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"That's glass number thirty-seven." Diluc announced to himself. He has never seen anyone drink like Venti. Taking in glass after glass of dandelion wine like popping candy into one's mouth. He had always been intrigued by the bard before, charming patrons with his entrancing voice through ridiculous songs for a glass of wine. His interest has piqued even more so after discovering that this shameless alcoholic is actually Barbatos—The Anemo Archon. The very God that built and defended Mondstadt hundreds of years ago.

"What's Diluc doing?" Paimon asked to The Traveler, to which the redhead heard and then answered:

"I am keeping count of this bard's alarming pace of progress through my wine." Diluc didn't really have a reason to do so, the drinks were free tonight. He knows Venti can't afford it if he were to bill him. It was evident with the fact that Venti rarely ever purchases a drink himself, instead he would rely on his audience to treat him in exchange for his performance.

Although… "Only the knights drink free for tonight. It seems like he didn't get the message. When he sobers up, I will present him with the bill."

"Diluc… You're a meanie!" Paimon exclaimed.

Diluc half chuckled, turning towards the floating companion, "... I'm joking, of course. I highly doubt he could afford it anyway, so I shall spare him the bill." The redhead turned his head to Venti again who was mumbling to himself, drunk; yet somehow still not passed out. "But I must say, the sheer volume of alcohol this fellow can put back is just not normal."

 

———

 

"Wha!" Venti jumped awake in his seat. He looked around while rubbing his eyes to see an empty tavern, realizing that the party for Acting Grandmaster Jean had already ended. Ugh, how long was I out? Venti placed a hand on his head, trying to get a sense of time. As he was thinking, the door behind the counter swung open, followed by the red-haired owner walking in, crimson eyes slightly widened as they met gazes.

"You're awake. Good." Diluc crossed his arms, walking closer towards the bard. His eyes glinted slightly as he opened his mouth again. "Now pay up and leave. We're closing."

"P-pay?" Venti's eyebrows furrowed. His mouth curved downwards in disbelief. "Weren't the drinks free?"

"The drinks were only free for the knights. I see you didn't get the message." Diluc held back a smirk behind his tease. It was quite amusing seeing the bard flustered.

Venti's mouth was trying to form words but rendered speechless in the end.

"You drank forty-four glasses of dandelion wine. So that'll be—"

"Wa-wait a second!" Venti interrupted, standing from the stool and propping himself up with his hands on the counter. "Whatever amount you're about to say. I most certainly won't be able to pay you that way."

"Let me guess." Diluc gestured one of his hands in mid-air. "You want to pay me with a performance?"

Venti smiled sheepishly, "Ehe. No go?"

"That'll be a lot of performances."

Venti whined, "You're so cruel, Master Diluc! Come oooon. You wouldn't charge your own God would you?"

Diluc raised an eyebrow, "And then? You're going to give me some sort of wrath?"

The bard blinked, "W-well.... that would be irresponsible wouldn't it?"

"So you do have some sense or responsibility. Eighty-eight thousand mora."

Venti's jaw dropped. "No discount?"

Diluc put on a stern face, staring into Venti's begging eyes and not giving an answer. Ah, so this is how he gets patrons to buy him a drink.

"Come oooon." His turquoise eyes widened, looking up wishfully at Diluc and his tiny lips pouted. Venti was… undeniably cute like this. "It's not my fault for savouring Mondstadt's finest and delectable wine…"

Diluc exhaled a quick laugh, "Charming words, Bard. Unfortunately, they don't work on me."

"Hey! I was being honest!" Venti's pout intensed with a frown. His eyes averted for a brief moment. "If I kiss you do I get a discount?"

"Pardon?"

"I said!" Venti's cheeks puffed in dusty pink. "If I kiss you. Do I get a discount?"

Diluc blinked a few times. A kiss from Venti. Well that's something he didn't expect. Would it be allowed to kiss an Archon? Was Venti even comfortable to do so? "... You'd go that far?"

"Well there must be some way for me to pay you back faster."

Venti's lips were suddenly very attractive to look at. Oh, such pretty, pouty lips. One couldn't help but wonder what those would taste—

"You don't have to pay."

"Huh?"

"I'm joking," Diluc turned around, facing away from Venti and leaning his back on the counter, "I knew you wouldn't be able afford it anyway."

Venti sighed in relief. "Alright. You got me."

"You can leave now."

"Gee! Okay, okay." Light noises of wood against each other were heard as Venti wiggled his way out between stools, followed by light steps skipping towards the door. "Thanks for the wine, Master Diluc!"

Just as the door closed behind him, Diluc lifted a hand to cover his face and sighed heavily. Cheeks tinted in crimson red, almost the same shade as his hair.