Hurt me not - Chapter 9 - Catchinggates - 原神 (2023)

Chapter Text

He’s laughing because it's today. No. It’s yesterday. He’s not sure.

IT’s just broken. That’s all he knows. Everything. Everything.

There are a million cuts jagged and sharp in his mind. And they are not the pretty cut colored glass one finds sanded down at the beach. They are hostile looking. The edges cutting one's eyes if one dares to stare at it too intensely.

They clutter everything and spread apart any sense of relief in his heart.

He’s back in time, all alone in that humid and hot summer night of monsoon season. Abandoned by his father, as the wind shakes tree branches terribly as if to wake them from the dreadful dream of living. Abandoned and left by the curbside of a dirt road, promised to a family in a world he doesn’t know.

The fabric of comfort and safety tears and he cries, knowing he’ll never have the comfort of his mother’s arms nor that of his brother’s and sisters. Wicked hot pain forms in his eyes like that of molten lava. The hottest of tears rolled down in waves down his chin and jaw.

He’s the loneliest boy in the ocean of prayers and where others in the sea have raft boats to brave the storm of life, he has none and is condemned to drown at sea.

He struggles on his last pitiful plank as he braves the harshest of nights. As lightning spills and cuts over the black dark sky, dancing and hopping in a chaos and pattern that only they know, all Kaeya knows is that he is all alone.

He can’t hear his own voice.

And his voice that had remained hopeful, urging him to live… urging him to get up when he fell down… has ceased its struggle. The voice of his hope for a better had died just as any. He can only laugh at himself now for even daring to think… that there was hope in any of this.

Cuts are in a million. They breach his mind.
Where is the thread to stitch them?

He’s not sure if there is a mental string strong enough nor a liquor that could wipe out his mind enough from this aching pain riddling his heart that beats languish in his chest.
Actually, didn’t he fucking try to die?

Why… Why can he still feel it? The warmth of life in his fingertips… caressing his blue glossy locks… tickling under his eyepatch? Thumbing over his trembling lips?

But so what? So what if he’s still fucking alive?Where is his peace? Will it ever exist again? It just feels like his heart keeps breaking.
The shell of its structure cracks a little more and a little more, till it is just the remains of a pathetic wimpy eggshell. All the misshapen pieces fall and there is no yolk left in him. There is nothing more to cook nor nothing more to fill him to eat.

He waits for nothing. He is already dead in life. And it feels so good. Was pain supposed to feel this good? That it drives one insane? Maybe he had been waiting for this instead of joy and of love?

Maybe it was always the reversal for him? Where people walk everyday forward in each morning and to each night… looking and aspiring for true happiness… maybe because he was a sinner… he was to reach for the greatest sadness instead?

Maybe his heart was always destined to be murdered by the hands of the people he loved. For the city he adored and placed his stake in to always protect and look after… betrayed him in the nastiest of ways. He can’t even dare to remember it.

The days where trash was thrown over his head as he walked on by. As he’d hear snickering behind his back. His office was always in disarray as books and shelves were pilfered through. He didn’t mind cleaning it everyday… and gave up halfway in the end. There was no need… since… he… would not be respected. Not him… nor his space… nor his title… nor anything surrounding him.

So he’d sit in his broken office as dust and trash piled. As it should be. And if anyone needed him… really needed him as cavalry captain… they’d smile as he’d sit on the floor since he was tired of replacing his chair. He’d sit on the floor on his broken desk, splintering apart… smiling still… because… things could be replaced. He just had to wait for this hell spell or whatever the fuck this was to end.

He had so… mistakenly thought… he’d forgive them all. He can only laugh now… as it rains down on him in waves. He laughs with no joy. He laughs with no conscious feeling at all. There is only viciousness in his heart. He shouldn’t have ever come to this city. He should have never learned to adore and love every person in it. He shouldn’t have ever loved the dull and faded cobblestone that adorns all the ground nor its high rising walls. Not the red tile roofs, nor the mushrooms that glitter on the windmills. He shouldn’t have fallen in love with the sweet crisp wind that always smelled of sweet flowers and sunsettia’s. Nor its kind whispers when he was feeling extra drunk and lonely… promising him of better days and to just get a good night's rest.

He shouldn’t have felt such safety under the pretty sun. IT was all he wanted… these blue skies… these crisp rolling clouds. Now his heart is black. It’s in his head this sickness so putrid and rank and awful.

IT’s like it has boiled his blood over and turned it black. It’s like each blood cell has shriveled up and died and there isn’t enough water to hydrate any of them with hope again. He’s down on himself and smiles now with vacant, lifeless, blank eyes. IT’s resolute.

It’s hell. And it’s life. He is the destined spec to be obliterated. He was not to find any joy here. He knows that now… as he laughs in this dream… as he feels himself laughing awake too. Delirious and in pain. He… laughs.

Maybe the town was his grave. And he missed the memo to have started saving up for a casket long ago. His father Crepus should have told him this… instead of make promises… promises for such happy futures. That Diluc would accept his origins? Bah! No. Instead it was a cold hard raging flame that went towards him as the heat seared his skin and slashed his eye. Instead it was being disowned as Kaeya grieved over the first letter he got in the paycheck from the knights… written as Kaeya Alberich instead of Kaeya Ragnvindr.

Instead it was Adelinde, Ernest, Elzer, ignoring him… as they said that the Master of the house forbade them from talking to him. Instead it was Adelinde one day sneaking to his dorm at the Knights headquarters and handing him a box… of the last things he owned… slightly charred, burnt, and covered in soot. It was just rain falling on his head as he looked down at the box and she hugged him with only heavy apologies and promises that Diluc… Diluc will regret doing this. And Kaeya believed it too.

Maybe he just should have left this city a long time ago. He only stayed because Crepus had been so proud of him as a knight. Crepus would say, “Someday my son, you’ll become a captain under your own right. Just like Diluc.” and Crepus lovingly ruffled Kaeya’s bangs as Kaeya would giggle and lean close to his father’s shoulder in love.


“Yes! I believe so. You’re capable. A genius in your own right.”

Kaeya wouldn’t tell Crepus that he didn’t want to be a captain because he wanted to stay as Diluc’s right hand man forever. Even if that meant being an assistant. It didn’t matter. So long as he could help his older brother shine brighter and earn more happy smiles all looking at Diluc… it didn’t matter if he didn’t shine.

“Maybe… someday. Not anytime soon though, papa. I want to stick by Diluc. Someone needs to punch his gut when he’s feeling reckless in the missions. You know, Luc. Always charging forward and first as a beacon. Someone needs to rein his ass into formation and keep an eye on that firecracker,” Kaeya joked as Crepus smirked and jabbed his rib ever so slightly.

“Goodness. How did I ever happen to find such a caring boy for my son?”

“...fate, perhaps, dad,” Kaeya lied… as he remembered his biological father’s face, enshrouded by the ragged cloaks they were both decked in. “Fate… has a funny way of leading us… to who needs us the most… and… if we’re lucky… we both stay for each other. So that this world doesn’t feel so lonely…”

Kaeya still remembers how Crepus looked at him with deep reading red wine eyes. Clear like the highest grade of liquor as Crepus warmly smiled.

“Maybe fate led us to you… so you wouldn’t be lonely, Kaeya.”

Kaeya had agreed at the time. Now he wishes he never did. Because the pain that comes after loving so hard… makes him sick. Was it supposed to feel this awful? This haunting?

IT’s like the sunset wrung out all the love in his face. It’s just cold and dark and the path of death is all he sees. And he starts to walk as he hopes this haunting melody that crushes him every second will be his new liberation.

Just keep walking, Kaeya, he tells himself as the spikes of this jagged symmetry engulfs and enshrouds him in a darkness he never knew to be in him before. He didn’t ever want to look at it festering in him. But with the lights of his life so blown out, he sinks into its mires and understands why the abyss screeches in the night as he patrols the nights around Mondstadt city. Broken words and syllables and sermons… he’d hear as the monsters would curse the skies for their misguided fates. Kaeya would only let the loyalty of his past fade away as he’d turn back to the city. He was not one of them.

Sure, the stars in his eyes would look back at him every time he looked at a mirror. His mother’s cheeks. His father’s jaw. His mother’s nose… his father’s lips… eyebrows… His father’s hair… his mother’s skin. And he’d feel the curse swimming along in his veins… but the celestia magic stabilized it… mostly.

“I’m… not like them,” he’d tell himself as his golden eye would throb sometime.

“I’m not like them… the ones I kill. The ones I let go… I’m… not… I’m… Mondstadian. I’m… human.” He’d say that so softly, as if it was a sin to go above a whisper as tears would stream down his face and he’d grip the sink in the bathroom ever so tightly.

“Just keep fighting this feeling… I… left my past behind. I’m… a new person. I’m… Kaeya Alberich. I’m… living for… a better day. Till… I don’t know when… but when I get there… I’ll just know that living this whole time would be worth it.”

He’s so stupid, he thinks that now. There was no… joy in living. It had just been a waste of time. Like a babe still wanting to remain in their mother’s arms… even if the mother would not feed, love, nor care for him… he waited there… waiting to be murdered by the loveless eyes of his city.

He is the remains of the bonfire each citizen struck a match to. HE burned so brightly that everything he had in him perished that night. And as the noose hung tightly on the ceiling of his pantry room… the last twilight within his eyes slipped away.

That answer was right. Rather than leave and become a monster… he’d rather have died. At least then he knew his father would love him. Crepus would greet him surely as he’d run so fast into those big secure arms and that beard would tickle him as he’d be sure Crepus would shower kisses on his forehead. And his mom would be there… in her gown of decorative splendor. Velvet and billowy, bangles of platinum, encrusted with jewels that shined for days. Her braids of blue and gold highlights, being tucked behind her ears as her mismatched eyes gazed back to him in love.

He… he.. Wanted to go back home. Who the fuck saved him? Who the fuck dared to fucking save him? Dying had already been hard once. Who… who, he shrills so devastated in his mind as he pounds the black midnight of the lakeside he stands on.

He’s gonna have to try again… why… why… why… why…why… why… why… why…

He blinks hard as tears tear away like lava pits.

Why… why… why… why… why…

Cathedral roofs fall and thud in him as he realizes… he’ll have to try it again and again… until someone stops saving him. He just wants to tell that person to fuck off. There is no use in saving him now. Not when he is the heartbreak, now. He is the misery. A cloud that sucks and vacuums everything good around him.

He is a character fallen in the sea of lies and strings of twisted fate. There is no rising above its inky and devastating waves. It just tangles and knots at his feet as it sinks him down into hatred and deadness inside.

He is the sinner scarring the beautiful pristine clean slate of Celestia’s grace.

His heartbeat is the sound he hates the most. He’s just so avidly tired. Tired of it. Better it would have been to have been to be born truly insignificant. So that when he did die the very first time, that he would have stayed dead.

Alas, fate has always chosen selfishness. Only looking to its own needs and desires. It only listens to its own judgment and only trails along the swing of its pendulum. The hourglass is what it abides to as it reigns in the celestial sky right in the middle of their solar system.

The key moments in time… needing structure… needing characters to fulfill the story's progression. The story that will lead this universe into the rhythm that it needs fine tuning in. Whatever song it is striving for, the beat of love or greatness that it strives to perfect in, it lifts all the protagonists from every world off the ground to fly and soar in something grander than them… something they would have never dreamed of before. As he’s pulled up by its unrelenting hold on him… he can only hate it now.

IF this is the universe’s form of love… to prevent him from digging his own grave and sleeping in it… he kicks harshly at it. This is not love, this is trapping fate. This is the loom that singles out each side protagonist and protagonist and villain destined to play their part in the grand story of the writers of the universe.

And he wants no spot in it. There is no need for his prolonged existence in it any more. There is no want nor desire to help Aether nor Lumine in their rise to greatness. He wants none of its treasures and none of its pains.

Nevertheless, he’s caught in it like a fly in a trap. Threads of soulstrings tie him down, choking his freedom to choose his life, while telling him that he’s special. To honor thy destiny and follow it. And maybe at one point in his life, he was okay with that. It was easy to follow its command because that was what had been expected of him. Like a child coloring in a story book, inside the lines, it was easy.

That was why he would stay resilient against any fallout placed against him. He knew and believed in his status as side protagonist. No matter the peril… even when avalanches of ice and snow fell down in Dragonspine… and he’d run for his life to luckily find a cave to shield him. Or when he was drowning out from a leg cramp as he fished at the Seaside Adventure, Klee, Diluc, Jean, Albedo, Razor, Traveler and Paimon had that first year… he knew the ocean waves would lift his body to shore… All he needed to do was stop fighting it… and sink. And he sank and thought maybe he made a mistake as he closed his eyes and lost some air. But then the biggest wave just came in time to wash him ashore.

Diluc had noticed him sink… and was struggling to piece together if it had been done as a joke or if he was really in danger. The big wave lifted Kaeya up then as he was thrown back to the shore. He floated and collided straight into Diluc’s arms as Diluc frowned and flicked his head angrily. The salt flattened the red haired man's hair as he scowled from the sand all over his face. He thought this was somehow orchestrated by Kaeya in the end and ignored Kaeya that night for worrying him. Diluc just shoved Kaeya off of him as he stomped off, wet and full of sand. Soaked wet. But so what? Kaeya was alive and as he laid on the sand... he trembled because... had he not placed his belief in the story of the universe needing him... he knew he would have died. And Diluc would always find a way to detest him. There was no… way of breaching that wall Diluc made to shun him out of his heart. Not even this.

So if Kaeya cried in his tent that he was actually afraid to let go and believe fully in destiny’s grasp… he’d tell no one. And Aether never knew either. How tight those soul strings bind and follow Aether like blinding lights, trailing behind and all over him.

IT’s beautiful in some ways.

To be the only one aware of all of this… and that is what makes Kaeya special too. To know he’s being used in this specific way… as a character in the storybook of the writers of this universe.

Even when his father abandoned him… the story within him maintained him. Gave his nourishment of love and affection from this new family as he cried heavy and sick from having his family all dead… except for one.

Even when Diluc threw him out of the house and barred anyone from the winery and manor to greet him… he could withstand the pain. This was destined to mold him into something greater, he’d tell himself. For what else was this suffering used for? If not as fodder to make him more resilient and beautiful in grace and soul?

That was fine. It was all fine.
Nothing that he himself didn’t earn.

Yet, he was sinking. Going down. His feet would lift but not as he’d hold the cord of whimsy fluffy clouds that would bring him to great sunrises and happy days. No.

He was always heading for these kinds of heartbreaks. These kinds of beautiful, aching, damning sadness. Spikes and shards choking his light. Blood poured from his eyes from all the dead days of happiness he just had to bury with his own dirt mud filled hands. Nails broken and scuffed. Lips blistered and torn. He was always going down to a life without love.

And as one of the loveless he is now ready. To brave the world anew. Whatever it has for him now. He won’t have the hope for joy in it anymore. Maybe it is time to return to the abyss. Maybe it is time to turn his back. Find his father. The father he awaited orders from but never did receive.

And Diluc. What does Diluc want with him now? There is no safety near him. Not anymore. Doesn’t Diluc… understand he has had enough? He’s tired of Diluc’s anger as he roars at him to get his drunk ass out of the stool and haul himself back home. And Kaeya just wanted… something. A sliver of the past.

An echo before the heartbreak. A soft hand… a soft caress to the face in love. Shielding him… telling him he matters to his once best friend. Was that too much? Was that too much?
IT was… he knows that now as Kaeya weeps in his mind and laughs.

He’s not sure why he laughs but what else is there left to do? Other than to laugh at his misfortunes? IT’s silly. It’s all so gosh darn stupid and silly. Such a stupid man he was… to hold onto hope that anyone in that town would ever love him again.

At least… Mona made the coffee taste like sugar. IT didn’t taste like cold heartless sludge and oil. At least, Noelle made him feel safe in the headquarters since everyone became hostile and dangerous to him. Anyone who came close to him, he’d already brace himself flinching from the incoming hit. But at least, when Noelle neared and sat next to him in his broken office… offering some tea break pancakes and tea… the pain lessened a bit.

She’d always offer to help him clean this place up.

“There’s no use, Noelle. Someone will just break in at night again and ruin it. I’d rather just keep it messed up at this point. That way, there is nothing else left to break.”

Her lips would purse as her olive eyes would think in distaste at this whole situation and he’d laugh.

“No need to get frustrated on my behalf. I’m used to this by now. If I let them know they got to me… it’d just serve as a way of them winning. I won’t let them think that. So I'll keep smiling. Only for you and the few left who… don’t hate me… I’ll offer you my true face. A little bit of sadness.”

And he’d frown to show her he was being genuine. And she’d nod slightly, offering him a soft and gentle smile of sadness.

These gentle touches of warmth from Nimrod, Guy, Patton, Katheryne at times, Noelle, and Mona made his whole world… so much better. So even as he laid on the ground, worn, bleeding from the hatred of this cruel cruel world… They reminded him to have some faith in humanity. That not everything is all pain and no hope.

There will always be hope hidden somewhere. Even in the darkest of nights… when everything seems and feels like it is over and you never want to wake up again… there is always hope.

IT’s such a fucking damning thing. Better it is to drown in the watery grave than to rise again. But hope is like that. It’s like a seed that flourishes in the dark where no light shines. It is like the first star you see when the storm clouds break away. It is your parents hug. It is the toy you always had by your side as your imaginary friend… when you first came to life.

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