Peter had taken point on the return to the cars and stopped short. He wasn’t sure what to make of the scent he was picking up as he had remained in his wolf form. “We have more company,” he warned.
“Take care of it,” Derek barked. “We need to get out of here.”
They had just got to the road where they found a group of Native American boys looking around the cars, causing them to groan. “How much more crap are we going to have to deal with?” Isaac mouthed as he was ready to wolf out again.
The largest of the natives looked up at them, his eyes immediately falling to the girl in Derek’s hands. “Who are you? You have no business here. The girl goes with us,” he said as he faced them.
One of the others behind him took notice, seeing her. “Bella…What did you do to her?!” he yelled, about to take off to attack the male holding her but he was held back.
“I don’t think that’s possible,” Peter replied, his eyes glowing blue in the night. “You see, I have a bit of a problem with your kind of wannabe wolves. Especially when it comes to that girl.”
“What the hell are you?” The boy that had threatened them demanded as his eyes followed Derek moving around them.
“Move,” he said as he got closer to the car, his tone low and no nonsense.
Peter and Scott moved quickly to clear the way while the twins jumped to action to keep the larger threats away. Derek was careful as he laid Bella in the backseat, looking her over to make sure that she was still alive and breathing before he backed out and closed the door.
When he turned around, his wolf was out, and his eyes were redder than ever in his anger. “We’re not going to let Bella go with more monsters now that the leeches are out of the picture,” the kid mouthed, ready to fight.
“Let’s do this then,” Derek grinned, waving his hands for him to come at him.
The older man that seemed to have been leading the group had been watching him with the girl frowned. “Jake. Stand down,” he ordered, his eyes remaining on this man that held a protective stance between them and the car that held the human girl.
“Interesting turnabout here,” Peter said as he and Scott joined Derek’s side. He was rather entertained by the reluctant reaction the boy had with the order as it was issued. “It seems this guy is their Alpha.”
“I am. My name is Sam Uley,” he said as he looked at them and their dirty battle clothes. “Are you responsible for what happened on Cullen land?”
“You mean the explosion and vampire ash that’s probably making its way east right now? Yeah,” Isaac smirked. “You got a problem with that?”
Peter glared at the shifter wolves. “Your kind were made to fight those things and you let them take that girl captive. She is barely hanging onto her life, and you expect us to let you take her? I don’t think so. You would have to take us all down first.”
“What is your intention with Bella? How does she even know you?” Sam asked, not understanding their protectiveness.
“That is none of your business. If you don’t mind, we have precious time to get home. Come after us and we will let a very angry, extremely protective Alpha come after you,” Peter growled out, carefully pushing Derek into the backseat. “Trust that we have no intention of coming back here.”
Sam nodded and looked to Jake. He shook his head. “Bella is considered dead. She’s been a missing person for months, and her mother gave up. You should know if you try to get any official paperwork for her.”
Everyone was quick to get into their cars while the shifters unhappily backed away. “Thanks. For what it’s worth. Just know that we do care about her and will make sure that she’ll get back to normal health. She’ll be safe with us,” Scott assured them.
He could hear the one called Jake complaining about his Alpha’s decision as he got into the car, questioning him. “Let’s get out of here before they change their mind,” he told Peter, buckling his seat. “I don’t trust that one.”
“I don’t trust any of them,” Peter replied as he put the car in drive. “Hold on tight!” He peeled out and onto the road, trying to put as much distance between them and the town of Forks as possible. Approaching the interstate, he led them on a different route back as he kept the speed up, certain that at a point, one of the wolves had attempted to follow.
Returning to Beacon Hills, the trip passed quietly and much more quickly. As Derek had requested, Peter drove past the veterinarian office but there was no sign of activity around. The man sighed in disappointment as he looked down to the girl he held and had not stirred once during the entire drive.
“I’ll ask my mom to come by and look her over until Deaton gets back,” Scott quietly said as they continued onward to the loft.
Derek looked over to him. He said nothing but he was grateful for the teenager. Even if he continued to refuse to follow him in his pack. The three were silent as they parked the car. Scott had watched as he took the girl in his arms with the softest expression on his face. He understood what Peter had been saying when he begun his teasing in regards to her, and he was rather surprised by it.
“How many times had she appeared to him?” he asked as he watched him disappear inside with her.
“He probably got a lot more visits than all of you combined. Or maybe it was that she only spoke to him,” Peter smirked. “I’ve had the pleasure to – listen in once. Go talk to your mother, Scott.”
He nodded. “I’ll be back soon. Tell him to call me if he needs anything,” he added as he walked away.
Peter frowned at him before turning to head inside. Looking around, he headed towards Derek’s room and leaned against the wall as he watched his nephew stand over the girl as she slept in his bed. “So what now?”
Derek looked up at him and was lost for a response. “Pray?”
That answer surprised him. “Pray? Since when have you found religion? You haven’t slept with the girl yet.”
“Pray that she lives through the night. She hasn’t stirred once, and her heart is beating just as slowly as it was in that house where she was being kept. It’s not right,” he hissed, the anger he’d suppressed in the car starting to escape.
“She’s a fighter Derek. She wouldn’t have lasted this long if she were meant to give up. For whatever reason, that girl chose you in all this, so you are going to need to be strong for her. I doubt that she’ll be handling her newfound freedom very well once she does wake,” Peter reasoned. “Why don’t you get some sleep? I can keep watch over her until Scott returns.
He turned his attention back on the girl and shook his head. “I’m fine here,” he insisted as he went to pull up a chair beside the bed. It was a wordless statement that he had no intention of leaving anytime soon.
Derek managed to stay awake, fighting the pull of slumber, for a couple hours before he finally succumbed. He didn’t wake until he felt someone shaking his shoulder, making him throw his arms out defensively with a warning growl.
“It’s only me,” Scott stammered as he jumped back out of reach of the man’s claws. “I brought my mom to look at Bella.”
The wolf froze and looked over to where the girl slept. He turned back to Scott and nodded. “Sorry,” he said, his voice gruff as he got himself composed.
The teen eyed him for a moment to make sure he was in control before he called out. “Mom! You can come in now,” he called out, staying by Derek’s side as the man leaned over in his chair with his face buried in his hands.
Derek looked up when the woman got closer to the bed. “Wow. This girl has certainly been through the ringer,” Melissa McCall commented as she assessed the best way to approach the situation. “Scott. You told me that she was banged up, but she really could use the hospital.”
“She can’t be in the hospital Mom. As far as we know so far, she’s not exactly human herself, so we don’t know how she works,” Scott explained. “We found out about her because she appeared around town like a ghost. Imagine if she does pops up in an old lady’s room or something.”
Melissa let out a sigh, pulling the covers back so that she could get a better look at her. “What about Dr. Deaton?”
“He’s out of town right now. Looking for information about what she is,” Derek answered. “Her heart has been beating slowly since I found her.”
The nurse nodded as she went to listen with her stethoscope, her brows furrowing with concern. “To be honest,” she started speaking. “From the looks and sound of things, she should be dead. I can’t explain it.”
Scott scratched his head confused. “She is going to mess Lydia up if this is a normal thing for her.”
“I don’t think she understands what she is or capable of herself,” Derek pointed out, his focus returning to Bella. “I didn’t get the impression that she had complete control over when she appeared and left.”
Shaking her head, the nurse found it hard to believe a lot of what she heard nowadays. It was difficult enough finding out that her son was a werewolf, but the more she learned, the crazier she thought she might be. Melissa sat on the bed beside Bella and began pulling out the supplies she brought with her, looking first to handle the larger injuries that were within her limitations.
As she disinfected the larger cuts that the girl bore, she had her eye on her face to watch for any signs of responsiveness. Her nerves grew more unsteady as Derek rose to his feet and agitatedly paced behind her. “She should be in some level of pain but she’s not responding to it,” she informed them as she knew that medically speaking, it was not always a good sign.
“She feels the pain, I assure you,” Derek hissed at her, coming close to lashing out. “She might not be as much right now.”
Scott eyed him curiously. “You took her pain on yourself all night?”
He shrugged a shoulder, trying to avoid the issue as he looked away. He knew exactly how deeply Bella had been hurting physically and what he did, he saw as the only thing he felt capable of in helping her at that point.
“Mom? Don’t worry about it. What else can you do with her right now?” Scott asked, turning back to her.
“Well, she needs stitches. I’m going to clean up the wounds the best I can and close a couple of these large lacerations she has. She could use some x-rays to make sure she doesn’t have any broken bones,” she explained as she went about her duty.
As she started cleaning and disinfecting the injuries on the girl’s arm, she frowned as she lifted her wrist. “She was bitten? What the hell is this?”
Scott and Derek moved closer to get a better look. Derek’s face darkened as he remembered what the vampire had divulged in the woods before their attack. “They tried to change her and failed,” he mumbled.
“What the hell are you getting my son involved in? Vampires?” Melissa questioned Derek as she continued to work on Bella.
“Mom, this was all of us. She came looking for help,” Scott explained. “We couldn’t not help her, especially if we are capable of doing something.”
She sighed at everything, shaking her head. She was quiet as she stitched the cuts that Edward had left open and exposed and looked her over one last time. “That’s the best I’m going to be able to do. She really could use the hospital though,” she reminded them. “I’ll see myself out.”
Scott nodded and said nothing as he had been watching Derek quickly return to the bedside, taking Bella’s hand in his. He wondered when the man would admit that he was developing feelings for the girl that no one knew, but all cared for.
“What the – how are you here? You were in there…” he heard his mother let out from down the stairs.
The two wolves looked up at one another, confused and curious. Together they quickly made their way down the steps to see what was freaking the woman out when they found the source. There was Bella in her separated form, sitting on the table beside Peter. She looked tired and a little worse for the wear for being a conscious ‘ghost,’ considering the true state her body was in only feet away.
“Bella,” Derek voiced, his eyes large as he stared at her. “How – how are you feeling?”
Peter raised an eyebrow at him, choosing not to comment on his reaction. “Bella seems to be slowly getting her strength back,” he said as he gave the illusion a gentle smile. “We were just talking here while you were busy upstairs.”
“I – could be better,” the girl smiled slightly, her voice sounding hollow and distant. Derek couldn’t help but look concerned. “I know I sound different. I don’t know why.”
“It’s fine, Princess,” Peter winked. “Perhaps it may be a good idea to return to your body so that you can rest and wake? There are a lot of people who wish to meet you officially when you are willing.”
She was unsettled by the thought of being bombarded by the strangers so soon. Looking over at Derek, who made his way closer, she nodded. “I don’t know how long it will be. He bit me,” she said, the memory coming to her and her lip quivered as she fought the desire to cry. “How did I not feel the burning?”
“Our kind can help with pain,” Derek answered her, trying to get her to look back up at him. “I took it from you so that you could rest peacefully.”
Bella shook her head. “Don’t do that again. Please…” she pleaded and left them.
Everyone let out a breath that they hadn’t known they were holding. “Well I think that went well,” Peter smiled.
“She’s traumatized,” Melissa scoffed as she glared at him. “And as much as I hate to say it, it might be a good idea to see how she does with some of the pain. It may help wake her sooner from this – coma state. You never know.”
Derek watched as Scott walked his mother out before turning to Peter. “What did you tell her?”
“Who me? I didn’t tell her anything that wasn’t true,” Peter alluded, his smile growing. “She is certainly an – intriguing girl. If she wasn’t jailbait, you might have had some competition.”
He glared at his uncle as his eyes flashed red in warning. Growling, he stalked up to the man and pulled him up until they were nose to nose. “She’s off limits. She won’t be part of whatever plot you have brewing. If I have to kill you again to make my point clear, I will,” he warned and threw him back onto the floor. Turning on his heel, Derek made his way back up the stairs while Scott returned.
He glanced at the angry back of Derek before turning to Peter. “What the hell did I just miss?”
Bella still hadn’t woken by the following afternoon. The teens had returned to school and filled in their friends who had been unable to join them on their trip. Allison reminded them that she still had to unload the weapons from the cars before her father returned.
As the friends made their way to her house, she slowed as she saw the garage door open. Knowing that she had shut it when she left that morning, she looked to others. “I think Dad is home,” she murmured.
Leading them inside, she grimaced at the look on her father’s face as he stood at the kitchen counter with all the weapons from the vehicles laid out on display. He took a sip of the beer in his hand without looking up at the group and nodded to himself. “Do I even want to know what you were trying to hunt this weekend?” Chris Argent questioned.
Allison looked to Scott and Isaac for guidance, and they each shrugged a shoulder, not knowing what to say. “Um, it wasn’t so much of a hunt than it was a rescue mission,” she smiled, trying to lay their innocence on thick.
Chris looked over to the boys and Lydia, who all silently stared back at him. “So that might explain the blood I found in the backseat of your mother’s truck. Who got hurt on this – rescue mission? Where did you go that you put on 2000 miles on the cars?”
“It was the girl we went for, well she was being kept prisoner by a group of vampires up in Washington,” Scott explained. “She’s been appearing to us around town…”
“Wait, this is that Ikiryō that we talked about?” Chris looked back to Allison. “What would vampires want with one of them?”
“Well, the one vampire was obsessed with her and was abusing her. Derek somehow was the one who managed to gain her trust to get her to tell him where she was and some of what was going on,” Scott continued.
The hunter let out a sigh as he lifted one of the grenades and peered at the teens. “Tell me you didn’t fight Cold Ones, please?”
“Uhh – is that what they call them?” Allison asked, smiling innocently.
“They are dangerous. You shouldn’t have gone Allison,” he chastised. “Now does anyone wish to fill me in on what is going on?”
Scott went over to the counter and looked over the weapons. “We got the girl out and destroyed some of the vampires that were there with the help of a couple that were against what the coven was doing. Unfortunately, there were a few that also got away but our focus was getting the girl out of there.”
“And where is she now?”
“Derek’s loft until Deaton comes back. My mom has been checking on her, but she hasn’t woken since we got her. She did do her projection thing for a period yesterday, but when my mother suggested that she might do better remaining with her body to heal, she left.”
Chris nodded, thinking about it. “It’s a workable theory. Hopefully, she wakes soon then. Were you able to find out what the vampires wanted with her?”
“The vamps that helped us said that they were looking to change her, but it failed. He didn’t know why and we didn’t tell him our thoughts about her being an Ikiryō,” Isaac volunteered.
“Good. I’m curious as to why they weren’t able to turn her. Just do me a favor and don’t speak about that failing with anyone that wasn’t there. Cold Ones would be coming out of the woodwork, looking to cause trouble with her. I would also follow up on the ones that went missing. I doubt you’ve seen the last of them. They are a persistent nightmare and pains in the asses,” Argent warned them. “Now how about you all put this stuff away and clean up the trucks. Next time, tell me if you’re going to do something so reckless. That way I may have your backs.”
“Time crunch Mr. Argent,” Isaac shrugged. “Not like Derek gave us time to get the things together before we headed out.”
“Derek?” Chris raised an eyebrow.
Scott pressed his lips together and shrugged. “I’m not saying a thing. You’ll have to see that for yourself.”
The hunter blinked as he thought about that. “I hope this girl isn’t a nutjob like the ones he tends to turn…”
There was a beat before anyone responded. “Hey!” Isaac protested loudly, causing everyone to chuckle.