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Grit

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Getting him out is easy, but quiet. On the way back from Zhuv’le Talon says only five words and Sett hears ‘em all while he’s crouched on the stone unlocking his shackles. 

“You should let me rot.” Talon’s voice is raspy and underused and he says it so matter-of-factly. As if he’s not talking about his own imprisonment or worse.

Sett looks him over. What a mess. His hair is matted and dark with dirt, skin’s all scratched and filthy. Clothes are ripped up too. His left leg’s straight out in front and the pale skin of his ankle is marred with fierce purple bruising. Ten days and it looks like that? Must be broken.

“Yeah, I should.” He throws the guard’s cloak over the Noxian’s head. As Talon sorts his way through the folds in the fabric Sett slides his hands beneath his body and lifts him unceremoniously into his arms. He can hear Talon’s sharp intake of breath but no more words. Not for Sett or anyone else.

 

He carries him outside in the fading light to his horse, a pretty chestnut mare still tied up to a flowering tree. She’s a tall, sturdy breed, because Sett is also a tall, sturdy breed. He quickly helps Talon onto her, shrouded in the jailer’s cloak, glancing around for any passerby that might see something out of the ordinary. Getting himself on is fairly clumsy—something with their faces, Sett just doesn’t care for horses—but once he’s secure in the saddle he looks behind him and sees Talon, brown bangs wild under his hood. There’s an old leaf tangled in his hair and Sett picks it out and flicks it to the ground.

“Hang on,” he orders. Talon’s arms snake around his middle and he feels the man lean heavily against his back. Warm. Sett glances at his foot, still sticking out weirdly so that it doesn’t knock against the horse’s flank. He’ll have to figure that out later, right now they need to get out of town before they attract too much attention. Sett has a habit of that. He digs his heels gently into the mare’s side and they start off on a slow but steady pace. Sett knows that Talon’s in pain. He can hear it in every breath against his back as they travel across the beaten path into the hills. It doesn’t quite feel real. Ten days ago he’d sworn Talon off entirely and spit blood on his floor.

“What happened to you?” He asks sometime along the way. Sett receives no response so he rides the rest of the journey in silence. 

 

***

 

It’s past morning when they reach the river by Sett’s home, having ridden through the night. There he stops and roughly helps Talon off and straight into the water. The assassin staggers and falls but they’re in a shallow part of the stream so Sett only smiles, a bit coldly, at the wet Noxian. His eyes itch with exhaustion and the days barely even started yet.

“You’re filthy. I ain’t letting you ruin my nice furniture.”

Talon sends him a witheringly dead look, clearly equally worn out. He unclasps the cloak around his neck and it falls into the cold water. For a minute he doesn’t move at all.

“What’s the big deal? I’ve seen you naked plenty of times.” Sett’s poking—can blame weariness for that—a bit spitefully but he actually thinks he knows the problem. Talon doesn’t like being out in the open where there’s no corners to hide in or walls to climb. 

The assassin hunches his shoulders and strips down anyway, maybe taking up Sett’s words like a challenge. While he cleans himself up Sett ties the mare by the house and gathers some supplies. Spare clothes and towels and other things. All the shirts with sleeves that he never wears. When he returns to the river Talon’s sitting in the middle of the shallow water, shivering and clearly—even with his blank eyes—disgruntled. Sett helps him out and wraps him in several towels and carries him into the house and upstairs and all the way back to his room—his bed. Talon hisses when his foot knocks on the doorway and Sett mutters an apology except he doesn’t really know if he means it.

“We’re gonna need to fix your ankle,” he says as Talon pulls on one of his shirts. It’s too broad for him and Sett thinks that if he wasn’t so exhausted from all this horseshit he might want to lean over and sink his fangs into Talon’s exposed neck just to taste him again. 

Talon shrugs. Sett can tell he agrees from the way his lower lip juts out in unhappy acceptance so he grabs the supplies he’s set aside. A roll of bandages along with a few narrow strips of wood from the chair he broke during their fight. He lays them out on the bed next to him. Sett doesn’t mention that it will hurt because they’ve both had enough injuries to know it and Talon curls his hands into the bed covers in preparation. Sett remembers that same movement differently. He used to make Talon twist up the sheets for other reasons. 

 

The assassin tenses when Sett begins to wrap his ankle, shaky breath explaining how much he’s hurting even if his words don’t. His back arches gracefully when Sett tightens the bandage but his arms are rigid and a strangled yelp escapes from between his gritted teeth. The vastayan doesn’t look at him after that, focusing instead on the injury. He lines up one of the thin pieces of wood flat against Talon’s leg and ties it tightly into place, followed by another on the opposite side. Sett’s had plenty of practice fixing up injuries like these and now his fingers practically move on their own, which is helpful considering he’s so tired. When he’s done he stands up and drinks in the sight of Talon laying flat on the bed, staring at the ceiling with watery eyes. 

“I gotta go to the pit today,” Sett mutters, cause he doesn’t know what else to say. How do you talk to someone that refuses to communicate? How do you talk to someone who tried to choke you out in your own home?

Talon’s gaze flickers to him. He opens his mouth just enough for Sett to see blood staining the edges of his teeth from where he bit his tongue—but no words come out. 

Bitter hurt washes over him. Sett remembers the rage he felt that afternoon. Knows exactly where it comes from. Giving so much and getting so little. This time however he’s too worn out to be howling mad. Really can’t feel much of anything. 

“You’d better be here when I get back.” Some amount of raw desperation has leaked into his voice and—looking at the man’s splinted foot—Sett takes secret comfort in knowing he won’t be going anywhere. 

 

***

 

It’s past sunset when he returns on foot, mare dropped back off at the farmer’s stable he rented her from. What a long day. Sett yawns as he heads up the stairs. He almost expects Talon to be gone again—so used to him disappearing—but upstairs he finds him on the bed in nearly the same position he left him in. Talon’s eyes flutter open instantly when Sett enters and it causes a dull ache in his chest. He used to stay asleep when Sett would get up in the middle of the night. Or at least he used to keep his eyes closed and let Sett pretend that he was trusted.

With a heavy heart Sett understands that he’s fucked up, cause when the Noxian watches him warily he realizes that Talon must’ve actually trusted him—in some way—and now he doesn’t. He’d gotten him to eat from his hand and now that exact comfortable closeness has turned sour. 

Surely Talon would already be gone if he wasn’t flightless.

“Why’d you leave that night?” He asks as he changes out of his expensive pants into something more snug

No answer. Talon’s staring at the ceiling again.

“Y’know,” Sett growls. “I let you in and gave you everything and you still left anyway.”

Nothing. Might as well be speaking a different language.

“Don’t pull this shit with me—I’m done.” He’s so tired of this. “Talon.”

At his name the Noxian glances at him. Sett has no clue what he’s thinking and his frustration only grows. 

“I’m done with this,” he snaps, mood worsened by sleep deprivation and frustration. “I don’t know what’s running through your head and I’m tired of guessing. I fucking saved you and you won’t give me a damn thing. Learn to communicate cause I’m done trying to figure you out.” 

He waits for a breath to see if miraculously—maybe that will have Talon talking, but there’s no response so Sett stomps towards the door. 

“I’m sleepin’ downstairs.”

 

It feels pretty bleak and Sett doesn’t know how he could be more clear. He stares out the windows at the dark grass. Fuck. His feet stick out over the edge of his dayroom sofa too but not nearly as much as when he’s at ma’s. Spent the whole day half asleep and now his mind’s moving too fast to rest anyway. Thinking about Talon in his shirt and how quiet he is. What did you feel? Sett knows the answer for himself at least. Maybe it’s the fatigue but he feels numb, like nothing’s really reaching him. It’s still hard to believe that Talon is upstairs right now. 

What is he doing? He’d rode a full day on horseback to find a man who lives in silence.

 

Something thumps against the ceiling above him and Sett frowns. Everything’s been falling over in his house as of late. He rolls off the sofa and to his feet with a grunt. 

 

He finds Talon on the floor next to his bed, face twisted up and white with pain. A shiver travels across his shoulders as Sett watches and he ducks his head. Not quick enough to hide the way his lower lip trembles. Reminds him of that night when he’d found Talon downstairs and strange.

“Tryin’ to escape?” Sett asks dryly. 

The Noxian’s frustration is palpable when he looks up at him, eyes flashing ice cold and awful. Sett crouches down to help him up but his hands are slapped away. Suddenly Talon is frantic, swinging at Sett and ripping at his hair, trying to push him away and Sett’s too tired for this.

“Stop.” In the midst of his frenzy Talon yanks hard on his ear and Sett’s had enough. He shoves him flat on the floor and locks both of his hands in his own. “I said stop.” He’s still struggling so Sett shakes him around once. “What’s the matter with you?” 

Talon spits at him. “You should have let me rot—” 

“No,” Sett cuts him off. Enough. “I couldn’t have—cause I love you.” An invisible weight lifts off his chest once he finally says it. Being tight lipped about shit isn’t his style anyway. It’s much easier to be open about all of it which is ironic considering he’s fallen for a Noxian so secretive and private.

He watches Talon’s face fall, all the energy draining out of his gaze in an instant as he goes limp. Sett is hollow. What did you feel? As if in answer Talon falls apart beneath him, a sob breaking through his silence. He squints up at Sett, narrow eyed tears breaking through his defenses. His broken ankle bumps against Sett’s foot and he knows. He understands that every single failure might as well be the end of the world for Talon. Knew that from the first night they met where Talon lost, but this time is worse than all the others. Sett quickly gathers him in his arms and Talon fights him still, clawing and sobbing. He reminds Sett of a wounded animal.

After a couple minutes more Talon’s attacks have faded to half hearted struggling. Oddly enough Sett feels dismally calm just sitting on his bedroom floor with an assassin caught in his arms. He lets Talon break down, leans his head back against the end of the bed and listens as he tries and fails to stifle his ugly sobs. Always failing, Sett supposes tiredly. 

 

Once Talon’s tears finally start to lessen Sett drops him back on the bed next to the wall how he likes. The Noxian curls up on his side and Sett can read every emotion on his face. There is no more hiding. Something has fractured in his stare and he’s afraid. 

Sett doesn’t know what to do. He sits on the edge of the bed and smudges fresh blood on his face from a scratch on his cheek, awkward. Should he even be here? Maybe he should give Talon some time on his own to calm down. Sett sighs quietly as he stands. Too tired for all this. 

Thin fingers snake out and grab the hem of his pants. He glances down at Talon.

“What?” 

A weak tug. Talon mouths something silently and Sett is reminded of the starling days and days ago. Against his better judgement he lets himself be lured down onto the bed and once he’s there Sett settles protectively around Talon. This is familiar. They used to sleep like this all the time, with Talon’s back to the wall and his face buried against Sett’s neck. Safety.

The assassin sniffles quietly and Sett stares at the wall. He’s been up for so long—a full day at least—and everything is blending together. His eyes feel so heavy that he might as well have been the one crying.

His last coherent thought before sleep finally overtakes him is that he’d wanted Talon to stay but not like this. Not in pieces.

 

***

 

Sett oversleeps and that late morning when he wakes up is the worst. Not because Talon is cold and emotionless, but because he’s completely fallen apart and Sett’s never seen him like that before. He lies listlessly in bed, curled up beneath the blankets so that only the top of his head sticks out and is unreachable to any attempts at conversation. 

Sett spends that morning trying to figure him out. It must have something to do with the fact that Talon can’t walk. He’s someone that prides himself in movement and escape and now he has none. He’d failed his assasination attempt too so that makes it worse. And apparently he’d fucked up whatever it was they had since all the light had left his eyes when Sett had told him. When Sett had said— 

Gods. What would momma do? She’s too kind. Kinder than Sett by far.

 

When he gets home that night Talon is still where he was. Hasn’t even touched the food that Sett left by the bed. 

He sighs. “It’ll be at least a month till you can walk. You gonna do nothing till then?” 

Talon doesn’t respond but his eyes are still alive, peeking over the covers. They’ve been that way since last night, guard finally dropped for longer than a few minutes. A sad reassurance that something has changed.

“Am I sleeping here tonight?” Sett asks. The hollow feeling is still there, along with the numbness, but at least a night’s sleep let some feeling back into his chest. 

In answer Talon lifts the covers and Sett slides beneath them, fits around him. 

“Guess I’m just a sucker for you.” He almost feels like he’s talking to himself. “Get treated like shit and I’m still back.”

“Sorry.” 

Sett almost doesn’t catch it, mumbled so softly under his chin. He lets out a slow breath. Now we’re finally getting somewhere. “You tried to choke me out. Messed my leg up good too.”

“You attacked first.” 

“I was mad,” he tells him honestly. “You just— left. Why’d you even come back?”

“I don’t know.” Talon whispers, miserable. Sett cradles the back of his head. He can hear the fragility in his voice. If he’s not careful he might have another meltdown.

“Did ya ever think about being less complicated?” 

Talon is silent.

 

Sometime before dawn he feels Talon’s hands wander. They fumble, unsure and strange as they cup his cheek and touch his shoulders. Pressure is a ghost on his skin. Sett pretends to sleep. He knows how much Talon relies on his hands for trading blows, climbing walls and maybe (he hopes) practice.

 

***

 

Sett’s not used to the strange satisfaction of finding Talon in his bed every night when he comes home. He doesn’t bring up love again, not yet. Instinctively he knows that Talon will only unravel further if he mentions it. Sett would be done with him entirely were it not for the fact that he’s no longer hiding behind some stone faced glare.

He’s willing to try and untangle Talon’s threads because after so much taking he’s finally given himself back. Every vulnerable and fractured piece. 

 

On the fourth day he retrieves the cloth bundle and lets Talon unwrap his knives as he sits on the kitchen table. His eyes shine and he flips the blade elegantly across his thumb in a way that Sett could never hope to emulate. 

“That one’s your favorite,” Sett recalls. “Why?”

Talon’s eyes glitter. There’s more life in them than before. He glances up and Sett sees the uneasiness in his look for only a second. Scared to share, but then he talks anyway. “I’m still waiting for a kill on it.”

“A kill?” Sett watches the metal glint as Talon tilts it between his fingers.

“A certain kill.” There’s a hunger in his face that Sett recognizes. It reminds him of himself and his heart aches coldly.

“Someone in Noxus?”

Talon holds his knife close, stabs the air a couple times. “Yes.”

Sett swallows back his jealousy. Jealousy? He steps closer, fitting between Talon’s spread legs. “Someone that you—” He stops because he won’t say that word and anyway the edge of Talon’s knife fits firmly against his throat. Speak carefully, it seems to warn. Secretly Sett’s pleased that he also receives the threat of a blade, not just the unknown soul back in Noxus.

“I could kill you,” Talon murmurs weakly. “Shouldn’t have given me these.”

He remembers the pain when the steel cut into his skin during their fight. “You coulda killed me months ago.” To prove it, he moves even nearer, till suddenly they’re so close and Talon’s leaning up almost closing the gap between their mouths and the blade notches hungrily against his neck. Sett feels that.

Something in Talon’s gaze splinters. He abruptly stabs the knife into the surface of the rickety wooden table and shrinks away, arms wrapping around himself. Sett’s hands quickly follow him, cupping his face in an effort to keep him steady. 

When Talon remains despondent Sett carries him back upstairs.

 

***

 

The knives help. They keep Talon occupied while Sett is away and when he returns—earlier than usual, another storm might be brewing—he’s sitting on the edge of the bed, still in Sett’s too large clothes, spinning the weapons between his fingers. Just seeing him like that draws Sett closer, cause Talon doesn’t even glance at him, which must mean that he trusts him. Sett can’t help but sidle closer and tug the Noxian’s long hair so that his head tips back and he presses their mouths together—just for a taste before he realizes what he’s doing.

Talon grabs his collar and tugs him back down. This is familiar. 

“I can’t,” he mumbles apologetically against his lips. “I can’t do it.” Talon’s persistent and it takes all of Sett’s willpower to pull away as his coat is yanked down his shoulders. “I can’t,” he repeats. “I can’t just fuck you I need more than that.”

Talon bites his lip, now tense. Shattered.

“Do you—care about—anyone back in Noxus?” He blurts out, careful to avoid what might cause a meltdown. 

Talon stares at him and Sett thinks the assassin understands what he’d meant to say. “No,” he says finally.

“Ionia?” Sett won’t ask that yet because he’s not one to lose and if he doesn’t ask he can pretend that he’s still undefeated.

 

***

 

The next evening two strangers approach him while he watches over the final round of betting. 

“You’re Settrigh?” 

Sett turns around, taking note of the official looking robes and stately behavior. “What do you want?” He asks loudly, baring his fangs in a less than welcoming smile. The crowd is loud around them as they hurry to place their bets on which sorry soul will die next.

One of the strangers, a woman with long black hair and a pinched face, raises her eyebrows disdainfully at the clamor. “May we talk in private?”

Sett sees one of his lieutenants watching from the other end of the large room. He shakes his head slightly and waves the two strangers along. “Fine.”

He doesn’t lead them far, just to the back of the foyer away from most of the people.

“This is good enough.”

The woman shifts uncomfortably, clearly expecting someplace more secluded. Her partner, a fair haired man, looks equally unexcited.

“This is your business?” 

“Yeah.” Sett cracks his knuckles. “All of it.”

She watches his hands. “I see. A bloody occupation.”

“It ain’t too bad,” Sett shrugs. He rocks back on his heels and glances over at the crowd. What do they want? 

“Have you travelled recently? Perhaps over the hills to Zhuv’le?”

“Zhuv’le?” His raucous laughter booms through the foyer. “I ain’t even know where that is.”

The two strangers share a look and Sett crosses his arms, confident in knowing that it was their mistake to meet him here. They should have tried to interrupt him on the road home. 

“If you haven’t heard,” she explains, bowing her head. “One of our own, Elder Weiri, recently succumbed to injuries he sustained during an assasination attempt.” 

Sett sobers up at that. He’s dead. Secretly he’s relieved because he knows if he was still alive Talon would go back for him. “Ah—sorry to hear,” he lies through his teeth. 

 “The scoundrel that attacked him escaped from our custody,” the man finally speaks up. His voice is reedy and grates on Sett’s nerves. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about it?”

“Why would I?”

Another shared look. “A man rode into town the day he escaped. Cut a memorable—” The woman’s fingers jerk towards the top of her head. “Figure.”

It’s always the ears, Sett thinks sourly. Nobody’d have a problem with him if he just had normal human ears. Now they twitch back, showcasing his annoyance. “You think I’d want something to do with a murderer? What kinda businessman do you think I am?”

He takes a step forward and they both step back.

“Settrigh—”

“Only my momma calls me that,” he growls. “You got balls comin’ into my pit just to insult my character. People earn an honest livin’ here.” Or an honest dyin’. 

The woman backpedals, raising her hands placatingly. Sett mentally pats himself on the back for his own performance. “Our apologies. Perhaps our attention was misguided.”

“Misguided,” he repeats. “Yeah that’s puttin’ it lightly. You’re the type to rag on anyone that looks the least bit different.” He glances behind him again, excited to be done with their conversation. “Look I’ve got a job to do.”

 

His lieutenant asks him what happened when he gets back up in the stands and Sett doesn’t tell her much. “Buncha stuffy fools.” Is all he says. Internally his mind races. At least the nervous jailer hadn’t ratted him out, because surely they would have come far sooner, right? And with far more evidence. How’d they track him down? People must have taken notice of him in Zhuv’le, but that’ll be all there is to it, because Sett’s damn good at lying. They’d swallowed his words hook line and sinker. 

 

By the time he gets home a light rain has started and Sett is breathless at the top of the stairs as he barges into their room. Their room? 

Talon is under the blankets and he blinks blearily at Sett. 

“Elder Weiri is dead.”

Immediately Talon is wide awake. He sits up, hair messy and loose. “How?”

“Died to his injuries. Now you don’t have to…” Sett trails off. Without his emotional walls Talon’s face is alive with sharp relief. He sags back against the headboard and Sett climbs onto the bed, giddy. “You did it, see? Guess not even magic could save him.”

Talon laughs, shaky and fragile but a breath of fresh air nonetheless. He lurches forward and wraps his arms around Sett’s neck. Warm against him, Sett can’t resist pressing a kiss to the side of his neck. There’s no escaping it, he’s stuck on Talon. Even his numbness has transformed back to undying starvation. A desperate need for more than what he has. 

“I love you,” he mouths against Talon’s skin and the Noxian stills.

He’d accidentally said it louder than intended, Sett realizes, pulling away to make sure Talon’s not going to fall apart again. Maybe if he just keeps him in his arms he can hold him together— 

“I—” Talon’s voice breaks and he shivers, once. Sett can tell he’s struggling to talk so he lets him work it out. Appreciates the effort, honestly.

“If I—”

Sett waits.

“If I couldn’t say it back?” The hoarse question is a knife and it buries itself in his chest with deadly precision. Sett is suddenly dizzy, emptiness flooding his body with frigid loss. If I couldn’t say it back?

“Because you don’t love me?” 

“Because I don’t love anyone.”

He doesn’t understand but he can see how Talon’s eyes are flickering back and forth between him, the doorway, and the window. Sett shifts backwards on the bed to give him some space, has to brace himself on the headboard cause he might just tip over.

“I don’t like—” Talon’s trying to explain it for him, speech halting. “It’s not for me. I don’t like the idea of being with anyone like— that.”

Oddly enough, Sett finds himself grounded by the fact that he’d said “anyone.” So it’s not just him then, it’s everyone?

“You don’t like love?” He asks to clarify, a little incredulous.

Talon hides his face in his hands and Sett gets the feeling that he’s never told anyone this before.

“The idea of it.” Slowly, word by word pulled out. “It makes me sick.”

Sett frowns. “What if it’s just—” He doesn’t know how to say it. “Maybe you just need time.”

“Well then I need time,” Talon snaps. Defensive, Sett recognizes. “But I still don’t love anyone and I’ve never liked thinking about it.”

“How do you know it ain’t love?” 

“It’s just— not.” He’s louder now, more desperate. “I don’t know what it is but I know what it isn’t.”

 

Sett lets that sink in. Sick at the mere idea? He’s never heard of anything like that. Can’t even imagine what that feels like. For Sett, love is a hungering cavern in his chest, electricity burning down his spine. 

“Do you even fuckin’ like me?” 

Talon doesn’t answer, just looks back at his hands, eyes wet. 

“Say something.” Sett scowls. “I need you to talk to me cause I can’t figure you out by myself.” He’s not as good at picking apart threads as his momma is.

“I do.”

Relief. “You like it when we sleep together? And you like bein’ around me?”

“Yes.”

“But you don’t—love me.”

He sees Talon struggle, shiver. “Yes.” He rubs his eyes, looking as exhausted as Sett suddenly feels. Like telling him this secret has worn him down to nothing.

His mind doesn’t know how to process this. Sett initially feels hurt and anger, because what a waste, right? Except Talon’s watching him, miserable and small, and Sett understands that this is probably the biggest sign of trust yet. He’s real wrong about Talon never giving anything back. 

“I—need some time,” he tells Talon, forcing his voice to be calm, almost reassuring, as he stands up. 

Pale eyes stare at him as he leaves. Stabs into his back.

 

Sett digs through the kitchen, blinking away confusion and heartbreak. Well, maybe not heartbreak. He doesn’t understand Talon. Maybe he never will. On one of the bottom shelves—in the dayroom, not the kitchen—he finds an unopened container of plum wine. A gift from an admirer ages ago. Rain falls outside and he listens to the sound as he uncorks it and downs a sweet swallow. 

It makes sense the more he thinks about it. All of Talon’s awkward touches against him like he’d had no idea how he was supposed to act. That might be partially the case but it could very easily be that he doesn’t understand it in the first place. And it makes sense cause Talon would always appear out of nowhere and ask for nothing else except Sett’s touch and a warm bed. All the strange little moments start to add together. 

“Are you happy with only a taste?” He swallows another swig of warm wine. He ain’t ever thought this much before Talon. He ain’t ever felt this much either. That’s the thing isn’t it? Sett’s always looking for more and turns out that more might just be less. He’s still hurt over it, rejection stings no matter what, but the longer he considers what Talon said the more he realizes that this situation isn’t too bad. 

After all, he coulda been outright rejected, just imagining that makes Sett upset and he grips his bottle tighter. Having his feelings returned would have been real nice, but that’s not happening either, at least not in any way that Sett’s used to. And maybe—

Maybe he cares too much. Sett frowns to himself. At some point after meeting Talon he’d started to give a damn about everything so maybe it’s time to quit caring so much about every annoying little detail of his life.

 

The bottle of wine is nearly empty and Sett is decidedly done with complex thought and thinking in general. He stumbles back upstairs, footsteps heavy on wood even though the rest of him might as well be ten feet off the ground. He’s lighter than air. Talon’s curled up beneath the covers and if he’s awake or hears him he doesn’t move. Not until Sett climbs over him and pulls the blankets away, surrounds him in his arms and breathes him in.

“Listen, listen. I matter to you, right? More than anyone else?” 

Talon looks up at him, tense and confused. “Of course.”

“Then I don’t care anymore. You should be mine.”

His eyebrows furrow, gaze threatening to crack again. Sett knows that look. Gods he’s so pretty. He wants him more than anything. 

“Sett I won’t love you.”

“I don’t care about that anymore.” Sett rolls off the bed. There’s too much energy in his bones. He could do anything. 

Talon sits up, watching him as he paces back and forth in front of the bed. His nose wrinkles. “Are you drunk?”

“Nah,” Sett shrugs. “I was just—” a breath. “—thinkin’.” He turns and there’s something sharp and welcoming in Talon’s eyes so he prowls closer. “You’ve been stuck in my head for so long.”

Talon combs his bangs away from his face. He doesn’t look away. “Don’t you want love?” He sounds lost. Sett imagines that this is foreign to him, being wanted despite his perceived flaws. Talon tries too hard to be perfect and once he fails he is nothing but fragments.

“I only want you.” They’re so close together, Talon’s on the very edge of the bed and Sett can kiss him, so he does. You don’t gotta be perfect, he thinks. I’ll help you survive no matter how many pieces you’re in.

“You’re sweet,” Talon mutters, shy even as he licks his lips. 

“Blame it on the wine.” Sett presses him back against the bed with one broad hand in the center of his chest. “This okay?”

Talon blinks at him.

“Do ya like this caring shit?”

“It’s fine,” he whispers, face red. 

Good. He kisses Talon again, relieved, and this time the Noxian bites back like he used to, knotting his fingers through Sett’s hair and pulling a growl from his lips. Sett might be more drunk on him than the alcohol. He wants to go further but the sober part of him remembers that Talon’s still so fragile and Sett doesn’t want any complications. Instead they tangle together between the blankets and he falls asleep light headed and floating against Talon’s side. 

 

***

 

As Talon’s ankle improves his temperament does also and with every passing day Sett finds himself more and more enraptured. They’ve fallen back into their old habits but this time everything is sharper. Talon is wide open for him and that makes every simple touch more satisfying. Satisfying, Sett never thought he’d be satiated by someone so different. 

Is this how momma felt? The question is air in his lungs. 

“After you can walk,” Sett asks. “What are you gonna do?”

Talon’s polishing his favorite knife as he sits across Sett’s lap in the dayroom. It’s humid and his brown locks stick to his forehead. “I have to go back to Noxus.” He tilts the blade in the light and scratches a spot away with his fingernail.

“For how long?” 

He shrugs. “I’ll be back.” 

“To kill another elder?”

Talon bumps his head back against Sett’s chest. “And for you.” 

“Only for me,” Sett corrects him and Talon’s quick grin is the bright horizon.

I love you, Sett thinks, but he doesn’t say that even though he’s told Talon that he doesn’t have to say it back. “I need you.” is what he says instead. Because he does. He’ll starve without him.

Talon doesn’t respond. He pricks his finger on the point of his knife and a tiny drop of blood wells up. Then he presses the hilt of his weapon into Sett’s hand and leans comfortably against his chest. 

 

Sett understands. Talking is hard for Talon sometimes. He’d been mad about it earlier but by this point he knows that communication is more than just words. Sometimes it’s taking off your mask and lowering your defenses and letting someone see all of you. 

 

There’s a lot left to learn. Talon’s secretive by nature and fragile by design, but they still have a couple weeks left ahead of them.
Sett is more than willing to fight for every little victory. After all, he hasn’t lost yet and this is one winning streak he’ll carry with him for as long as he can.