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Mondstadt at night is just how everyone expects it to be. After Diluc disposes of the danger lurking in the corners, creeping past the walls and encroaching ever deeper into the city. Another night and another occasion to destroy a couple of Abyss mages and burn them to ash before anyone else finds out they were ever there.

Since his return he’s been at this too many times to count. How did the city survive without him? He must conclude these attempts have increased in frequency recently, or he would have heard about all kinds of disorder and destruction.

With a sweep of his sword the last of the monsters stops and falls to the ground in a smoking heap. The night is near moonless, only the thinnest sliver faintly illuminating the scene. Dark enough that he can easily make his way back to the tavern without being noticed. Or so he thinks before he hears the clapping.

As he turns towards the noise, Diluc takes a step deeper into the shadows. So far no one has taken a good enough look at him during his nighttime fights to recognize him, but the mask and hood might not be enough for someone that knows him well.

Which is just who has just witnessed him slaughtering monsters – the person leaning against the city wall and clapping is Kaeya. Cavalry Captain Kaeya that Diluc was sure had other plans tonight. He’s been doing his best to avoid the knights, and Kaeya most of all.

His best isn’t enough, apparently.

“My hero,” Kaeya breaks the silence and walks closer, the shadows swallowing him as well. Diluc almost takes a step back without thinking, but stops himself at the last moment. He’s not afraid of Kaeya. He just wants whatever this is to be over as soon as possible. In the absence of anything to say Diluc grunts noncommittally and wills the darkness to hide him better.

“Mmm, exactly,” Kaeya says in response, like he’s divined some meaning to the sound. “I was just about to patrol here. Imagine what would have happened to me had you not intervened...” The way Kaeya trails off, still coming closer, sounds more suggestive than mocking or even ominous. Whatever Kaeya means, Diluc is more confused than anything.

He’d have expected an interrogation, if Kaeya ever got the chance to meet the “Darknight Hero” in person. Not whatever this is. Maybe he no longer knows Kaeya. Maybe he never did.

“However did you know I would be in need of saving?”

“The Knights are ineffective.” There, unspecific and insulting. Diluc hopes his voice comes out low enough to not be recognizable.

Unfortunately Kaeya doesn’t look insulted at all. He’s now within reach, only a single step away, and Diluc can’t remember how he got so close. It’s so dark they should barely be able to see each other, but just the pale starlight is enough to make Kaeya look radiant.

“Oh, indeed,” Kaeya agrees, nods seriously like it’s an indisputable fact. Diluc is almost insulted on his behalf – despite their many differences, out of everyone in the Knights he would expect Kaeya to be able to deal with anything and everything that may lurk in the night. Then Kaeya leans ever closer, a hand raised like he might want to rest it against Diluc’s chest. “But perhaps you could teach me,” he says, voice breathy. Like it was when he called Diluc his hero.

Oh no. Now Diluc understands what this is.

He freezes, thoughts thrown into disarray. Kaeya is so close, so close. Does he really not know who’s under the mask? Is the flirting his way of making Diluc confess it’s him? It’s a strange method, if it is. Though not ineffective, it seems, because Diluc can’t think.

He’s been the recipient of countless attempts at flirting with him from countless people and always been able to sidestep and dodge them politely. But none of those people were tempting in the least. None of them were Kaeya.

Like this, in the darkness Diluc could reach back and touch him, and for a moment forget who they really are to each other. Could pretend he doesn’t burn every time he sees him in daylight. It’s an idle fancy – this moment can’t last. But Diluc suddenly really wants it to; wants a space where Kaeya doesn’t know him, and where he can pretend he doesn’t know the truth of Kaeya either.

Where he really can be someone that Kaeya might look at through his lashes and flirt with.

“Teach what,” Diluc asks when the silence stretches a little too long. He doesn’t even have to do anything about his voice, as the dryness of his mouth makes him sound gravelly already.

“Oh, I’m sure you could think of something, Mister Hero.” Suggestive again, and now Kaeya really does lay his palm against Diluc’s chest. He imagines he can feel the heat through the many layers of cloth and armor between them. “Or is it Mister Darknight?”

The smirk on Kaeya’s lips is all Diluc can see. They haven’t been this close since Diluc made good on his threat to bodily throw Kaeya out of his tavern one evening when he wouldn’t leave. Calling Diluc’s bluff. Except it wasn’t a bluff because Diluc wouldn’t, couldn’t back down.

He spent the rest of that night stuck remembering those few moments of Kaeya’s breath, hot and wine scented against the side of his face before Kaeya laughed it off and left.

This is so much worse.

This, out of everything that he’s lived through, makes a crack run down the fortress of his will. He grabs Kaeya’s ridiculous scarf and pulls him that last half a step closer until there’s no space between them at all. When he hesitates at the last moment, mouth so close to Kaeya’s that their breaths are one for several moments, it’s Kaeya sliding a hand around Diluc’s waist, more hesitant than his bold flirting would make one expect, that breaks the stalemate and the last of Diluc’s restraint.

He kisses Kaeya carefully at first, but the moment doesn’t shatter when their lips slide together. Kaeya’s soft lips and a soft gasp that gets lost in the kiss. It’s enough to embolden Diluc, to deepen the kiss and take whatever he can steal in the night. Diluc throws his free hand around Kaeya’s shoulders, grasps at his hair to keep him in this embrace longer. His black cloak covers them both.

It’s so dark that for a moment Diluc can pretend he doesn’t know, that there aren’t years between now and the last time he thought he might one day dare have this. It’s a mistake. It’s also beyond his powers to not make it, when it’s offered to him so invitingly.