Telling the story of her relationship with the Cullens was not an easy experience for Bella. The first couple days after, the guys had avoided her as they had grown temperamental. Being in the same vicinity as one another became complicated as well. The two often came to blows, starting to fight with one another before it would catch her attention and one or the other would leave the loft. Watching Derek take off, left her feeling nothing but regret and shame as she stood on the spiral staircase.
“It’s not your fault Princess,” Peter’s voice sounded from across the room. His tone was tight in his frustration over the situation. He made his way over to her and frowned as he took in her distraught appearance. Noting the stress that he and his nephew had clearly had been placing on the girl as they struggled with their emotions over her, he shook his head.
“I shouldn’t have told you everything like I did. Now you both hate me and want nothing to do with me anymore,” she tried to back away from him. Tears from the thought of losing the ones she came to trust so quickly rolling down her face.
He shook his head in denial, trying to piece together where she would have gotten such a notion. While the bitterness between Derek and himself had never been resolved, they were even more restless and aggressive over the previous days. Instigating fights with one another and having to leave to avoid harming the innocent girl. In doing so, they had spent less time than she had grown accustomed. “Aww hell,” he groaned. “No. No. We don’t hate you. Far from it. I get that you’re confused but we’ve just been rather…emotional about what you shared, and it’s been hard for us to deal with it. Like right now, I can bet that my pretty boy nephew is out running around in the woods to try to calm down. We’ve been leaving so that we don’t try to hurt you in case that we have an accident with our anger getting the better of ourselves.”
“But you won’t hurt me,” she said after a moment of silence, blinking at Peter.
“Neither would Derek. At least when we are on our own. We just don’t trust ourselves not to lose control when we’re that volatile together, and that is for your protection Princess,” he tried explaining.
Calming down finally, she frowned. “That’s just stupid; you guys need to work it out.”
Peter snorted at that, waving his hand dismissively. “What’s between me and Derek is between me and Derek. Just understand that we don’t like each other that much.”
“You’re all the family one another has,” Bella said as she stared at him. Her nerves settling over the tension she’d been feeling, but a new set of stormy emotions filling her senses. “I know his sister is out there, but from what I can remember of her when I came around, I don’t particularly care for her much myself. But that doesn’t mean that you treat family like you have. Now the two of you are the closest thing to family I have, and I’ll be damned if someone took either of you from me. I don’t want you take yourselves away either.”
He stared back at her, unable to respond directly to her declaration or admit just how much it rattled him. “Noted,” he replied as he pointed at the coffee machine, searching for any form of distraction. “Want some?”
She shrugged a shoulder. “I guess,” she answered. “So…that emissary lady said I needed to drink that tea and work on my ability. Do you have any idea what she mean about what beings I attract?”
Peter went about to start the coffee for them as he considered what she meant. “It could be anything, but it would have to be looked into more. What I know of Ikiryōs is just stories, fables. Though if they have any truth in them, based on what this Jessica implied, they can draw the attention of specific groups. I heard stories of one in Japan that had a thing about going after men that cheated on their women.”
Bella looked tired and frustrated. “Again, how am I supposed to know about myself?”
“Well, when you were out, doing your ghostly haunts, where did you go? Surely you lacked control on where you appeared. So what do you remember seeing?” He asked with an amused smirk on his lips.
She tried to think back and shrugged again. “I don’t know. I know there was some other vampire like people, with veins coming out of their eyes and all. They either got spooked or tried to attack me. Another time, there was this guy and another girl behind a bar, but she had eyes that were completely black. That was freaky.”
He poured her a cup of coffee as he thought about what she just said. “What if Jessica was wrong? What if you don’t attract the supernatural, but they attract you?”
“So I’m like a supernatural magnet?”
“You’re like a supernatural Buffy the vampire slayer?”
Bella scowled at the reference. “Well if that’s the case, then take me to Louisiana because the one vampire, if he was one, was really hot. I think he recognized the significance of the Triskelion thing that follows me when I separate. He stopped the guy that was with him from approaching me when I was looking for help before I found Beacon Hills.”
“Another vampire? I would have pegged you for a wolf girl,” Peter smiled slyly.
“I just said he was hot,” she replied.
“You really like to live dangerously,” he said with a grin and took a sip of his coffee. “If I’m not mistaken, Stiles charted your appearances, and you only showed up when there was a supernatural in the vicinity. So when you separate, you find one. What if you could target someone when you separate? Like… I don’t know, try to find Derek.”
Bella scrunched up her face at the name of Derek’s human friend. “I don’t like his friends very much,” she muttered before eyeing him. “What? Like now?”
“Yep, why not?”
She whimpered slightly as she was nervous about being put on the spot like that. Setting her coffee down, she made her way over to the couch before she would try anything. The last thing she needed was a concussion from knocking her head on the floor. This would be the first time she was actively going to use her ability while being completely healthy; at least that she could remember. The times as a child she only recalled as dreams.
“If that magical tea does do as Jessica claims, can you make some for when I come back? I like the idea of not dying anytime soon,” she murmured as she tried to figure out how she was going to zero in on Derek like Peter wanted her to.
“Of course,” Peter said as he walked over to her and sat down on the table in front of her. “Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and think of visiting Derek or something. I don’t know.”
“Fat load of help you are!” she snapped at him. “What the hell did you think I was trying to do? Daydream about vampire/werewolf hybrids?”
Peter blinked at her. “You saw the hybrid? Oh, this is going to be good,” he said with a wide grin on his face. “Wait, he’s the hottie?”
“I don’t know. Did I? Is he? How the hell should I know? It wasn’t like I was able to sit down and have a conversation with any of the people I tried to get help from when most of them tried to attack me. You crazy wolves were the first ones not to,” she answered. After a moment, she looked at him in awe. “Wait…There really is a werewolf/vampire creature out there? So cool…”
“Yes, there is one. Or two. I lost count. Maybe one,” he said with a shrug and shook his head. “Not important. I’ll be in the kitchen to get that tea started for you, and I’ll keep an eye on you while I do it.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound creepy at all Dad…” She grumbled as she closed her eyes to think about the wolf that had helped her so much.
“Don’t worry, child, you will be okay,” Peter countered, grinning as he started the kettle.
Bella rolled her eyes under her eyelids as she laid her head back on the couch. Thinking about Derek, she attempted to recreate the same feelings when she had separated in previous instances. She could almost feel her own heart slow its beating until it was nearly at a complete standstill. Her breathing too was almost nonexistent.
Bella soon found herself standing in the woods, directly in the path of Derek as he was running full speed at her. Out of instinct, she threw her arms up to guard herself against the impact that never came.
Derek had been surprised when she appeared before him and attempted to stop himself but ran right through her before turning around quickly to face her. “Bella? Something wrong?” he asked.
She looked up at him and hoped that in her current state, she was incapable of blushing as he made his way over to her. Topless and covered in sweat, she couldn’t help but take notice of him more now than before. “I did it!” She exclaimed with a big smile on her face, hopefully covering the burning sensation she felt on her cheeks.
“Did what?” he asked as he stared at her, confused but still pleased to see her. “Isn’t Peter at the loft with you?”
“Yeah, he is,” she felt incredibly proud of herself. “We’re testing a theory. I guess he’s right. I want to try it out more, though.”
He raised his eyebrows, unsure if this might be a good thing or not. When it came to his uncle, it usually wasn’t but she was so excited at the moment that he couldn’t help but to smile. “And what is this theory you two have?”
“That I don’t attract supernatural beings, but that they attract me. And then he told me to go and find you. Didn’t think it was possible. But I did it!”
“That’s great. So we’ll have to work on this some more. Around town and maybe with the others?” he suggested as he reached out to try to play with her hair and was disappointed that his hand went through her. “Maybe we can figure out if you can become tangible in this form too.”
She nodded. “But I have to go and drink the tea now. Don’t want to die on Peter’s watch. You two might end up killing each other, and then Isaac has to clean up the mess. Not a good idea.”
Derek blinked when his phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket and smirked when he saw the name. Picking it up, he put it on speaker. “Hi, Lydia.”
“Is everything okay with Bella?”
“Yes, everything is fine. She is at the loft with Peter,” he replied.
“Are you sure? Is Peter alright? I’m a little confused.”
“It’s Peter. He’s never alright.”
“Derek!” Lydia whined on the other end of the phone. “I think she’s not in her body anymore.”
“I don’t know. She hasn’t separated since she was provoked that day. I don’t think Peter can piss her off enough to take off like that,” he replied.
“Get your ass back home, we’ll meet you there,” Allison’s voice sounded.
“Why? What’s the problem?”
“Bella’s near death.”
“Isn’t that what she is?”
Bella couldn’t help but let out a small giggle before waving at Derek and disappeared again. She woke up with a gasp back home and had a little bit of a hard time focusing on Peter, but she felt whole. “I’m still here?”
“Yes, you’re here. You okay there kid?” he asked as he held out the tea for her. “You find him okay?”
Bella sniffed the tea and scrunched her nose in disgust. “Yeah, I did. Immediately. He ran right through me. Proud of me?”
“Immensely. Drink up. How does movies and popcorn sound for lunch?”
“You drink it,” she said as she held out the mug for him.
“I’m not the one that likes to walk around scaring the shit out of people…”
Bella scowled as she pulled her legs underneath her and nursed her cup of tea. “Movies and popcorn for lunch sounds awesome. Oh, and we’re going to have company soon!”
“Lydia called Derek. Evidently she sensed me out of my body and freaked out. The puppy brigade is on their way over. He played it off that I was here the entire time before I came back,” she said as she rolled her eyes. “Why won’t he let you kill them? They are annoying.”
Peter shrugged. “He’s got a soft heart at times. Don’t make any mistake that he isn’t capable of killing. He would if the reason is there. Myself, I just don’t give a damn.”
“Would you kill me?” Bella asked as she looked at him.
He scowled at her. “Why would you ask me such a stupid question? Of course not. I care about you, and there aren’t many that I do care about. So I don’t want you to ask or mention anything like that again.”
“I’m just asking,” she said with a shrug. “You don’t have to be a dick about it.”
“I’m not a dick about it, you asked, and I gave you an honest answer,” Peter plainly stated. “Drink your tea and pick a movie, I’m going to make popcorn.”
Bella rolled her eyes as she sipped the tea. She nearly spat it out as she coughed. “This stuff is vile! What the hell is in it?”
“A bunch of crazy herbs but if it helps keep you from kicking the bucket, what’s your alternative?” he asked.
She curled her lip as she glared into her mug. “I’ll be drinking it in my altered form from now on, that’s what,” she muttered as she forced herself to swallow another mouthful. Grabbing the remote, she put on a random movie and sat back, waiting for the local supernaturals to show up.
Thankfully they hadn’t had to wait long. Shortly after Peter settled down beside her, there was a persistent knocking at the door. The two had exchanged an irritated look before he moved to answer it. With a sarcastic smile, he opened the door. “What can we do for you?” he asked, not wasting time with pleasantries.
“Is Derek and Bella here?” Lydia bluntly asked as she pushed her way past him, looking around. She stopped short at seeing the very awake girl on the couch with a bowl of popcorn in her lap. “Derek?” she repeated, looking slightly embarrassed as Scott, Isaac, and Allison followed the disgruntled Peter inside.
“He’s likely out running around the woods. You’re more than welcome to look,” he waved her off. “We were having a movie fest. Are you planning on staying? Because you’ll have to get your own popcorn.”
Lydia continued to stand there frozen and confused. “But I was so sure… Bella, you didn’t separate at all?”
The girl raised an eyebrow as she looked to the others. “I haven’t moved from this couch. I was told that I needed to drink this disgusting tea and keeping that down is my main focus. Going around and playing ghost is the last thing I’m interested doing today.”
“Seems like your powers aren’t completely working as they’re supposed to,” Peter mused, flopping back on the couch and grabbed a handful of popcorn. “You know the way out.”
Bella rolled her eyes at him as she set the bowl between them. “Must you antagonize her? Just let them go back to thinking you’re the bad guy and leave us to our movies,” she said, ignoring the looks that the teens were giving the scene before them.
“I am the bad guy,” Peter said as he munched on his popcorn. “I’m a badass bad guy.”
“Badass that is having a moviethon and popcorn with a girl who you have no chance in hell of getting with,” she smirked.
“Just to fuck with Derek’s head. We need a beer or something. Can’t you mix your terrible tea with beer?”
“I don’t like beer, and I don’t want anymore of that shit right now. And why would you want to mess with Derek’s head?” she questioned with a confused look on her face. An amused snort sounded from behind her, and she barely offered them a glance as she stared at her friend. “I think you have a few marbles loose up there…” she said, throwing a kernel at his head.
“Hey, watch that,” he said, grabbing a handful of popcorn and threw it at her. “Oh look, it sticks to your hair! More!”
Bella’s mouth fell open in shock. “You are such a…an ass!” she screeched as she threw a handful back at him, trying to get more down his shirt just to irritate the man. “You will pay for that!”
Peter laughed as he managed to get another handful into her hair.
Scott, Allison, and Lydia looked at each other, not quite sure what to think of the scene before them. Isaac had already moved to get a better view of the spectacle after managing to grab a handful of popcorn himself. This was amusing.
Derek had silently slipped into the apartment, hearing the commotion from outside and watched the scene with a blank expression as he approached the teens. He couldn’t stop his eyebrow from curiously raising as he took in the laughter between the two, smiling slightly at the blush of excitement on the girl’s face. A first since they had come in contact with her.
“So…have I missed anything important?” he asked quietly, his eyes still fixated on the playful girl as she broke a handful of popcorn on his uncle’s face, smearing the pieces over his skin.
“She separated,” Lydia said, turning around on her heels. “She denies she did, but she did. I know it.”
He looked at her and shrugged. “Well, who all did she appear to before? If she didn’t show herself to any of you, and I didn’t see her, then you must have gotten your voices mixed up. She doesn’t look like she was playing dead recently,” he said pointing in Bella’s direction. “She was shaken for quite awhile after that last time. She looks fine.”
“Time to get your wires checked,” Isaac piped up, a wide grin appearing across his face. “Consult with the supernatural plumber.”
Lydia looked as if she was ready to cry as she turned back and forth from the two playing on the couch to Derek, who appeared so sure that he hadn’t seen Bella anywhere else. “I know what I felt. I don’t understand…” she muttered. “I thought something was wrong.”
“It’s okay, Lydia,” Scott said in a soothing voice. “You don’t have to be right all the time.”
Hearing the young wolf, Bella settled down and glared back at him. “You’re right this time. She doesn’t always have to be. Neither do you. Why are you even here? I thought you were too goody good for the Hales.”
“I was worried something had happened to you,” Scott blinked at her.
“You mean you were worried that Peter might have done something underhanded to me,” she corrected as she narrowed her eyes on him, her tone growing icy. “Newsflash. He’s not all that bad of a person. He’s probably the closest thing I have to a father right now and I don’t like you. So here is my only warning to you. You can pass it on to whomever you wish. You mess with my wolves; you mess with me. Fucking with your banshee’s head would be the least of your worries.”
Scott’s mouth fell open in surprise. “That’s not fair! I didn’t – I…”
“Let it go,” Allison said as she gently rubbed Scott’s arm. “Not worth getting angry about. I think we were all just curious to see whether or not Lydia was right again.”
Bella continued to remain tense and protective over the older man as she glanced at the girl meant to pose as her ‘sister’. She saw what the other girl was trying to do in attempting to sooth the situation but since the first meeting, the one wolf had remained under her skin. “Then maybe it might be fair to warn you that your emissaries want me to start working on my ability. I won’t be saying when I’ll decide to start, but I don’t particularly care for them either. So no, I won’t perform on their schedule. I’m not some dog you can learn how to do a trick on command. That is what you two are for,” she gestured to Scott and Isaac.
“That’s our girl,” Peter grinned.
“Oh, I’d love to perform tricks for you,” Isaac grinned upon seeing Scott’s face.
“I thought you had a girlfriend,” she narrowed her eyes on him.
“Eh, whatever,” he nodded towards Allison. “We all know she and Scott love each other still.”
Bella looked over at the two, her disgust rising. “What the fuck? Can’t you two make a decision on what you people want? This is almost as bad as the drama with the Cullens, and believe me – you don’t want to know everything I suffered through with them. Derek and Peter were barely able to handle it!”
“But we don’t!” they both chorused, with Allison looking apologetically to Isaac.
“See?” He said with a shrug. “I don’t care. It’s the story of my life, isn’t it?”
“Whatever,” Bella said, feeling sorry for the boy as she shook her head at the others. “I think it’s time for you all to leave. I would like to spend some time with my family.”
Derek just stood there, arms crossed over his chest, waiting for the group to leave. “My loft is not a gathering place; I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this.”
Scott muttered something as he followed Allison and Lydia out. Isaac pushed himself off from the wall he had been leaning against and followed Scott. “Can we go for pizza?”
“Pizza does sound good,” Bella muttered to herself as she glanced up at Derek. “What took you so long to get back anyhow?”
“I was back before they got in. Just listening in for a bit to see how you’d rip them to shreds,” he said with a grin and closed the door after Isaac had walked out. “The popcorn fight was a nice touch.”
“Yeah…about that…Peter – you’re still an asshole,” she complained as she reached up to try to get the bits out of hair with a whimper. “You’re lucky I like you too much to hurt you.”
“Here, let me help you,” Derek said as he sat down on the arm of the couch and gently started to pick out the popcorn kernels. “What movie are you guys watching?”
She kept her eyes lowered, trying not to get caught up in his eyes as she had found herself more aware of them in recent days. Despite the rollercoaster of mood swings, they all had been experiencing. “I don’t remember. I just put anything on then those idiots showed up.”
“Hmm…” he looked at the screen for a moment and grinned before continuing his task. “Finding Nemo, how appropriate.”
“I don’t know how disturbed I should be that you know what the movie is,” she commented as she looked back at him.
“It’s hard to miss picking things up when you walk down the street or shop and see an advertisement for it,” Derek felt how his heart skipped a beat, she was practically glowing. “I see the tea has done its job properly.”
“Secretly, he’s seen all the Disney movies and the Pixar ones,” Peter quipped as he stretched his legs and put them on the table. “Have you seen his Netflix? Oh boy.”
“Netflix?” Derek mouthed to himself, confused.
Bella only smiled up at him and shook her head. As the teasing died down, she was more hesitant as she decided to speak up about the recent events in the loft. “Are you feeling calmer now after everything or are the two of you going to keep running off after every argument? Because frankly, it’s tiring. Peter said it’s not my fault, and while I understand his reasoning, the two of you running from me makes me feel otherwise.”
“I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me,” Derek said with a shrug. “It’s not your fault.”
She reached up and lightly slapped his face playfully. “Family. Let’s try this again. Are you going to keep running from me?” she questioned with a pout.
“No, not unless we think we’ll end up physically hurting you.”
“I think you’ve seen that I am capable of defending myself,” she whispered as she looked up at him. “Twice?”
“I promise,” he said with a tired sigh. “Who am I to refuse you?”
Bella brightened as she smiled. “So, shall we mess with the banshee some more tonight? Where else should I go?”
“I think you’ve done enough already today, Princess. Why don’t Grumpy take you out for awhile,” Peter voiced his opinion from the couch as he watched the movie playing. “Get that pizza or something.”
Derek shrugged, not quite opposed to the idea himself. “That’s an idea. Shall we?”
Bella leaned back from him in surprise to his easy agreement. “Uh – okay,” she said nervously. She hadn’t been very eager to leave the loft since waking up in the veterinarian office, but she was tempted to brave the outside world again after the successes she already had that day.
“We’ll stay in the car. Nothing will get to you that way,” Derek assured her when he sensed her nervousness. “And if, at one point, you think it’s better to go home, we will. Just say the word.”
“No…it’s fine. I need to get out more. If I’m going to use my ability, I’m going to be out there no matter what, right? I need to get used to it. Just – stay close?” she asked.
“Of course. Whatever you need,” he smiled reassuringly. “Are you ready to go?”
She looked down at her tank top, jeans and sneakers. “Do I need to dress up for pizza or do we have to go anywhere else?”
“You look just fine for pizza, but, if you want, we could go somewhere where you can look for new clothes for yourself?”
Her face scrunched up at the idea. “I’m good. I have enough stuff that you got from that last outing. You spent enough on me, Derek, no need to go overboard.”
He shrugged. “Don’t worry about the money, I’m glad I can spend it on someone.”
“Just go already, you two make me want to visit the dentist to get my teeth pulled,” Peter urged then and threw a pillow at them for emphasis.
Bella rolled her eyes, picking up the pillow as she backed away from Derek and threw the pillow back at him. “Clean up the popcorn while we’re gone. I might pop in and check,” she smirked as she turned to head for the door but Derek pulled her with him before she could get any chance to retaliate as he saw his uncle ready to comment further to antagonize them.
“Let’s go,” he said as he wrapped his hand around her arm, dragging her along with him until they were outside. He unlocked and opened the door for her, waiting for her to be seated comfortably before closing it and ran around the other side and joined her. He was quiet for a moment before he spoke. “And you comment about Peter and I fighting? What was with the popcorn?”
“I still love him. I meant what I said,” she said as she shifted in her seat. “He’s like a dad to me.”
Derek didn’t quite know why he was unsettled by that thought. Was he a brother to her then? She didn’t quite feel like a sister to him, but he did care for her more than he thought he would have in the beginning. “And what about me? What do you think of me?”