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rubies and amber

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Golden light streamed through the windows of the small, yet eclectic apartment. Faintly, Diluc could hear the hustle and bustle of Liyue’s marketplace, humming with life even this early in the morning. He nestled further into his pillow. He wanted to block out the sound, block out the whole world even. He didn’t want anything to end this moment. If only he had the artistic skill of his father, he’d paint it, every detail and shade and tender touch, so he could keep it with him at all times. Sadly, all DIluc could do was cherish the present and lie there. Tucked into the strong, safe embrace of his lover.

Zhongli’s head rested on his shoulder, his body curving around Diluc’s perfectly. It was as though they were two puzzle pieces finally reunited. Both had taken their hair out of its signature ponytail. Diluc carefully let go of Zhongli’s hand, reaching out for that amber hair of his. It was soft, so soft that he thought it a mirage, a dream, a trick of the light. He brought the strand of hair to his face, breathing in the strong smell of glaze lilies and osmanthus that was unremarkably Zhongli. Diluc smiled, nuzzling further into Zhongli’s embrace. The smell surrounded him and he felt at home.

The embrace around Diluc grew tighter as Zhongli stretched. Ah, he’s waking up.

“Mm...good morning darling,” Zhongli whispered in his ear, that voice deeper and raspier than normal. Diluc felt his heart jump and prayed Zhongli was still asleep enough to not notice his racing heartbeat.

“Morning honey. How’d you sleep?”

Zhongli held him even closer, letting out a low hum. “I always sleep well when you’re here, my dear.”

Diluc slowly turned around so he was pressed against Zhongli’s glowing chest. He placed a hand over Zhongli’s heartbeat and found it was racing just as fast. Zhongli smiled, bringing Diluc in for a soft kiss. Zhongli faintly tasted like the wine he drank last night and even though Diluc hated the taste of alcohol, tasting it on Zhongli’s lips was intoxicating.

The two lied there for a while, drinking in the moment and each other’s warmth.

“Diluc, as much as I love this, I fear I may need to start getting ready for work,” Zhongli said, stroking Diluc’s hair.

“…Can't you stay just a bit longer?”

Zhongli smiled and planted a kiss on the top of Diluc’s head.

“I would love nothing more, but Director Hu would drop my salary even lower if I was late again.”

Diluc rested his head on his shoulder. “mmm...but between me and childe, do you really have to work?”

The archon laughed, a low, deep timbre that shook Diluc's very soul.

“I must start getting ready love.”

He slowly peeled Diluc off of him as he slumped against the bed, holding onto Zhongli’s waist as he tried to get up.

“You’re awfully clingy this morning, is something the matter?”

“I just…don’t want this moment to end.”

“I promise you I’ll return safe and sound at the end of the workday. And then we can lie here again, soaking up each other’s love.”

Diluc felt irrational, he shouldn’t be getting sad over Zhongli going to work, but he couldn’t bear being alone right now. He felt Zhongli slowly unwrap his arms from around his waist.

Standing before him, Diluc could see every tattoo and glowing mark on Zhongli’s back.

Oh, how he just wanted to pull Zhongli back into bed and kiss those glowing geo marks.

He watched yearningly as his lover got ready for work. Ignoring the small pile of clothes on the floor, Zhongli opened his closet. He selected a different shirt from his normal tan one. It was a deep red color, unlike anything he’d ever seen on Zhongli before. With it, he selected ruby cufflinks and accessories and shrugged on a thin, dark coat.

This one looked cold to the touch. Shiny and impeccable, with designs like dragon scales. Little traces of gold shone through the scales. With it on, Diluc could obviously tell his lover was Morax in the flesh.

“What’s the occasion?” Diluc asked, hugging one of Zhonglis shirts (he’d snatched it off the ground).

Zhongli smiled, slowly turning the full-length mirror he’d been using. Diluc stared back at himself in the mirror. His hair was messy and fluffy, fanning around him like fire. His eyes vaguely shimmered with tears like…rubies...

“I wanted to..symbolize that even when I’m gone, I’m taking you with me,” Zhongli said. He was…sheepish?

“Zhongli I-“

“That being said, red is certainly not my color.” He chuckled, giving himself a look in the mirror.

Diluc looked at the two of them in the mirror; Zhongli’s deep browns and ambers and Diluc's shades of red. They made a rather handsome pair.

“I think it looks wonderful on you…”

Zhongli stopped and Diluc could see his face tinge red in the mirror. ‘I was right, truly a fantastic color’. He looked down at his reflection and smiled.

“Well, if you think so, that’s all that matters to me.”