Banner by: ncbexie25
Title: Mr. Mysterious
Warnings: (Please include specific triggers) Mild violence, attempt harm to a child by an older man (non-graphic)
Beta: ncbexie25 (preread by Jasper'sGoddessofWar)
Summary: As a child, Bella Swan had always felt someone watching over her. But unlike most she had found it comforting, not scary. But when the man watching her has to leave, can she risk her safety to find him and gain the answers she seeks after five years that have left her bitter and scarred?
Present day: New Orleans, Louisianna
It was always the middle of the night when he saved her.
Isabella Swan sat upon the bed in her new apartment in New Orleans, contemplating the night gone by. Another night that her unneeded Knight in Shining Armour had come to save her, using his signature move as he tore into chest cavities and re-emerged with a bloodied hand wrapped around a creature's most vital organ. He had an almost savage look in his eyes, but his face was devoid of any expression besides the faint pursing of his lips, which had been twisted at the corner into a slight snarl. Then, as her heart rate returned to normal, they had moved as though he was going to speak. However, before those lovely lips could form a whisper, he had disappeared—just as he did every fucking time except for the first.
She sighed, falling back against the pillows and closing her eyes. But, when she did, she saw him again—his hypnotic dark eyes, that snarl of his lips, his features glinting at something supernatural... With a groan, she opened her eyes and looked around the pitch black room. Ever since she was eight, it was like this; the nights he saved her she could not sleep.
13 years ago: Phoenix, Arizona
An eight year old Isabella Swan looks out the window into the night, her eyes keen for a sign of life in the deadened street. Her mother left some hours ago on a date and, though she is usually back by now, Bella is trying not to worry. Her erratic and hair - brained mother often forgot to call if she was running late; she is simply that type of person.
However true it is that she had never been quite this late before, Bella has no choice but to acknowledge when she glances once more at the clock and see s that it read s just past one in the morning. The little girl looks again toward the kitchen and her stomach growls, her throat dry. Her mother forgot to feed her and, while she does know how to cook, there is no food that Bella can eat—no bread, no fruit, no snacks. Nothing to make a passable dinner with. Typical in the Higgenbotham household. Renee had been waiting for her pay day, tomorrow, before she got anything else and the last of the food was used this morning by last night's unknowing date.
When her stomach rumbles again, Bella sighs and gets up from her place on the ledge at the window and wal k s into the kitchen. She gets the emergency money off the too-high shelf using a rocking chair for (admittedly bad and dangerous) balance.
With a grin at her success once the coins drop into her waiting hand, she jumps to the floor, her feet pattering hard on the wood underneath them as she runs for the front door. She puts on her shoes then pulls herself up, grabbing her jacket and tugging it on. Writing a quick note, she sticks it onto the mirror next to the door, knowing that's where her mother will first stop when she comes back alone—having had a partner stay last night, a repeat of such would not occur for at least another week. She retrieves the only other set of keys and puts them in her thick jacket's pocket before opening the door and leaving, locking it again behind her.
She walks out to the street, then glances around to see if anyone is around. Bella has never really liked the dark, but there are times when she feels more safe than usual in it. It's accompanied most of the time by that pricking sensation of someone watching her, and though this would usually frighten someone else, it does not do the same to Bella. On the contrary, she loves it.
She smiles a secret smile when she feels that familiar sensation and she knows that she is safe despite the fact that she is but a young girl out in the middle of the night. She continues on her way to the twenty-four hour corner shop, shoving her hands in her pockets as she walks, untroubled.
She hums softly as she rounds a curve in the road, minding her own business as her gaze is settled on the ground just in front of her feet. She does not see the man up ahead waiting for her to get closer so he can pull her into the alley he's just jutting out of. But the beast watching her does, and it growls low in its chest, hands clenched at its sides, stepping forward.
It is quick, when he takes her. A hand slams down over her mouth, the other arm wrapping around her neck as her eyes widen in an instant and screams, muffled, erupt from her mouth as she struggles. Tears are already welling in her eyes as her head is then slammed against the brick of the building she just pas sed when she hear s a growl. Her eyes have closed in fright and she squeezes them tighter when she hear s a howl of pain from the assailant and a squelching noise followed by a thud.
Light, careful, precise footsteps are what she hears next, hard as it is over her heavy breathing. She cowers into the wall, sobbing. Her breath intake is sharp upon the feel of an electric but somehow still soft touch to her face, the pads of fingers glimpsing her cheek bone. The shock causes her eyes to fly open and the first thing she sees is a man's torso dressed in a navy suit, the buttons of the suit jacket done up over a white, crisp dress shirt. A tie, red, disappears into the mix as well and she sucks on her bottom lip as she looks up slowly. Her eyes widen and she makes to step back again, her fright at the sight before her making her hazy and incapable of remembering that she is already backed up as much as she can be against the cool but rough brick wall.
Covered in blood, staining his hand and the beginnings of his right sleeve, with droplets of blood sprayed all over his face and errantly on his suit, a pleasant-looking brunet man of late twenties or early thirties in age is staring intently back down at her.
He reaches up with his clean hand to the handkerchief in the breast pocket, flicking his wrist to pull and open it out before using it to clean his hand , finger by finger. All the while their gaze never drops from one another.
Bella's head cocks to the side, and a pursing of her lips hints at her confusion. A second later, comprehension hits her and understanding brightens her eyes, the ghost of a smile on her lips as she puts two and two together. "It's you," her childish, bell-like voice whispers.
The male, still watching her, arches an eyebrow, still unwilling to speak. She can see that he is barely controlled in his anger, the hint of black veins under his eyes and a tint of red clouding the whites of his eyes. But she is not scared. She never has been.
"You're the one watching me sometimes. I feel it, you know. It makes me feel safe..." She frowns lightly then. "Why do you do it?"
He ignores the question, simply looks back down the alley way toward the street, his lips pursed and brow furrowed just a little in thought. "Your mother will be home soon," he tells her, looking back down at her smoothly, "and you're hungry. Come along." He begins to walk down the alley, stopping at the edge and turning his head to the side, looking toward her without looking at her, an eyebrow raised. She can almost hear the 'well?' that he does not say, and a smile tugs at her lips.
She blinks before running after him, missing the hint of a smile that stretches upon his lips. From there, he guides her to the corner shop, allowing her to pull him along through the aisles and softly encouraging her to pick out more than what she has. He ignores her protests of monetary issues, silencing her with a firm look and smirking as she complies with a scowl . It is not until he is satisfied with all they've gathered that he takes her to the check-out counter and pays before she can blink, tugging on her hand to pull her out the door.
He walks her back home to a still-empty house, and she longs to ask him inside, but as soon as she is safe within the threshold, he is gone with but a whoosh of air as proof of his ever being there.
Bella sighs, her shoulders slumping in disappointment as she goes into the kitchen, pulls out her food, and eats—alone again.
From that night onwards, money is no issue—an envelope assigned just for her is dropped upon her bedroom window sill each week so she never has to go out at night like that again. And all the while, she knows it's him behind it, so she accepts with a barely-fighting, grudging smile on her face.
Present day: New Orleans, Louisianna.
Bella sighed as she came out of the memory, a smile on her face. That was the first time, to her knowledge at least, that she encountered Mr. Mysterious. After that, she didn't see him for some years but she definitely felt him around her, watching over her. It was only in the past four years that she no longer had.
And it was that which made her follow after him.
Four years ago: Forks, Washington.
Bella looks around anxiously, a frown on her face as her eyes scan the perimeter, tracing over the trees. She bites into her bottom lip, anxiety rising within her as she sees nothing and it thus confirms what she thought.
He is no longer with her. He's left her.
Tears well in her eyes and her breath is shaky as she looks down at her twisting hands, the fingers weaving together, threading as she raises her elbows to rest on the wooden picnic table. She swallows against the lump in her throat, misery overwhelming her. She doesn't understand. He's never left her, not for this long and not so completely. Sure he is n't always there with her but it ha s been weeks and that i s the longest stretch yet—especially when the last three weekly envelopes dropped at her window sill ha ve n't smelled of him—meaning he didn't delivered them personally like he usually does.
Hearing her name being called, Bella sniffles and takes a deep breath. She closes her eyes and repeats the action to calm down, wiping with furious attention at her cheeks to rid them of her tears. Her eyes a re still red from crying when Alice finally s i t s down in front of her, Edward coming to sit next to her. He throws an arm over her shoulder and pulls her close, and though it doesn't do much, she allows her face to press in against his cold chest as she closes her eyes and soothes herself.
Finding out what the Cullens ar e ha d been one step closer to unveiling the secret that is Mr . Mysterious. Hearing of the Original species ha s helped her identify him as a member of that species of vampire. It explains why she was attracted to Edward when she first met him ; he is merely a reminder of the apex predator as she is coming to understand the Original kind is.
It's times like these that she falls upon memories until they do nothing. When that happens, she spends time with the Cullens and watches them for their supernatural attributes—a comfort, no matter how strange it may seem to them -they who know nothing of her protector.
Bella sighs again, slumping in his arms. She still feels glum, she still feels let down... but another part of her is already thinking of what must happen now.
A plan is being formed.
Present day: New Orleans, Louisianna.
Bella pressed her head back into the pillows and frowned, her mind still on finding the man she'd in some way known her whole life. Crossing her arms over her chest, she stared up at the ceiling, displeasure twisting her lips as she yawned sleepily. With a pout she pushed the covers back, tensing as cool air clung to her within seconds as she reached for her dressing gown. She sighed as she settled into it, sliding her feet into her slippers and standing to make her way to the kitchen. She needed coffee, and she needed it now, if she was going to last tomorrow not having slept the night before.
Bella's mind drifted to how much had changed since that moment four years ago when she realized he'd left her. In her teen angst at the fragile age of seventeen, it was by no means a stretch of the imagination to say that she was emotionally distraught to discover that her lifetime companion of the shadows was gone and, it appeared, would not be coming back. She went through the five stages of grief, lingering even to this day in some ways particularly on anger as she refused his weekly envelopes. Eventually, as they were seen to be piling up, they stopped coming. Still no note about that, either, she noted with bitterness.
There was no mistake to be made, however, that Bella still very much intended to find the man she'd glimpsed a total of four times—the latest being just a few hours previous.
Bella let out a harsh breath and looked up through the window at the night's sky. There was a faint smile on her face as she recalled that she'd seen him in his perfection, looking just the same as he always did when he saved her; angry, intense, and oh-so-sexy. At the same time, there was a hint of frustration—he was aloof as ever and, if she hadn't seen the dark glint in his eye of something other than anger that made her tingle, she would think he was completely unaffected by her. It hurt.
She was brought out of her thoughts by the sound of the coffee maker finishing up, and she lifted the cup and took a sip, sighing and closing her eyes as the taste of the foul stuff she loved so much hit her senses. She'd always loved the smell, and now she loved the taste.
She drank her cup of coffee accompanied only by memories of what had brought her here. It had been a long and gruelling four years, filled with one tragedy after the next, and now she was more or less on the run. Having heard glimpses after showing his picture—found on the internet; she felt he may have thrown her a line—she followed the yellow brick road to this place. At least the whispers had been right.
Her throat was thick when she blinked against a harsh light and she gasped, taking in a shocked deep breath and reaching up to her wet face, wiping away tears as she blinked rapidly. She regulated her breathing as she realized she'd spaced out for some hours and she rose slowly to get dressed for the day.
It was time for her search to begin.
A half hour later, she was dressed in dark jeans, a light tank top, and a leather jacket with boots to complete. Her hair was out, and light make up adorned her naturally pretty face as she placed glasses on her head—she knew they'd come in handy later on that day. Walking down the street in the French Quarter, she finally made it to Rousseau's, smiling in greeting at the blonde behind the bar as she slumped into a stool, resting her chin on the backs of her hands.
"Rough night?" Camille asked with a smile on her face as she cleaned the glasses in front of her.
Bella yawned in answer, a small smile on her face. "What made you say that?" she asked, teasing her.
Camille smirked at her. "Oh, I don't know. The yawn, maybe. The glasses, definitely. How much did you drink last night?"
Bella let out a weak chuckle, shaking her head in sloppy, tired movements as she held up a finger. "I had one drink… this," she gestured with laziness to herself, drawing a loose figure eight with the same finger, "is all a result of no sleep."
Camille frowned. "You left here around ten; I thought you were going home."
This time a wry smile played on Bella's lips, a sigh leaving her as she raised an eyebrow and cocked her head. "Oh, believe me, I meant to. Then shit happened and I got home around midnight and I… couldn't sleep." She saw the thoughtful look on Camille's face, that far away glaze over her eyes and shook her head. "Don't even think about going all psych-y on me. I'm fine. Go find another guinea pig."
A frowning Cami ignored her. "What 'shit' happened?" she asked quietly, looking up as someone entered the bar. She watched them for a moment then frowned, making Bella look over as well only for a twin look to cross her face as she saw nothing but the door close with a muted thud.
"Who was that?" Bella countered, sitting up as her shoulders tensed. She thought she'd felt a brush of his presence, but she shrugged it off; it had been that way since she'd entered town and she knew it was only to do with his proximity—especially after so long apart. Besides, she had matured and, with her, so had this inexplicable bond—it had strengthened, somehow, just as it had through the years before as she grew from toddlerhood to teen years.
Camille was suddenly distracted, blinking and looking back down at Bella. "Hmm? Mm, nobody," she mumbled, raising a hand to her head for a moment before she bent down and started putting the dry glasses away under the bench. All Bella could see was a hand appearing, grabbing a glass, and then disappearing, the cycle repeating over and over.
Bella's eyebrows jolted up then smoothed again, trying to come up with more conversation for the two of them. She thought for a moment before a smirk crossed her face. "So… last night, I saw you sending glances at this broody, dangerous looking, leather-jacket-and-Henley wearing blond. What's up with that?"
A thud hit her ears, and a muffled "ow!" as the blonde reached up to her head, glaring at Bella as she emerged from the bar. "That hurt," she said, rubbing at the top of her head as she cracked her head from side to side. "And I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Shut up, cuz," Bella laughed. "From that reaction, there is no way I'm going to believe that. You like him," she sing-songed, laughing at her older cousin as her cheeks were painted red, blood rising in her embarrassment—a family trait.
"No idea what you're talking about," Camille muttered, going about her work and ignoring both her flushed cheeks and her laughing twenty-one year old cousin. She refused to think about Klaus right now; it was bad enough that she saw him almost every night given his propensity to visit the bar so regularly. She needed to get this tip ready for another service tonight and that wouldn't happen if she thought about the Hybrid.
"Okay, okay, I'll drop it," for now, Bella added silently with a secretive grin. "But seriously, from those looks he was giving you, he feels the same way so I say jump on it—or rather, him." She winked.
Camille snorted but gave no other reaction before a smirk twisted her lips and she raised an eyebrow, leaning over the bar. "Tell me, cuz, why are you here again? I hardly hear from you in four years—ever since Charlie's funeral, actually—and now suddenly you turn up out of the blue. Do you have any idea how worried Aunt Renee is? What the hell have you been doing with yourself?"
Tears well in Bella's eyes as she stares in disbelief, taking in her father's awkwardly fallen body, looking up to see—
"Bella," she heard, and she flinched when she felt the warmth of her cousin's hand covering hers. She took in a deep breath and looked up, wiping away tears with stealth and swallowing.
"I'm fine," she whispered, clearing her throat. A sad smile settled on her pretty face as she looked down at the bar countertop, her eyes no longer glazed over from seeing memories she'd spoken to no one about. Instead, they were glazed from tears of a quiet, secret grief she held deep in her heart. She willed them away and focused on her breath as it filled her lungs then expelled.
She hopped up from the counter, feeling a little jittery as she grabbed her things with haste. "I've gotta go, okay? I'll see you later..."
"See ya, Camille," she said with a shaky smile, waving as she kept walking for the door. She ignored her cousin as she tried to talk her into coming back inside, taking in a huge breath when she stepped into the street. She let it out with a slump of her shoulders then looked out at her surroundings. She had a few things to do today, the first of which being to ask around with other supernaturals—she was hoping to start with the witches.
Bella walked down the street in her own world, stuck in her thoughts. They drifted to her mother, whom she had not spoken to since before her father's funeral. She felt a cloud rest over her as she thought about the woman who'd birthed her. When her father had died, Bella had immediately called Renée, but the bitch wanted nothing to do with her daughter if she wasn't going to drop everything and move down to her again. Bella needed to get away and fast; she wasn't safe anymore and, without her Mystery man to keep her safe, she was out on her own… but that was where her plan to find him came in.
Her mother had been wholeheartedly opposed and had even resorted to threatening her daughter, but it hadn't worked. Bella cut all ties to everyone in Forks—indeed, everyone in her life regardless of their location—and fled in search of him.
Only to find herself here four long years later.
The twenty-one year old found herself at the end of the road, and looked in every direction. Cami had been useful in telling her where to find the witches' dominant area, and Bella was following the map she had drawn in her head upon hearing the directions from her cousin—perhaps not the best idea, but phones had location systems so she refused to have one. Thus, she had no other choice.
She smiled as she found them a little down the road she had chosen. The cemetery was a creepy place, but hopefully somewhere she'd be safe for this part—something much needed, as it could take a while.
There was a witch standing in the middle, surrounded by tombstones, Bella discovered when she entered and walked a little ways inside the iron gates. She bit her lip in thought but then released the deep breath she was holding and stepped forward. The witch looked up, her brow furrowing.
Bella smiled. "Hi, there," she said, wiggling her fingers in greeting before dropping her arm and stepping forward. "Um, I was hoping—"she fiddled around in her pockets for the photo she had printed, finally her fingers seeking purchase on it and she dug it out "—that maybe you could help me find this man?" She unfolded it as she spoke, finally turning it around to show the witch as she finished.
The witch's eyes widened, and her eyes flashed back to Bella's face as she took a step back. Her eyes narrowed with suspicion, her hands curling but not quite into fists just yet as she glared at the girl in front of her. "What do you want with him?"
Bella smiled, but it was not pleasant. She folded the photo, looking down at it and silence reined as she put it in her pocket and crossed her arms over her chest. She raised an eyebrow, cocking her head to the side. "So you've heard of him? Good. As for what I want with him, that would be absolutely none of your business."
The witch gritted their teeth, her long brown hair flipping over her shoulder as she smirked coldly and turned away. "Then I can't help you." She continued walking toward the exit, but Bella huffed behind her and called for her to wait.
"Fine," she said with a grunt, nostrils flaring at being played. She stepped forward. "Look, I just need his name and maybe his address, okay? He's been watching over me ever since I was a child, but he left me four years ago without a word and now I want to find him. Will you help me or not?"
The witch had a smug smirk on her face as she turned around, perusing the girl with her head cocked and arms folded over her chest—obviously enjoying the power she had. The brunette was young, younger than Bella, but she was powerful—that much you could practically feel in the air. Bella didn't like her that much.
"You're in luck," the witch said, breaking the older of the two out of her thoughts. They stepped toward one another with hesitance, unable to trust, but Bella was getting desperate so she plastered a nice smile on her face and stuffed her hands in her pockets.
"Thank you," she said.
And a little while later, Bella walked out of the cemetery with a huge grin lighting up her features and tears glistening in her eyes.
His name was Elijah.
With the address written on her arm under her leather jacket, she made her way toward the bar to see her cousin and give her a huge kiss in thanks.
But when she turned the corner, Bella gasped as suddenly she was tugged back hard, hands clamping down on her shoulders and around her waist. The last thing she remembered was being pulled back and hit on the head hard enough to lose consciousness.
Bella woke sometime later with a pounding head, her body pulled into an uncomfortable position on the wooden chair she was sitting on, arms tied tight behind her back and each leg to the front legs of the chair. Her head was bowed in her unconsciousness, but she slowly lifted it, allowing it to rest between her shoulders as she looked up at her assailant—a blurry figure she was seeing about triple of.
"Who are you?" she whispered hoarsely, swallowing as her throat broke from disuse, the dryness causing pain. She blinked several times and furrowed her brow against the bright light, seeing grey all around and dark skin structured into very handsome features. She let out a gasp as her sight improved.
"Hello there, gorgeous," she heard an American accent ring out from the man standing in front of her, his broad arms crossed over his chest in the light clothing he was wearing. "So now you're awake, do you wanna tell me what you're doing here in my city?"
Bella's eyes narrowed, not buying the charming smile on the man's face. "I don't think so," she said, cracking her neck both sides. She glared up at him, settling into her chair.
"Okay then, why don't you tell me why you have…" he reached out to the high table to his right and picked up a page Bella remembered to be the one with Elijah's photo on it, "this photo?" he asked. He held it up for her to look at it, taking a long look himself and appraising the photo of Elijah Mikaelson, oldest surviving of the Original family, before he trained his stare back on Bella's unemotional face.
"I'm looking for him," she answered simply, not even batting an eyelash as he growled and stepped forward.
"And before you ask, no, I don't really have a clue what he's like—who's to know?" She allowed a coy grin of her own as she stared up at the man through her eyelashes, not really serious—as noted by the pulling of her lips at either side while she tried to remain cool and not laugh—but wanting to fuck with him. She was hardly intimidated. She'd been caught by the Cullens while on the run for the past four years many times, and she'd escaped each and every time. Nothing much scared her anymore. She glanced down, sighing theatrically as she teased him, singing lyrics to a song she knew well. "But I'm sure he'll be the one of a kind, of a one that I'd really like to keep but it's all just a distant memory I talk about…" She shrugged as much as she could, smirking up at him.
A sharp slap resounded through the basement, and Bella's head whipped to the side, her neck cracking under the onslaught. She took a deep breath against the pain, licking away the blood as she rolled her shoulders—ignoring the pain in her wrists as the binds around them whined at the movement. She righted her head and panted, blowing strands from her face and glaring up at her attacker, raising an eyebrow. "That all you got?"
He growled, his shoulders rising and lowering as he let out a roar, but before he could step forward to do any damage, a silhouette Bella knew all too well was standing in the far corner. "Do not make another move, Marcellus," he said, and Bella closed her eyes and smiled, sighing with relief, knowing what was to come next. Those slow and precise footsteps slowly coming forward echoed through the space and Bella opened her eyes just as her man stepped into the pool of light.
Marcellus, as she now knew him, stiffened, and his lackeys looked toward him for orders. But he kept staring on ahead at Elijah—and how Bella's heart sang at finally knowing his name in his presence—who had a polite if not posh smirk on his face, small as it was, as he came to stand in front of Bella. He looked down at her with a raised eyebrow just before turning and she shrugged her shoulders and grinned at him, seeing him shake his head in response.
"You see, Marcellus, this girl is under my protection and I do not take lightly to threats or violence against her," he told him, looking around at the gathering with a raised eyebrow, his lips separated but they turned up as he felt their fear—saw it etched on their faces and echoed in their heartbeats, their stuttered breath, and indeed in their silence. He turned his head to glance over his shoulder out of the corner of his eye at her. "Bella," he started and her heartbeat skipped when she heard her name fall from his lips; he'd never done so before.
"Elijah," she sighed and she saw his lips twitch and a low chuckle rumble in his chest.
"Are you all right? Have they harmed you?" he asked her.
Bella looked at each of them before answering. "They hit me over the head to bring me here and that one, Marcellus, slapped me. Apart from that, all I have is aching bones from being tied in this position."
He sneered, a growl trembling in his chest as he turned back to the vampires in front of them. In a heartbeat, he had flashed around to all of Marcellus's followers—the five he had standing in the room—and extracted their hearts, which were promptly dropped to the floor. He then turned and Bella sucked in a breath at the morbid albeit attractive sight he made covered in the blood of those who'd held her against her will. She watched as he stalked slowly to Marcel, his fangs out and eyes black and red, the black spider-web veins swimming under his eyes as blood dripped from his hands. His suit was ruined.
"I am afraid, Marcellus, that you have made a grave error in touching a hair on Isabella's head," he told him in an even but low-toned voice. He took his handkerchief and flicked his wrist to open it up then removed the blood from his hands as best he could before dropping it to the floor. He swallowed as he stared into the younger vampire's eyes. "Son of Niklaus's or no, you have harmed a woman very dear to me, and for that you must pay." And with that he flashed forward, snapped the dark-skinned man's neck, and allowed him to drop to the floor. He took his cell from his pocket and pressed one key before lifting it to his ear, speaking so low for just a few seconds that Bella could not hear a word. He ended the call then turned his full attention to Bella, finally now calming as he looked into her eyes.
"Isabella," he whispered and, in a flash, he was in front of her. Gently, he pried her loose of the ropes then took her into his arms with a sweet and kind care that she had missed from him, never having experienced it in another's touch.
As soon as she was free however, she ripped herself from his hands and got up, backing away from him. She watched as a slight hurt echoed in his eyes but she stayed firm as her anger grew, four years of hurt and abandonment finally catching up with her as she found herself in front of a man she'd known distantly her whole life.
"Don't, Elijah," she hissed, glaring at him. She turned and walked out of there, ignoring him as he followed behind her. When she reached her street, she spun on her heel and crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him for an immeasurable amount of time, the atmosphere uncomfortable.
"Isabella—" he tried again in a whisper but it was to no avail.
Bella drew in a shaky breath, her whole body stiffening at the sound of his voice. She shook her head and suddenly she was that seventeen year old, just abandoned and waiting for the man who wouldn't come back. Tears pricked her eyes and she swallowed convulsively, breathing deeply. "Why did you leave me?"
His eyes clouded and he swallowed at the raw pain that broke her voice when she spoke, the deep tremor and the swimming tears. He looked down as he adjusted his stance, uncomfortable.
But this only fuelled her fire, and before either of them knew it, she was spewing out four years of torment for all the world to hear.
"Everything went to shit after you left, you know?" she said, a cold smirk and a harsh smile erupting from her lips. "My boyfriend killed my father—apparently being too close to his singer (which I didn't even know about) was too much for him but he couldn't bear to lose me so he killed Charlie instead. Uh, my mother finally disowned me." She gazed up at the heavens now, trying not to crack under his intense-as-ever gaze, ignoring the way he slowly stepped closer and closer. "Then every time they caught me on my way to trying to find you, picking up on the half-eaten breadcrumbs you left behind for me, they'd torture me… try to make me forget what he'd done, try to make me forget the man I whispered about every night in my dreams—the man I suspect was the reason why Edward really killed my father, in a fit of jealousy about a man who left me behind without any form of goodbye.
"Then I finally get here, only for you to save me—again—and then leave…" Another laugh, another piece of her façade chipping away for him to see her pain. Another wince from him as he realized just how much he fucked up. "Then I have to find out your name from a witch—a witch, Elijah, you didn't even have the decency to tell me your-fucking-self!—then I'm kidnapped because of you and you come strutting in like I need you to save me. Who the fuck do you think you are? You abandoned me. I had to go to Mystic Falls to even find out who you were, face another almost-death because those idiots thought it was a great idea to fuck with me as some sort of revenge for whatever your family had done. I just… why?!" she screamed the last word, swallowing hard as she spun on her heel and took in a shaky but deep breath, her breath pitching as a sob caught in her throat. She felt her knees give way under the heat of all the pain she was releasing, but when she began to fall, she never hit the ground.
Finally, he was there to catch her. He lowered them to the ground there in the street, uncaring about how it looked. His lips met her ear, and he spoke low to her, his voice gritty with bitterness. "I had to go, but I did not want to. At that point in time, I felt it was my duty to stop my brother whom by now I'm sure you've heard of—Niklaus—from breaking the curse that allowed his wolf side to come forth. But our relationship changed, our family reconnected, and I stayed to help them with their troubles. When I could leave again, I looked for you, but you had disappeared and each time I came close, my brothers and my sister would call me back for one reason or another… then my youngest brother, Kol, died," his voice cracked, but he swallowed and neutralized his tone before continuing, "and I was there to console the remaining two of my siblings while we exacted our revenge—something I suspect his murderers took out on you when you came to Mystic Falls." His expression darkened as he held her tight to him, disbelieving at the audacity of that group of young vampires they'd left behind. He would make it his duty to make them pay. "We then received news that Niklaus was being plotted against here, and the rumors were true as well as the fact that when he bedded a werewolf by the name of Hayley she had become pregnant with his child." He took a deep breath and turned the silent girl in his arms so he could look her in the eyes. "We are at war, Isabella, and the reason why I did not come for you then was because I knew you would be better off not caught up in this. But I suppose I was wrong," he said with a small chuckle. "And I am deeply regretful of that fact; you can never know just how much, beloved." He cupped her cheek and pulled her face up to look into her eyes, leaning his forehead against hers. "You are so beautiful, and I hate that you experienced so much pain and I was incapable of stopping it."
She looked down, swallowing as the weight of his words settled within her frazzled mind. She was tired, she felt weak; she had mentally and physically had enough—it had been that way for a while now. But here, in his arms, she could finally realize it, finally allow herself to feel that. She calmed down as he held her there, as she lay in his arms over her lap. Her remembrance of when he lifted her and begun to carry her somewhere was vague, and she was not roused from sleep as she usually would have been—experiences from the past four years had made her quite the light sleeper.
Instead, she fell asleep, lulled into a dream-state by the calming beat of his slow heart, by his steady and unwavering hold, and the tender words he whispered in her ear—how he would never leave her again, how he had missed her, how he would take care of her from now on and right all wrongs she'd been afforded. Love was not mentioned, but it was there in every single word he spoke to her, in every step as he clutched her with gentleness to him.
Finally, her Mr. Mysterious was with her, and she would never be alone again.