Disclaimer – I don’t own the characters or the show but I do love to bend them and twist them a bit before I give them back.
Glancing down at her arm for what seemed like the millionth time Kenzi knew she was in serious trouble. Not only had the rash not faded but it had started to spread. At first it had only covered the top of her forearm but now it had reached her shoulder and started to web out even further along her neck and across her chest, unfortunately trying to keep her active mind from wondering what would happen if it spread far enough to be over her heart only worked for so long. She’d tried everything she could think of on her own, including some of the dicier things her Aunt Ludmila had shared with her once upon a time over some choice vodka after she first found herself in Fae-land, now it was time to call in the cavalry. The only question left to answer being which cavalry.
She couldn’t tell Bo, at least not yet, if her BFF found out she’d gotten hurt by a Fae she’d want to go all UFC on them and from what she knew of the Norn that would not end well for either side. Especially with Bo’s aligned, unaligned, status. It was getting hard to tell day by day exactly where they stood in regards to that particular line, hell most days it was hard to find the damn line at all. The only reason she had been able to do what she’d done was because she wasn’t Fae, and therefore not subject to their rules. Sort of. In a blurred edges kind of way.
She and Vex had a bit of a frenemies type love-fest going on and it just seemed to grow stronger by the day. For a Dark Fae dick-wad he was actually a fun guy to hang with, make-up tips and all. However, it would seem that being of the before mentioned Dark side of things meant that he wasn’t all together trustable. Would she trust him to help her coordinate a killer outfit with just enough sass to it to get a guy’s attention from across a dark room, hells yes she would. Trust him to keep his mouth shut and help her without trying to work an angle all his own while possibly leaving her out to dry? Never.
She didn’t want to go to Dyson, because she knew he would just blame himself, since he was the reason she’d gone to the Norn in the first place and he had enough going on in his life without the added guilt of her possible (though not yet confirmed) impending death. With Bo walking all over his newly mended heart and the Light side being more Fae-hole like than normal about him having gone off the reservation for so long following the whole love bite in the ass thing the last thing she wanted to do was give him a new reason to go rogue. Even if in her opinion it would be in defense of a most precious life. Her own.
She wouldn’t go to Hale because he was the world’s worst at keeping secrets, especially from Dyson. Not to mention the whole no-no boner he seemed to have about keeping deets from the Ash, that guy for all his rebel Siren-ness was on the side of the light down to his marrow. If she went down that road she may as well just go straight to Dyson. Then Dyson would go running to Bo defeating the purpose behind the process of elimination she was agonizing over.
Her final and probably best option was Trick. With a little fast talking she could probably convince Trickster to keep things on the DL if only for a little while. While he didn’t seem to have the same warm and fuzzies for her he did for most of the rest of the group they were tight enough for her to trust his word, she would just have to get him to swear silence before asking for help. Just tell him not to worry anyone unnecessarily, even if he decided not to help her in the end that was no reason to start blowing the whistle, he should go for that. With that heady optimism in mind she took a deep breath, grabbed her jacket and headed for the Dal.
Dyson and Bo had just walked out leaving Trick alone in the Dal before the start of the evening rush. They’d come to him worried about their mutual human darling Kenzi. Truthfully everyone was worried about her, at least everyone who knew her well even that damned Mesmer had dropped hints about her not being completely fine after everything that happened to them all. She had been avoiding them since the Garuda had been defeated, continually keeping to herself locked away in her room. The Kenzi they all loved and admired for her seemingly endless font of courage and strength never kept to herself. She was at times a little too open and friendly, but in the past few weeks she’d become withdrawn and more sedate than any of them had ever seen her.
Bo had gone to Dyson trying to figure things out, when neither of them could figure out what to do, the two had come to him looking for advice and guidance. The only thing the three of them had been able to come up with was that maybe the fight had caused more damage than they originally thought, if not physically then psychologically and they were just now seeing the effects take hold.
She had almost died, and then after everything was said and done that fact was almost casually pushed aside. Like talking to the girl about it meant admitting that they had almost lost her to one of the many perils of their world. The only counsel he’d been able to offer the worried pair with the information he had was to talk to her, maybe even get her in to see a Fae shrink. Someone with whom she had no connection who could hear her out and help her work through whatever it was that was keeping their normally bubbly and vivacious human companion far from them.
There weren’t many Fae who worked with claimed humans, many saw it as beneath them, but there were a few who were willing to help a traumatized pet now and again. Not that many were ever given the option of help, it was usually seen as more humane to put the poor thing down then let it linger in suffering for however many months it would take to put everything back to rights again. Sometimes he was truly baffled by the logic of his brethren, then again before meeting Kenzi and watching her effects on Bo he might have even agreed with them, not that he’d ever given it much thought one way or the other having never claimed a human himself.
Hearing the door open he looked up to tell the early patron that the bar wasn’t open yet, but stopped with his mouth hanging open. There at the entrance was the very subject of his recent musings, Kenzi. She was dressed to the nines in her usual Kenzi-esq fashion, which seemed to always set her apart from any other human around. Her straight black hair had streaks of red in it this week that caught the faded light of the bar and held it in an almost glow. She wore her favorite boots that she’d finally finished paying for, the ones she’d gone around his bar showing off to anyone and everyone with eyes for a week after she’d gotten her hands on them. Her black jeans were as per her usual so tight he wondered how she could breathe with them on. She had on a long sleeve purple bejeweled top slightly covered by her signature black open vest that was just one size too small for her.
Looking her up and down, while he couldn’t see anything physically different, he could sense the change in her personality very clearly. Normally whenever she entered the Dal she was bouncing even if she was standing in one place, she would look around as though she would suddenly see something new that she’d somehow missed in all her visits before, and she would always look towards the pool corner looking for Dyson or Hale where they always seemed to reside within these walls. She did none of that now, now her eyes were tired and her body was stiff like she really didn’t want to be where she was.
“Kenzi? If you’re looking for Bo you just missed her.” And she’s beyond worried about you and I can see why now, he added silently suddenly frightened for his young friend. He’d never truly cared about a human before Kenzi came into his life, looking at her now he remembered with stunning clarity just how fragile humans are, and just how short a time they usually lasted in their world.
“I’m actually looking for you Trick. Can we talk?” Her words were hesitant, and spoken more towards the floor than to him personally, her usual confidence and swagger gone from her.
“Of course what did you wish to speak about?” He would talk to her about anything, if it would put life back into her eyes.
He did his best to stay still, and not make any sudden movements. She reminded him more than ever of a frightened deer that could and would bolt at any moment. Reaching behind him he grabbed a bottle of tequila and placed it on the bar as a sort of peace offering. The advice he’d given Bo and Dyson rang in his mind, but looking at her now he knew there was something more than just battle fatigue weighing on her small shoulders, and he was determined to find out the truth.
He watched her slowly approach the bar and even more slowly take her seat. Her brow kept crinkling and smoothing out in turn as though she kept thinking over what to say, or if she should say anything at all, before trying to put up a mask of calm she obviously didn’t feel. Keeping silent was the hardest thing he’d ever done when all he wanted to do was comfort her and assure her that whatever the problem was they’d figure it out. Together.
Finally after ten minutes of spinning the tequila bottle on the bar, never once taking a drink, his patience paid off.
“You know Dyson got his love back from the Norn right?”
“Yes.” Short to the point answers, just keep her talking until they could get to the root of her current woes.
“Do you know how he got it back?”
“No.” Thinking on it now he thought it strange that Dyson hadn’t elaborated any further when he’d told him about the new turn of events. He’d assumed he’d gone to the Norn and plead his case. Looking at Kenzi now he knew he’d been wrong.
“After Ciara’s funeral service here at the Dal, Dyson and I went to the Norn. We told her what was happening and what we’d come for and I offered her Ciara’s bracelet in trade, shocked the hell out of D-man when I pulled it out too. She refused, very rudely in fact, no customer service training in the Norn business I guess no wonder she doesn’t get any return customers. Anyways, afterwards Dyson just gave up and went home to work out his aggression on his poor punching bag; I’d pretty much given up to, I mean how do you fight for someone who won’t fight for themselves you know especially in the love game. Then I talked to Bo and something she said got me thinking again, we needed Dyson to win. Not Dyson-lite, we needed the real protective, in your face, whole Dyson.”
Throughout her story she never once looked at him. She turned the tequila bottle around and around on the bar, not once taking her eyes off the spinning glass.
“So I went back to the Norn with a chainsaw and I uh-hmm convinced her that giving me Dyson’s love to return to him was in the best interest of everyone involved. While she was getting the bottle she did her song and dance trying to get me to make a deal, but you can’t con a con so I refused. When she finally held the bottle out I grabbed it and when I backed out of arms reach I hit a desk or something behind me. You should have seen this room Trick it was like a serial killer version of hoarders. Anyway when I hit the desk this jar of black goo fell and some of it got on my arm. It burned so I wiped it away and I was fine, but then after the Garuda…”
She paused in her tale to clear her throat and, based on the deep breaths she took, gather her courage. Not that she seemed to need it, to take on a Norn was nearly impossible for a Fae, for a human to take her on and win was unheard of. This small human girl had more courage than any creature he’d ever met. Her unwillingness to continue her story made him worry. What could be so bad that she didn’t want to tell him?
“After the Garuda fight when we all came back to the Dal… Hale and I were talking and getting our drink on, just sort of celebrating that we made it through. He noticed a mark on my arm and when I pulled my sleeve back we saw a rash right where that gunk had touched me. I played it off not wanting to worry the fam so soon after surviving D-day, but it’s … it’s spreading Trick.”
Pushing back her sleeve she placed her arm on the bar showing him the angry red rash that covered her entire arm. He was stunned, when he placed a hand on it to try and feel the texture she jerked back in pain. Looking up into her eyes intending to apologize he saw something he never thought he’d see. Her blue grey eyes were swimming with unshed tears, she was frightened.
“It’s all the way up my arm and it’s starting to spread further. I need your help Trick. Please help me!”
“Kenzi!” Walking into their home with Dyson in tow Bo tried not to be nervous. This was Kenzi they talked all the time, albeit not so much lately, but still talking to her best friend should not fill her with trepidation. The only thing running through her mind was what if she screwed this up. What if she lost Kenzi not to death, but to whatever had been weighing down her normally weightless friend.
Trick had been clear about what they should do if this really was some sort of mental backlash from their confrontation with the Garuda. Loud angry fights filled with demands for answers and normalcy would not cut it, they needed to be gentle and understanding. Let her know they were there for her, like always, and encourage her to talk things out with them without seeming like they were either ganging up on her or judging her.
“Kenz!” After the second call still got no answer she glanced back at Dyson arching her brow in question. She waited a moment as he took a deep breath, she still found it kind of weird that he could smell them all so clearly but damn if it wasn’t handy.
“She’s not here.” Damn. On the one hand she was glad her friend had finally decided to get up and go out somewhere. She had basically barricaded herself in her room for days and to finally come home to an empty house was a relief. On the other hand was the bone chilling worry that maybe that empty house would stay empty forever. That Kenzi would one day just walk out that door and never walk back through it again, that she would look up and decide her life didn’t have to be so hard and she would be better off without her succubus shaped dead-weight holding her in a world she didn’t really belong in. Who would really choose a life where they were commonly derided and called a pet forever when they didn’t have to.
“Well that sort of blew that plan out of the water didn’t it? Hopefully she’s already talking to someone more qualified to deal with whatever is up with her lately. She’ll tell us all about it when she gets back.”
She could only hope.
After Trick had stopped wiggin’ which had actually taken longer than she would have thought, she’d really managed to surprise the old bugger; he’d suggested they try to figure this out systematically, suggesting that she come to the Dal every day and help him look through is treasure trove of books for anything that remotely resembled what was happening to her or any tales about someone else dumb enough to go toe to toe with a Norn and live to tell the tale.
While reading dusty old books hadn’t exactly been up there on her list of things to do with her life, especially now that it seemed her days were a bit more than numbered, she relented after receiving one of his patented I’m older than you and know what I’m doing so just do what I tell you because while your floundering is entertaining it is not at all helpful unimpressed stares.
Honestly it would have been kinder to just throw one of those dusty old books at her head instead of forcing her to leaf through them for well over an hour only finding joy when pointing out the one in a hundred words she actually recognized or squinting at illustrations that she was sure were at least mostly dirty in nature no matter what Trick said. Finally she had been released from the indentured servitude that she had somehow volunteered for and been allowed to finally begin the long slog back towards her beloved crack shack.
As she finally turned the corner that brought their home into view she told herself one last time that she was keeping this secret for Bo not from her, even if she wasn’t telling her everything at the moment. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves she grabbed the doorknob and marched determinedly inside, hoping to get straight to her bedroom without having to answer questions. Walking in to find Bo and Dyson waiting for her with booze and cheesy pizza only two little words went through her tired brain.
Seeing Kenzi standing in the doorway like a deer caught in the sights of a rifle, without a witty remark or demand for better tribute to her awesome than plain pizza Dyson found he was actually very worried about the stubborn little human. She wasn’t acting like herself lately and that bothered him but more than that he found he simply missed her annoying antics. He never thought he would, but now that she wasn’t bouncing around him asking inappropriate questions about his junk and coming up with slightly offensive nicknames, he realized just how much a part of his life this wacky little girl had become.
“Hey BoBo, D-man, sorry to interrupt date night, I’ll just get out of your way.”
Strange her scent changed as she spoke. She wasn’t lying exactly, it was more like she was hedging the truth. Saying things that were true so it wasn’t exactly a lie, it just wasn’t exactly the truth.
“Actually Kenz, we thought we could all three do something tonight.” Bo told her oblivious to her hedging. Something was definitely off and whatever it was she was trying to hide it from them.
“Wow, flattered you guys but how many times do I have to tell you I don’t do three ways unless it’s boy, boy, girl? Besides, I’m beat, had a long day, and I gotta get up early tomorrow for a thing with Trick.” She had already started edging towards the stairs each word taking her closer to the freedom and locked door safety of her room. Whatever she was hiding, it was making her skittish around them both.
“Really; what kind of thing?” Bo was making her squirm without even trying. Staying silent he tried to figure out what she was lying about or at least what questions to ask to get her to start talking.
“Nothing big. I just stopped by to talk to Trick today and he said he needed some help with his books. I figured I’d swing by tomorrow to give it a shot. See if I can’t help the old guy out.” Again a truth that wasn’t a truth, he decided then and there that he would be paying Trick another visit soon.
“Alright get some rest then.”
As the girl nearly ran up the stairs to the safe haven of her room Bo looked at him with hope in her eyes. He knew that he couldn’t tell her he suspected something was seriously wrong with Kenzi, not until he was sure.
“Did you hear that?! We don’t have to talk to her, Trick has already taken care of it.”
“Yeah I heard.” He had heard a heartbeat that spiked every time Bo spoke, whatever she was keeping from them he had a feeling it was Bo above all others she wanted to keep it from. Something wasn’t right, and he would figure it out. Tomorrow.