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Man Is Not Made for Defeat

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"Something wrong?"

Eula blinked, staring up at Kaeya's teasing expression with surprise. Glancing around her, she realised belatedly that the meeting room they were in was unexpectedly empty. How odd, considering that the last thing she remembered was Captain Albedo in the middle of describing some project he was working on with Sucrose.

Had she really missed half the meeting from daydreaming? This was unbecoming of her.

At her silence, Kaeya’s smile shifted into mild concern, and he sat down on the chair across from her.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Kaeya prompted softly, and suddenly, it wasn’t the smug Calvary Captain Kaeya Alberich that was in front of her, but the ever-reliable and considerate big-brother Kaeya.

Eula exhaled.

If anyone knew how to resolve her conundrum, it would be him - she’s heard the way the junior knights gushed about him after all, and witnessed for herself the way recruits tended to pause in their movements whenever Kaeya walked past them, regardless of whether his attention was on the papers in his hands or on them.

Eula was doubtful that there was someone more charming than Captain Kaeya in all of Mondstadt.

She nodded, her voice painfully hesitant despite herself, “I have a problem.”

Admitting she needed help was not an easy thing after all, and she folded her arms and legs, her brows furrowed in thought.

“Go on,” Kaeya said encouragingly, and Eula nodded again.

“Outrider Amber has been an incredible source of frustration for me in recent times.”

Kaeya blinked, and Eula shifted, frowning again because, no, that wasn’t entirely accurate, was it?

Even so, where should she start? Eula closed her eyes to bring to mind the neat lines of notes that she had written in her journal, the well-worn words accumulated over the last few months surfacing easily from familiarity.

“On the first day of my arrival, Outrider Amber took it upon herself to clean my dormitory in the barracks and gave me a tour of the headquarters. The next day, she brought me to Good Hunter for lunch - she even treated me to Sticky Honey Roast! And everyday after that, Outrider Amber continued to take me out to lunch at different places in Mondstadt, telling me that it was important that I learnt where the best places for food were! And everytime I offered to pay, Outrider Amber had somehow beaten me to it! Can you imagine that - me, a noble descendant of the Lawrence family, letting someone else treat me to food? And it’s not just that! Every time she saw me in the hallways, Outrider Amber would offer to help even when unnecessary, like carrying my stuff for me even though I am much stronger than she was, or offer to get me a cup of tea when the cafeteria was just around the corner, or even, or even-”

Eula found her voice faltering, her face warm as she thought about the way Amber’s bright smile was always directed at her with eagerness.

“And… you want her to stop?” Kaeya said slowly, and Eula jumped, eyes wide.

“No!” Eula rushed to say, “I mean, I don’t know! It’s embarrassing.”

“Embarrassing?”

“Every time I look at Outrider Amber, I feel - I feel my heart rate pick up like I’m ready for battle, my skin warm like the blaze of her Pyro vision was being exerted over me,” Eula pressed a hand to her face, shamefully desperate to hide behind it, feeling her ears burn as recalling those memories alone was enough to bring them out into full force, “and yet nothing I do seems to fluster her in return! This indignation cannot stand! As such, I must make her pay!”

Across from her, Kaeya remained thoughtfully silent, and Eula hesitated, wondering if this confession was a mistake.

In the end, Kaeya clapped his hands, smiling gently at her.

“I see. And just to be clear, how would you like to make her pay?”

Eula was glad he asked, because she’s only been mulling over this for the last few weeks, “for my revenge, I am going to make Outrider Amber blush, stutter and weak in her knees! Outrider Amber must experience for herself what she does to me - this is the vengeance I deem suitable! And this is why, despite my unwillingness, I must turn to you for help, Captain Kaeya.”

“Ah.”

“Precisely,” Eula nodded, feeling emboldened, “I have observed for myself the way you turn heads both in the Ordo and around Mondstadt, the way a room stills in admiration whenever you enter it. If I learn the ways of your charm, Captain Kaeya, then I too will be able to induce the same reactions in Outrider Amber, and so I kindly request for your assistance in this matter. And in exchange, I…”

Eula paused. What could she offer to Captain Kaeya?

As if reading her thoughts, Kaeya smiled lightly at her, his eye twinkling in amusement, “let’s think about that later, Captain Eula. For now, I would be glad to help.”


Captain Kaeya’s “help” turned out to involve meeting him at Angel’s Share in the evening, and when Eula arrived, he was already sitting at the bar counter, his posture relaxed as he raised a glass at her when he saw her.

“Ah, here we are. First things first, drink this.”

Kaeya slid a short glass of honeyed yellow liquid towards her. The rich aroma of Death Afternoon filled her lungs as she sniffed it, and she took a sip gratefully before settling neatly down next to him.

On the other side of the bar, the Angel Share’s owner and manager, Diluc Ragnvindr, pretended his attention was on the already dry wine glass he was still wiping.

“Not that I am unappreciative of a good drink,” Eula said politely, “but I am curious about the reason behind it. After all, you promised a lesson for me.”

“Lessons like these are easier after imbibing a little something,” Kaeya said cheerfully, waving a finger around as he downed what looked like his third drink for the evening, “by the way, I’ve asked Outrider Amber to be here in thirty minutes, and you should know she’s quite the stickler for punctuality.”

“Captain Kaeya!” Eula frowned in displeasure, “isn’t that - isn’t that too soon?”

“What, don’t think you can handle the challenge?” Kaeya teased, and Eula huffed.

“Preposterous,” she said in disdain, the thought of backing down so utterly incredulous to her as she tossed her hair back in acceptance, “and I will be sure to do it perfectly too.”

“Excellent. Now, to start. Charm begins with confidence, so take a look at yourself. Do you have that?”

“Of course!” Eula said defensively, “I do bear the pride of the Lawrence clan, after all.”

Kaeya seemed to consider it with some degree of scepticism, but he nodded eventually, “I suppose there’s that. Next - intimacy is always a good thing in such a situation, so as you approach your target, think about your physical proximity to them. In general, the closer the better.”

Eula nodded. That made sense after all - Outrider Amber always leaned in close whenever she spotted Eula, and the way her skin was just a hair’s breadth away always sent tingles of electricity through her. In this regard, Kaeya’s logic seemed sound.

“Once you have your target’s attention, it is important that you maintain eye contact - intimacy goes beyond physical closeness after all - and doing so ensures their attention remains on you,” Kaeya waved for a refill of his drink before continuing, “are you with me so far? Oh, and finish your drink.”

Eula did as she was told, turning Kaeya’s words over in her mind. That too, seemed logical. Outrider Amber was always watching her closely, so much so that Eula could recall the precise shade of those bright brown eyes with certain clarity. It’s a thought that made her skin warm again, and when Kaeya handed her a drink, she threw it down quickly, wanting to temper the blush that she knew was rising up.

Smoothly, Kaeya replaced the empty glass in her hand with another drink as he spoke, “once you’ve established those three things with your target, tell them what you like about them.”

Eula frowned, staring down at the liquid in her glass. She could list at least a dozen things she liked about Amber off the top of her head, but, “what if - what if there’s too many of those?”

“Hmm,” Kaeya sniffed in consideration, “then you pick the thing you like the most.”

“I see,” Eula commented. It was probably Amber’s smile, Eula said to herself, before nodding in agreement. The haze of the alcohol was starting to settle in her mind, and she distantly remembered that she had forgotten to eat dinner before coming here. Still, even though the fogginess creeping into her thoughts, Eula was certain that she was coming to understand this lesson well, “Thank you, Captain Kaeya. I believe I am enlightened -”

“Ah, excellent.”

“- so I suppose all that’s left would be a practical demonstration before we finish this lesson off.”

Kaeya paused in his movements, the glass in his hand held halfway en route to his mouth, “… a practical demonstration?”

“Precisely,” Eula nodded, finishing off the drink in her hand, welcoming the light-headed tipsiness that it brought with it, “isn’t that customary? As far as I am aware, the training lessons that we have with the recruits always featured something of the sort.”

Beside her, Kaeya blinked, “I… suppose?”

“Exactly,” Eula hiccoughed, hopeful that it didn’t diminish the weight of her words, “but not to worry. You only have to show it to me once, and I promise I will have it committed to memory.”

Kaeya cleared his throat, his voice now low, “I mean, I understand, but - but there’s no one around.”

“Master Diluc’s around,” Eula whispered pointedly, waving vaguely in the direction of the bar, “I’ll - I’ll do all of your paperwork for the next week. Please. I want to be sure that I do this perfectly.”

“Yes, but Master Diluc is -” Kaeya hissed back, like it should explain everything, “Master Diluc.

Eula, squinted, frowned at him, “Is that code for something? I don’t understand.”

“And I’m right here,” Diluc said suddenly, causing the both of them to jump, “and I can hear you both.”

Eula looked at Kaeya again, levelling a pointed stare - or, as much as she could anyway - at him, “two weeks,” she counter-offered.

Instead of looking at her, Kaeya stared down at the wooden grain of the bar counter. Several long minutes passed before he seemed to concede, finishing off his drink before standing on the footrest of his bar stool to lean himself across the bar counter.

Right, so that’s physical intimacy, Eula nodded to herself.

Before her, Kaeya swallowed, slightly red-faced from the drinks he had been throwing back in quick succession over the course of the evening. Kaeya offered her a weak smile before turning to face Diluc, though his eyes remained cast at a point somewhere on the wall behind Diluc.

“Right, uh, Diluc, I-”

“Eye contact, Captain Kaeya!” Eula prompted helpfully. Maybe Kaeya’s had too much to drink? Still, it was good to know that he wasn’t entirely infallible, and she filed that note away for future reference.

“Oh, uh, of course.” Kaeya cleared his throat, pressing a hand onto the bar counter to keep himself steady, “Diluc, I…”

Kaeya trailed off, momentarily silent as he stared at Diluc, wide-eyed.

Mentally, Eula marked eye-contact off her list as well.

“You do recall what’s next, don’t you,” Diluc said dryly as he folded his arms, “all you have to do is recall your words from five minutes ago.”

“I know what I said,” Kaeya said waspishly, not sounding very flirty at all, and yet somehow, Diluc chuckled anyway. Eula wondered if that was a strategy specific to Kaeya, or if it was something she could pull off as well.

Diluc huffed, a smirk pulling at the corner of his lips, “Knights of Favonius, always so inefficient. Why don’t I show you how it’s done? Miss Eula, please make sure you watch carefully.”

Eula sat up in attention, observing the way Diluc leaned into Kaeya’s space, his hand coming up to cup Kaeya’s cheek.

“Kaeya,” Diluc said lightly, the taciturn sharpness Eula had come to associate with him barely observable in that moment, “I love the way your words melt in my ears.”

Kaeya inhaled audibly, his breath hitching, “Diluc?”

“I love the softness of your gaze when you think no one else is looking. I love how you pay attention to the most minute of detail, how you always readily lend a hand to people in Mond.”

“Ah, Diluc, I-” Kaeya said hoarsely, and Diluc continued on with little regard.

“I love the shape of your hips, the curve of your thigh. I love the way you tremble when I-”

“Diluc!” Kaeya exclaimed, red-faced, pushing a hand feebly at Diluc to get him to stop.

Diluc smirked, turning his attention back to Eula as the bell to the tavern door chimed, “looks like you’re up. I hope this proved to be adequately instructional.”

“Extraordinarily,” Eula nodded. Well, it didn’t seem like Captain Kaeya turned out to be much of a teacher, but she got her lesson out of him in the end.

“Captain Kaeya? Captain Eula?” Amber’s familiar voice sounded, and Diluc pulled Kaeya over the counter and into his arms, ignoring the way Kaeya cried out in surprise as he did.

“I’ll give the two of you a minute,” Diluc said before pausing, “rather, make it five.”

And then Captain Kaeya was dragged away into a backroom, leaving Eula alone with Amber.

“What was that about?” Amber said aloud in wonder, and Eula inhaled, steeling herself as she turned to face her.

“Outrider Amber,” Eula commanded dizzily, turning on Amber and leaning in close enough to trace the pale constellation of freckles on her cheek.

“Cap - Captain Eula?”

“Outrider Amber,” Eula repeated. Were her words slurring a little? No matter, she had a mission to complete, and when Amber seemed to waver in her vision, she reached out to grip Amber’s wrist in her hand, holding her close, “I have something to tell you.”

Physical intimacy and eye contact - check. Eula noted with satisfaction the Amber’s eyes widened in way Captain Kaeya’s did, and she pressed on, pleased at the progress she’s made in just half an hour.

“Your smile…” Eula started, “is very… cute. I like it.”

“Captain!?” Amber exclaimed, a bright blush spreading across her skin - Eula considered that a marker of her success and she continued, emboldened.

“I like your hair too. And your smell,” Ah, what else was on that list Eula had written in her journal? “your shoulder? I like your shoulder too. Can I - can I rest on it?”

Wordlessly, Amber nodded, and Eula leaned forward, fitting perfectly in the crook of her neck, exhaling sleepily.

“Good. I just - I just need a moment’s rest,” Eula yawned, pulling Amber close in her arms. Amber’s warmth was so welcoming too, and surely no one would berudge her for this momentary indulgence as she let herself be pulled into the lull of Amber’s rapidly beating heart.

Ah, the extra paperwork would be absolutely worth it.