What’s in a Name?
Trigger Warnings: Graphic scenes containing blood, mentions of sexual assault (not graphic). The main character is a little bit unhinged and there are scenes that describe torture
Word Count: 4.5k
Another Kaz Brekker fic. Why? Cause I want to.
I need to find someone who’ll stare at me the way Kaz stares at Inej and I promise, I’ll stare at them the way Inej stares at Kaz.
She was known by a different name once upon a time. She knew as much.
Her one tether to her past was the memory of her name. A whispered sound she repeated over and over again like reverent prayer. No on else knew that name except for her and she preferred to keep it that way. If anyone discovered who she used to be, she would go from being the most feared assassin in Ketterdam to being a victim.
So she kept her head down and did the job, no matter how deplorable it was. There was a time when she didn’t have the luxury of choosing her next kill, a time when she had nothing but the clothes on her back and her wits about her. She would kill people with whatever she could come up with from stabbings to poisons to making their deaths look like suicides. There were even other times when she would frame other people for her crimes. She had done it so convincingly that the authorities would simply slap on a pair of handcuffs and march the poor man away without so much as trying to verify if the evidences were faked.
She was good at her job. Better than good even. And because of that, leaders of the various crime organizations in Ketterdam would seek her out. Gone were the days of her spying on their meetings and ambushing them begging for a job. This time, they came to her.
So, it wasn’t really a surprise to her to see Pekka Rollins in her apartment. What surprised her was who he places the hit on.
“You want me to kill, Kaz Brekker?” Y/N said with a raised eyebrow.
Pekka shrugged. He was seated in front of her with two of his men behind him as guards. “He’s becoming a problem. The Dregs are becoming too powerful.”
“But why Brekker? If you’re worried about competition, the Razorgulls are there and so are the Black Tips. And Per Haskell’s the leader of the Dregs.”
“You and I both know that’s not true. Per Haskell hasn’t been the leader of anything in a while.”
“I’m not doing it,” Y/N scoffed. She’s been asked to take hits on leaders of the various criminal organizations in Ketterdam before, usually by the corrupt government officials in Kerch who turn a blind eye on her trade, and Pekka Rollins has asked her to kill a lot of people before. But she has never had Pekka Rollins ask her to kill a fellow gang leader. Never like this.
“Since when did the Reaper say no to a job?” Pekka Rollins ground out, clearly irritated.
“Since you asked her to kill Dirtyhands. I don’t know if you’re aware, Pekka Rollins, but Kaz Brekker is dangerous.”
“He’s a thief. A Bastard of the Barrel. I’m its king. Do the job and I’ll reward you handsomely.”
“No amount of money—“
Y/N swore. 500,000 was a lot of money. 500,000 kruge could even get her out of Ketterdam.
Pekka Rollins saw the greed in her eyes and knew he’s set his trap. “So you’ll do it?”
“I want half the money up front right now. The other half, I can get after the job.”
Pekka frowned almost like he would say no.
“Don’t act like I never operated this way, Rollins. I always asked for half up front. I don’t start until I get half the money.”
Pekka snapped his fingers and one of his men came forward with a bag of the money. He dropped the money in front of her.
“I want it done by the end of next week, Reaper,” Pekka Rollins said in a threatening tone.
At that, Y/N smirked. “Have I ever let you down? I’m the Reaper. When I have a hit, I never miss..”
Y/N slinked along the rooftops of the Slat. She had watched the Crow Club and the Slat for a whole week and well versed in the habits of the Dregs, most specifically, of Kaz’s inner crew, the Crows. Inej had the strange habit of staying on roofs as Y/N had come to learn. Fortunately, after a week of studying them, she’s found Inej’s pattern.
Around this time, Inej was in the Crow Club trying to temper Jesper Fahey, Kaz Brekker’s sharpshooter, from loosing too much money at the table.
She slipped inside Brekker’s office quietly, where she knew he would be alone.
She was silent on her feet and if she wanted, she could have slit his throat right then and there. He was standing in front of a wash basin cleaning his face. His usually pristine clothes had their sleeves rolled up to his elbow and his hair was unkempt. His walking stick was well within his reach, perched on the table that held the wash basin.
She watched him silently and she stepped forward, away from the shadows.
“If you’re going to kill me, I’m surprised you haven’t already done it,” Kaz said as a way of greeting when he noticed her behind him in the mirror.
“Then you know I’m not here to kill you,” Y/N said as she walked forward. “I’m here to strike a deal.”
“A deal,” Kaz repeated, looking at her through the mirror. “Why would the Reaper want to strike a deal with me. I’m a thief. Not a killer. I don’t want anyone dead.”
At that, Y/N almost giggled. “You and I both know that’s a lie. There’s one man you want dead in this world and lucky for you I want him dead too.”
Y/N prowled towards the table and chair and took a seat with a sweeping gesture. There was an elegance in her movement, almost like she imbued a dance with every motion of her body.
Kaz turned around and faced her, settling his hands against the table with the wash basin. He regarded her carefully watching her movements as she unsheathed one of the daggers in her leg and slowly cleaned it. The blade, strangely enough, was so clean, you could see your reflection off of it.
“I thought Pekka Rollins was your biggest financier. You’ve killed more people for him than everyone else in the Barrel combined.” Kaz said. His words were slow, clearly preconceived. It was obvious he didn’t want to offend her.
“And I want him dead more than you do, Brekker. You aren’t the only person who’s been slighted by him.”
“I heard he put a hit on me. How much?”
“500,000 kruge,” Y/N replied nonchalantly.
“I would have taken the money,” Kaz said. He stepped forward, unfurling his sleeves. He wore his pristine jacket that hung on one of the other chairs scattered around the room.
Y/N shrugged. “I’m not interested in money. I have clients from the Merchants Council who’d pay me millions for one hit, and they have. 500,000 kruge is a penny to me. What I want is Pekka Rollins’ head on a table and something tells me you already have a plan to take him down.”
Kaz considered her offer. He watched her carefully, his dark eyes trailing over her figure. At her dark clothing, the twin swords in her back and the knives that were hidden all over her body. “What’s in it for me?”
Y/N shrugged again. She had expected the question and was fully prepared to pay him to allow her to kill Pekka Rollins. “Name your price.”
“Excuse me?” Y/N choked, her once casual tone slipping into surprise. She had expected money. She hadn’t expected, well, her.
“A contract. You work for me at the end of this.”
“As what? Hired muscle?”
“Hired whatever. One year. For a whole year, you work for me. I make you do whatever I want, no questions asked. In return, you’re in on my plan to take down Rollins.”
Y/N considered the offer. One year was an awfully long time. Her mother had told her the horrors of being indentured and though she doubted that Kaz Brekker would make her use her body in such a way, working for a man like him for a whole year was dangerous.
But she was getting desperate. She had spent her whole life planning her revenge and she wasn’t going to let herself get cold feet at the last minute.
“I get paid, Brekker,” she finally said after a moment of silence. “I don’t work for free. If another person hires me for a hit, I get to work for them too. I can’t only have you as my source of income, especially since I doubt you can afford me otherwise. The plan needs to be set in my motion by the end of the week.”
“And if I can’t deliver by the end of the week?” Kaz asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I guess I’ll have to kill you. I do have a reputation after all,” Y/N replied. Somehow, she knew that Kaz understood that she meant every word. She would kill Kaz if she had to and she would find someone else to take down Rollins.
Kaz stayed quiet. He watched her, his eyes raking over her every action. She had sheathed back her blade and had her full attention on the professional thief.
She would be lying to herself if she didn’t think that Kaz wasn’t handsome. With his intense dark eyes, high cheekbones, sharp features and suave sense of style, it would be a lie to state otherwise.
But he had a darkness about him, and that darkness was what drew her in. A darkness she could understand. He was around the same age as she was but his eyes had a soul that screamed of the many lives he had lived, of the many lives he had lost. He had suffered as she had, perhaps even more.
Finally, after a while, Kaz finally said, “It’s a deal.”
“Good,” Y/N said as she stood up from Kaz’s chair. She walked towards him slowly and reached for the gloves he had left on the table. She handed it to him, her palms facing upward to let him know that she meant no harm. “I want to let you know, Brekker, that I don’t care about his wealth. I don’t care if you take his power, his fortune, his gang. I don’t even care if you kill whatever sorry excuse of a family he has. But his life? That’s mine to take. If you or any of the Dregs get in the way of that, I won’t hesitate to kill.”
He took the gloves from her gingerly, careful not to touch even a fraction of her skin, confirming what Y/N had observed this past week. Kaz Brekker didn’t like being touched.
“You have yourself a deal, Reaper.”
And with that said, Y/N slinked towards Kaz’s window and left, leaving Kaz Brekker alone with his thoughts.
Y/N was impressed. The plan that Kaz Brekker had laid out for her was ingenious, really. She hadn’t realized how far along Kaz was in his plan for revenge and when she had heard the final piece of his grand design she marveled at its effectivity and its simplicity.
Kaz Brekker was a criminal mastermind. There was no other way around it.
He already had a hold of the Dime Lions as well as all of Pekka Rollins’s businesses in Barrel, including the Emerald Palace, albeit discreetly. The original plan was to see Pekka Rollins beg Kaz for forgiveness and ask him for even a fraction of the wealth he used to own so that he could go quietly into the night and never return.
But Kaz Brekker will have to settle with watching Pekka Rollins grovel for his life.
Y/N crept along the halls of Pekka Rollins’ home. It was well guarded, practically fortified, and it was filled with the people who were insane enough to stay loyal to only one man in the Barrel. Anyone worth their salt knew that loyalty could get you killed in a place like Ketterdam. Kaz had informed her that these were the men who stared stone faced at the money that Kaz had offered them and declined.
Because of that, she had no problem killing them.
She did it silently, quickly. A flick of her hand and the men fell unconscious. A knife to their throat finished the job.
She ended their lives without remorse. After years of doing her job, her guilt had been whittled down until it was but a sliver of its original form. At this point, she doubted she could even feel guilt.
By the time she was done, she had painted the walls of Pekka Rollins’ home red. Sprays of blood settled against the gaudy wallpaper, decorating it with splashes and spatters. Some morbid part of Y/N thought it looked better than Rollins’ original decor.
As she killed off the last man, this one guarding the door of Pekka Rollins’ office — the place where Kaz agreed they would have the confrontation — she could hear Kaz’s raspy voice from behind the opulent, wooden, double doors. “You’ve taken a lot from me. I thought I’d return the favor.”
“You think you can come in here like you own the place and take things from me?! You’re nothing but a bastard! I’m the King of the Barrel!” Pekka Rollins replied, his voice loud with indignation.
“You still don’t get it, do you, Jakob Hertzoon,” Kaz said with a dangerously low chuckle, his voice laced with satisfaction. He had told her his reason for revenge once, about Jordie, and she remembered the story, the sorrow and vengeance that had taken hold in Kaz’s very soul. He had told her in the hopes of finding her reason but she refused to say a word. “All will be revealed soon,” was her only cryptic replay
“There’s nothing left for you. Even this house is mine. You’ve lost.” Kaz reiterated.
“You think I’ll let someone like you take things from me? As long as I’m alive, you won’t have peace!” Pekka Rollins roared.
“Well then, it’s a good thing we’re taking your life too.”
And with that said, Y/N threw open the double doors and strode in with a confident stride. Her black stealth uniform was covered in blood and she could feel the blood on her face. She probably looked like a deranged lunatic, especially with the gleeful smile on her face.
Pekka Rollins’ well-lit office was huge, big enough to host a meeting of at least twenty people and still have room to spare. Kaz was standing in front of Pekka, quite a distance away, a table separating the two. The eyes of both gang leaders snapped towards her at the sound of the banging door.
“That was a wonderful introduction, thank you, Kazzie,” Y/N smirked as she walked towards her partner.
Kaz bristled at the nickname but nonetheless stayed quiet.
Pekka Rollins was looking at her with his mouth agape, his eyes nearly bulging out of his head, whether in shock or fury, Y/N couldn’t really say.
“You!” Pekka Rollins stuttered, pointing an accusatory finger her way. “I gave you 250,000 kruge to kill him!”
Y/N scoffed. “Do you know how much the merchant council has offered me to kill you? Five million kruge. You really think 250,000 has any effect on my coffers?”
“So that’s why you betrayed me? Money?!” Pekka Rollins demanded.
At that, Y/N stilled. Gone was the lofty arrogance, replaced by a seething anger that earned her the moniker the Reaper.
“You still don’t know who I am,” Y/N said her tone dangerously low.
“You’re the Reaper,” Pekka answered but he sounded unsure too.
“Let me give you name then,” Y/N stalked towards him until she stood right behind the table. She was so close, she could see every emotion that flitted through Pekka Rollins eyes. She leaned closer, as though she was about to share a secret, and whispered a name.
The moment the last syllable left her lips, she leaned back to see the flash of recognition in Pekka Rollins’ eyes.
“That’s right, Pekka,” Y/N said, a vindicating, satisfied tone replacing her previous one as she walked backwards towards Kaz. “I’m your daughter.”
At the revelation, Kaz looked at her in surprise. His daughter?
“Do you remember my mother, Pekka?” Y/N sneered as Pekka Rollins’ face continued to blanched. “You bought her indenture and raped her almost every night and when she told you that she was pregnant, you called her a whore and threw her out on the streets with nothing but the clothes on her back. You told her to get rid of her baby and that she can’t come back if she didn’t. Do you remember?”
“Don’t!” Y/N growled, her voice rising in anger as emotions swirled within her. “Don’t you dare try and justify what you did. Lucky for me, my mother decided to keep me. And lucky for me again, I wasn’t the only thing she kept. She kept a secret hidden from the world, did you know? She was Grisha. A Corporalnik and even luckier for me, I inherited her abilities.”
With that said, Y/N raised her hands and with a clench of her fist, Pekka Rollins’s lungs seized. His ruddy hands rushed to his throat, clutching it tightly in vain as he tried to willed his body to breathe. His face began to redden and bulging, purple vein swelled against his temple.
Y/N held her grip, watching him suffer. “You came to me over and over again these past few years. Every time you came through my door, I thought you would recognize me. See the resemblance I had with my mother, with you. But no. You stared at my face and didn’t see anything. You saw through me. It’s my fault, really. I was stupid enough to believe that underneath it all, you were secretly a good person but no. You’re the worst of them all.” Just as he was about to pass out, Y/N let go and air surged within his lungs again.
“I’m not going to kill you that way, Pekka,” Y/N cooed. “That’s too easy. My mother died of the plague while we were out on the streets. She died and you lived. You, a pathetic, no good, greedy, sorry excuse of a man. My mother was a saint and she died. I suffered because of you and I know I’m not the only person who suffered because of you. So, for the sake of my friend Kaz—“ she gestured towards Kaz, who was watching their whole exchange silently “— and for me, I’m going to return the favor.”
Y/N stalked towards him again, watching Pekka Rollins continue to gasp for air. “Losing the oxygen from your lungs will be the least painful thing you will experience tonight, I can promise you that and when I am done with you, you won’t be begging me for your life. You’ll be begging me for your death.”
“P-please,” Pekka gasped, clutching the soles of her blood-soaked shoes as he dropped to his knees. “I-I have a son. You have a brother. I’ll be a better f-father for him. Please!”
At that Y/N smirked. “My little brother? Don’t worry. Matthias Helvar, Kaz’s Drüskelle friend, is with him right now. He was more than happy to pay him a visit.”
She didn’t think it was possible for Pekka to pale anymore than he already was but she stood corrected. Horror caused his eyebrows to knit together and his mouth to open wide. Tears sprung from his eyes like an unexpected downpour.
“You didn’t,” He gasped.
She really didn’t. Saints know she would never hurt the child but he didn’t know that.
“I did,” she smirked, her tone gleeful. “Matthias is probably done by now. I even asked him to send my brother’s head in a box.”
Pekka’s eyes widened as he fell backwards and crawled away from her in horror.
“Matthias and I even discussed how he’ll play with my brother. Do you want to feel what he felt?” And before Pekka even answered, Y/N twisted her hand.
Pekka’s hand seized his chest as he felt his heart squeeze inside it.
“He carved my little brother’s heart out of his body. I’d use a knife on you but I figured ripping your heart out of your chest was a lot more painful.” Y/N smirked.
“Reaper,” Kaz said interrupting her, making her release her hold on Pekka’s heart.
Y/N sighed in irritation and looked at the Bastard of the Barrel. “What?”
“I’d love to stay and watch the show but I’ve got business to attend to. Crowning myself King of the Barrel and all that. I’ll see you on Monday.”
Y/N gave him a wave and even a genuine smile. “I’ll see you Monday, Kazzie. I promise not to be late.”
When Kaz Brekker left the room, the sounds of Pekka Rollins’ screams echoed around the house.
The day after, Pekka Rollins’ body was found in some alley in the Barrel. Or, at least, whatever was left of it.
No one could identify who owned the torso, especially when his hands, arms, legs, feet and even its head seemed to have been scattered in the winds. The authorities investigated but without any markings on the brutalized body, they couldn’t pin it on anyone. The torso was a mess of scar tissue as though its skin was filleted and then healed over and over again. Whoever the man was did not have a happy ending.
A week after, word got out that Pekka Rollins had signed away his fortune to Kaz Brekker, naming him his heir as he retired in some faraway estate to spend time with his son. No one questioned the move and everyone assumed that those loyal to Pekka Rollins had followed him to whatever backwater the man decided to retire too.
No one dared to question why the Reaper was seen hanging around Kaz Brekker or why she began taking orders for him. As far as the citizens of Ketterdam were concerned, they had no reason to wonder and if anyone had made the connection between Kaz, the Reaper, Pekka Rollins and the dismembered torso, they were smart enough not to come forward.
And so, perched on the slat’s roof, Y/N watched the bustling city. Her hair whipped against the cold, howling, eastern wind, her face illuminated by the city’s nightlife.
She use to be told that revenge was a stupid thing to pray for as it often left the other party unsatisfied, a hole in their heart where the anger once reigned.
Y/N has found that to be a lie because for once in her life, she felt a sense of contentment.
“I don’t know about you, Brekker,” Y/N said as a way of greeting when she felt Kaz’s heavy presence behind her, watching her from the shadows. “But I feel at peace. It’s funny. People use to tell me that there would be no peace in revenge. That peace can only be found in forgiveness and in praying to the Saints. They were lying. Somehow, I feel safer knowing that there’s one less awful person in the streets of Ketterdam. That Pekka Rollins won’t ever hurt anyone the way he hurt you and me.”
“I thought my tale of woe was awful,” Kaz said sardonically. “But I’d take a dead brother over a dead mother and having Pekka as my father any day.”
Y/N turned and gave him a wry smile. “Ironic, isn’t it?”
Half of Kaz’s face was illuminated by the city’s lights while shadows danced on the other. He was dressed in his usually suave, business savvy style, his hair styled and his cane held carefully between his fingers, the crow head reflecting her face distortedly.
He looked handsome, clean. He watched her carefully as she lifted her hand and pushed her whipping hair behind her ear.
Gone was the sultry confident girl that strolled into Pekka Rollins’s home and killed him. Instead standing before Kaz was a simple girl who once dreamed of a better life for herself and for her mother. A girl who thought that one day, she may, perhaps, even meet her father and show him what he was missing, the daughter he could have had.
But those dreams were broken and the illusion of a life well lived faded with her mother’s life.
“Thank you,” Y/N said into the ringing silence that had formed between them. “For your help.”
“I didn’t do it for you,” Kaz answered, his face devoid of emotion.
Y/N shrugged. “I know. You are Dirtyhands after all, the ruthless Kaz Brekker. I’m not stupid, I know I got the shorter end of the stick when it came to our deal but still. Thank you. You gave me one thing I couldn’t get for myself. Peace. That’s worth more than any amount of money in the world.”
The distance between them had closed and Y/N hadn’t even realize who walked towards who. His body emanated warmth that she welcomed against the chilly night air. His dark eyes scanned over her face, looking for any hint of insincerity but he found none. Every word that Y/N had said was true.
“Call me Y/N, please,” She whispered, interrupting him. “I don’t think I want to be the Reaper anymore.”
“I took up the name Reaper because I didn’t want Pekka Rollins to find out who I was. The young, innocent girl that I was died with my mother. It was only fitting I take up a different name, a fearsome one. One that would make men quake in their boots to hear. Now that my mission is done and Pekka is dead, I think it’s time for me to say good bye to the Reaper.”
“So no more killing then?”
She shrugged. “Who knows? Killing is the only thing I’m good at and maybe while I’m on a job, I’ll still be the Reaper. But, if I’m going to be a part of the Dregs, I’d want them to know me differently. I’d want you to know me differently. So call me Y/N.”
Kaz stayed quiet, watching her silently. She liked those silent moments between them, she even savored it. Something about the quietness that she experienced with Kaz was different. Maybe it was because of their shared experience but being alone in Kaz’s presence was, strangely enough, comforting.
Just when she thought that Kaz wouldn’t answer her and she should probably step away from their closing distance, he took a heavy breath and said in a quiet, almost whisper-like voice. “My real name is Kaz Rietveld.”
She gave him a wide smile, a warmth spreading through her. She doubted a lot of people knew Kaz’s real name and she pressed the information close to her heart, a secret that she would never share, just like how she knew Kaz would never tell a soul about her heritage, about who her father really was.
“It’s nice to meet you, Kaz Rietveld,” She held out a hand between them. For another second, she worried that he wouldn’t take it due to his aversion to touch.
After another, quiet moment, he raised his gloved hand and said in his raspy, gravelly voice. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
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