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The Ocean Calls (Hands Over My Ears)

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Lux has always liked dangerous things.

Like walking on the edges of tall, crumbling walls of old Demacian buildings. Or sharpening her blade until its softest touch would draw blood. Or cradling a sphere of light between her palms in the darkness of her room – back when her magic had still been undiscovered.

Most of all, she liked the ocean – its unpredictable, vast nature, the way it bent and reflected the sunlight, how it lost all colour at night.

In Demacia, learning to swim was not just a necessity; it was a requirement – one could never know when their only escape from enemy forces would be across a body of water.

But to Lux, the ocean had offered more than just an escape from enemies; it offered a moment’s peace, an escape from the yanking shackles of her family name and buried, shameful secret.

Whenever she could, whenever the seemingly endless duties demanded of her ceased for a while, she’d slip away towards the rocky, treacherous shores of the Conqueror’s Sea. There, she would sit for a while – usually minutes, sometimes for hours, if the circumstances allowed. Few made the trek there. The waves were wild and angry, the risk of losing your footing and falling into them always there. And the waves were merciless; they would crush bodies against the mountains’ cliffs without a second thought.

The danger was worth it, because the solitude was a reprieve for Lux, a chance to finally shed the act she upheld the rest of the time.

There were few things she missed about Demacia – its oceans were one of them. Every river in Zaun was polluted, and Piltover’s beaches were often crowded with activity and people.

At first, she’d had the misplaced hope that maybe – just maybe – she could return. Not immediately, not after all the damage she’d done, not when Demacia’s hatred for mages was boiling over – but eventually. That, one day, things would simmer down, and she wouldn’t be considered a criminal because of something she’d been born with.

No such luck.

Those that didn’t want her dead didn’t want anything to do with her at all, and those who didn’t shun her kept that fact a secret.

You don’t need them, Jinx had whispered, one night when Lux’s resolve had crumbled and the truth of her ostracism dug its claws into her chest and angry, angry tears burned their way down her face. You don’t need any of them, Jinx had whispered, hands wandering over Lux’s body, cold and rough and grounding.

She hadn’t whispered it with pity nor with any gentleness; she’d whispered it with a furious conviction that had set something inside Lux on fire, that made her kiss Jinx with bruising force, holding her close enough to hurt.

Jinx was right. She didn’t need them or their oceans.

Shifting movement from her right snaps Lux out of her thoughts, and she turns her head to look at Jinx, sitting with her legs tucked into her chest, chin resting on her knees. Her features – the curve of her lips, the sharpness of her face, the scattered scars and freckles, her fiery, piercing eyes – are all seared into Lux’s mind, but Lux never tires of relearning them.

They’d gone away together, which was something they did sometimes – the Loose Cannon and the Light Mage, the unlikely, infamous duo that were hated by many and wanted by more and loved by each other. Zaun was their home and Piltover was their playground, but the rest of the world was theirs, too, and when things got too boring or too stifling, when things were too loud or not loud enough, they headed out into uncharted territories, places where they could be nameless for a little while (finding places that didn't know Jinx’s name, though, was a difficult task). Jinx had even promised to take Lux to Noxus someday – something Lux knew was bound to end in disaster.

It made the offer more appealing, in a way.

This time, they’d found themselves somewhere in between the borders of Piltover and Noxus, on a beach with a shore that was made out of soft, warm sand, rather than jagged cliffs and rocks. It was empty, isolated far from where anything or anyone lived. If Lux closed her eyes, she could almost imagine she was back in Demacia.

Almost. But not quite.

Because Demacia didn’t have Jinx.

“Do you hear that?” Jinx asked, suddenly and without looking at Lux. Her eyes – piercing, burning eyes – were fixed on the horizon.

Lux’s gaze remained fixed on Jinx’s face. “Hear what?”

“The screams in the water.”

Lux looked back at the ocean. She could only hear the crashing waves and crying gulls. But she could imagine the secret screams the ocean stored in its hidden depths, screams of all those who’d drowned in its open maw.

Screams only Jinx could hear.

“Almost,” Lux replied, and she heard Jinx laugh softly.

Lux watched as Jinx uncurled from around herself, leaning back on her hands, her head now tilted towards the sky. “There’s a storm coming,” she said, certain.

“Really?” Lux’s eyes flicked up towards the clear skies, but she had no doubts about Jinx’s claims. Jinx never lied.

“Really.”

Lux hummed, glad. She liked storms.

“You know,” she said, lifting a hand and drawing nonsensical shapes in the air with her light. “They say there’s a spell where you can capture the essence of lightning at your fingertips and store it in your bones.”

Jinx finally looked at her. Her smile was like the quick flash of a drawn knife’s blade. “Think you could do it?”

Lux shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’d like to try.”

“Sounds dangerous, Blondie.”

Lux dropped her hand, leaving behind strings of dancing lights, and smiled at Jinx – her knife’s twin. “I like dangerous things.”

Jinx threw her head back, laughing like Lux had told her a really good joke. Maybe Lux had. Maybe everything they ever shared was one good, long joke.

If that’s the case, Lux thought, I hope we never reach the punchline.

Once Jinx’s laughter subsided, she grinned at Lux, inching closer – until her arms were draped over Lux’s shoulders and Lux’s hands rested on her hips – and kissed Lux.

Her bottom lip always tasted like blood, due to the fact that it was often caught between Jinx’s teeth, worried at until it tore. Lux was always mindful to brush her lips against it softly, never wanting to add on to Jinx’s hurt, but Jinx had no such qualms, demanding more and more and more, until Lux forgot about the blood and the hurt and everything that wasn’t Jinx.

They parted – a little breathless – but did not distance themselves; if anything, Jinx curled up even closer, her head resting against Lux’s shoulder.

“What would you do with your lightning?” Jinx asked, idly trailing her fingers up and down Lux’s arm.

“I don’t know,” Lux answered. A small smile made its way onto her face. “We could blow up a building.”

She felt – more than she heard – Jinx shake with laughter. “Always a classic.”

Lux focused on Jinx’s breathing. These moments of stolen tranquillity were not rare, but Lux found each and every one of them sacred and precious, so she always tried to memorize their smallest details.

Because she knew Jinx, knew that stillness was not something that came naturally to her. There was a fire in her veins that constantly pushed her into action, into moving and running and destroying – only stopping when she was truly and utterly spent, the fire burning down for the moment.

Lux had grown to know the tell-tale signs of Jinx winding up for something – sometimes just a kiss, sometimes an impromptu demolition – so she was not surprised when Jinx sprung out of her arms, standing up and kicking off her boots.

She shot Lux a grin. “Let’s go for a swim, Blondie.”

That was the only warning Lux got before Jinx walked towards the sea, splashing in fully-clothed. Lux watched her for a moment, affectionate, before getting up herself.

Unlike Jinx, Lux can’t afford to simply barge into the ocean. She’d stopped wearing all her armour everywhere some time ago, but she still wore the odd piece here and there. She removes her pauldron and boots, discarding her pants and tunic along the way. Then she goes after Jinx.

The water is bitingly cold, but Lux can bare it. Demacian warriors were trained to handle it all, extreme temperatures something they were often subjected to.

It doesn’t take long for her to catch up with Jinx. When she’s close enough to touch, Jinx turns around and offers Lux her hand.

Lux takes it, and immediately feels warmth course through her.

The shorter of the two, Jinx ends up neck-deep in the water first, while Lux only has it reach her shoulders. Still holding Lux’s hand, Jinx smiles, then plunges under.

Lux follows her with no hesitation.

It’s easy keeping her eyes open underwater, yet another courtesy of her Demacian upbringing and training. Jinx’s eyes are open, too, and had Lux not already been holding her breath, it would’ve been stolen by the way they were shining, their glow refracted and shimmering in the water.

Lux holds her breath for as long as possible, wanting the moment to last. Once her lungs start to burn, however, she breaks through the surface, gasping for air.

Jinx lasts a few heartbeats longer, and when she comes up, she does it with an eerie calmness, like she’d been breathing normally the entire time under. Her hair is plastered to her face and she pushes it back with a laugh, teeth clacking together as she shivers from the cold.

I love you, Lux thinks.

“I love you,” Lux says.

Jinx stops mid-laugh, quirking up her eyebrows, brow furrowed. It’s not the first time those words have passed between them, but Jinx always seems to be caught off guard by it – like she expects Lux to grow tired of saying it, like she hadn’t left behind neon-coloured handprints and explosions all over the inside of Lux’s heart and lungs and veins. Colours that were a permanent part of Lux, now.

When the surprise wears off, Jinx’s smile turns into something softer. She wades closer towards Lux, until their legs are brushing against each other, and Lux holds her close.

“Love you too, Blondie.”

This time, Lux is the one that leans down for a kiss. Jinx hums happily against her lips, pressing closer and cradling Lux’s jaw in her hands. Lux feels herself glowing a little – her time away from Demacia had allowed her to achieve control over her magic, but Jinx always managed to undo it, somehow.

Their kiss deepens, and Lux loses her footing; they fall back beneath the water, but neither lets go. And Lux knows that this may be a bad idea, that the waters are freezing and their weapons left behind on the shore; they’re vulnerable, defenceless.

But then again.

Lux has always liked dangerous things.