“I want a divorce,” is the first thing Wei Wuxian says to Jiang FengMian when they come face to face. The phrase is resolute and strong.
“Oh, do you now?”
“Yes, I do.”
Jiang FengMian looks at the possessive arm wrapped around his foster son’s shoulders. He smiles with crinkling eyes. “Welcome to Lotus Pier, HanGuang-Jun.”
“Mn.” Lan WangJi’s arm reluctantly falls away to salute his father-in-law. Jiang FengMian gives a nod of respectful recognition in return. “It’s beautiful.”
It is. This visit is right when all the lotus are in full bloom. The pink petals sway delicately in the breeze making the scene a picture from heaven. “Thank you.”
“Don’t just ignore me!” Wei Wuxian whispers angrily. The hiss turns to a sigh of exasperation immediately when Lan WangJi quickly puts his hands back on him. “No, that’s not what I meant! Uncle Jiang, you said to try for a year. I tried a year. Now it’s time for you as sect leader to dissolve this, this thing between us.”
Lan WangJi gives hmph of disapproval then pulls his husband closer to his body. Wei Wuxian yelps and tries to steady himself so he doesn’t crash into him.
It doesn’t work.
“My, what a serious matter. Well if I am to dissolve anything, I shall have to take in and weigh every matter of complaint. Why don’t we take this inside? A-Li has been waiting for you. She’s prepared your favorite soup as well.”
“She has?” Wei Wuxian’s entire body perks up. He pulls on a tail end of Lan WangJi’s ribbon. “Oh, you have to try it, Lan Zhan! It’s the best. I think I’ve talked to you about it before, it’s the one with pork ribs and–”
“–lotus root...the one you wish to make?”
“That’s right! Though I can’t get it to taste the way I want to yet. Your memory is as sharp as ever, Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian beams at him. Quite adoringly in fact. Jiang FengMian has to cover his mouth with a hand just to muffle a chuckle.
“Shall we go?” He suggests. The sect leader turns to sedately lead them way back to their stronghold, hands clasped behind his back when in his peripheral he sees and hears Wei Wuxian drag his new son-in-law along excitedly.
“And here’s the tree I like–there’s the stand with the best dumplings–oh! We’ll have to try those later.”
“If you look, look at where I’m pointing Lan Zhan, not at me! Good. That’s where the boys and I used to shoot kites down over the water.”
Jiang FengMian’s shoulders can’t help but shake. His lips pursed together, glad the two can’t see. He can’t wait to hear A-Xian’s list of grievances. They’re sure to raise him in a bright mood for weeks and knowing how his foster son has spent his last year shall put this heart to ease.
The two youngsters surpass him. Their fingers carefully intertwined as Wei Wuxian’s gestures become more and more animated about his childhood home.
Jiang FengMian finally laughs.
So his A-Xian wants a divorce? If only his actions would match his words. But then again that would take longer than one year he supposes. Therefore he shall humor his foster son in the great hall during their meal, listen to his every complaint, and withhold his laughter.
That’s what Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng are for.
“You’re not listening to me! Shut up, Jiang Cheng, I will throw my bowl at you. Now let me explain!” Wei Wuxian yells and starts his account.
Wei Wuxian’s married life is just one frustrating thing after another. For example, the arguments never end.
“It’s husband.” He points to himself firmly, “the term is husband, Lan Zhan.”
“Wife.” Lan WangJi retorts, handing Wei Wuxian another pillow. The two sit across the other for this little spat and Wei Wuxian has a small pile of them for his comfort. The jingshi where they reside echoes with their voices. It is not the first time they’ve had this argument.
“You can’t do this forever!” Lan WangJi just looks at him fixedly, calmly refuting him that he can. Wei Wuxian leans into his personal bubble, stabbing a finger towards his face. Just a few months ago the man would have moved back, recoiling to regain his space like an offended cat. But this is no longer the case since Lan WangJi also shifts forward and Wei Wuxian is sad. Yes, he is! He promises it’s quite awful when suddenly your target is immune to all your past tricks. In fact, most of his backfire now. “I mean it! Besides, why am I the wife anyway? I’m not a domestic homemaker!”
“You can cook.”
Wei Wuxian’s mouth flaps open indignantly. “Not well! And you hate my cooking,” he argues back.
“I will eat it. You have time to practice,” Lan WangJi says serenely. The sheer audacity of the man.
“I don’t clean.” Wei Wuxian attempts a different angle. “Wives clean the household.”
Lan WangJi shakes his head in dismissal. “Division of labor is important in a relationship.”
“Ha! Now you’re just scrambling for excuses. There’s no real reason why I’m the ‘wife’ and I don’t—“
“You spend much time on your appearance, you want to be pretty.”
“AS IF YOU’RE ONE TO TALK!”
“It is not necessary for you to do so.” Lan WangJi captures one angry flailing hand in his, kisses the back of it chastely.
Wei Wuxian wants to slap him for the gesture, the butterfly touch of those lips maddening, especially with how much it contradicts his nature at night when they’re alone. Lan Zhan is a hypocrite. What’s he doing being all gentle and such, when this Lan sect member literally dragged him to their wedding bed? Now if only he could make his limbs work and tear his hands away.
“Y-You–” he blusters.
“...not to me.” Lan WangJi continues heartlessly. “I like the way you look.”
A strangled squawk leaves him and his husband takes it as a cue to reach towards his shoulder to play with a lock of his hair that’s fallen there. All just to pull on it lightly. What? Does he want to kill Wei Wuxian like this? His head, no his heart, is going to burst like this and it’s all Lan Zhan’s fault.
Lan WangJi keeps kissing his wife’s fingers, his knuckles, his palm, though when he gets to the wrist he gives in to the temptation to bite. Wei Wuxian’s arm jerks, but his hold is strong. He won’t let go. Not even in this, though he finds absolutely pleased that the conversation is over.
So here is the truth: Lan Zhan is a brute of a husband. That is what Wei Wuxian concludes with evidence no less! For instance the first thing in the evening, Lan WangJi attacked him.
“Here,” Lan WangJi presents a small basket of lotus pods to him, practically shoving it into his chest. “You were right...the long-stemmed ones do taste better.”
Wait, he remembered what Wei Wuxian said? Once a long time ago when they barely older than children, how dare he! “Where did you even get these Lan Zhan? These aren’t the kind that they sell right in town.”
“Mn. Short-stem. There is...a pond a few li away.”
So that’s where Second Master Lan has been gone all day. Wei Wuxian has had to amuse himself by interrogating Lan Qiren for methods of “dual cultivation” just to see the man steam better than a dumpling. His personal best is three minutes before Lan Qiren starts throwing inkpots at him.
“Isn’t that hours away?” Wei Wuxian clutches the basket helplessly.
“Three. Also,” Lan WangJi fishes for something inside his robe, looking to the side awkwardly his face hesitant. Look me in the eye like a man, Wei Wuxian almost screeches. He can’t handle a bashful husband like this. “These were in the market today.”
He pushes into his palm a handful of loquats. Ripe, juicy ones that are perfect for teeth to sink into. Dumbly, Wei Wuxian stares at his husband’s purchases, then to the man that has the audacity to turn around and start walking away in the other direction.
“W-Wait! What on earth am I supposed to do with all these? You’ve loaded me up like a donkey, Lan Zhan. Should I go to the market and declare my fares? Pretend to be the harvest god of lotus and loquats and other things that start with ‘L?’ Shower them on Lan Qiren’s head?” He chases Lan Zhan throughout the courtyard, his husband’s stride is far too long.
“Eat them.” Lan WangJi suggests tersely.
“If I eat everything you gave me, I’ll turn fat! Is that what you want? A fat, mushy lump of a husband?” Wei Wuxian cries.
“Well, I refuse! I’m too vain to let my body go like that!”
At his words, Lan WangJi suddenly halts midstep. Wei Wuxian smashes into his back with a small oomph. Luckily none of his new wares are damaged.
“You won’t...eat?” He asks woodenly.
“Well, not alone.” Wei Wuxian hurriedly adds to the statement. He motions to the basket and then back and forth between them. “Maybe if we share them, my girlish figure won’t fade so quickly. Or any weight gain will be equal between us so you can’t make fun of me. Plus didn’t you know food sours faster if you eat it alone?”
Lan WangJi turns to him, “I did not know that.”
“It’s true!” He insists, raising the food basket, suddenly vindicated by gaining control over the situation.
“Then let us eat...right now.”
Or not. Lan WangJi keeps surprising him and Wei Wuxian doesn’t know if he likes it. Not as his husband drops to sit on his heels there in the middle of the courtyard.
“Wait right here?” Though unconsciously he also sinks to sit cross-legged in front of him. The basket placed to his side as he watches Lan WangJi get settled on the tiled pathway, his robes fanning out behind him like the wings of a bird.
“Mn.” He holds out a hand, “Loquat, please.”
Dumbly Wei Wuxian gives him one. As Lan WangJi bites into the fruit carefully, Wei Wuxian can’t help but follow suit and copy him. It’s juicy and sweet. It’s perfect.
Lan WangJi gives him this unfair look of contentment and Wei Wuxian chest lurches. He wants a divorce. This husband of his is too brutal to his heart. How is he going to survive a year in Cloud Recesses like this?
“Another.” Fingers beckon greedily.
Wei Wuxian eyes the lingering drops on the corner of Lan WangJi’s mouth. How shiny the nectar looks. Then he roughly shakes his head as if he can shake his thoughts out like fleas. He hands over another. “Alright, here.”
At least he’ll stay well fed.
Demanding in Bed
Nevermind a year, how is he going to survive the bedchamber? Lan WangJi is a beast. An uncontrollable force of nature like a typhoon, an earthquake instead of the pure maiden a Lan sect member should be. Right? Right? Wei Wuxian thought he knew what to expect. After all, it’s not as if Lan WangJi had shown any sign of attraction towards him. This whole marriage was a farce, a joke, an act of sweet revenge for every slight Wei Wuxian made towards one Lan WangJi. Of course, they could take this part of their rushed marriage slow. Plus if at a glacial pace, Wei Wuxian would have some time to compartmentalize the fact that now he’s a married man.
He did not expect a...passionate spouse.
He didn’t expect Lan WangJi to carry him over the threshold after the wedding ceremony and ravage him. That the man would take his first kiss, his first everything very...very energetically.
The other Lan sect members are quick to construct sound canceling barriers in their living quarters immediately. By the next day in fact. They had quite the motivation.
Lan WangJi has kinks.
It’s not that Wei Wuxian is against such vigorous love-making. Especially with the specimen of a man carved by the gods themselves, there’s a reason why Lan WangJi is second on the list of cultivating gentlemen. But Wei Wuxian was not prepared.
His body was not prepared for this kind of strain.
His husband enforces an “Everyday” rule too. Are all the stars in the heavens against him? So what if Wei Wuxian initiated it? How was he supposed to know Lan WangJi would take him seriously? He said it half-asleep. Lan WangJi had asked him the stupidest question he ever heard after one rough session and his mumbled fucked out reply was, “No. I would never hate you, Lan Zhan, not even if we start doing it every day.”
Why was that phrase taken so solemnly? Lan WangJi had tucked Wei Wuxian’s hair behind his ear and bent to whisper, “Mark your words.” His fingers tracing patterns over his back before helping him to the bath.
Which leads to his current state of being crippled until past eleven every morning. Consistently. He spends a lot of time admiring the ceiling. There are marks collaring his neck, running over his chest and down the inside of his thighs. Each one a different hue of pink or red because Lan WangJi likes to bite. He has bruises on his hips with Lan WangJi’s fingerprints that are renewed without fail. He can’t tell if the rest of the sect disapproves or appreciates the hours of uninterrupted silence when he’s out of commission, out of trouble until Lan WangJi dutifully wakes him for breakfast, or is it lunch? Each day.
Every day is a commitment after all.
Lan WangJi is good, very good at keeping those.
A Terrible Drunk
So Wei Wuxian may have gotten the Lan sect drunk. Well just a few of them! He thought it was an excellent prank at the time in retaliation of that cruel no drinking rule. What a great idea to spike their calming tea before evening medication?
It would be the least of what Wei Wuxian was capable of. Everyone deserves a little taste of Emperor’s Smile.
He was a fool.
He was wrong. Dead wrong. Some rules are valid, some rules have their place, some rules—
“Get that out of your mouth right now, old man!”
—deserve to be craved on that forsaken mountain.
“You’re a disgrace!” Lan Qiren slurs stubbornly. His sleeves flapping with one hand pointing, the other gripping the table to stay upright. “Go–hic–copy the gentleman code of conduct twice more!”
“How can I if you’re eating it?” Wei Wuxian snarls, doing his best to tug the stack of papers from the Lan Elder. The old man grunts and sinks under the table, but Wei Wuxian is victorious. The old man is not going to die from ink poisoning on his watch, no matter how much the stuffy, snobby prude deserves it.
“Mine.” Lan WangJi resolutely declares squeezing Wei Wuxian’s hips tight. His husband on his knees, nuzzling his side. Wei Wuxian is going to lose his balance and fall at this rate. The arm strength of the Lan Sect is legendary. Dangerous. Wei Wuxian should know by now that the more he struggles the tighter and more painful that grip will be. “You’re mine.”
He struggles anyway.
Wei Wuxian wheezes and swats at the man, “Yes, yes so we’ve established for the last hour. Please let go, you’re going to make me trip. LAN XICHEN, YOU GET DOWN FROM THERE RIGHT NOW!” He screeches better than a ghoul towards the roof of the pavilion where Lan Xichen spins like a giant ridiculous white toy top.
“But the stars are so bright tonight! I must get one for you and my brother. Then your marriage will be as beautiful and bright as the heavens above us. It must shine. Where is my sword? I must fly up there immediately!”
“No, you won’t!”
As the remaining one with common sense, a terrifying concept, Wei Wuxian makes sure no one points out to the twin jade what’s currently on his waist. They already had an incident with a flute, they will not have one with a sword.
“Wouldn’t you rather spend some time down here with us?” He coaxes. “With your dear brother, uncle and I? We have snacks? I could tell you stories. Oh my gosh, please come down.”
Lan XiChen narrows his eyes suspiciously. Then he cheerfully beams, “No. I do not think it wise. Especially when my dear brother guards you so possessively. I would not want him to think I wish to steal you away!”
“No. Don’t,” is spoken harshly into his hip. Wei Wuxian looks down and jolts in alarm at Lan WangJi’s face twisting in fear. His body tilting sideways as he clings harder, dragging Wei Wuxian to the ground. “Don’t take him. He’s mine.”
“Indeed he is Little Brother! So I shall stay up here among the stars!” They hear a loud thump above them. That’s two sect members passed out in alcohol’s loving embrace. In the morning, he’s sure they’ll have his head once theirs stop hurting!
Wei Wuxian wants to cry. What a pitiful circumstance he’s in!
Lan WangJi climbs into Wei Wuxian’s lap and pats him on the cheek. “I like you.” He insists, his golden gaze fogged over.
Wei Wuxian covers his face with both hands to groan in misery. He is doomed.
Lan WangJi pulls at his wrists stubbornly until he can see the way pink spreads over those pale cheeks. It’s too lovely in the moonlight. “I like you...very much.”
“I know. Stop it! You don’t have to keep saying it!” Wei Wuxian is going to die.
“I like you. Wei Ying.” Lan WangJi cups both sides of his face and peers firmly into Wei Wuxian’s eyes. He waits. Thumbs rubbing across both of Wei Wuxian’s cheeks, he presses their foreheads together and waits.
When Wei Wuxian realizes what he’s waiting for, his entire face crumples up like a paper ball. No, it’s too shameless. But he can’t escape, not from that iron grip on his face or that determined, hazy stare so he squeezes his own eyes tightly shut.
“Wei Ying?” His name is a soft broken thing. “Please.”
“Fine...I like you too, Lan Zhan. I like you a lot. I can’t believe this. You make me say the most embarrassing things and then you call me shameless one?”
His eyes pop open at the gentle press against his lips. His reward for being ‘good.’
“You’re mine.” Lan WangJi says happily. Fuck, that’s a smile on HanGuang-Jun face. How’s Wei Wuxian going to resist him now? That’s the face that tricked him into marriage! Every muscle in his body melts as Lan WangJi kisses him softly again and again.
“Say you’re mine,” is ordered, licked into his mouth while hands move his jaw up for an angle that’s better, deeper. Either his husband is going to kill him with words like that, or he’s going to kill him once he realizes Wei Wuxian is at fault for all this tomorrow. He can feel his backside hurting already.
Still, because the wine is sweet on those lips he obediently mutters, “...I’m yours.” Maybe it’s the taste of alcohol or Lan WangJi that makes Wei Wuxian just as drunk.
At least, Lan WangJi remembers nothing the next day.
Like his confession.
“What you’re saying is he’s finally figured out how to handle you. I’m impressed.” Jiang Cheng snickers and ducks. A plate thumps uselessly on the banter behind him before breaking on the ground. It makes his laughter only louder and triumphant. “Karma’s finally paying you back for your lifetime of teasing.”
Wei Wuxian shakes his fist. “My lifetime isn’t over yet! I have plenty of years of teasing left in me.”
“Then it’s only fair for the Divine Will up above to get started.” Jiang Cheng cackles. Until Madam Yu’s fingernails rap the meal table pointedly, each sound a dagger to cut his sense of mirth off. Such spiteful behavior is inappropriate for a future sect head after all. So he just smirks arrogantly in Wei Wuxian’s direction instead.
Wei Wuxian is running out of dishes.
He breathes through his nose and turns to the ones on Lan WangJi’s side of the table they share.
“A-Xian? What are you doing?” Jiang YanLi questions when her brother starts shifting Lan WangJi’s food around. He dips his fingers into some of the dishes to test, sometimes muttering things like, “no not this one.” “This goes to me.” “That plate should be fine.”
Lan WangJi does nothing but watch this ritual fondly. The whole thing taking a minute flat.
“A-Xian?” She prompts.
“Mmmm? Oh, Lan Zhan is an absolute baby when it comes to spice. He has the face of a stone wall but don’t let that fool you! Once I accidentally made too much congee and gave some of the extra to him and after one bite he just stared into the distance for ten minutes. I thought his soul had left his body for sure!” He explains absentmindedly.
Jiang YanLi giggles into her sleeve, A-Xian has the same tastes as she. The kind that makes normal palates cry for death. She was so happy growing up to have someone to share food with. “And?”
“And since I’m too young, and too pretty mind you, to become a widow, I check his food when we’re out and about. If not the whole Lan sect could accuse me of food poisoning and throw me into their seclusion caves to rot.”
“I would not let them.”
“You would be dead, Lan Zhan. Dead from too many spices. It would be a tragedy, but you wouldn’t be able to stop anything.”
Lan WangJi raises an eyebrow, “Feral Ghost.”
“Ah. Good point. Now eat your food.”
“Mn.” And the man raises his chopsticks to begin.
Jiang YanLi entirely pleased with the scene, happily exclaims, “Oh A-Xian you are the most caring wife I’ve ever seen!”
Wei Wuxian freezes, his bowl clattering to the floor in shock. It rolls a foot or two away from them. In horror, he turns to her.
But she ignores the mess of rice, only to reach across the table to take his hand in hers. “I had trepidations about your marriage, but I see now that everything's going so well! When I get married, I hope I can be as considerate and loving like you one day.”
“No,” He weakly whines. His husband just continues to peacefully eat beside him. As if Wei Wuxian’s world and sanity aren’t being dashed to bits. “That’s not it. Please Shiije, you don’t understand–”
“What’s there to understand? You two truly belong together,” she unnecessarily adds, every word planting an arrow into her fallen prey. “I’m so happy at the spouse you’ve become!”
As if that wasn’t enough, Madam Yu spits out three words, “Marriage suits you.”
Jiang FengMian takes them as a sign of encouragement instead of the torture it is. “A-Xian based on what you’ve told me, you’ve become more mature and empathetic at Cloud Recesses. You’ve flourished by HanGuang-Jun’s side.”
With that Wei Wuxian can’t take it anymore. He stands up, one finger jabbing in Lan WangJi’s direction.
“YOU! YOU DID THIS TO ME!” He yells.
“DON’T ‘MN’ ME! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS. YOU’VE CHANGED ME. YOU’VE TURNED ME INTO THIS DOMESTIC STICKY THING. HAVE YOU BEEN CONDITIONING ME FROM THE START?”
“Mn.” With a soft noise his bowl returns to the table, he bows his head toward their hosts thanking them for the meal.
Wei Wuxian screams with utter frustration. Especially as they nod back at their guest, Madam Yu’s face painted in a wicked smile while Jiang FengMian eyes close in peaceful half circles. Their foster son screams and wails but does nothing when Lan WangJi tugs lightly on his wrist to make him fall straight into his lap. He does nothing when his husband tucks his head into his shoulder and rubs his back. His cries of bitter rage becoming quieter and quieter until all that’s left is the barely suppressed snickering to their left.
Which does stops when Lan WangJi raises his gaze to Jiang Cheng. Then all is silence.
“Better?” Lan WangJi asks. Wei Wuxian grumbles something incoherently into his neck. In response, Lan WangJi pets his hair, “Good.”
Jiang FengMian coughs to clear his voice. “I’m sorry A-Xian. I deeply regret to inform you that you’ve given me no cause to properly divorce you from HanGuang-Jun. Perhaps next year you will have more of a stronger claim?”
Wei Wuxian muffles a pitiful whimper in the back of his throat. Another year. Another year of this ruthless affection is unbearable. Lan WangJi hums to soothe him, pressing him further into his collarbone.
Snidely Jiang Cheng decrees, “May you be cursed with a thousand years of domestic bliss.”
What a horrible foster brother he has. It is good that he’s adopted.
“Lan Zhan take me away from here.” Wei Wuxian pleads. He doesn’t want to look at anyone’s face right now.
Lan WangJi agrees without a sound and picks him up like a princess. Of course, he does. But Wei Wuxian is too weary to make a fuss. He needs a break to rest his voice...and his husband’s chest is nice and firm. His sandalwood scent is better than any incense.
At the door, Lan WangJi bends his knees a little, giving the mildest bow to their hosts. “Please excuse us. Wei Ying is tired.”
“Rest well, A-Xian!” Jiang YanLi’s only mercy is to cover her Jiang Cheng’s mouth so they can flee in peace.
Wei Wuxian buries his head into Lan WangJi’s collar and sulks all the way to the guest chambers. Lan WangJi is content.
One more year.
It is a good sulk. Yet he raises his face when Lan WangJi starts peppering it with kisses. His arms help when Lan WangLi finds their bed and starts peeling off layers.
One more year.
Wei WuXian interlocks his fingers behind his husband’s neck and drags him on top of him. Their lips way too distracted and lazy. Each kiss flowing to the next as Wei Wuxian urges with his body for more. And more.
Fine. Twelve more months of this? He can handle that. He...can do that. It’s just one more year.
Just one more...