a small pre-canon and post-canon fic re. kaz being a teacher of some sort! tw for mentions of killing and well, all that canon era stuff
The first time Kaz asked to see her was the day she moved into the Slat.
Inej didn’t know what she’d expected, honestly. Kaz Brekker would rest when he was dead, and he expected all of his subordinates to do the same. Inej was a part of the Dregs now, and she’d have to get used to this, she supposed.
A girl with short, dirty-blonde hair had come to her room earlier and said that “the boss requested her presence,” or whatever that meant. The girl looked barely older than Inej was. Nodding, Inej followed the girl up the stairs to the very top floor of the Slat. How on Earth did Kaz get up there, anyway? Didn’t he have a lame leg?
Then again, Inej had learned not to box people into a specific category. Kaz Brekker, whose name was practically shrouded in infamy, had taken the time and effort to save her from the Menagerie. Sometimes, a book’s cover hardly ever gave away any details about the contents inside.
Kaz Brekker was and would always be a mystery to Inej; she was sure of it.
Kaz nodded towards the short-haired girl when the two of them appeared in the doorway of his office. “Go check on the Club, Anika,” Kaz said. Even though she’d already been acquainted with Kaz for a while now, Inej was still occasionally taken aback by the gnarly rasp of Kaz’s voice.
“Got it, boss,” Anika said, and she patted Inej on the shoulder before leaving.
“What did you call me here for?” Inej asked, stepping over the threshold and into Kaz’s closet-sized excuse of an office.
“Cutting straight to the chase, I see,” Kaz said. “Take a seat, Inej.”
Inej raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest, wordlessly asking a question. Kaz gestured towards the chair in front of his desk; Inej sat.
“If you want to survive in the Barrel, you’ll need to learn to fight,” Kaz proclaimed, his eyes looking into Inej’s. He rummaged through one of his many drawers and pulled out a knife, sliding it over the desk. “I’ll also teach you to pick locks, of course, and how to pick a pocket like nobody’s business. Jesper- do you know Jesper? He’ll help.”
Inej glanced down at the knife on the table.
This wasn’t the life she’d wanted to lead- far from it, even- but all her pre-made plans had gone out the window the second the slavers had kidnapped her that fateful afternoon in Os Kervo. Delicately, she picked the knife up by its ornate hilt and held it up to the light, reveling in the way the blade glinted. She took a deep breath.
“When do we start?” Inej asked, tucking the knife into her belt. Kaz looked at her with a glint of approval in those obsidian black eyes of his and brought out a simple combination lock from his pocket, throwing it onto the table with a clatter.
Kaz was a good teacher. Inej had known that since her early days at the Slat, when he’d taught her how to plant bunk biscuits and slip through windows unnoticed. She watched from the doorway of his office as Kaz instructed one of their newest recruits, a young girl they’d found wandering alone by the docks.
“No, higher,” Kaz said. “You want to aim straight for the chest.”
“But Inej always says not to!” Viktoria protested. “She says to disarm them first.”
Inej fought the urge to laugh when she saw Kaz’s expression twist slightly. “Well, I say to go for the chest,” he said calmly, prodding the training dummy’s chest with the tip of his cane. “It’s safer that way. Inej is far more experienced than you are, which is why she can take the liberty to avoid the chest.”
Viktoria nodded dutifully and stabbed quickly at the dummy, leaving a neat incision just above its heart. “Good,” Kaz said, and Inej saw the same glint of approval in his eyes that he’d given her all those years ago. “Now try again, but a little lower.”
“Stop corrupting her, Kaz,” Inej interrupted, making her presence known.
“Hello to you too, Inej,” Kaz sighed, as Viktoria dropped her knife and barrelled at Inej for a hug. Contrary to popular belief, Kaz Brekker didn’t run an orphanage. However, given how Kaz had recruited a large number of children to join his gang, it seemed so.
“Jesper came over,” Inej said. “He’s teaching the kids to pick locks. Vicky, do you-?”
“I already know how to,” Viktoria said proudly. “Kazzy taught me!”
Kaz flushed. “It’s Kaz,” he said icily, glaring daggers at the girl. Viktoria pretended not to notice, a mischievous smile on her face.
“I can do Schuyler locks, normal combination ones, and normal ones that open with keys,” Viktoria rattled on, counting off her fingers and grinning.
“Then you can go and help Jesper teach the others,” Kaz said. “Klaus needs a lot of help, Vicky.”
Viktoria nodded and ran off, her boots scarcely connecting with the floor. Inej smirked at Kaz, a teasing expression on her face. “Kazzy, huh?” she asked, watching as Kaz’s face turned a deep shade of magenta.
“Not a word of this to anyone,” Kaz said firmly. “You hear me, Inej? Not a word.”
“Of course, Kazzy,” Inej teased, running out of the room before Kaz could reprimand her.
(Inej thought that she might have solved the mystery of Kaz Brekker’s existence. He was just as human as she was, and she loved him for that.)