"I can take your sister out in the countryside" Caitlyn offered.
Vi raised a brow at her "What?"
The Sheriff eyed her partner "You were arguing again"
Vi sighed, wound up shoulders drooping as she put her palms on the edge of the kitchen counter "I just...I need to work on not getting angry"
Caitlyn sighed and started preparing some tea "You can't keep blaming yourself love"
"How can I not?" Vi said, frustrated and hurting, huffing like a distressed animal "I...I feel like every time we get closer, there's something that takes us apart"
Caitlyn nodded, humming "Like what?"
"Just…" Vi took a moment to get her breathing under control "...She...she’s frustrated with me, for some reason. I don't know why and every time I ask she gets more annoyed and then I get annoyed and it’s just one useless circle-"
Vi groaned and slapped her hands down on the counter.
Caitlyn hummed again and started rubbing Vi’s back as the woman steadied herself.
In the background the kettle boiled to a whistle.
“Did you figure out the Jewel shop case?” Caitlyn asked once the kettle died down
“What?” Vi looked at her in confusion.
“The Last Drop doing good?”
“Did you finish that favour for Ekko yet? Resolved Madame Red’s problem with the Blackboot gang? Checked out that tipoff you received a week ago-”
“Cait!” Vi pounded the counter again, though it wasn’t with her full strength.
The stone would have cracked otherwise.
Caitlyn poured some hot water into a cup “You have a thousand obligations Vi and you’re stressed because you’re trying to take the burden of the whole world on your shoulders”
Vi sighed and leaned against the counter, strong and scarred hands grabbing onto bruised elbows as she looked to the side.
Caitlyn placed a teacup next to her and reached out to gently massage Vi’s arms, moving up into her shoulders. “Strong shoulders though they are”
Vi breathed easier as Caitlyn’s hands worked their way through tightly-wound muscles “Im the oldest” she said quietly “Ive always taken care of...everything. It was always my responsibility to make sure Powder gets something to eat, to make sure we had enough money to get by, to make sure she was safe and to make sure she was...happy”
“Mhmm” Caitlyn nodded “And you did a great job-”
“-Yeah, until I fucked it all up-ah!”
Caitlyn’s look was one of light admonishment as she pinched a bit of skin “You would not punish a child now for making the mistakes you did when you were young. You would teach them how to be better. Why punish your younger self?”
Vi’s jaw worked open, then shut, then she sighed. “Maybe if that girl grew up and learned-ah!”
Caitlyn mimed pinching.
Vi sighed and took a sip of tea.
“Powder will come back home to her room tonight” Caitlyn said with certainty “I’ll leave a note for her to meet me in the morning. Hold the fort down while we’re out”
Vi looked uncertain "Are you sure? It might not be safe..."
"We're talking about your sister Vi, that's a given. Regardless, I am up for some bonding time"
Vi furrowed her brows "With a girl that wants to kill you half the time?"
Caitlyn gave her a look "Did I stutter?"
Jinx stepped off the carriage and looked around.
She was lost. Completely and utterly lost.
“Why the fuck did I agree to this again?” She asked aloud.
“For the free cupcakes, probably” Caitlyn chimed in, emerging from the other side of the carriage.
Every now and then, Jinx could resist the urge to aim a gun at Caitlyn and this was one of those times.
It was hard work but it was better this than Vi finding out she turned her girl into a human grater.
The argument after that would probably level half of Piltover.
Hmmm...No! Bad Jinx, no thinking about murdering Vi’s girlfriend. Again.
“Powder?” Caitlyn called out and the younger girl turned.
Something flew in her face and she brushed it away with a grimace.
Annoyingly, it stuck to her hand. A white fluffy thing that probably came from a plant.
Caitlyn chuckled “Caught a lucky puffball have we?”
Jinx shook her hand vigorously until the thing took off again. “Lucky?” She asked dubiously as she watched it float away.
“Yeah, supposed to be lucky when one lands on you. Best if its hits you in the face”
Jinx raised a brow “That's weird”
Caitlyn smiled, shrugging “Only hearsay. Maybe’s your plenty lucky already”
The comment went unanswered as Jinx focused on their surroundings.
What the hell was a forest anyway?
The trees were too fucking tall, the smell was too weird and made her nose itch and the ground was wayyy too soft.
Soft ground in the Undercity meant you were walking on sewage and going by the weird smells, maybe she was.
A forest version of sewage.
Why the fuck did I agree to this again?
Her boots crunched sticks, leaves and the things under the leaves that she didn't really wanna know about.
Oh right. Because Vi
Just like that her annoyance and anger dropped, replaced by a complicated ball of emotion she struggled to untangle.
Thinking about Vi had always been a complicated thing for her, see-sawing from one extreme to the other.
Though it felt so long ago and Vi hardly mentioned it, she still recalled that moment in that place where she gave Vi a gun and told her to shoot Caitlyn.
So yes, it was complicated.
But recently there was something else, a new development that she couldn't figure out and it was frustrating and….hurting, her. Jinx took solace in the fact that there would always be comfort whenever she thought of Vi, her sister, her family, all the way back to when she looked in the mirror and she saw Jinx instead of Powder.
Vi had always been with her, one way or another.
Then there was love as well, such boundless love. So much that it hurt sometimes and she had to get some space.
But other things as well.
Thinking about the last one had her pausing mid step.
Lucky for the little snail thing crawling, at the speed of slugs to get out from under the shadow of her boot.
"Just ahead Powder" Caitlyn called out.
She crunched the snail with an annoyed stomp.
That was certainly was a less complicated feeling.
She and Caitlyn didn't see eye to eye, or at least she didn't with her, on account of the fact that she had tried to stab the Sheriff in the eye numerous times.
"Actually" Jinx paused again, calling out to the woman ahead of her "Why did you bring me out here alone? You know you and I in one spot without Vi is a bad idea right?"
It really was. For all that she joked and entertained the idea, she didn't want to kill Caitlyn.
Most of her didn't, but there were still parts of her that saw nothing other than competition for Vi's precious attention.
Well, all of her saw Caitlyn as that, but that other part wanted her dead because of it.
The rest of her just found it irritating that Vi would give her love and attention while not even acknowledging that-
Jinx snapped back to reality, away from thinking about Vi and the complicated knot that brought.
"But" Caitlyn seemed unperturbed by the question, going by how she was casually leaning against a tree and waiting for her "We'll have to get along at some level and I thought I'd share with you something I quite enjoy"
But she didn't turn back and leave.
Soon enough they entered a clearing, neat and organized to the point even Jinx could tell it was cultivated somehow.
“You Pilties really like to waste money huh?”
Caitlyn laughed and Jinx found it an odd reaction to an insult.
Caitlyn was like that for her. Odd.
For all that Jinx stuck around because Vi, Caitlyn had become something that stuck to her thoughts too.
Because she was odd.
Perhaps, if she had fired that rocket, it wouldn't have been this way.
But she didn't. Vi didn’t let her.
And now she had to deal with the fucking Sheriff of Piltover in a fucking forest and they were on their own.
The things I do for you Vi…
Was she doing this for Vi or to avoid Vi?
The knot came back and her thoughts jumbled again.
“Here” something wafted in her face and it wasn't an annoying sticky fluff-ball.
It was a cake instead.
Jinx narrowed her eyes but took it and munched away anyway.
Better to be thinking about sweet things than Vi right now.
“I used to come her a lot when I was young” Caitlyn started as she sipped on a thermos, a wondrous little invention that, “Explore the woods, go shooting, smell the air”
Jinx sat down on a tree root and looked over the clearing, filled with flowers of various sorts, more types than she had ever seen in her life. “Why’d you bring me here?”
There was silence for a moment, then Caitlyn sat on the same root as Jinx, but kept a distance away, sitting on the edge.
“It brought me peace when I had troubled thoughts” Caitlyn answered honestly, or at least Jinx thought she was being honest.
Most of her did.
An improvement over none at all and just kill the bitch taking Vi away from me.
Jinx nodded absently “Can see it”
There was silence again for a moment, the awkwardness building.
“Thank you for taking my offer, Jinx”
Something jolted inside her and she snapped her head to Caitlyn, who looked out over the flowers.
“You didn’t have you and you probably only wanted to get away from Vi, but I appreciate it nonetheless”
Jinx still eyed her.
“You notice a lot of things” Jinx said lamely, a poor effort to get conversation moving away from an uncomfortable thought.
She had a lot of those recently, uncomfortable thoughts.
Caitlyn chuckled “I am the Sheriff of Piltover Jinx, it’s my job to notice things. Like how Vi tried to hide how much paperwork she’s avoided by sticking it under her desk”
“-Or how she hides how much she lazes off by glaring at everyone in the break room whenever I find her there. Strange that I only get anonymous complaints about my partner”
Jinx snorted, then chuckled.
“Or that time when she took a little too long interrogating a man who owned a brewery. Answered the question of how she got ahold of the expensive bottle of wine she gifted me after”
Jinx cackled “D’you let her know?”
Caitlyn laughed softly “I think she knew I knew”
Jinx sniffed, feeling the itch of flowers on her nose.
“I also noticed how, sometimes, you don't like it when Vi calls you Powder”
The surge of fire and rage inside was genuinely shocking, so much so she didn't even notice she had leapt the gap between her and the older woman and had Caitlyn’s shirt in her hands.
Caitlyn gently put her hand on Jinx’s, gloved thumb rubbing along the inside of her palm gently.
“It’s okay Jinx, tell me what you want to say”
There must have been something in her face because Jinx did not want to say what she was thinking.
What parts of her were thinking, were shouting and screaming
“Just...I don't…” She hesitated, doubts creeping in and that when she hears the voices again.
Caitlyn’s hand enclosed her own, an odd warmth that wasn't Vi but it was somehow good enough to center her, just for that moment, just enough for her to take the lead again.
“Part of me...part of me still gets mad at you, no matter what you do. They...she…thought you bad-mouthed Vi” Jinx sighed, letting Caitlin’s shirt go and moving to sit back.
Caitlyn held on, to her surprise.
“Do you think I did?”
Jinx stared her, blue eyes on blue.
“No” Jinx admitted “I think...I think you’re trying something clever, like you usually do and...I don't know what to do about it because I don't want to hurt you to make you shut up”
It was a lot of truth to be said in one sentence. A lot of truth.
Too much, far too much.
But Caitlyn was like that. She spoke the truth, always.
No matter how Jinx once raged, hated and plotted to kill the woman, Caitlyn had never once told her a lie. Not one since Jinx accepted moving into her home, Vi’s home, after Vi spent so long convincing her it was a good deal.
So Jinx went with her gut before her brain and the voices could catch up and told the truth.
Caitlyn gave her hand back, giving it a gentle pat “Thank you for being honest with me Jinx, you didn't have to be”
Jinx stared at her for a long moment “No, I didn't. Didn't want to be really. You just...bring it out of me, I guess”
Caitlyn was caught by surprise, going by her expression. A pleased surprise, going by the smile on her mouth.
“I appreciate that” The Sheriff said warmly, genuinely.
Something stirred in Jinx’s chest and she turned away, adding it to the ball of knots already in there.
A silence settled between them, not awkward, yet not too comfortable either.
The anticipation was eating at her and Jinx was afraid she would lose her cool again “So!” she started, louder than she intended “We just gonna...look at flowers all day?”
Caitlyn chuckled as she got up and looked around the ground a bit, then pressed something with her foot.
Target boards flopped up in the field of flowers sending a whole bunch of petals, seeds and whatever else scattering into the air.
Jinx’s eyes widened.
They widened some more when Caitlyn offered her a gun.
Are you fucking mad woman?! She shouted in her head, ignoring the fact that it was with her own voice and no one else's.
“Your sister told me you loved to shoot when you were young. So did I” Caitlyn continued, as if she wasn't in mortal danger.
Why do you care about her so much so suddenly? Mylo chimed in.
Because she realises that Cait’s trying to do something good and she’s scared Claggor, always the wise one, pointed out the obvious.
They were far tamer than they had ever been recently. Mylo hadn't even called her idiot in a long while.
In her distracted state the woman with a death wish gently guided her hand to the grip of the gun.
The familiarity of a weapon in her hand overcame the sudden shock and Jinx was staring at an expectant Caitlyn, who also had a similar pistol.
“Go ahead, try it out”
Violence was a good thing, in this regard. Jinx knew violence (heh, Vi) and she knew how to think when violence was the priority.
She just put the part of her calling for violence against Caitlyn away for now and brought forward the parts of her that wanted to show posh girl how to shoot propa’.
Her stance was natural, honed through years of practical experience. The gun was a little lighter than she was used to, a smaller calibre and a different aim set-up but the principles of pistol shooting were the same.
Balanced stance, steady her arms and pull the trigger.
There were ten targets set up.
She hit nine of them.
The last was set up on a branch near the top of a tree and was partially covered by branches and leaves.
Caitlyn hummed, impressed “Great shooting. Again?”
Jinx nodded and Caitlyn gave her a box of ammunition to refill with.
The next round was another nine out of ten, with the outlier being that furthest target again.
The round after yielded eight out of ten
The next, demanded by an increasingly irritated Jinx, was a seven out of ten.
“FUCK!” Jinx shouted, throwing the gun to the side, then regretting it as it smashed against a tree trunk.
“Sorry” she apologized as Caitlyn picked it up.
“No problem” The enforcer said, inspecting the weapon with no indication that she was anything but being casual. “You’re frustrated”
Jinx rolled her eyes “No shit, don't need your eyes to see that”
“It’s annoying, but sometimes stating the obvious is needed” The enforcer looked up at her and handed the gun back, holding the barrel end “People can often miss the obvious”
Jinx accepted the weapon and sighed. “I don't want to shoot anymore…”
Caitlyn came closer to her, within arms reach, giving her a look.
Jinx bit her lip and said nothing.
Slowly, Caitlyn reached out and put a hand on her shoulder.
She didn't shrug it off, for all that she was tempted.
Why do you care so much? Mylo asked again, but this time it seemed like a genuine question.
Because Caitlyn hasn't done anything bad to her for a long, long time. Claggor chimed because she’s starting to tru-
“You have a good stance” Caitlyn said, suddenly closer as she manipulated Jinx’s body “But you shoot as if you’re going to move after every shot. Good for actual fights, not so much for target shooting”
Her hands were warm. Her body was warm.
Her perfume filtered into Jinx’s nose and it smelled far better than any of the flowers.
Suddenly a memory hit her, of Vi guiding Powder, moving her around as she taught the little girl how to punch
“You're not Vi!” she said suddenly and everything paused.
Caitlyn kept her hold on her body but it was gentle, the lightest, featheriest touch, ready to leave at any moment.
“No” Caitlyn agreed, cautiousness audible in her voice for the first time “I'm not. I won't ever be”
“So...why are you...doing this?”
Jinx was well aware she could have shrugged Caitlyn off her and the woman would have. She would have stepped back and kept a healthy distance again.
Because Caityln respects you Claggor pointed out the obvious that she didn't want to notice.
“Because Jinx, I think I care about you”
Something caught in Jinx’s throat and she so badly wanted to listen to that raging voice, that part of her that was screaming Liar. Liar. Liar.
But Caitlyn wasn't lying.
She never lied, not to her.
So she did not listen to that part of her. She put that back into a box and shoved it into the corner where Mylo helpfully put a lock on it and Claggor sat on it.
“I always cared about you, initially because of Vi. I wouldn't be able to love her- she would not be able to love me- if I didn't care about you. You’re so important to her Jinx, you’re her world”
Something hot and wet rolled down her cheek and she shuffled a little, backing into Caitlyn slightly, pressing herself just a little bit against the warmth.
“I promised her and myself I would try to understand you and I would try to love you. I think, at least I hope, I have been doing so”
Jinx gave a wordless agreement, lifting her arm into Caitlyn’s hand, feeling that gentle touch hold on a bit tighter.
“So when I noticed the two of you arguing I knew I had to do something. Do you know that every time you and your sister argue, Vi sees you two back at the abandoned factory?”
The thought made her uncomfortable and Caitlyn seemed to pick up on it.
“I'm sorry to bring that up, but I wanted you to know how your sister thinks, what she shares with me that she might not with you. I apologise if you already knew this”
Jinx shook her head mutely.
“So, you want Vi to acknowledge you as Jinx right? Not just Powder”
“Then show her” Caitlyn said the suggestion as if it were an order.
It might have been.
“Show her something that only Jinx can do and that Powder would never”
“Like what?” She voiced her thought.
Caitlyn guided her arm and steadied her stance, aiming at the target partially hidden beneath branches and leaves.
“You know your sister, what do you think would work?”
Jinx thought about all the many things she had already tried.
The wind brushed the branches and leaves covering the target.
Her eyes widened.
People can often miss the obvious.
She pulled the trigger.
The target splintered with a satisfying crack.
Vi felt the satisfying burn in her muscles as she let loose on the heavy punching bag, a reinforced one, she had broken the others.
The thud thud thud of her fists was music and she closed her eyes, letting the flow take her, beating a satisfying beat, letting all her worries disappear in a haze of brawling.
There was probably something wrong with her head that fighting calmed her down, but she didn't care.
Thud thud thud
Her eyes cracked open and she saw Powder in front, smirking at her as she held the punching bag back.
Vi smiled. For all their recent issues, Powder always made her smile just being around.
The punishing bag was launched at her face.
She brought her arms to block, eyes wide open in shock.
Her little sister slipped around the bag and delivered a powerful kick.
Though Vi blocked that too, it left her arms stinging.
Stronger than she looks.
She always kept forgetting the fact that Jinx lugged around a heavy weapon, probably because the girl made it look so easy.
Vi settled into a loose fighting stance “Uh...Whats this about then?”
As the initial rush of adrenaline tapered and she could think clearer, she could see Powder giving her a half smile.
“Fight me” She ordered, casually.
Vi let her guard down and sighed “Powder-”
She brought it back up when Powder aimed a heel at her stomach, again feeling the force of the blow.
“Powder would never fight you Vi” The girl said, shockingly close.
How the fuck-?
Vi jabbed on instinct but it was a slow one and Powder evaded easily.
“Jinx though?” Powder continued, stretching her arms and fingers forming and reforming into fists. Her eyes turned sharp and deadly as she looked at Vi “Jinx can kick your ass”
Vi grit her teeth, wishing to shout a denial, to say that she wasn't a Jinx anymore.
But she couldn't, because she did that before and it didnt end well.
Vi didnt know how to respond “Pow-”
Jinx launched into an angry flurry of punches and kicks, powerful and accurate, pushing her defenses to the limit.
At the end of it both were left panting and Jinx was looking at her with a very serious expression.
Vi stared into those big blue eyes, so much like Powder’s.
But Powder never looked at her like that.
Vi brought her arms up, settling into a fighting stance “Alright, Jinx. Fine”
Slowly, a grin spread on Jinx’s pale face.
Off to the side, Caitlyn watched as the two sisters beat each other to a pulp, idly wondering why she had to have fallen in love with such a clueless partner.
Caitlyn dabbed the hot-water soaked cloth just below Vi’s eye and the woman winced, turning away from the pain.
“You should really learn to stop blocking with your face” she commented as she wiped away bits of dirt and blood that had sprayed from her partner’s nose.
Vi gave her an evil eye but said nothing, probably because it was too painful to speak.
Even Caitlyn had winced when Jinx’s boot crashed into that chiseled jaw she loved so much.
Moving on from her partner she went over to Jinx, the two sisters sat side by side, slumping against each other looking like they had come out from a fight they were outnumbered in ten to one.
Jinx groaned a little as Caitlyn started to clean her up.
“Hey Cait” Vi groaned out, grinning “Have you met my sister Jinx? She can kick real good”
Jinx snorted, then groaned again as something hurt somewhere, burying herself into Vi’s shoulder.
Caitlyn shook her head and laughed.