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Ekko bursts into his room, limping and leaning upon a makeshift crutch. The door slams close behind him as he stomps towards his closet to search for a change of clothes. His injuries aren’t bad—besides a broken leg but they already took care of that. Heimerdinger says it’ll take at least a few weeks to heal which is the most inconvenient thing to possibly happen to him.

 

He sighs regretfully. That dumb girl. Setting off that stupid bomb that fucked up his stupid leg. Thanks to her, the Firelights will be properly disoriented until he’s back on his feet, which might’ve been her plan the whole time, and if so, then congrats , Jinx. But really he thinks she was just trying to kill him.

 

And herself in the process. 

 

He feels a pang in his heart that he tries to swat away.

 

Congrats, Jinx.

 

Part of him thinks he’ll miss her but immediately curses himself out for it. No, he’ll miss Powder . But he already mourned her years ago, hadn’t he? So what’s this stupid, sick feeling in his gut that makes him want to throw every feeling and last piece of his heart off of the nearest cliff? He decides he doesn’t know the answer and doesn’t care enough to find out. He’s tired. He’s tired, his leg hurts, and he just wants to sleep, goddammit. 

 

He finds a bigger worn out t-shirt covered in stains and holes that’ll do for a sleep shirt and tosses it on the bed. He slides his current one off, covered in day old blood and ash. He holds it gently in his hand, examining the stains, the blood that isn’t his own. Her face flashes through his mind, her eyes pleading for her life and the regretful smile she gave him moments before pulling the pin. Only for a second but it’s enough for him to throw it in the deepest corner of his closet so he never had to see it again.

 

In front of his mirror, he examines his beaten up and scarred body. He dabs his fingers at the fresh bruise slowly turning into a sickening purple near the center of his chest where Marcus had shot him. He stares at the ones on his arms and knuckles where he’d… From his fight with her . His bloodied skin makes him want to vomit.

 

He tears his eyes away from the mirror and pulls on the sleep shirt, feeling warm and comfortable in fresh clothes. He looks down at his pants and shrugs, deciding that they’ll do. He leans his crutch against his bed beside his beaten, metal bat, scarred from years of battle and use. 

 

He shuts his eyes for a moment, willing his brain to relax, to become blank, to not think anymore about what had happened today. He’s tired. He just wants to sleep, forever even. After a few seconds, a dull, soothing ring begins to fill his ears.

 

“You look like shit.”

 

Faster than even Ekko could recall, he picked up his metal bat, twisted around, and swung with all his might. The sharp pang of metal upon the concrete walls rang loudly around them. 

 

Jinx stands calmly against the wall, her head tilted slightly to the right, settled mere inches from the bat.

 

Jinx ?” He nearly whispers.

 

“Hi,” she greets with the corners of her lips turned upward in a small smile.

 

You’re alive? Ekko wants to ask. But he doesn’t.

 

And he doesn’t hesitate this time. He swiftly raises his weapon, swinging fiercely at her head once more with a loud cry. She ducks and dodges, and he misses again. Jinx scoffs. “Relax,” she urges with a roll of her eyes.

 

He doesn’t. With a low grunt, he swings again. She catches it with her hand, a heartbeat from her face. With her free hand, she snaps sharply at his arm, forcing him to drop the bat. He winces in pain. Seemingly at the speed of lightning , she twists them both around, pinning him to the wall with his arm behind his back and her leg against the back of his calves. 

 

“I told you to relax,” Jinx hisses in his ear. “I’m not gonna hurt you or your friends. I’m not here to fight.”

 

Ekko pants, too confused to speak. Where did she get that strength , that speed ? Finally, he finds his voice. “Can you let go of me then?”

 

After a moment, she obliges, and Ekko twists around. He leans against the cold wall and looks up at her, staring into her gleaming magenta eyes—Wait, her eyes. Magenta ? No, no, he could never forget those eyes. Her wonderfully powder blue eyes. The ones he watched slowly turn from gray to blue to match her vibrant hair when they were kids. 

 

“The fuck happened to you?” It’s all he could say. And at that, Jinx laughs—more of a giggle, he noted—for longer than felt comfortable.

 

“What do you mean?” She asks finally after her fit of laughter. She falls onto his bed, her legs crossing over each other. She cradles her head in her palm, her arm perched upon her knee.

 

Ekko scoffs. “What do you mean ‘what do you mean?’” He retorts. His flailing hands gesture to her. “You’re…different.”

 

Jinx shrugs. “Well, yeah, that’s not—not really news, Ekko.”

 

“That’s not—“ He shuts his eyes and rubs the bridge of his nose with his fingers. “That’s not what I meant,” he mutters, fighting very hard to ignore the fact she called him by his name , for the first time in years. He wasn’t even sure if she remembered. “You’re…stronger, a-and faster. And your eyes—“

 

“Ohhh!” She snorts with a small chuckle. “Yeah, that .” She points at her eyes, widening them at him. “These.” She begins to fiddle with her thumbs. “Yeah, after our little fight and the explosion, I managed to not die somehow. And Sil—“ (She really couldn’t bring herself to say his name. Not yet. She swallows the lump forming in her throat.)—“Someone found me. And fixed me up, I guess.” Jinx raises an arm. She extends it, flexes a bit, and if he looked closely enough, Ekko could see bright purples and pinks glowing under her skin, through her veins.

 

“It’s shimmer,” she says, and for a moment, her voice fades a bit and loses its regular lilt. It darkens.

 

“Shimmer?” He asks incredulously and finally realizes that he’s gripping his bat again, so hard his knuckles ache. “Is that how…?”

 

“I’m alive?” Jinx’s voice returns to normal, light and airy with no sign of the darkness he saw seconds ago. “Pretty much. Now I have, like, powers! Or something. I don’t know, but I’m a lot stronger now! We could actually do a rematch or something, if you’re up to it, pretty boy.” She suggests with a wink and Ekko swears his face could melt right off the bone.

 

Pretty boy? What happened to Boy Savior? Please go back to Boy Savior , he inwardly pleads for his own sanity.

 

He coughs unnaturally hard, as if it could somehow cool his face down. And he feels so damn confused because he swears he buried these feelings he used to have years ago. He thought he put them six feet under when Powder became Jinx ; When she completed her first mission (Nothing short of blowing away a troop of enforcers and nearly half of the Last Drop’s customers); When she first saw him again four years after he’d lost her and she pulled out her minigun and laughed at the way he sprung out of her line-of-fire; When she first attacked him and the Firelights, killing their former leader and founder with terrifying ease and apathy.

 

He thought he cared nothing for her anymore, thought that any love he felt for Jinx died when Powder did in the fiery inferno that took everyone else. And that’s why he thought he could face her on the bridge. He thought that Vi wouldn’t have been able to finish the job, knew that she wouldn’t be able to hurt Jinx because she still held onto the little girl she knew so, so long ago. 

 

The one that died alone with no one to hear or lend a hand.

 

And that’s why he fought, why he lunged at her and piled on blow after brutal blow, aiming to kill the only remnant of his childhood friend and first love.

 

And when he hesitated, when he made the mistake of staring into those sapphire blue eyes that made him crumble and fall eons ago, he was confused then, too. Confused as to why he couldn’t end it, why he couldn’t finally bury the last, missing piece.

 

Now, with her —Jinx, not Powder—sitting in front of him on his bed, staring at him with unfamiliar eyes, smiling gently, almost tenderly at him, making his body burn up and his heart surge with adrenaline, maybe he knew why.

 

“Hello? Hello? Earth to Ekko?”

 

Ekko blinks once then twice. He lifts his head. Jinx was waving her hand in front of his face obnoxiously. “What?”

 

“And I thought I was crazy,” she snorts, leaning back on her hands. “Totally lost you there.”

 

“Sorry, I just…” His voice trails off and suddenly feels like rocks in his throat. He swallows. “I-I really thought you were… Why are you here?” He spits out, hardening his voice and steely gaze.

 

Jinx’s attitude shifts. There’s a falter in the way she holds herself, the way she acts and speaks, and she pretends like it isn’t noticeable, but it is . Even Ekko can tell that much.

 

“Can’t a girl just…visit a friend? Y’know, catch up every once in a while?”

 

“We’re not friends,” Ekko hisses, and for a second, he’s not sure if he believes himself.

 

“We’re not?” She asks and sticks out her bottom lip in a child-like pout. “But I thought maybe—“

 

“You tried to kill me!” He shouts, pushing himself to his feet. “ Multiple times!”

 

Jinx scoffs and looks offended (for some reason). “You tried to kill me, too!”

 

“You’re just proving my point!”

 

“Okay, so maybe we can make up or something,” she grumbles. Her fingers grab at something on his bed. (He wasn’t the neatest person; his room was scattered with miscellaneous items and parts, and he felt a twinge of embarrassment creep up on his neck as he watched her fiddle with a crumpled up piece of paper). 

 

“There’s no making up, Jinx .” Ekko spits her chosen name like venom. He takes a step towards her. “I don’t know you. We’re strangers. I don’t know what fucked up delusion you’ve got bouncin’ around in that head of yours but whatever we used to be is gone.”

 

For the first time—probably in forever—Jinx is silent. She clenches the paper tightly between her fingers.

 

“I was going to kill you on that bridge.” His voice is quiet.

 

“Then why didn’t you?” And her’s is suddenly dripping with hate, so much he feels like he’s drowning. “I saw you. You hesitated. You stopped. And why? Because I looked at you?” Jinx jumps to her feet so that she’s standing toe to toe with him.

 

The metal bat is cold in his hand. He’s worried he might freeze completely.

 

“You’re soft. You were never a fighter and you still aren’t. Fuck, Ekko, I’m stronger than you, even without shimmer in my veins.”

 

Ekko can feel his lungs filling up, nearly pouring over. It’s spilling into his throat, his mouth. It tastes bitter on his tongue.

 

“At least I have the courage to finish the job!”

 

He spills over, and chokes.

 

There’s a rush of air accompanied with her own words lodged in her throat. Ekko has her against the wall, his weapon pressed against her throat. An all too familiar situation, and he’s scared to mess everything up again. 

 

Jinx stares at him calmly. There’s no fear in her eyes, or maybe she’s hiding it too well for him to notice.

 

The silence is so thick it makes Ekko feel sick, and it lasts so long he feels his bones begin to ache. It’s only interrupted by their short, shallow breaths.

 

“Hey, Savior,” Jinx finally mutters, the quietest he's ever heard her, “you’re hesitating again.”

 

And she’s right , she’s right and it makes his skin crawl. It makes him angry, and he wants to scream and break everything, including her. But he also can’t help but notice the way her lip quivers slightly, betraying her cold eyes and tight grip on his bat, pushing it away from her throat. And he thinks maybe everything was for nothing. Maybe he still wants her. As a friend, as a… whatever , maybe he still needs her. Maybe there’s still a scared little girl underneath this bloodstained skin of a killer.

 

He locks eyes with her. Amber being swallowed whole by terrifying magenta. Something shifts and he’s not sure what it is but Jinx can feel it, too. It’s evident in the way her brow softens and her hands creep slowly from the cold, scarred metal to wrap around his wrists.

 

She’s warm, like freshly dried laundry in the cold, midnight winter, like the singular patch of sunlight shining through a crack in the roof, illuminating a wilting daisy. He doesn’t look at her hands long enough to acknowledge the faint traces of dried blood under her painted fingernails. His body is heating up, burning so harshly he swears the very flesh on his bones is marring. He feels like a planet gravitating dangerously close to the sun, being ripped off course and flying helplessly into oblivion. A part of him doesn’t really care; maybe the sun isn’t so bad after all. Yet another part of him tears himself away before he can finish the thought.

 

The bat clatters to the ground below, deafening in the rigid silence between them. And it lasts and lasts and lasts until Ekko really thinks his brain has finally lost it and he’s going to wake up from a terrible nightmare at any second (Is it really a nightmare though?).

 

“I never forgot about you.”

 

Ekko doesn’t look up but feels every fiber of his being disintegrate at her soft voice. 

 

“When I saw you again, even with your stupid mask on, I knew it was you. I could tell. Even after so long, you still walk funny.” She jokes and pokes fun like she always does but her voice is so dangerously low and raw, like Ekko has never heard before. “And I didn’t know what to do. You reminded me so much of everything I threw away, it—it killed me.” She’s barely whispering at this point. “I wish I had been better, I-I…”

 

(She wants to say sorry. She does. But she doesn’t know the meaning of such a word, and it still rings in her ears from the dinner party hours ago. She’s on her knees begging Sil—begging him not to go, and the words are spilling from her mouth so fast, they lose meaning.

 

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry… )

 

“Ekko.” She says it so pitifully; she’s pleading for him to listen. “I did something terrible today.”

 

And she starts crying softly, her wet cheeks glowing a faint purple. He doesn’t even realize until he watches small tears wet the ground.

 

“Something terrible, terrible, terrible…” She repeats herself over and over again, faintly hitting her skull every few words.

 

In a heartbeat, Ekko rushes forward, engulfing Jinx in a warm embrace. Jinx is so stunned that for a moment, her tears stop falling. Her hands fall to her side, shaking, and then just as quickly as Ekko had wrapped himself around her, her arms fly up around his shoulders, gripping tightly at his shirt. She breaks again; she doesn’t know if anyone will ever be able to put her back together.

 

Ekko listens to her sobs rack her body because what else can he do? Her hair smells of ash and machinery; not a pleasing smell but it nearly makes him smile nonetheless because it’s her . It’s her in his arms in his room and she’s crying so, so hard and she’s letting him hold her and trusting him with every part of her at this very moment. It feels wrong given the time, their circumstance but it’s so reminiscent of their childhood and it makes his heart hang so heavy in his chest.

 

They stand in his room, in the dim light, in the silence aside from her low cries, for what feels like hours, until eventually, the sobs begin to subside a bit, and her hands loosen slightly from his shirt but his never leave her back. And she says, “I didn’t know where else to go.”

 

He says, “It’s okay,” and he really does mean it because he doesn’t care why she’s here, if she’s just using him as a shoulder to cry on, because it’s Powder, the girl he used to always want (and is realizing he still does) in his arms.

 

After a few more minutes, Jinx is the first to pull away. Her forehead lingers a few centimeters away from his and their faces are so terribly close. His heart yearns so loudly, screams through his ribcage, and he’s afraid she might hear it.

 

He waits for her to explain, preparing himself for the worse. I did something terrible today is what she had said, and if Jinx said it was bad, then it has to be.

 

She looks scared and smaller than he ever remembered her. She’s fidgeting with one of her braids, the hair falling out messily from the area she’s been rummaging her fingers through. And it’s when she finally opens her mouth that there’s a jarring knocking at his door. Well, more like a banging with how loud it is. Both Jinx’s and Ekko’s eyes widen, and he urges her to hide behind the door before he opens it. He places a finger to his lips, silencing her, and she mimics the gesture mockingly.

 

Ekko pulls open the door and is greeted by one of his Firelights. They nod to him curtly before urgently stating, “There’s been an incident.”

 

“What incident?”

 

The Firelight looks so anxious, their chest heaving, their eyes glancing from the floor to his and back again. “Silco’s dead.”

 

Ekko’s heart sinks and begins to ring in his ears.

 

“Zaun and Piltover are on the brink of war.”

 

War ? What are you talking about?”

 

The Firelight wrings their hands together. “Jinx. Sh-she fired a missile at council headquarters. It blew up nearly a fifth of Piltover. Hundreds dead, countless more injured. Enforcers will be running rampant through the city, guns blazing, at any moment.” Their eyes locked with his, pleading, scared. “What are we going to do?”

 

Ekko feels frozen, his feet solidified to the floor. He feels sick, so sick, he might lose what little dinner he ate at any second. Jinx’s voice repeats, flickers in and out, inside his head. 

 

Something terrible. Terrible. Something terrible, I did something terrible today… 

 

He swallows. “I don’t… We’ll… I’ll figure it out just—“ He clenches his eyes shut, swallows. “I need a moment.”

 

The firelight nods in understanding and takes off back down the hallway.

 

Ekko feels too numb to close the door, knowing who— what is behind it. Maybe he was wrong, wrong about everything. She’s a monster, she isn’t— can’t feel… Maybe she can but—he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know what to feel, to say, to do.

 

War.

 

Jinx declared war .

 

And now all of Zaun had to pick up her mess.

 

He slowly shuts the door to stare into Jinx’s face, void of emotion. Her eyes are empty pools of glowing, deadly shimmer. She no longer cries but tear streaks are left behind in her mascara. She gives him an apathetic scoff.

 

“Oops, right?”