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To Have a Father That Doesn't Try to Kill You (Purposely)

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1.)

Wylan's palms were sweaty—shaky—and he could feel his heartbeat increasing by the second. 'Oh Ghezen, what am I doing here? WhatamIdoingherewhatamIdoingherewhatamIdoinghere?' Was he really about to do this? What if Kaz laughed? Or sneered in disgust? It'll be just like the nightmares that haunted him as a child—crowds laughing, his secret publically exposed. He could just imagine the disbelief and judgment on Kaz's face . . .

No. He had to do it. Wylan had to tell Kaz. If only Kaz didn't look so scary. Why did Kaz have to look so scary?

Kaz stared at Wylan blankly, waiting, not a hint of emotion on his face. Wylan gathered all of his courage, took a deep breath, and—"My father doesn't care about me." He swallowed, "I didn't run away. My father sent me away because,"—his throat became dry, his hands shook even more (if that was even possible)—"I-I . . . I . . . I can't read." He blurted. Wylan's face burned with shame, and he looked anywhere, anywhere except Kaz's face. He didn't want to see the look on Kaz's face. He'll look at Kaz's tie. Yeah, that'll work. Besides, it was a nice tie. "Not only that, he also tried to have me killed." The last part of the sentence came out in a whisper.

His mind was still in a small state of shock.

His own father tried to have him killed. Oh Ghezen, his own father tried to have him killed. And with that shock, the image of the father who read to Wylan to sleep at night, the one who brought him sweet mallow tea and honeycomb when he was sick was replaced with the father who could barely look at him without shame and disgust and embarrassment. His entire form trembled with newfound vigor—and Wylan saw his nightmares flashing before his eyes, the laughter. He forced his eyes away from the tie, steeled himself for the disgust Kaz will surely show, and looked up.

But it wasn't disgust.

Kaz's head was cocked to one side and his eyes were distant.

"Scheming face." Wylan murmured. And he felt the weight of his secret on his chest lift slightly.

Then Kaz's eyes sharpened, and in his rough stone against stone voice, he said, "I have a plan." And then he limped away with his cane, gesturing lightly for Wylan to follow.

And as Wylan followed, he felt a flow of relief. Kaz didn't judge him, didn't laugh, didn't sneer.

He was the same in Kaz's eyes as he was before Kaz knew of his defectiveness.

Wylan allowed a small smile to grace his face as he felt a newfound comfort around Kaz that he hadn't felt before. And as he followed Kaz, he felt something freed within him.


2.)

Gradually, Wylan began to sort of look up to Kaz.

It took him a while to realize it, and it shocked him when he did. After all, a criminal prodigy probably wasn't the best role model. But Wylan was quite observant. And as Wylan spent more time in Kaz's company, he began to notice some little things about Kaz that others didn't seem to.

For one, Kaz cared. A lot. Kaz said that his motives are only driven by greed, but Wylan notices the way Kaz carefully plans out his plots, meticulously looking for and eliminating the smallest flaws so that none of them would be harmed; the way he acts like a monster to benefit himself but doesn't become a monster for the sake of becoming one; and the way Kaz hid a net for Inej if only to make sure she doesn't get hurt.

Despite all of Kaz's monstrous actions, Kaz isn't a monster.

If it wasn't for Kaz's help and protection, Wylan wouldn't have survived as long as he had in the Barrel without it.

Wylan has no delusions of Kaz's true intentions, but regardless, Kaz . . . isn't a monster. He just isn't. Kaz may be ruthless, manipulative, and cold at times, but he's nothing like Father. Nothing.

Father is the true monster. And even though Wylan knew that he deserved every single bit of treatment he received from his father because of his . . . moronicness (thank Ghezen that Jesper can't read minds), he knew that Ghezen damn it his mother sure didn't.

Still, he couldn't help but wish for his father to be . . . a father. A good father.

If anything, Kaz is more of a father to Wylan than Jan Van Eck ever was. Wylan shook his head at that and let out a soft snort, drawing a few weird stares from the other gang members.

But it was true.

His father hit him. Kaz protected him from any possible hits, muggings, and beatings in the Barrel.

His father punished him for the things he couldn't do. Kaz valued him for the things he could do.

His father took away the only parental figure in his life—left Wylan to grow up alone in a cold mansion without any wisdom or advice to guide him. Kaz taught him more than he ever knew before—and his simple philosophical phrases made Wylan rethink and deepen his understandings of the world around him.

And as Wylan thought back to his mother, and the truth—oh Lord, his mother was alive—he felt a new flare of determination. Determination at getting his mother out of that mental institution; determination at bringing his father down; and perhaps, determination at making Kaz proud, if only to repay Kaz for all he has done for him.


3.)

Wylan couldn't believe he broke into his own house.

 . . . Well, his father's house, technically.

'Oh, I hope the others will be all right,' Wylan thought as he carefully handled the auric acid. He kept an eye on the safe as he steadily drops more liquid onto it, watching as the hole in the safe door slowly grow larger.

"Hurry up," Kaz said, keeping track of the little time they have left.

"If I spill a single drop of this, it will burn straight through the floor onto my father's dinner guests."* Wylan stressed.

"Take your time."*

And Wylan continued, lightly conversing with Kaz until—he paused at something the criminal prodigy said. Stealing his own money? What did Kaz mean? Kaz knew more about his relationship with his father than anyone else in the gang—and Wylan admits, he isn't the best judge of character, but someone who had the courage to hire people to murder his own freaking son would most definitely have the courage to make a few measly calls and write that son out of his will.

Wylan avoided Kaz's eyes. "I can't write a purchase order, or even read a ledger or a bill of landing. My father may be wrong about a lot of things, but he's right when he said I'd be a laughing stock." And he ignored the small plague of pain that resided in his heart as he carried on with his task, listening but not really listening to Kaz until—

—Kaz faced him intensely. "You're not weak because you can't read. You're weak because you're afraid of people seeing your weakness. You're letting shame decide who you are."*

Kaz paused as they lifted the painting of Wylan's ancestor over the safe. Then he continued, holding eye contact for a brief moment with the sixteen-year-old. "Think on it, Wylan."*

Wylan didn't respond, conflicting thoughts and feelings clashing inside his head after Kaz spoke. 'Maybe I will, Dad.' But before he could register his actual thoughts—

—an ugly voice cackled, "Kaz Brekker—street rat and philosopher." Kaz and Wylan whirled around. And there stood before them was Pekka Rollins, smug grin, and the Dime Lions, all armed with different varieties of weapons.

'Crap.'


4.)

Wylan was shocked.

Jesper looked from him to Kuwei, his mouth slightly open and bruised from the kiss. "Wylan—"

But Wylan was already walking away. "Kaz wants us in the living room." He softly said, trying desperately to control the waver in his voice.

And he faintly heard the sharpshooter try to stop him. But Wylan didn't want to see his stupid, dumb, handsome face. He forced all of his attention to putting as much distance as possible between Jesper and himself, barely able to see beyond the bright red consuming his vision.

He tried to swallow the shock and hurt and anger and sadness. His eyes started to water and he felt like someone had stabbed him in the heart.

Heartbreak. It is a freaking bitch.

(And Wylan would've been surprised at his cussing, and say that the gang was a bad influence on him if he hadn't been so upset about Jesper and that son of a b—witch.)

He wanted to slap and punch and destroy everything in the vicinity because dammit, he actually thought Jesper reciprocated his feelings. He wanted to punch the soft chair that Jesper was sprawled across earlier. He wanted to throw the small empty bag of sugar that Jesper used to pour into his coffee and discarded on the side table. He wanted to rip out the bright flower that Jesper said reminded him of Wylan's smile. He wanted to destroy everything that even remotely reminded him of the sharpshooter that ripped his heart out, smashed it into little pieces, and put it back together only to stomp on it all over again.

His shoulders drop a bit, and the anger that was consuming him earlier started to waver. And he tried desperately to cling on to that anger because it was so much easier to blame Jesper and Kuwei than to acknowledge the obvious truth.

He settled on a couch and suddenly, his entire being just sagged. Wylan felt the intense rage disappearing in an instant, leaving only a feeling of fatigue behind. His body felt heavy and now he was just . . . tired. He wiped a stray tear that fell and rested against the arm of the couch, disregarding posture and properness in exchange for wallowing in his own misery.

And then he closed his eyes and mentally sighed. The ache in his heart only grew and he felt the corner of his lips turn downward. He tried to grab at any fiery spark within him—and shouldn't he have the right to feel angry? After all, it was Jesper's fault for flirting with him and making him think that there may actually be more than just friendship between them.

But, then again . . .

They never made it official. It wasn't as if Jesper ever said he liked Wylan. And Jesper naturally has a playful nature. What if he read too much into the touches that Jesper gave him? What if he read too much into the spark he thought he saw in Jesper's eyes when their hands brushed against each other?

Maybe it's Wylan's fault for getting his own hopes up.

And the rational side of his brain was right, he thought as he tried to ignore the aches in his chest. Jesper never confirmed that there was anything more to the teasing and flirting.

He has the right to kiss whoever he wants.

But that doesn't mean Wylan had to like it.

"Are you okay?" A rough voice spoke. 

And Wylan's eyes snapped open.

Kaz is sitting on a soft chair next to the couch Wylan's currently lying on, his mouth pulled in a straight line. Wylan felt a moment of confusion. "When did you get here?"

Kaz raised an eyebrow. "I was here the entire time, but you don't seem to notice in your little . . . moment."

"Oh." Kaz nodded. The sixteen-year-old blushed. 'I guess I was too upset to notice.' He thought, thinking back. Wylan leveled his eyes back to the cushions of the couch, fidgeting lightly with the edge of the couch sheet. His mind wandered back to the kiss between Jesper and Kuwei, and he felt a festering feeling of shame at his earlier thoughts. Kuwei is a nice person. And he went through a lot. Wylan should be happy for Kuwei (he tried to convince himself—). And if Wylan really likes Jesper, then he should be satisfied as long as Jesper is happy (—but failing).

'Still, I wished it was with me instead of him.' Wylan's frown deepened, and he tried to shake that thought out of his head.

"What happened?" Wylan suddenly looked up, surprised at feeling unsurprised that Kaz had asked him.

Kaz looked calculated, and Wylan could practically see the wheels turning in Kaz's head as his eyes scanned Wylan's teary eyes, red face, and quivering body.

Wylan lifted his head up a bit in an attempt to compose himself, and he tried not to squirm under the inspection. He swears he can feel Kaz's eyes sharpen more and more by the second. Careful to only direct his eyes to the wall, Wylan knew that, deep down, he is going to tell Kaz. And he wasn't surprised anymore. He felt a level of comfort around Kaz that he didn't ever feel around anyone else before, even different from the comfort he felt around Jesper.

It was surprising, especially since he could only faintly remember the former feeling of fear and caution he used to have around Kaz.

"Jesper kissed Kuwei." He whispered, focusing on the little paint chip in the wall.

And then there was just silence.

Until—"Either Jesper's an idiot, or he's an impulsive idiot. Most likely the latter."

Wylan's eyes flickered back to Kaz, confusion obvious in his expression. " . . . Huh?"

Kaz leaned forward in Wylan's direction. "Have you forgotten what you look like, Wylan?"

' . . . Huh?'

Kaz continued. "Jesper is one of the rashest people of the Dregs, always too caught up in the moment to actually remember that he has a brain for a reason." He leveled his eyes to meet Wylan's. "Merchling, you look like Kuwei. I love puzzles, but Jesper and Kuwei together is one I can't solve, unless . . ." He raised an eyebrow, waiting for the younger one to make the connection. After a pause, "Either Jesper is an idiot who couldn't even comprehend your value and rarity or Jesper is an idiot who couldn't even distinguish the prominent differences between you and Kuwei."

Understanding dawned upon Wylan, and he tried to push down the small, steadily rising hope. "Kaz, you don't mean . . . ?"

Kaz looked away. "If it is the former, then Jesper is a bigger idiot than I thought." He looks back into the younger one's eyes. "Someone who makes another person cry doesn't deserve that person." Kaz's eyes flared intensely, and Wylan had to look down. A part of him suspects that Kaz didn't only mean Jesper.

The air felt heavy with a different kind of weight, and Wylan wanted to stir the conversation away from the tipping point. He let a small grin cross his face when it hit him.

" . . . What?"

Wylan looked up. "You admitted that you couldn't solve a puzzle," he exclaimed almost excitedly.

Kaz's eyes narrowed, but Wylan had become quite proficient in Kaz language (also know as Kazish). And he knew Kaz didn't mean his glare by the slight, bearly noticeable quirk of his lips.

And though the atmosphere was still solemn, and the formerly nearing topic of earlier still hanged on the back of their heads, there was a new, lighter tone to it.

Kaz stared, and his eyebrow rose expectedly. Wylan knew what that meant, and he forced a small smile onto his face that soon felt more real as time passed.

Da—Kaz leaned back, satisfied once he got what he was looking for. "Good. Save those tears. You'll need them for the next plan." He handed Wylan a small thin cloth, and Wylan took it with a soft thank you as he wiped the tears that fell without notice.

And when Jesper and Kuwei arrived in the sitting room, Wylan looked anywhere but at them. When the rest of the gang finally arrived, Kaz began briefing them on the new plan. Wylan forced himself to stay completely focused on Kaz's words, clutching the cloth tighter and tighter the longer he felt Jesper's eyes on him. The cloth gave him a little comfort, in a way. And if Kaz happened to direct a dark razor glare at Jesper during certain moments when the others weren't paying attention, making the sharpshooter confused and a little afraid, Wylan didn't notice.


5.)

'Oh Ghezen, hedidn'thedidn'thedidn't—' Wylan thought as he came to the same conclusion a little after his father did.

"Cornelis Smeet?" Kaz said as he casually watched Father profusely stuttering in shock. "Do you know if he breeds those watchdogs of his? Funny thing, when you train an animal to obey. Sometimes they get too easy to command. Better keep them a little wild."*

'—he did.' Wylan's eyes widen as the little glint flashed through Kaz's eyes. His lips were slightly lifted in a way that is a tiny bit too high to be innocent, and Wylan knew that look—the look that Kaz made when he feigned ignorance to someone he just conned.

"You do realize we're stealing your money?"

'So that's what Kaz meant,' Wylan's mouth dropped in a small Oh. 'Oh Ghezen, he did. Hedidhedidhedid—' Wylan felt a small panic rise within him, and his thoughts were racing a mile a minute—until suddenly, it hit him. '—I can get her out . . .' He tried to control his face away from a gleeful smile as he imagined finally getting his mom out of that cold mental institution.

"No," Jan Van Eck exclaimed, voice so sudden and loud that it made Wylan jump in fright. His rage gave him enough strength to shake off the guards holding his arms, and he burst forward. "You can't give this—this . . . this idiot complete control over my money!" He shouted, motioning frantically to Wylan. "He is a moron! He can't read. Not even a simple word. He will destroy everything I've built, and everything my father built, and everything my father's father built. He will burn the Van Eck empire down to the measly dirt!" He screamed, his voice getting louder and pitcher by each sentence.

The entire council gasped in disbelief at Jan Van Eck's words.

And though the old Wylan may have looked away in shame and humiliation as he witnessed the nightmare that continuously haunted him as a child come to life, the new Wylan just stood, eyebrow quirked just slightly higher.

When Radmakker reprimanded Fa—no, not Father, not anymore—Jan Van Eck, he just laughed wildly, his expression crazed. "This—this at least I can prove. Give him a pasage—anything that he can try to read." His arms gestured wildly in Wylan's direction, and he had that dark look in his eyes that Wylan knew meant a beating. "I guarantee you, his little mind can't even comprehend a single word!"

Radmakker just shook his head at Van Eck and placed a comforting hand on the teenager's shoulder. "You needn't oblige his ravings, son."*

But Wylan didn't respond. Instead, his head was cocked to one side, his eyes distant for a moment before his expression cooled to one of innocence as he offered to read a Transfer of Authority under the gust of assembling funds for Van Eck's defense. Kaz wouldn't let this opportunity go to waste, and Wylan might as well get a little revenge on Van Eck for what he's done to Mother. After all, there was nothing Van Eck cared about more than his reputation.

Out of the corner of his eye, Wylan saw Van Eck's jaw drop to the floor as he pretended to examine the paper and loudly recite the words. The disbelief was growing in Van Eck's eyes and he shook his head rapidly, not believing what was actually happening right in front of him. Wylan had to suppress a smirk.

When he finished, the merchant council was just shaking their heads at their now former member, murmurings rising among them. One looked at him with a mix of pity and disappointment, as another whispered, "We should've known he's gone crazy when he decided to partner up with Rollins."

A tall brunette member sighed in reply, "How the mighty have fallen."

And after Van Eck was dragged away, the howlings of it being Brekker's fault and Brekker's tricks and another kid wearing Wylan's face slowly growing softer until it could no longer be heard, Wylan allowed a small quirk of his lips. Jesper gave an impressed look towards Wylan, and he shifted a little under the gaze, only to wince when the movement aggravated his bruised and (possibly) broken ribs.

Wylan tried to hide the pain, but he knew he failed when Kaz started to approach them, crow cane clicking against the floor. "You okay?" he rasped, his face stone still and his tone careless, but Wylan could see the little furrow of his brow that meant otherwise. Concern.

Jesper nodded in agreement, eyes flickering over Wylan's body. "Yeah, you look a bit beaten up, Merchling." The sharpshooter whistled at the drops of blood dripping from the other's lips. "You could've given up earlier, you know. Saves your pretty face from becoming not so pretty."

Wylan blushed and tried to hide his face from Jesper's knowing smirk. "I wanted to make sure it looked real," Wylan said softly, memory flashing back to what Kaz said earlier at the briefing.

"Look the part. Act the part. Make sure it looks real, Wylan. It's crucial to the plan, especially if you have poor acting skills."

Kaz tilted his head up a bit, obviously remembering it as well. His eyes scanned the younger one's state of health, from the bruised and bloodied face to the ribs that were definitely not in their best state, judging by the way Wylan was holding himself. Then he turned towards Jesper. "Make sure he gets proper treatment soon." The sharpshooter nodded. Kaz looked back at Wylan. Dad—wait, what?—he means, Kaz's lips curled upward, and even though there was still a glint of concern in Kaz's expression, Wylan knew that meant good job in Kazish. Wylan felt a burst of pride, and he stood up a bit straighter, only to double over again at the instantaneous spark of pain that shot up his body.


+1.)

It was just a slip of the tongue, really.

Well, Wylan had been calling Kaz that (mentally) for a while now. So it just made sense that Wylan would call him that verbally. Somehow. Even if he never meant to.

Crap.

It happened just a little after another successful mission. Kaz needed a way to deal with the more . . . loyal Dime Lions. Especially with the ones that needed a little more persuasion. And so, needing some demos, he enlisted the help of Wylan. Nothing dangerous, but just dangerous enough.

Wylan had shrugged it off and built them. Kaz had asked for worst before.

When Kaz, Jesper, Inej, and two other Dregs members that went with them came back, Jesper proudly announced their success. And then they gathered in a cluster around a table with a few others and celebrated. Jesper laughed as he took a sip of his drink. "Those Dime Lions didn't know what hit them!"

As chatter rise among them, Wylan settled into the comfort of a chair as he listened to Jesper's play by play of what happened. Kaz and Inej were just off to the side, quietly but contently indulging themselves. Next to them was Nina, who was chatting rapidly to Matthias but at the same time, trying to shove "the most amazing cookies in the world" down his throat.

"Try them!"

"Mhhhmmm!"

Overall, everyone was having a good time.

Jesper smiled towards Wylan, "If it weren't for those flash bombs, Lord knows the mission would've been way more difficult." He said, finishing off the story.

Wylan blushed. Kaz nodded towards him, lips curled upwards. "Yeah, good job, Wylan."

And then it happened.

Wylan beamed through his darkening blush. "Thanks, Dad."

 . . . And then there was just silence.

Voices surrounding him stopped immediately. All conversations halted and everyone turned towards Wylan. Nina's jaw dropped and her eyes widened to the point where Wylan is legitimately concerned that her eyeballs would fall out. Matthias had a similar expression, cookie crumbs falling out of his mouth. Shock was evident on everyone surrounding them, save for Kaz and Inej, who had more control over their emotions than others. Though they couldn't hide the slight widening of their eyes. Their mouths are also dropping rather noticeably.

Everyone was staring.

'Crap.'

Wylan's cheeks increased in heat, and he swears he resembled a tomato at this point.

Nina shook her head as if trying to shake the shock off, and her mouth moved up and down—as if trying to force words out. "Y . . . You . . . You just . . ." She sputtered. "You just called Kaz 'Dad'!" She blinked repeatedly. "Not even 'Father,' but 'Dad'!" She exclaimed, her voice reaching a higher pitch at the last word.

Scratch that, a tomato can't be this red.

Wylan shook his head rapidly. "N—No, I didn't! I mean—I did, but I, uh, I . . . I—I—"

Matthias was the next to regain his ability to speak, but there were still hints of shock in his expression. "Great, as if we need a mini demjin running around." He grumbled, though his expression was more baffled than annoyed.

Wylan was surprised to find that he was actually quite a bit offended in the mist of his shock and horror and panic. "Wha—I am not 'mini'!—"

"On the contrary, you are quite small—"

Matthias was cut off by Jesper's light chuckle. "Oh Ghezen, I can't believe Wylan Van Sunshine actually looks up to Kaz fucking Brekker—fucking Dirtyhands, Wylan! And here I thought I was the main corruptor . . ." He winked.

"No—No, I mean—" He brought his hands up, shaking both of them as if it'll be more convincing. He could feel his heart beat increasing as he tried to remedy the situation. "I—I . . . What I meant to say was that . . . I—well, I—" He tried to look anywhere else but Kaz's face.

Kaz leaned forward in his chair, cutting him off. "Do you see me as a father figure, Wylan?" Kaz was expressionless, any hint of emotion erased.

Wylan's eyes widened and he looked up towards Kaz. "No!" 'Ghezen, it's getting hot in here.' He backtracked when he saw the narrowing look in Kaz's eyes. You're lying, it said. "I mean—yes, kind of—I, ah, I—" He started to stutter so much his words blurred together and became incomprehensible.

Jesper whistled at his burning face. "Damn, I haven't seen you blush this much before. I need to step up my game."

Wylan is sure all of the blood in his body rushed to his face at that comment. 'Now is not the time for flirting!' his mind screamed.

"Oh my Ghezen, this is so adorable!" Nina squealed, making Matthias winced and rub his ears. "Wylan is so freakin' innocent and Kaz is so freakin' dark and brooding and can you even imagine Jesper wanting to propose and having to ask Kaz for Wylan's hand in marriage? Ah, so cute!"

"Wait, what?" Wylan stammered.

"No proposals." Kaz almost snarled, and Nina squealed a higher pitch, definitely rendering poor Matthias deaf.

"Oh my gosh, Kaz is in daddy mode—"

"—Don't call me 'Daddy'—"

"Ah, so cute!" Nina practically screamed.

Jesper suddenly looked thoughtful. "Ya know, that talk makes a lot more sense now . . ."

Wylan tilted his head, "What talk?"

Jesper opened his mouth, about to answer, but then cringed at the glare Kaz gave him and looked away. "Ah, nevermind . . ." Inej had to smother a laugh.

Kaz tapped his cane against the floor, drawing Wylan's attention back towards him. "You think of me as a father figure."

It wasn't stated as a question. Wylan avoided Kaz's eyes, his words caught in his throat. 'Ohnoohnoohnoohno—'

"Wylan, look at me." He swallowed and did so. "You think of me as a father figure." A few moments passed. Wylan's heart was beating faster and faster, and he nodded. Kaz stared at him dead in the eyes, his eyebrow twitching just the littlest bit. Why? "Someone who makes another person cry doesn't deserve that person."

'Huh?' "Wha—What do you mean?"

Still expressionless, Kaz said, "Your mother."

"What—wait—" The confusion faded away as it hit him. "Oh—oh! I, uh, but I—I didn't cry." Kaz raised an eyebrow. Wylan shook his head profusely. "I, w—well, I did, but," he coughed. Kaz's stare was piercing. ". . . I was upset, yes. But—but it was my father's fault. Not yours." He looked up earnestly. "You just told me the truth."

And Kaz just stared. And stared. And stared.

His eyes were calculating.

And in the background, Wylan could hear the chatter between Jesper and Nina.

"—It makes so much sense now!—"

"—Yeah, I mean, I didn't think of it before, but now—"

"—And that scheming face!—"

"—Ghezen, yes! Not to mention, his glare—"

"—I know, right?! I swear, it was such a good intimation of Kaz's glare, I was about to freak out—"

"—Do you remember seeing that weird communication thing between Kaz and Wylan? I swear, it's like they could read each other's mind—"

"—Yeah, you think they have their own language or something?—"

But even through the gradually rising chatter, Wylan was more focused and nervous about the older male's reaction. Kaz still didn't say anything, and Wylan was apprehensive. He started shifting a bit in his seat, anxiousness only becoming greater and greater.

Kaz's eyebrows furrowed even more and he just slightly squinted.

He's debating something.

And then suddenly, his eyebrows smoothened out and his mouth became a straight line.

And before Wylan knew it, a gloved hand reached out and ruffled his hair.

Not just any gloved hand.

Kaz's gloved hand.

Kaz Brekker just ruffled his hair.

Kaz freaking Brekker—the freaking Dirtyhands Brekker just ruffled his hair.

Oh, Ghezen.

Wylan just blinked, so shocked from the touch of affection that he was robbed of his ability to speak. Or move. Or do anything other than blinking, really.

"I don't just give out compliments, Wylan. Like I said, good job." Kaz then got up and started heading towards the top floor where his room resides.

"—Oh fuck, did you just see that?—"

"—Someone, please tell me I just imagined that—"

"—Fucking Brekker just ruffled Wylan's hair—"

And once the shock wore off, Wylan sat up a bit straighter, ignoring the voices of Jesper and Nina and everyone else freaking out about what just happened.

Instead, Wylan smiled a soft smile.