A gentle breeze visited the elegant courtyard and dashed through the branches of the magnolia trees in bloom. White petals like clouds shuddered and resisted its will. The current continued its way above the flowers, above the red roof of the mansion. A figure also mostly white was on its path. Black locks of hair danced away like ribbons, and pale feathers —covering a folded pair of large, stunning wings— ruffled against the wind. The breeze caressed a beautiful face as if it were a jade carving. The young man didn't flinch and held the book harder so the guest would not change the page he was reading.
Lan Wangji was used to winds. That day it was even refreshing and welcome, as the spring sun shone brightly over the mountains and the sky was clear of mist. He usually studied indoors, inside his study room or in the town's library, yet it wasn't an afternoon to stay between walls. So he sat on top of his house instead.
His folk had a saying: "the wind beckons." In days like that one, it truly felt as though you had to feel it over your skin, your clothes, your wings.
Then the wind not only beckoned, it also carried a call. A voice echoed, faint yet as earnest as the sunlight.
Lan Wangji took the dry pink flower from the first page and marked the place in the book where he stopped. Only then he could raise his neck and look up, right in front of him.
A black figure was coming closer and closer in the middle of the infinite blue. If Lan Wangji's bangs were already swaying, it was nothing next to the swirls of that person's long mane and the red ribbon between the strands. His breathtaking wings had feathers as dark as ink. The boy on the rooftop continued to observe in silence, raptured by the beauty of the movements, as the flier glided towards his house.
Once the other young man was close enough, he started to twirl in the air and make a couple of loops to show off his skills. Lan Wangji would have found this sort of thing pretentious in anyone else, but the playful figure managed to pry a soft smile in amusement that was quickly erased by the breeze.
Patiently, he waited until the other boy landed, black boots hopping on warm clay tiles. As he stood there and didn't tuck his characteristic wings on his back immediately, he looked like a handsome god to Lan Wangji: daredevil attitude, hands resting behind his head, sparkling gray eyes, disheveled wild hair only tied back in a half ponytail, and a cheeky grin that could make Lan Wangji's heart beat faster with no effort. The tip of his right wing was crooked, but that flaw only made him more attractive. Once their eyes met, the boy's demeanor deflated to a tenderness reserved to him only.
"Lan Zhan, good afternoon!" he said with a wider smile.
"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji called back softly, still sitting. "Good afternoon." It was more than good to him, now that Wei Wuxian was there.
In the blink of an eye, the young man had quickly lowered to peck Lan Wangji's lips as a greeting and a tease. He jumped out of his reach and walked around him in circles before the kiss could be returned properly.
"Want to stay here or should we bounce somewhere else? It's such a lovely day!"
"Let's stay for a while," Lan Wangji said after giving some thought. "And fly at dusk, when the sun is milder."
"Good idea. The sky is much prettier at sunset. That's so smart and romantic, Lan Zhan."
Wei Wuxian stopped right behind his back and fell on his knees right in the crook of the other boy's upright back. He pushed his torso against Lan Wangji's white wings as he embraced him.
"Damn, you look perfect today," Wei Wuxian whispered into Lan Wangji's ear which started to turn pink. "I'll have to ruffle you up a bit so my poor heart can take it."
He felt the already familiar sensation of Wei Ying burying his face into his plumage like an oversized pillow. Soft skin grazed even softer feathers. Those insolent lips carefully caressed every free spot in their path. Lan Wangji felt his body hotter against the burning touch and the cool wind, his chest heaving from heavy breath. He wanted him to stop. He wanted him to continue.
In the end, his restraint defeated the pleasure... for the moment. He glared from his shoulder and called his name with a tone of warning; a face emerged with an innocent-looking expression that deceived no one.
"Mmmm, but your wings are so soft!" Wei Wuxian laughed and poked Lan Wangji's scarlet earlobes before he sat down next to him with legs crossed, satisfied with himself. "And always so proper, so of course I have to mess them up a bit. Besides, you love it, I love it, we both love it."
He was right, of course. Still, that sort of thing is too shameless to do it in public, even if no one else was around. The more time they had been together in a romantic way, the more Lan Wangji was throwing his polished manners to the storm clouds.
"So how was your day, Lan Er-gege?"
"Pleasant," Lan Wangji mused while his hands pulled Wei Wuxian's red ribbon to untie and retie that messy hair into a tidier half ponytail. The cascade running through his fingers was as soft as silk. "Meditation at first hour. Guqin rehearsal and sword practice during the morning. Lunch with Brother and Uncle. Sunbathing and reading until you arrived."
"Ooh, that last one is out of your routine!" Wei Wuxian smiled.
"Mmn." He looped the ribbon into a little bow. Much better. "Tell me about your day, Wei Ying."
"I stayed up until too late last night so I woke up pretty late, like 11:00 or 12:00... Then I went flying with Jiang Cheng until we got bored. Then I poked around the kitchen for snacks until Sis threw me out. Then I experimented a little and charged my new battery prototype and listen, I only got electrocuted twice in the process! Then lunch! I wanted to see you and you weren't in the library, so I flew here!"
He loved listening to Wei Ying when he talked. His face and hands would show his feelings clear as water, and his wings would always unfold a little and twitch around in a way that was both uncivilized and adorable, no matter how much the young man tried to behave.
"I hope you brought it," Lan Wangji said and closed his book away.
"Yup! This one will even last a bit longed than the previous one. Do you want it?"
To that followed a wink. Lan Wangji let his golden eyes and the hint of a smirk in the corner of his lips be the answer. A blush showed up on Wei Wuxian's face.
"Alright, you insatiable bird."
With a shrug, Wei Ying rummaged the content of his robes' sleeve, a hum in his lips. Finally he took a small box out as big as his palm. "Tadaaaaa!" he beamed. From a little hole two strange cords hung, ending in a small round object on each side. On the front side of the object, symbols and words were printed in a foreign human language of which they barely knew a few loose words.
Lan Wangji could read the name of it: "Walkman". Wei Wuxian had renamed it one day as the "Flyman" and laughed for five good minutes. True to this, he would make use of it while soaring.
On the back side, a stone with a lightning incantation was lodged into the place where humans would insert the little cylinders they called batteries. His boyfriend was still working on a least awkward approach, but at least it was functional.
Wei Wuxian offered one of the cords to Lan Wangji, who imitated him and placed it inside his ear. A button was pushed with a clack, and the miraculous machine began to play a slow melody full of wonder and sweetness.
Lan Wangji closed his eyes, soaking in the cool breeze, the lukewarm sun, the strange human instruments, the harmonious voices, the way his beloved's head was casually lounging on his shoulder. He blindly reached to grab waist and lower wing of the other to drag him in a closer cuddle. Fingertips rested on black feathers. The beat of the songs reverberate like magic. A clear blue sky expanding above dark tresses that waltzed in the air, as if they could listen to the music as well.
He was at peace with this beautiful world. His young heart in love wished for nothing else.
Or at least until they reached the last song stored in that music tablet of many his boy had collected. It was Wei Wuxian's favorite tune. The boy started to sway outside of Lan Wangji's embrace in order to shake his head and arms and even wing tips. Even with these pods on, it was impossible not to hear his loud voice as it rose above the guqin-like guitar. Half annoyed for the end of the zen moment, a strong hand moved and pressed against an impertinent mouth.
In defiance, Wei Ying passed his tongue across Lan Wangji's fingers. As the hand didn't bulge at first he started to suck his pale skin. Unable to take the teasing anymore, Lan Zhan let him go but before the other could sing again he leaned and kissed him with passion. He heard Wei Ying moan when he bit his lower lip and lowered his dark-clad body against the red tiles.
"I can't tell if you're ruining my jam or improving it, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian laughed in earnest. His stunning wings opened seductively across the roof slopes. Lan Wangji combed each of them with a hand of his. He went against the feathers and felt the exquisite texture over his palms. The gadget fell off from his ear and his lover, between shudders by the touch, reached to put it on his free ear. After Wei Wuxian made sure the Walkman was safe inside his clothes, he reached up from below with sneaky yet affectionate hands. Skin against skin, body against body, heart against heart.
Just like the music and just like the wind, time and pleasure came and went. What remained was a beautiful man with black tousled feathers who rested on Lan Wangji's chest, wrapped by long, white, not much tidier wings.
"Lan Zhan, Lan-xiong, Lan Er-gege... I love you like crazy," Wei Wuxian sighed.
"And I adore you," Lan Wangji fumbled after he kissed Wei Ying's forehead. That word felt too mild in his mouth to describe the fire in his soul, but it was good enough for the one held by his arms and wings.
"Cool crane. Sexy swan!"
"Come on!" Wei Wuxian pouted. "You should give me an endearing nickname, too!"
"Ridiculous raven," Lan Wangji ventured with a short-lived smile.
"You're going with that? At least you could've said something flattering, like cute crow or majestic magpie." He turned around to dramatically sulk with his nose buried again in Lan Wangji's poofy wing.
But it had been a compliment: he liked Wei Ying's irreverence, his wild spirit. He shouldn't but he did, so much.
"Anyway," Wei Wuxian said after kissing the snow-like feathers three more times and letting go to fix his clothes. "Should I change cassettes and we listen to more music, or do you want to go somewhere else now?"
"You choose." Lan Wangji tied up his sash. Anything and anywhere was fine if Wei Wuxian was with him. Besides, they could bring the human machine and its melodies to every place they desired.
"Let's watch the sunset from the mountaintop, then. I have too much energy to burn today." Wei Ying sat up straight and redid Lan Zhan's half bun with expertise. "We've got time to come down before your family's back for dinner, right?"
"Mmn." Lan Zhan touched his boy's forehead with his own once his hair style was back to normal, as silent appreciation.
With bright eyes and an ever brighter smile that could rival the sun, Wei Wuxian stood up and stretched his arm towards Lan Wangji who reached it, pulled himself to his feet, and then took the chance to grab his love's fingertips and plant a kiss on his knuckles. Satisfied, Wei Wuxian chuckled and intertwined his fingers with Lan Wangji's.
"Alright, let's take off!"
They both opened their wings in synchrony and, still holding hands and not letting go, they flapped and ascended. They flew out of sight into a horizon that was starting to show hints of pink and purple and gold. A breeze flipped the pages of the book that remained forgotten on the rooftop, just above white magnolia blossoms.