“I can’t believe she has a crush on that man.“
“Why not? They’re both nobles, Quinn. They don’t marry like we do. “
“I know, but look at him. Pasty fucker missing an eye. I just can’t comprehend it.”
Pidge raised an eyebrow “Is that really what this is all about? You find her choices unattractive?”
“Well…yes and no. I kind of thought she’d pick someone better. Ideally someone who wasn’t abusing skaa in piracy.”
“You mean like the people we’re already working with Quinn? Honestly, you don’t make any sense sometimes.”
“Yes well…that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. She makes me crazy, she does. She says one thing, then does another. Acts like a child one moment, then next acts like she’s the Lady Ruler.”
“She’s…what’s the word lady Owandise used…mercurial. She’s changeable and mercurial. You have that in common, actually.“
Quinn blinked at Pidge. “In common?”
“For the love of…you realise you’re both two sides of the same clip don’t you? Pot calling the kettle black? Two lumps of ash In a row? I could go on…”
Quinn turned to stare out the window. Funny, he thought, whenever I’m confused I always turn to the mists.
“I guess we’re not too different sometimes…but I like to think I act with a bit more consistency”
“True, except with you not knowing your social niceties. Cassie was telling me that it looked like you were courting Bella the past few weeks”
“I was…what?” Quinn had a look somewhere between amusement and horror “That was not my intention. Sure, she’s nice…pretty too, but…no. Why ever would you think that?”
“Psychology, young lord feather pen. Skaa boys always tease the skaa girls they have crushes on.”
Quinn opened his mouth and closed it again a few moments later. He repeated the motion a few times before blushing slightly, nodding to himself.
“Yes she’s pretty but no I can’t have a crush. I’m sure of it…anyway, how’s Tret doing?”
Pidge’s face softened somewhat
“He’s a bit surprised by it all. Keeps saying he must still be ill or eaten something bad. He won’t drink the vials as they’re ‘for the nobles, not the skaa’ so we’re probably gonna have to sneak some into his food just so I can actually show him how to use and understand what’s going on. It’s nice having a plain ol’ tineye for once.”
“I guess. You’re gonna have to train them both though now, you realise. Tret and Bella. That will be quite interesting….do you hear glass breaking, Pidge?”
“Oh it’ll be Bella. She’s has this idea that if she breaks all the glass in the house she’ll suddenly be better at using that bow. I think she’ll be starting on the window panes next week,” Pidge grinned, “she’s a funny one alright. Training them both…hell, this isn’t what you recruited me for. I was supposed to be out there, helping you, right? Despite all that stuff about working for a good family, you’re still going after that misting gang you always wanted, right?”
“I’m surprised you remember that.”
Water lapped against the rocks of Empoli, comforting in a way only seasiders understood. There was a boy, almost a man, sat on one of the rocks, staring up into the mist as though he could see beyond them. The bags under his eyes suggested early mornings, and despite the sea salt, he smelt of fresh pastries.
The spot where he was staying suddenly began to grow as a younger boy with longer hair dropped out of it, a glint of a coin shooting beneath him and landing in the shallow water. He stopped plummeting from the sky just before he hit the ground, then rocketed up again, a smile on his face visible only to his tineye friend.
It was something they’d always discussed. Once Quinn could burn all the metals, he could find other people. Train them to be warriors and survivors of skaa life. He could make a difference. They could make a difference.
A flurry of gulls rose up into the sky as noises and torchlight came from the above the cliffs. The sea, in its largeness, suddenly seemed much less like a safe place.
“Of course I remember it, Quinn. You wouldn’t stop bouncing around the rocks like a crazy person, and we almost got caught by that couple on the cliff.”
“I’d forgotten that bit. We got away at least. No harm done!”
“That was just good luck. Most people wouldn’t have, Quinn.”
There was a pause. They happened more regularly now, every time one of them alluded to death they couldn’t help but look at the opulence around them. A house, their own rooms, warm wholesome food everyday. They’d just spent an evening at a party.
“Be careful,” Pidge started, “We’ve never been in the shitter because of what we are, but everything could go very wrong and we don’t want inquisitors knocking on the door. Plus there are only so many people we can randomly call Rebous.”
“How many more do you think we could manage?” Pidge started to respond, then rolled his eyes at the young boy.
“I’ll leave you to mope, lover-boy,” Pidge got up, walking away from Quinn’s indignant look before turning suddenly,
“Oh I almost forgot,” Pidge reached under his bed and pulled out a covered plate. Lifting it, their tin sense could pick up the scent of citrus fruits and fresh pastry, while Quinn admired the lattices specked with metal flakes.
“17 pastries…Lord Ruler, am I that old?”