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Hu Tao is Away

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Upon his bed he lays in silence. The ceiling seems awfully entertaining at the moment.

 

He turns his head to the side and eyes his phone, expecting it to do something. To shake with a sudden jolt. Tell him something that’d lead to him regretting picking up. Something that would ultimately steal him away from his boredom.

 

But… nothing.

 

“You really should be a bit more active Cloudy,” The words creep their way into his conscious like the shadows slowly growing as the day fades out until shadow is all that’s left to see. He lets out a defeated sigh.

 

She’s right.

 

He jolts himself upright and grabs his phone as he’s hit with a sudden wave of motivation. Opening up the messaging app, he finds pretty much everyone’s offline.

 

No wonder it’s been radio silence.

 

There is still one person online though, and of course, it’s her.

 

Cloudyun0907: Hey Hu Tao

 

HTao666: yoooo cloudy!

 

Even through text, her liveliness is unmatched. It’s able to draw the most minute smile from his lips.

 

HTao666: what’s up? why you messaging me?

 

The minute smile is quickly replaced with a look of confusion.

 

Cloudyun0907: Can I not talk with a friend?

 

HTao666: We both know you wouldn’t exactly call me a friend.

 

HTao666: More like you’re begrudgingly acquainted with me cause you’re friends with xingqiu and he dragged you into literature club with me.

 

Confusion is then turned to shame. Was that really what she thought he thought of her? He thinks back to all the times he’s recoiled away from her and the times he so clearly displayed his irritation of her. He winces at the thought of just how bad a friend he could be at times.

 

Cloudyun0907: Well yeah, maybe 3 years ago, but in those three years, I’d say I’ve come to see you as a friend.

 

Cloudyun0907: Despite how annoying you may be sometimes, you’re still there for me, and despite how I act sometimes, I don’t hate hanging out with you.

 

HTao666: Pfft- it was a joke Chongyun.

 

HTao666: but such sweet words...

 

HTao666: is the cloud perhaps…

 

HTao666: falling for me~?

 

He breathes a sigh of relief, there’s the Hu Tao he knows. He chooses to not take the time to process what she just said. Let alone respond to it.

 

HTao666: but seriously, why you talking to me now? usually, our talks are reserved for 1 am chaos

 

Cloudyun0907: The same reason it’s usually at 1 am

 

Cloudyun0907: Nobody was online

 

HTao666: yeah that explains it

 

HTao666: everyone’s probably getting ready for the end of the year party the transfer twins are throwing

 

Cloudyun0907: that’s tonight?

 

HTao666: yea

 

HTao666: don’t tell me you forgot, aiya, you dense cloud

 

Cloudyun0907: Eh…

 

Cloudyun0907: I wasn’t exactly planning on going

 

HTao666: aw, come on Yun

 

HTao66: everyone’s gonna be there

 

HTao666: Xinyan too~

 

He lets out a tired groan at that.

 

Cloudyun0907: I do not have a crush on Xinyan!

 

HTao666: who said anything about a crush~?

 

Cloudyun0907: The “~” clearly implies it

 

Cloudyun0907: I make ONE poor choice of words

 

HTao666: haha, you only have yourself to blame Cloudy

 

HTao666: anyways, I'm also going, Xingqiu is too, you should come!

 

HTao666: we're going to have a rap battle as usual, join us, serve as our umpire!

 

Cloudyun0907: remind me why you need an umpire for your rap battles?

 

HTao666: to make things look more official

 

Cloudyun0907: and what do I get out of it this time?

 

HTao666: the satisfaction of hanging out with your friends and having fun?

 

Cloudyun0907: hmm...

 

HTao666: loser treats you and the winner, like always.

 

Cloudyun0907: Alright, I'll do it

 

HTao666: huh that's peculiar

 

HTao666: took less than 5 minutes this time

 

HTao666: usually takes us 20 to convince you to go to this kind of thing

 

HTao666: who are you and what have you done with Chongyun?

 

Cloudyun0907: Eh, it's the end of the year, I can't really waste time anymore 

 

HTao666: ooo you're learning! I'm finally starting to get through that dense skull of yours Cloudy!

 

Cloudyun0907: Can it Walnut.

 

HTao666: haha, really though, I'm happy. Means we get to hang out one last time before school ends.

 

Cloudyun0907: Yeah, guess so

 

She doesn’t start typing again, so he takes that as a sign that he should probably start getting ready. Pulling himself away from the comfort of his mattress he makes his way towards his closet. He usually didn’t wanna go too complicated, but for whatever reason, something nagged at him telling him to wear something just a little nicer than usual.

 

His phone vibrates, alerting him that she wasn’t finished, or she thought of something else, who knows when it comes to Hu Tao.

 

HTao666: Hey, could you promise me something?

 

Cloudyun0907: No, I will not agree to help xingqiu carry you and parade you around if you win.

 

HTao666: aw come on it was fun that one time!

 

HTao666: But no not that, something else.

 

He pauses for a second ‘something else’? Not often is Hu Tao serious, but when she is the atmosphere always changes and you can tell right away. 

 

Cloudyun0907: Alright

 

HTao666: Since the year’s ending, and since we're gonna be going off to college here soon,

 

HTao666: we'll be going to different schools, and I still wanna keep in touch.

 

HTao666: So, promise you won't forget about me.

 

A breath he didn’t know he was holding exits his throat carrying out all the anxiety that had built up in that brief moment. He didn’t know why he was so anxious, what was he expecting? He let out a half nervous half sincere chuckle, if it’s something that simple, well.

 

Cloudyun0907: I honestly don't think I could forget you if I wanted to.

 

HTao666: Good.

 

HTao666: Oh, Yanfei just texted, she's gonna be here any minute now, see you at the party?

 

Cloudyun0907: See you at the party

 

And with that she was offline.

 

Setting his phone down he went back to getting ready, the transfer twins didn’t actually live too far from him so it’d be pretty easy to walk, besides he liked the quiet of a stroll, and if he were to ask one of his friends let him hitch a ride, let’s just say it wouldn’t be nearly as peaceful.

 

Not that the party was gonna be all that serene anyhow, but it would be nice to have at least a moment of solitude.

 

Putting on one of his nicer jackets, he makes his way out the door and begins his short trek to the twin’s residence.

 

*****

 

Walking up the stone path to the entrance of the unassuming suburban house, Chongyun suddenly finds himself staggering forward, almost toppled over by a sudden weight that hopped onto his back. Thankfully, whoever they were, they were light, else he would’ve ended up crashing face-first into the concrete. 

 

His sight was then taken from him as a pair of hands fell over his eyes. As the hands rested upon his face he noted spots of cold pressed against his face, rings. It was her, wasn’t it?

 

“Guess who~”

 

That was clearly not the voice of the person he assumed was on his back. In fact, it sounded too far for it to be the person on his back.

 

“Xingqiu’s the one asking but Hu Tao is the one who’s currently on my back, am I right?”

 

“Ding ding ding, we have a winner!” The girl exclaimed as she raised her arms into a  celebratory pose. The sudden movement shifted his balance causing him to stagger once more.

 

“Oh, Chongyun, you’re here too. Why didn’t you tell us you were coming? We could’ve picked you up.” He turned towards the sound and caught sight of a young woman with light blue hair followed by a young man with golden eyes and a girl with pink locks.

 

“I wasn’t gonna drive out of the way to pick up another person,” Xiao said simply.

 

“Actually Chongyun lives pretty close, so it’s no big deal either way, right Chongyun?”

 

“Oh- Uh, Yeah, what Yanfei said, I prefer walking anyways,” he managed to explain.

 

An awkward silence falls over them all as Ganyu and Xiao eye Hu Tao and Chongyun, the girl still riding on his back. The pair stares back, puzzled at why the other two looked at them the way they did.

 

“You guys coming in or what?” They heard a voice call out from the house. Turning around they found that one of the hosts, the shorter-haired of the two twins, had noticed their arrival and was signaling them all to come inside.

 

That’s when they all remembered they were in fact here for a party.

 

“Onward Chonggers!” Hu Tao pointed towards the door from her position on Chongyun’s back.

 

He dropped her.

 

Landing on the grass, the girl shook her head at the boy. “Aiya, how rude!”

 

 The rest of the group chuckled at them as Yanfei went to help her up.

 

The group makes their way inside one by one, Xingqiu, then Xiao,  then Ganyu.

 

Chongyun pauses at the door, ‘We both know you wouldn’t exactly call me a friend’ yet again, her words eclipse his thoughts, sure she meant it as a joke but deep down he knows he should do better by her. He turns around but avoids looking Hu Tao in the eyes.

 

“...sorry, you’re not hurt are you”

 

Hu Tao blinks taking a second to process what he’s apologizing for, she’s taken aback by the fact he’s apologizing “O-oh, yeah, it’s fine Cloudy, don’t worry about it,”

 

He nods in response, heading in as Hu Tao and Yanfei follow behind him.

 

The house was scarcely lit, a few colored lights scattered here and there flashing at a speed that could give someone a seizure. A cacophony of voices and music fill the air, a stirring pot of sound that he couldn’t make any sense of.

 

It all left him more than a little disoriented.

 

The group had spread out, all finding different friends and acquaintances to make their last few memories with.

 

Xingqiu had somehow roped himself into holding back Alberich with Albedo, who seemed to be having an argument with Ragnivindr, who was being held back by xiao, Student Council president Jean was just shaking her head at the incident, Library Assistant Lisa trying to comfort her by patting her shoulder.

 

In another section of the room, a group cheered as school idol Barbara gave a small performance alongside Xinyan of all people, how they could hear them over all that was beyond his knowledge.

 

Ganyu and Yanfei had found Ningugang and Keqing and were chatting up a storm, likely about college plans or maybe business plans, who knew with those girls. Cracking jokes alongside them, causing the group to laugh every once and a while was Beidou, her arm resting on the shoulder of a white-haired boy Chongyun recognized as the transfer student from Inazuma City.

 

Looking out to all his friends off in their own little groups of the party he started to regret coming. Unlike them, he didn’t really have anyone to hang out with besides them, so being at this party, amongst this sea of people, he felt alone. Maybe he should lea-

 

A warmth enveloped his hand, tugging him out of his stupefied state.

 

“Come on ice block, don’t just stand there, it’s a party, let’s have fun!” 

 

His mouth agape, he can’t get out a response before she whisks him away into the night’s many opportunities.