It was like a scene out of Full Metal Jacket without the weapons. Damon watched as Jasper trained the "troops", feeling a sudden urge for popcorn and beer. The Texan vampire was in full military mode, his back straight and his voice commanding as he instructed both vampires and wolves alike on how to fight a newborn – or many newborns, as the case now stood. Damon was impressed. Especially seeing how the Originals were so out of their element. It was hard to believe they had survived all these years and didn't have a clue.
He'd give Elijah an E for effort. As stiff and formal as the old bag was, he was trying. Which was more than he could say for the others. Becky looked like she'd rather be picking lint and cat hair off a wool sweater and Finn, well Finn reminded him of Frankenstein in a bad B-movie portrayal; all bulk, no brain, lumbering around like an idiot. Yeah, he should definitely be a front-liner.
Kol, pretentious snob that he was, couldn't look more out of place if he tried with his Calvin Klein attire and his lips curled in disgust. Damon was sorely tempted to throw a fistful of mud at him, just to muck him up a bit.
"Am I boring you?" Jasper said, getting into Kol's face.
"I just don't see how all this scrimmaging around in the dirt is really necessary."
"Oh, you don't?" He quirked a smile and backed up until he was across the lawn. "Pretend I'm a newborn." In less than a second, Jasper ran forward and had Kol on the ground, twisting underneath him. "You're dead. Less than a second is all it takes."
"Point taken," Kol gritted through his teeth, struggling to get out from under him. "Now get off me."
"Thought so," Jasper said with a grin over his shoulder at him after getting up and walking away. He went back to addressing the group. "Now, The two most important things to remember are first, never let them get their arms around you, they'll crush you instantly. And second, never go for the obvious kill. They'll be expecting that. And you will lose. Emmett!"
"Let's demonstrate for them shall we? Don't hold back."
Emmett chuckled. "Do I ever?"
He charged. Jasper zipped out of his way and ended up behind him on top of his back as he simulated ripping off his neck.
"Never lose focus," Jasper reminded all of them. "Okay, who's next?"
"Shouldn't you be training too?" Elena asked, coming up behind Damon. She sat next to him on the porch, her arms wrapping around her legs.
"I won't exactly be fighting."
"You won't?" She was surprised. Damon liked to fight. He lived for it. "Where will you be?"
"And where will I be?"
"Anywhere but here." He sighed deep in his throat and hung his head in defeat. It was a complete clusterfuck. He wanted her to stay so badly but he needed her to leave. "You should go back to Mystic Falls, Elena. Walk away from all of this. It's too dangerous here."
"No. My place is with you – with all of you. I'm not the type of person to turn my back on the people I love especially when there's trouble."
"Sometimes I wish you were," he grumbled, turning away from her.
"Then we wouldn't be here – like this." Her hand found his thigh and squeezed it softly. She meant it to reassure him but the way he flinched when she touched him, told her it had the opposite effect.
"We've already had this discussion."
"That was before I had so much to lose."
"You won't lose anyone." She wanted to make him a promise but she wouldn't lie to him. No one knew what the outcome was going to be, not even Alice.
"Listen to you," he said with a forced smile. "Little Miss Optimism."
"Well, someone has to be optimistic, Debbie Downer." She bumped hsi shoulder with her own. "Let's face it, Damon; looking on the bright side has never been your forte."
"I never had a reason."
In a very un-Elena like way, she grabbed his chin, forcing his reluctant gaze to meet hers and swept her lips over his. He was so stunned at her sudden action that before he could even think to return the kiss, she pulled back, gently brushing his hair from his eyes with her fingers.
"You do now."
"Damon!" Jasper shouted at him with a grin, his arm head locked around Elijah. "Stop fraternizing with the ladies and get your lazy butt down here and train. How do you expect to protect your woman, if you can't fight for her?"
Elena grinned wide at the growl that left Damon's throat. She bumped her shoulder against his playfully. "Are you going to let him talk to you like that?"
"Hell, no!" Damon jumped up and ran down the steps. His leather jacket flapped behind him as he stalked after Jasper with a shit-eating grin. "C'mon Glow Stick, show me what you got."
Bella slid her jacket covered body over tree bark and pulled out thin strands of her hair to leave them on the tree branches as she wound her way through the thick forest. Alice and Bonnie trailed behind her, carrying an assortment of her clothes, mimicking her movements. Short of her being in the clearing where they wanted the newborns to be, this was the only way for them to pick up on her scent and keep them away from the town.
It had to work.
Maybe she should add some more incentive.
"Alice, get in front of me."
"I need both of you to be upwind."
"Oh, Bella, no –"
"Please, just do it."
"Fine," Alice huffed and stalked ahead. "This really isn't necessary, you know."
Bella wasn't about to take any chances. She pulled a pocketknife from her jeans and sliced her finger just enough where the blood beaded and pooled around the wound. Holding her breath to keep the nausea at bay, she rubbed her finger against tree bark, let the droplets fall on bush leaves as she followed Alice and Bonnie into the expanse of clearing.
Jacob stood there waiting, hands pocketed in his well-worn jeans and the look of impatience and anticipation tattooed on his face until he spotted Bonnie walking out of the cropping of trees. It was only then that his face relaxed.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" he asked the three of them, shrugging off his back pack and tossing it onto the ground in between them.
"It's the only shot we have. Did Charlie give Billy any problems?"
"Are you kidding? An excuse to go camping and fishing? Your dad was all over Billy's invite. You should see him before he leaves, you know, just in case."
"Bella will be fine," Alice told them.
"Oh yeah, leech? You got your second sight back?"
"Well, no but-"
"Then you're pretty much useless, aren't you?"
"Thank you for doing this, Jake," Bonnie said with reprimanding edge to her voice, interrupting what she was sure was going to turn into a sandbox fight.
"You're welcome and – uh – Sorry, blo—I mean, Alice."
Bella didn't know if it was her imagination but Jake really did look contrite and was that actually a blush he was sporting?
"So is this everything?" she asked, scooping up the heavy backpack by the shoulder strap.
"It's all there. So is Edward going to be able to stand being near you when you smell like me?"
"Edward won't be with me. He'll be fighting alongside you and everyone else."
"I'm surprised he's leaving you alone."
"I won't be alone, Jake. Damon will be with me."
"Seriously? Edward trusts him? Maybe that boy isn't as smart as I thought."
"There are things you don't know, Jake." Bonnie told him. "Damon would protect Bella with his life if need be."
"Why?" Jake's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What's she to him?"
Bella straightened her shoulders, prepared to tell Jake the truth she had been cloaking from him. "I'm his sister."
Well, that went well," Bella mumbled partially to herself after Jake ran off.
"Vampires, werewolves and witches, he believes. But reincarnation throws him for a loop? Unbelievable."
"Don't forget prophecies and curses," Bonnie added to Alice's tirade.
"It does sound pretty far-fetched, even by our standards." Bella was in the process of putting on Jakes clothes over her own to mask her scent. Jesus, he was big! His shirt hung well past her knees and his pants? Well, she had to roll them up so many times, she looked like she had donuts wrapped around her ankles. "So what do you think?" She asked after fitting Jake's baseball cap over her head.
Alice scrunched up her nose in disgust. "No offense, Bella, but you stink."
"Wasn't that the whole plan?"
"It worked a little too well. Walk around a bit, slowly. You can't break out in a sweat. It would defeat the whole purpose. I want to make sure I can't track you – Oh - and please try not to fall."
"Anything?" Bonnie asked her as Bella started running around the weed-infested field.
"Not a thing." Alice shook her head. "Just the smell of wet dog." She scrunched her nose.
"Do you think it will last?"
"That's what we're hoping for. Okay, FloJo," she shouted towards Bella. "you can stop now. We gotta get moving before sunset."
Bella, stopped in front of Alice and bent over, resting her hands on her knees, gasping for breath. Damn, she was out of shape if the short jaunt she did was enough to make her lungs burn. "Flojo?" she managed to pant out. "Are you taking lessons from Damon, now?"
"He can be quite amusing when he's not being a jerk. C'mon," Alice helped her up. "You can piggy back on me."
"On you?" Bonnie snorted as she sized them both up. "While carrying the backpack?"
"Watch it, Willow. I'm a lot stronger than I look."
"You are taking lessons from Damon."
"You can't be serious!" Damon scowled when the pile of matchsticks masquerading as a cabin came into view. He turned to Edward. "Who is responsible for picking out this Casa de Crappo?"
An old abandoned shack would've been a more apt term for the dilapidated hunting cabin that was nestled in on the side of the mountain. It barely looked like it would survive the next light rain with its splintered wood siding and a roof than looked like it would cave-in at any moment.
Edward's lips compressed into a thin line. "It's the highest, most isolated cabin in the area."
"In other words, you're responsible."
"Damon," Elena said in a reproving tone. "I'm sure it's fine. Let's just set up, okay?"
"Ugh! Fine." He rolled his eyes. "Let's go."
The inside wasn't much prettier than the outside, Damon thought when Elena opened the creaky door. There was a bed…well more like a two cots squished together, splintered floors, a rickety uneven round wooden table and a couple of bridge chairs.
"Thanks for the sterling accommodations, Glitter Glam," Damon said as he plunked the boxed he was carrying on the floor. "I'll be sure to leave you a fat tip at the end of my stay."
"Is that thing structurally sound?" Bella asked when Alice finally set her down a few feet from the entrance of the old wooden cabin.
"Do you honestly think Edward will let you stay somewhere that he thought would fall apart?"
"Not in theory."
"Don't be such a worry wart." Alice rolled her eyes and motioned with her head. "Let's go. They're waiting for us.
Edward, Damon and Elena were already inside setting up when they walked in. Bella scanned the one room cabin wondering how long this place had been abandoned before Edward found it. The only modern necessity in the room was a large "portable" heater/stove, the type she used to sell at Newton's for avid campers that didn't want to completely forgo the comforts of home. The heater was a good thing being tucked in a high up in altitude where the winds breathing beyond the dirty windows were that much harsher.
"You're here." Edward wrapped her in his arms. "I'm sorry, it's not much but it's safe."
"No, it's fine." Bella tried to force reassurance into her tone. "It's only for one night, right?"
"One night," Alice assured her.
"Good." She nodded absently and looked around the room. "So what now?"
"You, Damon and Elena will stay here while Bonnie, Alice and I will – "
Alice shook her head slowly. "I'm staying too."
All eyes turned in her direction, each showing the same mix of wariness and surprise.
"Why?" Damon asked suspiciously.
"Isn't it obvious?" she huffed. "I can see up here. No wolves. Down there I am blind. Besides, Snarky Pants –" she smirked in his direction. "- if more than one of my kind happens to find his way up here, you and a diamond blasting laser gun won't be much of a match."
"She's right," Edward was reluctant to agree. It wasn't that he didn't trust Damon with Bella's safety. He knew the vampire would die trying to save his sister and the woman he loved but there was only one of him and two human girls. He didn't like those odds. "It will be better if Alice stays. This way if she sees something, she can contact one of the rest of us."
"For the record, Thumbelina, you'll have to brush up on your insulting nick-naming skills if you want to go toe to toe with me" Damon scoffed, then added "Do we even get cell service up here in Deliverance central?"
Pulling a phone from her jacket, Alice held it up for all to see. "You do if you have a satellite phone."
It was time to say good bye and Bella felt the fear of being separated from Edward clawing at her. To not know if he would return to her safe and whole, terrified her. She'd rather face Klaus and Victoria than a future without Edward. But his place was in the fray of the battle. She knew that. He had the advantage of being able to hear thoughts and that could mean the difference of winning or losing for all of them.
"Be safe. I want you to come back to me," Edward said as he walked her outside to say a private goodbye.
"Funny, I was just about to say the same thing to you."
"Oh, silly girl. I won't let anything happen to me, not when I know you'll be waiting for me."
"You're not impervious, Edward. " She frowned, a niggling feeling that all would not go as planned, that something bad was going to happen, even with Alice's contradictions otherwise. "Just be careful. No matter what. Promise me."
"I promise." He trailed his finger down her cheek and pressed his forehead against hers. "Just say the words, Bella and I'll stay."
"I do want you here but …" She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to force the words out. "…they need you down there. I couldn't live with myself if something happened to any of them because I was being selfish."
"You're far from selfish."
"But I would be if I asked you to stay, which is why I'm not going to."
"Okay," he breathed out with a nod against her. "If you're sure."
She wasn't sure but she knew what she was doing was the right thing to do. "I am."