Actions

Work Header

Best Laid Plans

Work Text:

As predicted, the problem of Kaeya’s absence begins to concern Diluc at exactly midnight, when Amber bursts through the doors of the Angel’s Share with something of a barely concealed desperation.

“We are closed,” Diluc says without turning his back, his tone equally desperate, for vastly different reasons--perhaps if he wishes for it hard enough, she will turn around and leave him to enjoy the rest of his night in peace.

She makes a squawking sort of noise from behind him, and Diluc frowns down at the glass that he’s polishing as Amber briefly steps outside, presumably to check the hours posted on the outside of the door before charging right back in.

“I’m not here for drinks--it’s Kaeya!”

When isn’t it, really.

Unfortunately, the bar is empty enough that Diluc can neither pretend to have not heard her nor can he simply ignore her request. He knows from experience that Kaeya’s people tend to be as irritatingly stubborn as he is, and, at any rate, he feels a little bad. She’s just an outrider, likely following whatever orders Kaeya has deposited into her hapless arms, and she certainly doesn’t deserve whatever this mess must be.

Most likely, she’s here because Kaeya performed a variation of his standard go-to tactic--running off to deal with a problem on his own, one even larger than the size of his inflated head, without informing anyone of his whereabouts.

He sets down the now well-cleaned glass, finally turning to face Amber in silent invitation, and the expression on her face almost instantly morphs into relief before he has the time to regret his decision.

“I’ll hear you out,” he attempts to clarify, to give himself an out in case Kaeya’s latest development turns out to be particularly overbearing, but Amber’s already running him over, bounding up to the counter at top speed.

“He’s been missing for three days, did you know? And right in the middle of an investigation, too! I thought we were close to figuring things out, but right after we questioned one of the merchants we’d captured, Kaeya was all like--’I have places to be, Amber, I’ll see you later.’ Well, now it’s way later, and no one’s heard from him since!”

Diluc feels the beginnings of a piercing headache forming behind his eyes, and he isn’t sure whether to appreciate Amber’s deeply accurate impression of Kaeya’s careless attitude or vacate the premises entirely to avoid getting caught up in whatever... this was.

“So he’s been gone,” Diluc restates, as if he hadn’t already been aware of and keeping track of this fact since the first set of twenty-four hours had passed. “No wonder Mondstadt has found such peace in these recent days.”

Amber makes a sound caught strangely between a strangled laugh and a squawk of outrage, her determined glare renewing itself once again as she leans even closer.

“Okay, I’ll admit, it’s been kind of nice having so much free time on my hands, but now I’m getting worried. I know he likes to disappear a lot--and I mean a lot --but don’t you think it’s been a bit too long?”

Ordinarily,  a three-day period of being entirely absent from the face of Teyvat wouldn’t be so strange. It’s one of Kaeya’s favorite habits, after all, fleeing the scene wherever he’s actually needed. But aside from the other’s numerous flaws, Diluc has never known him to abandon a task in the middle of things, always seeing things through no matter what avenue he has to take to reach the end. 

“Maybe. So why come to me? It’s not as if he told me where he was going, either.”

Amber looks almost surprised at that--mostly crestfallen, but definitely still surprised, and a sensation of dark foreboding creeps across Diluc’s mind.

“I mean, maybe not, but I guess I thought you would want to know? I mean, you are his…”

She trails off, glancing at him in a probing sort of way, as if she’s expecting him to finish her sentence, which he quite frankly isn’t sure how to do. He contemplates asking her exactly what sort of impression Kaeya’s subordinates have of him, but decides that the answers to such ominous questions were better left unresolved.

“Okay. And now I know. Thanks.”

He picks up the next dirtied glass in the long line of awaiting dishware, starting to rinse it out as the pause between them stretches from expectant to awkward. Amber blinks at him, clearly expecting him to continue on, but after approximately ten glass-wiping seconds have passed, she catches on that Diluc has no intention of doing so.

“What? That’s it?” she blurts out, flushing slightly when he raises a brow at her. “I just...you’re not going to do anything? He’s missing.”

As if an extra reminder of this fact would potentially spur him to action.

“Surely the esteemed captain of the Favonius Knights can handle himself.”

She eyeballs him for a few minutes longer, perhaps hoping to employ some form of telepathic suggestion to change his mind, but eventually he hears her rummaging around in her bag with an extended sigh. Whatever she’s attempting now has little bearing on his actual task, and he looks up only when she thrusts a sealed envelope all the way into his field of vision.

“You two are so weird. I was supposed to give this to you if he didn’t come back soon enough, but I was hoping I could get this matter resolved without having to resort to sending his shady letters for him.”

Diluc stares at the envelope, wisps of smoke starting to curl off of his fingers as he debates on incinerating the letter immediately, but Amber only grows more insistent, nudging it deliberately against his hands.

Best not to burn it--he wouldn’t put it past Kaeya to stuff the thing full of explosive powder, as a punishing sort of failsafe in the event that Diluc gave into his entirely reasonable impulses.

With a small exhale, he takes the envelope from her, glancing with distaste at Kaeya’s lazy scrawl of Diluc’s name on the back. There’s no denying that it’s for him, then, and an extremely unwelcome, unbearably smug image of Kaeya’s face drifts to the forefront of his mind as he tucks the letter into his coat for further inspection. 

Even without opening it, he knows it’s an invitation--despite all evidence to the contrary, Kaeya is rather crafty when he wants to be. 

“Okay, well, at least you took it. Can’t say I didn’t do my job, then. You don’t look too worried, so I’ll give it one more day before I go running to the rest of the Knights for help.”

Diluc makes a noncommittal noise in response, but from the way she’s staring at him as she slowly walks backwards and towards the exit, he can tell that they both understand how unfortunately ensnared Diluc already is.

The bell on the door chimes softly as Amber sees herself out, the bar now empty as the remaining patrons of the night had slowly filtered out over the course of their conversation. Diluc sets the last glass back on the shelf, taking his time in cleaning up before he properly closes down the tavern for the night.

It’s only when he’s certain that he’s alone in his quarters that he begrudgingly slits open the envelope, tilting it to the side to watch the contents slide out. There isn’t much--a single very crudely hand-drawn map, complete with a squiggly doodle of Kaeya’s smiling face to presumably indicate the designated landmark.

As hideous as Kaeya’s cartography might be, Diluc recognizes where he’s supposed to go, if only because Kaeya has very pointedly chosen a location directly next to the exact lake that Dilluc had embarrassingly nearly drowned in as a child, during a failed attempt of Kaeya’s to teach him how to swim.

He slowly closes his eyes for a long moment, taking a necessary moment to compose himself before reaching for his cloak.

If he gets there quickly enough, perhaps, he’ll find Kaeya in a decent enough condition to be safely shoved into the lake by Diluc’s well-placed boot.

 


 

Of course, Kaeya simply couldn’t do him the favor of being forcibly kidnapped off to a more pleasant location.

Diluc grimaces as his boot lands in an especially squishy puddle, the grass beneath him giving way with an unpleasantly soggy noise. 

Although his stint as a captain of the Knights had given him some exposure to the rougher elements of nature, he’s never been particularly... adept at navigating the outdoor terrain on his own. Kaeya had always been the one taking the lead in their numerous childhood expeditions—whether it was another misguided attempt at locating “his grandfather’s treasure” or merely a midnight sneaking-out of the family manor—although he usually ended up leading them into trouble more often than not.

He’d be lost right now, really, if it weren’t for the helpful trail of what he heavily suspects is Kaeya’s blood to guide him.

There’s quite a bit of it too, enough to make Diluc’s footsteps quicken in pace. While he’s certain that things are proceeding in accordance with Kaeya’s plan, he also knows from experience that Kaeya’s plans never take into account the amount of personal injury he might incur.

He knows he’s on the right track when he encounters a startled looking sentry, who barely has the time to draw breath before Diluc is swiftly knocking him out with a sharp jab to his neck. The man’s body crumples to the floor before Diluc’s dispassionate gaze, and when he tilts his head in the quiet aftermath, he hears the faintest traces of a distinctly carefree voice on the wind.

Kaeya’s still conscious, then. Perhaps Diluc’s lake-pushing fantasies are not entirely out of the picture after all.

Stepping over the sentry’s still form, Diluc slips silently closer to the circle of abandoned ruins that the kidnappers are hiding in, Kaeya’s words slowly growing more discernible the closer he gets.

“Not that I’m not enjoying this conversation, but don’t you think you’re being a little harsh?”

Kaeya’s words are punctuated with a muffled thump and a soft grunt of pain, and Diluc’s stomach twists as he flattens himself against one of the fallen ruin walls for cover. For the situation he’s in, the other is running his  mouth perhaps a bit too freely, but Diluc’s really not sure what else he’d expected from the man.

He’s as close as he can get to the others without actually coming into view, so after a moment of ensuring that there are no other footsoldiers lying in wait to ambush him, he chances a peek from around the side of the wall to take inventory of the situation.

From what he knows through his passive observation of the matter as a whole, Kaeya’s division of the Knights had been tasked with investigating the inner workings of a merchant trafficking ring that had recently relocated their base into Mondstadt. Underground crime operations were hardly an attractive tourist feature, so the Mondstadt officials had wanted the matter cleared up as soon as possible.

Evidently, this was Kaeya’s way of “cleaning up.”

There are about ten or eleven of the kidnappers stationed about the site, the most threatening being the lightning mage in the corner and the particularly large sword-wielding mercenary with his hand currently tangled in Kaeya’s messy locks of hair. 

For someone with his hands bound behind his back and half of his face pressed into the stones of a deserted criminal hideout, Kaeya looks awfully pleased with himself, the grin on his face marred by the blood staining the corners of his mouth. There’s a noticeable bruise on the left side of his face, visible even with the way his loose hair covers his cheek, but for the most part, the kidnappers seem to have left his face alone.

The rest of him hasn’t fared nearly as well, and even from this distance, Diluc catches sight of the suspiciously shallow rise and fall of Kaeya’s chest as he breathes, likely attempting to avoid irritating his probably broken ribs.

“Don’t waste time on him,” the mage snaps, apparently the leader of the small band. “If you’re so bothered by what he says, just knock him out. We need him intact to fetch a decent price on the market.”

Kaeya swallows hard, the motion making him wince for the briefest of seconds before his face settles back into its easy grin. “Not the usual sort of compliment I get, but I’ll take it.”

His words slur slightly into each other, likely because of the concussion brewing in his injured skull, but Diluc suspects that it’s somehow related to the fact that Kaeya has clearly failed to use any of his elemental magic yet, the area completely free of the usual frost that accompanies his battles. 

It’s more than a little concerning, but Diluc still finds himself resisting the urge to roll his eyes in a manner highly unbecoming of the Ragnvindr heir at the casual content of Kaeya’s words, instead tugging the hood of his cloak further down to obscure more of his face. While he’s certain that these merchants, foreign to Mondstadt as they are, would have some difficulty identifying him, he’d rather keep himself as unseen as possible when out on these little sojourns. 

“Whatever,” the mercenary grunts in assent, releasing his grip on Kaeya’s hair and winding up in preparation to bring his hand down on the back of Kaeya’s head.

It’s then, of course, that Diluc chooses to make his move, lunging out from his vantage point and closing the distance between them to slam the flat of his blade into the man’s chest.

There’s a moment of stunned silence, where all heads in the area turn towards him, and the man goes flying from the force of the impact. Diluc readjusts his grip on his claymore, shifting his weight to his back foot as he steadies himself, and he thinks he hears the faintest of chuckles coming from the smug lump at his feet. 

“The Darknight Hero himself...what an honor,” Kaeya mumbles, spitting out a mouthful of blood onto the stones, and Diluc largely ignores him in favor of twisting out of the way of the lightning that arcs dangerously close to his head. 

“Make yourself useful,” Diluc says flatly in response, kicking the mercenary’s fallen sword closer to Kaeya’s still bound hands before leaping away to reposition himself to better deal with the oncoming threat.

Sadly, he misses what he’s certain is an entertaining image of Kaeya attempting to wiggle himself towards the sword to free himself, but by the time Diluc knocks out his seventh enemy with a flame enhanced strike and flicks a knife into the back of the eighth, Kaeya is on his feet. 

The man looks somewhat unsteady, but is no less capable of taking down his own attackers, even with the foreign weight of his borrowed weapon. It’s a heavier sword than Kaeya is used to, some of the hesitation in his movements visible to Diluc’s trained eye, but he’s been sparring with Kaeya since they were seven--the chinks in the other’s defense aren’t noticeable to anyone else.

Despite both his hands being free, though, Kaeya still makes no move to unleash any of his Cryo abilities, something Diluc makes note of as they wipe up the last of the kidnappers, leaving a pile of unconscious--or possibly dead--bodies in their wake. 

That could potentially be a problem--it’s likely that he wasn’t supposed to actually kill them, due to the Mondstadt officials wanting to interrogate them alive. 

A problem for later, perhaps.

Diluc frowns, wiping the blood from his blade on one of the kidnapper’s shirts before he returns it to his back, turning to face Kaeya.

“Just like old times, yeah?” Kaeya quips, his attempted saunter resembling something of a pained stagger as his bad leg gives out from beneath him, forcing him to one knee.

Diluc doesn’t answer immediately, turning his gaze to the lake still visible on the horizon. Kaeya had lured the merchants here on purpose, either out of some misplaced nostalgia or simply because he’d thought Dliuc wouldn’t be able to find him otherwise.

“If by ‘old times’ you mean ‘horrific and vaguely life-endangering incidents,’ then yes, I suppose so.”

Kaeya laughs, the pained sound twisting its way breathlessly from his throat, and Diluc finally tilts his head to look down at him, debating whether Kaeya’s body could actually withstand the force of Diluc helping him upright. After a moment, he lets out a sigh, crouching down to help take some of Kaeya’s weight as he drags the other back to his feet, Kaeya’s arm hooking itself around his shoulders.

Diluc continues staring pointedly straight ahead, as he speaks, well aware of the warmth of Kaeya’s side against him. The body heat is abnormal for a Cryo user like Kaeya, who, while perfectly capable of maintaining a normal temperature, always naturally hung around the colder side.

“You could have handled it on your own. Why didn’t you?”

“Yeah, funny story,” Kaeya grits out, his voice growing strained as he takes his first tentative footstep, and Diluc is forced to contemplate the increasingly likely possibility that he may simply have to carry Kaeya back to Mondstandt. “They did... something when they knocked me out the first time. Some sort of elixir or, I don’t know. Whatever it was, I can’t use my magic.”

A surprising development indeed, but from the way that Kaeya is so bonelessly slumped against him, his tone still deceptively casual, Diluc deeply suspects that Kaeya’s already known of this method of theirs for some time now. He’d simply wanted to test it out firsthand for himself, and had found the consequences to be more unpleasant than he’d expected.

Of course, Kaeya had never really been in any real danger, not with his backup plan still secured in Diluc’s coat pocket.

“I see,” is all he says instead, mentally beginning his countdown for when he expects Kaeya to lose consciousness altogether.

The man is being held upright by his own stubbornness at this point, but between the extensive catalogue of his injuries and the dangerous weight of his ego, Diluc gives him about thirty seconds before he goes down.

Barbara is likely asleep at this hour, along with any of the other medics he could possibly request the help of, which means his two choices are either to drag Kaeya back to the man’s room and leave him there--as deserved--or take Kaeya home with him.

“Seems like I got lucky, huh?” Kaeya’s weight against him grows heavier as the other leans further into him, and it’s at that point that Diluc wisely turns himself around, just in time to catch and gently lower Kaeya to the ground as the other’s legs give out altogether.

Twenty seconds--he’s grown rusty in predicting these things, then, but he supposes that two years and an entire continent of distance between them has something to with it.

“The universe needs some way to compensate for your increasing recklessness,” Diluc answers anyways, even with Kaeya on the verge of passing out.

The look on Kaeya’s face is painfully familiar then, a crooked half-smile almost vulnerable in its honesty, and, despite so many months of trying to put the lingering dregs of his Kaeya-related feelings behind him, Diluc feels his heart clench involuntarily in his chest.

“Yeah....guess I should...thank it,” Kaeya trails off, blinking slowly at him once, twice, before his head goes limp, his face unconsciously turning into Diluc’s abdomen.

Diluc looks down at him, watching the man’s shallow breaths flutter the loose strands of blue hair in front of his face, Kaeya’s expression turning somewhat pained in his fitful sleep. 

A slow warmth flickers to life in the pit of his stomach, and Diluc hastily lifts a hand to his own face, dragging it down in an attempt to scrub away the pink tint he feels rising in his cheeks. At least his mask covers the upper half of his face, but he still ducks his head into the collar of his cloak as he composes himself, gently sliding Kaeya’s head off of his lap and standing up to clean up the rest of the scene.

The kidnappers are still soundly asleep, but Diluc isn’t exactly fond of the idea of leaving the still surviving ones here to flee into the shadows and return another day. There’s also no way for him to bring all of them back to Mondstandt with him, especially not with Kaeya in tow, so he’s simply left with little choice but to string them up to the nearest pillar, trusting in the magical chains of his Vision to hold fast against any attempts at escape.

He’ll alert one of the other Favonius Knights of their location when he enters the city. Or maybe he won’t--perhaps a few extra hours trapped outside would allow them to reflect on their actions.

By the time he gathers Kaeya’s confiscated possessions and slips the empty vial of the drugs in Kaeya’s system into his pocket, it’s already near dawn. Kaeya is lying peacefully where Diluc last left him, completely dead to the world as Diluc gingerly lifts him into his arms. Despite the couple of inches Kaeya has on him and the ridiculous length of his octopus-limbs, Diluc manages to successfully avoid smacking Kaeya’s head into the nearby tree--although he’s fairly certain the other’s thick skull could take it. 

Kaeya only stirs slightly at the motion, mumbling something suspiciously close to Diluc’s name in his sleep, which Diluc elects to ignore, lest he find himself faced with a healthy bout of uncomfortable amounts of emotion.

He’s certain to be due for enough of that when Kaeya next wakes up.

 


 

It’s morning by the time Diluc sneaks back into his manor, taking one of the more covert routes that he and Kaeya had once discovered as children. He’d thought it best to remain relatively hidden, to avoid the commotion that the sight of the Ragnvindr heir carrying his half-dead adoptive brother through the front doors of their family home would cause.

While Diluc is no stranger to late nights, especially given his vigilante hobbies, there’s also the matter of patching up Kaeya’s rather unfortunate condition. He’d rather not ask any of his staff for help with this, no matter how familiar they are with Kaeya, so the task of stripping the man of his bloodied clothes and bandaging his wounds falls entirely to him.

He pauses slightly once he’s wormed Kaeya’s shirt all the way off, unable to resist the temptation to trace the long scar on the man’s lower abdomen. For the most part, there’s nothing of Kaeya that Diluc hasn’t seen before, but the scar is relatively new--a parting gift from Diluc himself, the last and only time they’d ever had a real fight between them. 

It’s a bitter memory, with even worse emotions tied to it, and Diluc swallows hard, forcing himself to pull away in favor of digging through his bedside drawers for the necessary supplies to stitch the other back together. As he goes along with the cleaning and dressing of Kaeya’s wounds, he finds more scars that he doesn’t recognize, injuries the other had incurred in the years that Diluc had left Mondstadt for. 

The eyepatch had been new as well, he remembers, something he’d only seen when he’d eventually returned to his hometown, having finally come to terms enough with the more painful set of his feelings to be able to face Kaeya and their father’s home.

That first reunion had been nothing short of painfully awkward--too much having changed between them and neither of them even remotely capable of knowing how to address it. In the end, Kaeya had given him something of an easy smile, one that Diluc immediately identified as the same false pretense that Kaeya was so fond of using with others.

Kaeya had felt more like a stranger to him with each passing second--he still does, even now that they’ve both settled into their new roles--and, coupled with the words they’d exchanged on the day their father had died, it’d just been easier to stay away.

Maybe Diluc really should still be staying away, if one real smile from Kaeya is all that it takes to compromise him like this.

Or maybe he’s just tired.

He neatly ties off the last bandage around Kaeya’s chest, undressing the rest of him before depositing him into Diluc’s own bed and drawing the covers over his prone form. With the last of his rapidly diminishing energy, he pulls himself into a more comfortable nightshirt, collapses into a chair, and falls asleep the instant his head pillows itself on his folded arms.

He’s fully expecting to awaken before Kaeya, so it comes as something of a shock to him when, some hours later, he blearily raises his head from the mattress and directly meets Kaeya’s gaze. The other has an unusually gentle expression on his face, evidently not having had the time to construct a better front for himself.

“Oh,” says Diluc, in the amazingly eloquent fashion that only Kaeya can produce in him. 

He straightens up, wincing as the soreness in his neck and upper back protests against the movement, his muscles rather disliking the awkward position he’d slept in.

“Morning,” Kaeya nods at him, his voice strangely subdued. He must notice it as well, because he clears his throat in an afterthought, readjusting himself against the pillows he’s propped up against the bed for support. “Feeling any more refreshed after your nap?”

Diluc’s gaze flicks to one of his floor-length bedroom windows, eyeing the late afternoon light obviously trickling in. It’s rare for him to sleep past noon, but nothing about the last day or so has been normal in any way.

“Not particularly. I was plagued by a nightmare in which I found myself complicit in the ill-thought out plans of a dangerous lunatic.”

“Sounds like a dreamy kind of guy. Though maybe you would have slept better in, you know, your own bed.”

“It’s occupied.”

“Not like that ever stopped you before.”

Diluc immediately tenses at the comment, but before he can think to respond--or if he even should, Kaeya grimaces lightly, running a hand through his hair and looking away.

“Sorry. Forget I said that.”

A heavy, uncomfortable sort of silence descends upon the both of them, and Diluc averts his gaze, combing his fingers through his messy locks of hair, the strands having fallen loose of their usual ties.

There was a time, he remembers, when the two of them knew how to sit in silence together, when pauses like these never felt like they stretched on for longer than necessary. He remembers the weight of Kaeya’s head in his lap as Diluc gently brushed at his scalp, his other hand marking his place in a book before Kaeya inevitably demanded more of his attention. 

He shakes his head, hoping to clear out such dangerous thoughts, moving to stand up.

“I should go. Don’t overstay your welcome--but don’t bleed through your bandages for it, either.”

Kaeya’s hand darts out before Diluc can twist away, catching him by the wrist as the other gazes at him with an unusual intensity.

“Wait,” he says, and the moment of uncharacteristic hesitation in Kaeya’s actions gives Diluc pause. “Look, I...it was good to see you. Thanks for showing up.”

The admission is so reminiscent of the honest, familiar Kaeya that Diluc had known that he blinks uncertainly at Kaeya for a long moment, watching as the other slowly releases his wrist and leans back into the pillows, wincing all the while. He’s still studying Diluc with that same, open expression, and Diluc feels the same helplessly soft sensation in his chest rise up once more.

Compelled by some long deeply-buried instinct, Diluc slowly perches himself on the edge of the mattress, nudging Kaeya’s long legs out of the way to make a space for himself, which the other obligingly moves along with. 

“Well. Amber was rather persistent. And you are rather difficult to ignore.”

Kaeya’s uncertain expression melts into a grin, and Diluc forces himself to look away to avoid doing something unspeakably foolish, such as smile back.

“I think it’s one of my better qualities, really. You should see how they treat me over in Jean’s grandmother’s sewing circle. They can’t get enough of me.”

Despite himself, Diluc snorts out something suspiciously close to an almost-laugh, folding his arms across his chest and straightening himself up to hide it immediately after. 

“You must still be exhausted if you’re reciting your hallucinations aloud to me. You should go back to sleep.”

Kaeya’s eye lights up, a teasing edge coloring his words. “Ah, worried about me already?”

“Says who? This is the fastest way to end this conversation.”

“Think again--I can talk in my sleep.”

A real smile pulls unwillingly at the corners of Diluc’s lips then, and he covers his mouth with his hand to hide it. 

“I know.”

Kaeya chuckles, the both of them well aware of the numerous ways Kaeya’s talent has kept Diluc up at night. The sound trails off into another silence, one far more comfortable than the last, and Diluc occupies himself with tracing the patterns on the blankets by Kaeya’s legs, not quite wanting the moment to end.

They stay like that for a while, long enough for a familiar sort of warmth to settle in Diluc’s stomach, until--

“Uh. You see that?”

Kaeya, with his position in the bed giving him a clear view outside of the windows, nods at the glass panes in indication. Diluc follows his gaze to the spectacle outside, where twenty or so men, each dressed in the standard rank-and-file uniform of the Favonius Knights, are assembled outside.

At the forefront of the group is Amber, her gestures animated as she motions to something outside the gate, and Diluc is struck with a rather sudden realization.

“They are going to look for you,” he says slowly, a different sort of embarrassment flushing in his pale cheeks.

“But...I’m already here. Oh. You didn’t…”

“I didn’t tell Amber I had found you. Or that I was going to find you, really.”

“Huh,” Kaeya leans forwards, watching as his subordinate moves to direct the search party out of the city. “You think you should maybe do something about that?”

Diluc is already rising to his feet, hastily attempting to tame his hair into something remotely presentable as he moves towards the door.

“Go back to sleep, Kaeya,” he instructs again as he reaches for the handle, the idea of Kaeya sitting in his room like some sort of icy vulture and gleefully observing Diluc’s miscommunication almost too terrible to imagine. “There is no reason for you to watch this.”

“Oh, but I’m sure there is. Can you imagine, the proper young master Diluc comes running after the Knights and says he has the missing--and handsome--Kaeya right in his home all along--”

Kaeya’s laugh is muffled by the thump of a spare pillow hitting him squarely in the face, and then by the door as Diluc shuts it behind him with a firm hand. He has a lot of explaining to do ahead of him, and he’d rather not waste any more of his words.

The incident is no small matter, with both a major crime organization and “the Darknight Hero’s” slightly illegal involvement in the picture, but perhaps no one will bat an eye if Diluc claims that he just so happened to “find” Kaeya, along with eleven almost or quite actually dead bodies.

And if it comes to it, and the blame is somehow, unfathomably, accidentally dumped squarely at Kaeya’s feet, well--he’s sure Kaeya has a plan for that, too.