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Polishing Jade

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If there was one thing Wei Wuxian didn't really care about, it was his studies. His family still thought it was miraculous he'd even managed to graduate from high school, but Wei Wuxian's argument was that he wasn't dumb, he was just unmotivated when it came to schoolwork. He had no intention of pursuing higher education for the time being either (mostly due to him not wanting to be a financial burden, but he also wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do with his life), and said to everyone that he would be fine working part-time and making barely enough money to get by. His family didn't approve of this idea. 

 

Wei Wuxian lived with the Jiang family, having lost his parents when he was young. For the most part, he enjoyed the company of the Jiangs and was extremely grateful to them for giving him a good, safe upbringing. But they kept trying to tell him what to do, and it annoyed him. Wei Wuxian's instincts told him to disobey every order thrown his way and resist authority as much as legally possible. From a young age, he talked back to teachers, refused to listen to his parents and essentially just did whatever the fuck he wanted. This earned him the resentment of his adoptive brother Jiang Cheng, who found Wei Wuxian's behaviour deplorable at best.

 

In truth, his parents were worried about his future, and so was Jiang Cheng. They were convinced that something bad would happen to Wei Wuxian at some point and they wanted to help him before things got to that stage. During high school, his adoptive father Jiang Fengmian had tried to convince him to at least find a nice girlfriend, and his mother Madam Yu attempted to set him up on several dates with daughters of women she was friends with. After about the fourth time, Wei Wuxian finally admitted to his family that he wasn't interested in girls, and maybe their plans would work better if they could hook him up with a cute guy instead.

 

Jiang Fengmian had immediately apologised and had said he would take it into consideration. Madam Yu was less keen, although she'd said she'd ask around in case anyone had a son or a nephew who was like-minded. Wei Wuxian's sister Jiang Yanli had been extremely supportive and had told her brother that she'd always love him no matter what.

 

Jiang Cheng had been outraged. He hadn't understood why Wei Wuxian hadn't simply told their parents in the first place and instead had wasted their time. He'd argued that he didn't care about Wei Wuxian's sexual orientation as such, just that he'd inconvenienced so many people and wanted to know why someone as free and non-caring as his brother had kept quiet for such a long time. Jiang Yanli had managed to shut him up and had told him he had no right to ask such private questions, which Wei Wuxian was eternally thankful for. He didn't want to explain to Jiang Cheng if Jiang Cheng couldn't work out what Wei Wuxian had been afraid of. Jiang Cheng had eventually apologised, however, and the two were on friendly terms again.

 

One day, Madam Yu had called a family meeting. These were not unusual in the Jiang household, and Wei Wuxian was sure it was just something stupid again, like it usually was. Only, it was apparently about him.

 

Wei Wuxian nearly choked on his tea when Madam Yu explained the situation to him.

 

"I'm sorry," Wei Wuxian said after he'd caught his breath, putting a hand up. "Are you... serious?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Madam Yu furrowed her brows, looking extremely displeased. "I went through all the effort to set this up for you -- is this not what you wanted?"

"I..." Wei Wuxian paused, lowering his hand. "Well, yeah, but not quite like this."

"Why are you complaining, A-Xian?" Jiang Yanli asked. "I think this is a wonderful opportunity!"

 

The opportunity in question was thus: Madam Yu was friends with a woman whose husband was friends with a man who had a gay nephew. The man was reportedly looking for a potential suitor for his nephew, but said nephew kept rejecting anyone who his uncle tried to offer him. So, when Madam Yu had heard about this, she'd volunteered Wei Wuxian. The uncle and nephew had both agreed, and Wei Wuxian had no fucking clue what strings Madam Yu had pulled to manage that.

 

Wei Wuxian was about to protest, when Jiang Cheng spoke exactly what he'd been thinking: "This is ridiculous, Mother!"

"For once, I agree with you," Wei Wuxian laughed. "I'm sorry, Madam Yu, but I've never actually had any dating experience. There's no way I'd be a good boyfriend let alone a good husband."

Jiang Cheng scoffed. "At least you're aware of your own shortcomings," he commented. Wei Wuxian simply shrugged exaggeratedly.

"Then this could be a good chance to learn," Madam Yu said. "Since your partner apparently has high standards, you'll most likely just be going on a single date before he's had enough of you. But at bare minimum you have to attend the date."

"Alright, fine," Wei Wuxian sighed. Challenge accepted. "When's the date?"

"Next Sunday," Madam Yu announced. "You'll be having lunch at the Silver Bamboo restaurant."

Jiang Cheng made a noise. "Isn't that really expensive and super hard to get reservations at? How's Wei Wuxian gonna pay for it?"

"His date offered to pay," Madam Yu explained. "His family's quite well off, it seems."

 

Wei Wuxian had never actually been on a date before. Usually, he tried to pick up guys at a gay bar he frequented, named Rainbow Rabbit. He'd had a few one-night stands, but that was about as far as he'd gone. He'd never set foot in a fancy restaurant, as the Jiangs didn't have that kind of money, and he hated the stuffy atmosphere of such places, anyway.

 

"H-How rich are we talking?" Wei Wuxian asked cautiously. The idea of having a rich partner definitely sounded appealing, especially if it meant he could get away with only working part-time.

"They're loaded," Madam Yu sighed. "The family runs several businesses and are good with money, from what I've been told. His older nephew is being trained to take at least one of the businesses over when he dies."

 

So he had a brother. Presumably, his brother wasn't gay, otherwise he'd be the one Wei Wuxian would be meeting for lunch.

 

"What about their parents?" Jiang Cheng questioned. Wei Wuxian had picked up on this too.

"I'm not sure," Madam Yu replied. "All I know is that both boys live with their uncle, and he's looking for a suitor for his younger nephew."

"Do you at least know their surname, my lady?" Jiang Fengmian asked his wife.

"Lan," Madam Yu said.

 

Jiang Cheng audibly gasped. "The Lan family?" Wei Wuxian turned to look at him.

"Should I know who they are?" Wei Wuxian asked, raising an eyebrow. He never kept up with which families were important, since the only family that mattered to him was his own.

"No, probably not," Jiang Cheng grumbled. "But I've heard several rumours about how much money they have. Supposedly they're one of the richest families in the country, although I have no idea how true that is."

 

If they were rich enough that people were making those kinds of rumours about them...

 

Wei Wuxian had been orphaned at a young age, so he'd grown up with no money. He still found it weird being able to spend his own money on things for himself that weren't necessities like food, which was partially why he'd fantasised about having a mega-rich boyfriend. Of course, those had just been silly daydreams. Nobody that rich would be interested in someone like Wei Wuxian, surely.

 

"Wei Wuxian!" Jiang Cheng exclaimed, placing both hands on Wei Wuxian's shoulders suddenly. "You've always wanted this, right? Normally I don't care about what happens to you, but if you have any sense of pride, you need to make this work! I don't care how you do it, but you absolutely have to win the younger Lan over!"

"You're being too supportive, Jiang Cheng," Wei Wuxian commented in a teasing voice, wriggling free from his brother's grasp. "But you know me, I'll never say no to a challenge!" he grinned, deciding that he'd worry about how weirdly nice Jiang Cheng was being later.

Jiang Cheng smiled at him, which was a rare occurrence. "Don't fuck this up, Wei Wuxian." He paused, then added, "Or maybe I should tell you to fuck it up, that way it'll actually go well."

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly. "Aww, Jiang Cheng, you're finally starting to understand me after all these years!"

Jiang Cheng huffed. "I've always understood you," he claimed, "I've just never wanted to enable you until now."

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "Sure, dude, whatever you say..."

 

He was presented with an information card of his date, which included a picture, contact details and his name, along with some facts about him. His name was Lan Wangji, he was the same age as Wei Wuxian and didn't appear to be all that interesting. His only hobby listed was 'reading' and his 'fun facts' section told Wei Wuxian that he could play the guqin and owned three pet rabbits.

 

Wei Wuxian stared at this Lan Wangji's photo, studying him. He was, admittedly, rather handsome, at least from that one particular angle. He had long, straight black hair that was neatly tied back into a ponytail and wore an expensive-looking business suit.

 

Despite being attractive, he sounded quite dull on paper. Wei Wuxian hoped his judgement was wrong and that his date would turn out to be interesting. Wei Wuxian disliked quiet, moody people, as they were the opposite of himself.

 

But even if he ended up hating the guy, Wei Wuxian was at least going to score a free lunch. A free, fancy, probably delicious lunch. Too bad Sunday was still several days away, and he had to get through the boring part of the week first.

 


 

A few days later, he met up with his two closest friends, Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang, who he'd known since high school. Wen Ning now worked at a bakery (which Wei Wuxian sometimes helped out at if he needed a bit of extra money) and Nie Huaisang's family ran a publishing company (that specialised in erotic fiction of many kinds -- Wei Wuxian had read several novels that Nie Huaisang had personally recommended to him).

 

Wei Wuxian decided to tell them the news. The more he'd thought about it, the more excited he was.

 

"Wow, marriage?" Wen Ning asked, looking concerned. "Isn't that too soon?"

"Apparently I don't have to marry him, like, right away," Wei Wuxian explained, slouched on the table the three were sat at. They'd picked a quiet café for lunch. "And if I don't like him, I can turn him down."

"Lucky you," Nie Huaisang sighed, twirling the straw of his soda. "My parents would never do something so nice for me, they expect me to find a girlfriend myself."

Wen Ning laughed. "I don't think my family have any hope for me at this point."

"But you're still young!" Wei Wuxian protested, gesturing with his fork towards Wen Ning. "You'll find someone!"

"I hope so..." Wen Ning said quietly, blushing slightly. "I wouldn't mind having a partner..."

 

Wei Wuxian cut a piece off his slice of chocolate cake and sighed. "I mean, I know nothing about the guy, other than that he can play the guqin and he likes rabbits. And that he's rich." He shoved the cake in his mouth.

"Have you seen what he looks like?" Nie Huaisang asked, taking a bite of his cheesecake.

"I've seen one small picture," Wei Wuxian replied, eating more of his cake.

"Well... c'mon," Nie Huaisang urged. "Is he hot?" Nie Huaisang had said in the past that he wasn't sure if he was interested in men, but he could at least appreciate the good-looking ones. He was a man who loved gossip of any description, too.

"He appears to be," Wei Wuxian replied with a shrug. "Like I said, I've only seen a small picture."

"So you've got a date at a fancy restaurant with a super rich guy and the goal is to marry him?" Nie Huaisang summed up nonchalantly, sipping at his soda.

"Pretty much, yeah," Wei Wuxian laughed. "It's stupid, but I'm gonna go for it. Unless he's like, super fucking boring, in which case we'll be done after Sunday."

"Good luck!" Wen Ning smiled gently. "I know you can do it, Wei Ying." Wei Wuxian knew Wen Ning's words were genuine. He was a man who didn't lie at all. Hearing him say something like that made him swell with confidence.

"Thanks, Wen Ning," Wei Wuxian grinned.

"I believe in you too, Wuxian," Nie Huaisang nodded in agreement. "Go grab that rich guy's dick and make it yours!" Wen Ning blushed harder at Nie Huaisang's odd words of encouragement.

"I dunno if I'll be grabbing any dicks after one date, Huaisang!" Wei Wuxian said jokingly, laughing again.

"Be sure to give us updates at least!" Nie Huaisang said, finishing off his cheesecake. "Even if it's a disaster."

"Of course!" Wei Wuxian grinned again. "If, by some miracle, I do end up grabbing his dick, I won't provide any details about that, however..." he trailed off, smirking at Wen Ning, who turned redder.

"P-Please don't..." Wen Ning mumbled. The other two laughed teasingly at him.

 

Wei Wuxian was aware that Wen Ning was uncomfortable talking about topics that were sexual in nature, despite being friends with Wei Wuxian who did nothing but talk about vulgarities. Nie Huaisang, however, enabled Wei Wuxian's perverted jokes, and chimed in with some of his own from time to time too. The three of them were an odd group, but they got along with each other. Jiang Cheng was convinced that Nie Huaisang and Wen Ning were only friends with Wei Wuxian so that Wei Wuxian wouldn't beat them up in high school and were too far in at this point to back out, because surely nobody would actually want to hang out with Wei Wuxian. But Jiang Cheng was probably just jealous, since he struggled to make friends of his own.

 

At the very least, Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian's friends all wanted this date to succeed, and it was rare that both parties agreed with each other about Wei Wuxian. This did put some pressure on Wei Wuxian, but it also helped hype him up. He was going to win this Lan Wangji's heart. And his wallet. And maybe his dick.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian had been far too excited and hadn't slept well on Saturday night, his mind filled with thoughts about his date. He'd tossed and turned, quietly grinning and giggling to himself like an idiot. He was looking forward to being able to spend as much money as possible and just enjoy himself. He kept fantasising about what it'd be like to have an extremely rich boyfriend (husband, he had to remind himself), of which endless possibilities came to him.

 

Something that Wei Wuxian hadn't told his family was that he was actually rather lonely. He had no idea what to do with his future, as he didn't really have anything he wanted to achieve or become. He could've attended university, but he didn't know what he wanted to study, and he would feel extremely guilty asking his parents for such a huge amount of money. Even though Wei Wuxian had a loving family and supportive friends, he'd never truly felt like he'd belonged anywhere. Which was partially why he frequented a gay bar and had been known to go home with strangers in the early hours of the morning, only to have no recollection of the night's events and being confused when he woke up in an unfamiliar bed next to another naked man.

 

So the fact that he now potentially had the chance to meet someone who could maybe relieve him of his loneliness made him overjoyed. He knew he was setting his expectations too high and knew he'd just end up being disappointed that his date wasn't his own personal Prince Charming, but Wei Wuxian had an overactive imagination and couldn't help himself.

 


 

Wei Wuxian arrived at the restaurant five minutes before he was scheduled to. He'd spent an age doing his hair and making sure he looked acceptable. He'd been shopping with Jiang Cheng a few days beforehand to buy himself a suit to wear, as expensive restaurants annoyingly had dress-codes.

 

A man he recognised as Lan Wangji was standing at the bottom of the stairs that led to the restaurant, looking at something on his phone. Wei Wuxian took several deep breaths to calm himself before approaching him.

 

"U-Um, are you, er, Lan Wangji?" he spluttered.

Cool, Wei Ying, you've already fucked up!

The man looked up from his phone, which he pocketed. "I am," he nodded.

 

Wei Wuxian felt his breath hitch in the back of this throat. His mind -- and his heart -- started to race as he registered Lan Wangji.

 

Oh. My. God. Surely it's illegal to be this fucking handsome! His photo did him no justice at all! Is this... is this guy really my date? Holy shit. Holy shit.

 

He mentally slapped himself out of his thoughts, remembering that he needed to still introduce himself. "Uh, I'm Wei Wuxian," he said breathlessly. "N-Nice to meet you." He bowed out of respect -- something Wei Wuxian didn't always do.

"...Pleasure," Lan Wangji bowed even deeper in response. "Shall we go in?"

"Uh, yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Sure."

 

He followed Lan Wangji up the stairs and into the restaurant, captivated by his long, beautiful hair, which fell to just above his hips. Like his photo, it was tied up in a ponytail, and Wei Wuxian could see that it was held together by a white ribbon that was embroidered with light blue clouds.

 

After they were seated at a table in a private booth, Wei Wuxian was too awestruck to think of any questions to ask. This was someone completely out of his league. Someone who would never usually be involved with someone like Wei Wuxian.

 

A waitress approached their table before Wei Wuxian had said anything and handed them each a menu. "Can I get you two gentlemen anything to drink?" she asked, pen and notepad at the ready.

 

Wei Wuxian flicked to the list of beverages. His jaw almost fell off at the prices. Just how extravagant was this place? And these were just the drinks!

 

Thinking that his date wouldn't mind if he splurged a bit, he decided to order himself a glass of wine.

 

"One glass of Emperor's Smile, please," Wei Wuxian said cheerfully.

"Certainly," the waitress noted his order down. "And for you?"

 

Lan Wangji had still been looking at the menu. He glanced up at the waitress and said, extremely stoically, "Some fermented pu er, please."

"Understood," the waitress said as she finished writing. "I'll be back shortly."

 

Wei Wuxian hadn't considered that his date might not drink. "Uh, sorry," he mumbled, flashing Lan Wangji a guilty smile. "Do you mind if I drink? I'll probably just have a glass."

"Not at all," Lan Wangji replied, giving a single nod. "I do not mind."

"Awesome, thanks!" Wei Wuxian grinned and returned to looking at the menu.

 

Half of the dishes were things he hadn't even heard of before. He still hadn't decided when the waitress brought them their drinks, but Lan Wangji had chosen his meal: fried rice with duck. Wei Wuxian hastily picked something, since he figured everything was going to be good. In the end, he went with a spicy chilli chicken dish. Wei Wuxian loved spicy food.

 

As they waited for their food, Wei Wuxian slowly sipped at his wine. And he waited for Lan Wangji to say something. But Lan Wangji remained silent.

 

Oh no, Wei Wuxian thought slowly, Is he one of those people who doesn't talk at all?

 

He sighed internally. Maybe this guy was just shy. He was having lunch with a stranger, after all, and had probably been forced into this as well. If anything, he might not've wanted to be here at all, and had just agreed to the date so that his uncle would lay off him for a while.

 

"So... Lan Wangji," Wei Wuxian began, testing the waters, "What, uh, do you do for work?" It was a really basic question, but it was a good place to start.

"I help out with the family business," Lan Wangji replied, emotionlessly. "I am in charge of organising meetings and maintaining schedules."

"Oh, okay."

 

Sounds boring, Wei Wuxian wanted to say. He didn't care about finances and all that shit.

 

Silence fell again, only broken by them thanking the waitress for serving their food. The smell of Wei Wuxian's dish was overpowering, which meant it was going to be really spicy. He twirled his chopsticks in his fingers before taking a bite.

 

It was the best thing he'd ever tasted in his life. Sure, his sister's cooking was nothing to shake a stick at, and Jiang Cheng was actually competent in the kitchen, too. But this was on an entirely different level. It was just chicken, but god damn was it good. And extremely spicy, just how he liked it.

 

"How's your food?" Wei Wuxian asked Lan Wangji as he picked up another piece.

"Good," was all Lan Wangji said. "Yours?"

"Fucking incredible," Wei Wuxian replied, instantly realising that he probably shouldn't be swearing in front of such a person. He swallowed and quickly corrected himself: "I mean, uh, yeah, it's really good."

"I am glad," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian was too focused on his food to worry about small talk. He ate faster than was most likely polite, but he didn't care. He was enjoying himself. Lan Wangji ate at a much slower pace, sipping his tea every now and again, keeping his eyes on Wei Wuxian.

 

Eventually, Wei Wuxian finished eating and set his chopsticks down. He slouched back in his chair and sighed in satisfaction. "God that was delicious..." he mumbled, having forgotten anything about etiquette.

"Excuse me," Lan Wangji spoke quietly from across the table. Wei Wuxian assumed he was offended by his posture and sat up straight again.

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian took a swig of wine, which was now mostly gone.

"You... have sauce on your face," Lan Wangji whispered, pointing at Wei Wuxian's cheek.

"Oh? Damn, my bad!" Wei Wuxian quickly picked up a napkin and wiped every inch of the lower half of his face. Upon inspecting the napkin, it was stained with chilli powder and other spices. "Haha, whoops," he apologised, grinning at Lan Wangji. "Thanks! The food was so good, I forgot to keep an eye on that..."

"Not a problem," Lan Wangji said.

 

The silence was getting to Wei Wuxian. He was used to a noisy eating environment full of family arguments or teasing his friends. He tried to distract himself by studying Lan Wangji's gorgeous face instead, reminding himself that this wasn't a disaster yet and that the conversation might pick up after the other man had finished eating.

 

But even after Lan Wangji was finished with his meal, he went to drink his tea, still not staying anything. Wei Wuxian was finding this annoying.

 

"Uh, Lan Wangji?" he asked carefully.

"Yes?" Lan Wangji asked back.

"I heard your uncle's looking for a, er, husband for you," Wei Wuxian tried to remain casual. "But you're still pretty young. Don't you think it's too soon for marriage?"

 

Lan Wangji took a small sip of tea, as if delaying his answer. "I know my uncle wants what is best for me," he responded, placing the teacup down on the coaster gently. "Marriage... does not have to be immediate," he added, gazing out the window. Wei Wuxian's eyes followed along.

"Hmmm..." he said slowly. "I mean, like, is there anything you wanna do before you get married? Have you even been in a relationship before?"

Lan Wangji turned back to Wei Wuxian, who looked at him again as well. "I do not know," he replied. "One day, I will take over the family business. But until that time comes, I... am unsure."

 

Wei Wuxian was stunned. So they were alike in that regard. Neither of them knew what to do with themselves. At least Lan Wangji had an eventual plan for his life, but Wei Wuxian didn't even have that.

 

"As for relationships," Lan Wangji continued, glancing downwards, "I... have not. I did not tell my uncle about my preferences until recently, as I thought he would not approve."

Wei Wuxian blinked a few times. They really were similar in that sense, too. "How did you..." Wei Wuxian began quietly, making sure to keep his voice down, "Uh, figure out that you liked guys?"

Lan Wangji paused for a moment or so. "I... am unsure," he said again. "I think... I did not acknowledge it until recently myself, perhaps. But I was not interested in the women my brother kept suggesting to me."

Wei Wuxian wanted to laugh, but knew that that would definitely be all kinds of inappropriate. Instead, he forced a smile and said, "You know what? I completely understand that. I'm in the same boat as you, as it happens."

He noticed Lan Wangji's eyes widen for a second before he composed himself. "I see."

 

In many ways, Lan Wangji was perfect. He was tall, handsome, rich, hot, wealthy and didn't seem like a bad person. But he'd hardly spoken for the entire date. Wei Wuxian began to wonder if maybe it wasn't that Lan Wangji had rejected his previous dates, but rather that everyone who had been offered to him couldn't deal with the awkwardness of dead air for an hour.

 

Realising that they were done with their meals, their waitress returned. "Can I interest you in some dessert?" she enquired as she picked up the dishes.

"I'll pass," Wei Wuxian said. "I'm completely stuffed! It was delicious though, thanks!" he smiled at her. "What about you, Lan Wangji?"

"I will also pass," Lan Wangji responded. He turned to the waitress and thanked her.

"I'll bring you your cheque in that case," the waitress said. "Please wait a moment." She left.

 

"Are you okay getting home?" Lan Wangji asked. Wei Wuxian was surprised that he'd said something without being prompted.

"I was just gonna take the train," Wei Wuxian said. "Why?"

"You have been drinking," Lan Wangji explained, with a vague hint of concern in his voice. "If you would like, I can drive you."

 

Wei Wuxian almost fell out of his chair. This guy drove? As in, he owned a car? Despite being the same age as him? Wei Wuxian couldn't say no to that.

 

"I mean... if you're offering," Wei Wuxian tried to remain casual. "It's not too far away."

"Understood," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

They paid for their lunch (or, Lan Wangji paid; Wei Wuxian was too scared to even look at the total cost) before walking to Lan Wangji's car. Which was, as far as Wei Wuxian could tell, a new, luxury model. Of course.

 

Lan Wangji held open the passenger door, gesturing for Wei Wuxian to get in. "T-Thanks..." Wei Wuxian said with an appreciative nod, hopping in and fastening his seatbelt. Lan Wangji closed the door and walked around to the other side of the car and sat down before shutting his own door.

"What is your address?" Lan Wangji asked as he turned the car on and went to the selection screen of his GPS.

"Here, I can do it!" Wei Wuxian offered, leaning over and tapping his address in. He'd only had one glass of wine, he wasn't feeling it at all. Lan Wangji was just worrying about it, probably.

"Thank you," Lan Wangji said, hitting the 'enter' button.

 

Wei Wuxian relaxed in his seat. It was extremely comfortable and made out of high-quality leather. The car was spacious and it felt even better with the cool breeze provided by the aircon.

The only thing Wei Wuxian couldn't help but notice was that Lan Wangji didn't play any music. Wei Wuxian wasn't sure if he simply didn't listen to music, or if he was embarrassed about his tastes and didn't want to share them.

He glanced over at Lan Wangji as they pulled out of the carpark, once again taken by his date's stupidly handsome profile. Wei Wuxian had made a fool of himself, most likely, yet Lan Wangji had been well-behaved the entire time. He may not have talked much, but at least by not talking he was less likely to say something he'd regret. Maybe that was his tactic and he'd open up if he got to know Wei Wuxian a bit better...

 

They arrived outside the Jiangs' house and Lan Wangji turned the engine off. Wei Wuxian almost didn't want to get out of the car. It was nice and comfy in here, for several reasons.

 

"Wait," Lan Wangji said as Wei Wuxian took off his seatbelt.

"What's up?" Wei Wuxian asked.

Lan Wangji paused. "May... I have your phone number?" he stared at Wei Wuxian, his pale eyes piercing into his soul. He was breathtakingly gorgeous.

"Uh, sure," Wei Wuxian said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. Lan Wangji retrieved his phone as well.

 

They exchanged numbers.

 

"I had fun today!" Wei Wuxian grinned happily at him. "Thanks for letting me have such a good lunch!"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. "I... also had fun."

Seriously? Wei Wuxian thought. You just sat there quietly the whole time, dude. Well, whatever. So long as you didn't completely hate it.

 

Wei Wuxian went to stand up and open the door, but Lan Wangji grabbed his wrist. "Wait," he said again. What now?

"...Yeah?" Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow.

Lan Wangji inhaled. "W-When would you like to next meet up?" he asked.

 

He was already thinking about future dates? It wasn't like Wei Wuxian had a busy schedule, so he thought for a moment. "Uh, I can do whenever," he said. "What suits you best?"

"I am free Thursday," Lan Wangji told him, his grip still tight.

"T-Thursday sounds good." Wei Wuxian was, for some reason, too scared to try and free his wrist. "How about afternoon?"

 

He wasn't really opposed to another date. If he got another free meal, he was willing to put up with the lack of conversation or anything interesting going on.

 

"Would you... like to come over to my house?"

 

His house? On the second fucking date?

 

Wei Wuxian paused. No, think this over, he told himself. He lives with other people, and he barely knows you. He's not gonna do anything to you, dude.

 

Wei Wuxian, being the idiot he was, smiled and said, "Yeah, sure!"

 

To his shock, he found himself being pulled forward. He had to use his hand to steady himself on the seat.

 

To his shock, he found himself being kissed.

 

On the lips.

 

Wei Wuxian froze. He'd kissed several men before, of course. But there was something different about this particular kiss.

 

As Lan Wangji pulled back, he let go of Wei Wuxian's wrist. Wei Wuxian stayed there, stunned for a few moments, unsure of how to react.

 

Once he came to his senses, he quickly collected his wallet and phone and shakily exited the car. Before shutting the door, he did, however, say one last thing to Lan Wangji: "I'm looking forward to Thursday."

 

Wei Wuxian waved goodbye as Lan Wangji drove off before he slowly made his way down the front path of the Jiangs' house.

 

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh. My. GOD. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

What the fuck are you gonna do NOW, Wei Ying?!

 

He went straight to his room, not wanting to have to explain things to his family just yet. He collapsed onto his bed, burying his face into his pillow, every inch of him screaming internally and wanting to externally scream, too.

 

After he'd calmed down slightly, he rolled onto his back and collected his breath and his thoughts. He reached for his phone and tapped on the group chat he had with Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang.

 

Wei Wuxian: YOU GUYS

Wei Wuxian: OH MY GOD

Wen Ning: HOWD IT GO????

Nie Huaisang: u get dick??

Wei Wuxian: no dick

Wei Wuxian: yet

Nie Huaisang: yet?

Wei Wuxian: next date thurs

Wei Wuxian: at his house

Nie Huaisang: o dam

Wen Ning: aaaaaa gud luck!!!!

Wei Wuxian: guys

Wei Wuxian: guys hes so hot i think im gonna die every time i look at him

Nie Huaisang: hell yeah

Wen Ning: do u think u like him?

Wei Wuxian: i like his face

Wei Wuxian: sadly hes boring af

Nie Huaisang: o fuc, im sorry

Wen Ning: mayb hes just shy

Wei Wuxian: i think thats it

Wei Wuxian: i mean

Wei Wuxian: he kissed me

Wen Ning: OMG

Wen Ning: way 2 go!

Nie Huaisang: next step is 2 kiss his dick not his lips

Wen Ning: 😳😳

Wei Wuxian: maybe not yet

Wei Wuxian: don wanna scare him off u no

Nie Huaisang: fair

 

He took ages to come down from his high enough to change into something more casual, excited to tell his family about his day. They were all very pleased for him, and Jiang Cheng shouted in triumph when Wei Wuxian announced that he had another date. Even though this had nothing to do with Jiang Cheng.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian was immediately put off by how fucking huge the Lans' house was. It sat in the middle of a large section of land, surrounded by high fences so that you couldn't see anything inside. He had to walk down a long brick pathway, past numerous immaculately trimmed bushes and hedges. There were several different kinds of plants and flowers, all displayed neatly and the grass had recently been mowed.

 

He'd had to speak into an intercom before being allowed in the front gates, which had been answered by Lan Wangji's brother, who had been informed of Wei Wuxian's visit. He sounded enthusiastic, which was a nice contrast to Lan Wangji's unemotional voice.

 

Wei Wuxian paused when he reached the front doors. He double-checked that his clothes were free of wrinkles and dust and rang the doorbell, psyching himself up. This date was going to be fun. He was going to make it fun if he had to, dammit!

 

The door was answered by someone who appeared to be a servant. Wei Wuxian's first thought was They have servants? I guess I shouldn't be surprised... He was taken to a living room that was about twice the size of the one at his own house.

 

The walls of the house were white and bare, save for a few traditional-style pieces of artwork. The ceiling was high and decorated with fancy lights that looked like they would shatter in an earthquake. Wei Wuxian felt even more out of place here than he had at the restaurant.

 

The servant told him to sit on a cushion by the table while he went to fetch the Lans.

 

Wei Wuxian paid extra attention to his posture, forcing himself to sit up straight and kneel properly. He never really sat on the floor at home, so this was somewhat strange for him. He gazed around the room as he waited, admiring the expensive furniture and large bookcases that were densely stocked with books. Most of them probably boring to someone like Wei Wuxian, who only really read erotic fiction.

 

A few minutes later, Lan Wangji entered the room, followed by a man who looked extremely similar to him -- his brother, Wei Wuxian assumed. He stood up and greeted them.

 

"T-Thanks for having me," Wei Wuxian said, making sure to bow deeply. He didn't want to piss off a family this rich.

Lan Wangji bowed back. "Thank you for coming," he replied. He gestured to the other man. "This is my older brother."

"Nice to meet you," Lan Wangji's brother said, smiling. "I'm Lan Xichen. Thanks for doing this for him." He bowed as well.

"Uh, not at all," Wei Wuxian replied awkwardly, bowing again. "The pleasure's mine -- I'm Wei Wuxian."

 

Lan Xichen sat down on the opposite side of the table to where Wei Wuxian had been placed. Lan Wangji sat down next to him, and Wei Wuxian returned to where he'd been previously. "Wangji's told me a lot about you," Lan Xichen said cheerfully. "He said he really enjoyed your date last weekend, too!"

 

Did he now? Wei Wuxian questioned, but only internally. "Uh, yeah, me too," he mumbled. He wasn't entirely lying. The food had been good.

"See, Wangji?" Lan Xichen smiled at his brother. "I told you he would've!"

"Mmn." Lan Wangji was looking down at the carpet.

 

After not having seen him for several days, Wei Wuxian had forgotten how handsome Lan Wangji was. His brother was very attractive too, but in a different way. Lan Xichen had softer facial features and was much more expressive (as in, his face actually changed as he talked). Wei Wuxian preferred the sharper look of Lan Wangji, if he was talking purely about their faces. Both brothers had similar builds, too, and seemed to be the same height as well.

 

"So, Wei Wuxian," Lan Xichen began, "Tell me a bit about what you do."

"Er..." Wei Wuxian paused for some reason. "I just work part-time sometimes, but I'm currently between jobs. My friend works at a bakery and I sometimes help out there, although I've also helped deliver newspapers in the past..."

"I see," Lan Xichen said. "Are you studying at all?"

"...Nah, I'm not," Wei Wuxian answered. He was suddenly extremely self-conscious of his lack of achievements in life. Especially compared to these two.

 

This made him feel like he really wasn't suited for someone like Lan Wangji, who was going to be inheriting his family's business one day. Wei Wuxian also realised that he hadn't asked Lan Wangji about his studies.

 

About this point in the conversation, the servant from earlier returned with tea for the three of them. Lan Xichen began drinking.

 

"Do you go to university, Lan Wangji?" Wei Wuxian asked, turning to the younger brother.

"I do," Lan Wangji answered, once again emotionless. "I am hoping to attain a business degree."

"Makes sense!" Wei Wuxian nodded. "How much more studying do you have to go?"

"About... a year and a half," Lan Wangji replied. He took a sip of his tea.

 

A year and a half wasn't too long.

 

"Couldn't your uncle have waited for you to get married after you got your degree?" Wei Wuxian queried. "This might affect your grades, right?"

Lan Xichen laughed. "Wangji's a hard worker," he said fondly. "I don't think this would affect his grades..." he paused. "Although," he added, sighing, "I did try to convince Uncle to wait until after Wangji had graduated before finding him a husband. But he said it was better to do it now."

 

Wei Wuxian remembered what Lan Wangji had said on their date last Sunday: that he wasn't sure about the whole idea. But he knew not to raise it, since he wasn't sure if Lan Wangji had told his brother about his insecurities.

 

"Hmmm..." Wei Wuxian tried his tea as he thought. "I dunno," he said. "You're twenty-one, right, Lan Wangji?"

"Yes, I am," Lan Wangji responded.

"You've got your whole life ahead of you..." Wei Wuxian sighed. "It seems like a waste. You should go out there and have fun first, really."

 

Wait, what am I saying? Wei Wuxian wanted to hit himself. This makes it sound as though I don't want to marry him. I mean, I don't. But I do? I don't fucking know.

 

"S-Sorry," he apologised quickly. "I didn't mean it like that! I just -- y'know. You said you had no experience with relationships, so, uh..." he trailed off, drinking some more tea as an excuse.

"...I understand," Lan Wangji said.

 

Lan Xichen gave his brother a pat on the shoulder. "If Wangji had a bit more confidence I think he'd very easily find himself a boyfriend," he commented.

Wei Wuxian laughed, perhaps a bit too loudly. "I agree!" he grinned at Lan Wangji. "You're cute, so I think lots of guys would like you if you talked to them." That might've been a bit rude, shit. Do I apologise? Or not make a big deal out of it?

Lan Xichen sighed and shook his head. "That's what I've been trying to tell him."

At least you understand, Wei Wuxian wanted to say.

 

Lan Wangji said nothing and sipped on his tea.

 

"Oh, right!" Lan Xichen clapped his hands together. "Wangji, didn't you want to show him your darlings?"

 

Wei Wuxian was very confused. Darlings? What the fuck?

 

"Mmn," Lan Wangji said. "I did."

"Then you should," Lan Xichen smiled. "I'll leave you two alone for a while. I have work to do anyway." He gave Wei Wuxian a guilty look, as if apologising for being an unwanted party. Except Wei Wuxian actually appreciated his company, because he actually fucking talked.

 

Lan Xichen stood up, after which Lan Wangji followed. Wei Wuxian only rose after the brothers were properly standing.

 

"This way," Lan Wangji instructed, leaving the room in a different direction to Lan Xichen (who smiled at Wei Wuxian again before heading on his way).

 

Wei Wuxian walked a few paces behind Lan Wangji, enchanted by his hair again. It was worn in a ponytail again today, with the same white ribbon holding it together. Something inside Wei Wuxian made him want to tug on it, but he refrained.

 

Lan Wangji led him to the back garden, which was almost as huge as the front yard. It had a vegetable patch, some fruit trees -- and a large cage sitting in the middle. Lan Wangji walked over to the cage. Wei Wuxian followed him, curious to see what was inside.

 

He watched as Lan Wangji lifted the lid of the cage and let out a chuckle as he noticed the creatures it was housing. Lan Wangji gently picked one of them up in his arms and held it out so that Wei Wuxian could take it.

 

Wei Wuxian carefully took the rabbit from Lan Wangji as he showed his guest how to hold it properly.

 

"It's super cute!" Wei Wuxian cooed, smiling at the rabbit. It was dark brown with a few white spots. "What's its name?"

"Her name is Doudou," Lan Wangji explained.

"Aww!" Wei Wuxian cooed again, scratching Doudou behind her ears. "You're really fluffy, Doudou!" He patted her some more.

 

Wei Wuxian handed Doudou back to Lan Wangji. "What about the other two?" he asked.

 

Lan Wangji put Doudou back in the cage and picked up another rabbit. This one was pure white. "Fangtang," Lan Wangji said, passing Fangtang to Wei Wuxian.

 

FangTang struggled a bit at being held by someone new. "Whoa!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, having to hold on to her tightly. "Stay still, Fangtang!"

"...Stop," Lan Wangji said firmly to Fangtang, who instantly ceased wriggling.

"I'm impressed, Lan Wangji!" Wei Wuxian grinned. He waited a few moments before gently petting her back. "And you're cute too, when you're behaving!" he added cheekily, laughing softly.

 

He heard a strange noise and wondered if it was one of the rabbits, but when he looked up he saw Lan Wangji watching the two rabbits that were in the cage, rather than Wei Wuxian and Fangtang.

 

Huh...

 

"Can I hold the other one?" Wei Wuxian asked, prompting Lan Wangji to turn around.

"Mmn," he mumbled, retrieving Fangtang and exchanging her for the last rabbit, which was light grey. "Jiaozi," he said before Wei Wuxian could open his mouth.

 

What the hell? These names are really fucking adorable, Wei Wuxian thought as he gave Jiaozi scratches on the head. They don't go with his image at all! It was rather endearing, in a way.

 

Wei Wuxian decided to tease him a bit.

 

"Jiaozi~" he cooed playfully, holding the rabbit up near his face. "Jiaozi~ you're cuuuute~! I wanna eat you up just like a real dumpling~!" His voice got more high-pitched and stupid with every word. He turned to face Lan Wangji and grinned. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna actually eat 'em!"

"..." Lan Wangji didn't seem to appreciate the joke and took Jiaozi back.

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly. "Hahaha... Lan Wangji, please!" he giggled. "I wouldn't hurt your rabbits! They're really cute!" He grinned again. "Almost as cute as you!" Wait... uh. That was a bit weird.

 

He noticed Lan Wangji's eyebrows narrow ever so slightly. "Do... you have any pets, Wei Wuxian?" he asked, closing the lid on the cage.

"Nah," Wei Wuxian replied. "I don't think I'd do a good job. I'm scared of dogs, so they're out of the question, and my brother's allergic to cats, so I can't have them..."

"Why... are you scared of dogs?" Lan Wangji asked quietly.

"I used to get bitten by stray dogs when I was a kid," Wei Wuxian shrugged, looking off into the distance. "There just happened to be a lot near where I lived, and I was a dumb kid who kept throwing my ball where they'd hang out and I was too stubborn to give my ball to them." He turned back to Lan Wangji and forced a smile. "Stupid, right?"

"Not at all," Lan Wangji shook his head. "Everyone has... fears."

 

He didn't want to admit that he'd made his reasoning up. In truth, he was scared of dogs because he was attacked by them many times while living on the streets after his parents disappeared. He'd had to fight packs of wild dogs for food on multiple occasions, and he was quite lucky to have gotten away relatively unscathed.

 

Wei Wuxian smiled at him, genuinely this time. "Yeah, you're right," he said. "They do indeed."

 

 

Maybe he could get used to Lan Wangji. It really did seem like he was just shy and meant well. But even though he'd spoken more this time, it still wasn't enough to satisfy Wei Wuxian's extroverted personality.

 

"Hey, Lan Wangji," he said, "Why do you like rabbits so much?" It was another simple question, but he could tell Lan Wangji really did care about his rabbits. They were all well-groomed and happy. Wei Wuxian watched them chase each other around in the case.

"They... are cute," Lan Wangji replied quietly. "And they are nice to touch."

"Haha, they sure are!" Wei Wuxian agreed.

"Mmn."

 

He knew what Lan Wangji was getting at. Someone who probably didn't have many friends most likely found comfort through animals.

 

What was it that had made someone like him so damn shy? He was the son of a prestigious family, after all. Or, maybe it was precisely because of the demands of his family that he had become so closed off. Wei Wuxian was intrigued. And what had happened to his parents? Had they just abandoned him and his brother to be raised by their uncle, or were they dead? If so, how did they die?

 

There were so many questions he wanted to ask Lan Wangji, but at the current rate, it would take him a lifetime to find out everything he wanted to know. Despite being incredibly boring, Lan Wangji was somehow equally as interesting. Wei Wuxian was torn.

 

The only way he could keep interrogating Lan Wangji was if they kept hanging out and going on dates.

 

"Wei Wuxian," Lan Wangji said suddenly, causing the aforementioned man to snap back to reality.

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"If you do not mind..." Lan Wangji mumbled. "I... would like to show you my guqin playing."

"Oh yeah, you said you can play the guqin!" Wei Wuxian said. "Sure, why not? Let's hear it!" he grinned again.

 

Lan Wangji took Wei Wuxian to a room upstairs that contained several musical instruments. His guqin sat in the middle, already set up. "Sit," he told Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian sat on a stool next to him.

 

As soon as Lan Wangji started plucking the guqin, Wei Wuxian found himself being transported thousands of miles away to somewhere magical. The music resonated through his body, mind and soul. It was exquisite yet simple. Humble. Enthralling.

 

Wei Wuxian listened to a wide variety of music, but nothing too classical. He'd dabbled in the flute when he was younger but ended up not pursuing it. He hadn't heard much of the guqin being played before, but... if it always sounded this ethereal...

 

The song ended before Wei Wuxian wanted it to. It rang in his ears even after the guqin's strings had stopped being plucked. It took him a while to remember that he should complement the musician.

 

"That's amazing..." Wei Wuxian said breathlessly. "You're really damn good, Lan Wangji!"

"...Thank you," Lan Wangji nodded.

"What song was that?" Wei Wuxian asked him. "I wanna try and find it to listen to."

Lan Wangji glanced away for a moment. "I... It is an original piece."

 

Wei Wuxian couldn't stop himself from gasping. "You wrote that? Holy shit, that's incredible! I could never do that!"

 

Lan Wangji nodded again. "If... you want," he said, extremely quietly, "I could... record myself playing it for you."

Wei Wuxian's face lit up. "Really?!" he beamed. "That'd be wonderful! It's fine if you just record it on your phone and send it to me!"

"Okay," Lan Wangji replied. "I will do that when I have the time."

"Does the song have a name?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"...Not yet," Lan Wangji answered. "I have been unable to think of one."

"Ah, yeah, I get you!" Wei Wuxian smiled. "But seriously -- wow, Lan Wangji. If you ever released that song I'd totally buy it!"

"You are exaggerating," Lan Wangji muttered, not looking at him.

"I'm not!" Wei Wuxian protested. "You really are that good, dude!"

"...Thank you," Lan Wangji said again.

 

They sat there in silence before Wei Wuxian decided he should probably head home. He figured Lan Wangji would've had enough of him for now, and asked him if he'd like to meet up again sometime next week. They agreed to a movie date for the following Saturday. Wei Wuxian was allowed to pick the movie, as Lan Wangji said he normally didn't see movies.

 

Wei Wuxian conversed with his friends again once he was home.

 

Wei Wuxian: he has a super fancy house

Wei Wuxian: like... its fucking massive

Nie Huaisang: wow

Wen Ning: jealous!

Wei Wuxian: also no dick

Wei Wuxian: no kiss this time either

Nie Huaisang: dam, wut u do?

Wei Wuxian: nothin

Wei Wuxian: his brother was home

Nie Huaisang: ah

Nie Huaisang: gotcha

Wen Ning: is his brother nice?

Wei Wuxian: yea

Wei Wuxian: knows how 2 talk 2 ppl!

Wen Ning: im sure ur date wil learn 😀

Nie Huaisang: is bro hot?

Wei Wuxian: yep

Wei Wuxian: that familys unfair!

Wei Wuxian: also

Wei Wuxian: he showed me his rabbits

Wen Ning: ?

Nie Huaisang: is that a euphemism

Wei Wuxian: no

Wei Wuxian: he has 3 pet rabbits... they all have stupidly cute names

Wen Ning: aww! i luv rabbits ^^

Wei Wuxian: theyre really cute

Nie Huaisang: did u arrange another date

Wei Wuxian: yeah

Wei Wuxian: movie on sat next week

Wen Ning: awesome! which movie?

Wei Wuxian: dunno yet

Nie Huaisang: cant suck his dick at a cinema

Wei Wuxian: i dont want his dick just yet omg

Wei Wuxian: ill get it eventually tho lol

Nie Huaisang: u better

Nie Huaisang: u deserve it

Wen Ning: hope u hav fun!!!!

Wei Wuxian: thnx!! 💪

 


 

Wei Wuxian received a video of Lan Wangji playing his guqin the next afternoon. He watched it on repeat, completely captivated. He wanted to show his family, but at the same time he wanted to keep it to himself. It felt personal.

 

He spent the next several days mulling over which movie to see. He had no idea what sort of films Lan Wangji enjoyed, if any. Maybe something historical? But those were usually boring.

 

Wei Wuxian ended up asking Jiang Cheng for recommendations. If the movie was awful, at least he could blame it on his brother.

Chapter Text

This time, Wei Wuxian wasn't as excited about his date. He found Lan Wangji hard to talk to and still didn't know much about him. After much consideration, he'd decided that today would be their last date, and he'd end things here. It wasn't that he disliked Lan Wangji, but he knew that they wouldn't be compatible, and that Lan Wangji probably wouldn't be happy spending a lifetime with someone like Wei Wuxian. Three dates were enough to gauge a person in Wei Wuxian's mind, especially since he usually gave up on someone after just one date.

 

The good thing about a movie date was that they didn't have to talk for most of it, and all Wei Wuxian had to do was tell him how he felt at the end.

 

Jiang Cheng had suggested a movie that was a romantic comedy, saying that it might help set the mood. Wei Wuxian did like a good romance, but he wasn't sure if Lan Wangji would be one for sappy shit -- or funny shit, but he still went with it.

 

They ate at the theatre's food court beforehand for lunch, the only topic of conversation being about the movie. Wei Wuxian was slightly disappointed, but not surprised.

 

Lan Wangji was dressed nicely as always, wearing his hair up again. Wei Wuxian wondered if he had any hair ribbons other than the one he'd seen him wear, or if he just used that one for special occasions or something. He didn't ask.

 

After Lan Wangji finished eating, he actually spoke: "Did you... get that video I sent you?"

Wei Wuxian was so taken aback he almost choked on his soda. "Oh! Yeah! I did!" he answered, smiling widely. "It's great, thanks! I've listened to it a bunch already..."

"I am glad," Lan Wangji said. "I... have never played that song for someone else before."

"O-Oh..." Then why'd you show it to me? Wei Wuxian wondered. You could've played me literally any other song in the world and I wouldn't have cared.

"We should get going," Lan Wangji glanced at his watch. "The movie is starting soon."

"Uh, right, yeah."

 

Wei Wuxian ordered another soda and a large bag of popcorn for the movie. Lan Wangji only asked for a water. Wei Wuxian was starting to come to the conclusion that he didn't like sweet things.

 

Their seats were towards the middle of the theatre, which was rather crowded with young couples. Wei Wuxian wondered if any of them realised they were a couple, because, to him, they sure didn't act like one.

 

Once the movie started and Wei Wuxian had snacked on some popcorn, he decided to try something. Using his clean hand, he hovered above Lan Wangji's hand, which was sitting on the armrest. Lan Wangji was fixated on the movie and didn't notice, so Wei Wuxian slowly, gently placed his hand on top of Lan Wangji's.

 

Instantly, Lan Wangji jerked his hand away and moved it to his lap. He only glanced at Wei Wuxian for a moment before looking at the screen again. Wei Wuxian couldn't work out his expression.

 

Did he hate it that much? It was weird, Wei Wuxian thought. Lan Wangji had grabbed his wrist and kissed him on their first date. Yet, he hadn't done anything since then. Had Lan Wangji thought he'd overstepped his boundaries and was now being overly cautious? Or did he just not like touch that he didn't initiate?

 

Wei Wuxian sighed internally. This was another reason why he felt they weren't compatible. He was a human who craved physical contact. He loved everything from high-fives to full-on hugs and beyond. One of the reasons why he'd had a few one-night stands was for similar reasons. He simply wanted to feel the warmth of another human being, and sometimes he was so desperate that he didn't care if it was a random stranger he met at the bar.

 

He'd always been careful with who he went home with, although he didn't remember most of them as he tended to get extremely drunk before hooking up with someone. Of course, the other party was usually wasted by that point in the night, too, which meant nothing happened beyond sex, and Wei Wuxian usually passed out afterwards.

 

This behaviour made his family worry about him. He knew they hated his lifestyle, so he'd tried to cut down on his bar visits and held back when he did. If he got drunk now, it tended to be at Wen Ning's or Nie Huaisang's places where he was with familiar company that could look after him. Nie Huaisang usually drank with him, but Wen Ning had a comically low alcohol tolerance so he tended not to partake. Wen Ning always made sure Wei Wuxian was okay if he'd been drinking, and went above and beyond for him, which Wei Wuxian was eternally grateful for. He didn't know why Wen Ning was so damn nice to him, but he was adamant that he was going to repay his friend one day when he could.

 

The movie was boring. Wei Wuxian found it more interesting to watch Lan Wangji's profile, observing the subtle and minuscule changes in his expression. He seemed to be enjoying the movie, even though it was extremely generic. Wei Wuxian figured that Lan Wangji hadn't seen enough movies to know what 'generic' meant, however.

 

Or maybe Wei Wuxian was just an asshole, because when the lights came on as the credits rolled, he noticed that several people were talking about how emotional it was, and some were even crying.

 

"What'd you think?" he asked Lan Wangji, figuring he should at least be polite.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. "I enjoyed it."

"...Yeah, me too," Wei Wuxian lied.

 

Wei Wuxian followed Lan Wangji in silence to his car (he'd agreed to take Wei Wuxian home again). Wei Wuxian was trying to find the right moment to explain his thoughts and tell Lan Wangji that it wasn't working out. But he couldn't. He still hadn't said anything as they got in the car and drove off.

 

I'll tell him when we get home, Wei Wuxian thought. That way it won't be awkward. I have to do this, I can't keep leading him on.

 

Lan Wangji didn't talk to him. So much for finding out more about him, then. He'd end this without knowing much about this fascinating man, but that was just the way things worked.

 

As they pulled up in front of the Jiangs' house, Wei Wuxian took a deep breath.

 

"Lan Wa--"

"Wei Wuxian."

"Yeah?"

Aw, shit.

Lan Wangji looked at him, as if urging him to continue.

"Y-You go first," Wei Wuxian mumbled awkwardly. "It's not important." Yes it is, you fucking moron. Stop stalling.

"When are you next free?"

Aw, SHIT.

His gaze was intense and intimidating. All thoughts Wei Wuxian was having about dumping him suddenly flew out the window. Maybe one last date wouldn't hurt. That'd give him more time to plan how he'd break up with him, too.

 

"A-Any time," Wei Wuxian said automatically. No, Wei Ying! he yelled at himself.

"Would you like to go to lunch on Wednesday?" Lan Wangji asked in a tone that made it hard to decline.

"...Sure," Wei Wuxian answered, because he was an idiot.

 

Lan Wangji didn't kiss him this time as he got out of the car.

 

Lan Wangji was trying. Wei Wuxian knew that. And he felt guilty for wanting to end things. But he also knew it just wasn't going to happen.

 

They were complete opposites. If Lan Wangji learnt more about Wei Wuxian, he'd most likely hate him. There was nothing much redeeming about him other than that he was loyal to his friends and family (and he considered himself to be somewhat amusing). A person as outstanding as Lan Wangji needed someone better than Wei Wuxian. Not just because of their differences in social status, but because Wei Wuxian wasn't sure if he could cope living with such a quiet, serious man. No matter how hot he was.

 


 

Jiang Cheng was home when Wei Wuxian returned.

 

"How'd your date go?" his brother asked him casually as Wei Wuxian walked past the living room.

 

He decided to entertain Jiang Cheng, so he sat down next to him.

 

"The movie sucked," Wei Wuxian said with a laugh. "Some generic romance story with forced drama and a happy ending."

"Then pick something yourself next time," Jiang Cheng huffed, putting down the newspaper he was reading. "What did he think of the movie?"

"He said he liked it," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "I don't think he's watched many movies."

"Or you just have shit tastes," Jiang Cheng suggested, half-jokingly.

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "That too, probably."

 

Wei Wuxian was about to tell Jiang Cheng his plans when Jiang Cheng asked, "When's your next date?"

 

Wei Wuxian paused. "Wednesday," he replied slowly. "We're just going out for lunch again."

Jiang Cheng picked up on his apprehension. "Why are you hesitating?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

He sighed deeply and collected his thoughts. "I... Jiang Cheng, I can't do this to him," he choked.

"...What do you mean?" Jiang Cheng shifted slightly in his seat.

"I... he's a nice guy," Wei Wuxian began, his voice shaking a little. "But he's so fucking boring. He doesn't talk, like, at all, unless you prompt him. And even then he only gives single-sentence answers. He doesn't like being touched, I've never seen his expression change -- he smiles even less than you do!" Jiang Cheng clicked his tongue in protest. "I just... he doesn't have any idea what he's doing, and it's unfair on him. I think he should go out and explore before getting married."

 

Jiang Cheng sat there as he unpacked what Wei Wuxian had said. "Hmm," he said slowly, "So what you're saying is that he's too serious for your liking?"

"Yeah, exactly!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "Honestly, I wanted to break up with him today," he admitted, "But I couldn't do it. He's hard to say no to. Especially with that handsome face of his." He paused. "Anyway," he continued, sighing again, "It's not that I dislike him. But I can't see myself ever loving him. Especially not for marriage. There'll be someone out there who will, I'm sure of it. I'm just... not that person."

 

He felt himself tearing up slightly, which was unlike him. He wasn't used to feeling guilty, especially not like this.

 

"You should do what you feel is right," Jiang Cheng said firmly. "And if you feel that it's right to end this... I do agree that you should do it sooner rather than later. Save him the heartbreak."

"I know," Wei Wuxian sighed, looking down at the floor. "I just know he's gonna be upset, and Madam Yu's gonna be disappointed..." he turned to face Jiang Cheng. "Are you disappointed, Jiang Cheng?"

Jiang Cheng shrugged. "It's not my business," he said. "I was happy you were given the opportunity, but I wouldn't want you in a loveless marriage..." he added bitterly, "You know, like my parents'."

 

It was no secret that Madam Yu and Jiang Fengmian's marriage had always been a bit rocky. Despite having produced two children, the couple tended to keep their lives separate and focus on their respective jobs. Things had started to downhill when Jiang Fengmian adopted Wei Wuxian, and at school there had been rumours that Wei Wuxian was actually Jiang Cheng's biological half-brother, since Jiang Fengmian favoured Wei Wuxian over his own son at times. But Wei Wuxian had memories of his parents, and knew that they were indeed his biological parents.

 

Wei Wuxian did feel responsible for the strained relationship, however, since Madam Yu had vocally been against adopting him from the start. That was why he'd been surprised when they'd supported him after he opened up about being gay and why he couldn't believe it when Madam Yu announced she'd set him up with a date in the first place.

 

But in the end, Wei Wuxian always betrayed her expectations. Admitting this to Jiang Cheng was hard enough, but he didn't want to have to explain it to Madam Yu, who would surely be annoyed with him. Hell, Wei Wuxian was annoyed with himself.

 

But this was better for both of them.

 

"Do you want me to speak to our parents for you?"

 

Wei Wuxian's eyes widened as Jiang Cheng spoke. He sounded genuinely concerned, and seemed to understand what Wei Wuxian was worried about.

 

"...Please," Wei Wuxian begged, trying not to cry. "I know this is pathetic. I should be able to do it myself, but... I don't know what to say to them."

"I'll inform them tonight when they get home," Jiang Cheng said. "And it's not pathetic. But you absolutely have to break up with him next time, got it?"

Wei Wuxian managed a grin. "I know, I know!" he said. "I'm not worried about telling him, I just couldn't find the right time to do it today..."

 

He just deserves someone better than me, that's all. Someone who can truly appreciate him for who he is. Someone who... actually loves him.

 

He decided not to tell his friends until afterwards, since he knew they'd worry about him. And also be disappointed.

 

The week felt like it dragged on forever, but in a bad way this time, the guilt chewing at him. Jiang Cheng told their parents, who said that they wanted what was best for Wei Wuxian and weren't bothered by it. Madam Yu apparently had said that she'd been skeptical since the beginning, but had wanted Wei Wuxian to give it a try anyway. Wei Wuxian was, once again, amazed by how supportive they were, and cursed himself for not being good enough.

 

Wen Ning invited him over on Monday night, so Wei Wuxian hung out with him and had a good time playing video games and teasing his friend. He realised he felt much more relaxed in Wen Ning's company than he did in Lan Wangji's. Lan Wangji would never make jokes about his older sibling (Wen Ning lived with his older sister Wen Qing, who was a doctor), nor would he probably know what a video game even was. Wen Ning didn't mention Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian didn't bring him up, either.

 

He ended up staying at Wen Ning's overnight as he had a few beers, but Wen Ning was at least used to that. He kept pestering Wei Wuxian to eat along with his alcohol, and also bothered him about water.

 

Wen Ning gave good hugs, especially to a Wei Wuxian who was drunk enough to want to cuddle with his best friend. Sober Wei Wuxian would only hug Wen Ning playfully, but drunk Wei Wuxian was quite clingy. Wen Ning never protested or complained and always let Wei Wuxian hug him as much as he wanted to.

 

Quite why, Wei Wuxian wasn't sure. But he was extremely glad that he had such a good friend he could always rely on.

 

After he got home on Tuesday, slightly hungover, he began to fret about Wednesday.

 

Just how the fuck was he going to break up with Lan Wangji?

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian had arranged to meet Lan Wangji at a western-style cafe for lunch. He didn't feel like eating much that day, as he'd been mulling over breaking up with Lan Wangji all night and hadn't slept well.

 

He even arrived a few minutes after their scheduled time. Lan Wangji was waiting outside the cafe, phone in his hand. He quickly walked over to Wei Wuxian when he saw him.

 

"S-Sorry I'm late..." Wei Wuxian mumbled, hands in his pockets. He hadn't bothered with his appearance as much today. "I missed my train."

"I see," Lan Wangji said, putting his phone away. "I was just about to message you..."

 

I'm only like three minutes late, dude, chill out, Wei Wuxian groaned in his mind.

 

Wei Wuxian forced a laugh. "Shall we go in?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded, leading Wei Wuxian into the cafe.

 

The cafe was small and compact but had a lively atmosphere. They were seated at a table near the back against a window that looked out onto a nice garden with a round pond in the middle.

 

It almost felt like too upbeat and nice of a place to dump someone. But Wei Wuxian knew he had to.

 

He ordered an iced coffee and a caramel slice, unsure if he'd even be able to finish both of them. Lan Wangji picked green tea and a salad. How boring, Wei Wuxian sighed.

 

"Are you okay, Wei Wuxian?" Lan Wangji asked suddenly, causing Wei Wuxian to look up over at him.

"Huh?" he mumbled. "Yeah, I'm fine! I just didn't sleep well last night, sorry!" he forced himself to smile.

"I... did not sleep well, either," Lan Wangji replied quietly.

"Hm?" Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow. "Why not?" he asked cheekily. Might as well have as much fun as I can...

"I was... looking forward to our date," Lan Wangji admitted, glancing down at the table. "I kept... thinking. About you."

 

Oh no... Wei Wuxian thought. Don't say things like that, that'll make it harder for me to break up with you.

 

"Haha..." Wei Wuxian laughed nervously. "I was just worrying about what I should wear and stuff. Nothing interesting, unfortunately!" he grinned at Lan Wangji.

"Interesting?" Lan Wangji repeated, confused.

"Like, y'know..." Wei Wuxian teased, leaning in slightly and lowering his voice. He felt Lan Wangji tense up slightly. "...Sexual stuff." He made sure to speak as slowly as possible, emphasising every syllable of the word 'sexual'.

 

He sat upright again, smirking. Lan Wangji looked like he was holding himself back from saying something. Great, so he doesn't like inappropriate jokes either. Wow. I wonder how sheltered he is... Someone like him has probably never watched porn before, huh.

 

Oh, yeah. I bet he's a virgin. Virgins tend to be boring. Ugh, I'd feel bad if I did end up with him. He's far too vanilla for me from the looks of him...

 

Wei Wuxian didn't exactly consider himself 'kinky', as such, but he had experience. He already knew what he liked and didn't like, and Lan Wangji probably wasn't aware of what made his body tick yet. Wei Wuxian didn't want to have to teach him, either, because he didn't really like taking things slowly. Lan Wangji needed someone who would take the time to show him how things worked and how to enjoy and appreciate sex. And Wei Wuxian wasn't that person. He couldn't be.

 

As usual, an awkward silence fell between them. Wei Wuxian's attempt at teasing had gone down as well as a glass of spoiled milk.

 

Their drinks and food arrived, which at least meant that he didn't need to talk for a while.

 

Wei Wuxian ate and drank as slowly as he could, which was the opposite of what he normally did. His nerves and guilt were making his stomach churn, ruining his appetite.

 

"What is wrong?" Lan Wangji asked, noticing that Wei Wuxian had barely touched his caramel slice and was instead picking at it mindlessly with his fork. Wei Wuxian glanced at him.

"N-Nothing," he lied. "Just... I dunno. I'm not hungry for some reason." He knew what the reason was. It was his own damn fault.

"Do not force yourself," Lan Wangji said firmly. "If you are feeling unwell, you should not eat."

"I'm fine!" Wei Wuxian said again. "Thanks, though..."

 

He could tell Lan Wangji was watching him closely. He could feel his piercing gaze eyeing him from across the table. Wei Wuxian kept sipping at his iced coffee, deciding to forego the caramel slice. Coffee was probably a dumb thing to have when nervous, but he didn't care.

 

Wei Wuxian still, somehow, finished his drink before Lan Wangji was done with his salad. He couldn't bring himself to make small talk, it would feel too forced.

 

Lan Wangji's phone vibrated on the table, alerting him to a new message.

 

"You can answer it if you want," Wei Wuxian said cheerfully. "I don't mind!"

 

Lan Wangji nodded, picking his phone up and checking it.

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that Lan Wangji's lock screen was a photo of his rabbits. Wei Wuxian had already forgotten their names. One of them was Jiaozi, he was pretty sure, but he couldn't remember the other two.

 

As Lan Wangji put his phone back down, Wei Wuxian asked, "Who was it?"

"My brother," Lan Wangji told him. "He wanted to know if you were coming to dinner tonight."

 

Dinner... at the Lans'? They hadn't agreed to that. It had just been a lunch date.

 

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian looked at him.

"I told him that we had not discussed dinner," Lan Wangji explained, "And therefore you were most likely not going to be coming home with me today. Is that acceptable?" He stared intently at Wei Wuxian.

"Uh, yeah, that's cool," he mumbled, glancing down and twiddling his thumbs in his lap. "I already told my family I'd be home tonight, and my sister's cooking, so..."

"Understandable," Lan Wangji said. "I do not know why he would ask such a thing..."

 

Because people usually bring their dates home with them, dude, Wei Wuxian thought exasperatedly.

 

"Maybe your brother secretly has a huuuuge crush on me," Wei Wuxian joked, "And he wants to try and steal me away from you~" he said in a silly, sing-song voice.

"...My brother is not interested in men," Lan Wangji said, sounding somewhat annoyed. "Please do not make assumptions about him." It was almost a threat.

 

Wei Wuxian sighed. "It was a joke," he said, irritated. "You know, you really should loosen up a bit. I don't think your brother would care if someone made a joke or two about him."

Lan Wangji frowned slightly but didn't respond.

 

Yeah, I can't deal with him. He's too serious. If someone made a joke about my brother I'd be laughing along with them, for crying out loud!

 

After some more awkward silence, Lan Wangji spoke again: "Are you not going to eat?" he asked, nodding in the direction of Wei Wuxian's plate.

Wei Wuxian groaned internally again. "You were the one who told me not to," he said. "Do you want it? It's nice."

"That... is not what I meant..." Lan Wangji mumbled, glancing away.

"I mean, you can have it," Wei Wuxian shrugged, sliding the plate over to the other side of the table. "I'm full."

 

Lan Wangji glanced back and forth between the slice and Wei Wuxian a few times. "Thank you," he said, picking up the fork.

 

Wei Wuxian watched him eat. With most people, you could tell whether or not they were enjoying their food, but Lan Wangji looked as indifferent as ever.

 

"What d'you think?" Wei Wuxian asked, wanting to slouch forwards and rest his head on his arms. He hated having to sit properly and worry about how he looked. Comfort was more important to him.

"It is... sweet," Lan Wangji replied. "But it is not bad."

"Do you usually not eat sweet things?" Wei Wuxian found himself asking another question, even though he wasn't meant to be getting any more attached to him.

"I do not," Lan Wangji answered. "Uncle forbids sweets at home," he explained, "And I normally do not visit cafes."

"Jeez, does your uncle let you do anything?" Wei Wuxian frowned. He'd meant it rhetorically, but Lan Wangji shifted slightly and placed his fork down.

"Uncle... only wants what is best for us," Lan Wangji said. "He does not want us to do anything that will harm us or our futures."

 

Ironic, Wei Wuxian thought, Considering sheltering him has definitely harmed him and his future. Yikes. Oh well, at least I know to blame his uncle now.

 

"Well..." Wei Wuxian couldn't help himself. "If I'm honest, I don't think this whole arranged marriage thing is really the best for you."

Lan Wangji stared at him. He opened his mouth and closed it again. "What... makes you say that?" he asked, his voice shaking ever so slightly.

"I mean, like I said before," Wei Wuxian said, "You should go out and have fun. Gain some experience, y'know? Enjoy yourself. Discover yourself."

"But I--"

"Lan Wangji," Wei Wuxian interrupted, "Listen to me. I don't think you're ready to get married. You're still in university and focused on your studies, right?"

 

Whelp, fuck me, he thought, Guess I'm doing it. Sorry, Lan Wangji...

 

Lan Wangji said nothing.

 

"I think you should wait. Don't worry about what your uncle thinks or wants of you. Go out to parties, get drunk, learn what you like and don't like. Marrying the first guy you've ever been in a relationship with that's been forced upon you is..." he paused, trying to stay calm. "It's sad." He forced himself to look directly at Lan Wangji. "You deserve someone who can make you happy and who can support you. I can't do those things."

 

Silence.

 

Please say something, holy shit. Please. Anything.

 

"W... What do you mean?" Lan Wangji appeared to also be struggling to remain calm.

"I mean that I can't keep lying to you," Wei Wuxian said quickly. "You're a nice guy, Lan Wangji," he said, taking a deep breath. "But... I can't be in a relationship with you. You deserve someone better than me. You're too good for me. I'm sorry, but... I don't think this can work." There. I said it. I told him how I feel. This is better for us.

 

Before Lan Wangji had time to react, Wei Wuxian stood up and turned away from him. "I'm sorry! It's not your fault! Good bye!" he called out as he left.

 

He thought he heard Lan Wangji calling his name, but chose to ignore it. He didn't stop as he made his way out of the cafe and back to the train station. He miraculously managed to avoid crying on the train ride back home, although he came close.

 


  

Thankfully, nobody was at home when he returned. His parents were at work, Jiang Cheng would be at university until dinner time and Jiang Yanli was at her boyfriend's place.

 

He made a beeline for his room, almost forgetting to take his shoes off when he walked through the door. Wei Wuxian flopped face-down into his pillow and hugged it tightly.

 

Fuck me, he thought angrily. This sucks! I suck! Why did I do that?! God, I hate this. I didn't even remember to thank him properly. Ugh. I want a drink... Aw fuck, here we go. Crying is what your stupid ass deserves, Wei Ying...

 

Wei Wuxian hadn't cried (while sober) in ages. In fact, he probably didn't remember the last time he'd cried this hard. But there he was, crying into his pillow because he'd just dumped someone on his own accord.

 

Once he'd settled down after far too long, he rolled over and messaged his friends.

 

Wei Wuxian: well bad news

Nie Huaisang: how bad

Wen Ning: oh no

Wei Wuxian: we broke up

Nie Huaisang: wtf

Wen Ning: omg

Wen Ning: u ok???

Nie Huaisang: wat did u do????

Wei Wuxian: i dumped him

Wen Ning: y?

Wei Wuxian: i cant marry him

Wei Wuxian: hes so boring and unresponsive

Nie Huaisang: fuck

Nie Huaisang: howd he react?

Wei Wuxian: i fucked off b4 he could

Nie Huaisang: yikes

Nie Huaisang: so u left him sumwhere

Wei Wuxian: yea

Wei Wuxian: at a cafe

Wen Ning: r u ok???

Wei Wuxian: im good

Wei Wuxian: this is better for us

Nie Huaisang: if u say so

Nie Huaisang: hope u don regret this

Wei Wuxian: nah

Wei Wuxian: he cant take a joke

Wei Wuxian hes worse than my brother

Nie Huaisang: hahaha oh wow

Wen Ning: sends u hugs

Wei Wuxian: thnx wen ning

Wen Ning: u want 2 come over this weekend 4 drinks???

Wei Wuxian: rly?

Nie Huaisang: gud idea! can i come 2?

Wen Ning: sure!

Wen Ning: we can get pizza or sumthin 2

Wei Wuxian: sounds gud

Wei Wuxian: wat day

Wen Ning: prob sat nite

Nie Huaisang: sat gud for me

Wei Wuxian: same

Wen Ning: great!!

Wen Ning: see u then!!!

Wei Wuxian: 👍👍

Nie Huaisang: 🥂🥂🥂

 

Saturday wasn't too far away. He could deal with that. He made sure to delete Lan Wangji's number from his phone, but Wei Wuxian secretly kept the video of him playing the guqin. Although he couldn't bare to watch it...

 


 

Jiang Yanli made him his favourite food for dinner that night and fed him extra-large servings of everything. It was Wei Wuxian's turn to wash the dishes, but Jiang Cheng offered to take over his shift on the condition that Wei Wuxian covered one of his at a later date.

 

Wei Wuxian went to bed early but couldn't sleep, despite being emotionally exhausted. His family kept telling him he'd done the right thing, and he agreed with them. He knew that it was necessary. He knew that he'd needed to end it before their relationship went anywhere. If that was possible. Lan Wangji was too slow-paced for such things to happen.

 

Lan Wangji...

 

I hope you find yourself a man who loves you. You deserve someone special. I wish you happiness. I'm sorry I couldn't give you what you need.

Chapter Text

When Wei Wuxian arrived at Wen Ning's place on Saturday afternoon, Nie Huaisang was already there. The two of them, along with Wen Qing, had laid a variety of alcoholic beverages on the table in the living room. Wen Ning had brought home several different kinds of pastries and sweet things from the bakery he worked at.

 

"Are you sure you're cool with me staying the night?" Wei Wuxian asked Wen Ning as they devoured the pastries.

"Absolutely!" Wen Ning said softly. "Drink as much as you want to. Eat as much as you want to. Don't worry about anything, okay?" he smiled warmly.

"Indeed!" Nie Huaisang agreed, already a couple of beers in. "Tonight's about having fun! Let yourself go~"

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Well, in that case... I'm not gonna hold back!" He toasted his friends for enabling him.

 

Both Wei Wuxian and Nie Huaisang drank far too much. After eating dinner (which, as Wen Ning had promised, was pizza), they were both at the point where they were getting emotional. Nie Huaisang bitched about his job and all the terrible erotic fiction he had to sit through to find maybe one good book for his family's company to consider publishing. If anyone would complain about being forced to read porn, it'd be Nie Huaisang.

 

Once Nie Huaisang had finished ranting about the woes of the publishing industry (a rant which they had both heard countless times before), there was a lull in the conversation. Wei Wuxian took this opportunity to voice a concern he'd had since Wednesday.

 

"Guys..." Wei Wuxian began, as he lay on the sofa, his head resting on his arms propped up on the armrest. "Am I an idiot?"

The other two looked over at him. Nie Huaisang, who was almost asleep on the floor, sat up slightly. Wen Ning was sitting in an armchair next to Wei Wuxian.

 

"What makes you say that?" Wen Ning asked gently, looking concerned. "You're not an idiot, Wei Ying..."

"I just..." Wei Wuxian sighed, closing his eyes. "I keep thinking about him. I feel like I fucked up by breaking up with him."

"Hah!" Nie Huaisang barked sleepily. "Told ya so. Here I was, tellin' ya to go get that dick, but noooo..." he rolled his eyes and lay back down on the floor.

Wei Wuxian sighed again. "I couldn't," he laughed. "He's too pure and serious. Someone like that should have sex with someone who actually loves him..."

"You're one to talk!" Nie Huaisang scoffed. "You go pickin' up guys at the bar all the time!"

"Well, yeah," Wei Wuxian said, "But I'm me! I have fun doing that kinda thing. I can't picture him ever setting foot in a gay bar, let alone getting drunk and taking a stranger home and fucking him..."

 

He vaguely felt Wen Ning shift in his seat. He knew Wen Ning didn't like him having one-night stands. Wen Ning's disapproval was also partially why Wei Wuxian had stopped having them, along with his family being worried.

 

In the past, he'd tried taking Wen Ning to his regular gay bar, but Wen Ning had felt extremely uncomfortable and kept getting hit on by dodgy-looking guys, so they'd left early that night and he'd never gone again. Nie Huaisang didn't want to visit gay bars since he wasn't gay himself, but he still frequented several straight bars and had fun there. Never the less, he was still supportive of Wei Wuxian, and Wei Wuxian was thankful for that.

 

"I still don't think you're an idiot," Wen Ning said quietly. "You're worried about him, and you're wanting him to be happy, aren't you?"

Wei Wuxian smiled to himself. "Yeah..." he mumbled. "He's a nice guy, he's just... I dunno. I hope he finds someone else."

"Marriage is weeeird," Nie Huaisang said, slurring his words. "Like, you're hookin' up with someone for life. But when ya can't have kids and shit... why bother? He ain't even gonna inherit shit if he's got an older brother. I don' get it..." He hiccuped.

"That's what I said," Wei Wuxian sighed again. "But his argument was that his uncle just wants what's best for him. I call bullshit. His uncle's probably scared he'll run away and end up with some creep and get himself in trouble."

"Hmmm..."

 

Wen Qing came into the room and groaned at the state of her brother and his guests. "Do you guys have any idea how late it is?" she grumbled.

"Not late enough!" Nie Huaisang grumbled back, somehow managing to take another sip of beer. Wen Qing snatched it from him. "Hey!"

"You've had too much to drink," Wen Qing announced. "Didn't you say your brother would pick you up? Call him!"

"Dun wanna..." Nie Huaisang mumbled, clearly very drunk.

Wen Qing groaned again. "This is why I don't want my brother having his stupid drunk friends over..."

"We ain't stuuupid!" Nie Huaisang protested, but in such a way that made Wen Qing's argument hard to dispute.

"If you don't call your brother and go home I'm calling you a taxi and you'll be paying for it," Wen Qing sighed as she started picking up empty cans of beer and glasses of wine.

"No!" Nie Huaisang gasped, forcing himself to sit up. "Not that! Okay, okay, I'll call my brother..." He took some time to find his phone, which was in his pocket.

 

"You're not gonna kick me out?" Wei Wuxian asked when Wen Qing walked by him. He could barely keep his eyes open.

"Nah," Wen Qing said. "You're fine. QiongLin would throw a tantrum if I tried to, anyway," she added, chuckling quietly.

"S-Sister!" Wen Ning interjected, embarrassed.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Thanks, Wen Qing..."

 

It was at least another thirty minutes before Nie Huaisang's brother picked him up. By that point, Wei Wuxian was falling asleep on the sofa. He hardly registered Wen Ning gently prodding him awake.

 

"Wei Ying, you awake?" Wen Ning whispered softly.

"Mmm..." Wei Wuxian mumbled. "'m awake."

"Nie Huaisang's left," Wen Ning told him. "And you should get to bed."

"Bed?" Wei Wuxian drowsily opened his eyes and looked up at his friend. "I can sleep here..."

"No," Wen Ning shook his head. "You can sleep in my bed. I'll sleep on the couch. Come on," he said, encouraging Wei Wuxian to stand up.

 

Wei Wuxian grumbled sleepily as he tried to stand. Being drunk, he wobbled when he did so, only to be caught by Wen Ning.

 

"Sorry," Wei Wuxian mumbled in apology. "Carry me?" he asked, not really meaning it seriously.

Wen Ning simply smiled at him and said, "Sure. I'll try."

 

Of course, Wei Wuxian was much taller and much heavier than Wen Ning, so it ended up being that Wei Wuxian was dragged along to Wen Ning's room.

 

Wen Ning helped Wei Wuxian out of his sweaty clothes, leaving him in only his underwear and socks.

 

Wei Wuxian clung to Wen Ning, refusing to let go of his arms.

 

"You're waaarm, Wen Ning," Wei Wuxian mumbled into his friend's chest, hugging him. "You smell like pizza..."

"Wei Ying, you need to sleep," Wen Ning said gently, pushing Wei Wuxian away from him.

 

Reluctantly, Wei Wuxian got into bed. Wen Ning's bed wasn't as comfy as Wei Wuxian's own, but it was still nicer than a lot of beds he'd slept in while drunk. 

 

"Hey... Wen Ning?" he mumbled again, closing his eyes.

"Yeah?"

Wei Wuxian was thinking about how good of a friend Wen Ning was, and wanted to acknowledge that. "I love youuuu...." He'd meant to add something along the lines of 'You're an amazing friend', but forgot.

 

Wen Ning, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, tensed up beside him. "...Thank you," he whispered, barely audibly.

 

Wei Wuxian mindlessly began humming a song, hoping it would help him drift off to sleep.

 

"That's a nice song," Wen Ning commented, once Wei Wuxian finished humming. "I feel... healed, kinda. What's the name of it?" he asked quietly.

"Dunno..." Wei Wuxian murmured. "He said he never gave it a name."

 

He wasn't sure if Wen Ning said nothing, or if he fell asleep before he heard Wen Ning's response.

 


 

When Wei Wuxian woke up the next morning, it took him a second to remember why he was only in his underwear in someone else's bed. He didn't have much of a hangover despite all his drinking, as Wen Ning had insisted on keeping him fed and hydrated with water.

 

The alarm clock on the nightstand told him that it was just after eleven am. He didn't remember anything that happened after Nie Huaisang had left.

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that his clothes were neatly folded in a pile down the end of the bed. There was a note attached.

 

Dear Wei Ying,

 

Unfortunately I've been called in to cover a shift at work.

Your clothes have been washed and dried. I only undressed you because you were really sweaty! I hope you don't mind! Sorry! 🙇

Please feel free to help yourself to food. Have a shower if you want, too! No rush.

I think my sister should be home when you wake up. Let her know when you leave so that she doesn't yell at me, please!

I had fun last night! Hopefully you did, too.

Please remember to take care of yourself! Nobody's blaming you for what you did. I also think it was the right decision.

Let me know if you ever need anything. Don't hesitate to call me if you want to chat.

 

Love,

Wen Ning

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

PS Huaisang did make it home safely last night!

 

Wei Wuxian chuckled as he read the letter. Wen Ning really was too good to him.

 

He decided he'd shower once he got home, so he threw on his clothes and went to find Wen Qing, who was in the living room, typing away on her laptop.

 

"Oh," she said, glancing up at him. "Good morning."

"...Uh, hi," Wei Wuxian replied. "Sorry about last night..."

"I told you," Wen Qing sighed, smiling. "It's fine. Did you sleep well?"

"I did, yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "I should be fine going home now, so I'll leave you alone!" he grinned at her.

Wen Qing laughed at him. "Sure," she replied. "But be careful, you did drink a lot."

"Nah, that was nothing," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Anyway, say thanks to Wen Ning for me when he gets home. Tell him I appreciate it."

"You tell him yourself," Wen Qing said, her voice firm. "That boy works hard for you, you know."

"...Yeah, I know," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "I'll message him later, then."

"I expect you to write a two-page apology and explain in detail about how grateful you are," Wen Qing said, extremely sarcastically.

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly. "I don't think I could fit all that in in two pages!" he grinned again.

"You're right," Wen Qing smiled back. "Better make it a five-page essay."

 

Wei Wuxian thanked her as he left.

 

He knew he was forever indebted to Wen Ning (and his sister). He truly did want to acknowledge that some day.

 


 

Despite it being a Sunday, Jiang Cheng was the only one home. Their father needed some office supplies, their mother was out with friends and their sister was, again, at her boyfriend's place for the day.

 

The first thing Wei Wuxian did was take a long, cold shower and get changed.

 

Once he looked a bit more acceptable, he went to bother Jiang Cheng, who was in his room studying.

 

"You look terrible." was Jiang Cheng's first comment.

"Charming, you mean!" Wei Wuxian corrected, wagging his finger at his brother. He sat on Jiang Cheng's bed, ignoring the numerous times he'd been yelled at for doing the same thing in the past.

"Nothing about you is charming," Jiang Cheng huffed, closing his textbook. "What are you here for?"

 

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Actually, I came to ask you something," he admitted.

"What, is it something stupid?" Jiang Cheng asked, folding his arms and raising an eyebrow.

"No, not this time!" Wei Wuxian said. "I..." he paused for a moment. "I kinda feel like I need to occupy myself with something or else I'm gonna start drinking excessively again. And I don't want to do that. Can you maaaaaybe be a nice brother and help me find a job?"

 

Jiang Cheng narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "What kind of job?"

"Fuck if I know," Wei Wuxian sighed. "Anything part-time. I just don't wanna have to ask Wen Ning for work at the bakery again."

Jiang Cheng thought for a moment. "I'll ask around," he said. "Someone might be willing to pay you."

Wei Wuxian grinned. "Thanks, Jiang Cheng!"

 


 

Jiang Cheng managed to find Wei Wuxian a job a few weeks later at a bookstore (not one that sold erotic fiction, however) stocking shelves. It was boring, but it was something. Something to help him take his mind off things.

 

Yet in the short amount of time between asking Jiang Cheng for help and actually getting a job, Wei Wuxian had already visited Rainbow Rabbit a few nights. He'd stopped himself from going home with anybody, although he did have some fun with an older guy in a bathroom stall one time.

 

He didn't want to worry his family or his friends. He really didn't.

 

But he was finding it hard.

Chapter Text

It had been at least three months since Wei Wuxian had broken up with Lan Wangji. Work helped with keeping him occupied, but only slightly. Two months in, he'd started frequenting Rainbow Rabbit again. Initially, he hadn't gone home with anyone, but he'd broken his promises a couple of times by now.

 

The regulars at the bar weren't that interesting to him, and he only visited on weeknights, which meant that his selection was limited. Wei Wuxian decided to shake things up and drop by the bar on a Thursday night, instead of his usual Mondays or Wednesdays.

 

"Not used to seeing you here on a Thursday!" the bartender commented as he handed Wei Wuxian his beer.

Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Figured I'd try something different," he replied. "Any handsome young patrons tonight, Master?" he asked, smirking.

"Hmmm..." The bartender scanned the bar. "Well, I did see someone earlier who was rather attractive," he said. "But I don't know where he went off to."

"If he's that pretty someone might've taken him home already," Wei Wuxian remarked, chugging his beer.

"Too true, lad!"

 

A few drinks later, the bartender addressed him again. "I see that handsome young man I mentioned to you before, lad!"

"Oh?" Wei Wuxian perked up, interested. "Whereabouts?"

"Over there," the bartender said, pointing to the corner of the bar.

 

Wei Wuxian's eyes followed the bartender's finger. The person in question was at a table by himself. He was lying face down next to an empty glass. It was hard to tell if he was asleep or not, and impossible to tell if he was handsome or not.

 

"I think he's passed out already," Wei Wuxian remarked. "D'you want me to call him a taxi or something?"

"Leave him be, leave him be!" the bartender waved his hand exaggeratedly. "If he's still there when it's closing time someone'll deal with him."

 

Wei Wuxian went back to drinking, but his mind lingered on the stranger.

 


 

After finishing his fourth-or-so drink and noticing the man was still passed out at the table, Wei Wuxian decided he'd at least go and check on him.

 

The man had long black hair and wore what looked to be nice clothes. Wei Wuxian had no idea how old he was, since he couldn't see his face.

 

"Hey... Psst..." Wei Wuxian whispered, hands behind his back. "You okay?"

No response.

"Dude?"

 

Wei Wuxian gently shook the man's shoulder. He didn't move.

 

Oh fuck, Wei Wuxian thought. Did somebody spike his drink? Maybe he's out cold... Anyway, he really looks out of place here. What a weird sleeping position. Face straight down on the table without even resting on his hands... Odd.

 

Wei Wuxian, being drunk himself, had the thought of pulling the man's hair, as though he was wanting to be a naughty child. It looked so silky and smooth.

 

Instead of pulling his hair, however, Wei Wuxian simply tugged at some loose strands.

 

This made him grumble and move slightly.

 

Awesome, at least he's not completely gone, Wei Wuxian thought triumphantly.

 

"You probably shouldn't be sleeping here," Wei Wuxian said quietly, poking the man gently in the arm. "Someone might take advantage of y--"

 

Wei Wuxian stumbled backwards as the stranger sat up. He blinked several times and gently massaged his forehead as he looked at his empty glass.

 

WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING HERE?

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to run. The last thing he'd expected was for it to be him, of all people.

 

But before Wei Wuxian could leave, he'd been spotted.

 

The two stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, neither saying anything.

 

Until he spoke, very quietly, as if unsure that what he was seeing was real: "Wei... Wei Wuxian?"

"Y... Yeah," Wei Wuxian stupidly replied. "It's me. Hi."

 

...What do I do here? Wei Wuxian wondered. He must be pretty wasted, so I shouldn't do anything stupid. But he needs to get home. Should I offer to call him a taxi? Yeah, maybe I'll do that.

 

"What are you doing here, Lan Wangji?" Wei Wuxian asked, his throat dry.

"...Drinking," Lan Wangji said simply.

That's not what I mean! "H-How much have you had to drink?" Wei Wuxian tried a different approach.

"...One," Lan Wangji said, holding up his index finger.

Wei Wuxian narrowed his eyes. "Bullshit," he said. "There's no way someone passes out after only having one drink. Unless it really was spiked with something."

"Spiked?" Lan Wangji asked, furrowing his eyebrows slightly. "What does that mean?"

"It means someone put something in your drink so that you'll pass out cold and they can take you and--" Wei Wuxian stopped himself.

"And what?" Lan Wangji demanded.

"And... take advantage of you when you can't fight back," Wei Wuxian replied. He didn't really want to explain that whole thing to Lan Wangji.

"Oh."

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that Lan Wangji was staring at him even more intensely than he used to. It had been hard to see under the dim lights of the bar, but Lan Wangji's ears were a few shades pinker than his face. He also looked quite different with his hair down.

 

"You shouldn't be here," Wei Wuxian said hurriedly. "This isn't a safe place for someone like you."

"Why?" Lan Wangji asked.

 

I just fucking told you! Wei Wuxian whined internally. Someone will hurt you, dude, that's why!

 

Holding back, he took a deep breath. "You've had too much to drink," he explained. "Let's get you home."

"...No," Lan Wangji said firmly.

"What? Why not?"

 

Instead of replying verbally, Lan Wangji rose from his seat, eyes still locked on to Wei Wuxian's. He grabbed Wei Wuxian's wrist, much like he had back in the car after their first date. Instead, this time, he was firmly grasping both of Wei Wuxian's wrists.

 

"...Lan Wangji?"

 

Maybe Wei Wuxian was going to be taken advantage of here.

 

Wei Wuxian had expected maybe another kiss, but Lan Wangji pulled him into a hug. It mildly hurt with how much strength Lan Wangji was using.

 

"I've missed you," Lan Wangji whispered into Wei Wuxian's ear, causing Wei Wuxian's face to heat up slightly. "I've been looking for you. Everywhere."

 

Oh, god, no, Wei Wuxian thought. Don't do this. You're drunk. I'm drunk. This is bad.

 

He exhaled.

 

"Lan Wangji," he said, dropping his voice a few octaves, "Let go."

"No."

"You're hurting me, Lan Wangji," Wei Wuxian wheezed.

 

Lan Wangji reluctantly let go. He looked like he was going to cry.

 

"You need to go home," Wei Wuxian told him again, meeting his eyes once more. "You're too drunk."

 

Lan Wangji stared at him for several moments, as if trying to decipher Wei Wuxian's words like they were a riddle.

 

"Take me home."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't know what to say. Home? He couldn't take Lan Wangji back to his place. Did he want Wei Wuxian to go home with him to Lan Wangji's house? No, wait, he wasn't meant to be going home with Lan Wangji at all!

 

But Lan Wangji both looked and sounded extremely vulnerable. He was drunk and didn't know what he was saying. Wei Wuxian simply couldn't bring himself to abandon someone in a situation like this.

 

Or at least that was the excuse Wei Wuxian gave himself as he dragged Lan Wangji out of the bar and in to the cool night air. Thankfully, he didn't have to look very far before locating a free taxi.

 

"Where to, gentlemen?" the driver asked as Wei Wuxian hauled Lan Wangji into the back seat and fastened his seatbelt for him.

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian paused. He'd forgotten Lan Wangji's address. He'd only been to his house once, after all. He prodded Lan Wangji again. "Psst, where are we going?" he hissed at Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji gave the driver an address that sounded different from what Wei Wuxian remembered his home address being. But Wei Wuxian put that down to him being drunk, and got into the back seat next to Lan Wangji.

 


 

His suspicions were indeed correct: Lan Wangji had taken them somewhere else. In fact, he'd given the taxi driver directions to a hotel in an area of the city Wei Wuxian wasn't sure he'd ever been to before.

 

"Where are we?" Wei Wuxian asked after the taxi had left.

"Hotel," Lan Wangji replied.

"Why a hotel?" Wei Wuxian asked, not understanding what was going on. "Why don't you want to go home?"

 

Lan Wangji looked annoyed for a moment. He grabbed Wei Wuxian by the wrist again (but only one this time) and dragged him up to the hotel's reception counter.

 

"How may I help you, Sir?" the receptionist asked, unsure what to make of the two new arrivals.

"Room for two," Lan Wangji said, managing to sound not as drunk as he actually was. Wei Wuxian was impressed.

"Certainly!"

 

Wei Wuxian was extremely aware of the fact that Lan Wangji was holding tightly on to his wrist the entire time he was booking the room.

 

The elevator ride made Wei Wuxian feel slightly nauseous, although he felt better holding onto the rail. With his free hand.

 

Lan Wangji didn't let go of Wei Wuxian's wrist until they were firmly in the hotel room.

 

"Explain," Wei Wuxian demanded, cautiously eyeing Lan Wangji's movements. "What are y--"

 

Before he could finish, Lan Wangji forcefully kissed him, pushing Wei Wuxian against a wall. It was different than their first kiss -- this one was more fiery. More passionate. More desperate.

 

Wei Wuxian managed to shove Lan Wangji back. "I think you've misunderstood something," he said, putting his hand in front of Lan Wangji's face. "I broke up with you. We can't do this anymore."

 

He also didn't want to do anything with someone who was clearly not thinking straight.

 

"We can," Lan Wangji said, moving to unbutton Wei Wuxian's shirt.

 

"Whoa whoa whoa whoa!" Wei Wuxian quickly wrapped his arms around his chest, after registering that Lan Wangji had undone two buttons already. "The fuck? I said no!"

 

Lan Wangji looked hurt. He stood there silently for a few moments, eventually backing away. Wei Wuxian buttoned the top of his shirt up again.

 

Wow, he gets bold when he drinks. Maybe he thinks this is a dream and he can do what he wants with me. Wait, shit, if he thinks he can do what he wants with me, this could be really bad. I don't want to sleep with him!

 

Wei Wuxian sighed. "I'm sorry," he said, "But I can't. You're too drunk. Let's just... go to sleep, okay?" he tried, hoping Lan Wangji would listen to him.

Lan Wangji glanced down. "Why?"

"Why what?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Why did... why won't you?"

 

Wei Wuxian was about to lose it and yell at him. He'd already explained why -- several times, in fact! And anyway, he shouldn't need to justify not wanting to sleep with someone.

 

"I don't want to," Wei Wuxian replied, sighing again. "I'll leave first thing tomorrow. I'm going to sleep."

 

Lan Wangji stood there, frozen in place, as Wei Wuxian kicked off his shoes and jumped in to one of the single beds. "Good night, Lan Wangji," he murmured.

 

He heard the sheets of the other bed rustle as Lan Wangji (presumably) climbed in. Lan Wangji turned off the light.

 

Silence fell. Wei Wuxian struggled to settle, worried that Lan Wangji might do something to him.

 

"Lan Zhan," Lan Wangji said suddenly. Wei Wuxian rolled over to face him, confused.

"What?" he asked. I'm trying to sleep.

"My... birth name," Lan Wangji mumbled, half-asleep. "It's... Lan Zhan."

Why are you telling me? Wei Wuxian wondered.

 

Not thinking much, Wei Wuxian decided he'd play along. "Mine's Wei Ying," he said. "Anyway, we should sleep. It's late."

"Mm," Lan Wangji muttered. "Good night, Wei Ying."

 

Having someone else say his birth name (other than Wen Ning, of course), made him tense up. It was a weird feeling. He felt far too emotional about it. Wanting to thank Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian mumbled, "Good night, Lan Zhan," before he rolled over again.

 


 

When Wei Wuxian woke up the next morning, he had no idea where he was. The room was completely unfamiliar to him, so he assumed he'd gone home with someone last night.

 

Except that this room, as he scanned it, felt more and more like a fancy hotel room.

 

He also had a terrible headache and his throat was parched.

 

He was, for some reason, nervous to find out who his partner was. Normally, he vaguely remembered who he'd picked up at the bar, or could at least work out what kind of person they were from their room, but this gave him no clues.

 

Wei Wuxian fell out of bed when he saw who it was.

 

WHAT THE FUCK?

 

His blood ran cold. What was Lan Wangji doing in a hotel room with him, already awake and sitting in the one chair in the room?

 

There's no way... I couldn't have done something to him, could I? I don't feel like I've had sex. And I'm still wearing my clothes, too. Lan Wangji looks properly dressed as well. I don't remember running into him last night. Did he rescue me from someone I was about to sleep with? Surely I couldn't have picked him up at the bar. That's ridiculous.

 

The loud thud Wei Wuxian had made when he'd fallen on the floor had caused Lan Wangji to investigate the cause of the noise and look over at him.

 

"...Uh," Wei Wuxian grinned sheepishly, "G-Good morning?"

"...Good morning," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

Wei Wuxian picked himself up and considered all possible scenarios that could've happened last night.

 

The first scenario was that Lan Wangji had taken him to this hotel and they'd had sex of some description. The second was that they just went to sleep after they arrived here. The third was that Wei Wuxian had suggested a hotel and had tried to seduce Lan Wangji but it hadn't worked.

 

All scenarios made him feel unsettled.

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't going to learn anything unless he asked questions, however, so he sat on the end of the bed he'd woken up in and looked at Lan Wangji. "What happened last night?" he asked. "Be honest," he quickly added.

 

Lan Wangji, who had been on his phone, put the device down and looked back at Wei Wuxian. "I... do not remember," he said.

"What a coincidence!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "Neither do I!"

 

Fuck me! Wei Wuxian groaned. So neither of us remember what happened? Shit. That... makes it tricky. What do I do here?

 

"If it helps," Wei Wuxian continued, "I don't feel like I've had sex at all. Er... I dunno if you do or not, but, uh..." he trailed off, unsure how to proceed.

"I... do not think we had sex either," Lan Wangji answered. Wei Wuxian noticed that his ears were slightly pink. Cute, is that how he blushes? Wei Wuxian giggled to himself.

Wei Wuxian exhaled. "Phew! So that's good, then," he said. "Do you remember how we ended up at this hotel?"

Lan Wangji paused, lost in thought. "I think..." he began, "You found me at the bar and said I should go home. I do not remember what happened, but I believe we took a taxi to get here. I have the invoice on my phone."

"What were you doing at the bar?" Wei Wuxian asked, feeling like the question was vaguely familiar.

"...Drinking," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Wei Wuxian suddenly remembered that he had, in fact, asked Lan Wangji that question last night and that Lan Wangji had given him the same answer. He couldn't help but chuckle.

 

"May I... ask you something, Wei Wuxian?" Lan Wangji asked, his voice sincere.

"Uh, yeah, sure," Wei Wuxian replied, brushing his hair out of his face.

"Did you... really forget?" He looked sad. Lonely.

"F-Forget what? Last night?" Wei Wuxian asked back. "I'm used to doing this kinda thing. I wouldn't lie about forgetting having sex with someone..."

 

Lan Wangji closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again. "What if... I told you we had?"

 

"What?"

 

Wei Wuxian was bewildered. Lan Wangji had just said they hadn't done anything last night. Wei Wuxian didn't think they had, either. Was he talking about a sex dream or something?

 

Unless...

 

He meant sometime other than last night.

 

Wei Wuxian wracked his brain, trying to recall. None of the one-night stands he'd ever had came to mind.

 

"A-About... a year ago..." Lan Wangji's voice was trembling. He was gazing down at the floor, his hands in his lap. "I met you at that bar. I had heard that drinking could help with... dealing with loneliness, so I wanted to give it a try. You talked to me, you could tell it was my first time there. You..." he paused for a moment. "You asked if I'd be alright getting home. I said I was unsure, so you said you'd accompany me."

 

What the fuck? I don't remember this at all. A year ago? I was in a pretty bad place a year ago...

 

"Did you... take me to a hotel?" Wei Wuxian asked quietly, unable to look at Lan Wangji any longer. His face was flushed.

"...Yes," Lan Wangji answered. "Not this one. But you... asked me why I was at the bar, and I told you. And you said... you said you could try to help."

"By... sleeping with you, you mean?" Wei Wuxian felt like his stomach was doing cartwheels. He felt dizzy, and that had nothing to do with his hangover.

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't know what he was meant to say. Was he supposed to apologise? Give words of reassurance?

 

"When you say... we slept together," Wei Wuxian took a deep breath, "What... do you mean? I really don't remember."

He glanced at Lan Wangji, whose ears were now deep red. Even his cheeks were slightly pink. "You..." his voice trembled. "You... p-pleasured me."

 

If it was only that... But Wei Wuxian knew how much even something like a blowjob (had it been a blowjob?) was extremely important to someone who wasn't exactly used to being touched.

 

Then Wei Wuxian realised something that made him almost throw up on the spot.

 

"H-Have you remembered that the whole time?" he blurted out, feeling like an absolute moron.

"...I have," Lan Wangji said. "Initially, I... was under the impression that you had also remembered, but..."

 

That explains the kiss, then, Wei Wuxian thought. He swallowed. His heart and mind were both racing at a million miles an hour trying to comprehend this.

 

Wei Wuxian dropped to the floor and kowtowed in front of Lan Wangji. "I am SO sorry!" he apologised, his face pressed against the carpet. "I had no idea who you were -- I was just fooling around! I promise you I don't remember anything." His eyes began to water. "And last night -- last night I was just trying to help you get home. I had no ulterior motives. I... I don't know how to make this up to you!"

 

He shook slightly. He'd never apologised to anyone like this, not even his own family. But his heart was telling him he needed to. He'd been giving mixed signals, something which Wei Wuxian absolutely loathed when other people did.

 

Lan Wangji didn't say anything for a minute. Eventually, he gave a single command: "Stand."

 

Shaking, Wei Wuxian stood up, forcing himself to look at the taller man. Lan Wangji's eyes were, once again, locked on to his.

 

"I do have... a selfish request," Lan Wangji said.

"Y-Yeah?" Oh fuck, is it something to do with sex? Please tell me it isn't.

 

Lan Wangji rose from his seat. "Do you still have my phone number?" he asked, cautiously.

"Er... No, uh, I deleted it," Wei Wuxian mumbled. Yet another thing to feel guilty about.

 

Lan Wangji wrote his phone number on a notepad that was sitting on the hotel table and handed it to Wei Wuxian.

 

"You do not have to decide right away," Lan Wangji told him, "But I..." he paused. "Would you be willing to give me another chance?"

 

At what? Wei Wuxian almost asked before realising what he meant.

 

"L-Let me think about it," Wei Wuxian spluttered. "This... is a lot."

"I am sorry."

 

Wei Wuxian glanced at Lan Wangji again. He looked upset, yet also guilty. Even though he had no reason to.

 

"It's not your fault!" Wei Wuxian insisted. "I'm just a massive fucking idiot! Also..." he took out his phone. "I didn't apologise for leaving you in that cafe when I dumped you. I still feel bad about that."

"..."

 

He re-added Lan Wangji's number to his contact list.

 

"I... don't know when I'll get back to you," Wei Wuxian said slowly. "But I promise I'll give you a proper response. I just need some time."

"I understand," Lan Wangji nodded. "I... do not want to force you."

 

Silence fell between them. Wei Wuxian almost didn't want to leave him alone again.

 

"Er, can I ask you a question?" Wei Wuxian asked sheepishly.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded again.

"Why... do you want to get back together with me?" He felt bad for asking, but he wanted to know. After all, Wei Wuxian had been awful to Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji initially didn't say anything. But eventually, he sighed, and said, in a voice more genuine than Wei Wuxian had ever heard from anyone before, "Because I love you."

 

Unable to reply, Wei Wuxian mumbled something unintelligible and went to put his shoes on.

 

He didn't speak until he was at the door. "I'll... be in touch," he said quietly, still not capable of looking Lan Wangji in the face.

"Mmn."

 

It all felt like a dream. Or a nightmare. He wasn't sure which.

 

The only thing he was definitely sure of was that Lan Wangji was far nicer than he had any right to be. By all means, Wei Wuxian figured, he should be hated. Lan Wangji should have beaten him up or insulted him or demanded something from him as payment.

 

But he hadn't.

 

We Wuxian would rather he had. That would be easier for him to deal with emotionally.

 

He found himself bitterly humming that damn song on the way home.

 

Chapter Text

Thankfully, nobody was at home when Wei Wuxian unlocked the front door. The journey back had given him time to reflect and made him feel even shittier than he did when he left the hotel room.

 

He'd had to stop for a snack and a drink at some point, which made him feel less nauseous -- but only slightly. Yet he knew the bellyflops his stomach was doing wasn't related to his hangover.

 

The first thing Wei Wuxian did was turn on the shower. He slowly undressed, only just now realising how damp with sweat his clothes were. He could vaguely smell Lan Wangji on his shirt but couldn't remember how his scent would've ended up there.

 

He made sure that the shower was as cold as possible. He needed to cool off, both physically and mentally.

 

Wei Wuxian was at a loss.

 

He'd never felt this guilty about anything before. He'd tried his hardest to remember his drunken encounter with Lan Wangji, but had no luck.

 

He'd been in a very bad place a year ago and had been drinking far too much for his own good, and the constant one-night stands and Wei Wuxian never coming back home at night had made everyone concerned about his safety.

 

Lan Wangji was probably one of the last people he'd picked up before his family had intervened.

 

Wei Wuxian kept picturing how Lan Wangji had looked when he'd told him the story. How scared and vulnerable he'd sounded. How... desperate he must've been to even confess something like that.

 

His voice had shaken, despite Lan Wangji looking like someone who was void of all emotions. Yet he'd sounded so real as he'd admitted things.

 

Wei Wuxian kept trying to ignore the last thing Lan Wangji had said before he'd left.

 

Surely he was just mistaken, right? He'd confused his emotions, probably. Wei Wuxian had been the first person to be intimate with him in a time when Lan Wangji had needed affection and touch. So Wei Wuxian assumed that Lan Wangji had gotten things mixed up.

 

Because, as far as Wei Wuxian was concerned, Lan Wangji should hate him. It should be the opposite of this, he figured.

 

After all, Wei Wuxian certainly hated himself for what he had done to Lan Wangji.

 

He slid down the wall of the shower all the way to the floor, hugging his knees.

 

What do I do? I can't possibly face him again. I'll have to turn him down. I don't want to hurt him anymore.

 

...But if I turn him down, I'll also hurt him.  And if I turn him down, I'll be hurting me.

 

Do I give him another chance? Fuck; if anything, he's the one giving me another chance.

 

Reluctantly, Wei Wuxian stood up and turned the water off. He dried himself off before realising that he'd forgotten to bring a change of clothes with him.

 

Wrapping a towel around his waist on the off chance someone had returned while he'd been showering, he sighed deeply and trudged over to his room.

 

He noticed that Jiang Cheng's door was ajar, meaning that his brother was home.

 

Wei Wuxian got dressed... slowly. He felt like he needed to ask Jiang Cheng for help, but he really, really did not want to tell Jiang Cheng about what had happened between him and Lan Wangji.

 

Wei Wuxian stood outside Jiang Cheng's room. On his door hung a sign that read Knock before entering! - Jiang Cheng. Wei Wuxian usually ignored that sign, but chose to actually obey it for once. He needed Jiang Cheng on his good side.

 

He knocked.

 

"Come in," Jiang Cheng called immediately.

 

Wei Wuxian pushed open the door and waltzed over to Jiang Cheng's bed, sitting on the edge of it like it was his own. Jiang Cheng was sitting at his desk, studying.

 

"The fuck happened to you?" Jiang Cheng asked, his voice halfway between mocking and genuine concern.

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Well," he said, "You'll never fucking guess. Long story short, the universe is a joke."

Jiang Cheng's eyes narrowed. He turned to face Wei Wuxian properly, folding his arms. "That tells me absolutely nothing."

 

"So," Wei Wuxian began, "Guess who I ran into at the bar last night?"

"You just said I'll never guess," Jiang Cheng sighed, already irritated. "Stop putting it off and just fucking tell me what you did."

 

It's not what I did... Wei Wuxian wanted to tell him.

 

"I ran into Lan Wangji," Wei Wuxian said.

"That guy you dumped a few months ago for being too boring?" Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"Yeah, him," Wei Wuxian mumbled.

"What was he doing at a gay bar?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Drinking, apparently," Wei Wuxian shrugged, smirking. "Well... I found him passed out. Initially I didn't know it was him."

 

Jiang Cheng looked more and more shocked as Wei Wuxian told him the story of what happened last night (and that morning). His brother said nothing and just listened.

 

Once Wei Wuxian was done, he waited for Jiang Cheng to berate him and yell at him for being stupid. The calming effects of the cold shower had worn off already, and he was feeling hot and sweaty again -- but not in a good way.

 

"You weren't lying when you said the universe is a joke..." Jiang Cheng commented, relaxing slightly in his seat. "Holy shit. That sounds like something out of a novel."

"I know, right?!" Wei Wuxian sighed. "But the thing is, I really don't know what to do here..." He leaned back, looking up at the ceiling. "I don't know what feels right."

"Hmmm..." Jiang Cheng said. "It's a tough one. Can't say I've ever thought about this scenario before."

Wei Wuxian snorted with laughter, looking at his brother again with an amused expression. "Jiang Cheng, let's be real -- have you ever thought about love before?"

Jiang Cheng averted his gaze. "Of course I have," he mumbled, blushing slightly. "But none of them involve drunken sex!" he added, huffing.

"Technically," Wei Wuxian corrected, holding up his index finger, "We didn't have sex as such."

Jiang Cheng blushed deeper. "S-Shut up!" he spat. "I don't care either way!"

 

They sat in silence for a while. Wei Wuxian still hadn't come any closer to a solution to his colossal problem.

 

Jiang Cheng was one of the few people who knew how much Wei Wuxian suffered at times. They'd had their ups and downs as siblings, but Jiang Cheng was always supportive when Wei Wuxian needed him to be. No matter how much Jiang Cheng complained, he always listened to Wei Wuxian's problems. And Wei Wuxian was fully aware that he had a lot of problems.

 

It had been Jiang Cheng who'd pushed him to finish high school. It had been Jiang Cheng who'd told him their family were all worried about Wei Wuxian's excessive drinking and drunken adventures. Jiang Cheng had supported him initially when Madam Yu had raised the idea of an arranged marriage with Lan Wangji.

 

And now, it was Jiang Cheng who was, once again, listening to Wei Wuxian whine about problems that Wei Wuxian had caused himself.

 

While Wei Wuxian was eternally grateful to his friends, he didn't want to talk to them about things like this when he was truly down on himself. Nie Huaisang loved gossip, after all, and Wei Wuxian worried that if he knew too much, he'd expose Wei Wuxian's secrets to the world (not that he had that many secrets). As for Wen Ning, Wei Wuxian felt like he was too soft and delicate of a person to be burdened with all the dark shit that went on in Wei Wuxian's mind.

 

"He said you didn't have to give him an answer immediately, right?" Jiang Cheng asked eventually.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. He was now lying on top of Jiang Cheng's bed, making himself at home. Jiang Cheng was still sitting at his desk. "He said he didn't want to force me."

"So take your time," Jiang Cheng suggested. "Give it a few days. Try not to worry about it. I'm sure he won't care how long you make him wait, so long as you eventually do give him an answer."

"And I will!" Wei Wuxian said. "I wouldn't leave him in the dark like that. Not now that I know..."

 

Wei Wuxian hadn't mentioned what Lan Wangji's last words to him had been. That information felt too personal to share. Plus, he still wanted to clarify exactly what Lan Wangji had meant by 'love'.

 

"Can I get back to studying now?" Jiang Cheng asked, frowning slightly. "I do have a report I need to finish."

"Yeah, sure," Wei Wuxian said, hopping off Jiang Cheng's bed. "I'll fuck off now."

"By the way," Jiang Cheng added, causing Wei Wuxian to stop halfway across the room.

"Yeah?"

"You should stay away from the bar for a while," Jiang Cheng warned. "For... your own benefit, I mean."

Wei Wuxian paused before grinning and Jiang Cheng. "I know, I know!" he said. "I think... I won't go until after I've given him an answer."

"But won't that pressure you into deciding what to do?" Jiang Cheng asked, frowning again.

"Nah," Wei Wuxian shook his head. "I really do need to stop drinking. Plus, I have work."

"Alright, if you say so," Jiang Cheng shrugged, returning to his studies as Wei Wuxian left.

 

Wei Wuxian decided to take on extra shifts at work the next week to distract himself. He did think about what he should say to Lan Wangji whenever he had a spare moment, but he still couldn't come up with an answer.

 

He wasn't really sure what he wanted, himself. Lan Wangji seemed to want to give the relationship a go, but Wei Wuxian had his concerns. At least he knew that Lan Wangji wasn't as pure as he appeared at first glance, so maybe things wouldn't be that bad.

 


 

One night, about a week or so after his meeting with Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian couldn't sleep. He decided to watch the video of Lan Wangji playing the guqin for the first time since their breakup.

 

Hearing the captivating sounds of the ancient instrument being made caused him to cry. He wasn't crying because he was sad, angry, frustrated or lonely. It was because listening to the music and actually taking it in and realising the sorrow and emptiness and longing behind the plucking of the strings made things as clear as day to him.

 

Wei Wuxian knew the answer before the video even ended. He watched the whole thing to make sure, only becoming more and more confident as it went on.

 

He now understood why Lan Wangji had played that song for him, even though it was an original composition.

 

He now understood that Lan Wangji had been serious when he'd told Wei Wuxian he loved him.

 

Wei Wuxian cried himself to sleep that night, but in a good way. They were tears of relief.

 


 

The next morning, Wei Wuxian woke up unusually early, despite not having work that day.

 

Is it too early to call him? He seems like he'd wake up at the crack of dawn. Maybe I should wait until after breakfast at least...

 

He waited until after breakfast.

 

Jiang Cheng was surprised that Wei Wuxian was actually up in time to eat breakfast with the rest of his family before they went out.

 

Wei Wuxian pulled his brother to the side.

 

"I've decided," he whispered.

Jiang Cheng didn't need context. He knew what Wei Wuxian meant. "Good luck," he said quietly, nodding. "Will you talk to him today?"

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "I dunno if he'll be awake yet, and honestly, it's too early in the morning for this shit..."

"I doubt any time would be too early for him," Jiang Cheng smiled. "Anyway, let's eat, the rice will be getting cold!" He gave Wei Wuxian a slap on the back.

"Ow, that hurt~!" Wei Wuxian jokingly whined, rubbing the spot where Jiang Cheng had hit him.

Jiang Cheng stuck out his tongue playfully as they walked back to the table. "This is ridiculous," he huffed quietly, "We're grown men."

"I do believe you're the only one of us who's actually an adult," Wei Wuxian commented as he sat down.

"I'm adult enough for the both of us," Jiang Cheng said. "Or something like that, anyway."

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly as he served himself breakfast.

 


 

It was almost eleven am before Wei Wuxian plucked up enough courage to call Lan Wangji. He'd been staring at his phone for about an hour, putting off tapping the button for as long as possible. It was a Tuesday morning, and Wei Wuxian didn't know if Lan Wangji had classes or work or whatever.

 

But he needed to talk to him.

 

Taking a deep breath, Wei Wuxian finally hit the 'Call' button next to Lan Wangji's number and waited with bated breath as the phone rang.

 

"Hello, is this Wei Wuxian?" the voice on the other end asked.

 

Oh god, it's him. He actually answered. Fuck. What was I meant to say again? Oh, right, I need to tell him why I called him. Calm down, Wei Ying.

 

"H-Hey, Lan Wangji, it's me..." he said stupidly into the phone.

"...Good morning," Lan Wangji responded, emotionlessly.

"Yeah, morning'," Wei Wuxian said back.

"..."

 

Silence.

 

"So, uh," Wei Wuxian began, "Are you free to talk now?"

"I am free," Lan Wangji said. "We can talk."

 

Wei Wuxian paused.

 

You can do this, Wei Ying. Just tell him.

 

"Well," Wei Wuxian said, "Er... I have an answer."

"..."

 

Silence, again.

 

"...What is it?" Lan Wangji asked, very quietly.

 

Wei Wuxian took another deep breath.

 

Say it, Wei Ying. Say. It.

 

"I... uh. I would also, um, like to... try... having another go at a relationship with you."

"..."

 

"I-If that's okay with you, of course!" Wei Wuxian hastily added.

 

Duh, of course it's okay with him! Wei Wuxian yelled at himself. He's the one who asked for this, you fucking moron!

 

He heard the rustle of something (clothing, maybe?) on the other end of the line.

 

"L-Lan Wangji? You there?" Wei Wuxian asked, unsure. Had Wei Wuxian scared him off?

"...I am here," Lan Wangji replied, his voice shaking ever so slightly.

 

"So, uh..." Wei Wuxian didn't know what to say.

 

"Are you... sure about your answer?" Lan Wangji asked.

 

Wei Wuxian lay in his bed, phone by his side. He'd worked up all this courage to ask Lan Wangji to date him again, and now Lan Wangji was making him second-guess himself. Maybe Lan Wangji was just giving him a chance to back out of it in case he'd said the wrong thing.

 

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian breathed, "I'm sure. I mean it this time, too. I want to... try dating you for real. Now that I know how you feel about me. And, uh... stuff..." he trailed off, mumbling nonsense as he did so.

"..."

 

He heard a faint noise again coming from Lan Wangji's end.

 

"...Thank you," Lan Wangji murmured. Wei Wuxian felt himself blush slightly at those words, which sounded warm and kind and hopeful.

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I should be thanking you," he said softly. "Thanks for sticking with me, Lan Wangji."

"..."

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't sure what came over him, but he started to quietly hum Lan Wangji's song into his phone. Lan Wangji was silent, although Wei Wuxian knew he was still there.

 

Lan Wangji joined in towards the end of the song.

 

His voice was beautiful, Wei Wuxian thought, feeling inferior all of a sudden even though they were just humming to each other over the phone.

 

Silence fell once they hummed the final notes. Wei Wuxian lay there with a smile on his face, wishing that he could see what Lan Wangji looked like.

 

"Thank you," Lan Wangji murmured again.

"It's a beautiful song," Wei Wuxian murmured back. "Almost as beautiful as the person who wrote it..."

"..."

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that they'd been talking for quite a while, and figured that Lan Wangji wasn't used to long phone conversations.

 

"Uh," he said, "Sorry for keeping you. I'll hang u--"

"Wait," Lan Wangji interrupted

"Yeah?"

"...Would you like to go out for dinner this weekend?"

 

Wei Wuxian went over his upcoming schedule in his head. He was pretty sure he was free both days.

 

"Sure!" he said happily into his phone. "I'm fine either way, but maybe we should do Saturday?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "Saturday sounds good. I will find a restaurant and message you the details -- is that okay?" he asked.

"Of course," Wei Wuxian said. "But, uh, it doesn't have to be anything super fancy. Even something casual's fine! Don't worry too much about that!"

"...Okay."

 

Silence again.

 

"Anyway, uh," Wei Wuxian mumbled, "I'll let you go. Talk to you later! See ya, Lan Wangji!" he chirped.

"...See you later, Wei Ying."

 

Beep.

 

Wei Wuxian stared at his phone, dumbfounded.

 

When the fuck did I tell him my birth name?

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian had told his family he was going to try things with Lan Wangji again, and they'd all been very surprised yet supportive. Madam Yu said she had no reason to disapprove (and encouraged Wei Wuxian to actually aim for marriage this time) and Jiang Cheng was initially annoyed that he'd taken so damn long to decide and told him he'd beat the shit out of Wei Wuxian if he fucked up this time. Jiang Yanli's reaction was that Wei Wuxian better not get married before she did.

 

He'd purchased a new suit with money he'd saved up from his job. He spent hours doing his hair (in the end he decided to go with his regular high-ponytail) and even wore cologne, which was something that startled Jiang Cheng.

 

What they'd agreed on for their date was that they'd first meet up at Lan Wangji's house and then drive to the restaurant, since it was some distance away. And, since it was the weekend, it meant that Wei Wuxian would finally meet Lan Wangji's uncle. Hence, Wei Wuxian wanted to make a good first impression. Normally he didn't give a shit about impressing people, but Lan Wangji's uncle could very easily veto their relationship and he didn't want to ruin things for someone like Lan Wangji (or himself).

 

That afternoon, Wei Wuxian arrived at the Lan residence. He'd brought some high-grade tea leaves with him as a gift (since he'd been told that the uncle didn't drink alcohol).

 

Once again, he was faced with the unsettling task of announcing his presence on the intercom and having a servant answer the front doors for him. Wei Wuxian didn't like the idea of servants, so he always made sure to be overly friendly and thank them profusely.

 

Lan Wangji greeted him as he was talking with the servant and taking off his shoes.

 

"Good afternoon," Lan Wangji said with a nod.

"Hey, Lan Wangji!" Wei Wuxian grinned cheerfully, walking over to him and handing him the tin of tea leaves. "Er, hopefully these are good enough. My sister helped me choose them."

Lan Wangji took the tin. "Thank you," he replied. He turned to the servant and said, "Please let Uncle and Brother know that our guest has arrived. And," he added, passing the tea to the servant, "Prepare four cups of tea for us."

"Certainly, Second Young Master," the servant answered, giving a bow and walking off.

 

"This way," Lan Wangji instructed, leading Wei Wuxian down a hallway.

 

He was taken to a different room than last time. This one was larger and had a longer table in the middle. Lan Wangji showed Wei Wuxian where to sit and proceeded to sit on the seat next to him.

 

Lan Wangji was also wearing a new-looking suit, although it appeared to be much more expensive than Wei Wuxian's. His hair was in its usual ponytail, once again held together with that ribbon of his. Wei Wuxian was beginning to wonder if maybe the ribbon held some importance to his date.

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that Lan Wangji was wearing some kind of cologne as well, but he couldn't place the smell.

 

"Psst, Lan Wangji," Wei Wuxian said.

"Yes?" Lan Wangji looked at him blankly.

"I like your cologne! What scent is it?" he asked with a fond smile.

"Sandalwood," Lan Wangji replied, glancing away for a second.

"It suits you!" Wei Wuxian grinned widely.

"...Thank you."

 

Wei Wuxian made sure he was sitting up properly as Lan Wangji's uncle and brother entered the room. Wei Wuxian quietly observed them as they walked over and stood up to greet them.

 

"Er, good afternoon..." Wei Wuxian bowed. "T-Thanks for having me..."

"It's nice to see you again," Lan Xichen smiled. "And there's no need to be so formal!"

 

No need... Wei Wuxian wanted to argue against that, because, as far as he was concerned, there was very much a need. Annoyingly. He waited until the other two were seated before sitting back down himself.

 

"So you're... Lan Wangji's uncle, then?" Wei Wuxian addressed the older man sitting across from him. He wore traditional robes and sported a well-groomed goatee.

The man nodded. "I am Lan Qiren," he said. "I hear it was your mother who referred you to my nephew?" he asked, looking at Wei Wuxian as though he was judging him.

"Uh, yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled in response. "She... thought it would be a good opportunity for me," he explained.

"Xichen told me you are not studying and are currently unemployed, correct?" Lan Qiren's eyes narrowed as he asked.

"I, er, do have a job now!" Wei Wuxian answered. "I help stock shelves at a bookstore. It's not much, but it's good pay for what I do."

"Hmmm..." Lan Qiren stroked his goatee.

 

Lan Qiren was about to say something when the servant knocked on the door holding a tray cluttered with teacups and a teapot. "Pardon me, Second Young Master, but I've brought the tea you requested..."

"Thank you," Lan Wangji nodded. "Please place them on the table."

"Certainly, Young Master!"

 

"Tea?" Lan Qiren asked, watching the servant serve their drinks.

"Oh, I brought some as a gift!" Wei Wuxian explained. "I was gonna buy a bottle of wine, but I've been informed that you don't drink alcohol, so I figured tea would be the next best thing..."

"Really?" Lan Xichen smiled at him again. "How lovely! Thank you, Wei Wuxian!"

"What kind of tea is this?" Lan Qiren queried as he picked up his cup and took a sip.

"Uhh..."

 

Wei Wuxian couldn't remember exactly what kind of tea it actually was. Jiang Yanli had told him when they bought it, but he hadn't really been paying much attention.

 

Shit, Wei Wuxian thought. This sure is gonna make me look pathetic in Uncle Goatee's eyes. I don't drink much tea, I've got no clue what it is!

 

Lan Qiren glared at him. Wei Wuxian felt himself sweat slightly under the pressure.

 

"It's jasmine tea," Lan Wangji said flatly. Wei Wuxian and Lan Qiren both stared at him.

 

Wei Wuxian figured he was just able to tell after tasting it. "Oh yeah, that's right!" he exclaimed. "It's jasmine tea, I remember now!" Against his better judgement, he decided to jokingly add, "I was too busy admiring how handsome Lan Wangji looks that it slipped my mind! Sorry, sorry!" He grinned and waved his hand around in mock-apology.

 

Lan Xichen was the only one who laughed. Lan Wangji shifted slightly in his seat but said nothing. Wei Wuxian sighed internally, having wanted to get some kind of reaction out of him.

 

Lan Qiren cleared his throat. "The tea is not bad," he said, taking another sip.

"G-Glad you like it?" Wei Wuxian wasn't really sure what he was meant to say in response, being unfamiliar with formalities and crap.

 

After a few moments of silence and tea drinking, Lan Xichen asked, "Wangji, what time is your reservation for?"

"Six thirty," Lan Wangji replied. "We should have plenty of time to get there."

"Where are we going, by the way?" Wei Wuxian asked his date. "I told you not to bother with anything too fancy this time, remember?" he reminded Lan Wangji.

"...It is a surprise," Lan Wangji answered blankly.

Lan Xichen chuckled. "He hasn't even told me," he said to Wei Wuxian. "Either that means he's unsure of his choice, or it's somewhere embarrassing."

"Embarrassing?" Wei Wuxian repeated, confused. "The only kinda places I can see being embarrassing are strip clubs or gay bars and neither of those strike me as romantic, really..."

"Mmm... I don't think Wangji would visit those sorts of establishments. Right, Wangji?" he asked his brother.

"Absolutely not," Lan Wangji replied, frowning slightly. "It is just a regular restaurant. We are simply going out for dinner."

 

This made Wei Wuxian realise that Lan Wangji's family was probably unaware that he had, in fact, visited a gay bar before. Which made him wonder if they were even aware that he drank at all. Wei Wuxian knew better than to mention either of those things, though, since he didn't want Lan Wangji to be punished.

 

Wei Wuxian quietly drank the rest of his tea. None of the Lans said anything else, and Wei Wuxian assumed that Lan Wangji got his silent personality from his uncle. Lan Qiren appeared to be somewhat strict, from what Wei Wuxian could tell, so he was rather surprised that he'd been this supportive of his nephew.

 

"Wei Wuxian," Lan Wangji said, glancing at his watch, "We should get going now."

"S-Sure," Wei Wuxian followed Lan Wangji's lead in standing. "Lead the way, Lan Wangji!"

 

They said goodbye to Lan Xichen and Lan Qiren. Lan Wangji took Wei Wuxian to his car. Wei Wuxian felt slightly nervous as he sat down and buckled his seatbelt, remembering that he'd been kissed in it before. Even though that was only once, and he'd rode in Lan Wangji's car since then without anything happening.

 

However, he did now understand why Lan Wangji had kissed him, at least.

 

Thinking about the kiss made Wei Wuxian tingle a bit. Then he slowly started remembering another kiss.

 

The scene of them in the hotel room together flashed into his mind. It took him a while to realise that it had actually happened in reality and hadn't been a dream.

 

Wei Wuxian's train of thought was derailed when Lan Wangji called his name from beside him.

 

"Wei Wuxian?"

 

Wei Wuxian turned to look at him. They were stopped at a traffic light, waiting to turn. "Yeah?"

"Are you okay?" Lan Wangji asked. "You seem worried about something..."

"Ah, no, no, I'm fine!" Wei Wuxian insisted, putting on a grin. "I was just thinking about stuff, don't worry!"

"Okay," Lan Wangji said. "Let me know if you are feeling unwell."

"It's nothing like that!" Wei Wuxian sighed, relaxing in his seat. "Just... I remembered something."

"What did you remember?" Lan Wangji asked as the light turned green and he drove forward before turning left.

"...That we kissed in the hotel room that night," Wei Wuxian said quietly.

 

Lan Wangji's hands gripped the steering wheel tightly. "We did," he acknowledged. "But I do not think we did... anything else."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Nah, we didn't," he sighed. "It was just a kiss. I'm not mad," he added. "Not in the slightest..."

"..."

 

It took some time before they reached the restaurant. It was another one that was positioned atop a flight of stairs with over-the-top pillars that led to a grand entrance.

 

Once again, Lan Wangji had booked them a private booth. He'd appeared to have ignored Wei Wuxian's request for something more casual. Oh well, I'll deal, Wei Wuxian thought to himself as he sat opposite Lan Wangji at their table.

 

"So what's so special about this place?" Wei Wuxian asked while they looked at the menu.

"...It specialises in spicy food," Lan Wangji explained.

"Oh?" Wei Wuxian glanced up at him and raised an eyebrow. "How'd you know I like spicy food?"

"You always order something spicy," Lan Wangji said. "So I thought it would appeal to you."

 

Indeed, the menu was full of dishes containing various kinds of spices. Wei Wuxian had enjoyed the spicy meal he'd had at the other restaurant, even though it had been extremely hot. He wanted to have something that was at least that level of heat.

 

"What about you, Lan Wangji?" Wei Wuxian asked. Lan Wangji gave him a quizzical look. "Do you like spicy food too?"

"I have never really eaten it," Lan Wangji replied. "My family has never used it in our cooking."

"Well!" Wei Wuxian clapped his hands together excitedly. "In that case, you're in luck! Spices add a whole new layer of flavour -- sometimes they're a bit too overpowering, but if you get juuuust the right amount of heat, it can be perfect!"

"I see," Lan Wangji said.

"However," Wei Wuxian continued, "Since you're not used to it at all, I'd recommend trying something with very little spice in it. Go through the menu and see what the lowest levels of heat are!" he grinned.

"Okay." Lan Wangji returned to the menu.

 

Wei Wuxian decided to try the extra spicy dandan noodles for dinner. Lan Wangji ended up opting for a mild chicken stir-fry dish. Wei Wuxian ordered a glass of his favourite wine, despite his brain screaming at him not to. Lan Wangji just asked for water.

 

"Hey, Lan Wangji, can I ask you about something?" Wei Wuxian rested his head in his hand, his elbow propped up on the table.

"You may," Lan Wangji replied.

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Okay, so," he began. "When we were talking on the phone a few days ago..." he paused for a moment. "You called me 'Wei Ying'."

"I did," Lan Wangji confirmed.

"When did I tell you my birth name?" Wei Wuxian asked gently. "Was it when we were in the hotel room together?"

"...It was," Lan Wangji replied.

 

The waitress returned with their drinks at that point and informed them that their food should be ready shortly.

 

After she left again, Wei Wuxian continued, "I honestly can't remember much about that night. I know we kissed -- and did nothing else -- but... did you tell me your birth name at one point too, by chance?" He'd been trying to remember what it was, but nothing came to mind. It bothered Wei Wuxian since he was pretty sure Lan Wangji wouldn't tell just anyone his birth name.

"I did," Lan Wangji said again. "But... it was right before we went to sleep, so I am not surprised you do not remember it." He took a sip of water.

Wei Wuxian sighed, leaning back in his chair. "It's annoying, though!" he exclaimed. "I always forget shit when I drink like that, so it's my own fault..."

Lan Wangji said nothing.

 

"Oh, yeah!" Wei Wuxian remembered something else he'd been meaning to ask about. "Do your family not know you drink sometimes?"

"They do not," Lan Wangji answered. "Uncle... does not like alcohol at all."

"Does your uncle like anything?" Wei Wuxian joked, chuckling quietly, slouching forward.

Lan Wangji's eyebrows twitched for a second. "Please do not insult my uncle."

Wei Wuxian sighed again, frowning. "It was a joke, dude, relax."

"..."

 

"Anyway," Wei Wuxian went on, after drinking some wine, not wanting to make things awkward, "Would... you mind telling me your birth name again? I promise I won't forget it this time!"

"Lan Zhan," Lan Wangji answered simply.

"Lan Zhan..." Wei Wuxian repeated quietly. "It's nice. I like it." He smiled at Lan Wangji. "Can I call you Lan Zhan?" he asked. I'm going to call you that anyway, it's cute, dammit! Wei Wuxian thought.

"...You may," Lan Wangji replied slowly. He glanced to the side again. "May I... call you Wei Ying?" The tips of his ears were light pink.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "You already have," he said. "Of course you can, Lan Zhan."

 

The waitress came back to serve their meals before Lan Wangji said anything else.

 

Wei Wuxian's noodles were as spicy as they'd been advertised, which pleased him immensely. Usually, he had to add extra chili powder before they were intense enough for him, so on the occasion he didn't need to do that he was very happy.

 

"Hooo these are hot!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed after a few mouthfuls, his lips pleasantly tingling. "They weren't kidding about them being extra spicy! Awesome!" He took a sip of his wine, leaving a trail of red on the rim where his lips had been. "How's your food, Lan Zhan?"

 

Lan Wangji hadn't even tried his chicken yet. He had picked up his chopsticks and was hovering them over the pieces, apparently trying to decide which one had the least amount of spices on it. Wei Wuxian frowned slightly.

 

"Go on, try it!" Wei Wuxian encouraged playfully. "I'm sure you'll be fine, you can hardly see the spices on it!"

"...Okay," Lan Wangji said, finally picking up a piece of chicken and slowly putting it in his mouth. Wei Wuxian watched closely as Lan Wangji ate. For whatever reason, he was captivated by his partner's small, delicate chews.

 

As Lan Wangji swallowed, he started coughing, turning away from Wei Wuxian.

 

Part of Wei Wuxian wanted to laugh. He'd never met anybody who couldn't handle this low level of spice before! Even Wen Ning had a higher tolerance than Lan Wangji!

 

Trying not to chuckle, Wei Wuxian asked, "Are you okay, dude?"

Lan Wangji managed to stop coughing. Sitting forward again properly, he took a large gulp of water before looking at Wei Wuxian with watery eyes. "I am fine."

Wei Wuxian sighed. "If you say so," he said. "Do you want to ask for another dish? I can always eat this for you."

"No need," Lan Wangji replied. "I will eat it."

 

Wei Wuxian shrugged and returned to his own meal. "I mean, if you want to..."

 

He was now somewhat worried about Lan Wangji. While it was rather amusing seeing someone unable to cope with spicy food, he didn't really want anything humiliating to happen to Lan Wangji. If it had been anyone else, Wei Wuxian probably would've snuck more chili powder onto the chicken and laughed his ass off at the person's reaction... but he couldn't bring himself to do that with his date.

 

Lan Wangji ate his food very slowly, drinking copious amounts of water as he went. Wei Wuxian watched him closely, trying to look for any other signs of discomfort. If Lan Wangji was struggling, he was doing a damn good job of hiding it.

 

However, by the time Wei Wuxian had finished his noodles and their drinks had been refilled, Lan Wangji had only eaten about a third of his dish.

 

Wei Wuxian frowned. After finishing off his second glass of wine and wiping his face, he sighed yet again. "You know, Lan Zhan..."

"What?" Lan Wangji asked, a cough escaping him.

"When we were at lunch that one time," Wei Wuxian said, "You told me not to force myself to eat if I didn't want to. I'm thinking," he slouched forward and pointed his index finger at Lan Wangji, "You should probably follow your own advice."

Lan Wangji's eyes narrowed slightly. "I am fine," he insisted once more, yet he made no attempt to demonstrate.

"No, you're not," Wei Wuxian was very tempted to flick Lan Wangji's forehead, but held back and put his hand on his lap instead. "Let me tell you something about spice, Lan Zhan: if you're having a bad time when you're eating it, you're gonna have an even worse time when it all comes out the other end!"

Lan Wangji glared at him. "That's obsc--" His insult was cut off by the start of another coughing fit.

 

Lan Wangji reached for his glass, only to find that it was empty. He looked over at Wei Wuxian for assistance, but Wei Wuxian was also out of his own drink.

 

While Lan Wangji continued to cough, Wei Wuxian tried to think of something to do. He could go and smack Lan Wangji on the back, but then he remembered that that was for choking.

 

"H-Hold on a sec, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian said, standing up and sliding the door to their booth open. He stuck his head through and called, "Excuse me, waiter!"

A waiter stopped and walked over to him. "Yes, sir, how may I help you?"

"Can we get some more water, please?" Wei Wuxian asked. Lan Wangji had managed to surpress his coughing for now, but Wei Wuxian knew he'd still need some water.

"Certainly! Anything else?" the waiter asked cheerfully.

Wei Wuxian half wanted to order another glass of wine, but knew that he really shouldn't be drinking at all tonight, let alone a third glass. "Uh, no," he answered. "Just water, thanks!"

"Sure thing!" the waiter responded and left to get the water.

 

Wei Wuxian slid the door closed and sat back down. "He'll bring us some water," he explained. Lan Wangji's face was slightly red and his eyes were still watering. He said nothing and just nodded.

 

"You really shouldn't eat any more of this," Wei Wuxian continued, picking up Lan Wangji's plate and setting it down in front of himself. "You'll probably make yourself sick, dude..."

 

The waiter entered with a jug of water and refilled Lan Wangji's glass and gave one to Wei Wuxian as well. Lan Wangji immediately drank the entire glass once the waiter left.

 

Wei Wuxian decided it was better not to talk and helped himself to Lan Wangji's chicken. He couldn't taste any spice on it at all, which frustrated him slightly. Had it really been that overpowering for Lan Wangji? It probably had, Wei Wuxian figured, since he doubted that Lan Wangji wanted to make a scene like this on purpose.

 

Once he'd finished his second dish for the evening, he thought it would be alright to talk again. "Are you feeling better?" he asked. Wei Wuxian was genuinely concerned.

"I am fine," Lan Wangji said yet again. His eyes were drier now and he appeared to have regained his composure for the most part.

 

You're fine for now, at least, Wei Wuxian thought. Bet you're gonna regret it later, though...

 

"Do you wanna try and ask if they have anything that isn't spicy?" Wei Wuxian suggested. "You didn't eat much, after all."

"...I will eat when I get home," Lan Wangji said, shaking his head.

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't convinced, so he called for another waiter and asked about spice-free options. The waiter said he'd talk to one of the chefs and went away again.

 

"There is no need," Lan Wangji told him, irritated. "I am not that hungry."

"But you need to eat properly!" Wei Wuxian protested. "You've only had your rice and not a lot else. At least get some dessert, maybe?" he offered.

"..."

 

Oh, yeah, this guy doesn't like sweet things, Wei Wuxian remembered. God, this is impossible. If he knew he couldn't handle spicy food why the fuck did he take me to a restaurant with nothing but spicy food and order something spicy? I'm not worth that effort, man. I really don't get you, Lan Wangji...

 

The waiter returned, having asked the chef.

 

"Unfortunately," he said, "I can only offer items from the children's menu, or a second bowl of rice."

 

It took everything in Wei Wuxian's power no to crack up laughing at the idea of someone as upper class as Lan Wangji ordering from the kids' menu at a fancy restaurant. Part of him wanted to pressure Lan Wangji into ordering chicken nuggets, but he somehow managed to control himself.

 

"...No, thank you," Lan Wangji declined. "But we would like to look at the dessert menu, please."

"Certainly!" the waiter chirped, leaving them alone.

 

Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow at Lan Wangji. "Didn't you say you didn't want dessert?" he asked.

"I did not say anything," Lan Wangji corrected him. "And... I asked so that you could order some dessert," he added.

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I could've asked him myself, you know!" he said with a smile.

 

Lan Wangji coughed again. Wei Wuxian was about to say something but Lan Wangji shook his head and was able to stop after only coughing twice.

 

After they received the dessert menus, silence fell while they both looked through them.

 

Despite having eaten two meals, Wei Wuxian still felt like something sweet, so he chose to have some lychee ice cream. Lan Wangji, being boring and no fun at all, simply went with vanilla ice cream.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan, you wanna try some of mine?" Wei Wuxian offered when he was halfway through his ice cream and starting to feel full. "It's tasty!"

Lan Wangji glanced over at him. "Okay."

 

Lan Wangji reached out with his spoon but Wei Wuxian gently pushed his arm away. Lan Wangji looked confused. "No, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian sighed. "You do it like this."

 

Wei Wuxian scooped some ice cream into his own spoon and stuck the spoon in front of Lan Wangji's face.

 

"What are you doing?" Lan Wangji asked quietly.

"Feeding you!" Wei Wuxian grinned stupidly. "Open your mouth!"

"..."

 

Lan Wangji took a few seconds to obey, and Wei Wuxian was surprised that he hadn't protested at all. He howled with laughter internally as he moved the spoon so that it was inside Lan Wangji's mouth. Lan Wangji obediently sucked the ice cream off the spoon.

 

Why am I getting turned on by this? Wei Wuxian wondered as he started to realise just what he was doing.

 

Lan Wangji took his mouth away from the spoon and sat up straight again. "It is good," he nodded.

Wei Wuxian stared at him. He really makes no fucking sense! Why'd he agree to do that?! "Y-Yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled, placing the spoon in his bowl of ice cream again. "Lychee's always a nice flavour..."

 

Wei Wuxian was now aware of the fact that the spoon he was using had been in Lan Wangji's mouth. He wondered if Lan Wangji was also thinking about this strange development, or if he was just making things weirder than they needed to be.

 

They finished their desserts without another word.

 

Wei Wuxian waited at the reception desk while Lan Wangji made a stop at the restroom.

 

"Did you enjoy your meal this evening?" the woman behind the desk asked him.

"Uh, yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "We did, thanks!"

"So, tell me, young man," she smirked, giving him a knowing look. "Are you here on a date with that handsome fellow?"

Wei Wuxian grinned at her. "Duh!" he replied. "Do I really look like someone who'd eat at a place like this otherwise?"

"Good point!" the woman laughed. "I do hope you two had a lovely night. It's always nice seeing people enjoying themselves..."

Wei Wuxian blushed slightly. "T-Thanks..." he muttered.

 

Lan Wangji returned and paid their bill. Wei Wuxian was hoping to maybe pay for some of it himself, but Lan Wangji had insisted that he'd pay. Again. This made Wei Wuxian swear to himself that he'd treat Lan Wangji to a meal one day. Maybe for his birthday. Which he realised he didn't know.

 

Wei Wuxian really wanted to make an inappropriate joke, but thankfully he was still sober enough to control his urges as they walked back to Lan Wangji's car. It was fun teasing Lan Wangji, but he also wasn't sure how far he could take his teasing just yet.

 

"Do you remember my address?" Wei Wuxian half-jokingly asked once they were in the car.

"...I do not," Lan Wangji answered quietly. "I apologise."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Lan Zhan, I really didn't expect you to," he said, inputting it into the GPS. "Here."

"Thank you," Lan Wangji mumbled as he began backing out of the park.

 

Once again, Wei Wuxian noticed the lack of music. He would've been fine even just having the radio playing, but he couldn't find signs that Lan Wangji had any kind of music device to hook up to his car nor did he appear to own any CDs.

 

"D'you ever listen to music, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked, resting his head against the window.

"Sometimes," Lan Wangji replied.

Wei Wuxian perked up. "Oh yeah? What kind?"

"I listen to traditional guqin pieces to help my learning," he said matter-of-factly.

Wei Wuxian almost rolled his eyes. "That doesn't count," he groaned. "Anything modern?"

"I do not," Lan Wangji said. "I do not have time to listen to music."

"Oh..."

 

Well, that's better than Uncle Goatee not allowing him to listen to it or some shit. Guess rich people are always busy doing whatever it is rich people do. Ugh.

 

He closed his eyes as they continued their journey home. On the way, he realised he should probably clarify their relationship status.

 

Wei Wuxian sat up as they came to a stop in front of his family's house.

 

"So... Lan Zhan," he began, after Lan Wangji had turned the car engine off.

"Yes?" Lan Wangji asked, turning to look at him.

"I, uh... wanna confirm something," Wei Wuxian pushed a strand of hair out of his face that had fallen out of place at some point during the car ride. "About... us."

"...Wei Ying?"

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath and closed his eyes before opening them again. "I... I still wanna... be in a relationship with you," he admitted, his face turning hot. "You're nice. And you're hot. So, uh, if you're willing to deal with dating someone who has, like, zero accomplishments in life, drinks too much and enjoys super spicy food... I'd... be really happy..."

"Did we not already agree to this?" Lan Wangji asked him.

"We did," Wei Wuxian said, "But I wanted to make sure that we were both on the same page, y'know?"  

Lan Wangji stared at him, not moving, not saying anything. Slowly, he whispered, "Thank you." His ears were pink again. "I am grateful that you feel the same way that I do."

 

Wei Wuxian's heart was racing quite fast. He blamed his lack of coherent thought on the alcohol, despite having thought he was still sober enough at the restaurant. Clearly he wasn't if he was reacting like this!

 

He wasn't entirely sure what possessed him in that moment, but Wei Wuxian unbuckled his seatbelt and leant forward, passionately kissing Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji passionately kissed him back, both their tongues meeting each other.

 

Wei Wuxian put his hand on the back of Lan Wangji's head and pulled him forward as far as he could go with his seatbelt still on, tenderly running his hand through Lan Wangji's soft, silky hair.

 

Eventually, Wei Wuxian let go and sat back, catching his breath. He realised he was holding something in his hand, so he brought it around from behind Lan Wangji.

 

It was the ribbon that had been holding Lan Wangji's ponytail in place.

 

Upon further inspection, Wei Wuxian noticed that the ribbon was rather old. The cloud patterns stitched into it had faded somewhat, and it was starting to fray at the ends.

 

Before he could comment on it, Lan Wangji snatched it from him and tied his hair up again.

 

"Is there a reason you always wear that ribbon?" Wei Wuxian asked, wondering what was so special about it.

"...I do not always wear it," Lan Wangji said quietly, not looking directly at Wei Wuxian anymore. "I save it for special occasions."

 

So all our dates count as special occasions? Okay.

 

"Why don't you just buy a new one? That one looks like it's almost falling apart..." Wei Wuxian knew he probably shouldn't be asking about it, but his curiousty had won this round.

Lan Wangji's eyes glazed over. He had a complex expression that Wei Wuxian couldn't work out. "It..." he said slowly, "It was made by my mother."

 

This was the first time Wei Wuxian had heard Lan Wangji talk about either of his parents. "Can't you get her to make you another one?" he blurted out without thinking.

Lan Wangji turned his head even further away from Wei Wuxian, completely hiding his face. He said in a small voice, "No." After a pause, he added, "My mother is dead."

 

God damn you, Wei Ying, you fucking moron!

 

"Oh..." Wei Wuxian mumbled, suddenly hit with an overwhelming feeling of guilt. "I'm sorry... I... had no idea..."

"I never told you," Lan Wangji said, his voice starting to shake. "But... she died when I was young."

"T-Then... what about your father?" SHUT UP, WEI YING, Wei Wuxian yelled at himself. But he didn't listen to his own brain. "Is he also... dead?"

"........Yes."

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to tell Lan Wangji that he'd also lost his parents when he was younger and that he understood how hard it was. But he realised he'd completely fucked up and asked about extremely personal things he shouldn't have been asking about.

 

So it was only fair that he said something to Lan Wangji, wasn't it?

 

"M-My parents... also died when I was a kid," Wei Wuxian explained, feeling like an asshole. "I... really didn't mean to upset you. I know how hard it can be talking about this stuff. I'm sorry..."

 

Surprisingly, he felt Lan Wangji's hand brush against his. Wei Wuxian turned to face him. Lan Wangji looked pained. Seeing this expression on his face hurt Wei Wuxian deeply. Lan Wangji was finally showing him genuine emotions and it was... this.

 

"Do not apologise," Lan Wangji said softly. "I also... had no idea about your parents," he added.

"Well, I guess we have something in common then," Wei Wuxian said, flashing Lan Wangji a guilty smile.

"..." Lan Wangji let go of Wei Wuxian's hand and faced forward in his seat once more. "I... should probably get going," he mumbled.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian muttered. "Have a good night, Lan Zhan," he said. "Thanks for tonight! I had fun..."

"...Good night, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji replied. "I... also enjoyed tonight."

 

Wei Wuxian got out of the car and waved at Lan Wangji as he drove off.

 

Why did he always ruin things like this? Surely Lan Wangji wouldn't want anything to do with him for a while. Wei Wuxian cursed himself again as he made his way to his house.

 

He mentally slapped his face a few times to shift his mood as he went and said hi to his family. Wei Wuxian told them he and Lan Wangji were for real back together definitely (although he didn't say anything about their depressing conversation).

 

Once Wei Wuxian was in bed, he made plans to meet up with Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang to inform them in person, since he hadn't said anything to them yet. They agreed to lunch at a noodle stand on Wednesday, as none of them were working that day.

 

Wen Ning said he had some news to tell Wei Wuxian as well.

Chapter Text

Despite arranging to meet somewhere extremely casual and low-key for lunch, Wen Ning had dressed nicely for reasons Wei Wuxian didn't understand. He'd even done his hair slightly differently. Nie Huaisang was his usual self, so Wei Wuxian couldn't quite work things out. Maybe Wen Ning had something on later that day.

 

They sat down at one of the few outdoor tables after having ordered their noodles.

 

"So, Wen Ning," Wei Wuxian began, "You said you had some news?"

Wen Ning shook his head. "No, no, it's nothing important," he said meekly. "You go first! I'm more interested in what you have to say, Wei Ying."

 

Nie Huaisang gave Wen Ning a look that Wei Wuxian couldn't exactly place.

 

"I'll wait until we've finished eating, then!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "Don't wanna get us too hooked on a conversation and forget about our food, y'know?"

"Is it really that big of a deal?" Nie Huaisang sighed, propping his elbow on the table and resting his head in his hand. "Did you finally get a proper job or something?"

"Nope!" Wei Wuxian replied. "You guys'll never guess! Just wait until I tell ya! You'll fall outta your seats you'll be so surprised!"

Nie Huaisang sighed again. "If you say so, man."

 

The three of them talked about day-to-day things while they ate. Wei Wuxian enjoyed being able to converse normally with people who actually fucking talked and reacted to things he said. He'd missed the banter back and forth and the laughter he got in response to his shitty jokes.

 

Wei Wuxian was the first to finish eating. "Can I start, then, guys?" he asked his friends.

"Sure!" Wen Ning chirped. Nie Huaisang nodded with a mouthful of noodles.

 

Wei Wuxian cleared his throat. "So... you two remember how, a couple of months ago, my mother signed me up for that arranged marriage thing?"

"Yeah," Nie Huaisang said, "And you dumped him a few dates in because being with him was like watching paint dry even though he was really hot, right?"

"Yep, that's the one!" Wei Wuxian said. "Anyway... I ran into him again a few weeks ago."

"And?" Nie Huaisang asked, raising an eyebrow. "Did he beg you to take him back because he'd completely fallen for you and didn't want you to leave him or some shit like that?"

"Pretty much, actually!" Wei Wuxian smirked.

Nie Huaisang's eyes widened in response. "Seriously?" he snorted. "That's like something out of a shitty romance novel!"

"You're telling me!" Wei Wuxian laughed. "To be fair, we were both a bit drunk when we saw each other, but we talked it out once we were properly sober aaaaaand to cut to the chase, I'm dating him again."

 

Nie Huaisang stared at Wei Wuxian in shock. "Wei Wuxian, you--"

 

He was cut off by a soft clang to his left. Wei Wuxian and Nie Huaisang both turned to look at the source of the noise: Wen Ning. Or, more specifically, Wen Ning's chopsticks, which he had dropped onto the table.

 

"...Wen Ning?" Wei Wuxian asked slowly.

 

It was almost as if Wen Ning was frozen in place.

 

"Psst," Wei Wuxian tried again. "Wen Ning?"

Wen Ning blinked a few times. "Huh? O-Oh, Wei Ying..." He picked up his chopsticks and cleaned them with his napkin, his hands severely shaking. "S-Sorry, I just... s-spaced out for a second there. W-What were you saying?" He smiled at Wei Wuxian, but Wei Wuxian could tell it was forced.

"I was saying that I've started dating that guy I got hooked up with again. You know, the rich one."

"R-R-Right..." Wen Ning's voice was trembling as much as his hands were.

 

This is weird, Wei Wuxian thought. What kind of reaction is this? Wen Ning normally would be super happy for me and congratulate me and stuff. Does he not like the Lan family for some reason? But he's never said anything before, so that makes no sense.

 

Nie Huaisang had placed a hand on Wen Ning's back and was gently patting it. "Calm down, Wen Ning," he said.

 

Wen Ning looked up at Wei Wuxian, still forcing himself to smile. "S-Sorry," he mumbled. "I'm.. I'm just r-really..." Wen Ning covered his mouth with his hand as tears started running down his cheeks.

 

Really what? Happy? Sad? Shit, I'm no good with people crying.

 

"W-Wen Ning, are you okay?" Wei Wuxian asked quietly.

"Y-Yeah," Wen Ning nodded, although he glanced away. "I-I'm f-fine..."

"Why are you crying?" Wei Wuxian knew that that wasn't the right question to ask, probably, but he never knew how to react to people who were upset.

"...You seriously can't work it out?" Nie Huaisang glared at him.

 

Wei Wuxian stared blankly at both of his friends. What was going on? What had he missed?

 

"...No, I can't," he said through clenched teeth. "People cry for any number of reasons, Huaisang," he added.

Nie Huaisang scoffed. "I can't believe you," he seethed. "You still haven't--"

"P-Please stop, Nie Huaisang," Wen Ning sobbed. "I don't want you two to argue..."

"C'mon, Wen Ning," Nie Huaisang sighed. "This is why I'm telling you to be more assertive! Wei Wuxian's never gonna have any clue."

 

Wei Wuxian angrily stood up. "Alright," he glared, "So I'm a fucking idiot who can't work out what people are feeling! Tell me what's going on then!" he demanded, trying not to raise his voice.

"You know what?" Nie Huaisang sneered. "You don't deserve to know."

"STOP!" Wen Ning shouted, his eyes puffy and his face red.

 

They both stared at him again. Wen Ning was a quiet man. He never got angry. He never yelled at anyone.

 

Nie Huaisang drank some of his tea. "Sorry, Wen Ning," he mumbled in apology.

"...Sorry," Wei Wuxian also apologised, sitting down again.

 

The three of them sat in silence as they attempted to calm themselves down.

 

"So what was it you wanted to tell me?" Wei Wuxian asked Wen Ning softly.

Wen Ning shook his head. "It's nothing," he said.

"No," Nie Huaisang seethed. "It's not nothing, Wen Ning! Tell him! Right now!" He pointed an index finger at Wen Ning. "You said you were going to tell him, didn't you?! Do it!"

 

Wen Ning took a deep breath. "...W-Wei Ying," he began, turning to face Wei Wuxian properly, his voice still shaking. "I'm... Well, what I was going to tell you was something that's been nullified by your news. So it doesn't mean anything. But Nie Huaisang's right, and I still want to tell you."

"A-And?" Wei Wuxian urged, feeling nervous all of a sudden.

"I... like you, Wei Ying," Wen Ning said quietly, tears starting to fall again. "As in... more than just as a friend. I always have." He paused. "I-I never said anything because I was scared that you'd think it was weird or that you'd push me away for some reason. So I tricked myself into thinking that I was fine so long as I was by your side supporting you." He took a sip of water. "But when you said you'd started a relationship with someone... I realised that, despite what I said, I wasn't actually happy for you. I harboured awful feelings of jealousy. I wanted to be the man who took you out to dinner. Why wasn't it me who kissed you on the way home? I cursed myself for not speaking up earlier." He paused again, wiping his eyes on a napkin. "I know it's selfish to say something now. Now that you're back with him. Because I know you're happy. And, as your friend, I don't want to take that happiness away from you..."

 

Wen Ning drank some more of his water. "S-So even if... even if it's not entirely true, I want to support you. Knowing that I can't be the person who makes you the happiest in the world is painful, but thinking that is incredibly selfish of me. I'm sure he's a wonderful person. You wouldn't trust just anyone enough to start dating them, after all. Above anything else... above my own feelings, no matter what they may be, I trust your judgement, Wei Ying. I trust you, and I trust whoever you fall in love with. I know he means a lot to you -- that this relationship means a lot to you. And I... I really do hope it all works out for you, even if I didn't initially." Another pause. "Um... But most of all, I'm sorry I couldn't even tell you properly. But even now, I still really, really, really like you, Wei Ying. A lot."

 

Wei Wuxian sat there in complete shock. This was the last thing he'd ever expected to hear in his life.

 

Wen Ning... liked him?

 

Was this some kind of prank?

 

No, it couldn't be, he told himself.

 

Wei Wuxian really didn't know what to say or what to do. He feared that the wrong reaction would make this the last time he ever spoke to Wen Ning.

 

Wei Wuxian slowly stood up and walked over to Wen Ning. He did the only thing he could think of: he hugged him. Squeezed him as hard as he could.

 

"I'm sorry," he whispered into Wen Ning's ear, fighting back a sob. "I... I honestly never realised. I don't know what to say to you to apologise for being so dense. I'm truly sorry, Wen Ning."

 

Wei Wuxian felt Wen Ning shaking beneath him, silently crying into his chest. He now knew why Nie Huaisang had been so frustrated with him, and he completely agreed. He really should've noticed.

 

Eventually, Wen Ning's crying stopped, so Wei Wuxian pulled back.

 

"Please don't apologise," Wen Ning said quietly. "If you didn't notice at all, then I was doing a good job at hiding my feelings all these years, wasn't I?" He gave Wei Wuxian a sad smile.

"You're a champion, that's for sure!" Wei Wuxian grinned at him. "Also... Are you sure you're okay with me dating Lan Z-- Lan Wangji?"

"Of course," Wen Ning nodded. "I do want you to be happy, Wei Ying," he said. "And if... you don't mind, I'd like to keep being your friend. Is that alright?"

Wei Wuxian flinched slightly. "W-Why wouldn't it be?" he asked. "I don't think it's weird or anything! Wen Ning, you're... I think if you as a really important friend. You're my best friend, and I owe you a lot. You've helped me out more than I could ever repay you. I should be asking you to stay, if anything..."

 

Nie Huaisang coughed loudly. "Damn right you should," he remarked, glaring at Wei Wuxian again. "Wen Ning's always been quietly watching over you, you know. He's devoted to you."

"...I know that," Wei Wuxian replied. "And I'm very aware of that right now, actually."

"Hmph," Nie Huaisang scoffed. "So long as you get it."

 

Wei Wuxian had an idea.

 

"Wen Ning, I thought of something!" he announced.

"W-What?" Wen Ning asked.

"I deserve some kind of punishment for being such an ass to you," Wei Wuxian explained, "So... do you wanna punch me in the face?"

 

Wen Ning blinked a few times before he started laughing softly. "D-Don't be ridiculous!" he giggled. "I'd never hurt you like that! You know me, I hate physical violence!" He smiled again.

"Aww, c'mon!" Wei Wuxian grinned stupidly. "Just once! Or, if you don't wanna punch me in the face, it can be anywhere else on my body!"

"Can I punch you in the face?" Nie Huaisang asked, amused by the offer.

"No way!" Wei Wuxian laughed. "You'd actually hurt me!"

"That's the idea!" Nie Huaisang smirked.

 

Wen Ning stood up. "Um," he said, standing in front of Wei Wuxian. "J-Just once, okay?"

"You're actually gonna do it?" Wei Wuxian gasped. "Hold on a sec!" He posed defensively. "Ready!" he called at Wen Ning.

 

"H-Here goes!" Wen Ning said as he lifted his fist in the air.

 

And landed it squarely on Wei Wuxian's right cheek.

 

"OW!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, rubbing his cheek. "That wasn't too bad!"

 

Wen Ning laughed again. "I went all out!" he said. "And hey -- I feel better now!"

Wei Wuxian smiled at him. "Great," he breathed, reaching for his iced coffee and downing what was left of it. "Sorry that that's all I can offer you."

Wen Ning shook his head. "It's okay," he insisted. "I really do feel a lot better now that I've finally told you, even if... I didn't get the response I was after."

 

Nie Huaisang stood up, having now finished his lunch. "Well," he said, "Is that all sorted and the three of us are still friends, then?"

Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning exchanged glances and nodded at each other. "Yeah," Wen Ning said. "Thank you, Nie Huaisang."

"Huh?" Nie Huaisang asked as he collected his phone and wallet. "I didn't do anything!"

"Yes you did," Wen Ning corrected gently. "You're the one who encouraged me to confess. I owe you something. Shall I buy you a drink sometime?"

"Hmm..." Nie Huaisang responded. "Sure, yeah, we can do that!" He gave Wen Ning a pat on the shoulder. "I've always got your back."

"Does that apply to me?" Wei Wuxian asked, smirking.

"Depends on the day, really," Nie Huaisang smirked back, mockingly. "But anyway, I should head off," he added. "I'm meeting my brother soon for some boring business-related discussion."

"Ew," Wei Wuxian grimaced. "Good luck, Huaisang!"

Nie Huaisang laughed. "I'm not worried about it," he said. "It's nothing too intense today, hopefully..."

 

They waved goodbye to Nie Huaisang as he left.

 

"Wen Ning..." Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Are you gonna be okay?"

"Yeah," Wen Ning nodded. "I'm fine now, I promise," he said. "I need to get home soon so that I can help my sister cook dinner. She's having a couple of her friends over tonight."

"Have fun," Wei Wuxian told him. "And... let me know if you need someone to talk to, okay?" he added. "I'm always here to help you, no matter what."

Wen Ning gave Wei Wuxian a warm, wide smile. "Absolutely!" he grinned. "Same to you, Wei Ying."

"Yeah..."

 

Wei Wuxian was then the only one still there.

 

He slowly made his way home, mulling over what Wen Ning had said to him.

 

What did he do to have someone as kind and selfless as Wen Ning in his life? Wei Wuxian still wasn't entirely sure how he felt about the whole situation, other than that he, once again, hated himself and his inability to pick up on things.

 

What else had he missed over the years? Was it too late to start noticing things?

 

Maybe he could ask Lan Wangji about it the next time they hung out...

 

Once Wei Wuxian got home, he shut himself in his room and watched the video of Lan Wangji playing the guqin over and over to calm himself down and take his mind off things.

 

He wanted Lan Wangji to play the guqin for him again.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian wanted to hang out with Lan Wangji again, but Lan Wangji was busy until Sunday that week. He apparently had a long report he needed to finish writing for university by Monday, and Wei Wuxian knew that studying would definitely be a higher priority than himself.

 

He did, however, manage to get Lan Wangji to agree to meeting up on Sunday after dinner and just spending the evening at the Lans' house. Which had taken some convincing, as Lan Wangji had apparently never had a friend over simply to 'hang out' before.

 

Wei Wuxian's mind kept drifting back to what Wen Ning had said. Wei Wuxian couldn't help but think of the alternate universe where he would've hooked up with Wen Ning instead of Lan Wangji... Even though Wen Ning wasn't Wei Wuxian's type at all, he might have said yes if he hadn't been dating anyone.

 

He still didn't know what he should say to Wen Ning, but he at least knew he wouldn't bring it up to Lan Wangji, since Lan Wangji had no idea who Wen Ning even was.

 


 

Wei Wuxian was less nervous the third time he arrived at Lan Wangji's house. He knew the system by now, so he wasn't as intimidated as he had been initially... although he still didn't really like the whole idea of an intercom for your house. This time, he hadn't brought any gifts, as Lan Qiren wasn't at home (he was away on a business trip, supposedly) and Lan Wangji had insisted that it didn't matter anyway.

 

Lan Wangji answered the front door for him instead of a servant.

 

"Uh... hi, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian greeted as he stepped inside and slipped out of his shoes.

"Good evening," Lan Wangji greeted back.

 

Lan Wangji took him to a small room he hadn't been in before. It was similar to their other waiting areas, from what Wei Wuxian could work out.

 

"Sit," Lan Wangji said, gesturing to a sofa.

"T-Thanks..."

 

Wei Wuxian sat down. Lan Wangji sat on the sofa cushion next to his -- but right up against the arm rest, keeping his distance.

 

"So did you manage to finish your report?" Wei Wuxian asked, almost forgetting about the importance of good posture when in polite company.

"I did," Lan Wangji answered. "...I am sorry I was not able to meet with you until today," he added.

"It's fine, dude!" Wei Wuxian waved a hand around. "I just felt like spending some time with you, that's all. Your studies are more important, right?"

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian observed the man sitting beside him. Lan Wangji was wearing his hair down tonight, and his clothes appeared to be less stupidly expensive than usual, too. He was wearing a long-sleeved white button-up shirt and nondescript black pants. Wei Wuxian thought this look suited him better.

 

Oh, yeah, Wei Wuxian thought. This guy's never had a friend over to his house before. He probably doesn't know what kinda shit to talk about. Fair enough, I suppose. Maybe I'll ask him about his rabbits...

 

"How've your rabbits been?" Wei Wuxian asked, propping his elbow on his arm rest and resting his head on his hand.

"...They are well," Lan Wangji replied. "I have already fed them this evening, and I think they will be asleep by now, however..."

"Aww!" Wei Wuxian pouted. "I was hoping to cuddle them again! That's alright though, they need to sleep. They're your, er, honeys or whatever they are, after all!"

Lan Wangji glanced to the side. "...Darlings," he corrected, quietly.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Right, right," he snorted. "Darlings. Did your brother come up with what one?"

"...Yes."

 

Of course he did, Wei Wuxian sighed internally. You'd never use that word to describe anything. Not out loud, at least.

 

What annoyed Wei Wuxian the most wasn't the awkward silence. He was starting to get used to that by now -- kind of. It was that Lan Wangji was sitting properly upright, as far away as he could sit from Wei Wuxian comfortably on the sofa and not relaxing at all.

 

It's not as though they were strangers anymore, really. Wei Wuxian wanted to put his feet up and poke Lan Wangji's leg with his toes. He wanted to snuggle up next to him, leaning his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder.

 

What was Lan Wangji so frightened of?

 

Sighing, Wei Wuxian sat up. Lan Wangji turned to watch him, probably wondering what his guest was doing.

 

Wei Wuxian patted the empty space next to him. "C'mere a bit closer, Lan Zhan!" he urged.

Lan Wangji looked at the spot where Wei Wuxian's hand was, but he didn't move. "I am fine," he said.

 

Wei Wuxian frowned. "Guess I'll have to do it this way, then..." he muttered, scooting over so that he was shoulder-to-shoulder with Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji tensed up and tried to move away but had nowhere to go. He said nothing, which made Wei Wuxian sigh again.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, "What's up? I'm not gonna do anything to you."

Lan Wangji glanced at him. "Why are you sitting so close to me?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian groaned, facepalming. "Because!" he exclaimed, frowning again. "This is what couples normally do! If they're sitting next to each other on the sofa, they're cuddling! Or someone sits on their partner's lap! They don't sit at the opposite ends of the fucking sofa!" He looked away as he realised he swore accidentally. "Sorry," he mumbled. "That... I went too far there."

 

Lan Wangji didn't respond. He had his hands in his lap and was still stiff.

 

As Wei Wuxian went to move back to his side of the sofa, he felt one of Lan Wangji's hands on top of his. "Wait," Lan Wangji told him.

Wei Wuxian was surprised, but he obeyed. Relaxing slightly, he leaned back up against Lan Wangji, putting more weight into him this time.

 

"If you really don't want me to touch you, I'll stop," Wei Wuxian said. "I... didn't meant to scare you."

Lan Wangji was still holding his hand. "I am fine," he said again. "I just... did not understand what you were doing. I apologise."

 

Did Lan Wangji really not know that sometimes people felt like cuddling their supposed partner? Wei Wuxian thought it was really odd, considering that Lan Wangji had, in fact, said that he was in love with Wei Wuxian. Yet he apparently wasn't aware of things couples did. Surely he'd read cheesy romance novels of some kind and knew what went on in a relationship, right? ...Right?

 

Deciding to test the waters a bit more, Wei Wuxian rested his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder like he'd wanted to.

 

Wei Wuxian realised that Lan Wangji hadn't yet let go of his hand. Not that he minded.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan..." Wei Wuxian murmured.

"Yes?"

"Can... I kiss you?" Wei Wuxian asked, gazing up at Lan Wangji, exaggerating slightly by fluttering his eyelashes.

Lan Wangji paused. "...You may," he replied.

 

Wei Wuxian sat up again and pulled Lan Wangji forward so that they were at eye-level with each other. He leant up and kissed the taller man.

 

Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji start to relax as they continued to kiss. They could take their time with this one. They weren't in a hurry to get home and neither of them had consumed any alcohol that day. It was less sloppy than their previous kisses and slower. Deeper.

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to touch Lan Wangji more, but didn't know if he should risk it. But he gave in to his desires and, after letting go of Lan Wangji's hand, slowly touched the top of Lan Wangji's thigh. Seeing that he didn't react badly to the act, Wei Wuxian drifted his hand closer to Lan Wangji's crotch.

 

His heart was beating quite fast by now. He needed to break away from the kiss to breathe properly, but he didn't want it to end. Wei Wuxian chose to go for it and pulled out of the kiss for a few moments before Lan Wangji forced his lips back onto Wei Wuxian's. Knowing now that Lan Wangji also wanted to continue, Wei Wuxian moved his hand again. Closer.

 

Almost there.

 

Just as Lan Wangji quietly gasped into their kiss at the touch of Wei Wuxian's hand against the front of his pants, a voice spoke up from the door.

 

"Wangji! You should've told me Wei Wuxian was already he--"

 

Lan Wangji forcefully shoved Wei Wuxian off him, causing his partner to roll off the sofa and hit the floor with a soft thud.

 

"H-Hi, Brother Lan Xichen," Wei Wuxian grinned nervously at the aforementioned older brother of his boyfriend.

"...Good evening," Lan Xichen said, his cheeks slightly pink.

 

Wei Wuxian stood up and dusted himself off for good measure.

 

"Sorry 'bout that," he apologised, giving Lan Xichen a guilty look. "Got a bit carried away there!"

Lan Xichen smiled at him. "Well," he said, "I... don't mind. But," he said, glancing over at Lan Wangji who was staring at the ground in embarrassment, "I think maybe you should do that in your room next time, Wangji..."

 

Lan Wangji glanced over at his brother, opening his mouth and closing it again. His ears were deep pink.

 

"Oh yeah, your room!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "I still haven't been in your room yet, you know!" he said to Lan Wangji. "We should... probably be hanging out in there, actually..."

 

Lan Wangji nodded as he stood up and walked to the door.

 

"I'll make sure not to disturb you again," Lan Xichen said softly. "Sorry for getting in the way!"

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Nah, it's fine," he said as he went to follow Lan Wangji. "We were just making out, anyway!" He gave Lan Xichen a wink.

 

Wei Wuxian followed Lan Wangji to his room, which was upstairs. There was no indication on the door that the room belonged to anyone, unlike at Wei Wuxian's house, where they all had their names hanging outside their rooms just in case guests got confused. And to remind people to knock.

 

Lan Wangji opened the door and gestured for Wei Wuxian to enter, so he did.

 

The immaculately clean room was rather plain. It contained a large double-bed, a desk upon which sat a computer that also was a temporary home to some textbooks, a chest of drawers, two tall bookcases that were stacked full of books that appeared to be arranged in some particular order and a small nightstand.

 

Lan Wangji's room was about twice the size of Wei Wuxian's. Yet it felt incredibly empty. There were no posters of bands or movie franchises on its white walls, no signs of clothes littered on the floor or any left over packets of chips that had yet to be taken to the trash...

 

Wei Wuxian examined some of the books. They looked like they were all related to business and economics. No fiction from what he was able to tell. But something Wei Wuxian had remembered was that when he'd received that introduction card about Lan Wangji, his only hobby listed had been 'reading'. So either he was lying, or he read all his fiction digitally...

 

Wei Wuxian sat on the end of Lan Wangji's bed as Lan Wangji remained standing. He was just about to comment on the lack of, well, anything interesting in Lan Wangji's room when his eyes wandered over a framed photo on his night stand. Wei Wuxian instantly stood up again and walked over to the photo, picking it up.

 

The frame was old and wooden and had a few dents in it. The photo inside it was beginning to fade slightly.

 

Wei Wuxian felt a lump form in his throat when he realised who the photo was of.

 

There were four people photographed in the picture: two adults, two children. The mother was holding the youngest child on her lap, and the father was supporting the older one.

 

Even though he hadn't been told, Wei Wuxian knew who the family was: Lan Wangji's. Lan Wangji was clearly the youngest child, who looked confused and wasn't facing the camera properly, his mouth open slightly. The other child must've been Lan Xichen.

 

As for the parents, Wei Wuxian was amazed by how similar Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen's father looked to them (and presumably his brother Lan Qiren). He wore a hardened, distant expression on his face. Their mother also showed no traces of visible happiness.

 

Wei Wuxian gently placed the photo back on the night stand and turned around to look at Lan Wangji again, although he didn't know what to say.

 

"I..." Wei Wuxian hadn't thought beyond that.

 

Lan Wangji looked vaguely concerned. "What is wrong?" he asked, making his way over to Wei Wuxian.

"N-Nothing," Wei Wuxian lied, suddenly feeling upset for no apparent reason. "I just... Sorry for, uh, picking it up without asking." It wasn't like him to apologise.

Lan Wangji shook his head. "I do not mind," he said. "I... wanted to introduce you to them."

"...Oh."

 

Lan Wangji sat on the edge of his bed. Wanting Wei Wuxian to join him, he patted the bed in the exact same way Wei Wuxian had done on the sofa earlier. Wei Wuxian sat next to him with a chuckle.

 

"You're lucky," Wei Wuxian said, smiling at Lan Wangji.

"How?" Lan Wangji asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

"I... don't have any pictures of my parents," Wei Wuxian admitted, glancing down at the carpet, his eyes stinging. "They died when I was little, so I didn't manage to keep anything of them. I remember their names and I remember my mother's voice, but... I can't picture their faces," he said, his voice shaking. "And I've pretty much forgotten everything about them at this point... E-Even though I... d-don't want to forget..."

 

Lan Wangji gingerly put his arm around Wei Wuxian's shoulders and pulled him closer. "I do not remember my mother," he said quietly. "All I have are a couple of photos and... that ribbon."

 

Oh, yeah, that ribbon. He's not wearing it tonight. Maybe I should buy him a new one... No, that defeats the point. Should I try making him one? I could ask Sister if she'd help me. I've never sewn before, though...

 

Wei Wuxian couldn't stop himself from asking a question he was extremely curious about: "How... How did your parents die?" He quickly added, "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

Lan Wangji shifted slightly. "I do not know what happened to my mother," he said. "But my father died in a plane crash a few years ago when he was coming home from a business trip."

"That sucks," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "A plane crash? That sounds awful..."

"...What... about your parents, Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked slowly.

 

Wei Wuxian took a few moments to answer. He wasn't sure why. "I... have no idea," he answered. "But... they just didn't come home one day. I don't know what happened to them, where they went, who or what killed them, or anything like that." He paused, trying not to cry. He didn't want to cry in front of Lan Wangji when talking about something that happened so long ago. Wei Wuxian clenched his hands into fists. "I don't even really remember how old I was, either," he continued. "But after they died, I had to live on the streets for a while, and--"

"On the streets?" Lan Wangji's eyes widened in horror. "What do you mean?"

"I mean I had no home," Wei Wuxian explained. "I had to steal food and water to survive. Fight other kids for scraps. Sometimes it was dogs and not kids. I still hate dogs, actually."

"..."

 

Saying that he 'hated' dogs was probably a bit of an understatement. Wei Wuxian's fight or flight response still activated whenever he so much as heard a chihuahua barking from down the street. When he'd first been taken in by Jiang Fengmian, Jiang Cheng had recently gotten a puppy for his birthday. Wei Wuxian was convinced the dog was going to kill him and refused to be in the same room of the house as it, and started having major panic attacks if the puppy managed to touch him at all. Jiang Fengmian convinced Jiang Cheng to re-home the puppy, but as far as Wei Wuxian was concern, Jiang Cheng probably still (understandably) resented him for it.

 

"I was adopted by the Jiangs when I was... eight, I think," Wei Wuxian continued. "Uncle Jiang -- Jiang Fengmian -- was apparently a good friend of my parents'. Not that I remember him from back then or anything."

"You... are adopted?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "They're my family, though. They always look out for me and care for me and I'd do anything for them. In fact, Madam Yu was the one responsible for hooking us up, you know."

"I see," Lan Wangji replied.

"So, about your family..." Wei Wuxian began. "Why did your uncle take you in?"

"My brother and I were looked after by our mother," Lan Wangji explained. "But once she died, we needed someone to take care of us. Father was always too busy to raise us. He travelled a lot for work and spent his time running the family business."

 

Wei Wuxian had had enough of talking about dead parents. It was his fault for bringing it up, but he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

 

He wriggled out of the hold Lan Wangji had on him and stood up, stretching.

 

"That's enough depressing shit for tonight, I think," he said, forcing a smile. "How about we calm down with some music?"

"Music?" Lan Wangji blinked at him.

Wei Wuxian sighed. "Would you mind playing the guqin for me, Lan Zhan?" he asked. "I've... be wanting to hear that amazing sound again."

"...I will play," Lan Wangji answered.

 

Lan Wangji led Wei Wuxian to the room where the guqin was kept alongside the other instruments. Wei Wuxian plonked himself down on the stool he'd sat on last time as Lan Wangji gracefully sat on the same cushion he'd used before.

 

Lan Wangji played that same song again. Instantly, it began working its magic, calming Wei Wuxian down and relaxing every cell in his body. It was as if resentful energy was being drawn out of him, like in those wuxia novels he sometimes read.

 

Wei Wuxian felt as light as air once the song finished. He still couldn't believe it was something Lan Wangji had written by himself.

 

"Hey, can you play something else for me?" Wei Wuxian asked. "I love this song of yours, but I wanna hear what another one sounds like. Just so I have something to compare it to, if you don't mind."

"I understand," Lan Wangji nodded. He started playing another song.

 

This song was different. It was a lot... sadder. Wei Wuxian felt feelings of loss, longing and yet also a tinge of hope. He wasn't sure how he felt about it, especially not after being emotionally drained already.

 

"What's the name of that song, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked as it finished.

"Inquiry," Lan Wangji answered.

"Oh?" Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow. "What're you inquiring about?"

"The legend is that in ancient times this song was used by our ancestors to search for wandering souls and ask them questions," Lan Wangji explained. "I am not sure if there is any truth to that, however."

"You mean like, it was used by cultivators and shit, yeah?" Wei Wuxian snickered. Lan Wangji probably wouldn't find it amusing, of course.

"I think so," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

They sat in silence as Lan Wangji put away the guqin.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, "What kinda books do you read?" he asked. "Fiction, I mean," he added quickly for clarification.

"...I... mostly read romance," Lan Wangji admitted, his voice barely audible.

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly, almost falling off his stool. "Really? Romance?!" But you're, like, not romantic at all!

Lan Wangji's eyes narrowed. "Is there a problem?"

Wei Wuxian immediately stopped laughing. "No, no!" he grinned. "I mean, shit, I read shitty romance novels a lot! Just... they're gay ones," he mumbled.

"Those... are what I mainly read," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't have the heart to tell him he was talking about erotic gay romance novels.

 

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian smirked. "What sites do you read them on? Since you don't seem to own any paperbacks..."

"..." Lan Wangji looked away. "Cut-Sleeve Meadows."

 

Wei Wuxian cackled with laughter. "Lan Zhan!" he wheezed, holding his sides. "I know that site! They just publish erotic fiction!"

Lan Wangji looked slightly horrified as he realised Wei Wuxian knew which site he meant. "That... What is so funny?"

 

Wei Wuxian managed to control his laughter. "Sorry, sorry!" he apologised, wheezing again. "I just... You said it so casually, y'know?" He paused before adding, "But there's nothing wrong with it! They publish some great stuff! You'll have to give me some recommendations!" Wei Wuxian grinned widely.

Lan Wangji's ears turned pink again. "Would... it be okay if I messaged you some?" he asked.

"Sure!" Wei Wuxian replied happily. "There's so much stuff, I never really know where to look! I'll send you a couple of things too, and some lesser-known sites I've found good stuff on before as well..."

"Okay," Lan Wangji said.

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

"Wangji?"

 

Lan Wangji stood up and opened the door. "Yes, Brother?" he asked.

"Sorry to interrupt," Lan Xichen apologised, "But it's nearly time for bed. Wei Wuxian should probably be heading home soon."

 

Wei Wuxian jumped up and walked over to the brothers, checking his phone. "It's only eight thirty," he frowned.

"We go to sleep at nine," Lan Xichen said. "And Wangji has class tomorrow morning."

 

But you're both adults, Wei Wuxian wanted to say. Isn't it a bit stupid that you still have a curfew? And your uncle isn't even home tonight! Good lord.

 

"Ah, yeah, gotcha," Wei Wuxian replied. "I'll get a taxi home, it's not super far and I can pay for it."

"Don't be silly," Lan Xichen shook his head. "One of our chauffeurs will drive you -- free of charge."

 

Chauffeur? They had chauffeurs? Then why did Lan Wangji drive?

 

Rich people really made no sense to Wei Wuxian, but he agreed to the offer.

 


 

Wei Wuxian decided that he wanted to reward Lan Wangji for finishing his university report, which he most likely had worked extremely hard on. Plus, Wei Wuxian wanted to get Lan Wangji out of that suffocating house he lived in. His uncle may have had good intentions or whatever, but Wei Wuxian was starting to get worried. He didn't want to jump to any conclusions, but he was starting to feel as though Lan Qiren was one of the many obstacles that prevented Lan Wangji from opening up to anyone.

 

After talking to Jiang Cheng about it, Jiang Cheng suggested saving up and going on holiday somewhere for a few days once school had finished for the year, which was about three months away.

 

Wei Wuxian asked his friends if there was anywhere they'd go on a holiday to get away from things. Nie Huaisang suggested Hawaii, which was out of the question. Wen Ning, however, had the idea of going to Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong sounded appealing to Wei Wuxian, as he'd never been there before. He had no idea if Lan Wangji had ever visited the island or not.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian's mind kept drifting back to the idea of sewing Lan Wangji a new hair ribbon. He didn't know when Lan Wangji's birthday was, but if he missed it this year, he could always give it to him next year.

 

One afternoon when he came home from work (he was now working almost every weekday to try and save money for his and Lan Wangji's trip to Hong Kong), Wei Wuxian knocked on the door to his sister's room.

 

"Just a moment!" Jiang Yanli called. Shortly after, she opened the door for him. "A-Xian!" she exclaimed. "What can I help you with?"

"Is it okay if I talk to you, Sister?" Wei Wuxian asked, feeling slightly unsure for some reason.

"Sure!" Jiang Yanli beamed. "Come in!"

 

Wei Wuxian followed her inside. His eyes narrowed as he spotted Jiang Yanli's boyfriend, Jin Zixuan, sitting on Jiang Yanli's bed.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't like Jin Zixuan. He thought the latter was rude and arrogant and undeserving of someone as wonderful as his sister. Jin Zixuan, likewise, wasn't a fan of Wei Wuxian. He thought Wei Wuxian was also rude and arrogant and basically kind of an asshole. So at least the feelings were mutual, if nothing else. But Madam Yu was good friends with Jin Zixuan's mother, and they'd always wanted their children to marry one day when they were old enough, which they now were. Despite Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng's concerns (Jiang Cheng also didn't approve of Jin Zixuan), Jiang Yanli said that she was happy with Jin Zixuan and that he respected her and treated her properly.

 

"...Hi," Wei Wuxian grumbled as he sat down on the floor.

Jin Zixuan glared at him and nodded.

 

"So, A-Xian, what do you want to talk about?" Jiang Yanli asked, smiling gently at him as she sat next to her boyfriend.

 

Suddenly Wei Wuxian didn't really want to bring the topic up. He didn't give a shit about looking un-masculine or whatever (and Jin Zixuan knew he was gay, so that wasn't an issue) but having to explain the situation was a pain in the ass.

 

"Well..." Wei Wuxian began slowly. "Er... you know how to sew, right, Sister?"

"Whoa, hold on," Jin Zixuan interjected. Wei Wuxian glared up at him. "Are you assuming Yanli knows how to sew just 'cuz she's a woman?" He crossed his arms angrily.

"No," Wei Wuxian sighed, "I'm assuming she knows how to sew because it seems like a skill Madam Yu would teach her. Unless you somehow know how to sew and would be willing to help me with a project, which I doubt..."

"Of course I don't fucking know how to sew," Jin Zixuan muttered, clicking his tongue.

 

Yeah, you don't know how to do anything... Wei Wuxian thought.

 

"I love sewing!" Jiang Yanli replied happily, clasping her hands together. "Do you need help repairing some clothes or something?"

"...Uh, it's not that," Wei Wuxian mumbled, glancing away. "I'd... like you to show me how to make something from scratch."

"Oh?" Jiang Yanli remarked. "I'm not great at everything, but I can try! What kind of thing is it?" she asked.

"This is gonna sound weird," Wei Wuxian said, "But... I wanna learn how to make a hair ribbon and sew patterns onto it."

 

Jin Zixuan snorted. "A hair ribbon? Can't you just buy one?" he raised an eyebrow in amusement. Wei Wuxian continued to glare at him.

"I can't, as it happens," he sighed. "It's... a gift for someone. They use a hair ribbon that was made by someone important to them, but it's old and falling apart so I thought I'd try recreating it..." his voice drifted off at the end, realising how silly it all seemed.

"What, is this for your boyfriend or whoever that guy is?" Jin Zixuan asked. Surprisingly, there was no judgement or mockery in his voice.

Wei Wuxian's eyes widened slightly. "H-How do you know about that?" he demanded.

"Yanli told me, duh," Jin Zixuan replied, rolling his eyes. "I don't quite follow, but it started out as an arranged marriage and then you broke it off but now you're back together or some shit?" He gave Wei Wuxian a look.

"...Basically," Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I know it's stupid, but it's something I wanna do for him. So I thought I'd ask Sister for help."

"That's so sweet, A-Xian!" Jiang Yanli beamed, looking fondly at her brother. "Of course I'll help you! I know a good shop for supplies! Oh! And we'll need to choose what materials and colours you want to use, too!"

"Thank you, Sister," Wei Wuxian said, smiling. "It'll be a surprise, so I can take as much time as I need. Which is good," he added, "Because I'm probably gonna be completely useless at sewing..."

Jiang Yanli smiled back. "A hair ribbon shouldn't be too difficult!"

"Here's hoping!" Wei Wuxian grinned.

 


 

As Wei Wuxian had predicted, he was completely useless at sewing. He kept poking himself with the needle and couldn't get the clouds to look like clouds. They also could only practice during the weekend, which meant that he wasn't making a lot of progress.

 

Something he'd realised that he should probably do was introduce Lan Wangji to his friends, since they were now back on and properly in a relationship. Wei Wuxian had asked Wen Ning over and over again if he was okay with idea, and Wen Ning had actually wanted to meet him anyway.

 

They met up at a teahouse on Sunday for lunch.

 

Initially, they'd thought of going to one of the western-style cafes they enjoyed, but Wei Wuxian had (thankfully) remembered that Lan Wangji didn't like sweet things, and after much deliberating, Nie Huaisang had remembered that teahouses existed.

 

On the way to the teahouse, Wei Wuxian had mentioned to Lan Wangji that he'd been reading the web novels Lan Wangji had recommended to him and said he was enjoying them. And that he was surprised by how... detailed some of them were. (Not that he was complaining, of course.) He noticed Lan Wangji wasn't wearing his hair ribbon today.

 

Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang had already reserved a table when Wei Wuxian arrived with Lan Wangji.

 

After exchanging introductions they ordered their tea and a few dim sum dishes.

 

"Hey, Wei Ying, what's that plaster from?" Wen Ning asked, pointing at the bandaged area on Wei Wuxian's index finger.

 

In truth, it had been from cutting himself accidentally with a needle while sewing. But since he couldn't say anything to his friends, he'd come up with a lie beforehand: "Oh, I was chopping vegetables a couple of nights ago to help my sister cook and I ended up slicing my finger open... No big deal, it's probably already healed!" He waved his hand around showing that he was fine.

"Ah, yeah, I do that all the time!" Wen Ning laughed. "It's a good thing my sister keeps a lot of plasters and antiseptic in the house!" he added.

"See, this is why you don't cook!" Nie Huaisang huffed jokingly. "All you do is cut yourself and make a mess!"

"Do you even know how to cook, Huaisang?" Wei Wuxian retorted, knowing very well that the answer was 'no'.

"I can!" Nie Huaisang protested. "I can cook rice and... noodles. And I can make toast!" He gave Wei Wuxian a look that said 'so there!'.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "That's all you'd ever need in life, I guess! Rice, noodles and toast!"

"It's better than nothing!" NIe Huaisang exaggeratedly stuck his nose in the air.

 

"Oh, yeah," Wei Wuxian continued, "Can you cook, Lan Zhan?" he asked, having almost forgotten the man sitting next to him.

Lan Wangji glanced at Wei Wuxian. "...I cannot," he answered.

"Duh, of course he can't," Nie Huaisang sighed. "You're rich, right?" he turned to Lan Wangji. "Rich people don't cook for themselves, Wei Wuxian, they have chefs."

"...Right," Wei Wuxian said. "I, uh, kinda forgot about that."

 

Wei Wuxian still didn't know much about how the wealthy lived. He'd only been to Lan Wangji's house three times and hadn't even eaten there yet. But it made sense that Lan Wangji wouldn't know how to cook. Wei Wuxian realised that the Lans probably had servants doing everything for them: cleaning, cooking, gardening, shopping, driving... Did Lan Wangji know how to do anything practical?

 

As usual, Lan Wangji was quiet while everyone ate and drank their tea. Wei Wuxian felt bad for leaving him out of the conversation, but he had no idea if Lan Wangji even wanted to be included in it in the first place.

 

Nie Huaisang's phone buzzed with a message during a lull in the conversation, and its owner groaned when he looked at it.

 

"What's up?" Wei Wuxian asked him.

"My brother," Nie Huaisang sighed. "He's wanting me to meet with him this afternoon to discuss cover proposals. I've already told him I'm out with friends, ugh!" He angrily tapped a message back.

"Cover proposals?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Book covers," Nie Huaisang explained, sipping his tea. "My family owns a book publishing business, and I help with choosing covers and titles and stuff. This one's a bit tricky since the author keeps rejecting everything we suggest to her..."

"What kind of books do you publish?" Lan Wangji asked. Wei Wuxian was surprised by his interest in this topic.

Nie Huaisang glanced around the room shiftily. He lowered his voice and said, "Erotic fiction."

Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji flinch beside him slightly. "I see," he replied.

"You're not interested, obviously," Nie Huaisang shrugged. "But it's a lucrative business. Lots of people want to read porn nowadays, you know!"

"I understand."

 

Wei Wuxian was very tempted to make a comment about how Lan Wangji did, shockingly, read porn. Granted, like Wei Wuxian, he (supposedly) was only interested in the gay male variety, which Nie Huaisang's family rarely published, but it was still something nobody would ever expect. And because of that, Wei Wuxian kept his mouth shut for now.

 

"What does your family do again, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked. "I know it's something about businesses, but I can't remember..." Or, more specifically, it was so incredibly boring that Wei Wuxian had never bothered remembering.

"We run several businesses," Lan Wangji answered. "We help companies with securing funds and setting up locations overseas, as well as other projects. For one of the businesses, I am in charge of organising meetings and maintaining schedules. I am expected to take over that business when my uncle... dies." He hesitated in saying the last word.

"So if you're only inheriting one of the businesses," Nie Huaisang said, "What'll happen to the others?"

"Those will go to my older brother," Lan Wangji explained. "And we do have other relatives who will help, too."

"But what about your parents?" Wen Ning asked. "Do they not work?"

 

It was an innocent enough question. Anyone would be curious as to why Lan Wangji talked about his uncle and not his parents. Wei Wuxian wanted to steer the conversation away from that, but he also wanted to see how Lan Wangji would respond.

 

"...My parents... are dead," Lan Wangji replied quietly, his mouth hardly moving.

"Oh no!" Wen Ning gasped, covering his mouth with his hands. "I'm sorry! I had no idea! I... I wasn't trying to..."

"Do not apologise," Lan Wangji said. "It is the truth."

"Y-Yeah, but..!" Wen Ning protested.

"Wen Ning," Wei Wuxian warned, interrupting Wen Ning. Please just drop it.

"...S-Sorry..." Wen Ning mumbled.

 

Having soured the mood, none of them said much else as they finished eating and drinking.

 

As soon as he was done, Nie Huaisang stood up. "Right," he said, "I suppose I should go and see what my stupid brother wants from me."

 

Nie Huaisang pulled out his wallet and was fishing around for his card when Lan Wangji said: "Wait."

Nie Huaisang paused and looked at him. "What?" he asked, perplexed.

"I will pay," Lan Wangji announced.

Nie Huaisang sighed. "I have enough money," he said. "Unlike these two, I can afford a lunch like this. I don't want to have to owe you anything."

"Do they accept seperate payments?" Wen Ning asked.

"..." Nie Huaisang sighed again, closing his wallet. "Fine, you win," he said. "I don't really have time to argue about this." He paused before adding, "Thanks."

 

Lan Wangji nodded at Nie Huaisang as the latter left.

 

"You really don't have to pay for us, you know," Wei Wuxian told his boyfriend. "We're not that poor."

"...I just thought it would be easier..." Lan Wangji said. He looked vaguely hurt.

"Thank you, Lan Wangji," Wen Ning smiled. "We do appreciate it -- I just don't think Nie Huaisang's ever had someone offer to pay for a meal before..."

Wei Wuxian snorted loudly. "Hah! You're right, I doubt he has! Probably felt embarrassed to have someone else spend money on him!" He laughed again.

 

Wen Ning took out his phone. "Oh, my sister's messaged me," he remarked, checking to see what Wen Qing had said.

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that Lan Wangji was keenly eyeing Wen Ning's phone. "What's up, Lan Zhan?" he asked. "Is there's something wrong with Wen Ning's phone?"

"...The strap," Lan Wangji replied, pointing at Wen Ning's phone strap, which was of a cartoon rabbit. Wen Ning's phone case had a cat design on the back of it, as well as cat ears. He liked cute animal things.

"Uhh..." Wen Ning glanced at the strap and then back at Lan Wangji. "Is... Is there something offensive about it?" he asked quietly.

 

"No," Lan Wangji shook his head. "I... was wondering where you purchased it."

"Er..." Wen Ning thought frantically. "I-I don't remember! I'm sorry!" he apologised. "I think... my sister may have even gotten it for me, I don't know..." He gave Lan Wangji an apologetic smile.

"I understand," Lan Wangji replied, nodding. "Do not worry about it."

Wei Wuxian smirked. "Were you thinking of buying yourself one, Lan Zhan?" He raised his eyebrows in amusement.

"Don't be silly, Wei Ying!" Wen Ning pleaded. "Someone like Lan Wangji wouldn't be interested in a silly animal phone strap for kids like this..."

 

Wei Wuxian howled with laughter. "Oh, Wen Ning!" He slapped his leg. "Didn't I tell you? Lan Zhan has pet rabbits. He likes them a lot."

"Oh... right..." Wen Ning mumbled, blushing.

"Also," Wei Wuxian continued, "You shouldn't assume someone's tastes based on how they look. What's wrong with Lan Zhan wanting a cute animal phone strap for himself?"

"T-There's nothing wrong with it!" Wen Ning said. "I, um, just... I didn't think someone wealthy would want such a cheap accessory..."

 

Lan Wangji said nothing and finished his tea. Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning had also finished their food and drinks by now.

 

"Are we all done then?" Wei Wuxian inquired. Lan Wangji and Wen Ning both nodded.

"Are you sure you're okay paying for all of this, Lan Wangji?" Wen Ning asked.

"I am sure," Lan Wangji replied. "It is no issue."

 

Wei Wuxian was the first to stand up. "I'll make a quick trip to the bathroom and then come join you two," he said. "Don't leave without me, as tempting as that may be!" he added, grinning.

 

He hoped things wouldn't be too awkward between Lan Wangji and Wen Ning in his absence. He knew Lan Wangji probably just didn't know how to talk to people, but Wen Ning was also very shy and, on top of that, easily flustered. Knowing Wen Ning, his friend probably still felt guilty about bringing up Lan Wangji's parents, so he wished that Wen Ning wouldn't try to apologise again, since that would just make things worse.

 

As Wei Wuxian approached the other two by the front entrance, he paused when he heard Wen Ning mention his name.

 

"...about Wei Ying, so--"

 

Wei Wuxian strolled over and put an arm around Wen Ning. "Talking about me behind my back, eh?" he teased playfully. "Hopefully it's something positive!"

"W-Wei Ying!" Wen Ning exclaimed, blushing deeply. "U-Uh... I... I was just clarifying something with Lan Wangji, that's all!" he insisted.

"Clarifying what?" Wei Wuxian asked, taking his arm away and going to stand next to Lan Wangji.

"I... was just curious about how much Lan Wangji knows about your past," Wen Ning admitted quietly. "G-Given that his parents are also, uh..."

 

Oh, great, so he did bring up Lan Zhan's parents again. God dammit, Wen Ning.

 

"He knows what happened," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "No reason not to tell him stuff."

Wen Ning smiled, relaxing slightly. "Okay! That's great, then," he said. "But... uh, Wei Ying?"

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian wondered what else Wen Ning could possibly ask about.

"Have you..." Wen Ning lowered his voice. "Have you told him about you... um, s-sleeping with several people previously?"

 

God. Dammit. Wen. Ning.

 

Not only was that not really something they'd discussed, it was definitely not something you brought up in public. Rather than getting mad at Wen Ning (since Wei Wuxian knew his friend was just worried about him), he glanced carefully at Lan Wangji.

 

"What do you mean?" Lan Wangji asked slowly.

"...I'll explain on the way home," Wei Wuxian muttered. "It's a long story."

"I understand," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

"S-Sorry!" Wen Ning apologised again, bowing deeply. "I, uh, didn't mean to... It just kind of slipped out... Um..."

"It's fine, Wen Ning," Wei Wuxian said, even though it wasn't really fine. "You're right, I probably should tell him about that stuff."

Wen Ning made a noise of guilt. "I-I'm sorry!" he repeated. "I'll... leave you two alone so that I don't keep messing things up... Sorry!" He ran off.

"..."

"..."

 

They walked in silence back to Lan Wangji's car. Wei Wuxian really didn't want to be annoyed at Wen Ning, but he couldn't help it, even though he knew Wen Ning would be beating himself up over this anyway.

 

Once they were both in the car, Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Right," he said, "I suppose I should properly explain things to you."

Lan Wangji looked emotionlessly at him. "Go on," he said.

"So..." Wei Wuxian began, "Like Wen Ning said, I've... had sex with other people. Quite a few other people. I think. But it's only been that: sex. I've never been in an actual relationship or anything like that before you came along."

"...Why did you... decide to do that?" Lan Wangji asked, his hands gripping the steering wheel tightly.

"Because," Wei Wuxian said, "I... wanted to. Once I started drinking regularly, I learnt that sex was something that happened a lot and that it wasn't unusual to take someone home from the bar just to fuck them once and never even see them again."

Lan Wangji's grip tightened, his eyebrows furrowing slightly.

 

Wei Wuxian continued, "I've always craved human contact. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I didn't have any as a kid or some shit, fuck if I know. But now it translates to wanting to feel... something. Something other than sadness or anger or emptiness. Alcohol, at least, helps you forget those emotions. And alcohol makes you more likely to do things like get fucked by random strangers."

"..." Lan Wangji glanced away.

"I really don't remember the night I first met you in that bar," Wei Wuxian went on, "But my intentions would've been to actually go beyond pleasuring you. I guess I stopped when I found out you were a virgin or something. I don't know what I told you about my life back then, either."

"You... You asked me why I was at the bar," Lan Wangji answered, his voice quivering slightly. He still didn't look at Wei Wuxian. "I told you I was hoping to take my mind off things by drinking, so you said you would help me with that. Then we... I think we went to the hotel after that."

"Then I pleasured you, yeah?" Wei Wuxian felt a wave of guilt wash over him.

"...Yes," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Wei Wuxian exhaled deeply. "Lan Zhan, I have to ask -- how did I pleasure you?" The corners of his eyes were stinging, but he really wanted to know.

"What do you mean?" Lan Wangji asked, finally looking back at him.

"...Well, y'know," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "There are lots of ways to pleasure a person. Mouth, hands... hell, even feet, if you wanna get a bit kinky." He paused and added, "You don't have to give me any details, just... tell me what I did. It's hurting me not knowing," he admitted.

"....Y-You... You used your..." Lan Wangji's voice grew quieter with every word before he finally whispered, "Mouth."

"Gotcha."

 

Oh. Okay. So it had been a blowjob. I figured as much. Hopefully it was a decent one, if nothing else... Fuck, I don't even remember if I managed to make him cum or not. If I did... that'd be the first time another person's touched him like that, right? Fuck this. This shit sucks. I wish I could just fucking remember it...

 

"I... was the one who asked you to do it," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian's jaw almost fell off as he stared in shock. "W-What?" he spluttered.

"You... were hesitant in doing anything with me," Lan Wangji explained, "But I said that you had promised to make me feel good and that... managed to convince you."

"...Did you know that I was talking about sex?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"I did," Lan Wangji replied. "I had read about it in many novels, and wanted to try it. I wanted to see if it did actually make someone feel... like they claimed it did."

"A-And?" Wei Wuxian couldn't stop himself. "I know all I did was give you a very drunken blowjob, but... did it help you feel less... lonely?"

"............Yes," Lan Wangji said, barely audibly.

"...Oh."

 

As they drove back to Wei Wuxian's house, his mind was racing almost as much as his heart. He thought that this might be a good time to suggest the trip to Hong Kong for August. Maybe... maybe they could try things again, only without any alcohol involved. At all.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said as Lan Wangji turned the car off when they'd reached their destination. "I wanna ask you something."

"Yes?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Er... so, I've been thinking," Wei Wuxian began, "About... maybe taking a trip for a few days. Just the two of us."

"Why?" Lan Wangji looked puzzled.

"Because," Wei Wuxian said, "I wanna give you a reward for once you finish university for the year. I think you need a break and should relax a bit. And I wanna spend some time alone with you."

"...Where would we go?" Lan Wangji asked.

"I was thinking Hong Kong," Wei Wuxian replied with a smile. "I've never been there, but it seems like a good place. We could go and stay at a nice hotel, go to the beach, explore the local shops, just... have some fun together. What d'ya say?"

"...I will have to ask my uncle," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian groaned. "Why do you have to always ask him?!" he demanded. "Lan Zhan, you're an adult! It shouldn't matter!"

"Uncle may need me for business reasons," Lan Wangji replied bluntly. "So I have to ask him before I do anything."

"See -- that's the thing!" Wei Wuxian angrily clenched his hands into fists. "You're too focused on trying to please your uncle that you never think about yourself! That's why I want you to get away from things for a while!"

"...Uncle only wants what is best for us," Lan Wangji said. It sounded very much like something that he'd been trained to reply with whenever someone insulted Lan Qiren, which made Wei Wuxian madder.

"Lan Zhan -- look," Wei Wuxian sighed. "Don't you think it's ridiculous that you have to still answer to him even though you're already twenty-one? That your older brother has to also answer to him? For Christ's sake, you even have a curfew! That's stupid!"

"Uncle is simply trying to keep us safe," Lan Wangji said. "Please... Please do not speak about my uncle like this," he warned, his voice serious now.

"...And why not?" Wei Wuxian asked, crossing his arms. "What awful catastrophe will befall us if I do?"

"...Please, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji almost sounded like he was begging Wei Wuxian to stop. As if Lan Qiren could somehow hear this conversation and would punish Wei Wuxian severely because he dared talk shit about how strict Uncle Goatee was.

 

...Maybe Lan Wangji thought he was going to be punished for this.

 

Wei Wuxian sighed as he unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the car door. "Sorry," he mumbled. "I just think it's dumb."

"Wei Ying..."

"I-If you don't wanna ask him about the Hong Kong thing you don't have to," Wei Wuxian added. "It was just an idea I had."

 

Lan Wangji gently grabbed Wei Wuxian's wrist. Wei Wuxian turned around to look at him.

 

"I will ask him," Lan Wangji said. "I want... I want to go to Hong Kong with you." He gazed intently into Wei Wuxian's eyes.

"...R-Really?" Wei Wuxian was surprised. "You... You really wanna go?"

"I do," Lan Wangji nodded, letting Wei Wuxian's wrist free. "I will ask Uncle and then let you know if he approves."

"...Yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "That sounds good. Oh, and, uh... sorry about the stuff Wen Ning said before," he added. "He means well. I think."

"I could tell," Lan Wangji replied. "He said that he was concerned about your wellbeing and wanted to make sure that I was aware that you had been through a lot of hardship in your life."

"...Oh," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "Yeah, well... we all have, I guess," he said. "Wen Ning's exaggerating things, I'm sure."

"..."

"Anyway!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, standing up. "I should go," he said. "Thanks for putting up with my weird friends!" he grinned at Lan Wangji.

"They are not weird," Lan Wangji said. "They care about you a lot."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Nah, they're weird," he grinned. "But so am I. We're all weird. That's what makes it fun, after all!"

 

Wei Wuxian leant in and gave Lan Wangji a quick kiss on the lips. "Sorry this is all we get to do today," he murmured. "Hopefully we can have fun in Hong Kong!"

 

Before Lan Wangji could reply, Wei Wuxian slammed the car door shut and waved goodbye as Lan Wangji drove off.

 

When Wei Wuxian got to his room, there were several messages from Wen Ning in the group chat profusely apologising.

 

Wen Ning: I AM SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SORRY I HOPE HE DOESN'T HATE YOU WEI YING >_< >_< >_<

Nie Huaisang: sounds like a fiasco uve created wen qionglin

Wen Ning: I KNOW OMG I FEEL SO BAD AAAAA

Wei Wuxian: nah its cool

Wei Wuxian: i told him about hong kong

Wen Ning: what did he say???

Wei Wuxian: he wants 2 go

Nie Huaisang: sweet

Wei Wuxian: but

Wei Wuxian: get this

Wen Ning: ?

Wei Wuxian: he has to ask his uncle first

Nie Huaisang: isnt he an adult

Wei Wuxian: thats wat i said

Wen Ning: is his uncle that scary?

Wei Wuxian: i guess so

Wei Wuxian: i told him it was stupid and he basically told me to shut up

Nie Huaisang: o wow

Nie Huaisang: hope uncle lets him go

Wen Ning: me 2

Wei Wuxian: he said hell let me kno later

 

Wei Wuxian received a text from Lan Wangji shortly after dinner.

 

Lan Wangji: Wei Ying,

I have asked my uncle if it is okay to accompany you to Hong Kong in August during my break. Uncle says he approves so long as we do not partake in any dangerous or illegal activities while we are away. My family owns a hotel in the region so that should not be an issue. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know so that I can arrange the travel accordingly.

I enjoyed meeting your friends today and I apologise if I said something I should not have. I have been preoccupied with studying recently and have not been as focused as I would like.

I am looking forward to our trip and spending some time alone with you. Thank you for your suggestion of a holiday.

Love,

Lan Wangji

 

Wei Wuxian couldn't help but laugh at the fact that the text was so damn formal and almost written like a letter or an email. It was rather endearing.

 

It took him a couple of minutes to realise that Lan Qiren had actually okayed their trip and that he and Lan Wangji would actually be going to Hong Kong.

 

Wei Wuxian: awesome! thnx lan zhan!! im looking forward to it too!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

 

The group chat turned into celebratory emoji spam once Wei Wuxian informed his friends of the news.

 

August, however, was still two whole months away.

Chapter Text

Since Wei Wuxian was going on a trip with Lan Wangji, he figured he should also introduce his boyfriend to his family. Lan Wangji was very busy with studying, but he agreed that he should meet the Jiangs and arranged to visit them for dinner one Saturday night.

 

Wei Wuxian tried to make absolutely sure that things wouldn't be awkward for Lan Wangji. He informed Jiang Yanli (who was helping him cook the dinner) that Lan Wangji couldn't handle spicy food ("Honestly I think he'd die if we gave him what our family normally eats," he told her) and instructed his family not to ask any questions about Lan Wangji's own family, especially not his parents (Wei Wuxian ended up telling them that Lan Wangji's parents were both dead, and that he seemed to not be comfortable talking about them, and Jiang Fengmian agreed that it was probably best to leave that subject matter alone) and not to expect Lan Wangji to say much ("He doesn't really speak unless you talk to him first, and don't expect more than a yes or no answer unless you specify for a response beyond that").

 

Jiang Cheng was seemingly irritated by how much effort Wei Wuxian was putting into this.

 

"It's just dinner," Jiang Cheng sighed, crossing his arms as he watched his brother flick through their family's recipe books for some ideas. "You're worrying far too much."

"No I'm not!" Wei Wuxian retorted, glaring over at Jiang Cheng. "I'm just trying to make it so that it doesn't end in a disaster. I doubt he's used to going over to somebody's house for dinner. If anything, he'll be far more used to stupidly fancy banquets and shit like that..."

"It's not like he's going to dump you just because it wasn't extravagant," Jiang Cheng said, sighing again. "Look, all you need to do is pick a few simple dishes to make."

"But he probably eats top-of-the-line expensive food that we haven't even heard of!" Wei Wuxian reminded him. "'Simple' isn't gonna cut it, Jiang Cheng!"

"Well, pick something he likes, then," Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes.

 

Wei Wuxian paused as he was turning a page of the book he was looking at. He slowly turned to Jiang Cheng, sighing. "I don't know what he likes to eat," he admitted. "All I know is what he doesn't like: spicy food and sweet things."

"Haven't you been on several dates with him where you've, you know, eaten things?" Jiang Cheng narrowed his eyes in annoyance. "Have you really not picked up on his tastes yet?"

"The thing is," Wei Wuxian said, "He never really eats much. One time he had, uh, a salad, I think. Then he took me to that place that does spicy food and some extremely mild chicken almost killed him. Uhhh... I think he had fried rice one other time? I don't remember the rest."

"Why not do fried rice?" Jiang Cheng suggested. "I know that's boring to us, but it's something he'd eat, right? Cook some side-dishes as well, like maybe a stew. Or we could have a selection of meat... I'm surprised he actually eats meat, if I'm honest."

"Yeah, so am I," Wei Wuxian said with a shrug. "But he's eaten different kinds of meat at least twice, so if he's meant to be a vegetarian he's doing a pretty bad job!" he laughed at his own joke.

"Whatever," Jiang Cheng said. "I'm sure he'll eat whatever it is if you cook it."

"And that's why I want to pick something he'll actually enjoy!" Wei Wuxian grumbled as Jiang Cheng left him alone again.

 

Wei Wuxian knew he wasn't the most observant person in the world (especially not after what had happened with Wen Ning), but having Jiang Cheng judge him stung more than he'd thought it might've. And it made him realise that he didn't actually know much about what Lan Wangji liked. He'd have to ask...

 


 

Wei Wuxian hovered by the front door waiting for Lan Wangji to arrive. He'd finished helping Jiang Yanli with cooking (in the end they'd gone with pork rib stew and a few side dishes) and was starting to panic internally somewhat. Even though he'd had his own friends over for dinner before. But this was different to him. It seemed more formal and like he couldn't screw it up. But as Jiang Cheng had said, Lan Wangji wouldn't be changing his opinion about Wei Wuxian unless something absolutely disastrous happened.

 

Lan Wangji was due to arrive at six pm and, at exactly six pm, there was a knock on the door.

 

Wei Wuxian brushed his hair out of his face and answered it.

 

"H-Hey, Lan Zhan," he greeted breathlessly. "Come in!"

"Good evening," Lan Wangji replied with a nod, following Wei Wuxian inside and taking off his shoes.

 

Lan Wangji was dressed in a semi-formal suit and, disappointedly, wasn't wearing his hair ribbon again. Maybe he had meant what he'd said about saving it for special occasions. Having remembered that Lan Wangji might come across his attempts at sewing, Wei Wuxian had hidden the materials away in Jiang Yanli's room since he was 99.99% sure that Lan Wangji wouldn't go in there.

 

Lan Wangji presented Wei Wuxian with a bottle of wine.

 

"Thanks, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian grinned as he took the wine. "I'm sure we'll love this! But your family don't drink, do they?"

"No, they do not," Lan Wangji replied. "But Brother suggested it would be an appropriate gift..."

"Heh, he's right about that!" Wei Wuxian studied the bottle. It was an expensive-looking red wine. You didn't need to get us something this expensive! he wanted to say.

 

Wei Wuxian led Lan Wangji to the living room and introduced him to the Jiangs.

 

"So, as you all know," Wei Wuxian began cheerfully, "This is Lan Wangji."

Lan Wangji bowed respectfully at the room. "Thank you for inviting me," he said. "It is an honour."

Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng exchanged a confused look.

 

"I'm Jiang Fengmian; it's a pleasure to have you," Jiang Fengmian said as he stood up and bowed back. "We've heard a lot about you from A-Xian," he smiled. "This is my wife, Madam Yu ZiYuan," he added.

"I hear you're busy studying?" Madam Yu asked him after bowing at him. "Are you sure you're alright to be here for dinner?"

"...I thought the same thing," Lan Wangji said slowly. "But my brother thought it would be a good idea to take a break so that I do not overwork myself."

"Hmm... that's probably the right advice," Madam Yu said curtly.

"Hold on, Mother!" Jiang Cheng interjected, annoyed. "You never tell me to take a break from studying!"

Madam Yu sighed. "That's because you actually need to study to keep your grades up, isn't it?" she glared at him.

 

Jiang Cheng had always struggled to maintain the highest marks, no matter how hard he studied. He wasn't dumb by any means, but he had to work very hard if he wanted to be better than everyone else -- which he did. As far as Wei Wuxian was concerned, it was either that he was trying to prove it to himself or he was trying to earn the praises of his parents.

 

"Anyway," Madam Yu continued, "You haven't even introduced yourself yet, A-Cheng. Is that any way to talk to a guest?"

Jiang Cheng mumbled an apology and stood up. "Jiang Wanyin," he grumbled. "I'm that idiot's brother. No idea how you manage to put up with him, but thanks."

Lan Wangji narrowed his eyes slightly as Jiang Cheng sat down. "That--"

Sensing that Lan Wangji was going to try and rebut Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian interrupted him with a pat on the shoulder. "It's fine, Lan Zhan," he laughed. "He means it with love. Don't you, Jiang Cheng?"

Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure. Something like that," he smirked sarcastically.

"..."

 

"Calm down, you two," Jiang Yanli said, standing up and bowing. "I'm Jiang Yanli, A-Cheng and A-Xian's sister. You're just as handsome as A-Xian said you were!" she chuckled quietly as she sat down again. Wei Wuxian felt slightly embarrassed.

"But it's true," Wei Wuxian pouted, taking his own seat now that the introductions were over with. He patted the empty spot next to him, indicating that it was okay for Lan Wangji to also sit down. Lan Wangji sat. "Why would I lie about how hot someone is?" he jokingly asked Jiang Yanli.

"That's true!" Jiang Yanli replied. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "I should get everyone some drinks!"

"Don't bother, A-Li," Madam Yu said. "We'll have tea while we eat. Everything's already set up, isn't it?"

"Yeah, A-Xian helped set the table earlier, so we're all good to go! Shall we head to the kitchen then?" she asked.

"Sounds like a plan," Jiang Fengmian nodded. "Let's go eat."

 

The Jiangs all got up and made their way to the kitchen. Wei Wuxian waited until they were mostly out the door before standing up and following them, leading Lan Wangji along.

 

"Don't worry," Wei Wuxian said to him as everyone but Jiang Yanli sat at the table, "I made sure to tell Sister not to include any spices at all so... hopefully you'll be able to eat it!" he grinned widely.

Lan Wangji tensed up slightly. "You... cooked this?" he asked Jiang Yanli as she placed his dishes in front of him.

"I did!" Jiang Yanli replied happily. "A-Xian helped, too!" she pointed out, moving on to serving her brothers. "He kept reminding me not to add any chilli powder to it!" she laughed.

"But food's so boring without spice," Jiang Cheng commented, immediately reaching for the container of chilli powder and adding copious amounts to his stew.

"Aww, don't be mean, Jiang Cheng!" Wei Wuxian said, taking the container from his brother and sprinkling it all over his food as well. "Some families just don't eat the stuff. I'd rather not have him almost choke to death because of us, either!" he added, placing the container back in its spot on the table.

"Whatever," Jiang Cheng sighed, shrugging. "It's not like it matters."

 

Once Jiang Yanli was seated and had served them their drinks, they started eating.

 

Wei Wuxian knew that this time, at least, he didn't have to worry about Lan Wangji. He'd already tasted the food and knew it was good. His sister was a great cook, after all! If Lan Wangji didn't like his meal then there was something seriously wrong with his tastebuds.

 

"Oh, yeah," Jiang Cheng said, "Weren't you going to ask him about what food he likes?" he asked Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian swallowed a mouthful of rice. "Right, so I was!" he turned to Lan Wangji. "So while I was wondering what the hell we were going to cook for you, I realised I don't actually know what your favourite foods are. I'd like to know so that I can make them for you next time you visit!" he explained, eating some more rice.

Lan Wangji placed his chopsticks down. "...What do you mean?" he asked.

 

Everyone looked at him, confused.

 

"What do you mean 'what do you mean'?" Wei Wuxian asked back, extremely puzzled by how someone could be stumped by such a basic question.

"What constitutes a 'favourite food'?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Er..." Wei Wuxian quickly swallowed what he had left in his mouth. "I mean, like, if you're going out to eat somewhere, what's your go-to food?"

"...That depends on where I am," Lan Wangji replied.

"T-Then... what about at home?" Wei Wuxian tried. "Is there something the servants make for you that you prefer to the other dishes?"

"Not in particular, no," Lan Wangji answered.

 

There was a pause.

 

"...You're not serious, are you?" Jiang Cheng looked both annoyed and concerned at the same time.

"Why would I not be serious?" Lan Wangji asked him.

Jiang Cheng groaned. "Listen," he said, putting down his chopsticks, "Everybody has a favourite food. Mine's char siu. You have one too, right, Sis?"

"It's probably lotus root soup," Jiang Yanli replied, "But I like a lot of different foods."

"Wei Wuxian, what about you?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"I mean, anything spicy, sure," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Spicy noodles especially, I guess..."

"Even you two have a favourite food, right, Father? Mother?" he addressed his parents.

"Naturally," Madam Yu said. "Roast duck is one of them."

"I always enjoy a good hotpot," Jiang Fengmian said.

"See?" Jiang Cheng looked at Lan Wangji again. "Do you really not have a favourite food?"

"..."

 

Wei Wuxian sighed. "Alright, Jiang Cheng, stop," he said.

"Why?" Jiang Cheng asked. "You think it's weird too, don't you?"

"Well, yeah," Wei Wuxian said, "But who the fuck cares? It's just food. Maybe the cooking he eats normally is incredibly awful and that's why he doesn't know which one he likes best."

"...Our cooks are all hand-picked by Uncle," Lan Wangji said quietly. "Their food is not bad."

"There you go, Jiang Cheng," Wei Wuxian said. "Give it a rest and get back to eating, the stew'll be getting cold."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Jiang Cheng grumbled, picking up his chopsticks again.

 

Wei Wuxian made a mental note to apologise to Lan Wangji after dinner as he went back to eating.

 

He'd already known that Lan Wangji was a slow eater, but he couldn't help but notice that his guest had only eaten about half of his stew.

 

"Is something wrong, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked between mouthfuls.

"I am fine," Lan Wangji said. "Why?"

"You haven't eaten much," Wei Wuxian commented, pointing his chopsticks at Lan Wangji's bowl.

"Oh no," Jiang Yanli gasped. "Does it taste bad?"

"Not at all," Lan Wangji replied, shaking his head. "The food is very good. I just..." he eyed his food cautiously.

 

Wei Wuxian tried to figure out what was wrong. "Are you full?" he asked.

"...Yes," Lan Wangji mumbled.

"I swear, your stomach's, like, half the size of mine!" Wei Wuxian laughed. "I'll finish it off for you, don't worry about it," he added.

"I'm sorry," Jiang Yanli apologised with a smile. "I didn't know you didn't eat much! Do you have smaller meals at home?" she asked.

"I do," Lan Wangji said. "If we ate a stew like this at home... it would probably be half the size of this."

"Half?!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "But that's nothing!"

"Uncle says we need to maintain a balanced diet and eat smaller portions," Lan Wangji explained. "So we do not eat much."

"How'd you get so damn tall and muscular then?" Wei Wuxian demanded.

"...I have always practised various martial arts," Lan Wangji answered.

"Ah," Wei Wuxian said, returning to his food.

 

Nobody said much else as they finished eating, other than Jiang Yanli scolding Jiang Cheng for being rude. Wei Wuxian managed to eat all of his dinner as well as what was left of Lan Wangji's.

 

After dinner was over, Wei Wuxian took Lan Wangji to his bedroom (they'd agreed not to bother with dessert as Wei Wuxian knew Lan Wangji wouldn't enjoy it).

 

"Speaking of things here being half the size they are at your place," Wei Wuxian said, shutting the door behind them and leading Lan Wangji over to his bed, "This room probably feels like a closet to you!" he laughed, plopping on his bed and pulling Lan Wangji into a seating position next to him.

"I like it," Lan Wangji replied. "It... seems cozy."

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian said, "But it means I have to be pretty quiet since my brother's room is right next door," he chuckled, leaning back against the wall. "Don't want him banging on the wall telling me to shut up, y'know?" he grinned.

"...Why would you be making noise?" Lan Wangji asked.

Wei Wuxian sighed. "Mmm, never mind," he murmured, nuzzling up against Lan Wangji's shoulder. "It was just a dumb joke, don't worry."

"...Okay."

 

Wei Wuxian really wanted to do more than just sit next to Lan Wangji like this, but he knew it was too risky with his family around. He also wasn't sure if Lan Wangji would want to do anything after being berated by Jiang Cheng at dinner.

 

"Sorry about earlier, by the way," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "Jiang Cheng was just surprised, I think..."

"Do not apologise," Lan Wangji said. "I simply did not know that it was common to have a 'favourite food'."

"This just means I'll have to introduce you to a bunch of new things so that you can find one to call your favourite!" Wei Wuxian chuckled again. "We'll eat a whole lotta things in Hong Kong!"

"...Mmn."

"I'm looking forward to our trip," Wei Wuxian continued, closing his eyes. "Is your uncle still cool with it?"

"He is," Lan Wangji replied. "He said even if I do not get a perfect grade for my reports I will still be allowed to travel with you."

"Does he... normally not let you do things if you don't get perfect grades?" Wei Wuxian found himself asking.

"..."

 

He felt Lan Wangji shift beside him.

 

"Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian opened his eyes. Lan Wangji's face was expressionless, but Wei Wuxian felt like he was hiding a layer of pain beneath it.

"If... If I do not achieve the grades Uncle desires, yes, I will be punished."

 

Wei Wuxian sat up properly. "Lan Zhan," he said, grabbing Lan Wangji's hands and staring him in the eyes, "You're an adult. You shouldn't be being punished by your uncle."

"We need to learn from our mistakes so that we do not repeat them," Lan Wangji explained, glancing downwards.

 

There really was something fishy about this, but Wei Wuxian couldn't quite put his finger on it. He was tempted to ask how, exactly, it was that Lan Wangji was punished, but decided that that probably wasn't a good idea as it seemed like Lan Wangji would rather not talk about this at all.

 

So he chose to talk about something else, instead.

 

"Anyway," Wei Wuxian said, flopping forwards and burying his face in Lan Wangji's chest. "Hong Kong's gonna be a lotta fun. Just you and me and nobody else. We can do whatever we want."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled.

 

They sat in silence. This time, however, it wasn't an awkward one. Wei Wuxian had even more trouble holding himself back in this position, but it was comforting listening to Lan Wangji's quiet breathing.

 

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. "A-Xian, are you there? It's me," Jiang Yanli called out. "I've brought some snacks."

 

Reluctantly, Wei Wuxian got up and walked over to the door and opened it. Jiang Yanli was carrying a tray that contained two bowls of almond jelly.

 

"I told you," Wei Wuxian whispered, "He doesn't like sweet things!"

"But it's not too sweet!" Jiang Yanli protested. "And it doesn't matter if he can't eat all of it! Or, if you like," she suggested, "You can share a bowl."

"I'll do that, yeah," Wei Wuxian said, taking one of the bowls and a spoon from his sister.

Jiang Yanli gave him an amused look. "Really, A-Xian?" she smirked.

"What?" Wei Wuxian asked, pausing.

"One spoon?" Jiang Yanli raised her eyebrows.

"...Shut up, Sister," Wei Wuxian grumbled. "I'm sure you've done it with your boyfriend."

Jiang Yanli giggled quietly. "Well, you're not wrong," she smiled. "Enjoy, A-Xian!"

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian smiled back. "We will!"

 

He shut the door and trotted back over to Lan Wangji with the jelly.

 

"What is that?" Lan Wangji asked, eyeing the dessert as Wei Wuxian sat down next to him again.

"Dessert!" Wei Wuxian said happily. "It's almond jelly. Since you don't eat sweet things much, I thought we could share. That okay?" he scooped up a couple of pieces of the jelly on the spoon.

"...But there is only one spoon," Lan Wangji pointed out.

"There sure is!" Wei Wuxian grinned.

"..."

"Here, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian held the spoon in front of Lan Wangji's mouth. "Give it a try!"

"...I can feed myself," Lan Wangji said indignantly, taking the spoon from Wei Wuxian and eating the jelly.

 

Boo, Wei Wuxian thought, You're no fun!

 

"What d'you think?" he asked, handing Lan Wangji the bowl, curious to see if he wanted any more.

"...It is good," Lan Wangji replied. He took the bowl from Wei Wuxian. "Did your sister also make this?"

"Ah, yeah, I think she did," Wei Wuxian answered. "I told her no dessert, but she insisted..."

"I see."

 

Lan Wangji ate exactly half of the jelly before passing the bowl and spoon back to Wei Wuxian. "Here."

"You can have more!" Wei Wuxian told him. "I can always have some later."

"We are sharing," Lan Wangji reminded him, shaking his head. "You eat the rest."

"If you say so!" Wei Wuxian immediately dug in.

 

Lan Wangji said nothing, simply watching Wei Wuxian eat. Wei Wuxian secretly found it kind of weird, having someone gaze at him so intently as he ate, but he didn't want to make a big deal out of it.

 

When Wei Wuxian finished, he set the bowl and spoon on his nightstand. "Damn, that's some good jelly," he said.

"It is," Lan Wangji agreed.

 

An idea popped into Wei Wuxian's head.

 

"...Aha!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed excitedly, a wide grin spreading across his face.

"What is wrong?" Lan Wangji asked, his eyes narrowing slightly.

"I've come up with a way for you to have some more jelly!" Wei Wuxian said, moving so that his face was inches away from Lan Wangji's.

"...What do y--"

 

Lan Wangji's question was cut off by Wei Wuxian kissing him. He was clearly taken by surprise at first, but quickly kissed Wei Wuxian back. Wei Wuxian forcefully but carefully pushed Lan Wangji down onto the bed so that Wei Wuxian was lying on top of him.

 

You're only kissing him, Wei Wuxian reminded himself. Don't do anything other than kiss him, you'll just be disappointed. Don't... don't touch him.

 

He heard Lan Wangji moan softly, which he took as a cue to break the kiss. Wei Wuxian sat upright, straddling Lan Wangji. He brushed his hair out of his face and smirked at the man underneath him.

 

"So?" Wei Wuxian grinned. "Tasted like almond jelly, didn't it?"

Lan Wangji stared blankly up at him. "...It did," he mumbled.

"Hah! See, Lan Zhan, you--"

 

It was Wei Wuxian's turn to be interrupted, but not by Lan Wangji himself. Wei Wuxian felt his boyfriend's phone vibrate in his pocket. Sighing, he rolled off Lan Wangji, who instantly sat up and reached for his phone.

 

"Who's it from?" Wei Wuxian asked, annoyed but somehow not surprised.

"Nobody," Lan Wangji replied. "It was an alarm."

"An alarm? For what?" Wei Wuxian sat up and scooted over so that he could see Lan Wangji's phone screen.

"...Curfew reminder," Lan Wangji explained.

 

It was only just after eight pm now. Wei Wuxian vaguely remembered something about a curfew and how ridiculous he'd thought it was.

 

"But you don't go to sleep until nine," Wei Wuxian reminded him.

"...I need to be home by eight thirty so that I can be asleep by nine," Lan Wangji explained. "And it takes me about fifteen minutes to drive home from here, so I need to leave shortly."

Wei Wuxian groaned loudly, throwing his head back in defeat. "Fine, fine!" he grumbled, sighing. "You can go home. I don't want your uncle getting mad at you."

"..." Lan Wangji glanced away for a moment before turning back to face Wei Wuxian. "I am sorry," he apologised.

"Nah, it's cool," Wei Wuxian said, hopping off the bed. "I get it. And anyway, like I said -- we'll be able to do what we want in Hong Kong!" he grinned, picking up the empty bowl of almond jelly. "You're gonna stay up until well after midnight!"

"Do you normally stay up that late?" Lan Wangji asked, standing up and adjusting his clothes.

"Mostly, yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "Unless I have work in the morning or something."

"Do your parents not punish you for staying up so late?" Lan Wangji put his phone back in his pocket.

"No?" Wei Wuxian gave him a quizzical look. "My parents usually don't get mad at me about things like that. Hell, Jiang Cheng also stays up that late sometimes just studying."

"...I see," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian led Lan Wangji back to the kitchen, where they ran into Jiang Cheng.

 

"I'm surprised you emerged from your room so soon," Jiang Cheng remarked, fetching himself a soda from the fridge.

"He's going home," Wei Wuxian sighed as he rinsed out the bowl and spoon.

"Really, already?" Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow.

"Curfew," Wei Wuxian shrugged. Lan Wangji said nothing.

"But he--"

"I know," Wei Wuxian said through gritted teeth. "Don't start shit with him again, please, Jiang Cheng," Wei Wuxian warned.

"Yeah, sure, whatever," Jiang Cheng grumbled. "Anyway," he said to Lan Wangji, "I am glad I finally got to meet you. My brother cares about you a lot, so if he's found someone who equally cares about him that much... well, at least it means I don't have to keep watching out for his ass anymore."

"You never had to in the first place!" Wei Wuxian protested.

"Someone did!" Jiang Cheng said. "But really... I'm pleased things have worked themselves out for you guys."

 

Having Jiang Cheng be this supportive again was still bizarre to Wei Wuxian, but he wasn't complaining. Maybe.

 

"...Thank you," Lan Wangji said quietly. "I did enjoy the dinner."

 

Jiang Cheng left the room with a humph.

 

"Don't mind him," Wei Wuxian said. "He's like that."

Lan Wangji nodded. "I should... probably get going now," he said slowly.

"Right," Wei Wuxian mumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets.

 

They said quick goodbyes to the other members of Wei Wuxian's family before Wei Wuxian showed Lan Wangji to the door.

 

"Thanks for coming, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, smiling gently. "I had fun."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "So did I. Thank you for inviting me."

 

Wei Wuxian gave him a light kiss on the lips. "Good luck with your studies," he said. "I'm sure you'll ace everything!" he added with a grin.

"I hope so," Lan Wangji said. "I... am really looking forward to going to Hong Kong."

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian murmured. "So am I. I'll make sure you have the best time of your life!" He gave Lan Wangji a thumbs up and another grin.

 

Lan Wangji nodded silently.

 

"G'night, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said softly as Lan Wangji put his shoes on. "Let me know how your tests go!"

"I will," Lan Wangji said. "Good night, Wei Ying."

 

Wei Wuxian waved at Lan Wangji as he left and only shut the door once the latter was in his car.

 

Soon, Wei Wuxian told himself. You'll be able to have him all to yourself soon, Wei Ying. It's only six weeks away now. And then you'll be showing him how to have fun and enjoy himself. Show him a world without rules. Without shit like curfews. He'll have a taste of that sweet, sweet freedom...

 

He couldn't help but worry about Lan Wangji now that he was slowly becoming aware of the strict environment he must've been brought up in. But he knew that pushing it wouldn't do him any favours, so Wei Wuxian hoped that Lan Wangji would eventually be comfortable enough to tell him.

 


 

The days ticked on. Wei Wuxian felt himself getting more and more excited the closer it got to August. In July, they picked out specific travel dates and booked their hotel (which was five stars, to Wei Wuxian's delight).

 

Lan Wangji, as predicted, scored perfect marks on his tests and received the highest grade on his report. Which made Wei Wuxian relieved that he wasn't going to be 'punished', whatever horrors that entailed.

 

At the beginning of August, they met up at Lan Wangji's house to be chauffeured to the airport. Wei Wuxian packed a large amount of things 'just in case' and took a big suitcase with him. Lan Wangji packed lightly, seemingly forgetting about buying souvenirs.

 

Wei Wuxian had never been on an airplane before, so he had no idea what to expect.

Chapter Text

They arrived at their hotel in the afternoon. The flight over had been uneventful, other than Wei Wuxian nearly spilling water all over himself and Lan Wangji when they hit some unexpected turbulence.

 

Wei Wuxian was lucky in that Lan Wangji knew how to navigate airports and had already arranged everything in advance.

 

Their hotel room, which was up far too many floors that Wei Wuxian lost count even in the elevator, was overlooking the harbour and had views so great Wei Wuxian found himself pressing his face up against the windows like an excited child.

 

The room had a large double-bed (they'd discussed this beforehand and agreed that it would be okay), a recliner, a writing desk and a TV mounted to the wall along with a minibar (which Wei Wuxian knew he was going to help himself to).

 

Wei Wuxian flopped down on the bed and gazed up at the ceiling.

 

"I kinda feel out of place being in a hotel this fancy," Wei Wuxian remarked as he sat up and looked over at Lan Wangji, who was now sitting in the recliner. "D'you normally stay in five-star hotels, Lan Zhan?" he asked, despite already knowing the answer.

"I do," Lan Wangji said. "But I only travel if needed for work arrangements," he added.

 

"You wanna go get something to eat?" Wei Wuxian suggested, as he was already starting to get hungry. "We can go take a walk and see if we can find a food stall or something."

"Okay," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

The two of them ended up taking a walk down the long street that their hotel was on. It was lined with several shops big and small and many stalls selling food and handcrafts. Wei Wuxian didn't want to spend all his money on souvenirs just on the first day, but he made mental notes of the stalls that seemed to be selling interesting items.

 

On the way, he noticed a stall that was selling things made out of jade, including a wide variety of jewellery (pendants, hairpins, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc.), ceramics and ornaments.

 

Two things caught Wei Wuxian's eye: the first was a circular pendant with a hole in the middle and an ornament that was in the shape of two rabbits touching their noses together.

 

"Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, look!" Wei Wuxian called to Lan Wangji, who was standing behind him. Lan Wangji moved so that he was beside Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian gently picked up the rabbit ornament and excitedly showed it to Lan Wangji. "Aren't they cute?!" he grinned.

"...Mmn," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian fished for his wallet and pulled out some cash. "Uh, I think this is enough?" he asked the man standing behind the stall.

"Young master, surely that's too much!" the man said, pointing at the price displayed on the table below where Wei Wuxian had taken the rabbit from.

"Ah, yeah, I'd like that one as well!" Wei Wuxian said as he pointed at the pendant. "That's not too much, is it?"

"Not at all, not at all!" the man nodded, rummaging around and pulling out a green plastic bag. He placed both the items in it and taped it up before handing it to Wei Wuxian, who passed him the money in exchange.

"Keep the change!" Wei Wuxian grinned as he walked off (with Lan Wangji following him).

"Thank you, young master!"

 

Wei Wuxian was rather satisfied with his purchase. For some reason, he thought that Lan Wangji reminded him vaguely of someone whose face was carved out of jade in his exquisite beauty, and also thought that he would suit wearing jade jewellery.

 

Not too long after, they came across a stall selling steamed buns. Wei Wuxian, who was rather hungry by this point, felt himself gravitate towards it.

 

"How can I help you, young master?" the stall owner asked as Wei Wuxian hovered in front of the stall, looking at the different flavours of steamed buns.

"Hmmm...." Wei Wuxian was having trouble deciding. They all smelt delicious! "What d'you feel like, Lan Zhan?" he asked Lan Wangji.

"...I am not hungry," Lan Wangji replied simply.

"Aww, you're not fun!" Wei Wuxian jokingly pouted. "Alright, then, I'll get two -- if you don't eat yours, I'll finish it for you!"

"...Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian promptly bought two steamed pork buns and they were on there way again.

 

"We should look for somewhere to sit while we eat these," Wei Wuxian suggested. "Call out if you see a bench or something, okay?"

"Okay," Lan Wangji replied.

"Anyway," Wei Wuxian continued, "I think I'm gonn-- HEY!"

 

Wei Wuxian was interrupted by someone snatching the bag of steamed buns out of his hand and running off with them. He vaguely caught a glimpse of a short figure darting around a corner into a side alleyway.

 

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Wei Wuxian said. "I think... I think that was a kid."

"What should we do?" Lan Wangji asked. "Call the police?"

 

Wei Wuxian sighed. "No, that's pointless," he said. "I saw where the kid ran off to, I'll go see if they're still in that alleyway." He handed Lan Wangji his other bag of jade goods. "You wait here," he instructed. "Only come find me if I'm not back within five minutes, got it?"

"...Got it," Lan Wangji replied with a nod.

 

Wei Wuxian cautiously walked over to where the kid had gone and peeked his head around the corner.

 

Sure enough, the kid was sitting halfway down the narrow alley -- surrounded by four other children.

 

Seeing this caused Wei Wuxian to feel woozy as he was hit by a wave of things he'd rather not remember from his own childhood.

 

"H-Hey... what're you kids doing?" Wei Wuxian asked slowly, trying to behave as friendly as he could.

 

The young children were startled by the sudden appearance of an adult and all went to hide behind the tallest of their group.

 

"I asked you a question," Wei Wuxian said quietly. "What are you kids doing?" he repeated, walking closer to them.

"W-We ain't doin' nothin'!" one of the kids replied, poking his face out from behind the tallest kid.

 

Wei Wuxian studied the children. The oldest one would've been perhaps nine or ten years old, the youngest maybe six. It was a group made up of a mixture of boys and girls -- they all had old, tattered clothes, the ones who wore shoes had worn-out sneakers full of holes and missing laces and all of them appeared to be extremely skinny. They were covered in dirt from head to toe and all had very messy hair.

 

Wei Wuxian squatted down so that he was almost at eye-level with the children. "Which one of you stole my lunch?" he asked.

The children exchanged glances. "W-What'll you do if we tell you?" one of the girls asked.

"I'll ask whoever it was if I could have my lunch back," Wei Wuxian responded. "You kids shouldn't be stealing food like that, you know."

"B-But if we don' steal food, then we can't eat!" another kid protested, looking like he was going to cry.

"I know," Wei Wuxian said. "I'm aware of that. But if you keep stealing food from people in broad daylight on a busy street, you'll get caught. One of your friends might be taken away and you'll never see them again." He'd experienced that several times himself, and had almost been caught on multiple occasions by the cops, too.

"..."

 

Wei Wuxian really wanted to leave. This was starting to bring back too many things for him.

 

"Then what should we do, Mister?" another kid asked.

"Only come out at night when there aren't that many people around," Wei Wuxian replied. "Also, try stealing from stalls on quieter streets when the owners aren't paying attention or are away for a moment. Study their schedules and find when their lunch breaks are. And make sure you steal water too, water's more important than food." The children all stared wide-eyed at him.

"How come you know so much, Mister?" the other girl asked.

Wei Wuxian sighed. "Because," he said, "I once had to steal food like you guys, too. I know exactly what to do."

"But why aren't you still needin' to steal food?" asked the tallest boy, looking suspicious.

 

Wei Wuxian paused. This was something he'd thought about a lot and kept coming back to over the years. If Jiang Fengmian hadn't rescued him, he'd probably still be wandering the streets fighting people and dogs for food and water.

 

...No, that wasn't right. If Jiang Fengmian hadn't rescued him, Wei Wuxian would be long dead by now. He knew that.

 

"Because the heavens decided to shine down upon me, for some reason," Wei Wuxian said gently. "That's the only explanation I have."

 

The children exchanged glances again.

 

"I don' get it," the youngest kid frowned.

Wei Wuxian managed a smile. "Neither do I," he said.

 

One of the children walked towards him, holding the bag of steamed buns. "Here you are, Mister," he said nervously. "You can have these back."

 

Wei Wuxian shook his head and put up a hand. "No," he said, "I don't need them. I'm grateful you told me why you took them, but please look out for yourselves. I know what it's like, so... you guys can enjoy those. I'll just go and buy some more. It's no big deal, really." He stood up.

 

"What's it like havin' money, Mister?" the tallest kid asked. "Can you buy whatever food you want?"

"You can," Wei Wuxian answered. "It's great. Hopefully the heavens will shine down on you guys one day, too. Oh -- and be sure to share the food between each other!"

"T-Thanks, Mister..." the tallest kid mumbled.

 

Wei Wuxian grinned at the children before he turned around and left as quickly as he could without running.

 

Part of him wanted to cry. Another part of him wanted to throw up. He really hadn't been expecting to run into a group of homeless children. Had Wei Wuxian really been that dirty when he was living on the streets? Had he been that skinny? Had he smelt that bad?

 

Of course, it wasn't the children's fault. They didn't know. But Wei Wuxian's mind kept reminding him of his past. The times he almost got caught by the police. The times his friends got caught and he heard their screams as they were dragged away. How he'd almost starved to death a countless number of times.

 

And yet, here he was, able to go on vacation and stay at a five-star hotel and do whatever he wanted.

 

If Wei Wuxian wanted to be cynical, he would've forced Lan Wangji to meet those children. But he didn't exactly want to expose Lan Wangji to that hellish side of life. He wished he hadn't been exposed to it himself, after all.

 

Lan Wangji was waiting for him just around the corner.

 

"Wei Ying!" he exclaimed as soon as Wei Wuxian noticed him. "What happened?"

"What? Nothing happened," Wei Wuxian said. "I'm fine."

"You are very pale," Lan Wangji said, concerned. "Are you okay?"

"...Yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "I just... is it okay if we head back to the hotel?" he asked.

"But what about food?" Lan Wangji asked, his eyes narrowing.

Wei Wuxian laughed bitterly. "I'm not hungry anymore," he said. "I lost my appetite. I'll eat something later."

"Okay," Lan Wangji said.

 

Wei Wuxian led the way back to their hotel. He stared down at the ground the entire time, trying to keep his mind off things. The nausea he'd been feeling had subsisted, but he still felt light-headed.

 

After walking for a few minutes, Wei Wuxian wobbled slightly. He was instantly caught by Lan Wangji.

 

"I'm fine," Wei Wuxian mumbled, standing upright. "I don't--"

"No," Lan Wangji said firmly.

Wei Wuxian turned to look at him. "'No' what?"

"You are still pale," Lan Wangji explained. "You can lean on me while you walk. I do not want you falling."

Wei Wuxian sighed. He didn't have the energy to protest. "Alright," he said. "Put your arm around me, Lan Zhan."

 

Lan Wangji promptly put his arm around Wei Wuxian's shoulders for the rest of the walk.

 


 

When they got back to their hotel room, Wei Wuxian fetched a bottle of water from the fridge and hastily gulped down the entire thing. It helped him calm down somewhat, although he still kept repeating unwanted memories.

 

Why was it that no matter how much he drunk, his past still haunted him? He'd forgotten things he didn't want to forget, like his parents and the fact that he'd actually met Lan Wangji before they'd been formally introduced. Yet the nightmares of his childhood still crept up on him from time to time.

 

"Are you okay, Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked once Wei Wuxian had tossed the empty bottle of water in the trash and flopped down on his side of the bed.

 

Wei Wuxian rolled over onto his side to look at Lan Wangji, who was once again sitting in the recliner. He didn't know how to answer.

 

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji sounded more concerned than he had before.

"...Sorry I didn't get our lunch back," Wei Wuxian said quietly. "I couldn't... I couldn't take it from them," he admitted.

"Who was it that stole it?" Lan Wangji asked slowly.

"...Some homeless kids," Wei Wuxian answered. "It's not their fault!" he insisted, sitting up. "They don't have a choice! They have to steal food in order to survive!" Wei Wuxian felt the corners of his eyes sting with tears. He didn't know why he was trying to justify it to Lan Wangji since stealing was, in the end, still illegal, whether you were homeless or not.

 

Lan Wangji walked over to the bed and sat next to Wei Wuxian. "Is that... the kind of thing you used to have to do?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian quickly turned away. He felt ashamed and embarrassed for reacting like this and he didn't want to cry in front of Lan Wangji. "...It was, yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "Steal from people, steal from stalls... Sometimes you'd go days without food or water. I know how hard it can be, so I... I didn't have it in me to ask for our food back," he sniffled. "If I'd managed to get my hands on two steamed buns back in the day I'd be over the moon! That's enough to last you at least three days, you know!"

 

Unable to control himself, Wei Wuxian buried his face in his hand as he started crying.

 

What he didn't expect was for Lan Wangji to gently embrace him from behind. Lan Wangji rested his face on Wei Wuxian's back and tightly hugged his chest.

 

"S-Sorry, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said through a sob.

"Do not apologise," Lan Wangji murmured. "It is alright. I am here."

 

Wei Wuxian felt a pang in his chest at those words. Nobody had ever comforted him like this before. Wen Ning took care of him but hardly touched him, Jiang Cheng always yelled at him if he ever dared to get emotional and Nie Huaisang was, well, pretty useless when people were upset and acted like he didn't know how to do anything whenever such a situation occurred.

 

Eventually, Wei Wuxian managed to stop crying. He rubbed his face on his sleeve and wriggled around so that he was facing Lan Wangji again, who sat up and looked warily at him.

 

"I'm okay," Wei Wuxian whispered, kissing Lan Wangji lightly. "Thanks, Lan Zhan."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "Good."

 

Wei Wuxian leant against Lan Wangji's chest, listening to his heartbeat. It was oddly calming.

 

They stayed like that for a while. Neither of them said anything, but that was okay. Wei Wuxian was slowly realising that silence could be a good thing so long as it wasn't extremely awkward.

 

The sun was starting to set by the time Wei Wuxian needed to get up.

 

"You wanna just order room service?" Wei Wuxian asked. "I can't be bothered with a fancy hotel restaurant tonight."

"Okay," Lan Wangji nodded. "What kind of food do you want?"

 

Wei Wuxian spent a few minutes thinking before not being able to come up with an answer beyond, "Pizza."

"Pizza?" Lan Wangji repeated.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "I just feel like stuffing my face with some good ol' pizza. We can order a medium or a large and share it -- they'll let you do seperate toppings, so I can get a spicy kind but you won't have to!"

Lan Wangji nodded again.

 

They decided on their pizza toppings after choosing where to order from (Wei Wuxian's half of the pizza was pepperoni and jalapeño peppers, Lan Wangji's consisted of different cheeses and olives). Wei Wuxian also ordered a can of beer for each of them. He wasn't sure about Lan Wangji, but he sure needed a drink.

 

"There's actually something I wanna talk to you about, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, once the pizza was ordered.

"What is it?" Lan Wangji asked, glancing uncertainly at Wei Wuxian.

"So... uh," Wei Wuxian began, "I just wanna clarify something, basically. Are... Are you wanting to sleep with me? Like, properly?" he asked, blushing slightly.

"..."

"I-I mean," Wei Wuxian continued, "I think it'd be good to set some boundaries, y'know? I don't wanna be assuming things, but if we want to... maaaybe while we're here away from everyone is a good idea?" he wasn't really sure where he was going with this.

"...What kind of boundaries?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Like... er, for starters," Wei Wuxian said, "I don't think we should try anything unless we're both totally sober. There's no point in doing it while drunk because I'll most likely just forget again and I don't think either of us want that to be the case."

"...I agree," Lan Wangji nodded. "So... not tonight?"

 

Wei Wuxian stared at him before letting out a snort of laughter. "No way!" he laughed. "I wouldn't spring it on you just like that! Besides, there are certain... things we need to do first, too."

"What things?" Lan Wangji asked, his eyebrows furrowing slightly.

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Well," he said, "We need to establish who's doing what. As in, uh, positions. I've... had experience with both, so I don't mind which, but I wanted to know if you'd prefer one or the other," he explained. He was prepared to maybe have to elaborate further and explain to Lan Wangji what he meant by 'positions', but then he remembered that Lan Wangji read a lot of porn so he probably knew all about such things.

Lan Wangji glanced to the side. "Top," he mumbled, his ears turning pink.

 

Wei Wuxian was slightly relieved. Bottoming was, in many ways, less effort. He also knew how to prepare himself, and since Lan Wangji was still a virgin, he most likely... didn't. Which was another thing he needed to clarify.

 

"Just so I know," Wei Wuxian said, "You are a virgin, right?" he asked.

Lan Wangji's ears turned a deeper shade of pink. "I am," he replied. "You are the only person I have--"

 

There was a knock on the door. "Pizza delivery!"

 

Wei Wuxian gave Lan Wangji an amused look as he walked over to the door and took the pizza and the beer from the delivery man.

 

He decided not to talk about sex stuff while they were eating.

 

However, a thought did pop into Wei Wuxian's head as he was drinking his beer.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan?"

"Yes?" Lan Wangji, who had been having trouble working out how to eat food without using chopsticks or cutlery, asked.

"This... is a weird question," Wei Wuxian said, "But, uh, did you bring any condoms with you?"

 

Lan Wangji paused. He looked away from Wei Wuxian. "No," he mumbled. "Why would... we need them?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian took a couple of bites of pizza before answering. "Just to be safe," he explained. "Since, y'know, I've... fucked several people before. I've tried to be careful, but I don't know if I have anything, and I don't want to pass something on to you."

"Have you never seen a doctor about it?" Lan Wangji asked, turning towards Wei Wuxian again.

"I--" Wei Wuxian hesitated. Why hadn't he been to a doctor? "Because," he said, "I... I never really cared about it before now," he admitted.

 

Shit, Wei Wuxian thought, Maybe he doesn't want to have sex if he's not aware of what diseases I might have... I mean, I don't blame him, really. Ugh, perhaps I should get checked when we get back. But what if I do have something nasty?

 

"I understand," Lan Wangji said. "Where would you buy condoms from?" he asked quietly.

Wei Wuxian ate some more pizza. "The convenience store," he answered. "But you... should probably know your size first," he added. "Otherwise you'll end up buying something too big or too small and it's a waste of money."

"How do you... know what size you are?" Lan Wangji asked, his ears turning pink again.

 

Of course he's never measured himself, Wei Wuxian thought to himself, not in the least bit surprised.

 

"I know I've technically seen your dick before," Wei Wuxian said, "But since I don't remember it... one option could be for you to show me?" he suggested.

Lan Wangji stared at him. "T-That..."

"Not now!" Wei Wuxian clarified with a laugh. "After we're done eating and stuff, I mean," he said. "And I'll only need to take a quick look to get a general idea, then I can go and buy what we need while you get ready for bed or whatever. Does that sound good?"

"...Mmn."

 

By the time they'd finished eating, it was already approaching eight pm. Wei Wuxian had originally planned to try and keep Lan Wangji up until midnight, but he'd instead had two beers to drink (Lan Wangji didn't want his) and was rather exhausted himself.

 

"I should go buy stuff," Wei Wuxian said, standing up and stretching. "You wanna show me your dick, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian wriggled his eyebrows jokingly, leaning against Lan Wangji who tensed up beneath him.

"...Okay," Lan Wangji mumbled.

 

Lan Wangji stood up slowly. Wei Wuxian thought it was pretty dumb that he was getting this embarrassed despite A) establishing that they were going to be doing a lot more than just looking at each other and B) the fact that Wei Wuxian had technically already seen what Lan Wangji had to offer.

 

So when Lan Wangji pulled down his pants and underwear, Wei Wuxian felt pretty damn dumb himself.

 

What the hell?! he thought, annoyed at himself. Surely I'd remember a dick like this! How's he so big all over? It's unfair!

 

"Right," Wei Wuxian said breathlessly, looking back up at Lan Wangji's face. "I've got the general idea. You... can put your pants back on."

Lan Wangji put his pants back on.

 

"Take a shower while I'm out," Wei Wuxian told Lan Wangji as he put his shoes on. "I'll have one when I get back."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji said. "Take care."

"I will!" Wei Wuxian grinned as he left.

 

Wei Wuxian was very glad nobody could read his mind as he made the short trip to the nearby convenience store, as it was full of extremely inappropriate things that he shouldn't be thinking about.

 

In order to not look too suspicious buying just condoms and lube, Wei Wuxian also purchased some more beer and a couple of packets of potato chips for them for tomorrow.

 

On the way back, he was stuck in the elevator with two other people who appeared to be travelling together.

 

"And it wouldn't be a problem if you weren't so fucking big!" the shorter of the men was muttering angrily.

"Ain't my fault!" the taller man retorted. "Maybe you're just too small!"

"No such thing," the shorter man grumbled.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't want to say that he knew what they were most likely talking about.

 

"Hey, what do you think is better?" the taller man asked him, much to Wei Wuxian's surprise. "Big or small?"

"D-Don't ask a stranger!" the shorter man spluttered, hitting his companion on the arm.

 

Wei Wuxian grinned. "Personally," he said, taking out the packet of newly-bought condoms, "I prefer big."

 

The two men stared at him in shock.

 

"See?" the taller man eventually said with a smirk. "Told ya so."

"S-Shut up!" the shorter man hissed. "Also, don't ask anyone else ever!"

"Yeah, yeah..."

 

Wei Wuxian laughed as the elevator came to a stop at his floor.

 

When Wei Wuxian shut the door to their hotel room, he saw Lan Wangji was sitting shirtless on the bed, drying his hair with a hair dryer. His hair was draped over his chest, giving Wei Wuxian a clear view of Lan Wangji's back.

 

Wei Wuxian was about to open his mouth when he noticed something. The bag he was holding fell to the floor with a loud clang from the cans of beer in it.

 

Lan Wangji whipped around, his eyes wide with horror. "W-Wei Ying..." he breathed over the whirr of the hair dryer.

 

Wei Wuxian was glued to the spot, staring at Lan Wangji's back.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, his voice shaking, "What are... How did you get those scars?"

 

Lan Wangji's back was covered in long, thin scars. Some were more faded than others.

 

Don't tell me, Wei Wuxian thought, unsure what emotion he was currently feeling. That's not...

 

Lan Wangji switched off the hair dryer and covered his back with his hair so that the scars were mostly hidden. He turned away from Wei Wuxian.

 

"...Punishment," was all Lan Wangji said, his voice cold and distant.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian didn't know how to react. He wasn't sure if he should go over and comfort Lan Wangji and tell him that things were okay and that he had nothing to worry about -- because that was a lie and he knew that. Nothing about this was okay.

 

Before Wei Wuxian managed to say anything, Lan Wangji began putting on his pyjama top. He wouldn't look at Wei Wuxian.

 

"Lan Zhan..." Wei Wuxian began, hesitant. "I..."

 

Wei Wuxian forced himself to walk over to the bed. He sat on the opposite side of it to Lan Wangji, his back turned to him.

 

What should I say? Wei Wuxian wondered. Who gave him those scars? Why did they decide to do that to him? I mean... it was probably his uncle, right? Given what he's told me before. I know I shouldn't ask, but I want to know... I want to know so that I can protect him.

 

"Did your uncle give you those scars?" Wei Wuxian asked quietly, fully aware that it was perhaps the worst thing in the world to ask at this point in time.

 

Lan Wangji remained silent for a few moments. Very slowly, he answered, "...No."

 

Wei Wuxian's eyes widened. What? How the fuck does that work?

 

"Then... Then who was it?" Wei Wuxian couldn't stop himself. His sense of curiosity had won yet again.

"..."

 

He wasn't really expecting an answer. There was absolutely no reason for Lan Wangji to divulge any of this, after all.

 

"My..." Lan Wangji's voice was even quieter. "My father..."

 

His father? But wasn't his uncle the one who raised him and his brother? And he's said that his uncle punishes him over his grades, hasn't he? ...Don't tell me there's more than one type of 'punishment' that he's talking about here.

 

"Lan Zhan... You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," Wei Wuxian said, "But... why did your father do that to you? What... What made him punish you?"

"...I failed to meet his expectations," Lan Wangji explained. "It was... a long time ago."

"How old were you?" Wei Wuxian asked against his better judgement.

 

Silence fell. Wei Wuxian knew he shouldn't press the issue, since it was obvious that Lan Wangji (understandably) didn't want to talk about it. He didn't really, either.

 

"I think... the first time it happened, I was seven," Lan Wangji said slowly. "I had entered a local poetry competition for children and failed to take first place. Father was disappointed in me, so... he beat me."

"T-There were multiple times?" Wei Wuxian didn't know if that was better or worse. He felt vaguely nauseous again.

"Yes, there were," Lan Wangji replied. "The second time... was when I was ten. My guqin skills were not progressing to his requirements, so he beat me again. The third time, I was thirteen. One of my rabbits died suddenly and Father did not like that I was letting it affect me."

 

Wei Wuxian was speechless. This entire time, he'd been assuming that Lan Qiren had been the culprit. But it was Lan Wangji's father? Over really stupid reasons? He was disgusted.

 

"Does... Does your uncle know about this?" Wei Wuxian asked cautiously.

"...Yes," Lan Wangji replied.

"Then why didn't he do anything?" Wei Wuxian seethed, clenching his hands into fists.

"He did," Lan Wangji said.

"...Oh."

 

After a few moments of silence, Lan Wangji continued, "After the... second time, Uncle noticed some of the scars. He made me tell him what had happened. I..." he paused. "My father had said that if I ever told anyone, he would beat me again. So I did not want to say anything to Uncle, but I could not lie to him."

"What did he do after you told him?" Wei Wuxian asked, relaxing his fists slightly.

"He went and spoke with Father," Lan Wangji replied. "When he came back home, he told me that Father was no longer allowed visit us. And that... if I wished, he could make Father pay."

"So... you didn't want revenge?" Wei Wuxian knew the answer to that question already.

"No," Lan Wangji said. "I was scared that my father would punish me again somehow."

 

Wei Wuxian sat there in shock. Some things still didn't add up in his head, and he wasn't sure if that was due to the two cans of beer he'd had to drink earlier or if Lan Wangji was deliberately omitting details.

 

"But you said your father beat you a third time a few years later, right?" Wei Wuxian asked. "How'd that work?"

"Father happened to be allowed to visit us for my brother's fifteenth birthday," Lan Wangji said. "He saw that I was upset by something and asked me what was wrong. Not wanting to anger him, I told him." He paused. "He laughed at me and told me I was stupid and still a child. Father then took me aside and beat me... but he only hit me a few times before he heard some servants talking nearby and decided to stop."

"Have you told your uncle about that time?" Wei Wuxian was running out of questions.

"No," Lan Wangji said again. "I knew that if I did, I would be severely punished by my father. And Uncle was busy with an important business proposal, so I did not want to trouble him."

 

Wei Wuxian wanted another drink. This was too much. They were supposed to be on vacation and enjoying themselves and forgetting about everything... but here he was, making Lan Wangji remember everything. And he felt extremely guilty.

 

"One last thing, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said. "Why do you act as though your uncle's gonna punish you even if he... hasn't?"

"...Because my father told me he would," Lan Wangji answered. "My father said that, if I did not 'man up' and 'learn to behave myself', then my uncle would punish me even more severely than he ever did."

"And you believed him?" Of course he did. Don't ask him that.

"I did," Lan Wangji said. "I... was too scared to not believe him. The thought of being punished worse than that... it forced me to be perfect. I had to be perfect. At everything. So that my uncle would not harm me."

"But then why does he enforce a curfew? Your brother follows it too, right?" Wei Wuxian asked, things becoming confusing again.

"Uncle says that there are dangerous people around at night," Lan Wangji replied. "And that we need to be home early so that we can ensure we sleep properly."

"Didn't you say something about your uncle telling you punishment was necessary to make you learn from your mistakes?" Wei Wuxian regretted the question as soon as he'd asked it.

"My uncle did not say that," Lan Wangji said quietly. "That... That was my father."

"....Oh."

 

Neither of them said anything else. Wei Wuxian forced himself not to ask any more questions, despite having about fifty of them on the tip of his tongue. After somewhat managing to calm himself down mentally, Wei Wuxian took a deep breath and stood up.

 

"I'm gonna go shower," Wei Wuxian announced. "You... should probably finish getting ready for bed. Sorry... Sorry for asking so many things. And, um..." he added, "Thank you for telling me, Lan Zhan. Even if I can't do anything."

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian grabbed his pyjamas and headed off to the en suite. He shakily undressed, throwing his clothes and underwear on to the floor. Wei Wuxian caught a glimpse of himself in the large wall mirror... and looked down at his own scar, which sat just above his chest. It seemed insignificant now, as though he should feel guilty for even being self-conscious about it at all. He gently touched it for a moment. It wasn't as sensitive as it had been in the past.

 

As Wei Wuxian stood in the shower under the hot, gushing water, he tried to relax. He knew that he'd pried too much into Lan Wangji's past and that he needed to apologise again. He knew that he'd probably ruined their trip for Lan Wangji, too, by making him recall such awful things.

 

But one thing was still on his mind. Even though Lan Qiren wasn't actually hurting Lan Wangji, Lan Wangji still seemed to be conforming as much as possible to appease his uncle, and that didn't sit right with Wei Wuxian. He kept thinking about what he could do to encourage Lan Wangji to be himself and be more open. To give him some confidence. Some reassurance that he hadn't done anything wrong.

 

Why is this making me so angry? Wei Wuxian pondered, feeling like he wanted to cry in frustration. I just... want to be able to do something to help him. He doesn't deserve this. What's the answer here? Even if I do marry him, that won't be for another year at least. And I don't want him to have to live in that suffocating environment for nearly that long. Maybe I could ask if he could come and live with us for a bit. But I don't think anyone other than maybe Sister would approve... And Lan Zhan wouldn't want to tell them the reason why, anyway.

 

Fuck, since when have I become this invested in him? Why do I keep wanting to save him? I hate this. Nothing's making sense.

 

Having failed at calming down any further and instead getting wiled back up again, Wei Wuxian got out of the shower and dried himself off. Once he was dressed and had cleaned his teeth for the night, he took a few more deep breaths before exiting the bathroom and walked back over to their bed.

 

Lan Wangji was now in bed, reading something on his phone, which he put on the night stand as Wei Wuxian climbed in next to him under the covers, making sure to keep his distance.

 

"You can turn the light off if you want," Wei Wuxian said, yawning and wriggling into a comfortable position. "I don't mind either way."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied in acknowledgement, turning off the lights. Wei Wuxian heard him shuffle around in the bed.

 

Aw, fuck this, Wei Wuxian thought, rolling over and pulling Lan Wangji into a gentle hug from behind.

 

"W...Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked in surprise.

"Ssshhh," Wei Wuxian mumbled, burying his face against Lan Wangji's shoulder and the base of his neck. Lan Wangji's hair tickled Wei Wuxian's nose, but he didn't mind the sensation. "It's okay. I just... I just felt like doing this."

"...I see," Lan Wangji said, relaxing.

 

"Good night, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian murmured, closing his eyes. "Let's have tons of fun tomorrow and not talk about... about this kinda thing, okay?"

"Mmn. Good night, Wei Ying."

 

Wei Wuxian thought that holding someone like this felt rather nice. And he realised that he wouldn't be opposed to the idea of hugging Lan Wangji to sleep every night if he could.

 

He didn't want to let Lan Wangji go, both literally and figuratively. As Wei Wuxian was drifting off to sleep, he, for some reason, remembered what Lan Wangji had said to him when they'd been in that other hotel room together.

 

"Why do you want to get back together with me?"

"Because I love you."

 

...

 

Hold on. Wei Wuxian's heart started beating quickly.

 

That... that's not...

 

He was struggling to keep his eyes closed.

 

I'm... is that my answer? Is this... is this what love is supposed to be? Is this why I want to protect him and give him a place he belongs to?

 

Shit.

 


 

Wei Wuxian had a dream that night. Or, to be more accurate, a nightmare. In it, he was being chased by a pack of stray dogs, who were after the meat he'd stolen. The dogs had cornered him at a dead-end alley, and Wei Wuxian was cowering in fear, sobbing and begging them to go away even though he knew it was futile.

 

Then, out of nowhere, he heard the sound of a guqin playing. Wei Wuxian and the dogs perked up, looking around for the source of the noise.

 

Wei Wuxian stopped crying as a figure dressed in white robes descended from the sky, holding the guqin in his arms. He had his back to Wei Wuxian, his long, black hair flowing in the breeze.

 

The man spoke with a commanding voice as he strummed the guqin: "Leave."

 

The pack of dogs whimpered and cowered themselves, turning around and running off.

 

Wei Wuxian sniffled and picked himself up. "T-Thank you..." he mumbled, in awe of this mysterious saviour.

 

Just as the figure started to turn around, Wei Wuxian woke up.

 

It was still dark as he blinked a few times, realising that he was now back in reality.

 

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked, who was also awake, sitting up and looking at Wei Wuxian with concern.

Wei Wuxian rubbed his eyes and rolled over onto his side, facing Lan Wangji. "Sorry," he apologised, forcing a smile. "Did I wake you?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji said. "You... seemed to be having a nightmare. You kept yelling 'Go away'. I... tried to calm you down."

"Thanks, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, smiling genuinely this time. "Don't worry, it happens. It was a stupid dream anyway."

 

Lan Wangji nodded, lying back down in bed.

 

"You know, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian began, closing his eyes again.

"Mmn?" Lan Wangji murmured.

"I... have a scar too," Wei Wuxian said quietly. "It's nothing like yours, and it's my own stupid fault for getting it in the first place. Do you wanna hear the story?"

"I do," Lan Wangji answered.

"Well," Wei Wuxian continued, "One day, I was walking home, and I heard a woman screaming for help. Me, being an idiot, went to try and help her. She... was being assaulted by a man, who stopped when he saw me. I was about to pull my phone out and call the police when the bastard took out a knife and stabbed me."

"..."

"So, yeah, I have a scar just above my chest. It's pretty ugly, actually. Sometimes people ask about it, but most of the time they don't notice. It's nothing heroic."

"Why did you want to save that woman?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Because," Wei Wuxian sighed, "I can't stand that shit. I wanted to make sure she was okay, but I should've thought about him having a weapon. Thankfully she called an ambulance and waited with me until it arrived."

 

Lan Wangji didn't say anything in response, but it was hard to tell if he had already fallen back asleep or not.

 

Wei Wuxian felt himself start to drift back off to sleep when he heard Lan Wangji speak again, barely audibly: "How... are you so brave?"

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I'm not brave," he said. "I'm just an idiot with too much determination, that's all. Don't confuse that with bravery. If anyone's brave, it's you, Lan Zhan."

 


 

When Wei Wuxian woke up the next morning, Lan Wangji was once again already dressed and sitting in the recliner. Looking at him, Wei Wuxian remembered what he'd been thinking while falling asleep.

 

Now that there was definitely no alcohol in his system and he was properly rested, Wei Wuxian could let himself think about his answer as to why he wanted to help Lan Wangji so much.

 

And it appeared to be the conclusion he'd reached last night: love.

 

But he'd promised Lan Wangji that they were going to spend the rest of their trip focusing on good, happy, not-serious things. So he knew that he couldn't say anything until after they got back home.

 

"G'mornin', Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian yawned as he got out of bed.

"...Good morning, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji replied, nodding.

 

Their plans for the day were to visit a local temple, which took up most of the daylight hours. As the sun was setting and they were walking a different route back to their hotel, Wei Wuxian noticed something.

 

"Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan!" he exclaimed excitedly, tugging on Lan Wangji's sleeve.

"What is it?" Lan Wangji asked.

"There's a Ferris wheel! It's super cliche, but... you wanna go for a ride? It looks like it's got amazing views at the top!"

 

Wei Wuxian pointed over at the Ferris wheel. Lan Wangji's eyes followed his finger, and he remained silent while contemplating.

 

"Okay," Lan Wangji answered.

"Yay!" Wei Wuxian grinned, leading Lan Wangji over to the wheel.

 

As the Ferris wheel started turning and they were seated in their pod, it dawned on Wei Wuxian that one of the cliches associated with Ferris wheels was a confession.

 

Would it be inappropriate to tell him here? Then again, maybe... maybe I tell him how I feel, we go back to the hotel and have sex. If he wants to. We've already had dinner, and neither of us've had anything to drink. Tonight... is probably a good night.

 

Wei Wuxian exhaled. "Lan Zhan... there's something I want to tell you," he said. "Something good and fun and positive. Is that okay?"

Lan Wangji, who was sitting on the bench opposite Wei Wuxian, looked over at him. "Mmn."

 

"I... I've realised something," Wei Wuxian said slowly. "Something I should've realised a while ago, probably. I'm not good at these things at all so I'm just gonna come out and say it." He took a deep breath. "I love you, Lan Zhan. I think. I mean, I'm pretty sure I do, but I've never been in love before so I don't know. But that's what my heart and my brain are telling me this emotion is. And I've decided to listen to what they're saying, because I think they're right. I was gonna wait until we returned from our trip, but I couldn't. I wanted to let you know. And I--"

 

He was cut off by Lan Wangji making a muffled noise. Wei Wuxian saw that he was covering his mouth with the back of one of his hands.

 

"Are you... Do you mean that?" Lan Wangji asked breathlessly, his voice unsteady.

"I do," Wei Wuxian replied. "And... I want to marry you, too. Not now, but eventually. Once you're done with university. But I want to be with you and make you happy and I want to support you..."

"Me... me too..." Lan Wangji choked. "I... also want... those things. With you."

 

Wei Wuxian felt himself tear up and suspected that Lan Wangji was doing the same. He jumped up from his seat and joined Lan Wangji on the other side of the pod, leaning against him. Wei Wuxian took Lan Wangji's hand in his, holding it tightly.

 

They sat in silence as the Ferris wheel continued slowly climbing. Once they were at the top, Wei Wuxian let out a small gasp at the scenery of city lights and dark sea water.

 

"Wow," he breathed, "It's... It really is beautiful."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji murmured in agreement. "But you... are more beautiful than anything outside this capsule."

Wei Wuxian blushed. He couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of Lan Wangji's comment. "Wrong," he snorted. "That's my cheesy line. You're the prettiest, Lan Zhan. Prettier than these views, for sure."

"..."

"See?" Wei Wuxian chuckled. "It sounds stupid, doesn't it?"

"No," Lan Wangji said, shaking his head. "Not stupid."

 

Wei Wuxian laughed harder, relaxing more against Lan Wangji.

 

"Say, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said.

"Mmn?"

"When we... When we get back to the hotel..." Wei Wuxian continued quietly, squeezing Lan Wangji's hand, "D'you wanna... y'know. Sex?" You forgot a word there, Wei Ying, his brain reminded him. Wei Wuxian sighed at himself for being an idiot.

 

"..."

 

Is that a 'no'?

 

"Yes," Lan Wangji replied in a whisper. "I do."

 

Wei Wuxian smiled, looking up at Lan Wangji, whose ears were quite obviously pink. It really was a cute trait.

 

Neither of them said another word as the Ferris wheel descended, nor did they speak as they walked hand-in-hand back to the hotel.

 

Wei Wuxian only said something when they were both back in the room.

 

"Right," Wei Wuxian said, "Are you.. Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded.

"Then... I'll get ready," Wei Wuxian told him. "And you get ready. I promise I'll make you feel amazing!" He gave Lan Wangji a wink and a grin as he waltzed off to the bathroom.

 


 

Wei Wuxian had trouble going to sleep that night. His body was riding an incredible high. If anything, Lan Wangji had made him feel amazing. It had, somehow, been different to all the sex he'd had previously. Even though those experiences had, for the most part, felt satisfying and enjoyable, this had been on a completely different level.

 

He couldn't stop thinking about how damn good Lan Wangji had felt. He already wanted to feel it again.

 

But they only had one more day in Hong Kong before they left, and he knew once they got home they wouldn't be able to do it so easily.

 

Unless they moved into an apartment together so that they didn't have to worry about being interrupted. Wei Wuxian didn't really want to think about the logistics of that, however, so he focused on thinking about Lan Wangji's dick instead. That was much more appealing.

Chapter Text

When Wei Wuxian woke up the next morning, it took him a few moments to remember what had happened. For some reason, he felt slightly embarrassed, and delayed getting out of bed as much as he could. But they had plans that day that required him actually being up early for once in his life, he reluctantly crawled out of bed, still naked (no point in putting pyjamas back on once someone had already seen all of you and more, Wei Wuxian figured).

 

Lan Wangji was, once again, sitting in the recliner, looking at his phone. Predictably, he was already dressed and his hair was immaculate.

 

"G'mornin', Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian yawned, purposefully giving Lan Wangji a full-on view of himself.

Lan Wangji glanced to the side for a second, putting his phone down. "Good morning, Wei Ying," he replied, turning back to look at Wei Wuxian again.

 

Wei Wuxian was already in a rather cheeky mood, so he waltzed over to Lan Wangji and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Lan Wangji blinked a few times and gazed up at Wei Wuxian confused.

 

"I had a lot of fun last night," Wei Wuxian said playfully, wriggling his eyebrows in an exaggerated fashion. "What about you, Lan Zhan?"

"...I... I also..." Lan Wangji mumbled, the tips of his ears light pink. "I also... had fun."

Wei Wuxian felt himself blush slightly, surprised that Lan Wangji had actually answered him. He hid whatever this feeling was behind a grin. "Great!" he beamed. "And your body's not sore anywhere, yeah?" he asked.

 

If anything, his body would be the one in pain, but Wei Wuxian knew that Lan Wangji had also exerted a lot of energy last night. He had to stop himself from dwelling too much on how damn good the sex had been, however, because he didn't exactly have time to be horny that morning.

 

"I am fine," Lan Wangji replied. "Are you... sore at all?" he asked quietly.

"Nah, I'm good!" Wei Wuxian smiled. "I'm used to it! Don't worry about me!"

Lan Wangji's gaze seemed to drift down Wei Wuxian's body. "What, are you admiring the goods?" he chuckled upon realising what Lan Wangji was doing.

"..." Lan Wangji glanced away again. "You... There are... marks on you..." he muttered.

 

Wei Wuxian paused. "Really? Uh, I'll go look in the mirror and start getting ready, then."

"...Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian grabbed his clothes and headed off to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He stood in front of the mirror, letting out a snort of laughter as he noticed that there were several hickeys plastered all over his torso.

 

Damn, he really went to town, Wei Wuxian thought to himself, very amused. He vividly remembered Lan Wangji kissing and biting him, which sent a chill down his spine. For someone who had no experience, Lan Wangji had certainly been... good.

 

Having also brought his phone with him, Wei Wuxian laughed as he took a photo of his chest (after putting on his underwear and pants, just to be safe) and sent it to the group chat he had with Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang. He captioned it with 'having a lot of fun in hong kong!!!!'. While he finished getting dressed, he came up with the (at least to him) hilarious idea of sending the photo to Jiang Cheng, too. He didn't include a caption for his brother.

 

Knowing he needed to stop goofing around, he put his phone away and focused on preparing for their last day in Hong Kong.

 

That day, they'd planned to go on a dolphin-watching boat trip. Wei Wuxian had seen it when he was looking up things to do in Hong Kong and suggested it, since Lan Wangji seemed to like animals. The only problem (at least for Wei Wuxian) was that they had to get up early, but he felt that after yesterday, Lan Wangji deserved it. Wei Wuxian felt guilty knowing that he still had heavy things he wanted to talk about, too.

 

Their tour guide gave them an environmental talk about the dolphins, which were supposedly pink. Wei Wuxian wasn't going to believe it until he actually saw one of the things, and he wasn't really listening to what they were trying to tell them, and was much more interested in watching Lan Wangji's subtle reactions and simply staring at him in general. He was extra handsome with his long hair blowing in the sea breeze.

 

"Ladies and gentlemen, if you look over to your left, I believe you'll see one of the dolphins!" the guide announced, causing everyone on the boat to turn in the indicated direction.

 

Luckily, Lan Wangji was taller than everyone else on the boat, so he had a good view. Wei Wuxian only needed to crane his neck a little bit to be able to see things.

 

"Whoa," Wei Wuxian exclaimed, "They actually are pink!"

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian took Lan Wangji's hand and moved through the small crowd with him so that they were standing next to the railings. Wei Wuxian laughed as he spotted several more dolphins approaching the boat.

 

"They're pretty fast!" Wei Wuxian commented, peering over the railings and looking down at the dolphins. Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji wrap his arm around his own. "What's up, Lan Zhan?"

"Do not fall," Lan Wangji mumbled. "Be careful."

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "I'm fine, Lan Zhan," he chuckled, although he did lean into Lan Wangji's upper arm for support. "Besides, I'm a good swimmer!"

"...Be careful," Lan Wangji repeated, loosening his grip.

 

Once the pod of dolphins had decided they'd gotten bored of their human audience and had swum off, the guide announced that they'd start heading back to shore.

 

At one point, when the boat was turning, it rocked, which caused Wei Wuxian to wobble and fall into Lan Wangji's arms. Just as Wei Wuxian was going to protest that that time it wasn't his fault for not being careful enough, a strong gust of wind blew.

 

"Ah! Lan Zhan! Your ribbon!" Wei Wuxian gasped, as the hair ribbon that Lan Wangji had been wearing came loose and flew away in the wind. Wei Wuxian stretched out an arm to try and grab it, but he knew it was futile before he'd even moved.

 

Wei Wuxian gave Lan Wangji an apologetic look. "Sorry, Lan Zhan," he said, putting his arm back down. "I should've maybe suggested not wearing your ribbon today..."

Lan Wangji shook his head. "Not your fault," he replied. "It was old."

"Well, yeah, but..." Wei Wuxian put his hands in his pockets. "It was special to you."

"You are more special to me," Lan Wangji said, looking Wei Wuxian directly in the eyes, his gaze intense.

Wei Wuxian blushed slightly. "How bold, Lan Zhan," he smirked. "Saying something like that in front of all these people..."

"...Nobody is listening to us," Lan Wangji retorted, lowering his voice slightly.

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I know, I know."

 

He glanced over in the direction the ribbon had disappeared to, but couldn't see it anymore. Being the skeptic he was, Wei Wuxian wondered if it was perhaps meant to be symbolic or some shit.

 

Wei Wuxian told himself that when they got back home, he'd buckle down and finish making the new ribbon he'd been working on. Even if he didn't give it to Lan Wangji as a birthday present, it could at least be a thank you gift or something along those lines.

 

Or, maybe, if he managed to get Lan Wangji to move in with him, he could give the ribbon to him then. But that meant convincing his family to host Lan Wangji for a year. And convincing Lan Wangji's uncle that he would look after his nephew properly, too.

 


 

 

After they were ashore once again, they grabbed a late lunch from a street vendor that was selling steamed buns -- a different one to where they'd tried earlier. The two of them sat on a bench that looked out over the harbour as they ate, enjoying the scenery. It was calming.

 

"Are you really not that bothered about your ribbon?" Wei Wuxian asked in between mouthfuls of his second steamed bun.

"I am not," Lan Wangji replied quietly. He'd already finished eating the one steamed bun he'd ordered and had been passing his time watching Wei Wuxian wolf down his food. "I was planning on not wearing it anymore after this trip, anyway."

 

That really is perfect timing, then... Wei Wuxian thought, taking a large bite.

 

"Oh, yeah," Wei Wuxian said, swallowing. "We still need to get some souvenirs. I know Jiang Cheng'll be mad at me if I don't get him anything! And I do wanna get something for my sister, too. Maybe we should look in one of the shopping malls!" he suggested, going for another bite.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "We should do that."

 

Wei Wuxian quickly finished the rest of his bun, not wanting to waste time. He still needed to talk to Lan Wangji about moving in with him, and he wasn't going to do that until they got back to the hotel for the evening.

 

They spent a couple of hours browsing a nearby shopping mall for souvenirs. Wei Wuxian found a keyring with a dog wearing sunglasses on it for Jiang Cheng, a bracelet with lotus-shaped beads for Jiang Yanli, some perfume for Madam Yu and a monochrome striped necktie for Jiang Fengmian (he had a terrible taste in neckties that constantly annoyed Madam Yu), as well as gifts for Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang. Lan Wangji had more trouble deciding on his gifts, but he bought Lan Xichen a new calligraphy set and some expensive Hong Kong-exclusive tea leaves for Lan Qiren.

 

As they were passing a store selling plush toys on their way out, Lan Wangji stopped outside and gently tugged on Wei Wuxian's sleeve.

 

"Wei Ying," he said.

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian also stopped walking and turned to look at what Lan Wangji was pointing at in the window.

 

In the window, there sat a large plush rabbit. It was much bigger than an actual rabbit, and almost too big for someone to carry around in their arms.

 

Wei Wuxian immediately knew what Lan Wangji was after. He chuckled.

 

"What, are you wanting that rabbit, Lan Zhan?" he asked cheekily, fully aware that Lan Wangji wanted it.

"...Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled.

"Then go buy it!" Wei Wuxian encouraged, grinning. "I'll carry the other stuff for you, okay? I'll wait here."

 

Lan Wangji nodded at him as he handed Wei Wuxian his bags and hesitantly walked into the shop.

 

He's so cute, Wei Wuxian thought happily. He's a twenty-one year old man who's the heir to a large fortune of a super rich family... and here he is buying a giant rabbit plushie like he's a child. I wonder if he'd be mad at me if I called him 'precious', haha.

 

While he was waiting, Wei Wuxian remembered the photo he'd sent out earlier and took his phone out of his pocket. He first checked the group chat.

 

Nie Huaisang: DAMN DUDE!! lucky u!!!

Wen Ning: OMGGG congrats!

Nie Huaisang: was he any gud??

Wen Ning: i hope u guys are having fun ^o^

 

Wei Wuxian sent a reply telling them that A) the sex was really fucking good and B) yes, they were having a lot of fun outside of the sex.

 

He then switched over to his conversation with Jiang Cheng.

 

Jiang Cheng: Wtf why are you sending me that

Jiang Cheng: I mean Im happy for you but

Jiang Cheng: Just tell me normally holy shit

Jiang Cheng: Btw when do you come back tomorrow? Sister wants to know if youll need dinner

 

He'd expected Jiang Cheng to be angrier with him about the photo, but wasn't complaining about the weirdly supportive response he'd gotten instead. He texted Jiang Cheng back to let him know when he was due to arrive home (which would be in the evening and probably after dinner) and was about to send a snarky remark when Lan Wangji came out of the shop, holding the oversized rabbit in his arms.

 

Wei Wuxian somehow managed to hold in his laughter.

 

"People are staring, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian told him with a chuckle, picking up the bags which he'd set on the floor earlier.

"It does not matter," Lan Wangji said firmly, lowering the rabbit slightly so that he could see Wei Wuxian.

"Shall we head back, then?" Wei Wuxian smirked, very amused at the ridiculous sight of Lan Wangji and the rabbit.

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that most people stared at them on their way back, but he didn't exactly blame them. What amused him was knowing that most of them would be thinking that Lan Wangji had purchased the rabbit for his sister or daughter... and have no clue that the plushie was actually for Lan Wangji himself.

 

After they were back at the hotel and had packed the souvenirs, Wei Wuxian figured it was time to talk to Lan Wangji about the serious things on his mind. He knew if he did it any later, they'd be too hungry, and after dinner they'd probably just want to go to sleep.

 

"What did you want to talk about, Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked, once again properly sitting in the recliner. Wei Wuxian was perched on the edge of the bed.

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Alright, so, Lan Zhan," he began. "I've... been thinking about stuff. I know I keep saying we won't talk about heavy shit and then I keep bringing up heavy shit, but I really do think this is important." He gave Lan Wangji a guilty look.

Lan Wangji gazed back at him. "Have I... done something wrong?" he asked in a small, uncertain voice.

"No, no no no!" Wei Wuxian insisted, waving both of his hands franticly in front of his face. "It's nothing like that!" He put his hands back down. "It's just..." he took another deep breath. "I'm worried about you, Lan Zhan."

Lan Wangji paused. "What do you mean?"

"I know you've told me your uncle's never done anything to you," Wei Wuxian said, "And I believe you. But, to me, it's clear that you're still scared of him. The possibility of him... punishing you like your father did is always in the back of your mind, isn't it?"

"..." Lan Wangji shifted in his seat and glanced to the side. Wei Wuxian had noticed that he did that whenever he was trying to avoid something. "It is," he answered quietly.

"So..." Wei Wuxian continued, also averting his gaze. "I think that this has made you shy about things. Which I totally get! But Lan Zhan, you're an adult," he sighed. "Your uncle isn't a bad person, and I understand that. But I just... I think you'd be better off not living in that house anymore."

 

He glanced back at Lan Wangji nervously. Wei Wuxian knew he was probably getting ahead of himself and assuming things, but at the same time he was aware that Lan Wangji would never admit that he found anything difficult or suffocating. Lan Wangji wouldn't dare complain, after all that he'd been through.

 

"Are you... Are you saying I should move out?" Lan Wangji asked, who had turned to face Wei Wuxian again. Their eyes locked for a few moments before Wei Wuxian glanced down.

"Kinda, yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "But I don't think you're ready to live by yourself just yet. And you wouldn't be living by yourself anyway," he corrected himself, "You'd be living with me. But that's a whole ordeal and I don't think we should think about that until after you've gotten your degree. And you need to learn some skills first, like cooking and cleaning and stuff."

"..."

"B-Basically," Wei Wuxian exhaled, "I'm... thinking that it might be an idea for you to come and live with me and my family for a while. And once you don't have to worry about studying, we'll look into finding somewhere for just the two of us to live. Does that... sound at all plausible to you, Lan Zhan?"

 

Lan Wangji didn't answer. He was looking out the window, lost in thought. Wei Wuxian was worried that he'd bombarded him with too much at once, and was preparing himself for Lan Wangji to be against the plan. It was definitely a big ask.

 

"Would your family be okay with it?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian hesitated. "That's the one thing I'm unsure of," he admitted. "I haven't said anything to them yet, I'm waiting until we get back. I think Uncle Jiang would be fine, as would my sister. Madam Yu is harder to read and Jiang Cheng... well, he's always a challenge."

"...Does your brother dislike me?" Lan Wangji asked.

"I don't think he does?" Wei Wuxian replied with a shrug. "If anything I think he's just jealous of me, but he usually tends to oppose anything I try to do. The only way to convince him would be... telling him exactly why I don't think it's right for you to still be in that house, but I know you won't want to say anything." He relaxed slightly now that Lan Wangji was seemingly not entirely against this.

"...If... If I did... come to live with your family," Lan Wangji said, "Where would I sleep?" he asked.

"In my room," Wei Wuxian answered immediately. "It's small, but it's the only option. I'll ask if we can get a bigger bed or something," he added.

"And..." Lan Wangji continued, "Would I... be able to bring my rabbits with me?"

 

Wei Wuxian laughed softly. "Of course," he said with a smile. "We've got enough space in our back yard to keep them. I'll just have to tell Jiang Cheng not to cook them!"

Lan Wangji's eyes widened in horror. "He... He would not!" he exclaimed.

Wei Wuxian laughed again, loudly this time. "Duh," he grinned. "Not even Jiang Cheng would harm someone's pet rabbits! It was a joke, Lan Zhan."

"..."

 

They sat in silence for a minute before Wei Wuxian remembered something else he needed to ask about.

 

"So, about your family, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian began, "Are you okay talking to them about it? Or d'you want me to try and convince them? I don't want them thinking I'm making you do this or anything," he said.

Lan Wangji thought for a moment. "I will talk to them," he replied. "I will... explain things to Uncle and tell him that I wish to move in with you. I will say that I have told you about Father."

"Great!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "And I'll try not to mention stuff about that to my family, unless Jiang Cheng doesn't budge, and even then I'll be super vague. Is that okay?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "Oh, and Wei Ying?"

"Yeah?"

"When you said... that we would eventually look for somewhere to live by ourselves, would that... would that be before or after we get married?"

 

Wei Wuxian froze. He hadn't been thinking about that aspect of it, despite agreeing to marry Lan Wangji literally yesterday. He'd said that they'd get married once Lan Wangji had his degree... and that they'd move out of the Jiangs once he'd gotten his degree.

 

"Um..." Wei Wuxian mumbled, trying to come up with an answer, "I... uh. B-Before makes more sense. Maybe... once it's summer vacation next year, we'll look into buying an apartment or something. And after we've done that, er... then we can get married, I guess?"

 

Wei Wuxian once again cursed himself for being an idiot.

 

Lan Wangji coughed quietly, which made Wei Wuxian look over at him.

 

"Lan Zhan?" he asked, unsure about Lan Wangji's reaction.

Lan Wangji was covering his mouth with the back of his hand and shook his head upon Wei Wuxian calling his name. "Sorry," he apologised, his voice quiet. "I... When I think that we are actually going to get married, it... it makes me... really h-happy..." he mumbled, not looking anywhere near Wei Wuxian.

 

Wei Wuxian snorted. He stood up and strode over to the recliner Lan Wangji was sitting in. Wei Wuxian leant down and pulled Lan Wangji into a firm hug.

 

"We're gonna do this, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian murmured into Lan Wangji's ear. "I promise I'll convince my family, and if your family don't approve, shit, I'll convince them too if I have to. I want what's best for you, Lan Zhan."

"...Thank you, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji whispered shakily. "Thank you..."

 

Wei Wuxian closed his eyes, smiling. "I love you, Lan Zhan."

 

Lan Wangji paused, most likely not expecting Wei Wuxian to say those words to him. He moved in his seat so that he could allow Wei Wuxian to shift into a more comfortable position. "I... I love you too, Wei Ying."

 

Wei Wuxian felt himself blush deeply. He buried his face into Lan Wangji's chest, hugging him tighter.

 

Wei Wuxian ended up drifting off to sleep. When he awoke a few hours later, he found himself lying in bed. Lan Wangji was still sitting in the recliner. It was now dark outside, and when Wei Wuxian looked at the time, he realised it was already rather late.

 

"Sorry, Lan Zhan!" he apologised, yawning as he sat up. "I, uh... don't really know what happened there."

"Do not apologise," Lan Wangji said. "You must have been tired."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Haha, yeah, probably..." He got out of bed and walked over to Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian gave Lan Wangji a kiss on his cheek. "What should we do for dinner?"

"...Your choice," Lan Wangji replied.

"Hmm..."

 

Having considered his options, Wei Wuxian couldn't think of anything. "Well," he said, "I'm too tired for much other than room service, and we leave early tomorrow. Was there anything on the menu you wanted to try?" he asked, fetching the book of room service menus and handing it to Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji scanned the menus thoroughly. Once he was done, he looked at Wei Wuxian and simply said, "I... can we have pizza again?"

 

Wei Wuxian roared with laughter. "Really?!" he chuckled. "I mean, sure, I don't mind, but of all things... you want pizza?"

"...I... thought it was good," Lan Wangji muttered, his ears doing their cute turn-pink-from-embarrassment thing that Wei Wuxian loved.

"Yeah, it was," Wei Wuxian laughed. "Alright. We'll get pizza then. Same toppings?"

"Please."

 

While they were eating their pizza after it arrived, a thought popped into Wei Wuxian's mind. "Have you never eaten pizza before, Lan Zhan?" he asked.

Lan Wangji shook his head. "I have not," he replied. "It... I do not think Uncle would be pleased knowing that I am eating pizza for dinner."

"Heh, probably not," Wei Wuxian said, biting into a particularly spicy slice. "Mmmmm this is good!"

 

Wei Wuxian had wanted to do two things that night: have a drink and, maybe, have sex again. But since they had to check out relatively early the next morning and Wei Wuxian didn't want to be hungover on the flight back home, neither of those things happened.

 

It didn't matter much to him, though, as he felt satisfied knowing that Lan Wangji wanted to go along with his plan of moving in with him and his family. Wei Wuxian was aware that it would be a challenge, even if they got the approval of their families, as adjusting to a new home environment wasn't the easiest thing in the world -- and Wei Wuxian knew that first-hand. But he also knew that he'd be there for Lan Wangji every step of the way, no matter how hard it got.

 

It was for only a year (or possibly less than), after all. Just a year. Then they'd be able to find a place for themselves.

 

...Then they'd be getting married. In only a year.

 


 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji made it back to mainland China safely. The only hiccup along the way was that the giant rabbit plushie had proven to be difficult to transport, but it ended up surviving unscathed. They were picked up at the airport by one of the Lans' chauffeurs, who wasn't sure what to make of the rabbit (that sat in the back of the car next Wei Wuxian with its seatbelt on).

 

Not wanting to embarrass Lan Wangji in front of the chauffeur too much, Wei Wuxian blew Lan Wangji a kiss as he was dropped off at his family's house instead of giving him a goodbye kiss on the lips like he actually wanted to do.

 

Despite having only been away for a few days, Wei Wuxian felt like he hadn't been home in weeks. His parents had already gone to bed by the time he got home, Jiang Yanli gave him a quick greeting and told him there were leftovers in the fridge, and Jiang Cheng was in his room.

 

Wei Wuxian figured that Jiang Cheng wouldn't want to deal with him this late at night, so he decided to leave his teasing for the next day. Once he was ready for bed, he sent Lan Wangji a text.

 

Wei Wuxian: lan zhan - i had a LOT of fun! thnx for going 2 hk w me! ill talk 2 my fam tmrw. luv uuuuu 😘😘😘😘

 

Wei Wuxian watched the video of Lan Wangji playing the guqin for him until he fell asleep. He hadn't wanted to play it in front of Lan Wangji in the hotel room, as he thought it might come across as weird. But now that he was back home, he could watch it to his heart's content. It really was a beautiful song.

Chapter Text

"No."

 

It was the kind of response Wei Wuxian had been expecting. Nevertheless, he was still disappointed that Jiang Cheng had shot him down as quickly as he did.

 

Wei Wuxian had gathered his family together to talk about the possibility of Lan Wangji coming to live with them. After (vaguely) explaining Lan Wangji's situation, Jiang Cheng was the first to answer -- negatively, just as Wei Wuxian had predicted.

 

"Why not, A-Cheng?" Jiang Yanli asked her brother gently. "I don't see a problem with it! He seems like a nice man."

Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes. "Of course you aren't bothered by it, Sister," he sighed heavily. "But you spend most of your time at Jin Zixuan's place anyway, so you're not going to have to put up with him."

"A-Cheng," Jiang Yanli said, her tone now firm, "You're not explaining what the issue is. A-Xian's going to be the one taking care of him, isn't he? If anything, you'll only have to, quote, 'put up with him' during mealtime. And he doesn't talk much then, does he?"

 

Jiang Cheng looked slightly offended that his sister was defending Wei Wuxian instead of him. "Because," he huffed, "Wei Ying doesn't deserve it."

 

Nobody responded. Wei Wuxian was trying to think of an appropriate reply but couldn't. He looked down at the floor instead, although he could tell Jiang Cheng was glaring at him.

 

"In what way?" Jiang Yanli asked.

"...Every time Wei Ying asks for something, he gets it," Jiang Cheng said, every syllable dripping with hatred. "Since he came here, he's never had to work hard at anything. He barely even graduated high school, for crying out loud! He refuses to go to university! Never once has he contributed anything to this household, yet he gets away with everything! If it wasn't for the fact that we constantly picked up after him and tried time and time again to help him, he'd probably have drunk himself to death by now!" Jiang Cheng's voice was shaking. "And now he--"

 

"A-Cheng," Jiang Fengmian interrupted with a warning. "That's enough. There's no need to be rude."

"But there is," Jiang Cheng insisted with another huff. "Whenever I ask for something, I get told I have to work for it. Even if I work for it, you don't always approve. Tell me, Dad," Jiang Cheng continued, "Why did you decide to try and find Wei Ying a partner instead of me? Do you care about his future more than you care about your own son's?"

"I care about both of your futures equally," Jiang Fengmian said, "And I care about both of you equally. A-Cheng," he sighed, "You've never shown an interest dating, so your mother and I didn't want to push you. We thought you'd be fine on your own."

 

Jiang Cheng paused, mulling over his father's words. "So you... you did it because you were worried about him?" he asked slowly.

"Yes, we did," Jiang Fengmian replied.

"A-Cheng," Madam Yu said, "Do you not recall that you were the one who said you were worried about Wei Wuxian?"

 

Wei Wuxian's eyes widened. He worked up the courage to raise his head and glance up at Jiang Cheng, who looked extremely irritated. "That was you?" Wei Wuxian asked quietly.

Jiang Cheng crossed his arms and frowned. "I wasn't worried about you because I care about you," he said, "I just didn't want you to keep sleeping around with random people and endangering yourself... because ultimately that could've lead to you endangering us if you'd, you know, brought one of your dates home or something."

"You seemed pretty concerned at the time," Madam Yu remarked. "And weren't you happy that he got back together with his fiancé? What was that about?"

Jiang Cheng sighed. "I figured that... if he finally had a partner, it might be enough to make him actually move out," he replied bitterly.

 

Oh, Wei Wuxian thought, So that's why he was being so supportive... He was trying to get rid of me. Should've guessed.

 

He wasn't really surprised. Wei Wuxian had always known that Jiang Cheng resented him, and he didn't exactly blame Jiang Cheng for that, either. Wei Wuxian had seemingly waltzed on in to Jiang Cheng's life, became his father's favourite, got on well with his beloved sister, and acted like he was in charge despite, as Jiang Cheng had said, not really contributing anything much at all.

 

"Stop it, A-Cheng!" Jiang Yanli demanded, sounding upset. "You know A-Xian's trying his best!"

Jiang Cheng laughed bitterly. "Trying his best? How cute!" he sneered. "If everyone just tried their best and got what they wanted, the world would be a much better place! Maybe he should try his best to get the fuck out and leave us in peace."

 

Madam Yu stood up and walked over to where Jiang Cheng was sitting. "Stand, A-Cheng," she ordered, firm and commanding.

 

Jiang Cheng slowly stood up. Wei Wuxian wasn't really sure what to expect. Surely Madam Yu agreed with him on this matter, didn't she?

 

As he was contemplating things, Madam Yu raised her hand and slapped Jiang Cheng hard across his cheek, causing Jiang Cheng to cry out in response.

 

"Mother!" Jiang Yanli gasped as Jiang Cheng sat down again, looking confused and massaging the spot where his mother had hit him.

"That is absolutely no way to talk about your family," Madam Yu seethed, staring down at Jiang Cheng. "What are you, a jealous child?" she scoffed. "If anything, you should be focusing on your own future instead of worrying about somebody else's. You're an adult too, A-Cheng. Until you have a stable career and are able to support yourself, you shouldn't be judging others for not having their lives together either."

 

Wei Wuxian was stunned that Madam Yu was actually defending him. While they didn't have a bad relationship, he knew that Madam Yu held a lot of the same feelings about him that Jiang Cheng did. And he couldn't blame her.

 

"Fine!" Jiang Cheng shouted angrily, tears in his eyes. "I get it! He's your favourite too, isn't he? I give up! Let him to whatever the fuck he wants! I don't care!" he stood up again and glared at Wei Wuxian before turning away.

"A-Cheng," Jiang Yanli said, "Please calm down. Why are you so against the idea of A-Xian's boyfriend coming to live with us?"

"...I told you," Jiang Cheng mumbled. "Besides," he added, "Do you really think a super rich guy like that would cope with trying to live with us? It's not like he's gonna magically adapt to our different lifestyle."

"But still, you don't--"

 

"Jiang Cheng's right," Wei Wuxian said, trying to keep his voice as stable as he could. "I know it's a selfish thing to ask for. And I know that I'm doing nothing but fucking around and being a waste of space, but... I don't want to be doing that. I just... I just don't know what to do instead." He paused for a moment. "But what I do know is that I don't want Lan Zhan to keep living in that house. It's not good for him."

"You said it seemed like all the rules and whatnot were 'suffocating' him, didn't you?" Jiang Fengmian asked. "I feel like there's something you're not telling us, A-Xian."

 

Wei Wuxian sighed. He knew they would've picked up on how vague he'd been.

 

Sorry, Lan Zhan, he apologised in his heart, I'm gonna have to tell them.

 

"Well..." Wei Wuxian began slowly. "It's not like anybody's doing anything to him. But, uh, remember how I told you guys his dad died?"

 

Hearing that Wei Wuxian was going to actually explain what the deal was, Jiang Cheng turned around again and begrudgingly walked back to the sofa and sat down again. "You mentioned that a while ago, yeah," he said.

"So," Wei Wuxian continued, "I found out that that happened about four years ago, I think. And, er, I also found out that his dad used to 'punish' him... by beating him."

"That's horrible..." Jiang Yanli replied, shocked. "What on Earth was he punished for? He seems so nice..."

"Not living up to his dad's expectations or some bullshit like that, I guess," Wei Wuxian shrugged, trying not to think about it too much. "So anyway, since his dad died, he hasn't been receiving 'punishments' or whatever, but apparently his dad tricked him into thinking that if he fucks up, his uncle will beat him in worse ways than his dad ever did. Which means he... is secretly really sacred of fucking up and disappointing his uncle. Who, to my knowledge, wouldn't actually hurt him."

 

The family sat in silence. Wei Wuxian felt extremely guilty for revealing the details to them, and knew he'd have to properly apologise to Lan Wangji the next time they met up.

 

"So, what you're saying is," Jiang Cheng said slowly, "You don't think it's good for him to live in constant fear or making the smallest mistakes and want to get him out of that environment as soon as possible?" he asked.

"Basically, yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "And before you say anything, I have talked to him about it. He's on board with moving out, too. I think he'd rather just buy an apartment for us or something straight away, but honestly he'd nowhere near ready for that yet. But he's a quick learner," Wei Wuxian added, "And I think he'll be able to gain the basic skills needed to live independently within a year. Or, uh, at least semi-independently, I guess. He just needs a bit of practice."

"I can help," Jiang Yanli offered. "It'd be too much for you to be the only one teaching him things, A-Xian," she explained, when Wei Wuxian gave her a confused look. "It's cooking and cleaning and things like that, right?"

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "I want to teach him how to cook, since he'll probably be eating different things to us anyway, given that anything spicy is a no-go for him, so..."

"In that case, I'll show him how to operate a vacuum cleaner!" Jiang Yanli giggled. "And how to wash his own clothes."

 

Wei Wuxian smiled at her. "Thanks, Sister," he said. "It means a lot."

"You know," Jiang Cheng said, "You should probably make a list of what you want him to learn. That way he can keep track of what his goals are or whatever. Given that he doesn't know how to do... much, from the sounds of it."

"That's a good idea!" Jiang Yanli said happily. "I agree, A-Cheng!"

 

Wei Wuxian nodded. "I'll do that," he said. "I'll make it pretty basic, though -- I don't want to overwhelm him... Besides, we have a year."

"A year isn't really that long," Jiang Fengmian commented. "It'll be over before you know it, A-Xian."

Wei Wuxian laughed nervously. "I-I guess so. I mean, yeah, this time last year... I didn't even know Lan Zhan..." he trailed off, not wanting to think about what had happened a year ago. He'd been in a very bad place back then. To Wei Wuxian, however, that was purely his own fault and he'd sworn to himself that he'd never make those mistakes ever again.

 

"Is that all, then?" Madam Yu asked. "Or was there something else you wanted to discuss, Wei Wuxian?"

 

Wei Wuxian suddenly remembered and important detail he hadn't told them about.

 

"Oh, uh," Wei Wuxian replied, "There is." He took a deep breath. "Okay, so, well. After we move out and are living by ourselves and he's gotten his degree... that's... uh. That's when we're thinking of... getting married..." his voice grew quieter with each word. It had been harder to admit than he'd anticipated, for some reason.

 

The next moment, Wei Wuxian found himself being hugged tightly by Jiang Yanli. "Congratulations, A-Xian!" she exclaimed. "I'm really happy for you!"

"T-Thanks..." Wei Wuxian mumbled, blushing slightly.

 

Jiang Yanli let go of her brother and sat down again. "So, what made you agree to marry him?" she asked, beaming.

"It... It was a lot of things," Wei Wuxian said quietly, wanting to hide his face. "But I mean, that's been the goal from the beginning, right? It's not like I did anything worth celebrating..."

"Don't be silly, A-Xian!" Jiang Yanli smiled, looking at Wei Wuxian fondly. "All kinds of love are worth celebrating, you know!"

"Indeed," Jiang Fengmian agreed. "I think we all share A-Li's sentiments, don't we?"

"I suppose," Madam Yu replied with a huff. "I have no reason to disagree, really."

 

Jiang Cheng made a noise that Wei Wuxian couldn't determine the tone of.

 

Hearing his family congratulate him made Wei Wuxian's face grow redder. He never really knew how to react to people praising him or being positive about him, and all he could do was be embarrassed and mumble incoherently in response.

 

"By the way," Jiang Cheng said, "When's he going to be moving in?"

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian hesitated. They hadn't actually discussed that issue, as both of them had been too focused on their families' approvals. "I guess... whenever he's able to? If his uncle's okay with it, I mean. Last I heard from him this morning, Lan Zhan hadn't talked to him yet. What should I say to him about that?"

"Whenever he wants to is fine," Jiang Fengmian replied. "I don't believe any of us have anything major to worry about, and we're all around for the next few weeks, I think."

"We are," Madam Yu concurred. "So long as he doesn't expect us to help him too much with moving his belongings, I have nothing to tell him."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "He wouldn't do that," he said. "I'm sure he'll hire professionals to move his stuff, or he'll get his brother to help..."

"That's fine, then," Madam Yu said. "I assume he'll be leaving some of his things at his uncle's house?"

"Probably," Wei Wuxian replied. "Oh, right... He asked if he could bring his rabbits with him. Is that okay?"

 

Jiang Fengmian and Madam Yu exchanged looks.

 

"I don't see why not," Jiang Fengmian said. "We have enough space for them outside, and I assume he'll be adamant about taking care of them."

"Definitely," Wei Wuxian nodded. "I don't know if he'd even trust any of us enough to care for them, actually!" he laughed, recalling just how lovingly Lan Wangji had been with his rabbits.

"In that case," Madam Yu said, "I suppose you should go and inform him that we, at least, approve of him coming to live with us until this time next year."

 

Wei Wuxian stood up. "Yeah," he breathed, "I'll do that." He paused as he composed himself before sinking into a deep bow, facing his parents. "T-Thank you very much for letting me do this! I promise I'll take good care of Lan Zhan!"

Jiang Cheng scoffed. "Don't be all formal like that," he said with a laugh. "It doesn't suit you at all!"

 

Wei Wuxian managed a smile as he straightened up. "You're right," he said, chuckling. "It really doesn't."

 


 

As soon as Wei Wuxian was safely alone in his bedroom, he pulled out his phone to message Lan Wangji. To his surprise, there was already a text waiting for him.

 

Lan Wangji: Dear Wei Ying,

 

I have talked to both my uncle and my father and they approve of our plan in regards to me coming to live with you and your family. Uncle says that the only requirement is that he would like to meet your family so that he knows who the people I am going to live with are. Please inform me about how discussions went on your end as soon as you are able to. If your family opposes us, I will be happy to assist in trying to come up with an alternative proposition.

 

Lan Wangji

 

Lan Wangji: Also please do not worry about the costs of anything involved, we will take care of that. I apologise for not mentioning that in my previous message.

 

Lan Wangji

 

 

Wei Wuxian breathed a deep sigh of relief and flopped down on his bed upon seeing that Lan Wangji's family had also approved. Lan Qiren's request was understandable, too, and made Wei Wuxian glad that Lan Wangji's uncle was worried about his nephew.

 

Wei Wuxian: gr8!! my fam sez yes 2!! i wil ask them about meeting ur fam and then we can work on arranging a date!!! im suuuuper excited!!!!

Wei Wuxian: luv u😘😘😘😘😘

 

Just as he tapped send, there was a knock on the door. Wei Wuxian sat up and put down his phone. "Come in?" he called, unsure. Hopefully it was Jiang Yanli coming to cheer him up...

 

It wasn't.

 

"Jiang Cheng?" Wei Wuxian didn't know how to react. Was Jiang Cheng coming to berate him again? Anything supportive earlier had clearly just been an act, and Wei Wuxian wasn't really in the mood for another argument.

"Er..." Jiang Cheng muttered slowly, shuffling into the room and closing the door behind him. He was gazing down at the floor.

"If you have something to say, say it," Wei Wuxian sighed, trying not to get worked up again.

 

Jiang Cheng took a deep breath and looked up at Wei Wuxian. "I'm... sorry about before," he mumbled, a guilty look on his face. "I went too far."

 

Wei Wuxian was shocked. Jiang Cheng was extremely stubborn (even more so than Wei Wuxian was himself) and absolutely refused to admit he was wrong and never apologised about anything. He knew that it would've taken a lot for Jiang Cheng to come and apologise to him (especially to him). He wasn't sure how he felt about it.

 

Wei Wuxian sighed again. "No, you didn't," he said, shaking his head. "What you said was right. I'm not bothered by it."

Jiang Cheng frowned and crossed his arms. "But I essentially told you that you'd be better off dead," he said. "That's not something you say to people."

"Well, yeah, but..." Wei Wuxian didn't have a counter-argument.

 

His phone buzzed with a new message from Lan Wangji.

 

"Have you already told him?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied, tapping out a quick reply and putting his phone down again. "I thought I should."

"And what about his family?" Jiang Cheng sat down on the chair at Wei Wuxian's desk, turning the chair so that he could face Wei Wuxian's bed.

"They've given their okays, actually," Wei Wuxian told him, smiling.

Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow. "Really? I'm surprised," he said. "I thought his uncle wouldn't be keen..."

"Me too," Wei Wuxian chuckled quietly. "But I'm not complaining. Oh, and," he continued, "His uncle wants to meet you guys so that he has some idea who he's sending his nephew to live with for a year."

"Ugh, that's a pain," Jiang Cheng groaned. "But I get it, I guess," he added. "Are you gonna talk to our parents about it?"

"I'll tell them later," Wei Wuxian replied. "I... need a bit of a rest. I hate talking about serious things all the time." Even though it's your own fault that you keep bringing them up, Wei Ying, he reminded himself.

 

They sat in silence for a few moments before Jiang Cheng spoke up again. "There... is one thing I want to ask you about all of this, though," he said.

"What's that?" Wei Wuxian asked, curious.

"You said... he was abused, right?" Jiang Cheng gave Wei Wuxian another guilty look.

"Yeah."

"What about his brother? Does he know?" Jiang Cheng asked slowly. "Was he abused, too?"

"Uhhhhh..."

 

Wei Wuxian realised that he hadn't actually asked about Lan Xichen's role in this at all. He'd been too focused and upset by what had happened to Lan Wangji that he hadn't even thought about Lan Xichen's involvement.

 

"I... may have forgotten to ask him about that..." Wei Wuxian mumbled in reply. "I didn't want to ask too many questions since I knew it'd be hard for him to talk about, so..."

"Fair Enough," Jiang Cheng shrugged. "I was just being nosy, anyway," he added. "Although... I can't imagine he'd just randomly mention his past to you," he continued, thinking aloud, "So... how'd you find out about this?" he asked.

"...His back is covered in scars," Wei Wuxian answered, slowly. "I happened to walk in on him changing and saw them, and... I just kinda asked without really meaning to. And he told me."

"Yikes," Jiang Cheng grimaced. "That's... awful."

"It is," Wei Wuxian agreed. "He's pretty self-conscious about all the scars as well, and I don't blame him."

"I guess if you hadn't walked in on him you would've seen them during sex, though," Jiang Cheng commented, smirking slightly.

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly. "Totally!" he grinned. "I definitely would've found out anyway," he said. "That's... weirdly kinda reassuring, actually!"

Jiang Cheng laughed back. "Damn right it's weird," he said as he stood up. "Anyway," he continued, "I'll fuck off and leave you alone for a bit. I... really do feel bad about what I said earlier, though."

"Don't," Wei Wuxian told him, shaking his head again. "I'm not worth it."

 

Jiang Cheng sighed as he opened the door. "You're impossible," he said. "That said," he added, "I... I guess I'll also help teach him some stuff. If you want me to."

Wei Wuxian stared at Jiang Cheng's back in amazement. "Really?" he asked.

"Yeah," Jiang Cheng mumbled. "It's not fair if you and Sister are helping him and I'm not."

"T-Thanks, Jiang Cheng..." Wei Wuxian replied, dumbfounded by Jiang Cheng's abrupt change in behaviour.

 

Jiang Cheng gave a signature humph as he left and shut the door again.

 

Wei Wuxian flopped back down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. It wouldn't be too long before Lan Wangji would be sleeping in the same room as him.

 

...In the same bed as him. Every night.

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't sure how he was going to stop himself from wanting to fuck Lan Wangji every night, knowing that if they made any amount of noise, Jiang Cheng would be fully aware of what they were doing. And Wei Wuxian didn't really want to make Jiang Cheng suffer quite that much.

Chapter Text

Arrangements for their families meeting were made by both Jiang Fengmian and Lan Qiren. After a few lengthy discussions via phone and email, they decided that the Lans would host the Jiangs (and Wei Wuxian) for dinner. The main issue was finding a time when everyone was free, but eventually a date was settled upon.

 

Despite Wei Wuxian having warned the Jiangs that the Lans' house was stupidly large, his family still made comments under their breaths at how big it was as they were lead to the front door by a servant.

 

"It's so big..."

"Who needs a house this huge? Seriously! This is just ridiculous!"

"This makes our house seem like an apartment..."

 

Lan Qiren came to greet them and once they'd exchanged formalities, everyone was invited inside. They were taken to one of the rooms Wei Wuxian had been in before -- specifically the one where he'd made out with Lan Wangji on one of the seats. He tried not to think about that too much.

 

Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji stood up and greeted their guests.

 

"You've all met Wangji already," Lan Xichen said with a businessman-like smile, "But as this is my first time meeting you, please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Wangji's older brother, Lan Huan, courtesy name Lan Xichen. Wangji's told me a lot about you all!" he bowed respectfully. "It's a pleasure to meet you finally."

"The pleasure is ours," Jiang Fengmian replied, bowing back. "I'm Jiang Fengmian, a school teacher. This is my wife," he added, gesturing at Madam Yu.

"I'm Yu Ziyuan," Madam Yu said. "Like my husband, I'm also a teacher."

"My name's Jiang Yanli!" Jiang Yanli greeted cheerfully. "I'm currently training to become a nurse!"

"I, uh... I-I'm Jiang Cheng," Jiang Cheng said in a peculiar tone. "C-Courtesy name Jiang Wanyin." Wei Wuxian wasn't sure if he was imagining it or not, but Jiang Cheng looked vaguely nervous. That's weird... Wei Wuxian thought to himself. "I'm studying psychology at university," Jiang Cheng added, mumbling slightly.

"Aaand you know who I am!" Wei Wuxian finished off with a grin. "Thanks for having us tonight!"

 

In truth, he hated family introductions. The Jiangs were a family of overachievers (although not to the level of the Lans from the sounds of things), and Wei Wuxian's lack of studying and career made him stick out like a sore thumb. It was something he felt self-conscious about, but at the same time one of the reasons why he hadn't gone to university like his siblings was that he didn't want to ask the Jiangs for such a large amount of money. And, as he only ever really worked part-time, it would take him his whole life to pay it off -- at least in his mind. Knowing the Lans had made things worse, because he was now the only person in a room of eight that hadn't undergone any kind of higher education nor had a "proper" job. And yet he was meant to marry into a family of super successful businessmen... But he also had absolutely no fucking idea about what he wanted to do with his future.

 

He knew he really did need to start thinking about that. But not tonight.

 

Lan Qiren took his seat. Everyone else did the same.

 

Wei Wuxian glanced at Jiang Cheng, who was watching the brothers sitting opposite them. Wei Wuxian really wanted to ask him what his deal was, but he also knew he needed to be on his best behaviour in front of Lan Qiren if he wanted Lan Wangji to actually come and live with them, so he kept quiet.

 

Instead, he focused his attention on Lan Wangji, who was looking at him intently. Wei Wuxian flashed him a smile. Lan Wangji simply nodded in response.

 

"And what about you, Lan Xichen?" Jiang Fengmian asked. "Are you currently studying?"

"I am, yes," Lan Xichen replied with a smile. "I'm working on getting my business doctorate. If everything goes well, I should be graduating in a couple of years."

Wei Wuxian paused. "Wait," he said, confused. Lan Xichen turned to him. "You're... still at university?"

"Yes?" Lan Xichen sounded confused by Wei Wuxian's confusion. "I'm only two years older than Wangji. There's no possible way of someone obtaining a master's or a doctorate by this age, unless they cheat the system."

"..."

 

Wei Wuxian thought for a few moments before continuing, very slowly, "So..." he said, "What you're saying is... Lan Zhan won't be done studying for another few years?" He turned to look at Lan Wangji.

"That is correct," Lan Wangji nodded. "I plan on following the same path as my brother, therefore, after next year, I will still be required to attend university for at least three more years," he explained, no judgement in his voice.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't know how to react. He'd been acting under the assumption that Lan Wangji would finish university next year before going to work for his family's business. But if he was going to be studying for at least three more years...

 

"You're an idiot," Jiang Cheng sighed. "Why did you think he was only going for his bachelor's degree?" he asked, frowning.

"He... only ever said 'degree'," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "I, uh... just... kinda assumed he meant his bachelor's..." He looked down, twiddling his thumbs.

"It is not your fault," Lan Wangji said. Wei Wuxian cautiously glanced over at him. "I did not clarify, nor have we discussed what my plans for studying are. I should have mentioned it." He paused and added, "I apologise."

"No no no no!" Wei Wuxian waved his hand back and forth in front of his face. "I should know how this stuff works! You've got nothing to apologise for!" he insisted.

 

Lan Qiren cleared his throat. "Regardless," he said, addressing Wei Wuxian, "We have been discussing your plan of Wangji living with you in the context of him continuing his studies beyond next year. My stance -- and I believe Xichen's stance too -- has not changed. We are still willing to allow Wangji to spend a year with your family before finding accommodation for the two of you. There is no reason to act as though Wangji cannot live independently and study at the same time."

"...T-Thank you..." Wei Wuxian replied, bowing.

"We understand that your nephew's future and his wellbeing are both very important to you," Jiang Fengmian said in a professional tone. "And we'll do everything we can to make sure he's as comfortable at our house as possible. I'm positive everything will work out."

Lan Qiren stroked his goatee, thinking for a few moments. "That would be ideal, yes," he replied. "However, completely changing one's lifestyle is extremely risky and a huge task to undertake. This isn't a simple decision."

"We are aware," Madam Yu said. "I understand your skepticism," she continued, "But we've dealt with an even riskier situation when we took in Wei Ying."

"What do you mean by 'took in', exactly, Ma'am?" Lan Xichen asked.

 

Wei Wuxian froze. He'd told Lan Wangji that he'd been adopted and spent time on the streets, so he'd assumed that Lan Wangji would've told his family about it...

 

Wei Wuxian was hit with a wave of fear. If Lan Qiren knew that he'd been homeless before, there was a high chance he would be less approving of Lan Wangji spending time with him, let alone going to live with him or marrying him. He wanted to somehow convey to Madam Yu not to explain, but he knew he couldn't. He sat there, fully expecting everything to fall apart.

 

"Wei Ying is adopted," Jiang Fengmian answered. "His parents were good friends of mine, and they died when Wei Ying was very young. Once I caught word of their deaths, I went looking for him, as I knew they'd left a son behind, but..." he paused. "It took me longer than I'd like to admit to find him. I only knew his father's surname, and I'd fallen out of contact with them, so I was unaware they'd moved to a different province at some point. But I did manage to locate Wei Ying, and we decided to adopt him."

Madam Yu coughed. "You decided to adopt him, you mean," she reminded her husband bitterly.

Jiang Fengmian gave her a look. "Not now, my lady." Madam Yu made a quiet humph.

"I see," Lan Xichen said thoughtfully. "That's very unfortunate," he said to Wei Wuxian. "I'm truly sorry you've had to experience that..."

"Eh, it's fine," Wei Wuxian said with a shrug. "It's in the past. I don't think my parents would've put me in that situation on purpose, but to this day, I... still don't know what happened to them," he added quietly.

"Well," Lan Xichen said, "No matter what happened, I'm glad you were able to find a loving family. It sounds like you've been through a lot."

 

Wei Wuxian really wanted to tell Lan Xichen how wrong his 'loving family' comment was, but thought better of it. He also wanted to point out that Lan Wangji had also been through a lot, but from the way Lan Xichen was talking, it sounded like was indeed unaware of his brother's hardships. Instead, he just muttered "Yeah, me too. Thanks".

 

"If that's the case," Lan Qiren said, "I'm much less skeptical. Wei Wuxian seems to have grown up to become an acceptable member of society, and I believe that Wangji will be much less difficult."

 

Wow, Wei Wuxian thought, Talk about terrible character judgement. What about me is acceptable, exactly? I barely even have a job... Wei Wuxian figured it was a very good thing that Lan Qiren had no idea about his lifestyle prior to meeting Lan Wangji.

 

Jiang Fengmian began to say something in response, but was interrupted by a knock at the door.

 

"Enter," Lan Qiren ordered. The door opened.

"Master," a servant said, bowing deeply, "Dinner has been served. Please come to the dining room whenever you wish."

 

Lan Qiren stood up. "We shall head over there now," he said. "Xichen, Wangji, make sure our guests don't get lost," he turned to address his nephews briefly before leading everyone out of the room.

 

Wei Wuxian hung at the back of the group, standing next to Lan Wangji.

 

"Sorry, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian whispered. "I really should've realised about the university thing..."

"Not your fault," Lan Wangji replied quietly. "Do not worry about it."

Wei Wuxian chuckled softly. "Alright," he said, smiling. "If you say so."

"Mmn."

 

Walking behind everyone else, Wei Wuxian noticed that Jiang Cheng, who was in front of him and Lan Wangji, kept glancing over in Lan Xichen's direction every few seconds. Wei Wuxian wondered if Jiang Cheng had some kind of issue with Lan Xichen somehow. Maybe he was mad that Lan Xichen seemed to be supportive of Wei Wuxian? It was hard to figure out. Wei Wuxian knew he'd tease Jiang Cheng about it when they got home later.

 

The Lans' dining room was at least twice the size of the Jiangs'. Lan Qiren took his seat at the head of the table, and his nephews sat either side of him. Wei Wuxian hesitantly pulled the chair next to Lan Wangji out, looking back and forth between Lan Wangji and Lan Qiren to check if it was okay for him to sit there. Lan Qiren gave him a stoic nod, so he sat down.

 

Jiang Fengmian ended up sitting next to Lan Xichen, with Madam Yu next to him. Jiang Cheng was beside Wei Wuxian (which most likely annoyed Jiang Cheng), and Jiang Yanli sat next to her mother.

 

Wei Wuxian's mouth started watering as he looked at all the food that was meticulously laid out on the table: roast pork, duck and chicken in different dishes, mountains of various vegetables (including potatoes) and rice. Everything appeared to be made from high-quality ingredients. It seemed far too over the top for a dinner like this, as it wasn't even a special occasion.

 

The servant who had led them to the kitchen took their drink orders once everyone had been seated.

 

"Before we begin," Lan Qiren said, "I would just like to mention that Wangji has informed me that your family are fans of various spices. While we are not that familiar with them, Wangji asked our chefs to prepare some." He gestured to some side dishes next to the condiments. "I believe those are freshly ground Sichuan peppers, black pepper, chilli oil and cumin," he explained. "Wangji organised acquiring them, so direct any questions to him."

 

Wei Wuxian turned to Lan Wangji. "Lan Zhan," he said, "You didn't have to go out of your way for us! We would've been fine without spices for one meal, you know..."

Lan Wangji shook his head. "If I am going to be living with you, I need to learn about the food you and your family eat, even if I do not eat them myself," he said matter-of-factly. "And I apologise if I somehow made an error in my purchases," he added.

"Not at all!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "I'll still eat it anyway!" he added.

"...Okay," Lan Wangji nodded. "I hope they are acceptable."

 

They waited for their drinks, which didn't take very long to arrive.

 

After determining that everyone was satisfied, Lan Qiren cleared his throat. "In that case," he said, "Let us begin."

 

Wei Wuxian watched carefully as Lan Qiren served himself dinner, so that he could gauge the portion sizes. From what Lan Wangji had said, the Jiangs ate far more than the Lans, and Wei Wuxian didn't want to appear greedy by piling stacks of meat on his plate.

 

To Wei Wuxian's dismay, Lan Qiren only took one slice of pork for himself before moving on to the vegetables. Was he really going to have to refrain and only eat one portion of meat, despite the amount that was sitting in the middle of the table? Surely not...

 

Luckily, Lan Xichen seemed a bit more promising, as he placed a couple of pieces of both pork and duck on his plate. While Lan Xichen was deciding which vegetables to eat, he paused.

 

"Excuse me, uh, Jiang... WanYin?" Lan Xichen asked with a polite smile.

Jiang Cheng appeared to flinch. "Y-Yeah?" he spluttered, before correcting himself. "I mean, uh... y-yes?" he coughed slightly in embarrassment.

"Would you mind passing me the lotus roots?" Lan Xichen gestured towards the aforementioned dish.

"Uh, yeah... Sure..." Jiang Cheng mumbled, picking up the dish containing the lotus roots in an uncharacteristically shaky motion before handing it to Lan Xichen.

"Thank you," Lan Xichen smiled. Jiang Cheng muttered something unintelligible in response.

 

Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow. His brother was usually professional and never showed any signs of nervousness like this. He was about to make a comment when Jiang Yanli spoke up.

 

"Are you okay, A-Cheng?" Jiang Yanli asked Jiang Cheng quietly.

Jiang Cheng gave her a confused look. "What?" he asked back. "I'm fine. Why're you asking?"

"A-Cheng..." Jiang Yanli sighed. "It's obvious, you know."

Jiang Cheng narrowed his eyes. "W-What's obvious?"

Jiang Yanli chuckled. "Oh, never mind," she said, smiling. "You'll work it out."

"Wait, hold on," Jiang Cheng said. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Nothing," Jiang Yanli replied in a playful voice.

"Do you know what she's on about, Wei Wuxian?" Jiang Cheng asked, turning to his brother for help.

"Nope, sorry," Wei Wuxian said, shrugging. "No clue, I'm afraid."

Jiang Fengmian cleared his throat loudly. "Children," he said firmly, "Behave."

 

The three of them muttered apologies. Wei Wuxian looked back at Lan Wangji, who was in the middle of serving his food. Much like his uncle, Lan Wangji had only put one piece of meat on his plate (in this case it was chicken) and focused mostly on the vegetables.

 

Once it was Wei Wuxian's turn to serve himself, there was still plenty of food left. Thankfully, the piles had dwindled somewhat after the rest of his family had attacked them, but it seemed like there would still be plenty of leftovers. Wei Wuxian decided to forget formalities, and helped himself to the amount of food he felt like he could eat -- which meant he ended up with the largest serving out of anyone. The one thing that was mostly gone were the spices, as the Jiangs usually used a lot more flavourings in their cooking than what they'd been given for this meal. Wei Wuxian, however, didn't care and just dumped whatever was left on top of his food.

 

The food was good. Wei Wuxian could tell immediately that the meat was super high quality and that the vegetables had been freshly harvested. The spices paired with everything nicely, and the rice was perfectly cooked.

 

But it also felt like it was lacking in... something that Wei Wuxian couldn't quite put his finger on. Clearly, the Lans employed highly qualified chefs who carefully sourced their ingredients. Yet it didn't feel right.

 

Of course, Wei Wuxian still ate every single thing on his plate and his side dishes without complaining. But it made him wish he was at home, eating dinner his sister had made, even if the ingredients weren't as expensive. It was an odd feeling.

 

"You did a great job with the spices, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian commented once he'd finished eating (after helping himself to some extra meat and potatoes). "Perfect match!" he added, grinning.

Lan Wangji nodded. "I am pleased you liked it," he said.

Lan Xichen laughed. "You know," he said, "My friends always make fun of me for not being able to handle spicy food. But I don't think even they put quite this much chilli in their cooking..."

"You should test them!" Wei Wuxian suggested. "My friends are pretty bad -- Huaisang's okay, I guess, but Wen Ning can only really handle sweet chilli! Though I suppose that's still better than you, huh, Lan Zhan?" he gave Lan Wangji an amused smirk.

"...Spice is something your body gets used to over time," Lan Wangji replied quietly.

"Oh, yes!" Jiang Yanli chimed in. "When you're living with us, we'll be careful not to mix in any spices with your food! We don't want you getting sick or anything!"

Lan Wangji nodded again. "Thank you," he said slowly. Wei Wuxian smiled at him.

 

"So you do the cooking?" Lan Xichen asked Jiang Yanli.

"Sometimes," Jiang Yanli answered cheerfully. "But A-Cheng and A-Xian cook, too! We all help out. There are five of us, after all!"

"I see," Lan Xichen replied. "That does make sense."

 

After everyone was finished with dinner, Lan Qiren announced that there was also dessert for those who wanted it. Wei Wuxian figured that this would be a good time to sneak off with Lan Wangji, so for once in his life he declined the offer of dessert. Jiang Cheng gave him a quizzical look as Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji made to leave, but Wei Wuxian just shrugged at him. He knew Jiang Cheng would be aware of what was going on. Hopefully.

 

Wei Wuxian followed Lan Wangji to the latter's room. Neither of them spoke, but Lan Wangji seemed to know where Wei Wuxian wanted them to go.

 

As soon as they were inside Lan Wangji's room and the door was shut behind them, Wei Wuxian barely had time to notice that the giant rabbit plushie Lan Wangji had purchased in Hong Kong was sitting in one of the corners of the room before he practically tackled Lan Wangji onto the bed, holding him as tightly as he could.

 

"I've wanted to do this all night," Wei Wuxian murmured, lying beside Lan Wangji and gazing longingly at him. "It's been hard holding back, you know..."

Lan Wangji was silent for a few moments. "...Wei Ying," he said, quietly, "We... We cannot..."

Wei Wuxian let out a snort of laughter as he pulled Lan Wangji up against his body. "I know," he replied. "We can't. But we both want to, yeah?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. "I..." he said slowly, trying to avoid Wei Wuxian's gaze, "I... keep... thinking about... about you..." his voice grew quieter with every word. "About... t-touching you... and..." Lan Wangji trailed off, the tips of his ears bright pink.

Wei Wuxian laughed again, softly this time. He knew exactly what Lan Wangji meant. "Me too," he whispered. "Honestly, I've wanted to hold you again since we got back from Hong Kong. Now that we're like this, I..."

 

Wei Wuxian rolled over and shifted his position so that he was on all-fours looking down at Lan Wangji, who was lying on his back, staring up at Wei Wuxian.

 

"Aw, fuck it, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian whined, "I need you." He leant forward and gave Lan Wangji a deep, passionate kiss. Lan Wangji took a moment to respond, but he did by cautiously edging his tongue into Wei Wuxian's mouth. As Wei Wuxian's tongue found its way around Lan Wangji's, Wei Wuxian took one of his hands and carefully moved it downwards, stopping once it was touching Lan Wangji's crotch.

 

Wei Wuxian broke away from the kiss to breathe, panting. Lan Wangji looked like he'd been taken by surprise, as his cheeks were starting to turn pink.

 

"W-Wei Ying..." Lan Wangji panted, trying to shift underneath Wei Wuxian, "We..."

"Don't worry," Wei Wuxian said softly, "I won't... it won't be the full thing. I, uh, didn't even bring anything with me," he added. "Just... let me touch you a little. I'll only use my hands."

Lan Wangji gazed up at him in thought as he caught his breath. "But... someone might--"

"At worst they'll knock," Wei Wuxian sighed. "And then we can stop." He paused. "But if you really don't want to, I... won't force you..."

 

Lan Wangji grabbed Wei Wuxian's wrists, suddenly flipping him over. Wei Wuxian blinked in surprise as he found himself looking up at Lan Wangji, their positions somehow having been switched.

 

"I want to," Lan Wangji said firmly, letting go of Wei Wuxian. "But if we begin, I... do not know if I will be able to stop."

Wei Wuxian chuckled once more. "In that case," he said, wriggling out from underneath Lan Wangji and sitting up, "We should... do it together."

Lan Wangji stared at him. "Together?" he asked, blankly.

Wei Wuxian felt himself blush slightly. "Y'know," he mumbled, "I said... I'll only use my hands."

"...Oh," Lan Wangji mumbled back.

"I'll need you to kneel too, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian instructed, as he moved forward and began unzipping his pants.

 


 

Only using his hands proved to be challenging for Wei Wuxian. What he really wanted to do was use just about every other part of his body to make Lan Wangji feel good, even though Lan Wangji appeared to be responding positively to their combined touch.

 

It was far from desirable, but Wei Wuxian knew that they couldn't do more than that, no matter how much he wished he could. But he knew Lan Wangji felt the same, which made it better to him. So long as Lan Wangji was getting some kind of pleasure out of it, Wei Wuxian didn't mind.

 

Wei Wuxian had fully expected them to be interrupted by Lan Xichen or a servant coming to fetch them, but they somehow managed to avoid that scenario, and both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were able to, at the very least, reach climaxes, which made Wei Wuxian feel satisfied... at least for the evening.

 

"I'll... go wash my hands," Wei Wuxian said as he stood up, after both of them had cleaned up as much as they could.

"I will come with you," Lan Wangji told him, also standing up.

"But that'll look suspicious," Wei Wuxian laughed. "I remember where the bathroom is, don't worry," he added.

Lan Wangji nodded. "Okay," he replied. "I shall wait here."

 

On Wei Wuxian's way back to Lan Wangji's room, he bumped into Lan Xichen, who was at the top of the stairs.

 

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian wasn't quite sure what to say. "Do... you need us for something?" he asked.

"Ah, no," Lan Xichen replied, stepping into the hallway. "I was just making sure you and Wangji were okay."

 

Good thing you didn't come to check in on us any earlier! Wei Wuxian thought, extremely thankful.

 

"Yeah, we're fine," Wei Wuxian said, smiling. "How's everything downstairs?" he asked.

"No issues there," Lan Xichen answered. "Oh, yes," he added, "Why don't you get Wangji to play his guqin for you? He said you enjoyed it last time!"

Wei Wuxian had somehow completely forgotten about the guqin. "Of course!" he said. "That's a great idea, thanks!"

"Not a problem," Lan Xichen said with a smile. "Wangji's guqin skills are very good, aren't they?"

"He's amazing," Wei Wuxian replied in agreement, grinning. "I played the flute for a while in high school, but didn't end up getting very far with it, so... I'm kinda jealous, in some ways," he admitted, giving Lan Xichen a guilty look.

"Actually," Lan Xichen said happily, "I play the flute, too! What made you decide to give it up?" he asked.

"Well..." Wei Wuxian began, "I could only really practice it at home, and everyone found it way too loud. Jiang Cheng always got annoyed at me when I played it!" And at that point in time, I didn't care about anything enough to fight to keep it... he added in his heart, not wanting to explain that to Lan Xichen.

"That's understandable," Lan Xichen nodded. "But if you like," he continued, "You could try playing my flute. It's in the same room as Wangji's guqin. Tell Wangji that you have my permission," he gave Wei Wuxian a wink

"Really?!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "T-Thank you!"

Lan Xichen smiled at him again. "No problem," he said. "Anyway, you should probably head back to Wangji," he chuckled, "Otherwise he might start worrying about you..."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "You're right," he grinned. "Thanks again!"

 

Wei Wuxian waved at Lan Xichen as he turned around and skipped back to Lan Wangji's room.

 

"Sorry 'bout that!" Wei Wuxian apologised as he shut the door behind him. "I ran into your brother."

Lan Wangji, who was sitting on the bed, stood up. "What did Brother want?" he asked.

"Nothing," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Although," he added, "He did suggest that you play your guqin for me."

Lan Wangji thought for a few moments. "Okay," he said.

"I'll head over there while you go and wash up, yeah?" Wei Wuxian suggested. "I remember where the room is."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Okay," he said again. Wei Wuxian grinned at him as he opened the door again.

 

Wei Wuxian inspected the instruments that were sitting in that room. Most of them were ones he knew, but there were a few that he couldn't identify. He walked around until he found the flute that Lan Xichen had mentioned, which wasn't too far away from where Lan Wangji's guqin was placed.

 

Wei Wuxian carefully picked the flute up out of its stand, and was slightly disappointed. It was a completely different kind of flute to the one he'd learnt how to play. Which, of course, wasn't Lan Xichen's fault -- he'd only just said 'flute', after all. But the fundamental elements of a flute should be the same, Wei Wuxian figured, so he delicately cleaned the mouthpiece on the hem of his shirt and went over to sit on the stool next to Lan Wangji's guqin and waited.

 

When Lan Wangji came into the room, he was (understandably) confused by the item Wei Wuxian was holding.

 

"Wei Ying," he said quietly, "That... is Brother's flute."

"I know," Wei Wuxian replied nonchalantly. "He said I could give it a try. I used to play the flute in high school," he added quickly, realising that he'd never mentioned that to Lan Wangji.

"I see..." Lan Wangji said, slowly taking his spot on the floor, his guqin sitting on its low table.

"I'd like to have a go at playing that song of yours, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said. "D'you mind if I have a look at the sheet music?" he asked.

Lan Wangji looked at him blankly. "It... does not have sheet music," he replied. "It is simply played by memory."

 

To Wei Wuxian, there was nothing 'simple' about that! Being able to compose your own song was cool enough to him (it was the entire reason why he he'd wanted to learn how to play the flute), and then to be able to play it entirely from memory and not need to rely on sheet music on top of that... God he's cool, Wei Wuxian thought, full of admiration.

 

"I-In that case," Wei Wuxian said, "If you play the song, I'll try and copy it on this. It's been ages, though, so I'll probably be absolutely shit, but I want to give it a try anyway!" he suggested, unsure if Lan Wangji would allow him to soil his beautiful music.

"...Okay," Lan Wangji replied with a nod. "May I begin?"

"Go for it."

 

Even though Wei Wuxian had listened to the song many times and had watched the video closely a lot, it was still a completely different experience seeing it being played in person. The way Lan Wangji moved his hands was almost magical with how mesmerisingly precise they were. Wei Wuxian was so enthralled he momentarily forgot that he was supposed to be focusing on the song, not on Lan Wangji!

 

"It's still wonderful," Wei Wuxian said softly, once Lan Wangji had finished. "It's such a lovely song, Lan Zhan..."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Thank you," he muttered.

 

"Right!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "Time to try out this bad boy. Oh, and it is a different kind of flute to the one I can play, but that's fine," he added, raising the flute to his mouth. "Here goes..."

 

It took Wei Wuxian several notes before he found his groove, but once he did, the flute seemed to work much in the same way that his old on did. He made a few mistakes throughout the song, cursing in his mind whenever he did, as he was fully aware of what the song was meant to sound like.

 

When Wei Wuxian finished playing, he frowned and lowered the flute. "That sucked," he grumbled. "Sorry, Lan Zhan, I thought it'd be better than that!" he chuckled.

"You simply need practice," Lan Wangji said. "It was good."

"If you play the song for me again," Wei Wuxian said, "I'll get it next time! Is that okay?"

"Mmn."

 

Lan Wangji played through the song flawlessly again, Wei Wuxian listening intently to the music this time.

 

"Okay," Wei Wuxian said as the last note was strung, "I've got this."

 

Miraculously, Wei Wuxian managed to not make any mistakes. He'd expected that he would still fuck up and that Lan Wangji would be disappointed in him, but he was rather pleased with himself. It had been about five years since he'd last played the flute, so naturally he was quite rusty.

 

"Perfect," Lan Wangji said. "I could not hear any errors."

"Told ya," Wei Wuxian grinned widely. He swore he could detect a very faint smile on Lan Wangji's lips, but he wasn't sure if that was wishful thinking or not...

 

Wei Wuxian then had an idea. "I know, Lan Zhan!"

"Mmn?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Why don't we try playing it together?!" Wei Wuxian suggested enthusiastically. "I wanna perform a duet with you!"

 

Lan Wangji paused. "This song is not designed to be a duet," he explained.

"I know," Wei Wuxian replied, "But does it matter? We'll just play the same notes. If it sounds terrible, so be it, we just won't play it again!"

"...Okay," Lan Wangji said slowly, moving his hands into position. "I am ready when you are."

Wei Wuxian lifted the flute up to his mouth again. "Ready."

 

While Wei Wuxian struggled to play at exactly the same rhythm and speed at Lan Wangji, he thought that the song didn't actually sound too bad with two instruments. It needed a bit of tweaking (on his part, everything Lan Wangji did was perfect as always), but he liked the way they played together, even if it was somewhat rough.

 

"That may need some work," Wei Wuxian laughed once they'd finished playing through the song. "But I kinda liked it, I dunno."

"...I am unsure," Lan Wangji mumbled. "Perhaps a different kind of flute would be better..."

"Then maybe I--"

 

There was a knock at the door. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji looked at each other, wondering who it was.

 

"Enter," Lan Wangji called, standing up to greet the visitor.

 

It was Jiang Cheng.

 

"The fuck do you want?" Wei Wuxian asked, suspicious.

"I figured it was you playing that awful flute," Jiang Cheng replied, rolling his eyes. "You're terrible at it."

Wei Wuxian sighed. He stood up and put the flute back where it usually lived (giving the mouthpiece a thorough wipe beforehand). "Duh," he said. "I haven't played in years."

"And for good reason," Jiang Cheng scoffed. "Anyway, get your shit. It's late, we're going home."

 

Wei Wuxian paused. He didn't want to leave yet. "What? Why?"

"I just told you!" Jiang Cheng groaned. "It's already after eight, you moron. These guys go to bed super early, remember? Unless you wanna get in trouble for keeping him up late, I suggest you don't argue."

 

Wei Wuxian checked the time on his phone. Somehow, it was already nearly eight twenty pm.

 

"Honestly," Jiang Cheng grumbled, crossing his arms, "Who the fuck let you play that flute, anyway?"

"His brother did," Wei Wuxian replied, shrugging. "He thought it would be a good idea."

Jiang Cheng hesitated for a moment. "H-His brother did?"

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "It's his flute. So if you're gonna bitch about it, bitch at him. He's the one who suggested it."

Jiang Cheng turned away from Wei Wuxian with a humph. "W-Well..." he muttered, less angry than he had been, "S-So long as you didn't just... go ahead and do it without permission, I guess..."

"Alright," Wei Wuxian sighed, finally at his limit. "What the fuck's up with you tonight, Jiang Cheng?" he asked, trying not to sound hostile.

"...Nothing's up," Jiang Cheng replied, his hand on the doorknob. "Why are both you and Sister acting like there's something wrong with me?" he demanded, facing Wei Wuxian again. "I'm fine, for fuck's sake! Leave me alone!"

Wei Wuxian sighed again. "If you say so."

 

Jiang Cheng led them downstairs to where the others were waiting near the main entrance.

 

"Thank you, A-Cheng," Jiang Fengmian said, smiling. Jiang Cheng nodded at him.

"I see my idea worked out," Lan Xichen commented cheerfully to Wei Wuxian.

"Uh, yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "Thanks!" he grinned. "Too bad Jiang Cheng thinks I sound horrible..." he added with a laugh.

"Really?" Lan Xichen raised an eyebrow and turned to face Jiang Cheng. "I thought he sounded pretty good for someone who hasn't really played that much before, you know!"

"B-But he's..." Jiang Cheng began, trailing off almost immediately. "He sucks..."

"I do agree that his skills leave much to be desired," Lan Qiren coughed. "I'm disappointed that you allowed him to play your flute, Xichen," he added. "That's not for amateurs."

Lan Xichen looked like he was holding back a snarky comment. "I just thought it would be nice for him and Wangji to share their music with each other," he replied. "I'm sorry."

 

You don't need to apologise for that... Wei Wuxian thought.

 

"Just don't do it again, Xichen," Lan Qiren sighed. "That flute of yours is custom-made, if someone damaged it would be extremely difficult to get it repaired."

 

Wei Wuxian suddenly felt extremely guilty. O-Oh...

 

"Um," Wei Wuxian chimed in, raising his hand, "I, uh, had no idea it was that important," he admitted. "He told me it was okay to play it, so I played it. But if I'd known it was something that special, I would've declined the offer..." he put his hand down again.

"Not your fault, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said. "Since Brother had agreed to it, I thought it would be okay."

Lan Qiren sighed again. "We will discuss this later," he said. "There is something more important to mention."

"Ah, yes," Jiang Fengmian said, turning to address Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. "We've decided on a date for Lan Wangji to move in with us."

Wei Wuxian's face lit up in excitement. "Really?! When?!" he asked, unable to contain his enthusiasm.

"In two weeks," Jiang Fengmian announced. "Which I know will sound like a long time to you, A-Xian," he added, "But there are still several things that need to be arranged."

 

Two weeks didn't really feel that long compared to how long Wei Wuxian had waited for their trip to Hong Kong to happen, so he didn't mind. "T-That's okay!" he said. "Two weeks is nothing! Right, Lan Zhan?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "I have no complaints."

 

Lan Xichen smiled gently at Lan Wangji. "I can tell you're really excited, Wangji," he commented.

 

Wei Wuxian studied Lan Wangji's expression, which was still as stoic as ever. How the fuck can you tell? he wondered.

Jiang Cheng seemed to share the same sentiments. "You can?" he asked.

"Of course," Lan Xichen chuckled. "Wangji's been looking forward to tonight since it was organised," he said. "And I know he's been happy all evening having you guys here."

"B-Brother..." Lan Wangji mumbled, the tips of his ears a very light pink. Wei Wuxian wondered if anyone else noticed.

Lan Xichen chuckled again. "Sorry, sorry," he said. "But in all seriousness, I do hope you've all enjoyed tonight."

"Indeed," Lan Qiren said. "We appreciate you all taking the time to come here."

"Not at all," Jiang Fengmian replied. "I think we all had a wonderful time this evening, thanks to you and your family's generosity. We're definitely happy to help with anything involved with the moving, too," he added, "So please don't hesitate to contact us if you need to."

"I know I'm excited!" Jiang Yanli beamed. "It'll be a lot of fun with you around, Lan Wangji!" she said to the aforementioned man.

Lan Wangji nodded slowly. "Thank you very much," he replied.

"Oh, right!" Jiang Yanli continued, "A-Xian said you had some pet rabbits, is that right?"

"Yes, it is," Lan Wangji answered.

"You'll definitely be able to keep them with us!" Jiang Yanli said cheerfully. "We'll make sure they're looked after!"

"Isn't that great, Wangji?" Lan Xichen placed a hand gently on his brother's shoulder.

"...Thank you very much," Lan Wangji said again, bowing slightly.

 

After exchanging farewells (which were hurried along by Lan Qiren, as it was now quite late for them), Wei Wuxian blew Lan Wangji several kisses as he left with his family. He'd really wanted to kiss Lan Wangji properly, even more so than the last time they were in this situation, but he didn't want to get Lan Wangji in trouble, so he refrained. Lan Wangji didn't return any of Wei Wuxian's kisses, but Wei Wuxian knew that he probably just being shy, so he didn't mind.

 

When he got home, Wei Wuxian messaged his friends to let them know the plan.

 

Wei Wuxian: TWO WEEKS!!!! IM SO FUCKING HYPED!!!

Wen Ning: Thats great!

Nie Huaisang: niiiice

Wei Wuxian: btw

Wei Wuxian: im thinking of getting the 4 of us together to celebrate

Wen Ning: We can do it at my place if u want!

Nie Huaisang: prob better than going out again

Wei Wuxian: awesum

Wei Wuxian: how about pizza night plus drinks? he can drive me home

Nie Huaisang: he eats pizza??

Wei Wuxian: yea

Wei Wuxian: he seems 2 luv it lol

Wen Ning: Pizza sounds gud!

Nie Huaisang: wut about friday night? if hes movin in on sunday

Wei Wuxian: ill ask him but that should be ok

Wei Wuxian: fri or sat prob gud

Wen Ning: Great! Does he have any food allergies?

Wei Wuxian: nah

Wei Wuxian: he hates spicy food tho so u guys r in luck lol

Nie Huaisang: thank fuck for that!

Wen Ning: Ill order you a separate pizza 😊

Wei Wuxian: awww thx wen ning!!!

 

Wei Wuxian spent most of the night unable to calm himself down enough to sleep due to his excitement. At some point, he remembered that he needed to get his ass in gear and work on finishing Lan Wangji's new hair ribbon before he moved in. It seemed like the perfect welcome present for him.

 

His dreams that night consisted entirely of Lan Wangji. Or, sometimes, himself and Lan Wangji.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian was putting on his shoes and humming to himself when he heard Jiang Cheng approaching behind him.

 

"Where are you going?" Jiang Cheng asked (it was more of a demand than a question), looking both concerned and annoyed.

"Why are you asking?" Wei Wuxian retorted, using the same tone of voice as Jiang Cheng had.

"...You're engaged," Jiang Cheng replied, sighing. "Surely you're not thinking of going out drinking because of our conversation yesterday, are you?" His voice softened slightly. "I didn't think you'd be the type to cheat."

Wei Wuxian couldn't help but laugh loudly. "Jiang Cheng," he said, standing up after he finished tying his laces, "I'm going on a date. With Lan Zhan."

"...Oh," Jiang Cheng mumbled. "You... usually don't go out with him on weeknights, so..."

"Well, yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "But he's on break." Besides, we're both incredibly horny, he wanted to add.

"When're you coming home, then?" Jiang Cheng asked. "Just so nobody mistakes you for an intruder in the middle of the night or something."

"Tomorrow," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Dunno when exactly."

"Are you staying at his place?" Jiang Cheng's constant questions were starting to get annoying, but Wei Wuxian knew that he just wanted some idea of his whereabouts for safety purposes.

"Nope," Wei Wuxian replied. "We're staying at a hotel somewhere," he explained, as Jiang Cheng looked incredibly confused.

"Why a hotel?" Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow. "Surely there's room in that huge-ass house of theirs."

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "So that we don't disturb anyone," he smirked. Jiang Cheng still looked confused, which made Wei Wuxian laugh even more. "I don't really want his family hearing us fucking half the night, Jiang Cheng," he chuckled. "And I don't think he does, either."

 

Jiang Cheng's face turned scarlet. "D-D-Do you have to be so vulgar?!" he spluttered, turning away from Wei Wuxian.

"Ahahahahah," Wei Wuxian cackled, "You're hilarious, Jiang Cheng. If you think that's vulgar..."

"Shut up!" Jiang Cheng spat. "I don't want any more details! I've already told you, I don't care!"

 

Wei Wuxian was about to reply when the doorbell rang. He stuck his tongue out at a still embarrassed Jiang Cheng before he opened the door.

 

"Good evening, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian grinned.

"Good evening, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji nodded in response, stoic as always. He was looking past Wei Wuxian at Jiang Cheng. "...Good evening," he said, unsure.

"...Evening," Jiang Cheng grumbled.

"Don't mind him, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, smirking. "He's just jealous."

"I am not!" Jiang Cheng retorted, turning around. "Anyway, if you guys have a date, you should get going already," he added, his face still red. "And don't do anything too stupid!"

"We won't, we won't!" Wei Wuxian laughed, leading Lan Wangji out of the house and slamming the door shut behind him.

 

The two of them walked arm-in-arm to Lan Wangji's car, Wei Wuxian trying not to cling too much to Lan Wangji.

 

"So, anyway," Wei Wuxian said cheerfully as they got in the car, "What d'you wanna do tonight? Before we go to the hotel, I mean." He gave Lan Wangji a smile as he fastened his seatbelt.

"Anything is fine with me," Lan Wangji responded neutrally, turning the engine on. "I do not mind."

"Hmmm..." Wei Wuxian sat there thinking. He didn't really want to subject Lan Wangji to another dinner date, especially considering their vastly different tastes in food, so he considered his other options.

 

"How about a movie?" Wei Wuxian eventually suggested. "I don't know if there's anything good on, but..."

"I have no objections," Lan Wangji replied. "What is the closest cinema?" he asked, navigating to the appropriate GPS screen.

 

Wei Wuxian remembered that there was a movie theatre at the shopping mall he worked at (and couldn't think of the addresses or names of any of the others), so he input the name of that into the system, which recognised it. He'd been to the theatre a couple of times in the past, and it wasn't terrible, so he hoped they would be able to find a decent movie to watch.

 

When they got to the theatre, they had a hard time deciding on which movie to see.

 

"I think Wen Ning's seen that one," Wei Wuxian said, pointing at a movie that was due to start soon. "He said it made him cry, but he cries at everything." Lan Wangji said nothing. "I dunno... I'm not in the mood for a romance tonight, really..."

 

While they were going through their options, a small voice came from behind: "Senior Wei?"

 

It was Mo Xuanyu.

 

"Oh, hey, Mo Xuanyu!" Wei Wuxian greeted happily, gesturing at him to come closer. "What're you doing here?" he asked.

"I... I just finished work," Mo Xuanyu mumbled, walking over to them. "And I don't really wanna go home yet, so I came to see if there was a movie on I could watch."

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji exchanged glances. "You're still at work until this late?" Wei Wuxian asked, concerned.

"Yeah," Mo Xuanyu replied, nodding. "If I go home too early, I don't know if I'll get dinner. This way, I can at least eat before I get home, and there's a chance my cousin's already in bed, so he's more likely to leave me alone. At least my aunt always ignores me..."

"Still," Wei Wuxian said, "It's... not always safe to be out alone at night." Trust me, he thought desperately, I know this first hand. "I know it's not safe for you at home, either, but..."

"Senior Wei," Mo Xuanyu sighed, "I've been doing this for months. I'm always home before it gets too late, and I'm not looking to pick up anyone or anything like that. You don't have to worry about me, okay?" He gave Wei Wuxian a guilty smile.

"...Well, okay," Wei Wuxian said slowly. "So long as you're sure, Mo Xuanyu..."

"I am," Mo Xuanyu replied. "Oh, and... I'm sorry," he added quietly, looking over at Lan Wangji.

"What're you apologising for?" Wei Wuxian asked, wondering what he'd done to upset Mo Xuanyu.

"I've... interrupted your date, haven't I?" Mo Xuanyu asked back. "I didn't notice who you were with when I called out to you."

"Don't worry about that!" Wei Wuxian reassured him, waving his hands around. "We're not bothered, right, Lan Zhan?" he turned to Lan Wangji.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "Not an issue."

Mo Xuanyu managed a small smile. "Thank you," he said.

"Oh, yeah, d'you have any movie recs?" Wei Wuxian asked. "We've been trying to choose which one to see but can't really figure out what to go with."

"Hmmm..." Mo Xuanyu said, looking up at the screens displaying the movie schedule for the evening. "I liked Silver Butterflies the most, but I have no idea if you'll like it," he suggested. "It's a story about a forbidden romance."

 

Wei Wuxian had mentioned not being in the mood for romance earlier, but he did enjoy the "forbidden romance" trope, as it usually lead to some exciting situations. That, and he didn't want to waste more time trying to pick another movie, so he decided that it would be best to simply go with Mo Xuanyu's suggestion.

 

"Let's go with that," Wei Wuxian said to his partner. "It's starting in about ten minutes, that's perfect timing."

Lan Wangji nodded again. "Mmn."

"Great!" Mo Xuanyu said. "Hopefully you'll both enjoy it! Anyway," he added, "I should get going. I don't want to keep bothering you, Senior Wei."

"Thanks for your help, Mo Xuanyu," Wei Wuxian grinned. "Make sure you get home safely!"

"I will!" Mo Xuanyu replied, bowing to them before walking off.

 

"Sorry," Wei Wuxian sighed once Mo Xuanyu was out of earshot. "He's... one of my coworkers. It sounds like things aren't going well for him at home, so I'm... kinda worried about him."

"I see," Lan Wangji said. "Have you told him about our relationship?" he asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "I have. He's gay too, actually, so I think it ended up being a good thing. He said he's being bullied because of it."

"...Pathetic," Lan Wangji muttered. "It is not his fault."

"I know," Wei Wuxian said, sighing again. "I wish I could help him."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied in agreement.

 

With a slightly awkward atmosphere between them, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji headed over to the ticket counter. They were able to buy two seats next to each other, and, after purchasing popcorn and drinks (like their previous movie date, Lan Wangji only ordered water, although this time Wei Wuxian wanted to offer him some popcorn to try), made their way to the theatre.

 

Thankfully, the theatre was relatively empty, and their seats were towards the back. Once they were seated, Wei Wuxian pushed the popcorn over to Lan Wangji, who gave him a confused look.

 

"Wanna try some?" Wei Wuxian offered. "It's good."

Lan Wangji eyed the popcorn for a few moments before reaching out and taking a single kernel (which made Wei Wuxian groan internally) and eating it.

"Well?" Wei Wuxian asked curiously. "What d'you think?"

"...It is sweet," Lan Wangji commented. "I am not sure if I like it or not."

"You can have more," Wei Wuxian said, taking some popcorn for himself. "There's plenty!"

 

Lan Wangji slowly helped himself to another single kernel. "...Too sweet," he concluded.

"You can also get salty popcorn," Wei Wuxian remarked as he shoved a handful in his mouth. "Maybe you'd like that better."

"Perhaps," Lan Wangji said, taking a sip of his water.

 

Wei Wuxian wondered what other snacks Lan Wangji would potentially like, as he clearly hadn't been exposed to that many. He definitely didn't like sweet things, but savoury snacks existed too, so those were most likely a better choice.

 

The movie started shortly afterwards, which meant Wei Wuxian stopped thinking about Lan Wangji and food and focused on the movie instead.

 

It was relatively more interesting than what they'd seen previously, although Wei Wuxian found the pace to be a bit too slow for his liking. Lan Wangji seemed to be watching the movie intently, too -- Wei Wuxian would sneak glances at him every so often.

 

Once the movie had gotten underway, Wei Wuxian decided he'd try holding Lan Wangji's hand. Like last time, he took his clean hand and slowly, gently placed it on top of Lan Wangji's, which was positioned on top of the armrest between them. He was fully expecting Lan Wangji to jerk his hand away again, but instead, Lan Wangji relaxed his hand under Wei Wuxian's touch. Lan Wangji didn't look like he was bothered by it, so Wei Wuxian tried his luck with intertwining his fingers with Lan Wangji's. Surprisingly, Lan Wangji let him.

 

It was a small victory, but Wei Wuxian felt pleased that he was now able to initiate touching Lan Wangji without the latter reacting negatively to it. To Wei Wuxian, it meant that Lan Wangji was comfortable being touched by him in public, if only a little bit.

 

The one problem was that Wei Wuxian very much wanted to do more than just hold Lan Wangji's hand. He'd been trying to watch the movie, which was still interesting, but his mind kept drifting elsewhere.

 

I wonder if it would actually be possible to get away with giving someone a blowjob in a movie theatre, Wei Wuxian thought to himself. There aren't that many people here, but somehow I doubt Lan Zhan would want to try it. Dammit, maybe a movie was a bad idea. I can't even really talk to him, let alone touch him. Argh. If we'd just gotten dinner, we'd probably be at the hotel by now already! I'd be sucking his dick already! His dick is right there and I can't do anything with it! I wish this movie would hurry up and end.

 

...Oh, yeah, why did Mo Xuanyu recommend this? I'll have to ask him when I see him at work.

 

An idea popped into Wei Wuxian's head. It was a somewhat risky idea, but he was too horny to care.

 

He removed his hand from Lan Wangji's, slowly bringing it back to his own seat for a moment. Lan Wangji, who appeared to think that Wei Wuxian wasn't going to touch him any more, placed his hand in his lap next to his other one.

 

Wei Wuxian cautiously took his hand... and gently placed it on Lan Wangji's upper thigh. He felt Lan Wangji flinch (and could see his hands clench for a second), so he glanced over at him.

 

Lan Wangji looked back at Wei Wuxian, seemingly confused by the sudden hand on his leg. Wei Wuxian realised that Lan Wangji was probably uncomfortable, but just as he was about to take his hand away again, Lan Wangji gave him a nod, along with a look that said It is okay, you can touch me. Wei Wuxian smiled at him before turning to face the screen again.

 

It took all of Wei Wuxian's willpower not to inch his hand over towards Lan Wangji's crotch.

 

Stop thinking about his dick, Wei Wuxian told himself over and over again. You'll get to touch it later. Stop. Thinking. About. Lan Zhan's. Dick.

 

Wei Wuxian was only vaguely paying attention to the movie by this point, but he was almost out of popcorn, which meant he'd lose one of his distractions.

 

While Wei Wuxian was chewing on his last mouthful of popcorn, something happened in the movie that made him nearly choke.

 

A sex scene had begun.

 

It wasn't exactly explicit, but anyone watching knew precisely what was occurring. Especially Wei Wuxian, who was feeling slightly annoyed.

 

As Wei Wuxian hadn't been following the story closely, he'd missed that the two main characters -- who were both men -- had admitted their feelings for each other or started some kind of relationship. And now they were fucking.

 

Wei Wuxian decided that now would be a good time to actually take his hand away, so he did.

 

I guess this is why Mo Xuanyu liked it, Wei Wuxian thought. Wait, hold on, is he eighteen yet? Oh well, I suppose it doesn't really matter since you can't actually see -- nope, never mind, there's that actor's dick. Huh. I thought they didn't allow genitals to be shown on-screen.

 

...Mo Xuanyu better be eighteen or he's going to have a lot of explaining to do.

 

Turns out it was explicit, at least to Wei Wuxian. He had never actually seen a movie featuring genitals or a sex scene before, and as he hadn't wanted to get in trouble with the government, he didn't tend to watch porn much, either. He preferred to read erotic fiction, as that left more to the imagination, so he felt somewhat unsettled with watching the sex scene play out, despite having lots of sex himself.

 

Luckily, it ended without much more than the penises of both actors being shown, and there wasn't any penetration shown on-screen, so Wei Wuxian didn't have too much time to dwell on it all.

 

There wasn't a lot left of the movie, and after only a couple more scenes, the credits started to roll.

 

"That, uh, wasn't really what I was expecting," Wei Wuxian said to Lan Wangji as the lights came on. "What'd you think, Lan Zhan?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. Wei Wuxian noticed that his ears were pink, which made him chuckle under his breath. "Too much."

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian agreed. "Maybe we'll avoid seeing anything adult next time..."

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian knew that Lan Wangji would probably want to stop for food, but he wasn't sure if he could wait that long, despite only having eaten popcorn himself.

 

"I'm not that hungry," Wei Wuxian said after they were out of the theatre, "But we should still eat something. There's a place at the food court that makes really good chicken, we could get some to take away with us."

"Okay," Lan Wangji nodded in response. "I am also... not very hungry."

 

Wei Wuxian wondered if that meant Lan Wangji was also wanting to go directly to the hotel. At least they were both in the same boat, if nothing else, Wei Wuxian figured.

 

They wasted no time in ordering their food and getting back to Lan Wangji's car. Wei Wuxian assumed he wasn't allowed to eat in the car, so he kept the chicken in its boxes (which were inside a plastic bag) and held it securely in his lap.

 

"Which hotel?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Whichever's decent and close," Wei Wuxian replied instantly. I just want you to fuck me alreadyyyy, he whined internally.

"Mmn." Lan Wangji tapped an address into his car's GPS and, soon, they were on their way.

 

Well, Wei Wuxian thought, I guess we'll be needing the food if we're gonna be fucking all night. Aw shit, it's already close to his curfew, he realised, having glanced at the clock and noticed that it was now after eight. Hopefully I can convince him to stay up late tonight... I know he was okay in Hong Kong with ignoring his curfew, but this is different. He's still close to home tonight...

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, "I know it's kinda... late for you already, but the last thing I want is for you to go to sleep at nine like you normally do. By the time we get to the hotel and eat... it'll probably be almost too late for us to, uh, do anything. Is... that okay with you?" he mumbled.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "I do not plan on sleeping early tonight.

 

Wei Wuxian breathed a sigh of relief. "Sweet, that's great."

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked quietly, pulling up at a red light.

Wei Wuxian raised an eyebrow. "Yeah?"

"Did... Did you remember to bring the... s-supplies you mentioned?" Lan Wangji asked.

Wei Wuxian chuckled as the light turned green again. "Of course I did, Lan Zhan," he replied. "They're in my wallet, don't worry about it."

"...Mmn."

 

It didn't take them much longer to arrive at the hotel. Wei Wuxian watched curiously as Lan Wangji retrieved a duffel bag from the back of the car (which Wei Wuxian hadn't noticed) . "We're only staying one night," he said. "What's that for?" Please don't tell me it's kinky costumes or something... I mean, I wouldn't mind, but we didn't talk about it in advance!

"...Pyjamas," Lan Wangji explained, shutting the door and locking the car. "And a change of clothes for tomorrow."

 

Wei Wuxian was so used to going home the next day in the same clothes he'd worn the night before that he hadn't even thought about bringing a change of clothes. Or pyjamas, as he usually ended up falling asleep naked.

 

"Oh. Okay."

 

There was nobody else besides them and hotel staff in the lobby, which made sense for a weeknight. Wei Wuxian left choosing a room to Lan Wangji, as he didn't really care so long as they got some kind of room for the night.

 

"So that's a room for two people," the woman behind the counter said, after they'd organised everything, "With separate beds, I assume?" she added.

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to protest, but it was only natural for someone to assume they were wanting separate beds.

 

"...No," Lan Wangji responded firmly.

"Pardon?" the woman asked, looking confused. "Did I mishear something, Sir?"

"...Same bed," Lan Wangji replied. "Not separate."

"O-Oh!" the woman exclaimed, quickly typing in the correction. "I'm sorry, Sir! I'll find you a room with a single double-bed. Is that acceptable?"

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded. "Thank you."

 

Wei Wuxian gave the woman a guilty look as Lan Wangji finalised payments. She smiled back at him.

 

"Here are your keys," the woman said, handing Lan Wangji the aforementioned room keys. "If you have any issues, please do let us know. I hope you enjoy your stay!"

"Thanks!" Wei Wuxian said. Lan Wangji nodded silently.

 

"Separate beds, huh?" Wei Wuxian laughed once they were in the elevator. "I mean, we could've always pushed them together!"

"Not the same," Lan Wangji said, shaking his head.

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "You're right," he said, "But even in a single bed I can cuddle up next to you. We'd fit!"

 

Lan Wangji didn't say anything back, but Wei Wuxian swore he saw his hands clench into fists for a moment.

 


 

The room felt pretty basic compared to the one they'd stayed in in Hong Kong, but it still had all the necessities: a double-bed, a minibar and a bathroom that contained both a bath and a shower.

 

Wei Wuxian handed Lan Wangji his chicken and sat down on the edge of the bed before he started eating his own. He'd really wanted to tackle Lan Wangji onto the bed right away, and he wasn't entirely sure how he'd managed to control himself. He wondered if Lan Wangji felt the same... If so, he had even greater self-control than Wei Wuxian, as Lan Wangji had had to deal with the former's teasing and touching throughout the evening.

 

Wei Wuxian quickly finished his food. "Right," he said, standing up, "I'll go take a shower, so--"

"Wait," Lan Wangji said, halfway through a chicken wing.

Wei Wuxian paused. "What?" he asked.

"You... do not need to shower," Lan Wangji told him.

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't sure how to react. "But Lan Zhan," he retorted, "I need--"

"If you have showered earlier today, you are clean," Lan Wangji explained slowly. "And..." he added, lowering his voice, "I... I am unsure if I can wait that long."

Wei Wuxian couldn't help but laugh loudly. "Okay, yeah," he said, smiling. "Me too."

 

He sat back down on the bed.

 

Lan Wangji finished eating his chicken wing and, after thoroughly wiping his hands and face with a napkin, gathered up the rubbish and disposed of it. Wei Wuxian was surprised -- Lan Wangji was usually a slow eater, so for him to finish his food not too long after Wei Wuxian himself did meant that he must've been... eager. And, indeed, felt the same sense of want that Wei Wuxian had been feeling the entire day.

 

Wei Wuxian retrieved the box of condoms and the lube from his wallet. He turned around to see Lan Wangji looking slightly confused.

 

"What's wrong?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Why do you have... multiple condoms?" Lan Wangji asked back.

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Because, Lan Zhan," he smirked, "Surely we're gonna end up using more than one!"

"...Yes," Lan Wangji replied quietly. "We are."

 

Wei Wuxian laughed again as he started to get undressed.

 


 

Multiple condoms and several uses of lube later, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji both lay on the bed catching their breaths. Something Wei Wuxian was discovering was that sex while sober felt quite different to sex while drunk. Everything felt more intense (in a good way) and he swore his body responded slightly differently. Then again, Lan Wangji was also different to his one-night stands in that he actually cared about making Wei Wuxian feel good in exactly the ways Wei Wuxian wanted. He was gentle yet, at the same time, passionate. And it helped that he had a big dick, but that was personal preference on Wei Wuxian's part.

 

Wei Wuxian was starting to fall asleep, even though he knew he did actually need to shower, as he was rather sticky and covered in sweat. Not that he minded.

 

He then had an idea.

 

"Lan Zhan," he mumbled, rolling over to face his partner, "Let's take a bath together."

"A bath?" Lan Wangji repeated, sounding tired himself.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "It's a big bath, we can fit."

"...Okay," Lan Wangji said. "I will prepare the bath, then I will call you." He got off the bed and headed to the bathroom.

 

Wei Wuxian caught a glimpse of Lan Wangji's scars behind his curtain of hair and felt a pang in his chest. Poor Lan Zhan, he thought. I wish there was something I could do to give him confidence so that he doesn't feel like he needs to hide his scars. He shouldn't be ashamed of them...

 

In the middle of his musings, Lan Wangji re-entered the room.

 

"The bath is ready, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji announced. Wei Wuxian stood up and wobbled slightly, only for Lan Wangji to catch him. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"I'm fine," Wei Wuxian replied, steadying himself. "And no," he added calmly, "I'm not sore anywhere, either. I'm just tired."

 

Lan Wangji didn't reply, but he put his arm around Wei Wuxian's shoulders. Wei Wuxian didn't protest, and instead leant his weight onto Lan Wangji for support as they made their way to the bathroom.

 

The warm water felt nice and relaxing against Wei Wuxian's skin. He got in one end of the bath, sitting in a position that would allow Lan Wangji to fit next to him. Lan Wangji handed Wei Wuxian a cloth and some soap before he also got in the bath.

 

"It is cramped," Lan Wangji commented, kneeling and sitting up straight.

"It's not too bad," Wei Wuxian yawned as he began cleaning himself with the cloth.

 

All of a sudden, Lan Wangji took the cloth away.

 

"What're you doing?" Wei Wuxian asked, confused.

"You are tired," Lan Wangji said. "I will wash you."

It took Wei Wuxian a few moments to register what Lan Wangji was saying. "Sure," he murmured, scooting closer to Lan Wangji.

 

Wei Wuxian was trying not to fall asleep as Lan Wangji washed him. His touch was delicate, and this somehow felt more intimate than sex to Wei Wuxian. He'd never had somebody else wash him.

 

Lan Wangji's hand came to a halt as he reached the scar on Wei Wuxian's chest. Wei Wuxian had noticed that Lan Wangji had avoided touching his scar at all, so he held Lan Wangji by the wrist and gently guided the cloth over it.

 

"It's okay," Wei Wuxian said, smiling at him. "You can touch it. It doesn't really hurt much or anything, so don't worry about it." He let go of Lan Wangji's wrist.

 

Lan Wangji nodded and hesitantly glided the cloth back and forth over Wei Wuxian's scar a couple of times. He then moved on to cleaning him elsewhere.

 

Maybe I can offer to wash his back for him, Wei Wuxian thought. His scars are probably super sensitive, though, so maybe he won't want me touching them...

 

After Wei Wuxian had been fully cleaned, Lan Wangji surprised him yet again. He put the cloth on the edge of the bath before he brought his hand back up to Wei Wuxian's chest -- and lightly touched his scar with his fingertips.

 

"...Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked, unable to figure out what Lan Wangji was doing once more.

"...I am sending you my qi," Lan Wangji replied quietly. "So that your wounds can heal."

"What, are you secretly a cultivator or something?" Wei Wuxian chuckled, closing his eyes and relaxing. "I thought those only existed in novels."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji said, still not removing his hand. "They could be real."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't really want to argue with him, so he chose to play along instead. "I bet you'd be an amazing cultivator, Lan Zhan," he mumbled. "You're great at everything, and a quick learner, too. I bet you'd be respected by everyone."

"No," Lan Wangji said. Even though Wei Wuxian had his eyes closed, he knew Lan Wangji would be shaking his head. "You would be more skilled and have unique techniques. You would surely ascend."

Wei Wuxian chuckled quietly. "Maybe we'd be cultivation partners," he suggested. "And we'd ascend together..."

"Mmn."

 

Feeling like he really was going to fall asleep in the bath, Wei Wuxian opened his eyes again, yawning. "I should get to bed," he said. "Have you washed yourself, Lan Zhan?" he asked, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

"I have," Lan Wangji answered. "I washed myself while I was preparing the bath."

"Great," Wei Wuxian mumbled.

 

He went to stand up, only to find himself being picked up by Lan Wangji.

 

"Lan Zhan?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"You are tired," Lan Wangji said quietly, somehow managing to fetch Wei Wuxian a towel while holding him. "I will carry you to bed."

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't going to complain. "Thanks, Lan Zhan," he murmured, his eyes falling shut again.

 

Wei Wuxian couldn't be bothered drying his hair (especially since he hadn't properly washed it), so he simply squeezed some of the water out with his towel once he had been placed on the bed by Lan Wangji -- who had made a second trip to the bathroom to get a towel for himself, along with the hairdryer.

 

Wei Wuxian watched as Lan Wangji dried his hair, wanting to reach out and touch his scars, which were exposed whenever Lan Wangji had his hair draped over his front. He knew he shouldn't, but the temptation was far too great...

 

After Lan Wangji had turned off the hairdryer, Wei Wuxian sat up. Lan Wangji, hearing him move, turned around. Several strands of his hair fell back over his shoulder. "Wei Ying?"

 

Wei Wuxian crawled over to the other side of the bed. He brushed Lan Wangji's hair out of the way and gently pressed both his hands against Lan Wangji's scars. He felt Lan Wangji shudder beneath him, and wondered if he should stop, but Lan Wangji didn't move beyond that.

 

"I'm sending you my qi," Wei Wuxian explained, using the same tone of voice that Lan Wangji had earlier. "Because that's all I can do to help you."

 

The tips of Lan Wangji's ears turned pink, which made Wei Wuxian smile.

 

"You are already doing more than enough to help me, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji whispered. "...Thank you."

 

It was Wei Wuxian's turn to blush. He was glad that Lan Wangji couldn't see him.

 

Wei Wuxian reluctantly sat back up, knowing that Lan Wangji would be wanting to finish getting ready for bed. It was now well past his curfew, and even if Lan Wangji had said he was okay with staying up late, Wei Wuxian was sure that he'd still be tired as he was not used to it. (Not that it was late by Wei Wuxian's standards, but he was tired enough to go to sleep himself.)

 

"What are you wearing to bed, Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked, taking his pyjamas out of his duffel bag.

"I'll just sleep naked," Wei Wuxian shrugged, yawning again and climbing into bed.

"Will you not get too cold?" Lan Wangji asked as he sat on the bed again to get changed.

"Nah," Wei Wuxian mumbled, closing his eyes. "I'll be fine if I cuddle up next to you. It's summer anyway, it's warm."

"...Okay," Lan Wangji said.

 

A few minutes later, Wei Wuxian heard Lan Wangji turn off the lights and get into bed next to him. He immediately wriggled backwards so that he was backing into Lan Wangji's front. Lan Wangji responded by putting his arms around Wei Wuxian.

 

"Good night, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji whispered into Wei Wuxian's ear, causing a shiver to be sent down Wei Wuxian's spine.

"G'night, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian whispered back. "I love you."

"...I love you too, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji replied, very quietly.

 

It was much nicer saying good night in person than via text, Wei Wuxian thought as he drifted off to sleep. Being embraced and taken care of like this by Lan Wangji made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside in ways he hadn't ever felt before. It made him realise that he needed to step up his game in taking care of Lan Wangji once the latter moved in with him.

 

Just before he fell asleep, Wei Wuxian also realised that he hadn't even thought about needing a drink once that night. Maybe, if he was around Lan Wangji, he would be able to stop drinking alcohol, at least a little bit.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian struggled to wake up in time for checkout the next morning. If Lan Wangji hadn't been there to wake him up and dress him, he definitely would've overslept. And despite all the sex they'd had, Wei Wuxian's body didn't feel uncomfortable at all.

 

Wei Wuxian remembered something when they were driving back to his place.

 

"Oh, yeah, Lan Zhan," he said, "You weren't wearing that pendant I got you!"

Lan Wangji paused. "I... forgot," he replied. "I was... too busy focusing on meeting with you that I did not remember to wear it. I apologise."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "It's fine, it's fine!" he said, amused by the idea of Lan Wangji fretting over preparing for their date. "I was just curious. Oh, right, something else I was wondering about," he continued, "What about that cologne you were wearing on our first date? That, uh, sandwood or something? You haven't worn it since."

 

Lan Wangji waited until he was stopped at a traffic light to respond. "I borrowed that sandalwood-scented cologne from my brother," he explained, almost as if he was embarrassed to admit it. "He thought it would make a good impression. I usually do not wear cologne." The light turned green after he stopped talking.

"Well, your brother was right!" Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I mean, I'm not saying you should wear it, I was just curious, y'know?"

"I will ask Brother where to purchase that cologne," Lan Wangji said.

 

They spent the rest of the trip back to Wei Wuxian's house without saying anything, although this time it wasn't an awkward silence.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said as the car slowed to a stop outside the Jiangs' front gate, "There... is something I wish to ask you."

"Sure," Wei Wuxian replied cheerfully. "Go for it!"

Lan Wangji looked hesitant. "I..."

"Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian cocked his head, wondering why Lan Wangji was so anxious.

 

Wait, Wei Wuxian thought suddenly, Have I fucked up somehow? Does he want to delay moving in? Or call it off entirely? What did I do?

 

Wei Wuxian was now feeling somewhat anxious himself. He was about to say something, but Lan Wangji finally spoke:

 

"Is... Is it okay if I tell my family that our relationship is sexual?" he asked in a small voice.

 

Wei Wuxian completely and utterly froze.

 

This whole time, he'd been bragging to his friends about how he was sleeping with Lan Wangji. He'd mentioned it to his family, too, and boasted about it to Jiang Cheng.

 

He hadn't even considered that Lan Wangji might not want people knowing. After all, Lan Wangji was a somebody. He came from an influential family. Sex was something personal, and spreading personal information about the heir of a wealthy business company was potentially harmful.

 

Lan Wangji hadn't said anything to his family about them having sex. While Wei Wuxian could understand why Lan Wangji wouldn't tell someone like Lan Qiren automatically, he'd thought that, at the very least, Lan Xichen would've known. But he didn't.

 

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji's concerned tone made Wei Wuxian snap back into reality.

"I, uh," Wei Wuxian spluttered, trying to come up with something coherent, "Er... yeah. Yeah. Sure. You can," he took a breath to try and calm himself. "I don't mind at all!" he added, forcing himself to smile.

Lan Wangji nodded. "Thank you," he mumbled. "I was... unsure if you were wanting to keep it secret or not."

 

Wei Wuxian swallowed. "A-Actually," he said shakily, "I've... kinda... already told people," he admitted, hanging his head in shame. "I'm really sorry!" he added quickly. "I know I should've asked. I just... didn't think about that."

"Why are you apologising?" Lan Wangji asked.

"B-Because!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, looking back up at Lan Wangji, "I should've thought about your privacy and all that stuff! Since you clearly care about whether or not other people know, I mean," he said.

"...That... is not the reason," Lan Wangji said quietly.

Wei Wuxian blinked. "Huh?"

"I simply did not want to assume your position on it," Lan Wangji explained. "As our relationship itself is public knowledge, I do not have an issue with people who are aware of that also being aware of it being sexual. But I was unsure if you felt the same way."

"Oh," Wei Wuxian muttered. He felt very relieved. "Yeah, it's fine," he said. "I haven't really told that many people, but..."

 

Lan Wangji nodded. "Do not worry about it," he said firmly, looking Wei Wuxian directly in the eyes.

"Gotcha," Wei Wuxian replied, smiling. He leant over and gave Lan Wangji a kiss. "Anyway," he continued, "I'll get going. See you on Saturday night, then?"

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded again. "I am looking forward to it."

 

Wei Wuxian grinned as he got out of the car. "Great!" he beamed, his mood lifted now that he knew he was worrying over nothing. "Wen Ning and Huaisang are loads of fun, I'm sure we'll all have a great time!"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied.

 


 

By the time it was Saturday, Wei Wuxian had almost finished sewing a new hair ribbon for Lan Wangji. It wasn't entirely completed, but he still had a week, so he knew he would be able to get it done in time. Jiang Yanli was still spending a lot of her summer break at Jin Zixuan's, so during the week it was usually just Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng at home. Wei Wuxian made sure to keep his distance and not step on his brother's toes, as he was aware that Jiang Cheng wasn't really excited about Lan Wangji coming to live with them (and Wei Wuxian didn't blame him).

 

Wei Wuxian had tried to stop drinking every night, but it was proving difficult. If he didn't have at least one can of beer, he felt too agitated to sleep, and sometimes got confrontational without meaning to. But he'd managed to cut down the amount he was drinking, if nothing else, and Jiang Cheng had told him that that was progress in and of itself.

 

"So should I expect you extremely drunk when you get dropped off back home tonight?" Jiang Cheng asked Wei Wuxian while the latter was waiting in the living room for Lan Wangji to pick him up.

"Probably," Wei Wuxian answered with a shrug. "It depends on how much Wen Ning's bought."

Jiang Cheng sighed. "Does Lan Wangji know there'll be alcohol? He doesn't drink, after all."

"I've told him," Wei Wuxian replied. "He said he doesn't care if other people drink," he explained. "It's just that he doesn't." Well, Wei Wuxian chuckled to himself, He doesn't normally drink anyway.

"That's fine, then," Jiang Cheng said. "So long as--"

 

He was interrupted by the doorbell.

 

Wei Wuxian sprung up and gave Jiang Cheng a smirk before he skipped over to the door and greeted Lan Wangji.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian grinned, quickly putting on his shoes.

"Good evening, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

Wei Wuxian called out a goodbye to Jiang Cheng and followed Lan Wangji to his car.

 

"Oh, yeah," Wei Wuxian chirped after they were on their way, "I talked to Mo Xuanyu -- that coworker of mine -- about the movie!" He laughed under his breath. "He said he totally forgot there was a sex scene in it! He hadn't realised there was going to be one, so when it happened, he apparently covered his face and only peeked through his fingers a couple of times!" He laughed again.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji said. "Is he eighteen yet?" he asked.

"Turned eighteen a few months ago!" Wei Wuxian replied. "I told him he should've made a bigger deal about it at work since he's an adult now, but he said nobody's ever really celebrated his birthday much before..."

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't sure if he was imagining things or not, but Lan Wangji appeared to tense up for a moment.

 


 

They arrived at Wen Ning's apartment not too long after the arranged time. Nie Huaisang was already there, lounging around in one of the armchairs with a drink in his hand.

 

"Sorry it's small," Wen Ning apologised to Lan Wangji as he showed them inside. "Do feel free to make yourself at home!" he added. "If there's anything you need, let me know, okay?" he smiled meekly.

"Thank you," Lan Wangji said, nodding.

 

Wei Wuxian sat in his normal spot on the sofa and Lan Wangji sat next to him, not needing any prompting this time.

 

"We'll order the pizza now," Wen Ning announced as he took his own seat and took out his phone. "I know what Wei Ying likes, but how about you, Lan Wangji?" he asked.

Lan Wangji paused, as if he was trying to remember what pizza toppings he'd had in Hong Kong.

"You had something with cheese and olives, I think," Wei Wuxian reminded him. "But if you can't get that here... what about trying Hawaiian? Wen Ning likes it -- it's got cheese, ham and pineapple."

Nie Huaisang made a loud noise of disapproval. "PLEASE!" he scoffed. "Don't introduce him to the horrible idea of pineapple on pizza!"

"It's just pizza," Wei Wuxian sighed. "Really, I still don't get why you care so much..."

Nie Huaisang groaned. "Pineapple doesn't belong on pizza! Anyway, Wen Ning, have you ordered already?" he demanded, sick of a conversation they'd had many times before.

"I-I'm nearly there!" Wen Ning squeaked. "Er..." he turned to Lan Wangji. "I think there's something with cheese and olives, but it also has several other things with it, including bell peppers. Is that okay?" he asked.

Lan Wangji nodded. "That is fine," he said.

 

"And, uh," Wen Ning continued after he'd finalised the pizza orders, "Anything to drink?"

"I will just have water, please," Lan Wangji said. Nie Huaisang shook his head and sighed, but didn't say anything.

"Okay," Wen Ning said. "Any sides or desserts?"

"You can share some of mine," Wei Wuxian suggested.

"I will do that," Lan Wangji replied.

"And... ordered!" Wen Ning said as he tapped away at his phone, the rabbit strap dangling around slightly. "Should be here in about twenty minutes."

 

Wen Ning went and fetched Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji drinks from his fridge: beer for the former and water for the latter.

 

"Wen Ning," Nie Huaisang said, "What about that thing you got?" he asked, raising his eyebrows knowingly.

"Oh, yes!" Wen Ning exclaimed. "I-I'll be right back!" he added as he hurried out of the room.

"What thing?" Wei Wuxian asked curiously.

"You'll see," Nie Huaisang shrugged. "Anyway," he continued, "How're preparations going?"

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji glanced at each other. "Preparations?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"For him moving in with you, duh," Nie Huaisang sighed, rolling his eyes. "It's next weekend."

"Well..." Wei Wuxian began, "I've been trying to sort through all my shit. I still have a lot of things from high school that I don't need, so I've gotten rid of those. And we've ordered a bed, which I think gets here on Monday. Oh, we should mow the lawn before the rabbits come, I guess. I'll do that. And, uh... that's it, really." He turned to Lan Wangji. "What about you, Lan Zhan?"

"I have also been organising my belongings," Lan Wangji replied. "My brother has been helping me."

 

Wei Wuxian was about to ask what kinds of things Lan Wangji owned when Wen Ning came back holding something.

 

"U-Um," Wen Ning said shyly, walking over to Lan Wangji and handing him the object, which was wrapped in floral-print wrapping paper. "Here. This is for you."

"You didn't have to wrap it, Wen Ning," Nie Huaisang sighed again. "Just giving it to him would've been fine!"

"I-I couldn't do that!" Wen Ning protested. "That would seem rude!" He smiled at Lan Wangji. "You can open it," he added.

 

Lan Wangji nodded stoically and unwrapped the gift. When he could see what it was, his eyes lit up, although his expression remained unchanged.

 

Ah, Wei Wuxian realised, This is what Mo Xuanyu meant...

 

It was a rabbit phone strap -- the same kind that Wen Ning had. Wei Wuxian instantly remembered that Lan Wangji had been interested in it, and Wen Ning had said he'd try and find it for him.

 

"I'm sorry it's not the same colour," Wen Ning apologised, smiling. "That one was the closest I could find..."

 

The cartoon rabbit on Wen Ning's phone was grey, but the one Lan Wangji was holding was white. Everything else about it was the same, except that the ears on Lan Wangji's were slightly longer.

 

Lan Wangji looked up at Wen Ning. "T-Thank you," he said, a hint of emotion in his voice. "I truly appreciate it."

Wen Ning smiled wider, relaxing somewhat. "I'm really glad you like it," he said. "I was worried you wouldn't want it since it's not the same..."

"Not at all," Lan Wangji replied. "Thank you," he said again. He took out his phone and attached the strap.

 

Wei Wuxian was surprised that Lan Wangji hadn't smiled at all. Most people would react a lot more at such a kind gesture, but Lan Wangji had only reacted subtly. It made Wei Wuxian somewhat sad, as he and his friends were all overly emotional people. He hoped Lan Wangji would someday feel relaxed enough around him to smile.

 

"Wuxian," Nie Huaisang said, "Earlier you mentioned you still had things from high school, right?"

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied, mid-sip. He put down his beer. "Turns out I still had a box of all my old goth stuff!"

"Really?" Nie Huaisang raised an eyebrow. "Considering how hard you ended that phase, I thought you'd've thrown it all out..."

"Me too, honestly," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "I did keep a book about summoning demons though, if you ever need it!"

"No thanks," Nie Huaisang grimaced. "The last thing I need is to summon a demon. My brother's bad enough, ugh."

 

Lan Wangji was looking slightly confused. "What do you mean by 'goth stuff'?" he asked.

"Uh," Wei Wuxian replied, having to think for a moment. "Goths are like, er, it's a western thing. Thick eyeliner, dark lipstick, black clothes, gold jewellery..." He cringed just thinking about it.

"Don't you still have some videos of him in high school, Wen Ning?" Nie Huaisang asked. "You should show them to Lan Wangji!" he added, smirking.

"NO!" Wei Wuxian shouted, horrified. "Are you trying to get him to hate me, Huaisang?!"

Nie Huaisang laughed. "C'mon, it's amusing in hindsight, isn't it? Besides," he continued, "You were super into that character of yours. What'd you name him? YingLi or something?"

 

Wei Wuxian frowned. "Shut up, Huaisang," he glared. "We're not showing Lan Zhan any videos -- or photos! -- of me in high school, okay?"

"Aww," Nie Huaisang pouted. "You're no fun! Just one clip?" he smirked.

 

Wei Wuxian was about to tell Nie Huaisang to stop when Lan Wangji spoke up: "Wei Ying has said he does not want to," he said harshly at Nie Huaisang. "You have no right to make him."

 

Everyone was shocked. Wei Wuxian hadn't expected Lan Wangji to stand up for him like this, especially considering it was only Nie Huaisang of all people and Wei Wuxian knew Nie Huaisang was just teasing him.

 

"It's fine, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said after a pause. "It's nothing serious! I just don't want you seeing me in high school 'cuz it's embarrassing, that's all!"

Lan Wangji appeared to calm down slightly. "...I understand," he said. "And," he added, addressing Nie Huaisang again, "I apologise for being rude. It was not my intention."

"Wha--" Nie Huaisang pulled a face. "No, I mean, you weren't rude," he said. "I was just teasing Wuxian, I wasn't actually gonna force Wen Ning to show you anything..."

 

Lan Wangji glanced downwards, looking like he was regretting saying anything. Wei Wuxian laughed and leant his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder.

 

"If Huaisang was really that sort of person, I wouldn't be friends with him," he chuckled. "So don't worry about it, okay?" Wei Wuxian gently stroked Lan Wangji's upper arm a few times. "I'm not bothered by it."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. "I--"

"And don't apologise again," Wei Wuxian said, interrupting him. "No apologising, got it?" he gave Lan Wangji a smile.

Lan Wangji nodded. "I understand," he said again.

 

When he was in high school, Wei Wuxian had created a persona that he called YiLing Laozu. He wasn't entirely sure where he got the YiLing from, and the Laozu was to indicate that this persona was strong, capable and knowledgeable. In other words, everything that Wei Wuxian felt that he wasn't. While Wei Wuxian had always stood up for what he believed in, and defended those who faced injustice, something he had eventually learnt was that you cannot, in fact, help everyone.

 

He didn't want Lan Wangji learning about his weaknesses any more than he already had. Wei Wuxian's insecurities were personal things and he had a hard time putting them into words, and the idea of Lan Wangji knowing just how much of a fraud he was scared him. He'd long since abandoned the YiLing Laozu persona and all that went with it. And while Wei Wuxian knew that some people would assume it coincided with him coming out, those two things were simply a coincidence. Wei Wuxian had been gay far before he'd come up with the idea of the YiLing Laozu, after all.

 

Another thing Wei Wuxian had discarded was a blog he'd maintained while pretending to be the YiLing Laozu. It was mostly an advice blog, and he'd answer people's questions and pretend like he knew what he was talking about. The blog, Burial Mound Helpline, gained a following beyond what Wei Wuxian had imagined, and eventually it became too much of a responsibility. Not wanting to actually harm people with the advice he was giving, he'd stopped updating it in his final year of school, and it was at that time that he threw away his YiLing Laozu character, too. He hadn't deleted the blog, but he also had no idea if it was still there.

 

Surely Lan Wangji would laugh at him if he knew all this. It sounded so fucking stupid in hindsight (although at the time it had sounded just as stupid to Jiang Cheng, and Wei Wuxian didn't want to admit that he now agreed with his brother about it), and it was something he wasn't going to ever attempt again.

 

Wei Wuxian could hardly help himself, let alone others.

 

As his thoughts were spiralling, there was a knock at the door.

 

"That'll be the pizza!" Wen Ning exclaimed, getting up. "Huaisang, can you come help me?"

"Why me?" Nie Huaisang grumbled, narrowing his eyes.

"You know why," Wen Ning replied.

"Yeah, yeah," Nie Huaisang sighed deeply as he stood up.

 

After the other two had left the room, Lan Wangji turned to Wei Wuxian. "What about payment?" he asked.

"Wen Ning's paid for it online," Wei Wuxian said, taking a sip of his beer. "So don't worry about that, either! Just enjoy the pizza."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Wei Ying--"

"I'm fine," Wei Wuxian insisted. "I promise." He smiled at Lan Wangji, who nodded again. Wei Wuxian knew Lan Wangji didn't believe him.

 

Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang came back carrying four pizza boxes, along with various side dishes, desserts and drinks. They laid everything out on the coffee table, sorted out which pizza was which, and passed them to the correct person.

 

Lan Wangji seemed confused by something.

 

"What's wrong, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked. "Did you get the wrong pizza?"

"No," Lan Wangji replied, shaking his head. "But..." he looked over at Wen Ning. "Is this all for me?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian, Nie Huaisang and Wen Ning all exchanged glances.

 

"...Of course it is?" Nie Huaisang said, confused by Lan Wangji's confusion.

 

Wei Wuxian suddenly realised that the only times Lan Wangji had eaten pizza had been when the two of them had shared one.

 

"N-Normally, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian explained, "A pizza just has one kind of flavouring. I know we had half each in Hong Kong, but that's only because I wasn't sure if you'd like it or not. But, yeah, that's... that's yours. If you don't eat all of it, don't worry, though! You can always have it tomorrow."

"Is this not too much food for a single meal?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Not really," Wei Wuxian replied. We'll share the sides and desserts between us, but we always manage to eat pretty much everything..."

"Geez," Nie Huaisang remarked, "D'you get starved at home or something? I noticed you didn't eat much last time we went out, either."

"I simply do not see a reason to eat so much food," Lan Wangji answered. "While we eat properly at home, Uncle has always made sure we are careful with our portion sizes."

Nie Huaisang clicked his tongue as he sat down and opened his pizza. "Oh well," he said. "Just eat what you can."

 

Like always, Lan Wangji ate silently and slowly. There appeared to be something else he was confused by, but Wei Wuxian couldn't be bothered asking what it was. Wei Wuxian chatted with his friends about everyday things as they made their way through their pizzas, and only after Lan Wangji had eaten two slices did he remember to include him in the conversation.

 

"What d'you think, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked, finishing his third-or-so can of beer and popping open a fourth-or-so.

"It is good," Lan Wangji replied. "I think... I prefer this flavour to the other one."

"That's good!" Wen Ning chimed in. "Since you hadn't eaten much, I thought you might not like it..."

"Nah," Wei Wuxian said, "He just eats slowly. If he didn't like it he wouldn't keep eating it, right?" he smiled at Lan Wangji.

Lan Wangji nodded. "Mmn."

 

"By the waaay," a now somewhat drunk Nie Huaisang called out, "I 'ave a question, Lan Wangji."

Lan Wangji waited until he'd properly swallowed his mouthful before responding. "What is it?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Wheeen d'ya start school again?" Nie Huaisang asked.

 

Wei Wuxian paused. Something else he hadn't considered was that Lan Wangji would probably be starting school again not too long after he moved in. It was already nearly the end of August, and from the little Wei Wuxian knew about how the academic calendar worked, summer break usually ended... right around the end of August.

 

"I have already discussed this with Uncle," Lan Wangji replied, "And he has said that I do not need to attend classes until I have adjusted to living with Wei Ying, so long as I do all the required coursework online. He said he has contacted the university, and they are okay with the plan."

 

Wei Wuxian breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Phew," he said, "At least you don't have to worry about that!"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled.

"Must be nice bein' rich," Nie Huaisang mused as he bit into another slice of pizza.

 

Wei Wuxian was about two-thirds of the way through his pizza when Wen Qing suddenly entered the room. He'd been lost in thought and hadn't heard her come home.

 

"Welcome home, Sister!" Wen Ning chirped. "How was work?" he asked.

"An absolute pain in the ass as always," Wen Qing groaned. She walked over to Wen Ning and took a slice of his pizza.

"S-Sister!" Wen Ning cried. "That's mine!"

"You don't need an entire pizza," Wen Qing replied, taking a bite. She recoiled slightly. "Is that pineapple?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Nie Huaisang said.

 

Wen Qing put the pizza slice back. "Gross," she said to a vaguely upset Wen Ning. She paused as she turned to Lan Wangji. "Oh, are you Wei Wuxian's, uhh... boyfriend? Fiancé? I've heard about you from A-Ning. Hey."

Lan Wangji nodded silently. "I am Lan Wangji," he replied. "It is a pleasure to meet you."

Wen Qing waved her hand around. "Don't be so formal," she said. "It's weird. But anyway, I'm Wen Qing, A-Ning's sister."

"If you want some pizza," Wei Wuxian said, "Take some of his. He ain't gonna eat it all."

"Really?" Wen Qing asked. "Y'sure?"

"Yes," Lan Wangji replied. "I do not think I will be able to eat much more."

 

Lan Wangji had only eaten three slices of his pizza.

 

"You have the right idea," Wen Qing said, helping herself to two slices of Lan Wangji's pizza. "Thanks!" he added.

Lan Wangji simply nodded again.

 

"By the way, how're you getting home, Wei Wuxian?" Wen Qing asked, eyeing the empty beer cans in front of Wei Wuxian -- along with the one he was holding.

"Lan Zhan's drivin' me!" Wei Wuxian replied happily. "And he doesn't drink, so he'll be fine!"

"Well..." Wen Qing sighed, "Just don't go home too late."

 

Just after she left, an idea popped into Wei Wuxian's mind.

 

Wait, he thought to himself, Sister Wen Qing's a doctor. Maybe... Maybe she'll know how to make Lan Zhan's scars go away. I should ask her... I can't be bothered moving though. Hmm. Oh well. I dunno if she'd be able to help anyway.

 

Wei Wuxian decided that he was too tired to ask Wen Qing this time, but he made a mental note to try and remember to ask her when he hadn't been drinking as much.

 


 

"Wei Ying. Wei Ying," Lan Wangji murmured in Wei Wuxian's ear, waking the latter up.

"Mmm?" Wei Wuxian mumbled, rubbing his eyes. He blinked several times. "What's up?" he glanced lazily up at Lan Wangji. Which made him realise that he'd fallen asleep. In Lan Wangji's lap.

"It is late," Lan Wangji said. "We should leave soon."

"What time is it?" Wei Wuxian yawned, sitting up. He knew they each had very different ideas of the word 'late'.

"It is nearly ten o'clock," Lan Wangji answered.

"How long've I been asleep for?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Not too long," Lan Wangji replied. "I think only about half an hour. I did not want to wake you," he continued, "But Nie Huaisang has already left, and Wen QiongLin has also fallen asleep."

 

Wei Wuxian looked over at Wen Ning, who had indeed fallen asleep in his armchair. 

 

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian said, "I'll go wash up and then we can leave. That good?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Wei Wuxian was feeling slightly more drunk than usual. Perhaps it was because he hadn't been drinking much for a while, and had let loose that evening (he vaguely recalled telling himself Aw, fuck it, this is the last chance you'll have for ages at some point, but he wasn't sure when). Even just a quick trip to the bathroom was more difficult than it should've been. He wished he could just crash at Wen Ning's place and not have to worry about going home, but with Lan Wangji there, he knew he couldn't.

 

Lan Wangji seemed to notice that Wei Wuxian was still tired and somewhat out of it, so when Wei Wuxian came back into the living room, Lan Wangji went over and put his arm around Wei Wuxian's shoulders to support him.

 

"You're not too tired, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian mumbled, checking that he hadn't left his phone anywhere (he hadn't, it was still in his pocket).

"I am not," Lan Wangji replied. "However, I think you should head to bed as soon as you get home, Wei Ying," he said.

Wei Wuxian yawned again. "I will," he said.

 

Wei Wuxian dozed off again in the car on the way back to the Jiangs' place, but Lan Wangji didn't need to do much to wake him up when they finally got home.

 

He wanted to stay with Lan Wangji and fall asleep cuddled up next to him again, but he reminded himself that in just a week he'd get to do that every single night.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said sleepily, "I'm tired. Could you carry me to bed?" he asked, not entirely seriously.

 

Lan Wangji opened the door on the passenger side and took Wei Wuxian's seatbelt off (Wei Wuxian had forgotten that he was still wearing it). He gently picked Wei Wuxian up in his arms... which caught Wei Wuxian by surprise.

 

Wei Wuxian closed his eyes as Lan Wangji shut the door (somehow) and carried Wei Wuxian to his front door.

 

"You can knock," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "Someone'll be up still." He didn't need to open his eyes to check, he knew Jiang Cheng wouldn't have gone to sleep yet.

 

Lan Wangji knocked. Sure enough, the door was soon answered.

 

"W... What the fuck?" Jiang Cheng demanded upon seeing Wei Wuxian being carried.

"I'm sleepy," Wei Wuxian replied, barely managing to open his eyes. Jiang Cheng was glaring at him.

"That's.. You..." Jiang Cheng sighed. "Whatever. Get down and get your ass to bed. I can't believe you..."

 

But Lan Wangji didn't make any move to put Wei Wuxian down.

 

"...What're you doing?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Wei Ying said he wanted me to carry him to bed," Lan Wangji answered, making it sound like it wasn't a ridiculous request.

"Don't fucking enable him," Jiang Cheng growled.

"..."

"Alright, fine!" Jiang Cheng sighed. "Come in, I suppose. But after you've put him in bed, you're leaving. He's being stupid."

 

Lan Wangji carried Wei Wuxian inside, only putting him down to take off their shoes, before picking him back up again (much to Jiang Cheng's dismay).

 

Wei Wuxian was almost asleep again by the time Lan Wangji placed him on the edge of his bed. He barely registered Lan Wangji undressing him and putting his pyjamas on.

 

Thankfully, Wei Wuxian was still awake enough to pull Lan Wangji into a hug and give him a kiss. "I lovvvve youuuu," he murmured.

"...I love you too, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji replied, kissing Wei Wuxian softly again. He properly tucked his fiancé into bed.

 

"G'night, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian called out, keeping his eyes open solely so that he could look at Lan Wangji's handsome face from across the room. "I love youuu!" he said again.

"Good night, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Wei Wuxian smiled broadly at Lan Wangji as he turned the bedroom light off.

 

He fell asleep almost instantly, his lips still tingling slightly from Lan Wangji's kisses.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian struggled to remember how he got home when he woke up. He eventually remembered that Lan Wangji had driven him... and had some vague recollection of being carried somewhere by him, too.

 

He went to text Lan Wangji to say thanks, and saw that it was already the afternoon. Wei Wuxian was very glad he didn't have work that day. Partially because he was also feeling slightly hungover.

 

After Wei Wuxian got dressed (somehow he was in his pyjamas?) and freshened up, he headed to the kitchen to scour the fridge for lunch.

 

While he was microwaving some leftover stew, he heard Jiang Cheng (who seemed to be the only other person currently home) clearing his throat disapprovingly behind him.

 

Wei Wuxian turned around. "What?" he asked, not in the mood.

"You know what," Jiang Cheng replied angrily. "We're not doing this shit again, so I'll just cut to the chase: what happened last night?" he demanded, crossing his arms.

 

Wei Wuxian paused. "I... was hanging out with my friends and had a bit to drink, so what?" he retorted in a more-hostile-than-intended tone.

"A bit?!" Jiang Cheng repeated, raising his voice. "A bit?! That's not a bit, you idiot!" he shouted, stomping over so that he was only a few inches away from from Wei Wuxian's face.

"I... I didn't drink that much," Wei Wuxian insisted. "It just seems like it to you because I haven't been drinking for a while," he said.

Jiang Cheng frowned. "You got so drunk you had to have your fiancé bring you home and put you to bed!" he yelled.

 

At that moment, the microwave beeped, so Wei Wuxian used that as an excuse not to reply and went about serving himself the stew instead.

 

Lan Wangji had put him to bed? That explains the pyjamas, Wei Wuxian thought.

 

"Don't you fucking ignore me," Jiang Cheng demanded, realising what Wei Wuxian was doing.

Wei Wuxian took out a pair of chopsticks from the drawer they were kept in. He sighed deeply. "Jiang Cheng," he said, "What do you want me to say here? Honestly, part of why I drank last night was because I knew it would be the last time I'd get to. I'm not gonna drink like that with Lan Zhan around."

Jiang Cheng was looking increasingly more frustrated. "And how are you going to manage that?" he asked. "At best you have a beer or two a night, don't you? I know that doesn't count in your mind, but you're still drinking! To someone like him, that's a lot."

 

Wei Wuxian sighed again as he sat down at the table. "Don't assume that," he protested. "Maybe Lan Zhan's okay with it."

"He's not," Jiang Cheng said flatly.

"How do you know?" Wei Wuxian asked, narrowing his eyes.

"Because he told me last night," Jiang Cheng replied.

 

Wei Wuxian stared up at him. "W... What?"

"After he put you to bed," Jiang Cheng explained, "He asked to speak with me. He said he's worried about you."

 

He said he's worried about you.

 

Wei Wuxian felt his chest tighten. Lan Wangji was worried about him.

 

He hated it when people worried about him. He wasn't entirely sure why, but it made him feel extremely guilty. Like he'd failed them. Like he'd done something wrong.

 

Lan Zhan's... why is he worried about me? Wei Wuxian wondered. I'm fine. I've told him that already, right? Multiple times. He doesn't need to worry about me. Hell, he should be worrying about himself! I'm fine. I don't get why Jiang Cheng's so angry, either. I said I'd stop drinking when Lan Zhan moves in. I can do that. I'm usually not drinking around him, anyway.

 

I'm fine.

 

"What's he worrying about me for?" Wei Wuxian asked slowly, trying to keep his voice from shaking.

"He thinks you drink too much," Jiang Cheng replied. "I did tell him you've been getting better, but he said you... had a lot to drink last night and ended up saying things that made him uncomfortable, apparently."

Wei Wuxian frowned as he tried and failed to remember. "Did he say what kinds of things?" he asked.

Jiang Cheng hesitated. "He... only said you kept making sexual jokes," he said. "I didn't get him to elaborate beyond that."

 

Wei Wuxian knew that his and Lan Wangji's idea of a 'sexual joke' would be vastly different, but Wei Wuxian definitely didn't want to make Lan Wangji uncomfortable being around him.

 

"I don't remember," Wei Wuxian admitted bitterly.

"I figured," Jiang Cheng sighed. He sat at the other end of the table. "Listen, Wei Wuxian," he said, "I know you'll just say that he's overreacting because he's not used to hanging out with drunk people, but he sounded like he was genuinely concerned about your wellbeing when he was talking to me."

Wei Wuxian stirred his stew with his chopsticks but didn't eat anything. "What else did you guys talk about?" he asked, even though he didn't want to know the answer.

 

Jiang Cheng paused. "He told me... that if you want to, he's more than willing to delay the move," he said.

 

Wei Wuxian shot a shocked look over at Jiang Cheng. "N-No!" he gasped. "W-Why would he... say that...?" he demanded, a lump forming in his throat.

"Because he wasn't sure if you'd be able to cope with it," Jiang Cheng replied solemnly.

 

Wei Wuxian looked down at his stew again, at a loss for words. Did Lan Wangji really have that little faith in him?

 

"O-Of course I'll be able to cope with it!" Wei Wuxian insisted. "I've been looking forward to Lan Zhan moving in with us the whole time! I've even almost finished that ribbon I was making for him! I..."

"I said that to him," Jiang Cheng said. "That the worst thing to say to you would be something like that. I know you're better with him around."

"...Yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "I just... I know he means well, but..."

 

Teary-eyed, he turned to Jiang Cheng. "What am I supposed to do, Jiang Cheng?" he asked, his voice cracking.

"I've already told you," Jiang Cheng replied. "And you've never listened. But maybe you will if you hear it from him, I don't know."

 

Just as Wei Wuxian was about to reply, there was a knock on the door. Both brothers looked at each other, confused.

 

"Are we expecting anyone today?" Wei Wuxian asked. "The bed's arriving tomorrow."

"I don't... think so," Jiang Cheng replied. "If they're trying to sell us something, I'll politely tell them to fuck off."

"'Kay."

 

Even after Jiang Cheng got up and left, Wei Wuxian didn't touch his food. He knew he needed something to eat, but he had no appetite at all. If anything, he felt slightly sick.

 

If it was someone trying to sell them something, they were being very persistent, as Jiang Cheng didn't return straight away. Wei Wuxian was tempted to go and see if he needed assistance (as he was pretty good at getting people to leave), but he didn't feel like talking to anyone.

 

Jiang Cheng came back into the room, concerned. "Uh... you've got a guest," he announced.

Wei Wuxian slowly stood up, putting his chopsticks down. "Who?" he asked. "I didn't invite anyone."

 

Did I leave something of mine at Wen Ning's and he's dropping it off for me? Wei Wuxian wondered. No, I don't think that's it. Hmm.

 

"You'll see," Jiang Cheng said, leading Wei Wuxian to the door.

 

Wei Wuxian froze.

 

He opened his mouth and closed it again.

 

"Wei Ying?"

 

He couldn't look Lan Wangji in the face.

 

"...H-Hey, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian mumbled, staring at the ground. "What's up?" he asked, despite already knowing.

 

Wei Wuxian could feel Lan Wangji's gaze on him. "I wish to speak with you," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Even though Wei Wuxian really didn't want to talk with Lan Wangji right then and there, he knew he had to. He'd been trapped. "S-Sure," Wei Wuxian said. "Come in."

 

Lan Wangji entered the house and took off his shoes. Wei Wuxian still just looked at the ground, wanting nothing more than to disappear.

 

"I'm surprised you didn't send him away," Jiang Cheng commented.

"...I couldn't do that to him," Wei Wuxian replied quietly. And I know that we need to talk about this anyway, he added to himself.

 

The three of them made their way to the living room, taking their regular seats. Although Wei Wuxian sat next to Lan Wangji as he normally did, he felt like there was now a distance between them.

 

"Jiang Cheng already told me," Wei Wuxian admitted. "So... I know what you're here to talk about."

"I see," Lan Wangji said.

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, taking a deep breath, "I... I'm sorry about last night. I really didn't expect it to get that bad. I just thought I'd have something to drink with my friends since it'd be the last time, you know? I never thought I'd do anything to make you uncomfortable."

 

Lan Wangji didn't say anything.

 

"...What... What kind of things did I say?" Wei Wuxian asked, his voice shaking.

Lan Wangji appeared to hesitate. "You..." he said slowly, "You kept making comments about my penis."

 

Wei Wuxian looked up at him in shock, his eyes wide. Jiang Cheng went "Oh" quietly.

 

He had a vague idea of what sorts of comments he would've made, and to him it wasn't a big deal, but for someone like Lan Wangji, it was clearly an issue. Wei Wuxian knew that Lan Wangji wasn't used to inappropriate jokes or discussions, and in his drunken state, he obviously hadn't considered that.

 

Unable to think of how to reply, Wei Wuxian hung his head in shame again.

 

Why do I keep forgetting to take Lan Zhan's feelings into account?! he demanded, cursing himself again. I say that I care about him and yet I never think about how he feels... What the fuck is wrong with me? What should I do here? What should I tell him? A simple apology isn't enough. Ugh, fuck. My head hurts. Why am I like this?

 

Wei Wuxian took another deep breath. "Lan Zhan," he said, "If I'm honest, I don't know how I should apologise to you. I can't think of anything other than saying that it won't happen again, but I know that's not good enough." He paused and raised his head, his eyes meeting Lan Wangji's.

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said, "It is not that I am angry," he explained. "It is more... that I am worried about you. That when you are drunk, you become a different person. A person that I have no idea how to handle. I trust that you will not hurt me, but... I do not wish to do anything with you that you will not remember. And I fear that you will somehow end up harming yourself one day."

 

Wei Wuxian stared at him. In some ways, this was worse than Lan Wangji simply being mad. This was disappointment. Worry. Emotions that Wei Wuxian tried to avoid.

 

"T-Then what should I do, Lan Zhan?!" Wei Wuxian cried, barely holding back a sob. "Tell me! How can I stop feeling like I need to forget everything?"

 

How do I stop running away from myself?

 

"...There are ways," Jiang Cheng began cautiously, "And I've already explained them to you. But I know you still won't listen to me," he sighed, "But maybe if it was Lan Wangji you would."

"What, stop drinking?" Wei Wuxian asked shakily.

"No," Jiang Cheng replied, "Not just that. I'm talking about getting you to a point where you no longer feel that need you mentioned. Which, essentially, means accepting yourself, doesn't it?" he asked, no sense of animosity in his voice for once.

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said again, "There are people who can help you. It is their job to assist those who struggle, and you are struggling. All we wish for is for you to overcome that, no matter how long it takes."

 

'You are struggling'.

 

Those words rang in his ears. Every part of Wei Wuxian wanted to yell and protest and insist that no, fuck you, he was not struggling. He was perfectly fine, dammit!

 

"I..."

 

I'm okay, was what Wei Wuxian wanted to say. The phrase was on his lips, yet he couldn't bring himself to actually say it.

 

But if he gave in, he'd be admitting defeat. Wei Wuxian never wanted to admit defeat.

 

"You have not lost," Lan Wangji suddenly stated. "This is simply a turning point in a battle. It is not over. You are being given new weapons to fight with, Wei Ying. You will learn new strategies."

 

Wei Wuxian looked downwards again, trying to control himself. When Lan Wangji phrased it that way, the idea of therapy (which Jiang Cheng had brought up several times before only for Wei Wuxian to vehemently deny that he needed it) sounded... not so bad.

 

"How can you both trust something so quickly?" Wei Wuxian asked. "This whole 'therapy' thing is a western idea, right? How do we know it works?"

"Because," Jiang Cheng replied, "There's proof. If you want studies, articles, interviews... I have a lot. It's what I'm learning about."

"But aren't you studying psychology?" Wei Wuxian retorted.

"I am," Jiang Cheng said, "But they overlap. When I graduate, I'll probably either become a psychologist or, eventually, a proper therapist. It doesn't matter which."

"What about you, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked. "Why are you so keen on it?"

"If it can help a wide range of people who are suffering," Lan Wangji replied, "It cannot possibly be a bad thing."

 

He'd run out of excuses. They'd backed him into a corner.

 

"Alright, FINE!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, raising his voice. "You guys win! I'll do this stupid therapy thing! There! That's what you want, isn't it?!" he demanded, finally looking over at Jiang Cheng, who looked shocked.

"You..." Jiang Cheng said breathlessly, "I can't believe it..." His expression softened into a smile (Wei Wuxian couldn't work out why). "See? Was it really that hard?" he asked gently.

 

Wei Wuxian pouted, still feeling like he might cry.

 

"But how do I find someone?" Wei Wuxian asked after calming down slightly. "Who do I know which one's the best?"

"I've been doing research," Jiang Cheng replied. "I've managed to pin down someone who seems to deal with cases like yours. The only problem would be getting you an appointment, but..."

"No," Lan Wangji said. Both Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng stared at him. "Not an issue," he explained. "I will do whatever I can to ensure that Wei Ying gets to see this person. I can pay for any fees, too," he added.

"...I'm sure I could afford it," Wei Wuxian sighed.

"If it is to help Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said, "I am willing to pay any amount of money. I will find only those who are the best at their professions to help you."

 

Wei Wuxian nodded but didn't respond.

 

"I'll give you the contact info of the doctor I have in mind," Jiang Cheng said. "He's been doing it for a few years and apparently has a good reputation, so hopefully he'll be willing to see you."

"Heh," Wei Wuxian laughed, "From the sounds of it, Lan Zhan's gonna make him see me!" he smiled faintly at Lan Wangji.

"If it comes to that, I will," Lan Wangji replied seriously.

 

You don't need to go that far for me, Wei Wuxian thought, feeling even guiltier.

 

"Anyway," Jiang Cheng said, "I'll go get that contact info I mentioned. I doubt there's any point in calling them on a Sunday, though," he added as he left.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't know what to say. He felt like small talk wouldn't be appropriate, and neither would any amount of intimacy. It was yet another awkward silence between them, and Wei Wuxian was trying not to let his emotions get the better of him. But between such a heavy conversation and the headache he had from still being slightly hungover (and, he realised, he hadn't had anything to eat that day, either), he was close.

 

Jiang Cheng returned not too long after, handing Lan Wangji a piece of paper with contact information on it. Wei Wuxian glanced at it, and noticed that the name of the organisation? Practice? Whatever it was was called Upper Heavenly Court Counselling and Therapy. The name sounded suspicious to him.

 

"Thank you, Jiang WanYin," Lan Wangji said, accepting the paper. "I will phone them first thing tomorrow morning."

"Great," Jiang Cheng replied. "Oh -- and you'll probably need Wei Wuxian's info too, won't you?"

"Huh?" Wei Wuxian asked. "What info?"

"Your birthday and phone number and shit," Jiang Cheng explained. "So that they can identify that you're actually you."

"Right..." Wei Wuxian mumbled.

 

Jiang Cheng turned back to Lan Wangji. "Will you be staying?" he asked. "We... kinda forgot to offer you tea or anything."

Lan Wangji stood up. "No," he said, "Unfortunately, I have some errands I need to run today in order to prepare for moving. I apologise."

"S-So you're still moving in next weekend?" Wei Wuxian asked hopefully.

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded. "I was simply unsure if you wanted me to," he said. "But Jiang WanYin told me that delaying it would not benefit you."

Wei Wuxian breathed a sigh of relief.

 

He lead Lan Wangji to the door, with Jiang Cheng opting to say his goodbyes in the living room.

 

As Lan Wangji went to put on his shoes, Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Lan Zhan," he said, "I--"

 

Lan Wangji turned around, cutting him off with a hug as he pulled Wei Wuxian tightly against his chest.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji murmured, holding him as close as possible, "There is nothing to worry about. I am here for you. I will always be here for you. I am willing to do anything to make you happy." His voice was gentle and tender. Wei Wuxian could feel Lan Wangji's heartbeat against his ear.

Wei Wuxian closed his eyes. "I know," he murmured back. "I trust you." It's myself I don't trust, he thought.

 

Wei Wuxian could've stayed in Lan Wangji's embrace all day. But since he knew that Lan Wangji had things to do, he reluctantly let go after only a few minutes.

 

"See ya, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, giving Lan Wangji a kiss. "And... thank you," he added, quietly.

"Do not thank me," Lan Wangji replied. "I have yet to do anything."

"Yes, you have," Wei Wuxian argued. "You've already helped me more than I can say. You made me realise that... t-that I'm..." his voice shook slightly as he forced himself not to look away from Lan Wangji. "That I'm not okay."

 

It felt weird admitting it. And, in a way, liberating. As if a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

 

Lan Wangji nodded at him. He didn't say anything, but Wei Wuxian didn't need him to.

 

After Wei Wuxian saw Lan Wangji off, Wei Wuxian headed straight for his room. He briefly thought about getting food, but decided he didn't feel like any. As soon as he was in his room, he shut the door behind him and shakily slid down to the floor, hugging his knees to his chest and burying his head in them.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't cry. Not initially, at least. He sat there processing everything that had just happened.

 

Lan Wangji was worried about him. But that was okay because it meant he wanted to help.

 

Was Wei Wuxian finally going to be able to stop running away from himself? Was there really somebody who knew how to make him stop hating who he was?

 

I'm not okay.

 

For some reason, Lan Wangji's voice came to him. In a small corner of his brain, it added, But you will be.

 

Wei Wuxian finally let loose the tears he'd been holding in, sobbing silently into his knees. They weren't exactly tears of sadness, but rather tears of hope. Of relief that he was actually going to be okay.

 

"I'm not okay," Wei Wuxian whispered to himself after he eventually stopped crying. "I'm not okay. But I will be. I'm going to be okay. I'll be okay."

 

It seemed silly saying it out loud when there was nobody else to hear it, yet it was also convincing. Maybe he did believe that he'd be okay.

 

Wei Wuxian leant back against the door, wiping his eyes on the back of his sleeve.

 

It took him quite a long time before he calmed down enough to head back down stairs and get himself food. Jiang Cheng had returned to his own room from the looks of things and didn't bother him, which Wei Wuxian appreciated. He still couldn't work out Jiang Cheng's feelings towards him and figured it was probably best to just give up on that, as Jiang Cheng was often contradictory.

 

When Jiang Yanli came home later that day, Wei Wuxian asked her if he could try and finish Lan Wangji's hair ribbon with her. Jiang Yanli agreed, and, with just a week to spare, the hair ribbon was finally complete. Wei Wuxian still wasn't entirely satisfied with it, but Jiang Yanli kept telling him that it was the thought that counted, and that Lan Wangji would probably be overjoyed (or as close to it as someone like him could get). Wei Wuxian decided that she was most likely right. The last thing left was to choose a box to present it in, and Jiang Yanli said that she knew a store that sold such things and would pick out one with a matching colour scheme.

 

Wei Wuxian was reluctant to tell the rest of his family about the therapy, especially since he hadn't even been given any kind of appointment or referral yet. He decided to keep it between him and Jiang Cheng (and Lan Wangji) until some sort of arrangements were made.

 

Wei Wuxian managed to refrain from drinking any alcohol that night.

Chapter Text

The new bed arrived on Monday as scheduled, and Wei Wuxian spent the afternoon assembling it, having taken out his old bed first thing in the morning. Wei Wuxian was glad he had something to distract himself with, as he was still feeling rather guilty about what had happened the day before.

 

The bed was comfortable to sleep in, but Wei Wuxian felt weird sleeping in such a large bed by himself. He couldn't wait for Lan Wangji to be there beside him every night, holding him as they drifted off to sleep... It was less than a week away. He could deal with it.

 

On Tuesday, Wei Wuxian had an afternoon shift at work, which was another welcome distraction. After finishing his assigned tasks, Wei Wuxian found himself chatting to Mo Xuanyu again.

 

"So, how're things, Mo Xuanyu?" Wei Wuxian asked his coworker.

"Pretty good, actually!" Mo Xuanyu replied, smiling slightly. "My cousin's gone away on a school trip for a week, so essentially I have the house to myself since my aunt doesn't come home until late. It's nice not being insulted every time I walk into a room..." He sighed. "How about you, Senior Wei?" he asked back.

"Y-Yeah, y'know, not bad," Wei Wuxian lied. He really didn't want to tell Mo Xuanyu about his troubles. "My fiancé moves in this weekend, so he's gonna start bringing over his things tomorrow."

"Oh, that's great!" Mo Xuanyu said. "You seemed excited about it last time I talked to you!"

"I sure am!" Wei Wuxian grinned. That wasn't a lie. He really was looking forward to it. "Depending on how chaotic things get, I might need to take a day or two off, though..."

"I'm sure Manager A-Qing would let you," Mo Xuanyu remarked.

"I dunno," Wei Wuxian chuckled, "It hasn't been that long since I last asked for some time off. Probably best not to unless I absolutely have to."

 

The bookstore Wei Wuxian worked at was run by a short, feisty older woman who insisted on being referred to as nothing but A-Qing. Rather ironically, she had terrible eyesight and couldn't really read much herself anymore, but she didn't let that stop her bossing her employees around. A-Qing also had a fierce temper when angered (which was usually sparked by frustrating customers who didn't listen to what they were told) that made her employees somewhat scared of her. Even Wei Wuxian wasn't prepared to piss her off on purpose, and he loved annoying people.

 

As if A-Qing had heard their conversation, the two were suddenly interrupted by her barking at them: "Get back to work!" A-Qing demanded, hobbling over to them. "If ya have time to talk, ya have time to work!"

 

Wei Wuxian and Mo Xuanyu, who had both been relaxing against the bookcases they'd finished stocking, immediately stood to attention.

 

"Y-Yes Ma'am!" they replied, hastily finding work that needed doing.

 

However, A-Qing followed Wei Wuxian over to the next row of bookcases.

 

"Mr. Wei," she said, staring up at him, "I'd like a word with you. Come with me."

 

But you just told me to get back to work, Wei Wuxian thought with an internal sigh. He obediently followed A-Qing to the staff room.

 

"You said you wanted to take a day off," A-Qing said, sitting at her desk and inviting Wei Wuxian to sit in the chair opposite it. Wei Wuxian sat. "What's that all about?" she asked.

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian was hesitant. He hadn't actually thought about how he'd ask for even more time off work -- not to mention that he hadn't even said anything about Lan Wangji to his boss at all, either.

"Go on," A-Qing urged. "It's important that you take time off it you need it, but as your boss I do need to know why you're needing that time off."

 

Wei Wuxian cleared his throat. "Okay, so," he began, "It's a long story, but my fiancé is moving in with me and my family this weekend, and I was thinking I might take next Tuesday off just in case he's still adjusting to it all. His family's rich and he doesn't know how to take care of himself properly, and the idea is that I'll teach him some things," Wei Wuxian explained. "It might be that he doesn't need me there, of course, but..." he trailed off.

 

A-Qing "hmm"ed and thought to herself for a moment. "If you're engaged," she said, her eyes narrowing, "Then why aren't ya wearin' an engagement ring?!"

 

Wei Wuxian paused. He had no response.

 

He hadn't thought about an engagement ring even once. Not when he was thinking about proposing to Lan Wangji. It hadn't crossed his mind during the actual proposal, either.

 

Did arranged marriages even involve engagement rings? Actually, the more he thought about it, the more Wei Wuxian wasn't sure if it technically counted as an arranged marriage anymore, but that wasn't really the point.

 

"I..." he mumbled. "I kinda... forgot..."

"BAH!" A-Qing exclaimed. "I feel fer whichever sorry sap you proposed to! Didn't even get 'em an engagement ring... I swear," she grumbled, "Men nowadays..."

"T-To be fair," Wei Wuxian protested, "He never said anything either."

"Wait," A-Qing said blankly. "Hold on."

"...What?" Wei Wuxian asked quietly.

"Yer engaged to a man?" A-Qing asked, looking slightly taken aback.

 

Wei Wuxian looked down at this lap. "Y-Yeah," he mumbled, twiddling his thumbs. "It, uh, is kinda maybe an arranged marriage, I guess? But uh. Yeah. I forgot about the ring. And, uh, he hasn't... mentioned it to me yet."

A-Qing rolled her eyes exaggeratedly. "Honestly! Ya men all just as useless as the next!" she groaned. "Listen, Mr. Wei," she sighed, "It ain't my place ta judge ya. But a ring is a sign of commitment. I don't know what young people are up these days, but I'm pretty sure y'all still do that ring stuff, right? Ask him if he'd like one. Maybe he's forgotten too."

 

Wei Wuxian stared back at her. A-Qing was a difficult person to read, and he hadn't expected her to be supportive. She was definitely trying to help him, and he was grateful for that.

 

"...I'll do that," Wei Wuxian told her confidently. "If... If things go smoothly with him moving in, I'll ask him about it then," he said. "I don't want to overwhelm him."

"O' course," A-Qing replied, smiling. "Also," she added, "Ya better not be marryin' him just fer his money!"

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Of course not," he said. "I'd be marrying him regardless."

"Good, good," A-Qing nodded. "And I'm curious..." she leant forward, leaning over her desk. "Is he hot?"

 

What sort of question is that? Wei Wuxian wondered, confused.

 

"Yep," he replied with a laugh. "He's super hot."

 

A-Qing, who looked satisfied, sat back in her chair. "That's the most important thing," she said, nodding again. "But make sure ya treat him well, ya hear?"

"Naturally," Wei Wuxian replied, even though he knew that he hadn't actually been treating Lan Wangji that well.

"Right," A-Qing said, standing up. "Ya should get back ta work now. But if ya need that day off, let me know, Mr. Wei," she added.

"I will," Wei Wuxian replied, also standing up. "Thank you, Manager A-Qing."

 

A-Qing gave him a smile and a nod. "Ya can thank me by working ya butt off, young man!" she laughed, lightly slapping Wei Wuxian on the back.

 

Wei Wuxian was extremely grateful, and felt relieved knowing he had A-Qing on his side.

 


 

Lan Wangji came over on Wednesday afternoon with a few boxes of his belongings -- clothes, university textbooks and similar things Wei Wuxian wasn't too familiar with, along with a small box that he figured contained more personal things. He also brought Lan Xichen with him.

 

"Apologies for visiting unannounced," Lan Xichen said after they'd exchanged greetings and Wei Wuxian had invited the brothers in. "I thought it would be better if you two had some help, that's all."

"Not a problem!" Wei Wuxian replied. "I don't think any of us mind at all!"

 

That said, the only ones home were himself and Jiang Cheng, who had shut himself in his room to study (presumably so that he didn't have to deal with Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji). Wei Wuxian really wasn't sure if Jiang Cheng actually minded, but in reality, he didn't care.

 

The three of them made their way to Wei Wuxian's room. Or, rather, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji's bedroom.

 

"How's the new bed?" Lan Xichen asked, kneeling on the floor and lining up the boxes that he had been holding in a row. Lan Wangji copied him.

"Comfy," Wei Wuxian answered, sitting on the floor next to Lan Wangji. "It's too big for one person, but it should be good when there's two of us!"

Lan Xichen smiled at him. "That's good to hear," he said. He opened one of the boxes of clothes and began sorting through it.

 

"There should be enough room in the drawers for Lan Zhan's clothes," Wei Wuxian said. "If not, we can fit some in the wardrobe," he added.

Lan Wangji nodded. "Thank you," he said.

 

With Lan Xichen in the room, Wei Wuxian couldn't really talk about the things he wanted to with Lan Wangji. He didn't want to mention the therapy thing, and any amount of flirting was definitely out of the question.

 

Wei Wuxian watched as Lan Xichen sorted Lan Wangji's clothes into separate piles (one for shirts, another for trousers, yet another for underwear, etc). He realised that pretty much everything Lan Wangji seemed to own was either white, light grey or black. Even his socks were all white.

 

While Wei Wuxian had been partial to the gothic look himself when he was in high school, he at least still wore red from time to time. Nowadays, his clothes were mostly black and/or red, but he also owned clothes in several other colours, too. Just not orange or pink. He couldn't do those.

 

I bet he'd look hot in something pink... And maybe sleeveless... Wei Wuxian thought to himself. He very quickly stopped that thought from continuing before it got dangerous, however.

 

They managed to finish sorting Lan Wangji's clothes and successfully fit them all in Wei Wuxian's drawers. Except for his neatly-pressed button-up shirts, which hung in the wardrobe.

 

The next task was finding somewhere to put all his textbooks. Wei Wuxian didn't have a bookcase in his room (he saw enough of those at work), and with the new bed there wasn't really any space to stick one.

 

"Uh," Wei Wuxian said, "Maybe... put them on the desk for now?" he suggested. "We can find a permanent place to put them later."

"Okay," Lan Wangji nodded, carrying a stack of books over to the aforementioned desk and gently placing them down. He then came and sat back next to Wei Wuxian.

 

"What about that last box?" Wei Wuxian asked, gesturing towards the smaller box that Lan Wangji had been carrying.

"...I will open that later," Lan Wangji replied. Wei Wuxian wondered if he didn't want Lan Xichen to see what was in it.

"Gotcha," Wei Wuxian said.

 

"Is that everything, Wangji?" Lan Xichen asked.

"Yes," Lan Wangji answered. "Thank you, Brother."

"D'you still have more stuff to bring over?" Wei Wuxian asked. "I know you've got your rabbits, but..."

"I do," Lan Wangji replied. "While it is only a few items, since they are necessities, I will only be moving them the day I properly move in," he explained.

"About the rabbits," Lan Xichen added, "We were thinking of shifting them after Wangji's settled somewhat. That way they're not as stressed. Is that alright?"

"Absolutely," Wei Wuxian replied. "I'm excited to have them, they're super cute!" he grinned. "I think my sister's gonna like them a lot too."

"Is your brother not interested in animals?" Lan Xichen asked, realising that Jiang Cheng wasn't mentioned.

"He likes dogs," Wei Wuxian replied, "But I don't think he cares about rabbits too much. Who knows, though," he said with a laugh, "Maybe they'll win him over!"

Lan Xichen chuckled. "They're certainly charming," he remarked. "You've always loved them, haven't you, Wangji?"

"...Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled.

 

Cute, Wei Wuxian thought, He's being kinda shy, isn't he?

 

Lan Xichen began to say something else when the door swung open.

 

"Dammit, Wei Wuxian," Jiang Cheng grumbled. "Where the fuck did y... ou... put..." his voice faded away into nothing as he realised his brother had guests over. Jiang Cheng coughed awkwardly as he took his hand off the doorknob. "You didn't tell me you had guests," he muttered angrily.

"Didn't I?" Wei Wuxian could've sworn he'd at least mentioned that Lan Wangji would be visiting.

 

Lan Xichen paid no attention to Jiang Cheng's behaviour and simply smiled at him. "Good evening," he said. "Pardon the intrusion."

Jiang Cheng stared down at the ground. For some reason he wasn't being his normal, aggressive self. Wei Wuxian wondered if it was because of the conversation he and Lan Wangji had had the other day, and that Jiang Cheng didn't want Lan Wangji to think that he was upsetting him. "Uh, yeah," Jiang Cheng mumbled. "G... Good evening." He turned to Lan Wangji. "Hey," was all Lan Wangji got.

 

Lan Wangji didn't seem to mind and nodded once. "Good evening, Jiang Wanyin," he said.

 

"Anyway," Wei Wuxian sighed, "What d'you want, Jiang Cheng?"

"You... had the scissors last, didn't you?" Jiang Cheng asked. "Where'd you put them?"

 

Wei Wuxian had been using the scissors to make Lan Wangji's new hair ribbon, but he didn't know how to tell Jiang Cheng that they were probably in their sister's bedroom.

 

"Uh," Wei Wuxian said, "I think Sister took them from me," he lied. "Try her room, maybe? I don't have them in here."

"I'm not going in Sister's room without her permission!" Jiang Cheng protested, looking offended that Wei Wuxian would even suggest such a thing.

"You come into my room without my permission all the time," Wei Wuxian pointed out. "What's the difference?"

Jiang Cheng glared at him. "You know perfectly well what the difference is," he snarled. "Don't act like you care."

"Maybe I'm gonna start caring from when I have someone else living in this room with me," Wei Wuxian protested in an exaggeratedly annoyed voice. "Besides," he laughed, returning to his usual tone, "Somehow I don't think you're gonna want to barge in here whenever you want to when both Lan Zhan and I are around."

Jiang Cheng looked confused. "What the hell d'you mean by..." once it dawned on him, his cheeks flushed bright red. "Oh shut up!" he said loudly. "Why are you like this?!"

 

At that, Lan Wangji stood up. "Jiang Wanyin," he warned, his gaze intense, "Stop."

 

Even Wei Wuxian was taken aback. He hurried to his feet.

 

"Lan Zhan, it's fine," Wei Wuxian insisted. "Jiang Cheng and I are always like this. I'm just teasing him so he's teasing me back. It means nothing," he explained.

Lan Wangji didn't budge. "But he should not be saying those things to you, Wei Ying," he argued. "He should be more supportive of you."

"Listen," Jiang Cheng sighed, "He's right, it doesn't mean anything. I'm not actually asking him why he's the way he is. And anyway, don't siblings banter like this to begin with?"

"No," Lan Wangji replied instantly. "They do not."

 

Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng exchanged confused glances.

 

Lan Xichen also stood up. "Wangji," he said, "Something you need to be aware of is that, in other families, people behave differently towards their siblings. Just because they're not acting like we do doesn't mean how they're acting is wrong. You know this, don't you?" He wasn't being condescending, but instead, his voice was gentle and calming.

 

Lan Wangji seemed like he wasn't going to talk back to Lan Xichen, but appeared to be unsure of what to say.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, "I'm grateful that you're trying to stand up for me, but really, don't worry about it. What are you mad about?" he asked.

Lan Wangji relaxed slightly. "...I simply... do not think that Jiang Wanyin should be contributing to your struggles. And that, as your brother, and as someone who aims to be a psychologist, he should know better."

 

Wei Wuxian was shocked. Truthfully, Lan Wangji was right. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng had always argued back and forth, and while most of it was good-natured, more often than not, a line was crossed -- usually by Jiang Cheng. Wei Wuxian had tended to dismiss Jiang Cheng's behaviour, thinking that he deserved it, since he'd always been the outsider and, in Wei Wuxian's mind, Jiang Cheng had every right to hate him.

 

But to have it put into words like that was making Wei Wuxian realise that maybe he didn't deserve it. At least, not all the time.

 

"Alright," Lan Xichen said, clapping his hands together. "Let's not escalate this. We should leave, Wangji," he added.

"...Okay," Lan Wangji replied quietly. "But Brother, may I speak to Wei Ying alone first?" he asked. "There is something I would like to discuss with him."

"In that case," Lan Xichen said, "I'll take the boxes we've sorted through to the car. Would you mind helping me, Jiang Wanyin?" he asked, smiling at Jiang Cheng as he picked up a few of the boxes.

Jiang Cheng quickly grabbed the rest of the boxes (except for the unopened one) and mumbled something unintelligible as he followed Lan Xichen out the door, shutting it much less aggressively than he'd opened it.

 

Without saying anything, Wei Wuxian pulled Lan Wangji into a tight hug to try and calm him down.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said softly, "It's okay. Don't worry about Jiang Cheng, he's harmless. Mostly."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled.

 

After staying like that for a while, Wei Wuxian reluctantly let go of Lan Wangji. "What did you want to talk about?" he asked.

"...I wanted to mention something about the therapy appointment," Lan Wangji replied.

"Oh?"

"I contacted the place your brother gave me," Lan Wangji explained, "And apparently the doctor he recommended only works two days a week now, so it is difficult to get an appointment with him. From what they told me, it will be a few weeks before he has anything available." He paused for a moment. "Are you... okay with waiting that long?" he asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian said, nodding. "I am. I know Jiang Cheng will've done his research, so I trust that this doctor is the best one around."

"Okay," Lan Wangji nodded back. "In that case, I shall call them again tomorrow morning to try and finalise an appointment."

"Thanks, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian replied gently, giving Lan Wangji a soft kiss.

"Mmn."

 

At that point, Lan Xichen came back to collect Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian went with them to the door.

 

"Thanks for your help, Lan Xichen," Wei Wuxian said.

"Not a problem!" Lan Xichen smiled. "Unfortunately I'm busy tomorrow if Wangji comes over again, but I should be able to help with any leftover tasks on Friday."

"Great!" Wei Wuxian replied happily. "And sorry about Jiang Cheng, by the way, he's... like that sometimes."

"Your brother seems like a good person at heart," Lan Xichen commented. "I can tell that he's worried about you, too, although I didn't ask for any details, as I assume it's a private matter."

"Uh... yeah, kinda," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "I mean, it's not like it's a secret or anything... If you want, Lan Zhan can tell you, I don't mind."

"Then he can tell me on the way home," Lan Xichen said, patting Lan Wangji on the shoulder. "Let's go, Wangji."

 

Wei Wuxian refrained himself from kissing Lan Wangji again as they said their goodbyes.

 

There were now only two more days before Lan Wangji moved in, and, with his things in Wei Wuxian's room, it was slowly starting to feel somewhat real.

 


 

Lan Wangji did indeed visit Wei Wuxian again the next day with a few more things, including some good news: he'd managed to get Wei Wuxian an appointment with the therapist Jiang Cheng had recommended. And it would only be just over two weeks away, which wasn't nearly as bad at Wei Wuxian had feared.

 

Since Wei Wuxian had been trying to not drink as much, it took him far longer to fall asleep the past few nights. His remedy for that was reading the web novels Lan Wangji had recommended to him a while ago. However, he'd run into a bit of a problem with a lot of them, and he decided to mention it to Lan Wangji after they'd finished sorting the items he'd brought with him.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian began, as they were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the bed, "Y'know how you gave me a bunch of those web novels to read?"

Lan Wangji looked puzzled. "Yes?"

"Well," Wei Wuxian said, "I've been making my way through them, but I've noticed something about most of them."

"Is there an issue?" Lan Wangji asked. "The service is working for me..."

"It's not that," Wei Wuxian said. "It's just... there're several that you need to pay for in order to read! Which is fine, but it adds up..."

"Oh..." Lan Wangji replied. "I did not realise. My apologies."

Wei Wuxian laughed as he rested his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder. "It's not a big deal! I just thought I'd tell you. I'm liking the ones I have read, though!" he added, smiling up at Lan Wangji.

"I am glad," Lan Wangji said. "I was hoping you would enjoy them."

"I'm surprised by how... detailed some of them are," Wei Wuxian commented cheekily. "Which is a very good thing."

"...Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. "The pay-to-read ones are even more detailed sometimes," he said, his ears turning slightly pink.

 

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "Maybe I'll read them some day!"

"...I could... lend you my account," Lan Wangji suggested in a quiet voice. "That way, you do not have to pay for anything."

"R-Really?" Wei Wuxian asked, surprised. "Would you trust me with that?"

"Yes," Lan Wangji replied instantly.

"In that case..." Wei Wuxian located his phone and opened the app they used to read web novels on. He handed Lan Wangji the phone after he logged out. "Here," he said. "You can log in, I won't look."

 

Lan Wangji nodded silently as he tapped in his account info. Once he was successfully logged in, he passed the phone back to Wei Wuxian.

 

The first thing Wei Wuxian looked for was Lan Wangji's username. He'd expected someone like Lan Wangji to have a boring username that was some variation of his actual name.

 

However, when Wei Wuxian saw what his username was, he almost dropped the phone in surprise.

 

No way, Wei Wuxian thought, his heart starting to race. This... can't be a coincidence, can it?

 

He looked up at Lan Wangji. He had to ask.

 

"...H-Hanguangjun?" Wei Wuxian breathed shakily.

Lan Wangji looked vaguely confused. "Yes?" he asked.

"H... How long have you been... using this username?" Wei Wuxian asked, trying to keep himself calm.

"For several years," Lan Wangji answered. "It was something my brother came up with when we were young."

"Hanguangjun!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, tears starting to form in his eyes. "It's me!" he pointed to himself. "Yilinglaozu444!"

Lan Wangji's eyes widened in shock. "You..."

 

Back when Wei Wuxian had maintained his advice blog in high school, he'd used the name Yilinglaozu444 (the 444 was included because it made it sound cooler to him at the time). Something Wei Wuxian always did was that he made sure to read all the comments he got and respond to as many as he could. Over time, he learnt who his regular readers were, and seeing their names pop up on every post brightened his day.

 

One of those regulars was someone who went by Hanguangjun. Without fail, he'd always be the first comment on Wei Wuxian's posts. They were always worded kind of robotically, Wei Wuxian had thought at the time, but they were somehow endearing. He'd been curious about this HanGuangJun person, especially after they'd asked for advice about coming out to their family.

 

As for why Lan Wangji had never noticed that Wei Wuxian was Yilinglaozu444, it was because any photo he posted made heavy use of filters. He also used to have a completely different look in general, and wore makeup that he no longer owned.

 

Wei Wuxian could do nothing but laugh loudly and cover his face with his hand. "I can't believe it," he said breathlessly. He removed his hand and turned to smile at Lan Wangji. "That was you?"

 

Lan Wangji seemed to be dumbfounded. He opened and closed his mouth without saying anything a few times. "It was..." he finally replied.

 

They sat in silence, each of them processing this new information.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said eventually, "Why did... Why did you close your blog?" he asked.

"Because," Wei Wuxian replied hesitantly, "I... wasn't sure if someone like me should be giving other people advice. I didn't know if I was actually helping people or if I was hurting them. There's only so much you can assume about people from a blog comment. I felt like I was accidentally making things worse for people without me knowing, and it scared me," he admitted.

"...I cannot speak for everyone," Lan Wangji said slowly, "But... your advice certainly helped me. A lot." He paused for a moment. "Actually, it was because of your blog that I realised I was gay."

Wei Wuxian stared at him. "I-It was?" he blinked, taking a second to remember that at one point he'd made a post about how he'd come out to his family and friends and went on a rant about how stupid it was that someone should have to hide their sexuality. He cringed internally.

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded. "I simply thought that I was not interested in being in a romantic relationship, but reading your posts made me realise that there was such a thing as being attracted to men. You made it all... make sense. I was disappointed when you said you were no longer going to update it, although now I understand."

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to cry. Not because he was upset, but because he was relieved. Hearing that his advice had indeed helped people made him feel like it hadn't all been in vain.

 

Wei Wuxian hugged Lan Wangji tightly, burying his face in the other's chest. "It's weird," he remarked. "I don't really believe in fate or any of that crap but... this truly does make it seem like we're destined to be together. Or something."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied, resting his chin on the top of Wei Wuxian's head and putting his arms around him. "I agree."

 

The two of them stayed like that for some time before Wei Wuxian pulled out of the hug, having thought of an idea.

 

"Lan Zhan," he said, "I was thinking... Maybe I'll update my blog and let anyone who stumbles upon it know what's going on in my life currently. I wanna mention that I'm engaged to you. Nobody will believe it!"

"Okay," Lan Wangji nodded. "Is the blog still there?"

"It should be," Wei Wuxian shrugged as he looked for it on his phone. Perhaps somewhat regrettably, it was perfectly intact.

 

Somehow he still remembered his account info.

 

"Oh, yeah," Wei Wuxian added, "Can I post a picture of us together? I'll put a cute rabbit over your face or something, is that okay?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded in agreement.

 

Hey everyone!!! Its me, Yilinglaozu444!!!! 

 

Its been years since i last posted but i thot i should give you guys an update!

 

I GOT ENGAGED!!!! 🥰🥰🥰

 

And youll never guess who it is!

 

ITS HANGUANGJUN!!!!! Im sure you all remember him!!

 

It was a total coincidence! Weve been together 4 a while but only just found out! 😊

 

Hes a real sweetheart! And hes pretty! He makes me really happy!

 

I love him a lot! 😘

 

Hope youve all been doing well! Im rooting for you! 💪

 

YiLingLaozu444 over & out!

 

PS no this isnt a joke lol! It really is Hanguangjun!!!! 😳I cant show his face because its too beautiful to share! Hahahaha!

 

(Nobodys gonna read this, are they??)

 

After he submitted the post, he glanced over to see that Lan Wangji had taken out his phone and was tapping something. Wei Wuxian wondered if he was messaging Lan Xichen.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said when he'd finished typing his message, "Refresh the page."

 

Wei Wuxian did so and noticed that he'd already received a comment.

 

It was from Hanguangjun -- from Lan Wangji.

 

That is indeed me. I have been lucky enough to meet Yilinglaozu444 in real life. And, unbeknownst to both of us, we are now engaged. This world is full of miracles, and this is one of them. Another miracle is Yilinglaozu444 himself.

 

Wei Wuxian pulled a face and grinned at Lan Wangji. "Damn," he remarked, "That's pretty cheesy."

"...And your post is not?" Lan Wangji retorted. His tone was serious, but Wei Wuxian could tell he was making a joke. He laughed loudly again.

"Alright, alright, you win," Wei Wuxian chuckled, kissing Lan Wangji deeply.

 

Unfortunately, Lan Wangji was due home for dinner, so he had to leave not long after. Wei Wuxian spent the rest of the evening bewildered (but in a good way) by what he'd learnt.

 

While he wasn't sure if he'd call it a miracle himself, at the very least he thought that the universe was really fucking strange at times.

Chapter Text

Late Saturday afternoon, Lan Wangji and his family came over with the last of Lan Wangji's belongings (which were in a large backpack) -- including that giant plush rabbit he'd purchased in Hong Kong. Wei Wuxian could tell that Jiang Cheng had about a thousand snide remarks he wanted to make, but thankfully, he held back.

 

While everyone else was downstairs, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji found themselves in their bedroom.

 

Wei Wuxian hung back as he watched Lan Wangji choose a spot to place his rabbit.

 

"Does the rabbit have a name?" Wei Wuxian asked out of pure curiosity. On the surface, Lan Wangji didn't seem like the type to give a stuffed animal a name, but he did have some child-like sides to him, so Wei Wuxian couldn't tell if he'd care or not.

"...No," Lan Wangji answered hesitantly. "I... cannot think of one."

"Fair enough," Wei Wuxian shrugged, sitting down on the bed.

 

Lan Wangji sat next to him and opened his backpack.

 

The first thing he took out of it was that framed family photo.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said sincerely, "Is it alright if I have this photo on display?" he asked.

"O-Of course!" Wei Wuxian replied. Even though he found the idea slightly weird, he knew how important the photo was to Lan Wangji.

"Thank you," Lan Wangji nodded, gently setting the photo down on the nightstand. It was facing the bed.

 

As Wei Wuxian looked at it, he felt anger start to boil up inside him. The man in that photo, looking handsome and respectable, was the person who'd hurt Lan Wangji the most. Wei Wuxian felt nothing but hatred towards Lan Wangji's father, and was overcome with the urge to punch the photo. However, he was aware that Lan Wangji probably had kept the photo more for his mother, so he swallowed his rage.

 

Another thought crossed his mind: I wonder what happened to their mother... It's weird that Lan Zhan hasn't been told how she died. If their father killed her, surely they would've said something by now. I just hope it's nothing too nasty.

 

Wei Wuxian snapped out of his thoughts. He turned around to find that Lan Wangji was setting his laptop up on the desk (they'd discussed previously that it was fine to put it there). Wei Wuxian wasn't even sure why he still had that desk in his room, since he only had his phone and didn't need it to study.

 

The other things Lan Wangji had in his backpack weren't anything exciting. It was simply a collection of toiletries and such.

 

"Oh, yeah," Wei Wuxian said, remembering something, "What about that other box you brought over the other day?" he asked, jumping off the bed and fetching the box. "Can I open it?"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied.

 

The box contained a few nicknacks, including that rabbit ornament. Wei Wuxian helped Lan Wangji arrange them on the nightstand, making sure to put the rabbit next to his. Feeling cheeky, he pushed them together so that their noses were touching.

 

"Perfect," Wei Wuxian remarked, grinning at Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji said nothing, but didn't seem to mind.

 

Wei Wuxian realised something else. "That pendant isn't there, Lan Zhan!" he pointed out. "Did you--"

 

Lan Wangji pulled something out from under his shirt collar. It was the pendant.

 

"I remembered it," Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Right, yeah," he smiled. "I shouldn't've doubted you."

 

Just as Wei Wuxian leant in and gave Lan Wangji a kiss, the door opened. It was Jiang Cheng.

 

Wei Wuxian quickly pulled away from Lan Wangji, although Lan Wangji seemed to make no effort to move on his end.

 

"Dinner's ready," was all Jiang Cheng grumbled, glaring at Wei Wuxian. "Should I tell them to give you guys ten more minutes?" he asked mockingly.

"Aw, c'mon, we were just kissing!" Wei Wuxian laughed, almost wanting to kiss Lan Wangji again just to piss Jiang Cheng off more. "Let's go," he added, taking Lan Wangji's hand in his. Jiang Cheng narrowed his eyes and clicked his tongue as the three of them headed to the dining room.

 

The rest of their families were already sitting around the rather crowded dinner table. There were three extra chairs crammed in there, and Lan Xichen was sitting in Wei Wuxian's usual spot. Actually, the only ones who had kept their normal seats were Jiang Fengmian, who sat at the head of the table, and Madam Yu, who sat to his right. To Jiang Fengmian's left was Lan Qiren, who sat where Jiang Yanli usually was (Wei Wuxian briefly wondered how Lan Qiren would feel knowing his seat was normally occupied by a woman, but figured he might not actually care). Next to Lan Qiren was Lan Xichen, and there was an empty spot beside him for Lan Wangji. Jiang Yanli had been moved to the seat next to her mother. Jiang Cheng sat beside his sister, and next to Wei Wuxian, who sat at the other end of the table between his brother and his fiancé.

 

Wei Wuxian scooted slightly closer to Lan Wangji, tempted to annoy Jiang Cheng with some shameless flirting, but decided not to embarrass Lan Wangji in front of his family.

 

Long story short, the seating arrangement looked something like this:

                Jiang Fengmian

Lan Qiren                       Madam Yu

Lan Xichen                     Jiang Yanli

Lan Wangji                     Jiang Cheng

            Wei Wuxian

 

Wei Wuxian, who usually loved eating more than anybody, was starting to get a bit nervous and unable to focus on dinner. It had nothing to do with Lan Wangji's family being there -- it was that he was fretting about what was coming after dinner and dessert.

 

That was when Wei Wuxian had planned to give Lan Wangji his new hair ribbon. Once everyone had eaten and the two of them had retired to their bedroom for the night, Wei Wuxian knew that nobody would interrupt them. He'd be able to set the mood and present Lan Wangji with his gift.

 

But because it was such a personal present, the Jiangs had prepared something else to give to Lan Wangji while his family were watching. The Lans had already given the Jiangs two bottles of very expensive wine when they arrived, so that had been taken care of.

 

Wei Wuxian had been excited about giving Lan Wangji the ribbon until tonight. Now that Lan Wangji was actually going to be receiving it, he was feeling the pressure.

 

What if Lan Zhan doesn't like it? What if he thinks it's weird that I made him a hair ribbon identical to the one his mother gave him? Maybe I should sneak out tomorrow and buy him something else. No, it's better if I give it to him. I can't get cold feet now! I worked hard on that ribbon!

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't used to giving people gifts. He always bought his family and friends things for their birthdays, sure, but they were never anything handmade. This was the first time he'd put this much effort into making something for someone else.

 

"This food is delicious, by the way," Lan Xichen commented about halfway through his meal. "May I ask who cooked it?"

"I did most of it!" Jiang Yanli replied happily. "I'm glad you like it," she added. "I had to adjust the usual flavours I cook with completely! I was really worried it'd taste weird..."

"Not at all!" Lan Xichen smiled. "Wangji mentioned that he's enjoyed the food he's had while staying here, too!"

"R-Really?" Jiang Yanli looked over at Lan Wangji, also smiling. "Thank you!"

Lan Wangji nodded but said nothing, only glancing up to acknowledge Jiang Yanli.

"Wangji," Lan Xichen said, confused, "You can at least say something..."

 

Lan Wangji swallowed his mouthful of food, put his chopsticks down properly, and turned to face Jiang Yanli again. "I did indeed like the food you and Wei Ying cooked for me when I visited," he said. "Thank you for taking the time to do so."

 

Wei Wuxian was slightly put off by his response for some reason. Glancing over at Jiang Cheng, he seemed to not be alone in that.

 

"Anytime," Jiang Yanli replied, smiling wider. "A-Xian's going to teach you how to cook, but I'm sure he'll have to ask me to help him sometimes!"

"No way!" Wei Wuxian retorted, laughing. "I'll teach him myself! The only thing he won't be able to do is cook anything with spice in it..."

"So long as you don't blow up the kitchen!" Jiang Yanli teased.

 

Lan Wangji quietly picked his chopsticks back up and continued eating.

 

Wei Wuxian decided not to bother him and tried to distract himself from the growing feeling of dread he was experiencing.

 


 

After everyone had stuffed themselves full with dinner and dessert, they made themselves comfortable in the living room to discuss plans for Lan Wangji. He was to be staying with them from tonight. Lan Wangji had driven his car over separately from his family, and had found somewhere safe to park it. His rabbits were still at his house (well, his old house), and would be shifted to their new location in a few days.

 

"Is it alright if I voice a concern?" Lan Xichen asked Jiang Fengmian.

"Certainly," Jiang Fengmian said. "What is it?"

"There are already five people who are normally in this household," Lan Xichen began, "So I was wondering if there would be enough hot water for everyone to use? On top of showering, you have laundry to worry about..."

 

It was a valid concern, and Wei Wuxian realised they hadn't discussed it at all.

 

"Hmm," Jiang Fengmian pondered. "I... think there should be?"

"I could always bathe at Zixuan's place," Jiang Yanli suggested. "Oh," she added, seeing that the Lans were confused, "He's my fiancé! I spend a lot of time visiting him anyway, and he lives on his own. I don't think he'd mind!"

"There's an easier solution than that, A-Li," Madam Yu said.

"What would that be, my dear?" Jiang Fengmian asked.

Madam Yu looked at Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. "The two of you could shower together."

"Mother!" Jiang Cheng exclaimed, aghast.

 

Wei Wuxian blushed deeply. "Y-You can't be serious..." he spluttered, even though he quite liked the idea.

"Of course I'm serious," Madam Yu sighed. "Unless your relationship somehow hasn't progressed to that point, but I can't see how that's possible."

"T-That's not the point!" Wei Wuxian protested. "It's different!"

Madam Yu raised her eyebrows. "And here I thought you'd be delighted by the idea."

"Well," Wei Wuxian said, "I mean, we have taken a bath together before, but--" he instantly cut himself off, remembering who exactly was in the room. Lan Wangji nudged him to shut up.

"When the hell did you bathe together?" Jiang Cheng asked. "Also, how the hell would the two of you fit in a bathtub?" he added.

"It's easy if you squish in together," Wei Wuxian explained. "And hotel baths tend to be bigger than regular baths."

"Ah," Jiang Chang replied.

 

"Wangji," Lan Qiren said after a moment of silence, "Why would you take a bath with someone else?"

"...Wei Ying was tired," Lan Wangji explained hesitantly. "I did not want him to fall asleep in the bath."

"In that case," Lan Qiren said, "Would it not have been better for him to bathe or shower when he woke up the next morning? Why did he require a bath then?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian froze. Did Lan Qiren really not get it?!

 

Lan Xichen cleared his throat loudly. "Uncle," he coughed, "Surely Wangji doesn't need to provide an explanation about everything he does with his, uh, fiancé."

Lan Qiren paused. "...You're right," he admitted. "It's not like it matters."

 

"Actually," Jiang Cheng chimed in, "Even if these two were to agree to showering together, could they even both fit in there at the same time?"

"Yes," Madam Yu answered flatly. "Two adults can definitely fit in that shower together."

Jiang Cheng pulled a face. "How d'you kno-- no, wait, don't tell me," he shuddered, putting a hand up. "I don't wan't do know that."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't exactly want to know the details of that either, but he couldn't help but glance over at Jiang Fengmian, who was looking somewhat awkward.

 

"Is there anything else you wanted to discuss?" Jiang Fengmian asked.

"Not in particular," Lan Xichen replied, although he looked at Lan Qiren to make sure. Lan Qiren nodded.

"Great!" Jiang Fengmian said. "In that case..." he turned to Madam Yu. "Could you bring it here?"

"Sure," Madam Yu said, standing up and leaving the room.

"Hmmm, what's this?" Lan Xichen asked.

"You'll see," Jiang Fengmian replied mysteriously, smiling.

 

Madam Yu returned holding a present that was wrapped delicately in red and gold wrapping paper. She handed it to Jiang Fengmian and sat down again.

 

"This is for you, Lan Wangji," Jiang Fengmian said, standing up and bowing, holding out the present.

Lan Wangji hesitated. "You did not need to..."

"Yes, we did," Jiang Fengmian said gently. "This is an important day for you, and for all of us."

 

Lan Wangji slowly got out of his seat and bowed while he accepted the gift. Once he was properly holding it, both Lan Wangji and Jiang Fengmian straightened up.

 

"Thank you," Lan Wangji said, nodding.

"Perhaps it's technically too early to say this," Jiang Fengmian chuckled, "But welcome to the family, Lan Wangji. We're looking forward to getting to know you better."

"Definitely," Madam Yu agreed. "You're a very capable young man, and we want to bring out the best in you."

"...Likewise," Lan Wangji replied. "Thank you very much for granting me this opportunity."

 

Jiang Fengmian smiled at him and sat down. "Now," he announced, "Enough with the formalities. We're all here to have a good time. But I will say this," he added, still addressing Lan Wangji (who was now also sitting down again). "If you need anything, or at any point feel uncomfortable by anyone's behaviours, let us know. We're more than happy to accomodate you."

Lan Wangji nodded again. "I understand," he said.

 

"Also," Jiang Yanli piped up, "You really don't need to be so formal with us! Treat me and A-Cheng as your equals, okay?" she told him.

"I will," Lan Wangji replied.

 

"A-Cheng," Madam Yu said, "You haven't said anything yet."

Jiang Cheng shifted in his seat. Clearly he'd been hoping to avoid having to be polite towards Lan Wangji. He cleared his throat. "Well," he said, "Er... So long as you keep that id-- keep Wei Wuxian under control and don't do anything stupid yourself, I'll have no complaints."

"I will make sure I properly follow this household's rules," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Wei Wuxian could feel the animosity between them. He wasn't entirely sure why they were like this, considering they both had the same goal. Was Jiang Cheng jealous or something? Surely not.

 

"It sounds like you're in good hands, Wangji," Lan Xichen remarked, smiling at his brother. "And remember, you can call us whenever you need something. It's not like you're not allowed to visit home anymore, either, okay?" he clarified. "If you've forgotten something, or feel like playing your guqin for a while, the doors will always be open for you."

"Thank you, Brother," Lan Wangji replied. "I am sure Wei Ying and I will visit sometime."

 

Wei Wuxian glanced at Lan Qiren. "Um," he said, "So long as I'm allowed to..."

"You are," Lan Qiren assured him. "But only when you're with Wangji."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Yeah, yeah, of course!" he grinned. "And," he added, changing to a more serious tone, "Thanks for letting Lan Zhan come to live with us. We promise we'll take good care of him. So don't worry about him and leave him to us!"

"I'm sure we'll worry about him either way," Lan Xichen chuckled. "But thank you, Wei Wuxian -- no, all of you," he turned towards the Jiangs. "This means a lot to Wangji and to us."

"Indeed," Lan Qiren nodded, stroking his goatee. "I doubt we'll regret our decision to trust you."

 

Wei Wuxian knew that Lan Qiren wouldn't approve of just anyone, let alone trust them, so to hear him say that made him feel proud.

 

After talking for a little while longer, Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen announced that, since it was getting late, they ought to head home.

 

Which meant that it was finally time for Wei Wuxian to give Lan Wangji his actual moving-in present.

 

At the door, Lan Xichen gave Lan Wangji a brief, tight hug.

 

"Be good, Wangji," Lan Xichen told him, his voice shaking slightly. "And take care of yourself. We love you."

"I will," Lan Wangji replied. He, however, was as stoic as always. "You too, Brother. And Uncle..."

 

Lan Qiren was standing back, looking like he had no intention of hugging Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian felt slightly sorry for Lan Wangji, and figured he could fill the void with plenty of hugs later.

 

"Stay safe, Wangji," Lan Qiren said. His voice lacked even more emotion than Lan Wangji's. "I know you'll be fine."

"Thank you, Uncle," Lan Wangji nodded.

 

The others exchanged farewells before Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen left.

 

Oh fuck, Wei Wuxian thought, I'm gonna... have to do it now. Before he gets too tired and wants to go to bed. Shit. How should I give it to him? What should I say?

 

Despite mentally preparing a sappy speech and going over it several times, Wei Wuxian found that his mind was drawing a blank when it came to actually making up something to tell Lan Wangji when he presented him with his gift.

 

Wei Wuxian lead Lan Wangji upstairs to their room, trying to be playful and chatty with him to cover up his nervousness. Wei Wuxian figured that Lan Wangji could probably tell that something was up by now, however.

 

Wei Wuxian immediately took his present out of its hiding spot in the top right drawer. With his hands behind his back, he turned around to face Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji, who had gone to move his backpack, paused and looked over at Wei Wuxian with confusion. He straightened up properly.

 

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked. He had placed the present from the Jiangs down on the bed.

"So, uh..." Wei Wuxian began, shuffling his feet slightly. "My family got you that gift, but actually, I have something for you as well..." He stuck his hands out in front of him, holding the present out for Lan Wangji to take. "You don't need to be polite and try and refuse it," Wei Wuxian told him with a grin. "Uncle Jiang said we're done with formalities."

Lan Wangji nodded as he took the present. "Thank you, Wei Ying," he said.

 

Wei Wuxian sat down on the bed, with Lan Wangji following him.

 

"Open their one first," Wei Wuxian instructed. The emotional gift would be best for last.

 

Lan Wangji slowly unwrapped the Jiangs' present, which was a large tin of expensive tea leaves. They were a different variety to the ones Wei Wuxian had taken with him the first time he'd visited the Lans', but everyone thought that tea was a safe gift, so they went with it again.

 

"...Thank you," Lan Wangji said again. "I think I have tried this variety before, and I enjoyed it," he added. He placed the tin on the nightstand before he picked up Wei Wuxian's gift.

 

Wei Wuxian's breath hitched in anticipation, all his nerves and fears flooding his brain. Yet somehow, he kept them in, and just sat there smiling.

 

Lan Wangji seemed to be even slower in opening his second gift, every second making Wei Wuxian more and more anxious. Lan Wangji paused when he finished unwrapping it, studying the small, circular,  golden cardboard container he was now holding.

 

"Open it," Wei Wuxian urged gently.

 

Lan Wangji took off the lid. Instantly, his eyes widened in shock. He looked back and forth between the present and Wei Wuxian. "You... Where did...? How did...?" his voice shook in disbelief.

 

It was the first time Wei Wuxian had seen Lan Wangji react this way. He was worried that the present was a failure, but he pressed on. "Uh... I, er, made it, actually..." Wei Wuxian admitted quietly. "I-I know it probably seems weird!" he added hastily. "I was gonna try making you a new hair ribbon for your birthday anyway, but I felt really really bad about you loosing something so important to you that I wanted to make it up to you sooner. I know it's not the same -- but I made it longer and thicker since you have more hair now. So it's less likely to fall out. And uh... the stitching isn't perfect, but I've never really done anything like that before, and my sister had to teach me, so..." he trailed off, having run out of excuses to delay Lan Wangji's response.

 

Lan Wangji picked up the ribbon to examine it. Wei Wuxian could tell that his hands weren't as steady as they usually were.

 

After a pause, Lan Wangji did something unexpected: he turned around and hid his face in the hand that wasn't holding the ribbon.

 

"...Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked carefully, wondering if he'd offended him. Wei Wuxian slowly extended a hand and patted Lan Wangji on the back, but Lan Wangji shook his head.

"I apologise, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji mumbled unsteadily. "This..." he took a breath. "How shameful."

 

Wei Wuxian then figured out what was going on, and immediately relaxed into a genuine smile. He rested his head on Lan Wangji's back.

 

"There's nothing shameful about crying, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian chuckled softly. "If there was, I'd be the most shameful person in the world."

 

They stayed like that until Lan Wangji composed himself enough to gain the courage to face Wei Wuxian once more.

 

"Thank you, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said, his voice now firm again. "You... do not know how much I appreciate this."

"I like to think I have some idea," Wei Wuxian grinned. "You wanna test it out, then?" he asked.

 

Lan Wangji nodded. He sat the new ribbon on his lap as he untied his regular, boring, nondescript ribbon. He picked the new ribbon up again, but hesitated.

 

"Will you do the honours, Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked, placing the ribbon in Wei Wuxian's hands.

 

Wei Wuxian paused for a second. "...A-Are you sure?" he spluttered.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded yet again. "Please."

 

The two of them shifted positions so that Wei Wuxian was facing Lan Wangji's back. Wei Wuxian softly ran his fingers through Wei Wuxian's hair before trying the ribbon around it so that Lan Wangji was wearing his usual low ponytail. Wei Wuxian attempted to make it into a bow, but didn't do a very good job.

 

"Done," Wei Wuxian announced, taking his hands away. Lan Wangji turned back around. "How does it feel?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Perfect," Lan Wangji replied.

Wei Wuxian grinned widely.

 

Wei Wuxian was about to suggest they get ready for bed when Lan Wangji spoke up: "Actually," he said, "I also... have something to give to you, Wei Ying."

"You do?" Wei Wuxian asked, having not expected that at all.

"Mmn."

 

Lan Wangji stood up and rummaged through his backpack. He returned with a small velvet box in his hand.

 

Wei Wuxian froze.

 

That'll... be rings, right? So he remembered?

 

Lan Wangji got down on one knee as he opened the box, revealing two diamond rings that seemed to be infused with white jade. The bands looked like they were made out of gold.

 

"I apologise for taking so long," Lan Wangji said, "But I was unable to decide upon an appropriate gemstone. Hopefully this is acceptable..."

Wei Wuxian laughed shakily. "Lan Zhan," he said, "You could buy me a plastic ring from a discount store and I'd be overjoyed. Of course it's acceptable," he smiled. "But Lan Zhan, isn't this the wrong way 'round?" he added, half-jokingly.

"What is?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Shouldn't I be the one giving the rings to you?" Wei Wuxian pointed out. "Since, y'know, I'm the one who proposed."

"...You said we were done with formalities," Lan Wangji retorted.

 

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly. "Okay, okay," he said. "I get it. You win. You've completely and utterly defeated me tonight, Lan Zhan," he added lovingly, taking one of the rings and sliding it on his ring finger. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."

"Does it fit?" Lan Wangji asked slowly.

"It's a little tight," Wei Wuxian replied, "But it's fine. Here," he continued, taking out the other ring and putting it on Lan Wangji's ring finger. "Now we match!" he grinned, placing his ring finger next to Lan Wangji's.

 

As if suddenly realising the importance of tonight and all that had come with it, Wei Wuxian started crying out of pure happiness and relief. He pulled Lan Wangji into a tight hug and buried his face in his chest.

 

"I love you, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian murmured. "It's a dream to be by your side every day and night like this. To hold you like this and know you're not going anywhere. I love you so, so, so much. Thank you. Truly. I love you."

Lan Wangji squeezed him tighter. "Mmn," he mumbled. "Me too. I feel exactly the same. I love you too, Wei Ying."

 

It took Wei Wuxian some time before he stopped crying, by which point it had gotten quite late. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji exchanged a few kisses before getting ready for bed.

 

Even though the bed had seemed large when sleeping in it alone, Wei Wuxian found it comfortable as he snuggled up to Lan Wangji for the night.

 

It still felt surreal: Lan Wangji moving in, the rings, the fact that they were getting married to begin with, Lan Wangji being so supportive...

 

Wei Wuxian was, for once, actually excited about the future, rather than scared of it.

Chapter Text

Sunday was spent giving Lan Wangji a proper tour of the Jiangs' house (including showing him exactly which bedrooms he shouldn't go in without permission) and explaining how certain things worked. Wei Wuxian told Lan Wangji not to worry, and that he'd always help Lan Wangji with understanding things -- at least initially, of course.

 

Wei Wuxian was glad he'd taken Monday off work, as they'd realised at dinner on Sunday night that Lan Wangji had no food of his own. The solution was for Wei Wuxian to take Lan Wangji to the local supermarket.

 

"I still can't believe you've never been to a supermarket before," Wei Wuxian lamented as they grabbed a trolley.

"The servants do all the cooking," Lan Wangji explained. "I have never been required to do my own grocery shopping."

"I know," Wei Wuxian sighed, leaning forwards on the trolley slightly as he wheeled it. "But if you see anything you want, buy it! It's good to try new things!" he encouraged as the automatic doors opened for them.

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian was also somewhat excited for a selfish reason: he technically had unlimited money to spend, and could finally try a bunch of things he'd always been interested in that he was usually too poor to afford.

 

"We should probably look at breakfast foods first," Wei Wuxian suggested. He paused as he realised that Lan Wangji wasn't walking with him.

 

Turning around, Wei Wuxian saw that Lan Wangji was still standing at the entrance, looking around. He backtracked to be beside Lan Wangji again.

 

"Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked.

Lan Wangji seemed to snap out of a trance. "...I apologise," he mumbled.

"It's okay!" Wei Wuxian replied. "What's up? Are you alright?"

"...There... is so much food..." Lan Wangji said.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian smiled. "All of this is buyable. I mean, nobody's gonna need everything, but you can find a lot of things at a supermarket: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, things for hotpots -- oh, we should do a hotpot sometime once it starts getting colder! -- candy, drinks, condiments, meats, vegetables, fruit, spices... They even have a section for food from other countries!"

 

Lan Wangji looked like a child in a candy store. Wei Wuxian figured he hadn't been exposed to most things when it came to food, and found it oddly endearing.

 

"Let's go, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said warmly, setting off again. Lan Wangji followed him this time.

 

They ended up spending what felt like hours walking down every aisle. Not that Wei Wuxian minded, as Lan Wangji's curiosity was enjoyable to watch. Every so often, they'd walk past an item that Lan Wangji couldn't identify, and each time, Wei Wuxian would patiently explain it to him.

 

The shopping trolley was almost overflowing by the time they finally reached the check-out counter. Most of what they'd purchased was actually for Lan Wangji to try (including some frozen pizza bases, because Wei Wuxian had had the brilliant idea that they could make homemade pizza for everyone, and Lan Wangji could choose whichever combination of toppings he wanted), but Wei Wuxian had definitely indulged himself as well.

 

The one thing Wei Wuxian hadn't bought that had taken all his self-restraint was more beer. He had purposefully avoided the alcohol section, but they still had to walk past it, and Wei Wuxian usually thoroughly inspected those aisles on his supermarket visits.

 

Wei Wuxian remembered that he only had a couple of cans left in the fridge at home, and was starting to worry about what was going to happen once he drank them. What if he got really bad withdrawals? He tried not to think about it.

 

The groceries barely fit in the boot of Lan Wangji's car.

 

Once they got home, Wei Wuxian showed Lan Wangji where all the food lived. Frozen food went in the freezer, things you wanted to keep cool belonged in the fridge, pretty much everything else was put in the pantry.

 

As Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were finishing putting away the groceries, Jiang Cheng entered the kitchen.

 

"...Did you buy the entire fucking store?" Jiang Cheng remarked, seeing all the plastic bags laying around.

"Hardly," Wei Wuxian laughed. "Also, if you're mad about it, blame Lan Zhan. Most of it's his."

"I never said I was mad," Jiang Cheng humphed. "I'm surprised, though," he added, turning to Lan Wangji. "You don't eat much, yet you've bought all this food."

"It is all things I wanted to try," Lan Wangji replied. "But they are not all for me, I was planning on sharing them."

 

Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng exchanged glances.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, "You don't have to bother with that. Just buy things for yourself! We're not gonna be mad, it's what we all do."

"Yeah," Jiang Cheng agreed, "This guy got pissed a couple of weeks ago because I ate some of his ice cream. I've done the same in the past. So don't worry about sharing."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Okay," he said, slowly. "I will take that into account."

 

"By the way," Jiang Cheng added, "Have you heard back from the therapy clinic?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian realised that he'd forgotten to tell Jiang Cheng about his appointment.

 

"A-Actually," Wei Wuxian replied quickly, "Lan Zhan told me that he managed to arrange an appointment for, uh, Friday in two weeks. I... forgot to tell you, my bad."

Jiang Cheng breathed a sigh of relief. "Phew," he said. "I was starting to get annoyed at them. Did you get him an appointment with Dr. Xie Lian?" he asked Lan Wangji.

"I did," Lan Wangji answered. "I did not speak to him directly, but I was assured the appointment would be with him."

"Great," Jiang Cheng replied. "Uh..." he scratched his cheek. "Thanks."

 

Wei Wuxian was amazed that Jiang Cheng was being this civil, especially given the tension between him and Lan Wangji earlier.

 

"...I will do anything for Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said firmly. Wei Wuxian felt a surge of warmth hearing those words again.

"I know," Jiang Cheng said. "You two can be excruciating sometimes..." he sighed, laughing slightly.

"Maybe you would be too if you had someone you loved," Wei Wuxian remarked.

"No way," Jiang Cheng scoffed. "Besides," he added, "I doubt anyone would care about me as much as you guys care about each other..."

"..."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't really know what to say. Surely there was someone out there for Jiang Cheng too, right? If Wei Wuxian of all people could find someone who loved and cared for him, it should be easy for Jiang Cheng to do the same. He was vaguely reminded of Mo Xuanyu, but immediately dismissed anything related to that, because A) Jiang Cheng probably wasn't interested in guys and B) Mo Xuanyu definitely wasn't his type anyway.

 

Surprisingly, while Wei Wuxian was lost in thought, Lan Wangji spoke up: "If you want there to be that someone, they will exist. You just need to find them."

 

Jiang Cheng looked at him doubtfully. "And how do I do that?" he asked.

Lan Wangji hesitated. "Perhaps," he suggested, "You have been looking in the wrong places."

"The fuck does that mean?" Jiang Cheng demanded, furrowing his eyebrows. "I'm not interested enough to try dating apps or anything like that, if that's what you're on about."

 

Lan Wangji shook his head. "One day you will understand," he said in a strange voice, almost as if he was insulting Jiang Cheng.

 

Before they could get any more annoyed at each other, Wei Wuxian decided to intervene. "O-Okay," he said, "Let's... drop this, yeah?" He turned to Lan Wangji. "Once we finish tidying up in here, why don't we go upstairs and leave Jiang Cheng alone? We can take some snacks with us to try out if you want."

"...Mmn," Lan Wangji replied, facing away from Jiang Cheng, who was still confused.

"I'll go," Jiang Cheng offered. "You guys can take your time."

 

After Jiang Cheng left and the rest of the groceries had been put away, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji each picked a couple of snacks and a drink to take back to their room with them.

 

"What did you mean about Jiang Cheng looking in the wrong places and all that, by the way?" Wei Wuxian asked as he tore open a bag of potato chips after sitting down on the floor, leaning against the bed.

Lan Wangji sat down next to him. "Have you not noticed, Wei Ying?" he asked back, delicately opening the packet of roasted peanuts he'd chosen.

"Noticed what?" Wei Wuxian asked through a mouthful of chips, spraying crumbs on himself. He brushed them onto the floor.

"I may be wrong," Lan Wangji said, "But I think... Jiang Wanyin likes my brother."

 

Wei Wuxian was about to say something along the lines of Well, yeah, he's a nice guy, I like him too, but then he realised the context that Lan Wangji was talking about and nearly choked on his second mouthful of chips. After reassuring Lan Wangji that he was okay, he quickly opened his bottle of iced tea and drank several gulps of it before he finally managed to compose himself.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian coughed, putting up a hand, "With all due respect... What the fuck makes you think that?"

Lan Wangji took a moment to reply. "His behaviour around my brother is different than how it is to everyone else," he explained. "And his reactions are similar to those of protagonists of novels I've read who are in love. I could be misreading him, however..."

 

Wei Wuxian had indeed noticed Jiang Cheng's oddly shy behaviour towards Lan Xichen. Since he hadn't been able to work it out, he'd given up on thinking about it.

 

He wanted to tell Lan Wangji that he was wrong and that, as he'd made note of earlier, Jiang Cheng wasn't interested in guys. Except Wei Wuxian suddenly realised that he had absolutely no basis for that claim. Jiang Cheng had never directly told Wei Wuxian what his sexuality was, so maybe... maybe he was actually interested in guys. Maybe not even Jiang Cheng himself knew the answer. It had certainly taken Wei Wuxian a while to figure out his own sexuality, so it wouldn't be that farfetched for Jiang Cheng not to know how he felt about it all.

 

But Lan Wangji was also right in that those novel protagonists acted the same way as Jiang Cheng did around their crushes.

 

Fuck, Wei Wuxian thought. This... is potentially awkward. And I'm pretty sure Lan Zhan's said his brother doesn't like men. I mean, uh. I dunno if Jiang Cheng likes Lan Zhan's brother or not. Maybe he does.

 

Shit.

 

"...I'm not sure how I feel about this," Wei Wuxian admitted. "I don't think you're wrong, as such, but..." He paused for a moment before adding, "Also, didn't you tell me your brother isn't interested in men?" he asked.

Lan Wangji nodded. "I did," he said. "But that is simply my own assumption. He may not actually be against the idea of being in a relationship with a man."

"So, what d'you think we should do?" Wei Wuxian asked. "I don't think Jiang Cheng would appreciate us getting involved, but he's really stubborn and probably won't work it out on his own. I doubt he's aware of his own feelings."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "That is something I am unsure of. Ultimately, I think Jiang Wanyin has to realise it himself."

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian agreed. That's... probably best."

 

They went back to eating in silence. Wei Wuxian continued to think about Lan Wangji's theory, and the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. But even still, it really wasn't the place of Wei Wuxian or Lan Wangji to interfere. Which was annoying, because Wei Wuxian found it slightly amusing that, even though he and Jiang Cheng were very different people, they seemed to have the same tastes in men -- at least looks-wise (he didn't say anything about that to Lan Wangji, however).

 

Wei Wuxian also wondered how Madam Yu would feel if Jiang Cheng ended up dating another man. It was a different scenario than with Wei Wuxian, as Madam Yu had never acknowledged the latter as her own son. Jiang Cheng, on the other hand, was her pride and joy. And, in many ways, Madam Yu was a traditional woman, who probably expected that Jiang Cheng would marry some nice young lady and start a family of his own. On the other hand, maybe she wouldn't be bothered by it, since she tended to respect her children's wishes.

 

Starting a family...

 

Jiang Yanli was almost guaranteed to do that, as she was already engaged to Jin Zixuan. Jiang Cheng was a huge question mark.

 

As for Wei Wuxian, he knew it was out of the question.

 

But he still couldn't help but think about how wonderful it would be raising a child with Lan Wangji.

 

No, Wei Ying, Wei Wuxian told himself. You've already shown that you're useless at being a parent. Besides, you're getting ahead of yourself. Kids come after marriage. You've still got a year before you're married. Lan Zhan might not even want kids.

 

If Lan Wangji knew about Wei Wuxian's greatest failure in life, there'd definitely be no chance in them raising a child together.

 

Wei Wuxian forced himself to start thinking about something else in an attempt to stop his heart from aching.

 

A-Yuan...

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said quietly, resting his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder, "What d'you want to make for dinner tonight? Don't worry about feeding everyone; pick something you want to eat."

"...Something plain, perhaps," Lan Wangji replied. "Would the shrimp be alright?" he asked.

"Of course!" Wei Wuxian said. "Shrimp, huh? Lemme think of something we can do with them with the vegetables we have when we're in the kitchen. I'll show you how to prepare them and everything."

"Thank you," Lan Wangji mumbled.

 

Wei Wuxian smiled to himself. He took his hand and placed it over Lan Wangji's, their fingers instantly becoming intertwined. Lan Wangji didn't seem to question it.

 

"Oh yeah," Wei Wuxian said, remembering something else. "It's still a few months away, but how would you feel about doing a hotpot at some point during winter? It might be a good idea for a birthday meal or something."

"Hotpot is... where you choose which ingredients to cook in a broth, correct? I have always wanted to try it," Lan Wangji replied.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian tried not to sound surprised at the fact that Lan Wangji had never eaten a hotpot meal before. "My birthday's at the end of October."

 

He then realised a very important fact: he didn't know when Lan Wangji's birthday was.

 

"...Speaking of which," Wei Wuxian added slowly, "When's your birthday, Lan Zhan? I haven't missed it, have I?" he asked nervously.

"My birthday is the twenty-third of January," Lan Wangji answered stoically.

Wei Wuxian breathed a sigh of relief. "Awesome," he said, "I'm glad it hasn't been yet! I'll make sure we celebrate it properly!"

"Birthday celebrations are unnecessary," Lan Wangji said in a small voice. "Just being with you is enough for me."

Wei Wuxian frowned. "No no no," he protested. "Birthdays are things you celebrate! Even if it's just the two of us for a day, we can go and do something fun. Visit an aquarium or see a movie or a play or something."

"Okay," Lan Wangji replied, nodding. "In that case," he added, "What would you like to do for your birthday, Wei Ying?" he asked.

"Hmmm..." Wei Wuxian thought for a moment. "I usually just hang out with Wen Ning and HuaiSang and get drunk. But I don't... really wanna do that this year. I'll invite them over, but I don't know if HuaiSang will want to come if he has to be sober!" he laughed.

 

Lan Wangji paused. "How... has your drinking been?" he asked cautiously.

"Not that bad," Wei Wuxian answered honestly. "You being here is a good distraction, actually. But I dunno. I kinda... feel like a drink tonight," he admitted. It was his own fault for thinking about upsetting things, and he knew that. It made him feel pathetic.

 

Lan Wangji tightened his grip on Wei Wuxian's hand slightly. "...One drink... would be okay," he said slowly.

Wei Wuxian looked up at him in shock. "But you... You said you wanted me to stop drinking..." he mumbled, confused.

Lan Wangji shook his head. "Not quite," he corrected. "I said I did not feel comfortable around you being drunk. It would be unrealistic of me to expect you to stop drinking alcohol completely." Lan Wangji's voice was calm and understanding. "And it takes you a lot more than one drink to get drunk," he pointed out.

Wei Wuxian laughed dryly. "Damn right it does," he chuckled. "And," he continued, "If you're... really not bothered by it, I think I will have a drink. Just one, though, I promise."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji said.

 

They stayed sitting together like that until it was time to actually do something about dinner.

  

Wei Wuxian decided to make a simple dish consisting of fried shrimp with bok choy and mushrooms. He showed Lan Wangji how to wash, peel and prepare the shrimp. Lan Wangji got the hang of it almost instantly. Wei Wuxian took care of the other ingredients.

 

Once everything had been fried and they'd cooked some rice, they served themselves, fetched a drink each (Lan Wangji brewed himself a pot of tea and Wei Wuxian happily took a can of beer out of the fridge) and sat across from each other at the dining table.

 

Wei Wuxian raised his beer. "It's a bit weird doing it like this," he said, "But here's to a new start! I wanted to toast you personally," he explained, seeing Lan Wangji's confused expression. "Cheers!" he added with a grin, jokingly clinking the can against Lan Wangji's teacup.

Lan Wangji picked up his teacup with both hands and lightly tapped the can back. "Cheers, Wei Ying," he said.

 

Wei Wuxian laughed as they both took a drink.

 

He was immediately hit with a calming effect from the alcohol. His body had clearly been craving it more than he'd realised.

 

"How's it taste?" Wei Wuxian asked after they were both several mouthfuls in.

"It is good," Lan Wangji replied. "Maybe it would be better without the mushrooms, however..."

"Hmmm," Wei Wuxian said. "We can try that next time! I think I'll add something other than chillies to mine, too. It's still kinda too bland for me." 

"Mmn."

 

When Wei Wuxian had almost finished eating, Jiang Cheng entered the kitchen.

 

"Smells nice," Jiang Cheng commented. "Is that shrimp?"

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian confirmed. "We only made enough for ourselves, but -- why're you glaring at me?" he asked, noticing Jiang Cheng's change in expression.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Jiang Cheng demanded angrily.

"...I'm... eating dinner with Lan Zhan...?" Wei Wuxian replied, not knowing what Jiang Cheng was getting at.

"Not that," Jiang Cheng sighed, rolling his eyes. He pointed at the can of beer. "Whatever happened to not drinking?"

"Lan Zhan said it was okay!" Wei Wuxian explained, trying not to sound mad.

 

Jiang Cheng turned to Lan Wangji. "Did you really say that?" he asked, disappointed.

"I did," Lan Wangji replied matter-of-factly, setting his chopsticks down.

"But you're the one who wants him to quit drinking!" Jiang Cheng shouted. "You said it makes you feel uncomfortable. And yet you're enabling him?! I can't fucking believe this!"

 

Lan Wangji slowly stood up and walked over to Jiang Cheng. "You cannot expect someone to stop drinking alcohol that easily," he said calmly. "And I think you've misunderstood me, Jiang Wanyin: what I felt uncomfortable around was Wei Ying being drunk. He will not get drunk if he has a single can of beer with his dinner. Do you not know how alcohol works?" His tone didn't change, but his words became extremely venomous. Wei Wuxian almost wanted to laugh.

 

"I know how it works, you fucking idiot!" Jiang Cheng yelled. He took a few deep breaths to compose himself. "But fine, whatever. It's none of my business. So long as you keep an eye on him."

"Jiang Cheng," Wei Wuxian said, "It's fine. I won't be doing anything to anyone or to myself. And Lan Zhan, Jiang Cheng's just trying to help."

"...I know that," Lan Wangji grumbled.

 

Jiang Cheng humphed. He turned around and headed over to the pantry and began rummaging around for food.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said quietly, "Leave it. Sit down and eat, okay?"

 

Lan Wangji came back to the table. However, instead of sitting back down, he stood next to Wei Wuxian.

 

"Lan Zh--" Wei Wuxian was too shocked to even finish saying his name.

"What's going on?" Jiang Cheng asked, his eyes widening when he saw what Lan Wangji was doing.

 

Lan Wangji had picked up Wei Wuxian's mostly-empty can of beer... and was drinking what was left in it.

 

"There," Lan Wangji said to Jiang Cheng, placing the can back down. "Now there should not be any issues."

"You..." Jiang Cheng stared at him. "I really don't fucking get you."

 

Wei Wuxian stood up and put his hand on Lan Wangji's shoulder. "Lan Zhan," he said again, "I appreciate it, but it's fine. You said it yourself, didn't you? One can's okay."

"..." Lan Wangji didn't say anything back. He quietly sat down again and slowly resumed eating.

 

Wei Wuxian was truly stunned. He glanced at Jiang Cheng (who had found a snack), whose anger had changed to confusion.

 

"I'll... leave you guys to it, then," Jiang Cheng said.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian nodded. "I, uh..." he wasn't sure what to say.

 

Jiang Cheng shook his head and left, sighing.

 

Wei Wuxian finished his meal in silence. As he went to stand up and collect his dishes, he heard the clang of chopsticks hitting the table and falling to the floor. Initially, he thought they were his chopsticks, but no -- those were properly on their holder.

 

The noise belonged to Lan Wangji's chopsticks. Wei Wuxian hadn't expected Lan Wangji would ever drop anything, but as he looked over, he realised that Lan Wangji's head was leaning forward and his eyes were closed.

 

Did he seriously fall asleep after drinking that tiny amount?! Wei Wuxian chuckled to himself, shaking his head in disbelief.

 

He tidied up after himself and then after Lan Wangji, putting his leftovers in the fridge.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian whispered once he'd finished, patting Lan Wangji on the back gently, "Wake up. I'll take you to bed."

Lan Wangji drowsily opened his eyes. He glanced up at Wei Wuxian. "Wei Ying?" he mumbled.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian smiled softly. "C'mon."

 

Lan Wangji appeared to still be in a daze, so Wei Wuxian put his arm around him and helped him up. They somehow managed to get to their room without Lan Wangji dozing off again.

 

Wei Wuxian sat Lan Wangji down on the bed before he closed the door.

 

"It's still early," Wei Wuxian told him, walking back over to the bed and sitting down next to him. "What d'you want to do?" he asked.

 

Without responding, Lan Wangji leant over and kissed Wei Wuxian deeply. Wei Wuxian welcomed the action, his tongue easily finding its way into Lan Wangji's mouth. Once they broke the kiss, Wei Wuxian lay himself down on his back.

 

"Wanna do more than just kiss?" Wei Wuxian teased, giving Lan Wangji a playful wink.

Lan Wangji nodded as he straddled him. "Much more," he replied.

"We'll have to be quiet," Wei Wuxian reminded him. "But everyone else should be eating dinner soon."

"More," Lan Wangji insisted.

 

Wei Wuxian laughed as he began to unzip Lan Wangji's pants. "I know, I know..."

 

In the middle of doing much more than just kissing (though there was still a lot of kissing involved), Wei Wuxian happened to be in a position where he could see the bedroom door clearly.

 

And he could see it open. It took him a second to register that there was someone standing there. When he did, he hurriedly threw the sheets over his and Lan Wangji's lower halves after they'd separated their bodies.

 

"Why did you come in?!" Wei Wuxian demanded, his face even redder than it had been.

"...I thought... you told me I could..." Jiang Cheng coughed. He was standing with his back to them.

 

Remembering the sorts of things he'd been saying (one of which did indeed sound horrifically close to 'Come in', now that he thought about it), Wei Wuxian broke into a cold sweat. "O...h..."

 

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck...

 

"What... are you after?" Wei Wuxian asked, his voice shaking slightly.

"I... uh," Jiang Cheng cleared his throat. "I came to apologise, but... now's not the time, is it?"

Wei Wuxian couldn't help but laugh. "Nah, not really," he said.

 

Lan Wangji shifted so that he was looking over at Jiang Cheng. "...Jiang Wanyin," he called.

Jiang Cheng cautiously turned around, relaxing when he saw they were now covered and not still inside each other. "What?" he asked. His face was almost as red as Wei Wuxian's.

"...Sorry," Lan Wangji said.

 

"Huh?" both Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng remarked.

 

"What, for fucking my brother?" Jiang Cheng snorted. "You're adults. And you're engaged. I don't care, it's my own fault for walking in on you."

"No," Lan Wangji said, shaking his head. "For... earlier."

"Oh."

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian sighed, "Jiang Cheng was already here to apologise. You don't need to do it."

"...But I went too far," Lan Wangji said solemnly.

"If anyone went too far, it's me," Jiang Cheng admitted. "Anyway, I'm... gonna go and have dinner with everyone else. Uh. My bad."

"Don't worry about it," Wei Wuxian told him. "Just make absolutely sure next time that I'm actually saying 'Come in', yeah?" he chuckled.

"That's not what you said," Jiang Cheng grimaced. "I just heard you say 'Yes', followed by something I couldn't hear."

 

Wei Wuxian laughed nervously. "Maybe only open the door if I properly say 'Enter' or something," he suggested.

"That works," Jiang Cheng replied with an awkward smile. He closed the door behind him as he left.

 

Wei Wuxian flopped down on his pillow, his face burning with embarrassment. "Whoops."

"Not your fault," Lan Wangji said. His own face was slightly flushed, and his ears were bright pink. Wei Wuxian sat up and kissed him.

 

"You wanna keep going?" Wei Wuxian asked.

Lan Wangji kissed him back. "Yes," he nodded, placing a firm-but-gentle hand on Wei Wuxian's inner thigh.

 

They kept going.

 


 

Showering was a struggle that night for both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. The latter almost fell asleep again while they lay in bed after sex, and Wei Wuxian was also starting to feel worn out. Thankfully, it didn't actually take them very long to get clean.

 

Wei Wuxian helped Lan Wangji blow-dry his hair. The more he touched it, the more he realised just how much hair Lan Wangji had. It was soft and silky and felt really nice. But it was also extremely heavy.

 

After they were properly in bed for the night, Wei Wuxian decided to bring the subject up.

 

"Is there a reason why you keep your hair so long?" he asked, unable to stop himself from running his fingers through it. "Surely it's a pain in the ass to maintain."

"...My mother," Lan Wangji replied quietly.

Wei Wuxian paused. "Did she have long hair?" he asked.

Lan Wangji shook his head. "My mother told me that she liked my hair," he explained. "She told me I would suit having it longer than I did at the time. So I grew it out for her."

"Ah..." Wei Wuxian whispered. That made things difficult. "You definitely suit it," he said. "But it'd save you a lot of trouble if you got it cut."

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian glanced over at the photo of Lan Wangji and his family that now sat on their nightstand. In it, Lan Wangji's hair was just above his shoulders. Maybe if he had hair of a similar length again...

 

"You know," Wei Wuxian said, "If you did choose to cut it, it might be a good idea to see if you can donate it. It's such beautiful hair that I'm sure they'd be overjoyed."

"Donate?" Lan Wangji asked. "What would it be used for?"

"They make wigs for cancer sufferers out of real hair," Wei Wuxian explained. "Wen Ning did it once, that's how I know about it. I'm not saying you have to," he added hastily, "I love your hair. I was just curious."

 

Lan Wangji remained silent for a while. Wei Wuxian was worried he'd said too much, so he took his hands away and stopped stroking Lan Wangji's hair. 

 

Lan Zhan's so handsome I bet he'd even look good if he went bald. Heh. I doubt he'd shave his head though. But I do kinda wanna see him with short hair, actually...

 

"I will consider it," Lan Wangji said eventually. It was so sudden that Wei Wuxian took a second to remember what they'd been talking about.

"It's just something to think about," Wei Wuxian reassured him. "I'm not pushing you. And," he added, "It doesn't really matter that much."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled again. "It takes too long to wash. Now that I am living here and no longer have as much hot water to myself, perhaps it would be beneficial."

"Perhaps," Wei Wuxian echoed, agreeing with him. "You should sleep on it for now, though," he said, kissing Lan Wangji lightly. Lan Wangji kissed him back.

 

Wei Wuxian reached over and switched off the lights.

 

"G'night, Lan Zhan!"

"Good night, Wei Ying."

 

Wei Wuxian found that he slept much better when Lan Wangji was holding him.

Chapter Text

Lan Xichen and Lan Qiren visited on Wednesday to deliver Lan Wangji's rabbits. They had chosen a suitable spot in the Jiangs' yard for the hutch beforehand, and the rabbits apparently didn't protest too much with the move.

 

"They seem happy to see Wangji," Lan Xichen commented as he and Wei Wuxian watched Lan Wangji feeding his pets (Lan Qiren had gone inside after complaining about it being too hot).

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian agreed. "They definitely do." He thought the way Lan Wangji interacted with his rabbits was rather cute. "He's like their mother."

Lan Xichen chuckled. "Not their father?" he asked jokingly.

"Hmmm..." Wei Wuxian thought for a moment. "I guess it doesn't matter," he concluded. "'Mother' was just what came to mind, haha."

"How's Wangji doing, by the way?" Lan Xichen asked, his voice more serious.

 

So far, the only issues were that Lan Wangji woke up several hours before Wei Wuxian did and struggled to occupy himself during that time -- and that he sometimes butted heads with Jiang Cheng.

 

"He's fine," Wei Wuxian replied. As far as he was concerned, this was mostly true. "He's pretty quick at picking things up, too. And we do encourage him to speak up if he's having trouble with something."

Lan Xichen smiled. "Wonderful," he said warmly. "I know I'm probably being overprotective, but Wangji's never done anything like this before. I can't help but worry about him..."

"I get you!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "You're his brother, of course you're gonna be worried! Plus, he's... shy and stuff too. But if anything did happen, we'd let you know."

"Thank you," Lan Xichen said. "I'm really glad Wangji's found someone who loves him as much as you do."

 

Wei Wuxian felt himself blush. "T-Thanks..." he mumbled.

"Oh, and," Lan Xichen continued, "I noticed that Wangji gave you the ring!"

Wei Wuxian held up his hand to show off his engagement ring. "Yeah," he said. "I should've done something about it, since I was the one who proposed, but I completely forgot!"

Lan Xichen chuckled again. "Wangji spent ages trying to figure out what sort of rings to choose," he said. "He even asked me for advice. As if I'd have any idea..."

 

At that point, Lan Wangji, who had finished feeding and settling his rabbits, came over to them.

 

"You done?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "I think they will be alright."

 

"Hmm?" Lan Xichen seemed confused by something.

"What is the matter, Brother?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Wangji," Lan Xichen said, "Where did you find that hair ribbon? I thought you said you lost it when you were in Hong Kong."

 

Was the ribbon Wei Wuxian made really that similar to the original? He highly doubted it.

 

"...Wei Ying made this for me as a replacement," Lan Wangji explained slowly.

 

Lan Xichen's eyes widened as he turned back to Wei Wuxian. "Did you really?!" he gasped. "I didn't know you could sew!"

"I can't," Wei Wuxian laughed dryly. "My sister showed me how to. It's... far from perfect, but I wanted to give Lan Zhan something."

"Then that's even more impressive!" Lan Xichen said. He examined the ribbon with his hands, taking care not to touch Lan Wangji's hair. He let go and added, "I'm sure you were really happy, weren't you, Wangji?" he smiled.

"...Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded.

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "He actually cried, believe it or not!"

"W-Wei Ying!" Lan Wangji spluttered, causing Wei Wuxian to laugh louder.

"I told you!" Wei Wuxian smirked. "There's nothing wrong with crying!"

 

Lan Xichen stared at Lan Wangji for a few moments. "Is that true, Wangji?" he asked quietly.

Lan Wangji, whose ears were now pink, hesitantly nodded. "Please do not tell Uncle," he said, a hint of fear in his voice.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen exchanged a glance.

 

"I won't," Lan Xichen said, "But what are you so worried about, Wangji?" he asked. "Uncle won't mind."

 

Lan Wangji remained silent. It was then that Wei Wuxian remembered that Lan Wangji had previously been beaten for being upset, and wondered if part of him was still scared that Lan Qiren would hurt him, despite Wei Wuxian trying to insist otherwise. This also made Wei Wuxian realise that Lan Xichen most likely didn't know anything about the abuse.

 

"A-Anyway," Wei Wuxian said, deciding to try and change the subject, "Why don't we head inside now that we're done out here? I'll get you guys drinks of something..."

 

He led them back into the house and took them to the living room where the others were. They were in the middle of a heated discussion.

 

"I just don't think you'll find someone willing to do that," Jiang Fengmian was saying.

"You never know until you try!" Madam Yu protested. "Besides, dear, people respond to money. Surely Mr. Lan's family have more than enough money to persuade someone to do it!"

"Well, yes, but--" Jiang Fengmian stopped when he noticed the three people who'd walked into the room.

 

"We've finished settling the rabbits in, Uncle," Lan Xichen reported.

"Good," Lan Qiren grumbled. "In that case, we should probably leave soon."

"Uh," Wei Wuxian said, "Please don't feel like you have to leave just because these two are arguing!" He turned to Jiang Cheng. "Why didn't you stop them?" he asked, as Jiang Cheng was usually the mediator.

"I tried," Jiang Cheng sighed. "But Mother came up with an outrageous suggestion and can't be convinced that it won't work."

 

Lan Xichen took the bait. "What's the suggestion?" he asked cheerfully.

"The cake!" Madam Yu exclaimed.

 

Cake? The only upcoming birthday in the family was Wei Wuxian's, but that was October 31st.

 

"What cake?" Wei Wuxian asked.

Madam Yu groaned and rolled her eyes. "The engagement cake!" she explained with a humph. "You know, now that the two of you are officially engaged, we need to start planning the wedding and get started on the traditions! Including the cake!"

 

Wei Wuxian had vaguely heard of this 'engagement cake', but didn't know the details.

 

"So what grand idea did you have involving the cake?" Wei Wuxian asked, skeptical. He usually sided with Jiang Fengmian on these wild ideas of Madam Yu's.

"Well," Madam Yu said, "You know how the typical engagement cake features a dragon and a phoenix? I was thinking that, as you're both men, having a phoenix would be inappropriate and that it would be better to have a cake with two dragons on it. Only, it would have to be custom-made. My darling husband was saying that he thinks it'll be hard to find someone willing to make that cake, no matter how much money we throw at it."

 

Madam Yu did raise a good point: a lot of engagement and wedding traditions were designed around male/female couples. As same-sex marriage had only recently been legalised, most of these traditions had yet to be widely adapted to accomodate such relationships.

 

"I think it's a good idea!" Wei Wuxian replied. "Neither one of us is really a phoenix, anyway. What d'you think, Lan Zhan?" he asked Lan Wangji.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "I agree."

"It's certainly unique," Lan Xichen said. "Which is a positive thing in today's society. I'm sure we could find someone to make it. Is it okay if I ask around, Uncle?"

"I can do that," Lan Qiren said. "Money does indeed work in these situations. And it's highly unlikely that this is the first time such a request has been made."

 

Wei Wuxian beamed. "Thank you, Sir!" he said, bowing. Lan Qiren nodded in response.

 

"That said," Jiang Fengmian began, "When will you two be throwing your engagement party? Technically it's been a few weeks since you got engaged."

 

Wei Wuxian had forgotten about that. "Maybe we could just combine it with my birthday party this year?" he suggested. "Throw it sometime in October."

"Isn't that a bit selfish?" Madam Yu asked, crossing her arms. "What about the people Lan Wangji will be inviting?"

"Er..." Wei Wuxian glanced at Lan Wangji, who shook his head.

"There are only two people I wish to invite to such a thing," Lan Wangji replied. Wei Wuxian immediately knew who he was referring to.

"Don't you... have any friends you want to celebrate your engagement with?" Jiang Fengmian asked delicately.

 

Uncle Jiang, please don't ask that! Wei Wuxian groaned. You should've figured out the answer to that by now, anyway...

 

Lan Wangji shook his head again. "I... do not have any friends," he replied blankly. "The only people I will be inviting are Uncle and Brother. There is nobody else."

 

Wei Wuxian felt sorry for him, even if he did have only two friends himself.

 

"Ah," Jiang Fengmian said pitifully. "I see. In that case, it's not too many people. A-Xian, who do you plan to invite?" he asked.

"Wen Ning and Huaisang for sure," Wei Wuxian replied automatically. "Oh, and maybe Wen Ning's sister... And, actually, I was thinking about asking one of my coworkers, since he knows about the marriage."

"That shouldn't be a problem," Jiang Fengmian said. "How many people would that make it?"

"Twelve," Lan Wangji answered instantly. Wei Wuxian couldn't help but be impressed by how quickly he'd counted.

"That's quite a few people," Lan Xichen remarked. "Uncle, perhaps we should hold the engagement party at our house? That way it won't be too crowded." Wei Wuxian wasn't sure how he felt about Lan Wangji spending time at home so soon after finally leaving, but if it was only for a day, he was leaning towards it being alright.

"We can," Lan Qiren agreed.

"Sounds like a good idea to me!" Jiang Fengmian smiled. "We'll work out arrangements at some other time. A-Xian, be sure to let your friends know."

"I will!" Wei Wuxian said, smiling back.

 

"That reminds me," Madam Yu said, "How traditional are you two wanting your wedding? There are lots of routes we can go with it. We don't care either way, it's up to you."

 

Wei Wuxian could tell that the Lans most likely wanted a traditional wedding (or, at least, Lan Qiren probably did), but he wasn't personally big on traditions. While some of them were fine, a lot of them were extremely rooted in old ideals that he just couldn't bring himself to comply with. It was something he often got in trouble for at school. He had a bad habit of rebelling against society like that.

 

"I'm leaning towards something more modern," Wei Wuxian replied. "What about you, Lan Zhan?" he asked Lan Wangji.

"... Modern is better," Lan Wangji nodded. "More flexible and inclusive."

Wei Wuxian grinned at him, pleased that he understood.

"Young people have it so lucky," Jiang Fengmian lamented. "All these wonderful wedding options..."

Madam Yu gave him a scornful look. "Please don't make us sound that old, Dear."

 

Wei Wuxian struggled to hold back his laughter.

 

They discussed a few more things related to setting up the engagement party before Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen went home.

 


 

The next two weeks went by relatively quickly. Lan Wangji adjusted to his new house well, aside from a couple of mishaps involving Jiang Cheng and one time where he accidentally walked in on Madam Yu in the bathroom (which Wei Wuxian found funnier than he should've). He still took some time to learn how to operate the washing machine properly, and occasionally overcooked the rice if he was the first one to put on the rice cooker in the mornings, but overall, Wei Wuxian was proud of his progress.

 

Wei Wuxian had informed Wen Ning and Nie Huaisang of the engagement party, and they'd both agreed to attend. Wen Qing wasn't sure of her work schedule that far in advance and couldn't make any promises. Mo Xuanyu said that he'd try to convince his aunt to let him go. A-Qing had overhead and demanded to know why she wasn't invited, only for Wei Wuxian to point out that this was only the engagement party, not the wedding itself.

 

Lan Wangji accompanied Wei Wuxian to the building in which Upper Heavenly Court Counselling and Therapy was based on the day of his appointment. Wei Wuxian had insisted that he didn't need to, but Lan Wangji insisted even more, so Wei Wuxian eventually gave in.

 

The waiting room reminded him of a hospital: the walls were white and everyone seemed a bit dreary. Wei Wuxian approached the front desk, behind which a woman sat.

 

"Good afternoon," she greeted. "How may I help you?"

"Er," Wei Wuxian said, "I'm here for an appointment with Dr. Xie Lian... The name's Wei."

 

The woman confirmed his details. "Excellent," she said. "I'll let him know you're here." She turned to Lan Wangji. "Do you have an appointment today as well, Sir?"

Lan Wangji shook his head. "No," he replied. "I am just waiting here with Wei Ying."

"...Right," the woman sighed. "Take a seat, then. The doctor shouldn't be too long."

 

Wei Wuxian thanked her as they went and sat down.

 

Truthfully, he was nervous. Despite hearing about how therapy worked from Jiang Cheng, he still didn't really know what to expect. Talking to a stranger about your problems sounded weird to him, not to mention difficult...

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said, "Do not worry."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "I'm not worried," he replied, impressed that Lan Wangji had picked up on his nervousness. "I'll be fine. And I'll properly tell the doctor about what's troubling me."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji mumbled. "Good."

 

It wasn't very long until Wei Wuxian heard his name being called. He looked around to see who'd called for him, but couldn't find anyone who looked like a therapist.

 

"Mr. Wei, over here!" the voice sung out again. Wei Wuxian managed to locate it.

 

The person who'd addressed him was not what he'd expected at all. He had shoulder-length brown hair, wore western-style clothes and didn't give off the air of stuffiness Wei Wuxian associated with medical professionals.

 

Wei Wuxian walked over to him, with Lan Wangji in toe.

 

"Sorry I'm late!" Dr. Xie Lian apologised, rearranging the paperwork he was holding. "I was on the phone and lost track of time..."

"It's okay, it's okay!" Wei Wuxian insisted.

"So!" Xie Lian clapped his hands together. "I'm Xie Lian, your therapist. And uh..." he looked at Lan Wangji. "Will you be joining us as well?" he asked.

"No," Lan Wangji replied. "I will be leaving now. I just wanted to make sure Wei Ying was properly seen."

Xie Lian smiled warmly. "I understand!" he said. "It's always good to be safe about these things the first time." Lan Wangji nodded.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said, "I will be waiting for you here when your appointment ends."

Wei Wuxian grinned. "Gotcha," he said. "I'll look out for you."

Lan Wangji nodded again. "Wei Ying?"

"Yeah?"

"...Good luck," Lan Wangji said quietly. Wei Wuxian's grin turned into a more gentle smile as he followed Xie Lian down a long hallway.

 

Xie Lian stopped outside a room and invited Wei Wuxian inside. After they entered, he shut the door and offered Wei Wuxian a seat before sitting down himself. He took out a notepad from his pile of papers.

 

"So, Mr. Wei," Xie Lian said, "I've heard a bit about you, but I want your perspective on things, since it's your own story. Tell me all about yourself."

"Uh..." Wei Wuxian paused. There was far too much to talk about.

Xie Lian smiled at him. "Don't know where to begin?" he asked.

"...Yeah, pretty much," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "Sorry."

"It's okay, it happens all the time!" Xie Lian said. "People tend to be a bit overwhelmed when they first start therapy. A lot has happened in their lives, and much of it is hard to talk about. Sometimes it's difficult putting your struggles into words, too." He paused and added, "Feel free to take your time. Even if you only tell me a couple of things, or even just a single thing, that's more than enough to start with. I generally recommend going chronologically, but it's up to you."

 

Wei Wuxian sat there, thinking. He wondered what he should talk about first. Perhaps chronologically would be best. He knew Xie Lian wasn't trying to force him, but he still felt like he had to say something.

 

"I..." Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "Okay, so, uh. When I was little, I lost my parents." He told Xie Lian the same story he had told Lan Wangji: how his parents hadn't come home one day, and how he'd ended up living on the streets for some time until Jiang Fengmian found him and adopted him. Xie Lian watched him patiently, silently listening as has he took notes. Xie Lian asked him about his relationship with the Jiangs, and Wei Wuxian explained the good, the bad and the weird relationship he had with Jiang Cheng.

 

Xie Lian looked over his notes once Wei Wuxian finished. He then wrote something else down before looking back at him. "Mr. Wei, may I ask you something?"

"Sure," Wei Wuxian replied.

"If you... If you could find out what happened to your parents, would you want to know?" Xie Lian asked.

"Yes," Wei Wuxian replied. "I've always wanted to know. Even if something awful happened to them... I just want an answer. I want to know why they left me. I want to know if they got caught up in something or if they purposefully abandoned me. I hate not knowing if they're alive or dead. I mean," he continued, "I assume they're dead by this point, don't get me wrong. But I don't have any proof."

Xie Lian nodded. "I agree," he said. "If I was in your position, I'd definitely want to know. But I realise that it'd be tricky trying to find out."

"Uncle Jiang has tried," Wei Wuxian explained. "But he couldn't find anything, at least not publicly. He felt bad about it, but I know it's not his fault..."

"That's a shame," Xie Lian said. "I'm glad he looked into it, though."

"...Yeah."

 

Wei Wuxian tried to think of what else he could talk about, but there was still too much to pick from: being a social outcast in high school, his sexuality (which wasn't really a problem as such, but it was still a part of what made him him), the drinking, the one-night stands, getting engaged to Lan Wangji and Lan Wangji moving in, his general insecurities, what happened with A-Yuan...

 

"If you don't mind, Mr. Wei," Xie Lian said, "I've noticed you're wearing a ring. Are you married?" he asked, nodding towards Wei Wuxian's ring.

"Oh, uh," Wei Wuxian mumbled, "This... is just an engagement ring, actually."

"That's great!" Xie Lian clapped his hands together again, smiling. "Congratulations!"

"...Thank you," Wei  Wuxian said quietly.

"Perhaps you could tell me about the lovely person you're engaged to?" Xie Lian suggested.

 

Wei Wuxian coughed nervously. "Um," he said, "Actually... it's, uh, the guy who was waiting with me earlier."

 

Please don't be against it, Wei Wuxian begged. I don't want to have to try and justify why I'm engaged to a man.

 

Xie Lian's eyes widened. "I was wondering!" he gasped. "You two seemed very close to me."

Wei Wuxian breathed a sigh of relief. Xie Lian noticed this and chuckled.

 

"Don't worry," Xie Lian said, "I understand. You don't always know how people are going to react, do you?" He almost sounded as if he knew how it felt personally.

"Exactly," Wei Wuxian admitted. "I haven't really had any issues so far, but..." he trailed off.

Xie Lian was still smiling. "I pray that you never encounter those issues," he said warmly. "Unfortunately, there's too much discrimination in this world."

"Definitely," Wei Wuxian agreed. "I know someone who's experiencing it. I just got lucky."

 

Xie Lian made a couple more notes. "So, how did you meet your fiancé?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly as he began to tell Xie Lian exactly what had happened. He concluded it with: "I know it sounds made up, but trust me, it isn't."

"I believe you!" Xie Lian replied, although Wei Wuxian was doubtful. "I have a hard time convincing people that I'm not exaggerating any part of how I met my husband, too."

 

Wei Wuxian stared at him. Husband? He did say husband, right? I'm not mishearing things?

 

"Y-Your husband?" Wei Wuxian asked cautiously.

Xie Lian's smile grew wider. "Yep!" he exclaimed happily. "We've been together for over fifteen years, and we've known each other for much longer than that. He proposed to me as soon as they legalised same-sex marriage -- apparently he'd been wanting to for years." He held up his hand. On his ring finger was an ornate ring in the shape of two silver butterflies. One butterfly was made up of a red gem (maybe a ruby? Wei Wuxian was useless at gemstones) and the other was purple (Wei Wuxian had no idea what that one was).

"...Wow," Wei Wuxian breathed. "That's impressive."

 

Seeing someone like Xie Lian, who was clearly a lot older than him, gave Wei Wuxian an odd sense of confidence. This was a man who was in a happy marriage and who worked hard to help others. In some ways, Xie Lian was what Wei Wuxian wanted to be.

 

"But this isn't about me," Xie Lian hurriedly said. "I'm here to talk about you." He thought for a moment. "Do you work, Mr. Wei?" he asked.

"I do," Wei Wuxian replied. "I just stock shelves at a bookstore. It's not much, but it's a distraction. I... don't really know what else I'd do."

"Hmmm..." Xie Lian noted Wei Wuxian's comments down. "Well, what kind of things make you feel the most satisfied?" he asked.

Wei Wuxian thought about that for a few moments. "Helping people, I guess?" he replied, unsure. "I don't know if I'm any good at it, but I keep trying."

Xie Lian laughed. "I'm the same," he admitted. "Even with this job, I don't know how much I'm actually helping people, you know? Every case is complex and different and you're always having to change how you approach things. I think there are always people who need some kind of help, though, and I want to be able to provide it for those who ask."

 

Xie Lian paused before continuing, "I'm sure you've been told that I only work part-time, right?" he asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian nodded.

"Apart from being a therapist," Xie Lian explained, "I run a small orphanage. There are so many children with nowhere to go, and it's something I want to change. We -- my husband and I -- can't afford to house lots of children, but we have about seven currently. When you were telling me about living on the streets, it truly made my heart ache. I wish I could've taken you in."

"Please don't," Wei Wuxian sighed. "I was in a different province, anyway. It took Uncle Jiang so long to find me because he didn't know exactly where I was. It had been a couple of years, so I'd moved around."

"That makes sense", Xie Lian replied. "Also, if I may, what would you think about volunteering at the orphanage I run?" he offered. "I'm afraid I won't be able to pay you very much, but it could be a good opportunity for you to help others. The children are lovely once you get to know them!"

 

Wei Wuxian thought about it. He was tempted, although after how he'd reacted to the orphans in Hong Kong, he wasn't sure if he could cope. Then again, these kids would be properly taken care of and it was a different scenario in some ways... And money wasn't something he needed to be worried about.

 

"Are you sure it'd be okay?" Wei Wuxian asked. "I wouldn't want to get in the way or anything..."

"Absolutely!" Xie Lian reassured him. "I do have a couple of friends already helping me out, so it's only if you want to give it a try. I'm not trying to force you," he added quickly.

 

He seems nice, Wei Wuxian thought. Maybe it'd be a good thing to do. And if I hate it, I can always just... not go again. Yeah.

 

"I... I think I'll give it a go," Wei Wuxian said. "But I, uh, have absolutely no idea what I'm doing with children. I'm terrible with them, in fact."

"That's okay," Xie Lian chirped, "You can always learn! Honestly, I had no idea how to take care of children at first, either. But you learn with experience!"

 

Wei Wuxian felt a lump form in his throat. "Well... I do have experience, that's the thing."

Xie Lian cocked his head to one side. "Huh?" he asked.

 

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "I don't have kids of my own," he began, "But I've... looked after them before. Or, to be exact, tried to look after them. A year -- I guess it was almost two years ago now, wow -- the relatives of one of my friends died and left behind a toddler. His sister's a doctor, you see, so the family just kinda dumped the kid with them. My friend's sister was too busy to do much, and my friend's the type who panics about every single thing, so he asked me to help him, which I did..." Remembering the story made him tear up.

"...What happened to that child?" Xie Lian prompted gently.

"...I lost him," Wei Wuxian admitted through gritted teeth. "It was my own stupidity. We were out shopping in a busy street, and I took my eyes off him for a second -- don't even remember why. The next thing I knew, he... was no longer with me. I spent hours calling for him and even went to the police, but he was never found."

 

Wei Wuxian's mind flashed back to the day where he'd lost A-Yuan. He kept recalling himself frantically screaming the boy's name over and over again to no avail.

 

Wei Wuxian, who'd had his head down, glanced up at Xie Lian to try and focus on something else. To his surprise, Xie Lian was wiping away his own tears.

 

"I-I'm sorry!" Xie Lian squeaked. "I cry at the drop of a hat, please don't mind me!" He sniffed as he composed himself. "Anyway, that's... certainly upsetting. I can understand why you'd feel responsible, but please don't. He might've seen something interesting and ran off towards it, even if you were holding his hand."

Wei Wuxian nodded. "I know," he choked. "My friend said the same thing. He and his sister never once blamed me, but..."

"They're right," Xie Lian said firmly. "It's not your fault."

 

Wei Wuxian nodded again, but couldn't think of anything to say. Xie Lian hastily jotted down yet even more notes.

 

"Do you remember his name?" Xie Lian asked. "There's... always a very slim chance he was taken to my orphanage."

Wei Wuxian knew better than to get his hopes up, but he appreciated the sentiment. "Wen Yuan," he said. "But he wasn't that old, so I don't know if he would've been able to tell anyone his name."

"Hmmm," Xie Lian thought for a while. "No, Wen Yuan doesn't ring any bells, I'm afraid. I'll double-check when I get home, though."

"...Thank you," Wei Wuxian mumbled.

 

Wei Wuxian was thinking about what else to bring up when Xie Lian glanced at his watch.

 

"Oh!" Xie Lian gasped. "We're out of time for today. I'll get Ms. Ling Wen -- the receptionist -- to book you in for another appointment, if you'd like. And I'll be in contact about the volunteering once I talk to my husband to make sure he's okay with it."

"Thank you," Wei Wuxian said again.

 

Xie Lian haphazardly collected his paperwork together and showed Wei Wuxian to the door.

 

"By the way," Wei Wuxian said, "What's your husband's job? Does he just help you run the orphanage?" he asked.

"Mostly!" Xie Lian replied. "But he's also an author!" His smile seemed to take up most of his face as he said it.

"What kind of stories does he write?" Wei Wuxian asked, intrigued. "One of my friends works in the publishing industry..."

 

Xie Lian instantly frowned. "You know what? He won't tell me!" he pouted exaggeratedly. "I keep asking him, but he insists it's nothing I'd ever be interested in. I really don't get it."

"Oh... That's odd," Wei Wuxian lied.

 

It's porn, he thought to himself. I'm sorry, Doctor, but your husband's probably writing gay erotic fiction that he's embarrassed about. Chances are it's pretty kinky stuff, too.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't have the heart to tell him.

 

As promised, Lan Wangji was seated in the waiting room keeping a look out for Wei Wuxian's return. As soon as Wei Wuxian and Xie Lian were within view, Lan Wangji stood up and walked over to them.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji said, looking concerned. "Are you alright?"

Wei Wuxian managed a grin. "I'm fine!" he replied. "The doctor said he'll make me another appointment."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Good," he said.

 

Wei Wuxian followed Xie Lian to the front desk. Ling Wen glanced up at him and shook her head.

 

"Doctor", she sighed, "Why do your patients keep making you cry? Surely this isn't a good thing."

Xie Lian laughed. "Their stories are all so moving!" he insisted. "And I didn't even really cry that much this time!"

Ling Wen sighed again. "Whatever you say, Doctor..."

 

Xie Lian managed to arrange another appointment with Wei Wuxian for the following week.

 

On the way home, Wei Wuxian told Lan Wangji about potentially volunteering at the orphanage. Lan Wangji was in support, and felt that it would be more stimulating for Wei Wuxian than working at a bookstore. He didn't mention anything about A-Yuan, as he still found it too hard to admit to Lan Wangji.

 

Wei Wuxian headed to their room to change into something a bit more casual than what he'd worn to his appointment. Lan Wangji followed him, which Wei Wuxian didn't care about.

 

"Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji asked as Wei Wuxian began to unbutton his t-shirt.

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian asked back, looking over at him.

 

It was then that Wei Wuxian realised that, at some point, he'd started to cry.

 

"The fuck..." Wei Wuxian muttered to himself, shakily trying to wipe his eyes on his sleeves. "Why am I...?" he wondered, unable to work out what had caused his tears to start falling. He glanced over at Lan Wangji through his blurry vision and tried to apologise, but no words came out.

 

Lan Wangji, in response, firmly hugged him. He didn't say anything either.

 

Wei Wuxian knew what he meant. Realising that he didn't need to hold himself back, he began to sob into Lan Wangji's chest. Lan Wangji held him tightly.

 

All his stress seemed to pour out of him. Wei Wuxian had thought that he'd done well in not properly crying in front of Xie Lian, but now that he was no longer under that self-imposed pressure, he could let loose.

 

Wei Wuxian suddenly heard Lan Wangji's voice right next to his ear. He was humming that song of his quietly, his tone warm and comforting. As always, the song worked its magic in calming Wei Wuxian down, and, towards the end of it, he was able to stop crying.

 

Lan Wangji seemed to notice that Wei Wuxian was calmer, so after he hummed the final note, he whispered: "I am here."

Wei Wuxian pulled back from the hug slightly and kissed Lan Wangji deeply. "I know," he murmured back, smiling. "Thank you, Lan Zhan."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian murmured. "I'm better now."

Lan Wangji nodded again. "Good."

 

You're far too kind, Lan Zhan, Wei Wuxian thought.

 

"You wanna have something to eat?" Wei Wuxian asked after he'd gotten changed (and after Lan Wangji had put on a new shirt, as the one he'd been wearing was now stained with Wei Wuxian's tears). "All this crying has made me hungry!"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji agreed. "I can make you something," he offered. "What would you like?"

"Noodles sound good!" Wei Wuxian said with a grin. "And I can make them myself, don't worry that much."

 

Jiang Cheng happened to be in the kitchen getting a drink when Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji entered the room.

 

"Oh," Jiang Cheng remarked, "You're home. How was the appointment?" he asked.

"Pretty good," Wei Wuxian replied. "Doctor Xie seemed nice. Why did you want him to see me?" he asked.

"Didn't he tell you?" Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow as Wei Wuxian shook his head. "He specifically deals with LGBT youth, since he's gay himself. Although apparently he's said he's worried about speaking as an authority on the issues of everyone who falls under such a broad umbrella that he mainly takes clients who identify the same way he does."

"Ohhhh," Wei Wuxian said. "That makes sense. It's a tricky subject."

"Indeed," Jiang Cheng sighed. "I commend him for his honesty, really." He rinsed out the glass he'd been drinking from and turned back to Wei Wuxian. "Anyway, I'll leave you guys alone. Have fun."

 

Wei Wuxian made a mental note to properly thank Jiang Cheng later when they weren't in front of Lan Wangji.

 

Hmmm, Wei Wuxian thought as he started to prepare his noodles, Maybe I'll make these bad boys extra spicy today.

 

Wei Wuxian snickered at Lan Wangji's horrified look as he emptied the container of chilli powder onto his noodles once they were ready. In contrast, Lan Wangji's noodles had absolutely no added flavouring whatsoever.

 

"I'll try not to kiss you tonight," Wei Wuxian teased, sticking out his tongue. "Ahahaha, wait, Lan Zhan--" he laughed as Lan Wangji kissed him.

"There," Lan Wangji said, his ears pink. "Now you will not need to kiss me anymore."

Wei Wuxian laughed louder. "You really are something, Lan Zhan," he chuckled. Lan Wangji's ears darkened several shades.

 

Despite Wei Wuxian's lips still being slightly chilli-flavoured, Lan Wangji ended up kissing Wei Wuxian again later that night. Wei Wuxian didn't complain, nor did he express concern. According to Lan Wangji, his lips were only a little bit tingly, which made Wei Wuxian howl with laughter.

 

For Lan Wangji's safety (just in case), however, kissing was all they did that night.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian was contacted a few days later by Xie Lian, who informed him that him helping out at the orphanage was perfectly fine with everyone else involved and that he could drop by at any time (Xie Lian gave him the exact address). Since Lan Wangji had started studying again, he wasn't able to help directly, but he said he'd at least drive Wei Wuxian to and from the orphanage.

Wei Wuxian decided to visit the orphanage on Wednesday, when he didn't have any work and when Xie Lian was free.

"It should be around here," Wei Wuxian said to Lan Wangji as they appeared to approach the orphanage's address on the GPS in Lan Wangji's car. They were in an area of the city that neither of them had visited before. Its buildings were pretty old and rundown and the roads were almost too narrow for a car. It wasn't the best place for an orphanage, Wei Wuxian thought, but at least it beat living on the streets.

"Is that it?" Lan Wangji asked, pointing to a building that had a sign at its front gate that read Puji Orphanage.
"Yep, that's the place!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, remembering the name Xie Lian had told him.

Lan Wangji stopped the car outside. Wei Wuxian leant over and gave him a kiss on his cheek.

"Thanks heaps, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "I'll message you when I want a ride home, okay?"
"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "Take care."
"You too!" Wei Wuxian said as he hopped out of the car. He waved Lan Wangji off before he made his way over to the orphanage.

The front grounds looked like they'd recently been done up: the grass was freshly mown and there was a row of newly-planted saplings. In one corner there was a well-tended flower garden.

The building itself wasn't as rundown as those around it, it just looked old from the street. That said, it certainly wasn't modern by any means, either.

Wei Wuxian knocked on the door.

Hopefully someone's nearby, he thought. I don't think Doctor told me which entrance to use, actually.

It wasn't that long before the door opened. Wei Wuxian stood in awe of the person in front of him.

The man who'd answered the door was tall and lanky. He had black hair that was tied up in a ponytail except for a small braid that hung beside one of his cheeks. The eye on the opposite side of his face was covered by his hair. He wore a sleeveless black shirt and black trousers.

Wei Wuxian tended to be able to summarise his first impressions of people. For instance, his first impression of Lan Wangji was that he was hot (his second impression of Lan Wangji was that he was boring, but he knew that was completely wrong). When he came to live with the Jiangs, his first impression of Jiang Cheng was that he was scary (this one was only kind of wrong).

This man could easily be described in one word: cool. Or, if someone wanted three words: super fucking cool.

"What d'ya want?" he asked in a gruff voice, peering down at Wei Wuxian (who wasn't used to being peered down at).
Wei Wuxian collected himself. "Oh, uh, er..." he cleared his throat. "I'm Wei Wuxian, a patient of Dr. Xie Lian's. He... uh, said that I could come and volunteer at the orphanage he runs, and... uh... that I could visit whenever."
"...Oh, yeah, he did say that," the man sighed. "Well, whatever. He ain't home yet, but he shouldn't be too far away. And he'd get mad if I sent you home anyway," he added with a chuckle. "C'mon in. Don't forget to take your shoes off."
"T-Thank you!" Wei Wuxian said, hastily following the man inside and removing his shoes.

The inside of the orphanage looked worse than the outside. The walls had several cracks in them and some of the floorboards squeaked when you walked over them. A few of the lights appeared to be broken, too. However, the atmosphere wasn't as dreary as it could've been, as the walls were plastered with artwork -- presumably done by the children. They were mostly of people, but some featured animals and others contained plants and natural scenery.

"So, er," the man said, once they'd reached the end of the hallway they'd walked down, "I'm no good at these things. I should offer you tea, but I dunno if we even have any left. And the kids eat all the snacks we buy."

Wei Wuxian immediately picked up on the fact that he was using the word 'we' and wondered who, exactly, that meant. Was it himself and Xie Lian? Did it include the other people who worked there?

Then he realised.

"OH!" Wei Wuxian gasped. "You're his husband!"
"..."

Xie Lian's husband frowned as he sighed deeply. "Yeah," he said, running his hand through his hair. "Well, at least he's already told you and I don't have to deal with that awkward shit. Uh. Wait, crap, he said I'm not meant to swear in front of guests."

Wei Wuxian couldn't help but laugh. "It's totally fine," he reassured the man, who looked slightly embarrassed. "I won't say anything to him."
Xie Lian's husband breathed a sigh of relief. "Phew. Thanks. That helps a lot."

He scratched his cheek. "Uhh... so. I think the kids are taking a nap now, actually. I can show you around if you'd like."
"Sure," Wei Wuxian replied. "Whatever's easiest."

Wei Wuxian was given a tour of the orphanage. It had a large kitchen and dining area, a separate room for laundry ("It's mostly all hand-washed, though," Wei Wuxian was told) which was next to a bathroom ("There's never enough hot water so we bathe the kids in groups"), several traditional-style toilets ("They're gross, don't use them unless you have to"), an indoor play area, and a library and study area.

"So do you teach these kids, then?" Wei Wuxian asked, noticing the old school desks all aligned neatly.
"We try," Xie Lian's husband shrugged. "Only basic stuff though. Readin' and writin'. We start by teachin' them their names and our names. Then we show them simple math. Well, I don't. I ain't good at that."

Wei Wuxian was impressed. "And where do all these books come from?" he asked, looking around.
"Most of those are his own books," Xie Lian's husband explained. Wei Wuxian froze.
"His... own books?" Wei Wuxian asked, confused.
"Yeah," Xie Lian's husband said. "His family's actually pretty wealthy, but he never really got along with his father. He got these books donated when his parents died a few years ago, otherwise they never would've donated them."
"He, uh, really doesn't seem like he's rich," Wei Wuxian commented.
Xie Lian's husband laughed. "He really doesn't," he said. "He still has some habits, though. Like, he's super particular about table manners and likes everything being tidy."
"Did he set up this orphanage by himself, then?" Wei Wuxian asked. "It seems like it'd cost a lot."
"He did, yeah," Xie Lian's husband replied. "I mean, he was in the middle of working on it when we started dating. But back then I didn't have a job or anything so I couldn't help him out."

Wow, Wei Wuxian thought. Doctor Xie's amazing.

Wei Wuxian was about to ask what if Xie Lian's husband currently had a job, but then remembered that he already knew the answer and refrained. But then he thought that not asking would probably seem weird so he went ahead anyway.

"Are you doing any kind of work at the moment?" Wei Wuxian asked in spite of himself.
Xie Lian's husband paused. "Kinda," he replied. "I write stuff."
"So he wasn't just making it up," Wei Wuxian said. Xie Lian's husband gave him a confused look. "He, uh, told me his husband was an author. And that you apparently refuse to let him read any of your work," he added, instantly realising that he probably should leave that issue alone.

Xie Lian's husband narrowed his eyes and glanced around. Once he was sure nobody was nearby, he put both his hands on Wei Wuxian's shoulders and stared directly into his eyes.

"I'm doing it for his own good," he said. "He won't even be interested in it, anyway. Besides, it's not like... my writing's any decent."
"I'm sure it is!" Wei Wuxian retorted. "And how do you know he's not gonna like it? What's there to be scared of?"
"..."

Wei Wuxian couldn't help himself. This was fun.

"Oh, I get it!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed, pretending to be shocked. "I bet you write hardcore porn that you're embarrassed about because it includes all your kinks. And you don't want your precious husband knowing what--- OWOWOWOW OKAY OKAY OKAY I'LL SHUT UP I'M SORRY!" he braced himself as Xie Lian's husband's grip tightened to the point where it slightly hurt.

However, when he looked up, he noticed that the husband's face was bright red.

"Don't fucking tell him," he threatened, glancing to the side. "I'll die if he ever finds out!"
Wei Wuxian nodded fervently. "I get it! I get it!"

Xie Lian's husband took his hands away, which were shaking slightly.

"But why're you so scared?" Wei Wuxian asked, massaging one his shoulders. "He doesn't seem like the type who'd care terribly much."
"You don't understand!" Xie Lian's husband said exasperatedly. "He's too pure for any of that stuff! Someone like him would become tainted if they read such... filth!"
"I don't buy that," Wei Wuxian protested.
"Why not?" Xie Lian's husband demanded, unamused.

Wei Wuxian sighed. "Alright," he said, "Let me ask you this. Do you two have sex?"

Xie Lian's husband looked almost as angry as the angriest Wei Wuxian had seen Jiang Cheng.

"...O-Of course we fucking do," Xie Lian's husband grumbled, crossing his arms. "What about it?"
"In that case, isn't he already tainted? He knows exactly what's going on in that scenario, right? Think about it. If anything, the worst outcome is that he'll kinkshame you," Wei Wuxian smirked.
"...Listen, kid," Xie Lian's husband seethed, "Do you want to volunteer here or not? Because you're really pushing it. If you don't shut the fuck up I'll wipe that grin of yours right off your face."

Wei Wuxian kept in his laughter. "Sorry," he apologised, although he didn't really mean it. At least not entirely. "If it means anything, my fiancé and I recommend erotic fiction to each other sometimes. We know each other's tastes and stuff, and it hasn't yet lead to any issues."
Xie Lian's husband, who had now calmed down a bit, raised an eyebrow. "Fiancé?" he echoed.

Wei Wuxian showed off his ring. "Yeah," he said happily. "We're getting married next year."
"Not bad, kid," Xie Lian's husband remarked. "What kinda person's your fiancé?" he asked.

The super hot, extremely shy, intense yet kind as fuck second son of a very wealthy family was what Wei Wuxian wanted to say.

"Uhhh," Wei Wuxian suddenly wasn't sure how to describe Lan Wangji. "He's... nice. And cute. And charming once you get past his awkward outer edges."
"I see."

"Oh yeah," Wei Wuxian said, "What's the chance my fiancé and I have read any of your works? I assume you've posted them somewhere."

Xie Lian's husband opened his mouth and then closed it again. "You might've," he replied. "If either of you have read anything by Hua Cheng."

Hua Cheng? Hmmm. That sounds vaguely familiar. Hua Cheng... OH!

"I think I have, actually!" Wei Wuxian admitted. "I don't remember the name of what it was, but I feel like I enjoyed it!"

Hua Cheng looked away. "...Thanks," he mumbled.

Wei Wuxian went to make another comment when they heard a voice coming from the direction of the entrance.

"San Lang, I'm home!"

It was Xie Lian.

Hua Cheng glared at Wei Wuxian again. "If you mention anything, you're outta here."
"I won't, I promise," Wei Wuxian replied teasingly.

"I'm by the library!" Hua Cheng called back to his husband.

Xie Lian soon came into view.

"Oh!" Xie Lian exclaimed upon seeing Wei Wuxian. "Mr. Wei! I didn't know you were coming today!"
Wei Wuxian gave Xie Lian a guilty smile. "You said it was okay," he pointed out.
"I know," Xie Lian replied, not minding. "Has San Lang been treating you well?" he asked cheerfully.
"...He has, yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. Which wasn't a lie.
"Then that's great!" Xie Lian beamed. He turned to Hua Cheng. "How much of the place have you shown him, San Lang?" he asked.
"Most of it," Hua Cheng answered. "Just not the sleeping quarters since it's nap time at the moment, and uh... I haven't taken him outside yet. Oh, and we didn't go to the art room 'cuz I didn't want to bother them getting it ready."

Xie Lian checked his watch. "Nap time should be almost over," he remarked. "Are Fu Yao and Nan Feng both watching the kids?"
"They should be," Hua Cheng shrugged. "They didn't tell me they weren't."

Wei Wuxian assumed that Fu Yao and Nan Feng were two of the other workers at the orphanage.

Something that Wei Wuxian noticed was that Hua Cheng's expression and general demeanour had softened considerably since he'd started talking to Xie Lian. On the surface, they looked like a very mix-matched couple, but Wei Wuxian could tell that they were extremely close.

He wondered if people saw him and Lan Wangji like that. They probably seemed weird to outsiders, too. Not that Wei Wuxian particularly cared -- he'd always seemed weird to people, after all.

"Why don't you join us for some tea until the children are up again?" Xie Lian offered. "Oh, right! After nap time we do art! You're free to join in!"

Wei Wuxian remembered all the sketches he'd done of Yiling Laozu in high school and instantly tried to forget them again. "Why not?" he smiled. "Art sounds fun!"
"Great!" Xie Lian chirped.

Wei Wuxian followed behind the two as they headed to the dining hall.

"Feel free to sit anywhere!" Xie Lian told him. "I'll prepare the tea, so relax!"
"Thank you, Doctor," Wei Wuxian said, sitting on one of the short stools at the end of one of the many long tables. "This table is pretty low down," he commented.
"It's old," Hua Cheng replied, shrugging again. He sat across from Wei Wuxian. "Also, it works for kids."
"I guess so."

You look ridiculous sitting at such a low table, dude, Wei Wuxian thought. Hua Cheng's knees could barely fit under the table.

Wei Wuxian and Hua Cheng didn't really have much else to say to each other. Now that Xie Lian was no longer in the room, Hua Cheng had hardened up again, so to speak.

In the middle of the silence, Wei Wuxian's phone buzzed with a new message. He mumbled an apology as he pulled out his phone. The message was from Lan Wangji.

Dear Wei Ying,
How are things so far at the orphanage? I hope you are having a good time.

Love,
Lan Wangji

"Oh man," Hua Cheng snorted, "What formal texting. It's like he's sending an email or something."
Wei Wuxian frowned at him. "Why're you reading my messages?" he asked.
"I wasn't trying to," Hua Cheng sighed. "But anyone's gonna glance at a message that long."
"...He's like that," Wei Wuxian grumbled as he quickly texted Lan Wangji back saying he was having fun. "He never really texts anyone other than me and his family."
"Eh," Hua Cheng laughed, "You should take a look at this."

Hua Cheng took out his own phone (which was a much older model than Wei Wuxian's) and tapped it a few times before showing him the screen.

The message was entirely in emojis.

"What the fuck?" was all Wei Wuxian could say, staring at it in disbelief.

Hua Cheng laughed again as he put his phone away. "Yeah. He's a registered psychiatrist and therapist with a master's degree. He teaches children how to read and write. Yet here he is, texting entirely in fucking emojis."
"I..."

If Wei Wuxian wasn't sure how he felt about Xie Lian before, he definitely was unsure how he felt about him now.

"Why does he... do that?" Wei Wuxian asked.
"Fuck if I know," Hua Cheng chuckled. "I think he said once that he wants to be familiar with the way young people communicate so that he can help understand his clients better. But I highly doubt any young person actually communicates like this."
Wei Wuxian laughed back. "Absolutely not," he said. "I mean, we might send an emoji as a reaction, but not... not a whole message. What does that even say?"

"He was asking me if I wanted anything from the supermarket," Hua Cheng replied, after a brief pause. "And, uh, that he was gonna be home late."
"What about the heart emojis at the end?" Wei Wuxian teased.
"...That was him saying 'I love you', but like, really mushy," Hua Cheng said, shaking his head.

Xie Lian soon returned with a tray of three teacups and a teapot. He sat next to Hua Cheng and placed the tray on the table.

"We've run out of snacks," Xie Lian announced, "Otherwise I would've included some. Sorry, Mr. Wei!"
"T-That's okay," Wei Wuxian said. "Also, uh, Doctor? You honestly don't need to be so formal, 'Wei Wuxian' is fine." I'm not used to the whole Mr. thing.
"Alright," Xie Lian said guiltily, "But only if you stop calling me Doctor."

That's a bit of a different issue, though, Wei Wuxian thought.

"What do the kids here call you, then?" Wei Wuxian asked.
Xie Lian's face turned pink. "U-Um..." he mumbled.
Hua Cheng coughed. "I told you it'd get you into trouble some day, Dear."

Wei Wuxian was confused. Was it some kind of in-joke that was difficult to explain?

"He's 'Dad'," Hua Cheng said, rolling his eyes. "I'm 'Uncle', by the way," he added.
"...Oh." It wasn't nearly as bad as Wei Wuxian had expected. He'd read stories that took place in orphanages where the woman in charge was called 'Mother', after all.

"But that doesn't work," Wei Wuxian thought out loud.

Both Xie Lian and Hua Cheng stared at him.

"Why not?" Xie Lian asked.
"Because," Wei Wuxian said, "You're both dads! Why not have Dad and Papa or something?"

Xie Lian and Hua Cheng seemed to think about it.

"...Papa San Lang," Xie Lian stroked his chin.
"No fucking thanks," Hua Cheng cringed, blushing. "If anything, you're more of a Papa!"
"But if we switch what the kids call me at this point they'll get confused," Xie Lian argued. "So I'm still Dad."
"Fine," Hua Cheng groaned. "But I'm not being called Papa."

Xie Lian ignored him and began pouring the tea.

While they sat there drinking, Wei Wuxian learnt the story behind Xie Lian and Hua Cheng's relationship. When Xie Lian was young, he unknowingly saved Hua Cheng (who had been a young child at the time). Hua Cheng never forgot Xie Lian's kindness, and was determined to find him again. Hua Cheng found Xie Lian a few years later, but was too scared to say anything, so he simply kept watching Xie Lian from a distance. While Hua Cheng was in his first year of high school, he got a new calligraphy teacher: Xie Lian. The two built up a good student-teacher relationship, and, when Hua Cheng graduated (which he said was only possible because Xie Lian helped keep him on track), he told Xie Lian his true feelings. Xie Lian accepted, and confessed that he'd felt the same way for a while, but couldn't even think about saying anything because he was a teacher. Then, many years later, when same-sex marriage was finally legalised, Hua Cheng proposed.

"Can I ask something?" Wei Wuxian raised his hand once they'd finished talking.
"You may," Xie Lian said.
"If you... were his teacher," Wei Wuxian said, "How much older than him are you?" he asked.
"How much older than him do you think I am?" Xie Lian asked back.
"Uh..."

Wei Wuxian thought. Xie Lian seemed like the type who looked much younger than he was, but then again, so did Hua Cheng. And Hua Cheng had half his face covered by hair, so it was hard to tell.

"I'll give you a hint," Hua Cheng offered. "We've been dating longer than you've been alive."
"That doesn't really help in terms of the age gap," Wei Wuxian argued.

Right, Wei Wuxian thought. Let's see. Hua Cheng is... well, he's however old he is. Doctor Xie became his teacher in high school. How long does it take for someone to get a teacher's license again? I'll have to ask Uncle Jiang. He'd know. Uh... So there're at least five years between them. But how many more than five? Ten? Fifteen? Nah, not fifteen, surely. Doctor Xie doesn't look that old.

"S-Somewhere between five and ten years?" Wei Wuxian answered, unsure.
"Nope," Hua Cheng replied. "But close."
"...Fifteen years?" Wei Wuxian tried.
"Closer," Hua Cheng replied. "Sixteen. He's sixteen years older than I am."

Just how old was Xie Lian?!

"Wow," Wei Wuxian said, "That, uh... That sure is a difference."
"It's a pain in the ass sometimes," Hua Cheng humphed. "People always misunderstand when you tell them. Either they think you've been 'groomed' -- even when you're the one who started the relationship -- or that it's gross in other ways. Because, y'know, I totally had no idea what I was doing when I was eighteen," he grumbled bitterly. "Besides, he'd never hurt me."
"Yikes," Wei Wuxian replied. "People can be awful. I never got that vibe from either of you..."
Xie Lian looked relieved. "I'm pleased to hear that," he said. "Thank you."
"You guys seem perfectly normal to me," Wei Wuxian added. "I can tell the two of you care about each other a lot."

Both Xie Lian and Hua Cheng blushed at his comment.

"So this is where you were, Doctor!" a breathless voice called from the dining hall door.
"Fu Yao? What's wrong?" Xie Lian asked.
"Who's this?" Fu Yao asked back, nodding at Wei Wuxian.
"I told you," Xie Lian said, "He's my client who's come to volunteer. San Lang was keeping him company until I got home. We were waiting for the children to wake up."
"Well, they're awake," Fu Yao panted, sitting down. "Art started ten minutes ago, Doctor, and it's not like you to be quite this late."

Xie Lian gasped. "Oh no! I'm so sorry! I just got distracted... San Lang and I were telling Wei Wuxian here some stories."
"Oh boy," Fu Yao groaned. "Anyway, you know Nan Feng and I don't know shit about art. The kids are getting annoyed."
"Then let's head over," Xie Lian said. "...San Lang, could you tidy up here and join us later?" he asked.
"'Kay," Hua Cheng replied, standing up and placing the teacups back on the tray.

Wei Wuxian followed Xie Lian and Fu Yao (who had now caught his breath) over to where the library was. However, instead of going in the library itself, they entered a room next to it.

"This is the art room," Xie Lian explained to Wei Wuxian.

The room's walls were even more covered in artwork than the hallways. The floor and tables were splattered with old paint stains, and there was a large washing-up station in the corner.

In the room, there were several children, and an exasperated-looking adult, whom Wei Wuxian assumed was Nan Feng.

Upon seeing Xie Lian, Nan Feng breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

"Doctor! Thank heavens! Please save me, I don't even know what we're doing today!" Nan Feng begged.
"...It's just finger painting," Xie Lian replied, raising an eyebrow. "Let me introduce Wei Wuxian first, then I'll explain it to the kids."

Nan Feng gave Wei Wuxian a look. But Wei Wuxian didn't really notice, as he was too focused on looking at the children.

There were maybe twenty children in the room. Most of them were younger, but a few looked like they were around ten years old. They appeared cleaner than Wei Wuxian had been expecting them to, and were pretty well-groomed. Their clothes were old and worn, but they'd been patched up. They were all skinny.

They all looked far better off than what Wei Wuxian remembered him and his group being. He had mixed feelings.

"Good afternoon, everyone!" Xie Lian greeted warmly.
"Good afternoon, Dad!" the children chimed back in unison.
"Today, we'll be doing finger painting!" Xie Lian explained. "But before that, we have someone special joining us." He gestured towards Wei Wuxian to introduce himself.

Wei Wuxian stepped out in front. He normally didn't have any issue with public speaking, but for some reason, he froze.

He wanted to bolt from the room and run as far away as possible.

He'd thought he'd be okay. These children weren't on the streets, after all. They were happy.

And yet, he'd been hit with a feeling he hadn't expected at all: jealousy. It made him feel like shit. He couldn't really explain it.

"...Hi," Wei Wuxian finally said quietly, struggling to look out at the kids who were watching him. "I'm, uh, Wei Wuxian, and I'll be... j-joining you for today. Doctor Xi-- uh, Dad, your father, asked me to come and help. I dunno if I'll be any good at finger painting, but I'm excited to give it a go!"

Xie Lian smiled at him. "Be nice to Wei Wuxian, everyone!"
"Okay!"

Wei Wuxian chose an empty seat in the corner of the room, which wasn't like him. But he needed to control his emotions. Maybe he could distract himself with finger painting.

Xie Lian explained what finger painting was to the children (and to his staff). Once he had finished his verbal explanation, he quickly drew a picture of a stick figure in red paint.

"This is just an idea," Xie Lian said, "But today's theme is 'somebody you look up to'. It can be a person you admire, someone you want to be, whatever you come up with. If you want to be a superhero, you can paint a superhero! Talk to those around you about your ideas! Everyone will be sharing them with the class at the end!"

Wei Wuxian was drawing a blank. Was there anyone he looked up to? Not his parents, he didn't even remember them. Maybe Jiang Fengmian, but only kind of. Not Madam Yu, even though Wei Wuxian did respect her for being a strong woman. Jiang Yanli kind of counted.

Jiang Cheng?

Jiang Cheng would kill Wei Wuxian if he ever said out loud that he admired him.

Wei Wuxian almost wanted to cry in frustration. This was a task for kids. They were already all painting away, chatting to those at their tables. But he couldn't come up with anything.

Someone he looked up to. Someone he admired. Someone he wanted to be.

"Wei Wuxian?"

He was broken out of his trance by Xie Lian, who was standing over him, smiling gently.

"Y-Yeah?" Wei Wuxian asked, trying to hide how annoyed he was.
"Are you okay?" Xie Lian whispered, kneeling down so that he was at eye level with Wei Wuxian.

No.

"I... I can't think of anything," Wei Wuxian admitted, feeling like he was now one of the children.
"That's okay," Xie Lian said. "There's no rush. You can take your time. Even if you only put one dot on your paper, that's something."

That made Wei Wuxian feel worse.

"If I may," Xie Lian continued, in a concerned voice, "Is there a reason you don't want to paint your fiancé?"
"..."

To Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji was an equal. Despite their different social status, their relationship put them at the same level.

But Lan Wangji was strong. He was brave. He was kind and caring and loving. He had clear goals in mind. Despite everything Lan Wangji had been through, he hadn't turned hateful or spiteful. And he hadn't given up on himself.

Did Wei Wuxian look up to and admire Lan Wangji?

He absolutely did. He'd just never thought about it.

Wei Wuxian grinned at Xie Lian. "I'm a pretty forgetful boyfriend," he said, pulling his pallet of paint towards him.

Xie Lian stood upright. "Excellent," he replied. "I'll leave you to it." He walked off to check on another group of kids.

Wei Wuxian painted a full-body shot of Lan Wangji, which was easier than attempting a detailed closeup. He made sure to include his long, flowing hair (and his hair ribbon, of course) and gave him extremely fancy clothes.

Once the idea of who he was painting came to him, his fingers seemed to know exactly what to do. He cursed himself for being such an idiot. Of course Lan Wangji was the answer. Lan Wangji was always the answer.

After some time, Xie Lian announced that everyone needed to finish up their painting so that they could present them. Wei Wuxian noticed that Hua Cheng was now sitting at the front of the the class room. He must've entered when Wei Wuxian had been focused on his painting.

Xie Lian got the children to stand up one by one and talk about who they painted and why they'd chosen that person. Most of the children had painted one of their friends, although several had also painted Xie Lian. A couple of children's paintings were of superheroes or gods ("They protect and watch over us and I think that's wonderful" said one of the kids).

Xie Lian purposefully saved the adults for last. Hua Cheng was sitting closer, so he went first.

"I mean," Hua Cheng said, holding up his painting (which was on about the same artistic level as most of the children's paintings, but Wei Wuxian kept that to himself), "Do I even have a choice? But even if I did, I'd paint my amazing, beautiful husband. If I mentioned the reasons why, I'd be here for hours, so I'll spare y'all the trouble."
Xie Lian blushed and giggled. "Stop that, San Lang!" he teased. Hua Cheng smirked at him as he sat back down.

Fu Yao, who was off to the side with Nan Feng, rolled his eyes before Xie Lian turned to the two of them.

"Did either of you paint something?" Xie Lian asked them.

Nan Feng stood up and emotionlessly held up his painting. It was actually rather well done, Wei Wuxian thought. "I also painted the doctor," Nan Feng said. "His kindness and selflessness know no bounds, and he's been a huge help to me over the years."
Xie Lian smiled at him. "Thank you, Nan Feng." Nan Feng sat down.

Fu Yao sighed, acting like getting out of his seat was an effort, and held his painting up. "Same as Nan Feng," he said. "I echo his sentiments."
Xie Lian seemed used to this attitude and didn't press him for further comments. "Thank you, Fu Yao," he nodded. Fu Yao had already sat down by the time Xie Lian had finished speaking.

"How'd you get on, Wei Wuxian?" Xie Lian asked, looking over at Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian stood up and tried not to let his hands shake. "Uh," he began, "This is my fiancé. I... chose to paint him because he's someone I admire. He's been through a lot, yet he's never lost sight of who he is or what's important to him. He's always trying to improve as a person, and I'm constantly in awe of how compassionate he is. There isn't a single nasty bone in his body. Oh," he added, "And I painted him with rabbits 'cuz he keeps them as pets and he loves them to bits."

There was a lot more that he wanted to say, but, like Hua Cheng, he could spend hours talking about why he loved Lan Wangji.

Xie Lian smiled warmly at him. "That's lovely," he said. "Thank you, Wei Wuxian."

Wei Wuxian smiled back and sat down. He was pretty proud of his painting. Maybe he'd take it home and show it to Lan Wangji...

"Dad?" a child piped up, sticking his hand up in hair for attention.
"Yes?" Xie Lian asked.
"What does 'fiancé' mean?" the child asked.

It was a fair enough question.

"A fiancé is someone that you're engaged to," Xie Lian explained. "And to be engaged to someone means that you're going to marry them. Wei Wuxian drew his fiancé, who he plans on marrying in the future. Sometimes, people can't get married right away, but they want to show their love. And when Wei Wuxian and his fiancé get married, they'll be just like me and San Lang!"
Many of the children went "Ohhh" in unison.

"And lastly," Xie Lian continued, "This is my painting." He held up his own painting, which was an extremely detailed close-up shot of Hua Cheng. It wasn't photorealistic, but it was still pretty damn impressive. "It's San Lang, of course!" he beamed. "I would've added more to it but I didn't have enough time. Anyway, I've told you all about how much I love San Lang, so I won't bother."

Xie Lian then instructed the children to hand in their paintings before asking them to help Fu Yao and Nan Feng tidy up. He called Wei Wuxian over to him and Hua Cheng after he'd received everyone's paintings.

"You can keep yours," Xie Lian told Wei Wuxian. "I think it turned out pretty well!"
"Yeah," Wei Wuxian nodded. "All thanks to your suggestion, Doctor."
"Oh, no," Xie Lian said. "I'm sure you would've come to the same conclusion yourself."

Wei Wuxian didn't want to argue with him.

"Anyway," Xie Lian said, "What do you think you'll do now? We still have a reading session before dinner. It's perfectly fine if you want to head home."
Wei Wuxian had already made up his mind. "I think I'll go home for today," he replied. "I just... I don't even really know how to describe how I feel."
Xie Lian gave him another warm smile. "I understand," he said. "It's difficult. I'm pleased you even came and stayed as long as you did."
"...Thank you," Wei Wuxian mumbled, feeling guilty.

"D'you want me to see him off, Dear?" Hua Cheng offered. "You can stay here with the kids."
"That'd be a big help, San Lang!" Xie Lian nodded. "Thanks!"
"It's nothing," Hua Cheng said. "C'mon, let's go."
"Hold on a second," Wei Wuxian said, "Lemme just text my fiancé. He's coming to pick me up."
"Sure," Hua Cheng shrugged. "No rush."

Wei Wuxian hastily messaged Lan Wangji, who hardly took any time to reply back to confirm that he was on his way.

Hua Cheng lead Wei Wuxian, who was clutching his painting, back to the front door.

"What the hell did he mean by 'it's difficult' earlier?" Hua Cheng asked once they were at the door and Wei Wuxian was putting on his shoes.
"...I'm also an orphan," Wei Wuxian explained hesitantly. "But I never lived at an orphanage, I just spent a while on the streets. So it's like... it's weird seeing all these kids with a roof over their heads and not having to worry about finding food. I dunno."
"I get ya," Hua Cheng said. Wei Wuxian stared at him in surprise. "I mean, uh, I think I do, at least," he mumbled.

Wei Wuxian laughed as he finished putting his shoes on. "Thanks," he smiled meekly. "Tell the doctor that I'm thankful he gave me this opportunity. And that I did have a good time."
"Will do," Hua Cheng replied with a nod. "I'm sure he'll talk to you about it at your next appointment or whatever."
"Probably!"

Wei Wuxian's phone buzzed with a text letting him know that Lan Wangji was waiting for him outside, so he bid farewell to Hua Cheng (and told him to say goodbye to Xie Lian too) and made his way to where Lan Wangji was parked.

Despite his weird, mixed feelings, Wei Wuxian did have a good time. He knew the issue was himself and nothing else, and that Xie Lian was going above and beyond to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those children.

When Wei Wuxian hopped in the car, he grinned as he showed Lan Wangji the painting.

"It's you!" he announced proudly. "We did finger painting," he added, smiling at Lan Wangji.
"...I see," Lan Wangji said. "Are those my rabbits?" he asked, pointing at one of the smaller dots.
"Yep!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "There weren't enough colours to do them accurately, but..."
"It is the thought that counts," Lan Wangji replied.

Wei Wuxian placed the paper on his lap as he fastened his seatbelt.

"Did you have a good day?" Lan Wangji asked once they were on the road.
"I did, yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "The doctor's taking care of several kids. Most of them seem pretty young... Oh, and I met his husband! He's cool."

Wei Wuxian spent the trip home telling Lan Wangji about his day (well, most of it, at least). He asked Lan Wangji about how his studying had gone, which Lan Wangji said went well.

That evening, Lan Wangji brought up the topic of haircuts again. Wei Wuxian reassured him that it had only been a question slash suggestion and that he loved Lan Wangji's long hair. Lan Wangji said that he'd decided that Wei Wuxian was right, and that he'd like to get his hair cut. But still have it long enough that he could wear the hair ribbon that Wei Wuxian had made for him.

Wei Wuxian was also in need of a trim, so they agreed to find a hairdressing salon the next day and arrange bookings for both of them at the same time.

Wei Wuxian was fully expecting to have nightmares that night, so he allowed himself two cans of beer (he'd bought some a couple of days earlier). Surprisingly, however, he only dreamt of Lan Wangji. Not that he minded in the slightest.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian decided to ask Jiang Yanli where she got her hair done, and explained about him and Lan Wangji getting their hair cut. Jiang Yanli told him the address of her favourite salon, and Wei Wuxian made both of them an appointment for a few days' time. They confirmed that Lan Wangji could donate his hair. Lan Wangji chose a charity from a list the organiser read out over the phone, after Wei Wuxian did some quick research to verify that it wasn't some kind of shady establishment.

 


 

Wei Wuxian was slightly nervous meeting Xie Lian again for his therapy session, but he managed to convince himself that Xie Lian wasn't going to care about his reactions at the orphanage. He tried not to let Lan Wangji catch on to his internal conflict, and somehow succeeded (Lan Wangji could usually tell when something was wrong with Wei Wuxian, after all).

 

Xie Lian wasn't late for their appointment this time, so Wei Wuxian assumed that he hadn't been on the phone with Hua Cheng today.

 

They were in a different room than last time, but its layout was relatively the same.

 

"Thanks for the other day, Doctor," Wei Wuxian began after they were both sitting down and Xie Lian had his notepad ready.

"Not a problem!" Xie Lian smiled. "I do hope San Lang treated you well, he's a bit shy sometimes..."

 

Shy? Wei Wuxian thought. Him?

 

"Yeah, he was fine," Wei Wuxian replied. It wasn't a lie, he'd had no issues with Hua Cheng. Or anyone else. Only himself. "And, um," Wei Wuxian added, "...Sorry."

Xie Lian looked confused. "What on Earth are you apologising for, Mr. Wei?" he asked.

"F-For... For having to get you to prompt me," Wei Wuxian admitted through gritted teeth.

"That's absolutely nothing to apologise over," Xie Lian said firmly. "Sometimes we miss what's right in front of us because it's so obvious. I didn't at all doubt that you admired your fiancé, but I figured you just weren't thinking in that direction."

 

Wei Wuxian vaguely remembered Lan Wangji telling Jiang Cheng that he'd been looking in the wrong places, and suddenly realised how it was possible for Jiang Cheng not to have picked up on his own feelings.

 

"So, Mr. Wei," Xie Lian continued, "What did you think about your visit? Would you like to volunteer at the orphanage again?" he asked.

"I..." Wei Wuxian hesitated.

 

It wasn't that he didn't. He really did want to help the children that Xie Lian was taking care of.

 

"I do, but..." he trailed off.

"Is there an issue?" Xie Lian asked, gently urging him on.

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "I... I don't feel comfortable there," he said, feeling himself start to tear up. "I'm sorry, I know it's stupid."

 

Xie Lian thought for a few moments. "What makes you uncomfortable?" he asked softly. "I can always make adjustments. If you don't like Fu Yao or Nan Feng, I'll make it so that they're doing different tasks to you, or--"

"No," Wei Wuxian cut him off, shaking his head in shame. "It's not them. And it's not you either. It... It's the kids."

 

Xie Lian stared blankly at him. "The children?" he repeated. "Oh!" he gasped. "I get it! Being around them must've given you flashbacks. I was slightly worried that that would happen, but I didn't want to say anything in case that made it worse..."

Wei Wuxian felt nothing but guilt. "That's not it," he said. "I... I hate myself for thinking this, but... seeing those kids with a roof over their heads, and them being cared for and fed and happy and clean and stuff..." He exhaled again, shaking slightly. "It made me jealous."

 

Xie Lian didn't respond. Wei Wuxian couldn't work out his expression, but he also wasn't trying very hard to do so. He figured Xie Lian would probably mock him.

 

"...I see," Xie Lian said slowly. "That's... I can certainly understand that."

Wei Wuxian blinked. "Huh?"

"They have something you never did," Xie Lian explained calmly. "And you recognise that. It's natural to feel jealous, as nasty of an emotion as it can be. There's nothing wrong with feeling that way." He smiled sadly at Wei Wuxian.

"I-It's just..." Wei Wuxian fought back his tears. "Those kids don't know what it's like to be on the streets. Or what it's like to be starving every day because you haven't been able to steal food from a local stall. They've never experienced sleeping at the bottom of a pile of other kids to try and not freeze to death in the middle of winter because you can't find anywhere warm for the night. They have access to clean water and don't get its importance. They don't have to wear the same filthy clothes day after day that are covered in dirt, piss, shit and heaven knows what else. They've never almost been eaten by wild dogs. None of them have been constantly on the run from police nor have they come back from an outing to find that one of their friends was taken away. They've never had to leave behind the bodies of their dead friends who starved or froze to death. Those kids... th-they've never had to bury their friends..."

 

Wei Wuxian covered his face with his hands. He'd had more he wanted to say, but talking wasn't something he could easily do while crying.

 

He knew how petty he sounded. It was a very good thing the children at Xie Lian's orphanage hadn't experienced what he'd been through. They all deserved to have shelter and someone to look after them.

 

But why hadn't Wei Wuxian been able to have that? It had taken Jiang Fengmian at least two years to find him. Those two or so years Wei Wuxian had spent on the streets still haunted him, no matter how hard he tried to forget them. Which was partially the reason he'd started drinking.

 

Surely there would've been orphanages in the places Wei Wuxian had been based. Surely someone could've rescued him sooner.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't blame Jiang Fengmian. He'd lived in a different province, and Jiang Fengmian hadn't even known that Wei Wuxian had been abandoned initially.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't know how long it took for him to stop crying, but when he'd calmed down, he shamefully lifted his head. Xie Lian was standing next to him, holding a box of tissues. Wei Wuxian took the box from him and pulled out several tissues before wiping his eyes and blowing his nose.

 

"Thank you," Wei Wuxian croaked.

Xie Lian smiled at him. He looked like he'd been crying slightly himself. "I'm sorry, Mr. Wei," he apologised, sitting back down in his chair. "I... wasn't trying to make you recall anything..."

"It's okay," Wei Wuxian sniffed. "I know it's stupid to react like this..."

"It really isn't," Xie Lian reassured him. "And, if it means anything, all of those children were living on the streets for a while before I took them in. None of them were left for as long as you were, nor do I think they experienced things as horrific as you did. But they have all been traumatised by what they have been through."

 

That made Wei Wuxian feel even worse. Of course the kids had been on the streets themselves. He felt like an idiot for assuming that Xie Lian had rescued them before they became homeless.

 

"Also, Mr. Wei?" Xie Lian said hesitantly.

"...Yeah?"

"He probably didn't mention it," Xie Lian said, "But San Lang... was also homeless for a while too, actually."

 

Wei Wuxian was shocked. Hua Cheng hadn't seemed like the type to him at all.

 

"I never would've guessed," Wei Wuxian remarked.

"I don't know that many details about it," Xie Lian continued, "But I haven't really asked. All I know is that he was kicked out of home when he was a teenager. Which is, of course, a different situation to yours, but..."

"What kind of parents kick their own kid out?" Wei Wuxian grumbled. "I can't imagine him doing anything to warrant that..."

"I know, right?" Xie Lian chuckled. "The things is, though, it's definitely affected him. When we first started living together after he graduated, he'd frequently have nightmares that would wake both of us up. San Lang would always apologise, but I just felt awful for not being able to help him..." He took a deep breath. "It was things like that that made me decide to become a therapist, you know. I wanted to know what I could do to help San Lang -- and others. Being a teacher wasn't very rewarding for me, either, because I felt powerless against the system. I couldn't actually do anything to make the environment better for the students. Oh," he laughed again. "Silly me, here I am talking about myself again even though this is your therapy session! I'm sorry."

"No, it's okay," Wei Wuxian insisted again. "It's... weirdly reassuring to listen to someone else's story."

 

Xie Lian made a few notes while Wei Wuxian used up some more tissues.

 

"Mr. Wei," Xie Lian began once he'd written down what he needed to, "I won't force you to come back to the orphanage. I do realise that it's too much for you. However, I will say this: we try our best to avoid doing or saying things that trigger the children. One of those things is that no dogs are allowed on the premises. Another is that we don't take the children out late at night. We also avoid interacting with the police. But sometimes, people have triggers that you can't predict. For example, there's a child who's terrified of being in a kitchen because her parents died in a house fire that was started by a stove..." He paused. "So, if there is anything in particular that we could to do accomodate you, please do tell me."

 

Wei Wuxian nodded, unable to really come up with a response. In his heart, he knew that he wasn't the only one scarred by things that had happened to them in the past. He wished he could rid himself of the unwarranted emotions he was feeling.

 

"Everyone has things that upset them," Xie Lian added. "While some people aren't traumatised, many are. And some react more intensely than others. That's why it's important to look out for others, and why we do what we can to avoid those triggers."

 

Wei Wuxian nodded again. It made him wonder what Lan Wangji's triggers were, although he didn't have the heart to ask. He also wondered if someone like Xie Lian had any triggers of his own...

 

He sat there as he thought about his options. Maybe he could overcome his stupid jealousy and actually help them. Helping people was what he wanted to do, after all, and this was the perfect opportunity.

 

"If it interests you," Xie Lian said, "We're beginning preparations for our Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations next week. I can think of a few tasks we could do with some help with..."

 

Wei Wuxian had forgotten about the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, thanks to Lan Wangji moving in and starting therapy. The Jiangs always celebrated it by eating Jiang Yanli's homemade mooncakes (which Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng also helped her make when they were younger) and contributing to the lantern displays at the nearby parks before watching the local firework show. It was never something Wei Wuxian cared for one way or another, as he never considered himself to actually be part of the Jiang family, but it was the one time of the year where he could almost trick himself into believing that he belonged somewhere.

 

"I'll give it a try," Wei Wuxian replied. "But I'm not making any promises."

Xie Lian smiled warmly at him. "Wonderful," he said. "Also, if it's possible, bringing your fiancé along might help," he suggested.

 

"I'll ask him," Wei Wuxian replied after a long pause. "I don't know how he feels about being in an orphanage. He's from a wealthy family and hasn't been exposed to much of that stuff, so..."

"Asking is always important," Xie Lian agreed. "Maybe I should give you my phone number so you can contact me with when you'd like to visit. That way I won't be out somewhere!"

Wei Wuxian laughed dryly as he remembered the emoji-only text that Hua Cheng had shown him. "Are you... Are you allowed to do that?"

"There's nothing saying I'm not!" Xie Lian protested, giggling. He wrote his number down on the bottom of a page of his notepad and handed it to Wei Wuxian. "Feel free to message me any time! I only work Thursday and Friday, so I should be free all other days of the week."

 

Wei Wuxian thanked him as he pocketed the note.

 

"Oh dear," Xie Lian remarked, glancing at his watch. "We're already out of time for this week's session. Is it okay if I book you in for the same time slot next week?" he asked, taking out his diary and finding the correct page.

"Sure," Wei Wuxian said. "Thanks."

 

Once Xie Lian had finished organising his belongings, he lead Wei Wuxian back to the waiting room, where Lan Wangji was sitting, obediently waiting for Wei Wuxian.

 

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji greeted, walking over to them. He was initially his normal, placid self, but when he came close to Wei Wuxian his expression soured. "...Why were you crying?" he asked quietly.

"Oh, uh..." Wei Wuxian hesitated, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand. "N-No reason. I'm fine, I swear. I just.. Y'know."

Lan Wangji glared at Xie Lian. "Did you make Wei Ying cry?" he demanded, his voice harsh but steady.

 

Xie Lian looked slightly confused. He was about to reply when Wei Wuxian defended him: "No!" he exclaimed. "I mean, kinda. But he didn't. I was just being stupid and getting upset over dumb things, don't worry about it."

Lan Wangji didn't seem convinced. "Wei Ying--"

"Lan Zhan, I'm fine," Wei Wuxian repeated, sighing. He gently put a hand on Lan Wangji's shoulder and smiled at him. "There's no need to blame anyone." He glanced over at Xie Lian and mouthed 'sorry'.

Xie Lian apparently wasn't bothered. "Mr... Lan, was it?" he asked, addressing Lan Wangji.

"Yes?" Lan Wangji's expression softened slightly.

"Since you're here," Xie Lian said, "There's something I want to ask you. Mr. Wei will be helping us with preparing for our Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations at the orphanage. Would you like to join us?" he offered, smiling.

 

Lan Wangji didn't immediately respond. "Yes," he replied, after a pause. "So long as it is with Wei Ying."

"Absolutely!" Xie Lian beamed. "And thank you, Mr. Lan, that's wonderful to hear!"

Lan Wangji nodded. "When will the preparations take place?" he asked.

"Sometime next week, I think," Xie Lian answered. "We can easily work around your schedules, so don't worry about it!"

 

After a bit of negotiating, they worked out a date and time for both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji to visit the orphanage. Once they were done, Xie Lian headed to the front desk to book Wei Wuxian's next session.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji bid Xie Lian farewell and made their way to Lan Wangji's car.

 

"I do not trust him," Lan Wangji announced once they were en route back home.

"Who? Dr. Xie?" Wei Wuxian asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji confirmed. "He made you cry. Anyone who makes you cry cannot be trusted."

He said it so seriously that Wei Wuxian howled with laughter. "Lan Zhan," he wheezed, "You do realise that you've made me cry multiple times, too, right? Does that mean you're not to be trusted either?" Wei Wuxian chuckled to himself, amused at the level of Lan Wangji's dedication.

 

Lan Wangji didn't say anything back, which Wei Wuxian took as a 'No'.

 

"By the way," Wei Wuxian began a short time later, "I'd completely forgotten that it was time for the Mid-Autumn Festival. D'you and your family celebrate it?" he asked.

"Mmn, we do," Lan Wangji replied. "Brother usually buys us some mooncakes to eat together. And we used to attend the local festival itself when we were younger, but everyone became too busy, so we have not been in several years."

 

Wei Wuxian felt slightly sad. At least the Jiangs had done more celebrating than that. And he couldn't work out from Lan Wangji's statement whether or not Lan Qiren was included in the mooncake-eating, of it it was just the two brothers.

 

"In that case," Wei Wuxian said, having made up his mind, "You're gonna be celebrating it with me this year. The Jiangs always help set up the displays and stalls, so we'll be able to get good spots to watch the moon -- and the fireworks! Oh, and," he continued, "Sister always makes everyone really tasty homemade mooncakes, which you've absolutely gotta try! They're the best!"

"I will look forward to it," Lan Wangji replied.

 

Wei Wuxian spent the rest of the journey home thinking about what he wanted to do with the orphanage children. They were most likely going to be making mooncakes, but from what Xie Lian had said, fireworks were probably a bad idea. He wondered if one of the activities would involve lanterns, as children tended to love carrying lanterns around during the festival.

 


 

Before it was time for any volunteering, however, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were due for their haircuts. Wei Wuxian kept reassuring Lan Wangji that they weren't going to ruin his hair, and that he was doing something charitable by donating it.

 

The hair salon that Jiang Yanli had recommended was easy to find, and the building was larger than what Wei Wuxian had expected (he usually just went for cheap haircuts and never bothered going to somewhere quite this fancy). The inside stank of haircare products, dye and bleach.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were greeted by a young woman, who showed them to the waiting area.

 

"Which one of you is donating your hair?" the hairstylist asked. "Because I'll be taking care of you, and my coworker will be responsible for whichever one of you I'm not working with."

"I am," Lan Wangji said. "I was told that it is an acceptable length. However, I do not wish for everything to be shaved off."

The hairstylist laughed. "Of course," she said. "It definitely looks like it'll work! Ah, Mianmian, over here!" she called out to another hairstylist, beckoning her over.

 

Mianmian (which was obviously some kind of nickname, Wei Wuxian figured), approached them, holding a broom in her hand. "Sorry!" she apologised. "There was quite a bit of sweeping to do, and--"

 

When she saw Wei Wuxian, her eyes widened. Wei Wuxian had the same reaction.

 

"It's you!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "What a coincidence!"

"Y-Yeah," Mianmian nodded shyly. "Um... it's been a while?" she added nervously.

"Who's this, Mianmian?" the first hairstylist asked in a teasing voice. "Your ex?"

"D-Don't say that!" Mianmian spluttered, blushing.

 

Wei Wuxian snorted. "Nah," he said, waving his hand, "Nothing that fun, sorry!"

Lan Wangji frowned. "How do you know her?" he asked, suspicious.

 

Is he jealous? Wei Wuxian wondered. Cute.

 

"H-He saved me, actually," Mianmian explained, clutching the broom tightly.

"...Saved? What d'you mean?" Mianmian's coworker looked at Wei Wuxian with a confused expression.

"I've told you the story, right?" Mianmian sighed. She sat the broom against a wall. "A few years ago, I was being attacked by a man who'd dragged me into an alleyway. I screamed for help, and the one who came to my rescue was, um, this man," she explained, nodding in Wei Wuxian's direction.

"Ohhhh!" Mianmian's coworker gasped. "Didn't you say he got stabbed and had to be taken to hospital?"

 

Wei Wuxian coughed. "That's pretty much what happened, yeah," he said. "Thankfully, Miss Mianmian called an ambulance in time..."

"Ew, please don't call me that," Mianmian grimaced. "I do have a name tag," she pointed out, gesturing towards it. The name tag read Luo Qingyang.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Sorry, Ms. Luo," he corrected himself cheekily.

 

"A-Anyway!" Mianmian exclaimed, ignoring him, "We should get going on your haircuts, since they look like they'll take a while."

"Good idea," Wei Wuxian grinned, following Mianmian over to one of the stations.

 

Initially, Mianmian didn't say anything as she focused on combing and washing Wei Wuxian's hair. However, once she had a moment of downtime, she said, "You know, I've always wondered about what happened to you."

"What, did you think I'd bled to death?" Wei Wuxian asked, half-sarcastically.

"...Kinda," Mianmian mumbled. "But I'm glad that you're okay. It was my fault you got injured, after all."

"Hardly," Wei Wuxian sighed. "It was my own stupid fault. I thought it'd make me look cool or something, I guess. Oh," he added, "And I do have a pretty sweet scar on my chest from the stab wound."

"Really?" Mianmian whispered.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Wanna see it?" he pulled a face in the mirror.

 

Mianmian rolled her eyes. "No way," she said, laughing a little bit. "I wouldn't want to see it no matter where it was on your body, actually."

"Ouch," Wei Wuxian laughed. Mianmian giggled again.

 

Silence fell between them as the haircut went on. Wei Wuxian felt as though it was taking forever. Eventually, however, Mianmian announced that she'd finished, and Wei Wuxian took a look at himself.

 

"Still sexy," he joked, whipping his hair around slightly. It was just above shoulder-length now. "It's great. Thanks."

"Good," Mianmian humphed, "Because I'm not doing it again! That was hard!"

 

Wei Wuxian grinned at her.

 

"By the way," Mianmian added in a quiet voice, "Who's the guy with you?" she asked.

"He's my fiancé," Wei Wuxian replied nonchalantly. "So, sorry, but he's taken."

"I thought so!" Mianmian giggled. "I noticed your rings," she explained, "But I wasn't sure exactly."

 

Wei Wuxian swivelled around in the chair. "Yeah," he said, showing her his engagement ring. "He chose them."

"Oooh!" Mianmian gasped. "They're super pretty! Hopefully my boyfriend will get me something that lovely if he proposes to me," she remarked.

"You've got a boyfriend?" Wei Wuxian commented.

"What, is it that surprising?" Mianmian asked, sounding unsure if she should be offended or not.

"Nah," Wei Wuxian laughed. "I'm glad you do. I wondered about you from time to time too, actually. So I'm pleased to see that you're okay."

Mianmian smiled at him. "Thank you," she said. "I'm really, really grateful that you rescued me that day."

Wei Wuxian smiled back. "Anytime," he nodded.

 

Wei Wuxian went back over to the waiting area, as Lan Wangji was still getting his hair cut. Mianmian stayed behind to clean up the area, which was now covered in hair.

 

He decided to pass the time by texting his friends.

 

Wei Wuxian: just got a haircut! feelin refreshed

Nie Huaisang: gud idea. mayb Ill go for a trim too

Nie Huaisang: its gettin too long

Wen Ning: What length is it?

Wei Wuxian: shoulder

Wei Wuxian: ill send a pic l8er

Wei Wuxian: btw lan zhan also got his hair cut

Nie Huaisang: WAT

Wen Ning: 😯

Wei Wuxian: hes donating it

Wei Wuxian: like what wen ning did

Wen Ning: Amazing!!!!!!

Nie Huaisang: send pic pls

Wei Wuxian: will do when we get home

Wei Wuxian: hes still gettin it cut now

Nie Huaisang: hes got so much hair

Nie Huaisang: im kinda jealous

Wen Ning: It looks soooo nice

Wei Wuxian: yeah

Wei Wuxian: i bet its a pain to take care of but he doesnt mind

 

Wei Wuxian was interrupted by Mianmian's coworker clearing her throat.

 

"Ahem," she announced, causing Wei Wuxian to glanced up. "I've completed what has been perhaps the most challenging task I've yet to face. Wanna see?" she smiled triumphantly.

"Sure do!" Wei Wuxian grinned.

 

The hairstylist trotted off and came back with Lan Wangji.

 

Who now had shorter hair than Wei Wuxian. An he looked rather different -- but still extremely handsome.

 

Wei Wuxian stared in awe before realising he should probably say something. "It's great," he commented. "It suits you!"

Lan Wangji nodded slowly. "It... feels weird."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I bet it does," he said. He stood up and walked over to Lan Wangji. "It makes you look older, I think. In a good way."

"...You too," Lan Wangji said quietly. "Your haircut also makes you look older."

 

Wei Wuxian really, really wanted to ruffle his hands through Lan Wangji's hair, but he knew that Lan Wangji wouldn't appreciate him doing that in public, so he refrained.

 

"Am I still the handsome devil you know and love?" Wei Wuxian teased, wriggling his eyebrows. He heard the hairstylist laugh behind them.

"...Stop that, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji muttered. He paused before adding, "But yes."

Wei Wuxian chuckled again.

 

Now that both of them were done, Mianmian's coworker lead them over to the front desk to pay.

 

Lan Wangji took out his phone. However, there was a cry from across the room: "Wait a moment!"

 

The three at the desk paused, confused. Mianmian came running over.

 

"Um," she breathed, panting slightly, "Senior, is there any way we could make one of the haircuts free?"

Mianmian's coworker sighed. "Why? Because he saved you, he gets a discount?" she asked.

"Well, yeah," Mianmian mumbled. "I want to do something to thank him," she explained.

"No no no no no," Wei Wuxian insisted, waving his hands in front of him. "There's no need to do that. I'd feel bad if I didn't pay you."

Mianmian frowned. "But I owe you," she argued.

"It's not about owing people," Wei Wuxian told her.

"Fine," Mianmian sighed. "Half-off, then."

 

Wei Wuxian could tell that he wasn't going to win. Mianmian was stubborn.

 

"That's doable," Mianmian's coworker said, adjusting the price. "There we go. You're all good to pay now."

 

Lan Wangji payed for their haircuts without saying anything.

 

"Take care, Miss Mianmian," Wei Wuxian said jokingly as he and Lan Wangji went to leave. "And thanks for the haircut!"

Mianmian shuddered. "I'm not cutting your hair again if you keep up that attitude," she protested, laughing. "And you take care too."

 

Wei Wuxian grinned at her as they headed outside.

 

Once they were in Lan Wangji's car, Wei Wuxian couldn't contain himself anymore and reached over to play with Lan Wangji's hair.

 

Lan Wangji was taken aback. "Wei Ying?"

"Sorry," Wei Wuxian laughed as he took his hands away. "It just looked suuuuuper tempting! It's so soft!"

 

In response, Lan Wangji slowly extended a hand and ran it through Wei Wuxian's hair. "So is yours," he said.

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "I bet everyone's gonna get a huge shock seeing you," he remarked, after Lan Wangji had removed his hand. "But don't worry, it really does look good. You're still really handsome."

Lan Wangji started the car. "...Thank you," he mumbled quietly. Wei Wuxian smiled at him fondly.

 


 

As Wei Wuxian had predicted, the Jiangs had strong reactions to Lan Wangji with short hair. Jiang Yanli kept commenting on how wonderful he looked, while Jiang Cheng felt like he'd cut it a little bit too short (although Madam Yu was quick to point out that hair grows back so it doesn't matter). Jiang Fengmian complimented them both, and Madam Yu contemplated getting her own hair cut at the same salon since they'd done a very good job.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't remember he'd promised his friends pictures until later that night when Lan Wangji was already getting ready for bed. As a compromise, he simply sent a photo of himself and told Nie Huaisang and Wen Ning that he'd show off Lan Wangji's new form the next day. Although there was also a part of him that wanted to keep Lan Wangji to himself.

 

He was satisfied with how things had turned out, and proud of Lan Wangji for taking such a large step. To Wei Wuxian, it felt as though Lan Wangji was very slowly becoming more independent. He wanted to encourage that as much as possible.

 

Wei Wuxian was prepared to be with Lan Wangji every single step of the way on his journey, no matter how long it took. And he was pretty sure that Lan Wangji felt the same way about him.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji's usual routine was underway with both men getting ready to take a shower together.

 

For the most part, their showers consisted of nothing but showering, as it took at least half an hour to wash Lan Wangji's hair, and Wei Wuxian's also took a decent amount of time. Wei Wuxian would've liked to do more, but he was normally rather tired in the morning and took a long time to wake up properly (Lan Wangji had been trying unsuccessfully to help him with this).

 

Lan Wangji always gave Wei Wuxian a couple of extra minutes to try and wake up by being the one who adjusted the water temperature until he deemed it acceptable. Once Wei Wuxian got in the shower, his head tended to clear somewhat, but he still wished he was back in bed asleep.

 

That day, he was groggily watching Lan Wangji pumping shampoo into his hand, and noticed something.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian yawned, "Stop."

Lan Wangji paused and looked over at him. "What is it?" he asked.

Wei Wuxian, who was leaning against one of the walls of the shower, stood up. "You're using too much. You have short hair now, remember?" he pointed at Lan Wangji's head.

"...Oh."

 

In Lan Wangji's palm, there were three large blobs of shampoo. Normally, this wouldn't be quite enough for him to wash his hair with. Now, however, even three blobs were more than what was necessary.

 

"What should I do with it?" Lan Wangji asked, indicating that he didn't want to waste the shampoo.

"Uhh... it doesn't really matter," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Scrape some of it off with your fingers and wash it down the drain."

"Is that okay?" Lan Wangji didn't seem to trust him.

"Of course," Wei Wuxian laughed. "It won't block the drain or anything."

 

Seeing as Lan Wangji still didn't move, Wei Wuxian took his hand in his own and scraped off the excess shampoo (or, at least, what he felt was excess) with his index finger, which he then rinsed under the water.

 

"There," he said. "That should be enough."

Lan Wangji frowned slightly. "Is it really?" he asked. "It does not seem... right."

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "Yeah," he said, "It always feels weird the first time you wash your hair after a cut. I've accidentally used way too much shampoo a couple of times before!"

 

Lan Wangji nodded as he began massaging the shampoo into his scalp.

 

Wei Wuxian felt a pang when Lan Wangji turned around and exposed his back to him. Ever since he'd gotten his hair cut, Wei Wuxian had realised that it meant he was no longer able to hide all his scars. It was something that hadn't even occurred to him until after the fact, but he didn't really know how to bring it up. Besides, the only person who ever saw his scars was Wei Wuxian anyway.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't want to stare at the scars when he saw them. He knew it was rude. But even though they were faded, they were still clearly visible against Lan Wangji's pale skin.

 

I wonder if they still hurt, Wei Wuxian thought sadly. Mine never does, but his are different. I wish he was comfortable talking about it... I want to be able to understand him better. I want to be able to understand his pain better.

 

"Wei Ying, are you okay?" Lan Wangji asked.

Wei Wuxian blinked a few times. "O-Oh, uh, yeah," he mumbled. "I'm fine. Still tired."

Lan Wangji nodded. "I have finished washing my hair. Will you wash yours, or shall I do it for you?" he offered, fetching Wei Wuxian his shampoo bottle.

"I can do it," Wei Wuxian replied, taking the bottle from Lan Wangji. "Otherwise I'm never gonna wake up!" he grinned.

"Mmn."

 

It didn't take Wei Wuxian that long to wash his own hair, either.

 

Having finished washing themselves from head to toe (Lan Wangji made absolutely sure Wei Wuxian washed his entire body thoroughly -- being tired was no excuse, as Lan Wangji simply washed whichever placed Wei Wuxian couldn't be bothered with), they both stood in the water feeling a little bit lost.

 

"What should we do?" Lan Wangji asked. "I am ready to get out if you are."

 

Wei Wuxian wasn't entirely satisfied with such a short shower.

 

"I've got a better idea," he announced.

"What is--" Lan Wangji began, but was cut off by a gasp when he realised what Wei Wuxian was doing. "Wei Ying! You cannot!"

 

Wei Wuxian cackled as he squat down.

 

"Why not?" Wei Wuxian demanded, gazing up at him with an overly-cutesy pout that even he himself found ridiculous.

"...It is.... unhygienic..." Lan Wangji muttered through gritted teeth.

"You're acting like anything's gonna end up in the shower," Wei Wuxian laughed. He reached out a hand and gently touched Lan Wangji's upper thigh. "If you actually don't wanna, I'll stop, though," he added.

 

Lan Wangji covered his face with one of his hands. He seemed to be struggling between I want Wei Ying to touch me and It is wrong to do something so filthy in somebody else's shower that multiple other people use. Wei Wuxian was mildly amused by his minor dilemma.

 

"...I... want to..." Lan Wangji admitted in a very quiet and shaky voice. "But you... have to make sure n-nothing is left..."

Wei Wuxian broke into a grin, excited to get approval. "I won't! I promise!"

 

He eagerly got to work.

 


 

Wei Wuxian was a man of his word (or at least he tried to be). After Lan Wangji had inspected the shower to make absolutely sure it was clean, the two of them dried off, got dressed and finished freshening up for the day before finally leaving the bathroom.

 

A very angry Jiang Cheng was waiting for them. He was leaning against the wall with his arms folded, holding his change of clothes against his chest.

 

"Why the fuck were you so long?" Jiang Cheng demanded.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji glanced at each other.

 

"We weren't any longer than usual," Wei Wuxian retorted.

"But you shouldn't've taken nearly this long," Jiang Cheng argued back. "As you both have short hair now, that should've cut down on your time showering."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't want to admit it, but he had a point. It was going to be hard coming up with an excuse.

 

"It is Wei Ying's fault," Lan Wangji replied in a deadpan manor.

"Is it?" Jiang Cheng sighed and shook his head. "I should've known. What stupid shit did you do?"

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Jiang Cheng," he said smugly, smirking, "Are you sure you want to know? I can give you as detailed of a report as you'd like..."

"Ew ew ew ew ew no fucking thanks!" Jiang Cheng shuddered violently. "Also, are you for real?" His eyes narrowed.

"I'm always for real," Wei Wuxian laughed. "What d'ya mean?"

"That's disgusting," Jiang Cheng sneered. "This whole family uses that shower. I almost don't want to take one now that I know what you've been doing in there!" he spat, his eyes full of disapproval and rage.

"We didn't get it dirty," Wei Wuxian protested. "It's not like we were properly fucking in there or anything, by the way. Not only is that impractical, it's also uncomfortable and cramped and-- ah, hey, Lan Zhan, let go!"

 

Lan Wangji had forcefully grabbed Wei Wuxian's wrist and was dragging him backwards down the hallway. He only let go once they reached the stairs.

 

Wei Wuxian knew exactly what he was mad about.

 

"...Sorry," Wei Wuxian mumbled, looking down at his feet. "I was just trying to tease him."

"Not that," Lan Wangji replied. "I simply did not want him to get any angrier at you, and I could not think of any ways to make you stop, so..."

"Huh?" Wei Wuxian managed to glance up at him. "Y-You mean... You're not mad at me?" he asked hopefully.

Lan Wangji shook his head. "No," he said. "I am not. Not really."

 

The air between them felt awkward for the first time in a while. Neither of them moved.

 

"We need to eat breakfast," Lan Wangji told him.

"Yeah, we do," Wei Wuxian agreed. "What d'you feel like?" he asked. He turned around and began making his way to the kitchen-slash-dining area.

 

In his normal state, Wei Wuxian would've made a joke about how he'd already had a nutritious meal, but given that Lan Wangji wasn't comfortable with jokes about such things, he refrained.

 

"I am not that hungry," Lan Wangji replied, following behind him. "Congee is fine."

"Right," Wei Wuxian said. "Congee it is."

 

Jiang Fengmian, Madam Yu and Jiang Yanli were already eating breakfast when Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji came in the room.

 

"Oh, good morning, you two," Jiang Fengmian greeted. "I was wondering where you were."

Wei Wuxian laughed as he filled a pot with water. "We were just in the shower," he shrugged.

"That whole time?" Jiang Fengmian asked suspiciously.

Wei Wuxian sat the pot on the stove and switched on the heat. He turned around with a smirk. "Yeah."

Jiang Fengmian coughed lightly and took a long sip of his coffee. "Just try to not use up all the hot water," was all he said. Wei Wuxian laughed again.

"And make sure you clean up after yourselves properly," Madam Yu added curtly.

 

"Y-You know," Jiang Yanli piped up, "I'd almost forgotten that you'd gotten your hair cut, so I got a bit of a surprise when you walked in!"

 

Wei Wuxian could tell that she was trying to change the subject and thanked her internally.

 

"I bet!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "Hey, Lan Zhan, maybe you should show up at your family's house without saying anything and shock them!" he jokingly suggested.

Lan Wangji, who was preparing himself some tea, shook his head. "I would not want Uncle to have a heart attack."

Wei Wuxian chuckled as he gathered what he needed to make the congee. "Fair enough. Are you gonna show them, though?" he asked, not joking anymore.

"Mmn, I will," Lan Wangji replied. "I want to ask my Uncle about arrangements for the Mid-Autumn Festival..."

"Oh, yes, I meant to ask you!" Jiang Yanli said, addressing Lan Wangji. "Will you be celebrating the festival with us and A-Xian or with your own family?"

Lan Wangji hesitated. "That is what I want to ask Uncle about," he replied. "I would like to spend it with Wei Ying, but I do not know if Uncle has anything planned."

 

So maybe Lan Qiren was included when Lan Wangji had talked about his family's typical Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations earlier... That made Wei Wuxian satisfied, as it felt less lonely than if it had been just the two brothers.

 

"I'm sure he won't mind," Jiang Yanli smiled. Lan Wangji nodded at her.

 

At that moment, Jiang Cheng entered the already crowded area. "You're still cooking?" he asked.

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "It's not like I'm taking up the entire stove, though."

Jiang Cheng sighed. "I guess not..." He began rummaging through the pantry trying to find something to eat.

 

Lan Wangji quietly tapped Wei Wuxian on the shoulder. "Wei Ying," he said softly.

"Yeah?" Wei Wuxian asked, wondering if perhaps Lan Wangji wanted to say something to Jiang Cheng. "What's up?"

"I should feed my rabbits," Lan Wangji said. "Is it alright if I do that while you cook?" he asked.

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian sighed, "You don't have to ask me every single time. It's fine." He flashed a smile. "Go feed them. The congee should be almost ready by the time you get back."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "Thank you."

 

Every single morning, Lan Wangji would ask Wei Wuxian if it was okay for him to tend to his rabbits while Wei Wuxian was cooking breakfast. No matter how many times Wei Wuxian insisted that Lan Wangji didn't actually need to ask for permission, Lan Wangji always checked with him beforehand.

 

Wei Wuxian hummed quietly to himself as he made their food. Surprisingly, the congee was ready before Lan Wangji returned. By that point, the only other person left was Jiang Cheng, who was almost finished with his toast.

 

"What happened earlier?" Jiang Cheng asked, seeing that Wei Wuxian was no longer preoccupied with cooking. "Him dragging you off, I mean."

Wei Wuxian served himself some of the congee and sat down at the table. "Eh, he said he didn't want you being mad at me and couldn't think of a way to shut me up, so that was his solution," he shrugged.

Jiang Cheng snorted. "He takes things far too seriously. I wasn't really that mad about anything other than being made to wait, really."

 

You also take things far too seriously, dude, Wei Wuxian commented.

 

Wei Wuxian was about to say something when Lan Wangji appeared.

 

"Is everything okay?" Wei Wuxian asked. "You were longer than normal."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied, fetching his own serving of the congee (and his tea) and taking a seat next to Wei Wuxian. "Their straw needed changing, and I moved the cage."

"So they didn't freak out upon seeing their owner with short hair?" Wei Wuxian teased, chuckling.

"...Rabbits identify by smell, not by sight," Lan Wangji answered blankly. "I do not think they would have noticed."

"Aha!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed. "Then, if I wore some of your clothes, they'd think I'm you!" he laughed, imagining himself in one of Lan Wangji's fancy suits.

Jiang Cheng glared at him. "Why are you like this?"

Wei Wuxian grinned. "Aw, c'mon, I'm not actually gonna wear any of Lan Zhan's clothes." He raised his eyebrows lovingly. "Unless, of course, Lan Zhan wants me to."

"I would not be against the idea," Lan Wangji said stoically. "But I am also not going to encourage it."

"I get it," Wei Wuxian chuckled, propping his elbow on the table and resting his head on it, still looking fondly at Lan Wangji, "You'd rather see me in no clothes at all, wouldn't you?"

 

Jiang Cheng got up, threw his dishes in the sink and left.

 


 

The rest of their weekend was uneventful. Lan Wangji went and visited Lan Qiren on Sunday to confirm Mid-Autumn Festival plans (Lan Qiren told him he was free to do what he wanted and that he didn't need to ask permission unless it was something major or involved large sums of money), and Wei Wuxian didn't really do anything of note (not that he minded).

 

Lan Wangji found that he could still wear his hair ribbon without it falling out, so he and Wei Wuxian were pleased about that. Jiang Yanli offered to cut it down slightly for him, but Lan Wangji refused, saying that it he wanted to keep it the way it was given to him.

 

Lan Wangji, however, did have something to talk to Wei Wuxian about on Sunday evening.

 

"I think I am ready to start attending classes again," Lan Wangji announced.

 

They were both in bed, each reading something on their phones.

 

"Oh?" Wei Wuxian glanced at him. "Are you sure?" he asked. "I mean, your uncle didn't try and pressure you, did he?"

"No," Lan Wangji replied. "He did not mention it. I have been thinking about it since last week. I want to return to studying properly now."

 

Lan Wangji usually studied during the weekdays while Wei Wuxian was either at work or therapy. On the days where he was also at home, he found it hard to occupy himself without distracting Lan Wangji, and on at least one occasion had been very politely asked to leave the room.

 

Since Lan Wangji was spending most of his time inside, Wei Wuxian figured that at least the commute to the university and back would be good for him.

 

"I have no complaints," Wei Wuxian told him, holding his hand. "But you've said you'll help at the orphanage this week, so would it be okay to start up after that?"

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded, tightening his grip slightly on Wei Wuxian's hand. "I was thinking after the Mid-Autumn Festival would be good."

 

Wei Wuxian leant his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder. "Perfect," he said. "Oh," he added, "And if you end up not liking being at the orphanage, you don't have to keep going. Dr. Xie said that he wouldn't be bothered."

"...I do not see why I would not like it," Lan Wangji said. "Are the children poorly behaved?" he asked.

Wei Wuxian chuckled quietly. "Nah," he said, "It's not that. Just... I dunno. You haven't really been exposed to most of that stuff, so I kinda want to prepare you. It's... It's not pretty, sometimes."

 

Lan Wangji took a few moments to respond. "I will bare that in mind."

Wei Wuxian smiled as he nuzzled against Lan Wangji's neck. "That's all you need to do."

 

Admittedly, he was uncertain about bringing Lan Wangji along to the orphanage. But he wasn't entirely sure why, as it was a nice, clean environment, and he wouldn't be directly experiencing anything that horrific.

 

Wei Wuxian just hoped that Lan Wangji would be okay.

 


 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji arrived at the orphanage right on time. He'd asked Xie Lian if they needed to bring anything, but Xie Lian had said that they'd already sorted everything out.

 

Wei Wuxian knocked on the door. It opened almost straight away.

 

"Welcome, you two!" Xie Lian beamed, inviting them inside. "I'm so glad you could both make it!"

"Thanks for having us, Doctor," Wei Wuxian said, following Xie Lian in. He and Lan Wangji took off their shoes. "Uh, you and Lan Zhan haven't formally been introduced yet, have you?"

"Oh, no, I don't think we have," Xie Lian confirmed. "But that's okay, let's save the introductions until we're with the others."

 

Xie Lian led them to the dining room.

 

"Fu Yao and Nan Feng should be setting things up," Xie Lian explained, showing them their seats, "But I'll go and find San Lang to look after you-- Oh!" he exclaimed, looking back over at the doorway. "San Lang!"

"Hey," Hua Cheng greeted, casually walking over to them.

"How'd you know we were here?" Xie Lian asked.

"I heard you talking to someone," Hua Cheng replied, "And it sounded like you were talking to guests, so I assumed that's who it was."

 

"Uh," Wei Wuxian said, "T-This is Lan Wangji, my, er, fiancé..." he mumbled, gesturing towards Lan Wangji. "He's gonna be helping us out today, too."

"...San Lang," Hua Cheng replied with a single nod. "I'm that guy's husband. Don't mind me."

Lan Wangji's eyes seemed to widen slightly. "It is nice to meet you," he said, nodding back.

"And I'm Xie Lian," Xie Lian added, somewhat awkwardly. "Please don't be afraid to ask either of us any questions about how things are run around here!"

"It is nice to meet you, too," Lan Wangji said. "Thank you for helping Wei Ying."

Xie Lian smiled at him.

 

Wei Wuxian recalled that Lan Wangji had told him that Xie Lian was not to be trusted because he made Wei Wuxian cry only a few days ago and almost laughed out loud.

 

"So what were you wanting us to help out with?" Wei Wuxian asked Xie Lian.

"Mostly just making the lanterns," Xie Lian replied. "We're going to split the children into two groups: one group will make lanterns, the other will make mooncakes," he explained.

"How many children are there?" Lan Wangji asked.

"Eighteen," Xie Lian answered instantly. "The youngest is about three, and I believe the oldest is... thirteen or so? But there are eighteen children, me, San Lang and my friends Fu Yao and Nan Feng who help us, which makes twenty-two people, normally. And with the two of you, it's a grand total of twenty-four!" he added triumphantly.

Hua Cheng sighed. "Dear, I'm pretty sure they can do basic math."

"Oh!" Xie Lian gasped. "S-Sorry."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "Nah, it's fine," he said. "I think I'd rather help with the mooncakes, if that's okay. What about you, Lan Zhan?" he asked.

"Either is fine," Lan Wangji replied.

 

"Hmmm..." Xie Lian thought for a few moments. "Okay," he said, "How about this? Me, Nan Feng and Mr. Lan will help the group making lanterns. San Lang, Fu Yao and Mr. Wei can help the group baking mooncakes."

 

Wei Wuxian glanced over at Lan Wangji, remembering that he'd wanted them to volunteer together. But Lan Wangji was still learning his way around the kitchen, so maybe something crafty would be better for him.

 

"Are you okay being in a separate group, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked, like he was a kid at school who had ended up in a different group to his friends.

"Yes, I am," Lan Wangji surprisingly replied. "I think that way is better."

"Great!" Xie Lian exclaimed as he stood up. "I'll get Fu Yao and Nan Feng to organise the children, then. Someone will come and get you three once everything's sorted."

 

Hua Cheng watched Xie Lian leave.

 

"So you still haven't said anything to him?" Hua Cheng demanded in a hushed voice.

Wei Wuxian blinked. "About what?" he asked, confused.

Hua Cheng looked around shiftily. "Y-Y'know. About me."

Wei Wuxian realised what he was talking about. "Ahhh, the porn? I said I wasn't going to mention it to him, so I won't."

Lan Wangji narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Wei Ying, what are you talking about?"

"Ahaha, yeah, I guess that sounded a bit weird," Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Nothing to do with us, don't worry. Basically," he smirked, "This guy writes erotic fiction but is too scared to tell his darling husband about it and now that I know he's worried that I'm gonna spill the beans."

 

Lan Wangji turned to look at Hua Cheng. "Why are you scared?" he asked.

Hua Cheng groaned. "Listen," he sighed, "I know it's stupid, but I ain't tellin' him. End of story."

"But you need to communicate with your partner," Lan Wangji argued. "Do not be ashamed."

"HAH!" Hua Cheng scoffed loudly. "Easy for you to say. Have you told your partner all of your kinks?"

Lan Wangji stiffened slightly. "I... I do not have--"

"Bullshit," Hua Cheng spat. "Everyone has them. If you're not even prepared to admit that, you can't tell me what to do. Letting him read my writing is essentially the same thing, got it?"

 

Wei Wuxian had only vaguely thought about Lan Wangji's kinks before. He made a mental note to ask about them later (if Lan Wangji was comfortable with that discussion, of course).

 

"You know," Wei Wuxian said, "I still haven't actually gotten around to seeing if I've read any of your stuff. Your pen name's Hua Cheng, right?"

Hua Cheng checked to see if Xie Lian was back, and upon determining that he wasn't, replied, "Yeah, it is. And don't bother, my writing's not that great anyway."

"I've read some pretty shit things," Wei Wuxian laughed, "So I don't mind."

Hua Cheng glared at him.

"I think I recall seeing your name somewhere," Lan Wangji said. "But nothing else."

 

Hua Cheng was about to say something when Fu Yao walked in.

 

"We're ready," Fu Yao told them. "Follow me."

 

Fu Yao lead them to the back garden area, which Wei Wuxian hadn't properly seen during his first visit. There was a vegetable patch in one corner, a couple of fruit trees scattered about, and a row of small, white flowers against a wall.

 

Xie Lian introduced Lan Wangji to the children, and reminded them who Wei Wuxian was. The children were standing in two separate groups, with the younger children in one and the older children in the other.

 

After Xie Lian relayed the instructions to everyone, Fu Yao took his group to the kitchen.

 

"Right," Fu Yao said, "You'll be working in groups of three. I'll be helping group one, Uncle over there will be helping group two and uhh... what are you addressed as again?" he asked Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian forgot what he'd agreed to be called last week. "Uh. 'Mr. Wei' is fine," he replied.

Fu Yao nodded. "And Mr. Wei will be helping group three."

 

"Can you cook, Mr. Wei?" one of the children in Wei Wuxian's group asked him.

"Sure can!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "I used to make mooncakes with my sister every year!"

"...Oh..." the child suddenly looked sad. "You have a sister?"

Wei Wuxian's smile faltered. "Y-Yeah," he replied.

"...M-My sister died last year. She got sick."

 

Wei Wuxian's stomach dropped. He'd already fucked up, just by mentioning his sister...

 

"I-I'm sorry!" he apologised hastily. "Um... d-do you... would you rather go and help make the lanterns?" he asked, not knowing what to say or do.

The child shook his head. "No," he said. "I'm okay. My sister loved mooncakes, so I wanna make some in her memory."

 

Wei Wuxian tried not to let himself get emotional.

 

"T-That sounds like a great idea!" he said, forcing a smile. "You can make a few extra mooncakes and eat them on her behalf, okay?" he suggested, giving the child a couple of gentle head pats.

The child nodded. "Y-Yeah."

 

Wei Wuxian spent most of his time in the kitchen wondering how Lan Wangji was getting along. He felt as though Lan Wangji would have an even tougher time knowing how to react to kids getting upset, but, if nothing else, at least Xie Lian was there to help.

 

A thought popped into Wei Wuxian's mind: I wonder if Dr. Xie wanted to be in the same group as Lan Zhan for some reason. Maybe he had something he wanted to talk about? Eh. I don't mind. It's not like I've said anything to him that I don't want Lan Zhan to know about, really...

 


 

The two groups met up again once they'd both completed their tasks. Wei Wuxian took the batch of mooncakes that he'd made and handed them to Lan Wangji.

 

"They're probably not as good as Sister's," Wei Wuxian laughed, "But they're something. Oh, and you have to let them rest for a couple of days before you eat them!"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "Here," he added, handing Wei Wuxian a paper lantern and a marker.

 

"Since the children cannot light sky lanterns for safety reasons," Lan Wangji explained, "We were told to help them write wishes on the sides of these. I did not want to assume your wish, so..."

Wei Wuxian smiled as he popped the cap off the marker and wrote his wish.

 

Eternal happiness and good health for both of us.

 

"What does yours say?" Wei Wuxian asked, showing Lan Wangji what he'd written.

 

Lan Wangji hesitated before turning his lantern around.

 

I wish for happiness, good health and success for both myself and Wei Ying and for our relationship to last a thousand years.

 

Wei Wuxian let out a heh.

 

"Look at that," Wei Wuxian chuckled. "We essentially wrote the same thing. I'm surprised you could fit all that on a lantern, though," he commented.

"...I wanted to write more," Lan Wangji muttered. "But I was told that it should be short and concise..."

 

Xie Lian came over to them. "Pardon the interruption," he said, "But what are you two planning on doing after this?" he asked. "It is perfectly fine if you want to leave -- I think we're all pretty much done for the day here."

Wei Wuxian was sure that Lan Wangji had had enough, and he was rather worn out himself. "I think we'll head home. Thanks heaps for today, by the way, Doc-- uh... Dad."

Xie Lian chuckled. "Honestly, the formalities are strange, so 'Doctor''s fine, Mr. Wei," he smiled guiltily.

Wei Wuxian breathed a sigh of relief. "Phew, that definitely makes things easier!"

 

As they turned to leave, one of the children came running over to Lan Wangji.

 

"Mister, will you be coming to play with us again?" she asked, tugging on his sleeve.

"I..." Lan Wangji paused. He glanced at Wei Wuxian for an answer.

"It's up to you," Wei Wuxian told him, shrugging.

Lan Wangji nodded at Wei Wuxian, and then at the child. "Yes," he said.

 

The child's face lit up. "YAY!" she exclaimed, letting go of Lan Wangji. "I had a lot of fun with you today, Mister!"

"Mmn, so did I," Lan Wangji replied, nodding again. The child grinned widely.

 

Fun? Lan Zhan actually had fun? Wei Wuxian was pleasantly surprised.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji said their goodbyes before heading back to Lan Wangji's car.

 

"So, what'd you think?" Wei Wuxian asked once they were on their way home.

"..."

 

Lan Wangji didn't reply. Wei Wuxian was slightly worried, so he prompted him again.

 

"Lan Zhan?" he tried.

Lan Wangji seemed to hear him that time. "Yes?" he asked back.

"A-Are you okay?" Wei Wuxian changed his question.

"...I am," Lan Wangji answered slowly, his grip on the steering wheel relaxing.

"Did Dr. Xie say something weird to you? This isn't like you," Wei Wuxian said, frowning.

"No, he did not say anything," Lan Wangji replied. "I just..." he sighed. "I will explain when we get home."

"O-Okay..."

 

Wei Wuxian had no idea what was going through Lan Wangji's head. Had he had a bad experience at the orphanage? Had a child said or done something inappropriate to him? Hopefully it wasn't anything too major...

 


 

Wei Wuxian waited until they were settled back down at home before Wei Wuxian once again asked Lan Wangji what was bothering him. They were both sitting on the edge of their bed.

 

"What's up, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked, now rather concerned.

"...I am... angry," Lan Wangji admitted, his hands, which sat on his lap, clenching into fists.

Wei Wuxian was extremely confused. "Angry? About what?" he asked. "Are you sure Dr. Xie didn't say something?"

 

Lan Wangji shook his head. "It... is not that," he sighed. "I am angry at... myself."

"...What?"

"And at my family."

 

Wei Wuxian really didn't understand what he meant.

 

"You're... gonna have to elaborate on that, Lan Zhan," he said gently, placing one of his palms on top of Lan Wangji's fists. Lan Wangji was shaking slightly.

"T-Those children... do not have families," Lan Wangji began, his voice unsteady, "A-And they... do not have their own homes. They only have somewhere to live because somebody was kind enough to give them food and shelter. But otherwise... they would be on the streets. There are... countless children -- no, not just children -- people of all ages on the streets. With nothing. People who are... barely s-surviving..."

"...Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian had never heard him get this emotional before.

 

"Why is it... that my family can live in such a large house and have so much money that we never have to think about running out of it? How can we be okay with doing that... when there are so many people who are hurting? These people that... have done nothing wrong... t-that don't deserve this..."

 

Wei Wuxian understood: Lan Wangji was frustrated that there were so many homeless people and orphaned children yet his family, who had the resources to help, were completely ignoring the issue.

 

"It's not your fault, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, trying to calm him. "Even if your family donated money to help them, there will always be people living on the streets."

Lan Wangji shook his head. "But we are not even attempting to help them," he seethed. "We... are selfish."

"No, you're not," Wei Wuxian assured him. "Lan Zhan, you haven't--"

"We ARE!" Lan Wangji yelled, his raised voice causing Wei Wuxian to be taken aback. "Wei Ying, it is because if people like my father and my uncle that it took so long for somebody to find you. There should be the resources in place to quickly locate missing children and to provide the homeless with food and shelter and safety."

"I don't... disagree that it could be better," Wei Wuxian said, thinking of A-Yuan, "But... I'm gonna be a pessimist and say that there's no easy solution. Money won't solve everything."

"...But it can help," Lan Wangji protested. "We could be helping them. I could be helping them. Yet I..." he took a deep breath. "I have been ignorant of the issue. I did not know anything about it until you told me."

 

It's not that simple, Wei Wuxian wanted to say. Lan Zhan, you still don't know the full extent of it. ...What should I tell him? I don't know how to calm him down...

 

"I am disgusted," Lan Wangji went on, "At my uncle for turning a blind eye to those who are suffering. At my brother for doing the same. And at myself... for not realising what was going on around me."

"But you've realised, haven't you?" Wei Wuxian tried looking at Lan Wangji's face, but Lan Wangji had his head down and, for some time, had been refusing to make eye contact with Wei Wuxian. "That's good enough for me. You're aware. That's more than most people."

"Being aware will not bring change," Lan Wangji retorted. "Only action will bring change."

"So, then, what actions will you take to bring about that change?" Wei Wuxian asked, gipping both of Lan Wangji's hands tightly.

 

Lan Wangji remained silent for a while.

 

"I think," he said slowly, "I want to talk to Uncle. I want to know why he is okay with allowing others to suffer while he basks in wealth and glory. I want to know why he will not help those who truly need it."

 

Wei Wuxian pulled Lan Wangji into an awkward hug.

 

"It really isn't your fault, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian mumbled. "But... thank you. Talking to your uncle is a good idea, too."

Lan Wangji hugged Wei Wuxian back, squeezing him as tightly as he could.

 

"...Sorry," he choked, his head buried in Wei Wuxian's shoulder.

 

Wei Wuxian smiled as he rubbed Lan Wangji's back.

 

"Don't apologise," Wei Wuxian soothed. "I wish there was some kind of easy solution. I really do."

"Mmn."

 

After staying like that for a while, Wei Wuxian thought of something to try and calm Lan Wangji.

 

Quietly, Wei Wuxian started humming that song into Lan Wangji's ear. It was only loud enough for both of them to hear it.

 

Halfway through the song, Lan Wangji joined in. It was as if he was saying I am okay now, thank you.

 


 

Later that evening, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were lying in bed, looking at their phones.

 

"Ah," Lan Wangji exclaimed suddenly.

"What? What's up?" Wei Wuxian asked, wondering if Lan Wangji was somehow upset again.

"I looked up that author," Lan Wangji explained.

"Hua Cheng?" Wei Wuxian asked.

Lan Wangji nodded. "We are familiar with his work," he said. "Do you remember that movie we saw recently?"

 

Wei Wuxian thought for a moment. "Uh, yeah, what was it again? Something Butterflies?"

"Silver Butterflies," Lan Wangji corrected. "It is based on a novel written by Hua Cheng."

 

Wei Wuxian almost dropped his phone in surprise.

 

"Wait -- hold the fuck up. That guy got a movie deal?" he was amazed.

"Yes," Lan Wangji nodded again. "But apparently, fans are not happy with the movie. They say it changed too much from the novel, and... only one of the erotic scenes was featured."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "I mean, they should just be thankful there's any sex in there at all, if you ask me," he said.

"Mmn."

 

Wei Wuxian laughed again. "What a small fucking world," he remarked, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Indeed," Lan Wangji agreed.

 

Both of them went to sleep early that night. Wei Wuxian had trouble refraining from drinking more than his normal amount of beer, but he knew that he needed to be strong for Lan Wangji's sake.

 

Wei Wuxian was now wondering if he needed to worry about Lan Wangji's wellbeing, or if Lan Wangji was simply having a strong reaction to being in an unsettling environment. Either way, he swore to himself that he would try to monitor him closely over the next few days, and hoped that things would sort themselves out.

Chapter Text

A couple of days later, Lan Wangji once again went to visit Lan Qiren. While he used the excuse of wanting to talk about university arrangements, in reality, he wanted to bring up what he'd discussed with Wei Wuxian.

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to tag along as emotional support, but Lan Wangji insisted that it wasn't necessary, so he reluctantly stayed home.

 

Wei Wuxian paced around the kitchen as he waited for his lunch to cook. He'd tried cooking something in an attempt to distract himself from the worry that was growing in his stomach, but it hadn't helped.

 

Lan Zhan's gonna be okay, Wei Wuxian told himself. He's just gonna have a nice, friendly conversation with his uncle, who will tell him the exact same things that I did. He won't come home upset or crying and I don't need to worry about him.

 

With all the internal panicking going on, Wei Wuxian didn't actually have all that much of an appetite. He sat down at the table with his bowl of spicy chicken stew, but left his chopsticks on the table.

 

Maybe I should text him.

 

As Wei Wuxian went to get his phone out, Jiang Cheng walked in.

 

"What's with you?" Jiang Cheng asked. "Didn't you eat earlier?"

Wei Wuxian sighed. "I did," he said. "But I thought cooking would taking my mind off things. Except it didn't. And now I'm not hungry."

"Off what things?" Jiang Cheng asked, sitting down opposite Wei Wuxian.

 

Wei Wuxian explained the situation to him. Jiang Cheng looked rather concerned by the end of the story.

 

"That's... wow."

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "I tried talking him out of it, but he wouldn't listen to me."

"He's... pretty stubborn, isn't he?" Jiang Cheng shook his head.

 

So are you, Wei Wuxian wanted to say.

 

Wei Wuxian pushed his bowl over to Jiang Cheng. "D'you want this?"

Jiang Cheng reached over and grabbed Wei Wuxian's chopsticks. "If you're not eating it," he shrugged. "Also, do you guys have plans for the festival yet?" he asked, eating a piece of chicken.

"We're probably just gonna check out the local stalls and watch the moon for a bit," Wei Wuxian replied. "Maybe buy a lantern each or something, too."

Jiang Cheng ate a few more mouthfuls before responding. "Sounds like a good idea to me."

"He's never actually been to one of the town festivals before," Wei Wuxian continued, "So I wanna show him around. He said he's keen."

"...He really hasn't done much, huh?" Jiang Cheng commented.

"I'm sure he has," Wei Wuxian replied. "It's just that he's done different things to us."

"That's true."

 

Wei Wuxian was glad that he and Jiang Cheng could talk like this without any animosity between them. Silence fell as Jiang Cheng finished his meal.

 

"Hey, Jiang Cheng," Wei Wuxian said, realising something, "What're you gonna do for the festival?" he asked.

"Not much," Jiang Cheng replied. "Probably accompany Mom and Dad while they help with things, I guess."

"That's boring," Wei Wuxian frowned. "Come hang out with us."

 

Jiang Cheng hesitantly set his chopsticks down.

 

"No fucking way," he scoffed. "The Mid-Autumn Festival is a romantic thing, so it's a time for dates and shit. You guys should be out enjoying yourselves."

"We've already been on plenty of dates," Wei Wuxian protested. "Besides, not everything has to be a date. And the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a family thing, so think of it that way."

"Well, yeah, but--"

 

Jiang Cheng was interrupted by Lan Wangji walking into the room. He shut up, went and rinsed his dishes and turned to leave.

 

"I'll talk with you later," Jiang Cheng said to Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian nodded at him before Jiang Cheng headed off.

 

Wei Wuxian went over to Lan Wangji. He couldn't detect any signs on the surface that Lan Wangji was upset.

 

"H-How'd it go, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked cautiously.

"...Uncle said what you did," Lan Wangji replied bitterly. "But he also mentioned that if our family were to donate that much money to help the homeless, it would look suspicious to the government."

"Oh, yeah," Wei Wuxian said. "The government would definitely be all over you."

"I do not understand why helping people is suspicious," Lan Wangji sighed, "But I do know that we cannot afford to have the government after us."

 

Wei Wuxian smiled. He gave Lan Wangji some gentle pats on his shoulder.

 

"It really is the thought that counts," Wei Wuxian said. "But you know what, Lan Zhan?"

"Mmn?" Lan Wangji looked down at him.

"I'm proud of you."

 

Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji flinch slightly.

 

"You've been scared of your uncle for so long, yet you managed to stand up to him. That takes a lot of courage."

 

Lan Wangji shook softly as Wei Wuxian pulled him into a hug. Lan Wangji buried his face in Wei Wuxian's shoulder.

 

"Wei Ying, I..." Lan Wangji choked. "I t-thought that Uncle was going to hurt me. I was convinced that he would... that he would be outraged that I would argue with him..."

"And was he?" Wei Wuxian asked warmly, squeezing Lan Wangji tightly.

"No," Lan Wangji answered. "He said that... he was pleased that I was finally voicing my own opinions and wanting things to change. He told me that he was not mad at me at all."

"Good," Wei Wuxian murmured. "Otherwise I'd be going and yelling at him myself."

 

Once Lan Wangji had calmed down, Wei Wuxian decided to make him something to eat. His own appetite was back now, too, as he was no longer fretting over Lan Wangji.

 


 

The day of the Mid-Autumn Festival was always chaotic. Madam Yu and Jiang Fengmian spent most of their morning getting ready to go and assist the locals with setting up their booths and displays. Jiang Yanli, who had made mooncakes with Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji's help a couple of days prior, prepared a large meal for dinner to go along with the festive delicacies, with Jin Zixuan by her side.

 

This year, the weather was clear and cool, so it was perfect for moon watching. The family tended to have an early dinner before heading out to enjoy the local celebrations and find places to watch the moonrise.

 

Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji had nothing much to do. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng didn't get along with Jin Zixuan, so they couldn't really do much to help in the kitchen before they were threatening to stab him with a knife. Because of this, Jiang Yanli forbade them from being in nearby unless they needed food or water.

 

Around lunch time, after Madam Yu and Jiang Fengmian had left, there was a knock at the door.

 

"Who the hell's visiting today?" Jiang Cheng demanded.

"Dunno. Weird," Wei Wuxian replied.

 

The two of them, along with Lan Wangji, were in the living room playing cards (Wei Wuxian had taught Lan Wangji how to play a few games since he'd moved in). Jiang Cheng set down his hand and went to answer the door.

 

A few minutes later, Jiang Cheng returned.

 

"Uh," Jiang Cheng said, looking rather awkward, "We have a guest."

 

Wei Wuxian almost dropped his cards when he saw who it was. Lan Wangji's eyes widened in shock.

 

"Brother?!" Lan Wangji exclaimed. "Why... are you here?" he asked, putting his cards down and walking over to Lan Xichen.

Lan Xichen wore a concerned expression. "Wangji," he said, "Is it... Is it true that you fought with Uncle?"

Lan Wangji froze. "I... I did not fight with him..." he replied shakily.

Wei Wuxian was confused. "Did your uncle say that?" he asked.

"No," Lan Xichen replied, shaking his head. "I heard from the servants. They said that you and Uncle were shouting at each other, so I was worried..."

"We did not," Lan Wangji protested. "We were simply discussing things, and may have raised our voices more than necessary. But it was not a fight. It was an argument."

Lan Xichen didn't seem entirely convinced. "Either way, Wangji," he sighed, "This isn't like you. I won't press the issue, because I asked Uncle and he gave me the same response, but... I'm worried about you."

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to argue that Lan Wangji was fine, but since he'd also been worried about him, he kept his mouth shut.

 

"Brother, I am fine," Lan Wangji insisted. "Nothing happened between me and Uncle."

"...Wangji," Lan Xichen said, "This is the first time in your life that you've dared to argue back against Uncle. Of course I'm going to be worried."

 

Lan Wangji seemed to be refraining from saying something. Instead, he stood there, his expression unreadable.

 

"And because I'm worried about you," Lan Xichen continued, smiling, "I hope you don't mind if I accompany you for today's Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations."

 

Despite appearing calm, Lan Xichen had an air about him that made it impossible to refuse his demands. Wei Wuxian realised that he would make a very intimidating businessman.

 

Lan Wangji looked mildly displeased. "But Brother--"

"It's fine, isn't it?" Wei Wuxian interrupted. "I mean, Jiang Cheng's gonna be hanging out with us as well," he pointed out. "We're just adding one more member to our party for the day."

"Y-Yeah," Jiang Cheng agreed, mumbling slightly. "L-Let him join us."

 

An idea popped into Wei Wuxian's head, and he started to form a rather mischievous plan.

 

"Oh? Will you be with us as well?" Lan Xichen asked Jiang Cheng.

"Uh, yeah," Jiang Cheng replied, twirling a strand of hair around his fingers. "I, uh, don't really have much else to do..."

Lan Xichen laughed. "Neither do I, really," he said. "Uncle's preoccupied with trying to finish a report, so he wouldn't be spending time with me anyway."

 

Wei Wuxian wondered if that was the real reason why Lan Xichen came over...

 

"He's working during a holiday?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"He works pretty much every day out of the year," Lan Xichen replied. "We've both told him to slow down, but he doesn't listen to us..."

 

"Anyway," Lan Xichen said, changing the subject, "You're playing cards?" he gestured towards the card piles on the table.

"You wanna play?" Wei Wuxian grinned. "We'll finish this round then we'll switch to something else. Uh... Do you know how to play?" he realised that Lan Xichen might not have been exposed to cards before.

"Of course I do," Lan Xichen smiled, taking a seat. "My friends taught me how to play several games. Then they ended up regretting it because I always win whenever we play," he laughed.

Wei Wuxian laughed back. "Lan Zhan tends to win whenever he plays, too," he said, grinning at Lan Wangji, who had sat back down again. "Is there some kind of trick to it?" he asked.

"Mmm, not really," Lan Xichen replied. "But take a good look at your opponents' expressions."

Lan Wangji frowned. "Do not give the strategy away, Brother," he said.

"Oops! Sorry, Wangji!" Lan Xichen laughed guiltily.

 

Wei Wuxian spent the rest of that game of cards and the next one distracted by the plan he was formulating. The plan would require Lan Wangji's help, and he wasn't really sure if Lan Wangji would agree to play a part in it.

 

At some point, Jiang Yanli came in to check on them, and was surprised to see Lan Xichen there. Lan Xichen explained the situation, and Jiang Yanli's reply was simply "The more the merrier!". She said lunch was finally ready, and invited them all to the dining area to eat.

 

Jin Zixuan and Lan Xichen both stared at each other when their eyes met.

 

"You..." Jin Zixuan began, unsure of what to say.

"Do you know him, Zixuan?" Jiang Yanli asked, curious.

"H-He's one of my brother's friends," Jin Zixuan explained. "He's been over to my place several times."

Lan Xichen laughed. "Yep, I sure have," he said. "What brings you here?"

 

Jin Zixuan blushed slightly and cleared his throat.

 

"I'm, uh, s-spending today with my... fiancee..." he admitted.

 

Wei Wuxian shuddered. Don't act all shy like that, dude, you're an adult, he thought. Jiang Cheng, who rolled his eyes, appeared to have the same reaction.

 

"Oh!" Lan Xichen exclaimed. "That's right, I'd heard about that!"

"I assume my brother told you?" Jin Zixuan sighed.

"He's definitely mentioned it," Lan Xichen smiled.

 

So Lan Xichen was friends with Jin Zixuan's brother -- or, more accurately, half-brother... but the family didn't talk about that part.

 

After a light lunch, they returned to playing cards. Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli stayed in the kitchen to get back to preparing dinner.

 

Wei Wuxian realised that he'd have to talk to Lan Wangji alone at some stage to talk about his plan.

 

The afternoon dragged on. Eventually, Wei Wuxian found an excuse to be alone with Lan Wangji when the latter took a trip to the bathroom.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan, can we talk briefly?" Wei Wuxian asked before they went to head back.

Lan Wangji paused. "What is it?"

"It's nothing serious," Wei Wuxian said quickly. "Just... I've been thinking about something."

"You have seemed distracted," Lan Wangji remarked. "Is Brother bothering you?" he asked.

"Ah, no no no, it's not that at all!" Wei Wuxian waved a hand in front of him. "But it's... about him, yeah."

"Mmn?"

"So... you reckon Jiang Cheng likes him, yeah?" Wei Wuxian began, leaning against the wall.

"I do," Lan Wangji replied, nodding.

"Well..." Wei Wuxian took a deep breath. "I kinda wanna get Jiang Cheng to recognise that he does. And this seems like the perfect chance."

Lan Wangji was hesitant. "How do you plan on going about doing that?" he asked.

A cheeky grin spread across Wei Wuxian's face. "That's what I've been thinking about! Y'see, I was wonderin'... Maybe when we're out tonight, we could come up with some reason to be separated from them. That way, they'll be alone together, and given the vaguely romantic atmosphere it might just push Jiang Cheng in the right direction!"

 

Lan Wangji was silent for several moments.

 

"I am not sure if just them being alone would be enough," he finally replied. "Jiang Wanyin seems completely oblivious. I think he will need more prompting than just the setting."

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly, but quickly shut himself up. "You're right," he chuckled. "Maybe before we leave them we can talk about something super sappy and romantic. Like, 'Oh man there really are a lot of couples out here other than us!' Or 'It's like we're on a double date tonight!'... That kinda thing."

"...You are overestimating Jiang Wanyin's capabilities," Lan Wangji said, frowning slightly. "I think a better way would be to try and make Brother realise how Jiang Wanyin feels, and hope that he asks something along the lines of 'Jiang Wanyin, do you like me?'."

Wei Wuxian couldn't help but laugh again. "Lan Zhan, that kind of cliche only happens in novels. You're pushing your luck with that one."

 

Not wanting to spend too much time away from the others as it would look suspicious, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji returned to the living room without coming up with a solution. When they got back, Wei Wuxian noticed that Jiang Cheng was smiling quietly to himself, his cheeks light pink in colour...

 


 

The Jiangs' dining table was extremely crowded that evening. Wei Wuxian was slightly concerned that it would be too cramped for Lan Wangji, but Lan Wangji insisted that he wasn't bothered.

 

Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan had cooked a plethora of different dishes for everyone to help themselves to, along with a selection of beverages, both alcoholic (for Wei Wuxian mostly, although Madam Yu enjoyed a glass of wine every now and then herself) and non-alcoholic.

 

After everyone was full, Jiang Yanli cleared the table and brought out the mooncakes, as well as a tea set. Wei Wuxian was extremely glad that he had an extra stomach.

 

"You made these, too?" Lan Xichen asked, examining one of the mooncakes.

"Yep!" Jiang Yanli beamed. "Oh, but those ones on that plate were made by A-Xian," she added, gesturing towards one of the piles.

 

Wei Wuxian froze. "S-Sister, why did you serve those?"

Jiang Yanli looked confused. "Was I not meant to?" she asked.

"Well..." Wei Wuxian realised he hadn't exactly explained how those mooncakes came to be. "I have no idea if they'll taste any good..."

 

Lan Wangji immediately took one of the mooncakes and put it on his plate. "I am sure they will be fine," he said firmly.

 

"Why're you so hesitant?" Jin Zixuan demanded. "Do they secretly have poison in them or something?"

"N-No..." Wei Wuxian mumbled. "It's, uh, a long story, but..."

 

He decided it would be in everyone's best interests if he told them how they'd been made.

 

"What, that's it?" Jin Zixuan frowned. "They won't be as good as Yanli's, but they shouldn't be terrible."

"If you were that skeptical, why'd you bring them home?" Jiang Cheng asked. "I don't get you."

Wei Wuxian sighed. "I was just gonna share them between me and Lan Zhan," he explained. "I mean, I don't mind other people eating them, I just don't know how they'll taste."

 

Everyone else went for one of Jiang Yanli's mooncakes, except for Lan Xichen, who chose one of Wei Wuxian's.

 

Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen only started eating after the others did.

 

Wei Wuxian was pleasantly surprised by the flavour of the mooncake. It was different to Jiang Yanli's, but it was pretty good.

 

"It's not bad," Wei Wuxian commented. "Sister's are definitely better, though," he added, grinning at Jiang Yanli. Jiang Yanli smiled back.

"It's certainly different to the mooncakes I've had previously," Lan Xichen remarked. "I think the pastry's thicker, for starters."

 

Yeah, well, you've only ever eaten super expensive mooncakes, of course it's gonna taste different, Wei Wuxian thought, scoffing internally at rich people and their lifestyles.

 

To Wei Wuxian's surprise, Lan Wangji was already reaching for another slice of mooncake.

 

"Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian watched him closely.

"They are good," Lan Wangji said stoically. "Not too sweet."

 

Wei Wuxian laughed as he also took another slice. "You're right," he said.

 


 

Thankfully, the weather was still clear and calm as the day wore on.

 

The local celebrations for the Mid-Autumn Festival were only a short walk away from where the Jiangs lived. Once everyone had freshened up after devouring the mooncakes, they made their way over to where the majority of the food stalls were located. Madam Yu and Jiang Fengmian left to go and help those who needed it, while Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan went to do whatever it was that straight couples did on dates (Wei Wuxian wasn't entirely sure what that involved beyond holding hands and kissing).

 

That left Wei Wuxian with Lan Wangji, Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen.

 

Wei Wuxian wanted to get Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen alone as soon as possible, but also wanted to build up the atmosphere as much as he could.

 

The group decided to walk along the waterfront, which was lit with all kinds of lanterns and gave the water a golden glow in the twilight. It vaguely reminded Wei Wuxian of their trip to Hong Kong, only prettier.

 

There were children running around, most of whom were holding paper lanterns. Families and couples were everywhere, enjoying the scenery and munching on snacks purchased at the stalls.

 

Deciding to be a bit bold, Wei Wuxian quietly and slowly held Lan Wangji's hand in his as they walked. Lan Wangji tensed at his touch, but didn't pull away. Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen were walking in front of them, and thus didn't see anything.

 

Having walked a fair distance, Wei Wuxian spotted a couple of benches overlooking the water that looked like a good place to rest (and set Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen up).

 

"D'you guys mind if we take a break?" Wei Wuxian asked, pointing towards the benches. "Just for a few minutes."

"Absolutely," Lan Xichen smiled. "Rest is important."

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji sat down on one bench, which was only long enough for two people. Lan Xichen sat down next to them, but Jiang Cheng remained standing.

 

"What's up, Jiang Cheng?" Wei Wuxian asked, despite knowing very well what was up.

"...I'm fine standing," Jiang Cheng muttered, looking away. "I don't need to sit."

"I don't mind," Lan Xichen assured him. "I won't bite you if you sit next to me!"

Wei Wuxian laughed. "You heard the man!"

"N-Nah," Jiang Cheng mumbled. "I'm good."

 

Lan Wangji furrowed his brows. "Jiang Wanyin. Sit," he said in a tone that sounded like someone commanding their dog. Wei Wuxian laughed harder.

Jiang Cheng whipped around, glaring. "Why does it matter to you?!" he demanded.

Lan Wangji glared back. "Sit," he said again. "Why do you not want to sit next to Brother?" he asked accusingly. Wei Wuxian stopped laughing, albeit with some difficulty.

"I-I-It's not that I don't want to sit next to him," Jiang Cheng spluttered, his face turning red. "I just... I just don't want to sit down, okay?! Leave me alone!"

Lan Xichen scratched the back of his head. "Have I... possibly done something to offend you, Jiang Wanyin?" he asked uncertainly.

 

Jiang Cheng blushed deeper. "I already said that's not the case..." he mumbled.

Lan Xichen patted the seat next to him. "Don't be shy! Come sit!"

 

Wei Wuxian let out a heh. Jiang Cheng glared at him before reluctantly sitting down on the bench -- as far away as he could from Lan Xichen. Despite him pushing himself up against the armrest, there still wasn't that much space between the two.

 

"There certainly are more people here than I thought there would be," Lan Xichen commented.

"Everyone turns out for the festival celebrations," Wei Wuxian told him. "It's to give thanks, after all. And people like watching the moon, too."

"Do you know of any good spots to watch the moon?" Lan Xichen asked.

"There's somewhere Jiang Cheng and I usually go," Wei Wuxian replied. "It's kinda crowded, but you get a great view."

"Sounds wonderful," Lan Xichen said. "When should we head over there?"

 

Wei Wuxian hadn't expected Lan Xichen to want to move on so quickly. He racked his brain for an excuse to stay in the area for a while longer so that he and Lan Wangji could leave Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen alone.

 

"Uh," Wei Wuxian said eventually, "Soon? I was thinking, er, maybe Lan Zhan and I could go and get us all some drinks before we head off. It's close by, but it's up a bit of a hill, and you won't be able to buy refreshments once you're there..." He wasn't exactly lying, there were no stalls on top of the hill.

"That's a good idea," Lan Xichen replied happily. "I'll wait here with Jiang Wanyin, then."

 

Jiang Cheng gave Wei Wuxian a look that said You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?. Wei Wuxian threw him a smirk.

 

"What d'you guys want to drink?" Wei Wuxian asked as he stood up.

"Anything's fine," Lan Xichen replied. "Perhaps just water, please."

"...Iced tea," Jiang Cheng grumbled. "You know what kind."

 

"Let's go, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said as he walked off, ignoring Jiang Cheng.

"Mmn." Lan Wangji followed him.

 

Once they were out of earshot, Wei Wuxian grinned as he turned to Lan Wangji.

 

"How long should we give them?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Not too long," Lan Wangji replied. "But long enough. Jiang Wanyin will take a while."

Wei Wuxian cackled. "I know he will!"

 

They passed by several stalls before Wei Wuxian spotted one that was selling bubble tea. He'd tried a few varieties and quite liked it, although the lines for places selling it in the city tended to be too long for him to be bothered, so he usually gave it a pass.

 

Wei Wuxian excitedly ordered some bubble tea for himself. He knew Lan Wangji wouldn't like it, so he didn't even offer to buy him any.

 

After Wei Wuxian was handed his bubble tea, he thanked the woman at the stall and started sipping it as they walked off. A few sips in, he noticed that Lan Wangji was watching him.

 

"Want some?" Wei Wuxian grinned, holding the plastic cup out in front of Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji reluctantly grabbed the cup from him and took a sip. He instantly grimaced and removed his lips from the straw.

 

"Far too sweet," was all Lan Wangji commented as he handed Wei Wuxian the cup back.

Wei Wuxian laughed loudly. "I figured you'd hate it."

Lan Wangji shook his head. "Disgusting."

 

It didn't take them much longer to find a drink stall, where they purchased drinks for everyone but Wei Wuxian (who was satisfied with his bubble tea). They decided to make their way back to where Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen were. Wei Wuxian was hoping they'd at least made some progress while they'd been left alone.

 

Wei Wuxian cautiously approached the benches from behind, not wanting to interrupt some important conversation. Seeing that the two were still talking, he thought that he should wait for a bit, so he grabbed Lan Wangji and hid behind a lantern display, pulling Lan Wangji along with him.

 

"Why are we hiding?" Lan Wangji asked?

"Sssh!" Wei Wuxian pressed his index finger to his lips. "We'll just watch them for a while."

Lan Wangji didn't seem to understand, but he nodded and said nothing else.

 

Wei Wuxian could luckily make out their voices from where he and Lan Wangji were.

 

"--but I'm not sure," Lan Xichen was saying.

"I... I don't know either," Jiang Cheng replied.

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that the two of them were sitting closer together than when they'd left. Nice.

 

"Jiang Wanyin," Lan Xichen said, "Are you sure about this? I can't guarantee anything, even if I have no issues with it."

"Yeah," Jiang Cheng nodded. "I'm sure. I mean. Like I said, it's all a bit weird for me, too, but I don't really know what else to do. It's annoying"

Lan Xichen chuckled. "In that case..."

 

Lan Xichen reached down and took Jiang Cheng's hand in his. Slowly, he brought Jiang Cheng's hand up to his face, and planted a gentle, fleeting kiss on the knuckles.

 

"I accept your feelings, Jiang Wanyin."

 

Wei Wuxian almost dropped his drink, and he heard Lan Wangji mumble something unintelligible under his breath beside him.

 

Jiang Cheng's face was scarlet. Even Lan Xichen appeared to be blushing slightly as he lowered and let go of Jiang Cheng's hand.

 

Lan Xichen chuckled awkwardly. "I've always wanted to try doing something like that, but uh... it's truly embarrassing in real life!" he gave Jiang Cheng a guilty smile.

"No... I... uh..." Jiang Cheng was at a loss for words. "You... uh..."

 

Jiang Cheng cleared his throat and looked away from Lan Xichen. "A-ANYWAY," he said loudly, "Those two seem to be taking ages."

"They certainly are," Lan Xichen remarked. "I hope we won't miss out on a good moon-watching spot!"

 

Sensing an opportunity, Wei Wuxian stepped out from behind the lantern display. "Nah, we won't, don't worry!" he reassured Lan Xichen.

 

Lan Xichen looked surprised as he saw Wei Wuxian approach them. Jiang Cheng (somehow) blushed a deeper shade of red.

 

"D-D-D... Did you... hear...?" Jiang Cheng spluttered, unable to look Wei Wuxian in the face.

Wei Wuxian grinned from ear to ear. "Sure did!" he beamed. "Congrats!"

Jiang Cheng nodded silently.

 

"Brother..." Lan Wangji appeared behind Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian could tell that he wasn't sure how to react.

Lan Xichen laughed again. "Oh, uh... hi, Wangji."

 

Lan Wangji handed his brother and Jiang Cheng their drinks.

 

"...What feelings of Jiang Wanyin's were you accepting?" Lan Wangji asked cautiously.

Wei Wuxian was astounded that he hadn't figured it out. Or he was just asking for clarification's sake, hopefully.

 

Jiang Cheng scoffed. "Are you stupid?" he spat. "They're romantic ones, duh."

"Good," Lan Wangji replied. "I was hoping they were."

 

Jiang Cheng seemed to be caught off-guard. "I, uh... What the hell does that mean?" he demanded.

 

Lan Wangji looked like he wanted to say Are you stupid? back to Jiang Cheng, but because he was polite, he didn't.

 

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "It's his own way of congratulating you," he said. "Right, Lan Zhan?"

Lan Wangji nodded. "Mmn."

 

Lan Xichen smiled at him. "Thanks, Wangji. And you too, Wei Wuxian."

"Uh, yeah," Jiang Cheng mumbled. "...Thanks."

 

"Shall we go, then?" Wei Wuxian suggested, trying to fix the awkward atmosphere.

 

The group headed in the direction of the moon-watching hill. Wei Wuxian, once again, held Lan Wangji's hand tightly. He wished he could be more openly flirtatious in public, but he was fully aware of the possible consequences of that, so hand-holding was all he could do. But he was okay with that. It was better than nothing, after all.

 

"Hey, Jiang Wanyin," Lan Xichen said from behind them, "Wanna hold hands too?"

"...M-My hands are pretty gross and sweaty," Jiang Cheng retorted. "So, uh..."

Lan Xichen chuckled. "You're much more shy than I thought," he remarked. "But I won't force you, don't worry."

Jiang Cheng coughed. "...Maybe... on the way back..."

"Excellent."

 

Wei Wuxian was pleased for Jiang Cheng, although he was also surprised at how quickly Jiang Cheng had appeared to accept that he liked Lan Xichen. Perhaps he'd already known, or perhaps Lan Xichen had managed to easily coerce him. Either way, Wei Wuxian had a ton of questions for Jiang Cheng to ask later.

 

There weren't that many people gathered on top of the grassy hill, unlike previous years where they'd had to fight for a space to sit. The group chose somewhere flat to sit that overlooked the river and the sky. Now that it was almost completely dark, the lanterns looked even more magnificent than they had earlier.

 

"Oh," Wei Wuxian realised, watching a couple of children playing, "We forgot to buy lanterns."

"We can just get some on the way home," Jiang Cheng shrugged. "No big deal."

Wei Wuxian remembered something. "Ahh, that's right, Lan Zhan and I already have ours at home..."

"You do?" Lan Xichen asked. "When did you buy them?"

 

Wei Wuxian explained how Lan Wangji had made them each a paper lantern when they were at the orphanage.

 

"The funny thing was," Wei Wuxian laughed, "We both wrote the same wish on our lanterns!"

"You guys are unbelievable sometimes," Jiang Cheng sighed. "Honestly..."

Wei Wuxian grinned at him. "You're just jealous."

"I-I am not!" Jiang Cheng sneered.

"Now, now," Lan Xichen said, trying to calm them down. "Let's not argue. We're here to celebrate, aren't we?"

 

Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng both mumbled a half-assed apology to each other.

 

"You know," Lan Xichen said, after a few minutes of silence, "I do think volunteering at that orphanage is a very wonderful thing to do. I'm sure the people in charge appreciate it."

"Yeah," Wei Wuxian replied. "It's... a lot of work for them."

"Do you think you'll go back, Wangji?" Lan Xichen asked.

 

Lan Wangji paused. He took a sip of his drink while lost in thought.

 

"No," he answered flatly.

 

Wei Wuxian stared at him. In some ways, he wasn't surprised. In other ways, he was.

 

"Oh? Why not?" Lan Xichen asked, sounding like he wasn't expecting that response.

"...It makes me... too angry," Lan Wangji replied through gritted teeth, gripping his water bottle tightly. "Children that young should not have to be without their parents. They should not have already experienced loss and suffering."

Lan Xichen frowned slightly. "But Wangji, you and I also experienced that at a young age. I'm not sure I'm understanding you."

"Being with those children made me realise that I should be helping them," Lan Wangji said. "Volunteering at the orphanage is only helping them temporarily. What needs to happen is helping the orphanages financially, and ensuring that the children have access to everything they need. And ultimately," he seethed, "What needs to happen is a change in society so that so many children do not end up in orphanages or become homeless in the first place."

"Wangji..." Lan Xichen was concerned. Wei Wuxian wondered if this was the first time he'd seen Lan Wangji react like this.

 

Something seemed to dawn on Lan Xichen's face.

 

"Is this what you were arguing with Uncle about the other day?"

"..."

 

Lan Wangji looked down at his lap. "Yes."

"I see..."

 

Lan Xichen looked like he wanted to comfort Lan Wangji but didn't know how to.

 

Wei Wuxian rested his head on Lan Wangji's shoulder in an attempt to calm him.

 

Wei Wuxian glanced over at Lan Xichen in time to see Jiang Cheng shakily place his hand on top of Lan Xichen's. Lan Xichen was startled for a second before he returned to his usual smile.

 

"I thought you said you didn't want to hold hands until we were on our way back," Lan Xichen teased in a quiet voice.

Jiang Cheng blushed slightly. "Shut up," he grumbled, embarrassed. Lan Xichen laughed.

 

As if he was jealous or something, Lan Wangji put his own hand over Wei Wuxian's. Wei Wuxian chuckled internally as he let Lan Wangji's fingers intertwine with his.

 

How cute, Wei Wuxian thought.

 

Once the sun set, one of the many firework shows in the city began. One of the reasons why Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng chose this hill was because it was also a good angle to watch the fireworks from.

 

Every year, Wei Wuxian wondered why they didn't have the fireworks later on at night, given that all the smoke from them hung around in the atmosphere and made the moon less visible. The only plausible explanation he'd been given (by Jiang Fengmian) was that it was to do with noise restrictions, but Wei Wuxian didn't entirely buy that.

 

After the firework show had ended (along with complaints by Lan Wangji about how loud it was) and they had sat around for a while watching the moonrise, the four men decided it was time to head back home. Lan Xichen said he'd parked his car at the Jiangs' place and wouldn't impose on them any longer, which seemed to slightly upset Jiang Cheng (who had, as promised, held hands with Lan Xichen on the walk home).

 

The four of them were the first ones home. Wei Wuxian figured Jiang Yanli had gone over to Jin Zixuan's for the night, and Madam Yu and Jiang Fengmian always came back late, so he wasn't concerned about them.

 

"Sorry for being such a bother today," Lan Xichen apologised sheepishly. "And thank you for letting me accompany you."

"Not a problem!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "It all worked out in the end since you and Jiang Cheng are now a thing!"

 

Lan Xichen laughed. "Oh!" he exclaimed. "Jiang Wanyin, if you don't mind, perhaps we should exchange phone numbers," he suggested, pulling his phone out of his pocket.

"Uh, yeah, sure," Jiang Cheng mumbled, reaching for his phone.

 

Wei Wuxian watched them exchange numbers, feeling satisfied that things had worked out between the two. Especially since he could twist the story to make himself seem responsible.

 

"Wangji," Lan Xichen said, once they'd finished, "If you need me to, I can talk to Uncle."

Lan Wangji looked taken aback. "Brother," he replied, "There is no need. I am fine, please do not worry about me."

Lan Xichen smiled at him. "If you say so," he conceded. "I do trust you, Wangji. I'll try not to worry."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji added in agreement.

"Lan Zhan's pretty tough!" Wei Wuxian interjected. "He'll be okay!"

"...I know," Lan Xichen nodded. "Big brother instinct, I suppose!" he chuckled.

 

Lan Xichen then turned to Jiang Cheng. "I'll be in touch, Jiang Wanyin," he said.

"Uh, yeah..." Jiang Cheng muttered.

 

Lan Xichen leant forward and gently kissed Jiang Cheng's cheek, close to -- but not quite on -- his lips.

 

"Good night, Jiang Wanyin," Lan Xichen smiled, acting as though he hadn't done anything and ignoring Jiang Cheng's quickly reddening face.

"G-G-G-G-G... G'night..." Jiang Cheng managed to somehow splutter.

 

Still wearing that signature smile of his, Lan Xichen turned back to Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, who were staring at him.

 

"And good night to you two as well," Lan Xichen said cheerfully.

"Good night, Brother," Lan Wangji replied.

Wei Wuxian nodded. "Yeah, uh, see ya!" was all he could come up with.

 

Lan Xichen waved at them as he walked off.

 

Wei Wuxian lead the others inside and turned on the lights, unable to decide if he should tease Jiang Cheng or be genuinely happy for him.

 

Lan Wangji, who was the last person in, closed the door.

 

The three took their shoes off in silence.

 

Jiang Cheng, however, suddenly started laughing loudly.

 

"Jiang Cheng?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"Ahahahaha... Holy shit...." Jiang Cheng wheezed, clutching his sides. "This is fucking ridiculous. Ahahaha... He... He kissed me... And we held hands... What the fuck..."

 

Aren't those backwards? Wei Wuxian wanted to say.

 

Jiang Cheng turned to look at Wei Wuxian.

 

"Wei Wuxian," Jiang Cheng said, grabbing Wei Wuxian's collar, "I'm... not dreaming, right? This really... happened... right? It's not some sort of prank?" he demanded in a shaky, desperate voice.

Wei Wuxian chuckled as he wriggled out of Jiang Cheng's grip. "No, you're not dreaming," he replied gently. "And yes, it really happened. And no, it's not some sort of prank. You're, uh, dating him now, I guess?"

"...I... yeah, I guess so..." Jiang Cheng muttered. "I. Wow. Yeah. We are."

 

Wei Wuxian tried to find something to say that wasn't snarky, but he couldn't come up with anything.

 

"Jiang Cheng," Wei Wuxian said, "I'm pleased for you. I really, honestly am. You deserve this."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "I agree. However," he added, "I will not take it lightly if you upset my brother in any way."

"...I won't," Jiang Cheng grumbled. "I have no intention of that."

Lan Wangji nodded again. "Good."

 

Jiang Cheng spun around on his heel and waltzed off to his room, mumbling "Holy shit" to himself along the way while shaking his head in disbelief.

 


 

"You should send your brother a proper congratulations, you know," Wei Wuxian remarked after he and Lan Wangji got into bed.

"I will," Lan Wangji replied. "I just... did not expect such rapid developments..."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "It's pretty incredible," he said as he kissed Lan Wangji deeply. "But not as incredible as you are," he jokingly added, smirking.

Lan Wangji's ears turned a light pink. "Are we... going to?" he mumbled, his eyes meeting Wei Wuxian's.

Wei Wuxian's grin widened. "Do what? Something incredible?" he teased as he started removing Lan Wangji's pyjamas.

"Wei Ying..."

 

For once, they tried to keep as quiet as possible, because they didn't want to disturb Jiang Cheng next door. Normally, Wei Wuxian didn't care, since everyone knew what they got up to anyway, but that night Jiang Cheng had a mountain of thoughts and emotions to sort through, and Wei Wuxian wanted to be supportive of his brother, after all, so he made sure any noise that escaped him was muffled.

 

It added an exciting element to things, so Wei Wuxian wasn't exactly complaining.

Chapter Text

Jiang Cheng took a couple of days to accept his new reality. Wei Wuxian kept teasing him about it (but in a loving way) and said he'd provide his 'expert advice' whenever it would be needed in the future. Lan Wangji made no further comments on the matter, but Wei Wuxian could tell he was being supportive in his own way. 

 

His new relationship also meant that Jiang Cheng was less prickly and left Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji alone more often than before. Wei Wuxian appreciated this, as he didn't actually like arguing with his brother.

 


 

Wei Wuxian was happy to see Xie Lian by the time his appointment rolled around. He had quite a lot to talk about.

 

However, upon greeting his therapist, Wei Wuxian noticed that he looked rather tired.

 

"How was the Mid-Autumn Festival for you and the kids?" Wei Wuxian asked him once they were settled down in a room.

"Exhausting," Xie Lian replied with a smile. "But worth it. They had a lot of fun! I want to thank you and Mr. Lan again for all your help," he added.

Wei Wuxian laughed. "I feel like we really didn't do much," he said. "Did you and your husband end up doing anything?"

 

Xie Lian blushed slightly. "Well..." he began, scratching his cheek nervously. "San Lang actually... told me something very, uh... interesting..."

 

Wei Wuxian's eyes widened. He knew immediately what this was about.

 

"He told you?!" Wei Wuxian exclaimed.

Xie Lian looked surprised. "You... You knew about his writing?" he asked in a quiet voice.

"He mentioned it when I first visited," Wei Wuxian explained. "And uh... he made me promise to not say anything to you. He was pretty worried that you'd find it weird, I think."

Xie Lian chuckled, shaking his head. "Yes, that's exactly what San Lang said... But honestly," he sighed, "I read one of his novels, and there wasn't even anything objectionable in it! It's like he thinks I'm some kind of prude!" he pouted jokingly.

 

Wei Wuxian thought for a moment.

 

"I've read something of his and it's not objectionable," he tried to explain, "But it's more... I dunno. I'd be apprehensive about letting Lan Zhan read porn I wrote, I guess? As amusing as it'd be."

Xie Lian frowned. "I was expecting something kinky, but it was just two people in love having wholesome sex," he said. "...Even the things we do in reality are kinkier than what he wrote," he muttered under his breath. Wei Wuxian chose to ignore that comment.

 

"There's something else I've been wondering about," Wei Wuxian said. "One of his stories got made into a movie -- yet you guys still seem to be struggling with money. Shouldn't he have made a huge amount from that?" he asked.

Xie Lian smiled sadly. "San Lang said that he was expecting to make quite a bit from it, but the film studio that he signed with ended up taking most of the money, so what he got was very little in the end. He's still mad about it."

"Ah, that explains it," Wei Wuxian replied.

 

Well, it is a niche audience to begin with, so it's not like the movie's gonna be making millions in theatres to begin with, he thought to himself.

 

"And how about you, Mr. Wei?" Xie Lian asked. "How was your Mid-Autumn Festival?"

Wei Wuxian grinned. "It was great!"

 

He told Xie Lian how his brother had hooked up with Lan Wangji's brother (thanks to him and Lan Wangji). Xie Lian seemed pleased to hear about the positive developments.

 

There wasn't much else to discuss that session, as Wei Wuxian didn't exactly want to start talking about his drinking just yet.

 

"So, Mr. Wei, will you be helping out at the orphanage again, then?" Xie Lian asked after they ran out of things to talk about.

"Uh... yeah," Wei Wuxian replied hesitantly, "I think I will. I was okay last time."

Xie Lian's face lit up. "Wonderful!" he chirped. "The children seem to really like you, so I was hoping you'd accept the offer! How about Mr. Lan?" he asked.

"Uh..."

 

Wei Wuxian didn't really want to answer on Lan Wangji's behalf, but given the resent events, he knew the answer.

 

"He... probably won't, unfortunately," Wei Wuxian answered slowly.

"Oh?" Xie Lian looked surprised. "He was interacting really well with the children, so I thought he'd be interested... But it's his call, and I understand," he added.

"I don't think he hated it," Wei Wuxian said, "But he told me that it frustrated him knowing that he and his family could be doing more to help disadvantaged children but they, well, aren't," he explained.

"I see," Xie Lian nodded. "He's truly kind, isn't he?"

Wei Wuxian chuckled warmly. "Yeah," he murmured, "He is. He even went to his uncle -- the head of his family -- and demanded to know why they don't help as much as they could. This guy never really confronts people, so I'm sure his uncle got quite the shock!" he grinned at Xie Lian.

Xie Lian gasped. "He... He didn't get in trouble, did he?!" he asked. "The last thing I want is him thinking he's responsible and getting himself in trouble!"

"No, he's fine," Wei Wuxian replied. Xie Lian breathed a sigh of relief. "His uncle just told him how the world actually works, which is essentially what I'd said to him anyway, and he's begrudgingly accepted that."

"Indeed," Xie Lian said. "In this case, it really is the thought that counts. Even being aware of it means a lot."

"Yeah..."

 

Wei Wuxian was initially quite worried about Lan Wangji, but realised after the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival that he was okay. And he knew that Lan Wangji would be annoyed if both his fiancé and his brother were worried about him, too, so he decided to stop fretting about it.

 

After Wei Wuxian's session ended, he greeted Lan Wangji in the waiting room.

 

"Oh!" Xie Lian exclaimed upon seeing Lan Wangji up close. "You've cut your hair!"

"Mmn," Lan Wangji acknowledged.

"It looks good!" Xie Lian said happily. "It's refreshing getting it cut, isn't it?" he gave Lan Wangji a warm smile.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "It was too bothersome."

"I know what you mean!" Xie Lian laughed. "San Lang's hair's pretty long now, it takes him ages to wash it. He refuses to cut it, though," he sighed.

"He does? Why?" Wei Wuxian asked.

Xie Lian rolled his eyes. "He said he looks hotter with longer hair. As if I care!" he laughed.

"You want to tell him he's hot even if he's bald, right?" Wei Wuxian grinned.

Xie Lian chuckled. "Yeah, exactly!"

 

"Dr. Xie!" the receptionist called from behind his desk. "You'll be late for your next appointment if you don't hurry up!"

 

Xie Lian apologised to Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji before running off to the staff room. Wei Wuxian booked his next session with Lan Wangji hovering behind him silently.

 


 

The next couple of weeks ticked by without any mishaps. Wei Wuxian kept bugging Jiang Cheng about why he hadn't been on a date with Lan Xichen yet, but Jiang Cheng kept shooing him away and insisted that Lan Xichen was too busy. Lan Wangji backed up these claims, which disappointed Wei Wuxian and his love of gossip.

 

Before long, it was time for Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji's engagement party, aka Wei Wuxian's birthday party. As arranged, it was to be held at the Lans' house. The only invitee who wasn't able to make it was Wen Qing, who had work that evening.

 

Nie Huaisang, Wen Ning and Mo Xuanyu met up with Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji at the Jiangs' place before the party. The living room was extremely crowded, as Jin Zixuan was also there (despite Wei Wuxian not actually inviting him), but it was only temporary.

 

The plan was for everyone to be picked up by the Lans' chauffeurs and driven to their residence. Lan Qiren had quite a few things to prepare, after all, so he didn't want them arriving too early. Jiang Fengmian had offered to help, but Lan Qiren said that it wasn't necessary, and that he should focus on getting his family ready for the night.

 

Wei Wuxian briefly introduced Mo Xuanyu to everyone and explained why he was invited.

 

"I've, uh, never actually been to an engagement party before," Mo Xuanyu said quietly. "Are there any rules I should follow?" he asked Wei Wuxian.

"I've never been to one either," Wei Wuxian grinned. "Honestly, it's just a dinner get-together. Don't worry about it too much."

 

Wen Ning gasped. "Wei Ying! I'm so sorry! I forgot to buy you a present!" he apologised tearfully.

"Didn't we say no gifts?" Wei Wuxian looked at Lan Wangji, who nodded. "We don't really need anything, so you're fine, Wen Ning."

"Phew," Wen Ning sighed, calming down. "I thought you'd be mad at me..."

"Hardly," Wei Wuxian replied. "I'd never be mad at you, Wen Ning," he added.

Wen Ning smiled. "Likewise."

 

Nie Huaisang laughed loudly. "As if you'd ever be mad at anyone, Qionglin!" He gave Wen Ning a light slap on the back. Wen Ning laughed as well.

 

"Hm?" Wen Ning muttered.

 

Wei Wuxian noticed that Wen Ning was looking at Mo Xuanyu, who was checking something on his phone.

 

"Excuse me..." Wen Ning started, causing Mo Xuanyu to flinch and hastily put his phone away.

"I-I'm sorry!" he panicked. "I just wanted to make sure I'd texted my aunt, and--"

"No, no, don't apologise!" Wen Ning insisted, holding his hands up in front of him. "I just... I couldn't help but notice your phone case..."

"The case?" Mo Xuanyu blinked. He took his phone out again. Upon closer inspection, Wei Wuxian realised that the case was the same as Wen Ning's.

"I have the same one!" Wen Ning exclaimed excitedly, pulling his phone out of his pocket and showing it to Mo Xuanyu. "I'm a huge fan of these comics!"

 

Mo Xuanyu's eyes widened. He looked like he was seeing something amazing.

 

"No way!" he gasped. "This the the first time I've met someone who's heard of it!"

"Me too!" Wen Ning said happily. "Who's your favourite character?"

 

Wei Wuxian was relieved that Mo Xuanyu had someone to talk to, so he left him and Wen Ning alone to continue their conversation (Nie Huaisang had already wandered off somewhere).

 

Soon after, Jiang Fengmian announced that it was time to head to the party.

 

There were three cars awaiting them outside. Jiang Fengmian, Madam Yu, Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan got in the first car. The second car consisted of Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji and Jiang Cheng. Wen Ning, Nie Huaisang and Mo Xuanyu occupied the third car (with Nie Huaisang lamenting having to listen to fanboys talking about something he wasn't interested in at all).

 

The Lans didn't live very far away from the Jiangs, but there was still enough distance that travelling by car was preferred. It was also the safer option at night.

 

When they arrived, Wei Wuxian's friends were shocked at how huge the house was.

 

"You weren't lying when you said they were rich, that's for sure!" Nie Huaisang commented.

"So houses like this actually exist..." Wen Ning remarked.

 

Mo Xuanyu stood there, frozen.

 

"Mo Xuanyu?" Wei Wuxian waved his hand in front of Mo Xuanyu's face. "Hello?"

"Ah!" Mo Xuanyu gasped quietly, snapping back into reality. "I'm sorry!"

"What's up?" Wei Wuxian asked. "Are you okay?"

"I-I'm fine," Mo Xuanyu replied. "It's just..." he glanced at Wei Wuxian timidly. "Are you sure it's okay for me to go in?"

"Duh, of course!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "They're expecting you. It's a bit intimidating at first, but I promise that it's not that bad!"

Mo Xuanyu swallowed and nodded slowly. "R-Really?"

"Really," Wei Wuxian nodded back. "You'll be fine. C'mon!"

 

Lan Wangji gave Mo Xuanyu a silent nod to confirm. Mo Xuanyu then hesitantly joined the group.

 

Jiang Fengmian had already informed the Lans over the intercom that they'd arrived, and a servant quickly led them to the front doors. Nie Huaisang and Wen Ning were staring at everything agape, unable to contain their awe.

 

Lan Qiren greeted them at the entranceway, accepting a gift of tea leaves from Jiang Fengmian.

 

"We will be serving drinks first," Lan Qiren announced as he took them all to a large side-room. "Dinner is still being prepared, but it shouldn't take too long." He handed the tea leaves to a servant, who trotted off to the kitchen.

 

Lan Xichen was already sitting at one of the low tables with a cup of tea in front of him. He stood up to greet everyone and introduce himself. Wei Wuxian noticed his gaze lingered on Jiang Cheng and smiled to himself.

 

There were two separate round tables ready for them. Lan Qiren, Jiang Fengmian, Madam Yu, Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan sat at one table (Jin Zixuan said that he didn't mind sitting at the other table, but Jiang Yanli dragged him along).

 

At the other table, Wei Wuxian sat beside Lan Wangji. Lan Xichen invited Jiang Cheng to sit next to him. The others all took their seats.

 

"I'm sorry I haven't been in contact with you much, Jiang Wanyin," Lan Xichen apologised. "I've been preoccupied with this report..."

"I-It's fine," Jiang Cheng mumbled, blushing slightly. "I don't mind."

"Oho?" Nie Huaisang, who was beside Jiang Cheng, raised an eyebrow. "What's this about?" he asked.

"N-Nothing!" Jiang Cheng spat. "Why do you care, anyway?" he demanded.

"I'm interested," Nie Huaisang replied flatly. "Are you two arranging something?"

"No!" Jiang Cheng insisted, annoyed. "Even if we were, it's got absolutely nothing to do with you."

Lan Xichen put his hand on Jiang Cheng's shoulder. "Why are you denying it, Jiang Wanyin?" he asked, sounding vaguely disappointed. "There's no need to hide anything, is there?"

"..." Jiang Cheng took a deep breath. "I haven't told them yet," he muttered. "Sorry."

 

Lan Xichen chuckled as he took his hand away. "Ah, I see," he smiled. "In that case, I won't push you."

Jiang Cheng nodded and mumbled something Wei Wuxian didn't catch.

 

Nie Huaisang wasn't satisfied, but gave up on forcing an answer out of Jiang Cheng and reluctantly shut up.

 

A servant returned with a tray full of drinks while another servant pushed a cart carrying glasses.

 

Wei Wuxian was very tempted to go for the alcohol, so he asked for a glass of wine. Nie Huaisang also eagerly ordered wine ("It's okay, I'll behave!" he said when Wen Ning tried to advise him against it). Everyone else at their table went for something non-alcoholic.

 

"Did you have to get wine, Huaisang?" Wen Ning grumbled, taking a sip of his orange juice.

"Absolutely!" Nie Huaisang replied. "This is some super expensive wine that I could never afford for myself. Of course I'm gonna try it."

"It's damn good, isn't it?" Wei Wuxian remarked, gulping down several mouthfuls. "Don't worry, Jiang Cheng, I'm only having a glass," he added, noticing his brother's disapproving glare.

Jiang Cheng humphed. "Fine, whatever," he sighed.

"Shouldn't you drink what you want to tonight?" Lan Xichen asked Wei Wuxian. "It's your engagement party-slash-birthday, after all. You have the right to enjoy it how you want."

"...Yeah, I do," Wei Wuxian said slowly, "But Jiang Cheng has reasons to be concerned. I shouldn't... drink too much." He finished the rest of his wine.

 

Nie Huaisang was already on his second glass. "You worry too much!" he whined. "Have fun! Let loose!"

Wei Wuxian laughed dryly. "Those are the worst possible things you could tell me, Huaisang."

Nie Huaisang grinned at him. "And that's why I'm your friend."

 

Wei Wuxian was reluctant to get drunk again. He didn't want to embarrass Lan Wangji, especially not in front of his family. He did, however, order another glass of wine when the servant made their rounds again.

 

After some idle chatter, Lan Qiren received word that dinner was ready, so everyone got up and headed into the dining room.

 

The room was large, and the dining table (which was different to the one they'd eaten at the last time they visited) was long enough to take up most of the space from wall to wall. The table itself was crammed with different dishes, toppings and seasonings, and it all looked far too expensive to someone like Wei Wuxian. He was starting to feel slightly guilty, but he pushed those emotions away.

 

Everyone took their seats. Wei Wuxian was sitting next to Lan Wangji again.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian whispered once they were waiting for the older adults to serve themselves, "You haven't really said much tonight. Are you okay?" he asked quietly.

"Mmn," Lan Wangji nodded. "I have not had anything to add to the conversation yet."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "Alright," he said. "I'll believe that." He also wondered if Lan Wangji felt slightly nervous being around his uncle again after confronting him not too long ago...

 

The food was delicious. Wei Wuxian attempted to try every dish, but his stomach was full before he managed to do so.

 

"Wangji," Lan Xichen, who was sitting opposite Lan Wangji, said at some point during the meal, "You're eating more than normal."

Lan Wangji glanced down at his plate and then back to his brother. "I am?"

"Yes," Lan Xichen nodded. "Usually you'd be full by now..."

"He tends to eat more than that," Jiang Cheng interjected. "What're you trying to say?" he asked.

"Oh, no, nothing really," Lan Xichen replied. "It's just an observation. Wangji's never eaten much, so I'm surprised."

Nie Huaisang laughed. "Clearly they're overfeeding him then!" he said jokingly. "Fattening him up and all that!" He took a swig of wine (Wei Wuxian had lost count of how many glasses Nie Huaisang had drunk -- which was probably a bad sign).

"He still eats far less than the rest of us," Wei Wuxian shrugged. "Also, he's not fat, Huaisang."

Nie Huaisang sighed. "I was joking, Wuxian," he retorted. "Nobody would think he's fat."

 

"In that case," Lan Xichen said, "I suppose it's okay. Just... you should be watching your weight, Wangji," he added. "It's something to keep in mind."

Lan Wangji nodded. "I know, Brother," he replied. "I am aware."

"Great," Lan Xichen smiled. "That's all that matters, really."

 

Something about Lan Xichen's comments didn't sit quite right with Wei Wuxian, but he figured that dinner wasn't exactly the place to argue with anyone, so he didn't say anything.

 

Lan Wangji shouldn't be in any position to be worried about his weight. His physique, as far as Wei Wuxian was concerned, was perfectly fine. Sure, he'd probably gained weight since coming to live with them, but in Wei Wuxian's eyes, that was a good thing.

 

Dinner ended without much else of note, except for Wen Ning dropping his glass of water on the floor, for which he apologised profusely and acted like he was about to be kicked out for breaking the rules. It wasn't an issue, of course, and his glass was quickly replaced and the mess didn't take long to be cleaned up.

 

Since everyone was too full for dessert just yet, they decided to disband and come back in an hour.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji decided to sneak off to Lan Wangji's bedroom. To get to it, they had to walk past Lan Xichen's room, from which Wei Wuxian could hear Jiang Cheng's voice.

 

"--say to him!" Jiang Cheng sounded annoyed.

"I didn't mean anything," Lan Xichen argued, "I was just pointing it out."

"Well, sure, but you made it sound like he's overweight or something," Jiang Cheng said. "If you're not careful, it could end up hurting him, you know."

 

So they were talking about Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian was grateful that Jiang Cheng was on the same side as him.

 

Lan Xichen was silent for a few moments. "Hurting him? How?" he asked, his tone concerned.

"...It's things like that that cause eating disorders," Jiang Cheng explained in a hushed voice. "I'm not saying he has one -- I don't think he does -- but if you constantly talk about it..."

"I... I would never..." Lan Xichen's voice shook slightly. "I didn't... It's just, you know, Wangji never used to eat much, so I was worried about it. I meant it... in a good way..."

 

Lan Wangji clearly didn't want to listen to any more of their argument, so he grabbed Wei Wuxian's hand and pulled him along.

 

"Sorry," Wei Wuxian apologised once they were in Lan Wangji's room. "I was just curious."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji replied. "Eavesdropping is rude," he pointed out. "And... Jiang Wanyin is exaggerating," he added. "I am not concerned about it. I knew what Brother meant."

 

Wei Wuxian hugged him and gave him a kiss. "That settles that, then. Let's not talk about it anymore."

"Mmn," Lan Wangji agreed, kissing Wei Wuxian back.

 

Lan Wangji's room was bare now that he'd moved out. The only exceptions were that his bed was still made up and his clothes drawer hadn't been put away yet.

 

Lan Wangji sat down on the edge of the bed. Wei Wuxian, instead of sitting next to him, playfully sat on his lap and rested his head on Lan Wangji's chest.

 

"I still can't believe we're getting married," Wei Wuxian murmured, gazing lovingly at Lan Wangji. "But we are."

"It feels like a dream," Lan Wangji said, putting one of his arms around Wei Wuxian to hold him. "You feel like a dream."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "So do you. But you're real."

"Mmn. And you are, too."

 

They both knew it was too risky to get intimate with Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng nearby, but that was okay. In some ways, holding each other like this was just as wonderful to Wei Wuxian. He wanted to fall asleep in Lan Wangji's arms.

 

"You know," Wei Wuxian said, "I don't know how I ever thought I wanted to break up with you. I'm still kicking myself over that..."

"...You had your reasons," Lan Wangji replied. "But I am glad you chose me."

"Me too," Wei Wuxian closed his eyes. "I'm also glad you chose me. I love you, Lan Zhan."

 

Lan Wangji kissed his forehead. "I love you too, Wei Ying."

 

Wei Wuxian was slowly drifting off to sleep. However, he was startled awake by a loud "AH!" from the next room. Wei Wuxian sat up in alarm.

 

"Jiang Cheng?!" he exclaimed, looking up at Lan Wangji. "What's going on?"

"Ignore it," Lan Wangji instructed. "Jiang Wanyin does not require our help."

Wei Wuxian laughed. "You're right," he mumbled, snuggling up against Lan Wangji's chest again. "If anything, he'll probably get mad at us if we interrupt."

"Mmn."

 

I hope you're having fun, Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian thought, shutting his eyes once more.

 

Wei Wuxian was woken up by Lan Wangji some time later to inform him that it was time for dessert.

 

"Carry me downstairs," Wei Wuxian yawned. "I'm sleepy."

"You can walk," Lan Wangji told him firmly.

Wei Wuxian tried to pull his best puppy-dog eyes and pouted exaggeratedly. "Pwease?" he asked as if he was a two-year-old toddler.

"How much wine did you drink?" Lan Wangji asked back.

"Only three glasses!" Wei Wuxian protested. "Fine, fine, I'll walk!" He yawned again and stretched as he stood up.

 

Lan Wangji also stood up and straightened his clothes. "If I carry you, Uncle will ask questions," he mumbled quietly. "I do not wish for him to interrogate us."

Wei Wuxian snorted with laughter. "Of course he fucking would," he sighed. "Yeah, on second thought, it's probably better if you don't carry me, unfortunately..."

 

Lan Wangji gently reached out and held Wei Wuxian's hand. "But we can do this," he said.

Wei Wuxian squeezed his hand tightly. "Damn right we can," he grinned.

 

Hand-in-hand, they made their way back to the dining room.

 

The only other people who weren't already seated were Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng.

 

"Wei Ying!" Wen Ning chirped as they took their seats. "Where did you guys go?" he asked.

"Lan Zhan's room," Wei Wuxian replied, yawning yet again. "I ended up falling asleep for a bit."

Wen Ning chuckled. "So did Huaisang," he said, nodding over at Nie Huaisang, who looked like he was having trouble staying awake.

"Nuh-uh!" Nie Huaisang protested, louder than he meant to. "I jus... was restin'!"

 

Fuck.

 

Nie Huaisang, by this point, had definitely had too much to drink. Wei Wuxian knew that he'd leave a bad impression on Lan Qiren no matter how he tried to control Nie Huaisang (who was hard to control when he was sober).

 

"Senior Wei," Mo Xuanyu spoke up, "Um... Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Wei Wuxian replied. "What is it?"

"Uh..." Mo Xuanyu twiddled his thumbs. "I was just wondering if, maybe, your brother and... Mr. Lan's brother were, um, dating each other..."

"Bingo!" Wei Wuxian grinned. "They just hooked up during the Mid-Autumn Festival, actually, so they haven't really said anything about it."

"Oh!" Mo Xuanyu gasped, blushing. "I'm sorry! I was curious, since I think I... saw them holding hands when they went upstairs, but..."

"So THAT'S what they were on about!" Nie Huaisang exclaimed loudly. Wen Ning shushed him, throwing an apologetic look at the other end of the table. "How amusing," he added, lowering his voice.

"What's amusing?" Wei Wuxian asked.

"You and Jiang Wanyin ain't so different after all," Nie Huaisang smirked. "At the very least, you both have the same tastes in men!"

"...No," Lan Wangji said flatly.

"Huh? But you and your brother--"

"We may look similar," Lan Wangji said, cutting Nie Huaisang off, "But we are different people."

 

Nie Huaisang rolled his eyes. "Alright, then, let me rephrase, you're--" he was interrupted by Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng sitting down at the table.

 

Jiang Cheng's face was a light shade of red. Wei Wuxian grinned knowingly at him, but Jiang Cheng ignored him.

 

Dessert consisted of a variety of different sweet and savoury dishes.

 

Wei Wuxian was still quite full, so he only picked out some fruit salad. Lan Wangji didn't choose much, either.

 

"Wangji," Lan Xichen said, "I apologise for what I said earlier. I did not mean it in a negative way."

Lan Wangji nodded. "I understood, Brother," he replied. "I was not offended."

Lan Xichen smiled at him and returned to his dessert.

 

"Hey," Nie Huaisang hiccuped, pointing at Lan Wangji, "Somethin's been botherin' me about you."

"...What has?" Lan Wangji asked, his eyes narrowing.

"How come yer brother's charmin', but you never smile or look happy at all?" Nie Huaisang demanded.

 

Uh oh.

 

"Shut up, Huaisang!" Wei Wuxian hissed. "It doesn't matter!"

"But it DOES!" Nie Huaisang retorted.

 

Everyone else at the table was now looking at Nie Huaisang and Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji put down his spoon.

 

"I am happy," he corrected, glaring at Nie Huaisang. "But that does not mean I have to express it all the time. If I were to smile, some of those smiles would be fake. No, most of them would be."

"The fuck happened to you, then?" Nie Huaisang asked. Wei Wuxian tried shutting him up again but was ignored. "What made you so gloomy?"

Lan Wangji's hands, which were in his lap, were shaking slightly. Wei Wuxian quickly held them in his own hands to calm him. "That--"

"Oh, no, wait, I know," Nie Huaisang interrupted rudely. "It's 'cuz yer dad used to beat ya, right?"

 

The room went silent.

 

Wei Wuxian, who was in the middle of reaching over to try and cover Nie Huaisang's mouth, froze.

 

There was a clang as someone dropped their spoon.

 

Wei Wuxian felt his throat go dry. He turned towards the source of the noise: Lan Xichen, who looked hauntingly pale.

 

"...Please do not joke about things like that," Lan Xichen said, his voice unstable, as he bent down to pick up his spoon, which had fallen on the floor. "Our father did not--"

"So then Wuxian lied to me? I doubt he'd joke about his fiancé being abused," Nie Huaisang retorted.

 

Lan Xichen glanced over at Wei Wuxian, who was petrified.

 

When had he told Nie Huaisang (and presumably, Wen Ning)?

 

Lan Xichen opened his mouth to say something but closed it again. Instead, he turned to Lan Wangji.

 

"...Wangji," Lan Xichen said slowly, "Is... Is what he's saying true?" he asked, his voice cracking.

 

Lan Wangji didn't answer. He sat there silently, not moving a muscle.

 

"Wangji, please, just tell me," Lan Xichen pleaded desperately.

 

Very hesitantly and reluctantly, Lan Wangji nodded.

 

"...Yes," Lan Wangji admitted, his voice barely audible.

 

Wei Wuxian squeezed Lan Wangji's hands tighter, bracing himself for Lan Xichen's reaction...

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji, however, said nothing. Neither did anybody else.

 

Wei Wuxian didn't know how to defend himself. After all, this was his fault. He'd told his friends without permission. Yet he couldn't remember when he mentioned it to them, no matter how hard he tried.

 

Nie Huaisang seemed to realise that something was amiss.

 

"Wait," he said, staring at Lan Xichen, the situation starting to dawn on him, "Don' tell me that... Ya didn' know?"

 

Jiang Cheng smacked Nie Huaisang on the head. "Whether or not he didn't know isn't the issue!" he seethed. "Seriously, how stupid are you?! You don't just say something like that!"

Nie Huaisang rubbed the spot that Jiang Cheng had hit. "I assumed it was common knowledge!" he whined. "If someone like me knew about it, surely his family would know, right?" he retorted.

"You--!" Jiang Cheng shouted, struggling to stop himself from insulting Nie Huaisang further.

"If anything," Nie Huaisang continued as if he didn't do anything wrong, "Shouldn't we be asking Wuxian why he told us?" he turned to face Wei Wuxian, who was petrified.

 

"I..." Wei Wuxian had no excuse. He really didn't. "I don't remember telling you, Huaisang," he admitted, gazing down at his half-eaten dessert. "But I shouldn't've."

"Hmmm..." Nie Huaisang thought for a moment. "Actually, I don't remember either. Was it when we got together for pizza?" he asked.

"...I think it was," Wen Ning said in a small voice. "I think I... do vaguely remember something about it," he added shakily. "B-But that's... not really relevant..." he trailed off.

"How's it not relevant?" Nie Huaisang scoffed. "We're discussing the--"

"Huaisang!" Wen Ning cried exasperatedly. He got up and strode over to Nie Huaisang. "Stop. Just... please," he begged tearfully. "Huaisang, you should ask your brother to come and get you."

"No way," Nie Huaisang protested. "I ain't leavin'. I'm sayin' it ain't my fault."

"No, he's right," Jiang Cheng said. "You need to leave. Call your brother," he ordered.

"Hol' on, I--"

 

"That won't be necessary," Lan Qiren interrupted, his voice stern. Even Wei Wuxian, who'd been staring downwards, lifted his head and turned to look towards the other end of the table.

"...What d'you mean?" Nie Huaisang asked suspiciously. "Are ya gonna keep me here and interrogate me?"

"What I mean," Lan Qiren groaned, "Is that we will arrange a chauffeur for you who will take you home."

"So yer kickin' me out, then?" Nie Huaisang sounded offended. "Why? I'm only tellin' the truth that I heard, and-- mmmph!"

 

Wen Ning forcefully covered Nie Huaisang's mouth with his hand to shut him up.

 

"P-Please do," Wen Ning said to Lan Qiren. "I can, um, go with him and make sure he gets home..." he offered, fighting to keep his hand pressed against Nie Huaisang's mouth.

 

Lan Qiren ordered one of the servants to organise a chauffeur. The servant hurried out of the room immediately.

 

Wei Wuxian lowered his head again. He couldn't bring himself to look at Lan Wangji or Lan Xichen. All he could do was apologise over and over again in his heart.

 

The servant returned soon after to inform Lan Qiren that the chauffeur was waiting outside.

 

"Come on, Huaisang!" Wen Ning pleaded as he struggled to pull Nie Huaisang to his feet.

 

Wei Wuxian heard the sound of someone else standing up. He gazed over to see that Mo Xuanyu had joined Wen Ning in attempting to move Nie Huaisang.

 

"O-Oh, um..." Wen Ning mumbled, "Thank you..."

"It's okay," Mo Xuanyu replied. "And, uh, if it's alright, I might... leave with you guys. I'll get yelled at if I stay out too late."

"Not a problem," Lan Qiren answered. "Three people are more than manageable."

"Oh, and, I won't tell anyone!" Mo Xuanyu added. "My lips are sealed!"

 

"Fine! Fine! I'll go!" Nie Huaisang yelled, having freed himself from the wrath of Wen Ning's hand. "Sheesh! Don't be so rough with me! I'm a delicate flower!"

 

Normally, Wen Ning or Wei Wuxian would be joking along with him, but neither were in the mood to do so. Met with silence, Nie Huaisang sighed deeply as he and the other two left. Wen Ning said something to Wei Wuxian when he walked past, but Wei Wuxian didn't quite catch it.

 

After the doors shut, Lan Qiren cleared his throat loudly.

 

"Xichen, do you have anything else you want to address?" he asked reluctantly.

"I..." Lan Xichen sounded hesitant. "Yes, there are several things," he began. "But I'm aware that discussing them in the presence of guests is hardly appropriate."

"Actually," Jiang Fengmian said, "All of us -- with the exception of Jin Zixuan, I believe -- already knew, too..."

 

Wei Wuxian could tell that someone was looking at him, so he took a deep breath as he looked up again. His eyes met Lan Xichen's from across the table.

 

"So you're saying," Lan Xichen replied slowly, "That I'm the only one who didn't know about this?" he asked. "Why did you tell your family and friends, Wei Wuxian?"

"...I only told my family because I needed to persuade them to let Lan Zhan come and live with us," Wei Wuxian admitted, barely able to keep his voice steady. "I thought that if they knew why I wanted him to be in a different environment, they'd be more likely to agree to it. As for my friends, I... I honestly don't remember... And I have no excuse. I know I shouldn't've told them."

"I see," Lan Xichen sighed. "Did Wangji himself tell you?" he asked.

"Yes," Wei Wuxian replied. "Despite that, I betrayed his trust. I don't even know how to begin to apologise." He forced himself to look at Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Wangji's face was dark. Seeing him appear so hurt made Wei Wuxian want to cry in frustration at his own stupidity.

 

"Wangji," Lan Xichen croaked, "What was it that made you tell Wei Wuxian before you told me?" More than anything, Lan Xichen seemed broken by the shock. Wei Wuxian didn't blame him.

"...I had no choice," Lan Wangji whispered, his voice only just audible. "Wei Ying saw. There was no reason to lie."

Lan Xichen's eyes widened. "Saw? What... What did he see?"

Lan Wangji paused. "The scars," he answered.

"NO!" Lan Xichen cried. "Wangji, you--"

"The scars that... Father gave me..."

"..."

 

Lan Xichen took a few deep breaths. "Wangji," he said again, "I've always thought that something happened to you that you didn't tell me about. But I've had no idea how to articulate it, nor did I know how to bring it up to you. I wondered if, perhaps, you ran into trouble at school. And that whatever it was was too hard for you to talk about. I just... I never thought that that person would be Father," he choked, finally letting himself start to cry.

"If I may," Jiang Cheng chimed in, "Did your father never... do anything to you, then?" he asked.

Lan Xichen shook his head as he wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve. "Never," he sobbed. "Father and I had a good relationship. He always praised me and would buy me things that I wanted. I find it hard to imagine that he'd hurt Wangji like that..."

 

"It's the truth," Lan Qiren said suddenly. "Even though he was a good person to you, Xichen, he caused Wangji pain."

"I know," Lan Xichen replied. "I'm not -- I'm not trying to say that Wangji is lying. Wangji doesn't lie. I just..." he covered his face in his hand to hide his tears.

 

"It is not your fault, Brother," Lan Wangji said in a hushed voice. "Father said that I... could not tell you."

"O-Oh..." Lan Xichen muttered.

"He said that if I told you," Lan Wangji continued, "He would hurt you as well. The last thing I wanted was for anything to happen to you."

 

Wei Wuxian wished that the earth would open up and swallow him. He wanted to run away. Despite already knowing the story, hearing Lan Wangji talking about his past again was still painful. Perhaps it was because he sounded more upset than last time. Or perhaps it was because he was telling his beloved brother...

 

Lan Xichen exhaled as he took his hand away from his face. Slowly, he turned to Lan Qiren. "Did you know, then, Uncle?" he asked, having regained some composure.

"...I did," Lan Qiren replied cautiously. "Wangji was acting strange, so I asked him if something had happened. He was very reluctant to tell me anything, but I managed to convince him to explain."

"I-In that case," Lan Xichen said, "Why didn't you do anything about it?" he demanded accusingly.

 

Wei Wuxian was rather startled by such a piercing question. So was, from what he could make out, Lan Wangji.

 

Lan Qiren's eyes narrowed. "I did do something about it, Xichen," he corrected. "Do you remember how you and Wangji came to live with me under the pretence of your father being too busy to take care of you?"

"I do," Lan Xichen nodded. "But Father was busy at the time, and--"

"He may have been," Lan Qiren interrupted, "But the actual reason was because I wanted to get the two of you away from him. Not that he was around much anyway, but I needed to be safe. For all I knew, he was harming you, too, and there were things occurring that I wasn't aware of."

"So why didn't you ever confront Father about it?" Lan Xichen demanded, tears still lingering in the corners of his eyes. "If you were really that worried about us, you should've told him you knew and--"

 

"ENOUGH." Lan Qiren slammed one of his fists down on the table, causing everyone to jump. "Xichen, do you think I didn't consider it? Because I did. However," he seethed, "You should be fully aware of just how much power your father had. Even if I did confront him about it, nothing would've changed. If anything, he would've gotten worse. He was the sort of man who could've potentially turned the situation around and made it seem like I was the one abusing Wangji, which he would use as an excuse to take the two of you back. And there was absolutely no way I was prepared to let that happen."

 

Lan Xichen was frozen.

 

"...I... I'm sorry, Uncle," he eventually mumbled, sounding defeated. "I just... I don't understand!" he cried. "Why would Father ever think of hurting Wangji at all?! Wangji never did anything... Why did he...?"

"As if I would understand the logic of someone who abuses his own son for no reason," Lan Qiren said bitterly. "Such behaviour is as mysterious to me as it is to you."

 

The room went silent again.

 

"...It was my fault," Lan Wangji croaked. "Father was unsatisfied with my performances, and he wanted me to improve. Only, I was unable to do so. It was my own incompetence that--"

 

Wei Wuxian didn't want to listen anymore. He stood up and firmly places his hands on Lan Wangji's shoulders.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian began, looking Lan Wangji directly in the eyes, trying to stop himself from shaking, "That's a lie and you know it. Nobody's blaming you. Nobody here thinks it's your fault. Like your brother said, you didn't do anything wrong. Ever. And even if you somehow had, you were a child. And anyway, age doesn't matter, you still shouldn't beat someone."

"Wei Ying..."

"Please, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian begged, holding back tears, "Please don't blame yourself. I know you probably don't trust me anymore, and I get that, but please... please believe me just this once."

 

Lan Wangji nodded slowly. "Wei Ying," he murmured, seeming to relax slightly, "I trust you. I will always trust you. I know that you did not mean to tell your friends. And you are already trying to make amends for things like that."

 

Relieved that he wasn't hated, Wei Wuxian threw his arms around Lan Wangji, hugging him tightly.

 

Jiang Fengmian cleared his throat. "Perhaps we should head home soon," he suggested. "We've caused enough trouble as it is, and I think everyone needs a rest now. Is that alright?" he asked Lan Qiren.

"It'd be for the best," Lan Qiren agreed. "I shall arrange another chauffeur for you all."

"That'd be great, thank you," Jiang Fengmian replied.

 

Wei Wuxian reluctantly let go of Lan Wangji. He felt like he needed to say something to Lan Xichen, but when he saw how exhausted the latter looked, he wasn't sure if it would be a good idea.

 

Lan Wangji, however, approached him.

 

"Brother..."

 

Lan Xichen gave him a sad, yet gentle, smile. "Wangji," he said, "Wei Wuxian's right."

 

Wei Wuxian was taken aback.

 

"Please don't blame yourself," Lan Xichen sighed. "While I don't understand Father's feelings nor his actions, I doubt that you actually did anything to warrant his violent reaction." He paused before adding, "You know, I do wonder if it initially had something to do with Mother's death..."

 

"Xichen," Lan Qiren called out, warning him not to continue the subject. Lan Xichen promptly stopped talking, aware that he'd gone too far.

 

Wei Wuxian was slightly worried about leaving Lan Xichen alone after he'd learnt such a dark truth. But he was selfish, and wanted Lan Wangji to stay with him instead, even though the brothers probably had a lot more to talk about.

 

To his surprise, Jiang Cheng spoke up: "Are you... going to be okay?" he asked Lan Xichen, somewhat awkwardly.

 

Lan Xichen laughed dryly. "I'll be fine," he replied. "It's just... I think I just need some time to process this, that's all."

Jiang Cheng coughed. "Um, well, if you... wanted someone to, uh, maybe... help you process it, or something... I could... do that..." his voice trailed off into an incoherent mumble as his cheeks turned pink.

 

Lan Xichen seemed to not have expected such an offer, as he looked very surprised. "Er," he said, "That's... I mean, you don't have to..."

"I-I think you should have someone with you tonight," Jiang Cheng explained, regaining some of his usual confidence. "And your brother is needed elsewhere, but I'm not."

"...Hmm..."

 

"Jiang Wanyin," Lan Wangji said firmly.

"W-What?" Jiang Cheng grumbled. "You have your own man to look after. Otherwise I'll have to deal with him, and I don't exactly want to do that tonight."

Lan Wangji nodded. "I know that," he replied.

"Then what is it?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Take care of my brother," Lan Wangji told him. It was, in many ways, an order.

 

Jiang Cheng humphed. "Of course I will," he grumbled again. "That's the whole idea."

"Good," Lan Wangji nodded again.

 

Wei Wuxian shot an apologetic, guilty look at Lan Xichen. He wasn't sure if Lan Xichen noticed or not, however, as Lan Xichen was asking his uncle if Jiang Cheng could stay the night. Lan Qiren only nodded in acknowledgement, which Wei Wuxian took as a yes.

 

Once everyone was ready to leave, Wei Wuxian found himself being swept off his feet -- literally. It took him a moment to realise that he was being held in Lan Wangji's arms.

 

"L-Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asked, looking up at Lan Wangji in surprise. He could tell everyone else was watching them.

"You said before that you were tired," Lan Wangji replied blankly. "So I am carrying you."

 

Wei Wuxian chuckled quietly. "You're not wrong."

 

He was definitely tired. He knew the others would be tired, too, especially Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji. He made a silent promise to himself that next time, he'd be the one carrying Lan Wangji home.

 

Lan Wangji only set Wei Wuxian down when they reached the front entrance so that he could put his shoes on. Since there was still a lengthy walk to the car (the Lans had a really long path leading to the house), Wei Wuxian was swiftly picked up again and made to wonder why he even bothered with his shoes.

 

He made sure that he'd apologise properly to Lan Xichen and Lan Qiren later. Lan Qiren was probably quite keen to be free of his guests (well, most of them).

 

This time they were able to all fit in one larger car. Wei Wuxian hopped in the back row with Lan Wangji, eager to rest his head against the car window. Jin Zixuan, Jiang Yanli and Madam Yu got in the car in front of them, and Jiang Fengmian sat in the front passenger seat.

 

Other than Jiang Fengmian telling the driver where to take them, nobody spoke. Wei Wuxian almost drifted off to sleep on the way back, only to be prodded awake by Lan Wangji when they arrived home. Wei Wuxian managed to make his way inside without being carried, although he did use Lan Wangji's arm as support.

 

It felt weird coming home without Jiang Cheng in a way. The Jiangs and Wei Wuxian always went out together and came back together. This was, as far as Wei Wuxian could recall, the first time Jiang Cheng didn't return with them.

 

When they were all inside, Jiang Yanli spoke up: "I wonder why A-Cheng insisted on staying..."

"Isn't it because he's worried about leaving that guy alone with his uncle?" Jin Zixuan asked. "Oh, and, uh," he turned to Lan Wangji. "I won't... say anything about what I heard tonight. It's none of my business, and I'm not sure I even really understand the story. So... yeah. Don't worry."

Lan Wangji nodded. "Thank you."

Jin Zixuan scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "And, uh, I know it probably doesn't mean anything, but I... don't exactly like my dad, either, and I get mad when people act like he's not a massive piece of shit. It's different circumstances, but..."

"Zixuan," Jiang Yanli said gently, shaking her head.

"Uh. Sorry," Jin Zixuan muttered.

 

Lan Wangji nodded again but didn't say anything else.

 

"I hope your brother's okay," Jiang Fengmian said to Lan Wangji. "If there's anything you'd like to do for him, or would like us to do for him, do let me know."

"Brother will be fine," Lan Wangji replied quietly. "Jiang Wanyin is with him."

Jiang Fengmian laughed. "You're right," he smiled. "I should have more confidence in my own son."

 

Wei Wuxian let out a yawn. He wanted to do nothing but go to sleep (which was unlike his usual self who enjoyed staying up half the night), but he knew he needed to calm Lan Wangji down first.

 

Jin Zixuan arranged a ride for himself and said goodbye to Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji as they headed to their room.

 

As soon as Lan Wangji closed the door behind him, Wei Wuxian hugged him as tightly as he could.

 

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian sighed, shaking, "I'm so sorry. I don't know how I'm going to make it up to you. Tonight we were supposed to be celebrating, yet it turned out... like this. I shouldn't have told my friends. I feel so awful. I just..." he ran out of words.

Lan Wangji hugged Wei Wuxian back, pulling him as close as possible. "Not your fault," he murmured. "You did not do it on purpose."

"Y-Yeah," Wei Wuxian choked, "But still. This was our engagement party! We were meant to be celebrating us and our future, not dwelling on the past..." he trailed off as he silently cried into Lan Wangji's chest.

 

Lan Wangji was quiet for a while before he spoke up again.

 

"We can celebrate any time we want to," he murmured. "For me, just being with you is a celebration. Things like formal parties do not matter. Other people are a bonus. What is important is that I have you, and you have me."

 

Wei Wuxian sobbed harder. He had no idea how Lan Wangji could forgive him so easily.

 

"Besides," Lan Wangji added, "I should have... told Brother earlier."

Wei Wuxian shook his head back and forth. "You had every reason not to tell him," he said. "You were threatened by your father, and you wanted your brother to keep the good memories he had of your father when he died."

 

Lan Wangji didn't respond.

 

"Wei Ying," he said eventually, "Did I... Did I honestly do nothing wrong?" he asked slowly.

 

Wei Wuxian pulled out of their hug so that he could look at Lan Wangji. He straightened himself up and gave Lan Wangji a kiss.

 

"I told you to trust me," Wei Wuxian smiled. "Lan Zhan, I wasn't lying. None of this is because of anything you did or didn't do. Sometimes, people are just... well, they're awful. For no reason."

"...I do trust you, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji replied. "But..."

"I know," Wei Wuxian said. "It's frustrating when shit happens to you and there's no reason for it. That's how I feel about what happened to my parents. I don't know if it's their fault that they left me, or if they got caught up in something, or if I should blame myself or not... But in your case, Lan Zhan," he continued, "If anyone thinks it was your fault, I'll make them pay."

 

Silence fell between them again.

 

"We should sleep," Wei Wuxian suggested. "I'm tired, and I'm sure you're completely fucking exhausted. Here, I'll help," he added as he began unbuttoning Lan Wangji's shirt.

 

Having undressed Lan Wangji and handed him his pyjamas, Wei Wuxian then took off his own clothes. While Lan Wangji had been shirtless, Wei Wuxian had made an effort not to look anywhere near his back. The scars were far more visible now that he had short hair.

 

Wei Wuxian climbed into bed. He watched as Lan Wangji rolled up his hair ribbon and set it on their nightstand. Lan Wangji's eyes seemed to linger on his family photo.

 

Usually, the photo of Lan Wangji's family was facing their bed, and Lan Wangji said good night to his parents before going to sleep (Wei Wuxian found it a bit strange, but he let it slide). The only exception was that, when they had sex, in which case Lan Wangji would move the photo so that it was facing downwards. Wei Wuxian wondered if perhaps he was going to do that, despite them being far too worn out for such things that evening.

 

Lan Wangji reached out a hand, which hesitated as it hovered over the photo. Slowly, he touched the top of the frame, and turned the photo around, making it so that only the back of the frame was visible to them.

 

He then got into bed, and Wei Wuxian promptly snuggled up next to him as he turned off the light.

 

"Hey, Lan Zhan, you know what?" Wei Wuxian teased, leaving a trail of kisses along Lan Wangji's neck.

"No, what?" Lan Wangji asked suspiciously.

"I love you," Wei Wuxian replied, grinning even though Lan Wangji couldn't see him.

"...I love you too, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji whispered.

 

And even though Wei Wuxian couldn't make out Lan Wangji in the darkness, he could vaguely sense that the latter was finally letting himself cry, after holding back all night. Wei Wuxian didn't comment on it, as he knew that it took Lan Wangji a lot of courage to be so emotional and vulnerable in front of him. He appreciated that from the bottom of his heart.

 

That night, it was Wei Wuxian's turn to sing Lan Wangji to sleep with their lullaby. He still wasn't sure entirely why it was, but it did miracles in calming them both down.

 

As Wei Wuxian himself fell asleep, he made a note to ask Lan Wangji if he'd managed to come up with a name for the song yet.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian tried to delay getting out of bed as much as possible the next morning. He didn't want to have to face reality, knowing very well that Lan Qiren was probably extremely disappointed in him. The thought that he could call off the engagement had crossed Wei Wuxian's mind, but he wasn't sure if he was just overreacting or not, as he found the man difficult to read.

 

He noticed that the photo of Lan Wangji's family was still turned the other way, which meant that the only thing staring at him was that giant rabbit plushie, which sat in the corner of their room.

 

When Wei Wuxian finally dragged himself out of bed, he threw something resembling an outfit on and plodded downstairs.

 

Initially, Wei Wuxian couldn't find Lan Wangji. He tried not to panic, figuring that Lan Wangji might've needed to go out and buy more tea or something -- except that his keys were still in the house.

 

He hasn't left, Wei Wuxian convinced himself. His stuff's still here. And he's not the type to do that, anyway. Calm down. He'll be somewhere.

 

It was only after taking another look in the kitchen that Wei Wuxian caught sight of Lan Wangji through the window.

 

Oh, duh, Wei Wuxian realised, laughing. Of course he's in the garden.

 

Wei Wuxian quickly went outside to join him. As he'd suspected, Lan Wangji was feeding his rabbits.

 

"G'morning, Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian called out as he approached.

Lan Wangji, who was supplying the rabbits with some extra hay, turned to face him. "Good morning, Wei Ying," he nodded. "Ah," he added, glancing at his watch, "It is no longer morning."

Wei Wuxian chuckled. "It doesn't matter," he said, giving Lan Wangji a brief kiss. "How're the bunnies doing?" he asked, despite being able to see that they were perfectly fine (he always asked Lan Wangji how his rabbits were every morning when Lan Wangji had gotten done tending to them). The three of them were stuffing their faces and hadn't even properly