It’s like something straight out of every cliché love story. He was in the rain, and he didn’t know why he was there. He just wanted to see his boyfriend. That should be a good enough reason.
“What’s the matter?” Zhongli asked. He had just opened the door to the sight of Childe, sopping wet from the rain, shivering.
The answer to the question wasn’t important. “Can you sleep with me tonight?” he asked with an empty voice.
Of course he would say yes. It wasn’t even a question, at this point. Childe’s hand was taken by the warmth of Zhongli’s hand in only a second, before being pulled inside. “Let’s get you warned up first, yes?”
Zhongli brought him along to his bathroom, while he apologized profusely for tracking water all over his house.
Childe wasn’t as talkative as he normally was. He isn’t one to discuss his feelings, and Zhongli would never expect him to do so. He would never put needless pressure on Childe for anything. It’s better to take care of him, in times like this. He shut the bathroom door behind them, and helped his boyfriend sit down in the bathtub.
“Am I allowed to undress you?” he asked, only to be polite of course.
Childe gave him a bit of a giggle. “I never thought you’d ask me in this kind of context. You gonna bathe me like a baby or something?”
“Yeah, I am, actually.”
With that, Childe raised his arms up. Zhongli gently gripped the edges of his shirt, and pulled it over his head to take it off.
“At least let me get my own pants off…”
The two removed the rest of their clothes in silence, the only sound to be heard was the shuffling from the various fabrics.
Childe doesn’t exactly like feeling exposed. When the bath fully filled with warm water, he sat closer to the front while he hugged his knees against his chest. Zhongli sat behind him, holding a bottle of shampoo he normally uses for his own hair.
“I don’t want your hair to be flat from the rain tomorrow… I’m sure that would upset you.” Zhongli places a kiss against the nape of his neck, and then another. “Allow me.”
He lathered the shampoo from his hands into Childe’s hair with a soft touch, digging his fingers in slightly to massage the roots of his hair. Childe always complains when his hair looks too frizzy or oily, and he’s been saying his hair has felt a bit dry lately.
Childe hums happily when he feels his boyfriend’s hands rummaging through his hair, lightly scratching his scalp. The room fills with the scent of fresh citrus.
So this is the shampoo that always makes Zhongli’s hair smell so good…
“Do you not use the 3-in-1 type stuff for your hair?” he asks without much thought.
He can’t see it, but Zhongli smiles at him. He’s happy to hear him talk. “I buy everything separate. Do you use those?”
“Well most of the time, yeah…”
“Maybe that’s why your hair feels drier to you. I’ll buy your hair products for you when we go to the stores together.”
He turns on the faucet again to use the shower hose, washing out the suds in Childe’s hair with low pressure.
“Shit! Why is the water so cold?” he whined in surprise.
“Rinsing your hair with hot water damages it as well.”
“How do you know so much about washing hair?”
“I’ve been alive for only a few thousand years, my love. You should let me wash yours for you more often.” He leans forward to leave a kiss on Childe’s cheek.
Zhongli repeats the same motions for the conditioner, while Childe attempts to deal with his red face. Just because they’re dating doesn’t mean he’s used to all this affection still… it takes time. But at the very least, he likes the feeling he gets from being with Zhongli. He almost feels like a pre-teen again, except one suffering with a major crush on someone who just happens to be an archon. No big deal.
By the time everything is said and done, Childe (thankfully) feels much more relaxed. “Finished.” Zhongli wraps his arms around his boyfriend’s torso, leaning in to give kisses him kisses all over. One near his ear, trailing down to the side of his neck that he intentionally marks purple with hickies, and to his shoulders and upper back. It’s a possessive thing.
Childe sighs with every press of his lips against his skin. He feels like he could fall asleep any minute.
“Lay down with me?” Zhongli asks quietly.
The two of them lay back without further question, soaking in the warmth of the water. For the first time that night, Childe felt fully okay with being vulnerable. There was no need to cross his arms over his chest, or press his legs closed together. Zhongli has seen him many times before anyway— there’s no shame in human bodies. He only wants to sleep.
He laid his back against Zhongli’s chest, nuzzling his head into a space between his boyfriend’s head and neck, while Zhongli rested his cheek against the top of Childe’s head.
They remained still, only moving occasionally when Zhongli would trace his fingers along Childe’s stomach, or sometimes come up to rest as he held Childe closer to him.
Before he was quietly lulled into sleep, he was grateful enough to say “Thank you, A-Li.”
“I only did what you deserve.”
Zhongli didn’t want to lay idle. The water would get cold soon, and Childe deserves to feel warm while he gets a good nights rest. He nudged his boyfriend off of him for a second to stand up, before picking him up and carrying him. He dried the both of them off, waking Childe up for just a minute to blow-dry his hair, before heading down the hall to his room with him in his arms.
He dressed the both of them as well, giving Childe his cozier clothes to sleep in. The poor thing, he must be exhausted. Even when his hair was being dried earlier he could barely keep his eyes open.
Zhongli liked the feeling his bed had when the two of them were in it together. It dipped a bit lower from the extra body weight, but it was warmer. He had something nice to hold, and he always woke up to the best sight. Childe is surprisingly cute when he’s groggy. Normally he doesn’t like to be too needy, or to complain, he just gets things done, but Zhongli lets him do as he pleases without any complaints. Perhaps that’s what love truly is.
He loves being able to smell his shampoo in his boyfriend’s hair, being able to hold him tight… he likes to slip his hands just a bit under Childe’s shirt to feel the soft skin on his tummy and sides. Childe tries to smack him away after a while— it tickles too much. They tangle their legs together and leave little space to breathe, but it’s always okay with them. If anything, sleeping has never been so easy.
And so Zhongli carries his boyfriend and lays him down on his bed, quietly settling in next to him. It seems like Childe turned to his side almost instinctively, inviting Zhongli to hold him like he always does.
Zhongli leaves a few final kisses in his back and hair, before dozing off with him as well.
He wakes in the morning to an empty bed, and the sounds of loud sizzling from what he presumes is his kitchen. He sits up and rubs his eyes.
In the kitchen, he finds his boyfriend.
“Hey A-Li, you hungry?”
He’s back to his normal, chipper self. Thank goodness.
Zhongli walks up behind him, back-hugging him. He moves Childe’s head with his hand only for a second to pull him into a smooth kiss.
“Good morning, love. And I’m just starving .”
“No flirting in front of the food, A-Li.”
The smell of bacon and eggs was intoxicating to them. It seems the both of them truly were starving.
Conversation at the table is, well… difficult.
“What upset you so much last night, love?” Zhongli was curious, he had to ask. But it was mainly out of worry.
It seems Childe was not interested in answering that question, laughing it off while taking a bite of his breakfast. “It was nothing! Don’t worry about it… I’ll get it all handled soon.” He looked beyond tired as he said so. “So uh, can we go back to bed after this?”
Zhongli sipped his tea for a moment.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine. You know I love you.”
Childe always loves hearing him say that.
“I love you too, A-Li.”
They didn’t bother washing the dishes when they finished— they can do those later. For now, they have a date, sleeping together for a few minutes, or maybe hours. Who knows. Time cannot put a limit on love.