They were walking in the nearby woods that Bella had spotted before in her present. Nothing special about the woods, just trees and leaves on the ground. The sun was coming through the trees just a little making it look like… well, any ordinary forest. Kai shoved his hands into his pockets. “I have a confession to make.”
“What’s that?” Bella asked as she finished off the sandwich she was eating.
“I can’t actually do magic. My family tells everyone to stay away from me and I’m basically the black sheep.”
“Oh, me neither, but I took some magic from someone before I came here,” she said as a matter of factly, making Kai stop in his tracks. “You want some?” Bella smiled as she held out her hand. “Don’t take it all, but just a little to do some magic. We can share.”
“Oh, I couldn’t…” Kai just stared at her hand as if she had offered him the holy grail.
“Don’t you ever get that rush when you’re on magic? Like… you want to do everything and prove that you aren’t a failure? And when the magic is gone, you still feel it lingering underneath your skin? Like fire? Or a thousand ants.”
Bella nodded as she sat down on a tree-stump. “All the time. Well, not from the source I usually get my magic from, but from other magical creatures.”
Bella nodded. “You know how there are Traveler witches, right? Back in the day they got a bit too greedy and they turned into these… marbled kind of statues. Vampires. Their blood turned into acid, sparkle in the sun…”
“No, true deal,” Bella laughed as she showed Kai the scar on her wrist. “There’s still a bit of their venom inside of that scar, but it’s not really magical so otherwise I could have used that… When I try to siphon from them… my magic goes haywire and I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
“I have that with all magic. And you know why? It’s not our own magic, we never know what we can expect when we take from people. Or how much…” Kai let out a snort then. “My coven hates witches like us and they usually get kicked out but I’m only here because Jo and I are the future leaders of our coven. We have to merge in a few years.”
Bella looked at him with a disgusted look on her face.
“Oh, no, not like… oh gross!” Kai rubbed his eyes. “Mental image… no! It’s a spell.”
“Oh, okay then.”
“But they don’t want me anywhere near them, afraid that I could end up killing them or something.”
“That is bullshit.”
“Yeah well, what do your parents do when you’re jonesing for magic?”
“I don’t… but I had to walk it off when I got into contact with those Traveler vampires.”
Kai hummed. “They always tell me that I should be exposed to more kinds of magic… kinds of witches, but they won’t let me.”
She was still holding out her hand. “Take some. It’ll be alright,” Bella smiled at him. “I’m here, I can take it back if it’s too much. Show me things, Kai.”
Kai took her hand and she could feel the new sensation of someone siphoning magic out of her. “Wow, that feels… weird.”
Bella withdrew her hand and shrugged. “I dunno, just weird.”
“It’s quite stable, this magic… where did you get it from?”
Kai smiled then. “My coven is great at invisibility spells, want me to teach you?”
Kai nodded. “It’s a glorified cloaking spell but it actually sticks when you move around and when you want out, you’re out.”
“Alright, then I will teach you how to knock someone out without harming them.”
“What’s the fun in that?” Kai whined. “Don’t you know something more exciting?”
“You can get what I can give you. I’m new to this. I mean… I haven’t learned that much,” Bella replied. “The people I’m with have a lot of knowledge about witches but not about… well, siphoners. I don’t know what I’m capable of.”
“Well, let’s stick together then. You and me versus the world,” Kai nodded. “Alright, so everything with magic is about the intention and a little help from words, yeah? Imagine you want to turn yourself invisible and say Invisique.”
Kai was impressed. “Wow, you actually did it first try.”
“Nah, I’m not invisible.”
“Yeah you are,” Kai laughed as he reached out for her but couldn’t find her. “Honestly, you’re gone.”
“No, I’m not,” Bella said as she appeared before Kai again.
“Are you sure you don’t know much about magic and spells?” Kai playfully raised a brow. “Because that was quite difficult to do, you know. Took me and my sister months.”
“I don’t know… Spells do come easy but… I don’t know. I just don’t understand why.”
“No worries, I’ll help you. I’m not saying I can do a lot, seeing as my family tries to keep me away from books and grimoires, but I can try,” Kai shrugged. “I’m definitely going to try to verify that Traveler story with my dad, seeing if it’s true or not.”
Bella nodded and saw someone walk up to them with an angry look on their face. “Friend of yours?”
“My sister Josette,” Kai sighed. “Party time is over.”
“Reach out with your hand and wiggle your fingers some as you think of wanting them to lose consciousness,” Bella said as she showed him the movement. “She’ll go to sleep and fall to the ground,” she replied before realizing it was not the best idea to tell this to a sociopath, but this boy was bitter. Like Kol.
And damnit, Kol had been right. She wanted to help Kai.
“Like this?” Kai did what Bella showed him and was surprised that Josette went down. “How? Surely it must be the stable magic you’ve siphoned. Surely!”
“Maybe, I don’t know,” Bella replied before she started to feel the tug to snap back. “You should head back to school, I’ll be back in a bit… I need to use the little girl’s room.”
“Will you be back?”
“I hope so,” Bella smiled at him. “You’re fun to hang out with.”
“Same to you,” he smiled at her before looking at his sister. “How long will she be down for?”
“Eh, another 15 minutes. Time enough for you to hurry back to school and for me to get the hell out of dodge,” Bella replied as she started to walk away from him.
“Hey, do you have a pager?”
Bella froze at that question before finding an answer. “My parents think that pagers are for adults. I’m clearly not an adult yet because I’m always getting into trouble.”
“I’ll get you one.”
“Oh, you don’t have to.”
“What? If you don’t have a pager, you’re not one of the cool kids,” Kai replied. “Besides, I already have one for emergencies,” he winked at her. “See you around, Bella, maybe tomorrow?”
Bella returned only seconds after having disappeared with a frustrated look on her face. At least she was safe and she didn’t look hurt. “What’s wrong?” Kol asked before her face changed and lit up with a big smile. “No, you can’t keep him.”
“He’s lonely, he’s not allowed to be around people or items with magic because they’re afraid of him.”
“Fine, he’d be in his forties now anyway. But I am going back to give him a friend and learn more. Strangely, he was really open and talkative with me – a complete stranger!”
“You just have that effect, darling. Now, did you at least eat?”
Bella nodded. “And I told Kai about the kind of vampires that were an accident of the Travelers, so maybe next time when I go back he has some news.”
“Did he have an explanation as to why you react so strongly on their magic?”
“It’s likely because it’s a different kind of magic than I’m used to, but he wasn’t sure, either. So yeah.”
“What is it with these witches? Why are they so useless?” Frustrated, Kol ran a hand through his hair and watched as Bella grabbed her laptop. “What are you going to do?”
“If I’m going to be a teenager hanging out more in 1996, it’s best to brush up on my popular culture.”
“Ugh,” Kol let out a groan. “Are we really going to do this?”
Bella nodded. “And I want to take an enchanted item back with me next time I go, so he can use that for magic.”
“Bella!” Kol whined.
“He likely won’t ever give you the information you need, so why don’t we just move on? Let things go and we’ll just find us some Cold One we can keep prisoner for you to get your magic off. I’m sure your friendly wolves would love to help out with getting you used to their magic so you won’t be overwhelmed.”
“But what if that’s not the reason? What if there’s a completely different reason?”
“Maybe some things need to remain unexplained.”
“Kol!” Now it was her turn to let out a whine and she grabbed a pillow to hit him with it. “So far, the magic of the wolves got me into trouble by getting me stuck when I freaked out, and taking magic from Victoria worked like a drug. I could feel the magic underneath my skin, even as it left me. Like an addict. Like… I needed…”
Bella nodded. “It’s terrible. Kai explained the same feeling to me, but that’s already when he’s had some normal to him magic, and I think that it’s like this for him because they don’t expose him to magic anymore. I’m thinking that if we help him with magic and be at ease with it without getting withdrawal symptoms, we’d be good. I just…” she let out a breath. “I just can’t leave him like that.”
“Bella, he’s not your problem.”
“And I’m not yours, but yet, here we are.”
“He will kill people in just a couple of years.”
“Yeah, and?” she shot at him. “We’ve been over this, Kol. You’ve done shittier things out of spite, out of hate and perhaps even out of love and loyalty than Kai has done in this particular time. Maybe we can help him and he won’t have to kill his family.”
“And what if you can’t?”
“Then at least I’ve tried. You turned your life around, didn’t you?”
“A bit,” Kol replied with a slight nod. “But it took Myriam years.”
“Well, then maybe he can too. And seeing as he’s not a vampire with heightened emotions, maybe all it takes is a friend he can do magic with,” Bella countered with a shrug. “Besides, I think I can make multiple trips in one day so we won’t be here for long. Maybe he can teach me a thing or two. Please, Kol. He’s the only one who understands how I work.”
Oh, he understood her all too well. It wasn’t a great feeling to feel alone. He had felt like that for several times during his long life, right until Myriam entered the life of the Mikaelsons. Myriam made sure he was included, felt included, whenever his siblings decided he was free to leave his box. Myriam was the reason why he and his siblings were getting along now, although Elijah was still very much an ass.
Bella reminded him a little of Myriam in that way. Reaching out with that big, beautiful heart of hers. “Yeah, alright, but you’re not going back tonight. Tomorrow. And I’ll find you some trinkets to imbue with some magic. Rest.”
“Bella, if you truly want to go and make multiple trips a day, you’d better listen to me and rest up,” Kol said with a stern voice. “I can’t do much to help you but at least I can make sure you’re well rested to do it,” he got off the bed and smiled at her. “So you’re going to rest and I’ll see you in the morning. I’m in the room next door.”
“No time traveling.”
“No magic,” she replied. “Well, a little but nowhere near enough to make the trip.”
“Good,” he nodded and headed for the door. “Goodnight, Bella.”
“So, my pager is 555-HIKAI, it took me so long to get that one, but I’m so proud of it,” Kai grinned as he handed her her pager. “Yours is 555-BELLA.”
Bella blinked at that. “How did you manage that?”
“I had some help from my witchy sister. She did something our father doesn’t like and I-”
“Blackmailed her into helping you?”
“Pretty much,” Kai nodded.
“For someone you’ve only met yesterday?”
“Yep,” Kai nodded again, popping his P. “Because you’re like me. And we need to stick together. You’re not like anyone around me, always telling me ‘no’, ‘get away’, ‘you’re an abomination, Kai’.”
“You mean I’m nice?”
“Well, I am…”
“Good,” Kai nodded again as he leaned back against the tree stump they were sitting against. “Because I have no idea who you are and there isn’t someone named Bella going to our school.”
“Who said I was going to your school?”
“You had lunch at our school yesterday.”
“And?” Bella laughed. “I was hungry and I was dying for a good sandwich.”
“Yeah, but you can’t be any older than me.”
Bella let out a sigh as she ran a hand through her hair. “I’m not. I have to admit… I kinda lied? We did a scrying spell to find another siphoner, there was a medium involved to help pinpoint it and she described you. We truly are that desperate to find someone like me because we don’t know anything.”
“You’re lying, but that’s okay, you’re not a threat. You’re this tiny cute little thing,” Kai replied as he put his hands behind his head and stretched himself. “I checked into your claim last night, that the Travelers accidentally created vampires. They’re called Cold Ones and they’re very dangerous. The coven got into contact with them at some point, a friendly Cold One called Peter Whitlock who told them everything about the Cold Ones.”
She felt her heart stop for a second. “Peter Whitlock?”
“You know him?”
“I know of him. The Cold Ones I encountered told me that he was bad news.”
“And still they allowed that scar to happen,” Kai nodded towards her wrist. “But yes, you’re right, their magic is tainted, unstable. It’s likely because you still have a trace of it inside of you that you respond so wildly on it. But you’re pretty much on your own with this, aren’t you?”
Bella nodded. “I’ll just stay away from them as well as I can.”
“Why? Are there Cold Ones in the area, now?”
“No, no, don’t worry,” Bella assured him as she placed a hand on his arm. “I’m actually safer here at the moment until I go back and then I risk getting killed.”
“Nothing to worry about,” Bella replied and squeezed his arm. “I’ll crush them with my magic,” she winked at him. “Eventually. When I have more of an understanding of my magic and such.”
Kai was shocked to hear that. “You’re not worried you’ll be killed by a supernatural being that’s far more stronger than you are?”
Bella shrugged. “I was, at first, but circumstances changed. Although…” Bella thought for a moment and sighed. “Yeah, no, I’m terrified. These guys are the oldest of them all, they have an army to protect themselves… And I have myself. And my friends.”
“The same friends who provide you with stable magic?”
She nodded as she took a trinket out of her pocket. She and Kol had made sure that everything she put some of her and Kol’s magic in wasn’t going to be traceable to their hotel in Portland. In the future. Kol had a lot of fun teaching Bella how to transfer magic into an object, especially considering she only wanted a tiny bit to be transferred. “Anyway, I have to go again. I got you something that I think you might like,” she smiled as she placed the bolt in Kai’s hand.
Kai frowned as he looked at the bolt and then at Bella. “Is there magic in this?”
“Yep, only a tiny bit though, but I thought we could share the magic, because I think it’s not fair that you don’t have access to it.”
Kai pocketed the bolt and looked at her. “Message me when you get back?”
“Well, when do you want me to come back?”
“The idea of you going back to the danger you were in is a bit… can I help? Or maybe I can get my dad and the coven to help, I’m sure he-”
“Don’t worry about me, I’m safe, for now,” she assured him. “So, when next?”
“Well, not tomorrow. I’ll be indisposed at home,” he sighed deeply. “Lectures. Magic lessons, hey, you could come by the house instead! Show the fam that there is such a thing as well-behaved siphoners!”
Bella scrunched up her nose. “No thanks. I’ll see you on Monday then,” she replied as she got to her feet and started to walk away.
“Can I walk you home?”
“Nope,” Bella shook her head. “See you around, Kai.”
They were in Portland for over a month, in which she kept traveling back to Kai to find things, with the occasional day off for her and Kol to do something fun. They went to the arcade, to the movies, some great restaurants and visited the Pittock Mansion.
Bella was so lucky with Kol, even though he had objected to this idea. And they basically had their suspicions confirmed and nothing else. He wasn’t happy that Bella wanted to keep going back to build the friendship with Kai, and Kol admitted to himself that he was jealous because at this point, Kai and Bella were friends for longer than he was with Bella. Jealousy. He hated feeling jealous, and it was likely that she didn’t tell him everything that happened.
They were on their way back to Forks when Myriam called that they had to go to Mystic Falls as a siphoner had popped up and was wreaking havoc in the small town. Kol outwardly groaned at that news, but maybe it was someone new and with more information that they could use.
When they arrived at the nearest airport, Bella received a message on her pager with a phone number and the only one who knew the number of her pager was Kai. “No way,” she mumbled as she grabbed her phone and dialed the number received.
“Bella, is that you?”
“Kai? What the hell?”
“Oh, good, I thought you’d forgotten about me or had thrown away the pager… 18 years is a long time… uhh… I did something stupid which lead to prison… which then lead me to come back and I did something stupid again… I need your help. I get it now, uncontrollable magic… And I might have a hostage.”
“Where are you?”
“Mystic Falls, Virginia, how soon can you be here?”
Bella sighed as she looked at Kol who had a murderous look on his face. “We were already on our way, hang tight.”
“He’s the siphoner in Mystic Falls?” Kol asked after Bella hung up. “Let’s just go home instead. Mystic Falls is terrible.”
Bella looked up at Kol and sighed. “Then you go home, I’ll drive to Mystic Falls.”
“It’s over 5000 miles!”
“He’s a friend in need!” Bella countered. “Besides, he’s not even supposed to be here, so something must have happened to him. He said he went to prison.”
“Yeah, and he’s an adult male and he’ll be fine,” Kol argued. He really didn’t want to go to Mystic Falls and knowing that the siphoner was Kai, was the perfect excuse not to go.
“He didn’t sound like it,” Bella replied softly. “Can’t we just go? And if he doesn’t need me we’ll go home. But I’d do the same for you.”
Kol let out a breath. Fine. Sure. For Bella. Because yes, she’d likely do the same for him. But first, he needed to kill something. “Give me five minutes. You don’t want me on a plane like this.”
He didn’t like Kai already.