church, to be honest,” she said. “I might be a little homesick, but that’s because I don’t know anything else and haven’t been without my parents for longer than a couple of days when they’d take the cattle to market and I’d stay behind to hold the fort.”
“That explains the frequent phone calls back home,” he smiled at her. She truly was just a child. Sheltered.
“Yeah, plus my father is this gigantic know-it-all so basically I call him for confirmation that I’m doing the right thing,” she sighed as she leaned back on her hands. “But he wasn’t able to give me confirmation about me sticking around with you.”
“And that worries you? How so?”
“Because he never told me about vampires before. I’m on my own now. And I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.”
“You’re not on your own. We’re happy to assist you in any way that we can.”
“I’m not sure if that’s the best idea,” Izzy sighed as she looked at him for a second before looking away again. “You’re all still seeing her, and not me. You still have a grieving process to go through. I’m aware that she made a big impact on your lives.”
“She has, she did, but before her, there were plenty of others who did the same and whom we’ve lost as well,” Klaus smiled at her. “I suppose it’s different for us now as Bella was a member of our family through Kol.”
“Yeah, see, that’s another reason I should just leave until you get over it, I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you want to become a veterinarian? What do you have to do to get that?”
“Well, I finished high school two years ago. The perks of being homeschooled, I suppose. I interned at a vet and got my bachelor’s degree in two years instead of four. All I need now is another 2 or 3 years in veterinary school,” she then realized something and looked at him again. “What’s this thing about Kol’s clothes? Myriam said he’d become possessive of me but I don’t understand? We’re trying to start a friendship? Friends share clothes.”
Klaus shifted a little in the grass and a flash of panic washed over his face. “Will you allow me to tell you a memory that I have of Bella so you can understand where Myriam and I are coming from?”
“Yeah, sure, why not?”
“Well, first of all, Kol had been infatuated with Bella for a very long time, he was a long subscriber of hers on the youtube, as was Myriam. So when the chance arose, he became part of Bella’s team,” Klaus started to tell Izzy. “Nothing wrong with that, Kol was doing a very good job at controlling himself and his impulses. His emotions. Until Bella knocked on his door for shelter and help. A couple of days later, she ran out of clothes to wear as she tended to travel light, and she wore one of Kol’s shirts over her dress because she felt she was too skinny.”
“Myriam gave Bella the ‘talk’, as we noticed a change in Kol’s behaviour towards Bella almost immediately. By wearing his shirt, she basically told him, and every vampire in town, that she was his. She had given himself over to him. Willingly. Or unknowingly. We’d be safe, but other vampires? Complete strangers? Hardly,” he explained as he tried to remember what else happened. “As far as I know, they talked it out like adults and had sex shortly afterwards, because Bella was head over heels for Kol, she had felt a pull towards him since the moment she laid eyes on him.”
“Well, I’m don’t. I’m not.”
“But love, you’re dealing with vampires. While you’re not sharing the same belief system with us vampires, it’s how it works for us. It’s nature. By wearing his clothes, you’ll be marked as his. And while that could be a good thing for sure, it could also be very dangerous for you, as our enemies could come out of the woodwork and would see you as our weakness. And they could kill you.”
“But Myriam’s not like you and you let her do whatever.”
“You’re human, Izzy. Myriam’s a 400 year old vampire with extensive training and her potions and trinkets. She will come out alive in a fight. You won’t, and after everything you’ve done and after what we’ve sacrificed, we don’t want you to die,” he then let out a snort. “And everyone believes that I’m the big bad wolf, but trust me, it’s Myriam everyone should be afraid of. That woman is wicked.”
“Thank you for explaining it to me better, as why I shouldn’t wear Kol’s clothes even though I think it’s a ridiculous concept,” she sighed, shaking her head. She could see why Myriam was in love with Klaus. His voice, his face, his… being just breathed home. She needed to stop thinking about him because it was ridiculous. He was taken. He was a vampire. He was trying to be her friend.
“In any case,” Klaus continued with a smile. “There’s a great veterinary school in this state. You could stay with us while you go back to school. Surely your vet friend will give you a glorious recommendation?”
“Oh sure he would,” Izzy smiled back at him. “But I can’t really do that, can’t I?”
“Why not? You’re not a burden to us.”
“You say that now,” Izzy let out a snort. “Besides, I’d have to work to get the money first. Dr. Beck said I could work at his clinic as a veterinary assistant while he’d ask one of his teaching friends to get him the books so I can learn ahead while I work.”
“I could gift you the money to go to veterinary school.”
Izzy shook her head. “Don’t. I’ve always worked hard to get my education, like my mom and dad taught me. I don’t like charity,” she sighed then. “I like to do things. I don’t like to sit still. I only planned to stay away from the farm for a week because I knew that I’d get bored in New Orleans eventually and wanted to go back to work.”
Independent. While she had had a sheltered upbringing, she was independent, which was good. And infuriating for some reason as that could mean trouble, too. “Izzy, for as long as you’re under our roof, or in our company, you don’t have to worry about financials. We happily pay for anything you need or desire, including your education. You’ve worked hard the past few years, it’s time to have a little bit of fun.”
“I don’t even know what that’s like anymore, to be honest.”
“It’s a good thing then that Kol knows all the right spots to let your hair down and have some fun. Myriam has her usual haunts here in Las Vegas too. Allow us to give you that breather, that relaxation and the time to figure out who you are, who you want to be,” he continued. “You’ll be perfectly safe, no matter what Myriam has told you. I give you my word.”
That sounded like some ancient romance novel I give you my word and my word is something I don’t give lightly, and Izzy tried not to giggle. “I’ll give it a try, thank you, Klaus, for taking the time to explain things a lot better than Myriam has done.”