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What Are Aesthetics?

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At first, Xiao never really understood the word. He has asked several people about what the word means, and the answers he receives makes him more and more confused.

Zhongli said that his aesthetics were just the simple glow of Geo, a viewpoint over the ocean, and to set an example is Luhua Pool.

He turned to Verr Goldet when she came to the balcony to give him some Almond Tofu. She had pondered on the thought before answering that the view from the balconies of their inn was her aesthetics.

When in training until it was getting late and before Ganyu left Nantianmen to get back to Liyue Harbor for any work, Xiao asked what her aesthetics were. And she answered with the dew on glaze lilies underneath the moonlight, and qingxin upon the peaks at Qingyun Peak, and the high stone mountains of Huaguang Stone Forest.

And he remembered when he first heard the word. It was told as a question from Guizhong. She had explained to him that her aesthetics were the mountains of Liyue, and if possibly, the peak that isn’t too short nor too high, shows the mountains of Liyue before it, and over yonder is the creeping sun for the morning day.

Xiao had trouble figuring out the answer for his own aethestics, his mind going in circles repeatedly.

He could figure one out, though. He has the time limit as to an immortal's.

〘🙖〙

Xiao blinked his eyes open when he felt something tuck behind his head, and he turned his head to see that he had a cecilia tucked behind his ear. Confused, he looks over to see a bright grin from the familiar bard from Mondstadt. More so, Mondstadt’s Anemo Archon.

“Lord Barbatos… Why?” Xiao asked, a tad flatly and unamused and the other just stuck his tongue out cheekily.

“Well, you seemed kind of lonely here. Besides, it’s not every day that you’re away from your post at Liyue to come visit here at Starsnatch Cliff.” Venti explains simply, walking around.

“And why were you here?” Xiao asked, standing up and facing the bard.

“Just picking some cecilias.” Venti answers and Xiao blinks and glances at the flower in his hair.

"Cecilias only grew up there at Starnatch, I was kind of glad that the three people that tend to be around the peak aren’t here this sunset evening.” Venti explains.

“Cecilias are kind of like qingxin if you think about it.” he adds.

“How is that?” Xiao raised an eyebrow slightly. Venti hums, thinking as he walked back up to him, his arms full of the flower.

“Well, qingxin and cecilias are somewhat rare within their nations, cecilias only grow here at Starsnatch within Mondstadt, and qingxin only grow on at the highest peaks of Liyue. And how I know that is of Mor-...” Venti paused for a moment and sighed slightly. “Zhongli telling me certain specifics of where the flowers grow.” he corrects himself. Xiao blinked before looking at the cecilia after plucking it off from behind his ear.

“You should come around more often.” Venti comments, slightly looking over his shoulder to smile at Xiao before he disappeared in the wind. Xiao stared after him, stray breezes brushing against his body before he looked down at the cecilia and put it back behind his ear and went to get back to the inn.

Cecilias and qingxin…

〘🙖〙

He sat on the ledge towards Liyue, smiling up at the floating lanterns released from the city, and he sighs in contentment, leaning back on his hands and staring at the sky scattered with lanterns and stars. Venti normally doesn't come by other nations to see such a beautiful scene, but he might as well come by and check up on what's been going on ever since Morax had passed and Zhongli born.

“Venti?”

He flinches slightly before peering over his shoulder and smiled to see Xiao standing there at the stone path, staring at him.

“Oh, Xiao! I see that you’ve come to take a closer look of the people releasing the lanterns, hm? I’ve brought some Almond Tofu with me, as well.”

Xiao stares at him before glancing away, walking over and taking a seat beside the bard. Venti hands him the plate of his favorite dish with a smile before looking back up at the sky. Xiao stares at the plate before glancing at Venti. His eyes of blue and green of almost jade reflected the gentle golden yellow glow emanating from the lanterns scattered above them, and Xiao couldn’t help but feel his cheeks warm as he stared.

Lanterns and Almond Tofu…

〘🙖〙

 

“Come on, I know the perfect spot.” Ganyu smiles, leading Xiao somewhere in Liyue. He had a slight frown, having to waste time on “trivial matters” but she insists that it’s something that he has to see. So she followed him all the way up to the peak of Guyun Stone Forest, and she had his eyes covered when they got to the wetlands.

“What is it that you are insisting on showing me?” he asked with a huff.

“Shh.” she hushes him, and Xiao growls slightly in retaliation.

Over the few days, Ganyu could tell that his karmic debt was getting to him again, and that it would weigh on his consequences soon, so she began looking for a solution. Thankfully, someone came to pitch in and help, not only the travelers of course. But she could tell the twins and their floating companion staring at the person in such surprise.

Xiao crossed his arms, waiting but he stopped when the melodies of a flute hit his ears. Ganyu smiled, uncovering his eyes as Xiao looked around.

“W-Where…” he whispers.

“Shhh…” Ganyu hushed him quickly. Xiao blinked and looked over and stared to see that Zhongli and Childe were also there, and he glared at the Harbinger before rolling his eyes and looking around before seeing something down. Ganyu smiles as she nudges Xiao towards the sound. The Yaksha blinked at the secretary.

"Come on, this is your moment!" she whispers in excitement. "We promise that we will not interfere." She raises her right had with a smile on her face. Xiao blinks at her before silently teleports over to the shore. He stood knee deep in the waters and stiffened when Venti turned around, but saw a gentle expression on his face.

“Are you feeling better, dear Alatus?” he asks with a coo. Xiao blinks at him before nodding his head, glancing away before smiling quietly at him, wading through the waters until he was sitting down beside Venti. The bard smiles, letting the other rest his head on his shoulder, and Venti continues playing 

“I think… I know the answer to my question.” Xiao whispers, Venti humming in confusion.

“Cecilias, qingxin, lanterns, Almond Tofu,” Venti slightly snickers at that, making Xiao pause in his words until Venti allows him to continue. “The flute…” he turns his head to face Venti, their noses brushing in the process. “And you.” Venti blinked.

“Eh?” he asked, and Xiao just sighs but allowed a slight chuckle to fall past his lips.

“I’ve asked questions thousands of years ago of what my aesthetics were. I did not know what she meant by that.” He looked at Venti as he blinked at him. “But I’ve found my answer,” he said.

Venti blinked at him several times before his face went multiple shades of red that it rivaled against the red of either a jueyun chili or a windwheel aster. Possibly both. “You-! You are such a smooth talker.” Venti sputters.

“You know I’m not great with my words.” Xiao mumbles shyly. Venti could only laugh and kiss him.

"I must disagree with such a statement, my dear." he comments after pulling away and stands up. “Well, it’s getting pretty late. I know that you don’t sleep, being an adeptus and all. But just for tonight, how about you try the concept of sleeping?” Venti smiles at him, holding a hand to him.

Xiao blinks at him before he sighs and takes his hand, and Venti helps him up and the pair teleport away.

〘🙖〙

“Did we just get ditched?” Childe comments but Lumine cuts him off with a fist square middle of his face, still keeping her big smile as Paimon claps her hands with Ganyu.

“How about we head back to the harbor? I could treat to you all to a meal” Ganyu suggests. Paimon immediately agreed, both Lumine and Aether glaring at their flying companion.

"Me or you?" Childe grins.

“Let's not disrespect Miss Ganyu's decision now, Childe. That would be greatly appreciated.” Zhongli agrees, a fond smile on his face.