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Kaz VS Area 51

Chapter Text

“C’mon Kaz!”
“No”
“Pleaseeee”
“I told you, not happening”
“But me and Jesper wanna see them!”
Kaz was done with Nina’s begging. “It’s probably a hoax, and I’m not risking my life so you and Jesper can see Aliens”. Nina’s bottom lip shot out, she looked like a sad puppy. “But Kaaaaazz, Wylan wants to go too, and I can get Matthias to come too!”.
Matthias looked up from where he was seated next to Nina reading. “Really Nina? Trying to drag me into another one of the Demjin’s plans?” even after saving his life not once, not twice, but many times, Matthias still addressed Kaz as Demjin.

Nina planted a kiss on his cheek and his cold demeanor completely faded away, “Yes Matthias dear” she said while grabbing a toffee and popping it into her mouth. “And anyways it’ll be an adventure!”. “Fine” He grumbled, “But this plan better not involve us breaking out of there in a Tank like last time we had a mission this big”
“It’s a job Helvar, not a military mission. And I thought you didn’t want to do this.”
“I don’t” he crossed his arms, “Where Nina goes, I go”

Nina smiled, “Thank you Matthias” she planted a kiss on his lips. He smiled and wrapped an arm around her. “No problem Nina Dear”. Kaz still couldn’t get used to all the physical affection. “Get a room you two”. They just laughed and continued talking.

“I only want to go to recover all their secrets” Wylan said mischievously. Kaz raised an eyebrow, “What? They could have a cure for the plague or something important”.
Jesper cut in “C’mon Kaz, lighten up and have some fun with us, be reckless for once”
He was leaning over Wylan as he worked on his chemistry set. He was playing with a pencil between his fingers, occasionally dropping it on the floor with a small clatter.

“I’m totally down, but only if we get to bring back an alien” Kaz sighed, he couldn’t win with them and their persistence about pulling this job. “We’re not breaking into area 51, I have much better things to do with my time. “Plus, this crew and reckless is the perfect recipe for getting us all killed, or worse, losing all my money”.

“Like what?” Kaz turned, Inej was behind him, polishing one of her knives, Sankta Petre, he had learned their names now. Even after everything she could still send his heart racing.

He liked it, not that he’d ever tell anyone that. Over my dead body.
“What?”
“What better things do you have to do?”
“Like going after rich merchers” he told her as he sat down in his chair. As he thought back to the events of the Ice Court job, the memories of it still blurry, a haze of close calls and near death. Yes, it had been a good exercise of all their collective skills, if he could even call what they did an exercise, but after what happened with Van Eck he would never put Inej in any place of danger, the cost was not worth it, no matter how high the cost. Well, maybe for 50,000,000 kruge, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
“I bet you can’t”
He knew she was teasing but he still got defensive, “You know I can, I just don’t want to”

“I think you’re scared”
Now that made him laugh. Nina looked up, a look of surprise on her face. “The infamous Kaz Brekker, laughing? Someone call the King of Ravka! It’s a miracle!” Now Wylan, Jesper, Nina and Inej were laughing, even Matthias had a smirk on his face. “Scared? Really Inej, I think by now you’d come up with a better insult.”

She leaned down, poking her finger on his chest, and Kaz hoped she couldn’t feel his pulse quicken under his touch. “You heard me Brekker. I. Think. You’re. Scared.” His gloved hand shot out and caught her wrist before she could draw away, he stood up to his full height “Is that a challenge Ghafa?” this time she smirked, “Yes, I guess it is”

He loosened his grip on her wrist and took out a piece of parchment.
“What are you doing?” she questioned him as he wrote. He kept writing. Now everyone’s interests grew as they formed a half circle around Kaz’s desk. “Kaz?” Wylan asked. Kaz was too busy writing to look up, “What.” he asked in a more demanding than asking tone. “What are you doing?”

He finished writing and looked up at all of them. Wylan, Jesper, Nina, Matthias and Inej. They all looked at him questioningly.

“If you guys want to break into Area 51, we’re going to need a plan, and lots of resources.”

Nina’s face broke into a smile, Jesper smirked and looked at Wylan, who nodded happily, Inej looked at him, approving of his grudging decision.
“Who’s scared now?” he asked her.
“No one” she replied, and she was right, this was going to be exciting.

Chapter Text

Inej knew Kaz wouldn’t leave anything up to chance this time.

For the rest of the day he was hunched over his desk writing down materials, favours, plans and more. He had sent Anika to get Rotty and Specht because they would need an extra set of hands breaking into this highly classified facility. Specht could forge badges and papers, while Rotty would be transportation.

He also called Pim in and got him to send a letter asking for backup just in case something happened, six people wouldn’t be enough to stop 50 troops, he learned that from last time. “Who’d you ask to be part of this?” Nina asked, “Why would anyone want to help us” Inej asked, “I didn’t say they wanted to, I may have used my expert persuasion skills” Inej laughed at Nina’s comment, it sent chills down his spine,
“Sure Kaz, you probably blackmailed them into helping you and giving you twenty million Kruge for free” he shrugged, “I had a couple favours to collect”.

Often some of the crew would come help him with delivering a message or buying supplies.
“Why can’t you just let us help you plan?” Jesper had asked one day while picking up a letter for Kaz.
“Because I can’t trust anyone but myself until I’m finished” he replied, taking out paper and getting back to work.
Before Jesper left Kaz swore he muttered under his breath “Scheming face”

For about a week he planned, plotted, pondered, and perfected his plan for just exactly how they would get into Area 51. Once he was absolutely sure everything would work, he sent out for his crew.

Inej was already at the slat so he didn’t need to send for her. She had stuck around the barrel ever since he’d agreed to the job. She was still gathering her crew on The Wraith, but she was doing research with Kaz on the barrel bosses who illegally ‘indenture’ slaves.

Jesper and Wylan came second. Their house wasn’t that far but it still managed to take them an especially long amount of time to get to the Slat.
“It’s only because Wylan is short therefore he takes short steps!”
Wylan pouted, “It’s not my fault you’re built like a beanstalk!”
Jesper looped an arm around the smaller boy’s shoulders, “I know, but being so tall makes this a lot easier,'' the tips of Wylan’s ears turned pink as he looked at Kaz and Inej.
“Where are Matthias and Nina?”
Inej glanced at Kaz who shrugged, “You ask me, but I’m not explaining everything until they get here”

*O*o*O*o*half an hour later*o*O*o*O*

Kaz was impatient, he didn’t like wasting his time, especially when the people he was wasting his time waiting for were the ones who wanted to go through with this.

“Where are they” he muttered as the rest of them paced the room, Jesper pacing back and forth, sometimes polishing his revolvers or chatting with Wylan and Inej, Wylan was writing some sheet music he’d been working on, “If only I could read as well as I play music” Jesper nudged him, “Why? Doesn’t make you any less capable, besides, why read when you can have someone else read for you” Wylan gave hima small smile, “Thanks Jes”.
Inej was perched on the window sill, feeding the crows. They had chosen to move upstairs into Kaz’s old office for the time being so no one would eavesdrop on their plan, and even though his leg ached after going up the stairs so much, Kaz missed his office, seeing Inej perching, feeding the crows while the sun rose.

Kaz remembered that day in his office, the sunlight on her face, the brightness in her eyes, it made him feel free. This time he wouldn’t stop her from feeding the crows, he would observe, watch how her face lit up as another one came to her hand.

He walked over to the sill, leaning his cane against the wall. Kaz knew he shouldn’t, but he asked anyways,
“Inej? Would you mind some compan-”

Before he could finish, Nina and much too cheery Matthias waltzed in.
“We have ARRIVED!” Nina yelled as she held up a bag, “And we brought WAFFLES!”
“You realize you’re late right?” Kaz remarked as they all sat on the floor, waffles in hands, syrup on clothes, ready to conquer the day.

“Did you not hear me say Waffles?” Nina asked as she shoved another in her mouth.
“Nina love, how many have you eaten?” Matthias asked as he took a bite of his own.
With her mouth too full Nina held up 5 fingers, Matthias sighed, “Nina, I love you, but you have to leave some for the others” Nina pouted but only took one more.

Everyone sat in their little circle, joking and smiling. Kaz was too busy calculating all the possibilities of what could go wrong to ‘have fun’.
“Come on Kaz, have some fun!”
Inej poked his arm and handed him a waffle, it was covered in syrup so he removed his gloves and took it from her.
“Thanks” he told her as she grabbed another waffle and smiled. “We’re a family, we look out for each other”
“Is that another one of your Suli proverbs?”
“No, it’s one of my own creations” he smiled at that, he was beginning to think this job might actually be fun.

After everyone had relatively finished eating, Kaz took out the blueprints to the facility and laid them out in the middle for everyone to see. He also took red pins to help explain his plan.

“Ok before I start” he started, a cold edge to his rasp, “I’m going to talk, and you are all going to listen. If I have to stop, this is all over. And what’s been discussed here will never, and I mean never reach the ears of anyone else. Did I make myself clear?”

Wylan was the one who replied, “Crystal”

“Ok then this is the plan”

Chapter Text

After Kaz was done explaining the plan, everyone was silent.

“I have nothing to say,” said Nina, “And I always have something to say”
“That seems like a pretty flawless plan” commented Jesper
Wylan whistled, “That is some plan Kaz”

“I’m surprised Demjin, you’ve thought of a solution for every possibility of what could go wrong” Matthias nodded his head, “Maybe we’ll get out of there before they notice we even got in in the first place”

They could all feel the weight of Kaz’s words as he spoke,
“There will be NO mistakes this time, we are going in, and getting out without a struggle, if ANY of you can’t do that for me, you can leave right now, I won’t give you another chance to walk away, I’m not taking any chances” He gestured to the door of his office, “the door is right there”

Kaz thought back to Van Eck’s house, now Wylan’s. He remembered how they’d escaped by burning an acid hole through the floor, not your best moment Brekker he thought to himself. No mistakes this time, no mistakes.

Even though he never said anything, he cared about this crew. They had gone through too much together not to. The information they carried with them was too valuable.

As if they could read each other's thoughts they looked around at the people in the room.
A boy born in the shallow waters of Ketterdam
A Grisha who’s powers had changed and made her seem like a monster in even more people’s eyes
A runaway who seemed to have found his real home
A wraith with a dream to change the world
A Fjerdan who changed for love
A sharpshooter who was working to make everything right again
No one moved.

Kaz sighed and stood up, grabbing his cane for support
“Let’s get to work”

Jesper let out a bark of laughter and fist bumped Nina, who laughed as well,
“Well folks looks like we’re in it together for the long haul”

Kaz sent Wylan and Jesper went out to get supplies for Wylan’s chemistry set.
Jesper whined and complained about having to go out, but finally relented when Wylan told him it was Kaz’s version of letting them have time alone together.
Jesper looped his arm through Wylan’s and they set off into town.

“We’re going out on the town Merchling!”
“Jes, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times, don’t call me Merchling”
“It’s my pet name for you”

Wylan went pink and stopped talking.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Nina yelled after them.
“That doesn’t mean a lot coming from you” Matthias replied, smiling wryly at Nina, which was unusual coming from the cold Fjerdan.
“Since we’re together it doesn’t mean a lot coming from you either” Nina joked back.
“I’m not on a mission to flirt the entire city of Ketterdam into submission”
“Guilty by association”

The Fjerdan just rolled his eyes and followed Nina as she traipsed out of the office to go into Little Ravka to collect information which would be useful for the job.

Now the only person left in Kaz’s office was Inej.
She hadn’t said anything since he had explained his plan, which wasn’t abnormal but he wanted and excuse to talk to her.
“Was it a good plan?” he asked, she was sitting in the chair as his desk, knees pulled up to her chest, hood pulled up, eyes closed.
“Inej?” he didn’t want to wake her, she looked tired. Probably from sleeping on a ship for the past month and a half Kaz realized. He should’ve offered a room at the Slat.

Inej stirred, her eyes fluttered as she yawned and rolled her shoulders.
“Sorry, I was so tired I just wanted to rest my eyes and the next thing I know I’m waking up”
“Don’t worry about it, there’s always a room here at the Slat if you need it”
She smiled, “Thanks Kaz, you’re not as heartless as people think you are”
“I can be as heartless as I want, it’s who I’m dealing with that matters”

Inej got up from the chair and stretched, “What was it you woke me up for?”
“Was my plan a good plan?”
“You’re plans are always good Kaz, actually more like fantastic”
“Why thank you”
“But this one was different”
“How?”
“It was flawless, nothing left to chance, it was as if you have to one up yourself, prove you’re the biggest barrel boss, the one afraid of nothing”

He flexed his gloved hand over the head of his cane,
“As the youngest, let alone the fastest growing barrel boss, I have to keep my reputation deadly. Plus once in a while every monster has to sharpen its teeth”

She ran her hand along the bookshelf in his room, the dust collecting on the tips of her fingers.
“It’s one of your best plans Kaz, I’m glad I get to be part of it”
“You’re my Wraith, you’re always a part of my plan.”

Shit, he shouldn’t have let himself get all soft like that. He cursed himself for showing weakness, like that day on Velgeluck, if he hadn’t turned to Inej she would've been safe, but he looked, and it had made things worse.

She jumped out the window soundlessly, Somehow catching a loose pipe and vaulting herself up to the roof of the building across from the slat. Kaz just nodded and watched her go, she had work to do at the Emerald Palace, and he had work he needed to do in Fifth Harbour.

After what went down at the Auction with Kuwei and everyone, Kaz had managed to regain control of Fifth Harbour. It wasn’t easy work but it was worth it and the Dregs needed the extra cash for weapons and boose.

As he walked downstairs Kaz realized his leg didn’t hurt as much as it usually did.
Kaz smiled to himself, Today is going to be a good day.

Maybe this job would actually go according to plan.

Chapter Text

Jesper wasn’t one for being patient.
The streets were crowded with tourists looking at street performers, easting from vendors, window shopping, and taking up too much room on the streets for anyone to get anywhere fast.

He was trying to be patient, but his tolerance of people not knowing where they were going was growing quite thin.
“Can’t we just take an alley or something?” Jesper asked Wylan exasperatedly

Wylan shook his head, but he didn’t look happy either,
“Kaz says we have to blend in”
“But why? We don’t even look suspicious!”

Wylan grabbed Jesper’s hand and tugged him into a small alleyway
“Kaz said we still have to be careful. Plus, if anyone’s paying close enough attention to us they’re going to notice that the thing’s we’re buying aren’t normal things that everyday people would just go out and buy”

Jesper laughed at that. After all, Wylan was right, you didn’t just go out and buy chemicals to make hydrochloric acid.
“Van Sunshine is right again!”
Wylan blushed, “Very funny Jes”
“I know, I know, I should be a comedian”

As they re-entered the busy streets of West Stave, Jesper took the chance to grab Wylan’s hand and charged full on into the crowd pulling the smaller boy behind him.

“Jes! Jesper! Slow down!”
He didn’t slow down.
“JES! I’m going to fall down!”
He slowed down enough for Wylan to catch up so they were side by side and catch a little bit of his breath.

“Jes….(cough)..Jesper…(pant)......if we…..(sigh)......hadn’t……..(cough).......been..(sigh)..seen now….(wheeze)...we definitely ...(pant)...made a scene…(cough)”

Jesper patted Wylan’s back, feeling a little sorry for making him have a small asthma attack.
“But we had fun! Even if you’re tired, admit it, it was exhilirating”

Wylan nodded, a small smile creeping across his face, it made Jesper’s heart beat faster than it already was.

“Wylan Van Sunshine, you’re going to give me a heart attack one day”
This time Wylan blushed a brilliant pink and intertwined their hands together.
“Don’t die on me just yet, we still have the job and Kaz would kill me if you died before we even got there”
“I’ll try not to”

They went on like that for sometime, laughing, flirting, enjoying each other's company.

“Hey Wylan”
“Jesper?”
“Z is just a sideways N”

Wylan gave him a look that said, you really just ruined the moment.
“I don't know how to read but I’m pretty sure you’re acting like a dumbass”
“I’m always a dumbass”
“Go tell that joke to Kaz”
Jesper shook his head, “Kaz would carve a Z and an N in to my body if I told that joke to him”
“Good thing you told it to me first”

 

After they had gotten all their supplies and Jesper had run out of stgupis jokes to tell Wylan, they started back to The Slat to drop off the supplies before returning to Wylan’s house.

But Wylan stopped him in front of Ketterdam Ice Cream Parlour.
“Can we pleaseeee get some ice cream!”
Wylan gave him puppy eyes that he knew Jesper couldn’t resist, he would never say no to ice cream anyways.
“Ice cream here we come!”

After Jesper had paid for their ice cream, despite Wylan’s protests, they settled on a bench to eat their slowly melting ice cream cones.

Wylan had gotten Vanilla. Too classic Jesper had teased, but Wylan argued that it was always a good choice. “You can’t go wrong with Vanilla!”
Jesper would’ve argued that yes, you could go very wrong with vanilla, but her was preoccupied with his own ice cream.

Jesper had gotten Rainbow Sorbet. All the colours and flavours mixed into a swirl.
“It matches my extravagant style”

It was nice, just the two of them, no one interrupting the peaceful chaos.
“Wanna lick?”
“What”
“Do you wanna lick of my ice cream?”
“Oh yeah, sure!”
Wylan tried only a small taste of Jesper’s ice cream but as soon as he did his face lit up.
“This might be the greatest flavour I’ve ever had!”
“Better than boring plain Vanilla?”
Wylan winked, “You’ve proven me wrong Jes, I hereby dub thy the ‘Ice cream flavour master’”

“I still like Vanilla though” Jesper said, “It reminds me of you”
Wylan smiled, “Why so romantic today?”
Jesper shrugged, “I don’t know, ‘cause i feel like it”
“It’s nice”

Jesper felt like he could conquer the world.
He stood up and offered a hand to the merchling,
“We should go, or else Kaz will kill us for taking our sweet time”

The streets were much quieter now, save for the street performers setting up for the after dinner rush.
“We should go see the Comedie Brute one night”
Wylan looked skeptical, “But I’ve seen it before, why see it again?”
“Because it’ll be fun! C’mon Wy, we’ll go for a night on the town! Maybe bring the whole gang along!” Jesper gave Wylan a wolfish grin and made jazz hands.

Wylan agreed and Jesper smiled to himself, you did good Fahey.
His Da always taught him how to be good and proper, his mother had taught him how to be brave and smart.
He was thankful for both of their lessons that made him who he was, even though he was still working on his issues.

As they kept walking Jesper let his mind wander.
He was silent until something very funny popped into his mind.
Jesper laughed to himself and Wylan looked up at him, blue eyes questioning

“What’s so funny Jes?”
“Wesper”
“What?”
“That’s our ship name”
“Again, our what?”
“If you put both of our names together they become Wesper!”
“That’s not fair though!”
“Why?”

Wylan pouted, “There’s only ONE letter of my name in there! You get FIVE!”
At that Jesper almost doubled over with laughter,
“So if I came up with another one that you preferred we could use that one?”
Wylan nodded, “Sure, I want an equal amount of my name if it’s gonna be our ship name”

Jesper thought for a second.
“Aha! I’ve got the perfect one!”
“Ok what is it?”

“Jylan”

Wylan put a hand over his eyes, rubbing his temples.
“On second thought, Wesper wasn’t so bad”
Jesper chuckled,
“I thought so, but don’t worry, I’ve got some for the whole gang”

“I can’t wait to see the look on Kaz’s face when you tell him his and Inej’s”

“Me neither”

Chapter Text

Matthias was terrible at small talk.

No matter how hard he tried, he was too ‘straightforward’ as Nina said.
And being in little Ravka didn’t help either.

With Nina’s new powers she couldn’t tailor either of them, so there wasn’t much she could do to him. The previous time they hadn’t needed tailoring, seeing as no one knew of them and Nina was still discovering her new abilities.

They ended up dressing like a young Fjerdan couple. Matthias had deja vu from the last time they were here, wearing the exact same clothes, holding hands.

Nina’s smile was bright and her steps were light. She pulled Matthias to the little shops one the streets, oohing and awing at all the little reminders of her homeland.

He had talked to her about moving back to Ravka, but she insisted they stay in Ketterdam.
He didn’t know why, she had her whole life waiting for her in Ravka, a job, a home. In Ketterdam she had him and the dregs.

Matthias hadn’t wanted to push Nina to explain (She could get very stubborn and aggressive when he brought up a topic she was sensitive about). He didn’t want to make it harder for her.

But right now she seemed quite content. Laughing at one of the stall’s owners jokes.
“Matthias! She made chocolate Babka!!! You have to try some this time!”
Matthias wasn’t sure. Even though he wasn’t a Drüskelle anymore, he rarely ate sweets.
Sometimes, if Nina would let him, he’d have one of her prized toffees.
What could he say? They reminded him of her.

“How much?” he asked the lady at the stall. “8 Kruge please” she told him in a thick Ravkan accent. Matthias paid of it and the lady handed it over to Nina, whispering something in her ear. Nina burst out laughing, saying something in Ravkan.
This had been happening at every booth they’d stopped at so far and Matthias was getting confused.

As they walked to the Ravkan in Ketterdam, Matthias looked at Nina, who was munching happily, “What did she say?”
Nina had to work hard to contain her laughter,
“Nothing”
“Nina dear, it’s clearly something”

She mumbled something incoherent under her breath that made Matthias even more curious.
“Nina” he said, voice low
“Ok fine! They’re all saying I’m lucky to have found such a glorious Babink”
Matthias rolled his eyes “I’m not some beast that needed to be tamed”

This time Nina couldn’t control her laughter,
“That’s exactly what a Babink would say!”
“Just be quiet and eat your Babka”
She did.

Matthias eventually caved and tried a piece of the chocolate babka,
As soon as he did his eyes lit up
“This is exceptional”
Nina gave him her I-told-you-so look,
“Hey, I haven’t eaten these kinds of sweets in a very long time”
“Well you can’t have any more, It’s. All. Mine.”
“Fine, and by the way you’ve got chocolate all over your face”

She tried to wipe it off but Matthias gave her a look that said ‘that’s just making it worse’
“Here, let me help” he offered, using the sleeve of his jacket to wipe all the chocolate that was spread across her face.
“Thanks”
“No problem love” he told her as he kissed her forehead,
“But we really should be on our way”

They arrived at the embassy a few minutes late.
“It’ll be fine, we aren’t thatttt late”

They walked into the front doors and were immediately greeted with the wonderful glare of none other than Zoya Nazyalensky.

“You’re late”

Nina huffed, “Hello to you too Zazyalensky”
“Zenik”
“It’s good to see you”
For a small second Zoya’s face softened
“It’s good to see you too, it’s been too long”

“Nina!”
Matthias could recognize that face anywhere,
Genya Safin’s big amber eye wide, and before Matthias could move out of the way she was embracing them both.
“Genya! It’s so good to see you!!!” Nina was ecstatic “How have you been! How’s David?! Tell me everything!”
“Ugh I have so much to tell you!” Genya exclaimed, looking back at Zoya, who’s facade had turned back to ruthless, “But you’ll have to wait, we have business to discuss”

“Miss Zenik” Sturmhond’s voice cut through Nina and Genya’s exchange
“I’m sorry to interrupt the pleasantries but we have some important matters to sort out”
Matthias nodded, “Let’s sit and talk”

Sturmhond gestured to a long table and they sat down.

Nina spoke first, “I assume you’ve read the plan?”
Sturmhond nodded, “I’m happy to be a part of this, we’re going to have lots of fun”
Zoya rolled her eyes, “Not if we get ourselves killed by agreeing to this stupid plan”
Sturmhond brought a letter out of his coat,
“Zoya I assure you, I’ve read through Brekker’s plan, it’s perfect. If there was even a small chance of us getting hurt I wouldn’t agree to do this”
Zoya shot him a look, “If there was a 10% chance of us living you’d agree to do it”

Sturmhond smirked, “You’re right, but come on Nazyalensky, relax and have some fun”
From what Matthias could see, Zoya bristled at his comment.
Sturmhond merely leaned over and whispered something in her ear, Zoya sighed,
“If I die I’m going to bring you down with me”
“I’m counting on it”

Matthias had the sneaking suspicion that Sturmhond wasn’t completely who he said he was. He decided he would ask Kaz about it later.

After going through the basics of the plan again, and explaining exactly what Sturmhond’s team would be doing, Sturmhond smiles wryly,
“This is going to be fun”
“So you’ll agree to help us?” Nina cocked an eyebrow
“Do I even get the option of saying no?”
“No, not really”
“Then we’ll see you tomorrow to set off”

As they walked to the door of the embassy Matthias saw Nina look back at Genya who pointed to Zoya and Nikolai, Nina made a small cough that sounded suspiciously like a gasp and Genya mouthed, I’ll tell you the details later.
That was definitely a discussion not meant for Matthias’s ears.

It was almost supper time, the lights of The Barrel were starting to flash
“Nina love, are you hungry?”
“Do you even need to ask? I’m always hungry! Let’s go! Oh I know a great Zemeni place…Or maybe we could go to this cafe ...oooh! Jesper told me….”

Matthias let Nina decide on dinner.

Chapter Text

Inej was careful when making her way into the Emerald Palace (Not that she wasn’t always careful, just today it was even more essential to stay hidden.)

She made her way through the crowds of people gathering around the tables of three man bramble and blackjack, all of them looking for lost luck.

Even though Pekka Rollins had left town, the Emerald palace and all his other gambling dens on West Stave as well as the Barrel were still run by the Dime Lions. So Pekka is still pulling the strings, running the show, Inej made a note to give Rollins a little ‘Visit’ before they left for this job.

But there were more important matters that had to be dealt with right now.

As she slipped past the guards and up the stairs, surveying the floor, she reminded herself of what she was asking. Kaz Brekker wasn’t taking no for an answer, never have, never will she thought and smiled to herself. Kaz could be ruthless and cold blooded, but the unsettling thing about him that made others wary was once he set his mind to something he couldn’t be stopped. Inej admired that.
She pulled a pick from her hand and bent down to unlock the door. Kaz had warned her after her last encounter with Rollins that there would be locks on the windows as a precaution, and Inej wasn’t as skilled with a lock pick as she wished she was.

Inej heard the familiar sound of the lock clicking open. She stood up and pushed inside. Inside the head suite room above the Emerald Palace was where Pekka used to live, and also happened to be his office.

She had tried her best to discover who was running everything smoothly in Ketterdam for Pekka Rollins, but it was kept under wraps as to not cause an uproar, but she had her thoughts. I guess I’m about to find out, she stepped inside.

The room was exactly as she remembered is from a few months ago after the Ice Court. Lavish green velvet covered much of the room, but the one thing that caught Inej’s eye was the person sitting in the armchair at the desk.

“Hello little Lynx”

Inej’s world froze.

“What. Are. You. Doing. Here” Inej whispered through gritted teeth.

“Didn’t you hear? Pekka and me go way back, when I heard what happened to him I asked if there was anything I could do to help until he got back on his feet and poof! Here I am”

At this moment all Inej wanted was to launch herself at Heleen rip out her esophagus and wear it as a necklace, she restrained herself and was silent.

“So why are you here little pet? Come to beg me for work?”
“I will never beg you for anything”
“Then why are you here, because my patience is wearing out”

In that split second Inej lost all restraint.
She grabbed Sankta Illya and ran full speed at Heleen.
The blonde woman tried to cry out but before anything came out of her mouth Inej clamped her unoccupied hand tight around Heleen’s throat, her knife against the juncture between where her former owner’s neck met her head.

Inej knew Heleen was all talk and not actually strong enough to disarm her, but this felt like a small victory. Heleen was going to get what was coming for her, but for now Inej was satisfied with her work.

“I wouldn’t try to call for help if you want to keep your head”
Heleen was silent.
“I’m not going to beg you for anything but if you like living and breathing, I suggest you should be begging for my mercy”

Inej loosened her grip of Heleen’s neck just enough for her to gasp silently for air.
“I’m here because we need something from you. I’m going to talk, I’m going to set my terms and conditions and you’re going to agree to them and get what me and my crew need.”

Heleen’s hazel eyes narrowed but she didn’t protest.
Inej narrowed her eyes in a challenge.
“Nod. If. You. Understand.”
Nothing.
“I said NOD if you UNDERSTAND!”
Heleen nodded vigorously.

Inej grabbed the rope she had tied to her belt and pushed the woman back onto the chair, trying the rope tightly around her arms and legs, securing her to the chair.

“You’re cutting off my circulation you insul-”
Inej pressed the tip of her knife below Heleen’s jaw, pressing just enough to draw blood
“What was that? Now if you talk again I’ll be less forgiving”
Heleen nodded as Inej finished the knots that held her, making sure to cut of a piece of cloth from her shirt to use as a gag.

Kaz had given her specific instructions to keep the conversation and negotiations tonight light and friendly, screw that, there were a few complications that made it quite difficult to keep a conversation with Heleen Van Houden light and friendly, more like Heleen’s sparkling personality.

“Ok so here’s what we need that you’re going to give us”
Heleen reluctantly nodded
“My team and I are going somewhere dangerous to do something reckless, and we need materials, well more specifically we need money, and you’re going to pay”

Feeling a lot more confident than when she had entered, Inej spun the chair Heleen was restrained in.
Faster
Faster
Faster

With a sudden force Inej stopped the chair with her boot, making it come to a screeching halt.
“100,000 Kruge”
She was surprised Tante Heleen had the guts to shake her head.
“Fine, 200,000 Kruge”
The blonde woman’s lips pinched as she shook her head again

Inej placed her foot on the base of the chair, plucking a fountain pen from its place on the desk, leaning forward until she was almost completely above Heleen.
“I could kill you right now and frame it as an accident”
Heleen leaned back slightly, Inej leaned forward.

“A quick stab with this pen, I could make it look like you tripped”
Now Inej was leaning so far above her she had to grip the armrest of the chair as to not fall right onto her captive.
“Do we have a deal?”
Tante Heleen nodded slowly.
“Good. I wouldn’t have killed you anyways. A quick death like that is too good for you”

Heleen let out a shaky breath. Inej leaned back, satisfied with her work.
“You’ll drop the money off on Velgaluck alone, with no guards accompanying you. Understood?”
She removed the gag, Heleen immediately started screaming.
Inej used the smallest of her knives to slash a small cut across her previous owner’s cheek.
Tante Heleen gasped in horror.
“You Wretched Bitch! You’ll get what you deserve”
“No I don’t think I will. And if you test my patience again I’ll make sure you get more than just a cut of your cheek”

Inej leaped to the window, smashing it open and breaking the lock.
The guards were pouding on the door, she leapt out the window, but not before giving Heleen a glare as sharp as ice.

“I changed my mind. 250,000 Kruge, the extra 50,000 is for getting on my nerves”

As soon as Inej jumped from rooftop to rooftop. But only then when she was back at the Slat, in her room did Inej feel like she could breathe again. She closed the door to her room and slid down to the floor.
All the terrible memories from the Menagerie flooded back, she could feel them on her skin, it terrified her.
She could be strong after, right now she couldn’t pretend to be strong any longer.

Chapter Text

Kaz’s cane tapped a steady beat as he made his way down to Fifth Harbour.
It’s weight made Kaz more confident in his decision to come down here.
He knew this decision was dangerous, but if they wanted to do this they had no other option.

But instead of turning right to Fifth harbour, he turned into a side alley and waited, he needed to make sure Inej wasn't following him or she would try and stop his plans.

As soon as Kaz was sure she was busy at the emerald palace doing her job, and not following him recklessly, he started his way to the Tower of the Tidemakers.
He wasn’t sure what he was getting her into sending her there, so he made a mental note when he got back to the Slat to talk to her alone just to make sure everything was ok.

He knew Rollins had connections to some of the worst men in Ketterdam, and more than half of them had grudges against him and his Wraith, but he knew the Wraith could handle herself.

The tower was guarded, but nothing that Kaz couldn’t deal with.
He dodged the guards and picked the locks on the door leading up to the tower and started his way up the stairs to the Tidemakers Quarters.

About halfway up, the stairs were suddenly shrouded in a heavy mist.
Kaz knew exactly what was going to happen, but he knew this time not to know any weakness.

As his lungs started filling up with water, he kept taking deep breaths and finished walking up the stairs.

By the time he reached the top, his lungs were almost full of water, and his vision was dotted with spots.

“We told you not to see us again, or you won’t be so lucky next time, and you came back”
“You won’t kill me”
He wasn’t sure if this was a smart idea, he didn’t even know if they’d spare his life right now, but he didn’t care. If they wanted to do this job he needed their help.

“Why? Just a few more minutes and you won't be able to breath anymore”
“I have a proposal”
“Go on” one of the female Tidemakers, face shrouded in mist spoke
“Only if you let the water out of my lungs” Kaz tried not to wheeze, but he couldn’t help
“You have 2 minutes to explain, if we don’t like it, you’re dead”
“Deal”

Kaz breathed deeply as he felt the water drain from his lungs,
“Ok so here’s the plan”

After the 2 minutes of loosely explaining his plan, not including the particulars and inner workings, and what exactly the Tidemakers would be doing for him and his crew.
He looked up to the Grisha.

“What’s in for us Brekker”
“200,000 Kruge, and I won’t start another plague”
“More”
Kaz sighed “Fine, I can pull a few strings and make sure you’ll never have to register your identities in Ketterdam. Ever”
“Deal”

Kaz almost scoffed, he’d expected the Tidemakers to put in more demands, but this worked too.
“We’ll only need one of you to come with us, two if you want”

“I’ll go” one of the female Tidemakers stepped forward. She was short, not shorter than Inej, but definitely not tall. With her face covered, he couldn’t tell what she looked like, and it sounded like she was playing with her voice, changing it’s pitch.

He was going to have to work with what he was given.
“Me and my crew will pick you up 2 days from now at sunrise”
“Ok”
“Pack only what you need, nothing more, we don’t need extra weight slowing us down”
With that the girl turned and walked out of the main room.

One of the leader Tidemakers (Or it looked like one of the leaders, they had a commanding edge to their step), walked forward towards Kaz.
“Next time you come back in 2 days time, bring the money. We want all 200,000 up front”
“No”
As soon as the words left his mouth Kaz felt all the air in his lungs leave, cutting off his oxygen supply.
“What didn you just say?”
“I’ll pay you 150,000 up front, but the last 50,000 up using as insurance for my crew. So if your girl gets one of my own hurt or dead, it’ll be on you”

The grip on his lungs was released, Kaz gasped.
“You sure are a Barrel Boss Brekker” A Tidemaker said as Kaz turned to leave
“Born and raised”

As he walked down the stairs Kaz worked out the last small detail in his plan. He knew he’d need another Grisha, since Nina’s powers weren’t exactly ‘normal Grisha’ and especially having a Tidemaker would be useful.

But the one thing he wasn’t sure about, was if the girl would fit in with his crew. Sure they were a rowdy bunch, but they didn’t normally trust strangers.
Kaz didn’t like taking chances, but he really didn’t have a choice on this one.

It wasn’t dark enough for a sunset yet, but the sun hung yellow and low in the sky, sending small ribbons of gold into the blue sky between the musty gray of the clouds. If there was one beautiful thing Kaz liked, it was the sun before it disappeared.

Before Ketterdam swallowed him and spat out a different monster in his skin, when him and Jordie still lived on the farm. They’d go out into the fields to lie down and watch the sun grow heavy in the sky, finally disappearing to leave traces of its beauty as small streaks of colour in the midnight blue sky.

Kaz missed those moments, when life was easy, when he didn’t have to put up walls.
Stop being all soft Brekker, you’re here now, what will being soft get you in the Barrel? A punch in the face, being left bloodied and beaten, left to die in a dark alley.

Kaz pushed the thoughts out of his head, focusing on the steady beat of his cane on the bricks beneath him as he made his way back to the Slat.

Brick. By. Brick.

Chapter Text

Kaz found Inej in her room when he came back to the slat.
“You didn’t follow me this time”
“I did what you told me to do, besides, there was some stuff I had to deal with that couldn’t be left to the last minute”

Kaz had known Inej for a while, he knew something wasn’t right. Even though she put up a good face, he could just make out tear streaks on her cheeks, the slight red and puffiness in her eyes, and how she looked like she wanted to curl in on herself. He noticed everything about her.

“What happened Inej”

She rubbed her thumb over where her Menagerie tattoo had been.

No

He knew what she was about to say before the words left her mouth

“Tante Heleen was there, she’s taken over Pekka’s work”

Kaz could feel his muscles clenching. He squared his jaw and stood up from his spot next to Inej.
“Kaz no”
“You know you can’t stop me”
“I know, but I’m asking you to stay, we don’t need to throw your whole plan out the window”
“I don’t care”
“I do”

Kaz didn’t like feelings, or the fact of feeling things at all, but he needed to know
“Did she hurt you Inej?”
“No, I took care of her”

That made Kaz able to relax a small bit
“Good”

He turned and was about to leave when Inej grabbed the cuff of his suit.
Kaz was thankful she didn’t actually touch him, he wasn’t sure if he could deal with much more today.
“Wait”

He turned around.
“What if she had hurt me?”

Kaz remembered the day he had rescued her from Van Eck. She had asked him a similar question. He couldn’t blame her though, because of who he was, what he’d done, the things he’d sacrificed.

“I would've killed everything she loved. I would’ve destroyed everything she valued. I would make her life a living hell. Then,-”
He paused thinking carefully about his next choice of words. But there was only one thing her could think of to say.

“I would’ve made it a death no one in Ketterdam would ever forget”

And with that he left her room.

It wasn’t that he was ashamed that he worried about her, it was never that. In his particular line of work, you couldn’t afford weaknesses, ever, A glance could end you, Kaz had learned that the hard way.

It wouldn’t happen again.

Kaz woke with the pain in his knee blazing hot.
“Shit”

He really didn’t need this today.
Since the team was going to meet at a place of Nina’s pick, they were going to Ketterdam Waffle House. They even knew Nina and Jesper by name there.
Kaz was surprised how many waffles could be eaten by one person, it was a lot.

When he reached Inej’s room she was already gone.
He know he should’ve said something last night, but he didn’t, and it was too late to fix that.
He shrugged on his suit coat, straightened his tie and put on his gloves. He was relieved at the familiar feel around his hands.
On his way out he grabbed his cane, today was not going in his favor, but maybe the others would bring good news.

Ketterdam was in its cooler season, not cold enough to snow, but cold enough that most of the people Kaz passed wore coats and boots. Some of the better off men and women wore fur hats and scarfs as well.

By the time he made it to the front of the Waffle house, Kaz had pocketed two watches, one pretty necklace, four rings and a fur hat.
He decided to give the fur hat to Nina. No one in the dregs, let alone the barrel would ever wear something as extravagant as that hat. But Nina wasn’t one for modesty, and he knew she’d wear it to show it off the whole winter.

Not that he cared.

As he predicted, everyone was already there. Wylan had a particularly bad bed-head, which was covered by a red and yellow knitted hat and what looked like pajamas under his grey coat, Jesper, in red corduroy pants, and a yellow shirt to match Wylan’s hat and a light blue jacket lined with red dyed fur.

“That’s a look” Kaz muttered under his breath as he entered.
“What did you say Kaz?”
Shit, he hadn’t meant to say it that loud.
“He was just complimenting your incredible fashion sense Jes” Inej smiled
Kaz was thankful she seemed ok, or at least pretended to be ok.

Inej was dressed in her usual attire, except for the small leather gloves that covered her hands.
Kaz knew those gloves.

He’d given them to her as an early Christmas present one year.

“Why Kaz?”
He’d wanted to tell her, they’ll keep you warm in the winter, you’ll need them. I wanted to give them to you.
Instead he’d said, “My Wraith can’t take the winter off, and unless you have a good pair of gloves, you’ll use these”

They’d fit her perfectly.

They were a dark brown leather, a few tones darker than her skin. It was nice to know she put them to good use.

Matthias, as always, was the Fjerdan soldier on the outside.
“You people have no tolerance to the cold” He’d told them on many occasions.
“Maybe we just want someone warm to snuggle up with” Nina had teased. Matthias had gone off about how that kind of language wasn’t appropriate Fjerdan woman culture, and Nina had proceeded to whack him over the head.

Nina however, was wearing the most extravagant ‘winter’ outfit Kaz had even seen in his life. Dressed in a cherry red dress with embroidery on the bottom, black heeled boots, and a black hip length coat embroidered with the same pattern as the bottom of her dress, but with the added fur lining. To top it all off, she wore a giant fur muff around her hands.

“Nina dear, I think you’ll be needing this” Kaz took the large fur hat out from behind his back.
Nina gasped, “Thank you Kaz! It’s so splendid! I’ll be sure to wear it wherever I go!”

“It was no trouble, I picked it up on the way here”

“And you didn’t think to get any of us something?!” Jesper pouted.

“Haha, maybe I’m just special” Nina teased as she stuck out her tongue.

Kaz cast a glance at Inej, she nodded her head slightly, telling him she applauded his kick at kindness, but kindness didn’t get you anywhere in the Barrel.

“Did you all get everything I asked you to get done done?”

They all nodded.

“Well, there’s some preparations I have to get done before tomorrow so I won’t be able to stick around, but lunch is on me”

He slid a 50 kruge bill onto the table.

“Meet me in Fifth harbour tomorrow morning at sunrise”
And with that he was out the door, back into the snowy streets of Ketterdam.