Bella stood in the middle of the forest by herself, looking around as she felt a sense of unease. It was almost as if she was being watched. The sensation wasn’t a welcoming one that she could recall. Though there was an air of familiarity to it that sent shivers up the back of her neck. Twigs were snapping, and fallen leaves rustling on the ground forced her head to turn sharply to its’ sound, her eyes open wide as she waited to see the cause.
Her heart pounded in her chest as the footsteps drew closer. Each step slow and precise. The thick cover of trees blocked her view of whomever it was, but when the person reached the clearing she stood in, she could do nothing but let out a scream.
She heard a voice being called out to her, strong hands on her, shaking her gently as she continued to cry out. Her fists fought against the hold they had, pushing and shoving but they would not let go.
“Bella! Wake up!” Derek repeated her name as he attempted to keep her from striking him again after her screaming had startled both him and Peter out of their sleep.
Since he had stayed with her, he immediately began to try to wake her, but it was proving to be a difficult process as she was fighting against him. Peter, fearing that someone had somehow had been foolish enough to sneak into the loft to get to her, bolted up the stairs to find his nephew in bed with the girl, trying to pin her arms down in her current state. All he could think and ask was, “What the fuck?!”
Derek glared over his shoulder at him but maintained his hold that he was able to get on the flailing girl as she had continued to squirm beneath him. She was finally settling down, and he hoped that he could wake her and avoid the second episode. “A little help maybe?” he snarled. “Find her a change of clothes or something!”
Peter narrowed his eyes in confusion. “What? Why?” he questioned, irritated that he was unable to do more to help Bella before he detected the slight hint of urine and immediately felt sorry for her.
“I doubt that she’ll be happy with me here when she realizes what just happened, but if you are here as well, it’ll only humiliate her more,” he growled as he looked back at him. “Just bring up her basket that she had washed the other day while I try to wake her up before she falls back into a deep sleep again.”
“Fine. Not like any of us will be getting back to sleep anyway tonight. I’ll get some coffee going,” the older wolf mumbled as he made his way back down the stairs.
Once he was gone, Derek turned his attention back to Bella and sighed. He wasn’t a stranger to enjoying his fantasies of what it might have been like sharing his bed with her, but none of them had ever gone like this. Wiping his hand over his face, he resumed his attempts to gently shaking her awake as small whimpers begun to escape her lips again.
Like a bolt, Bella sat up in the bed, causing him to lean back just as fast to avoid her colliding with him. As she gasped for breaths, the tears from whatever dream she experienced had clearly overwhelmed her still.
“Shhh,” he attempted to soothe her as he pulled her into his arms. She buried her tear-soaked face in his neck for several minutes before she was able to form any words.
When she lifted her head, she brushed the back of her hand over her eyes and took notice of their positions, as well as her physical state, causing her face to redden more. “Derek…”
“You had some nightmare, and I couldn’t wake you up from it this time,” he told her. He waved off her other concern without a care. “Don’t worry about anything else. It’s not important. If it bothers you that much, you can help me choose a new bed,” he grinned as he tipped her chin so that she would look up at him. “We’re here for you. No matter what. You want to tell me what that dream was about?”
The small smile that had started to grow on Bella’s lips faded as she shook her head. “I’d rather not. I want to forget about it as much as possible,” she admitted. Shifting uncomfortably underneath him, she pulled the sheets tighter around her waist with a grimace. “Can I get clean up? This is kind of disgusting now.”
He leaned in to kiss her forehead and sighed. “Of course. Take your shower. I’ll get this taken care of,” he assured her. She frowned as she looked up at him, unsure about letting him deal with her accident. “Go on. Peter probably already has something set up for you by now. Just go. I’ve got this.”
“If you’re sure,” Bella agreed hesitantly, pulling the sheet off the bed with her to wrap around herself to preserve what little dignity she could as she shuffled across the floor and disappeared down the stairs.
Derek watched until she was gone from before letting out the breath he’d been holding. He was concerned that the nightmare stemmed from her forced experience the day before, but even if it wasn’t, it could be the added stress of everything she had to handle. He knew she was worried, and while she didn’t particularly like the other supernaturals in town, she also didn’t wish harm to anyone unnecessarily. It was just something they would have to address when the time came as he thought about the situation as he worked to clean up the bed.
By the time the pair of wolves were assured that Bella was okay, and she repeated that she didn’t want to talk about what she had dreamt about, the trio begun the heavy discussions on moving forward to strengthen her ability. Derek sent text messages to the others, warning them what they intended to do. At least to let Lydia know so that she might be able to avoid being around groups should she need to react with her gift.
Scott had called back to argue against trying anything until they knew more or gotten more information from the Chris Argent or Deaton but after the night before and the stress that Bella had endured from her nightmare, the Hales mutually agreed they needed to take a more offensive approach in gathering whatever information they could get. And that meant using Bella and her ability, strengthening it to it’s full advantage.
“Alright now that the formalities with the puppy brigade are out of the way, how do you want to do this?” Bella asked as she stood nervously in front of the two after she had showered and eaten.
Derek eyed her with concern before he pulled her over to the couch and sat her down. “What do you know about them specifically? Our knowledge is limited and even with what Peter can get from his acquaintance – it’s not much he hasn’t responded to attempts to contact him.”
She sighed in exasperation and shook her head, not knowing what she could share. “I don’t know what you’re looking for. The Cullens didn’t talk about much about vampire life with me. At first Edward was against it until after he decided to have Alice drag me to Italy and parade me in front of their royalty. I’ll tell you something, those three were creepy as fuck.”
Peter let out a breath as he appeared to be lost in a memory as he leaned against the back of the couch. “Whitlock never said much to me about them other than the fact that one of their kings hated our kind. He didn’t indicate that we were well known by their breed, though.”
“Well, their one king, Aro, is a mind reader similar to Edward, and he wasn’t able to use his ability on me. Neither were a few of their strongest gifted when I was there,” Bella mentioned.
Rubbing the back of his neck, Derek was hating the sound of what she was implying. If it were just the Cullens that knew about her unique ability within the Cold One community, they would know where to focus their attentions. Now they might have to expand their concerns with this royalty with their potential interest in his new girlfriend, and it wasn’t sitting well with the troubled Alpha. “Any idea how you can affect them? Maybe it’s something we can ask that Druid of yours.”
She glared up at him at his comment. “The bitch isn’t mine. Let’s get that straight. I didn’t call for her. It was your guy that did.”
“Technically he’s not my guy but he was my mom’s guy. He’s Scott’s guy now.”
“I’m going to cut that bastard up if he doesn’t stop sticking his snout in business that doesn’t pertain to him…” she growled defensively.
Peter couldn’t help but to laugh. “While I admire your bloodthirsty desire for vengeance, and I can certainly get behind it as well, but you did appear to all of us, including him when you first started popping up in Beacon Hills.”
“He’s still an annoying asshole that needs to be housetrained. You should have chosen better before you turned the idiot!” she argued.
“I was desperate, give me a break,” Peter rolled his eyes at her.
“Desperate times called. They want their desperate measures back,” Bella smarted. “Stop being an idiot. I accept you as the dick that you were, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one now. I forgive you for that fuck up with Scott. Just – ugh. He gets on my nerves!”
Derek smiled as he watched her with amusement, shaking his head. “He is useful sometimes, regardless. So don’t just disregard him and the others right now.”
Her lip curled back in irritation as she turned her eyes back to him. “Trust me, I am well aware that we need their help. I don’t have to like it, but I know and that is about the only thing that is keeping me from going there and trying to kick their ass from the way they treat the both of you.”
“Can we forget about them right now and get back on track?”
“What were we talking about again?” Bella asked with a smile as she batted her eyes.
“The vampire royalty, Bella,” Derek sighed.
She sat back on the couch, calming down as she thought about her time in Italy. “The Volturi have a lot of vampires, mostly gifted or very skilled in some way as far as I know. The Cullens used their story to try to scare me at one point, but that was in the beginning, claiming I wasn’t likely to come in contact with them.”
Peter rubbed his hands together nervously as he looked up at his nephew, an idea forming in his head. “What’s the furthest you’ve managed to travel so far?”
Narrowing her eyes on him, she shrugged. “I don’t know. Why?”
He raised an eyebrow suggestively, causing her to shake her head immediately.
“You want me to go to Italy? To their lair? Are you fucking nuts?!” she screamed, her head whipping around to look to Derek for support, but he appeared hesitant and conflicted. “Derek?”
“You’re the only one that can. It’s not like they can touch you when you’re in that form. But my main concern is if they will be able to track you back here. Whenever you appeared here, your Triskelion left behind a trace of your visit, and if they look hard enough, they will be able to connect you here to us,” he explained.
Bella considered it and lowered her head as she ran her hands through her hair in frustration. She was tired of having to hide from her past, even though she was given opportunities and a new identity to try to make a new life here for herself. “Let’s do it,” she said as she looked up. “We just need to be ready to fight them when they come.”
She let out a shaky breath as she was nervous about going through her separation this time. Her hands shook as she sat back, staring at the wolf that had inspired much of her strength and tried to think about what she remembered of the Volturi castle. Closing her eyes, she swallowed back her nervousness and forced herself into the familiar zone she knew.
It wasn’t long before her body collapsed, unconscious, seemingly dead on the couch. Derek moved to make her more comfortable while they waited out the time anxiously. His eyes darted to the clock and shook his head as it hadn’t even been a full day since she had been forced through this before, and she was doing it again. He looked up at his uncle when he begun to speak, his fingers curling into her hair in a desperate attempt to hold onto her but afraid that physical contact might disturb what she was doing.
“She will be fine,” Peter murmured as he stared at her. “She has to be. No matter what, we will kill every last one of those fuckers if it’s the last thing we do.”
Bella looked up and found herself in a stone corridor. A shiver ran through her as she truly did not want to be there. She remembered only the grand room that she had seen the kings in. Her ghostly state allowed her to move without sound, and she was never more grateful for that skill.
As she proceeded down the dark hall, the sound of voices grew louder. At finding a stairwell along the wall, leading down to another floor, she heard the voices echoing up from the dimly lit area. Her eyes narrowed as a hiss was let out that had a familiarity to it that she couldn’t quite place.
Gingerly, she made her way down the steps, her fingers dragging along the cold, stone walls. Her eyes narrowed when she caught sight of the dark cloak of the Volturi guard. Having discovered their dungeons, Bella scowled as she witnessed Jane use her gift on one of their prisoners. Looking to the cell, her breath caught in her throat when she took in the head of familiar blond curls. His wrists were chained above his head, and he glared back at the child-like vampire.
“Tell me your coven’s plans,” she ordered him, but when he had not responded, she used her gift on him. His teeth clenched through the pain as he fought against screaming out.
Bella wanted to do something, but she stayed back in the shadows, observing to see what she could learn. Jane continued to torture Jasper for several minutes in an attempt to garner information herself, but eventually gave up before storming out in a tantrum.
Once she was certain she was in the clear, she emerged from where she hid, quickly making her way to Jasper’s prison and walking through the bars with ease. “Jasper?” she whispered as she knelt in front of him, trying to get a good look at his state.
At her voice, he was startled, looking up sharply in surprise. His eyes darted around as he tried to process how she could be there before he finally looked at her fully. That he was able to look through her. “Bella?” he choked as he wished he could cry at seeing her face. “You shouldn’t be here. How in the world did you get in this far undetected?”
“I’ve my ways,” she smiled gently before it faltered. “What happened?”
He continued to stare at her, trying to believe her presence, her survival. “Are you free from them?” he asked instead.
A wicked grin graced her face. “Yes. Some – friends rescued me some time after you had left. Most of the coven is dead though the gifted ones did get away from what I understand.”
Jasper nodded as he let out a relieved breath, his eyes drifting down to her translucent body. “What are you?”
“What I am, is the reason Edward was unable to turn me when he bit me. We have our theories that what I am, may be why he was so determined to try to get me to submit to his will before changing me,” she shrugged. “Now, how did you end up here? I thought you were coming to the Volturi to get help?”
His lips curled into a snarl as he shook his head, his fists clenching and chains shook against the strain that he fought. “It was a setup. Edward had someone contact the Volturi to warn them of my arrival, only that I was coming for different intent. They imprisoned me instead. Aro hasn’t even bothered to try to read me for the truth.”
“What does Edward want? I don’t understand,” Bella said as she shook her head. “Did you know that the Forks house was made with pieces of special elements? Elements that attract the supernatural?”
“Carlisle always said it was for protection. He had us look all over for bits and pieces.”
“They were trying to lure in beings. I was only one. There could have been others,” she whispered angrily. “Why did they want me? What were they looking to do? You may not have told the Volturi but damn it, Jasper, I deserve to know why I got the shit beat the hell out of me!”
He shook his head, despair and regretted the only emotions covering his face and leaked out through his gift, not that she was capable of feeling it. “Carlisle and Edward wanted power. They needed stronger gifts, but ones that weren’t likely to turn on them when it came to battle. Rosalie and I tried to frighten you off from him, but if what you said about the house is true, you didn’t have a chance in hell.”
Bella breathed in deeply to calm herself, looking anywhere else but at him. “Who were they looking to fight that they needed that kind of power?” she asked before shaking her head. “The Volturi. Fucking idiots.”
“They are power hungry,” he agreed sadly. “I’m just glad you got out of there for what it’s worth.”
She sighed as she looked back at him. “I’ll figure out how to get you out of here too. I’m sure your friend is trying to work on something as well.”
He looked confused at her statement, and she only shrugged. “I don’t know. My wolf hadn’t given me his name when he spoke to him, just called him an asshole often.”
Jasper let his head fall back to the wall of his cell and let out a disgruntled laugh. Shaking his head, he eyed her curiously. “There is only one person I can think of that everyone would agree would be an asshole, but he would have your back if he felt your fight was for the right reasons. You can trust him, Bella. Can I ask? What exactly are you?”
The hesitation on her face about trusting someone she’d never met, and then revealing more about herself to someone that had participated in her torture, however, little was clear to him, and Jasper nodded slowly. “I understand. Maybe one day you’ll be able to feel that you can trust me and tell me.”
“Maybe, but not any time soon. I need to go now Jasper,” she whispered, looking back to the stairs.
“Be careful Bella. I don’t know what you are, but they all want you,” he whispered back.
She glanced at him; the knowledge was nothing new to her. “They want me? They’ll get me. Just not exactly how they expected,” she grinned as she stood up and walked away.
Jasper watched as she walked through his prison bars in awe, blinking and shaking his head as she disappeared right in front of his eyes.
Bella reappeared elsewhere in the castle, hidden behind thick draperies. Peering out from them, there was no one around but she knew it would not last for long. She heard the phone ring on the desk and the door open only a moment later.
Aro’s voice sent a shiver through her as she heard him answer the phone on speaker. “Greetings. I hope you are calling with good news,” he said cheerfully.
“As good as I can offer currently. She is working on her ability more as far as I know. Bella is reluctant to trust me but I’m working on her. The Cullen’s man made Nemeton was destroyed recently so I suspect it will drive her to strengthen her gift more quickly,” a familiar female voice came across the speaker of the phone.
Bella frowned as she drew in a breath, her anger growing as she forced herself to stay hidden to hear more. “Splendid. And just where are you now so that I may have a contingent prepared to retrieve and turn young Isabella once she is ready?”
“That information is not a part of our agreement Aro. I told you that I will let you know when you can come and will give the location only then. She will sense your kind if you come trampling around and ruin everything.”
“I want the Ikiryō I was promised! I want her before the Cullens get her!” Aro screamed.
“With all due respect, sir, you’re acting like a small child.”
“And you better deliver if you want to see your sister Rebecca and her daughter again,” he threatened.
There was silence on the other end of the phone before the woman spoke again. “I will work on getting her trained faster, your Highness,” she replied sarcastically and hung up.
Peeking between the drapery, Bella saw a new and another recognizable presence in the doorway observing Aro at his desk. He had remained silent while he had been on the phone but appeared rather amused by the frustrated Cold One. “Your little pet not cooperating?” Caius questioned.
“She will do as told. I’ve been receiving updates on Isabella’s progress, as infrequent as she tends to communicate.”
“Is she true to her word? Do you honestly trust that she won’t turn on you?”
“If she wants her family back alive, she will hand the girl over. In fact, send Felix down to spend some intimate time with Rebecca and send her a photo to remind her of her place. It should prove to be a nice incentive to get her to remain on track,” Aro smile. “In the meanwhile, have we learned anything as to their location? The Druid continues to be elusive with that information.”
Caius sneered at his brother. “You know I have never trusted their kind. They work with too often with wolves.”
Aro smiled and nodded. “I will ask if she has come across any in her work with Isabella, and if she has, I shall instruct her to do what is necessary to drive them off.”
“I feel your Druid is lying to you, Aro. I may despise werewolves but even I must concede that they have their purpose at times. Especially when they turn against their own kind. It seems one was brave enough to try contacting us recently with news of a ghost girl in America. Your Ikiryō is indeed keeping company with wolves,” the blond Cold One deviously smiled. “Only she would not provide the exact location, but it certainly narrows down the region.”
“Good! Send out our best trackers and Jane. I can’t wait to slaughter them all. I want my Ikiryō.”
Bella gasped as she laid on the couch in the loft but the breath came too sharp, too fast as her heart thrummed fast in her chest. Her hand clutched at her shirt as she struggled to gain another breath, feeling as though she was suffocating. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes as blurry images of Peter and Derek loomed over her, their concern evident as their voices sounded as if they were under water and muffled to her ears.
“Bella…” Derek called to her as he hovered, his ears picking up her erratic heart rate. “Something isn’t right. She’s never reacted like this before when she came back,” he said as he looked up at his uncle.
“I know she wasn’t like this yesterday,” Peter replied, just as distraught. “What do we do?”
She let out a small cry that drew both of their attention back to her in a way that had them panicking. “No…Bella, no…” Derek repeated as he moved her to the floor. He turned his head and strained to listen to her weakened heart rate and scrambled to start chest compressions when he found none. “Damn it Bella! Peter! Call Deaton! Scott! Mrs. McCall here! Argent! Someone!”
When Peter hesitated in his panicked state, Derek let out a roar, his eyes flashing red to enforce his command. The man scowled back at him but he nodded in response as he tried to shake his concern off as he turned away to call the young werewolf he sired.
Blinking back his own tears as he waited for the teenager to answer, he was grateful that the boy answered at all.
“Peter?” Scott asked, confused why the older wolf would call or even have his number.
“Get your mother and come to the loft now,” he ordered as emotionlessly as he could. “Bring everything you can.”
“Something happened to Derek?”
Peter squeezed his eyes shut as he listened to Derek continue to give Bella CPR. “No. Not Derek but you need to hurry. Please,” he said softly. “Check on Lydia while you’re at it.”
“On it,” Scott said quickly and disconnected the call to rally the troops.
Derek and Peter looked at one another as he continued his attempts to save her life, both wondering how her heart had failed and why when her entire being is supposed to keep from being that very situation. “Whoever is responsible, we’re going to kill them,” Derek growled.
“Finally, we are in agreement about something,” Peter smiled weakly, his eyes falling to the pale, lifeless body that had become so important to the both of them. “Let’s just get Princess through this first.”