I’ll stay with her.
You’ll stay with me though, right? You bet. I’m not going anywhere.
There you are.
Dyson sits by Kenzi as she sleeps, and he can’t stop thinking about how right she looked in his clothes. Even knowing it had been the kitsune who had worn his shirt, likely to camouflage its scent, and tried to seduce him, he was deeply conflicted.
There’s no mistaking the deep soft spot he now has for the human woman. She went up against the Norn to get his Love back, and she’s risked her life time and time again to help her friends. She’s endured repeated indignities from the Fae for being human, but somehow, Kenzi manages to be more than them all.
So yes, he stays with her. He stands sentinel over her, unwilling to let anything happen to her after they’ve only just got her back. She’s alive; he hadn't killed her earlier. Even though he knows it wasn’t the real Kenzi he had held lifeless in his arms, the memory itself would haunt him for years. In those uncertain minutes between killing her and waiting for Lauren to test her blood, the frantic and desperate thoughts that had screamed across Dyson’s mind had put things into sharper focus.
Something in his perspective had irrevocably shifted.
It’s not something he thinks he can articulate. His emotions and thoughts- and those of his wolf- had been a snarl of anger and rage and anguish. The best, most antiseptic phrase he can recall to describe how he felt in that moment, holding what he believed to be Kenzi’s dead body in his arms was this:
Sine Qua Non.
Without which, not.
Life without her coming up to him and wrapping her arms securely around his middle was…it didn’t…not that he couldn’t go on living exactly, just…
Stark. A lack. A pessimism…nothing would look or feel quite the same way again.
There you are.
Dyson won't allow himself to forget how right she had looked in his shirt, or the nice way it felt to hold her closer than usual. She had fit against him, he had wanted her there. His wolf had stilled, content. He had trusted her that close.
He’s always aware of where she is and even if he couldn’t explain why at the time, his eyes always seemed to track her movement across the room. The more he gets to know Kenzi, the more beautiful she becomes to him. And he begins to think that maybe…
No. He shouldn’t pursue that thought down that damned path. That way only lay madness. His love belongs to Bo- but he had told Kenzi, when she brought his Love back, that he wasn’t sure about that bit anymore. He hadn’t been lying when he said that. If he had felt the same, entirely the same, for Bo after Kenzi returned his Love…then he wouldn’t have hesitated to let Bo know. And then there he was, on the other side of a fence with Kenzi, watching Bo and Lauren embrace when he realizes…there was hurt, yes, but not anguish.
Dyson tells himself that he won’t make a move on the human woman- she is precious to him as his friend and- if he’s being honest here- as pack. He has lived for centuries. Fae like him, who are long-lived and don’t see the passage of time the way humans do; well, humans appear like mayflies to them. They come and go, and they are meaningless. Dust in the wind. But, as Dyson is beginning to understand, this does not necessarily make the Fae any more wise.
At some point across the countless decades, Dyson just stops really paying attention to the human swarms. He lives amongst them, works around them, but he doesn’t invest anything in their existence.
And that was how he first saw Kenzi. He never expected Bo to keep her around after she found out about her otherness. He discounted her fondness for the younger human woman (actually, Dyson had kept thinking ‘girl’) as a passing fancy- a way of clinging to her old life. She’d learn different, of that he had been certain.
But she didn’t. And Kenzi had been a cute but annoying thorn in their side. Until she had said Bo’s wasn’t the only heart he had broken. Until she went one-on-one with the Norn for Dyson’s Love. Until she hid under dead bodies to save him. She had awarded him with her loyalty, something he got the feeling was a high prize coming from her.
She is the prism through which his concept of time and world shifts.
Now, when he thinks of her as human, the word itself takes on more warmth and it blazes brightly in his imagination. Her humanity is what makes her so brilliant. It is also what makes her so dangerous and so reckless. He will outlive her. But she is all the more beautiful for it. Kenzi renders the ages-old dichotomy between dark-and-light meaningless, for she is unswervingly loyal to Bo no matter how questionable the morality of the succubus’ actions are to a human perspective.
A part of him began to wonder, did ‘Team Dyson’ really mean she wanted him with Bo? She wasn’t nearly as warm towards Lauren.
And he really wanted to ask, do you want me around?
Dyson sits by her bedside, and he watches her sleep. He can hear her heart beating slow and steady. Her face is relaxed, and she is peaceful. He can smell the two cheeseburgers and the fries she had consumed earlier. He won't fall asleep, he has more than enough resolve to sit, awake, and count her heartbeats.
But all the resolve in the world doesn’t stop him from fantasizing about her. It won’t stop him from hugging her a little harder, a little more often. It won’t stop him from breathing her in every time she’s close enough for his wolf to sense her. It won’t stop him from being willing to do damn near anything to save her.
There are many debts he owes her.