It happens to everyone but sometimes it's too soon.
Xiao prides himself in prioritizing his obligations as the Captain of the Guard for the Kingdom of Teyvat. His duties for his country and to his king come first. He's vigilant, meticulous, and calculating.
He has faced numerous conflicts in his life, yet why is the hardest battle he's ever faced a conflict of his selfish heart and his mind?
On the rare occasion that both of them had nothing to do, they could often be found in his parlor, with Childe draped across the loveseat meant for guests and chattering away. This was one such day.
“Do you know how the Fatui initiate their harbingers?”
Zhongli shook his head. He didn't.
Childe isn't afraid of anything. He's fearless. The strong, undefeatable 11th Fatui Harbinger no one wants to get on the bad side of. The person who nearly destroyed Liyue, cocky smirk on his face and all.
He isn't the person who fears anything; he's the person that gets feared.
Until the lights go out, that is.
Or: Zhongli asks Childe to accompany him to the lantern rite festival, and discovers something Childe would have preferred to keep a secret.
“Xiansheng,” Tartaglia retracts his claws, letting the bodies drop to the ground grotesquely. He lowers himself onto one knee so that they are level. The gesture is oddly gentle for the acts he was previously caught in, but Zhongli supposes it is that exact duality that made him fall for the Harbinger so many days ago. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m looking for you,” Zhongli deadpans, wholly unfazed, “did you forget about our plans tonight?”
Or, Childe almost misses out on dinner, so Zhongli takes it upon himself to fetch him.
“Tell me the story,” the former Harbinger whispers, “of the day you ascended as the God of Geo,” he pleads. Morax looks down at him with confusion
“I just want to hear your voice as I go,” Childe sobs, unable to control the full-body shiver that wracks through him as the words leave his mouth. “I don’t wanna forget it. Never wanna forget you, never—”
“Hush, my love,” Morax hushes him gently, running a loving palm across his face. He gathers him in his arms closer, much much closer. He maneuvers him carefully with his injury in mind, no longer paying attention to the dying embers that surround them.
The world around him is in flames.
Or, Teyvat falls apart and so does Zhongli.