Lestibournes sat perched on the parapet, tin burning at a low flame. The mists were unusually thin tonight, clinging only tenuously to the streets below.
It didn't feel like a night for secrets or conspiracies. If he hadn't known better, it would've seemed almost peaceful. He could almost forget the concerns of life beyond this rooftop, of the skaa gang territory squabbles, the domestic abuses, the noblemen indulging in excesses at the expense of their servants' labor and lives.
The lights in Clubs' shop shone behind shuttered windows. It looked vibrant and alive in the nighttime quiet. On one floor, apprentices labored over repairs and the fabrication of new objects in wood, while on another, a knot of conspirators crafted a plot to overthrow a god.
And on another floor entirely, a young woman slept heavily, her skin bloodless and pale where it wasn't dark with bruises.
He thought back to that terrible night, somehow only a few short days ago, seeing the tall, burly figure making his way for Clubs' shop, an unconscious Vin slumped in his arms. She'd looked so small like that. It was hard to believe she was a full year older than him. She'd always seemed older than her age--something in her eyes and the set of her spine. It had stayed with her through the half-dozen personas she shuffled between, depending on what the world required of her, but unconscious, that had all fallen away. Her body was a blank slate. It felt wrong.
The puddles of rainwater on the kitchen table from her soaked garments had been red with blood, the color bright and violent as the sun. Too bright. He'd realized belatedly he hadn't extinguished his tin.
He gazed ruefully down at Vin's window, wanting to be on the other side of it. He'd watched over her the first few days, until his uncle had barked at him to quit getting underfoot and make himself useful on watch duty with the other Tineyes.
He wanted to be there when she woke up. He wanted to be the one to look out for her when she couldn't look out for herself. If there was one thing he was good at, it was looking out.
"Notice anything?" came a voice behind him. He nearly leapt out of his skin.
"Wasing the how of you're being?" Lestibournes blurted, wheeling to face the intruder.
Kelsier laughed, a full, rich sound magnified in the night's quiet. "You spook easy, don't you, kid?"
The boy felt his cheeks flush bright red in the darkness, and he hoped Kelsier wouldn't notice. It was a ridiculous hope, of course. He was Mistborn, and nothing got past a Mistborn. Nothing except… well, those Inquisitors.
"Which one is hers?" Kelsier asked.
Lestibournes flushed deeper. Clearly, the direction of his thoughts was no secret. "Third about the tall, second of the right," he admitted. "Darkening to the others."
Kelsier surveyed the window, the only one not illuminated behind its shutters, then he favored Lesibournes with a smirk. "That was almost comprehensible. You're improving." He sat down next to where the young Tineye had been seated, and Lestibournes hastily returned to his spot, ready to receive whatever Kelsier might have to say to him.
Seen from up close, however, there was something different about the man. For the first time, Lestibournes noticed the strain hidden in his smile. Something heavy weighed in his eyes.
Lestibournes had nearly mustered the courage to comment when Kelsier said, "She's still unconscious. No change since you saw her last. We're keeping her pewter reserves well stocked." He grimaced. "It's one of the few things that actually seems to be helping her."
"Oh," said Lestibournes. "Good."
Kelsier eyed the boy askance. "What are you doing here?"
Lestibournes froze. Was he in trouble for failing to spot Kelsier's appearance? And this, after spending several days off the watch rotation? Was Kelsier kicking him off the crew? He was the only member of the core group who hadn't been recruited, after all.
"For three days, you wouldn't leave her side," Kelsier continued. "I thought I'd need Ham and a crowbar to separate you."
The boy relaxed, exhaling a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Notting the work as the does of the doing," he said. Kelsier raised an eyebrow, and Lestibournes hastened to rephrase. "Can't all stop work because one of us is down."
Kelsier nodded. "Sazed has started translating that book she found." He turned to face the boy. "Do you believe what the Steel Ministry teaches? That the Lord Ruler is a god, unkillable?"
Lestibournes blinked, somewhat thrown at this turn in the conversation, then shrugged. He was skaa--who had time for religion? Knowing the answers to life's questions wasn't going to put food on the table or make the work more bearable or ease the loss if some unlucky female in his community caught a nobleman's eye.
"Don't think much about it," the boy said, making an effort to speak without his dialect. "Seeming to raise more questions than it answers. Wasing there a god before the Lord Ruler? What happened to him? Did the Deepness kill him? Wasing there the proving a god can be killed?"
Kelsier gave Lestibournes an appraising look. "Do you think we can succeed?"
The boy hesitated, and Kelsier grinned.
"Notting without the trying," Lestibournes raced to add. Then slowly, picking his words carefully once more, he continued, "You're having of the Eleventh Metal. That has to mean something."
Kelsier raised his eyebrows. "Does it? What do you think it means?"
Lestibournes wasn't sure why Kelsier was asking him of all people, or what answer Kelsier wanted to hear, but he hazarded a guess. "You're trying something no one else has. You're gotting the legends on your side."
To his surprise, Kelsier didn't laugh at his suggestion, and instead looked thoughtful. "Even though you'd never heard of these legends before?"
"I'm skaa. Plenty I haven't heard of before. Wasing the thing of hurting the Lord Ruler, he'd try to lock it down, like Sazed's religions. Legends are gotting to be the where of it."
Kelsier blinked as he translated this last bit, then he barked out a rueful laugh. "Yes. Legends have to come from somewhere." He looked out into the night and added, his voice low, "And religions, too."
Lestibournes gave up. "Why ask me about all this? Why not Sazed or Breeze or Ham?"
"No particular reason," Kelsier said, looking suddenly preoccupied. "Just curious. You're city skaa, and you're young. There will be plenty like you we have to reach out to under the new government." He got to his feet. "Well, lots to do. Notting the doing and work to the thing, and all."
"Notting the work as the does of the doing," Lestibournes corrected, grinning.
"Yes. That," Kelsier said. He looked back to Vin's window. "Watch out for her, if she doesn't mind you doing so. I could envision worse suitors for her."
"Wasing the plan of it."
"And practice talking like a normal person."
"Working the--I mean, I'm trying."
"You're a good kid, Lestibournes," he said, then peered at him. "Remind me to give you a nickname."
Kelsier calmly strode to the side of the building and stepped off the edge. He plummeted like a stone for two stories, then slowed, then vaulted back into the air in casual defiance of gravity. The boy watched the man disappear into the mists, awe tinged with jealousy and more than a little confusion at their conversation. He wasn't precisely sure what had just happened, but he'd stopped trying to figure out how Kelsier's brain worked shortly after meeting him.
But the night was quiet, and there were other concerns that demanded his attention. There was a girl whose safety relied on him keeping an alert watch, not to mention the security of the rest of the crew. And if there was one thing he was good at, it was looking out.