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Aftermath

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Toward the end of Diluc’s shift at the Angel’s Share Kaeya notices something strange. He is on the second floor looking down over the balcony toward the bar below, but it looks like Diluc winces as he grips an empty glass to clear it away. As he squints down Kaeya wonders if it was a trick of the light. It wasn’t. Kaeya keeps a close watch on the redhead for the rest of the night, and notes that every time he grips something too firmly his face takes on a vaguely pained expression.

 

When closing time comes Kaeya waits until the last of the patrons file out the door to swing himself to his feet and saunter down the stairs to the first floor. Diluc looks up, glaring when he sees who is approaching. “We’re closed,” he says as he jerks his chin toward the door.

 

Kaeya ignores the man’s prickly order. “What’s wrong with your hands?” he demands, propping an elbow on the bar so he can rest his chin on his fist and stare at Diluc across the counter.

 

“Nothing’s wrong with my hands,” Diluc snaps back as he makes a show of polishing glasses to stack behind the bar. The pyro user is very good at hiding that he’s in pain and if Kaeya didn’t know his ex-brother so well, he might’ve been fooled like everyone else in the Angel’s Share was tonight.

 

“Look, either you can tell me what’s wrong or I can figure it out myself. You know I can. I’d rather just hear it from you though instead of having to pry it out of others,” Kaeya frowns in irritation at Diluc’s stubbornness. 

 

The redhead lets out a grunt of displeasure, but he doesn’t protest Kaeya’s statement. He knows just as well that Kaeya could get the information, even if it means going to the Dawn Winery himself and sweet talking it out of his staff. Diluc sets the glass down and crosses his arms. “I ran across a pack of cryo slimes on the winery grounds. They don’t usually get that close, but I must’ve gotten lax with securing the area recently. Since I wasn’t prepared, I found myself without my anti-pyro gloves and no choice but to use my vision anyway.”

 

Diluc gingerly takes the tip of one of his gloves between his teeth and tugs the article off of his hand. When he lifts the hand up to show Kaeya, it’s covered with bright red and pink welts across the palm that travel up to disappear into Diluc’s shirtsleeve. Kaeya winces at how painful the burns look. With disbelief he asks, “doesn’t that hurt?”

 

The redhead gives a noncommittal shrug. “I’ve had worse.”

 

“That’s not what I asked,” Kaeya huffs in exasperation. He walks around to the other side of the bar so that he can get closer to Diluc. Kaeya gently grabs Diluc’s other hand and tugs that glove off too. It’s no better or worse than its twin. Trying to ascertain how high the burns travel, Kaeya unbuttons both sleeve cuffs to push them further up Diluc’s forearms.

 

Actually, Kaeya is surprised he’s being allowed to manhandle Diluc like this. Glancing up, he sees that the redhead’s eyes are closed and there’s a small crease between his eyebrows. “Is this ok?” Kaeya asks tentatively, afraid that he’s hurting Diluc by touching the affected areas. 

 

“It’s fine...your hands feel good,” Diluc mumbles. Kaeya stares at him questioningly until he elaborates. “Your hands are cool, they feel nice,” Diluc comments, averting his eyes as a flush rises on his cheeks that has nothing to do with the burns.

 

“Oh?” Kaeya replies with interest. Delicately summoning his cryo powers, he lowers the temperature of his hands farther until they’re comfortably chill. As he strokes Diluc’s hands with his own, the pyro user’s eyes shut again and he sighs with what might be relief. 

 

Kaeya runs his hands up Diluc’s forearms as far as the burns go, worrying over how bright they are against Diluc’s milky skin. “You should take better care of yourself, Luc,” he murmurs.

 

Diluc’s eyes shoot open. “I’m not going to back down from protecting what’s mine, no matter the cost,” he retorts as his eyes burn. 

 

Kaeya rolls his eye. “I didn’t mean that you shouldn’t fight. It’s not like I think you’re some delicate princess. I just don’t understand why you came to work tonight without even getting these treated? Barbara could’ve fixed you right up. You didn’t need to be in pain all night.”

 

Diluc looks away, so Kaeya pokes him between the eyebrows in retaliation. “Stop being so stubborn! You’re allowed to ask for help you know. You’re not a one-man army.”

 

The redhead lets out a long-suffering sigh. “Fine,” he answers moodily. As Kaeya tries to pull his hands away, Diluc grabs them to stop him. “You’re leaving?” he asks a little too quickly.

 

Kaeya laughs despite himself. “Well you did tell me to get out, but not exactly. Even if Barbara’s asleep, someone will be awake at the church who can help. Let’s go get you taken care of shall we? You can’t even do your vigilante act with your hands like that.”

 

Diluc grumbles, but he allows Kaeya to tow him out the front door and then up the street once he’s locked it. Even as they pick their way up the darkened streets toward the cathedral, Diluc keeps his burn-warm hand in Kaeya’s cooler one. Though Kaeya doesn’t mind the warmth he hopes Diluc can make a full recovery with the help of a healer. He wants the man to be well.