Liam walks into Trick's bar three days after Shawn's death. Kenzi wants to ignore him. And can't. When she sits down at his table, he doesn't greet her, doesn't smile. But he doesn't tell her to leave either. For that evening, it's enough. For that evening, someone feels as bad as she does.
When he leaves, she thinks of Shawn's body hitting the ground.
He returns two days later, sits down at her side and orders a whiskey. Smirks at Bo, a well-trained grimace without meaning, before he turns to Kenzi. "Wednesday morning," he says, and she frowns. "The funeral," he continues. "I thought you might want to come."
She nods. "Yes."
Trick puts two glasses in front of them. The whiskey burns all the way down.
"Do Fae wear black at funerals?" she asks Trick later, another drink in her hand. 'Do they want humans around?' she doesn't ask.
"Yes, we do," he answers. She tells herself that it's the answer to both her questions. Looks around her, sees the Fae, and remembers the first time she walked into this place. Laughs at the way she lies to herself.
Bo asks her to be careful when Kenzi leaves at dawn at few days later. She nods, tries to smile. And fails miserably. When a car stops in front of her and Liam waves her inside, she doesn't manage any better. He snorts, pushing down on the gas pedal. The car shoots forward, sudden speed yanking at Kenzi, and she wonders if Liam is anything like Shawn at all. She doubts it.
She wishes for rain during the funeral, wishes for a grey sky. Instead, it's the beginning of a beautiful day, and she hates the world for that. She sees Shawn's father, a man gone old, and she hates him, too. For what he has done to his sons, for the ways he failed them, for the way he mourns Shawn now. Too open, too strong, and she thinks he has no right to it.
When some men carry Shawn's coffin through the graveyard, she wonders why Liam is not among them. Realizes that he follows much later, withdrawn from it all. Notices, for the first time, that the Fae around them whisper behind her back, the word "human" and "dark" handed from mouth to mouth. Here, at his brother's funeral, they both don't belong.
When they sink the coffin into the earth, Liam takes her hand.
She doesn't see him for weeks, almost forgets about him, stops thinking about Shawn all the time. Kenzi tells herself that it's okay, she only knew him for a day after all, and yet she can't quite shake off the guilt. Sometimes she even dreams of things that might have been. When she wakes up, she hates herself for turning into a cliché.
But life goes on. It usually does.
She drinks at Trick's place, she flirts with Hale, jokes with Dyson. She saves humans and Fae alike with Bo. She's some kind of hero, more than just a sidekick, more than a human pet following Bo around. And Shawn is the dark past every single hero apparently needs, and he's safe there in the back of her mind. And she's okay with that.
Then Liam comes back.
He looks good, confident and rich, and she remembers him looking like that before he stepped into the circle with Shawn and everything turned into anger and accusations. After that, there was a brief moment when he looked happy, they both did, and Kenzi thinks she should have seen the end coming. Stories don't end like this, not with a bow tied around it in bright colours. At least not any of the true ones.
But she walked into it blindly, just like Liam, and it's a bond she can't seem to break now. Even though it's not like her to chose something hard and unyielding like this. Even though she knows it all should have passed her by.
But she promises herself that she won't turn into a pathetic sobbing mess anytime soon. When she sits down at Liam's table, she answers his confidence with a matching smirk.
"Hey," she says, and his grin flickers before growing wider. A point for her and the dead brother then.
"Hey," he answers, after a few seconds, and it doesn't even matter that he put his smile back into place. It's enough to know that there's still something else behind it.
"How is life going on the dark side?"
"Mostly dark." A quick smirk, mocking. "And people breathe weirdly."
She laughs at that, has to, because it's stupid and silly and exactly what she needs. When he orders a drink for her, she accepts it with a smile.
Weeks later, he knocks on their door, his sleek sports car alien in front of the house. He looks tired under his usual confidence, worried even, and she knows what he'll say before he even opens his mouth.
"I need your help."
Kenzi nods and lets him in.
Someone stole data from him, he tells them, another Dark Fae, and he needs it back. Rivalries, company secrets, and she knows there's more to it than what Liam tells them. And so does Bo.
Bo raises an eyebrow at him, cocks her head. "Do I have to suck the truth out of you?" Bo asks, and Kenzi grins at Liam. Grins harder when his confidence turns into a glare. He gives in then, and the speed of it tells her how bad the whole situation truly is.
"It's a list," Liam says. "Of Fae clients. And I have reason to believe he will sell it."
"To humans?" Bo asks, a frown on her face. Liam nods. "But why would he sell out his own people?"
Liam looks away then, doesn't answer straight away. "Because he couldn't get what you have. Freedom."
Fae politics, Kenzi thinks, suck harder than Bo ever could.
"The Dark will kill him," Bo says, and Liam shrugs.
"They will try. First they have to find him. He's a chameleon."
Kenzi imagines all the things this could mean and ends up with a jungle monster turning into a designer couch. It's quite a disturbing thought. "Colour changes meet living furniture?" she finally asks. And groans when Liam nods. "Great, we have to play hide and seek. Mostly seek."
Bo snorts. Kenzi leaves in search of alcohol then. When she returns, Liam sits on the couch, legs on the table and confidence back in place. She doesn't mind. It's a good look on him.
"We'll find that guy," she tells him, settling down at his side. He nods and steals her whiskey, their fingers touching, his skin warm against hers. She only laughs and gets a second glass, fills it up and downs it in one move. When she looks up, Bo is watching them, her face somewhere between a frown and a smile. Kenzi is not sure what it means. She wonders if it matters.
Liam finds one of her books wedged beneath the couch pillows and laughs when he sees the cover. Oiled chest and hair flying in the wind, and he's still laughing when Kenzi tries to suffocate him with one of the pillows.
"He can't pay us when he's dead," Bo says, smirking at Kenzi, the book in her hands now. When she opens the book and starts reading out loud, Kenzi decides that she hates them both.
They don't realize he's gone at first, don't because they're too busy finding the Dark Fae he sent them after. When they do, it's only because the chameleon sends them a picture of Liam, bound and bruised, a paper pinned to his chest. "Back Off," it says, and Kenzi can't stop looking at the dark colours under Liam's eye, the red split on his lip.
She wishes she knew his captor’s name. Calling him "Chameleon" makes her feel as if she's stuck in a comic book. When she looks away from the picture, Bo is watching her. "We'll find him," she says. Kenzi nods and thinks of silly books and the taste of whiskey. She thinks of Shawn, too, feels the weight of that memory. She can't lose another beginning.
"We will," she answers. "And then I'll kick his ass."
The search turns into a chase then, Bo charging into Mayer's restaurant once again, Kenzi following in her wake. Mayer doesn't seem surprised, he only points at two chairs, smiling at them. "You're looking for Liam." he says. Bo nods. "You'll owe me. You both will owe me." Another nod and Kenzi lets Mayer touch her in his creepy way.
He takes a piece of paper, scribbles something down, pushes it over. "Cassie found him. The Morrigan is getting ready to send a small army after them. I don't think she cares if Liam survives. I'm guessing you do." He grins then, reaching out for Bo and taking her hand. "You two are really most peculiar." He doesn't seem offended when Bo pulls her hand away; he still smiles as they both get up to leave. "Good luck," Mayer calls after them. Kenzi forces herself to thank him.
"This," Bo says as they drive to the address Mayer gave them, "is not as difficult as I thought."
"So shit will happen?"
Bo laughs at Kenzi's words, parking the car in front of a suitably creepy warehouse. "Yup." Bo takes out her sword then, grabs a few knives from the boot and hands Kenzi her own weapon. Grins at Kenzi and throws an arm around her. "Let’s go and save your boyfriend." It's moments like this when Kenzi is not sure why exactly she became friends with her.
The warehouse turns out to be a maze, hallways leading in all directions, rooms upon rooms, and Kenzi wonders what it used to be. They part silently, Bo's face worried, Kenzi putting a mask over her fear, giving a little wave before walking into the semi-darkness ahead of her.
She doesn't turn on her flashlight, afraid it will give her away. Kenzi walks slowly and hopes that the chameleon isn't already part of the walls around her. As dark, long hallways go, this was surely one of the creepiest. And she has seen a lot of them since meeting Bo.
But every hallway ends and when this one does, she finds nothing. "Crap." The word seems to echo in the darkness. She wonders if the sound will reach Liam, will tell him that there's someone coming to save him. Or maybe the chameleon will hear it and come for her.
She grips her sword harder, turns around and takes the next hallway. There's still a prince to save and a dragon to slay, after all. She wishes she had the matching armour for this mission.
She finds Liam three wrong turns later, bound to the chair she already knows from the picture, another bruise on his face and a gag in his mouth. "Hey," she says, steps into the room with her sword raised. He nods his answer. "Any idea where he is?" He shakes his head and she walks closer, trying her best to look everywhere instead of staring at the wounds on his face.
She's on her knees to cut the ropes that bind his feet to the chair when she sees where the shapes of the world move in ways they shouldn't. Kenzi jumps to her feet then, brings her sword up in a swipe, hits nothing and slashes out again. Stares at the empty room surrounding her and waits for the Fae to attack.
When he does, she hears him, feels him. Whirls around and stabs blindly where there shouldn't be anything. But there is. She brings the sword down again, feels it when she hits something, the feeling of cutting through flesh, the sound of the blade hitting bone. A noise, stuck somewhere between a scream and a gasp. A man tumbling down in front of her. Blood.
The fight was strangely anticlimactic. But blood never is. Kenzi closes her eyes against it even though she knows she shouldn't. It doesn't matter.
"Kenzi!" Bo is suddenly there and the world makes something like sense again. Strong hands on hers, Bo taking away the sword and she stumbles away. Tells herself to freak out later and breathes until she feels real again. Breathes and opens her eyes, looks at the red covering the ground and tells herself that the Fae deserved it. She is one of the good guys, after all. And he isn't. Wasn't. Just like Liam.
Bo frees Liam as Kenzi watches. She manages a smile when he comes to her, a smile that turns wider when his hand wraps around hers. "Saved by a human girl. My reputation will never be the same," he says. Kenzi punches his arm. Lightly. He already has enough bruises.
"I'm okay," she tells Bo hours later. Kenzi is curled up on her bed, her skin still damp from the shower she took. She tries not to think of the blood she washed off and doesn't succeed. "I'll be okay," she amends. Bo nods. When she leaves, Liam walks in. His steps are still missing the usual swagger.
"Hey," he says, sitting down on her bed. She considers telling him to leave. And doesn't. It feels good to see what she killed for. Who she killed for, really. "I wanted to thank you. For saving me."
"No problem," Kenzi answers.
Liam laughs. "You don't look like it wasn't a problem." He sounds worried.
She wants to shrug it off and decides against it. She's too tired for lies now. "He wasn't the first ... person I killed." It's strange to say it out loud, to put it into words. She's a killer. She never thought of it like that before. "But… it doesn't make it any better."
Liam takes her hand again then, warm skin against hers. He feels alive. He is alive. Because of her. That has to be worth something. And it's starting to feel good. She leans in then to feel more of that, to feel him. When he kisses her, his life burns beneath her lips.
She wonders if that is how every single kiss feels for Bo.
Kenzi pushes him down, moves over him. Rips off his clothes in ways she always thought would only work on the movie screen. He lets her, reaches out and pulls at her shirt, at her pants. Gets them off with shaky hands. Then there's skin beneath her fingers, hot and soft, and there are hands on her body, hard and demanding.
He kisses with rough lips. Her teeth cover the shades of red his captor left with some of her own. Kenzi laughs as he groans her name. Says, "You're alive," when she pushes down on him, repeats it when he bucks up.
"Yeah," he says, his fingers pushing bruises into her hip. She starts moving then, pulling sounds out of his body, biting her lips and closing her eyes. There's no rhythm to it, there's just need and the drums of her own heartbeat in her head.
"Yeah," she whispers and forgets the sound of someone dying, forgets it to the sound of life and lust and need. When Liam comes, his hand leaves her hip, touches her face. She opens her eyes then, sees him terribly open and beautiful.
She says his name and comes.
The earth of Shawn's grave is still fresh, but not fresh enough to look like the open wound it used to be. There's the first sign of grass finding its way, and she wonders how tall it will grow until someone cuts it. She likes the idea of his grave turning green, of life covering it. She thinks that Shawn would have liked it, too.
Kenzi hears Liam's steps as he walks up to her, feels the warmth of his body. When she leans back against him, he's solid and warm. He's not a good man. She knows that. Because she knows him, because everybody tells her so. She doesn't care. Not enough, at least.
"Is it silly to miss him?" she asks Liam, and feels his shrug against her back. "I hardly knew him."
"You knew him enough to try to save him. That's more than I did." There's bitterness in his voice, a wound that doesn't heal. She doesn't know how to help him, just turns around and pulls him close. Thinks of what could have been, of Shawn's easy smile and laughter. Looks at Liam and sees the Dark Fae sending killers after his brother, sees the young man betrayed by his family. Sees Liam.
She thinks, 'You're only second best,' and kisses him anyway. There's always room for improvement.