I feel like this would be right up your alley
Oh, Okay. I see you, reawakening my love for the enemies-to-lovers troupe~
Warnings: SFW. Language, enemies-to-Lovers, Firelight!Reader (plagiarizing a bit from @chickenparm, go read Squeeze so I don’t get sued), canon-typical violence/injuries, banter, a Slow-Burn on fast-forward mode
The first, immediate reaction, is to laugh. Hysterically, maddeningly so, for such an offer is nothing short of pure absurdity. But it's just too absurd for you to even commit to your instantaneous reaction, and instead you just let out a barking sound that's somewhere between a chortle, and a wet, sticky cough, "What?"
"It's cliché, I'm know." Silco is at least honest about it, though he doesn't look you in the eyes as he focuses on his hands, keeping the blood-stained bandage to your torso. Not as much red as when first applied, but enough that made even his non-existent brow furrow, in a rare show of perturbation, daresay concern. Apparently your luck was so shit, you didn't even have to move all that much for the stitches to reopen...
Your musings are cut short, when his eyes dart up to yours once more. As if the second spent from them was too long. "But however predictable my offer may seem, it is an offer I mean, as sincerely as you believe-me capable of. Without strings, or less-than-desirable motives you may accuse me of... I simply ask one thing of you..."
If he had said that, the very first time you had been face to face with him, you wouldn’t have even given the time to cackle at the absurdity of being offered a position at the side of the Eye of Zaun. No, you probably would’ve grabbed the mask he had knocked-off your face, and smashed it into his stupid face over and over until it became mush.
It’s what any other Firelight would’ve done. It’s what you should’ve done, as you had scrambled back up to your feet, all under the hawk-like glare of Silco. Unmatching-eyes never wavered from your face, of which he seemed to be committing every detail of into his very-memory, as your hand frantically reached for a knife that - of course - had fallen during the unfortunate hoverboard crash. Knifeless, every nerve in your body was in preparations to lunge when Silco, the overlord and Shimmer tyrant of Zaun himself, tilted his chin up, looked you dead in the eyes and said, “You are far too old to be playing dress-up. Playing babysitter, then?”
Your mask was in his long-fingered hand.
It was a sight that should’ve filled you with far more disgust, but instead, you only felt annoyed at the most evil man in the Undercity, swiping your tongue around your mouth and spitting down far-too close to his boots. “I want that back.”
“Very well.” He didn’t hand it to you. Not immediately. “Most of the Firelights are little more than children. I wasn’t aware they had a babysitter.” “And I wasn’t aware you conduct interrogations like they’re idle conversation,” You counter back, shifting on the balls of your feet. To lunge at him, end his reign and secure freedom and victory for Firelights, and Undercity alike, or to turn and run; you aren’t sure. The sounds of ambush on the shimmer-shipment are still going strong, but the weight of Silco’s unyielding gaze on you is even stronger.
Your body doesn’t know what to do; fulfill the mission by taking out the head of the snake, or allow yourself to be charmed by the serpent.
It’s decided against your will, when you storm a couple steps forward with a snarl on your lips and a panic in your step as you reach out, swiping at the mask yourself. Gloved fingers pinch the edge of your mask tighter and come up to pinch around your wrist as well, tight and as unyielding as his gaze as you glare up at him with plenty of fury, and no small amount of sudden-dread.
Silco continues to look down at you, seemingly unbothered that a quarter of his shipment has been ravaged, all his men are engaged in violent fisticuffs with a gang seeming hellbent to tear his operation down, and one Firelight, within striking - killing distance, gazing up at him. He’s unbothered by all of this, almost lazy in the way his gaze drifts down from your face, to your uniform, and his fingers wrapped around your wrist. He hums, dangerously-thoughtful, and meets your eyes again with a simple question on his lips, “What’s your name?”
It’s not the only question on his face, but you decide to ignore the one in his eyes, and respond to the one from his mouth with a definitive, instant, “Fuck you.”
With the loosening of his fingers on both your mask and wrist, you snatch yourself away with both still in-tact, turning with your swift retreat and barreling away from the unlucky sidelines where you had crashed, back towards the sound of battle. Sounds which, even with the bitter call of retreat soon following, are far sweeter sounds than that of the faintest chuckle of bemusement that carry in the wind behind you, and the unspoken question in the Eye of Zauns gaze.
It’s a question that’s silently repeated the next time he corners you.
Or rather, sits beside you. Taverns are your weakness, one that you indulge with the recent defeat, and other budding developments - specifically, ones that have to do with the man reflected in the half-full glass you bring up to your lips, to empty completely. Hands freeze like the blood in your veins, but you don’t turn to watch the rest of his approach, nor the soft hum as he settles onto the stool beside him.
Instead, as the now ungloved-hand raises in a silent order for a drink of his own, you complete your mission and bring the rest of your bourbon to your lips, suffering the burn in silence when he begins to speak. “This was quite risky... The common belief is that the Lanes have Eyes, or so I hear.”
“And the best booze in the Undercity. Thought it’d be worth it.”
You try to convince yourself that’s not a laugh you hear, but it’s a sound that’s too low to be the tinkering of ice-cubes clinking in the glass placed before Silco. Silence reigns shortly after the not-laugh that slips from his mouth, and as he pleasures himself with taking a tip of the finest the bar has to offer, you chance a glance over your shoulder, attempting to see if you can spot the very gang-member who is going to break through the crowd at Silco’s orders to haul you off to Gods-know what kind of fate.
“Is it worth it? Trapezing about in a mask, risking death and embarrassment, all for the sake of... what? Shattering a handful of Shimmer vials with rebellious teenagers?" You bristle at such a plain dismissal of the cause - the Firelights weren't just some petty streetgang, looking to get rid of the higher-competition. You tell him as much, tone rather curt as you turn to him. "This might shock you, but eliminating your drugs from further damaging our streets isn’t just a pass-time of ours,” You snap coolly, bringing your quietly refilled glass back to your lips, and ignoring his eyes that follow the movement. “We’re fighting to free the Lanes, to keep them safe and protected-”
“Several-thousand in property damages, fighting openly in the streets and sapping at the most profitable business Underground, means ‘safe and protected?’” He sounded more curious than anything, but Silco was clearly unafraid of the glower you gave him in response to that shred of bemusement in his tone. “It’s better,” You hiss through your teeth. “Then doing nothing, and leaving the Undercity to rot while you line your pockets.”
“The pragmatism, I can appreciate. There’s a necessity for there to be a base amount of violence and destruction, in order to inspire change," Silco smiles as if he has any idea how it feels, and catches your glare with a glint of his own mix-matched eyes as he brings his glass to his lips. Cool amber slips past them, and he hums at the flavor on his tongue, with eyes that never leave yours and...
You hate it.
You hate being under the attention of the Eye, not just because it's wrong in every sense, not only because nearly every muscle in your body is yelling, screaming for you to turn and run from his attention...
But there's a tiny, slim, speck of a part of you, that wants to stay right where you are, and stay in his gaze forever.
"And what would you know about inspiring change?" You whisper quietly, and Silco let's out a scoff thats far too bemused. "Except for the fact that Shimmer-overdoses certainly weren't the norm around here in the years past, I doubt you and your goons have been as inspiring as you like to think you-"
"What was the last Enforcer raid? The last time Topsiders paraded our streets like a source of oddities to gawk at? Can you remember the last time you remembered a Topsider being amongst our streets, at all?"
You hate the fact that not only he says these calmly and matter-of-factly, but the fact that you can't actually recall. Silco continues on, after admiring your frustration for a beat as he swirls his glass in hand, "I admit, it's crude and often distasteful methods that win-wars, allowing circulation of drugs to bring strength to even the lowest among us... but in these years, I find myself enjoying victory over vials and papers, in compared to over bodies."
"Yes, because Shimmer is devoid of a body-count."
"Its not perfect," Silco readily admits, with something almost akin to apologetic in the way he shrugs one shoulder. "Additional research is always needed. Alternative options are consistently debated, however, outside perspective would benefit in easing out the more negative-effects that Zaun seems to naturally draw onto itself..."
"You think you can talk your way out of the mess you've created?" You sputter, and immediately grow quiet when he chuckles. A low, rolling sound that slips smoothly through the air - it's thin enough to wrap around your own attention, and commanding enough to hold on tight.
You're going to be hearing that sound for days in your mind.
"With the boy? No, he seems more inclined to silence me than to hear me... and he's not the one I would wish to converse with, in the journey to find a middle-ground."
Glass hits the table - not cracking it, but firmly left on the countertop, and left unfinished as you move off your stool. Silco watched, amused, and once more his fingers come up to lock your wrist like a shackle... a warm cuff, for you realize, suddenly, that he came ungloved. "It's not impractical," He comments to your stiff-form. "Wars have been resolved with much less than polite conversation. And in any case, you've sat here and listened to me for several minutes already..."
Eyes stubbornly fixed towards the exit, flicking instinctively to the scattered patrons for those that are just waiting for Silco's order, and you are so focused that you nearly miss the soft breeze of warm air brushing the shell of your ear when he leans close.
"Imagine how much we could talk though, if we spent not a handful of moments, but an entire evening? I believe we would get much done, don't you?"
There's another question there, beneath his words and, if you turned, you would see it in his eyes. But you don't entertain it, not with the one he whispered screeching your mind to a halt, and keeping it prone and useless when his thumb, warm and calloused, rubs a slow line over the pule-point on your wrist.
Up. And then down. Slow, methodical, and with care.
"We shouldn't." Silco agrees in a low murmur. "But we could."
"... I can't."
That laugh is going to be the death of you - the laugh, or the feel of his breath tickling the skin behind your ear, you offhandedly acknowledge that one of those two things will be your undoing. "Somehow I doubt there's a force-alive that can stop you at anything you want to truly do." Silco muses, at the same time his fingers slip from your wrist, with one final, trailing touch along your veins. "You can. And if you decide that you do, you'll know where to find me."
You're released, freed, and give no opportunities for him to take hold of you again, darting from your barstool like life and sanity depends on it.
Despite being the improv drinking-partner of the Eye of Zaun with you as a Firelight, somehow, you know your life is still assured. Perhaps even protected.
Your sanity, however, seems to be something Silco relishes in breaking apart every time you meet. Whether by design or by coincidence, every part of you that vehemently, totally and utterly has resigned to loathing every-part about his existence, is left frayed at the seams every time you find yourself at his side again with every meeting.
And you met him again. Many, many times after that.
The bar is a favored place of yours, but never your regular - a Firelight is always ever adapting, always prepared to be on the move, never settling, and yet you find yourself making something of a third-home at that same counter. First once, than twice, and then more times than you can recall. But what you can recall, is that every time, Silco is there. Seated right beside your own, a glass already in hand, with a drink already fresh at the counter.
He swears he wasn't waiting. And after one of your many visits, you swear you weren't arrive early because you want to.
"Just like you aren't showing up at the same bar for the pleasure of my company?"
His quiet chuckles break you every time. The low-mirth in his smiles when you remember who he is, what he is, and make no attempt to hide the scorn in your tone.
You hate the fact that he only smiles, truly smiles, when your speech dips from conversation to rhetoric, from cautiously treading the line between critique and rhetoric against the Eye. You loath the idea that he finds your impassioned hisses and glowers amusing, and you hate the fact that, slowly, with every passing visit, those feelings of scorn and words of hatred start to fade.
The words and feelings fade, but the way Silco smiles at you never does.
And you hate it, you swear you do. Or, at the very least, you know you should. But for whatever reason, you don't.
You could blame the liquor or the situation. You can blame the way he seems to have you charmed, how Silco's low words and smooth smiles have done their duty in wavering your loyalty to the point that it's shaken. You even try to blame your fading loathing for the Eye of Zaun, on the fact that there dares to be improvement on the streets.
Shimmer is being diluted. Excessive dosage is becoming rarer by the days, and weeks that follow the meets you share with him. Some Firelights even claim, bewildered and suspicious, that sales are being moderated almost carefully.
When you had stormed into the bar that night, snarls and accusations on your lips, with fury in your eyes, Silco didn't break your sanity with a smile, not this time. He broke it with an ungloved hand, sliding over yours and squeezing, once. "I told you. We could get much done between us, if we only talked."
You knew, one way or another, that simply talking with the Eye was going to destroy you, one way or another. And when he succeeds in it, Silco doesn't win with a knife jammed into your heart, like you had always suspected.
He wins, by simply gazing at you with that ever-present question in his eye, as he raises your hand to brush his lips along your always-bruised knuckles.
It's a question you always see, rather than hear. He never says it, but it's spoken in his eyes all the same. With every smile he shows as he silently files one of your complaints for later uses, with every press on his fingers brushing, resting along your skin, and eventually, becoming a constant that warms your skin every time you sit at the bar, a single palm flat on the counter, with his own coming up to cover it with his own.
Joined, rather minimally, by body. But with every passing meeting, every glance you spare out of the corner of your eye to him between conversations of work, of the Undercity, of histories, of yourself and than one-another, you know what Silco’s asking.
He wants you to join him, and with every passing meeting, you’re finding it harder and harder for your own eyes to keep telling him no.
Unfortunately, you’re so worried about the conversation going on between your gazes, that you neglect the fact that Silco is not the only Eye in the Lanes, and that the Firelights have some of their own.
There’s no warning, and like you and Silco, that rather important conversation is not spoken through words, but fists, and the venom-filled look that’s given to your crumpled, broken and dangerously-prone body in the alleyway, before you are left for crows.
“Nngh... g-gotta give them props,” You manage between red-lined teeth, swallowing back another whimper at the delay of local-anesthesia as a needle works to stitch up the brand-new slashes that will leave scars on your side. Diluted or not, assurances that it was wholly medical and not the recreational brand, you’d rather bleed-out than take the Shimmer. “They... they didn’t waste much time.”
“No, they didn’t,” Silco murmurs, green and red following the doctors hands as he works. The flight to the metal-table, or even the discovery of your body in the alley, is something you can barely recall as you struggle just to keep your eyes open. What you do recall, is that you were only about an hour later than the silently-agreed upon meeting time at the bar.
It should infuriate you, that Silco so-clearly assumed that you would always be there, to arrive at his side so readily, when in reality you owed him nothing.
There’s a warmth instead, in your chest and around one of your hands as you watch Silco’s expression. Natural-brow furrowed, face stony and unreadable, save for eyes that flicker to watch every movement of the doctor’s work. Eyes that are barely shielding the unspoken emotions finally glance up to you, and that curtain fades to show his dark-rage, fury, promise and...
Yes, and worry. Worry for you, and you know there’s little point in denying or admonishing him for showing you such weakness.
Instead, you simply croak out one request. “Don’t.”
His jaw twitches with the way his teeth grind in seething fury, before motion stills entirely from him as you squeeze his hand, not entirely out of pain as a needle digs into your skin to close the gap in your side. “Silco,” You murmur, voice growing weaker, and also stronger, with how apt his attention is fully-directed onto you. “Please. Spare them.”
“I should. It would send a message.”
“Exactly, you wanna... p-paint bigger target on my back?”
You held his hand until darkness at your vision blurred and faded him from sight entirely. But though he says nothing, the small, tiny points of seagreen and red remain in your sight long after blackness fills it’s edges, and the words in them say more than enough for you to slip into slumber without fear for your now ex-comrades.
There’s also that familiar question in his eyes. It seems ever-present now, from the moment you awaken in a bed far too fine, in a location far too panic-inducing that you instinctively reached out, and wrap tightly around an awaiting hand of the man at your side.
From that moment, the moment he guided you up to limp your sore, aching body into sitting up, and soon standing. A question radiates in his gaze, with every moment you spend in the snake’s den, and every moment where instead of restoring your demolished honor with the Firelights by ending him, you stay close to the side of the serpent.
And like any other charmer, Silco speaks in words swear and alluring, unhelped by hands easing away the pain of re-opened stitches. “We could do well, together. We are well together.”
“Could name a few that don’t think so. Think you might know them, kicked my ass a few times for that very reason that we were seen together?” Your sarcasm is unappreciated, but you are only admonished with the pressure of his hand squeezing around yours as he raises a brow. Your voice catches, because while he also looks unimpressed, Silco also looks firm in his conviction, making your own waver.
“We... I shouldn’t.”
Your voice is growing weaker. Resolves are crumbling quickly, as Silco only continues to stroke his thumb over the edge of your lip, and gaze down into your eyes with that same, ever-present, never spoken question.
“We can. You can.” A beat, and then he leans down, hand slipping from over your side, your body, until it’s soon tracing the contours of your face. A face you know he’s memorized in it’s entirely, but his eyes drop briefly from yours as his thumb, ungloved, traces along your bottom-lip. Taking in the sight of them parting, before his eyes jump back to yours, only that one question in his eyes as he murmurs quietly, “Look how far we’ve gotten already just by talking. Imagine how much more we could achieve.”
You swallow. His fingers don’t leave your bottom lip and chin. “You... Shimmer’s always going to be a problem.”
“My... The Firelights...”
And then, with the quietest breath of your name, washing over your face in a warm breeze, he simply asks it:
He speaks with his mouth; finally giving voice to the question he’s been asking for a long, long time with his eyes. Eyes that have never wavered in his conviction, not from the moment he saw the willing-nature you showed, and the willingness you showed to talk.
It’s not enough, what he’s done already. It’s different, but you know it’s not nearly enough for what the Undercity needs. Silco on his own is not enough to inspire change, but, selfishly, you’ve started to believe that perhaps the two of you together, can make a better effort.
You also have selfish reasons. It’d be silly to lie and pretend they were all noble and thinking only of Zaun’s best-interests, and not just what you want.
From there, it’s an easy decision, and one you don’t verbally respond to. Instead, you answer the once-silent question with a silent-action of your own, and you push yourself up onto your elbows, matching his hand on your face with one of yours on his own.
In the end, you imagine a verbal-response is unnecessary. Silco can surely hear the yes, in the way you kiss him then.
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