“You— I can’t believe this! You literally ruined everything!”
“Me?! You were the one in my way!”
“Everyone, calm down...”
Why was there so much noise? Wei Wuxian took a curious peak at the door. The shouting behind it did not cease. So much commotion in the Cloud Recesses, in front of their precious Hanguang-Jun’s Jingshi of all places? These Lan Sect disciples were truly becoming more and more shameless with each passing day. Wei Wuxian couldn’t help but laugh to himself. Good! The GusuLan Sect was too stuffy anyways. A little rowdiness was necessary to keep things lively. Yet, he couldn’t help but feel curious. Fixing his robes, he quickly trotted over to open the door. He crossed his arms and wore a stern expression, pretending to scold the juniors.
“Noise is not permitted on the Cloud Recesses, you are all lucky that Hanguang-Jun isn’t here!”
The juniors all froze, and for a moment, Wei Wuxian had to pause as well. The scene in front of him was definitely...out of the ordinary.
There was Jin Ling, his face red with anger. In front of him laid a broken bowl with noodles splattered all around. Then there was Lan Jingyi, his pristine robes were tainted with bright red and orange splatters. Lastly, stood Lan Sizhui who could only wear a bitter smile, looking as though his soul left through his eyes. To say Wei Wuxian was amused would be an understatement. He smirked briefly before letting out a dramatic gasp.
“Sneaking food around? And Jingyi, what happened to your clothes? Just how many rules have you all broken today? Surely you’re not out here trying to break my record! You really are lucky that Hanguang-Jun isn’t here right now! Had he been here, you would be doing handstands and be copying all the Sect Rules by this point!” He teased. The Juniors on the other hand looked as though they had seen a ghost. Lan Jingyi was the first to speak up.
“It’s not my fault! This Young Mistress crashed into me and ruined my clothes!”
“Who are your calling ‘Young Mistress’, I’m the LanlingJin Sect’s leader now! Treat me with more respect! And I wouldn’t have bumped into you if had shut up like I told you to!” Jin Ling fumed.
“You were the one picking fights! If you’re such a sect leader, then take responsibility for dropping the bowl!”
The two boys glared at each other, almost as if they would pull out their swords and start a duel at any moment. Wei Wuxian was about to open his mouth to say something until Lan Sizhui (luckily) beat him to it.
“Please excuse us, Senior Wei. We did not mean to disturb you.” He spoke softly with a polite bow. Wei Wuxian couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. What a good boy! So polite! Lan Sizhui continued, “The noodles...they were actually for...”
As Sizhui spoke, he noticed a single noodle hanging off of Jingyi’s robe. Curiously, he picked off the single noodle and decided to take an experimental taste.
“What are you doing?! That’s so gross!” Jin Ling gasped with disgust. The taste was actually quite good, spicy in fact, much to his own surprise.
“Wow, this is actually pretty tasty! Just the right amount of heat! I thought you kids didn’t like spicy food? Did you finally get tired of the bland food here? Or had my spicy congee inspired you to expand your tastes! Did you make this yourselves?” Wei Wuxian, grinned.
“I still have nightmares about the congee...” Lan Jingyi grimaced quietly.
“We had help!” Lan Sizhui added with a smile. “And Senior Wei, these noodles were actually for you!”
It was now Wei Wuxian’s turn to be stunned. For him? Why for him all of a sudden? The juniors all looked at him expectantly, he could only blink in confusion.
“Me?- Why? What is the occasion?...” he asked curiously. This time, the boys stood in confusion. Lan Sizhui parted his lips, but Jin Ling was faster.
“I knew that you were an idiot but even you can’t possibility be this big of one,” The younger boy in gold huffed. How rude! Wei Wuxian pouted lightly, crossing his arms once again. Lan Sizhui nudged Jin Ling as Lan Jingyi began to speak.
“Senior Wei, you couldn’t have actually forgotten, could you?” The younger Lan questioned almost sadly. Seeing the boy’s grim expression, Wei Wuxian felt his heart strings tug. What did he forget? With a slight frown, he looked at the noodles once, his eyes widened slightly. These were longevity noodles— which means that— wait, what was today’s date again?
It finally clicked. It must’ve been clear in his expression because Lan Sizhui was the first to brighten up.
“Happy Birthday, Senior Wei!”
That was it. It was his birthday wasn’t it? There was a sudden warmth creeping up in his chest, a warmth that would surely make his heart burst. Without another thought, a genuinely happy smile graced his features.
These boys— these little brats, how did they find out? Somehow, he had an inkling that a certain Hanguang-Jun had something to do with it.
“So that’s what this is about!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed with a soft laugh. Lan Jingyi seemed to cheer up too, even Jin Ling looked a little relieved. He didn’t remember the last time he really celebrated his birthday, then again, there was a lot of things he didn’t remember. “These are longevity noodles, right?” Wei Wuxian inquired as he pointed down at the noodles in the grass. Lan Jingyi nodded eagerly.
“Yes! We wanted to wish you a long and happy life but...” the younger Lan turned to sent a small scowl at Jin Ling. “Someone had to go and drop it!” Jin Ling only scowled back.
“I-“ the boy started defensively before letting out a defeated sigh. “I’m...sorry...” Wei Wuxian blinked before smiling fondly. Wishing the nefarious Yiling Patriarch a long and happy life, he found it somehow ironic. He reached out to gently ruffle Jin Ling’s hair.
“Hahaha! Jin Ling, you are becoming so mature! Taking responsibly like that! I’m so proud! Though it would’ve been nice to eat those noodles...” he teased. Jin Ling was quick to swat his hand away.
“You!- Don’t touch me you idiot!-“ he huffed. Lan Sizhui simply smiled.
“We can make another bowl.”
“Yeah! Jin Ling, this time you better not just stand there!”
“I wasn’t just standing there, I was just making sure that you weren’t going to mess up!”
Wei Wuxian watched as the Juniors argued before lightly waving his hand.
“It’s fine, it’s fine! There’s no need to go through the trouble of making another bowl. I’m touched that you all even made one to begin with it,” It was true. Of all things, he hadn’t really expected the children to come surprise him on his birthday, especially when it slipped his own mind. It made his heart do all sorts of flips, but Lan Sizhui was adamant.
“Senior Wei, it’s no trouble at all. This is something we want to do,” The boy wore a sunny smile. “Senior Wei has done a lot for us. Protected us, took care of us— we want to do something for you too.”
Lan Jingyi chimed in right after.
“You’re not as scary as the stories make you out to be. You’re a little weird, but you’re still pretty cool too!” Wei Wuxian stood quietly, his heart filled a plethora of new emotions. He was quite used to being cursed and reviled. The Yiling Patriarch had committed all sorts of atrocities after all. He got used to it, maybe at some point he started expecting it.
Sometimes, he forgets that despite being so reviled, not everybody felt that way. Sometimes, he didn’t quite understand why.
Jin Ling stood quietly, his fist clenching and unclenching as if he wanted to say something.
“You!...” he started off, his face slightly scrunched up as if it pained him to speak. “You are not particularly bad.” Wei Wuxian felt his heart clench. Jin Ling should’ve been the one to hate him the most.
“Young Man, you are not particularly bad yourself.” He teased with a shaky voice. Dammit. Was he really getting so emotional in front of the kids? Because of the kids? Since when had be become so soft?
It happened so quickly. Maybe it was the shakiness in his voice. Maybe it was the way his eyes were glistening. Lan Sizhui did something quite impulsive. Much to Wei Wuxian’s surprise, the elder Lan threw his arms around him, hugging him tightly.
“Happy Birthday, Senior Wei.”
For a moment he was shocked, and perhaps, he shouldn’t have been. This was his A-Yuan after all, right? The same A-Yuan who used to cling to his Xian Gege’s leg. Lan Jingyi was next, shouting happily as he crashed into Wei Wuxian, hugging him as well.
“Happy Birthday, Senior Wei!”
His lower lip trembled. He cautiously brought his gaze to meet Jin Ling’s. The petulant boy wore a conflicted expression, one that screamed “Don’t you dare think I’m joining in”. And yet, not even a moment later, another pair of arms clung to him hesitantly. He almost missed the soft mumble coming from the boy.
If Wei Wuxian wasn’t feeling emotional before, he was surely being stabbed by all sorts of emotions now. So warm, he thought to himself. He felt so warm. He wrapped his own arms around the children, hugging them close to him. He closed his eyes, memories of Shijie’s pork rib and lotus root soup filled his mind. He could practically hear Jiang Cheng whine grumpily about how unfair it was that they were celebrating their birthday’ together because the dates were so close. Madame Yu would be scolding him, you’re getting older now! Don’t even thinking about fooling around! Then there was Uncle Jiang, always looking at him with the kindest smile.
When he opened his eyes, he hadn’t even realized the few stray tears that fell down his cheeks.
“Thank you.” He whispered quietly.
He was used to being cursed. He was used to being hated. He was used to being reviled. He was alright with it. He never asked for forgiveness, because how could he? But this warm feeling— this feeling of being so loved, was precious. These children were precious. He hadn’t realized how much he missed this sort of feeling.
The Juniors let got moments later, each wearing a fond smile. He couldn’t help but smile back fondly. Shameless children, he wanted to say. Instead, Wei Wuxian crouched to the ground, looking at the mess of noodles.
“Ah! Hopefully all these noodles are still intact. You all do know what happens if a longevity noodle is cut, right?” He smiled slyly, his voice full of mischief. The boys stood quietly, unsure of what he meant until Lan Jingyi shouted in panic.
“If they get cut, your life span will shorten!” Wei Wuxian whistled before grinning. “Congratulations! You are correct!” Jin Ling suddenly paled.
“T-That’s just a superstition right? It c-can’t actually happen, right?” The flustered boy stuttered. Wei Wuxian simply shrugged, finding it way too fun to tease the boys. Of course, Lan Sizhui had a solution.
“Then we will surely make another bowl, this one won’t count!”
“Let’s make another bowl then! Jin Ling, you better help out!”
“I was helping out before! And you- change your clothes first!”
“Let’s go, let’s go!”
Wei Wuxian watched as the boys ran off, Lan Sizhui turned to look back at him once more with a gentle smile.
“Please wait for us, Senior Wei, we’ll be back soon.”
Wei Wuxian smiled back.
“I’ll be right here.”
“Lan Zhan, were you the one you told the children it was my birthday?” Wei Wuxian inquired his husband later that afternoon. Lan Wangji had arrived back into their Jingshi not too long ago and Wei Wuxian was buzzing with curiosity. The taller man looked at him, his beautiful face was seemingly expressionless.
Wei Wuxian jutted out his lower lip. He lazily approached his husband, his arms languidly draping around Lan Wangji’s neck.
“Why bother? It’s not that important of a thing.”
He felt a pair of strong arms circle around his waist. Someone else might think that Lan Wangji was wearing a cold and uncaring expression, but Wei Wuxian could see the softness and the sincerity in his light colored eyes. Even now, it still made his heart skip a couple beats.
“It is important.” Lan Wangji stated as if it were a fact. Wei Wuxian tilted his head, waiting for Lan Wangji to explain. “It is important because you were born,” Lan Wangji assured with a small smile. Lan Wangji didn’t smile often, but when he did, Wei Wuxian swore the world stopped just for one moment. His heart melted each time.
“Lan Zhan! How can you say something so cheesy? You’re making my heart beat so fast! You must take responsibility for this!” Wei Wuxian whined playfully. Lan Wangji nodded.
“Will do, tonight.”
“Huh?-“ Wei Wuxian almost choked. “Lan Zhan, how can you be so shameless?!” Without a response, Lan Wangji hugged him close. Wei Wuxian buried his face into his shoulder. The world cursed the day the Yiling Patriarch was born but this beautiful person in front of him was thankful for it. His heart was really going to burst.
“The Juniors made me a bowl of noodles to surprise me, you know? I was so shocked. Did you perhaps tell them to?” Wei Wuxian asked, his fingers playing with Lan Wangji’s inky, long hair. There was a moment of silence.
“I only told them the date of your birth. Whatever they did after was out of their own will.”
He smiled softly into Lan Wangji’s shoulders, feel the warmness wash over him once again. In the end, the Juniors came back with another bowl of noodles, Wei Wuxian happily gobbled it up with the three boys as company. It was nothing out of the ordinary, but knowing that the kids had made it with such sweet intentions somehow made it taste like the best bowl of noodles he ever had.
“They are good kids.”
“They like you very much.”
Wei Wuxian pulled away to look at Lan Wangji, the man seemed to be wearing a somewhat satisfied expression.
“Say, Lan Zhan...” Wei Wuxian began, “Where have you been all morning? You didn’t tell me earlier!” Lan Wangji let go of his wrist and began to fish out something from his sleeves. He pulled out a few pouches. Inside, they were full with all sorts of sweets and candies. Wei Wuxian’s eyes widened.
“You snuck in sweets into the Cloud Recesses? How bold of you, Second Master Lan! Aren’t they prohibited unless it’s a special occasion?”
Lan Wangji nodded. “Today is a special occasion.” Once again, Wei Wuxian felt is heart melt completely. He really, really loved Lan Wangji. Really loved him. Loved him so, so much.
Lan Wangji handed him a pouch, but Wei Wuxian grabbed his wrist instead, pulling him for a gentle kiss. His expression was bright.
“You and the kids— breaking the rules for me! I’ve become such a bad influence on you all!” Wei Wuxian laughed.
“If it’s for you, it’s okay.” Lan Wangji smiled softly, gently placing a hand against his cheek. Wei Wuxian’s breath hitched. So sincere. This time, he couldn’t hold himself back. Wei Wuxian hugged Lan Wangji’s neck and peppered sweet little kisses all over his face.
“You make me so happy.” He whispered quietly against Lan Wangji’s skin. The other’s arms were back around his waist. They stood together like this for a few moments, enjoying each other’s warmth and embrace. Wei Wuxian was first to break the silence.
“Lan Zhan, can we go to Caiyi Town today?”
“Just the two of us?”
“Will you drink with me?”
Lan Wangji’s expression seemed a little conflicted. Wei Wuxian bursted out laughing.
“Lan Zhan! You’re too cute! You don’t have to drink with me if you don’t want to!”
Their eyes locked and Lan Wangji spoke again.
“I will drink with you.”
Wei Wuxian blinked before grinning. He brought up his hand to lightly pinch Lan Wangji’s cheek.
“Lan Zhan, I love you so much.” He felt a pair of lips against his forehead.
“Love you too.” Again, the two of them were enveloped into a comfortable silence.
“Wei Ying.” Wei Wuxian looked up at Lan Wangji.