Childe has always considered his scars something to be proud, badges of honor as it were. Now, he doesn't remember each one, and not all are from battles but the ones he remember are important, marks not only on his body but his mind and heart.
(A long gash up his leg when he slid across ice to save Tonia. Multiple slashes along his back and arms from the other recruits as he fought his way to the Tsaritsa's eyes. One going from his shoulder to hip from his first mission, the icy touch of his Archon still felt as she praised him for surviving.)
But now as he stares at himself in front of the mirror, he almost wishes he hasn't given them that much importance.
For more than a year his body has carried marks of nails running down his back, digging into his shoulder, bruises and teeth marks painting his neck and chest, palm prints on his hips. Not scars but for so long he carried them, he had forgotten their impermanence. After all the man who left them on him was always so determined to make Childe remember.
He had always teased the other for them. Laughing as he says that Zhongli always left him looking like he just got out of a fight.
In private he had giddily ran his hands over them. Proud of them as much as he was of the other marks on his body, proud to be able to say he
is was Zhongli's.
Childe wishes his mind and heart could forget like his skin does, as he raises a hand to brush against the junction of his neck and shoulder, missing the usual crescent of teeth marks.
A part of him wishes there was something more permanent left. Whether to serve as a reminder of betrayal or to remind him of warmth even he doesn't want to think deeply on.
He's out of time now. A month after his plan blew up in his face and it's revealed he's nothing but a toy dancing in the palm of not one but two Archons, all those marks are gone.
Another sigh as he grabs his shirt, the only item remaining on his empty desk and empty office.
He'll say he was eagerly waiting for them to disappear. He'll say he's glad they're gone so none of the other Harbingers can use them against him.
he won't say he had held out hope and had to stop himself from digging his own nails into his shoulders, bruising his own body to make them last.
His eyes and ears have told him that Zhongli has been spotted around Liyue Harbor still but never by the bank.
That's his answer apparently.
His time in Liyue as Childe has not left marks on him. And now he can face his Archon with a smile and ask for a new assignment. Laugh and ask for a more fun one, more difficult opponents. Hope to bury the unmarred skin under new scars until he forgets the marks supposed to be there.
If he says it enough, he'll maybe believe it himself…