When he agreed to travel with Aether, he thought it would mostly be fighting. Aether seemed to not know much himself, but Diluc knew that he agreed to the mystery of the journey when he decided to follow the other. In many ways, he joined the Traveler because he needed a change of scenery while still having control of his assets in Monstadt. The arrangement was pretty good, considering Diluc’s position. He just didn’t expect… this.
“Mr. Diluc! Aether said we can stay with you today! Something about some business with the Liyuens? I don’t remember, haha!”
“Weren’t you listening, Bennett? They’re handling important business stuff. But, he’s right. You’re gonna be with us today.”
“Spark Knight Klee is here, too! The Traveler said Klee has to go with Diluc to get stones and gems! Klee’s gonna blow them up!”
This was going to be a long day. Behind him, he could hear Kaeya laugh. He swore the other came just to see his reaction. The three in front of him erupted into a chorus of “Kaeya” upon seeing the man walk up.
“I heard they put you on babysitter duty. Have fun with the fireflies.”
Diluc gave him a glare only Kaeya could see.
“And where will you be?”
“Knightly duties. But you’ve got time to go get some rocks with them. Teach them how it's done.”
And with that, the blue haired man walked off, leaving Diluc alone with the “fireflies,” who seemed to like the title. Without talking it through, they started to rush out of the city. Diluc ran after them, already annoyed. He didn’t think they’d get this hyper over mining, but they seemed to buzz with excitement.
“Klee can’t wait to get there! I’m gonna get so many pretty rocks!”
“I bet I can collect more!”
“It’s not a competition! Right, Diluc?”
He looked at Amber, the four walking to their destination. In all honesty, he hadn’t even been paying attention to what they were saying. It was all child’s play to him. But it seemed they were determined to get him to join in.
“Do what you wish to do. I plan on doing most of the mining, anyway. It’ll be quicker that way.”
“Awwww! You’re so boring!”
“But Klee, Mr. Diluc is gonna show us his skills. I mean, not everything is about fighting enemies. He might even have an easier time showing us his moves without the rush of battle.”
Benny smiled brightly, looking back at him. It admittedly made Diluc feel a sense of pride, though he didn’t let it get to him. However, he still patted the boy on the head. He hadn’t meant to, but it felt right. Perhaps it’s because his father would’ve done the same. Bennett’s eyes sparkled, obviously honored. Amber seemed to pout at that, while Klee became interested.
“Klee wants a head pat, too! Pretty please!”
“You have to earn it, Klee! And I did.”
“By what? Saying the right thing?”
Diluc sighed, not interested in the petty fight that was starting. Reaching over, he’d pet Klee’s head, even ruffling her hair. Before Amber could say anything, Diluc went over to her, patting her, too. That shut her up quick, the girl not sure how to react. All three were too caught up in the action to reply with anything; Bennett proud, Klee amazed, and Amber taken aback. With that, Diluc was able to move ahead of the group, taking some control of the situation. Looking back, he’d give them a stern look.
“Now, follow me. We’re going to get the job done, and get back to the city by night time.”
All three seemed to understand now what Diluc wanted. They even saluted at him, standing tall. However, Klee soon began to giggle, making the other two join in. Diluc shook his head, before turning around again. By the time the three stopped laughing, they realized that Diluc had gotten ahead. They rushed forward, trying to catch up with him.
By the time they get there, it’s the afternoon. Diluc rushes to the cluster of stones and gems that the Traveler told them about. But he was stopped by a small hand gripping the back of his jacket.
“Wait, Diluc! We’re hungry.”
“We can eat afterwards.”
Amber walked over, hand resting gently on Diluc’s arm. He scoffed, realizing that he would probably lose this battle. The three in front of him looked pretty tired from the walk. Sighing, he would put down his halberd, sitting on a nearby rock. The fireflies soon joined him, taking out their own meals which they’d packed. Diluc, however, didn’t bring anything other than an apple. That seemed to bother the three Pyro users, who waited for him to pull out an actual meal.
“Wait, Mr. Diluc, did you not bring lunch? Good thing I packed extra eggs!”
Bennett reached over, handing Diluc a small plate. It seemed to be an egg dish Bennett had specially made. It was soon joined by a piece of steak, which Amber plopped onto his dish. She seemed pretty happy with how it turned out, but Diluc could tell it came from the one she packed for herself.
“Take your lunches back. I don’t need to eat as much as you all do. It’s important to keep yourselves full at your age.”
“Stop trying to act like a cool guy, Diluc. We all had enough.”
“Even Klee will give you some of hers!”
And she did, placing a piece of toast with fish on his plate. It seemed useless to make them take it back, but Diluc would show his displeasure at having been forced to eat. His eyes serious, he ate the food. It wasn’t that bad. Even Amber tried her best to get the recipe right. It’s almost as if they were trying to impress him… But he didn’t want to think that this was the reason. Finishing the meal, he would nod and stand up.
“You all came prepared, I hope. But don’t get in my way. Stay behind me.”
Diluc got to work, picking the halberd up. With a few fine slashes, he would smash the rocks. The bundle fell apart easily, dust and chunks scattered around him. It was almost laughable how easy it could be, but Diluc wasn’t one for jokes. After catching his breath, he’d turn around, only to not see any of the fireflies. He immediately became alert, looking around for them. He swore he hadn’t taken long enough for them to wander out of his site.
He couldn’t smell any burnt grass.
He couldn’t see her bright, red bow.
He couldn’t hear the sound of bombs.
The man would grab his halberd, running off to find them. Every tree is climbed, and every stream is swam through. This was why he shouldn’t be trusted with kids. He didn’t have the skills to watch over them. Why the Traveler left them with him was beyond the red head. But he couldn’t fail at this task. He couldn’t let one of them get hurt on his watch. With the area around them searched through with no results, he decided to check on the next place they’d likely be. Heading toward the closest Hilichurl camp, Diluc gripped his sword harshly.
As to the location of the fireflies, the three were watching over the group of Hilichurls. They seemed ready to attack whatever poor adventurer would enter their site. The three had come on the trip wanting to fight, but Diluc seemed determined to do some boring job. So they decided to leave him to it, searching for some enemies to fight. Whereas Bennett and Klee were eagerly coming up with an attack, Amber felt uneasy.
“I don’t think we should’ve left Diluc on his own. He might get worried for us.”
Bennett chuckled, patting Amber on the back supportively.
“It’s fine! Besides, he doesn’t care about us. He’s acted anything but happy to bring us with him. He’ll think it’s cool we fought these guys on our own.”
It didn’t make Amber feel better, but she did realize that there was no way of convincing the other to turn back. She picked her bow up, determined to at least get this done with successfully. The other two were lucky to have her there, she thought.
“Fine. So I’ll throw Baron Bunny down there, and then you two will jump in?”
“Yep! Klee will beat them all up!”
“Leave some guys for me to fight!”
Klee didn’t respond, already getting into position. Bennet would join her, waiting for the bunny to be thrown.
“Here goes nothing…”
Getting the bunny out, Amber threw him off the cliff they were on, and in the middle of a group of Hilichurls. The figures stared at the thing, watching it dance. However, it would soon explode, causing the group to fly in all different directions. Bennett and Klee would jump down, weapons held up. Before they could even start, though, they heard a familiar voice.
Diluc would zoom past them, landing three fiery attacks on the mob in front of them. He slashed and hacked, not sparing a single one. Even as a gigantic Mitachurl joined the fight, Diluc continued on. Whenever Bennett or Klee tried to get involved, Diluc would shield them from any charges from the big foe, taking the blows. It took Bennett doing Fantastic Voyage for Diluc to heal, though he didn’t stay in one place for long. It was intense, none of the fireflies expecting the passion and anger Diluc fought with. By the time the final blow was laid down by Diluc, the three youngins were gathered together, shocked into silence. Diluc stared back, an intensity in his eyes. His breathing was heavy, and yet he still walked up to them. Amber was the first to speak up.
“We’re sorry for leaving you behind! We didn’t realize how angry you would get! The other two wanted to fight some enemies and I tagged along to keep them safe. I swear!”
“Yeah, we didn’t think you’d be upset! Mr. Diluc, we thought you’d be happy to see us do something on our own!”
“Klee just wanted to fight…”
Diluc would stare down at them, only to wrap all three in a hug. His arms tightened around them as the fireflies became worried. They worried that he was hurt, but he soon released them, only to check each one over for injuries. It took a long time, as Diluc intently looked to see if any injuries occurred. Other than a few cuts and Bennett getting a sprained ankle, the three seemed fine. Feeling better, Diluc would let out a sigh of relief. However, he would soon bend over slightly, offering his back to Bennett.
“Hop on. I don’t want you walking on that ankle.”
Bennett blinked a few times, confused. However, he wouldn’t turn it down, climbing onto Diluc’s back. Diluc stood up, looking to the other two.
“We’re going to the Dawn Winery. It’s closer than the city, and anything we’d need to clean up those wounds will be there. Then we’ll eat something, and rest before meeting with the Traveler again.”
The fireflies were still slightly shocked at his demeanor. He still seemed overwhelmingly worried for them. Even with the threat gone, Diluc rushed them away. Amber would stop Diluc before they left.
“At least let me carry the rocks we got. You must be tired, too.”
“Klee will also help!”
Diluc stared, contemplating what he should do. He soon reasoned with himself that if he crashed on the way there, things would be even worse. The man nodded, letting the two take the rocks and gems. With that out of the way, all four headed toward the winery. Not a word was spoken as they headed there.
Even as they ate, things were relatively silent. At the very least, Diluc seemed to have eased up, now back to his former, frowning self. The fireflies didn’t know what to do. By now, their scratches were taken care of, and Bennett’s ankle wrapped up. He was now staring down at his soup, whereas Klee was already done eating, and Amber finishing up. What neither of them expected was for Bennett to sniffle, upset.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Diluc. I just wanted to impress you.”
“Klee wanted to impress you, too. We’re really, really sorry.”
Amber said nothing, not sure what to say at this point. Diluc, however, understood what to do. He would let them all get their feelings out, the three obviously awkward and upset.
“You three… I will not lie, I didn’t expect to watch over you. I saw it like a job, really. But, we’re all Pyro users, and it’s made me want to see you three succeed. You shouldn’t run off like that. For all I knew, you were already dead.”
The fireflies all had trouble looking him in the eyes. They were ashamed of themselves. But Diluc wasn’t done yet.
“That being said, I want to see you all get better. I’ve decided to check in on you three from time to time. Show me that you’re working to improve from today.”
The three hadn’t expected him to forgive them at all, let alone want to stay in touch. Amber sat up straight, a fire burning in her.
“I promise I’ll do better!”
The other two would soon join her. They wouldn’t blow this chance.
“Of course, Mr. Diluc!”
“Klee will do her best!”
With that, he nodded, getting up from the table. However, they could see the small smirk on his face. It made them feel at ease. Maybe they could impress him someday.
“Finish up and rest. It was a long day.”