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the me now and the me then

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Present.

“Kae?” someone calls out. 

Young Kaeya immediately stops and frantically looks around for the source of the voice. “Luc?” he chokes.

They hear a pair of footsteps approaching and Diluc looks up to see a younger version of himself dragging Kaeya towards the Dawn Winery. At the sight of the boy in his grasp, young Diluc lets go of the man and breaks off in a sprint towards them.

“Kae!” he exclaims. 

Young Kaeya rips his arm away from his hold and throws himself at the other boy who catches him. He immediately starts bawling the second familiar arms tangle around him.

“What did you do to him?” The younger redhead snarls at Diluc, anger flickering through his face. “Why is he crying?”

“I didn’t–” But the boy ignores him, already shifting his attention towards tending to the boy in his arms.

“Kae? What’s wrong? Tell me what happened. Did he hurt you?” The questions tumble out of his mouth worriedly as he pets the distressed boy. “Why are you crying?”

The boy only sobs harder. “You left me. You don’t love me anymore,” he wails.

His younger self glares at him and he winces. He’s never been on the receiving end of his own glares. 

“I guess I really am stupid, aren’t I,” the smaller redhead mutters to himself. “Two crying Kaeya’s. The future me has to be stupid at that point.”

Diluc turns to the other blue-head silently approaching them. He nods his head towards the two younger versions of themselves beside him and looks questioningly at Kaeya, silently asking if he knows what’s happening.

The man only gives him an unhelpful shrug before looking away, refusing to meet his gaze.

“What are you talking about Kae?” younger Diluc counters. “I do love you. I will always love you, silly. I’m yours remember?”

Small Kaeya looks up at him. “And I’m yours,” he echoes.

“Mhm. We promised! I would never leave you,” Luc assures the other.

“But the other Diluc said–”

Luc cuts him off with a finger on his lips. “Don’t listen to him Kae, he’s stupid,” he says, looking pointedly at the older redhead. This earns him a little giggle from Kae and a small whisper of “That’s you Luc!” 

“Please, I’m not an idiot,” he deadpans and Kae falls back into his arms, erupting into a fit of giggles.

Luc watches the boy adoringly before leaning down to whisper something into his ear. 

The blue-headed boy pulls back to stare at Luc, his lilac eye shining. “Yes! Yes! Can we, can we?!” His excitement makes Luc smile and he presses a kiss to young Kaeya’s eye.

Diluc turns away from the scene. Young Diluc always had a knack for making Kaeya smile effortlessly, but he has since lost that talent. The Kaeya now hides behind his wall of ice and wears the mask of a fake smile he learned to perfect. 

It was the first time Diluc saw their past bond from an outside perspective. He thinks bitterly about the current state of their relationship. His younger self looked at Kaeya like he was the world. Can we return to what we had before? He wonders.

“Yes, but you have to convince Mr. Grumpy-head over there.” The boy laughs when Diluc grumbles at him, offended. “I’ll take care of big you.”

“Okay!”  Kae agrees, the smallest of smiles on his face. 

The two separate and Kae shyly walks up to him while Luc wanders off to Kaeya, who’s standing awkwardly at the scene.

“Um...” little Kaeya trails off.

“What is it?” he asks.

“Uh.. Luc wants to help you and big Kae make up. He doesn’t want you guys to fight anymore,” the boy explains.

Diluc blinks. “It’s not that simple Kaeya,” he snaps. “We can’t just forget what happened and pretend everything is okay again.”

Little Kae shrinks back into himself like he got hit, and Luc glances back at them worriedly, watching to see if he needs to step in.

“Ah...I’m sorry. It’s not like that,” Diluc says, softening his tone. “What I meant was that we both made mistakes and I’m not sure if it can be fixed. It might be hard to go back to what we had before.”

Kae tilts his head at him. “But don’t both of you want to be together again?” he asks.

Diluc sighs. “I do, but Kaeya probably doesn’t want that. I haven’t exactly been the nicest to him.”

“He does!” the boy tells him. “Luc told me big Kae cried earlier when they were talking. I’m sure he misses you. I miss Luc lots and lots whenever he has to go on missions,” he admits sheepishly. “And Luc always tells me that if you do something bad–”

“You should apologize,” Diluc finishes.

Kae looks at him, surprised, before remembering that the man he was talking to is also Diluc. 

“Yes! Talk to big Kae and apologize to him,” he encourages. “Even if it doesn’t work, at least you know you tried. You’ll never know if it works or not if you don’t try. Besides, I’m pretty sure big Kae would forgive you because you’re Diluc!”

Diluc stares at the boy in front of him. He can’t believe he’s being lectured by a 12 year old Kaeya. He considers the younger boy’s words before deciding that trying won’t hurt anyone. “Okay,” he sighs defeatedly. “I guess we can try.”

Kaeya beams at him and slips his smaller hand into Diluc’s, pulling him towards the other two. “Come on! Luc is waiting for us.”