When Wei Wuxian wasn't at work, he focused on trying to finish sewing and embroidering Lan Wangji's hair ribbon before the two week deadline. His clouds almost looked like clouds now, but he was never satisfied with what he created. He was, at least, pricking himself with the needle less and less. Jiang Yanli had been an immense help, but she was spending a lot of time at Jin Zixuan's place (which was fair enough, Wei Wuxian thought).
He was also working on rearranging his bedroom for when Lan Wangji arrived. Wei Wuxian tended to keep his room quite messy, which he knew Lan Wangji would despise, so his first major task was actually putting his clothes away properly and vacuuming the floor, which hadn't been properly visible since the last time Lan Wangji visited.
They'd ordered a new bed online, as the current bed Wei Wuxian had was too small for two adult men to sleep in together. He'd also made sure any questionable items he owned had been hidden, and in the tidying he'd thrown out a ton of gothic and occult paraphernalia that he'd purchased in high school when he thought that scene was extremely cool... which he was somewhat embarrassed about. (He did keep a book on summoning demons just in case, however.)
Wei Wuxian's coworkers had picked up on his change in mood, and could sense he was excited about something.
"You seem happier lately, Senior Wei," his junior Mo Xuanyu said to him a few days after Wei Wuxian had been told when Lan Wangji was moving in. "What's happened?"
Wei Wuxian, who was being assisted by Mo Xuanyu to stock a section of bookshelves, smiled at him. "Well," Wei Wuxian began, "I've got something coming up that I'm really looking forward to!"
Admittedly, he wasn't really sure what he should say to Mo Xuanyu. The boy was still in high school, and appeared to look up to Wei Wuxian quite a bit (for reasons Wei Wuxian couldn't for the life of him understand). He was kind and polite, and always helped customers, but he was extremely shy. From what he'd told Wei Wuxian, Mo Xuanyu didn't seem to have any friends at school, and spent a lot of his time online (although Wei Wuxian was guilty of that as well, so he couldn't judge Mo Xuanyu at all).
"Oh," Mo Xuanyu said, a look of realisation on his face, "I know. It's something you can't tell me, right?" he gave Wei Wuxian a sad smile. "That's okay," he said, returning to placing books back on the shelves. "You don't need to feel like you have to tell me."
For some reason, Wei Wuxian felt guilty.
"Oh, no, it's not that," Wei Wuxian said, handing Mo Xuanyu a book from the trolley they were sorting through. Mo Xuanyu looked at him. "Basically, uh... it's a bit of a long story," he explained. "I'll tell you during break, okay?"
Mo Xuanyu nodded. "Alright!"
About an hour later, Wei Wuxian met up with Mo Xuanyu outside the bookstore. The store was located in a shopping mall, so they decided to get lunch at the mall's food court.
Wei Wuxian wasn't exactly dreading telling Mo Xuanyu the story, he just didn't know how the boy would react to something so ridiculous.
"So," Wei Wuxian said, after they were both sitting down at a table with their food, "This is something I haven't told anyone else at the company yet. Not because I don't want to," he added quickly, "I just... haven't really gotten around to it." That, and I'm still having to convince myself that it's actually happening, he thought to himself.
"Are you sure it's okay to tell me?" Mo Xuanyu asked, poking his salad with his chopsticks. Wei Wuxian had noticed that he hadn't ordered much food.
"Of course," Wei Wuxian replied. He took a sip of his iced coffee. "So, uh," he began, "I... got engaged recently..." For some reason, saying it out loud felt strange.
Mo Xuanyu's eyes lit up. "Really?!" he exclaimed. "I didn't know you were dating anyone! Congratulations, Senior Wei!" he said happily.
Wei Wuxian smiled at him. "Thanks," he said. "And, er, it's not like we were exactly... dating, as such..."
"Huh?" Mo Xuanyu looked confused. "W-What does that mean?"
"It's... an arranged marriage," Wei Wuxian explained. "Kinda."
Mo Xuanyu raised an eyebrow. "Kinda?" he repeated.
"Essentially," Wei Wuxian said, "It started out as an arranged marriage set up by our families. But I thought we weren't compatible, so I broke things off. Then we happened to run into each other again a few months later, and I was asked if I wanted to try it again..." He laughed at how stupid he'd been. It was a good thing that Lan Wangji, under all his shyness and awkwardness, was rather stubborn. "I ended up agreeing," he continued, "And now we're engaged for real. We're not getting married until next summer, though."
"Wow..." Mo Xuanyu breathed. "That... sounds like something out of a novel."
Wei Wuxian laughed again. "Yeah," he said, "It does. I honestly don't know how I've ended up in this situation. But I'm not complaining."
Mo Xuanyu ate a few mouthfuls of his salad. "I'm jealous," he said eventually. "Is your fiancé pretty?" he asked, smiling sheepishly.
"Absolutely gorgeous," Wei Wuxian replied. "Oh," he added, "But, uh, the engagement isn't the only thing I'm looking forward to, actually."
"Go on..." Mo Xuanyu said slowly.
"My fiancé's coming to live with me and my family for a while," Wei Wuxian explained. "He's from a pretty strict family, and I wanna help him build some skills before the two of us go and live somewhere alone together."
Mo Xuanyu paused. "Wait," he said warily, putting his chopsticks down, "'Him'?"
"Yeah," Wei Wuxian shrugged, his mouth full of the fried chicken he'd bought for lunch. He swallowed. "My fiancé's a guy. I'm gay."
Mo Xuanyu seemed to be holding back a response. He glanced around the room, as if he was looking for someone.
Wei Wuxian opened his mouth to say something, only for Mo Xuanyu to get there first: "A-Actually," he said quietly, his voice shaking, "S-So am I..."
It was Wei Wuxian's turn to be taken aback. He stared at Mo Xuanyu for a few moments. "You are?" Mo Xuanyu nodded. "Cool! Here I thought I was the only one at the store!"
"What's wrong?" Wei Wuxian asked, noticing that Mo Xuanyu appeared unsettled.
"N-Nothing," Mo Xuanyu replied, shaking his head. "I just..." he lowered his voice, "You're the only person I've told who hasn't made fun of me..."
"Why would someone make fun of you?" Wei Wuxian blinked. "Because you're gay?"
"Y-Yeah," Mo Xuanyu said. "Y'see... When I came out to my parents, they, er, didn't exactly take it well," he explained, looking down at his salad. "They tried to convince me that I was wrong and that I was actually straight, and when I kept telling them that it doesn't work that way, they kicked me out and sent me off to live with my aunt."
Wei Wuxian didn't know what to say. He'd been very lucky in that the Jiangs had been, at worst, indifferent when he'd told them, and had even been supportive at times. The fact that someone's parents would reject their child solely because of their sexuality had always been something that infuriated Wei Wuxian, but since this wasn't his place to comment, he kept his mouth shut.
"And... is it okay living with your aunt?" Wei Wuxian asked.
"...No," Mo Xuanyu replied bitterly. "She's not very supportive either. And I'm also living with my cousin, who's a couple of years younger than me. He... in some ways, he's worse than my parents," he said. "After I told my family, he started mocking me about it, called me names, you know, that stuff. And he told everyone at school, too..."
"Oh..." Wei Wuxian was suddenly extremely thankful that Jiang Cheng hadn't done something similar.
"He started spreading rumours about me," Mo Xuanyu continued, "And if anyone tried defending me, he'd spread rumours about them, too. Eventually, it got so bad that nobody at school would talk to me. If they did, it was to laugh at me." He looked like he was going to cry, and Wei Wuxian didn't blame him at all.
Wei Wuxian himself hadn't had the greatest high school experience, but it hadn't been anywhere close to being that horrific by any means. He'd always been considered a bit of an outcast, and only had a couple of friends, but that was good enough for him. He truly felt sorry for Mo Xuanyu.
"You're still in school, though, right?" Wei Wuxian asked cautiously, hoping he wasn't going to upset Mo Xuanyu any further.
"I am," Mo Xuanyu replied. "At this point, I'm just looking forward to graduating at the end of next year. And I'm trying to save up as much money as I can so that I can find somewhere else to live," he added. "That's why I'm working this job... as well as another part-time job delivering newspapers in the morning."
It broke Wei Wuxian's heart knowing that there wasn't really anything he could do to help Mo Xuanyu. He didn't understand why someone so harmless had to suffer so much simply because of something far beyond their control.
"Senior Wei?" Mo Xuanyu asked, making Wei Wuxian realise that he'd been spacing out for a bit.
"S-Sorry!" Wei Wuxian replied quickly, taking a few bites of his chicken. "I just, uh... I'm not really sure what I should say to you," he admitted.
"C-Can I ask you something then, Senior Wei?" Mo Xuanyu's voice was shaking again.
"Sure," Wei Wuxian said. "Go ahead."
"Do... Do you think someone like me will ever be able to find love?" Mo Xuanyu asked, tears welling up in his eyes again.
Wei Wuxian knew he should lie and say that yes, of course it'd be possible. But he also didn't want to give Mo Xuanyu false hope.
"Well..." Wei Wuxian said, sipping at his iced coffee, "I think everyone's potentially capable of finding love. But whether it happens or not... it depends on a lot of things. But you're still young," he continued, trying to choose his words carefully, "So you have many years and many encounters ahead of you. It might not happen for ages. And when it does, it can happen in the weirdest and least expected ways."
Mo Xuanyu sniffed and wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve. "You're right," he mumbled. "I just... everything always seems so hopeless, you know? Between my parents and my cousin and everyone at school, I've started to think that maybe there is something wrong with me. That this isn't normal..."
"Mo Xuanyu," Wei Wuxian said firmly, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with you at all. Being gay is perfectly normal. And if it isn't, so fucking what? Being normal is boring anyway! Screw that! Be who you want to be. I know it's easier said than done, but it's the best revenge you can get."
"...Yeah," Mo Xuanyu mumbled, sniffing again. "I know. H-Hopefully... I'll get there one day..."
"You will," Wei Wuxian told him. "Hell, if I can manage it, so can you. It took me a long time to get here. I used to think the same way you did, really."
The truth was, he still doubted everything sometimes. And, most of all, doubted himself. He still had many insecurities that he kept trying to ignore.
"How did you cope, then?" Mo Xuanyu asked. "When you think that it's all hopeless... what are you meant to do?"
Drown your sorrows in lots of alcohol and unsafe sex was Wei Wuxian's actual answer, but that would be just about the worst advice possible to give to anyone, let alone someone vulnerable like Mo Xuanyu.
"I... don't know," Wei Wuxian replied. "I really don't know what to suggest. None of my coping mechanisms are healthy, if I'm honest. I'm sorry."
"Don't apologise," Mo Xuanyu said, shaking his head. "It's okay. I'm just thankful that you've actually talked to me about this. It's nice knowing that someone... understands me."
Wei Wuxian smiled sadly at him. "You're a good kid. I wish I could actually do something to help you."
"You've already helped me," Mo Xuanyu said. "This is more than I was expecting..."
After a few moments of silence, Mo Xuanyu gasped suddenly. "Senior Wei!" he exclaimed. "If we don't hurry, we'll be late getting back to work! Lunch is almost over!"
Wei Wuxian checked the time on his phone. "Shit," he hissed, collecting his belongings and quickly finishing off as much of his iced coffee as possible. "Let's go!"
"I'm sorry!" Mo Xuanyu apologised once they were safely back in the bookstore, moments before their break was due to end.
"It's my fault," Wei Wuxian panted. The two of them, having run back to work, stood near the entrance catching their breath. "If we get asked, I'll take the blame."
"I-I think we're okay," Mo Xuanyu said, fixing his hair. "And thank you, Senior Wei," he added. "I truly appreciate it."
Wei Wuxian managed a grin. "Any time!" he said. "I might not be able to actually help, but I'm here to listen."
Mo Xuanyu smiled back. "Great," he replied.
"Oh, and," Wei Wuxian continued, "D'you wanna see a photo of my fiancé after work?" he grinned again.
Mo Xuanyu's eyes widened. "Y-Yes please!" he said breathlessly.
The rest of the afternoon was relatively quiet, and neither Wei Wuxian or Mo Xuanyu got in trouble for almost being late. At the end of their shifts, Wei Wuxian called Mo Xuanyu over to him.
"Are you sure it's okay showing me a photo of him?" Mo Xuanyu asked shyly.
"He hasn't told me it's not," Wei Wuxian shrugged as he scrolled through his camera roll (and hoping that Mo Xuanyu hadn't noticed the photo that Wei Wuxian had taken of his hickey-laden torso) until he found a photo that he'd taken of the two of them while they'd been in Hong Kong. "Here," he said, showing Mo Xuanyu the screen.
Mo Xuanyu gasped quietly. "Wow," he said, blushing slightly, "He's... beautiful."
"He sure is," Wei Wuxian smiled, looking fondly at the photo. Lan Wangji was still gorgeous, despite his inability to smile in pictures. Next to Wei Wuxian's wide grin, his stoic expression seemed almost amusing.
"And I can tell that he's really happy, too," Mo Xuanyu commented.
Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow at him. "Huh? How can you tell?" he asked, remembering that Lan Xichen had said something similar.
"Look at his eyes," Mo Xuanyu said, pointing at Lan Wangji's face. "They're sparkling."
Wei Wuxian was still confused, so he zoomed in on the photo. Mo Xuanyu appeared to be correct -- Lan Wangji's eyes looked like they were shining more than usual. "Guess you're right," Wei Wuxian remarked, zooming out again. "I'll try and take a closer look next time I see him!" he said.
Mo Xuanyu nodded. "Even if he's not smiling on the outside, he probably is on the inside."
"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "I'm sure he is. He's pretty shy, after all!" he laughed, putting his phone away.
They said their goodbyes and went their separate ways home. Wei Wuxian tried not to worry about Mo Xuanyu, but he couldn't help but be concerned about his situation. It really wasn't good.
Even though Wei Wuxian had stopped going to bars every other night, he hadn't been able to completely give up drinking. He still kept beer in the fridge, and although he tried not to drink it, he felt like he almost had to some days. Those days were usually when something stressful had happened at work, or he'd gotten into an argument with Jiang Cheng or Madam Yu.
It happened to be one of those stressful days after talking to Mo Xuanyu, so Wei Wuxian allowed himself a can of beer when he got home. As he shut the fridge door, he could feel the judgemental glare of Jiang Cheng on him.
"Really?" Jiang Cheng sighed, disapproval etched on his face. "It's only four."
Wei Wuxian glared back. "I had a tough day at work," he shrugged, opening the can. "It's just one can, anyway."
"You usually have two cans by the time you go to sleep," Jiang Cheng pointed out. "If work's that bad, you should be telling your manager."
"...It's not that," Wei Wuxian muttered, taking a sip. "I was just reminded of how useless I am, that's all."
"You work at a bookstore," Jiang Cheng said, confused. "What the hell did you do?" he asked.
Wei Wuxian drank some more beer before answering. "I found out one of my coworkers is gay, and he's essentially been disowned by his parents. He lives with his aunt, but his cousin bullies him and is spreading rumours at school, so he has no friends."
"Yikes," Jiang Cheng replied. "What made him tell you?"
"I told him I'm engaged to a guy," Wei Wuxian explained. "He said I'm the first person who hasn't made fun of him for being gay."
"...Oh," was all Jiang Cheng said.
Wei Wuxian knew Jiang Cheng had something he wanted to talk about, otherwise he would've left in a humph after initially scolding him. "You know," Wei Wuxian said, "I'm surprised you've never mocked me for it, actually."
Jiang Cheng looked almost offended. "It's not like it's any of my business who you like or who you sleep with," he replied, sighing heavily. "And anyway, I really don't care about people's sexualities. So long as you're not picking up anyone underage or guys old enough to be your grandfather I don't see an issue."
Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Good point," he said dryly, taking another sip.
"Besides," Jiang Cheng continued, "You don't really have a say in the matter either. I may hate a lot of things about you, but they're all things you can control. Sexuality... isn't really one of those things."
Wei Wuxian opened his mouth to protest, but closed it again. Jiang Cheng seemed to think that Wei Wuxian was in more control of himself than he actually was, but Wei Wuxian didn't really know how to articulate that. Nor did he want to admit it out loud.
"What did you want to talk about, by the way?" Wei Wuxian asked, his beer now about half-empty.
"Nothing, really," Jiang Cheng replied. "Just... are you still going to drink every single night once he moves in?"
Wei Wuxian hesitated. Lan Wangji's family didn't drink, and Wei Wuxian was sure that the couple of times he'd run into Lan Wangji at the bar were probably the only two times he'd drank alcohol in his life. He knew that.
"I've been... trying not to drink as much," Wei Wuxian said slowly. "And it's not like I get drunk off one or two cans of beer, either."
"Then why do you still drink?" Jiang Cheng asked. "Now that you're not going to bars all the time and are happier than you were... and in a relationship... what, exactly, is the point?"
Wei Wuxian knew that Jiang Cheng was genuinely asking and wasn't trying to be a jerk (for once), but he still didn't know how to answer him. There wasn't really a point, as such.
"I don't know," Wei Wuxian replied. "There used to be a point, I think. Not that I can remember what it was."
Jiang Cheng gave him a pitiful look. "It's like you're trying to forget something," he said, sounding concerned. "Like you're... trying to run away. What are you trying to run away from, at this point?"
Wei Wuxian chugged the rest of his beer. He rinsed it out in the sink and placed it next to the dish rack.
Slowly, he turned back to Jiang Cheng and walked over to him. "Myself."
Wei Wuxian didn't give Jiang Cheng time to reply. He left the kitchen and headed straight for his room, shutting the door shakily behind him.
Jiang Cheng would never understand. But Wei Wuxian didn't expect him to. If anything, it was a good thing that Jiang Cheng was confused by Wei Wuxian's behaviours. It meant he didn't know the pain that came with hating oneself.
Wei Wuxian flopped down onto his bed and took out his phone, which was still on the photo of him and Lan Wangji that he'd shown to Mo Xuanyu earlier.
I can tell that he's really happy, too.
Wei Wuxian wanted nothing more than to be in Lan Wangji's arms. He wanted to feel Lan Wangji's warmth next to him, reassuring him that everything was okay.
He'd said that two weeks wasn't that long, but he'd realised that that wasn't true. It had only been a few days since they'd seen each other, and Wei Wuxian was already wanting to see Lan Wangji again. He wanted to touch Lan Wangji again.
Wei Wuxian was tempted to call Lan Wangji just to hear the sound of his voice, but he knew Lan Wangji would probably still be at work. Instead, he settled for the next best thing and pulled up the video of Lan Wangji playing the guqin.
Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng said nothing to each other at dinner that night, which Wei Wuxian was extremely grateful for. He somehow managed to refrain from grabbing a second can of beer from the fridge, too, and wondered if Jiang Cheng would notice at all.
Once he was in bed properly for the night, he decided to text Lan Wangji just so that he'd have some contact with him.
Wei Wuxian: i miss u
Wei Wuxian: i kno we just saw each other but i stil miss u
Lan Wangji: Me too. I have been thinking about you all day, Wei Ying.
Wei Wuxian: i want 2 touch u
Lan Wangji: I also want to touch you, Wei Ying.
Wei Wuxian was pleased that Lan Wangji felt the same way he did. Even though they were due to meet up that weekend at Wen Ning's place, he wanted to see Lan Wangji before that. And it'd be impossible to have sex with other people around, too (that, and Wei Wuxian wasn't the sort of person who'd do that to his friends anyway -- especially considering he knew how Wen Ning felt about him).
Surely Lan Wangji wouldn't mind if they spent a bit of money on themselves and met up at a hotel, would he?
Wei Wuxian: r u free 2moro nite
Lan Wangji: I believe I am free. Why are you asking?
Wei Wuxian: do u wanna go on a date
Wei Wuxian: and then go 2 hotel
Wei Wuxian hoped that Lan Wangji would pick up on the hint.
Lan Wangji: I have work until 4:30PM but I have no plans after that. Do you want me to pick you up from your house? I should be there by 5:45PM. Is that okay with you?
Wei Wuxian: gr8!!! i only work mornin 2moro so ill b home!
Lan Wangji: Do you have a specific hotel you would like to go to?
Wei Wuxian chuckled, shaking his head.
Wei Wuxian: nope! just whereva!! ur choice!!!
Wei Wuxian: btw ill bring supplies so dun worry about that!
Lan Wangji: What do you mean by supplies?
So he hadn't figured it out. Wei Wuxian almost envied him.
Wei Wuxian: u kno
Wei Wuxian: stuff 4 sex
Hopefully that's enough of an explanation, Wei Wuxian thought to himself, laughing again.
Lan Wangji: I understand. I apologise for not knowing what you meant.
Lan Wangji: I will also plan accordingly.
Wei Wuxian: no worries!!!
Wei Wuxian: i cant w8 2 see u 2moro lan zhan!!!!
Lan Wangji: I am also looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, Wei Ying.
Wei Wuxian: gud nite!!! i luv u!!!!!!!!!!!
Lan Wangji: Good night, Wei Ying. I love you, too.
Wei Wuxian gave his phone a kiss, excited that he was going to be able to kiss the real Lan Wangji the next day. And do far more than just kiss him.