⠀ ⠀zhongli⠀[intertwined]

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I know this is slightly shorter than some of my other ones IM SORRY
Enjoy tho

🥔 Potato in Italics

"If we hurry, we can make it to the train!" you called out, trying to turn your head to see where Zhongli was.

The crowds in the station were unfortunately large and you had to push your way forcefully through the endless oceans of clothing and humidity. Zhongli was close behind, tall enough to see above the rows of heads and hence act as a navigator. You had visited a museum with him, since he mentioned he had never been to one. Needless to say, the two of you had spent a very long time there and lost track of time. His surprising amount of knowledge had kept you captivated for hours - to your dismay now.

Your phone was ringing and you knew it was probably Childe, Aether or Lumine calling to check why you were running late. You were stressed beyond belief because you were someone who was always on time, no matter what. You liked to keep true to any promises you made, no matter how ridiculous.

In your frustration, you caught a glimpse of Zhongli trailing behind. Upon seeing his restful gaze, you managed to take deeper and steadier breaths. It would be okay. As he noticed you, you gave you a smile and his pace sped up to walk beside you. His hand intertwined with yours as he nodded towards his left. Trusting his sense of direction, you let him pull you across the bustling hallway and down a staircase. If it wasn't for the fast paced atmosphere, you would have taken the time to ponder his actions.

All you could focus on was the train that had just arrived and dodging the opposing crowd. You caught a glimpse of the station screens, confirming that it was the right platform. That was all you needed to take the lead, dragging Zhongli faster down the stairs. The two of you ran as you hopped down the last few steps and pushed into a small space in a train carriage.

"Phew," you wheezed, watching as the carriage doors shut.

Zhongli chuckled and his chest hummed with the sound. You knew that because his torso was right in front of you. Just like the station, the train was also packed with people. The humidity was worse and his proximity didn't help. As you began to cool off, a familiar ringtone joined the chattering groups of people and you went to reach for it in your pocket, only to realise that your hand was still being held by Zhongli.

He realised this and released your hand rather solemnly as he apologised, "My bad."

You managed to pick up the call in time and was greeted by Aether's lovely screech of agony. Childe shouted something in the background and quickly, Lumine took over the phone, You looked up to Zhongli, a dumb smile on your face. His golden eyes held humour as he studied your expression, then it became understanding.

"Hey Lumine," you greeted, moving the phone away from your ear slightly.

"Y/N!" she responded, voice holding undertones of desperation. She sighed and fretted, "Please save me from these two idiots, I don't think I'll live much-"

Her voice cut away, replaced by that of Aether who denied the claims. The phone was passed along their voices multiple times and you shook your head in disbelief. Even more unexpectedly, a hand reached out to take the phone gently from your grasp. Honey eyes twinkled as the situation came to Zhongli's realisation.

"Y/N and I will arrive shortly later," he informed, "so for now please stay alive."

With that, he ended the call before any of them could complain further. You smiled, muffling your laugh with a hand.

"It's almost as if the two of us are their disappointed parents," he stated quietly, a smile dancing upon his lips.

You froze for a split second and the words repeated slowly in your head. You snapped out of your daydreaming to retrieve your phone back while mumbling an agreement. But as your fingers clasped the edge of your phone, the train suddenly jolted and you stumbled forward. A surprised yelp left your mouth but it was quickly cut off by your face planting itself into Zhongli's chest. Almost automatically, his arms came around you, holding you steady in place.

"Careful there," he teased as he moved his arms to wrap around you more comfortably.

"Thanks," you said in a small voice, face burning.

You tried to shuffle away, but his grip only tightened and you felt him shake his head above you.

"I would not find appreciation in seeing you stumble upon another person," he whispered, so that only you could hear it.

He was going to be the death of you and you didn't find it as daunting as it sounded. You managed to sneak a glance at his face, and saw the tinge of pink dusting his cheeks. For some reason, this only made you more flustered and you ended up dropping your head against him in defeat.

"Just one more stop," he reassured, knowing that you were probably uncomfortable.

That was only partially true. Part of you wished you could stay for longer within the confines of his arms, away from everyone. However since he was someone who was deemed to have no interest in any sort of relationship, the best you could do was treasure the moment.

"Take care!" Aether hollered as Lumine dragged him towards a bus stop while waving. "Thanks for the meal!"

Childe also said his goodbyes, giving Zhongli a firm pat on the back before catching up to the twins. You watched as he got a hold of Lumine's hand and gave her a kiss on the forehead, ignoring the middle finger sent by Aether. Seeing the scene was both heartwarming and upsetting at the same time. There was an emptiness lingering in your heart and you didn't like it.

"Shall we head back?" Zhongli suggested, taking a step closer to your side.

You were drawn from your lonely daze as you felt his presence move past you to begin the journey. You trailed behind, feeling a bit awkward. While his strides were long and confident, yours were shorter and more vulnerable. He held an aura of power without trying and sometimes you wished you had that same attitude. It never helped you to double guess yourself all the time.

The glow of street lights outlined his every feature, casting him as almost god like. It was different, being near him without other people around. There were no distractions like before, and this allowed him to take up the spotlight vacant in your head. You looked away reluctantly from his back, well aware of your longing stare. You were afraid that he would notice and shame you for it. But you knew that he wouldn't. He wasn't that type of person.

Zhongli started to fumble for something in his coat pocket, bringing you attention to him again. When he found what he was looking for, he stopped walking and turned around to face you. You stopped about a metre away from him, giving him a questioning look.

Before words could form on your tongue, his hand tucked strands of hair behind your ear and one side of his earphones connected to your ear. His hand retreated to put the other half in his one. You blinked as a song began to play, the music calm and relaxing compared to your restless state. He held out a hand to you, palm facing up. Hesitantly, you took it, hoping that you didn't misread the motion. He tugged you forward, so that your arms touched side to side. He gave you a small nudge to continue the trip and you followed, mind foggy. Despite the colder night, you felt like a whole bushfire was rummaging through your body. He tilted his head to look at you and squeezed your intertwined hands gently.

"This is much better."

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