It was a bustling, busy market night in Caiyi Town. The streets were packed with the smell of fried dumplings and sweets. Elaborate shows and stands were on display, merchants flitting around them like butterflies.
Wei Wuxian hooked his arm around Lan Wangji’s as they strolled through the scenery. Originally, he thought it would be nice if they could experience everything the market had to offer, yet he found that soaking in the the atmosphere was enough. Wandering aimlessly against the crowds and leaning against Lan Wangji’s broad frame was a pleasure in itself.
Suddenly, an interesting spectacle caught his eye.
“Emperor’s Song! Emperor’s Song! Come and get your Emperor’s Song!” shouted a red-faced vendor, gesturing to his stand stacked with wine jars.
Wei Wuxian hopped on over, brimming with curiosity, semi-pulling Lan Wangji behind him. The vendor beamed. “Young sires, would you like to buy a jar of our Emperor’s Song?”
“Emperor’s Song…” Wei Wuxian leaned in closer, curiosity piqued. “Is it anyhow related to Emperor’s Smile?”
“Precisely, good sir, excellent observation! This new brew was concocted by the same branch of creators of Emperor’s Smile--the taste is twice as good, the strength thrice as pungent.”
Wei Wuxian nodded. “Then, we’ll take two.”
“Many thanks to these young sires!”
They bought the wine and moved on, Wei Wuxian carrying the purchased goods in the crook of his elbow, oddly smug at this new acquisition. He leaned against Lan Wangji again, and pointed at a pork bun stand that was decorated elaborately with various, gleaming, dancing pig statues in hanfu.
“Lan Zhan, as the years go by, these new marketing and sales tactics get more and more gaudy. Look at all these displays--in the conservative Caiyi Town, no less.” He chuckled. “I don’t mind them--they’re rather interesting, but how can the Lan Sect stand for such peacockery?”
“The Lan Sect does not dictate what the common people do.”
“Your uncle must be displeased.” He amusedly imagined old Lan Qiren, standing next to the golden, dancing pig statue, utterly perplexed, stroking his beard with a frown.
They spent the rest of the evening similar to their first visit together to Yunmengjiang, languidly weaving their way through the sights. Regardless of whatever inane thing he said, Lan Wangji never grew tired of Wei Wuxian’s voice. Every trivial piece of rambling chatter merited his attention, his one-syllable responses consistently warm. No matter what Wei Wuxian said, he was graced with an answer, and no matter the answer, Wei Wuxian was pleased.
They chanced upon an empty courtyard when Wei Wuxian suddenly remembered the Emperor’s Song. He sat down on a some steps, crossing his legs in a lotus position, and pulled out the jars, offering some to Lan Wangji, who shook his head.
“That hawker on the street was quite convinced of this brew’s potency. Then in that case, I'll go right ahead.” He removed the covering and took a large swig, feeling the spicy, choking burn of the alcohol sliding down his throat. He finished the jar in one go, exhaling in satisfaction.
“How was it?”
Wei Wuxian smacked his lips. “Not bad, not bad. The taste is as good as Emperor's Smile. But the hawker was lying about getting drunk--I don't feel tipsy at all.”
He’d need to drink a horse's weight in wine to get even remotely tipsy. Besides that, the wine was excellent.
“It really is good wine.” Wei Wuxian smiled mischievously. “Would you like a taste?”
Lan Wangji looked at him pointedly. “No.”
Wei Wuxian's smile only grew larger as he leaned in, hand fiddling with his collar. “Are you certain, Hanguang-jun?” He asked.
Lan Wangji merely looked back expectantly.
Wei Wuxian pulled him down and nipped tenderly at his lips, then fully pressed them together. He pushed his tongue inside, licking at the inside of Lan Wangji’s mouth. They kissed until Wei Wuxian felt dizzy and broke away, a string of saliva connecting them thinning out and falling onto his chin.
He wrapped his arms around Lan Wangji’s back, pressing a kiss to his ear. “How was it?”
Lan Wangji hummed almost inaudibly in approval. “...Not bad.”
Wei Wuxian laughed, and pulled him in again.
The moon was approaching its peak in the sky. Wei Wuxian let out a satisfied sigh, legs wobbly as he half-walked, half-leaned on Lan Wangji as they took the path on the outskirts of the town.
“Hanguang-jun! Senior Wei!”
Lan Jingyi bounded into their paths, face stricken.
“Hmm? Jingyi, what’s the matter?” Wei Wuxian yawned.
“It’s Sizhui and Young Master Jin. I don’t know how, but they were playing around with a new product called the Immortal Binding Cable and ended up tying themselves to a temple post. The cable also seems to have a dangerous side effect that makes them incredibly ill! The longer they stay tied, the worse it gets. We’ve been trying to separate them all night!”
Lan Wangji frowned. “What illness?”
“Erm, well…” Jingyi rubbed his chin. “They’re tied so that their fronts are stuck directly together, almost every inch of their bodies are touching. They’re both sweating and have fevers, and their faces are really scrunched up. It’s already been two hours! Jin Ling started whimpering and saying he couldn’t take much more. I’m really worried!”
Wei Wuxian snorted, while Lan Wangji faintly sighed through his nose.
“Please! I don’t think they can last any longer!”
“Go on ahead and save them, Hanguang-jun.” Wei Wuxian yawned once again, drowsiness pulling at his eyelids. “My legs are too tired to go much further.” He sat down on a step to prove his point.
Lan Wangji hesitated.
“I’ll be right here when you get back.” Caiyi Town was perfectly safe, anyways. Even if it wasn’t, everyone in Gusulan’s territory knew that laying a finger on Wei Wuxian risked inciting the rare wrath of Second Master Lan.
Reassured, Lan Wangji nodded. “Lead the way,” he told Jingyi, as they set off.
Wei Wuxian laid his back against the wall, yawning for the dozenth time that night. He felt faint-headed, but not unpleasant, as if he were floating.
It’s strange, he thought, leaning there in a daze. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed before someone walked past--then rapidly backtracked to stop in front of him.
Wei Wuxian tilted his gaze upwards to observe the visitor.
Jiang Cheng looked down at Wei Wuxian, who was sitting on his rump, hair somewhat dishevelled, blinking back at him.
Jiang Cheng was visiting Gusulan for sect matters, regarding recent territorial hazards to the west. He had brought Jin Ling along, for both the experience and so Jin Ling could spend some time with his friends. After the meeting was over, he was in the midst of taking a shortcut along the sides of Caiyi Town when unexpectedly, he stumbled upon his former shixiong.
“Wei Wuxian!” he barked. For Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian’s name functioned as a curse for over a decade. By habit, it had burst out rather harshly. Frowning, he tried again. “Wei Wuxian. Hello.”
Wei Wuxian kept blinking back at him.
Jiang Cheng frowned. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t hear him, was it?
“Oh! Jiang Cheng! Hello.” Wei Wuxian suddenly burst into a grin, and continued staring.
Jiang Cheng stared back. He moved several paces to the right. Wei Wuxian’s gaze remained where it was.
Jiang Cheng’s frown deepened. “Where’s Lan Wangji? During a festive night like this one, shouldn’t he be coddling you like an ideal wife?”
Wei Wuxian’s eyes languidly slid over. “Ah, poor Jiang Cheng.” He sighed, almost pensive.
He then fell silent. Several moments passed. Jiang Cheng was about to reply before Wei Wuxian continued, as if nothing was wrong.
“Given your temper, I don’t think you’ll be able to taste the flavor of an ideal wife for quite some time,” he commented as if making a neutral observation, without malice. “Perhaps you’d either have to find a perfect-beyond-perfect goddess of tolerance, or to settle with a demoness as headstrong and angry as you, or you might even have to cut your sleeves like me…”
Jiang Cheng seized hold of Wei Wuxian’s collar “You want to repeat that again?!”
Wei Wuxian, unfazed, let out a weak chuckle. “Being a cut-sleeve really isn’t so bad. It’s an extreme solution, to be sure, but it broadens your options. You’re already over thirty years old. Aren’t you tired of being a virgin?”
Jiang Cheng’s face was so red it was nearly purple, matching the shade of his robes. “You…!” He considered bashing in Wei Wuxian’s face when he caught a whiff of Wei Wuxian’s breath, turning irate to incredulous in an instant. “You’re drunk.”
For Jiang Cheng, as long as rain fell and the sun rose, one of the laws of the world was that Wei Wuxian never got drunk. As a teenager in Yunmeng, he’d been drinking grown men twice his size under the table.
If he didn’t know Wei Wuxian so well, Jiang Cheng would’ve believed he was faking to avoid conversation.
Well, perhaps he still was.
He did fake being a lunatic cut-sleeve before. Though granted, the cut-sleeve aspect wasn’t necessarily fake.
Regardless, he was offended. “Such lousy advice doesn’t matter,” he said, keeping his voice level. “How would you know? I’ve had plenty of women.”
“Liar,” Wei Wuxian instantly retorted.
Jiang Cheng shook his head, too exhausted to react to the attack on his non-existent love life. He grabbed Wei Wuxian’s hand and hoisted him up. Sure enough, Wei Wuxian swayed on his feet.
Jiang Cheng pulled his arm around Wei Wuxian’s shoulders as Wei Wuxian fell limp against him. Already sensing an impending wave of regret, he let out an irritable huff. “Where do you need to go? I’ll take you.”
Seeing as how Wei Wuxian didn’t respond, he decided to move him and hand him off to the nearest Lan disciple. Yet after taking a few steps, Wei Wuxian dug his heels and shook his head, pulling back to his original spot.
“Nooo…” He whined. “Take me back, I have someone waiting for me...I can’t leave…”
Jiang Cheng ignored him, pulling him along anyways, but Wei Wuxian was stronger than he looked. The more progress they made, the more of a fuss he kicked up.
“If you keep this up, I’ll toss you into the water,” Jiang Cheng growled.
“Do it! I’ll just swim back anyways.”
Frustrated, Jiang Cheng stopped in his tracks. “Fine!” He barked, with the air of a petulant child. “So you don’t want to come with me, is that it? I don’t want to deal with you anyways. I hate you. Who told you to act like such a brat? You’re being worse than a fussy infant!”
“Dump me here then.” Wei Wuxian retorted. When he spoke again, his voice was quieter. “So, it seems like Jiang Cheng still hates me…hahaha…I shouldn’t be surprised…”
Hearing this, Jiang Cheng’s brow furrowed, and his heart felt itchy. “I didn’t…I meant...” He wanted to phrase what he said less harshly, yet was unwilling to apologize. Nor was he willing to force a smile and say something along the lines of: ‘Ehehe! I was only joking~♡’. After some pause, he snorted. “Well, you hate me too.”
Wei Wuxian turned to look at him, and then hiccuped. He gazed for some time. “You’re a bastard, Jiang Cheng. But I’ve never hated you.”
A complicated expression rose on Jiang Cheng’s face.
They remained silent for so long that Wei Wuxian’s attention began drifting again. Jiang Cheng was about to speak, when he felt a prickling sensation down his neck. He looked up to find Lan Wangji standing in the alleyway, staring directly at him. His first instinct was to look away, but he held the gaze.
Upon seeing his beloved Hanguang-jun, Wei Wuxian let out a joyous exclamation. He shoved Jiang Cheng aside and stumbled towards Lan Wangji.
Lan Wangji caught him, a frown faintly tugging at his lips. “What’s wrong?”
Jiang Cheng snorted. “Can’t you tell? He’s drunk.”
“Drunk?” Wei Wuxian hiccuped. “That’s impossible. I don’t get drunk. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been out-drinking grown men twice my size.”
Comprehension dawned in Lan Wangji’s eyes. “Emperor’s Song.”
As it turned out, Emperor’s Song was as intoxicating as the merchants said; omitting the detail that the time it took to get drunk was postponed by several hours. He slid one arm under Wei Wuxian’s knees and scooped him up in a bridal carry. Wei Wuxian let out another sigh, pressing his head against Lan Wangji’s chest. Lan Wangji was ready to unsheath Bichen and take off before Jiang Cheng stepped in front of him.
Lan Wangji frowned.
“What? Don’t look at me like that.” Jiang Cheng scowled back, immune. “You shouldn’t tilt his head back. If he vomits, he’ll choke. Haven’t you seen a drunk person before?” After asking this question, he realized given that the Lan Sect forbade drinking, it was likely true.
Lan Wangji’s expression softened considerably, immediately shifting his arms. “What else?”
“No sword-flying or sudden movements. Give him water. Fennel tea will also do. If he’s hungry, give him bland foods. Nothing spicy, that’s the worst.” Jiang Cheng was pulling from memories from his youth, of late Yunmengjiang parties and drinking sessions. Nowadays, no Yunmengjiang subordinates would dare get drunk around their sect leader, so such expertise had gone unused for years. It was surprising how much he remembered.
Lan Wangji listened with rapt attention, nodding obediently to every word, the very image of a model student. Jiang Cheng was unused to this. Was this what it was like to not be on standoffish terms with Hanguang-jun? If GusuLan’s aloof Second Master was so compliant all the time, then he could see how Wei Wuxian could tolerate him.
“Is that all?”
Jiang Cheng felt a little awkward. “Yes, that’s all.”
Lan Wangji nodded. “Thank you.”
Jiang Cheng coughed. “I’ll be taking my leave.”
Lan Wangji nodded again, turning to go, cradling Wei Wuxian, who drowsily waved goodbye, gently in his arms. His pale-robed back disappearing around the corner as he steadily walked home. Jiang Cheng watched until the two were out of sight.
You’re a bastard, Jiang Cheng. But I’ve never hated you.
He scratched his neck, and swallowed an invisible lump in his throat.
By the time they had reached the Cloud Recesses again, Wei Wuxian was still heavy in his stupor, but weightless in Lan Wangji’s arms. He was half-dreaming, half-recalling a memory, in which he was tormenting Lan Wangji’s rabbits, chasing the furry snowballs around as they frantically hopped away. Funny. Typically, they were so docile around the Lan disciples, only becoming skittish around him.
Lan Wangji walked on the path to the Jingshi. Several disciples on the way, who had already grown accustomed to their Second Master’s and Senior Wei’s lovey-dovey behavior, saluted them as they passed by.
The number of times Lan Wangji had been drunk could be counted on a single hand, most of them with Wei Ying present. After the events of Guanyin Temple, Wei Ying, snorting wildly, finally relented and told him everything that transpired during those sessions. The thought that he did such shameless things made him burn in shame, though Wei Ying hadn’t thought any less of him. On the contrary, the twinkle in his eyes as he was recounting the incidents was soothing, rather than humiliating.
He supposed sharing a bowl with Wei Ying every once in a while wasn’t so bad, so as long as he prevented him from stealing anyone’s chickens again.
However, he never expected Wei Ying to be the one to get drunk. Glancing down, he observed the person in his arms.
Wei Ying was pliant and relaxed, his long, dark eyelashes fluttering, soft lips partially open, cheeks flushed. Under the dim lighting of the Cloud Recesses’ lanterns, he glowed pink, appearing intimately vulnerable. He was beautiful.
Of course, he was beautiful regardless of where or when. Lan Wangji should have been long used to it by now. Yet he never was. Wei Ying was Wei Ying, and Wei Ying was breathtaking.
“Mmm…” Suddenly, he groaned and shifted around, his brow furrowing. “Don’t...please don’t…”
Lan Wangji stopped walking. “‘Don’t?’” he inquired.
“Don’t hate me...come back…”
“I’m begging you…”
Lan Wangji frowned. He held him tighter.
Could it be a nightmare? Triggered by their encounter with Jiang Wanyin? Wei Ying had once stated that holding Lan Wangji during sleep left his dreams sweet and undisturbed, but perhaps the effects of alcohol were different.
Lan Wangji cradled Wei Ying’s warm cheek. “I’m here.” he spoke, low and soft, fingers brushing along the ridge of Wei Ying’s jaw.
Lan Wangji sighed, both exasperated and fond. He caressed Wei Ying’s face once more, and continued on their way.
Wei Wuxian couldn’t put a name to this feeling...he felt sleepy, but not quite...like he was tipsy, but more, as if he was drunk...was he drunk? He vaguely heard Jiang Cheng chiding him for being drunk, or something along those lines…
So this was how being drunk felt like...he almost forgot...ahaha…yet it wasn’t unpleasant, perhaps because it was Emperor’s Song…
He vividly recalled a memory, more clearly than any normal reminiscence.
It was back in the Cloud Pavilion Library, nearly one-third into his month-long punishment. The shelves were stacked full with scrolls and books, imposing yet austere. In front of him, Lan Wangji was reading dutifully, having just zipped up Wei Wuxian’s mouth with the silencing spell once again. No matter how much he pleaded and pounded the table, Lan Wangji refused to remove the spell.
Wei Wuxian shot his companion one last glance--but then realized he couldn’t turn away.
The sun streaming into the library fell on Lan Wangji, illuminating him in a halo of light. His spotless, white clothes were neat and pristine, and his long, silky hair flowed like a waterfall down his back. There wasn’t a centimeter out of place.
He was so...
Clean. Pristine. As if someone carved him from jade, then breathed life into him.
Wei Wuxian, even without the spell, was struck silent.
He wanted those eyes to face towards him. He had come up with so many different names and iterations for the person in front of him, and yet none of them exactly fit. Lan Wangji, Wangji-xiong, Lan Er-gege, Lan Zhan. How could you summarize perfection with so few syllables? He wasn’t sure if he could even choose just one. More than anything else, however, Wei Wuxian wanted Lan Wangji to call out his name.
Look at me.
Look at me.
Speak to me, won’t you?
Wei Wuxian opened his mouth, but the silencing spell seized his tongue forcefully. For a moment, he truly did forget it was there.
He shook his head. If it weren’t for the spell, he would have let out an enormous, exaggerated sigh, and knocked his forehead onto the table in a dramatic display. Seeing as how he couldn’t do both, he settled for performing the latter.
For a brief second, Lan Wangji’s eyes flitted towards him, then went back to his book, the ‘ridiculous’ or ‘preposterous’ in his gaze silent.
Self-pity flooded Wei Wuxian. Back in Yunmengjiang...hell, even in Gusulan, attention fell upon him naturally. The charisma, mischief, and presence he exuded was enough to have half a dozen eyes and ears trained upon him at all times. Yet when it came to the Second Young Master of Gusulan, he was left begging for scraps, constantly following and trailing behind him, eager for a single glance or word.
The fleeting acknowledgement was enough to satisfy him for now. Renewed, he turned back to the pile of texts at hand. His consciousness soon melted away, as he was brought back into the present.
His head was spinning. Gingerly, he opened his eyes.
He was in the Jingshi, partially lying down, his upper back propped up with cushions. Lan Wangji was sitting at a table across from him, brewing tea.
The atmosphere from the dream doubled back in full force. The intense longing overflowed from his chest, bursting from his throat. “Lan Zhan!”
Lan Wangji immediately dropped the tea and hurried to his side, but Wei Wuxian had already rose. He attempted to make his way to him, stumbling over his own feet.
He was definitely still drunk. Lan Wangji quickly steadied him.
“Lan Zhan,” he said, hazily, and hiccuped. “Look at me.”
Lan Wangji did so. His brows etched in careful attention. “Are you uncomfortable anywhere?” He asked.
Wei Wuxian’s heart beat faster.
“Talk to me,” he commanded.
Lan Wangji blinked. “What do you want me to say?”
Wei Wuxian didn’t need to consider. “Call my name.”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji instantly replied, the syllables deep on his tongue.
Wei Wuxian grinned, pulling Lan Wangji closer.
“Lan Zhan,” he whispered, his giddiness overflowing. “Kiss me.”
The kiss was chaste but long. Wei Wuxian closed his eyes, drinking in the sensation and elation of Lan Wangji’s scent, Lan Wangji’s lips, Lan Wangji’s arms around him. He was drunk on something other than alcohol now, as he broke the kiss to push him down.
He was so big. And tall. And safe.
He tried to maneuver himself into a straddling position, but wobbled and fell onto Lan Wangji’s chest. One of Lan Wangji’s hands supported him, while another ran through his hair. “Don’t strain yourself.”
The three words drove Wei Wuxian mad with wild joy. He didn’t even have to make any effort for Lan Wangji’s attention--one word and Lan Wangji was right there. Wei Wuxian now belonged to him, and he belonged to Wei Wuxian in return. The perfect, untouchable being that once, he could only harass at a distance, was now here. Holding him, loving him.
A mixture of disbelief and euphoria hit him, and he could hardly stay still, literally trembling as a sudden laugh bubbled out of him, and he planted several more kisses on Lan Wangji’s face. The kisses were uncoordinated and in rapid succession. He couldn’t care less about where they landed. Kissing Lan Wangji was all he wanted.
He paused and drew back. Lan Wangji looked back at him, his hair out of place, forehead ribbon askew, adorably dazed.
In his inebriety, Wei Wuxian had been overwhelmed by these emotions, but he had yet to free them from his head, from his heart. He had to tell him, he had to let Lan Wangji know--but where to start?
As Wei Wuxian sat up, so did Lan Wangji.
“Lan Zhan,” he blurted. “You really are handsome.”
Lan Wangji blinked.
“Haven’t I told you how handsome you are? Ha ha, of course I have, it’s only that my head is fuzzy now and I can’t remember. I must have said so hundreds of times. If not me, then definitely others. Nonetheless, I’ll say it again. You seriously are handsome. Not only handsome, but you treat me so well...”
“You cooked for me...you, a wealthy young master, who has never cooked for anyone else before, cooked for me…”
“You fight well, you study well, you play the guqin well...”
“You spoil me so much, I should be worried I’m becoming useless, but it feels so good I don’t want you to stop.”
The more he spoke the more came to mind. Lan Wangji’s gentle gait, Lan Wangji’s hands, Lan Wangji’s fighting stance, Lan Wangji’s golden eyes. How cute he was when surrounded by rabbits, how elegant he was studying in the library, how cool he was on night hunts. Whatever sprouted to mind, Wei Wuxian blurted it out. In his haze, he might have repeated the same points once or twice.
In the beginning, Lan Wangji appeared calm, but as Wei Wuxian continued, his ears began to glow red. He grew so still, one could hardly tell he was breathing. Even Hanguang-jun couldn’t remain stoic in the face of such sincere praise. He opened and closed his mouth, then looked away.
Seeing this bashful reaction, Wei Wuxian suddenly felt incredibly impulsive.
He raced to the door, fumbling to get it open. Sticking his head out into the late night sky, he began shouting.
“Hanguang-jun’s the absolute best! My partner’s the best! This world’s number one!” He hollered out loud. Feeling that the Jingshi was constraining his voice, he stepped out. “I’m lucky! I’m lucky! I truly am blessed!”
“Wei Ying!” Lan Wangji turning uncharacteristically pink, swiftly followed. “Come back!”
Seeing Lan Wangji approach, Wei Wuxian was reminded of the time Lan Wangji played drunken tag with him, only reversed. Naturally, ever since childhood, Wei Wuxian’s instinct to being chased was to run. Yet now, it was battling with his instinct to fall into Lan Wangji’s arms.
He lightly backpedaled away, working out an internal compromise, then broke into a sprint. This way, he could both run and be caught. “Then come get me, Lan Zhan!” He shouted, secretly complimenting himself on his own genius.
A tiny voice inside nagged that he might come to regret this in the morning, but the current Wei Wuxian could only focus on the present. He didn’t pause to look behind him. Even woozy and off-balance, he was familiar enough with the Cloud Recesses to navigate it automatically. Dressed in nothing but his light inner robes, his bare feet stumbled slightly as he hurried down the stone steps leading to a side path.
He let out another wild shout into the cold, crisp air. He turned to see Lan Wangji following closely behind him.
Lan Wangji dashed out of the Jingshi in a hurry. Even in Wei Ying’s drunken antics, he seemed to have a set destination in mind. Lan Wangji could do nothing but accompany him. He took close heed to Wei Ying’s path, ready to leap forward and catch him in case he tripped or crashed.
Wei Ying’s entire being sparkled with mirth, like he was dancing as he moved. His feet hit the ground like sparks bouncing off a fire, and his smile equally dazzling.
After a couple minutes of barrelling through the Cloud Recesses, Wei Wuxian slowed, in front of of one of the sect’s border walls, turning back around and running directly into Lan Wangji’s arms. Lan Wangji caught him with a soft grunt.
“You caught me,” he said, raising his head from Lan Wangji’s chest, breathing hard but still smiling from the run.
“Mnn.” Lan Wangji removed his outer robe, wrapping it around Wei Wuxian’s shoulders. “I caught you.”
“You caught me!” Wei Wuxian repeated, even louder. “Hanguang-jun caught the Yiling Patriarch! I’m his!” Although they were far from the residences, his shout still echoed. He was about to yell more when Lan Wangji put a finger to his mouth.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji chided firmly. “No shouting or running in the Cloud Recesses.”
Wei Wuxian laughed. Lan Wangji’s face was burning-hot when he caressed it. “Okay, okay, this naughty one understands. No shouting, no running, and no embarrassing Hanguang-jun.” He was about to lean in for another kiss when he recalled where they were. Turning, he gestured to the scenery behind him.
“Lan Zhan, can you guess where we are?”
Although the Cloud Recesses had been burnt before the Sunshot Campaign, not every area had been charred to ash. The places that were had been successfully restored. Besides some newer pillars and furnishings, it was as if the Cloud Recesses had never changed. This wall retained its exact same appearance, only with smoother stone and newer tiles.
Lan Wangji nodded. “This is where we first met.”
A chance encounter between two youths who had no idea how much the other would change the course of their lives.
Wei Wuxian briefly regretted not grabbing a couple jars of Emperor’s Smile to recreate the scene. Though it was perhaps best if he didn’t touch anymore alcohol for the evening. Instead, he sighed contentedly. “I remember the morning after, Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang were talking about the scary second young master, and I told them all about how you caught me and we fought. But what I didn’t tell them was...”
Even though it hadn’t meant much at the time, later recollections and reflections helped Wei Wuxian recall the atmosphere of the scene perfectly. Strange how Emperor’s Song, instead of clouding it, improved his memory. Now, he could clearly remember when he hopped onto the wall, snickering at the so-called infallible Cloud Recesses’ security. As if to precisely contradict him, a silhouette spun from moonlight had appeared before him.
“It was like my breath had been kicked out of me. I forgot where I was and what I was doing. Even now, I only dimly remember pouting and holding out two jars in one hand towards you.”
Lan Wangji’s fingers curled in his hair. “It was one jar in each hand,” he corrected. “You were smiling.”
The sensation in Wei Wuxian’s chest doubled. “Really? I only remember what I said.” He leaned into Lan Wangji’s hold, chuckling. “It’s all your fault. If it was someone besides you, I would have escaped.”
Dwelling on the past, he came to a realization, perhaps one that had been building up all night.
“Lan Zhan, perhaps I was in love with you all the way back then,” he voiced immediately. He knew it in his heart to be true, realizing the words as he said them. “Deep down, from our first meeting, only that I was short-sighted and oblivious. I--“
Lan Wangji stepped away, cupping his hands around Wei Wuxian’s face, as if he wanted to squeeze, but didn’t dare. His pale pupils trembled with an indescribable emotion, and Wei Wuxian noticed he himself was shaking, too.
Wei Wuxian adored all parts of him. His silence, his words, his overbearingness and aloofness, his kindness hidden under his coldness, his meticulous care. But no matter how he phrased it, he realized, he couldn’t summarize how wonderful Lan Zhan was in mere words. He turned and kissed both of Lan Zhan’s palms, then simply hugged him, pressing his head against Lan Zhan’s chest to listen for his favorite sound.
Lan Wangji’s heart was beating a mile per minute.
He let out a soft laugh, nuzzling against it further.
“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan...mine, mine, mine...” He crooned.
Lan Wangji ran his grip into Wei Ying’s hair, pressing his face on the top of his head.
They spent an indeterminate amount of time locked in an embrace. Eventually, Lan Wangji carried Wei Wuxian back to the Jingshi. In accordance to their usual pattern, they fell asleep holding each other, Wei Wuxian tracing patterns onto Lan Wangji’s hands and face, whispering his name over and over.
Both slept well that night.
The following morning, Wei Wuxian opened his eyes, then immediately groaned. His head was throbbing horribly. He looked up to see Lan Wangji already awake, with some food and tea at the ready.
All the memories of the previous night came flooding back. While he couldn’t remember it in detail, he generally recalled everything that he said and did. Now he understood what Lan Wangji felt after waking up from a drunken spiel.
Wei Wuxian coughed, a little embarrassed. It seems as though he caused a lot of trouble last night. “Lan Zhan…”
“...I take back what I said about Emperor’s Song. It really is too powerful.” He stewed for a moment in consideration. “But, regarding everything I said, I was absolutely genuine.”
Lan Wangji’s lips briefly quirked upwards.