The Good, The Bad, and The Dangerous
Gn!reader, eventual romance, Love triangle bc why not, angst, hurt/mmmaybe comfort, reader has a husband but it has nothing to do with sexuality or emotional involvement
Reader x Viktor, Reader x Silco (Emotions are complicated)
Word count: 4,083
Not beta read
There's something very peculiar about death. As taboo of a subject it has become, you couldn't help but feel intrigued. Although, perhaps, it wasn't in the subject of death itself. Rather, it was how everything else reacted to it.
Funerals, for example, were like a gathering for creatures of many kinds. A way for them to flock towards a carcass and pick out their fillings. They surrounded you in all directions. Their faces blurred in your memory as muffled voices offered you their condolences. You could catch the way their words are laced with both sympathy for yourself and pity. Their thoughts were evident through their clouded eyes. You poor thing. How would you cope? Hands meant for comfort provided the opposite, offers of sympathy made you bite at your tongue, bitterness flooded your mouth as you mustered a small 'thank you' as a response. You accepted warm embraces and gentle hugs with a tired sigh, often mistaken as reservation, sometimes even sadness. It only prompted more sympathetic glances, more pitiful words. The tiresome rinse and repeat of greeting each new stranger was taxing, and you hoped that it would be over soon.
You watched as the coffin was lowered, disappearing from your sight and into the soaked earth below. It was the nearing end of winter. The soil was mush and soft under your feet, making it a task to even walk without slipping. Spring began to emerge from the corners of the valley of white, as if it were awakening from its month-long sleep. You notice how blades of grass peeked from their snowy blanket, aching to reach up towards the sun. You too missed the warmth of the months before. You craved to feel the sun against your body again, to bask in it without the abrupt covering of greyish clouds. You wanted to sink into the stillness of your room, under your blankets where you didn't need to feel the draft sliver down your spine. You wanted to go home. Perhaps, having the funeral out in the open was a mistake.
The air hung tight and cool. Patches of melting snow piled at your feet as you sat. Your hands quietly tremble despite the gloves you had put on that morning. It had been hours since the service began. Your feet were aching from standing so long, your shoulders lax and weighted. They felt as though they were going to fall off at any moment. Another howling wind passes by the open field and you can't help but shiver. The cold seeped past your clothes, coated itself onto your flesh and sank its way into your core. You were on the verge of sneezing. You could feel the familiar wetness gather at the corners of your eyes. Reaching a hand up to your face, you wipe at your eyes. Tears soaked through your wooled gloves as you sniffed. The words of whoever was speaking were blocked out, left to play in the background like a song you had forgotten to stop. Time could not have gone slow enough.
A hand places itself on your shoulder. It was an unexpected but familiar gesture. The foreign weight added on to your aching shoulders and you try your best not to shrug it off. You can feel your thoughts sour once you understand what it conveyed. You turn your head to look behind you, eyes widening at the realization of who it was. A highly regarded face amongst the crowd that gathered behind you that shone brighter than the sun itself. You finally remember who had been speaking.
"I'm so sorry for your loss." He whispered. He had the look of a man at a loss for words, for something to say that would hold any value to you. However, his presence was valuable enough. "He was a good man. It's a shame he had to pass so soon." Slowly, you nod. A frown slowly tugging at the corners of your lips. "It just happened so…fast, Mr. Talis." You sniffed, wiping at a stray tear that slid down your cheek. You can feel the beginning of a cold hang above your head, swaying alongside the wind. "Please, call me Jayce." He insisted as you watched the man occupy the empty seat beside you. You had always known that your husband had connections to people within the prestigious academy, but having one of Piltover's finest scientist's attend his funeral made you wonder how far his connections really ran. "Alright, Jayce." Talis smiled. The same smile you'd seen on his posters and blimps, even on coffee mugs. It was as charming as it was empty.
"I just wanted you to know that our doors back at the lab are wide open if you would ever be interested in seeing what your husband has helped us create. He was one of our biggest supporters on our research work for Hextech, and it would be an honor to have you see how far it's come. Especially in his…absence." Talis paused, ran a hand through his dark hair and down to the back of his neck. You notice how he seems to purse his lips, his eyes trailed on the ground as they snapped back and forth like one would read a book. It was like he was searching for answers in the white. You wanted to tell him that he didn't need to pick and choose his words, that he didn't need to take lengthy pauses just to figure out what to say, but you decided against it. You'll let the man think. "We're currently witnessing a breakthrough in our research. A possible revolution in the knowledge that we know now. My partner and I would be happy to have you be there when the time comes. Of course- if that's alright with you. The grieving process takes time. I apologize if this comes off as rude."
You had to laugh at that, a large puff of white exiting your mouth as you smile. Talis looks at you with a look of both fear and amazement. A wonderful mix for your tiring soul. "An opportunity to witness a scientific revolutionary breakthrough, offered to me at my own husband's funeral." You turn to look at Talis, the delicate balance of both fear and amazement shook under your gaze. The fight between both sides were clear in his eyes, transparent even. Is this what it was like to look into the eyes of knowledge? No. You decide. No, it wasn't. You were looking into the soul of a man with ambition and strife. A far cry from what you were hoping to find. You smile wider, softer, the way you always do. "How could I decline such an offer?" You tilt your head to the side. The balance shifts, the boat tips. Talis finds himself settled back on to solid ground. With a sigh of relief, he lets out a breathless laugh of his own.
"That's great. Amazing." You can't help but nod in agreement, your smile still situated on your face. Talis finds his eyes solely on yours. You find yourself diving deeper into a man named Jayce Talis. "Would next Saturday suffice?" He asks, the both of you still locked on each other. Ambition, confidence, pride. You look away. "Saturday it is. Noon."
Your shoes click noisily against the marbled floor, the sound bouncing down the lengthy hallways. Saturday had come faster than you had anticipated. The days leading to now were blurred, a mass of papers and envelopes left for you to sign at the wake of your own husband's death. It was surprising how you somehow managed to lose your track of time and days during that period. Seeing as most of the finances, inheritance and businesses now relied on you was a truckload of responsibility on your back. Your husband's will had been very specific to who his things were indebted to and how they would come into possession. It wasn't a shock, not even a little. The man was known to be smitten by you. It was something that he never tried to hide. It was a fact that you knew without any reason of a doubt. He showed you off like a trophy, dressed you in the finest clothes you could ever have dreamed of wearing, and refused to let anyone touch you without his permission. Which was why it didn't surprise anyone how everything had been transferred under your name. His businesses, financials, land, even his odd collection of extremely fragile plates. It was his final goodbye. A last act of cherishing you in his own way. At least, that was how it was for the public. Real reasons- correct ones, were for none other than yourself.
The doors to the laboratory loomed above you. A faint shuffling could be heard from inside followed by a pair of muffled voices. The conversation was transferred by hushed tones and a failure of a whisper. Shadows passed by the small crack through the open door. Curiosity flickers inside of you and you gain the sudden urge to see what chaos was occurring inside. Quietly, you step into the room.
You're greeted by the smell of oil, sweat and what you could only guess is burnt rubber. The room itself was faintly lit and looked on par to how it smelt. Papers lie strewn across the marble floors and you spot two desks with all sorts of gimmick tossed and turned over. Standing in the middle of the room were two silhouettes and a gadget that emitted a faint glow in the darkness. You couldn't make out what it was from your position by the door. The pair didn't seem to be aware of your presence and continued their half whispered argument in the dark. "But we should create a sort of demo that can be presented to the council." A familiar voice said. It didn't take long for you to pinpoint who exactly it belonged to. How could you not when all you've been hearing the past years was his voice on a podium as you sat in the audience. "And hinder our progress more? The council has already shown their hesitance on this project, much less wanting to fund another sum for your presentation." A lighter, quieter voice responded. You could barely make out the words under the humming of the machine before them. You can hear Talis sigh, see the way his shoulders sag. It wouldn't take long for him to give in.
"But wouldn't a demo serve as a soft launch? Something to just show without the risk of any mishaps? What if we end up nearly cutting heimerdinger's hair off again?"
"Jayce, with all due respect, the council couldn't care less of what your demo is. Give them the real thing. Something that they would actually want to fund. If we end up breaking something or cutting someone's hair off, then so be it. It'll put some sense into them and show them why they shouldn't rush our projects due to their own impatience." The shorter of the two makes his way towards a desk in the corner. You notice the cane once he turns to his side. Excitement fills your chest. You've heard of him before. Hextech's co creator, the shadow of progress. You've never been able to see him, much less meet him properly before. You've caught glances of the back of his head, a quick pass by during large events, but he would always disappear before the night was over, like he was swept away in the tidal wave of crowds- of dazzling faces and shining smiles. He was quite scarce during any social event, a vanishing prize just slightly managing to evade your sight every single time. Not now, however.
"Pardon the intrusion but I was offered an early viewing of a revolutionary scientific breakthrough and I have yet to see such claims." You finally interrupt, making your presence known to both men who were in the suffocating room. Talis' head snaps back to look at you and before you know it, you're blinded by the light that fills the room. The sudden brightness gives you a headache. Now with the lights on, you could see more of the interior of the laboratory other than the mass of misplaced papers that lined each square inch of the area. It was impressive, but not a shock considering how the lab was built within the academy grounds. It was expected to be as pristine as everything else in the city of Piltover. You make your way towards the shut windows, figuring that it would help assist in subsiding the wretched smell that hung in the air. Behind you, you hear Talis speak, his words stumbling over themselves as he makes his way towards you.
"I apologize for the mess. I- we weren't expecting you to arrive so soon. I assure you we work in much more…favorable conditions." You doubted that. Immensely so. "You weren't?" You raise a brow as you turn to face him. His face is lined with darkened circles and an unshaven shadow. His eyes barely differ. "We agreed to meet at noon. It's now past lunch, Mr. Talis." The realization that dawns on him was amusing. You watch as Talis rubs a hand over his face, clearly at a loss on how to save himself from any further embarrassment. You laugh, a quiet one, but a laugh all the same. Now with the windows open, you can feel the winter breeze slip past you and cling into the room. It was a freeing experience from the stifling atmosphere that was set. "Jayce. Please call me Jayce." With a cough, Talis straightens himself up to the best of his abilities. "And this is my partner." He motions over his shoulder to the man who was blatantly staring at you. "Vik-"
"Viktor." He cuts in, then almost immediately presses his lips together as if he didn't mean to say that, as if he didn't mean to speak in the first place. "It's, eh, Viktor." He says again. You can't help but smile. "A pleasure to meet you Viktor." His eyes remain on yours, liquid gold, molten and hot. It feels like it could burn through you if you stared for long enough. His eyelashes curl downwards like his arms and back, arched at a curve as if he was trying to hide from you from behind his desk, like he was trying to curl into himself. They flutter over each blink that passes between you two, brushed at the angled cheekbones that jutted out against pale, alabaster skin. His hair was a tangled mess of curled edges and soft brown tones. The bags that hung under his eyes were as bad as Talis', it was clear from their appearance that they had been working non-stop on their project for the past week, maybe even months. Then again, the man that sat before you presented a different kind of fatigue. One that could only be etched into one's face and body after years of tiresome work.
You watch as Viktor swallows, catch how his Adam's apple bobbed, how his chest hitches as if forcing the words out of him. Viktor himself didn't know what he was trying to say, or even do. His sole focus was to you and you alone. Beautiful. You were beautiful. You had him within your grasp and yet he wondered if you knew that at all. Viktor could hear himself scoff. You had to. He wasn't stupid enough to assume that you were unaware of what you were capable of doing. Of what power you held over whoever set their eyes upon you. For once, he finally understood how rumours could lead to the truth. Only that this time, they did you a disservice and let him drastically underestimate meeting you in the flesh. He assured himself that his speechlessness would subside soon enough, a fool's assurance. He stands, reaching for his cane and breaking from the tance you had pulled him into. "Now that our guest has arrived, shall we proceed with the presentation?"
Talis, who you had forgotten was even in the room scoffs. "Real charming, Vik. Please, take a seat." He says, pulling out a chair from what you assume was his own desk and offering it to you. After confirming that you were comfortable, Talis joins his partner in setting up their machine which you were later informed was a project they called 'the gates of progress'. Although it was more of a smaller scale version, they had somehow managed to stabilize the hex crystals into functioning in tandem with customized pieces they had built from scratch. Which meant that larger, more efficient, variations would be able to be built sooner rather than later once approved by the council. You sat through their presentation. Smiling at the way their tiresome eyes lit up as they held up the crystals and carefully placed them inside. They reminded you of children who were playing around with sticks, the only difference was that the 'sticks' were highly reactive crystals that could explode if handled incorrectly. Still, it was a charming sight to be subjected to.
"And that concludes our presentation." Talis smiles, a genuine one this time. One without the sure practice and timed chuckles. Beside him, Viktor maintained his own fond gaze as he continued to pack the crystals into their respective containers. He had been avoiding looking at you after your initial introduction, which made conversation scarce and usually left for Talis to fill in. "Any thoughts? Questions? Opinions?" Talis asked, pulling your attention from Viktor once more. You couldn't help but catch the way Viktors shoulders eased once he knew his partner had lured you away from him. They worked incredibly well with each other, you realize. A man who strays away from attention, and a man who can't live without it. It fascinated you as well as provoked a deep set annoyance you weren't aware you even had.
"Why not call them Hexgates? The gate of progress seems a bit too lengthy, no?" A pause, then a nod of acknowledgement from both co owners. They glanced at each other and a silent decision was made between the two. "Hexgates it is then. Very on brand." Talis nodded. It was well into the night by the time they had finished their presentation and the academy was void of any lingering students. A girl by the name of Sky had called for Talis in the midst of the cleanup and he had to leave to speak with the head council, leaving you with a very evasive Viktor.
The silence was neither comfortable nor tense, stretching into the seemingly never ending clear space he was trying to set between the two of you. Still, you remain persistent. Walking over to offer any sort of help, you find yourself leaning against his desk as he carefully puts away the last of the papers that were abandoned on the floor. You had him cornered and he knew it. Bluntly, almost apprehensively, you ask. "Do we have an issue, Viktor?" The slight displeasure couldn't be kept out of your tone despite your usual measured speech. You catch the way he blinks, almost in shock. His eyes remain glued on his desk, pretending to read through illegible scribbles that were most likely junk. He thumbed at the corners of the pages, his neck craned at an awkward angle so as to avoid looking at you completely. "No." He starts. It was the first time he had spoken directly to you after introducing himself. "No, we don't. I apologize if I have been quite evasive tonight. It has been a long day."
Another beat of silence, another breathless sigh. Viktor finds himself wanting to say more, to keep the conversation going until either one of you shuts the other down or Jayce comes to immerse you into another one of his well crafted marketing strategies. "I…I'm sorry to hear about your husband. He was- eh, good man." The last bit was framed as more of a question. The term good felt undeserving despite his lack of knowledge on the deceased man and the relationship that you two had. "This isn't about him." You say, crossing your arms and handing him a very expectant look. Viktor doesn't know when he had adjusted himself to look at you. How he found the courage to do so was lost to him. "No. No, it never was…was it?" Viktor finds himself caught on your hook. He feels like a fish out of water. "He never expressed any interest towards our projects, even after we had sent various letters in order to try and convince him."
Brilliance in the form of a man. That's what Viktor was. That's what you would see in those molten eyes that singed you to the core. You could see the pieces fall into place in his eyes, hear the gears turning in that genius mind you couldn't wait to unlock, to take apart. The excitement from earlier had resurfaced, born anew in the rise of a phoenix. "Even after his funding, he always made those comments about our 'stones' and 'toys'. Not even Jayce could seem to catch his attention on anything we presented to him. It took me a while to realize that it was all you. Wasn't it?"
"He was never the brightest tool in the shed. It was hard trying to convince him to reach out and take a look at what you two had to offer." Shock is what plasters its way onto his face, revelation follows soon after. "And it worked?" You let out a laugh. "No, of course not." When he doesn't respond, you continue, now comfortably seated on his desk. "Things would be different if it had. No, that plan failed. So I decided to take it into my own hands and send a letter myself. You can put together what happened after." Viktor parts his lips, closes it, and opens them once more. "And what about the meetings that he attended?"
You shrug, Viktor swallows. Despite the difference in levels from where you both sat, you couldn't help but feel on an equal plane with Viktor. It didn't matter who was looking down on who, what mattered were the words that were exchanged in between. And the way neither of you had yet to look away. "It took convincing, a little trial and error, but I know my husband. He may have lacked in some aspects but loving me was not one of them."
"Did you ever love him back?"
"Do you have a spouse, Viktor?" Viktor shakes his head, suddenly extremely fearful. He didn't mean for that question to come out like that. "No, I don't. Relationships aren't exactly on my list of priorities. I apologize if I offended you." You stay silent. Anxiety builds between his tensed shoulders. Viktor's hands itch to toy with the papers still loosely held in his hands. Before either of you could speak again, Jayce returns to the lab with a triumphant smile. He tells you that he managed to set up a date and time for their presentation. "It'd be an honour if you would be able to attend." He says, hope clear in his voice. With a shake of your head, you politely decline. "Unfortunately, I have an event scheduled for that day as well. However, I wish the best for your presentation. It would be wonderful to see both your prototype and official machine put to use." The pair share a confused glance, Jayce lets out a nervous chuckle. "Actually, we might have to scrap the idea of a prototype for now. I had Sky list down the cost of materials needed and time it would take. We don't have either."
"Really? Shame. I was hoping to have a list of your expenses so I could have an idea of how much the funding would cost." Their eyes are wide, Talis' jaw looked like it could fall off at any moment. "That would- that's- that's too much. We couldn't possibly-" You decide to cut him off. You didn't need to hear whatever reasoning the man was desperately attempting to scramble together. "I'll have Ms. Sky hand me a copy of that list." You say as you make your way towards the door.
"Good night, Gentlemen."
So this is an undecided series. Idk. We'll see if it flops. If it gets a 150 likes then I'll start a part 2 introducing more of reader's background and the kingpin himself Silco Zaunovich. I'm also undecided on whether I should cross post this on my Ao3 account since I don't think it reaches up to Ao3 standards. Any feedback would be very appreciated.
Thanks to whiteblackym for the suggestion and general idea for this 'fic'. Hope you all enjoy this disaster of a fic.
Something has been bugging me…
These new images that have been semi-recently released have me quirking my brow. Specifically in regards to their depiction of Zuko.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this but isn’t that what we do here? He just looks so…
Sometimes I really question if I watched the same show as everyone else, but by the end of the series I was under the impression that the new Firelord was a full-fledged ‘good guy’.
Compared to the other character art, his seems most ooc. It is this reason I could not bring myself to continue reading the comics, so I cannot speak on how these images align with them.
I have also noticed that all the merchandise I find in stores is book1!Zuko, when he was still very much the show’s main (but not only) antagonist.
I know I’m not alone in loving his redemption arc; it’s probably my favorite aspect of the entire series! So much screen time is devoted to winning over the audience and convincing us to root for him. And then.. it actually all pays off. He joins the team, proves himself over and over again, and we’re left LOVING him for it. His story and characterization elevate the show to a level where children, adults, and critics agree on its beloved status. I guess my question is: why so much push for angry, 2 dimensional Zuko?
I love my self-actualized, 3-dimensional, Kundalini awakened, sweet, dorky-but-still-badass Firelord Zuko.
And, like… his hair also?? Not just because he’s *pretty* by the end, but the cultural significance and visual story-telling (that has been discussed by others far more equipped than me). I’m speaking more on the ubiquitous merchandising of ponytail Zuko here.
Do they (the creators/money-makers) not want us to like Zuko? Is it a by-product of male-dominated systems? Is this backtracking because the girls (Katara) weren’t supposed to crush on Zuko so hard? Is it just lazy merchandising on an established franchise? Am I just over analyzing fictional worlds due to my deep dissatisfaction with my own life?