An Unplanned Future
She's still as death when she sleeps now, so still he has to feel her pulse to be completely certain she still breathes. The fact that he touches her wrist now so easily is a testament to the years of agony they went through to learn how to touch without wincing.
He feels the slow thrum of her heartbeat and then gently trails his finger up her arm, marveling at how soft her skin is. He doesn't miss her lips slightly turning up or the little creases appearing at the corner of her eyes, but he pretends to. He plants a light kiss on her shoulder before turning away to get out of bed.
Just as he thought, seconds after moving away Inej speaks up. "Why'd you stop?" He pauses his motion as she turns onto her back to look at him with a raised brow.
"I do have things to do today, Captain; you can't keep me abed all day." They both know his words are lies, especially when he leans toward her and kisses her shoulder again and continues his way up her neck to behind her ear. Inej only allows his soft kisses for a moment before she gets greedy and turns her face to capture his lips with her own.
Her hands run through his hair as she deftly rolls her body on top of his. Kaz makes a low noise in the back of his throat which never ceases to make Inej press herself closer to him. His hands roam down her back as their kiss deepens. Inej is still greedy he realizes when her hands go much lower than his just had, but Kaz knows that she's leaving tonight and he plans to take his time this morning. He flips their positions just as skillfully as she had and pins her hand next to her head.
"Kaz," she sighs, almost in annoyance at the disuse of her hands.
He smirks in response and moves his lips down her body, she squirms when he reaches her sternum, which only makes his smile grow.
"I love this, Inej," he kisses her skin. "Your responses to me, how soft your skin is, being able to touch you without negative effects, being able to lay in bed with you all day, all of it, all of you." His lips continue their journey but pause when she touches his cheek. His eyes meet hers.
"That might be the most romantic thing you've ever said, are you feeling alright today?" She's only half joking.
"Oh, I have a feeling we're both about to feel a lot better," he responds before resuming his actions.
She hates lying to him. It's been over ten years since they told each other all their leftover secrets and she hasn't kept a single thing from him until now and the feeling doesn't sit right.
She's known for two months, she's had every opportunity to tell him and yet something holds her back. Is it because she knew then that she'd be leaving on this next voyage, that she'd have another three months to figure out how to tell him? Is it that she doesn't know how he'll take the news? Is it both reasons or another entirely? She doesn't know and it makes her stomach churn as she boards her ship.
They'd spent the day together, only leaving the house a couple hours ago to get dinner before saying their goodbyes. They didn't normally say 'I love you' but she did this time, adding 'no matter what,' before squeezing his hand and walking away. It left Kaz perplexed, but not enough to worry him and he meandered to the Slat feeling only a slight loneliness.
Inej and her crew head out to sea. She had a tip that Zane Harnell – a slaver that had eluded her for years – was near the coast of Novyi Zem and that's where she steered The Wraith.
She stared back at Ketterdam until it was no longer visible on the horizon. Hoping beyond hope that Kaz would forgive her when she got back.
Three months later, The Wraith docks at berth twenty two. The crew works for over an hour getting the ship ready for an extended stay in port, before they all head into the city for celebratory drinks – Zane Harnell was now sleeping with the fishes and his slaves had been returned to their homes.
Inej is hugged by most of her crew before she makes her way home. Her stomach is in knots, her heart racing, but sooner than she'd like the Slat comes into view. She walks two doors down and quietly let's herself into the townhouse Kaz and her secretly bought four years before. Not a single soul notices her – just as she wished.
The house is quiet and dark which surprises the captain. Kaz always knew when her ship was coming in and had always been waiting for her at home when she walked in the door. Something must have come up suddenly, she thinks as she makes her way up the stairs to their room.
Inej is uncomfortably hot so she strips down to her underclothes and sits on the bed. She wants to wait up for him but before she's even consciously aware of the act, her head hits her pillow and sleep claims her.
Kaz hurries up the stairs, grudgingly pleased with the work Genya Safin had done on his leg two years ago that allowed him to truly hurry up stairs. He hadn't wanted his leg healed but age and his physical career had finally rendered his leg a liability. Inej's threats of knocking him out to have it fixed without his consent played a part in his choice as well, but he won't admit that out loud. At the top of the landing he turns left and opens the bedroom door before freezing in place.
Inej is lying on her back above their bedcovers, her hands resting above her very round, very pregnant belly. He's never been this shocked in his thirty two years of life – his mind feels like it's filled with static and he can't feel his body anymore.
She hears him open the door and smiles at him before realizing her mistake.
"Kaz," she says as she gets out of bed as quickly as she can. "I'm so sorry; I meant to be awake when you got home. I can explain everything, please, please don't be mad." She reaches him but before she can touch him, Kaz collapses to his knees. The action scares Inej – he never falters – and she falls to her own knees before him.
"Kaz, Kaz, look at me," she holds his face in her hands, praying his glazed eyes focus on her. "Kaz, talk to me, you need to talk to me so I can help you." Her voice is shrill enough that it finally rouses his mind.
"How long have you known," he whispers.
The question hits her like a gut punch and her eyes lower to the floor. "Five months," she replies.
Kaz's eyes close as he lets out a deep breath. He holds her wrists in his hands but doesn't move her own from his face. "And you didn't think I'd react well to the news did you? That's why you didn't tell me?"
"That was only one reason of many. Come sit down with me and I'll tell you the rest." Inej stands and pulls Kaz up with her; she leads them to the bed where they both take a seat.
Kaz cannot form a rational thought, it's like his head is full of gnats, buzzing around without any clear purpose. Inej notices his distress and starts talking.
"This had to have happened after I got back from my last trip. I never take the pregnancy tonic when I'm at sea because it's too hard to store and I did forget to start taking it again for about a week when I got back. I thought the chances of getting pregnant in a week were too low to even worry about it, until I started to stumble." Kaz looks her in the eye at that, worry he only ever let's her see in his eyes.
"You had sent me to look into the Razorgulls newest accountant and I almost fell off a roof on my way there. Then, the next day on my way to check on The Wraith I tripped on flat ground and I started to feel dizzy and out of sorts so I went to a healer – a grisha healer.
"She didn't even need to touch me before she told me the news; I almost fainted. She gave me some tea, told me to stop taking the tonic, and told me to come back and see her a month later." Inej pauses to take a few deep breaths; she gets short of breath far too easily these days.
Kaz absorbs her words and slowly his mind starts making sense again. "So, you're six months along? How much longer before the baby comes?" He laughs then and Inej stares at him. "I know a lot about most things, Inej, but you've seemed to have found the one thing completely out of my realm of expertise." He covers his face with a hand.
"Kaz, this is out of my know-how as well. I only know what they healer has told me, I couldn't bear to do research unless we do it together. That is, if you want this, Kaz." She takes another deep breath, takes his free hand. "I know we've never talked about children, I never even thought about it until I found out. I'm keeping them Kaz, I think that's obvious, but if you don't want this you need to tell me now and I'll go. I'll go back to Ravka, have my base there and you won't need to think about any of this again, it would kill a part of me to do it, but I will if that's what you need. I need to know what you're thinking." She turns to face him and finds his eyes closed and his breaths shallow.
"Them?" he chokes out.
Inej chuckles, "You focus on that over everything else I said? Yes, them, twins. I don't know the sexes; I want it to be a surprise. The healer thinks they'll come early based on how small I am, so maybe another twelve weeks. Keep talking Kaz."
He opens his eyes and looks at her stomach. He had never, not once, thought about having children of his own, they were a liability, a distraction. He liked Jesper and Wylan's adopted boys enough, but he didn't think he'd ever have a son of his own. He looks Inej in the eye.
"I don't know what to think, Inej. This is the most surprised I've ever been my whole life and I think I'm feeling scared."
"I'm scared too, that's normal, but do you want to have kids?"
"I honestly don't know about having kids, Inej. They're so easy for an enemy to use against a parent – we both remember Pekka's boy and the threat I made against him – but I do know with absolute certainty that I can't lose you. So, I suppose we better start making a plan."
Inej's smile makes his heart clench. "You mean it?"
"Of course, and the first thing we need to do is get you out of this saint's forsaken city. You and I are the only ones that know about the farm, so that's where you'll go. I'll have everything we need sent to Jesper and Wylan's, and then we'll load it onto The Wraith and set sail. You'll need to make a list for me." Kaz stands and Inej follows him, grabbing his arm. She stares into his eyes.
"Kaz, I have no problem delivering the babies at the farm, but I am not leaving here until you can come with me. So, you need to get everything in order for an extended absence – at minimum six months – and we're going to Jesper and Wylan's for breakfast tomorrow so we can discuss details with them then. Please, just let this news soak in before you go crazy making plans." Inej gasps suddenly and starts massaging a spot on her stomach.
"What's wrong?" Kaz asks.
"Nothing is wrong. I got riled up and so did the baby on this side – I think this one might be a dancer someday with how much it likes to kick." She continues touching the right side of her belly, a tenderness on her face that Kaz has never seen before.
"Can I feel it?" He truly doesn't know if he'd be able to and Inej is elated he even takes an interest.
"Of course you can," she grabs one of his hands and places it where the baby continues to kick.
Kaz looks almost affronted at the small kick which makes Inej laugh. "They do this a lot?"
"That one does, the other one is much more serene, but it's healthy and even normal for one twin to be more extroverted than the other – at least that's what the healers have said."
His hand hasn't moved from her body, "Healers?"
"We stopped in Ravka to return some kids home and I met up with my parents, I told them the news. My mother made me see a midwife that travels with their caravan – acrobats need some type of healer on hand. I've only seen her and the one here, whose name is Keira by the way. You have to be civil with her when we go to my next appointment."
"I will be," is all he says. He's staring at her abdomen again, almost in a trance. Inej watches his features and her eyes tear up. Her emotions have been all over the place lately and watching Kaz feel one of their babies kick and look amazed by it has her on the verge of weeping. She reaches up and pulls his face down to her level.
"I love you and I'm so sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I should have trusted your reaction more and I'm sorry, if it's any consolation I've been in agony keeping this from you and I won't keep secrets again, I promise."
"I forgive you, I'm not sure I would have trusted my reaction either, this is going to be the wildest thing we've ever done." He touches their foreheads together. "I hope they're both like you."
She smiles again before ardently pressing her lips to his.
They have a lot more to discuss, but Kaz is on a high after feeling the soft kick of one of his children against his hand and he can wait to talk about anything else.
*I finished Rule of Wolves and I didn't know how much I wanted a 'Kaz and Inej on the high seas looking for a lost relic' novel until now. I hope with all hope Leigh Bardugo writes that story. I can definitely see Inej and Kaz having kids, but only if the first one was unplanned. Kanej is one of my favorite ships ever and I've read a lot of book so that's saying something. I also think Kaz could 100% get over his touch aversion with the right help/therapy/mindset. He needs to open up a bit more and I want to see it! I'll probably write a second chapter to this, but I can't say when it will be up, work has been insane lately. Happy reading!