One of Venti’s favorite places to be was atop the great statue of Barbatos in Mondstadt.
He found it to be quite the comfortable place for just about anything, away from the bustle of the shops and vendors far below. Sitting there cupped in the sun-warmed hands of the anemo archon felt almost ethereal when accompanied by the soothing winds that blew throughout Mond.
It was also the perfect spot to call over Xiao whenever Venti got bored.
“Xiao,” Venti whispered out to the gentle winds, letting a slight smile grace his face. He knew that Xiao would appear no matter the circumstances; whenever Venti called out his name to the wind he would be there soon enough. His feet dangled over the fingertips of the statue as he sat there in wait.
It… typically didn’t take very long for Xiao to arrive upon being called, though.
Venti let out a slight sigh, twirling his braids and slowly materializing a lyre beneath his fingers. He figured he may as well amuse himself with a tune or two before the sunlight faded away beneath the mountains. The soft turquoise glow that ebbed from the strings glowed onto the bard’s fingertips as the sun slowly set, giving off a tune of remembrance and mourning.
As the melody faded, Venti’s harp seemed to disintegrate, and so did the smile on his face. But upon attempting to lean back into the statue’s palms, he found his head in Xiao’s lap.
“Gah,” he sputtered, dropping his downcast expression immediately after meeting Xiao’s eyes. “H-how long have you been here…?” He laughed softly, but Xiao’s quiet gaze didn’t dignify Venti’s question with an answer. Venti quickly turned his head away. Making things awkward was something Xiao seemed to be especially good at. At the worst times.
“A while I suppose,” he sighed. “Sorry for being so late.”
“Yeah, what happened? I do have to say, I got a bit worried for you after you didn’t show up,” Venti asked, a bit concerned since Xiao rarely ever slacked off or had other more important affairs to attend to. His day-to-day routine had been reduced to not much more than disposing of the occasional rampant monsters and appeasing the mortals that visited the inn for adeptal blessings. And of course, accompanying Venti on whatever ridiculous ideas he planned on a whim, but that would undoubtedly never become a bothersome chore to him.
“I… got caught up helping Ganyu with her training. The other adepti weren’t up for it,” he half whispered, now taking his eyes off of Venti’s face as well.
It wasn’t too difficult for the bard to see where this would end up going, as he raised his head to gaze up from Xiao’s lap again. “Mhm, and of course dear Ganyu is more important to you than me, no?” Venti giggled, lifting his arms to cup Xiao’s face, so he could look up to see his amber eyes. “Of course you know I’m only joking. I know how much Cloud Retainer, Mountain Shaper, and Moon Carver wish for her to be in good hands. She is struggling with coming to terms with her adeptus side after all…” Venti trailed off, and Xiao looked down to meet his jade eyes as well. They looked as though they’re glowing under the night’s moonless sky.
“We don’t have to talk about Ganyu anymore,” he brushed off. “You called me here for a reason. I’m willing to follow you for anything.” Xiao took his hands, brushing the hair from Venti’s face and placed them onto his cheeks. He was… surprisingly warm.
Venti smiled and laughed, taking his hands to hold onto Xiao’s, pressing his slim fingers in between the yaksha’s gloved ones. He smelled faintly of dandelion wine and flowers and honey, and his laughter filled the air all around Xiao. As Venti’s laugh died down and he swayed his feet from the statue’s edge, he opened his eyes to gaze at Xiao’s flustered face. It was… cute. Whenever Xiao let down his serious facade Venti couldn’t help but fall for him even more.
“Are you going to kiss me?” He teased with a smirk inching across his face. His hands tightened gently against Xiao’s as the latter kept trying to hold a serious face. Xiao’s face just got redder without him realizing it.
“Hmph. Fine,” he tried his best to say as benevolently as possible. Mustering up enough confidence to lean over and close his eyes, he placed a gentle peck on Venti’s forehead. The bard sat still, shutting his eyes too, so as to enjoy the moment. Upon pulling away, Xiao’s face bloomed an even deeper cherry red.
Venti looked at him, slightly blushing himself.
Before bursting into laughter.
“W-what? What’s so funny?” Xiao asked, distraught as Venti held his stomach and kicked his feet, unable to contain himself in the slightest. His cackling echoed around in Xiao’s head, like the strumming of his familiar lyre.
“Xiao, that was so adorable,” he managed to breathe out through laughs, “but when are you going to stop being so flustered all the time and kiss me properly!” The bard whined, smiling sweetly back at him.
Oh, how Xiao loved that warm, cheeky smile of his more than anything. But being reprimanded by Venti just made him feel even more embarrassed. He sighed out and set his face into his palms, hoping he could somehow hide his cluttered emotions. Xiao just wished he could go somewhere less out in the open…
Yet Venti still had other ideas. Hands bracing on the statue's palms, he lifted himself so he could sit on his legs to face Xiao. “Hey, there's something that I’d like to do with you, wanna hear?” The bard asked him as gently as possible, shifting his billowing cape around. When Xiao gave him no comment, he continued. “Consider it, something akin to a celebration! I’d like to be able to do something special for the Windbloom Festival… just with you,” and his tone was truly sincere.
Xiao looked up again to stare into Venti’s verdant eyes. There would never be anything that he could request that Xiao would say no to. “...Alright. What did you have planned?” And upon hearing that, Venti’s slight smile turned into a wide grin. He giggled, just a little.
“Well the Windbloom festival is quite the bustling event, and I know that you hate crowds,” he said, and he moved closer to Xiao’s side. “So I wanted us to be able to surprise each other with gifts! It’s a very simple idea really, and I know you might not think much of it, but it would mean a lot to me…” he trailed, leaning deeper into Xiao’s shoulder and looking down to his hands, cupping them in his lap as if imitating the statue they were sitting atop. A breeze seemed to pull the rest of his thoughts out of his head. “I’d just like to be able to do something nice for you.”
The gentle rustling of leaves could be heard from Springvale.
“Venti, you…” Xiao hesitated. “You don’t have to feel like you owe me anything. I—”
But Venti cut him off. "Xiao,” he started, pulling away and looking the yaksha in his deep amber eyes. Xiao looked right back into Venti's, the sight of his familiar and sugar-coated smile making his face flushed and making his heart beat louder in his chest. All he wanted to hear was what words Venti would utter next.
“Meet me at Windrise, before dawn, on the day of the festival. That's three days. I'll be waiting for you,” the windborne bard whispered delicately into his ear.
And before Xiao realized it, Venti was gone like the wind.
The scent of cecilias and wine lingered in the air.