Izzy woke up the next morning and she was sore. Not in a bad way but sore nonetheless. She let out a slight giggle and stretched herself out much like a cat would do and rolled herself into Kol’s body.
This wasn’t her normal behavior. She’d known Jim for most of her life and it had been normal, but this? No. This wasn’t normal. Although, to be honest, she’d felt like she’d known Kol for quite some time in her drawings. She hadn’t said anything but a few of those drawings were of dreams she had had about him before she’d even set foot in New Orleans.
She’d been scared. She still was scared, but what’s the point of living when you weren’t scared to give your entire being to someone else?
“Good morning, Gorgeous,” Kol smiled as he wrapped his arm around her to pull her closer and buried his face into her neck, breathing her in. “As much as we should get on with exploring some spots in town, I think I’d rather explore you a bit more this morning.”
Izzy let out another giggle. “I’m up for that, yeah,” she said as she buried her hand in his hair and gently started to rub his scalp. “Where would you like to start?”
“Well…” Kol nuzzled her earlobe as his hand traveled down her back.
‘Mornin- Oh for fuck’s sake, hang a sock on the door!’
“A resurrection of a dead friend to kill sounds like a good start,” Kol complained before pulling Izzy down and covering her. Glaring across the room at his ghostly friend, he frowned. “Get out. My first phone call today will be to Klaus to go dig up your soggy old bones.”
‘There will be no rezzing me unless you can return me to my younger body. Then I’d have a fighting chance,’ Jeremy said as he stood facing the door. ‘Are you sure you want to let her loose in this town? The activity is insane.’
“Get out!” Izzy said as she reached for one of the pillows and threw it at the door.
When Kol was certain when Jeremy had left, he looked back at Izzy with a smile on his face. “We need a portable bubble trinket, one that protects a room instead of just one person.”
Izzy hummed as she pulled him down into a kiss, arching her body against his. “Forget him, you said you wanted to explore me a bit more.”
They stayed in bed until lunch and then got cleaned up and into a fresh set of clothes. Izzy could tell that the tension between her and Kol was gone now and it made such a difference. They had lunch at the inn, and they discovered that the inn had been a project of a group of ghost hunters so that everyone would have a safe place to stay when exploring the mining town. They even had a schedule of who was where to come and bail them out when needed. The abandoned hotel was the only one on the list not booked, and Kol made sure that they would have it for the day and night.
The innkeeper told them that it was best to go at night and was surprised to hear that Kol didn’t care about that. That it was his belief that ghosts were active during the day too. “Are you one of those strange ones?” The innkeeper asked while they were having lunch. “I mean, there’s a whole new breed of investigators who follow the rules of some chick on the old youtube videos from… I don’t know, half a century ago?”
“Nah, mate. It’s just my personal experience,” Kol smiled at him. “The dark only makes it extra spooky and the fear fuels the spirits so it looks like they’re more active.”
The innkeeper let out a snort. “I prefer the old-fashioned ghost hunting, you have gear?”
“Don’t need to.”
“Ah, you’re a medium, alright, that’s cool,” the innkeeper smiled and handed Kol the keys to the hotel. “Knock yourselves out. If you need anything, you know where to call.”
After the innkeeper left them to their lunch, Jeremy returned. ‘You sure you want to do the hotel?’
“It’s the only thing available and I’m not going to mess with a bunch of ghost hunters, why?”
‘I’m just saying,’ Jeremy shrugged. ‘I’m not going to spoil things for you.’
“Is it at least clean of rituals and shit?”
‘Yeah, for a much trampled on location, they’ve kept everything natural and clean. No satanic rituals, no pentagrams, just spirits.’
“Good, we’d like to avoid those. Like seriously.”
‘It’s good to have me around, isn’t it?’ Jeremy grinned.
“Yeah, but we’re going to set some ground rules.”
‘I get it, once you go to a bedroom, I’m out and won’t come back to you until you emerge,’ Jeremy quickly replied. ‘I seriously don’t want to see you two naked again.’
“Exactly,” Kol nodded.
‘Are you nervous yet, Izzy?’
Izzy finished her coffee and shrugged. “For what? Nothing’s going to happen.”
Kol sighed as he looked at her.
“Fine, fine, I’ll do whatever you say,” she smiled at him before taking a bite out of her toast. “But I promise you, you’ll be disappointed. I can’t do that much.”
“Or you might get surprised,” Kol winked at her. “Don’t worry, we won’t allow anything to happen to you.”
She shrugged. “If something were to happen to me, I think my dad would be calling by now.”
“Or maybe not,” Kol grinned, a knowing smile on his face. “Nik told them to stop interfering with your life so you can grow up and stand on your own two legs.”
“He did what?”
“Yep, no more daddy’s safety net.”
She looked at him, eyes widened. “Are you insane?”
“That’s life, darling,” he winked at her before nodding towards her phone. “But feel free to call daddy dearest and see what he has to say about it.”
She narrowed her eyes on him before dialing her father’s number. “Does he know he’s compelled?”
“Hey bunny! How’s Las Vegas?”
“We’re no longer in Vegas, dad, how are you?”
“We’re fine, the town… is in mourning because of the deaths and all.”
“Right,” she sighed as she looked over to Kol, who had a big smirk on his face. “So, I have a bet with someone. He says someone did something to you and I am calling his bluff.”
“Daddy, will I be in danger when I am going to do what I’m going to do in a bit?”
“I can’t tell you that, bunny. It’s time for you to stop relying on me and discover things for yourself. Your companion will keep you safe.”
Kol let out a snort as he took a sip of his drink. “Ask him.”
Izzy sighed. “Dad, did Klaus compel you to stop helping me so I would be more reliant on my own?”
“Yes bunny. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” she sighed as she kept her eyes on Kol. “So you did say I’ll be safe with my companion?”
“I think I did.”
“Okay,” she smiled. “That’s what I thought. Love you daddy.”
“We love you too, bunny. Stop by home soon, we miss you.”
“Sure, we’ll see when we drive to Texas,” Izzy replied. “Love you,” she said before hanging up on her father and glared at Kol. “Your brother is a dick.”
“He can be, but he did this to free you so you can make your own decisions,” Kol shrugged. “So if you don’t like that idea, we don’t have to go.”
“It’s fine,” Izzy sighed, shaking her head. “I mean… I don’t like him because of him and mom lying to me about them being vampires. And I vowed to myself not to call on him for decisions or things so yeah… it’s fine. I just can’t believe Klaus did that.”
“You don’t trust me.” It wasn’t a question, more of a statement.
“What? That’s ridiculous! I do! It’s just that… I don’t want to let you down, that’s all.”
Jeremy laughed. ‘It’s all good, Izzy. Don’t you worry, Kol and I are the best candidates to help you with your abilities and see what you are capable of.’
“Yep, what the ghost said,” Kol nodded. “Now, if you’d excuse me, I need to get a bloody snack, and seeing as there are more humans arriving, I can have my pick,” he said as he got to his feet. “When you’re done having lunch, meet me at the hotel with your sketchbook.”
She sat down on the porch of the hotel as she waited for Kol, but it had felt as if she’d been wading through mud walking from the quiet-ish inn into town. It hadn’t been that bad in the car but without Kol next to her it was different. This felt like walking into a graveyard without her statue. And that’s what this town basically was, a graveyard and she was without her statue.
Izzy sighed as she tried to make sense of what she was feeling and started to write things down, what she felt, what she picked up otherwise. She needed to get it out, she felt as if she was suffocating. No, she was panicking. She was alone. Kol was having a snack, and she was alone.
She jumped when she heard a gunshot go off but couldn’t immediately see where it came from.
The porch underneath her started to vibrate as if a horse-drawn carriage was running by, the hooves of those horses echoing in her mind. Oh, she was having a breakdown, wasn’t she? More panic, sadness. Anger. Another gunshot. “I’m losing my mind,” she let out a breath as she got to her feet and stumbled as a wave of dizziness washed over her. Clinging on to the old railing, she tried to stabilize herself, but she felt pain in her stomach. Her back. Her head. She felt drunk.
Izzy managed to stumble off the porch and tried to walk away from the hotel, she didn’t care about the stupid looks she was getting as if she was retarded. She wasn’t going to do this. No. Not ever. She wanted her statue and forget about it. Where the hell was Kol?
She couldn’t do this to Kol. He’d been so helpful and hopeful about things. And fuck, he was… she wasn’t sure what he was. She was lost. Couldn’t think straight. Where was she going?
Izzy stumbled backward when she heard a train horn close to her ear, were there train tracks here? Nah, that would be just ridiculous, it was the middle of nowhere and- she was in a mining town. Of course, there were train tracks here. Or there were. Used to be. Should be. She could feel the rush of the train roll past her, and she was certain she’d lost it for good.
People were still looking at her as if she was special needs. She managed to find a tree and sat down against it and buried her head in her hands and tried to take deep breaths to calm down. “Help.”
Izzy wasn’t sure how long it took, but she felt arms around her. Solid arms, a familiar scent, and she could breathe easy again. She was safe. She was shaking still, but she was pulled into his arms and he held her even tighter.
“I’m here,” Kol said as he held her close. “I’m here, what happened?”
“I don’t know,” she said with a hoarse throat, almost as if she’d been screaming. “I felt like I was losing my mind. People were looking at me and I felt sick, panicked… angry… sad…”
“That wasn’t you, darling,” he said softly. “That were all the spirits and residuals talking to you.”
“I never have it this bad! I went to the cemetery once without my statue and it wasn’t this bad!”
“Because usually those spirits are at rest,” he explained calmly as he ran his fingers through her hair. “That’s not the case here. Everything you felt was them. Not you, and the first step is to recognize that.”
“Is that why you left me alone?” She asked in a small voice. “To teach me a lesson?”
“No, I was in the middle of snacking on a redhead when I heard you screaming, so I ran over and got to you,” he kissed the top of her head. “Although I’m not sure where Jeremy is, because he was supposed to keep an eye on you.”
‘Who says I wasn’t? Nothing happened to her. She’s fine,’ Jeremy replied. ‘But if she’s this inexperienced, I think we’re better off starting somewhere smaller. There were a handful of ghosts, keeping their distance because of her burning light. She was overwhelmed by the residuals that you and I both can’t see.’
“And where do you suggest we go?” Kol snapped. “There are residuals everywhere!”
‘I don’t know. Maybe that hotel on Magazine street in New Orleans.’
“Davina doesn’t want me in New Orleans.”
‘She doesn’t want you in the Quarter. As far as I know Magazine street isn’t in the quarter.’
“Jeremy, New Orleans is out of the question.”
‘Fine. How about Mystic Falls?’
Kol sighed and shot an exasperated look in his direction. “After what my brother did, Silas, and Cade? Don’t think we haven’t heard about the trouble your sister’s husband pulled after we left town.”
‘Fine. Use the internet to find a quieter place. We can’t teach her anything if she goes into a panic.’
“Let’s go to Canada. They’re pacifists. Hopefully their dead are too.”
“I’ll be fine,” Izzy sighed. “Just don’t leave me,” she said as she got to her feet slowly. “I suppose it’s good to know that I wasn’t having a mental break. How did she deal with this?”
Jeremy shrugged. ‘Her parents had her see doctors and locked her away in a mental hospital and they had put locks on her door.’
“Jer,” Kol growled as he got to his feet and dusted himself off.
‘What? Izzy asked! And don’t worry, Izzy, we won’t ever do that to you.’
“Good to know,” she muttered, not being able to imagine what life had been like for Bella. Her own parents had been worried, sure, but they had supported her and told her that it wasn’t something to be afraid of. It had been all on herself for not embracing it.
‘She managed to teach herself and when she met us, we helped her to realize that she could do more.’
“Okay, so, now what?”
“We’re going to teach you to ignore the residuals and make you remember what is reality,” Kol told her. “Residuals tell a story but they can’t actually physically hurt you even though it might appear that way.”
“Sorry but that train and those horses and hell, that gunshot all felt pretty real to me,” Izzy replied.
“And they were. Once upon a time.”
She glared at him as she picked up her sketchbook and looped her arm through his. “I’d rather not feel all that.”
“Don’t worry, darling, practise makes perfect!”
They didn’t go into the hotel that day and evening, but just hung around on the porch until Izzy stopped being affected so much by all the residual energies. She even managed to tell the story belonging to that gun shot, telling Kol and Jeremy about who were involved and drawing them at the same time, and after only taking a short break to have some dinner, by the time it was 10pm, she was pooped.
But she couldn’t sleep. While Kol needed to get himself some blood, he also promised her that he wouldn’t leave until she was asleep but she couldn’t help but think of everything she had experienced that day. There were more things in her head and they were almost screaming at her to get it out, somehow. And it was frustrating, because her sketchbook was almost full and she hadn’t bought a new one yet. She never filled it so quickly but today was just a very bad day.
“You can go and feed, I’ll just… empty my head,” she said as she turned on the light and grabbed her sketchbook.
“Do you think this was a bad idea? Should we listen to Jeremy and take you someplace more quiet?” Kol asked as he looked at her. She looked like a woman possessed. She was tired, but he could still see the cogs work inside her mind.
“No, this is fine. I have to get used to it, why not do that in a hotbed of everything?”
“I don’t want this to ruin you, Izzy.”
She smiled at him then. “It’ll take a lot to ruin me. I merely need some time to learn how to deal with it, adjust to it, and I’ll be fine.”
“You’re far too stubborn for your own good,” Kol let out a snort and kissed the top of her head as he picked her pocket for her phone. “I won’t be long. Would you like me to find you some printing paper or something?”
Izzy’s eyes lit up and a big smile appeared on her face. “Please!”
“Okay,” he laughed as he left the room and headed outside to make his phone call to Izzy’s dad. He needed answers, and her parents knew her better than he did at this point.
“Whoever you are, you are not my daughter so don’t try to fool me.”
“Relax, Mr. Whitlock, that was never my intention. My name is Kol Mikaelson, I believe you’ve met the bad brother and the worse brother.”
“Is Izzy alright?”
“Of course she is, she’s perfectly safe with me. I know that Nik made you not help Izzy anymore, and I’m not asking you for help. I merely want to know what you know of Izzy’s gifts.”
Peter let out a breath. “You forgot her statue, I understand it was on purpose?”
“Izzy’s always ignored it as much as she could, that statue was her everything but even that didn’t stop some aspects of her gift. Of course not, it was created for someone else,” Peter explained. “Charlotte and I never forced her to work with it, in the hopes that she’d eventually do it herself, but she wanted to be just like everyone else and we merely wanted to give her a happy childhood.”
Kol swallowed hard. He could imagine why. While Izzy’s parents had neglected to tell her that they were vampires, and had neglected to tell her her origins and how they were intertwined, they had given her a good and safe childhood. She was allowed to pursue everything she wanted and there was no doubt in Kol’s mind that, eventually, she’d become a great veterinarian like she wanted. “Okay, so what can she do?”
“I think that she can see remnants of the past. Residuals. But not only see, she can also feel and hear them intensely. She can see and hear spirits, feel what they feel. I always suspected her drawing to be the result of her ignoring her gifts.”
“Well, the drawing does make it easier for her to get it out of her head, I’m not sure she understands what she can do.”
“She’s emotionally very closed off.”
Kol pinched the bridge of his nose. “I noticed, but I think she’s getting there.”
“She might be. I don’t care that you’re an Original vampire, but if you hurt my little girl, I will do whatever I can to make your life miserable.”
“Don’t threaten me,” Kol said venomously. “Many have tried and have ended up dead. I will not hurt your daughter, that is my promise to you. I happen to care about her, a lot, and that is why I am asking you to identify her gifts to me so I can help her with those before she burns herself up.”
“That won’t happen.”
He let out a relieved breath. “Good to hear that. Trust me, Mr. Whitlock, I care deeply for your daughter and I will not let anything happen to her. I am merely interested in making sure she lives her life as free as possible. Thank you for your information,” he said as he disconnected the call before dragging the innkeeper away from the door and sunk his teeth in him.