“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world:
someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
After burying Charlie, Bella knew she would no longer be welcome in Forks. Jacob had protected her for as long as he was able but her father’s death shook the whole tribe forcing them to take a stance. He managed to get to her before a final decision was made, giving the girl the time to pack what she could and get the hell out of dodge. The pack would no longer protect her and she wasn’t welcome on their land anymore. If Victoria was to show up, they would hand Bella over willingly. Sacrifice one to save the many was their view on the matter.
Renee and Phil were killed first by her, though it was reported as a car accident. Bella didn’t believe it for anything. Then Charlie was a victim of an animal attack. As she threw the few things that she wanted to take with her into a bag, she left a note for Jake, letting him know that she’d send for things in the future whenever she get settled where she going. Bella left no forwarding address because she wasn’t even sure if the only one she could think of helping her would even be there.
Bella had known about another breed of vampire that existed. He had found her purely by accident when she finally located Edward’s meadow on her own. Damon, his name was, found her just as Laurent was about to feed on her and killed him on sight. She had expected him to pick up where he had left off, draining me of her of her blood but she passed out for the overload of stress the whole event caused. When she came to, Bella learned he had taken her back to his hotel room and took the time to bandage any injuries up before he actually spoke.
As deadly as he was with Laurent, he possessed incredible tenderness that had her trying to figure him out. He had a way of making her talk, to calm her screaming nerves and just made her feel better. He made her feel hope for the first time in months since the Cullens left. In return, he told Bella about himself and where he was from and it stuck with her. They just shared our pains with one another because they both felt the same sense of rejection that no one else appeared to relate to. He didn’t seem the type to her to tell just anyone about his feelings and she was right when he tried to make her forget him before sending her on her way. It annoyed him that his gift to compel humans didn’t work on her and she explained that he wasn’t the only one that their abilities failed with.
Damon and Bella came to an understanding, forming an odd friendship. He gave her his number if she needed help in the future, though she had promised herself she wouldn’t use it. She had the pack then so she would be fine. Of course life just doesn’t work that way. That’s how she made the decision to just make her way to Virginia anyway possible. Cashing out her bank account from her inheritance of her mother and Phil’s policies, Bella locked up the house and got into Angela’s car as she agreed to take her to the airport. Their goodbye was bittersweet and she tried to make her promise that she would keep in touch but Bella couldn’t. For all she knew, she could be dead the next day or the next month.
The plane ride was quiet and Bella had no one next to her to have to deal with idle chitchat so she managed to get a little bit of sleep. It was more than she was able to in a long while so when the stewardess shook her awake, she thought she finally was found. That my running could finally end. After grabbing her back and hailing a taxi, Bella gave him the address to the Salvatore Boarding House that she located online. Damon only mentioned the place in passing, but she remembered it. Bella doubted that he believed that for all he told me, that through her own pain, she wouldn’t remember anything he said, but now he was her only hope.
By the time the car arrived at the large, creepy looking mansion, the taxi driver tried talking her into letting him drop her off at a hotel where she might be safer. Bella could only give him a tired smile and promised she would be fine. Paying the fair, she grabbed my bags and set them on the floor while she stared at the door to gain the courage to ring the bell.
It took some time before someone answered, but it wasn’t Damon. It was another guy, younger than her vampire savior looked, but judging from the brooding expression Bella assumed this to be his brother. He looked at her confused before catching sight of the taxi that was already leaving the driveway.
“Can I help you?” he asked. “Do you need help finding someplace?”
Hesitating, she shook her head. As it was, everything over the past two weeks were catching up to her now that she was so close. Bella’s voice almost broke from the little I’ve had to use it. “I’m looking for Damon? Does he still live here?”
His eyes narrowed in suspicion as he looked her over, trying to understand why she might be looking for his brother. It wasn’t like him to have human friends, or at least ones that he hadn’t slept with then compelled to forget him, so having an unfamiliar human girl on their doorstep was something new. Stefan was torn at what to do, but with everything going on in Mystic Falls, the girl was probably safer with them than anywhere else. He pulled the door open more, allowing her entrance. “Come on in. Damon’s not here right now but I’ll see how long before he gets back for you.”
“Thank you,” Bella said quietly as she reached for her bags but Stefan waved her off. She gave him a grateful smile as he led her into a large sitting room that had a fire burning to fill it with warmth. Bella couldn’t take her eyes off all the details as she looked around.
“Make yourself comfortable while I give Damon a call,” Stefan interrupted her appraisal, his eyes narrowing her as he tried to understand the girl, who only nodded her acceptance and sat stiffly at the edge of one of the sofas. “Um, what’s your name by the way?”
Bella glanced at him from the corner of her eye, afraid to move because she was quickly reaching the threshold of her emotions. “Isabella.”
“Stefan,” he offered his name back, getting a small smile that concerned him. “Be right back.”
He quickly made his way out of earshot of her as he waited for his brother to answer the phone. “What’s up Stefie?”
“How long until you get back?” Stefan questioned.
“Why? Miss me brother dear?” Damon chuckled from the other end of the call.
Sighing, he clenched his eyes shut to control him irritation. “You have a visitor that just showed up at the house. A human girl.”
“Really? Is she hot?”
“Damon. Be serious. She asked for you specifically. Said her name is Isabella.”
Damon was surprisingly quiet for a long minute before speaking again. This time all joking was gone from his voice and was replace with something that Stefan couldn’t quite place. “How does she look?”
“If you’re asking about her appearance, brown hair, eyes. Looks like she could be Elena’s cousin. If you asking what I think you are, she looks like she is about to have a mental breakdown,” Stefan answered softly, not wishing to do anything to provoke this side of his brother he never heard before in his voice.
“I’m on my way,” Damon said quickly before hanging up.
Stefan stood there in shock as the door opened revealing his girlfriend Elena and their friends returning from a shopping trip. He heard them stop short as they found Isabella in the living room. He managed to make it over to them before they could say anything about her presence, pulling them back into the foyer.
“Who’s the girl?” Caroline asked, her head peeking around the wall to take a look at the stranger curiously. “She looks so – broken.”
“I don’t know exactly who she is or why she’s here other than her name being Isabella, and she’s here looking for Damon,” he explained, still clearly confused about the whole scenario.
“Damon has a normal looking friend? And one that is human?” Elena asked, though she felt guilty immediately after the words left her mouth because she was once a friend and human in her early relationship with him.
Stefan shrugged. “Apparently. I already called him and he sounded, I don’t know – off – when I said her name. He’s on his way back now. I don’t think he’ll be long because he sounded concerned about how she looked.”
The uncharacteristic response of their friend spiked the girls’ curiosity and caused them to peek around the wall again at her. “Oh stop spying on her,” Bonnie sighed as she elbowed her way through and went up to introduce herself but fell back slightly at seeing the glassy look in the girl’s eyes. “Hello,” she smiled to her. “I’m Bonnie, one of Stefan’s friends.”
Bella’s eyes shifted from the spot she’d been staring at up to her and smiled weakly. “Bella,” she replied, reaching out to shake Bonnie’s hand. Almost instantly Bonnie froze as she got ambushed by images of the girl’s life. Her reaction was something that Bella was used to with Alice and immediately pulled her hand back and curled up into a ball almost as if trying to hide herself.
Bonnie stared at her frozen in shock as she tried to make sense of the visions. Caroline and Elena were immediately at her side questioning her but she refused to speak of what she saw. It wasn’t her story to tell, and out of respect for Bella as she also saw that the girl would reveal her story when she was ready.
Thankfully the group didn’t have to put up with the uncomfortable stretch of silence for long because Damon appeared in the doorway. He stood there staring at Bella in shock that she was actually there and deeply troubled by the emptiness in her eyes. “Isabella?” he whispered just loud enough to carry to her human ears.
Her head snapped to the sound of his voice and after her eyes and brain processed his familiar form, she just broke down crying rivers of tears. Damon flashed over to her side, one leg bent on the couch beside her as he held a hand up to push her hair from her face and tried to calm her down when her tears caused her to struggle for oxygen. “Shh, it’ll be alright. Let it out,” he murmured, shifting enough so that he could pull her against him as he wrapped his arms around her small body.
Elena and Stefan looked on, confused at the amount of affection he was giving this girl while Caroline could only watch on as she choked back her own emotions from the display. She had always been intuitive about others and while a small part of her knew that Damon was capable of such deep feelings, she knew it would take something earth moving to bring them out of him. Bonnie having seen their history remained as impassive as she could, trying to give them an illusion of privacy as she went to grab a book from one of the shelves that the Salvatores amassed over the years.
The group sat in relative silence for nearly an hour before Bella was calmed enough to speak without breaking into fresh tears. Damon could feel the shift in her body as she shifted from heartbreaking sorrow to apathetic numbness. “He’s gone. Charlie’s gone,” she shared, her voice even and without emotion. “Renee is gone. The tribe wants nothing to do with me. I have no one and she’s still after me.”
Damon closed his eyes, knowing the pain she was feeling as his grip around her tightened slightly. “I’m here for you,” he said, his voice soft. He shifted enough so that he could pull her face up to look him in the eye. Giving her a friendlier version of his trademark smirk, he said a little lighter, “We’ll let her come and I’ll tear her head off like I did with her friend. Besides, we’re overdue here for a good fight.”
“Damon,” Stefan chastised from across the room. “We don’t need any more trouble.”
“Stefan,” he mocked back, pleased to see the teasing bring a barely there smile on his friend’s lips. “If you knew what happened, you’ll want to be all over this too. Besides, when have you ever known me to pass up a chance to kill some sparkling Cold Ones?”
At the mention of the other breed, Stefan sucked in a breath. “You’re involved with the Cold Ones?” he asked Bella. His tone sent her on the defensive and she tensed in Damon’s arms.
“Ease up Stefanie. She’s got enough on her plate that she doesn’t need you as an enemy as well. Let’s just say that she’s got a deranged lunatic on her tail hell bent on revenge,” Damon argued.
“It’s okay,” Bella sighed, her hand running over his chest to calm him down. She sat up enough to look over at Stefan. She was resigned to having to share her story and wasn’t particularly looking forward to it.
“You don’t have to do this Isabella. If you want, I can tell them so that you don’t have to relive it again,” Damon pressed, turning her attention back on him. “I think I have a fairly good idea of what happened after I left so how about I set you up for a much needed nap while I fill the Scoobies in and you can answer whatever questions that I can’t later after you get a good long rest. Hm?” he held her face in his hand, his thumb brushing over her cheek to wipe away a stray tear.
Bella nodded her acceptance, relieved for the reprieve. “Okay,” she whispered.
He studied her again, his eyes taking everything in to make sure she was really okay with him sharing her painful story and nodded. “Come on. You can stay in my room that way I’ll be right there when the nightmares start.”
She couldn’t help the sigh of relief that escaped. She knew they would be inevitable and she was happy that he remembered something that small. Damon helped her up then went to grab her bags while she thanked everyone before following him out of their sight. She didn’t like the looks they were giving her but she couldn’t do anything to stop them and knew it would only get worse once Damon returned to tell them of her living nightmare.