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Like pressing a kiss to an oncoming train

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The lab has been closed for celebration, the golden key turned left from the inside. Blue shards of moonlight filter in from one of the topside windows, enveloping surfaces with an ethereal half-glow. A veritable festival of gas lamps sits in the middle of the room, peppered amid a sizable mountain of empty bottles and takeout containers. There's plastic bags, cutlery, discarded shoes. The sound of laughter echoes off the angled corners.

It's Viktor's birthday, and though Jayce had been firmly instructed to 'Try to not make a big deal out of it', he just couldn't resist the inexorable pull of temptation. He had wanted to do something, anything that could communicate even a glimmer of how much the past year and a half working together had meant to him. It was — fuck, the feeling just about exploded within his chest. Jayce could hardly believe how far they'd made it. How quickly their hextech dream took shape, growing into a lumbering tree of endless possibility.

There are gates being built now just at the edges of the outer city, each taller than a mountain, and their existence promises to revolutionize Piltover - and the world as they know it- as a whole. It's like walking through a honey dream. Too good to be true, but true, somehow.

He's not used to the success. Not a day goes by where Jayce isn't acutely aware of how much of this glorious progress he owes to Viktor's intervention; to his help, to his notes, to his wit, to his steadfast and no-nonsense manner of support. He dreads to think of what could’ve happened if had been allowed to the leap.

Viktor was his closest friend.

So it was odd to realize that no matter how many steps he took forth, Viktor always found a way to respond by retreating further into the shadows. He’d offered Jayce his hand once - but now he politely declined it.

Jayce liked to think he was good with people. Or that he'd learned how to be, anyway; after years of living under someone else's patronage, you begin to play the role as if you'd been born in it. You know what the boundaries and expectations look like, and how to make people like you, so they don’t throw you away. But none of it ever really seemed to have an effect on Viktor, who had perfected a system of his own. He'd nod, refuse, and make the whole thing seem as though it was no big deal at all. That you really shouldn’t bother, it’s fine, and then it feels a little awkward to be asking in the first place.

Sometimes, Jayce couldn't help but feel like he must have done something horribly wrong. A misstep he didn't realize; a personal slight executed on accident; anything that'd justify all the distance and the carefulness. The topic of Viktor's birthday happened to be one of those.

It more than made sense to suggest, but it didn't pan out well. Viktor stubbornly opposed any prospect of a party, claiming to be every inch the private man that he was; and despite Jayce's best efforts, he couldn't find a way to convince him to accept a night out, either. He was always busy at the lab, tinkering, or embroiled in a deep research session. Not to talk about the adjustments he kept doing to the gates, prompting the blueprints to be updated every quarter of a week. 'Downtime' was a word that scarcely existed in his vocabulary; and it wasn't one he seemed to particularly miss. Jayce began to think that if he hadn’t found out Viktor’s birthdate through a file mishap, he wouldn’t have ever shared it at all. Their friendship feels a little one-sided, in that way.

"You've got that far-away look in your eyes you get when you're lost in thought," Viktor drawls, suddenly, his movements erring on the side of sluggishness. He has a hand around a half-sipped bottle and an empty plate by his lap, smeared with the last traces of frosting. "Regretting this already, perhaps?"

Jayce startles. At the end, he had managed to ambush V with a ‘private party’ of sorts - expensive takeout order, a boxed strawberry birthday cake with Viktor’s name plastered on it, bottles and bottles of the finest beer the city had to offer. Nothing too fancy, no overbearing gifts- but just enough that he couldn’t bear to refuse.

"I have no Idea what you're talking about." Jayce says, tipping the bottom of his drink this way and that. "It's a lovely night — look, you can even see the stars, if you try." he points vaguely past the large open window.

There's no stars, not really.

Viktor's gaze won't leave him. Jayce feels intimately scrutinized.

"I shouldn't be holding you up this late. It's a weekday." he slips his plate to the floor, placing his bottle lower even when he has no intention of moving. "There's routine supervision to be done at the construction sites tomorrow, and you have to— look," he sighs, "I am really, truly grateful for… this. Your arrangements,"

"My arrangements," Jayce chuckles in return, buzzed by the alcohol in his system. He leans a little more on the floor, making space past the packages.

"Yes. They're lovely, thank you. But I don't want you to assume you have to— you don't need to give me anything. We're square. You don't owe me a single thing." he says it like Jayce's actions are somehow unwarranted. Or worse: compulsory. As if he's been somehow guilted into it, instead of offering from his own free will.

"Is that what you think I'm doing?" Jayce asks. The strawberry sours in his mouth.

"Is it not?"

Jayce shifts his gaze towards one of the lamps. Weird. Weird. Weird. He had looked so pleased just a few moments ago. Almost glowing. Maybe even happy, for a split second; the sort of thing he only ever is when one of his prototypes turns out successful. Jayce had managed to land a comment smart enough to wring a laugh out of Viktor; and he'd smiled like they were having fun, but now here's that thing again. The borders, the quiet nudging, pushing him away as if he's unable to recognize it. No one else does this to him, not anymore; not when his face is on the newspapers and his name is on everyone's mouths. It's only Viktor.

"Do you hate me?" Jayce asks, before he has a chance to process which words his mouth is forming.

It feels childish, out in the open cold, spoken like that. It feels like a stupid thought.

"I beg your pardon?"

He regrets it immediately. Jayce's teeth feel like blocks of cement drying in his mouth; he's the world's most inept speaker. "It's just that," he begins carefully, feeling for the vowels. He's drunk too much. He hasn't drunk nearly enough. "- I can't help but feel like you want to get rid of me, sometimes."

"That's nonsense. We work together, I see you every day. For hours, if I might add." Viktor says, bewildered.

"Yes but after that, after work." the argument brews in Jayce's mind, a fire slowly being doused. "You never come with me anywhere. You rarely tell me anything about yourself." he lights up, gathering enough confidence to look Viktor in the eye. He's frowning; a deep line crossing the valley of his temples. "I'm always showing up alone and giving speeches when you're not there and getting headlines printed with my name in them and it's like they don't even know who you are because— I don't fucking know. Because you don't want to be associated with me?"

"Hextech is your invention. It is only fair that y--"

"-- Our, Hextech is our invention! We did it together, and we still-"

"— I don't feel comfortable taking credit for an idea that was not mine to begin with, no matter how romantic that particular notion may appear to you." Viktor idly grasps the body of his cane. Jayce's mind comes to a screeching halt. Wait, what did he just say--? "I have plans. There are things I want to do and that we, as you put it, can achieve with this technology- and when I'm through, when the time comes, I'll gladly… speak on that, or whatever the hell it is you want me to do. I know you must think you are doing me a great favour, trotting up on your white horse and offering to ferry me around like a grand charity case, but that's not my scene. Those are not my people."

"And you think they're my people? They were ready to throw me in jail not long ago!" Jayce bristles. God, he's so fucking frustrated. He wishes he could reach out into his throat and just pull all the thoughts out, to manually unwind this unnamed knot of squirming turmoil that clogs up his chest.

"Yes, Jayce, but it's you who they want to see. Not me. " Viktor's tone is cold. "That's the difference between us, if that wasn't abundantly clear at this point. You're their golden boy. And I'm just me." he gnaws on the last word, as if trying to rip it apart with his teeth.

To Jayce's ears, this sounds like the most ludicrous thing anyone could ever think. If they only knew who Viktor was, they would-

Can't Viktor see that he's liked at all? That Jayce sees him as more than raw data, more than an asset, more than a lab assistant or a coworker, even — he's Jayce's friend, he's Jayce's savior, he's — he's given Jayce the whole world, free of cost.

It makes Jayce feel selfish at the mere suggestion of asking for anything more; even if that something is Viktor's honesty. The illusion of his friendship. How could Jayce deserve it? Hasn’t he had enough? Shouldn’t he be well past satisfied already?

The argument coils into an unreadable nest of words in his mind. He's trying to stitch the sentences together into a cohesive whole, but there's so much he wants to say that none of them stick. He forgets his talking points, destroys his carefully curated discourse, slips on the hypotheses like soap. All that remains in the end is the central feeling:

"Maybe I want you." Jayce argues, brilliantly, without another second of thought. It's like sticking his foot in his mouth.

Something like confusion flickers past Viktor's dazzling brown eyes. He brushes it off quickly, with a shake of his head.

"You're babbling." Viktor mutters with a pinch of resignation. "Drank too much, now you don't even know what you're saying."

"I know," Jayce insists, and now he's got a hold of Viktor’s arm; enough to make him face him. "I know what I'm saying! And I’m saying that I want you." with me, hand in hand, standing together. Proud of what we've achieved, partners in more than a lab; talking about inconsequential things, going out for drinks, joking about stupid shit, doing anything and nothing at all. So long as you open up to me. So long as you stop pushing yourself away.

When have their faces gotten so close?

Every line and curve composing Viktor’s expression becomes painfully evident to him. Jayce catalogues the groove of his slight, concerned frown; the placement of his moles, the shape of his bangs, the way his amber eyes glint, catching the warm light of the yellow lamps between his eyelashes. He looks so serious, so picturesque, so perfectly Viktor.

“And what do you want me for?” Viktor’s voice sounds no louder than a secret. He's still trying to analyse Jayce’s motive. The calculation is implicit beneath his gaze; he believes this to be a transaction, a ruse, a trap of some sort. He doesn’t entirely trust it yet.

Jayce’s hand moves from arm to cheek, cupping it gently. He doesn't think about the action, it happens entirely on instinct. Viktor’s eyes flicker to it however briefly, looking intrinsically changed as he meets Jayce’s gaze again. Neither of them speaks. Maybe they shouldn't. Jayce’s mind is a field of grainy white sand. He knows what he wants, though he won’t dare think it for the fear something breaks. For fear it’ll break him, maybe.

“Go on.” Viktor says, and his words ring like the softest of velvet, wrapping around the back of Jayce's mind. "Do it."

There is a breath. An impulse forward. The briefest lick of lips. A millisecond of futile hesitation, irrelevant in the face of things.

Jayce kisses him. And Viktor, with his breathing heavy and his heart in a state of utter disorder, kisses back.

A relief like a hunger being sated spreads from the depths of Jayce's chest. He sways forward, his arm grasping for Viktor's waist and pulling him closer. They fall together like a custom built mechanism; Viktor's pulse careens under his grip. Their noses brush as Jayce's head tips to the side, looking into deepening their kiss. Viktor's fingertips grace the top of his shirt, and it's as if electricity surges from Jayce's chest, a trail that follows the spots where he's placed them.

He's never felt so drunk and so startlingly sober at the same time.

Jayce licks the seam of Viktor's lips and he opens with a surprised sigh, fingers digging into the meat of Jayce's shoulder. He still tastes like cake and spices, sugar mixed in with an older tang. Jayce's hand drops, running under Viktor's thigh and bolstering him up his lap — Viktor grunts an exclamation as he does so, and Jayce takes it as a positive one.

Viktor's arms wrap around his shoulders. Jayce feels the palms of his hands weaving into his hair and a jolt runs up his spine, dangerously hot. There's little space between them, now; their hips are pressed together, their chests almost glued. Jayce almost wants to squeeze him. His hands search for the bottom of Viktor's vest and begin fingering open buttons, smoother than he's ever been. Warmth pools on Jayce's navel. He tugs at the knot of Viktor's tie until it loosens, and then he's coaxing the vest out, eager to move onto Viktor's shirt, but Viktor suddenly pauses, taking a hold of his hands. His spine goes stiff.

He pulls back, breathing with some difficulty. "Wait," Viktor pants, his face all red. He blinks like he doesn't know how he got here, knuckles closing around Jayce's wrists. He meets Jayce's eyes for only half a second, before shifting them low. It's not a negative expression, it's just- he looks embarrassed. He looks flustered. Jayce wants to bite him. "-- surely you don't suppose we'll be doing that in here."

"Hand stuff is fine by me," Jayce mouths distractedly at the side of his neck, barely able to help himself. Viktor smells so nice. It's an earthy thing, like a riverbed; maybe a flower?

"I'm not doing any— hand stuff in my lab!" he sputters, in the throes of outrage. "I have a room, thank you very much."

It takes a little for the penny to drop.

"Oh, shit." Jayce feels like he sounds awfully stupid again. Fuck. "Do you want to-"

"You have to help me put this mess away, first." Viktor shifts his eyes back into Jayce's. He's smiling a little incredulously, now. "It's my birthday, after all."

 

*

 

They pack the trash at the lab without looking too hard at each other, and leave the little left of the cake out near the damp sink, where the ants can't get to it.

It is the longest elevator trip of Jayce's life. The blue numbers tick up one by one with the speed of molasses. The mirrors around the small square compartment multiply the same image threefold, as if standing in silent judgement: it is Viktor and Jayce, with their hair mussed up and a matching blush adorning the cheeks on either side. Viktor’s tie is askew. His shirt is crumpled and haphazardly untucked like he’s been attacked by a wild badger -- his vest is nowhere to be seen. Jayce conspicuously holds his hands together at his front, shifting in his pants. Neither of them makes so much as a peep.

Viktor grabs his hand once the compartment box opens, and they spill into the corridor together with the light, like a pair of staggering hormonal teens. Not out in public, Jayce remembers Viktor saying once, and he squeezes his hand a little tighter for it.

His cane taps on the polished tiles of the floor with clockwork precision, only relenting once they reach the door. Viktor fumbles with the keys. They suddenly feel like part of a puzzle devised for his personal torment.

Jayce presses him to the other side of the door once they’re allowed in. Viktor squirms, gasping as Jayce’s teeth meet the sensitive area of his neck. The tie is finally discarded, and through some feat of nature Viktor manages to wrestle Jayce’s shirt off. His cane clatters to the floor, and Jayce pulls him off the ground, holding at the hip.

“Careful there,” Viktor manages to say, somehow attaching an edge of warning to the arousal dripping from his tone. “Remember my leg.”

They move to the bed. Nothing else in the room matters.

Jayce unbuttons Viktor’s shirt, though he insists on leaving it on anyway. They kiss like the world might end, and that sudden desperation is so evidently ridiculous — even in the spur of the moment — that they end up near laughter.

The alcohol certainly helps, Jayce thinks.

Viktor reaches for a drawer on his bedside table and retrieves an elaborate bottle from it, liquid swirling heavily within. He presses it to Jayce’s palms, then elaborates, in a manner adjacent to scientific explanation:

“I am predisposed to be a little… tight, so.” he clears his throat. Viktor is scarlet to his ears. “You have to take your time.”

“As if I’ve ever been so careless with my research.” Jayce quips, and the line gets Viktor’s lips quirking into a smug smile again. “I mean, come on! I’m nothing short of a perfect example when it comes to lab safety, and-”

-running your mouth, as it seems.”

“Guilty as charged.” touché. He surrenders.

Viktor takes care of his own belt while Jayce helps him strip off his pants. Then he’s pushed back into the center of his modest double bed, falling among the feathery comfort of the pillows. Viktor emits the air of a cat who’s carefully satisfied with himself.

Jayce has never had the chance to see him in anything besides the full uniform before. The moonlight lovingly drapes every inch of his skin. His hair flips into the cover of the pillow. There’s so many moles.

Viktor looks striking.

Jayce kisses his navel as he tugs his boxers away; and he takes his sweet time. The lube helps, but frankly so does the attention. He slicks Viktor’s outer lips and rubs gently at his cock until he swells under the treatment, skin kindling with arousal. The first finger goes in without a fuss; Viktor’s breath barely changes. He nibs at his lip. Jayce stretches him with two, and then three; by which point he’s palming himself through his pants, hand slicked with juices, kissing at Viktor’s thigh as he breathes in deep and ragged, noise escaping with his muted gasps. Turns out he really is tight— and hot, too.

Lube trails from under the gap of Jayce’s fingers, dripping on the bed in strings as Viktor’s spine raises with an arch. Jayce stares, enraptured, as his knuckles brush deep in spots that make Viktor's knees quiver. He squeezes around his hand, pulsing like crazy.

He can tell Viktor is close. In a split-second decision, Jayce lays his mouth over the nub of V's neglected dick, running the tip of his tongue over it. The effect is overwhelming: his walls clamp down on Jayce's digits and Viktor throbs until he near screams, heels digging into the bedding as the roll of Jayce's tongue pushes him just past his first orgasm. His legs are wracked with tremors; he pants out of his mouth, whining, and his pussy squeezes around Jayce's fingers until it has no choice but to slowly give out.

Slower, now. Jayce moves around inside him experimentally, not wanting to test more than the stretch. Wet and sticky sounds mark every drag and push of his fingers.

Jayce smoothly slips them out, letting Viktor rest as he works on readying himself. His dick is grateful to be set free. Jayce rubs it with his still-sticky hand, sighing as relief rolls over him. Just a squeeze threatens to make him see stars; the friction is marvelous, he's so pent-up it bears on cartoonish. Jayce drips a few extra rivulets of lubricant onto the length of his cock, toying with it until it's pleasurably stiff and glistening under the tight tunnel of his hand.

He must go like that for more than an embarrassing little bit.

Viktor is the one to call him back up. His voice rumbles like a little engine. Come here, he says, the embers lit in his gaze, with long and taut fingers framing his lower lips, holding the gape of his hole open. Go on.

Jayce fucks the air out of his lungs.

Viktor's blunt nails try to scrape the back of his broad shoulders, holding so tight he's half sure it might leave a bruise. Jayce presses his head to the side of Viktor's neck, burrowing in, feeling him stretch and squish around the girth of his cock like a furnace. Every thrust is accompanied by a wet beat, and the cracking sound of Viktor's increasingly more desperate moans. He undoes himself; his mouth hanging open, his eyes pressed shut, clinging like he wants to slot them together, and red, red, red — from the tip of his chin to the end of his temples.

Jayce sucks a mark on his collarbone as he comes, plugged in deep, and he swears he can hear Viktor sob.

 

*

 

"I mean it," Jayce says, sometime after they're done.

The bed is cool. His arms rest snugly around Viktor's torso, while Viktor's head is happily pillowed on the crook of Jayce's neck. A modicum of cleaning-up has taken place before they were allowed to squeeze together.

(It's no problem, Viktor had said, when Jayce worriedly apologized for his reckless method of finish. It can't do a thing. There's a silver lining to every mishap, if you think about it.)

"Mmmn?" Viktor asks, drowsily. Mean what? Is what Jayce thinks he's said.

He brushes the hair out of his face. Holds it, just like that.

"I want to know you better." he weaves the strands past Viktor's ears, feeling himself unwind into something fragile and painfully tender. "If you want it. If you-- let me, I guess."

"I must say your seduction tactics are truly laudable." Viktor responds, stirring only a little, and Jayce can't help but smile. "Do you say this to all of your conquests, or just the ones with apparent issues?"

"Just you, actually."

Viktor opens his eyes a little. Then looks.

For the first time in a long while, Jayce feels like they're really seeing each other.

"You really are mad, aren't you?" Viktor asks, but he sounds like finally believes in him.

Jayce shrugs. "Comes with the job."

It's stupid, but it works; Viktor catches himself smiling again with an incredulous huff, and promptly presses his head back on Jayce's chest.

He takes a moment to think, and the night swirls around them. Viktor is beautiful. In the private recesses of his mind, Jayce wonders for exactly how long he has felt like this, without even realizing the depth of it. Maybe a year? Was it a year and a half?

Since they met?

Viktor hums. Jayce can feel the edges of his conscience slipping. After what seems like an awfully long stretch of time, his response comes.

“I suppose I’d like to know you better, too.”

He doesn't know if anything comes after that. By that point in the evening, Jayce is already sleeping.

 

 

 

*

 

Come morning, they miss the time of scheduled inspection, leaving the gates unattended and the construction in a state of utter disarray.

When Mel asks, Viktor mutters something about a persistent difficulty regarding the path to his bedroom.