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FebuWhump: Day 24

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Kaeya crouched outside as he buried his wet face in his hands.

It was currently storming and it would be stupid for the captain to be out tonight unless he wanted to catch a cold or be struck by lightning. He barely even flinched as thunder rolled through the sky and he even saw a bright flash through his fingers, lightning having struck precariously close to where he was kneeling on the ground.

He knew he should go back inside, but he couldn’t bring himself to even get up.

It was too much.

Jean had assigned Kaeya to be Diluc’s guard despite his protests. It wasn’t that Kaeya hadn’t wanted Diluc to be safe or didn’t want to protect him, he would definitely have done it any other time. But when he had walked into the office and had seen Diluc sitting in front of her desk, he had been expecting him to turn around and hurl abuse at him like he usually did.

Not to turn around and give him a blinding smile.

Diluc had been nothing but sweet the entire meeting and afterwards, Kaeya had dragged her into a side room and demanded to know why Diluc was being creepy. All she had to say was that he had a little accident that had led to him being unconscious for three days and had just woken up and started acting like this.

Apparently, Diluc had forgotten the past four to five years of his life and had been surprised that Jean had been the Acting Grand Master and still believed himself to be the Cavalry Captain. She convinced him to keep the lie going, even though it sat bitter at the back of his throat.

He didn’t like the idea of lying to Diluc again.

At least not about something this serious.

Kaeya wound up escorting Diluc back to Dawn Winery where the employees had already been informed of Diluc’s condition. They were quick to hustle him inside and Kaeya had almost turned around and left, but was quickly stopped by Diluc’s bewildered call, asking him where he was going.

Before Kaeya could protest, the older man had grabbed him by the wrist and dragged him inside. He didn’t miss how some of the maids sent him weary looks. Adelinde herself looked at him more with pity than fear, having been around ever since he and Diluc had been small. She probably knew more than she let on.

The evening was spent doing anything Diluc wanted, just like when they were children. Not that their teen years had been very different.

At first, Kaeya hadn’t really minded, though he had felt uncomfortable. However, as the night went on, he found himself unable to meet those bright red eyes. They were so different from the ones that shone in anger and betrayal that Kaeya had grown used to.

It hurt.

Every kind word, every pat on the back, every smile.

He couldn’t take it much longer.

The second Diluc had laid himself down for bed in his childhood bed, Kaeya had quickly ran from the Winery. While he hadn’t left the grounds, he was far away enough that the staff – or even Diluc’s sharp eye – would be able to find him.

And now here he knelt in the pouring rain, choking on his own breath with his hair and clothes plastered to his skin. He hadn’t felt like this since the first night Diluc had abandoned him; when it had finally sunk in that he had no family once again.

That he was all alone.

He felt like scratching at his skin, pulling on his hair until it all came out. Anything to make the feeling go away. Everything seemed to hurt too much. He could feel the mud give away to his knees as he sunk further into the ground. He couldn’t bring himself to care at the moment, though he knew he'd be upset at the bill he'd get from the cleaners later.

But at the moment, all he felt was tired. Tired of pretending everything was okay, of lying that he wasn’t bothered at all, seeing Diluc smile and laugh like the past few years had never happened. He was just lucky that the older man hadn’t asked about Crepus yet. He wouldn’t be able to witness his brother’s world shatter a third time.

Weariness was now making him lightheaded and he already knew that he wouldn’t be able to stay awake for much longer.

With one final prayer to Barbatos, Kaeya felt himself slump over onto the ground – felt the freezing mud splatter on his face – as he finally caved in. He could have sworn he saw something red in the distance, a familiar voice calling his name, but he couldn’t be bothered to hang on any longer as he let himself slip away.

He hoped he didn’t dream tonight.