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Was it worth it? Would you do it all over again?

Yes.

Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times, yes.

"Let's utilize what we discussed, then," Diluc says, rubbing his thumb over the tender surface of a grape leaf. "These look great. I think we'll have a good harvest this year, if we can keep everything stable."

"I believe so too," Charles nods. "I'll see to it now."

"Thank you," Diluc says, eyeing the leaf critically. He flips it over, re-examining the underside for any sign of danger, tiny clusters of eggs or otherwise unseen nibbles.

"Luc," someone says lightly.

He looks up. "Kaeya," Diluc says warmly. Releasing the vine, he steps out of the row to meet the other man, hand settling naturally at his waist. "It's only midday," he remarks. "What brings you here?"

Kaeya smiles brightly. "Everyone worked hard and finished everything early today."

"Oh really?" Diluc says, amused. "The knights? Efficient? Is there an eclipse happening sometime soon? Maybe a blue moon tonight?"

Kaeya laughs, the sharp sound soaring over the grapes. "Have more faith in me, please," he says. There's something in his eye, an unnaturally bright gleam, that makes Diluc hesitate.

"Kaeya," he starts, "is there something wro—," but the other man surges forward then, capturing his lips in a dizzying kiss.

"Come on," Kaeya whispers, taking him by the hand. "I missed you."

"You just saw me a few hours ago," Diluc says breathlessly, yet when Kaeya tugs, he obediently follows the hypnotic sway of his ass up the hill and into the manor.

But when they don’t head towards the stairs, Diluc pauses. "Where are we going?"

"The maids are still cleaning the second floor," Kaeya says without looking back. "I stopped by before coming to find you."

"Oh," Diluc says, thinking. "Charles just left," he offers, "we could go back outside, into the trellises. There won't be anyone around."

"Mm," Kaeya murmurs, turning then. He leans in for another series of hungry kisses, trailing from Diluc's mouth to jaw to ear. "I'd rather be amongst the finished product than the fruit, don't you think? Less chance of stains."

"Ah," Diluc manages, feeling a rush of blood streaming downwards, the age old hunger stirring in his abdomen. "Yes, alright then."

This time, he follows without further objection as Kaeya leads him down the stairs and into a small room tucked at the very far end of the wine cellar.

"There," Kaeya says, turning to close the door. Diluc watches hungrily as he strains against the heft of it until it finally gives. He slides the bolt across before tugging his shirt over his head.

Mesmerized, Diluc drifts towards him just in time to meet him as Kaeya turns around bare-chested. "Gorgeous," he sighs, hands stroking along the planes of the other man's torso, who shivers.

Backing him against the door, Diluc slides his hands down to cup Kaeya's ass as his tongue slips past his parted lips.

"You taste sweet," Kaeya says breathlessly, a few minutes later. "Were you tasting the grapes earlier?"

Diluc nods, frowning faintly.

Kaeya reaches out and gently touches his eyebrows with his finger. "What's wrong?"

"I must not have been doing it right if you can still put together a sentence," Diluc mutters, feeling like a petulant child yet unable to help it. Does he affect Kaeya so little when the other affects him so much? Some days, one look from his lover is enough to have him stiffening in his pants.

Startled, Kaeya laughs. "Try again, then," he says, smiling. "Until you are. Until I can't—mmph,"

This time, when Diluc pulls away, Kaeya's clinging to his shirt, hands wrinkling the linen terribly. Satisfied, he tucks a strand of dark hair behind one tawny ear.

"Oh, hell," Kaeya breathes, the evidence of his arousal outlined against the fabric of his pants. He presses closer to Diluc, as if worried he'll be denied.

An impossible rush of fondness surges through the redhead. He lifts the other, only for Kaeya to cry out. "Wait!" he says, hands flying up to his head. "My hair," he says. "It's caught on something." He tugs blindly, pulling much too hard.

"Let me," Diluc says, already searching. Eventually, he frees a hank from where it's been snagged on the door. "There," he says, letting it rejoin the rest. Then, he glances back at the door. The wood looks strangely fresh, the color unfaded even though the cellar was the first part constructed of the entire manor, hundreds of years ago. "Did we have things redone down here at some point?" Diluc wonders, touching the rough grain.

"What?" Kaeya says, "Why would we?" His eyes dart past Diluc to the other side of the room.

"Kaeya," Diluc says slowly, a frisson of uncertainty blossoming within his mind.

Kaeya shoves his pants down. Caught, Diluc stares. Kaeya...Kaeya isn't wearing anything else beneath them. "I'll tell you later," he promises, glancing coyly at Diluc, "but for now...fuck me?"

"Y-Yeah," Diluc says, thunderstruck. "I—Yes." And he lifts Kaeya again, bearing him to the worn little couch conveniently tucked between an unused barrel and the wall. As soon as he sets him down, Diluc's hands are tugging at Kaeya's pants, dragging them down his legs—nearly pulling the person within them onto the floor too.

Flinging them aside at last, Diluc straightens to deal with his own pants, hands unsteady in his haste. He sets his sword down on the other side of the barrel, far enough away to avoid tripping over it, close enough just in case.

In the distance comes a low rumble audible even here, beneath the manor. Thunder, perhaps, though the skies were so wonderfully clear not ten minutes ago.

Kaeya flinches slightly, but Diluc, groaning in relief upon freeing himself at last, is too busy to notice. His cock jutting upwards against his abdomen, he advances to find Kaeya waiting for him on his knees.

"I thought you wanted to be fucked," Diluc says, touching his lover’s cheek with one hand.

"This first," Kaeya says, briefly leaning into his touch before wrapping both hands around the base of Diluc's length.

"Ah," Diluc hisses. "Your hands...they're so cold."

"Oh," Kaeya says, surprised. "I hadn't realized...sorry. I'll just—," he reaches behind himself and clasps his hands together loosely. "This okay?" He doesn't wait for an answer before leaning down.

His lover is always so cocksure, Diluc thinks, before Kaeya's upon him. But then again, he has the right to be. Even without the use of his hands, Kaeya is magic. His tongue alone is dangerous, but paired with the wet heat of his mouth—

Kaeya's mouth is hotter than any fire he could ever summon, Diluc thinks, amazed. He fights the urge to thrust forward, knowing that Kaeya is vulnerable in this pose, unable to keep himself from choking.

Instead, he reaches forward and gathers the long strands of hair that have fallen into Kaeya's face, sweeping them back and holding them with his fist in a makeshift ponytail.

But it's all building too fast. Diluc feels that familiar tightening feeling in his gut and stiffens. "Kaeya," he groans, "Kaeya, I'm close. S-Stop, or 'm not going to be able..."

Thunder rumbles again.

Kaeya shows no signs of wanting to stop. He actually seems even more determined. Diluc doesn't want to pull him off, but he doesn't want to come like this either, not when Kaeya loves it best when they do so together, Diluc buried deep inside him.

So Diluc releases his hair and grips his shoulders instead, stepping backward simultaneously. Kaeya whines, scrunching his face. "Come back," he says, voice rough.

"I will," Diluc says, hands gentle but firm. "Will you lay down first? Do you have oil?"

At this, Kaeya blinks, looking a little less desperate. "I've already prepared. And, I want to ride you," he says. His eye is so very blue. Like an empty sea, Diluc thinks. Not a ship in sight.

"Sure," he agrees, and sits. Lets Kaeya climb over him and arrange himself to his satisfaction.

Kaeya reaches for Diluc's hand next and guides it to his cock, until Diluc understands. Carefully, he positions himself against Kaeya's ass.

They both groan as Kaeya seats himself, inch by inch, until he's flush against Diluc.

Kaeya takes a moment to settle, breathing deeply. His hands press against Diluc's chest, cool even through the fabric of his shirt.

Then, he braces himself and lifts.

Usually, Kaeya prefers to be pampered in bed, to relinquish control the way he rarely does outside of it. (As captain, Kaeya never loosens the reins, of course. He’s never totally relaxed at home either; there's all the things he manages around the manor. For all they call Diluc Master, the true ruler of the household is Kaeya. "I like being so busy I don't have time to think," Kaeya had said when Diluc asked if he'd be happier with less to do, knowing all too well how that can crush a person.) This, then, is a rare treat.

Kaeya impales himself on Diluc in one merciless move. The shock of him, the heat, the familiar embrace is so achingly wonderful Diluc shudders. "Fuck," he says, breathing fast as the pleasure builds again, "you're so good. So good for me, so tight."

Kaeya says nothing. His head low, he just continues moving, the soft slick slide of it filling the small space. His hair, an inky brush, sways, writing with each stroke.

"Taking me so well, gods," Diluc chokes, as Kaeya slams down. "So perfect, oh, Kaeya...so good."

Kaeya shudders.

Diluc tightens his grip on his lover's hips, more than enough force to bruise.

As if he doesn't even feel it, Kaeya rises again, and again, and again. Something is mesmerizing about it. His lean form, atop Diluc’s larger form. The sight brings to mind the image of a boat caught in a storm valiantly cresting enormous waves, each enough to swallow it whole.

Soon enough, thunder rolls once more.

This time, Diluc is watching Kaeya. This time, he doesn't miss the full body flinch, despite how subtle it is, there and gone. The haze of pleasure lifts slightly in the wake of it. "Kaeya," he says, frowning. He puts his hands on his waist, but Kaeya doesn't slow.

"I'm fine," Kaeya says hoarsely.

Diluc realizes suddenly that his face has been hidden from sight the entire time.

"What's going on?" Diluc says, but his words are drowned by another volley of thunder that goes on for far too long. The earthen walls around them quake in response.

The air hums, not with the ozone tang but the sharper, headier scent of a particular form of magic. It reeks of darkness and chaos. Of the abyss.

The sound, too, is different, closer to the roar of a dragon than a natural atmospheric phenomenon. There's something angry about it, something alive.

This, Diluc realizes, too late, is not thunder.

He stiffens. Instinctively, he reaches for his sword, but it's not in range, not with Kaeya's weight stretched along his torso, pressing him down.

Something cool drips onto his front, soaking into the thin linen of his shirt.

Surely the cellar isn’t leaking, the part of him that is Master Ragnvindr and nothing more thinks. What a disaster for our stores—I should go notify Charles.

The rest of him shoves that concern aside. (The part of him that is the thing in the dark knows.)

"What's happening, Kaeya," Diluc says, dreading the answer. "What is attacking Mondstadt?"

Kaeya does not reply.

Diluc tries to get up again, but Kaeya shifts his weight to counter him perfectly.

"Kaeya!" Diluc snaps. Fear courses through him as the ceiling sheds dust, as the sound continues, like the cry of countless animals become one. Too low, too high, too pitched, too desperate, too enraged.

"What have you done?"

“What I had to.”

Diluc, uncomprehending, stares past him, trying to figure it out. His eyes sweep across the room and land on the door.

The door. Its freshly hewn surface. The wood, still bright amidst the earthy dimness of the cellar. How odd.

Like a cork, stoppering the flow of something.

He thinks of rabbits, suddenly. The white flash of a tail disappearing into a hole at the first sign of trouble.

He looks down at the man still astride him.

At the battered couch, so much worse than their bed, with their soft and clean sheets. Why?

Kaeya, leading him down, down, down into the earth.

Like an animal going to ground before a storm.

Diluc makes another move to get up, but Kaeya tightens his grip. Diluc snarls, fear coursing through him now like a knot of electric eels, stinging and sharp, prickling down his limbs.

"This isn't a Favonious operation, is it," Diluc says, heart crashing so noisily in his chest it's a wonder he can still hear anything else. "You—you're not one of them anymore, are you? If you were ever—,"

Still, even now, there is something of the bright-eyed boy left in him. It's the reason why some part of him hopes Kaeya will speak and assuage his fears, disprove his half-spoken accusation.

But he doesn’t.

Ah, gods, Diluc thinks. Ah, gods.

His chest twinges sharply with each breath, like it did that summer when he broke his rib thumping that idiot Mack, for calling Kaeya a parasite on the back of the great Ragnvindr family. He’d felt nothing but pride then, even when it hurt to laugh, to wrap his arm around Kaeya.

“Kaeya,” Diluc says, struggling to keep the devastation off of his face. “I won’t ask again. Let me go,” he says, voice so rough he hardly recognizes himself. “I will not hide while my people die!”

“I can’t,” Kaeya says. “I can’t, Diluc, I’m sorry, I can’t.” His voice is thick, the fabric beneath his face damp.

And. Well. That's an admission in and of itself, isn't it?

“Please,” Kaeya says, shifting slightly, and only then does Diluc realize that they’re still connected, that he’s still achingly hard inside the other man’s hold.

“You—”

“There’s nothing to be done,” Kaeya says. “I begged on my knees for your life, and they gave it. But only yours. You can’t fight them, Diluc, believe me, I know. If you go, you’ll die, and I can’t, I can’t—”

The panic in his voice is real. His fingers dig deep enough into Diluc’s shoulders he feels the sting as they gouge through his skin. And he’s crying again, sobbing so hard his own shoulders shake like a torn sail, flapping uselessly in the wind.

In his mind, Diluc sees the damn boat, even more pathetic now, one tiny morsel in the gaping maw of an uncaring sea. Despite everything, he puts his arms around Kaeya. “I won’t,” he finds himself saying. “Don’t cry, Kaeya. I won’t.”

So Diluc stays. He doesn't fling Kaeya's shivering form off of his. Kaeya has never been afraid of him, not since that awful day, but now he is trembling, from head to toe.

Diluc stays and feels Kaeya warm all around him, feels the electric zing of unused adrenaline dart through his system, and hates him. Hates him for destroying everything. Hates himself for not seeing through it all earlier, for being too late to save the people he loved, the things he cherished, again.

Kaeya's tears are so cold against his chest. How is he still so hot around him?

How does it still feel so good?

“Fuck,” Diluc utters harshly, giving in at last. He snaps his hips upwards, each impact of flesh on flesh as startling as the irregular tempo of the wild "storm" outside. He does this all and hates himself.

"I'm sorry," Kaeya gasps, voice thick. "I don't regret it." His fingers dig into Diluc's arms, clinging, fucking himself down, meeting each punishing thrust that Diluc gives him.

"Gods," Diluc rasps. "Fuck." This time, when he feels his long-denied orgasm building, he lets it crash over him.

They come almost simultaneously.

As Diluc fills him, Kaeya sways dizzily.

"You," Diluc says brokenly. He wraps his hand around the other's throat. "I should kill you for this."

Kaeya sags, letting his weight fall onto Diluc's hand. All this, and he still leans into my touch, Diluc thinks. The thought makes him ache with wild grief. His hand twitches. "But I can't. You've betrayed the people of Mondstadt, and yet. I cannot kill you. What does that make me?"

"A good man," Kaeya says finally. "A good man who loved the wrong one."

Loves.

Diluc opens his mouth. Considers it. Then, with his other hand, he cups the other man's cheek. "I don’t want to ever set eyes on you again," he says softly.

"I..." Kaeya looks down. "I know. But I can't leave yet. Not until it's over." Not waiting for Diluc's response, he lays down, head pressed against Diluc's chest, above his thrashing heart. "I promised. To keep you safe," he mumbles softly. "Let me do this last thing for you."

Diluc tilts his head, staring unseeingly at the door. Tasting salt on his lips. His hands, still touching Kaeya. They won't listen to his command to move.

"The grape harvest," he says dully. "It was going to be the best since father's time. All that effort, wasted."

All this love.

Above them, the abyss roars.