Kaz leaned forward over the desk crowded with papers, letting his head fall into his hands. Too much work, too much boring work, he thought. There hadn't been a chance to get out of the office in days and even then paper work had been piling up until the stack was taller than Jesper's ego. Kaz let out a sigh and brushed his hands over his head until they rested against his neck. If he focused hard enough he could ignore the bustle of the club outside his office door, except he was having a hard time ignoring the persistent knocking.
"Do you ever answer your damn door?"
"Do you ever not find a need to pester me," Kaz countered back.
Jesper was smirking when Kaz lifted his head. The golden boy was leaning against the door way, a hat crooked on his head and gun twirling between his fingers. Behind him, the club was bustling with life. Cards were flying from tables and drinks falling into hands, but all Kaz cared about was the gun twirling on Jesper's finger.
"Have a good nap," Jesper snickered.
"Where'd you get that," Kaz asked a tone of demand in his voice. It wasn't one he recognized, although Jesper did have a wide extent of fashionable guns. But this one was plated with gold and teal gems. It wasn't like anything Kaz had ever seen before.
Jesper smiled. "What this?" The gun stopped spinning and Jesper held it up elegantly so Kaz could see it in full view. Jesper stepped away from the door and pushed it close with his foot. "Collateral from a certain businessman seeking your services," Jesper answered.
Kaz's eyebrows shot up. "I see."
A smirk crept up Jesper's face. "He was very persistent to speak with you, even willing to give up his precious jewel to make that happen." Jesper stared at the gun as if he had never seen anything more beautiful. Kaz had only seen that look twice, the first when Jesper got his first gun and the second was when he met Wylan.
"And did you set up an appointment?"
"Tomorrow at noon." Jesper placed the gun in Kaz's waiting hand. The metal was delight and warm under his fingers as if it had just been crafted. Coloured gems outlined the trigger and travelled all the way up the barrel; a true masterpiece.
"Oh but Jesper," Kaz clicked his tongue as Jesper eagerly awaited having the gun back in his possession. "You know noon is my busy time. I guess we'll have to reschedule and hang on to this a little longer."
Jesper chuckled. "If you say so boss."
Kaz reluctantly handed the gun back to Jesper. "Now is that all?"
Jesper looked like he was about to answer, but then he hesitated, the gun forgotten in his hand. He stared out the window as if he was working up the courage to say something. Maybe he was?
"We're worried about you," Jesper muttered, keeping his eyes drawn to the street outside. Kaz ignored Jesper's comment; it was a stupid comment anyway. There was no need to be worried about him when they could spend their time in much better ways like racking up sales in the club. It was a just a stupid, stupid comment. "I'm serious Kaz."
Kaz snapped his head up. He had been distracting himself with paperwork, but Jesper was over stepping the line. "And who decided it's appropriate to concern yourselves with my being?"
Jesper sucked in a breath. Suddenly the air in the office was so tense it could be cut with a knife. "Kaz…."
Kaz stood towering over the stacks of paper, the expression of a madman written on his face. It was the kind of face he made when he was ready to kill. "It is not your place. It is not anyone's place!"
"Except Inej?" The air was practically fuming around Kaz's head. "She's been gone for a week Kaz, and you haven't said anything about it."
"And that's not my place!"
"Don't act like I'm oblivious, Kaz. She makes you a better man and she's not here."
"Admit it Kaz!"
"Kaz?" They both froze, the room ringing with silence as the door crept open. Both of them stood facing each other in the office. Kaz was leaning over the desk, his face scarlet while Jesper had his arms crossed. Wylan inched into the room, wondering if it would be better to run.
Kaz glared at Wylan through his eyelashes. "What, Wylan?"
"Maybe it's a bad time," Wylan muttered.
"What do you want," Kaz demanded.
"Uh- there's a man – uh here to see you."
"Send him away; I'm in the middle of something."
Jesper shook his head steadily. "No I think we're done here."
Kaz sucked in a breath to keep from exploding. The smirk was dull, but it was there, for Jesper knew Kaz wouldn't do anything in front of Wylan. When they were alone it was different, but now they had an audience. "We are not done," Kaz did his best to keep his tone neutral.
"You know what I have to go." Jesper turned to go knowing Kaz was shooting daggers into his back. He paused at the door looking Wylan up and down. He was flustered, his curly hair in a mess on top of his head. Jesper trailed a finger up Wylan's arm. "I have business to attend to."
Wylan's eyes grew as large as the moon, gulping. Kaz glared as Jesper disappeared and Wylan made a fumbling exit. When they were gone and Kaz was alone again he slumped against the chair wanting to push the entire conversation out of his head. Maybe Jesper was right, but Kaz didn't care nor did he want to deal with it now. He'd rather rip out someone's eyeballs then talk about his goddamn emotions with Jesper.
So what Inej has been gone for a bit? It's good for her, she deserves better than this, Kaz thought. But it wasn't anyone's place, certainty not Jesper's, to tell him what she was to him. She was who she was and nothing more. She couldn't ever be anything more. Could she?
The sun was already hidden behind the buildings by the time Kaz made his way upstairs. Usually he would entertain himself with a round of cards and alcohol, but today it that was the last thing he wanted. Right now, all Kaz could focus on was getting upstairs and getting sleep. Maybe sleep would be able to drown out his endless thoughts. No matter what he tried Jesper's words ringed in his head. Just a stupid, stupid comment…
Before even stepping into his room Kaz knew something was off. The air was unusually cold due to the open window. But Kaz hadn't left the window open. He drew the gun from his waistband and crept cautiously across the room, the gun held ready to fire. The latch on the window wasn't broken; it hadn't been opened from the outside. Someone had been in here. Someone had been in his room.
Kaz tightened the grip on his gun, checking every dark corner as he saw them. But the room felt empty, surely he would know if someone was here, but then again someone managed to sneak past the guards and get up to his room for what, to open the window? There didn't appear to be anything missing. All his truly valuable things Kaz kept on him. Why did someone come up here, he wondered sweeping the room with his eyes once more before going to close the window, and then he saw her.
She sat with one knee up against her chest, the other dangling off the side of the roof. A dark braid coiled down her back and while Kaz couldn't see her face he knew instantly who it was. "Inej?"
Inej turned to look at him a gentle smile played her lips. Her cheeks were flushed, maybe from the cold, or maybe from seeing him. Kaz hopped it was the latter. "Kaz?"
It sacred him more than anything else Kaz could imagine. It scared him more than the thought of losing the gang or dying; what his name on her lips could do to him. It made his cheeks flush and his muscles tense. It made his breathe catch and his skin tingle. When she said his name it made him feel alive, yet he knew it was wrong how he felt since he couldn't have her, not in the way she needed him.
"Kaz?" He hadn't realized she'd been talking.
"Yeah," he breathed, pretending he hadn't just been solely thinking about her.
"I asked if you wanted to come join me."
Kaz nodded, aliening his cane on the window ledge so he could get up on the roof with his bad leg. The chilly wind grazed his skin as he stepped out onto the roof. Inej still had her back to him, her braid was dancing in the wind and he could see little puffs of her breath in the cold air.
"How have you been," he asked as he came up next to her on the ledge looking out over the city. It was one of the best views of Ketterdam, Kaz thought. He could see why she liked it so much up here.
"Since when do we do formalities?"
Kaz smirked to himself him glanced down at Inej. She was looking up at him. Her eyes wide and curious like they always were. She was smiling up at him, no teeth, just a small upturn of her lips, but the message was the same. He smiled back. Inej turned back to the city and stared at the tall buildings and surrounding ocean that stretched to the horizon. Kaz adjusted his cane again and knelt down against the roof, stifling a grunt of pain, but obviously not well enough. Inej snapped her head to him, concern written all across her face. She always knew.
"Does it hurt?"
Kaz shrugged, brushing it off.
"It's nothing I can't handle."
Inej starred at him, but he refused to give in to her solemn stare. She lifted her hand ever so slightly and braced it over his bad leg, just at his knee. "Can I?"
No, Kaz thought, but he didn't say that. In fact he didn't say anything and instead just held her gaze, almost daring her to make a move. And she did. Inej laid her hand on his knee as light as a feather. Kaz grimaced. It wasn't skin connect but he still didn't like it. She looked to him but didn't move her hand. Slowly, his muscles started to un-tense.
"Are you taking that medicine?"
Kaz grumbled, "I'm fine."
"It would help with the pain."
Kaz moved away so Inej had to move her hand. She looked hurt for a short moment before her face was stone again. "Its fine, Inej." The silence danced between them as she held his gaze, this time her daring him to make a move. He didn't so she turned back to the city, staring intently on the horizon where the last remaining sun was disappearing. Her breath caught in cloud's against her lips and he ached to say something, anything. "How are your parents?"
The corners of her lips turned up in small smile. "They're good." She looked to him but he kept his eyes on the sky. "I'm happy to have them back."
"That's good," Kaz muttered. "You should be happy."
Kaz heard her suck in a breath. "Kaz."
"Do they like the city?"
The silence stretched on and when he glanced back to her she had her lips pursed. "No as much as home."
Inej was staring. He knew she knew what he was doing, he was avoiding the thing he didn't want to talk about. Hopefully she wouldn't make him, but it looked like she would. "You gave them money," she whispered.
Kaz nodded. "Was it enough?"
"Kaz," Inej laughed. Of all things she found this humorous."You use your own money to get them here and now you're paying for their new life."
"I take it the money was enough then?"
"More than enough, Kaz, but you don't need to do this."
I guess she was going to make him talk about it. "Yes I do."
"I can provide for them, they're my parents. I don't want to be in your debt."
"You're not in my debt!" Inej blinked her dark eyes. "You never will be, so why can't you just let me do this for you."
"Because it makes you happy," Inej's breath hitched ever so slightly. "They make you happy and you deserve to be happy. You deserve all the happiness I can give you and this is the only way I know how. "
"Kaz," Inej whispered.
"This is me trying, I'm trying for you."
Inej pursed her lips again and looked back over the ocean. It took everything in him not to get up and walk away. It would be so easy to walk away from his problems; to disappear. But he could never do that to her. He could never leave her.
Kaz hated that she wasn't talking, hated that her silence was scaring him so much. That was until a smile started to spread across her face. And she started giggling. It was purest, cutest sound Kaz had ever heard. She rarely ever laughed, truly laughed.
"You're trying for me," she whispered between giggles. "You brought my parents all the way over here just to show me you care."
Kaz chuckled, feeling light hearted. "Yeah, yeah I did."
She was looking at him so intently he feared her eyes would be stuck on him forever, and he would be okay with that. "You deserve more than I give you, Inej."
"No," she shook her head. "No I don't. I've done bad things, Kaz."
"Not always by choice."
"It was my choice to join up, I chose this life. But what you can give me, it's more than enough."
She smiled so wide he thought his heart my shatter into a million unfixable pieces. "You go so far for the people you love, do you think about yourself?"
He knew it was shock, but something about her comment made him think. Did that mean he loved her? It made sense, didn't it? But how could someone love anyone without even ever touching them. Sure they had touched before, but only small brushes of fingertips. He'd never brushed the hair away from her check or placed his lips on hers.
"I do," he answered solemnly. He watched her giggle and lean back against the roof top. She looked so beautiful framed in the dying sunlight. Without thinking about it Kaz pulled off the glove on his right hand and reached his fingertips up to check where a stray piece of hair was dancing across her skin. He moved fast so that he couldn't stop himself until his skin was brushed against hers. It was lightening shooks through his body, the repulse and desire so evenly mixed Kaz couldn't imagine a feeling anything like it. Inej was holding her breathe and so was he, staring the place on her cheek where the tips of his fingers rested. Slowly, he moved them upward to brush away her dark hair to reveal even dark eyes. She is so beautiful, he thought. Inej let out the gentle breath, fumbling for words as he withdrew his hand.
"I- I wanted to invite you to dinner, dinner with my parents."
Kaz smiled, "You want to invite me to dinner?"
Inej countered back, "That is what I said." She was still smiling.
"I'll be there."
It happened so quick he barely noticed when Inej grabbed his hand. Hers was warm and delicate in his and for a moment it was nice and peaceful before the realized kicked in. "Inej." He was sweating, and his nerves running so high he feared he might fall off the roof. It started out okay until all that he could feel was wet, dead skin against his and the ocean salt drowning out the air in his lungs. She withdrew he hand quickly, staring at him intently. He shoved his bare hand deep in his pocket, shoulders hunched.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
His breathing evened and his vision cleared until he could see the buildings in front of him again.
"Sorry," Inej whispered but didn't say anything more. So they sat like that like, his fingertips still sparking from her touch, watching the dying sunlight cast shadows for Ketterdam.