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Chilaether Week 2021 Day 1: Reincarnation/Past Lives

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"That's a wrap! Great work, Tartaglia!"
A young man with short orange hair and piercing cerulean colored eyes relaxes from the pose he had been in for the past minute and a half. The photographer nods to him, signaling that he can step off the set while they process the photos from the shoot. Once he left the set, a towel and some water was handed to him by one of the coordinators. He thanked them before sitting in an open chair close by.
"Good work today, Childe." A woman with icy blue eyes and long platinum blonde hair walks up and stands beside him.
"Thanks, Signora." Childe replied with a slight smile, glancing up at her. "Did you come to bring me the schedule for next week?"
Signora handed a thin folder to him, eyeing him curiously.
"You have the interviews you agreed to, the photoshoot for the Liyue Fashion Magazine requested by Mr. Zhongli, and your guest appearance for the upcoming premiere." She tells him as he flips through the folder.
"Not a bad lineup, what would I do without you~?"
"Don't flatter yourself."
The photographer calls Childe over to take a look at the photos, so they can decide which ones to send. He gets up and goes over, Signora following him and they begin looking at each photo. While they were discussing each one, a glimmer of gold caught Childe's attention.
A young man had entered the room, looking like he was there for a photoshoot. He had long, flowing golden hair and amber eyes that shined like small suns. He was speaking with some of the other staff, a bright smile on his face before it flushed pink with embarrassment.
'Who is that kid..? I feel like...I've seen him before?'
"So which ones do you think will fit for the winter magazine?" the photographer's voice broke him out of his thoughts.
"O-Oh, uh sorry. Let's go with three from each set, that way they'll have more to choose from for the cover and the articles." Childe stammered, earning him a questioning look from Signora.
"Great idea, they may want to use some for their promotions." the photographer agreed, not minding his response in the least after the hour long photoshoot.
After finalizing the photos, Childe looked back to where he had seen the young man before. Sadly, he was nowhere in sight. An unfamiliar sadness washed over him, an uneasiness building in his stomach.
"Childe, what is it?" Signora questioned him, noticing his odd behavior.
Childe looks at her with uncertainty clear on his face, causing her to become more concerned.
Before she could say anything, he gave her his carefree smile. But it lacked it's normal warmth, which made it unsettling.
"I'm gonna go change. I think I'm just tired."
And with that, Childe headed to the dressing room before Signora could stop him. The uneasiness was getting worse, he wasn't sure why. It felt familiar, but he couldn't recall when he had it before. He began thinking about the young man he'd seen, wondering again how he knew him. There was no way he would forget someone like him, especially when he stood out like a warm glow that filled the room. It was like something that he felt had been missing all this time, the memories unseen but the emotion hidden inside washes over him.
“I-I already told you, I’m not interested..!”
Childe turned the corner into the hallway of his dressing room, stopping in his tracks at the sight in front of him. In a connected hall some feet in front of him, was the blonde he had been thinking about. A man he didn’t recognize as any of the studio’s staff had him pinned to the wall, right in view of where Childe was.
“You said you would consider it! Why are you avoiding me now!?” the man shouted, causing the blonde to wince as the grip on his arms tightened at his increasing anger.
A memory flashed across Childe’s mind, a scene all too similar to the one before him spurred him into action. Before he could stop himself, the man was on the ground. Childe shouted at him, but he couldn’t tell what he was saying. Face turning red from a blow to his face with a bloody nose, an iron grip on his collar. Childe loomed over him, his expression dark and unreadable. It all happened so fast. Raising his fist to strike him again, arms wrapped around his chest and pulled him back.
“Stop! That’s enough, Ajax!” a voice shouted at him, clinging to him for dear life.
Childe snapped back to his senses, letting go of the man’s collar and straightening back up despite his heartbeat still racing. The arms around him hadn’t let go, causing him to look back to see the blonde holding him back. His long braid was loose, his clothes disheveled. He was trembling, obviously shaken up by the whole ordeal. Childe gently took a hold of his hands, pulling them off so he could turn around to face him. Tear filled amber eyes stared up at him, regret and confusion mixed with fading panic.
Loud footsteps came rushing towards them, surprising them both. Signora, the photographer, and other members of the studio crew came into view. Seeing the man on the floor, the blonde’s appearance, and Childe’s reddening knuckles, the atmosphere became tense. Before anyone could say anything, Signora takes off the shawl she was wearing and carefully drapes it over the blonde’s shoulders and tells the crew to get him a change of clothes and some water. She then tells Childe to go with him to the dressing room to get himself cleaned up as well. They were directed to Childe’s dressing room, where the coordinators brought the blonde extra clothing, water, and anything else he might need as others tended to Childe’s hand. Once they all left the room to give them some space, the uncomfortable silence fell over them.
The blonde was changing behind a screen, while Childe changed as well.
Aether.” the blonde said quietly, catching Childe’s attention. “My name. It’s Aether..”
Childe had finished changing, save for doing up his shirt and his hair was a bit of a mess.
Aether…” he repeated, feeling a familiarity in it that he couldn’t describe.
Walking over to the screen, he could see Aether’s silhouette but he wasn’t moving from where he was seated. Childe moved around it, seeing the blonde sitting there with his hair out of it’s braid and his borrowed shirt undone. His shoulders are tense, his body shaking a bit most likely due to the prior situation. Childe stepped over to him, reaching out and ruffling his hair tenderly. Like he had done it many times before. They both were startled by the gesture, Aether looked up at him confused while Childe was taken aback by his own actions.
“I-I’m sorry! I’m not sure why I-”
“N-No! It’s okay!”
Both of them were now red in the face, unsure of what to say or do. The air was awkward, but another familiar feeling settled in. Childe sitting down against the wall beside Aether, relaxing a bit.
“Hey, you called me Ajax. Have….we met before?” he asks cautiously, surprised someone would call him by his real name since it wasn’t something that was commonly known.
Aether looked confused for a moment, before realization hit him and his expression was concerned.
“No, we haven’t. I’m not sure...why I called you that.” he admits, fiddling with his hair nervously. “I only knew you as Tartaglia…You said my name when you protected me..”
At that moment, Childe realized that something was definitely off. He hadn’t realized he had called Aether by name, especially when he didn’t know his name to begin with. Thinking back to dreams he had before and what he had been feeling earlier, that familiarity washed over him again.
“Have you ever...had dreams where you’re someone you aren’t? Like you were in a completely different world then the one we have now.”
It was something he believed had something to do with what he had felt ever since he laid his eyes on the blonde. He knew it sounded crazy, but he wondered if Aether had experienced anything like it as well.
It was quiet for a bit, but a soft laugh broke the silence.
Childe looked up at Aether, seeing a unsure smile on his face.
“As a matter of fact, I have. Especially about an overprotective comrade. Though I don’t remember all the details.” he tells him, looking over at him with soft eyes.
They both felt a familiar mutual understanding settle between them, a comforting silence. Childe gets up and gently takes ahold of Aether’s hand in his own. It was a simple gesture, but it felt so natural. A shared smile, filled with both uncertainty and familiarity. After a few minutes, they both finished getting changed and dealt with the aftermath of their current situation. Childe found out that Aether was a new model for Celestia, a high end talent agency that worked with his own on many occasions. Once they finished giving their reports to the police about the man that had come after Aether.
Signora chided him for getting physical and how he could have injured his hand worse than it was, but Childe didn’t mind it at all. Once she stepped away to give the company details over to the officers, Aether came over to him.
“Sorry for the trouble with your manager, Childe.” he apologized, bowing a bit to him.
“Nah, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad it didn’t get worse before I got to you.” Childe tells him with a small smile.
Aether smiles at him before pulling out a card and placing it in his hand.
“I have to go now, but I hope we can talk more again soon. See you later, Ajax.” he whispered, placing a quick peck on his cheek before turning away and leaving.
Childe looked surprised, a dark blush painted his cheeks as he touched the spot where Aether kissed his cheek. Looking down at the card, it was a Celestia Talent Agency official business card. Turning it over, there was a handwritten message:
Thanks again for helping me, Ajax. Keep in touch! XXX-XXX-XXXX

Signora walks over to Childe, seeing his embarrassed face and smiles knowingly.
“Don’t let your new crush get in the way of your work, Childe.”
“Like I would let that happen!!” Childe snaps back, before sliding the card in his wallet so he wouldn’t lose it.