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angora48

How We Fit Together (Shadow and Bone - Jesper, m)

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angora48
Posted (edited)

Hello all! I enjoy Shadow and Bone on Netflix, but I love the Crows and I adore Jesper - this fic crept into my brain and decided to take up residence there until I got it all written down. I haven't read the books, so I'm going strictly off of the show and a bit of Googling for practical bits (geography, the names of types of Grisha, etc.) Apologies to book readers if Kaz feels off - I think the show gave me a strong impression of Jesper and Inej, but I get the sense that Kaz probably has quite a bit of internal stuff going on that I don't know about yet.

This story is set between episodes 4 and 5. Our major characters are as follows:

Jesper

Inej

Kaz

Here's Part 1. Hope you like it!

 

He was only half-awake, but Jesper could already tell he was getting a cold. As he lay on the overly-hard mattress in his room at the Os Alta inn where they were staying, his head buried in the lumpy pillow, Jesper was aware of a dull ache in the back of his throat and an unpleasant wetness around his nostrils. He sniffled, rubbed his nose, and tried an experimental swallow; the pain in his throat sharpened into a sting.

Jesper sighed. “Wodderful,” he grumbled, his voice coming out scratchy and congested. He rolled onto his back, sniffling again, and threw the blanket over his face in a succinct expression of his discontent.

He sneezed beneath the blanket, a heady “hihhhh-ehhhhhh-shuhhh!” into the coarse material. Groaning, Jesper poked his head out, tousling his wiry black curls with one hand as he groped about for his watch with the other.

Stifling a cough into his fist, Jesper consulted the watch: a little after 8. Now that he was slightly more awake, he noticed the many morning sounds around him – the groan of the floorboards as travelers milled about in neighboring rooms or traipsed down the staircase, the noise and bustle of people breakfasting in the pub below.

Well, he had to face the day sooner or later. With a manful sigh and another sniffle, Jesper dragged himself out of bed, somehow managing to get dressed and wash his face without giving up and collapsing back onto the mattress in a heap of exhausted self-pity. Holstering his ever-present revolvers at his side, he tucked his handkerchief into his sleeve, shrugged on his long coat, and stuck out his tongue at his sallow reflection in the mirror.

Downstairs, the pub was even noisier than it had seemed from his room, and Jesper navigated the morning mayhem more deftly than he’d have thought he could muster with such a cloudy head. A few barmaids were roaming about to see to the patrons’ orders, but Jesper, lacking the patience for that, headed straight to the bar.

“What’ll it be?” asked the distracted innkeeper, who was currently serving three men seated at the bar.

“A cup of tea,” Jesper told her, wrinkling his nose at how evident his cold was in his voice. “Toast with blueberry jab. Aa- add eggs….” He pulled out his handkerchief, catching a hard “huhhhhhh-chiiaahhhhhh!” in it.

The innkeeper topped up one of the guests with coffee. “How do you want your eggs?” she asked.

“Surprise be,” Jesper replied dully. While he waited, he surveyed the busy pub, rubbing his nose as he leaned against the bar. Whenever a job took them on the road, Inej was inevitably the first to rise. And sure enough, there she was, nestled in a booth in what looked like a quiet corner – ideal for plotting the kidnap of prophesied Grisha saints and, hopefully, ideal for providing a bit of relief for Jesper’s aching head.

So, as soon as the innkeeper set Jesper’s tea before him, he said, “I’ll be over there,” nodding toward the booth, and set off.

When he reached Inej, Jesper plunked himself down beside her. “Morning,” she said, taking in the scene around them in her quiet, watchful way. Jesper fully expected that Inej was aware of every point of egress in the pub and had ranked them all for ease-of-hasty-getaway in relation to their booth.

“Mbb,” Jesper mumbled in reply. He rested his head in his hand, grimacing as he took a swallow of his tea and that sharp pain bloomed in his throat again.

Inej hadn’t observed him for more than a few moments before she asked, “What has you looking so gloomy then?”

“I’be getting a cold,” Jesper told her.

“Ohh, dearest,” she crooned back in a gently-mocking tone. Inej wasn’t often ironic, but on the occasions that she was, it was usually in aid of teasing Jesper. He didn’t mind; he liked that he was the one to bring out her lighter side. Now, he heard the affection threaded into the jest, and he smiled despite himself.

“All right,” Inej went on with a long-suffering sort of fondness, “let’s hear it: all Jesper’s woes.”

Jesper took another sip of his tea and sniffled. “Sore throat,” he said. “Headache. Ruddy dose.” His nose started to itch again. “hnnhhhhh-SHHHHHH!” he sneezed, clapping a hand over his mouth.

“Sneezing,” Inej supplied for his list.

“Yes, of course, bustn’t forget the sdeezing,” Jesper griped, halfway between sarcastic and morose.

By the time Kaz arrived, the innkeeper had brought Jesper his breakfast, which his stuffed-up nose and sore throat took all the joy out of. Kaz, as usual, was all business and very nearly unrolled their recently-acquired blueprints on the table right as a barmaid was coming to see about his order.

“Word to the wise – bight be best dot to plad our heist of the Little Palace id full view of all the Easterders,” Jesper suggested innocently. Sniffling, he poked at his yolk with a knife and watched it bleed yellow onto the plate.

“Did you come up with something new after we turned in last night?” Inej asked, neatly side-stepping the annoyed look Kaz shot Jesper.

“Just a theory,” Kaz admitted. “I’ve been going over the plans, looking for possible intercept points for the Sun Summoner. Since they’re ‘unveiling’ her, as it were, at the winter fête, I’d imagine they plan to make a great show of her presentation before the guests. As such, it seems likely that they’d bring her to the ballroom by a back route, maybe even a servants’ corridor. I noted a few places where-”

“Uhhhhh-SHUHHHHHH!” Jesper sneezed, steepling his hands over his face. “ihhhh… hehhhhh-choooooo!”

“-they might bring her,” Kaz finished. He looked Jesper over critically. “What’s the matter with him?”

“Jesper’s a bit unwell,” Inej explained.

“A bit?!” Jesper protested, his voice cracking a little.

“He has a cold, and he feels very unhappy about it,” Inej elaborated.

Jesper considered this. “Accurate,” he conceded.

Kaz let out the sort of sigh that only Jesper could prompt in him. “Saints, Jesper, you had better not louse up this job….”

Now, Jesper was the first to admit he wasn’t an absolutely-perfect specimen of a human, and he wasn’t above being dressed-down when it was called for, but he didn’t see how this type of piling-on was necessary.

“Your codcerd for by health is touching,” he told Kaz archly. Sniffling yet again, he took out his handkerchief and dabbed at his nose gingerly. “Really, your cobpassion is like a big warb blanket, bakes be feel so soft add safe.”

“We’ve come too far to stumble at the threshold,” Kaz retorted. “We can’t afford for anything to go-- for anything more to go wrong.” No doubt he was recalling their harrowing trip through the Fold. 10-to-1 said he remembered Jesper showing up without quite as much coal as they needed for the journey but not Jesper saving them all when Volcra attacked the train. Typical.

Jesper would have reminded Kaz of this proof of his usefulness, but damn his nose, another tickle started to flare just as Jesper made to tuck his handkerchief away; he had to pull it straight out again. “ehhhhhh-SHOOOOO!”

Needless to say, this didn’t fill Kaz with confidence. “It’ll be fide,” Jesper told him. Once more for good measure, although Jesper didn’t know how convincing his stuffy nose was. “Fide.”

“The fête isn’t until the end of the week,” Inej pointed out as Kaz glared at Jesper for a long moment.

Kaz either conceded the point or decided he was too fed up to argue, because he glanced about to ensure their privacy and – more discreetly this time – unfurled the blueprints. “Now pay attention,” Kaz said, ostensibly to both of them but looking pointedly at Jesper. “Here’s what I think….”

Edited by angora48
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crazy_cat_girl

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE THIS!!!!

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PetalPunk

Following topic now, will read later. I also just finished Shadow and Bone on Netflix. I've never read the books, but my bff is obsessed with the books and introduced me to the show. I really enjoyed the show and I am anxiously awaiting the second season. I really enjoyed the cinematography and Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are my favs. 

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PetalPunk
On 6/7/2021 at 9:26 AM, angora48 said:

“He has a cold, and he feels very unhappy about it,” Inej elaborated.

That line made me laugh. 
me, not ever reading the books and only seeing/finishing the show over the weekend, would totally believe you’ve read the books too! I think your writing style fits this genre of a story well. I think you portrayed Kaz, Inej, and Jesper well. Really well done. I’m excited to read more. 

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angora48

Aw, thanks, @crazy_cat_girl - I'm glad you like it!

Thanks for the kind words, @PetalPunk. I appreciate the vote of confidence! 😉 Like you, I really enjoyed the show as a whole and absolutely love the Crows. It was really fun trying to capture their individual voices and the relationships between them, both as a unit and in their different pairs (Inej-Jesper, Kaz/Inej, and Jesper-Kaz.)

Part 2!

 

On any job, one of Kaz’s chief roles was to contemplate everything that might go wrong. The bigger the job, the higher the stakes, the more numerous the potential pitfalls. And this was undoubtedly the biggest job they’d ever had. It wasn’t just the mere fact of the prize – 1 million kruge – it was all they’d given up already in the hope of getting it. Kaz had offered up the Crow Club as collateral against Inej’s indentures, and now the club and her freedom rested on getting the job done.

The job in question? Breaking into the Little Palace and stealing this supposed Sun Summoner out from under General Kirigan himself. It was a near impossibility at best, suicidal at worst, and Kaz had brought Inej and Jesper into this. It was up to him to see that it all came off, to make sure everything went according to plan.

The difficulty was, things rarely went according to plan. No matter how Kaz plotted and prepared, they were inevitably faced with snags, complications, and disasters. Just getting across the Fold had been perilous enough, and now, they were making their preparations to infiltrate the heavily-fortified home of the Second Army. The slightest misstep could kill them all.

Five days until the winter fête. Five days to perfect the plan and come up with every possible contingency to course-correct when things fell to pieces. What if they were set upon by Heartrenders, what if Jesper didn’t make the rendezvous point, what if the Black General was personally guarding the Sun Summoner? Each a potential derailment, each needing to be accounted for in their turn.

What if Jesper gets ill? As a derailment, Kaz hated it. He refused to be undone by something so mundane. If the job was going to fall apart, Kaz at least wanted to be taken down by a Squaller, not his fellow Crow’s runny nose.

Jesper, of course, didn’t see it that way. He never did. He wasn’t one to think about how his distractions and mishaps and blunders affected Kaz and Inej, so he certainly wouldn’t think about this, which Kaz admitted wasn’t technically Jesper’s fault. So while Kaz’s mind was racing through scenarios and fallouts, it seemed Jesper’s only thoughts were on how much his throat hurt and how tired he felt.

Inej and Jesper had previously secured their “in” to the winter fête by joining up with a performing troupe that was scheduled for the entertainments, and later in the morning, Marko, the leader of the troupe, came and found them. “Right, you two!” he called to Jesper and Inej. “Time to rehearse.”

Inej traded a quiet look with Kaz, likely realizing that he wouldn’t want her and Jesper tied up too long so they could keep preparing for the heist. “Is that absolutely necessary?” she asked. “You’ve seen what we can do.”

“I’ve seen you do it once,” Marko replied. “An audition, nothing more! You want to play at the fête, you rehearse like the rest of us, hone your routines. And you’d better hope I like what I see.”

Kaz felt a muscle twitch in his jaw. They couldn’t lose their entry into the Little Palace. He glanced at Inej and gave a barely-perceptible nod. “Very well,” Inej said, rising to her feet. “I trust my skills will remain to your satisfaction.”

Jesper, though, stayed slumped in the booth, his arms folded moodily. “I cad’t rehearse,” he informed Marko, rubbing his nose with his finger.

Marko stiffened, and Kaz could tell the man didn’t take kindly to being contradicted. “What, not capable of a repeat performance?” he asked. “And here I thought you wanted to see the Sun Summoner.”

“I do,” Jesper insisted, “add I ab. Just dot today.” He gave a small gasp and, pulling out his handkerchief, stifled a hard “hhhhhh-shhhnnfff!”

Jesper was taller than Marko, but he didn’t look it when he was sitting down with his long limbs all folded in on themselves, and at any rate, Marko was considerably broader. Towering over Jesper, the troupe leader gave him a glower. “My troupe, my rules,” Marko pronounced, with the air of a man well-aware that the first toe allowed over the line will only invite more.

“Add I told you, I cad’t!” Jesper repeated. His voice cracked on the last word, and he cleared his throat, coughing a little into his fist. “I’be ill, all right? B- byyyy…” Cupping his hands over his mouth, he bent forward with a strong “huhhhhh-SHOOOO!” He stifled a groan, sniffling. “By head aches add by ears are plugged. If I try to do a barksbad act dow, I bight shoot Idej.”

Marko wavered at this, though he wasn’t ready to concede yet. “You could practice with blanks,” he noted.

Jesper did stand now, probably dangerously close to informing Marko that blanks “lacked poetry” and that one should never fire a gun if they weren’t prepared for the risk of blood. Using his cane, Kaz gave his friend a sharp whack on the knee, so Jesper let out a yelp instead of a smart remark.

“He and I could talk over our routine,” Inej suggested, her tone pacifying. “Plan it out so that, once he’s recovered, we can get to rehearsing it straightaway.”

Marko thought this over, carefully looking over both Jesper and Inej. “Very well,” he finally said, “but if he’s not well before the fête, he’s out.” This decided, he strode away.

“Come on,” Inej said, grabbing Jesper’s arm but including Kaz in her look. “We can discuss the job while I rehearse.”

They found an out-of-the-way spot for Inej to practice her aerial acrobatics and continued to talk over the details of the heist: what they knew, what they still needed to find out, what was likely to remain unknown until the night of the fête. What they needed and could procure ahead of time, what they needed and would have to acquire on the fly. Whenever Marko came poking his nose around, Inej would launch into a mid-sentence description of the various trick shooting Jesper would be performing at the Little Palace, and Kaz would prod Jesper to at least act as if he was listening.

Because all of this was largely on Kaz and Inej. They were the ones conjecturing and planning, and Inej was doing it in the air suspended on silks, upside-down half of the time. Jesper, meanwhile, alternated between sulking, complaining, and occasionally dozing, with only rare lapses into anything that constituted useful input.

Kaz quickly learned that Jesper had no more intention of performing Crow-related surreptitious errands that day than he did of rehearsing a sharpshooting act. “Kaz, I’be ill,” he plaintively noted when Kaz tried to get him to agree to a supply run, as if the constant sniffling could’ve possibly escaped Kaz’s attention.

“Last I checked, you’re also an allegedly-capable grown man,” Kaz retorted.

Jesper, lounging on some flour sacks that couldn’t be comfortable, argued, “Crow busidess beans stealth. This–” he gestured lazily to his face, sniffling, “–cad’t do stealth right dow. People are going to rebebber the haddsobe, sdeezing stranger. Why dod’t you get th- th- haahhhhh-CHIIOOOOO!” He sighed. “-The Codductor to do it?”

“No,” Kaz replied sharply. While Arken was technically a member of their party on this side of the Fold, he wasn’t one of them and there were plenty of details that Kaz didn’t care to share with their new acquaintance. Wherever possible, Kaz wanted to keep these matters Crows-only, letting the Conductor in solely on what Kaz chose to tell him.

“Well, I wod’t,” Jesper said, his tone just slightly petulant. “Hehhhh… ihhhhhh-CHUHHHHHH!” For the last half-hour, he’d stopped bothering to put his handkerchief away between his sneezes and sniffles, just kept it crumpled in his hand for ready use. He lifted it to his mouth to cover his sneeze, then wiped his nose.

A little later, Jesper fell into a short doze. Curled up atop the flour sacks (just looking at that awkward position gave Kaz a twinge in his leg,) soft congested snores started floating up from where he lay. Inej was taking a break, and Kaz stood beside her, frowning towards Jesper.

“I don’t like this,” Kaz muttered.

“We should be all right,” Inej offered. “We still have time. When Jesper gets ill, it usually hits him hard and fast but then burns out quickly.”

This was the sort of thing you noticed when you watched unobserved from the shadows, Kaz reminded himself. Inej brimmed with noticings about most people she came across. No reason for the quick pang of jealousy that flickered through his stomach.

But then Inej said, “Not like you,” her voice soft, and Kaz was suddenly seized by warring sensations: the comforting warmth of her knowing observation and the nakedness of having been caught in her gaze. What had she seen in him when he didn’t know she was looking?

“Oh?” he asked, taking a stab at an indifferent tone. A cautious approach, the stance of the untrusting. “And what am I like?”

“You never catch cold as badly as Jesper, but yours linger,” Inej remarked, “and you trudge around half-recovered for weeks.” Her words were nonchalant and she didn’t look at him as she spoke, instead letting her eyes fall on Jesper as he mumbled and sniffled in his sleep. Was this an allowance for something else she’d noticed, Kaz’s discomfort at anyone glimpsing his vulnerabilities?

Even without her eyes on him, Kaz felt frozen beneath a searchlight. He turned toward Jesper as well. The slumbering Crow gave his nose a clumsy swipe with the side of his hand. Kaz risked a glance back towards Inej and was buoyed by her softly-bemused smile.

“What about you?” Kaz asked. His voice was quiet but felt intrusive in the space between them.

Inej turned to him, a smile flickering in her eyes if not on her lips. “Maybe you need to watch more closely,” she suggested.

“Maybe,” Kaz agreed. He wasn’t sure if it was a gentle scold or a shy invitation.

Another short stretch of silence, apart from Jesper’s coughs, and then Inej said, “I’m not one to get ill in the middle of a mission or a job. It’s like my body knows I need it to hold out a bit longer, and so it waits to crash until the dust settles.”

It was a kindness. Kaz was sure now that Inej realized how little he liked the thought of her noticing what he was like when he was unwell, so she volunteered this admission to even things out between them.

Before Kaz figured out how he might acknowledge this fact, Jesper groaned loudly as he stretched himself awake. “Did I fall asleep?” he asked, his voice low and stuffy. “What did I biss? ahhh… hihhhh-SHAHHHHHH!”

And the moment between Kaz and Inej passed. She spared him one last look before she moved toward Jesper, who lay dejectedly on his back atop the flour sacks, sniffling. “Nothing we can’t fill you in on later,” she told Jesper. “It was hard to get much accomplished over your snoring.”

Jesper slowly rolled himself up to a sitting position. When he was tired or hungover or sulky, he had a way of moving his lanky frame as though he was somehow a marionette and his own puppeteer, both at once, and he did it now. Coughing into the back of his hand, he said, “I dod’t sdore.”

“And how would you know?” Inej challenged.

“I’ve dot had addy cobplaints,” Jesper parried back.

“Then clearly you don’t have guests in your bed when your nose is stuffed,” Inej replied.

Jesper made to answer but hitched himself into a sneeze instead, a hard “haaahhhhh-shiiuhhhhh!” into both hands. “Mbb,” he mumbled, keeping one hand over his nose as he plucked at the cuff of his sleeve and patted down his pockets. “Where’s by…?”

Inej reached down and picked up his handkerchief from where it had fallen onto one of the flour sacks. “Thadks,” Jesper said, looking up at her as she handed it to him. He slouched forward to blow his nose and she stood over him, lightly scratching his back.

Another pang in Kaz’s stomach. He knew he didn’t need to be jealous of them in that way – not a chance in a thousand years – but it still stirred something in him to see the ease of their affection with one another. How could it be so simple for some and feel so hard-fought for others?

“Really, though,” Jesper pestered Inej, clearing his throat, “what were you talking about without be?”

Inej looked across the room at Kaz for a moment. “I’d offer to catch you up,” she told Jesper, “but you’d have to pay attention, and that’s a tall enough order for you even on a good day.”

She met Kaz’s eyes once more, and he felt his shoulders relax. Inej’s private observations of him would remain just that: private. That was one less thing to worry about. Now there was just the small matter of everything else.

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angora48

Here's Part 3.

 

By evening, Jesper felt worn clean through. That was one thing he hated about being ill – he could do hardly anything all day and be left completely ragged. He still felt his usual bristling restlessness, but without the inexhaustible energy that usually accompanied it, it sapped him, and it was all he could do to keep his eyes from dropping closed.

The Conductor joined them for dinner – he apparently had other business in the city, so he came and went a lot, which seemed to suit Kaz just fine. Kaz tended towards tight-lipped anyway, and with Arken, he was downright stingy. Trying to follow the vague descriptions Kaz gave their new associate on their most recent heist-related progress was so confusing, Jesper thought it was making his headache worse.

“Wait, hold od,” Jesper said, rubbing his temples. “What was that about the courtyard? I thought you’d said that– ow!” As if his cold wasn’t already paining him enough, Kaz gave him a knock on the shin.

“What, is it your throat again?” Inej asked.

Jesper started to protest but, catching Inej’s warning look, said, “Yes – it really hurts.” He rubbed his throat, both to sell it and because his throat actually was hurting. Whatever Kaz’s reasons were for keeping things from Arken, Jesper was in too sorry a state to puzzle it over now.

“He looks very bad,” Arken noted, giving Jesper a once-over, which Jesper thought was awfully rude of him. It had already been established that, much like Kaz, any concern on Arken’s part was purely practical, not empathetic. Were it not for the impending kidnap of the Sun Summoner, the Conductor wouldn’t care at all how Jesper was feeling.

“I’be heartier thad I look,” Jesper told him, but the effect was somewhat spoiled by the fierce tickle that flared up in his nose. “hehhhhh-SHOOOOOO! ahhhhhh-chiiuhhhhhh!” He stifled a groan in his handkerchief.

“Let’s hope so,” Kaz groused.

Wiping his nose, Jesper swallowed a mouthful of tea. “Milo would care,” he remarked gloomily.

After the Conductor bid them good night, the three of them stayed for a while in the pub, but Inej shooed Jesper away when he started nodding off at the table. “You – bed,” she instructed, and she wouldn’t hear any arguments. At a certain point, knives outweigh reasoning, so Jesper had to concede, coughing as he trudged up the stairs.

As soon as Jesper’s head hit the pillow, though, he found himself in the unenviable position of being both bone tired and utterly awake. He didn’t know how the two states were meant to exist at once in the same body, but it was awful.

“hihhhhh-TSCHIUHHHHHH!” he sneezed, sniffling hard. He wanted to go back down to his friends, but he doubted either Kaz or Inej would allow it, and he was feeling too miserable to put up with getting rejected.

So he stayed, passing an uncomfortable night that featured plenty of tossing, turning, and sneezing. Jesper figured he must’ve slept at some point, otherwise morning would’ve found him so tired he couldn’t see straight, but he had no real awareness of it happening. No distinct memories of waking, which was nearly as bad as not sleeping at all.

By morning, then, his throat was painfully sore and his voice had gone a bit hoarse. His head was splitting, his nose wouldn’t leave him be, and he was in a thoroughly bad mood. He dragged himself down to the pub, where Kaz and Inej were already eating.

“Saints, Jesper,” Kaz groused, looking up at Jesper’s approach. “The state of you.”

Sinking into the booth beside Inej, Jesper folded his arms on the table, dropped his head onto them, and groaned. “No better?” Inej asked, the question tinged with equal parts amusement and empathy.

“Worse,” Jesper said, his voice coming out in a croak. “huhhhh-shooooo!”

He felt Inej patting him on the back. “Come on,” she urged. “Let’s some breakfast in you.”

“I’be dot huggry,” Jesper replied dully.

“You’ll feel better if you eat something,” Inej told him.

Jesper looked up at that. He wasn’t about to lift his head, but he turned enough to see Inej in a glancing, peripheral way. “Doh I wod’t,” he retorted.

“All right, you probably won’t,” Inej conceded; she was holding a hand up to signal a barmaid. She bent a little, speaking into Jesper’s ear. “But you’ll feel worse if you don’t.”

Damn her. Jesper stayed low to the table, but he rested his chin on his arms now instead of burying his face in them. The barmaid fluttered over and he sulkily ordered breakfast.

“Yesterday, I saw sobewud eating these little hadd pies,” Jesper began, reasoning that he felt ill enough that he needed something sweet to tempt his appetite. He sniffled, wriggling his nose. “What are they?”

“Your choice of apple or plum,” the barmaid told him.

Jesper gave a slight, weary nod. “Plub,” he decided, “with tea add sausages.”

“Coming right up,” the barmaid replied.

She hurried off, and Jesper pulled out his handkerchief to catch a messy “ahhhhh-SHIIUUHHHHH!” He pointedly ignored Kaz’s scowls.

“Come here,” Inej told Jesper, beckoning him up. He sighed but did as she said, and she placed the back of her cool hand against his cheek. “You do have a bit of a temperature,” she observed. “I don’t think you’re feverish yet, but keep an eye on it.”

“Mbb,” Jesper mumbled in reply. He dropped his weary, aching head onto her shoulder. She nudged him with it, making him get off her, but as he sank down lower in the both, she slipped an arm comfortably around him and gave him a small squeeze.

“I don’t suppose you’re any more inclined to be helpful than you were yesterday?” Kaz asked.

“I’ve gotted up add faced the day,” Jesper argued, “which I’d say ih- ihhhhh…” With a gasp, he lifted his handkerchief to his mouth. “huhhhhh-CHUHHHHH! ...Which is fairly heroic, givved the circubstadces,” he finished, sniffling.

“A lot of use that is when you don’t pull your weight,” Kaz shot back.

“I’be dot a work horse, you doh!” Jesper protested. “ ‘Fetch this, Jesper. Shoot that, Jesper. Cause a diversiod, Jesper.’” He was hit with a hard bout of coughing and cupped his hands over his mouth. Inej pushed her own glass toward him, and he took a swallow of water to soothe his throat. “Doh respect, I tell you,” he declared.

Kaz opened his mouth to respond, but, at a look from Inej, he just glowered instead. You’d think Jesper had gotten a cold for the express purpose of annoying Kaz. Jesper offered Inej her water back, and she shook her head. “Keep it,” she told him.

The barmaid returned with Jesper’s breakfast and he slouched forward, elbows on the table, to eat with a sense of weary obligation. From the first bite, it was clear that he was too stuffed up to taste anything. Instead of plums, the hand pies could’ve been filled with woodchips for all he knew.

Jesper let his head rest heavily in his hand, wincing as he took a swallow of tea. “Clearly it’s going to be a- a- uhhhhh…” He clamped a hand over his mouth. “hhhhhh-SHHHNNNFFFHHH!” He groaned. “-Adother brilliant day,” he sighed.

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crazy_cat_girl

This is glorious.  I love how cold Kaz is (for now) and Inej gently showing how she cares.  It's so totally in character.

And  your spellings!  *chef's kiss*

 

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angora48

Thanks, @crazy_cat_girl, I really appreciate the comment! As much as I enjoyed pondering what Jesper would be like with a cold, it was almost as much fun for me to imagine how Inej and Kaz would react. I'm glad they feel in character to you!

I'm also glad you like my sneeze spellings! That's a part of fic-writing that I always think is tricky, so thanks for the compliment. ☺️

Here's Part 4!

 

The day went much as the previous one had. At Inej’s suggestion, they headed off to her “rehearsal” space as soon as Jesper finished dawdling over his breakfast, hoping that their proactivity would mean less of Marko’s sharp eye on them. It was all the same to Inej. She could discuss the logistics of a caper while spinning and contorting in the air just as well as she could with her feet on the ground.

Kaz was tense. Well, Kaz was usually tense, but Inej could see how the job was weighing on him. When he was stressed, Kaz grew more exacting in his attention to detail, and in matters concerning the fête, he wanted to talk through every moment. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before Jesper wore his last nerve.

“Say it again,” Kaz instructed impatiently.

Jesper sighed, muffling a “hihhhhh-chuhhhhhh!” into his handkerchief. “Fide the two fastest horses, hitch them to the boste dod-descript carriage,” he recited. His voice was weak; he cleared his throat a few times. “Take theb roud past, ub, past the gardeds…”

“The fountain!” Kaz corrected.

“That’s practically the sabe thing!” Jesper argued. He was sitting with an elbow on his knee, rubbing his forehead. He’d be better off in bed, and Kaz had already intimated several times that Jesper might as well go rest since he’d nixed running out to pick up some supplies they needed, but Inej knew that was a losing argument. Jesper always preferred to be where the action was anyway, and particularly when he was ill, he hated to be on his own.

“Jesper, the gardens and the fountain are on opposite sides of the grounds,” Kaz intoned. “When Inej and I come out with the Sun Summoner, we’re very likely to have half the Second Army coming after us. In order for us to get away, we’re going to need our get-away carriage to be where we expect it!”

“I doh, I doh!” Jesper retorted with a wave of his hand. “I- aaahhhh… hihhhhh… ehhhhh-TSCHOOOO! Uhhnnhhh…” He groaned, letting his eyes fall shut as he sniffled and rubbed his nose. “I’ve got it.”

“Then prove it,” Kaz challenged.

Realizing this wasn’t heading anywhere good, Inej threaded down from her silks, spider-like, to intervene. “Think water for the horses,” she suggested to Jesper, positioning herself unobtrusively between him and Kaz. “Water for the horses, take them by the fountain, then round the back for an easy escape.”

Jesper nodded, stifling a cough. “Water for the horses, past the foudtaid…” he mumbled. “hehhhhh… ihhhhhh…” He hitched with rising urgency but seemed to lose the sneeze. With a congested sigh, he raised his handkerchief to blot his running nose.

“There’s still four days to go,” Inej reminded Kaz. “He’ll have it down.”

Kaz gave a curt nod, and Inej could see the tight flex of his gloved hand as he gripped his cane. In most things, he and Jesper had opposing natures. Kaz was a watchful, taciturn strategist while Jesper was a distracted improviser full of chat. Kaz cool and still, Jesper warm and constantly moving – even now, when his cold was plainly wearing him out, he couldn’t stop fidgeting entirely. Neither fully understood the other and his way of doing things, but Inej was the one who could see how their dissimilarities complemented one another, how they were alike in their differences. They were better, all three of them, when they worked as their oddly-fitting unit that clicked together despite all contradiction. Inej knew it, and deep down, they knew it too, or they wouldn’t still be doing this together.

But on a day like today, they were like incompatible fronts clashing to create a storm. Kaz was at his most rigid, his most in need of forging a semblance of control over the very uncertain situation they were about to enter. He needed things to be as he put them, assured that they wouldn’t let him down when matters were most critical. Jesper, meanwhile, was at his least cooperative, pouting and inattentive, focusing on his immediate hurts over the demands of the coming days. Neither was prepared to be who the other needed in that moment.

Which left Inej to keep them from killing each other. She wasn’t their mediator or minder, but she had a way of getting them to go to their respective corners when things grew heated, and when their at-times contentious bond was at its most tenuous, the tie between them never fully snapped when they were still tethered by their mutual friendship with her.

In the afternoon, she told Marko she didn’t wanted to “overextend” herself before a performance, and he gave her free rein for the rest of the day, though he made it clear that he considered it very generous of him, especially since he still hadn’t seen Jesper fire a single shot since their dual audition.

As Inej gently cooled down her muscles after the day’s rehearsal, she asked Kaz, “Do you have a list of what we need? I can go-”

“No – I’ll go,” Kaz said in a dark tone.

Inej was well aware that Kaz didn’t like being in markets. Too many people jostling around him, it put him on edge. He of course put up with it when necessity required, but she knew how uncomfortable it made him. “I’m happy to do it,” she reiterated. “I could do with the change of scene.”

“I said I’d go,” Kaz told her again.

Inej gave him a slight smile that somehow felt more like a frown. “Don’t insist on going yourself thinking it’ll spite him,” she warned. Her eyes flickered to Jesper, who was blowing his nose. “He’s too miserable to notice.”

“Hbb?” Jesper mumbled, reappearing from behind his handkerchief. “Were you saying sobething about be?”

“I said you’re miserable,” Inej replied.

“Oh,” Jesper said. He sputtered into a cough, then added, “Tell be sobething I dod’t doh.”

“Where would you like me to start?” Inej asked, teasing lightly.

Kaz turned from them, leaning heavily on his cane as he headed for the door. “I’ll be back later,” he pronounced.

“Suit yourself!” Inej called after him.

At least, she supposed, this would keep him from strangling Jesper. Inej went to sit beside her ill friend, who was resting his head against the wall and looking altogether unhappy. “Bearing up?” she asked.

“Oh, you doh be,” Jesper replied. “Sobehow I- I always pull- throu… huhhhhh-CHUHHHHHH!” He sighed, sniffling into his handkerchief. “By dose is id a state,” he admitted. “Add by throat. Add by head.”

Inej rested her hand on his arm, stroking it softly with her thumb. “I noticed,” she agreed sympathetically.

She got him to rest a little. Not in his bed – that would be too logical – but in a booth at the pub, dozing beside her while she sharpened her knives. He roused himself twice, blinking sleepily awake after an especially-forceful sneeze, then fidgeted and repositioned himself until he dropped back off.

Kaz didn’t return until they were in the middle of dinner, and it was clear that going out hadn’t done him many favors. Being away from Jesper and his cold, it seemed, had brought only limited respite to Kaz’s patience. Inej imagined he’d spent much of his errand silently stewing over the fact that Jesper’s stubbornness had “forced” him into the city center, even though Kaz knew full well that Inej had offered to go in his place.

Inej did what she could to draw him out, offering a few insights she’d had from looking at the blueprints of the Little Palace. “Take a look at these quarters,” she said. “There’s a key here to denote which building materials were used, and there’s no wood at all in this wing. I think it must be for the Inferi.”

Jesper, seated to her left, looked down at the blueprints from over her shoulder. “That’s good, Idej,” he said. He drew in a sharp breath and turned away, sneezing a rapid, “hihhhhh-shuhhhhh! Hehhhhh-TSCHIAAAHHHH!”

“Yes, clever,” Kaz remarked.

“But there’s more,” she went on. “See the large double-windows on this one? Seems fitting for Squallers, wouldn’t you say?”

“It makes sense,” Kaz agreed. “So that would mean-” he shot Jesper a quick, impatient look as the ill Crow doubled over in a coughing fit, “-the Heartrenders are most likely here?”

“It would seem so,” Inej agreed. She put a hand on Jesper’s back, rubbing it with her knuckles as he slowly caught his breath. “I know there will be Grisha throughout the palace for the fête, but it won’t be all of the Grisha, just higher-ups in attendance and probably some elite guards.”

She paused as Jesper was hit with another sneeze, a hard “huhhhhh-SHOOOOO!” His nose must have been feeling extra sensitive; any little thing seemed to set him off.

“So,” Inej went on, “I’m guessing a lot of the lower-ranked Grisha might be in their quarters during the actual banquet. As we’re getting out of the Little Palace, we should try to avoid those wings if we can, but if we get backed into a corner somewhere, at least we’ll have an idea of what we’ll likely be dealing with.”

“hnnhhhhh-CHUHHHHH!” Jesper sneezed again. He out a soft grumble of a moan as he buried his red-tinged nose in his handkerchief and gave it a hard blow.

“If you don’t have anything to contribute beyond sniffling, what’s the point of you being here?” Kaz snapped in irritation. “At least if you leave us in peace, we might actually get something done.”

“You don’t have to give him a hard time,” Inej said, her voice quiet but firm. “He can’t help it.”

She reached out to give Jesper’s shoulder a squeeze, but he was already rising, wiping his nose once more before pocketing his handkerchief. “Fibe by be,” he replied, but his cavalier tone was belied by the glisten of emotion in his eyes. “I’d rather be id bed addyway.” Inej could hear him coughing and sniffling as he stalked off.

“There was no need for that,” Inej told Kaz. She knew how much was on his mind, but they needed to have each other’s backs. The reason the Crows fit together despite all logic saying they shouldn’t was because, no matter their qualities or deficits, no matter their temperaments or histories, they looked out for each other.

It seemed Kaz wasn’t in the mood to be thinking of that tonight. “Stop mollycoddling him,” he ordered.

“I’m not,” Inej informed him. “And anyway, Jesper’s easy. All he needs is a bit of sympathy, and he feels completely cared for. I don’t think that’s so much to ask.” Noticing Jesper’s mug on the table, she grabbed it and slid out of the booth.

“Inej,” Kaz said, and for a moment, it was like he was a door and that one word, just her name on his lips, was like a light shining through the keyhole.

Inej paused. He could be an ass. So could Jesper. So could she, when the mood struck. But what else did they have? “I’ll be back,” she said softly. “Just bringing Jesper his tea.”

Upstairs, Inej knocked on the door to Jesper’s room. “You all right?” she asked.

“Dod’t try to apologize for hib,” came Jesper’s raspy, sullen tone in reply.

“Believe me, I’m not,” Inej said. Bending to set the mug down, she added, “I’m leaving your tea by the door. Try to get some sleep; things won’t seem so bad when your head is clearer.”

She withdrew and waited by the stairwell. After a few moments, the door creaked open and Jesper poked his head out, sneezing a wet “ahhhhh-SHUHHHHH!” into his handkerchief. He had his coat and vest off, and he’d loosened his tie. He’d hadn’t gotten to his holsters yet.

As, sniffling hard, he crouched down and retrieved the mug, Inej noticed that his hair was poking out in wild directions. Given that he clearly hadn’t gone to bed yet and none of the clothes he’d shucked so far would have gone over his head, she realized he must have tousled it by hand, anticipating that she’d be watching and hoping to cut a more pitiable figure. She smiled.

Slowly rising back to his full height, Jesper sniffled again and raised his tea in a one-sided toast. She was standing out of sight, but he glanced around at wherever he assumed she might be and gave a small nod of acknowledgement. Then he turned, the door closing behind him as he headed off to bed.

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PetalPunk
On 6/9/2021 at 9:49 AM, angora48 said:

Jesper did stand now, probably dangerously close to informing Marko that blanks “lacked poetry” and that one should never fire a gun if they weren’t prepared for the risk of blood. Using his cane, Kaz gave his friend a sharp whack on the knee, so Jesper let out a yelp instead of a smart remark.

I love this paragraph. Blanks lack poetry and firing a gun comes with the risk of blood. So beautiful and so Jesper. 

 

On 6/9/2021 at 9:49 AM, angora48 said:

“Kaz, I’be ill,” he plaintively noted when Kaz tried to get him to agree to a supply run, as if the constant sniffling could’ve possibly escaped Kaz’s attention.

 

“Last I checked, you’re also an allegedly-capable grown man,” Kaz retorted

I also love this exchange. Kaz’s sarcasm is spot on. 

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PetalPunk
On 6/13/2021 at 11:09 AM, angora48 said:

Wiping his nose, Jesper swallowed a mouthful of tea. “Milo would care,” he remarked gloomily.

I got a kick out of this. Nice touch bringing Milo back!

 

On 6/13/2021 at 11:09 AM, angora48 said:

By morning, then, his throat was painfully sore and his voice had gone a bit hoarse. His head was splitting, his nose wouldn’t leave him be, and he was in a thoroughly bad mood. He dragged himself down to the pub, where Kaz and Inej were already eating.

 

 

Awww Jesper! I wanna hug him! 

 

On 6/13/2021 at 11:09 AM, angora48 said:

You’d think Jesper had gotten a cold for the express purpose of annoying Kaz. 

I like this phrase. It’s witty. 
 

great part three. I’m very empathetic toward Jesper and loved reading his sickly description. I want so bad to take care of him. 

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angora48

Thanks so much for the comments, @PetalPunk! It makes my day to hear about your favorite parts from each installment.

9 hours ago, PetalPunk said:

I’m very empathetic toward Jesper and loved reading his sickly description. I want so bad to take care of him.

Yeah, he is rather yummy and miserable, isn't he? I tried to hit that sweet spot of "constantly complaining and a little needy but also feeling very genuinely awful" - I thought it was a good fit for Jesper, plus it was ideal for bringing out the others' reactions (Inej sympathetic but teasing, Kaz annoyed and impatient.)

Here's Part 5!

 

Kaz woke in the darkness to a sharp pain shooting up his leg. By now, he was accustomed enough to this sensation that he made no noise beyond a low grunt. Breathing through the painful spasms, he pushed himself up to a sitting position, stretching his leg out in front of him.

No good; he wouldn’t make this abate by just flexing his toes. Kaz reached for his cane and staggered to his feet, endeavoring to get out of the inn without the creaking floorboards beneath his every step waking everyone around him.

Outside, the night air was cool and clear. Kaz hobbled slowly forward, trying to stretch the spasm out of his leg. Not wanting to draw anyone’s attention when he was like this, he kept to the shadows, a limping phantom just out of sight.

A sneeze broke the quiet of the night, a wet-sounding “haaahhhh-CHOOOO!”, and Kaz swallowed a sigh as he realized he would have recognized it anywhere. His eyes scanned the darkness as he followed the sound to Jesper around the corner, sitting with his back against the side wall of the inn. He had a bottle of spirits by his side – liberated from the kitchen, if the jimmied-open window above his head was any sort of clue – and the glass he held sloshed a bit as he buried another “hihhh-TSCHIUHHHH!” in his handkerchief.

Kaz was still for a moment, biting back the exclamation prompted by his protesting leg. Then, in a moment of decision, he limped toward Jesper, who was coughing hard into the back of his hand.

“You should be in bed,” Kaz said. Not trusting his leg to bend at this point, he opted not to sit alongside his friend but stood over him, leaning on his cane as if in a casual stance.

Jesper, sniffling into his handkerchief, gave Kaz a sidelong look. “I cad’t sleep,” he croaked. “Add before you ask, yes, I have beed trying.” He took a wincing swallow from his glass and sniffled again, sputtering into another cough. “I thought a dridk bight help, relax be a little.”

There was a reason Inej handled these sorts of things and not Kaz. He let out a brief sigh. “What’s the problem?” he asked in resignation, trying to rub his leg discreetly.

Jesper pressed his glass to his forehead, and Kaz noticed that, despite sitting outside on a cool night in his shirtsleeves, his friend’s hair was damp with perspiration. “I feel achy add out of sorts,” Jesper complained. “Add by cough is keeping be up.” His breath started to hitch, and he lifted his handkerchief to his face. “ehhhh… huhhh-ihhhhhh-shiuuhhhhh!”

Kaz fought the urge to grimace. As much as Jesper’s whining could irritate him, Kaz had to admit a certain level of envy. Jesper had an undeniable vain streak and wasn’t above a heaping portion of bravado, but there was an openness to him, an honesty that Kaz could never manage. Kaz couldn’t imagine himself coming to Inej when his leg pained him, could never rest his head on her shoulder to let her know he needed her. But Jesper could, the lucky bastard.

It was the eyes, Kaz reasoned, those large eyes that couldn’t keep a secret if they tried. Even when Jesper lied, which he did well, he lied with an air that made it seem as though he was really giving everything away. All right for some, folks who can own up to their hurts.

Kaz sighed again (he wasn’t always such a misery, he swore.) “Wait here,” he told Jesper, and, bending his knee a few times to be sure his leg wouldn’t give out on him, he clambered through the open window and ducked into the kitchen, seeking out the necessities for a slight but effective remedy.

When Kaz returned to the window, he thrust his hand out first, offering Jesper a glass. “Here,” he ordered, and Jesper reached up to take it from him so Kaz could climb back out. When Jesper made to take a drink, Kaz said, “No!”, more sharply than he meant to. “It’s for gargling, not drinking,” he added in explanation. Jesper considered for a moment, sniffling, then shrugged and tipped his head back to gargle from the saltwater solution Kaz had brought him.

By the time Kaz was back on his feet, his leg was tingling with pins and needles, the usual crescendo to the spasms that seized him at odd times. As he stretched his leg, bending each joint slowly and deliberately, he was glad that Jesper was distracted by the saltwater.

Finally, the pain subsided and Kaz could stand without wincing. “I thought if your throat was a bit less swollen, it might not feel so irritated,” he explained, his voice slightly weak from the ordeal.

Jesper spat a mouthful of saltwater onto the ground and nodded. “Thadks,” he replied. He gargled another mouthful. “What are you doing out here addyway?”

“Stargazing,” Kaz said flippantly.

Jesper let out a ghost of a laugh, then cleared his throat to ward off further coughing. “Fide,” he said with an air of acceding. “ahhhhh… huhhhhh…” With his drink in one hand and his saltwater in the other, he dropped his head between his knees and directed his sneeze toward the ground. “aaahhhhh-shoooooo!”

“Right then,” Kaz said. “I’ll… leave you to it.” He turned to head back inside, then paused, calling back, “Don’t stay long. It’s cold out.”

“Right, boss,” Jesper replied, sounding tired and yielding but just slightly cheeky. As Kaz walked away, stepping carefully so as not disrupt the uneasy truce he’d reached with his leg post-spasm, he heard his fellow Crow continuing to gargle.

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MoonBop

Not gonna lie, seeing that you wrote a fic for Shadow and Bone was one of the reasons I finally started watching. It's been on my to-do list for ages and I'm glad I did, so thanks! 

On 6/16/2021 at 6:51 AM, angora48 said:

She got him to rest a little. Not in his bed – that would be too logical – but in a booth at the pub, dozing beside her while she sharpened her knives. He roused himself twice, blinking sleepily awake after an especially-forceful sneeze, then fidgeted and repositioned himself until he dropped back off.

this paragraph kept getting better and better (i'm a little late, oops). and the last bit of part 4 was adorable and so in-character :wub:

I love how vulnerable Kaz is in the most recent part, from recognizing his own feelings to caring for Jesper. Everything about him and Jesper is perfect

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