Caitlyn usually thinks pretty highly of herself.
Not to the extent that she’s the greatest thing in Piltover obviously - she knows that she has a lot of problems, and that she’s far from perfect - but she likes to think that she’s not nothing . She tries to be a good person, she takes care of both herself and others, and she always tries to help when she’s able.
She knows that she’s not unattractive, and that probably a decent proportion of the population of Piltover that are attracted to women would be interested in Caitlyn Kiramman. If not for her looks or personality, then for her status at the very least.
So, she knows that she’s not absolutely vile and the type of person that people run away from.
She just….sometimes she feels less than.
Like she’s not good enough. Like she’s not worth someone’s time.
That she’s not worth Vi’s time.
That’s the thing that she’s scared of most, she thinks. That one day, Vi will take a look at her, and realise that she’s not worth the effort. That she really is just a stupid naive little girl from Piltover, and that it would be so much easier for Vi if she just found someone from Zaun who knows Zaun.
Or the Undercity, she supposes. She’s not 100% clear on the distinction just yet.
With how in disarray everything has been ever since Jinx’s bomb, and the fact that they’ve been here - in the Undercity - for most of the time since means that they’re not really caught up on the bureaucracy that’s going on in Piltover.
They’ve only been up there long enough for Caitlyn to get in order what little affairs that she has, as well as to attend her mother’s funeral and grab another rifle.
She’s been trying to get used to how things work down here, she really really has. It’s just hard to unlearn the years upon years of training that she went through about how to be the proper Piltover woman.
Because everything that she learned growing up is antithetical to what she has to do to survive in Zaun.
And because of that there’s been so many times where she’s felt less than or just like so much effort for Vi to have to deal with, and it feels like they’re quickly approaching the point where Vi realizes what Caitlyn already knows herself.
That Vi can do so much better than her.
Vi, who’s sexy and strong and smart and capable and just….fuck, Caitlyn would swoon if she could.
She’s everything and Caitlyn’s just falling harder by the day.
The first thing that she noticed when she got Vi out of Stillwater, besides her attitude and how she really couldn’t stand Caitlyn right away, were her looks.
Vi is beautiful .
Not to mention all her muscles, and Caitlyn has found herself drooling over her partner on more than a few occasions, at this point. Vi’s so strong and so fierce, not just in who she is but in her appearance, and sometimes when she’s feeling down, Caitlyn just doesn’t think she measures up.
Again, she does know that she’s attractive, but she’s not attractive like Vi is. Vi’s sexy and handsome and hot and pretty and gorgeous and Caitlyn’s just one or two of those things, at most.
Not only that, but Vi’s so fiercely loyal. Both to Jinx - Well, she’s loyal to Powder, even if that person doesn’t exist anymore - and to Caitlyn at this point, and sometimes Caitlyn doesn’t think she deserves those looks that Vi gives her. Or those looks that Vi gives other people when they try anything untoward with the posh little Piltover girl.
Hence her current thought process.
“I said back the fuck off of her,” Vi growls, strong forearm pressed against the neck of the Undercity - Zaun, Caitlyn reminds herself, since she’s pretty sure it’s Zaun now - resident who decided to grope Caitlyn’s ass.
It only took a second following the sound of surprise and fear that she let out before Vi had turned around, found the guy, and then promptly kneed him in the stomach and had him pressed against the wall like he is now, looking like she wants to rip his head off.
“You…want her all….” The guy wheezes out, probably a couple years older than they are, Vi’s eyes only narrowing at him. “Want her….all to….all to yourself…huh? Your own….little Piltover whor……..”
Caitlyn knows what word he’s about to say, but before he can say it Vi’s bringing her knee up into his gut again hard , all before pinning him against the wall again.
“I said back the fuck off,” Vi growls, practically spitting at him as she presses harder, and Caitlyn’s somewhat surprised that she hasn’t broken the man’s neck yet. “ You aren’t going to fucking touch her….you aren’t even going to fucking look at her, ever again. Understand?”
“Because if you do, we’ll just have to make sure you don’t have anything to grab her with, won’t we?” Vi smirks, and even if Caitlyn doesn’t think she’d ever do it, she can see the terror on the man’s face. “Or we’ll cut off something else? Guy like you….probably care about this a little more than your hands, huh?”
With that, Vi delivers what sounds like a positively terrifying amount of force through the knee that she drives into his groin, the man letting out a scream of pain before Vi removes herself from him and he topples onto the ground.
And because she’s Vi - sweet, lovely, loyal, protective Vi - she spits on him for good measure before turning back to Caitlyn, eyes softening a second later.
“C’mon Cupcake. Let’s get out of here,” Vi urges, and Caitlyn nods, even if she feels herself shrinking into a little ball, at least internally. Externally, she’s sure that she’s doing it too, because it’s always been something her Mother chided her for, the way that when she feels nervous, shy or just plain bad , that she’ll turn in on herself.
If Vi notices right away, she doesn't say anything, but she’s got her hand on Caitlyn’s arm and is looking around, probably for a place to tucker in for a moment. It’s then that Caitlyn notices that it looks like everything is business as usual, that no one either noticed or cared about the man who made a grab at her.
Which is….it’s a lot different than Piltover.
There’s men like him in Piltover too, of course. It’s not purely an Undercity thing, and Caitlyn knows of a few times where there've been trials or simply accusations and subsequent Enforcer responses due to similar actions.
It just….it feels like that was a normal occurrence, what just happened.
Which is wrong and terrifying, and Caitlyn wants to do everything in her power to stop that, but it’s also just another point about how out of her element here she is. She doesn’t know anything, really. She doesn’t understand the way things work, the reactions that people generally have, and she just feels so less than .
“In here,” Vi stops her train of thought, nudging open a door before urging Caitlyn inside. It takes Caitlyn a second to realize that they’re back in the brothel, and Vi actually blushes at the raised eyebrow that she gets.
“They’ll give us a room,” Vi shrugs, looking a little sheepish. That doesn’t stop her from continuing down the hallway though, hand on Caitlyn’s elbow in just a brief little touch.
Caitlyn can’t really focus on that right now though, because she’ll end up a blushing mess, so instead she just….looks around.
Which turns out to be a bad decision.
It’s another reason that she’s just so out of place here. Sex and sensuality is so ever-present in parts of Zaun, and even if Caitlyn’s not a prude herself - Vi was not the first girl she snuck in through her window, nor the second - she’s not as free with herself and her desires as the people of Zaun seem to be.
It’s just….she’s out of her element, more and more everyday. She doesn’t think that she’s the right person to be here, and sometimes it feels like she should be the one to identify that for Vi before Vi realises it herself and breaks Caitlyn’s heart.
Vi manages to find a room and she pulls them in, Caitlyn not even having the time to look around before she’s being sat on the couch. “You okay, Cait?” She asks, hand cupping Caitlyn’s cheek, and it’s almost instantaneous, the way that Caitlyn’s eyes flutter shut and she leans into it.
If it was anyone else, she’d be embarrassed and stammering out an excuse, but she’s so far gone at this point when it comes to Vi that she really doesn’t care.
“Does that happen a lot?” She asks after she manages to open her eyes, Vi’s eyes narrowing at her for a second before she shrugs.
“It happens,” Vi says, and Caitlyn can tell that she’s stepping carefully, not entirely sure where Caitlyn’s going with this. “Assholes are assholes. Always have been, always will be. Just need to know how to deal with them.”
“Well I think you did that. Saved your damsel,” Caitlyn smiles softly, although there’s still a bit of her insecurity shining through.
Vi doesn’t pick up on it though, because she’s flushed an absolutely stunning shade of pink, and shrugging a shoulder aimlessly. “I’m your knight in shining armour, Cupcake?” She teases, and Caitlyn can’t help her own blush, all while she looks down in her lap and twiddles with her fingers.
“You have been saving me an awful lot,” Caitlyn mutters, and Vi must pick up on that, because Caitlyn can see her eyes narrowing again.
“That a good thing or a bad thing?” Vi asks, like she’s trying to suss out Caitlyn’s intentions, and Caitlyn can’t do anything but sigh. “Because if you’re pissed that I kicked that guy’s ass, then tough shit, Cupcake. Not gonna let somebody make a grab at you without it coming back at them.”
“You haven’t done anything wrong, Vi,” Caitlyn reassures, and even if she would probably never admit it, Vi does let out a sigh of relief at that. “I just….” She starts and stops, and it’s Vi’s hand on her knee, giving it a reassuring squeeze, that prompts Caitlyn to speak.
“Am I more trouble than I’m worth?”
Vi doesn’t say anything right away, and Caitlyn immediately fears the worst, heart leaping into her throat. Vi’s a good person, so she probably doesn’t want to say anything that would hurt Caitlyn’s feelings, so Caitlyn decides to spare her the trouble and leave on her own.
“I can go back to Piltover and work there. Jayce probably has something for me,” she continues, Vi still not having said a word. “I’m sorry for wasting your….”
Caitlyn makes to get up at that, to leave Vi alone and to get out of her way, but before she can there’s a hand on her wrist, pulling her back down to her seat.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Vi asks, sounding utterly baffled, and even if that does make Caitlyn hope a little bit, she doesn’t let it take hold just yet. “You…what the fuck are you talking about?”
“You said that already,” Caitlyn comments, and Vi just scoffs at that, crossing her arms over her chest as she raises her eyebrow this time, that look always rendering Caitlyn one of two ways.
She’s either left utterly speechless, or a stuttering mess, and thankfully this one leads to her doing the latter.
“I don’t fit in here, Vi,” She starts, and even if Caitlyn can tell that she wants to speak based on how tense she is, Vi stays silent. “You’re always having to help me, or to explain why I can’t do this thing and have to do that thing, and I just…I’m holding you back. I can see that, and I think you can too. You’re just too good to admit it.”
Vi flushes a little at that last sentence, but she looks more than a little pissed besides, and Caitlyn can’t help but feel like she maybe said something wrong.
“How the hell do you actually think that?” Vi exclaims, the ferocity with which she says it, taking Caitlyn a little aback. “You think I’d do any better in Piltover? Fuck no ! You’re here, Caitlyn, and you’re mine, and of course I’m going to beat someone who grabs your ass.”
Caitlyn decides to skip over the part where Vi says ‘ your mine ’ because she’s not sure if she can deal with what that means right now, but she definitely puts it in the back of her mind to think about in her more private moments.
“You wouldn’t have to do that with someone from Zaun. You wouldn’t….you would have someone better. Better than me.”
Caitlyn’s aware that they’re treading on familiar territory - Oil and Water - but neither of them bring attention to it.
In truth, this is more because of how strongly Caitlyn feels for Vi and how little she can feel for herself at times, because they both know that they really truly fit well together. She’s not arguing that they separate entirely, just maybe that there’s better people for Vi to be with in Zaun, right now.
They’d still be Partners, but Caitlyn just wants Vi to have the best person helping her with this job too.
Because she loves Vi, and she wants the best for her.
Even if that’s not Caitlyn.
“We’re not just talking about that asshole anymore, are we?” Vi questions, and Caitlyn just looks down at her lap again. “Cait, I’m gonna be serious here, okay? Just let me say this. Got it?”
Caitlyn nods, and then Vi’s off to the races.
“You’re fucking great ,” Vi starts, and Caitlyn’s about to speak up before she stops herself, wanting to honour her word to Vi. “There’s no one else I’d rather be here with. No one . Who gives a shit if I have to tell you how to order something or which alleys you should stay away from.”
“You say you’ll go back to Piltover, but you won’t stay there. You won’t stay behind a desk, Cait. You’ll be in the action, because that’s who you are,” Vi keeps going, and even if she wanted to, Caitlyn doesn’t think she’d be able to speak up with how much she’s feeling. “And, honestly? I’d rather me be the one who’s with you then some Enforcer dipshit who thinks he knows this place.”
“You’re my Partner, Cupcake. You’re mine, and I’m yours. Yeah? We do this together.”
“Vi, I…..I don’t….”
“And whenever you feel like shit or some fucking reason you don’t feel like you’re good, just tell me Cait, please. Because…” Vi stops herself, the two of them coming very close to some very real territory. They’ve been moving closer too, thigh to thigh, and Caitlyn’s waiting with baited breath for whatever Vi’s going to say.
“I’m pretty sure you’re my favourite person,” Vi keeps going, and Caitlyn can’t help her gasp, because whatever this thing this is between them - it’s love , Caitlyn’s mind tells her - is, this is as close as they’ve gotten to saying it out loud. “So don’t ever say that you’re no fucking good Cait, because you are. You’re the best. The fucking best.”
“Vi…I don’t…” Caitlyn stammers, usually not this lost for words when it’s the two of them like this, just talking, but now she feels well and truly lost. “I didn’t know you were such a sweetheart.”
Vi laughs at that, and Caitlyn immediately knows that humour was the right approach. She can’t help the way that her eyes fall to her best friend’s lips though, just for a second, even if they go to Vi’s face again right after.
She thinks Vi notices, judging by the way that the Zaunite’s own eyes fall to Caitlyn’s lips for a second, but neither of them say anything.
They make it back to their hideout shortly after.
They don’t find anything related to Jinx, and after the intense heart-to-heart, the rest of the day has felt like a bit of a wash.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since they just hung out in their private brothel room for a little bit longer before they had eventually made their way to grab something to eat and then back to their hideout.
Vi doesn’t say anything explicit, but she’s a little more vocal about explaining the proper ways to order and ask for food, as well as the manners - or lack thereof, truthfully - that go along with being in Zaun.
It’s little things like that that make Caitlyn fall even deeper in love.
They eat the food there at Jericho’s before they go back up to their little place that they temporarily call home, that being a long-abandoned apartment.
It’s obviously way less than anywhere Caitlyn’s ever lived before, but she’s with Vi, so it feels better than anywhere she’s ever been, truthfully.
Especially right now, with Vi laying on her back and Caitlyn laying on her side, looking her over.
Well, she’s looking at her, really, but she lets her eyes wander sometimes, because Vi’s in a tank top with her pants, and it’s impossible to not sneak a peak when she’s like that.
She’s apparently feeling particularly contemplative though, because she looks over at Caitlyn through the couple loose strands of pink hair falling over her face and a sad look on her face.
“I didn’t….I didn’t make you feel like that, did I? Like you weren't enough?”
“You didn’t,” Caitlyn reassures, because she never wants Vi to feel like she caused any of Caitlyn’s negative feelings about her self-worth, ever . “I just feel bad about myself sometimes. It happens.”
“Anything I can do to help?” Vi asks, and it’s so sweet of her, Caitlyn’s heart beating away happily in her chest.
“Just call me out on it, I suppose,” she reasons, Vi nodding her head at, face screwed up in concentration as she clearly takes it in. “Not in a cruel way - not that I think you would, obviously - but just not in a way that makes it sound like what I’m feeling is wrong, but let me know that I’m here for a reason? That you chose me for a reason?”
“Yeah,” Vi smiles, and it’s so bright and beautiful, that it’s all Caitlyn can do not to kiss her right there. “I can do that Cupcake.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I am your favourite person, after all,” she teases, and Vi groans, slumping back into the mattress even more.
“I’m gonna regret that,” she moans, and Caitlyn giggles, moving forward to snuggle into Vi’s side. She rests her cheek on Vi’s shoulder, like they do most nights, and Vi curls her strong arm around Caitlyn, pulling her in. “Don’t tell Ekko.”
“Oh hush,” Caitlyn teases, closing her eyes for a second. It’s just for a second though, before she’s looking back up at Vi, a soft smile on her face.
“You know that you’re my favourite person too, right?” She says, barely above a whisper.
She’s not entirely sure that Vi hears her right away, but then she sees the loving look that Vi’s giving her, and she knows that she did.
“Yeah Cait,” Vi says, and Caitlyn just smiles, snuggling even more into her person as Vi speaks.