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liyue institute of toy research

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"Teucer," Childe says, his voice rising into a very controlled screech, "Why are you in Liyue?"

Teucer holds Aether's sleeve and stares at Childe. "I wanted to come see you! It's so boring at home. Who's this tall guy? He smells like mint. I'm allergic, I think. Can we go play with the kites?"

Zhongli's lip twitches and his eyes are pinched, his grip on his polearm loosening slightly. Childe notches an arrow on instinct. He then remembers the situation he's in, so he re-postures himself to look like a Liyuen Toy Researcher. "Hey, your brother's doing some negotiating business right now. It's super important and really boring. Why don't you go with Aether and his floating friend to play with your kites?" He pats Teucer's back and hopes it doesn't convey his panic.

"Actually, your brother is hardly busy right now. You came all the way here, didn't you? I rather think you deserve to play with your brother." Zhongli says, in his deep ancient I-know-everything voice, and Childe feels like he's about to cry.

Teucer squints. "Toothpaste man is right." Zhongli's eyebrows shoot to the top of his head. "Come on! Let's go play, hurry up!" He runs off and trips over a rock.

Zhongli spins his spear until it rests against the back of his wrist. Childe half expects him to perform some sort of archaic, ritualistic bow to signify the end of a battle, or something. "Go entertain your younger brother." He says, amusement evident in his voice, "I will be waiting." Childe starts shaking from some unknown emotion.

"This isn't over," he hisses, and presses the tip of his bow against Zhongli's chest. He can feel his ribcage through the fabric. Zhongli pushes Childe's hand down and to the side, causing the bow to rip a line through his coat and leave a strip of exposed skin.

"Holy fuck," Childe whispers, and promptly passes out.