This day has been dreadful, Childe thought bitterly to himself. He had bene running around the mountains of Liyue, chasing down treasure hunters and collecting a seemingly endless number of debts. While the Harbinger was one to enjoy fights, the people he pursued were never strong, never put up a fight. Not only, it had begun to pour heavily halfway through the day, soaking Childe’s clothes completely through. The material clung to his frame uncomfortably, and the dampness impeded on Childe’s movement abilities.
The Harbinger trudged back down the streets of Liyue, empty of the usual population. His doused hair fell onto his eyes, obscuring his vision, yet the man made no action to move it away. Despite being a Harbinger, one of the most powerful men in Snezhnaya, Childe had found himself oddly exhausted, tiredness running through his veins, weighing down his bones. He tried to shake away the feeling, but an energy he usually had was seemingly depleted, and Childe had half the mind to just find a secluded corner to hide away and crash in until he recovered. Shaking his head, he sauntered on vaguely, feet moving on their own. If he had been awake enough, Childe may have wondered where he was headed, but in his muddled state, he found he didn’t care.
As the exhausted man trekked through the streets of Liyue Harbor, he found himself in front of a familiar door. The Wangsheng Funeral Parlor Childe noticed. In any other state, Childe would have detested the idea of seeing a certain man, yet Childe’s mind was currently hazy and preoccupied, and the idea of entering a warm area was indescribably alluring. He reached out a hand lazily and opened the door with an absurd amount of effort. The parlor had been heated comfortably, and was relatively empty. The only figure inside of the room was a slender, long-haired man who was working away on papers with an immovable focus. Zhongli. Childe smiled inwardly at the sound of the other man’s name, halfway unconscious. The Harbinger swayed in the doorway, catching the elder’s attention.
“Ah, Childe. I was not expecting to see you today.” He spoke shortly. His eyebrows furrowed at the sight of the usually collected Harbinger swing uncertainly.
“Are you alright…?” Zhongli asked, softly, concern laced in his voice. Zhongli stood up from his desk, and approached the man with caution. Childe smiled, watching the figure come closer. Childe opened his mouth to speak, hoping to explain how he wasn’t feeling well.
Unfortunately, the only thing that the current Childe could manage to say was “You have really pretty eyes, you know that?” before promptly passing out directly onto the floor.
When Childe came too, he found himself wrapped in multiple foreign blankets. They had a unique smell, yet one that was oddly familiar to the man. He nuzzled closer into the covers, treasuring the warmth it provided. Childe had awoken suddenly, with a dull, constant pain throbbing in the back of his foggy head. The room he was in was unfamiliar, yet the Harbinger found himself too tired to care. He sighed into the quilts, bringing them closer to his neck. Honestly, he just wanted to sleep. Exhaustion flowed throughout his body, and a constant itching was tingling his nose.
The creaking of a door opening alerted Childe to the presence of another man entering the room. Entering the doorway silently was Zhongli, carrying a steaming bowl in one hand. The man balanced the object gracefully, and closed the door soundlessly. He looked towards the bed, and noticed blue eyes staring up at him from behind a pile of blankets.
“You’ve woken up. That’s good.” Zhongli expressed smoothly. Childe blinked.
“What are you doing?” He spoke hoarsely, before descending into a coughing fit. It seems speaking won’t be much of an option, Childe reflected grimly.
Zhongli sat on the edge of the bed, and handed the warm bowl to the currently sick Harbinger. “Try not to speak. I imagine you have gotten what humans call a Cold.” Childe scoffed at the Archon’s stiff manner. He tried to bite out a sarcastic reply, but his throat failed him. Zhongli gave him a look reminiscent of pity.
“Here, take this. I had asked Xiangling if she knew of any recipes that could help you. It involves a few of Liyue’s specialties, known for it’s healing properties.” Zhongli explained, rambling about the many ingredients within the dish. Childe zoned out, cupping the warm dish in his hands. The heat it provided was soothing on his palms, and he let himself waft the smell to clear up his senses.
Unfortunately for the Harbinger, Zhongli had only bought a pair of chopsticks with him. Childe cursed his inability to use the utensils, and resorted to intensely glaring at the pair on objects. Zhongli followed his gaze, and let out a soft oh.
“Not to worry. I will simply feed you it.” Zhongli stated, sending Childe into a mad coughing fit.
“No.” He croaked out, face flushing red in an instant.
Zhongli frowned, and placed a glove hand on his face. “Your face is heating up. Perhaps you are getting a fever? That won’t do.” He shook his head, and Childe swore his heart stopped upon the contact.
Zhongli lifted the chopsticks, and plucked out a small piece of meat. He moved the food towards Childe’s mouth.
Childe coughed in retaliation. “Y-you are not feeding me.”
“Be quiet and eat. You need the energy.” Zhongli spoke, eyes boring into the Harbinger. Being honest, Childe was tempted by the smell of the food, and he knew he wouldn’t be eating anything for a while with chopsticks around. Swallowing his embarrassment, Childe allowed Zhongli to move the food into his mouth. It was delicious, he mused as he chewed. Zhongli beamed at him for the action, an expression conveying a feeling of pride. Childe looked away with a blush, thinking about the smile the Archon had given him. Perhaps, he thought, that if he would get to see that smile every time he ate, he would have absolutely no objections.
Childe eventually finished the dish, and soon grew sleepy. Zhongli gave a soft smile as he rearranged the pillows on the bed for more comfort, and tucked in the half-asleep Harbinger.
“You know when I get better, I’m going to absolutely destroy you.” Childe muttered, both embarrassed yet comforted.
Zhongli simply hummed in response. “You’ll have to get better first. Now rest.” The Archon softly wound and unwound his fingers through Childe’s hair as the younger drifted off to a sleep, perhaps one of the more peaceful the Harbinger would experience.