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Eyes unfocused, Kaeya stared off into the distance, every muscle tensed as Diluc watched from below, fearful. Was he going to hurt him more? What was the Delusion doing to his brother now? He didn’t know what was happening, and that made it even more terrifying. Even as the chains slowly loosened before disappearing, he didn’t dare move a muscle. Not a single muscle, because what if he caught his brother’s attention again? What if that was all he needed to return to that horrible, twisted version of himself, and finish what he started? What if--

 

With a cry, Kaeya ripped off the glove, flinging it as far as he could. It was still in his head, and he scrambled back on all fours, tears coming to his eye. It was still in his head, and didn’t Kaeya want to finish what he’d started? What about all the plans to make his brother pay? Shaking his head, clutching his hair, Kaeya brought his knees to his chest as he sobbed out apology after apology, as if it could take back what you’ve done to him. You’ve gotten this far, why not keep going?

 

“I’m sorry-- I-I’m sorry-- I’m sorry, I’m sorry--” Great, heaving sobs that shook his shoulders, hiccups that ached in his chest, and a deep-seated all-encompassing guilt that threatened to swallow himself whole with the Delusion. With the chains gone (leaving behind deep angry burns) Diluc swallowed anxiously, sitting up and looking over to his brother. Was it over…? Looked like it was.

 

“A-Are you back…?” Cautiously, still tense, voice raspy from his screams. Ah, but he couldn’t stay up for too long… flopping back onto the stone, he turned to look again at his brother, barely able to keep his eyes open. It looked like he was back. It was safe, right? Was this hellish nightmare finally over? He didn’t dare try to come closer though, fear stopping him still.

 

Curled up best he could, gripping his hair like he meant to pull it out, sobbing in pure despair... It was in his head, was it still in there? He could still feel it, trying to take hold of him, like a poison in his mind, telling him to keep hurting his brother, he had plans, won't he follow through? A single sapphire eye glanced up at Diluc-- wide in fear.

 

I-I can feel it-- I c-can still feel it, make it stop, p-please make it stop--”

 

Diluc knew his brother was still feeling the after-effects; the shock, the horror on his face made it obvious. It hurt, everything ached after all that’d happened, but he still pulled his way across the floor, closer to Kaeya. “Focus… just focus on my voice.” He was too tired for a proper hug. That was fine, he leaned against him instead, letting his eyes close. “Focus on it… it’ll be alright. I love you.” His throat was sore, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was comforting Kaeya.

 

The contact shocked Kaeya out of his fear-induced trance, at least for the moment... longer, hopefully. A single blue eye , wide with fear, stared deep into Diluc's, desperate for something to keep him grounded. He... loved him? Even after everything he did? He could remember it all clearly, though it was tinged with black, like a nightmare. Violent shivers wracked his body, even as he scooted a bit closer to his brother, desperately.



"I'm sorry-- I-I'm sorry, I'm sorry," was his mantra now as he sought forgiveness in his brother’s eyes. And Diluc? Diluc smiled weakly, despite the exhaustion and the fear still hidden there. He was scared Kaeya would just go back to hating him, to wanting to own him, but he needed to shove that part away. As Kaeya moved closer to him, Diluc wrapped his arms loosely around his brother, best he could.



"... It's oka
y, " h e murmured, trying to be as reassuring as possible. His voice was raw, so it wasn't that reassuring, but he was trying. With a gasp, Kaeya caught him, holding him close-- he was hurt. He was injured, he was likely suffering, and here Kaeya was, making it all about himself? Pulling up his own pants, he told Diluc to wait a bit as he went to grab his brother's underwear. Pants? No... he'd leave them here. Better not to aggravate his wounds.



"I-I'm going to take you home
, I'll take you home." He couldn't take back what he'd done, but he could try to make it up to him. R ight? Diluc let out a groan from the movement . It looked like he was trying so hard to stay awake and lucid, but the truth of the matter was that he was exhausted. Nodding his head, nonetheless, he put on a weary smile. He needed to reassure his brother. Everything was going to be fine, right? Kaeya needed help. Needed him to be strong, despite him wanting to be anything but just now. More than anything, he wanted to collapse, let his brother take care of him, but that’d be irresponsible.



"Okay... Let's- Let's go home."
He h ope d the Delusion would be utterly destroyed by the r egisvine when it regrew . Kaeya didn't want to touch the Delusion again. He didn't want to look at it. He didn't even want to think about it. Diluc could come back and get it again if he wanted, but Kaeya didn't want to have a single thing to do with it ever again.



"I'll get you home, and we'll get you patched up, and a nice, cold bath for those burns--" The burns he caused. The reminder that he needed to be strong for his brother was all that kept him from crying.



Making sure he had a firm grip on his brother, he started towards the winery as quickly as he could.
Diluc seemed content, not at the situation, but at being held. Kaeya wouldn’t drop him… he wished for his pants, worrying a bit at how Kaeya would explain this to the winery workers, but his brother was right; he needed to get home. They both needed to rest, and recover. Despite the burns around his wrists and thighs, he let his eyes close, resting on the way back. The steady rhythm of his brother’s steps… it lulled him into a trance as he kept smiling, trying to reassure him even as he more or less dozed. He was in agony from his injuries, and no good at smiling, but he had to try. A coping mechanism-- focus on Kaeya. Focus on Kaeya’s pain, and the reverse was true for his brother. Both of them, pushing down their own pain to focus on the other’s. It was just easier that way.

 

Kaeya wasn’t about to speak to the workers, though. When they finally reached the winery, he transferred his brother to his back, told him to hold on, and scaled the side of the building. Something he’d done many times before, though not without such weight on his back-- but he managed. Knocking on the frame of the window, he managed to shimmy it open despite the lock. “ Nothing to it. Also, you might want to get better locks ,” he said, trying to crack a joke. Tone fell flat, but hey, he was trying. They both were, best they could. Because if they couldn’t pretend everything was alright, how would they function?

 

I’ll look into it,” Diluc croaked back, letting out an airy laugh that sounded wrong somehow. Out of place. But he m anag ed to get out of Kaeya’s hold enough to hobble over and fall onto the bed, a nd there he laid, eyes closed, exhausted. No ceremony, no elegance; he just wanted to rest and maybe wake up and pretend this never happened. But, Kaeya was starting to fret over him-- he worked off his coat and boots (with hasty promises that he wouldn’t take off more) before tucking him in. Diluc took his words to heart; he didn’t care about his brother touching him now. He was too tired, too bone-deep exhausted by everything, though he looked over his brother for a bit, trying to determine if he needed more reassurance. He knew damn well how bad Delusions could be.

 

A bath? No, he looked too tired… too exhausted, and he didn’t blame him. Why would he blame Diluc? It was his own damn fault his brother was like this! “ I’ll get some mist flowers. You just-- you rest.” Though it looked like his brother was going to do that regardless, Kaeya still made sure to be stern before climbing back out the window. Not dramatic, just wary of encountering others. He didn’t have the time or patience to deal with other people, for once in his social-butterfly life. He did come back in through the front door though, grabbing a bottle of grape juice from the kitchen as he headed upstairs. It was the very least he could do after what he put Diluc through, right?

 

A knock on the door before he poked his head in, holding the juice and flowers up like offerings. “Brought you some grape juice, too… I-I figured, maybe you’d want some.” A little something to help him cheer up, maybe, and he brought the items over to the bed, shredding the flowers so they could be spread out over the poor man’s burns. And Diluc, Diluc kept smiling, and it worried Kaeya, but neither of them wanted to break the illusion. It was just… an injury. Just an injury, and nothing happened.

 

"Thanks," Diluc croaked out, "I can probably put them on myself ." He held his hands out towards his brother's own, before recoiling slightly. Was he scared to touch Kaeya at all, perhaps? He stared at his hands, before cautiously holding them out again to receive the items. It wasn’t like Kaeya didn’t expect it, but the reaction still left him swallowing back tears.

 

"It's alright," he said quietly, almost timidly. "I can still feel it, but it's growing weaker by the minute... I can resist it just fine. I won't hurt you again." It almost sounded like he wanted to cry-- but he couldn't. He needed to be there for his brother. Crying would force Diluc to comfort him, and it was Diluc that needed the comforting! Not himself! Kaeya could do just fine without . Because i t was obvious that Diluc wasn't doing so hot, mentally. Even as he forced himself to stay comfortable around his brother, there was still this underlying fear- that he would be taken over by the deep thoughts in his head. He knew how Delusions worked- how they picked up on even the most subtle of negative thoughts, took them and twisted them.



Somewhere in there, Kaeya was
angry at him, he was upset that Diluc had pushed him away for so long. That made him uneasy.


Looking back up, hearing his brother sound close to tears, he tried to put the haunted expression aside, once again grinning. "Oh, thank you. I'll be careful- really, it's not as bad as when I first started using my Vision." That was a lie, they both knew it. Diluc's vision burnt him, sure, but never this severe
ly . Or intimate ly . Kaeya focused on shredding the flowers, facing away from his brother so he could blink back the tears. Once done, he managed to put on a mask long enough to hand them off to him, before making the excuse of 'washing up' to head into the bathroom. Diluc watched him silently, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Even as he moved to soothe his burns with the shredded flower petals, he couldn’t help but worry.

 

And not for no reason; o nce the lock clicked into place, Kaeya couldn't hold it in any longer-- the sobs came, heavy and fast, though he kept them silent best he could . He could not let Diluc hear them, despite how they soon left his throat sore. He could n’t let Diluc worry, despite how badly Kaeya was aching for some sort of comfort. Fading, yes; but Kaeya could still feel the Delusion in his head, worming its way through his memories, bringing up the worst of them and asking, doesn't this make you mad? Doesn't this make you want to hurt someone?



It wasn't wrong. And that made it worse.