This is our dream, Jayce says.
And Viktor can understand the quick clicking of two minds coming together in an instant, the desperation and desolation that Jayce nearly falls down into. He knows those feelings, lives them both daily, this dissonance between sharp mind and eroding heart. But he doesn’t understand this. Breathless trust. The willingness to share — the willingness to give. Viktor comes from scarcity, from scraps, from the suffocating filth of the trenches in Zaun. The scars in his unfeeling leg are proof of that; battle wounds from surviving the undercity.
But to be given so freely — it feels immense. Like a galaxy caving in and bursting out into thousands of constellations, brilliant with every shape.
Jayce is young. Twenty-four, to be exact. Five years younger than him.
In the world of high academia and innovation, five years is simultaneously a lifetime and an instant. Five years means the completion of a degree at the Academy, but also can be just a sliver in a professor’s tenure, or half the time required to write, prove, and defend a thesis. A scholar’s research can take decades.
Five years marks the distance between Jayce and Viktor. In totality, it is not that much time. But Jayce’s excellence is rough around the edges only in the way the genuinity of an unborn genius is. Viktor, well. He’s hardened. Polished, but with the sandpaper of being in Professor Heimerdinger’s shadow and with the necessary metamorphosis demanded of a crippled boy trying to make it out alive. It’s like comparing uncut gems to river-smooth rocks; next to Jayce, Viktor feels small in ways he has never felt.
We’re partners, you and I.
This is what connects us, Viktor thinks. A wonder for revolution. It’s a line from me to you.
“The arcane crystal is only stable at high frequencies,” Viktor explains. “Otherwise, it’ll just explode, which you can clearly see from the state of your laboratory. May she rest in peace, by the way. Wonderful office you had here.”
“It’s not my fault I got robbed,” Jayce says, affronted. But then he lights up. “This entire time I thought I had to minimize the vibrations. Viktor, you are brilliant. How did you come up with this in the past hour?”
“You laid the base foundation,” Viktor says. “Perhaps you were so deep into your own work that you thought yourself into a hole. Outside perspectives are quite useful in science, you know.”
“I couldn’t exactly explain to Professor Heimerdinger that I was trying to create magic— you saw how well that went in the trial.” But Jayce smiles, a curve on his lips, a parabola going up, up. “I wish we had met sooner.”
Viktor stills, and lets his hand rest on the page. Jayce’s notes, scribbled in blue ink. Under the pads of his fingers, the paper feels soft. “I wish the same.”
“Why magic?” Viktor asks, cutting the silence that has fallen between them amidst their work. “Most of the world fears the arcane for what it has done. Civilizations destroyed, thousands murdered. Demacia outlaws it altogether, even those who were born with innate gifts.”
Jayce pauses, and the fleeting expressions that dance across his face range from remembrance to awe to determination. “It saved my life.”
Viktor raises an eyebrow and motions for him to continue.
“When I was young,” Jayce starts after a deep breath. “I was visiting the Freljord. My father had just passed, and he’s from there, and they sent him back home for a proper burial. My mother and I were on the way back to the ship before we got caught in a furious snowstorm. She collapsed — hypothermia. She nearly died and lost two fingers. I was screaming for help even though there wasn’t a single soul around. And then a man came out of nowhere, staff in hand, and all I remember is blue. Bright blue, enveloping everything around me. And then we were transported somewhere beautiful. Somewhere warm. And he didn’t say a word to me. He just gave me this crystal, and disappeared.”
Jayce’s fingers trace over his wrist, where a crystal sits embedded in his bracelet. The leather straps are worn, a testament to how often Jayce wears it.
“Magic saved my life,” Jayce presses again, determined. “I know it can save others. Just imagine the things we could do.”
Viktor nods. It’s an admirable reason, and certainly explains Jayce’s drive for the research.
“How about you?” Jayce asks. “What are you here for?”
Viktor’s hand drifts to his leg. The limb is dead, numb, a sensation that never stops feeling foreign no matter how many years pass. Eventually, he says, “I want to be strong. I want to be able. I want all of this for me. The me who nearly died in the undercity.”
Jayce wants to change the world for the better because he has seen how it has helped him. Viktor wants to change himself for the better because he has seen how the world has failed him. It’s a proven science, see. Two men, vastly different at the core, yet coming together with the unstoppable force of magnets searching for their opposite, meeting in the middle.
There are a few things that are inevitable: the physics of electromagnetism, the passage of time, and the push and pull of two men finding each other in what can only be described as a blessing of fate.
Viktor’s theory turns out to be true, and with a blast of light, Viktor suddenly finds himself propelled upwards, suspended in gravity. The shards of the arcane crystal have scattered into celestial dust, and in this moment, in this room, Jayce and Viktor are in outer space, surrounded by blue stars.
“It worked,” Jayce says, laughing brightly. “It really fucking worked. You’re brilliant, Viktor. You really are. You did it.”
“We did it,” Viktor amends softly, and for the first time, he makes himself plural.
“Yeah,” Jayce murmurs. “We did.”