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It was a beautiful night. Silver stars sparkling on the pitch black sky, the full moon bathing the figure sitting atop the cathedral in an almost ethereal light. Wouldn’t it be a fitting way to go? Befitting of that silly nickname ‘Darknight Hero’ at least. Diluc wanted to die.

The thought was always in his mind, so much that he didn’t even remember a time where it wasn’t. Of course he knew that there was once a Diluc who smiled bright like the sun, who was beloved by all and gifted in all areas of life. It was somewhat funny to him – the child prodigy everyone saw destined for greatness grew up to be a broken mess befitting of a villain. What was it that Kaeya had called them that time? ‘Anti-heroes with attitude problems’. How very true. Though Diluc would go even further than that. He was a fucked up human being with lots of unresolved trauma, mood swings and abandonment issues. There was nothing romantic about it; it was just a painful existence.

As Diluc gazed absent-mindedly at his legs dangling over the edge of the building, he couldn’t help but think of how miserable he was. He had tried. So hard. Weren’t things supposed to get better? It had been years. Was there even any hope left? With a heavy sigh, the redhead tried to think of what his therapist had told him. “If there is no reason to live left, what about just living one more day? You can always end it – why not go for one more day?” That had been Zhongli’s words. It was a mere coincidence when he had first discovered that the funeral consultant also held therapy sessions. He was a nice and caring man, feeling somewhat like a father figure he could trust. In Diluc's opinion, this encounter was one of the rare positive changes in his life. Not that they really mattered that much – there was too much negativity already.

His childhood was lonely, with his father always busy with the family business and Jean as the only friend available, who he never really felt that much of a connection with to be honest. It was more of an ‘our families know each other’ kind of thing. Diluc actually felt somewhat convinced that they had hoped the two children would end up together; alas, the only heir to the Ragnvindr business was gay – maybe it was better that his father died before finding out. It was a bitter thought. But then again, wouldn’t it have been more painful to have hurtful words of his father in memory? What if his last words would’ve been laced with disappointment instead?

Regardless, Diluc grew up with an aching emptiness inside, drowning himself in his various hobbies with the excuse of self-improvement. Did that made him a perfectionist or had he always been? He didn’t know. His memory seemed so blurry most of the time. Sometimes his body reacted in ways there was no explanation for – well, there was, but there was no way that something like that happened, right? Fractured pictures in his mind – they might as well have been from a nightmare. Another funny thing. As a child, he used to lie awake, scared that one day he would have to die. But now, here he was, fighting recklessly in hopes of getting injured – to feel something or because he thought he deserved it? – or attempting to kill himself. A divine comedy, that’s what it was. Hopefully the archons were at least entertained by his misery.

Then there was Kaeya. When he first arrived, Diluc finally felt something. Was it a connection because there was finally someone who was as broken inside as him, or a desire to protect someone who seemed weaker than him from the dangers he knew existed? Maybe he was the fool all along; Kaeya had surely struggled even more and he wasn’t such a mess. Diluc was the weak one of them – how pathetic. They grew up as childhood friends, his father never adopting the orphan boy, but they felt as close as brothers. Not that Diluc would know how that felt like. Right. His mother had died. He was there, wasn’t he? Was it at birth? Was she ill? He didn’t remember. It was all blurry.

Kaeya. Right. He was...everything to him. He filled that void in Diluc’s empty chest, made his world seem to shine brighter, the days go by quicker, there were so many happy memories. He knew there were. There were pictures to fill in the blanks of his mind after all. But then, everything was ripped away from him. The moment his life seemed to get better – a true friend, a vision gifted by the archons and a promising future – he lost everything once more. Even worse, it was all a lie. His father using a delusion. Kaeya outing himself as a spy. The knights being corrupt. Had anything ever been real? Had he ever been loved? Diluc couldn’t recall what that must feel like. Being loved. What a foreign concept.

His escape should’ve brought relief, but it made it all worse. The delusion left his body in constant pain – even after he stopped using it. Most days it was manageable, but on other days it was so bad he just wanted to end it all; the pain feeling like getting stabbed repeatedly in the stomach without relief. It would never go away. That’s what he had learned on his travels. And how it feels like to get roughed up by people who didn’t play fair. It made him stronger, at least. But was that worth it? And how did physical strength help him when his own mind wanted him dead?

With a nervous gulp, Diluc raised his gloved fingertips to his eyes. Why am I crying? Fuck. He was such a failure really. His whole life was. Here he was, managing the family business he had never wanted to inherit. Alcohol made him sick. Yet, it was his winery providing the wretched liquid to all of Mondstadt and him manning the bar at Angel’s Share. The only relief was his vigilantism, but even then, it was just an excuse to let out his anger; disguised as an heroic act. Because he was an awful person, wasn’t he? He had to be. Good people don’t suffer like he has to. They don’t rot in the shadows and wish they were brutally murdered because their whole existence is worthless. Good people are loved. And he was anything but.

When people don’t like your facade, they would surely hate your true self. That was something Diluc was pretty sure about at this point. He showed himself as calm and sophisticated; maybe somewhat unapproachable, but always ready to help those in need. Still, there was no one who even once wanted to spend time with him for more than a while. Even the popular traveller was soon off to Liyue without even a proper goodbye – the only person Diluc had allowed himself to get somewhat attached to again. It was a losing battle, always. Because his true self was not only aggressive and moody, no, he was possessive to a fault and tended to obsess over things. Under the calm surface there was a whole volcano bubbling full of emotions and he could only repress it for so long. Even worse the abandonment issues. It was easy to blame it on his trauma, but maybe he was just one of those ‘crazy people’.

If there was one advice Diluc liked to live by, it was ‘don’t get close to people so they can’t hurt you by leaving’. It was lonely, but if he were to open up to one more person, just for them to leave him behind, he would lose it. That was also part of the reason why he preferred to keep as far away from Kaeya as possible. Just being near him made all those buried feelings wash back over him in full force and it was almost always accompanied by the intense desire to do everything to prevent the man from leaving him – which was silly, he had already left him years ago that fateful day.

Diluc shook his head wildly. His throat was constricting more and more, he felt like he was suffocating. Thoughts were hard to form, they seemed to have a mind of their own. Repeating all his failures and worst memories. Calling him useless. ‘I want to die.’ His father bleeding out in front of him. The claymore almost plunging deep into Kaeya’s torso- There was a loud choking noise and Diluc started hyperventilating. His head hurt. His throat hurt. He was going to die. He was going to suffocate. It was all too much, he needed, he needed- Another pained whine. Crimson eyes flitted to the ground below. If he just jumped, it would be over. There would be no pain. He would be free.

There was no way to think clearly, all Diluc could hear was the furious hammering of his heart, blood rushing in his ears and a phantom pain twisting his insides. One step and- “Diluc, what- DILUC!” White noise. Then, a hand on his wrist. Warmth. Another person. Eyes focusing back on the dark surroundings, Diluc could make out blue hair, dark skin, a widened eye, moving lips- “-you are doing. Diluc? Hello?” Blinking a few more times, the noise in his ears lessened and the pyro-user felt himself come back to the present. Huh? “K-Kaeya? What are you doing here?” His voice cracked at the beginning due to his previous crying, but he felt the familiar numbness taking over, forcing his tone into nonchalance. Zhongli had told him this was some kind of protective measure caused by his trauma; making him feel weirdly detached towards, well, everything. It was a rather funny thing that- “-luc!” “Huh?” Kaeya looked at him in a really weird way. Protective? Or was it concerned? Am I dreaming?

“Diluc, you keep zoning out. What is- Were you- Were you going to jump?” It was obvious, wasn’t it? Why was he acting like this? Surely, he would be happy to see him gone and- “-luc! Diluc!” Oh. “I’m fine.” “No, you’re obviously not!”, Kaeya replied almost angrily? and pulled him closer towards his chest. When did he get away from the ledge? Before Diluc realised what was happening, he was engulfed in a pair of warm arms. His eyes started watering again. Why am I crying? Kaeya didn’t say anything for a while. Even as tears started drenching his thin shirt. He didn’t say anything while Diluc shakily buried his fingers into the fabric and held him closer. Didn’t say anything as another round of hyperventilating followed and the pyro-user practically broke down right in front of him. If Diluc were somewhat poetic, he would say that the cryo-user just held his shattered pieces together to prevent them from being lost in the midnight breeze forever.

But it wasn’t that romantic. He bawled into Kaeya’s chest until his knees gave way and he dragged them down onto the cold roof tiles together, sprawled in the younger one’s lap like the pathetic mess that he was. The cryo-user’s shirt was now surely ruined by snot, tears and his vice-like grip on it. And the worst part: it was Kaeya. Perfect Kaeya, who would never look at him with anything more than disdain after this. As if reading his thoughts, the cavalry captain finally broke his silence and tightened his grip on Diluc. Had he been hugging him this entire time? “Listen, Luc. I never...I didn’t know it was this bad for you. I mean, everyone has their demons, but… Luc.” The raw emotion with which he said his name made the redhead almost burst out in more tears. He was finally calming down again, but if Kaeya decided to go in this direction, he might just break down once more.

“I-”, Diluc coughed once to clear his throat, “I don’t have anything worth living for. You were the only thing left after father died and well...” Kaeya just gripped him tighter in response. “I’m sorry, Luc. I don’t know what else to say. The reason I told you was because I needed to get it off my chest, not to hurt you or-” “I know.” “Then why-” “I can’t.” “Diluc-” “I’m scared. I still- I never stopped- you know. And I just can’t. And I thought you just didn’t care, I-” Kaeya interrupted him again. “I more than care about you. I’ve been protecting Mondstadt for you. All I wished for was for us to go back to how it was. I might’ve come here for another reason initially, but the reason I told you, the reason I stayed...It’s always been you. I thought you were the one who-” “If you left me again, I don’t know how- I just-”, Diluc choked again, his eyes stinging with fresh tears once more, “Don’t leave me, please.” Kaeya let out a pained sigh. “I never left you...” “Please. Kaeya, I can’t. Don’t leave me alone. I can’t. I need you. Here. With me. I know I’m pathetic, but-”

He was rambling again. There was another panic attack oncoming and Diluc’s head already hurt so bad he was feeling fuzzy. How pathetic, pathetic, pathetic. “Okay, I won’t.” A shaky breath left his lungs, “huh?”. Kaeya pressed a kiss to the top of his messy red hair. “You’re not pathetic either. It's funny that you don’t see just how amazing you really are.” “If you knew the real me-” “Even like this, you are not any less worthy to me.” Once more, blurry eyes and trembling lips. “And I won’t ever leave you, okay? If you let me, I’ll always be by your side. And Luc - please don’t leave me either.” “...okay.”