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Of course Chongyun knew the entire thing had been a huge gamble to take. Hell, if his pure-yang spirit had anything to say about the entirety of it all, he would definitely stray from doing anything even remotely like this. But archons knew the urge to do at least something regarding a few... rather specific thoughts just wouldn’t come to a halt, no matter how hard he would try. So best to grab the bull by the horns, right?

It’s been a few days since Chongyun had managed to deliver the package, weeks since he’d spent more Mora than he’d initially planned on, and actually made the order. The owner of the small establishment he’d visited had merely sent him a knowing smile, likely assuming something far from the actual truth. Because well, the truth did seem rather... out of the ordinary, so to say.

A part of the exorcist still can’t believe that he’d actually pulled through with it, while another part of him silently thanks him for it, and then... then, there’s the part of him that’s currently bubbling over with anxiety, the fact that it had been days since he’d delivered the package to someone’s doorstep repeatedly ringing inside his head as a constant reminder. He just really, really hopes someone else hadn’t come to open it, Chongyun can only imagine the confusion followed by likely just throwing the entire gift away. Although, was it really a gift? He assumes it could be referred to as one, gifting a person something surely falls under that category. Not like he’d actually let the other know that it had been him who’d bought and delivered the entire thing.

He’s currently sitting next to Xingqiu, underneath one of the many trees surrounding the weird stone plate they’d found earlier. Xingqiu’s head in his lap, him reading one of the many books he owns, or perhaps even a new one? Chongyun had admittedly lost track a long time ago.

His best friend sighs and closes his eyes, only to open them again shortly after to stare up at Chongyun. Glowing ambers seem to be scanning his face, searching for something, whatever something might be, before fixing on a specific spot. A smile makes its way on Xingqiu’s face. “This is nice,” he sighs again, and Chongyun settles on nodding instead of actually replying.

It was nice, would be in any case, if his thoughts weren’t currently waging some kind of war over how to feel or whether to say something regarding the entire ordeal. Then again, saying something likely wouldn’t end well, would rather border on embarrassing or even humiliating.

Suddenly a frown spreads on his friend’s face and Chongyun knows Xingqiu has found whatever he’d been looking for earlier. Xingqiu huffs, closes his book and narrows his eyes at him, and Chongyun admittedly doesn’t know what to say. Seemingly he doesn’t have to though, since Xingqiu gets up rather abruptly, not even leaving the exorcist the chance to reply before he raises his voice. “I would love for you to visit later today, I just remembered that I have some matters to attend to,” he says, and Chongyun can feel himself frowning at the remark.

Xingqiu laughs quietly before rubbing his neck sheepishly and staring off into the distance. “I know, I know, it does seem quite sudden. If you do show up, I’ll make sure to explain everything to you though! Now come,” he dangles one of his hands in front of Chongyun’s face and the exorcist can’t help but sigh as well, before grabbing it and pulling himself upright. Archons know what his friend was up to or currently thinking about, but it’s not like Chongyun to prod. Perhaps this could even prove itself to be beneficial to him, a chance for him to clear his head a little, before visiting his friend later today.

 

It turns out that no, spending hours on your own strays far from being actually beneficial to one’s inner turmoil. Chongyun doesn’t even know what to feel or think at this point, whether his gift had evidently just been a huge mistake or whether it had even arrived in the right person’s hands in the first place, speaking of...

The exorcist takes a deep breath, stepping closer to one of the nearby servants currently guarding the door. They send him a quick nod of recognition before moving aside to let the exorcist step inside. His thoughts were still a mess, scratch that, he himself was a mess. Chongyun isn’t sure why exactly, but he feels as if his current situation is at least somewhat related to the reason he’s feeling so on edge in the first place. Especially since Xingqiu hadn’t invited him to his home ever since he’d-

“There you are!” And before he knows it Xingqiu is standing in the doorframe, already smiling up at him before stepping aside to beckon the exorcist inside. He closes the wooden door behind him before walking over to the exorcist and grabbing his hand, guiding him over to one of the many very expensive looking seats inside his huge bedroom.

“I’ve been asking myself whether you’d gotten lost or anything of the like,” Xingqiu says, and Chongyun has to stop himself from rolling his eyes. “It’s not like you ever clarified when exactly I was supposed to show up,” he mumbles in response, but Xingqiu just laughs again at the reply, the sound light and sweet, before adjusting his position so that he’s facing the exorcist. He tilts his head and sighs, “That is true, perhaps... perhaps I’ve just been a bit too excited to show you something?”

No, no, Chongyun’s heart definitely does not somersault at the remark nor does it start beating even faster than before nor does his head feels like it’s going to explode any second now what the hell. “Ah, dear Chongyun, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost.” Oh, how much he wishes he actually could but that’s not the point right now is it-

The exorcist clears his throat, aiming to regain at least a bit of his composure and tries offering his friend something even remotely close to a reassuring smile (he feels like he’s currently failing quite miserably). “I apologise, there’s uh been a lot on my mind recently.” Xingqiu hums slightly in response before standing up.

“Perhaps I should just carry out my initial planning then,” he says, and the exorcist nods as a reply, admittedly not even paying attention to the other’s words, currently too occupied with desperately calming and especially getting his thoughts to shut up. Before he knows it Xingqiu scurries off to one of the corners of his room, mostly hidden behind a large room divider and a few plants.

“Close your eyes!”

Chongyun does as told, still aiming to manage his thoughts and additionally regulate his breathing, his yang spirit already acting up at this point, and if this situation is headed to where he thinks it is, then- Then buying the damn item for his curiosity’s sake was probably the biggest mistake he’s done so far in his 17 years of age. It should’ve been more than clear to him that this could possibly only end in a huge disaster and Chongyun doesn’t even want to think about how his friend, his best friend, Xingqiu, would possibly react to it, but archons, this is likely what this is all about, isn’t it? A part of him knew, knew the moment Xingqiu had began scanning his face for a trace of gods know what, that he’d likely been caught, that his friend knew about what he’d done.

Chongyun is close to contemplating whether to just bolt out of the entire establishment, to leave Liyue Harbour and settle to live somewhere else completely so he’d never have to see his friend again (a part of him knows he wouldn’t be able to survive without Xingqiu though).

The exorcist had been so lost in thought that he hadn’t heard the light patter of feet approaching, nor the slight rustling of fabric.

“Chongyun.”

He nearly startles at Xingqiu’s voice, so up close he can nearly feel the other’s breath on his skin. It’s quiet for a moment, but then there’s the faintest touch on his chin, tilting it upwards and he swears his heart stops at the touch. “Open your eyes.” He does as he’s told once again and thus obliges, only to end up staring into a pair of glowing ambers before his gaze dips lower, and he can feel his heart stop beating at the sight he’s greeted with.

Out of the corner of his eye Chongyun can make out a smug grin spreading on his friend’s face, and he takes a step backwards, the light blue and golden fabric swishing softly at the motion and Chongyun’s eyes must have the size of saucers at this point while his skin feels like it’s positively burning.

“So it really was you then?”

Chongyun doesn’t know what to make of the other’s question, no emotions betraying his intent or thoughts, and he merely opens his mouth only to close it again shortly after, likely resembling a fish without water, which admittedly? He does feel like at this point.

“Gifting me a dress? Really now Chongyun?”

Once again he can’t bring himself to reply, and when Xingqiu’s face morphs into a frown he can feel his heart sink and stutter at the sight.

“Tell me Chongyun, are you mocking me?”

His breath catches inside his throat and the exorcist is about to stand up to reassure his friend that no, that was definitely far from what he’d been thinking all those weeks ago, when Xingqiu takes a step forward, the smile from earlier back on his face, as he seats himself right on his lap. Xingqiu straddles him in the motion, and if Chongyun’s skin felt like it had been burning before, then it surely must be aflame at the moment.

Xingqiu merely laughs as he wraps his arms around the exorcist’s neck, an amused smile gracing his features. Then Xingqiu moves again, and suddenly his lips are right next to the shell of his ear, softly grazing the sensitive skin there, before a whisper, so quiet he would’ve missed it if they weren’t so close, leaves him.

Are you aiming to get back at me?”

Chongyun pulls back immediately at the words. “Xingqiu I promise that’s not-“

Then there’s something, no, Xingqiu’s lips on his own, pushing him back and causing him to fall backwards against the soft fabric of the settee. When his body hits the fabric, Xingqiu pulls back, seating himself upright as laughter bubbles out of him. Though Chongyun feels as if he’d just died and come back to life he can’t keep himself from joining his friend, loud laughter escaping him until he eventually runs out of breath and closes his eyes. He sighs before opening them again, staring into twinkling ambers above him and archons Xingqiu must be the prettiest being he’s ever seen.

“Pretty? That’s all you can think of? How about... hmm,” Xingqiu raises a finger to his lips in a contemplative manner before tilting his head slightly, “mesmerising? Enthralling? Ravishing?”

“I-“

“Oh, you weren’t intending to say that out loud? A shame really, considering I think you’re rather striking myself.”

And even though there are currently a hundred questions and remarks swirling around inside of him the only one he’s able to muster is;

“How did you know?”

Xingqiu’s smile softens a bit as he huffs quietly, his eyes roaming the exorcist’s face before settling on the fabric right next to him instead. “I didn’t actually. I mean, naturally the answer to the question as to who would send me a dress is rather unusual itself but... I wasn’t sure.”

“You weren’t- Then why-“

Now his friend rolls his eyes before leaning towards him. “To get a rise out of you. And I can declare that I succeeded as well!” What? No, surely that can’t be it. Chongyun’s shifts a bit to steady himself on his elbows, aiming to not just lie on the soft fabric. “I don’t believe you,” he says, which causes his friend’s eyes to snap back to him, and before Chongyun realises what he’s doing he’s tucking one of Xingqiu’s hair strands behind his ear, proceeding to gently cup his cheek after. “I doubt that’s why you did it. I think... I think you were hoping it was me who sent it to you.” And because he can be bashful and perhaps a bit foolish himself, he doesn’t even give his friend the chance to reply before connecting their lips once again.

He swears he can hear the other shriek at the action and a smiles creeps on his face, but then Xingqiu’s lips move against his own and he starts tilting his head slightly, giving Chongyun the chance to deepen the kiss. Which, he does, but his inexperience makes itself known after a while, as he has to pull back way too early in order to catch his breath. Xingqiu seems to be in a similar situation as he breathes quite heavily when they pull apart, letting himself fall forward and thus on top of Chongyun, only to bury his face in his neck right after.

It almost comes natural to comb his fingers through his friend’s silky strands, eliciting a small humming noise from the other by doing so. “Don’t fall asleep on me,” Chongyun mumbles, causing Xingqiu to laugh lightly. “Well, what if I do? Not as if you could stop me.” The exorcist just rolls his eyes. “You’d crumple the dress.”

Just as expected Xingqiu pulls back immediately at the remark, glaring down at him in an offended manner before taking in the exorcist’s grin, recognition hitting him not shortly after. “I despise you for that.”

“For what? Tricking you for once?”

Xingqiu just groans and rolls his eyes, shifting a bit before ultimately moving off of Chongyun and standing back up, clearing invisible dust off his dress before eventually giving up and heaving an exaggerated sigh. Chongyun thinks that despite, no, especially with the pout currently gracing his friend’s features he looks positively adorable and it’s only then that he realises they’d never actually addressed the entire bizarreness of their current situation. “Xingqiu I-“

“No!”

Chongyun can feel his eyes widen at the remark and Xingqiu turns towards him, shooting him an apologetic smile before flailing his arms in the air. “Listen, can we just- Do this after I change out of... this?”

He feels himself raising an eyebrow. “You don’t like it?”

“Chongyun, that’s not the point.”