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Ekko shuddered back to the wall as the warmth of his breath fanned across his hands. The bat sat between his knees; just in case. The sound of the rain was almost deafening against the rusty metal shelter. It was a small shelter, resembling a bus stop for travellers. Though it was rarely in use and as a result failed to be maintained, much like many other things in the city. His brown eyes glanced up from the ground to survey the street around him. It was fairly empty. Or at least it looked that way. He’d learnt a long time ago that looks can be deceiving. Nothing is really ever as it seems, you find that when you take a second look. A loud bang had him leap to his feet, glaring hard towards the source of the sound by some bins. Only to huff in disapproval at the sight of a squirrel. He slumped back against the wall. His head hurt from the cold, everything hurt. Though the worse pain came from his leg. He’d caught it in the blast from a fight with a Zaunite beast. It wasn’t so bad at the time; he’d been too tired to rewind to change it. Though now as he sat halfway between home and nowhere. He wished he had. Even with the ripped fabric acting as a bandage the searing cold and rain was biting into the wound. Another noise, this was louder caused him to try and clear his blurry vision and focus. This was harder to locate its source. A rattle of bins that now lay strewn across the pavement alas the perpetrator was not in sight. Then he heard the soft pad of footstep from his left. He forced himself to stand straight and face the source. His eyes narrowed and his grip tightened on the bat. Despite the heavy rain, the messy blond hair adorned with golden goggles was easy to recognise.
“What are you doing here?” Ekko hissed at the blond. “You don’t belong here, Piltie.”
“Nice to see you too.” Responded the blond, he remained undeterred by the way the other held his weapon instead continuing to walk towards the shelter.
Ekko scowled. “I asked you a question. Why are you here? Don’t think I won’t hurt you… ”
“I don’t think. I know.” The blond responded calmly, a smirking curling onto his lips.
Ekko stepped back, shifting the weight off his bad leg. His face scrunching in disgust at the other but before he could make any snarky response the blond resumed speaking.
“Zaun has… as much as I don’t want to admit it- a really good nightclub. I came with some guys from Bilgewater. However they might’ve left me blackout drunk in the middle of the dancefloor around two hours ago…”
Ekko raised his brows, it was particularly notable. Only Bilgewater rivalled Zaun’s clubs and beverages. Perhaps the only reason people ever took notice of Zaun in any positive way. He surveyed the blond once more before lowering his bat.
“How come, how come you knew I wasn’t going to attack you.”
“Well most assassins don’t announce their attacks.” The Piltie teased, reaching to jab his arm though Ekko immediately flinched away. “And you’re limping, leg looks pretty messed up…”
“The joys of Zaun.” Ekko scoffed, leaning back against the shelter.
“Why do you stay here?”
The question came as a surprise to the dark skinned boy as he glanced at the other. His tone had turned so soft, no longer teasing. His brows knitted in confusion as he stared at him.
“It’s my home.”
“So? Piltover is mine and I’m hardly ever there.”
“Piltover has nothing to prove.” His response was quick but soft.
“You really love this place, even though it tries to kill you every day.”
“There’s more to Zaun than just chembarons and suffering. Though you wouldn’t see it, you grew up in the city of perfection…”
“Progress doesn’t belong to one city.”
Silence. Well the conversation ended at least as the rain refused to allow silence; Battering down on the roof. Ekko huffed and let himself sit once more to relieve the stress on his leg. Why did it have to rain so much. He mumbled curses below his breath, hoping the rain would end soon so it would be easier to get home. He heard the shift of fabric and glanced over to see the blond had knelt down next to him. Ekko furrowed his brows, why was he still here?
“You said they left you two hours ago, why are you still here, you know we don’t really like Pilties. Shouldn’t you be getting home.” He sneered, crossing his arms.
“Well…That’s kinda the issue.”
Ekko turned to face him furrowing his brows. ”You’re lost. “
“I wouldn’t say lost particularly, just on a really long scenic route that I’ve never ever…seen before...”
“Ezreal. You are so dumb, it’s incredible sometimes.”
“I know, I’m amazing; save your applause.”
Ekko rolled his eyes but didn’t utter a retort; shifting his leg caused him to hiss in pain.
Ezreal sighed. “Anyway, I was kinda wondering if you could help me get to the border…but with your leg… you don’t seem to be going anywhere.”
“…the border is pretty far, you’re better traveling in the morning when it’s lighter...” Ekko sighed, rubbing his face. “But you need a place to stay until then. Neither of us can just stay here all night. ”
After a moment of silence, Ekko stood up grimacing at the pain in his leg. “I suppose you should come with me, I’ll take you to mine for the night.”
Ezreal glanced at him and stood up. ”Are you sure you can walk-“
“It’s not that far...” Ekko cut him off. “…and it’s better to keep moving.”
He gripped his bat tightly and glared up at the sky; Foggy and greenish in colour. Foggy puffs of breath in the cold air melting into the rain fanned out before his face as he sighed. Time waits for no man, so keep moving or you’re your life melt away. It wasn’t that dark, the pathways were lit with old oil lamps, though there were some spots where the lamps had died out too soon. The air was cold but the rain felt hot against his skin, lashing down he had to brush the now completely soak locks of white hair from his face. As they reached a junction he froze. His leg felt numb but he wasn’t concerned about it. There was something else. The air was stiff; he felt watched. He glanced over his shoulder to Ezreal; for a second their eyes met...
Then it hit him.
The breath was knocked from his lungs as he was knocked over before he was able to react. His grip on the bat faltered and he dropped it. The creature stunk like a wet dog wrapped in garbage. He squinted at the dark green humanoid wolf. It teeth bared, growling and snapping; feral. He was able to block it from biting his face off with his left arm. He hissed in pain, its claws scratching at his sides. He couldn’t reach for the zero drive and he wasn’t sure how long he could deter the creature. Abruptly he tried to kick it with his good leg though that only seemed to anger the beast more, biting down on his arm. He screamed. A noise that echoed in his ears for far too long. The searing pain in his arm seemed to grow though the pressure lessened. His brain seemed to lag unable to process the flickers of movement above him.
Ezreal had picked up Ekko’s bat, though he’d flinched back at the sight of the wolfman nearly tearing the other’s face off. His voice must’ve been drowned out by its growls in the thundering ran.
“Get. Off.” The harsh words followed by bolts of magic that seemed to only increase the damn dog’s frustration his claws had dug in, before he bit into Ekko’s arm. It was the scream that did it. It was a god awful scream. He struck the beast in the back with the bat; cracking the glass of it chemtech. It recoiled. This time he struck it in the face forcing it back. He looked at Ekko, his eyes were half open and his arm was bleeding heavily. He cursed below his breath, kneeling down. He grabbed his right arm.
Ekko flinched at the contact.
“Come on. Get up.”
Ekko winced, shaking his head slightly. He couldn’t move his left arm. He could hardly feel it. He couldn’t feel his leg either. His head was ringing. Then he felt Ezreal grab him pulling him to his feet, looking him in the eyes as he caressed his cheek. Ekko scrunched up his face but for once didn’t flinch away from the contact.
“Come on, we’re gonna get you home.” Ezreal huffed.
Warwick had started moving again, growling as he surveyed the two. Ezreal glared at him before clenching his fist and in a spark of yellow they had blinked a few feet away; he set off on a run. It was hard to run with the weight of the other leaning on him for support but he needed to get some distance. They were coming down to another turn. The sound of footsteps behind them, he couldn’t tell if it was his heartbeat or the rain thundering in his ears.
“Ekko…which way?”
The response was slow, muffled from the other. Who had rested his head on his shoulder. “left.”
He turned down the cobblestone alleyway. The other attempts at movement were become slower. The bloodloss from his arm was getting to him. Everything felt warm, too warm, stuffy and hard to breath in the rain. Cold droplets burning into the wound; Ekko felt warm, numb. His vision clouded. He could hardly hear the footsteps behind them.
“Don’t pass out. Shit. Please…Stay with me…which way...We’ll get there...”
“Keep Straight.” He mumbled, “only turn at the…post office...”
“Post office?” Ezreal uttered, the growling behind him seemed louder.
The damn dog was locked onto the scent of blood: Hungry. A bloodlust for its dinner and it was deadest on hunting them down. There was no option but to keep running.
His legs hurting and his breath sparse but he couldn’t stop running, not any time soon. Keep moving, don’t waste a second. Use every. Single. Second.
Post office! The rugged swinging sign appeared overhead like some beacon of hope in the dim street.
“Post office…which way.”
There was no response. He was slowing, panting as he stared at the swinging sign. Rain lashing onto the scratch paintwork.
“Ekko…Shit, come on…not now…which way.” He glanced over his shoulder.
Warwick was closing in. He backed up, aiming the gauntlet at the beasts face. Before he could take a shot, Warwick stumbled as something hit him- A spinning disc; Time winder. Whirling back towards them.
“Turn right.” Ekko’s voice was hoarse but the mere sound of it was relieving.
Ezreal set off again running passed old houses; rundown shacks. As they raced past some with lights on, gates open. Ezreal’s gaze scanned across the dark street. He was caught off guard when Ekko shouted.
“Stop. Left. Now.”
He skidded to a halt by a house on his left, scrambling to the door. He reached for the handle locked; of course.
Ekko groaned. “left back pocket.”
Ezreal glanced behind them as he reached for the keys, fumbling to fit them in the door and open it. Pulling Ekko inside before slamming it shut. He felt the door jerk at the force of Warwick crashing into it and he cursed as he fumbled to lock it again. Repeated hits crashed into the door, each came with a guttered growl before he could hear the sound of nails upon it, he cringed. Leaning against it, hoping the door was enough to deter him. The pounding and scratching at the door finally seized and Ezreal relaxed.
“We made it…we’re safe.”
Ekko coughed, shifting on the floor. “Knock on wood-eugh..” He pulled his arm closer to his chest; Flinching in pain.
Ezreal looked over with a sympathetic expression. “Do you have a first aid kit?”
“Bathroom, I think.”
Ezreal sighed glancing across the hall. The house was small though it wasn’t as small as he had imagined. The hallway was joined to the living room though it seemed to be made out more like a workshop with a sofa thrown in; Littered with paper and books and looted scraps of mechanics. He assumed the door cording off a room was for the kitchen. Next to him were the stairs. Woodened and creaked below his feet. Upstairs were two rooms. The bedroom- the only room with a carpet and what appeared to be hand painted décor onto the wall. He smiled a little at the doddles in acrylics on the baby blue walls. The other room was the bathroom. There was a cabinet above the sink. He rummaged through it. Bandages and rubbing alcohol, there also appeared to be something akin to a sewing kit probably for stitches. He grabbed what he could and walked back downstairs. Ekko had moved himself from the doorway, now laid on the couch. He barely moved to look at Ezreal, who knelt down and gently grabbed his arm to clean away the blood.
“The bite’s pretty deep, you might need stitches or it could get infected-“
“You know how to do stitches?”
“Not really but I’m a fast learner.” Ezreal grinned; feeling the other tense he sighed. ”But I can probably just bandage it up for now? If you prefer.”
Ekko nodded, relaxing again. Ezreal finished cleaning the wound and wrapped it in the bandages, letting go he glanced at Ekko’s leg reaching for the rags. Ekko flinched and grabbed his wrist.
Ezreal sighed. “You’re really jumpy aren’t you. Your bandages should be changed-”
Ekko stared at him for a moment before letting go of his arm, allowing him to remove the ties until he could see the wound. It wasn’t bleeding as much as his arm but that was mostly due to the shards of shattered glass blocking the holes. He was careful with removing them; surprisingly Ekko didn’t react much to the pain. Though it was mostly to the sicken smell of rubbing alcohol and tiredness that helped him numb most of it away.
Ezreal looked up finishing the bandage on his leg.
“I’m cold.” Ekko mumbled, shifting on the sofa. His face scrunched up in discomfort.
Ezreal furrowed his brows moving his hand up to Ekko’s face. ”You’re hot, well I mean…You’re running a fever…”
Ekko wheezed out a laugh, though he was shivering now. It was then Ezreal realised they were completely soaked from the rain. It would be a good idea to get some dry clean clothes. Ezreal Glanced at the stairs before sighing and picking Ekko up.
Ekko tensed at that. “I can walk-“
“Not allowed.” Ezreal rolled his eyes. ”I’m not gonna hurt you, relax. You can accept help too sometimes...”
It wasn’t particularly difficult to carry the other up the stairs, considering they were about the same height. As they reached the top Ekko had leaned against him, his shivering had lessened by now.
“You’re really warm.” He mumbled, nuzzling into the crook of the others neck.
Ezreal let out a slight laugh as he opened the door, sitting him down on the bed.
“You own other clothes, right?”
“Obviously.” Ekko huffed, sitting up. He seemed rather annoyed to have been removed from the warmth of the other’s embrace.
“Can I borrow some too, until mine dry off.”
“Sure but change in the bathroom.” Ekko huffed as Ezreal threw some of the clothes from the drawer at him.
“Aw, you sure you can dress yourself with that arm.”
Ekko threw one of the pillows at him. “I don’t need you to strip me. Thanks.”
Ezreal laughed picking out some clothes for himself before leaving the room and getting changed. They weren’t the prettiest clothes but they were comfy and quite frankly at this point that was all that mattered. He glanced at his wet clothes. The bathroom didn’t seem to have a radiator but there was a rack which he hung them on to dry before leaving, He knocked on the bedroom door before opening it. Ekko was laid down, he didn’t move until Ezreal sat next to him. At which point he turned to look at him and furrowed his brows looking him up and down before looking away.
“You still cold?”
“Not as much.”
Ezreal tilted his head, standing up again and tugging the blanket up before draping it over the other. “Better?”
“Yeah, I can’t see your face anymore.”
Ezreal pouted, pulling up the sheet and crawling under it. ”Meanie.”
Ekko laughed rolling over to face the other and stuck out his tongue. Ezreal scoffed though a smile slightly spread across his lips as he laid down next to the other.
“Ekko, what’s your favourite colour?”
It was a dumb question but he didn’t want the conversation to die into nothingness just yet.
There was a slight hum from the other. “Mhm….What colour are your eyes?”
Ezreal sat up, making the blanket fall off them.
Ekko laughed. “Ha, that sounded so cheesy. No. what I mean is- I really like the colour blue, light blue. Like the sky or the sea…and your eyes are like that…”
He sat up and Ezreal looked at him. This time it was Ezreal’s turn to tense at how close the other’s face was, his fingers brushing against his cheek.
“You have...really pretty eyes.” Ekko mumbled his warm breath hitting the others face before he pulled back and laid down again.
Ezreal released the breath he didn’t know he was holding and looked away. His face felt warm.
“What about you?”
“Uhm..” Ezreal had to think for a moment, to be frank he wasn’t sure. “Green.. like nature.”
“Hah, Green means poisonous here.” Ekko scoffed.
Ezreal shrugged, facing the other again. ”So? Blue can relate to cold and’s just how you choose look at it.”
Ekko stared at him, a snarky response on the tip of his tongue but he seemed to think better of it and looked away, perhaps even accepting that Ezreal had a point. Ezreal sighed rather unsatisfied with the awkward cut-off of conversation but he laid back down pulling the blanket up and burying his face in the sheets. For a moment everything was silent and he assumed Ekko had fallen asleep, until he heard him groan.
“My head hurts…everything hurts and it’s cold.”
“Well sorry, you’re the one who got yourself blown up and nearly eaten-“ Ezreal sighed but he sat up. “You got anythin’ for it - like painkillers or sommet?”
Ekko shrugged, moving his hand to rub his temple groaning again. “maybe… I don’t know”
Ezreal stood up leaving the room. He walked downstairs entering the kitchen he looked around the rather plain room, finding his way to the cupboards he rummaged through, there was an old bottle of gin, thought it was still almost completely full. He picked it up and walked back upstairs, entering the room to find Ekko had almost completely cocooned himself in the blanket, peaking out to squint at him.
“What’s that?”
“Alcohol…gin probably…Helps warm you up, maybe gets you less thinking ‘bout that headache...”
Ekko was hesitant to sit up as Ezreal sat down next to him, offering him the bottle. Ekko scowled at it.
“I haven’t spiked it…promise.”
“It’s not that… I just… don’t drink that much.” Ekko sighed and rubbed his face, before taking the bottle. “Stuff always stinks.”
He took a swig from the bottle and coughed.
Ezreal raised his brows.” You okay.”
Ekko glanced at him and took another swig. “Still tastes shit.”
Ezreal held back a laugh when the other handed him the bottle back. “You complain a lot for a tough guy.”
“You talk a lot of shit for a dude in ass kicking distance.”
Ezreal placed the bottle down and glanced at him unable to hide the slight smile that tugged at his lips. Ekko groaned, leaning back against the headrest. Ezreal moved to sit next to him placing a hand on his forehead. He was still running a fever. In retrospect, alcohol might’ve not been the best medicine but it seemed to calm him at the time. Side effects were a future problem. Ezreal let his hand slip down to caress Ekko’s cheek. Ekko scrunched his face up.
“The fuck you doing?” He hissed, though despite his harsh tone he had leaned into the touch.
Ezreal didn’t answer brining his other arm around the other to pull him into a hug. Ekko opened his eyes at that, tensing. He moved a hand to Ezreal’s chest, letting out a grunt in surprise.
“Shh, it’s ok.” Ezreal hummed, letting his hand shift from his face to run his fingers through his hair. “Everything will be ok.”
The pressure on his chest was lost as Ekko’s hand curled into a fist gripping the fabric like a child and he relaxed leaning into the embrace, resting his head on the Piltovan’s shoulder. His breathing steadied, but his grip never faulted; it wasn’t hostile more of a wish to keep him close. Ekko nuzzled into the crook of his neck. Ezreal smiled, gently rubbing his back. It was nice to see him so relaxed. He always seemed like a deer caught in headlights but now he was tame and calm.
Intoxicated by the warmth of the embrace, he could listen to the smooth rhythm of Ezreal’s heart alone, isolating himself from other noises to focus. Ekko was so used to being on high alert that it was an alien feeling to find himself lost within a moment, completely numb to his surroundings. All that mattered was the warmth next to his and the soft beat of the other’s heart.
Ezreal wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that for but it didn’t feel like long enough when he felt Ekko shift. He glanced down at the other who had lifted his head off his shoulder. Ezreal opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by the other moving his hands to caress his face and plant a chaste kiss on his lips. He blinked in surprise, making eye contact with the other who laid his head on him again.
“What was that for?”
Ekko scrunched up his face, though he seemed confused himself.”...Sorry”
Ezreal rolled his eyes and moved his hand to caress the others face, tilting his chin up. “dumbass.”
He pressed his lips against the other who reacted almost instantly; leaning into the kiss. Ekko moved his hands up, running his fingers through Ezreal’s blonde hair. The kiss was warm and soft, slow but held a passionate fire that had the pair pulling each other closer. A tug to his hair and a soft push on his chest made Ezreal lay down; the kiss broke for a second as they caught their breath. A soft chuckle leaving Ekko’s lip as he leaned over the other. Ezreal moved his hand to rub his cheek, letting the Zaunite lean into the touch. It was such a warm and gentle touch, his hands were soft. He leaned closer catching the other lips in another kiss. Running a hand along Ezreal’s side, skimming up the shirt to feel his warm skin, a familiar pain in his leg forced him to stop, breaking the kiss.
“Ah- shit.”
Ezreal looked at him, tilting his head in concern. “Hey, you ok?”
Ekko nodded. “yea- yea..”
“We should stop, you need rest…hurting again...isn’t it?”
Ekko glanced away and sighed. Ezreal moved his hand to touch his cheek. “Another time.”
Ekko nodded, laying down and nuzzling his face into the crook of the others neck. Grabbing his hand and intertwining their fingers, he squeezed softly. Ezreal returned the squeeze and he smiled slightly closing his eyes.
Time waits for no man but may it slow to capture a moment, a few seconds or a few hours- Locked in an embrace of warmth and peace. A fragment of time; so fragile, so safe. Both could bask in the moment of safety.