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“Have you heard? Diluc Ragnvindr has returned to Mondstadt!”

✧✧✧

It takes maybe three seconds from when Diluc first arrives swinging his claymore with well-trained accuracy before the group of wild hilichurls approaching the east entrance is vanquished in one fell swoop.

Kaeya didn’t even hear him coming this time. How impressive.

Gotten sneakier, haven’t you?

“Afternoon break?” Kaeya calls out from above. Leaning casually on his forearms atop Mondstadt’s outer walls, he winks. “I didn’t know you were such a slacker.”

Diluc doesn’t show any sign of being caught off guard, doesn’t even flinch, but from the way he slowly turns to glare up at him, Kaeya knows Diluc had been unaware of his presence. The smug grin rests easy on his face.

“Just getting some fresh air,” Diluc says, and Kaeya has to commend him—he doesn’t even sound out of breath. “A tavern full of drunks quickly becomes stuffy.” He turns and starts making his way back to the entrance. “And I was just about to head back, anyhow.” 

“Oh?” Swiftly, Kaeya jumps down and lands light as a feather by Diluc’s side, holding him by the arm before Diluc can get any further away.

Diluc sneers. “Let go.”

Kaeya feigns innocence. “Oh, pardon me!” Diluc clenches his jaw in annoyance, so subtle it’s almost impossible to notice, but Kaeya notices everything about Diluc.

“You see, I had reports of a band of hilichurls approaching this side of the city.” Kaeya tilts his head in confusion. “However, when I arrived, all I found was you.

“Not to say that I’m complaining!” Kaeya quickly adds, before his tone of voice shifts and he drawls. “I’m always happy to see you, Diluc.”

Diluc finally shakes Kaeya’s hold off him. “Tell your knights to stop wasting time with false reports. Now let me get back to work.”

Kaeya taps a finger to his bottom lip.

His hand is still warm from touching Diluc.

✧✧✧

Angel’s Share is lively as ever tonight.

The patrons, eager for a treat after getting through the week, freely indulge.

The bard strums away at his lyre and sings about some tragic tale.

Kaeya is on his fifth order of wine.

“Oh, come, now. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in Mondstadt’s pride and joy, is there?” Kaeya leans across the counter, ample cleavage purposely on full display. “Courtesy of Dawn Winery: your pride and joy, isn’t it, Master Diluc?

The man in question looks as if he’s barely holding back the urge to slap the glass of Death After Noon right out of Kaeya’s hand. “I can always count on you to be irresponsible,” Diluc sneers. “Don’t tell me you believe you can still adequately protect the city even while inebriated.”

“Oh, hush, the city’s been quite clear of any dangers as of late, actually.” Kaeya mock-whispers conspiratorially, “Rumors of a dark and handsome hero watching over the city.”

Diluc’s expression is neutral.

Kaeya smiles, delicately lifting the glass of wine to his lips, and continues. “I really do hope I can meet this hero.” He trails his tongue along the rim of the glass, delighting in the way Diluc’s eyes follow the movement, before taking a sip. “Give him a proper thank you.”

“Silly gossip shouldn’t be taken seriously.” Diluc turns away abruptly and starts taking orders from the other patrons. 

Kaeya hums in satisfaction at the flavor of the wine, and at getting under Diluc’s skin once again.

At the end of the night, when Kaeya follows after Diluc through the backdoor of the tavern and wordlessly falls to his knees right before him, Diluc looks infuriated but undeniably flustered.

Kaeya tilts his head, smirking up at Diluc, daring him to say no. 

It’s only moments later that Diluc is burying his fingers in Kaeya's hair and turning his face away in shame. Kaeya chuckles, satisfied. He runs his hands up Diluc’s thighs and squeezes

Diluc pulls on Kaeya’s hair. “Hurry up.”

He’s impatient.

So am I.

“It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?” Kaeya murmurs, nuzzling into Diluc’s pelvis.

Deft hands make quick work of Diluc’s belt, and Kaeya pulls down his pants just enough to be able to free his erection.

The patrons leaving the tavern, drunk and noisily stumbling their way home, drown out the sound of Diluc’s groan as Kaeya finally takes him in his mouth.

It doesn’t take long before Diluc is releasing down Kaeya’s throat; head thrown back, spine arched, moans muffled beneath his palm. Kaeya, gagging on his cock and struggling to swallow every drop of cum, before pulling off, coughing and gasping for air.

Kaeya rests his head on Diluc’s thigh and catches his breath. Diluc had been rough. Kaeya didn’t mind, though. The throbbing between his legs proves true of the opposite.

The moment Diluc comes down from his high, harsh regret sinks in, and he pushes Kaeya off him quite violently. Quick reflexes are the only thing that saves Kaeya from falling completely on his ass.

Diluc slams his fist against the wall. “Damn it, ” he curses to himself. He gives Kaeya, still on the ground, one last remorseful look before he storms off back inside the tavern.

Kaeya hauls himself back up into a low crouch and pats the dust off his legs. 

He didn’t really expect Diluc to help finish him off, anyway. 

The taste of salt still lingers on his tongue.

“Good to have you back, brother.”

✧✧✧

The following day, they cross paths again in front of the blacksmith’s. 

Kaeya grins cheerily. Diluc glares back at him.

A tense moment passes. 

Wagner, the unwilling witness to this, rolls his eyes, feeling his patience draw thinner and thinner with each passing second.

Then, finally, the two nod to one another in acknowledgement.

Wagner sighs, relieved and tired.

Kaeya’s voice is friendly as he bids Diluc a good morning, the other already on his way.

✧✧✧

Kaeya has a much harder time getting a hold of Diluc again after that.

✧✧✧

“Ready yourself, Captain,” Jean commands.

Though he doesn’t outwardly show it, and never would, Kaeya is actually exhausted. He looks up from staring at the dwindling campfire to Jean’s outstretched hand.

“We still have a long mission ahead of us.” Jean looks at Kaeya meaningfully. “Can I count on you?”

With a laugh, Kaeya accepts her help and lets himself be lifted to his feet. 

“Kaeya.”

“Yes?”

“Get a hold of yourself.”

It’s so easy to plaster that familiar cocky grin on his face now.

“Of course.”

✧✧✧

Inhaling the crisp air of Dawn Winery and letting the sun’s rays kiss his skin, Kaeya takes a deep breath and waits. 

“What are you doing here?”

Ah, that didn’t take long.

Kaeya doesn’t reply right away, just to be annoying. He hears Diluc tap his foot impatiently and resists the urge to laugh.

“Kae—”

Just enjoying some fresh air,” he says. Slowly, he slides his gaze towards Diluc. “You know,” he sings, “Mr. Tunner is not going to be happy once he finds out you’ve stomped through his carrots.”

“Just how far have the Knights of Favonius fallen if their own cavalry captain can spend the day loitering—”

Mr. Tunner,” Kaeya interrupts again, “would be quite unhappy, indeed , seeing as he’d finally been able to rid of the pesky hoard of slimes terrorizing his vegetables in the first place.” Kaeya smiles pleasantly. “Thanks to the help of the Adventurer’s Guild.”

He nods his head back in the direction of the waterfall where, sure enough, they find Lumine picking snapdragons by the water.

“Our dear honorary knight asked for my assistance.”

“I hardly think a couple of slimes would require your help,” Diluc scoffs. 

Kaeya pushes off the side of the well he’d been leaning against and shrugs. “Who am I to turn away those in need?”

Squinting, Diluc watches as Kaeya starts walking towards him. 

“And maybe,” Kaeya drawls, laying a hand on Diluc’s chest. “Maybe I just missed you.”

After their last tryst, Diluc had successfully avoided him for over a month. And, so, there were only two ways Kaeya had theorized Diluc would react to him showing up here and being so bold. (One of which will result in another night alone and drinking his woes away.)

However, Kaeya feels how Diluc’s breath hitches as he slides his hand underneath Diluc’s coat, groping at the muscle he finds there. 

He hums, satisfied. 

The other, more favorable way then.

 ✧✧✧

Adelinde dutifully turns a blind eye when Master Diluc bursts through the doors dragging a much-too-pleased Kaeya Alberich behind him.

Elzer is, of course, absent from his post behind the desk, along with Hillie and Moco—all of them having been dismissed as soon as Adelinde had first spotted Kaeya outside the manor. 

They barely even notice her, hurrying up the stairs almost clumsy in their haste and slamming the door to Diluc’s quarters.

Quietly, Adelinde finishes dusting off the shelves and pretends she doesn’t hear the rhythmic thumping coming from upstairs, before finally taking her leave as well, making sure to lock the door behind her.

✧✧✧

No one else can stutter Kaeya’s name as prettily as Diluc does. No one else can melt away his walls, make him feel as warm as Diluc does.

“Diluc.”

No one else can make Kaeya feel as good.

“Harder.”

Or as lonely.

“Please.”

Diluc tightens his grip. Kaeya hopes he leaves bruises.

Don’t ever leave me again, he wants to say. The words are at the tip of his tongue, he almost allows himself to slip, but Diluc hits the spot inside him that makes him see stars, and all that leaves his mouth is a desperate cry for more.

✧✧✧

“When was the last time I was in this room?” Kaeya smooths his hands over the sheets. Hair clings to the side of his neck, matted with sweat.

Diluc is sitting at the foot of the bed, pulling his boots back on, fully clothed once again. He doesn’t reply.

 Three years. You left me for three years.

“Thanks for the fuck,” Kaeya calls after Diluc, who’s already halfway out the door. “You know, it’s just like—”

Diluc is gone before Kaeya can finish his sentence. 

Kaeya burrows under the blanket. Inhales the burning scent that still lingers.

“Just like old times.”

✧✧✧

It’s so funny, Kaeya thinks, how strange emotions are. Funny and so bothersome.

✧✧✧

Crepus used to forbid Diluc and Kaeya from wandering Wolvendom alone, warning them of the dangers hiding there. However, stories of a ghostly guardian of the woods only served to fuel their curiosity. 

And Kaeya never had much trouble convincing Diluc to get into trouble with him. Back then, all it took was a deep pout and a well-rehearsed sniffle. Diluc would give in almost immediately.

Now, Kaeya doesn’t think those old tactics would work anymore. 

The view from these cliffs is still so beautiful.

“You found me,” Kaeya says out loud.

Behind him, Diluc is leant against the side of a tree with his arms crossed.

“Do you remember how we used to run after slimes here, swinging our sticks around as if they were swords?” 

Diluc doesn’t reply, but Kaeya continues anyway.

“Remember how reckless we were? How nothing seemed to matter to us—,” Kaeya’s breath hitches, “as long as we were together.”

Kaeya hears footsteps getting closer and closer, and, suddenly, a warm hand on his shoulder.

“Kaeya.”

“Yes, dear brother?

Kaeya, you—” Diluc shakes his head in frustration. “Things will never be the same between us,” he says with such a tone of finality that Kaeya almost wants to laugh at how hilariously sad this all is. 

“Don’t worry,” Kaeya looks over his shoulder and makes eye contact with Diluc. “I’ve known that for a long time, now.”

Diluc nods. “Good.” And he walks away.

Kaeya takes a deep breath.

One.

Two.

Three.

The first sob is always the most humiliating. 

“The winds are so cruel,” Kaeya laughs, wiping away at his tears with shaking hands. “To have carried me to you.”

Kaeya wraps his arms around himself; the evening air somehow too cold, now, even for him.