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The Sewer Alligator of Zaun

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The sky had grown dark before any had noticed, Vi was so intent on her conversation with Powder that it took a slight prompting from Caitlyn to realise the time. She had long exhausted her hold over Lux, yet she’d rather surprisingly kept away to allow the two alone time to converse. 

 

It had made a warm feeling well in her chest that even Lux knew how to read the mood, one that immediately came crashing down at noticing her keeping away was because she’d found something of interest underneath a crate. Vi didn’t have any idea what it was , but Lux maintained a laser focus on it and simply ignored everyone else. Powder, somehow, found the whole thing adorable going off her muttered comments while awkwardly stealing glances her way.

 

She still couldn’t wrap her head around Powder’s crush on Lux of all people, outside of it being a case of her lack of experience and exposure making her latch onto the first person she’d met that was nice to her. If that was the case Vi had to be wary of people attempting to take advantage of her sister that way.

 

“Pow-Pow, how about we continue our conversation up topside and run you through a quick check up. It’ll be with people you can trust, plus Caitlyn’s dad is a mean cook who I’m sure will make you something delicious.”

 

“I’d have to tell Twitch where I’d be going first or else he’ll worry I got stuck in a pipe somewhere….”

 

Twitch, Vi had quickly learned, was the person…or rat that had saved Powder all those years ago….and also thrown her into a Chempit for the fun of it. He had shown her the ropes and seemed like a reliable partner over the years, but some of the things Powder told her made her sometimes doubt his goodness .

 

“Right, we can wait here for you and then we can head up. That sound good to you?”

 

“S-Sure….”

 

With a quick wave, Powder descended back down into the sewer, leaving just the three of them. Turning towards Caitlyn, Vi sent her a questioning look.

 

“....Do you think your parents will be okay with Pow-Pow coming so suddenly?”

 

“I did tell them in advance where she would be coming from and what that could mean, I think with a little prep it shouldn’t go too badly. Rather, I think just their relief at Lux being unhurt will make them more agreeable, especially if we can get her to vouch for Powder.”

 

They both turned to stare at Lux, unmoving from her crouching position facing the wall, something she’d maintained for the last hour if not longer. Her gaze was still intently fixed on whatever she’d found hiding behind the crate propped up against it.

 

“Cupcake….”

 

“L-Let me try…Lux?”

 

“......”

 

Lux?”

 

“......”

 

She sent a defeated look at Vi, about to get up and physically get the girl's attention when Powder jumped back out from the pipes with a curious look.

 

“What are you guys doing?”

 

“Pow-Pow, that was fast! We’re…uh…trying to get Lux’s attention to ask her a question, but…”

 

“She’s ignoring me….”

 

Powder tilted her head in confusion, coming up beside the pair to stare at Lux.

 

“Is it really that hard?”

 

Caitlyn gave a quick nod of her head.

 

“When Lux gets focused like that you typically have to tap her on the shoulder or similar to get her attention back.”

 

“Hmmm, can I try?”

 

“Be my guest.”

 

Her tone made it clear she didn’t expect any different results than their previous attempts, but knew it was best for Powder to see for herself rather than just be told it. Giving a nervous gulp Powder pulled forward slightly, fidgeting with her large claws.

 

“L-Lux, what did you find?”

 

“Hm, Powder? Ah, I found this!” 

 

Without any delay Lux held up a large slimy lizard by the tail, that clearly wasn’t the happiest about being picked up by its hissing. Powder pulled even closer with an excited look.

 

“A four armed snake!”

 

Lux blinked, but otherwise seemed unfazed.

 

“It’s a large salamander actually, you can tell by the round snout and the short legs.”

 

She stood up, cupping the salamander in her hands carefully, walking over to where Powder had stopped with a wide grin.

 

See? If it was a snake you’d see a lot more muscle movement and the snout would be different, plus it wouldn’t be this slimy.”

 

“Oooh, thought it was related to the three-armed snake I saw…”

 

“What happened to it?”

 

“I ate it.”

 

“Oh…. pity, I would have liked to see it first…”

 

“U-Um, if I see another I’ll make sure you get to see it before I eat it!”

 

“That’s rather kind of you Powder! I’ll look forward to it.”

 

Powder blushed at the smile Lux sent her, the two of them completely off in their own little world as they continued their observing of the salamander. Vi turned to the stunned Caitlyn, mouth slightly agape, looking like she’d taken a devastating blow.

 

“....Her first try got Lux’s attention….like it was nothing…..”

 

Feeling that she needed to give Caitlyn a moment to recover, Vi quietly approached Powder. She was attentively listening to Lux ramble on about salamanders with an enraptured look, her tail moving so fast little dust clouds were being formed behind her.

 

".....They have fairly long tongues that– Powder how long is your tongue? For that matter, is it more similar to an alligator than a human?"

 

"I never thought to check umm….."

 

"Let me see if I have something to measure with in my bag–"

 

"H-Hey guys!"

 

Before Lux could begin…. whatever she planned to do, Vi cut in with a slightly panicked tone. Both turned to look at her, Lux with her hands still shuffling through her bag.

 

"Is something the matter, Vi?"

 

"We were going to start heading up."

 

"Are we coming back to see Powder tomorrow? I really have a lot more to talk with her about…."

 

"Huh? Powder is coming with us Lux."

 

She tilted her head.

 

"To Piltover? Just like that without any proper testing? That seems rather irresponsible don't you think?"

 

Vi had zero understanding of what Lux was going on about.

 

"We were gonna have her checked out once we went up—"

 

" Completely irresponsible!"

 

She could only freeze in stunned surprise at Lux’s sudden furious outburst, a frown taking the place of her previous smile.

 

'Why is she angry now?'

 

"Wh-What’s the matter Lux?"

 

Caitlyn seemed to have recomposed herself at Lux’s yell, rushing over with a confused look.

 

"Your care towards Powder! It’s like taking an animal out of its natural habitat without proper care!”

 

“Pow-Pow isn’t some animal Lux!”

 

“That’s not the point I’m making at all!”

 

Her own flare up at Lux’s choice of words only seemed to frustrate the girl more, the tension growing so high that Caitlyn went to physically place herself between the two of them. 

 

“Lux, maybe explain what you’re meaning. Why exactly is it a bad idea for me to go up with everyone?”

 

Powder jumped in with a nervous tone as the silence stretched out, Lux’s stern look softening as she turned to address her.

 

“Powder you’ve been living in a highly toxic habitat that we need to wear masks just to enter for a couple of hours, yet you can breathe the air like normal down there. It likely means your body, more specifically your lungs, have adapted to deal with it specifically.”

 

Without any warning she pulled in front of Powder, placing her hands onto her chest, an act that made her freeze up entirely with a wild blush.

 

“There’s also the matter of whether or not your lungs are also taking after an alligator or not….Powder, how long can you hold your breath underwater?”

 

“......”

 

“Powder?”

 

“U-Um! I don’t know the specifics!It’s just a while, depending on what I’m doing. If I’m actively hunting or fooling around it’s less than 30 minutes, but if I’m just relaxing at least an hour ....”

 

“Alligator lungs….”

 

She pulled even closer to Powder, placing her ear against her chest which further increased the blushing mess that she was developing into.

 

“What about when you’re outside of the Sewers, like with us right now? Do you notice any differences? Is it harder to breathe after a bit?”

 

“U-Usually it just gets a bit uncomfortable is all, nothing I can’t handle!”

 

“Uncomfortable how?”

 

“P-Pressure in my ch-chest…ah! U-Um….breathing sometimes feels a little heavy, like I’m sucking too much in at a time even if I take small breaths.”

 

It took her a second to refocus at the mention of chest , Lux still resting her ear against hers completely oblivious to the reaction she was causing. She couldn’t help but give a sigh of relief when Lux finally pulled away sporting a satisfied look.

 

“.....Bringing Powder up to Piltover might be deadly in the worst case scenario.”

 

Everyone froze in shock at the gravity of her words, Vi rushing to grab her in a panic only to be stopped by Caitlyn’s strong grip on her shoulder. She asked the question that was burning on the tip of Vi’s tongue, doing her best to keep her tone calm.

 

“Wh-Why is that?”

 

“Her lungs have developed to efficiently pull out oxygen from an oxygen starved environment that is also teeming with toxic chemicals. It allows her to live comfortably in a habitat that should be inhospitable. But, that same efficiency can make it delicate when interacting with different environments.”

 

Understanding dawned on Caitlyn first.

 

“The air in Piltover might be too clean for her….”

 

Exactly, it might be too oxygen rich for her lungs to handle. Powder already mentioned light signs of that just in the Undercity, I can only imagine it would be far worse for her moving to the clean air up above…”

 

Once again she drew close to Powder, gently grabbing at her hand with a stern look.

 

“That isn’t even factoring in the impact direct sunlight might have on both her skin and scales, likely she’d burn rather bad. There’s also the fact that her eyes are attuned to low lighting, so it might be too bright in Piltover…”

 

She trailed off into a mutter, staring hard down at Powder’s held hand, clenching it tight.

 

“.....You’ve put a lot of thought into this Lux….”

 

“Hmmm? Of course I have! I care a lot about you Powder!”

 

“M-Me too Lux! I c-care about you a lot too!”

 

Powder had evolved into a boiled lobster, cupping Lux’s hands with a frantic energy made worse by the soft smile set her way at her confession. Vi had to sidestep to avoid the sudden whirl up of Powder’s tail again, taking the moment to attempt to calm herself.

 

"S-So what can we do then?"

 

"Powder would require a breathing apparatus that either filters clean air through toxic chemicals to lower the amount of oxygen or carry a tank that's full of air she can breathe. Some sort of suit to block the sun's rays would also be good, along with sunglasses."

 

Lux’s rapid fire assessment earned a groan out of Vi while Powder gave a soft hum, having calmed down with the shift in focus.

 

"Twitch and I can probably rig up the breathing apparatus if we get the supplies we need….tools too."

 

"I can ask Ekko, he might be able to help build it too."

 

"Right, Ekko was always good at that stuff. He's probably even better now…."

 

Vi relaxed somewhat at the nostalgic look that crossed Powder’s face at her talk of Ekko, hoping that the two of them would be able to meet soon.

 

“Oh, I know someone that can make us that outfit then! I had meant to visit her anyway to discuss another pair of pyjamas in a similar style to ones she previously made me…”

 

“Who might that be Lux? Is it someone we could trust in this situation?”

 

“It’s Barbara Holmes.”

 

Caitlyn’s eyes bulged at her simple answer, Vi immediately nudging her for an answer.

 

“B-Barbara Holmes is the top tailor in all of Piltover…”

 

“Mother heard about her prowess and called in her services for my birthday last year, we ended up hitting it off and she made me a special pair of silk pyjamas as a parting gift. She made it look like a giant lizard, with a hood and tail to match the large claw attached gloves!”

 

‘Of course she’d have pyjamas like that….’

 

She wasn’t even surprised at this point, Vi sending a side look at Powder to gauge her reaction, which of course was just one of yearning. Likely wanting to see Lux in those pyjamas for reasons Vi couldn’t begin to understand. It seemed that, at least to Powder, Lux could do or wear literally anything and she’d love it.

 

‘Pow-Pow…..’

 

“I’ll just need to grab Powder’s exact measurements, that along with a sketch should be enough for her to work with.”

 

“Y-You sure she won’t freak out or be…. disgusted?”

 

Powder’s nervous mutterings received a warm smile of reassurance from Lux.

 

“Barbara isn’t that kind of person Powder, she’s someone that has no problem listening to me rant on about animals for several hours and never once made me feel like I was bothering her. She….”

 

Trailing off, Lux finished her sentence at a low whisper.

 

“....treated me like I was normal…

 

Not giving anyone a chance to comment on that , Lux quickly yanked a measuring tape from her bag and began taking Powder’s sizing without a word. Making sure to jot them all down in her notes, Lux only pulled back after finishing.

 

“That should be good enough for her to make what we need. How long do you think it will take you to make that breathing apparatus Powder?”

 

“I-It depends….maybe a week, if not a little less depending on outside help and supplies.”

 

“Then until everything is prepared I think we should keep meeting like this at a specific time and location. I’ll go and see Barbara tomorrow and discuss making your suit, which hopefully won’t take too long for her to complete.”

 

Lux refused to make eye contact with any of them, instead staring in the direction of the exit.

 

“We should get going soon or your parents will begin to worry Caitlyn.”

 

“R-Right, I’ll go fetch the carriage then…”

 

Caitlyn sent a single look back towards Vi before hurrying off down the alleyway they’d come from, leaving the three in an awkward silence. Powder had her gaze fixed on Lux, but seemed unsure of what to say.

 

“L-Lu–”

 

“I should start heading back too.”

 

Before Powder could muster up her words, Lux started down the alleyway after Caitlyn, pausing at the mouth of it without turning back.

 

“....It was really nice to meet you Powder. Let’s talk more later alright?”

 

Disappearing into the darkness before Powder could respond, Vi watched her sister visibly deflate watching the spot Lux just was, looking like she’d had her heart ripped out. 

 

“Pow-Pow that wasn’t your fault alright? Lux just….made herself think about stuff she’d rather not. From what I heard from Caitlyn people weren’t always the nicest towards her because of how she …. is.

 

“How could anyone be mean to Lux….”

 

“Some people are just like that Pow-Pow, they lash out at what they don’t understand. It’s just like how people here treat Sewer Folk–”

 

“I don’t care how they act around me, but the thought of them being like that  towards Lux I–!”

 

Powder bristled, a low hiss escaping her.

 

“Them doing it while I’m around, I’ll tear ‘em to pieces! Being mean to my –”

 

It was clear that Powder was working herself up into a frenzy, her eyes thinning to slits glaring at an imaginary enemy. To anyone else she’d look monstrous with how she held herself at that moment, like a beast seconds from pouncing on unsuspecting prey.

 

“Woah Pow-Pow, try and calm down alright!? No one would be stupid enough to do something like that towards Lux given her position!”

 

“But people do anyway! You just said that!”

 

She advanced on Vi, fury clear in the guttural hiss backing each word. Vi had to figure out some way to calm her rage that only seemed to be blindly building, making Powder battle against what she could only assume was her more animalistic side. Feeling way out of her depths and wishing Caitlyn or even Lux was here to help, Vi struggled to find the right words to soothe her sister.

 

“Wh-What would Lux think about you doing something like that Pow-Pow!? That would likely only isolate her more! It’s one thing to be protective, but tearing someone to pieces for an insult!? Do you think that would make her happy?”

 

Her words seemed to somewhat get through to Powder, the tension dropping from her even if it was slow.

 

“Pow-Pow, Lux wants to be treated just like everyone else, not put on some pedestal. The way to make her happy, really happy, is to do just that!”

 

“Wh-What about when they insult her!? When they’re mean!?”

 

“Then you tell them to piss off and if that doesn’t work you serve ‘em a beating until they do. Killing them doesn’t enter the equation unless they try something real bad Pow-Pow. Remember what it was like growing up, when someone messed with the group?”

 

“...T-Told them to piss off….”

 

“And when that didn’t work?”

 

“Beat them up….”

 

“But what did we never do?”

 

“....K-Kill them….”

 

Right. That’s not to say it’s never an option, but it shouldn’t be your first!”

 

Vi was largely talking out of her ass, having no idea what Lux would actually think of the situation, maybe she’d even like Powder tearing people to pieces. What was most important to her in that moment was to calm her sister down somehow, anything else coming secondary.

 

Powder visibly relaxed, clarity returning to her eyes that drifted back into a more neutral state, her posture slumping.

 

“I-I just….”

 

“I know you care about Lux Pow-Pow, that isn’t a bad thing. You just need to learn how to properly deal with the negative things that might bring out of you. I had to go through the same thing with my rage, tore through most of the undercity and almost killed myself before I figured that out.”

 

Wrapping her in a tight hug, one that Powder clung to, Vi gently rubbed her back.

 

“But unlike me back then, you don’t have to deal with it alone okay? I’ll be there for you every step of the way, we’ll deal with this together. Trust your big sis alright?”

 

“O-Okay…..it’s just so overwhelming all these new emotions I’ve never… felt before, coming out every time I think about her. I-I don’t know why Vi, but I’m scared. Wh-What’s wrong with me!?”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with you Pow-Pow, it’s just….you’re first time dealing with a crush is all. The first one can be super overwhelming, especially if no one’s given you any of the talks before.”

 

“C-Crush?”

 

She couldn’t help her quiet laugh at Powder’s lost sounding voice.

 

“It means you like her Pow-Pow, in the love kind of way. You’re head over heels for her and I’ve been able to tell since the moment I saw the way you look at her.”

 

“L-Love!? M-Me towards Lux!?”

 

“Pow-Pow any more strength and you’re gonna start crushing me.”

 

“S-Sorry Vi!”

 

Pulling back like she’d touched fire Powder fidgeted with her claws, her blush so strong it was even tingeing the colour of her scales.

 

“I-I love Lux? That’s….”

 

The fact seemed to be dawning on her, even if it was incredibly slow, a wave of sympathy washing over Vi at the high hurdles her love would probably face. The biggest of course being Lux herself, Vi unable to figure out how that talk would go with the girl, much less when it came to her parents.

 

“V-Vi, what am I supposed to do?”

 

Her pleading pained Vi, a lost look full of misery that didn’t suit her little sister's face. She could only give Powder’s claws a tight squeeze of reassurance.

 

“We’ll figure that out together alright? And if that’s not enough I’m sure Caitlyn will help us too, just like she’s always done for me in cases where I frankly didn’t deserve it. She knows more about Lux than either of us, so I’m sure she can give us some insight.”

 

Powder leaned into her again, giving a weak nod. The two of them stayed like that for a while longer, Vi not caring if it delayed their departure back topside. She was sure Caitlyn could forgive her for it, especially after knowing the reason why.