Chapter 24

Over the next few weeks they played some more in the Sanatorium and Bella decided to keep the basement area in tact. Yes, it was dark energy there, due to all the rituals done in that place, but the people stuck down there didn’t deserve to move on. They were bad and dark and weren’t harming anyone. Besides, the Sanatorium was such a much trampled on building, popular with ghost hunters, Bella just had to leave the building in tact as it was.

Kol and Jeremy were playing a videogame on the couch while Bella was checking up on emails on the laptop when her phone rang. She was curious about the phone call, as it was Drew and he rarely called her to begin with.

“Hey, Drew! How are you?”

At the mention of Drew’s name, Kol and Jeremy paused the game and came over to her, gathering around her and the phone. “Busy,” Drew laughed. “We’ve been doing investigations non-stop since the new owner of the TV channel took over, apparently we’re on our way out.”

“Well, you have been doing this for what? Ten years now? Format barely changes and you have dreams that are bigger than hanging around with your friends.”

We love doing this stuff, you know that. Despite everything and all the attachments we need to be cleansed of, we love doing this together. And I do my own thing in the offseason, but still. To hear that your show might get canned because of silly reasons is just strange, our fanbase is huge.”

She smiled then. “You have a large fanbase because you and Jace are hunks and Jace occasionally goes shirtless,” she pointed out before realizing that he was going to ask her something. “You’re not going to ask me to come onto the show, are you? You already know my answer.”

Drew groaned. “I’m not. However, the boss gave us basically a blank cheque in bid to save our own ass for Halloween. We’re doing a live Halloween special at a location not known to us but the producers and they told us to go all out. We’re going to get experts we’ve worked with over the years to come and join us in some experiments or rituals, all that funky stuff and see if we can get scientific proof of their abilities and maybe you know, apparitions and stuff.”

“That sounds great, a lot of people you’ve worked with over the years have become your friends, haven’t they?”

Oh yeah, so far the exorcist we’ve worked with is coming, of course the electrical engineer Norm, a white witch called Linda and someone who claims to be a vampire.”

“What?”

I kid you not, Bella. Jace met him on one of his other shows. He’s like this central figure in the vampire subculture of Steampunk and knows a lot about the psychology, philosophy and spirituality. He makes fangs for a living and dabbles in the occult. Jace wants him on for shits and giggles against our tested white witch and equipment.”

Bella looked at Kol who was shaking his head in disbelief. “Sounds like a hoot, Drew. We’ll make sure to tune in,” she laughed. “We’ll get the popcorn out and everything.”

It’s a shame we can’t call Astaria, she’s on a different network and all…”

“Astaria would turn you down, too,” Bella pointed out. “She and I have the same opinion about you guys and it’s not a good one, you know this.”

But you like me, right?”

“You, yes. Jace’s energy… no.”

But you owe me one. Jace is watching your videos of the Cullen House religiously each time they come out. The new boss is a fan too and even said that I could offer you a lot of money for this, to make sure that you’ll never have to wish for anything anymore for the rest of your life.”

Bella let out a groan and rubbed her eyes. “Not for a live event, Drew. Please don’t call for that favor now. You don’t know where we’ll be, and I find that dangerous. My guys won’t like that either. I already have one that needs to stay off camera and he will not like it that he doesn’t know where we’re going.”

How bad can it be?”

“Pretty bad? Besides, I’m not a science project. I had hoped that the favor would be to go over to some poor person’s house and help them out with their ghostly problems or whatever, not something as big as this.”

Your presence might actually be the only way we’ll get the views to keep our show going. I promise we’ll look after you and you’ll get everything you need or want. I’m not one to beg, Bella, you know this. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Bella sighed as she looked at Kol and Jeremy. “Well?”

“Your fans are going to love it,” Jeremy started with the positive. “You’ll get more views on your youtube channel and more fans. You’ll help out a friend, what you love to do. However, we won’t be in control of what people will see or hear. We won’t be in control over the experiments because that’s on them. Kol won’t be able to be with us so you’ll have to be tethered to me. We won’t be in control over the location, because we can’t get a history on it, but then again, neither can Drew and his friends. Because we don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into, we’re going to need a big survival bag with things in there that could protect us.”

You don’t have to bring your own equipment, either,” Drew pointed out. “We have plenty to spare.”

“I don’t like this idea,” Kol eventually spoke. “Not at all. That shaman from the other day? Said we were going to be tested soon, what if this is just that? I don’t like it. No.”

“What if we bring Klaus and Myriam for extra protection? Myriam would love the experience and you and Klaus can keep an eye out on the outside,” Bella suggested reluctantly. “Look, I don’t like this idea either, but my friend is about to lose his job and I do owe him one. So you can blame me when things go to pot.”

No, you can blame me. If the producers and the tv exec are putting us in harm’s way, then it’s on me, but I trust them. Well, I trust the producers, never met the new TV boss.”

“Can we kill him when things go wrong?” Kol hissed.

I heard that.”

“So, is that a reluctant yes then?” Bella let out a breath as she scratched her head.

“A very reluctant ‘yes’. I still don’t like it,” Kol replied. “But I know you tend to keep your word, so yeah… this is something you’ll have to do.”

Great!” Drew exclaimed. “Thank you, so much, Bella. We’ll email you with the details of how you’re going to be picked up and you can send us an email back with what your requirements are, but I think I can guess them quite well.”

“Yeah, just don’t party hard because I said ‘yes’, I don’t want to be the main attraction, you hear me?”

Gotcha. See you soon!” Drew then hung up.

“I’m still not happy with this,” Kol said again, shaking his head. “I’ll be going to Myriam to discuss that survival bag of tricks and go dig for some dark objects, just in case,” he said as he ran out the door.

“He’s in mommy-mode again,” Jeremy snorted as he grabbed Bella’s laptop to do some research on the new tv boss for Bella’s friends but even after half an hour of searching, he came up empty. “There’s nothing on the new boss. Nothing.”

“So?”

“This worries me, what if it’s Edward Cullen?”

“Oh, come on, Jer,” Bella sighed as she finished making tea and gave him a mug. “Do you honestly believe he’d go as far as buying a TV station, channel or whatever, manipulate my friends in thinking they’re going to lose their jobs only to get to me?”

“I wouldn’t put it passed him,” he shrugged. “People have done worse and he does believe you’re the only one who can find the secrets within his house. We haven’t seen anything new from him in weeks and we know he’s obsessed with you and that house.”

“He has an attachment to that house or the house to him. The dead Cullens don’t even want him there and are trying to keep him out, they’re protecting the basement and hide it because they don’t want him to know what’s there. That’s the only reason why the house is so terribly haunted. That, and all the people he’s invited over over the years, bringing in more people, opening portals, doing rituals,” she then shuddered at the thought. “Don’t tell Kol about your suspicions, he’ll go nuts.”

Jeremy huffed and then showed her the tweet that the guys from Spooky Investigations threw out. Join us for our Halloween live event! 12 hours live on Halloween with special guests! Father Christian and White Witch Linda, for example! (1/2)

And we’ve also managed to get the one person who never comes on TV shows but has her own following on youtube, who is it? (2/2)

Bella shrugged as she took a sip of her tea. “It’ll be fine, I’m not worried. Besides, I don’t think Drew is giving up on finding out about the location and he knows we’re not going back there.”

“And once again, you don’t like to think of the worst case scenario. But that’s okay, that’s what you have Kol and me for,” Jeremy rolled his eyes at her. “What are we doing for food?”

“We?”

“Yes?”

“I was going to make lasagna…”

“Awesome, I’m staying for dinner.”

Kol returned in time for dinner, but carrying one of his boxes with Dark Objects to sort through and had many ideas of creating other objects with a powerful witch. For example, a ghost grenade that could banish them from an area or something when things got too rough and Bella too tired. Or to use them instead of Bella using her powers.

The plan for the night was to record a few things in the cemetery, now that the Ancestors had mellowed out and had somewhat accepted Bella into New Orleans, it was likely that the City of the Dead was filled with spirits again. And if not, if it was just Kaleb there, they’d go to some other cemetery. There were plenty of those in New Orleans.

Bella really liked how well they were working together as a team, Jeremy and Kol knew exactly what to do and what to bring with and she had finally learned to give up the control. It was still a shame about the Wonderbox that Damon Salvatore had ruined, but after giving it some thought, and despite all the noise it made, Bella had agreed to get two SB7 spirit boxes and an external speaker for it to make it sound less noisy, and both Kol and Jeremy were more than excited to try them out.

She loved it when the guys were in geek mode and with their gadgets and toys. She wouldn’t be surprised if Kol had bought more stuff but hadn’t told her about yet. And more importantly, she didn’t feel like she had to go out. They had plenty of footage of the Sanatorium, and still of the Cullen House, to keep the youtube channel filled and updated, and this was more of a ‘family outing’ for them, and for her and Jeremy to keep working with what they could do.

Besides, Bella couldn’t sit still. There were always stories to find, and, if the Ancestors were nicer to her now, perhaps she could tell some stories of the dead witches. She merely wanted it to be conflict free like it had been for the last few weeks. Nice and easy. Nothing too scary or to intense. So she’d be very happy if it were just Kaleb.

She had bought some flowers and a teddy bear for him to keep him company, silly, maybe, but she felt a bit guilty for not having been visiting him while she had told him she’d do so. Bella had been too involved with her own stuff. No, she needed to give more and go back to what she was about. Stories and bringing gifts for the dead. Making sure their stories were heard, if they didn’t have anything to do with the supernatural, of course.

They were on their way to LaFayette when a mixed group of young people recognized Bella. It had started to become more frequent and it had started to become more annoying. Kol wanted to compel them all to leave Bella alone and especially to stop taking pictures with her. It was likely going to get worse after her appearing on Spooky Investigations’ Halloween special. “Alright, that’s enough,” Kol said as he moved himself between the people and Bella, protectively putting an arm around her. “We’ve got places to be, enjoy your time in New Orleans, it’s a wonderful place.”

“Kol.”

“You hired me to keep you safe,” he said as he lead her away from the group. “This was too big of a group of people. Next time we go out you’re poofing out. Maybe we’ll move, and you won’t tell anybody where you’re moving to.”

“Kol.”

“What if there’s a nutter and follows us back home, huh? Then they’ll know the address to our safe place, people could show up at the strangest moments or hours. No. Not that I wouldn’t mind a snack or two, fresh from the vein instead of a blood bag, but no. Privacy, Bella,” he said resolutely and kept marching her forward. “Do you have any idea what we need to do to make sure that your Halloween survival bag is actually functional? That Myriam’s little pouches work? That it’s going to take a lot of work because we don’t know where you’re going to end up and we know you’re not going to use the things in that bag anyway because you’re you?”

“Kol,” she said his name again and then pinched him. “Breathe. Nothing’s going to happen, everything is going to be fine. Relax, will you, you’re driving me nuts.”

“Good, although I’d rather have you scared like you were before so you would have said ‘no’ to Drew no matter what. That you’d have avoided that group of people just now because you’re scared,” he said angrily. “But you’re not scared anymore so I have to up my game in keeping you safe. Will you listen to me? Likely not, but hey, who cares if you destroy yourself! That scuffle with that wench that is my mother could have ended differently, you know. You got lucky. I don’t want you to be damaged so you need to poof out of existence for what? Another hundred years until all your previous incarnations are confident that this time you won’t make any mistakes?” He kept on ranting and Bella shot a look at Jeremy, who was merely grinning at the two of them. “I don’t want to lose you, Bella, and I hate it that you’re going to do this thing for Drew because I can’t be with you and you’ll have to be with Jeremy. For all we know they’re going to take you to the Cullen House. No doubt things have escalated since we were there last and I don’t want to lose you.”

“Hey,” she stopped walking and forced him to stop. “You’re not going to lose me,” she let out a breath. Oh, she knew that his feelings were intense and heightened and it had not been the first time he’d been flipping out about her safety. “I could choose a different path. I can help people differently.”

“Or not advertise your ‘gift’ on youtube, that would be a great help. Let’s stop doing that.”

“You’re not serious,” Jeremy huffed. “That’s just a little harmless fun.”

“And the whole world can see what she does. It’d be a start for her safety to stop that,” Kol shot at Jeremy. “Or did you forget about the Volturi who are after her? We should go to Italy and slaughter them all, but we’re not going to, are we? Because they’re far away still. Why kill them when they haven’t done anything bad, so far?”

Bella sighed as she turned Kol around and started to push him back towards the apartment. “Let’s go home,” she said as she kept pushing him. “Let’s discuss this within the safety of our walls and make a plan that we can all find ourselves in.”

“You’re not serious,” Jeremy said again, this time directed towards Bella. “You’re actually going to let him do this?”

“Things have changed since I hired him and adopted you,” Bella replied with a shrug. “We’ve been through some heavy shit together, we’ve gotten used to each other, it’s time to amend my rules and re-evaluate what we’re doing, have been doing, and if it’s still working for us.”

“It is!”

“It’s not,” Kol scowled as he put his arm around Bella, glad that they were going home via a detour for now. He wouldn’t want to risk running into that group of people again and have a feast in the middle of the street. Well, he wanted to, but it was probably best if that wasn’t going to happen. “She’s still making all the decisions.”

“She’s gotten better!” Jeremy huffed.

“Not here, wait until we’re back at the apartment,” Bella chided both Kol and Jeremy. A short while later, they were back at the apartment and Kol started to rant again, and Bella listened for awhile as a million thoughts were going through her mind. While Kol’s voice was the only one filling the apartment, with the occasional objection from Jeremy, she checked to see if everything was complete, done and well stocked. She needed a break from this.

She could understand Kol’s point of view. And perhaps he was right in everything, but the way that he was dealing with this was not appropriate, and she couldn’t stop him. In any case, she needed her space, clear her head and re-evaluate things, come up with a plan that her boys would be able to find themselves in too. Placing her phone on the kitchen counter, she looked at Kol before she made herself into pure energy and shot out of the window, going to the last place that Kol would look to find her; her father.

Bella hoped that after Klaus and Myriam’s treatment her father would be better to her, and she wanted to inhale his scent, she wanted to breathe in the forest and clear her mind. Enough was enough. Or maybe it wasn’t. It was highly likely that she was wrong and Kol was right, that her new found self-awareness and self-confidence were throwing a wrench in her life, because it was a fact that she couldn’t take care of herself.

On her way to her father, her thoughts kept swirling inside her head before the old Bella, Ylva, popped up to accompany her on her journey. “Well, this is a first,” she remarked as she looked at the scenery passing them by. “Talking to you like this and you moving like this. How does it feel?”

“Truthfully? Freeing. I have no body to contain me and this feels amazing,” Bella replied. “I can go as fast as I want! Nobody telling me what to do or how to act or telling me what not to do…”

“He’s only looking out for you, Bella, he’s doing exactly what you’ve initially hired him to do and you’re not comfortable with that,” Ylva said kindly. “On the other hand, Kol might have become a little bit obsessive about your safety.”

“Yeah, tell me something I don’t already know.”

“He means well.”

“I have no doubt about his intentions, but it makes me seriously reevaluate my life. Am I really that useless? Is Kol the right person for me if he keeps on trying to smother me? Am I only good for talking to ghosts and that’s it? I mean…”

“You don’t know any better than to talk to ghosts,” Ylva let out a snort. “What are your other passions? Cooking, right? Perhaps a little change in your life couldn’t do any harm.”

“But what about the spirits that want to move on or want help or simply want to tell their story? It’s what I do. Who am I without it? Will Kol still like me when I’m not doing what I do best? Or will he grow bored with me?”

“You’d still have it, Bella, but perhaps after the battle with the Volturi, you could take it all down a notch and rediscover yourself, find other passions, things to do. Something that doesn’t cause a vampire to get grey hairs,” Ylva laughed. “It’s that easy. You’re doing amazing in this life, you don’t need a reboot, you just need to learn how to live and not remain focused on storytelling and dead people.”

“Technically, Kol’s dead.”

“True, but he’s not invisible. You could write books about all the stories you’ve heard over the years and occasionally go out and have some fun with the spirits. I’m not pushing you to stop what you’re doing, because you’re me and I’m you, but you’re ready for some sort of normality. Because despite everything, you are scared that someone will get hurt again, or worse. Despite everything, you know that Kol’s fear of losing you is valid because you nearly didn’t return after your fight with Esther. That vampire loves you and you love him.”

“So try to be normal for a while, huh?”

“Doesn’t hurt to try, and only after you’ve ended the Volturi for once and for all. I have a feeling that they know exactly where to find you, even though they don’t know what you look like.” Ylva then sighed. “And you’re just stupid for agreeing to do that live TV show for Drew.”

“I know I’m stupid, but I owed him one.”

“Yeah, well, not as big as this one is so he’ll owe you one in return, make that perfectly clear to him. Now, return to New Orleans, you’ve been away for days.”

“Days!” Bella skidded to a halt and looked around, she didn’t even recognize where she was. Thinking of Kol, she felt herself turn around and start moving again, faster this time.

“That’s what happens when you turn into your natural self, time is lost, there’s no time here, just energy. But I do hope that your mind is a bit more at ease now, less fearful and panicky. I have merely confirmed what you have been thinking for a while now and know that it’s alright and a good thing, but all change is hard.”

“Thanks, Ylva.”

“Always here. Go down, now,” she said urgently and Bella did as she was told, flying straight back into the apartment through the window and stopping in the kitchen before turning back into her human self.

“Oh for the love of God, you’re so bright!” Kol groaned as he sat up from the couch and blinked at her. “Turn yourself off, you beacon!”

“What?” Bella looked at herself and the illuminated kitchen. “Oh, that’s cool.”

“Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick!” Kol got off the couch and started to walk towards her, but her light hurt him. “Darling, you really need to turn yourself off, I can’t even go near you right now.”

“I went flying, I turned into energy and I flew. Talked to myself and then she said I was gone for days, didn’t mean to,” Bella replied as she focused, hard. Not all of her energy had come together yet but then again, this had been her first time. Once she was contained, she could feel Kol’s arms around her. “I’m sorry for running off… You were right,” she muttered against his chest as she wrapped her arms around him. “So after the Halloween thing with Drew and his friends, we’re going to do things your way and we’re going after the Volturi. After that, I’ll try to be normal for a while, find something else to do. Something new.”

“What?”

She looked up to him with a smile. “Helping spirits to tell their story has been all that I know. It has gotten me in trouble throughout my life, but it’s my normal. I want to try to shift it to something else, try something else. Like cooking. Discover other things that I can do, things that are safe, won’t draw too much attention to me and won’t put anyone of us in danger.”

“Are you serious?”

“I am. I don’t want to lose you, Kol, and I’m afraid that if we continue like we have, especially now that in your and Jeremy’s presence the spirits have become more… aggravating… we might lose each other and I don’t want that. I’m not saying I’ll give up on the spirits all together, but I’m ready for a change. Will you help me with that?”

“Oh, darling,” he kissed the top of her head. “Whatever you wish to do, of course I’ll help you.” Kol softly kissed her lips. “However, I am sorry too. I was pushy and obsessive and something had snapped inside of me, I shouldn’t have been the way that I was, and now I fear that you want this change because of my bad behaviour.”

“No,” she smiled at him. “I’ve been thinking about a change for awhile now, especially after Esther. I want to fade into obscurity and… I don’t know, open a bistro or a cake shop… or maybe write a book or go back to school or…”

“Stay at home all day, naked?” Kol grinned. “Become my housewifey?”

“Now that’s a thought…”