←  Southbridge Docks

Mistborn: The Inquisition


Damage Control

Nessa's Photo Nessa 01 Aug 2017

Nessa burst into the crewhouse, huffing and puffing from having sprinted the whole way back here - and without using pewter, since she'd left the Smoker behind. She'd go back and train like she was supposed to later, but for now, she needed to fix what she'd somehow managed to screw up. If Datura was supposed to be her teacher now, and Datura hated her, would she be shipped off somewhere else?

She didn't want that; for one thing, she knew they wouldn't ship her back to the shop, and for another, this place was actually pretty nice, other than the whole isolating-her-from-her-friends thing. She'd still have to figure out how to solve that particular problem, but while she did, she had it pretty good for right now, and she didn't want to ruin it.

She'd intended to ask some of the crew members where to find Nate, but there was no need: he was out and about, supervising the shop floor and making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing.

"Nate!" she called out, still gasping for breath as she approached him. "Nate, I need your help!"

Nathan's Photo Nathan 01 Aug 2017

Nate turned away from his supervision of the operations and frowned as he registered who was calling out to him. Nessa. Who was not supposed to be here right now. He took in her appearance, apparently having just run from somewhere and the cry for help.

She was supposed to be with Datura. Where was Datura if Nessa was here?

He crossed the floor to meet Nessa halfway, shoving down a blanket interest or worry from the workers on duty right now. If something had happened and they needed to rescue Dat, he'd make the call, but for now he didn't want Nessa bursting in alone to cause a panic. The others didn't know her very well. Hopefully they wouldn't think too much of her.

He, on the other hand, was greatly panicking. Nessa wasn't supposed to be left alone, which meant something had gone wrong. Possibly very wrong.

"Nessa," he said, taking hold of her arm as she reached him. "What are you doing here? What happened? Where's Datura? Were you attacked?"

Nessa's Photo Nessa 01 Aug 2017

"I don't know," Nessa said, trying to slow her breathing down. "She ran off. We were training, and talking, and I asked her a question and then suddenly she got all weird and left. She didn't come back here?"

Wouldn't Datura have wanted to come back to her office? Maybe she'd gone out; Nessa probably would have, come to think of it. Get out, and breathe, away from everyone and everything. But if that was the case, where had she gone?

Nathan's Photo Nathan 02 Aug 2017

Nate allowed his panic to fall from "all-consuming" to "of great concern" and stared Nessa down, trying to figure out what exactly had happened. Datura had said Nessa was supposed to be watched. She wouldn't have just left.

He shook his head in answer to her question. "No, she's not here. You two weren't supposed to return for a few hours. Was there a threat or something she had to take care of? What did you ask her? What did she say?"

Nessa's Photo Nessa 02 Aug 2017

Nessa's breathing finally began to slow as she got herself back under control, and she lowered her voice as she and Nate talked. She had a feeling none of them wanted her yelling about what was happening, after all.

"She was needling me about Perrin," she admitted with an awkward blush. "She uh.. she asked if I love him, and I said I don't know because I don't know what love is like. Then I asked her if she knew, and she just got this really weird look on her face and left. She told me to keep practicing on my own, and I'm going to, but... it just felt wrong to leave it. And even I know you're the one who fixes things around here."

Nathan's Photo Nathan 02 Aug 2017

Damn it, Dat.

Alright, well that explained it. Datura got her own nonsense thrown back in her face and had likely stormed out with a temper tantrum. Never mind that if anyone else in the crew had disobeyed the order about leaving Nessa alone, she'd have had their head. No no no, Datura got slightly upset and threw everything out the window.

And like usual, he was the one who got to deal with it.

Nate let out a hard sigh and, hand still holding Nessa's arm, he tugged her towards the door to the warehouse. "Come on, walk with me for a bit." He caught the eye of Barre, one of the floor leaders. "I'll be back in a bit, Barre's in charge until I get back."

The gruff woman saluted, then barked orders to the men to keep working, apparently eager to show she'd be more than able to hold down the line while he was away. He prayed it wouldn't take too long to sort through all of this.

Nessa's Photo Nessa 10 Aug 2017

The next thing Nessa knew, she was being guided by the arm back out of the crewhouse. Why did he have to pull her by the arm? Couldn't he just tell her to come? It wasn't like she'd just wander off; she'd been here practically a whole week already and she hadn't tried to sneak away once. Only to see if she could, which shouldn't count at all since she hadn't gone through with it.

"Where are we going?" she asked, once she'd properly caught up with Nate. She gave her arm a gentle tug, trying to pull it out of his grasp. "To find her? Or are you taking me back where she left me?"

Nathan's Photo Nathan 10 Aug 2017

"We're just... walking," he said, somewhat stiffly. Not for the first time, he wished he could turn his Allomancy upon himself, Soothe away some of his frustration. Sometimes he wondered if Datura had been specifically placed in his life to cause him trouble. Sure seemed like it on days like this.

Well, if she was going to make his life difficult, he was entitled to take precautions.

He walked Nessa a ways down the docks along the river, until he was certain they were out of tin's range from the crewhouse. Southbridge wasn't exactly built for casual strolls, but even when they had to weave around docking equipment from other buildings and such, there were always ways to get through.

"Alright," he said, turning to look at her without breaking stride. "Here's the situation. Datura's the crewleader. She has a reputation to maintain with the crew and she demands respect at all times. But, you're in a unique position, because you're working much closer with her than most of the crew ever do. So, that being the case, there's probably some things you should be aware of. Understand?"

Nessa's Photo Nessa 10 Aug 2017

Just... walking? But where, she wondered, and why?

The first answer seemed to be down the river, in a random direction, until they were a pretty reasonable distance away from the crewhouse. It was a good place to talk and not be overheard; with the noise of the water and the docks, their words would be drowned out for anyone who tried to hide and eavesdrop, and the area was open enough that they could probably spot anyone who tried anyway.

So this was a talk about Datura. And, Nessa guessed, topics she should avoid at all cost. It made sense; Datura was a passionate person, and passionate people often had sore spots that got them all riled up and more likely to become reckless or violent. She'd discovered one by accident just now, apparently; did Nate want to make sure she didn't blindly stumble into any more?

That would make sense, and it was definitely important. So she just nodded her understanding but kept silent, letting him speak.

Nathan's Photo Nathan 10 Aug 2017

Nathan took a steadying breath, shoving his hands in his pockets as he considered where to start with this. If Datura found out, she'd be livid and probably hurt that he thought she couldn't control herself should Nessa mention something accidentally. But, well unfortunately, sometimes that was the case.

"Being a crewleader," he finally settled on as a start, "especially for a crew this large, can be a hard job sometimes. She's good at it, and she's good for this group, but there's always another side of the coin. For someone in Datura's position, it can be... difficult to get close to people. It can be lonely."

It felt odd to talk about it. There was a slight sense of betrayal in sharing one of Datura's personal secrets with someone extremely new to the crew, like this. But no one else had this kind of one-on-one access to Datura the way Nessa did, aside from perhaps Nate himself. Their crewleader was a volatile mix, prone to explode unless carefully handled. He didn't want Nessa to get burned because she said something she couldn't have known would set Dat off.

"Relationships and that sort of thing can be a sore subject for her. It's best to avoid the topic entirely if you can. If somehow it comes up, try to avoid asking her anything personal. Prying into the personal affairs of a crewleader is usually a bad idea in general, but I can tell you that in Datura's case, it's possibly dangerous. I don't want you to get hurt, alright?"

Nessa's Photo Nessa 13 Aug 2017

Nessa nodded thoughtfully, thinking over what Nate had said. He had some very good points, but that didn't explain why Datura felt it was alright to needle Nessa if she herself had complicated feelings about relationships. She had to be careful how she asked about it, though; a question like that could easily be taken as argumentative, when really all Nessa wanted was to understand. So she took a deep breath, letting the breeze off the river ruffle her hair. When she spoke again, she tried very hard to keep her voice calm, without any trace of challenge. It was harder than she thought.

"Why did she keep on about it with me, then? She kept asking and kept asking and kept asking all these things about him, and about him and me, and wouldn't let up. I hear what you're saying, and I'm not arguing, but I wouldn't have asked her what I did if she hadn't brought it up first."

She sighed. She thought she'd made it good by being brought here, and for the most part, that was still very, very true. She had regular meals and a real bed and the only time anyone touched her was in harmless ways, like Nate leading her out the door just now. But it also seemed like life was getting more and more complicated by the second.

Nathan's Photo Nathan 19 Aug 2017

Because she's an idiot.

Because she gets so caught up in how fun it is to prod at people's weak points that she forgets she has her own.

Because she's temperamental and fickle and changes moods like the weather.

Because she's playing games with you and Perrin at Ignas' orders and she gets lost in the intrigue of it all.

Because she might be my best friend but she's also incredibly stupid when it comes to things like this.

All were true answers, but none were something he could say to Nessa. He shook his head. "Datura's an enigmatic person.Whatever her reasons for asking, they were her own. Best not to dwell on them too much."

It felt like a weak dodge of the question, an answer with no meat to it. Nessa was just a kid in over her head with a volatile crewleader. Didn't she deserve a little more truth than that? Or at least a more satisfying answer.

"It's possible..." he started, having a feeling he was going to regret saying this somewhere down the line, "that she was curious about your experiences. Seeing as it's something she's... distant from. That could be it. Regardless, there's probably better people in the crew to talk about those kinds of things with than Datura, unless she decides to spring an inquisition like that on you again."

Nessa's Photo Nessa 19 Aug 2017

"Wish I knew who that was," Nessa said with a sigh. She'd almost asked if he was one of those people, but after he'd just cautioned her about pushing people's buttons, maybe that wasn't the best idea? He'd tell her if he was, right?

"She didn't sound curious, though. She sounded like she was taking every little thing I said and twisting it. Like she was trying to use it against me. I kept trying to let it go and get back to training and she just... wouldn't. As if it's not bad enough that I don't know where he is or if he's alive or hurt or if he knows I'm alive or---"

She cut off, knowing that she shouldn't admit this to one of her crewleaders. It was his job to keep them apart, apparently; wouldn't it be easier to let him think that Ignas was wrong? That there was nothing between her and Perrin, so it was fine to let them see each other? Except it was too late for that. It was all so overwhelming, and now that she'd said it out loud, she couldn't stop it. Instead, she turned away, as if that somehow made it better, and as if that would prevent him from seeing her scrub at her eyes with her sleeve.

"I've never, ever cared about anyone like this before. I care about him more than anything or anyone, and it's confusing and scary and now I don't even know if he's okay or what's happening or how to deal with it and nobody cares!"

Nathan's Photo Nathan 23 Sep 2017

He gave a wistful sigh, remembering sneaking food through the slums just to see Vana, not even realizing he was falling for her even as he found every excuse to visit.

"I remember days like that. I remember nights being scared that it was too dangerous, that something terrible would happen, or wondering if it was all in my head, or that I cared too much or not enough."

For a few moments, he could forget about Datura and all her complexes and just enjoy reminiscing. He side-eyed Nessa, hoping she'd pick up that he was willing to talk, that away from the crewhouse they were... well, if not safe, at least safer.

."I know you're probably looking for wise advice, but I'm not really good at that sort of thing. I'd tell you it gets easier, but it's always kind of scary and overwhelming. But it's good too, really good, even. To care about someone, I mean. And even if it's never really easier, at least you start to figure it out, eventually. That's the way it's worked for me, at least. I think. Does that... help at all?"

Nessa's Photo Nessa 23 Sep 2017

Nate gave Nessa a significant sidelong glance as he spoke, and she just watched him, listening as she scrubbed at her face with the end of her sleeve. I remember, he'd said. That's the way it's worked for me. Those were the most obvious giveaways, of course, but even then, there was something about his voice as he attempted to find the words to comfort her. About his expression too.

Nate was speaking from experience.

He'd never mentioned such a thing before now, but then, why would he? He still barely knew her from any other stray the crew might pick up off the street, even with all the kindness he'd shown her this past week. To speak up now, to someone he still barely knew and had no reason to trust, spoke volumes. He either really wanted to help, or he really wanted her to think he did. And though she had little enough reason to trust anyone in Datura's crew, she found herself desperately wanting to believe it was the former.

"I... I think it does, actually," she said after a few moments of thought. She scrubbed at her face again with a sniff, then tried to brush her hair out of her face; the gentle breeze put it right back in the way again.

"At least, it's nice to know I'm not alone, and someone else knows what it feels like, and I'm not going crazy. Well, I mean, I still feel like I'm going crazy, but -- maybe I'm going a little less crazy? Or the same amount, but in a different way?" She tilted her head as she thought about that, then merely gave it a confused shake, and tried - and failed - once again to get her hair out of the way.

"It's nice not to be fussed at for it either," she admitted after another moment. "Not many other people know, but the ones who do immediately act like it's the end of the world. As if he doesn't do his job when he's supposed to whether I'm there or not, and same goes for me, even though I haven't had much of a job to do except for-- except for that night." She shook her head again and moved on quickly; she definitely did not want to talk about that right now.

"I mean, I'm pretty sure that's the main reason I got moved here. You-know-who found out somehow, and next thing I know I wake up in a strange crewhouse with no explanation or information except what I've been given since I got here."

Nathan's Photo Nathan 24 Sep 2017

"Well, things like love are always difficult in our line of work. Doubly so for Allomancers, I think. There's a lot of danger, but if you've found the right person, it's worth it."

She mentioned being kept apart and for half a second he was tempted to just tell her. Yes, Ignas wanted them separated. Yes, she was intentionally being kept from going to seek him out. Yes, Ignas was an ass whose meddling in other people's personal lives was annoying and uncalled for.

But he couldn't.

"Just be patient with it. And careful. Caring about someone means people can use them against you if you don't watch your back. Perhaps it's a good thing you two are apart for a bit. Lets you get your bearings."

Nessa's Photo Nessa 24 Sep 2017

"I guess," Nessa said with a sigh, wrapping her arms around herself. "It'd be smart to use this time like that, and maybe I could if I knew anything at all. But instead, the only thing that keeps going through my head is, is he alive? Is he hurt? And if he's alright, where is he, and is he worried?"

She looked over at him, carefully thinking back over his surprisingly candid responses. While everyone else she'd been surrounded with this week had been content to keep her in the dark, Nate was more forthcoming with something at least resembling truth, for which Nessa was incredibly grateful. No wonder he'd brought her out here, where prying ears couldn't overhear their illicit conversation about feelings and other dangerous topics.

"How do you deal with it?" she finally asked, quietly. "I, uh. I understand if you'd rather not go into that. But I'm stumbling around in the dark here, and you're the only one I've been able to talk to."

Nathan's Photo Nathan 08 Oct 2017

Nate thought about Ignas's smug stupid face sitting at the table in his home, casually threatening Vana simply by demonstrating he knew she existed. The conversation had been civil enough but the purpose had been clear: I know about her. I know you care about her. I will use this to hurt you if you upset me.

Lord Ruler, but he really hated Ignas sometimes.

He wanted to tell Nessa that it was probably fine, that Perrin was Mistborn and could surely take care of himself. He wanted to say that from Dat's report of her meeting with Perrin that he sounded like the kind of person who could handle dangerous situations without getting hurt. But Nessa wasn't supposed to know that he knew any of that. This was supposed to be a vague conversation and advice session, but things never seemed to be that simple.

He settled for a half truth instead. "If this person's like like you and knows the streets, I'm sure he'll know how to keep out of trouble. Sometimes there just isn't any good way to fix a bad situation and you just have to wait through it. When it's over, you'll look back and realize that even with the waiting and worrying, it wasn't nearly so bad as you thought."

Or maybe you and Perrin are going to find out about this eventually and want to throttle Ignas and Dat both for doing it to you. And probably me too, for being complicit.
Edited by FeatherWriter, 08 October 2017 - 03:06 AM.

Nessa's Photo Nessa 16 Oct 2017

"Maybe," she said with yet another sigh, shifting back and forth a little. "I mean, you'd know better than me whether that really happens or not, but right now, the only thing that could possibly be worse is finding out something went wrong, and I can't even think about that or I start to fall apart." She shook her head a little, trying to clear the thought from her mind.

"Sorry. It probably sounds like I'm not very grateful for the help. I am, very much, but it's harder than I thought to actually do any of it."