Author's note: This one-shot came to me after seeing the episode Mirror Mirror and the scene with Kenzi talking about her stepfather. I wanted to explore Kenzi's past more, and this idea would just not leave me alone. So I finally decided to write it. I used facts from different episodes, small things that Kenzi would reveal about her past, like when she ran away from home and how her stepfather treated her. I wanted to create a believable past that fit into the tv show. This takes place right after the episode Dead Lucky.
Ps- Kenzi isn't her normal sarcastic self in this one because of the story she has to tell. With this kind of past, I believe she would be more serious because there is nothing funny about the life she had before she ran away. But of course, this is Kenz we're talking about and even in the most serious situations, she has a little comment here and there. As always, your reviews are greatly appreciated. They keep me motivated to continue writing.
Kenzi shivered, pulling the blanket tighter around her body. She had tried to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes she saw nothing but pitch dark, the same thing she saw when she was in the trunk of that car. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. Memories kept rushing back to her, her stepfather's face haunting her.
Bo sat up in the middle of the night, unable to shake the odd feeling that forced her awake. Easing herself out of bed, she walked down the hall to Kenzi's room to check on her. The sheets were strewn all over the place, but there was no Kenzi. Bo quickly ran down the stairs, relieved to find the girl sitting up on the couch huddled in a blanket. "Kenzi?" she asked softly, walking up to her best friend. There was no response. Bo laid a hand on her shoulder, "Kenz?" The girl jumped, her pale blue eyes darting back and forth in a panic. "Kenzi! Hey it's okay, it's just me. Relax, it's just me," she soothed. She watched as recognition slowly settled onto Kenzi's features. Kenzi took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment before offering Bo a small smile. Bo sat down next to her, pulling her into a hug. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. Are you okay?"
Kenzi nodded, "I'm fine. I was just thinking is all."
Kenzi may have said she was okay, but the girl's body was betraying her. She was tense, almost rigid. Bo could feel Kenzi trembling underneath her arms. "No you're not," Bo turned to sit sideways on the couch in order to face her friend. "You're shaking. Kenzi what's wrong?"
"I'm okay, really. It's nothing."
Bo gave her a look that clearly said she didn't believe her. "You know you can tell me anything Kenz. Please talk to me."
The girl contemplated this for a moment, before finally relenting. "Okay, but what I say doesn't leave this room. I can't have Dyson and Hale thinking I'm just some puny defenseless human. Promise?"
"Of course," Bo answered, anxious to find out what was wrong with her friend. What could have her this upset?
Kenzi sighed, biting her lip. "Okay, but first off, don't be mad at me. I probably should've made you promise that first." Bo looked like she was about to retort, but decided against it. She was more concerned about Kenzi. "I um, kind of went back to Mayer's place to do some snooping around after you and Dyson left the Dal." She paused, waiting for the scolding she was sure she was going to receive.
"Kenzi! What were you thinking? You could have been caught! Or worse!" Bo gasped, shocked Kenzi would go after fae by herself.
"Well you're not wrong there," she muttered. "And I wouldn't have had to go alone if you two would have listened to me and stop leaving me behind! And if Hale would have just shut up about being a sidekick…"
"I was trying to protect you."
"Look I understand that, trust me I do and I appreciate it. I even understand you wanting alone time with Dyson because we both know how much you love doing the nasty doggy-style," Bo cringed at Kenzi's statement. She certainly had a unique way of wording things. "But I've lived by myself for years and survived this long, I think I deserve some recognition for being more than just some weak tag-along human. I want to help you."
"I don't see you as weak. I know you are anything but that. But in the fae world it's different. I know nothing about anything when it comes to them. I'm still trying to figure out how to protect myself, let alone protect you too. You're strong, but the fae are stronger. I'm scared of losing you Kenz, I love you too much to risk your safety," Bo put a hand on Kenzi's knee.
The young girl looked down at the hand before looking back into the chocolate brown eyes staring back at her. She saw nothing but the truth there. "Wow, I haven't heard those words in a long time," she whispered.
Kenzi quoted Bo, "the 'I love you' part. Do you mean it?"
Bo's eyebrows scrunched up in confusion, "of course I mean it. You're my best friend. You're the only person who has ever accepted me as I am. You're like a sister to me." What happened to Kenzi to make her question the fact people loved her? Despite having to run away, Bo knew in her heart that her own family still loved her.
An honest smile spread across Kenzi's face. She leaned her head against Bo's shoulder. "Thank you. I love you too Bo."
Bo reached her arm around Kenzi, "So are you going to tell me what's wrong now?"
Kenzi winced, sitting back up. "You didn't forget about that huh?"
"What, you thought I would be distracted enough by the fact you put yourself in unnecessary danger? Good try. Now spill."
"Fine," Kenzi pouted for a second before continuing her story. "Well you aren't wrong for being mad at me, I did get myself caught." Bo opened her mouth to speak but Kenzi held up her finger. "Ah! No more lectures or I won't tell you anything else." Upon seeing Bo back down, she proceeded. "That's better. As I was saying, this creepy dude snuck up on me and held a cloth to my mouth. It had to have been soaked in chloroform cause I passed out pretty quick. Unless fae have their own version of chloroform." She waved the thought away, "anyways, next thing I knew I was hog-tied next to a dead body."
"Lucas," Bo realized.
"So was it the dead body that upset you?"
"Nah. Do you not remember the furies and miss obsessive going boom? Quite literally might I add. And plus, it's not like no one has ever been killed living on the streets." Kenzi's demeanor quickly changed. "No, it wasn't that." She pulled her blanket around her tighter for security; it had always seemed to help when she was a child. "It was the um…we were locked in the trunk of a car."
Bo understood how that could be scary. "Are you claustrophobic?" she wondered.
Kenzi let out a humorless chuckle, "No that's not it. Although I have developed a small case of that." She paused, trying to figure out how to word her thoughts. "Being shoved in the trunk, it brought back a lot of old memories that I would much rather forget." Bo rubbed Kenzi's arm in support. "After my father died, my mother struggled to support us. We were already having enough financial problems before he passed away. She married this sorry excuse for a man so he could support us. I understand she tried to do what she thought was best for us. Everything was fine at first, but within a few weeks we began to learn the man he really was. The first time it happened was when I was 8 years old. He was watching TV while I did my homework. I guess my allergies were acting up because I sneezed. He yelled at me to shutup. I tried to explain to him that I couldn't control it but before I knew it, he was in my face cursing at me in Russian." Kenzi remembered every word he said to her, but Bo didn't need to know the horrid things that came out of his mouth. "He um," she hesitated, "he grabbed me by my hair and literally dragged me into the closet, locking the door behind me. There were no lights. I started crying for him to let me out, but the only answer I received was a hard kick to the door and a 'I said shut the fuck up!'" She took a deep breath. Bo noticed she started shaking again. "He scared me; I didn't know if he would kick me next instead of the door. So I crawled into the corner and stayed there huddled up until he came back for me."
"Kenzi…" Bo began. She was a mixture of anger and sadness. "You didn't deserve that; no one deserves that. I'm so sorry. I wish I could have protected you…"
Kenzi snorted, "You didn't even know I existed. You can't save me from my past Bo."
"I know, but I'm here for you now," Bo brushed a stray strand of hair back behind Kenzi's ear. She could see the tears welling up in her friend's striking slate blue eyes.
Kenzi whispered, "when they put me in the trunk, my mind automatically went back there, to that closet. The cramped space, the darkness…It was so dark in there Bo…" a tear slipped down her face.
"It's okay sweetie," Bo soothed, using her thumb to wipe away the lone tear. "You're safe now."
Kenzi took a shaky breath, "I know, I just…I thought when I ran away that I was okay. I was away from that place; I was free. But the moment I was thrown in that car, it all came rushing back to me like someone punched me in the face."
Bo tried pushing her anger down. She wanted to throttle the man who had caused Kenzi so much pain. It was still effecting her even after so many years. She couldn't understand how someone could do that to an innocent child, let alone someone so spirited as Kenzi. "You said the first time it happened," Bo was afraid of the answer, but she had to know, "did he do this multiple times?"
Kenzi closed her eyes, another tear escaping. "Yes." She shuddered. "He didn't hit me or anything, just scared the living shit out of me. His favourite place to lock me up was the closet, but there were times when he would switch it up a bit. If we weren't home, he left me in the trunk of the car. Though the last time he did that, I was sick for three days. It was too hot outside, and the sun beating down on the car for the three hours I was in there made me vom." She rolled her eyes, "though of course I got in trouble for throwing up too."
"You were in there for three hours?" Bo exclaimed, outraged. Some people should not be allowed near kids, or anyone at all for that matter. She could have died in there! That thought alone scared Bo more than any fae ever could. She couldn't imagine a world without Kenzi in it. No wonder being locked in a trunk earlier tonight shook Kenzi to her core.
"Bo, it's ok-"
"No it's not Kenz! For someone to even think they had any right to do that to you-" Bo's blood boiled. She stopped her rant when she noticed Kenzi shrink back. The girl's eyes widened. Bo knew that look, but it was not one she often saw on her friend's face. Jesus, had she scared her by raising her voice? "Kenz…" she reached out a hand but stopped when Kenzi flinched. She withdrew her hand to chest, holding it near her heart. "Kenzi, you know I would never hurt you right?" she asked softly.
"I know," Kenzi whispered, barely audible. "I'm so sorry Bo, I didn't mean to jump. I know you would never hurt me. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." Kenzi shook her head; how could she have reacted like that to Bo? This was her best friend who she trusted with her own life, literally. She must be losing her mind. As soon as Bo raised her voice to her, all Kenzi could see and hear was her stepfather yelling at her. She could still smell the alcohol and cigars he reeked of. "I don't know why I did that." She looked down to the ground, ashamed she had just given the cold shoulder to the one person who honestly cared about her.
"Hey, it's not your fault." Bo said, slowly reaching out to lift Kenzi's chin up so that their eyes met. She was relieved when Kenzi didn't move away. "None of this is your fault. He did this to you. He may not have hit you physically, but he did abuse you mentally. That is nothing to be taken lightly. The fact that you are even sitting here with me now, able to talk to me about it, proves how strong you are. You've got the biggest attitude of anyone I've ever met. You rose above what he did to you and you made your own life away from all that shit. I'm proud of you for that," she leaned in, kissing Kenzi on the cheek.
The younger girl smiled. "Thanks Bo." She smirked, "I am kind of a badass aren't I?"
Bo laughed, "That you are my dear, that you are. And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Kenzi grinned, but Bo could still see the vulnerability in her eyes, the vulnerability that was always hidden behind the girl's tough attitude. Bo bit her lip, wondering just how many years she had to put up with that kind of abuse. It was amazing how strong Kenzi was; most people who had gone through a situation like that, especially at such a young age, would have a low self-esteem and be submissive.
Kenzi's next words brought Bo out of her thoughts. "When I was ten."
"What?" the brunette asked, surprised her friend had spoken up.
"You wanted to ask me how long I was with him," Kenzi reiterated. They may not have known each other long, but Kenzi knew Bo better than anyone else. "I started running away when I was ten years old."
Bo stuttered, embarrassed to have been caught thinking about that question and shocked at how young Kenzi was when she first started living on the streets. "No, I uh…I mean I didn't…well I did, but I don't want you to feel like I'm forcing you to talk about-"
Kenzi held up a hand, cutting off her best friend's rambling. "Bo, it's okay. You're not forcing me to say anything I don't want to say. I want to tell you; I trust you. It actually feels kind of good to get this all off my chest. I've been running from it for so long, I've forgotten how much it still hurts me inside." The pain was always there, Kenzi had just refused to acknowledge it until now.
"Thank you, that means a lot." Bo paused, thinking over Kenzi's answer to her last question. "You were so young when you left home…"
Kenzi nodded, "I know. I just couldn't take it there anymore. I tried going to my mom, but she would always turn away with a sad look in her eyes and tell me to just try to behave. But it didn't matter what I did, he still found an excuse to punish me. I think in some sick way, he got off on torturing me." A chill ran up her spine at the thought. "The first time I ran away, the police found me within a week. They handed me right back over to that son of a bitch. He faked worry over me in their presence, but as soon as the cops left, he let me have it worse than any other time. He wanted to make sure I never snuck out again. Well the best way to do that was to leave me in the closet for days on end."
"What? Without food or water?" Bo asked.
A sad chuckle, one of pity for her younger self, escaped past Kenzi's lips. "Of course. That would have defeated the purpose of my 'punishment,'" she used air quotes around the last word. Kenzi could remember being so hungry that she had started eating little scraps of paper she found in the closet. There was nothing else in there even remotely edible. "I don't know how long I was in there; the closet didn't have any windows or anything. He was trying to break me, to show me that if I tried to escape again that the consequences would be severe. But all he did is fuel my motivation to get the hell out of there." Kenzi hesitated; she had never told anyone what had happened next. It was a memory more painful than even what her stepfather had done to her. She glanced down, her eyes becoming glossy again. "After he finally let me out, I went to my mother. I told her she had to choose: me or him. She begged me not to make her choose between us. I know she was worried about how we would survive without his money. I tried to explain to her that we could make it on our own, that this life we were living was no life at all. I tried Bo, I really tried…" she looked back up, silent tears flowing freely down her pale skin. "She chose him," she whispered.
"Oh god Kenz…" Bo took her friend's hand in her own, offering a gentle squeeze of support. Unshed tears of her own welled in Bo's eyes. She couldn't imagine how a mother could choose anyone over their own child. She knew her mom still loved her and would protect her if she went home. Bo ran away to protect her parents; Kenzi ran away to protect herself from her own.
"She kept repeating how sorry she was, but I could barely hear her anymore. I was just a kid, and here she was choosing the man who abused her daughter over her own flesh and blood? She tried to reach for me, but I pulled away, too hurt to even hear her out." She sniffled. "I didn't want to hear whatever excuse she had. In my mind, there was nothing she could say that would justify her choice." Her voice was barely audible, "my own mother just cast me out. I felt like she disowned me. She ignored my pain and suffering for all those years, she watched as her husband mistreated me time and again. And yet, when it came down to it, she still chose him. Everything he had done to me was discounted like it never happened." Her voice hardened, "I heard her yell after me that I was too young to understand, but I understood just perfectly. I understood that no one in that house really loved or cared about me. I had to take my life into my own hands and stop letting others decide it for me. That house was no longer a home." She rolled her eyes, "Now I sound like a cliché country song."
"You have a home now," Bo offered.
Kenzi gave a small smile, "I know. It's the first one I've had since my dad died." Kenzi had lived in many places since she ran away, but none of them made her feel safe and loved. That was until she met Bo. Bo was the one person Kenzi could always count on for anything. She was more like family than her own family ever was. "Two years after my first escape attempt, I tried again. My stepdad had taken to sleeping on the couch to make sure I didn't run out. He boarded up my bedroom window. The only window he hadn't sealed shut was a small window high above the bathtub. It was my only hope. I came up with a plan: each day, I hid things I would need in the bathroom whether it be clothes, food, whatever. I did this gradually so as not to draw any attention to myself. A week or so later, I brought my last pile of laundry into the bathroom with me, just after my stepdad fell asleep. I locked the door behind me. I stuffed everything into my backpack. I turned the shower on, hoping it would make enough noise to drown out any noises I caused. It also gave my mom and my stepdad a reason not to check on me for a while. I was notorious for long showers since it was the one place I could be alone without fear of him bursting in. I climbed up on the side of the tub, shoving open the window. I tossed my bag out first before hauling myself up. I barely made it through, wiggling this way and that to make my body fit. I landed in a heap on the ground." Kenzi smiled at the memory. "I was so happy to be out of there. It was the first time I had been outside in two years." Kenzi elaborated upon seeing the surprise on her best friend's face. "My stepfather banned me from ever leaving the house for fear of me running away again. No playing outside, no meeting friends, no school, no nothing. Honestly, he was right. I would have taken off the second he let me out that door. But of course if he had his way, that would have been never. I ran as far and as fast as I could, pushing myself as hard as possible. I only stopped when absolutely necessary. I wanted to put as much distance between me and that house as possible. The first few months were the worst. I was always hiding from the cops who were looking for me, ready to bring me back to that hell hole. I had no idea how to live on the streets. I ate out of garbage cans and slept in alleys until I learned how to steal. I know you don't approve of the habit, but it kept me alive."
"Kenz, it's not that I don't approve of it. I know you grew up having to take care of yourself. You stole to survive and I'm proud of you for being able to do that all these years. I'm just afraid that now, when you don't have to steal, that you're going to get caught and thrown in jail."
Kenzi shrugged it off, "Eh, I'll just have D-man bail me out."
Bo sighed, "Dyson is pretty good, but he can't make everything disappear. If you get caught for a human crime, the humans need a criminal to blame and punish. Dyson won't be able to undermine his boss. He only has authority if it's fae-related."
Kenzi bit her lip, "never thought about it that way." She relented, "Okay, I'll try to be more careful."
Bo nodded, knowing she wasn't going to get a better answer than that tonight. "That's all I ask."
The two sat in a comfortable silence for a while, both lost in their own thoughts. "You know what's ironic?" Kenzi asked.
"My fondness of wigs actually started because of my stepfather. I used to play dress up when I little. If I wore a different outfit and had different hair, I could pretend to be anybody I wanted to. I could escape into my imagination and leave my life behind, even if it was just for a little while. All I wanted was to be someone else, anybody else. They actually came in handy when it came to being dragged in the closet too." She chuckled, "you should have seen my stepdad's face when he went to pull me by my hair and the wig came off. Now that was priceless."
Bo laughed with Kenzi but quickly sobered up when she realized that the stunt with the wig probably only infuriated the man even more. What had he done to her for that? She shook her head to erase the unwanted images from her mind.
Kenzi couldn't help but notice the hurt etched into her best friend's features. Kenzi was touched that Bo cared enough about her for her story to evoke sympathy from the older woman. It warmed her heart to know she finally had a friend, no, she finally had family who cared so deeply for her. The fact Bo was ticked off earlier over what Kenzi's stepfather did to her made her feel comforted. No matter what happened, she knew Bo would always protect her. The feeling was mutual. Now that Kenzi had found her, she wasn't going to let anything come between them. "Bo? You know I'm okay now right?" Kenzi asked. Despite loving the fact that Bo was so concerned about her, Kenzi didn't want her friend to be upset. "It was a long time ago. I've moved on." Bo nodded. Kenzi sighed, "maybe I shouldn't have told you."
"No no no!" Bo needed to make Kenzi understand. She grabbed the human's hands in her own, "I'm glad you trusted me enough to confide in me. I know it's not easy to talk about. I can't imagine having to go through something like that. You're the strongest person I know, human or fae. You refused to let that man run your life. You didn't give in, even when it seemed impossible to go on. You won Kenz, you beat him and you beat your past. You made a better life for yourself. You saved yourself and you saved me."
Kenzi's eyebrows furrowed, "What? Saving you from the freaky fae fight club? Cause if you remember correctly, you saved me first. You remember mister horny-hands don't you?"
Bo made a face, "how could I forgot?" Bo hated killing anyone, but she would do it all over again if meant saving Kenzi's life. Bo hadn't even known the girl yet, she just knew that some pervert slipped her something and was going to rape her. She made a spur of the moment decision to leave her job and risk being exposed in order to help a stranger. It still frightened Bo to think that if she had minded her own business that Kenzi would have been raped and even killed. She couldn't imagine life without her. "It's not just that. Ever since I left home I had been on my own searching for some purpose and meaning to my life. I had no idea who or what I was. I was constantly moving from town to town, never staying long enough to start a life. Then one night I met you. I was ready to run again, but you stopped me. As much as I tried to push you away, you refused to leave me. Then when you came back for me, even though you were alone and defenseless against those guys, it hit me. When that underfae was in my mind, he kept telling me that no one needed me or would miss me if I was gone. I was ready to give in, then I heard your voice screaming my name. You woke me up and made me realise that I was needed and that someone did care about me. You gave my life purpose and a direction to go in. Without you, this place wouldn't be my home either." She reached out, pulling the stunned girl into her arms. She felt Kenzi's arms wrap themselves are her. "You are loved Kenz, never forget that. You are loved, needed and most importantly, you are wanted."
"Thank you, I love you too Bo. And you know the same goes for you right?" Bo nodded. "Good," she breathed. She laid her down on Bo's shoulder, content. For the first time that night, she felt relaxed. Being with Bo made her feel safe, like nothing could touch her. She snuggled into Bo's warmth.
Bo kept one arm wrapped around Kenzi, pulling the blanket up over the girl's shoulders. She noticed Kenzi's eyelids slowly drooping but she was fighting it. "Go to sleep, you need the rest."
Bo made to move to turn the lights off so Kenzi could fall asleep when the girl jumped. "No!" A small panic overtook Kenzi. "No," she repeated softer. "Please, just leave the lights on?" She didn't want to be in the dark. Her mind always played tricks on her when the lights went out. She was immediately transported back into that closet, into that trunk. She asked softly, "Would you mind staying with me tonight?"
Bo relaxed back into the couch cushions. "Of course, I'm not going anywhere." Kenzi smiled, laying her head back down against her best friend. She mumbled a thank you, sleep beginning to overtake her once more. Bo leaned down, brushing the hair from Kenzi's face and placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. "I'll be right here when you wake up, I promise. Good night Kenz, sweet dreams." She looked so peaceful when she was sleeping. Bo vowed to never let anyone hurt Kenzi like that again. She deserved so much better than the hand life had dealt her, and Bo was determined to give her the life she deserved.