Edward sat in the Denali home scowling. His plans were not going as planned. Isabella Swan was not supposed to become as resistant as she had. The arrival of these new faces was also just as concerning.
Having tracked the girl’s life since he discovered her mental silence, he knew she did not know of any of the faces that took his property. He had thought that with the Major stuck in Italy, his biggest obstacle out of the way, her training would have gone quicker. No. Everything only got worse for him.
Looking up at the sound of the door opening and closing, Edward growled. “Enlighten me Alice. How did you not see those monsters coming?”
The petite vampire huffed as she fell back into an open armchair. “I can’t see everything. You know this. Even now, I’m looking for Bella but she is with one of those wolves. Most of them are fuzzy, nothing clear. One of them in particular I can’t see at all. I remember seeing his face at the house as he killed Esme. I can’t get any visions of him. They have to be keeping her with him.”
“I want to know know where she is! We need her…” he growled.
“I know that! If only we knew when her gift would develop sooner. The bitch kept it secret too well,” she complained. “Why did it have to be a dog?!”
Edward shook his head. “At least they weren’t able to get our key players. If Carlisle actually participated in Whitlock’s training when you asked him, he might have been able to survive that attack. Regardless, at least we won’t have to hear about his morality anymore.”
“So what do we do? You decided to send Jasper to the Volturi. You’re lucky that they didn’t catch wind of our plan when you lured Bella there to test her against Aro’s gift,” Alice questioned as she eyed her brother.
“We also lost the house! Of anyone that could have shown up, it was her! We worked hard to locate the materials to build that house. Esme would be disappointed that we lost it. Do you have a plan to get it back?” he growled.
She sighed, rolling her eyes. “I’m working on it. I have someone watching in case we managed to draw something else in. We’ll figure something out soon. I’m running as many possibilities as we can but I’m limited with what we have.”
“I want to know where she is and what she is doing. Try harder!” The vampire was not happy as everything had been hinging on having the gift that Bella would have held once she turned and mated to him so that he could control it. “We need to find her,” he said evenly as he looked back at her. “Do whatever you need to find the bitch, but get her back. And find out why she didn’t turn when I bit her!” He demanded as he stood and stormed out of the house in a tantrum.
“Yes sir, asshole sir,” she muttered, rolling her eyes, closing them to begin another fruitless search for a vision of the girl that slipped through their fingers.
It was dark in the loft at Bella’s insistence. She and Derek returned late from their long, eventful day. Considering the level of both of their exhaustion, neither one was empty handed, having accomplished what they had originally set out to do.
By the time the two finally made it to the mall, it had taken some convincing from Derek for the girl to accept his generosity to choose more than the bare minimum of supplies. The largest argument centered around his purchasing a cellphone for her. He had a hard time understanding what her reluctance was about accepting his help about buying the things that she couldn’t get herself.
While he wasn’t as if he was hurting for money, he only was interested in getting her what she clearly needed and made that clear. Still, he won.
Derek’s eyes followed her form as she dragged herself up the stairs to bed, dropping her bags inside the doorway. He said nothing as he set his own down and slowly made his way over to the table where Peter was waiting in the dark.
“How is she doing?” Peter quietly asked as he stared up at the stairs where Bella disappeared.
He rubbed at the back of his neck, unsure of how to answer. “As well as you’d expect, I think. Argent put his name on the identification he made for her and it upset her.”
The older wolf looked to him surprised. “The hunter did what? Wait. So we’re housing a pseudo-hunter here or something?”
“I guess. Around town she’ll be Isabella Argent because of the hunter history for the extra protection however minor. He thought it might help some if the vampires did manage to track her here. Older daughter that was away at school,” Derek shrugged, trying to not let it appear that it bothered him.
Peter thought about it, letting the concept roll around in his mind a few times. As much as he hated the thought of the girl holding the name of the woman who burned the majority of his family, he let out a snort of disgust. He suddenly started laughing hysterically, slapping his nephew on his back with tears in his eyes as he stared back at him confused.
“What is wrong with you?”
“I just had a thought. Imagine if you decided to marry Princess! What would other hunters think of attending the wedding of a Hale werewolf and an Argent hunter? That’d be some awkward reception conversations and we can’t even get drunk for them!”
Derek did not share the same humor as the man did in the situation. While he, too, shared similar concerns about a connection to the hunters and their being wolves, in a safety sense; he knew in the long run it was better for Bella. He went to retrieve the bags, to quietly bring them up to the sleeping area that they had unofficially been marked as the girl’s personal space until they could figure out what they would do for the long term.
“Derek,” Peter called after him before he could make it all the way up the stairs, his voice hesitant as stared out the windows over the city. He waited until he was sure he was listening before continuing. “Whatever the vampires were looking to do, I think it started to take.”
The former alpha watched as the man froze in place, allowing the words to turn over in his head before facing him slowly. He stared back him wide eyed with his brows raised. Pursing his lips, Derek struggled to temper his growing distress over this new detail. Raising his hands to rest them on his head, he let out the breath he held slowly. “What makes you think this?”
Pressing his lips together with a frustrated growl, Peter’s fist slammed on the table, making it jump from the impact. “That girl is the most stubborn creature I had ever met. Never have either of us seen her do anything but what she wanted to do,” he argued harshly, trying not to raise his voice for it to carry up to her ears. “When she came to me during her little episode with you, I merely asked her to sit with me. Every little minor thing we asked of her, she resisted. Stupid things, she did the opposite of. She acted like a damn robot in that – ghost form of hers. Just walked right over to me,” he muttered. “It wasn’t right Derek. It wasn’t her.”
Derek’s hands moved down the back of his head to clasp them behind his neck. He knew exactly what his uncle was speaking of. Bella had attempted to argue with him over everything he tried to buy for her, even though she needed them while they were in the shops. “Hopefully Deaton’s Druid friend will be able to give us answers soon. She arrived today but Bella insisted on leaving as soon as she woke up so we left.”
“Do you have a plan on what to do with Miss Argent?” Peter smirked.
He rolled his eyes as he picked up the forgotten bags again. “Take it day to day right now. We need to talk to this druid first. She knows more about Bella and she said some monk sent her to us. We need to find out why.”
Peter sat up and leaned forward in his chair. “What?”
“She didn’t explain. She shut the hell up after that,” he growled, his fists tightening around the handles of the bags. Shaking his head, he was still too shaken over the day that despite knowing Bella was fine, he needed to see her for himself. “I’m going to keep an eye on her tonight. See you in the morning.”
“It’s your funeral.” His uncle murmured as he disappeared up the stairs. Silently, Derek stood and watched his new friend sleep in his bed for a few moment before he moved to set her bags over by the dresser before putting his own inside his closet. Changing out of his shirt, he collapsed into his armchair. Rubbing a hand over his tired face, he couldn’t help but feel restless whatever is coming. He had not idea what the threat was but it shook him to the core as his eyes drifted closed as he stared at Bella until he fell asleep.
When Bella awoke, she was surprised to find Derek passed out in the chair. Frowning, she pulled one of the extra blankets from the bed and covered him with it before quietly making her way downstairs to avoid waking him. She paused at the top when she heard him shifting, but breathed out a sigh of relief when he didn’t wake.
As she made her way to the common area, she found Peter already up and making breakfast. There was a plate of bacon and sausage on the table, toast, and he was just finishing a large pan of scrambled eggs when she moved to sit in her usual chair as she eyed everything skeptically. Soon a plate was set in front of her and the delicious scent made her mouth water with hunger.
“Alright. I give. What’s going on?” Bella questioned as she peered up at the man.
Peter stood there for a moment, smiling back at her as he held onto the frying pan, contemplating how to respond. “Well, Princess, there are a lot of things going on. I could tell you them, but I don’t think you would be very happy with quite a bit.”
She stared back at him dubiously, not moving to begin eating the meal he prepared for her. “Almost everything about my situation I am able to find something that I am unhappy about. So far, you and Derek are the least of them. Please do not give me reason to change my opinion. Tell me the truth Peter. That’s all I want and expect of anyone. It’s something that they never gave me.”
He went to set the pan back on the stove, glancing towards the stairs on his way back before pulling a chair closer to her and sitting down. “I don’t want you to get upset but it has to be asked. I know you haven’t wanted to talk about them and we have let it slide. But Princess, it’s time that we really need to have that talk,” he said as he leaned down to rest his elbows on his knees and looked at her.
Peter knew he was losing her focus when she turned away to focus on eating instead. Sighing, he reached out, barely skimming her wrist with his fingers, making her flinch as she looked down where he touched on the Triskelion mark she bore. “We only want to protect you and to do that we need to know everything,” he said as gently as he could. His blue eyes stared at her until she finally looked up.
“They – the Cullens weren’t always like that. At least before they left. I thought they genuinely cared but it wasn’t until later that I learned that they, actually most of them, didn’t. I don’t know what he was looking to get out of … doing to me what he did,” she wavered, looking up to him again with tear filled eyes. “When I wanted to be one of them, he denied me. Refused to change me, to take my soul. To make me a monster like him, he claimed. He breaks my heart by leaving me the way he did. I healed, I was getting over him like he said I would and his sister comes back to drag me back into their world. Why? Why?”
He moved to hold her hand as he looked into her eyes. “I don’t know, but it sounds a lot like they were waiting for you to become what you are and you needed to make this choice willingly. Why that is, we will find out. You know I’m always game to rip apart some vamps.”
She picked up a piece of bacon and nibbled on it. She could understand why Peter and Derek were frustrated, not knowing. But she didn’t know a thing about what she was, other than she had somewhat learned what triggered her ‘condition’. She was just as much in the dark as they were and that sucked. “I really don’t know what else to tell you.”
Peter reached over and swiped a slice of bacon from her plate, ignoring the ones he had right beside him and the glare she gave. He waved it around, teasing her as his ears detected movement upstairs. Continuing his speech, he raised his voice a fraction. “I doubt that very much Princess. It would be a lot easier for us if you just tell the full story of what you know with these fuckheads so that we can try to figure out some kind of plan. You may not want to share everything but it’ll just be easier to get it out now and get it over with.”
Bella frowned as she looked down to her lap, pulling her legs up onto the chair. “I honestly don’t know what you want me to say,” she sighed, her fingers tangling themselves up in her shirt. “I mean I never really considered myself normal. I was an outsider to the humans around me. Everyone thought I was a freak when I would tell them of the strange dreams I had as a kid but they stopped, even if it was a nightmarish fire, and I moved to Forks when my father died when I was younger. Then the Cullens came and while I was more comfortable around them, even then I was an outsider.”
The mention of fire peaked his interest. Not because he thought it was significant, but he had an obsession with fire ever since Kate Argent burnt down their house. “Tell me about your dreams.”
She raised an eyebrow and shook her head slightly in exasperation and suppressed amusement. Hearing the quiet creak of metal from the stairs she turned to see Derek slowly make his way down, waving a silent greeting. Turning back, she hesitated. “Uh…well, I dreamt a lot about the woods and often saw this wolf,” she explained in a whisper as she remembered what she believed were her past dreams. “A large black wolf with red eyes. I’ve never heard of such a thing before.”
“Wolves don’t have red eyes,” Peter said, cocking his head. “Not normal wolves, anyway. What else can you remember?”
Derek had made his way to the table, his eyes fixated on Bella as he made himself a plate silently and sat down. He couldn’t help but think of his mother as she spoke, wondering what she’d make of the current situation they had found themselves in.
“I don’t know,” Bella repeated. “I was young and terrified. I think I was being chased by something and the wolf ran it off. I do know that as afraid as I was of it at first, it protected me whenever I saw it. I never saw it again after that fire, but I also didn’t have the dreams either.”
“Hold that thought,” Peter said, moving away from the table and walking to a chest. After opening it, he started to rummage through it as if he was looking for something extremely valuable.
She looked over at Derek, hoping that he might have a clue of what the man might be up to.
“Don’t look at me,” he said with a shrug. “No idea what’s going on in his head.”
“He’s your uncle,” she pointed out softly. Eyeing him, she bit her lip nervously. “Um…Thank you…”
“For what?” Derek briefly looked at her before eyeing Peter and then focussing his attention back on Bella.
“For yesterday? And not leaving me alone,” she hinted, knowing that he slept in the chair beside the bed after the events the previous day. It certainly hadn’t helped her nightmares. “I – I know I haven’t been easy to deal with.”
He smiled at her before grabbing the bacon off Peter’s plate. “You don’t have to thank me, Bella, you needed stuff, so we got stuff and I didn’t want to leave you alone last night, just in case. The chair is quite comfortable.”
“That is such a lie,” she laughed at him, throwing the crust of her toast at him as her comfort level was increasing in their presence. Blinking her eyes as the realization started to dawn on her, her smile softened, knowing she wanted to tell the both of them how she met the Cullens.
“What? That you needed the stuff? No lie,” he said with a grin.
“Found it!” Peter called out and made his way back towards them with a photo in his hands. “Just out of curiosity, was this the house, Bella?”
Derek drew in a breath as he recognized the image and his eyes honed in on her for her reaction. He was surprised to see her own recognition as she took the photo from his uncle’s hand. “You’ve seen that house before?”
“From the outside,” she murmured as she traced over the porch with her finger. “I was maybe eleven when I dreamt of it. I saw it in flames, I could hear the screaming and couldn’t do anything to help. Even in my dream I remember running up to the porch but my hand went right through the door knob. There was a woman watching from the treeline about here…It wasn’t a dream, was it?” she asked as she looked up at them.
“No,” Peter replied, not even masking his sadness. “Seven of our family members died that night, including our Alpha and Derek’s mother Talia. It would have been nine if I hadn’t survived it.”
“My mother she… she could transform into a big black wolf. Her eyes were red because she was the alpha.”
Bella pulled in a deep breath, setting the photo down on the table carefully and pushed her breakfast back as she felt overwhelmed. “So I’ve actually had this ability since I was a kid? I don’t understand. I must have lost it or something because the Cullens seemed to had been waiting for me for something and the way it sounds it might be like this and if I had it all along…”
“I don’t know. I think you should ask Jessica that,” Derek said, gently rubbing her back. “But the thing is, things like these don’t just develop overnight. It’s possible you saw the house and my mother because the arson itself was a traumatic event and caused ripples in the supernatural community.”
“Do you know why I am linked to your family?” she asked, looking down at her Triskelion. “I mean, it’s not like I’m against it. I like you guys but I just want to know why you? Why not someone else? Because obviously I had met your mother at some point, Derek.”
“I think that Jessica can answer that, all we can do with the three of us is theorize.”
Bella made a face at the suggestion, but knew it was her only option. “Do I have to? If she gets to be too much, can one of you just – I don’t know? Eat her? Isn’t that what werewolves do?”
“You don’t have to talk to her alone about it, if you don’t want to,” he smiled at her. “We don’t eat people, we maim. Or that’s Peter. He likes ripping people to shreds. Don’t get him started.”
“I’m hurt.” Peter said mockingly. “I only do that when they’re of no use anymore so when Jessica’s well of information dries up, and you still want her gone, I’m your man.”
“Then we have a plan,” she nodded in acceptance. “Call her I guess. When everything is done, Peter has some fun. Let’s get this over with.”
Sitting sandwiched between the two intimidating werewolves, Bella eyed faced the visiting emissaries. No one had said a word since Deaton and Jessica arrived as they allowed the young Ikiryō to calm down in their presence. Even with her werewolf bodyguards.
Jessica sat back just as calmly as she smiled at the girl. “Stubbornness isn’t going to get you the answers that you want Isabella,” she said. “I must say that you have grown into a gorgeous young woman.”
Bella narrowed her eyes on her with suspicion. “What is that supposed to mean? What do you know? How long have you known about me?”
“I know what you are and that you are extremely rare,” the Druid woman replied, her smile falling from her lips as her gaze turned over to the wolves at her side. “Not many know about Ikiryōs because your kind come along so infrequently and are misinterpreted by humans. They develop their own folklore and it can be difficult to weed through what is fact and what is fiction.”
“Alright. So let’s say I believe you. What do you have to do with me?” she pressed the woman. “You seem to know me personally.”
Jessica shrugged a shoulder and folded her hands over her lap. “I may have heard that you may have been a potential and checked on you once. I know only of one other Ikiryō, and I visited him before coming here to confirm if he knew of you.”
The young girl looked confused as she turned to her friends, who did their best to give their reassurance that she was doing fine. “Are you talking about the Asian man in that room? There was no doors or windows. I don’t even know how I got out.”
“Hm, yes. He doesn’t give his name but is one and the same. Tracking him down is a lengthy process,” the emissary admitted with aggravation. “Still, I managed to return with valuable information that can help you to live a long life.”
“Enough with the see-sawing. Just answer the girl’s questions. You people are always vague and never to the point and it’s getting on my nerves,” Peter spoke up as he glared at them. “She’s been dealing with this shit long enough.”
“Jessica,” Deaton prodded calmly as he nodded to her, causing her to sigh with dissatisfaction.
“Fine. Bella needs to drink a special tea at least every couple months. It’s strong enough to stay in her system that it doesn’t need to be take so close. It will keep her from dying. It can take you right up to the very edge without going over. You drank it in your state of separation when the other Ikiryō pulled you to his home. It is what saved you from that vampire bite. For all intents and purposes your body is dead whenever you separate yourself. When they attempted to change you, they needed a living form and they didn’t have it. Curious… Where were you?”
The girl looked confused as she tried to remember what was going on at the time. There was so much time lost for her in that room that it all blended together. “I don’t know exactly when it was.”
“I think it was the day that you came to us and finally said where you were,” Derek answered as he turned his head to look at her. “Do you remember yourself flickering?”
Bella frowned as she tried to focus on the faded memories that she often confused with dreams, nodding cautiously. “Like I was being forced back. It was twice he bit me but I didn’t turn. I don’t remember anything about it. Just him hitting me, passing out then waking up here,” she said.
Jessica nodded thoughtfully. “How much time had passed since you had seen the other Ikiryō and drank his tea?”
“Maybe a few months?”
“You need more,” she ordered succinctly. “I will give a list of the herbs to your wolves to collect for you. I will warn you, it will likely taste worse drinking in reality than in your other form. You should also practice your gift more. Strengthen it.”
As her hand rubbed over her Triskelion mark, Bella glanced towards the breakfast table where the photo of the Hale’s family home still sat. “Why was I sent to the Hales?”
“What reasons do you suppose you were sent, Bella?” Jessica asked in return, a smile on her lips. When no response was given she continued. “Emissaries, like Deaton and I, are the advisors to wolf packs. Deaton, in his case, was assigned to the Hale family and he has come out of his retirement to not only to help them but also to a new pack that’s formed here in Beacon Hills. Sometimes, in rare cases, certain packs are asked to protect special beings, innocent ones, like yourself. The Hales were assigned to protect you.”
“Huh?” Both Peter and Derek let out at the same time. “I don’t know anything about this,” Peter added.
“That information was only disclosed the Alpha at the time, Talia.”
Deaton was surprised at the knowledge that the young woman had been meant to be among the Hale family for protection. He didn’t know anything of this, Talia never shared it with him. Looking over the wolves, he found no hint of surprise on their faces which startled him even more. “You have discovered this already?”
“Yeah. Seems I had these abilities already when I was younger. Derek’s mom seemed to have been familiar with me and protected my other self,” Bella admitted as she glanced up him when she spoke his name. She said nothing about her experience of the house burning as it was still too traumatic of an event for all involved. “I may have lost my ability at some point and gained it back… I don’t know.”
“Hm,” was all that Jessica sounded on the subject as she looked between them. She could clearly see how close they all were to one another, even Peter, who was rumored to care for no one but himself. He had positioned himself squarely beside her, voicing himself only when provoked or the girl was threatened. “The two of you should definitely begin working on her abilities. Find out what kind of beings she’s attracted to. Just because she is the target for the Cold Ones doesn’t mean that she can’t be valuable against them. And just because the Cold Ones are a current threat against her, doesn’t mean other supernaturals might find out about her and go after her themselves.”
Peter let out an annoyed sigh. “No news then. Do you have anything that’s even worth listening to?”
“Peter,” Bella admonished as she attempted to suppress a smile. She, too, was growing frustrated by the repeated information that they learned on their own. “His attitude aside, he is right. What can you tell us that we don’t already know? That’s why we asked you here to begin with.”
“Drink the tea. It will help prevent you from certain death when using your gift,” Jessica repeated. “There is little else I can tell you that you want to know. All I can truly share is the fact that you are now where you were always meant to be. You were never meant to move to Forks like you did. Something changed your course, driving your family there instead of to Beacon Hills where the Hales were meant to look over you.”
Bella snorted and shook her head. “That almost makes me think of Alice and her decisions,” she muttered to herself, thinking. “I’ll admit there were times I felt unnaturally drawn to them. Like they had some power or control over me, attracting me to them, just as I was to the area around Forks. Like I was always looking for something.”
“There’s a nemeton in Forks,” Jessica spoke quickly, almost as if she had a rush of inspiration. “It’s not easily accessible, but it’s somewhere on Mount Olympus. A cave. It’s been there for centuries and I believe the shaman of the Native American tribe that lives there uses it on occasion.”
“Oh, Barry lives there,” Deaton smiled.
“Yeah, Barry uses it.”
“Is he a Druid for those shifter wolves that look like Isaac’s ponies?” Derek question while Peter started to growl in his disgust over the tribe and their actions as he wasn’t quite over them.
“No,” Deaton smiled at the werewolf. “Barry looks after a pack near Port Angeles. He tends to avoid the Nemeton at all costs, we don’t really need ancient power anymore.”
“What can this Nemeton power do?” Bella asked, slapping her wolf friend’s arm lightly for his joke. As much as she enjoyed teasing to lightened the tension, she was focused on this new detail she never heard of before. “Would this have affected me in any way? I didn’t have my ability by the time I went to Forks. I lost it already.”
Jessica looked over to Deaton for a moment before turning to answer. “You never lost your ability. It may have been suppressed or bound. I don’t know what happened and the other Ikiryō said nothing to me about it. It could have been the shift that occurred when many of the Hale family died in the house fire that affected you. I am concerned about about the way that these vampires were able to draw you to them. Ikiryōs tend to be very resistant to bonding. It usually takes a great deal of work to get into their graces.”
“I have an idea but you two won’t like it,” Peter muttered under his breath as he leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and folded his hands together. “When we went up to rescue Princess here, I may have felt that draw she mentioned. But not to them so much, but to the house more. I think those asshats used some of the Nemeton wood to build their house. I wouldn’t put it past them if they knew what they had their hands on and sought out pieces of whatever they could get and created one of their own.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Derek said with a huff.
“Is it? The way they seem to be wanting Bella and does everything it takes to get her, I wouldn’t put it passed them. I would.”
“Yeah, but you’re a raving lunatic so…”
Deaton stared at Peter as he worked to follow his trail of thought. He nodded slowly before closing his eyes. “They created their own version of a Nemeton to attract something or someone to them. They are seeking power or beings for something. If it’s Bella specifically… All the more reason the wolves here should be alert, and for you, Bella, to learn your craft quickly.”
“I think I’d like you to leave now,” the girl murmured from where she sat, tucked between the boys. She laid her head on Peter’s shoulder before he wrapped his arm around her back. “If you guys ever get to face off with my fuckhead ex, please make sure he suffers? I don’t know what the hell I was thinking what that guy.”
“Anything you want Princess,” Peter smiled as he looked over at Derek who scowled back. “Anything you want.”