Did you hear about Albedo? Albedo is a genius! Albedo’s work is incredible. The other day, Albedo stopped by and fixed up everything - isn’t that amazing?
Everyone loves Albedo.
Albedo, Albedo, Albedo.
The same name slips from almost every mouth in Mondstadt. Kaeya frowns -- not because he is jealous of the endless praise -- but because he never had the chance to see for himself if any of the flattery from the citizens of Mondstadt rang true. Their interactions have always been brief, curt -- and Albedo always quickly excuses himself in the middle of what could have been a lovely conversation to return to the work in his office. It didn’t bother Kaeya, but when he’s lost count of the amount of times he’s been told “Oh, Albedo? You just missed him!” while looking for the alchemist, he begins to think it’s a little bothersome . Especially when he passes by Albedo leaving on the way to Angel’s Share -- Kaeya waves and Albedo gives a polite nod of his head. Their interaction ends there. They don’t even speak a word to each other.
It drives him crazy.
On the contrary, the praise bothers Albedo. A lot. More than he is willing to admit. He doesn’t think he’s done anything to call for this much celebration, but he knows that it would be rude to turn down the compliments of the people who bear no ill intentions. Then he meets Kaeya, who always just greets him with a casual wave -- the esteemed Cavalry Captain who tried to mess with him on their second meeting by pretending not to remember Albedo’s name -- and he’s jealous . Jealous of the way Kaeya is able to face problems head on and turn the attention away from himself without fail. But every meeting with Kaeya is cut short because he always manages to show at the most inopportune times. And when Kaeya walks in as Albedo leaves through the door, the celebrated Captain of the Investigation Team ends up standing outside the door solemnly, lost in deep thought. It would be too awkward to walk back in to strike up a conversation by this point.
This drives him crazy.
Their first proper meeting finally happens when Lisa tasks Kaeya with delivering some materials to Albedo’s workshop. When he reaches the door, he knocks once. Then twice. Then a third before he considers turning away. Of course he’s not here, he sighs, but he stiffens when the door finally cracks open and Albedo peeks out from behind.
“Sorry, I was busy moving things around when I heard you knock.” Albedo responds, opening the door fully and Kaeya gets a full view of Albedo’s workspace. Compared to all the other workspaces he’s seen in the Knights of Favonius, Albedo’s is beyond spotless. He’s almost impressed. “Oh, Kaeya! How can I help you?” Kaeya thinks Albedo looks a little too happy to see him.
“A delivery from Lisa.” Kaeya answers simply, holding out a small box for Albedo.
“Ah, these are the potions I asked her to prepare. Please tell her I said thank you.” Albedo quickly sifts through the contents of the box. His hand reaches for the door handle, but he stops abruptly.
Both of them come to the realization that the conversation is about to end there.
“Klee talks about you quite a bit.” Albedo is the first to try salvaging the situation, blurting out the first thought that comes to mind while his hand still rests idly on the door handle. Kaeya blinks. “She says you’re a good older brother, among other things. Thank you for helping keep her out of trouble.”
“I’m just looking out for her, nothing to thank me for, really.” Kaeya tries to shrug it off. Dealing with Klee isn’t too difficult of a task.
Albedo chuckles lightly, intent on continuing the praise, “I’ve also heard many of the other knights speak highly of you, and from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like empty flattery. But I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me for now, I have work waiting for me.”
“I’ll leave you to it then.” Kaeya feels oddly dissatisfied by their entire exchange as the door closes in his face.
He’s about to turn on his heel and leave until Albedo peeks out from behind the door again. “I would love to talk more when you have the time.”
“I’d like that.” Kaeya replies, catching a smile on Albedo’s face before the alchemist disappears behind the door yet once more.
Then the door creaks open a third time, “One more thing - can you let Klee know that I’ll have to reschedule ‘playtime’?” Kaeya makes a vague gesture to signal his acknowledgement. “Thank you!” Kaeya waits for a moment, expecting Albedo to reappear for another round. But nothing happens, and he finally takes his leave, strangely looking forward to when he’ll be able to take up Albedo’s invitation.
Apparently very soon , Kaeya thinks when he runs into Albedo leaving his workshop later that day. They stare at each other for an extended period of time, with neither of them saying a word. Both of them are caught too off guard by the timing.
Kaeya makes the first move, “Are you free?”
Albedo nods, “I finished my work a lot earlier than expected, so yes. I am.”
The walk over to Angel’s Share is silent for the majority of the duration; every spark of small talk tapering off after a few words.
Kaeya tries a new approach when they’re both situated in their seats. “Any hobbies besides alchemy?” He inquires and it takes a while for Albedo to answer.
“I wouldn’t exactly consider it a hobby, though I’ve come to find sketching to be relaxing.” Albedo answers honestly.
“Can I see them sometime?” Albedo fishes a small notebook from his pockets and Kaeya can’t help but laugh, “You carry a sketchbook around?”
“I like to note down my ideas whenever I can. That includes sketching whatever comes to mind at the time so I don’t forget any small details. It’s helpful to carry around.” Albedo explains as he flips through the pages. He settles on a sketch of a cecilia and passes the notebook towards Kaeya. Kaeya’s eyes trace over the fine details in Albedo’s artwork, while Albedo continues to speak, “Sketching what I’m studying makes it easier to understand the structure so that I may work with the material to its fullest extent.”
“Have you sketched anything other than the things you’ve studied before?”
The question stumps Albedo. “No.” He thinks for a second, “Well, I’ve drawn hands.”
Kaeya swirls the straw in his drink. “What about scenery?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever sketched other people before.”
Kaeya claps his hands together, “Well, why don’t you start with me?”
Albedo flashes him a quizzical gaze, “I could certainly try.” Taking the notebook back into his hands, Albedo takes the pencil strapped to the side into his hands. He studies Kaeya for a moment, tilting his head every so often to get a better look at the other man. Then he starts with simple shapes, gaze flitting back and forth between Kaeya and his notebook while Kaeya waits patiently for Albedo to finish. While sketching, Kaeya notices that Albedo wears a serious expression, pursing his lips every few seconds while he works, along with all the other little habits Albedo displays while focusing. The sketch doesn’t take too long, Albedo sets down the pencil on the table and hands the notebook over to Kaeya, who takes it back into his hands rather eagerly.
“You’ve captured my good looks perfectly.” Kaeya jokes, his smile widening when he hears Albedo breathe out a low chuckle. “In all honesty, this is incredible. Maybe you should look into considering it a hobby.”
“I’ll think about it. Thank you, Kaeya.”
Their conversation continues like that - with Kaeya firing a barrage of questions about anything that comes to mind, and Albedo answering them all happily with a grin.
The next time they meet, Kaeya isn’t quite sure how he found himself in this situation. Albedo shakes one of his creations in frustration - at least, what Kaeya thinks is Albedo expressing frustration - and he sighs, falling backwards onto the floor.
“So there are things in this world that manage to elude the genius Chief Alchemist.” Kaeya teases, eliciting another, more exasperated sigh from Albedo.
“I’m not any sort of genius, Kaeya. This was working just fine a second ago - I don’t know what happened.” Albedo retorts, prodding away at the device in front of him, “It should have been fine, I made sure to check for any potential flaws in the design.”
“Well, have you tried disconnecting the power source and then reconnecting it?” Kaeya doesn’t quite understand the weight of his words, “Turning it off and on again?”
Albedo turns to him with a blank, soulless stare. Regret begins to settle in when Kaeya watches as Albedo sluggishly reaches to shut off the device. Albedo sits there, unmoving for a few seconds, before he flips it back on.
Albedo is about to open his mouth to speak, but the sound of the device flaring back to life cuts him off and his head snaps back in its direction. The two of them stare at it in disbelief.
Albedo cracks first, laughter spilling past his lips uncontrolled and Kaeya thinks he might have accidentally broken the Chief Alchemist of Mondstadt until Albedo turns to face him with a bright smile. “You’re a genius, Kaeya.”
Kaeya just shakes his head, somehow both bemused and amused at the same time at Albedo’s actions. And Albedo just laughs and laughs. Laughs until the morning and all the way into the afternoon until his project is completed.
Kaeya thinks he’ll offer his help more often.
Albedo takes him up on that gladly.