Diluc was not behind the bar.
Kaeya flipped his favorite piece of Mora up and down in his hand, frowning at the empty counter. It was Diluc’s night to work, and there was no sign of Charles to replace him. He stepped up to the counter and looked over the edge, wondering if his dreary older brother had crouched behind it to clean a shelf or some other responsible thing.
“Where oh where has my favorite bartender gone?” Kaeya asked, loudly and with a sing-song voice. Around the Angel’s Share, the tables were mostly empty, save for Stanley and Jack in the corner, nursing a bottle between the two fo them. “Master Diluc?”
He drummed his fingers on the bar counter and put a hand on his hip. It wasn’t like Diluc to leave the bar unattended, even on a slow night.
Was there an emergency that the Knights did not know about?
“If you’re looking for Master Diluc, he’s upstairs,” Jack said from across the room. He pointed up. “Went up there with a glass and a bottle.”
That explained it! Diluc must be serving a customer who didn’t want to sit on the main floor of the tavern. Kaeya nodded his thanks to the Adventurers’ Guild members and reached behind the counter to help himself to a mug and a bottle of Dandelion Wine. He’d pay Diluc back for it later, if not when he saw him upstairs.
Kaeya hopped up the stairs and glanced around the upper floor until he spotted familiar red hair in the far corner, bowed over a glass and a bottle.
“Are you drinking?” Kaeya dropped his own cup and bottle on the table near Diluc’s and sat across from the man. For his brother to be drinking, something had to be wrong. “What happened?”
Diluc looked up, eyes drowsy and face flushed. “I slept with Barbatos.”
Kaeya had expected a thousand answers but that one.
“And I can’t tell anyone,” Diluc said, his voice low. He spoke with the same urgency that he used to use when he had a secret from Crepus that was for Kaeya’s ears only, like where he stashed an extra treat from the pantry or broke a plate. “The ladies at the church will kill me if they knew.”
“That you slept with Barbatos,” Kaeya said. He tipped over Diluc’s glass and winced at the small drops left in the bottom. The bottle on the counter was a third empty and surrounded by the wrappings from the cap. Which meant it had been unopened when Diluc brought it upstairs and he’d had a full third. “The Anemo Archon.”
“Yes,” Diluc said, putting his hands on the back of his head. “I knew he was Barbatos but it didn’t really sink in that he was Barbatos until I saw his wings and he was riding my lap.”
“You know Barbatos?” Kaeya asked, choosing to tackle the “riding Diluc’s lap” part second. How drunk was his brother? “The Barbatos that’s been missing from Mondstadt for years?”
“He wasn’t missing,” Diluc said. He reached over and filled his cup. Kaeya put his hand over the top before Diluc could sip from it and put it back on the table. Diluc frowned, but was too drunk to fight him. “Barbatos has been pretending to be human as a bard. He’s got a tab at my bar.”
“The Anemo Archon has a tab at your bar.”
“He loves Dandelion Wine.” Diluc picked up the bottle and drank straight from the top. “Barbatos could drink me out of a business.”
Kaeya took the bottle from Diluc and the cups, gathering them while his brother stared in a haze. He put them all on the table behind him and quickly took a gulp from one of the open cups.
He needed it more than Diluc.
“Okay, so let’s backtrack to the beginning,” Kaeya said. He took a seat back on the bench and held his hand out. “Let’s say that you did sleep with Barbatos. Why are you getting drunk over it?”
“Because I slept with Barbatos.” Diluc paused and sucked in a breath. “I had sex with Barbatos. I had my cock inside the Anemo Archon. He called out my name and—”
“Is that a bad thing?” Kaeya asked and cut him off, plotting the horrible things he was going to do to whatever bard convinced his brother that he was the Anemo Archon. “Wouldn’t most people be proud they slept with an Archon?”
“I have to look him in the eye tomorrow,” Diluc said. He stared straight forward, his red hair in his face. “Every time I see a deaconess of the church, I’ll think about shoving my Archon into a mattress by the back of his head while he made moans sound like songs.”
Poetic, but not helping Kaeya.
“So this guy is in your bar a lot?” Kaeya asked. He had to get the information while he could before Diluc sobered up and had a hangover. “Do I know him?”
“Everyone knows him,” Diluc said. He dropped his elbows on the table and put his hands on the back of his neck again. “But no one believes him. He even tried to tell a deaconess once who he was and she accused him of blasphemy.”
“Does he have a name?”
“Barbatos.” Diluc dragged his fingers through his hair up to his scalp and dropped his head on the table. “I knew that. I really did. But it’s so easy to forget when he’s drunk and acting like a fool in front of everyone.”
Kaeya drummed his fingers on the table. “So then why did you sleep with him?”
Diluc whined. “He seduced me.”
“How did he do that?”
“He found the piano,” Diluc said. He tilted his head to the side, resting it on the side of his arm. He dropped a heavy hand to the table and moved his fingers like he was playing the keys. “He invited himself over like he’s been doing the past few months trying to sneak free wine. The brat got bold enough to enter in the locked rooms searching for a hidden stash of alcohol and found it.”
Kaeya closed his eyes. He remembered Diluc’s old piano. It had been a short lived hobby, replaced as soon as he was granted a Vision and joined the Knights. Kaeya was surprised he kept it after selling the mansion.
“He was furious that I’d let it sit covered in dust,” Diluc said. “He spent hours cleaning it and retuning it. I’ve never seen him work so hard.”
“It would be like you to be turned on by hard work,” Kaeya said, rubbing the side of his face. “So what? He got your dick up and you took him on the piano bench?”
“No,” Diluc said. He sat up, swaying slightly as he tried to catch his balance. “He played it. Barbatos played my piano. He drew notes out of it I could never dream of and I think I cried.”
“So he played a faster tune. Something playful to make me laugh.” Diluc held the table to keep steady. “I kissed him.”
“Who was disguised as a bard.”
“Exactly,” Diluc said. He leaned over the table, whispering like there were people listening in, but it was only Diluc and Kaeya on the second floor. “Once I started kissing him, I couldn’t stop. My hands moved on their own and I might have ripped his shirt searching for the skin under his clothes. Then that little brat just giggled and asked me if I wanted to do more.”
“And you said yes.”
“I said yes,” Diluc wailed. He held his hands up and stared at them. “I carried him into the bedroom and threw him on the bed. I ripped his clothes off and kissed every inch I could find. He bit my ear and asked if I liked birds and I said yes because father liked eagles and I have a pet falcon and then he had wings.”
“They were huge,” Diluc said, throwing his hands out. The movement nearly toppled him over in his drunken state. “Big, bright and white. They had gold adornments and he glowed. He stopped being a bard and became Barbatos and I didn’t stop. If anything, it made me want to have sex more and I slept with Barbatos.”
“You’ve said that a few times.”
“I liked it.”
“I’d hope you liked it,” Kaeya said, tapping his fingers on the table. He huffed and rubbed between his eyes. Hearing about his brother’s sexual escapades had not been on his to-do list for the day. Bother Diluc? Yes. Comfort him about his performance in bed with a con-artist bard? No. “Then what happened?”
“I sucked his cock,” Diluc said. He nodded and scrunched his nose like he was trying to remember. “Barbatos liked that a lot and flapped his wings when his hips moved up and down. He kept begging me to stop teasing and flip him over and put my cock in his—”
“No! No, not that part!” Kaeya said, holding his hands up. “What happened after you had sex.”
“We slept together.”
“Okay,” Kaeya said through gritted teeth. “And then?”
“All night,” Diluc said. “We woke up together and had breakfast.”
Kaeya reached behind him and pulled over his glass. He could have it as long as he kept Diluc away from it. Kaeya sipped the strong wine and huffed. “That sounds nice.”
“No, you don’t understand. I don’t let people do that. I’ve never let someone stay all night before,” Diluc said. He dropped his hands in his lap. “I wanted him to stay all night and wake up together. I wanted Barbatos to have breakfast with me and play the piano again.”
Diluc’s voice had turned into a whispered awe that had Kaeya watching him closely.
“I think I love Barbatos.” Diluc pointed at the wine bottle. “That’s why I was drinking.”
Kaeya had a bard to kill.
“Okay, brother dear,” Kaeya said, relishing Diluc was too drunk to contradict the “brother” comment. He got up and walked around the table, pulling Diluc to his feet. “I’m going to drag you to the work room and let you sleep this off on the cot. In the meantime, why don’t you tell me the name of the bard?”
“You said his name was Barbatos,” Kaeya stressed. “What’s his human name? The name I’d know him by.”
“Oh,” Diluc said, leaning on his shoulder. He nodded twice and smacked Kaeya’s chest. “Venti.”
“You slept with Venti?” Kaeya asked. No wonder Diluc was drunk out of his mind. “The Venti who never pays his tab and gets drunker than me, Venti?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“No one ever does,” Venti said, kicking his legs back and forth as he sat on the second floor railing. “I don’t even think he would believe it if he hadn’t seen me and Dvalin together.”
Kaeya jumped back, stumbling when Diluc didn’t come with him. “When did you get here?”
“I’ve been here the whole time.” Venti giggled and hopped up to stand on the railing. “I was looking for Diluc after playing in town and saw you two up here drinking. I didn’t want to interrupt, though I must say, I’m starting to see why he never drinks. He’s a morose drunk, isn’t he?”
“He’ll be feeling it tomorrow, too,” Kaeya said. “If he wakes up. Diluc passed out for like three days straight once on a single glass of wine.”
A slight exaggeration, but Venti—Barbatos—whoever he was—didn’t know that.
“Well that’s a shame,” Venti said pouting. “I wanted to try that sex on a piano bench suggestion. Imagine how much fun it would be to see how well I can play while Diluc takes me from behind.”
“I do not want to hear this,” Kaeya said as the same time Diluc pointed at Venti and said, “Menace! That’ll get the piano dirty.”
“I can clean it again,” Venti said. He hopped off the railing and skipped over to Diluc hugging him around the waist with a large grin. His arms knocked into Kaeya, who still supported most of Diluc’s weight. “I love how warm you are.”
“I think you’d be warm even without that,” Venti said, patting him on the stomach. “So, Mr. Kaeya. What will you do with this new information?”
“I think I’m going to take that bottle of Dandelion Wine home and forget this happened,” Kaeya said. He pulled Diluc’s arm off his shoulder and shoved the entire man over onto the much smaller bard. “He’s all yours.”
Venti shouted as they collapsed together onto the ground and Diluc dutifully passed out.
“Hey! Help me get him home at least!” Venti shouted, sitting up with Diluc draped over him. Venti shoved at the deadweight and puffed his cheeks in a pout. “He’s heavy.”
Kaeya picked up the opened and unopened bottles of wine and tilted his head in goodbye. “That’s your problem.”
“You’re no fun.”
Before he could turn around, a bright light filled the entire second floor and nearly blinded Kaeya. He threw his arms up to block it and when he pulled them down he saw white feathers.
Venti floated in the air, held by large white wings with gold embellishments. He wrapped his arms around Diluc’s chest from the back, and hauled him off the floor with a heavy beat of his wings that nearly blew Kaeya over from the wind.
“This uses more energy than I’d like, but if I have to carry him home this way, then I guess I have no choice,” Venti said. He threw Diluc up, catching him in his arms bridal style. The smaller man looked odd holding the bigger Diluc in his arms, but he didn’t appear to struggle at the weight. He grinned, resting his cheek on Diluc’s chest. “Thank you for taking care of him in the bar, but I’ve got it from here.”
A swirl of wind filled the upper floor—and that one did knock Kaeya off his feet and across the floor. Venti and Diluc disappeared in the gust of wind, gone from the Angel’s Share with Archon energy left in their wake. Kaeya got to his feet and stared at the empty space. He took a sip from the open bottle and turned around to go down the stairs.
When an outside breeze ruffled his hair, it really hit him: “My brother is sleeping with Barbatos.”
Kaeya turned around and went back into the Angel’s Share.