Three weeks after Mare dies, before Kelsier even knows where his head is or how he’s going to go on, he gets a call from the adoption agency.
They have a little girl.
Kelsier says yes before he even realises he’s opened his mouth.
The first time that he meets her, she’s crouched flat under a table in a social worker’s office. “Mr Deveraux,” she begins, hesitantly, “Are you sure about this? Venetia has had a very hard life, I’m not sure that given your current state after your wife’s death…”
“No,” Kelsier says quietly, pushing past her and crouching on the floor next to the tiny girl in a tiny ball under the table. “I think I’m fine. We’re fine.” Venetia stares back at him, dark brown eyes wide and sunken in her pale, pasty face. He’s seen her history file. He’s seen the horror she’s been subjected to on the streets, what her brother did to her.
“Hi,” he says, at last, staring at Venetia. She watches him, dead silent. “May I come under with you?” She blinks her giant brown eyes but neither moves to invite him or stop him, so after a moment Kelsier slides in next to her, wincing as he bangs his head on the table. He’s slightly too large for it.
Venetia looks at him, like you would usually look at an animal who was gearing up to bite and/or charge, and blinks again. “You picked a good table,” he confides in her, and gestures up. She looks at him, wary, and then looks up after his finger. “No gum on the underside.” She stares after his finger, and then eventually leans over until her lips are right next to his ear, and whispers,
That is the moment that Kelsier knows that he will do anything, anything for this girl.
Venetia—Vin—ends up not having a taste for gum, but she does like chocolate, and also soda, in amounts that are honestly a little bit worrying to Kelsier, so he has already decided that she isn't going anywhere near coffee before she's a legal adult. She likes being on top of things more than under them, and her inherent ability to climb pretty much anything is both frightening and amusing—frightening because he’s worried about his daughter up on top of his bookshelves, and amusing because he genuinely has no idea how she got up there.
She’s little and quiet (but not timid) and slow to trust, and she hides behind him when she first meets people, face and fists screwed up into his pants leg before she peeks around slowly, carefully, eyeing up her new acquaintance.
He ends up debating if she should start school late because of it, her total inability to trust, but in the end Dox and Marsh explain that keeping her back may do more harm than good, so Kelsier sends her.
She ends her first day of kindergarden in tears, having punched a boy who tried to snipe one of her goldfish. The teachers send her home, and Kelsier picks her up in the front office still in uniform, and she buries her face into his shirt, snuffling helplessly, leaving snot on the sleeve.
“Mister Deveraux…” says her teacher, who has been waiting with her. Vin eyes the woman from under Kell’s chin, as suspicious as a wild animal. “I know Venetia is the right age to start school, but…"
“We’ve got it handled,” Kell says, with a smile that doesn’t meet his eyes. He never forgets that Vin almost died homeless without her mother or older brother, left out starving on the streets and eating garbage, and that it’s only been two years since she came to live with him. Two years is a large amount of time for a five year old, but two years is not enough for her to learn not to place more stock in food than she has to, to not be afraid of people.
Kell finds her a homeschool class, instead, and she thrives, blossoms, blooms.
“Daddy,” even without her severe lack of trust, Vin’s voice is still quiet when she speaks into her father’s ear. Kelsier looks up at his daughter, sitting on his shoulders, draped over his head. “I want to try one of those.” Marsh, who is walking ahead, stops when Kell does, turning back one eyebrow turned to look at his brother and niece.
Vin is pointing at a dress. Since she came home, she’s worn nothing but tshirts and shorts, and most of the time has even refused shoes as well.
“What colour?” Kelsier asks, knowing better than to turn off her sudden desire to move out of what she knows and into something new.
“Blue,” she murmurs, and he gets her her first, beautiful, blue dress.
Vin goes to public middle school, and gets in more fights than Kelsier would like her to. When she starts losing them, that’s when he steps in, teaches her to put her thumb on the outside of her fingers, how to kick at just the right angle to drop a man, where it hurts to pinch with her nails.
Vin isn’t big, Vin isn’t strong, but Vin is fast and ruthless, and Kelsier stops getting calls to come pick his daughter up covered in bruises and crying, and instead starts getting calls about his daughter sending home another boy crying and bloody.
Oh, Kelsier doesn’t mind.
He trusts his girl to do what she thinks is right.
In high school, Vin is on the track team, and is faster than everyone else. In high school, Vin starts having friends and smiling at a Senior boy, who Kelsier doesn’t trust. In high school, Vin stops fighting but instead teaches other kids how to fight back. In high school, Vin proves to not be a genius, but she knows how to get what she wants and how to succeed.
In high school, there is a hostage situation. Kelsier kicks down the door and talks down the gun.
He talks it at him instead.
For Kelsier, there isn't anything after high school.