Kenzi tried to shake the cold from her bones, a night in a dungeon put a whole new face on some of the places she’d been forced to crash as a street rat, the wailing alone had been enough to permanently raise the hairs on the back of her neck. Where was Trick? He was usually here practically at the crack of dawn.
“How could you?” The voice from behind her startled her enough to earn a yelp and a slight jump, the night before leaving her jumpy and on edge.
“How could I what?” The last thing she wanted was to have to go toe to toe with the Hot to Trot Doc, especially here where she really needed to stay on her best behavior, if she wanted to keep looking through all their old books she could not get into a slap fight in the halls. She’d had her fill of her the last time they were in a room together and it hadn’t been nearly long enough for hell to freeze over and force them together again.
“How could you leave Bo?” Her arms were crossed over her chest, and her hips cocked to one side all she needed now was to start tapping her foot and she would have the entitled bitch pose down to a T.
“I didn’t leave Bo! It may have escaped your notice yesterday but Bo kind of kicked me out. That’s not me leaving, that’s her booting.” Boy were her wires crossed, normally she’d chalk it up to garbled pillow talk but she was there when it happened, shouldn’t she have her story straight?
“Yeah because you were shopping around for a new Fae to shack up with. What’s the matter, Bo not getting you enough top shelf to keep your eyes from wandering?” Okay it looked like the good doctor wanted a cat fight, too bad she wasn’t in the mood to oblige her.
“Whatever. I don’t know what this little hissy is about but the facts remain unchanged. Bo left me, and honey I don’t stay anywhere I’m not wanted.” Case in point, she turned to leave. She had thought that waiting out front for Trick to show was a good idea but apparently the library would be safer. She could get a jumpstart on the research on her own, she had learned a thing or two about this stuff since they started if she came across anything promising she would just set it aside and wait for a second opinion to wander by.
“I find that hard to believe. How long have you been with this new guy, huh?”
“Believe what you want, you always do.” Why was she harping on about some new guy? What new guy? Hell, what old guy? She’d been going through a drought on the man front ever since she shacked up with her very own Victoria Secret.
“Whoever BK is he’ll never be as good to you as she was. You threw away something special for something convenient. I hope you’re happy.”
Happy? She hadn’t been happy since… well really since before Aife had rolled into their lives and wrecked everything. Or maybe even before then, not that the early days weren’t good with her and Bo but there always seemed to be something looming on the horizon in this new life of hers. Sometimes she wondered why she was trying so hard to keep it, then she remembered every time Hale cured her hangovers, or Dyson made her laugh. Every time Trick slipped her some of the good stuff just because. This life of hers might not be perfect but it was worth hanging onto and she would hang on to every piece of it she could, for as long as she had left.
Trick trudged into the compound after a long night of searching with no results, he would have continued on into the afternoon but knew that he was of more use to Kenzi here. Finding her would mean nothing if they had no means to save her.
He walked into the library trying not to let the worry he felt swamp him and stopped in his tracks at the sight before him.
“Yo Trick, you taking a half day man? Next time tell a chick, so I don’t have to roll out of bed so damn early.” The sound of her voice finally released the tight feeling around his heart that had settled in his chest when Dyson had not heard from her. He could breathe again.
“Kenzi!” She was trying to be cheerful, but he could see the dark circles under her eyes that spoke clearly of her restless night.
“That’s me, no need to yell. For such a little dude you def got some volume.” He watched her broken smile and it shattered his heart. Her hunched shoulders and defeated air more than anything spoke of the toll her life was beginning to take on her. They needed to find a way out for her, and quickly.
“We were so worried, Bo told me about your fight and I couldn’t find you anywhere.” Where had she been? Why hadn’t she come to him, to Dyson, to any of them.
“Well I was here. Well not here here, I was in the dungeons here. Not as comfy as it sounds but I’ve had worse in my life. The Ash was a real lifesaver last night.” Were they all so truly disconnected that she preferred the cold comfort of Lachlans’ holding cells to calling on them for aid.
“Kenzi, you can’t stay here again. You’re already weakening, the cold of the holding cells can’t be good for you. Please let me find you somewhere else to go.”
“Alright. If that’s what it takes to get you back hitting the books then fine.”
Dyson was getting sick of pacing back and forth in his own apartment, it seemed like all he did now was prowl around his space trying to find answers that never came. Answers about Kenzi. Answers about Bo. Answers about himself. He thought he had his life figured out, but now he was questioning everything.
Back in 1899 when he was first found by Trick he had lost everything and could barely function, his wolf was so filled with grief, but then he’d found his purpose again and pledged himself to his King. Through his service he found his path, his career, his best friend and he thought the woman of his dreams. Now, everything was shifting again with no safe haven to be found.
Trick was keeping secrets from him, secrets about Kenzi, and while he had confessed to some of it he knew he was holding back. He knew there was more to know and if he could just find out what was happening he could maybe save his own sanity.
“Alright my friend, sit down and I’ll tell you what’s happening. I could use your advice.”
“When Kenzi went against the Norn she was infected with something in her collections room. The infection started in her arm and has worked its way up and across her upper chest now. She is beginning to weaken and I worry greatly about what will happen once it reaches her heart which should be any day now.”
No! This was his fault, if he hadn’t… but if he hadn’t then Bo would have…. NO!
“Do you have any idea what this is?” If anyone had an idea it would be Trick. The Blood King had been around for so long he had seen pretty much everything.
“No. I have never seen its like before and I’ve exhausted my own resources without luck. Kenzi and I have begun to search the Library at the Compound, but so far we have come up empty there as well. There are tentative plans in place to go to Vex if need be to get help from the Dark if we don’t find anything by the end of this week.” They had done so much already that they were about to start looking towards the Dark for help? Why was he only being told now?
“How can I help?” There had to be something he could do, his inner wolf was howling in rage and despair.
“Right now there is nothing you can do. There may come a time soon when I need you to help me contain the situation but for now all I need from you is for you to keep your ears open and let me know if you hear any rumblings about this. If the news of a Fae infected human were to spread there could be pandemonium we could ill afford right now. Though I could use your advice on how to handle Kenzi. She has become more and more despondent of late though she has tried to keep a positive attitude in place, and shows fleeting excitement at any hint of progress. I worry that her mental state has begun to deteriorate.”
“I will have to think about it, most of what I know brings her joy is superficial at best. Bo would be better equipped to answer this for you.” What did he really know that brought her joy beyond pizza and violent video games. Dressing up and becoming someone else seemed to bring a smile to her face but he doubted that would really help her now. He rarely saw her when there wasn’t a crisis in the making, or something more pressing on his time. Why didn’t he know more?
“Bo is unaware of Kenzi’s current troubles and will remain so for as long as we continue to have hope. Kenzi only wants her informed if it comes down to there being no other choice or the choice it taken from our hands.”
That conversation had turned him all around for days, he had racked his brain searching for any hint of what he could do to help lift Kenzi’s spirits and found nothing. Which in turn led to him thinking about every interaction he ever had with the little human, and what he recalled left him both heavy hearted and angry with himself. Time after time he could recall her being there for him, having his back, but he could only remember brushing her off and turning his back to her in favor of spending more time with Bo.
He had thought he couldn’t feel any worse than he already had until he opened his door the night before to the sight of a truly bedraggled and worried Trick, a sight he had not seen in quite some time.
“Is she here?” She? She who? Honestly he was swimming in troublesome females at the moment and not in the fun way that he used to enjoy.He had not seen Trick look so panicked in a while, normally nothing could get under his thick skin.
“Kenzi. Is she here?”
“Why would Kenzi be here?” She was supposed to be safely at Bo’s while he wallowed in his own misery trying to figure out how he’d missed this. When he was wounded no matter how well he hid it she was always able to tell, always willing to stand by him. When the time came for him to return the favor he had failed spectacularly, too distracted by others in his life.
“She and Bo had a falling out of sorts, I didn’t get all the details but suffice it to say there has been a bit of a misunderstanding, we need to find her. I thought she might come to you for shelter but it would appear I was wrong.” Kenzi had left Bo? Bo had left Kenzi? Kenzi was missing? His wolf was howling in wounded rage, he had only just begun to accept the place the small human had carved for herself in his heart, she couldn’t be gone so soon.
“I’ll search too. I read her police file when she first became part of our world. I’ll check some of her old haunts. If she’s trying to avoid Bo she might run back to her human territories.”
The phone rang pulling him out of his memories and back to the nightmare that had become his constant state. He had stopped pacing and was standing in front of his bay windows almost in a trace watching the moon light the night sky.
“Dyson? I need a favor, it’s Kenzi.”
“Sure Trick, whatever you need.” He would do anything for Kenzi, he had failed her before but maybe now he could start honoring her place in his life. She was pack, and she would explain to his face why she ran from them all. Didn’t she know he would help her?
Trick felt like he was rubbing the skin off his face as he tried to wake himself up enough to focus again on the book in front of him, but there was still nothing to see of any consequence. The stack of potentially useful texts was dwindling down to nothing and if he still had no result by the time the weekend came he was going to have to enact the final solution and go to Vex. It would probably be easier if Kenzi did the asking, the two of them seemed to share a bond of troublemaking and rabble rousing, but he was afraid that by the time it came down to that she would be in no shape to speak with anyone.
He had finally managed to get Kenzi shuffled off to a safe place with Dyson’s help, the Compound dungeons were no place for a human. Or rather no place for a human who had done no harm, some humans truly did belong in that dreadful place, some Fae as well if he was being honest. Hopefully being tucked away in a safe place would help her regain some of her missing fire, if she was going to survive this she was going to need to get some of her fight back and they all knew it.
The only good thing to come of this was that it seemed that Dyson was beginning to understand his feelings towards the girl and he may even be letting go of the feelings he thought he held for Bo. After Dyson had agreed without hesitation to house Kenzi for a few nights while he continued to search for answers Lachlan made mention that he too had noticed the change in the young wolf.
“Care to make a wager Trick?” Normally he would be all for a friendly bet, but at the moment all he could focus on was his failure to come up with even a stopgap for their current problems. The answers they needed were a tickle on the tip of his tongue, he knew it was there and it was so simple he just couldn’t see it.
“What did you have in mind?” Maybe a wager would take his mind off of how meekly Kenzi had submitted to being shuffled off to be with Dyson.
“I wager that Dyson will be the first to admit his true feelings for the girl.” Ha! He said it once and he would say it again. Ha!
“You are delusional old friend, Kenzi is clearly the one with the most courage of the two. She will clearly be the first to speak.”
“If those are your true feelings why not make it interesting? Loser owes the winner one future favor no questions asked?” A favor owed by the Ash could be quite useful depending on how this situation ended for them all.
“Deal.” Kenzi might have need of such a favor someday soon, and he would have no troubles with offering it to her. No questions asked.
He hoped they would be able to find the means to save Kenzi, the girl was getting weaker, her smiles more strained and while she never said it they all were thinking along the same lines. There was only so much a human can take.