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Soulmark

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“I thought we were going to, you know, get frisky,” Kaeya almost sulked, “Not have a medical examination.”

“Just give me a bit.”

For a Friday night, Kaeya realised this wasn’t the worst. He was shirtless in someone’s bedroom with them examining the mark on his chest with excessive scientific curiosity. “So, we’re probably not going to—”

“Oh we might,” the person murmured, “But this is rather fascinating.”

“Yep. It’s a soulmark. And it looks kind of weird.”

“Not just that.” Lisa’s eyes zoomed in on it. “A soulmark, from how the cells metastasize at birth, is like a fingerprint in the sense that no two marks are ever identical. Then, why…?” She took out her phone and there was a shutter noise from the camera.

“Hey now!”

“Play nice,” Lisa warned. “This is science.”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Kaeya sat on the bench on campus, murmuring to himself as he traced unsatisfying lines in his sketchbook. He cursed at them. After the disappointment that was last night, he tried to get ahead of his assignments. Of course, no matter how many times he tried to ‘get ahead’ Kaeya often found himself back at square one.

Sitting next to him was Venti, sipping another Starbucks cup (his third of the day as far as Kaeya had seen). Venti sighed loud.

Kaeya didn’t look away from his sketchbook. “Do your readings.”

“Eh.” Venti shrugged. “I don’t wanna… Oh.” He perked up. “Hey.” He nudged Kaeya’s arm. “I saw you head out of the party with that girl, a total domme right?” He almost shivered. “Did’j’ya hookup?” He waggled his eyebrows.

“No.” Kaeya paused his sketching. His tongue poked at the inside of his teeth. “She saw my soulmark… decided to take a picture of it, then said she had to… uh… consult a friend?”

Venti stared at him before throwing his head back. “Bah!” He rolled into laughter and nudged Kaeya again.

“It’s not funny!”

“Oh come on! Of course it is.” He looked at Kaeya, carefully. “You do have a weird soulmark though. I’ve only ever seen one like yours… the weird… blobby splotch that it is.”

Kaeya sighed. “It’s meaningless.”

Venti grabbed the hem of Kaeya’s shirt, lifting it slightly.

Kaeya rolled his eyes. He straightened his posture and moved his arm so Venti could see the mark on his side.

“It’s definitely a blob.” Venti eyed it. “But it’s unique too, you know?”

Each curve wisped into peculiar angles, creating a hollow formless shape.

“It’s odd.” Kaeya rolled his eyes, tucking his shirt back down. “I know.”

“Curves are unique.” Venti hummed. He showed his own wrist, where a curved line was intercepted by two straight lines, like a bow and arrow. “Considered quite rare. Yours is all curves, so—”

Kaeya rolled his eyes. “It is what it is, Venti.” He faked a smile and sighed. “It’s fine.”

Venti eyed him for a minute and sighed.

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Venti was a troublesome brat, really; very few people knew just how much trouble he was. At the height of his college years, Venti was straddling the lap of a guy from his thermodynamics course. Lips on lips, he felt the man beneath him blush and Venti grinned. He couldn’t help but rock his hips a bit. “Take your shirt off,” Venti whispered, “Don’t be coy.”

“I’m.” The redhead cursed. He grabbed the hem of his shirt. “I’m not c-coy.”

“Listen, I always get what I want, so—” Venti’s eyes widened. Frozen, a glimpse of fear, and then he gawked. “Yo!”

The redhead followed Venti’s eyes to his soulmark and froze.

“Yo!” Venti stared at the soulmark on the redhead’s shoulder. “Yo yo, yo!”

“Stop saying that.”

Venti yanked his phone out of his pocket.

“What are you doing?”

Venti explained, “FaceTime!” 

“Wh-What?! No!”

There was sound from the phone and Venti lifted it so it could get a better view. “Kaeya! You gotta see this!”

“Wh—”

“Look at this guy’s soulmark!”

“I’m!” The redhead grabbed his shirt and pulled it on. “I’m not staying undressed for this!”

“Yo, Venti,” Kaeya’s voice came from the other side, “You’re like. Half-dressed.”

“I know!” Venti yelled, “And do you see how hot this guy is!?” Venti spun around to get both him and the redhead in the shot. “Do you see what I’m sacrificing for you!? I could be banging this guy! I could be banging, uh…” Venti looked at him and squinted. “Dagon? Dorgin? Daddy?—”

“Diluc!” The redhead scoffed. “My name is Diluc, and I regret everything.”

“Diluc!” Venti smiled and then grabbed the sleeve of his shirt. He tugged it and exposed the black symbol. “His soulmark is the same as yours!”

Diluc shifted a bit, then paused.

“It’s the exact same,” Venti went on. “Every line, every curve…”

Diluc stared into the camera.

Kaeya, on the other side – face pixelated from poor connection, squinted. “It looks really similar… Hard to say for sure.”

“Get a better data plan, Kaeya. Geez!”

“Can we—” Diluc, rather gently, pushed the shirtless Venti off of him. “Can we stop? Now?”

“Huh?” Venti looked at him. “Okay, but—”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Diluc sighed deeply as he stood in his apartment. He crossed his arms, keeping his back on the fridge. He felt the cold hum behind him and it helped him keep cool.

Jean closed her eyes as she shook her head. “Tell me again?” She opened them again and blinked once. She was sitting at the kitchen table of their shared apartment. “What happened?”

Diluc held back the urge to grimace. “I—”

“Focus,” Lisa who was sitting next to Jean interrupted, “On my questions this time.”

“Lisa,” Jean gave an exasperated sigh.

“No, no.” Lisa smiled devilishly. She rested her chin on her hands as she eyed Diluc. “You said you had a friend over, hm? Doing what, exactly…?”

“Lisa, enough.” Jean straightened her back. “If Diluc says it was nothing, then it was nothing.”

Lisa looked at Jean for a moment then stared Diluc dangerously in the eyes.

“It.” Diluc sighed as his posture deflated. “It may have been… a bit more than nothing.”

Lisa grinned.

Jean frowned at Lisa. “You’re an adult, Diluc. Do whatever you want.” She shook her head. “It’s none of our business, right Lisa?”

Lisa grabbed her glass of water and sipped it to hide her smile.

Jean sighed again.

Diluc rolled his eyes. “Anyway. The point I wanted to get to… The guy I was with, he called his friend who, perhaps has an identical soulmark as mine.”

Lisa’s eyebrow went up. “Let me guess. Tall, dark, and handsome? Blue hair, and rather playful?”

“I don’t know his personality,” Diluc admitted, “But your physical description fits decently. Well, ish. I don’t know his height.”

Lisa nodded and pulled out her phone. She unlocked it with a click and swiped a few times. “Here.” She put the phone down on the table. “I met him only a day earlier.”

Jean looked at the mark and her eyes widened. “Diluc! This—”

“I don’t want to see it.” Diluc pushed off the fridge. “I’ve had enough of this.” He moved to his bedroom with an annoyed murmur. He closed the door and closed his eyes, wanting a moment of solitude but.

“I wasn’t,” Lisa was saying, voice muffled from behind the door.

“You were pushing,” Jean insisted. “I told you. Diluc is… more… fragile than he looks.”

Lisa was quiet a moment before she sighed. “Alright… I’ll apologise to him later. Let him cool off a bit now.”

Diluc shook his head. He hated how these college dorms had walls which were so thin. He walked over to his bed and rolled onto his back, staring at the ceiling.

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

“Morning Kaeya!”

Kaeya was trying to ignore the morning sun, but wiggling away from the terror that had entered his room was another story.

Venti kissed his cheek and then yanked his blankets off.

“Fuck!” Kaeya shivered and almost whimpered.

“You asked me to wake you up, bitch, so that’s what I’m doin’!”

Kaeya opened one eye and glared at his roommate and best friend.

Venti was barely dressed but had both hands triumphantly on his hips. “Coffee?”

Kaeya closed his eyes and sighed. “Yeah.”

“Good! ‘Cause I got Starbucks delivered.” He left the room. “Got you your fav’ sandwich too, the everything bagel or whatever!”

Kaeya huffed angrily and got out of bed. Unlike Venti who, instead of clothes, slept in seven blankets, Kaeya had a matching pair of pyjama pants and bottoms, dark blue and red stripes on black. He moved to their shared common area and opened his mouth as Venti shoved the first bite of a breakfast sandwich into his face. Kaeya bit into it and took the sandwich into his hands.

Venti smiled and moved over to grab Kaeya’s drink, offering it.

Kaeya had swallowed and moved the breakfast sandwich into one hand. He sipped the drink and looked at Venti.

Venti just motioned to the table.

They both sat, in silence.

Early in their friendship they learned that Venti was a morning person and Kaeya was not. Venti still found ways to celebrate the morning without making noise, though, and silent breakfast with company was one of them. Venti would hum, though, the entire time.

Kaeya never minded the humming, oddly enough. With Venti’s finesse, Kaeya was surprised Venti wasn’t a music major. Other thoughts flittered into and out of his mind. Finally, Kaeya finished his coffee and murmured, “Tell me about him.”

Venti blinked. “Huh?”

“The guy who shares my mark… my soulmark.”

“Hm.” Venti raised a finger. “He’s hot as hell.”

Kaeya rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Listen I’m still mad I didn’t get to bone down with him.”

“Yeah, a sacrifice, I know.” Kaeya looked at Venti. “Tell me about him.”

“He’s kinda a softy?” Venti crinkled his nose. “It’s weird. He’s kinda hot and cold. Kinda feels like he doesn’t know how he wants to react to things.”

“How do you even know him?”

“He’s an engineering major.” Venti bit his sandwich and munched. “We’ve had classes together for a couple years. He’s pretty direct… kinda lone-wolfish, if I’m being honest. He also wasn’t that experienced at making out, or putting his hands on my body—probably a virgin.”

“You’re telling me that could’ve been his first time.” Kaeya stared in disbelief. “And you pulled out your phone to video call me?”

“Listen, I don’t always agree with my own choices. Sometimes you just gotta act and then realise you’re kind of an idiot afterwards.” Venti shrugged. “I try to think before I act but you can’t expect me to do that all the time. That’s a lot of work.”

Kaeya threw his head back as he groaned.

“Diluc’s nice, though… intense.” Venti looked at Kaeya. “He’s a good soul, I can tell you that much. He is too good to play around with me, doesn’t deserve this much of a mess.”

“Yeah, well.” Kaeya sighed. “Nobody deserves your level of mess.”

Venti nodded sagely. “The hard truth…”

Kaeya snorted. “I…” His face softened as he looked at his cup. “I want to meet him.”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

“Not interested.”

“Oh come on,” Venti exclaimed as he chased after Diluc, crossing the quad of the campus. The light from the sunset hit them, adding a warm hue to their movements. “You’re not even a little curious?”

“No.” Diluc kept walking, rather briskly. His cheeks were bright red, couldn’t bring himself to look Venti in the eye. “I have an assignment.”

“Liar! You already told me last week you finished it early!”

Diluc cursed and kept briskly walking.

Venti followed him. “Come on!” He, gently, cupped Diluc’s elbow.

Diluc paused and turned to face him. “Venti.” His eyes narrowed. “I have no interest in soulmarks. This has nothing to do with me. I’m sorry but I’m just. Not. Interested. Got it?”

Venti huffed. “Okay…”

Diluc eyed him. “You’ll tell that guy exactly that, right?”

“Yes,” Venti lied deadpan, “I will tell him exactly that.”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

“Oh my gosh,” Lisa almost gasped. “He’s so cute…”

Venti beamed a bright smile. “Aren’t I?”

Kaeya stared between them. “I hate this.”

They had met in a small café, when Venti had absolutely not told Kaeya what he promised Diluc he would. It was Kaeya’s idea to bring Lisa in after Venti wasn’t exactly successful. Kaeya had been focused on the conversation, until—

Lisa pushed some of her hair out of her eyes.

On her hand, there were three black lines going from her sleeve to the space between her fingers.

When Kaeya saw Lisa’s soulmark, his mind drifted to Diluc’s.

Could they… really be identical?

“Well, listen.” Lisa looked between them. They had met at the central fountain in the middle of campus. “You didn’t hear it from me… but if you want to meet Diluc, there is a club he goes to every week…”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Kaeya gave a deep sigh. “Vee, I don’t think I can do this.”

“Oh come on. It’s just dark clothes!”

“It’s not just dark clothes,” Kaeya murmured. “I’m out of my depth here.”

“Alright, one sec.” Venti barged into the room, mostly dressed, and looked at Kaeya. “What’s wrong?” He looked up and down. He dipped a hand under Kaeya’s waistband and tugged. “Tight and dark jeans are perfect.” He looked up. Venti hummed. “You look great. Black on black. It’s how it should be.”

“Doesn’t it feel… plain?” Kaeya eyed him. “I want to, you know… have some wow factor?”

Venti bit his lip and glared. “Change the shirt. Wear the black sleeveless one you have.”

“That. I wear that to the gym, Vee.”

“So?”

“I’ll be freezing.”

“Hey, Kaeya, why don’t we play a game called shut up and do what Venti says?”

Kaeya grumbled, but obeyed.

“Yeah. This is good.” Venti nodded. He put his hands on Kaeya’s belt and undid the hook.

“H-Hey—”

“One sec.” Venti winked and pulled his belt off. “Wear your other one. The white belt. Here.” He reached over, picking it up off the floor and tossing it. “It’s better. Oh! I got it!”

Kaeya looked at himself in his standing mirror and frowned.

“Here!” Venti threw a bright blue scarf at him. “You got this one. So put it around you – yeah, just like that.”

“It’s too bright.” Kaeya frowned. “And it’s still going to be too cold.”

“Whabam!” Venti pulled out a second scarf, a black one. He threw it on top. “Cover it up with more black.”

“Vee—”

“Kaeya, you’re a stylish guy. You got stylish clothes. Just go there and fucking own it.”

“Venti.” Kaeya sighed. “I’ve never been to a goddamn goth club before.”

“Neither have I.” Venti shrugged. “And it’s not a goth club. It’s just goth night, at a regular club.”

“On a Thursday night?”

“Well, goth culture isn’t popular enough to get Friday night. Now, I don’t know, put some of your bracelets on and just be confident about it!” He paused and looked at Kaeya. “You want eyeliner?”

“What?”

“That’s a thing people do, right?” Venti shrugged. “At goth night?”

“Maybe?” Kaeya squinted. “Do you know how to put on eyeliner?”

“No.” Venti shrugged. “But I can pull up Youtube. You want it or not?”

“Fine.” Kaeya scoffed. “I guess?”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Kaeya made his way downtown. The tight skinny black jeans and his sleeveless black shirt were accented by the white belt and the blue scarf, covered by a black one so the colour didn’t pop too much. Kaeya wasn’t exactly sure he was ‘goth’ but whatever. The eyeliner pushed his outfit closer to punk anyway.

But it was close enough.

Maybe?

Venti on the other hand wore a black vest and ripped jeans. He had found a piece of dark grey cloth and declared it to be a cape (Kaeya was sure it was a bedsheet or something), and then on their walk had found an abandoned walking stick in an alley. Having no care for where it had been, or what germs it had, Venti declared it as his own and completed his outfit with a march.

“Good to see you.” Lisa wore a skin-tight dark purple dress with a black shawl overtop. She eyed them both and smiled. “This is my girlfriend, Jean.”

Jean wore a white shirt and pants, black belt, black boots, and a dark navy tattered cloak overtop. She had woven streaks of grey and black into her hair with temporary dye and tied it back into a ponytail. She gave them a small nod. 

“Wait.” Kaeya paused. “Girlfriend…?”

“Oh.” Jean smiled. “Don’t worry. Lisa and I have an arrangement.” She shook her head. “We’re open.”

“I do usually prefer girls,” Lisa admitted, “But Kaeya you do have a certain prettiness to you that I enjoy.”

“And me?” Venti struck a pose.

“You’re not quite my type,” Lisa said in a chuckle, “However…” She hooked an arm around Venti’s shoulders and began leading him inside. “I have a friend, though, his name is Aether. I hope you don’t mind… he likes some rather, wild things…”

“Oh! I like wild things, I’m into—”

Kaeya sighed. “A duo of nightmares…”

Jean held back a laugh but smiled at that. “Lisa can be a lot at times.”

“Vee is the absolute worse.” Kaeya looked at her. “I bet you, uh…”

“Jean,” she reminded him.

Kaeya blinked.

He noticed, at the corner of her right eye, four dots.

A soulmark.

“Kaeya,” he offered.

Jean smiled. “Is this your first time?”

“Yeah.” Kaeya bit his lip. “I’m nervous.”

“It’s not that bad.” Jean motioned forward. “Let’s go.”

Kaeya nodded.

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Like most small towns, some buildings were repurposed for multiple things. The place was far less of a club and more of a gala space, repurposed with dark lights and strobe effects.

Kaeya looked around. He tugged at his two scarves. His arms were too cold. His legs were too hot. The whole outfit didn’t solve anything, really.

“Here.” Venti offered him a shot of something pale white. “Liquid courage.”

Kaeya eyed it for a moment then took the small glass. “Ready?”

“Yep.”

They both took their swigs.

Something sweet and sour, lemony, sugary, but with the burn of vodka hit him. Kaeya shook his head and offered the glass back to Venti.

Venti took it and smiled. “See your man?”

“No.” Kaeya continued to look around. He sighed. “There’s not a lot of people here, but I can’t find him.”

“Well—”

“Diluc?” came another voice, “Is that who you’re looking for?”

They both glanced over.

A blond, with hair braided into a ponytail, had a mix of white and black, golden hues weaving at the trim of his clothing. “Aether,” he explained, “Lisa sent me over.”

Venti looked at him, up and down. “Yes.”

Aether tilted his head. “What…?”

Venti was about to close the distance between their bodies—

Kaeya yanked Venti back. “Diluc.” He felt his mouth form the shape of that word and he liked the way it tasted.

Aether merely nudged his head to the side, motioning to where stairs from either side of the room met at the far end. There, a small railing was built where someone could overlook it all.

Diluc.

Kaeya stared for a long time.

Diluc was watching the crowd, almost like a wallflower. His red hair had streaks of black in it, and his dark red vest was black on the inside. His cufflinks and buttons were gold, black gloves, as he watched the crowd below.

Venti was talking now, but Kaeya ignored it.

Kaeya walked over.

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Diluc enjoyed these nights. The little gala theatre this college town had was reluctant to rent out even Thursday night to them but Diluc had made it happen. Repeatedly. Almost two years now, and Diluc smiled. He saw someone approach out of the corner of his eye and he didn’t expect to care as he tossed a quick glance. Then, his eyes widened.

“Hey…” Kaeya. That was his name maybe? Venti had said it more than enough for Diluc to remember it. Diluc didn’t quite remember it. Was he hesitating? Maybe Kaeya noticed the raging feeling Diluc was experiencing in that moment.

Diluc stared at him for a long time.

“I’m Kaeya—”

“I didn’t ask.”

Kaeya paused. He closed his mouth, and his eyes flashed with something.

Was it hurt?

Diluc felt his cheeks redden. The sour tang of shame. He took a sharp breath. He was about to speak—

“Fucking rude, man.”

“I’m not sorry.” Diluc turned to face him. “I told Venti in no uncertain terms I was not interested. I have no idea what makes you think you can disrespect a firm stance such as that.”

Now it was Kaeya’s turn to stare.

Diluc almost shivered under that gaze.

“Uh…” Kaeya scratched his head, biting his lip. “Venti… told me you maybe weren’t interested, but… didn’t really lay it that thick that you were that against it…”

Diluc opened his mouth to retort, but closed his lips. Venti fucking would, wouldn’t he? “Well.” Shit. “I am against it.”

“Okay.” Kaeya bit his lip and looked around. “Should… I go?” He motioned from when he came. “I mean, if you want me to go I’ll leave.”

“You can stay if you want,” Diluc murmured. “The. The club is open to anyone who paid the entry.”

“I mean. I came here for you,” Kaeya admitted, “So I’m not really going to stay. This is…” He looked around. “I’m guessing this is kind of your space? Like. Uh. Your… space, space?”

Diluc’s eyes unfocused as he glanced to the side. “It is.” He looked across the crowd again. “I organise these events.”

“Cool. I don’t wanna encroach or make you uncomfortable so—”

“No.”

Kaeya paused.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said no.” Diluc frowned as he looked down.

“Listen, dude. That’s some weird mixed signal shit right there.”

Diluc closed his eyes and breathed out through his nose. “I’m aware.” He looked at Kaeya again, really taking his appearance in. He noted the dab of eyeliner, poorly done really. Diluc almost wanted to cup that face and fix it himself. “Sorry… I’m not sure what I want to say.”

Kaeya turned and leaned on the railing. “Can I… stay here? Until you figure it out?”

“I’m not opposed.” Diluc turned as well, leaning as well.

The two of them stared out.

Kaeya finally murmured, “It’s really ugly. Isn’t it?”

Diluc tensed, lips tight.

“I mean… Everyone always says it’s so unique and shit, so defined, so many curves. Yadda yadda… but as far as soulmarks go, it’s pretty fucking ugly.” Kaeya smiled. “I thought maybe there was something to the lines and curves I couldn’t see… I studied art, studied lines… curves… but I still don’t see a damn nice thing about it.”

Diluc looked away.

Kaeya hummed. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have—”

“It was annoying,” Diluc interrupted. “I agree.”

Kaeya tilted his head, glancing at him.

“Everyone talked as if they saw something I couldn’t…” Diluc’s eyes unfocused. “Kids teased me for my mark. It was fine. I survived. I didn’t even mind that part… It was parents, and teachers, all of them telling me there was some hidden beauty. That’s the part I fucking hated.”

Kaeya grinned. “Yeah.”  

Diluc breathed a little easier.

Kaeya leaned on the railing, looking down. “Hey, um… Diluc?”

Diluc said nothing.

“I know you don’t want to… but, man. I just…” Kaeya breathed. “I wanted to see it on someone else, you know…? See if there’s really something I can’t see just because it’s on me.”

Diluc moved away from the railing.

Kaeya closed his eyes. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Diluc turned away from him. “Are you coming or not?”

Kaeya glanced over his shoulder.

“There’s a side path.” Diluc motioned to a hallway at the top of the stairs.

Kaeya pushed off the railing, and followed.

Diluc led them down a small alleyway, knowing where the cameras were, and weren’t. There was nothing inherently bad about sharing soulmarks, but still. He wanted privacy.

Kaeya followed. “This place says off limits.”

“I have keys to the entire building,” Diluc murmured. “Anyway.” His hands shook a little as he undid his blazer.

Kaeya glanced aside. “Sorry. For making you do this.”

“It’s fine.” Diluc tossed his coat over one of the expensive looking chairs. He rolled up his sleeve. “I hate my soulmark. So make this quick, if you can.”

Kaeya nodded.

“Are you going to look?”

Kaeya turned to him. “Holy shit.”

Diluc eyed him carefully.

“It really is identical.” Kaeya reached for Diluc’s arm, but paused just shy. He looked at Diluc, who gave him a nod, and Kaeya carefully grabbed Diluc’s arm.

Diluc closed his eyes.

Kaeya’s hand was warm, fingers were gentle as he tapped the mark.

It made Diluc open his eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s fine. Do whatever.”

“Okay, I just.” Kaeya looked sheepish as he traced the line.

“So? Did you magically find the beauty in it?”

“No, it’s still kind of ugly to be honest.”

Diluc huffed, but smiled.

“It… is kind of nice, though.” Kaeya’s eyes softened. “I mean, these soulmarks are a foreign agent that’s reproduced with us, like the mitochondria… except it’s not in the cell, it’s the whole body. Where that agent metastases and the shape it takes up… it’s hard to predict. But they’re usually made of such… rigid lines. Straight lines. Curves are so rare… and yet we really have one that’s all curves.”

Diluc examined Kaeya’s face.

“There’s a smoothness to it…” Kaeya traced the line carefully. “How it gets thicker near the outside of the arm… thinner in front… like calligraphy, almost.”

Diluc’s arm prickled with goosebumps and Kaeya let go of him in response. “Um… Kayak, was it?”

“Kaeya.” He smirked. “That’s a boat. I’m a dude.” He lowered Diluc’s arm. “Thanks…”

Diluc closed his eyes. “Kaeya… Um.”

“Go for it.”

Diluc tensed.

“It’s only fair, right?”

Diluc opened his eyes and glanced at him.

Kaeya slipped his scarves off and tossed it on top of Diluc’s coat. He grabbed the hem of his shirt, arms crossed over his chest, and he pulled it up to his underarms. “You wanna see mine, right?”

Diluc stared at Kaeya’s face and then his eyes trailed down that neck, over the folds of fabric that was his scrunched up shirt to see his chest. His eyes followed the trail of skin down—

It was Kaeya’s turn to watch Diluc’s reaction.

Diluc saw it, the soulmark. His own unique mark, on another person’s body. His own, endlessly unique, endlessly special, curved calligraphic symbol on skin shades darker than his own. “Can I—”

“Yeah.”

Diluc reached for it. He touched it first with the back of his fingertips, shivering at the warmth of the skin, how soft it seemed. He trailed the line first with his thumb, then with his pointer and middle finger, getting lost in the swirls and the curves. “It really is the same.”

Kaeya just nodded.

Diluc noted how Kaeya’s was just like his, with a thinner line near the centre of his body and thicker near the sides. His hand wandered away from the soulmark, moving to Kaeya’s stomach.

Kaeya smirked. “That’s not my mark.”

“Is.” Diluc avoided eye contact. “This… alright?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ve never…” His knuckles brushed the thin trail of dark navy hair moving down under Kaeya’s waistband. He shivered. His hand moved up, feeling that stomach, and then moving up one side of that chest, firm but not overly built. “I—” He yanked his hand away. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have.” He took a step back.

Kaeya let his shirt fall but took a step forward.

Diluc breathed in sharply.

Kaeya moved in.

Diluc swore those lips would come crashing against him and he squeezed his eyes shut.

Kaeya moved close, but paused for a moment. “Can I…?”

Diluc felt that breath tickle his lips. “Yeah.”

Those lips pushed up against him and they were—they were gentle. Diluc softened, hand moving to cup Kaeya’s mark over his shirt.

Kaeya seemed to smile into the kiss, as his own hand wandered up Diluc’s arm, fingertips tucking under the sleeve to rub against the smooth black lines.

Diluc knew his cheeks were burning, but he took a step forward, wanting to press himself entirely up against Kaeya, and it seemed Kaeya had no problems with it. The height difference felt too noticeable this close, and Diluc pushed himself up on his tippy-toes, bringing them chest to chest, waist to waist—

Kaeya broke the kiss to grin. Eyes still closed, he almost purred, “You’re—”

Diluc gasped to silence him. “Y-You too.” He grit his teeth. Kaeya was hard against him, and the straining pressure made his eyes roll back into his head.

“You’re pretty big…”

“Y-You t-too.”

Kaeya pulled back just a bit. “Hey, tell me what you want.” He made eye contact. “I don’t want to do anything you don’t want to… and honestly? I can’t read you. At all.”

Diluc said nothing.

Kaeya nudged his cheek with his nose gently. “This is a bit fast for you, I’m guessing?”

“It is.” Diluc swallowed. “But…” His arms were shaking. “I… want…”

“Do you want me? Tonight?” Kaeya looked him up and down. “You seem pretty scared.”

“I’ve never.” Diluc coughed. He looked down. “I don’t let myself… get close. Sometimes an opportunity comes… and then I close myself up. Then the opportunity is gone. I don’t. I don’t want that to happen.”

“You don’t quite strike when the iron’s hot, huh? Well… still. We don’t have to rush it.” Kaeya pulled away. “We don’t have to do anything right now.”

Diluc nodded, still shaking a bit.

“It’s okay.”

Diluc breathed. “You’re… sure?”

“Yeah. I… want to get to know you.”

Diluc’s shoulders softened and he nodded. “I… I’d like that.”

Kaeya pulled out his phone. “Can I get your number…?”

Diluc smiled. He patted his pockets then glanced over to his coat, leaning over a chair. He tossed the scarves back to Kaeya and then put his coat on. He grabbed his phone out of his pocket and—“Oh shit.”

Kaeya looked at him.

“I’m. I’m supposed to be running this event—now.” Diluc looked down the hallway and then back to Kaeya. “I.” He looked at his coat. “Do I look—”

“You look great.” Kaeya did a few buttons and patted him.

“You.” Diluc swallowed hard. “You also look really good.”

Kaeya smirked. “Do I?”

“Not if you milk it.” Diluc glared.

Kaeya laughed.

“I… I have to go.” Diluc stared at him. “I want to talk to you again.”

“I do too.”

“One more.” Diluc breathed before pushing his head forward, lips meeting lips for a short kiss.

“H-Ha.” Kaeya grinned. “I like you.”

Diluc smirked. “I’ll fix your eyeliner. Next time.”

Kaeya just laughed.

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

“And then Aether’s already got his hands down my pants, when—”

Kaeya had stopped listening early on in the conversation.

Venti continued his story nonetheless.

Kaeya had a warm cup of tea in his hands as he sat in his bed, looking out the window.

“So what happened with Diluc?” Venti tilted his head, sitting at the end of Kaeya’s bed. “You seem happy.”

“Not much.” Kaeya shrugged. “We talked.”

“Damn.” Venti sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s cool.”

Eventually, Venti got up and left.

And three minutes later—

The door slammed open and Venti launched himself on the bed. “You fucking liar!”

Kaeya barely had time to put his cup on the bedside table when, “Oof—”

“Not much!?” Venti grabbed Kaeya’s pillow and swung, violently, hitting him in the rib. “Not much!?” He aimed for the head and Kaeya yelped. “Then why did Diluc just text me to give you his number now, huh? Huh!?” Another swing. “Fucking lying to me, huh!?”

Kaeya laughed. “Vee!”

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Diluc pulled his hair out of the ponytail. He used makeup remover wipes for his eyeliner. His usual routine before bed wasn’t that much disturbed, except for the thoughts that flittered by in his mind. He eventually moved to his bed and rolled onto his back.

As he did, he stared at the ceiling.

Slowly… his hand moved to his other arm, moving over where his mark lay…

 

🙟❖◆━━·━━◆❖🙝

 

Kaeya laid in bed, staring up. His hand drifted down to his side, feeling his soulmark.

The curves, the lines….

Kaeya smiled.