When Wei Ying first saw Lan Zhan dancing, he thought he’d never seen more elegant body movements in his life. He moved like gravity and air resistance had nothing on him. Wei Ying was entranced. Wei Ying, himself, was a fair dancer, at least at parties, which admittedly didn’t require much finesse. This man, however, was definitely not the star of their university dance troupe for nothing. Rumour had it he had already got professional offers but had declined all of them. Waste of his talent in Wei Ying’s opinion.
The dance society was putting up its annual performance at the clubs fair to attract prospective students. As its most famous talent, of course Lan Zhan was given a leading role. This, however, was the first time Wei Zhan was hearing about him. Being in different departments, they had never had reason to meet and Wei Ying had always been more focused on his art.
Nie Huaisang, beside knew about all the gossip in the university circles, and was currently telling him all about Lan Zhan.
“He’s been appearing on tv shows since he was six,” Nie Huaisang was excitedly saying. “They were so sure he was gonna be an idol after he finished high school. But the Lan family is very strict about education. Old Lan Qiren said that if he is ever gonna be part of the entertainment industry, he is gonna do it as a manager or the CEO of an entertainment industry. In his words, ‘this performing business is useless’.
“That old man sounds like a piece of work,” Wei Ying did not take his eyes off Lan Zhan this whole time. The music was rising in a crescendo and his movements in intensity. Every lift of his arm, slide of his foot, even twitch of his finger, seemed perfectly calculated to the rhythm.
“Their rehearsals can be watched every Tuesday at 7pm,” Nie Huaisang said nonchalantly, rubbing at the nail polish peeling on his nails. Knowing him, it would probably warrant an expensive trip to the nail salon that very evening. Wei Ying didn’t even know if they would be closed after the fair, considering the event was going to run quite late with the different performances. But Nie Huaisang had his ways.
Wei Ying raised his eyebrows at his friend. “Why would I be interested in the dance rehearsals?”
Nie Huaisang shrugged, “I mentioned it just in case you were. There are aspects of it that can be very interesting.” His wide eyes and smile seemed innocent, but there was a quirk to his mouth that seemed suspicious.
Wei YIng stoutly chose to ignore the implication and turned back to stare as the troupe finished their dance. Once they got off the stage, a group of girls swarmed around Lan Zhan and blocked the view of him. Wei Ying had no chance to go up to him before he, himself, had to takeover the stall of the graphic design club.
Wei Ying only had one class on Tuesday morning after which he had planned on working on his upcoming project, before going out clubbing with his brother, Jiang Cheng, that night. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful dancer. Recalling what Nie Huisang had said about the rehearsals he felt the impulsive desire to check them out.( Well, to be more specific, check out one particular dancer, but he was not going to admit to that). And because he was not very good at compelling his desires, he decided, halfway through his project, to pay a visit to the university dance studio.
He had never been inside a dance studio before and it’s massive size surprised him for a moment, before he remembered that the university was well-known for its dance performances. The dance troupe, being famous nation-wide received a lot of funding for its operations and, just two years before the university had endeavoured to build a new state-of-the-art dance studio that could serve the ambitions they had for the future of their dance troupe.
The rehearsal had not yet started and the dancers were still getting ready. They were already a few onlookers gathered, no doubt friends of the performers there to cheer them on. A few, however, seemed to have come for the exact same reason that he secretly had, based on what he could overhear from their conversations. He walked over to them and put on his best flirtatious smile. On noticing him, one of the girls gave him beamed at him. He directed his attention at her, noting with satisfaction that she had big, shiny, doll eyes, that she was currently using to flutter her eyelashes at him. Pretty people with pretty eyes were exactly his type.
He gave her his biggest grin. “And what might you ladies be talking about?”
The girl with the pretty eyes, raised one perfectly arched eyebrow. “And why does this stranger wish to know?”
“Can’t I want to know what a pretty girl is talking about?” he let his mouth curved in a way that he knew girls easily fell for. The girl’s cheeks reddened at the sight.
“Mianmian, here, was just talking about how Lan Zhan had stood up for her two days ago,” one of her friends interjected. “He really is the perfect man, isn’t he? Handsome, talented, smart, noble.”
Wei Ying’s attention was diverted. “Stood up for you? And who would dare try hurt an amazing girl such as yourself?”
“You are full of flattery aren’t you?” the girl, Mianmian huffed. “Are you as courteous as your words or is it all just empty language.”
Wei Ying pressed his hand to his heart theatrically. “Pretty Mianmian, if I had been there in his place, no doubt I would have fought the entire campus to save you if I had to.”
Mianmian gave him a glare after his dramatic declaration. “Lan Zhan stopped a group of men from harassing me with just a look. I’ve never met anyone who was able to do that. He’s a man of actions more than words.”
This Lan Zhan was seemign more interesting by the minute and they hadn’t even officially met, yet.
Suddenly, a tiny squel sounded from one of the girls, that let Wei Ying know that the man of honour had arrived. Wei Ying turned to get a glimpse of him and their eyes met.
Lan Zhan’s appearance was as regal as his reputation, his movements somehow even more mesmerizing without the distraction of the cheering crowd. He walked as if he were gliding. Wei Ying wondered if his feet were even touching the ground, or that was simply an illusion cast by his mere presence. Perhaps there was truth in the girls’ words. Wei Ying, himself, for all his socializing, had never met a guy like him.
Lan Zhan seemed to stoutly ignore the evidence of his fame. He got into place to do his warm-ups without a word to either the coach or the rest of the crew. The others were already used to it judging by their lack of reaction. Despite that some of them still went up to talk to him, likely to ask him for advice about their performance. Their body language and expressions as he calmly pointed out their mistakes and demonstrated the correct techniques was proof enough of the high regard they had for him. Even though there was no change from the blank expression on his face or a hint of a smile.
This behaviour only served to intrigue Wei Ying even more. How could someone so stoic inspire so much admiration and trust in the people around him?Surely there must be more to this person then he showed everyone else. And Wei Ying desided that it fell to him to find that out.
When the rehearsal finally started, Wei Ying once again found that he couldn’t take his eyes off him. All the emotion that didn’t show on his face was clear in his movements. The passion that was absent in his expression could not be hidden when he danced. He was captivating, this man, with all his stoicism and his bubbling emotions. That is why Wei Ying could not be blamed if he took the opportunity after the rehearsal to go and talk to him. How could he stay away?
He caught up to Lan Zhan before he could go and change. “Lan Zhan! Hey, stop!”
Lan Zhan stopped and looked at him, his expression severe. Wei Ying would not be deterred. “Why are you looking at me like that? Is that not your name? Do not look so grumpy all the time. Smile won’t you?”
Lan Zhan did not smile. He simply turned away and made as if to leave. Wei Ying stepped in front of him and continued, ”Your dance just now was amazing. Well actually, even your first dance was amazing. The one at the clubs fair? You had such a huge crowd cheering for you, you know? And your fans now, they came to the rehearsal too. Aren’t you going to say anything to them?”
Lan Zhan stopped at that and gave him a long look. His eyes glittered like pieces of gold jewellery at the bottom of a shallow stream - the same colour, the same shining brilliance.
“And you,” he said. “Are you also one of them?”
Wei Ying was struck dumb for a moment. When he recovered, he grinned. “And if I were,” he leaned in. “Would you humour me?” His breath ghosted over Lan Zhan’s face and his mouth tightened.
“Shameless.” he turned away again.
“Awww Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, look at me Lan Zhan? How about I treat you to a coffee as a reward for all the hard work you’ve been putting in, hmmm?” Lan Zhan kept on walking.
Wei Ying refused to give up. “There’s a new cafe open on campus. I hear they serve really good sweet desserts.”
Lan Zhan paused. “Just one.”
So he had a sweet tooth. Wei Wuxian smiled to himself. Score one.
While the coffee shop was cozy enough, they didn’t stay long, preferring to take their orders as takeaways and walk outside while the weather was good. Lan Zhan said nothing as they walked, so Wei Yingchattered about his own life, his major, his projects, the one professor who seemed to have it out for him, Jiang Cheng’s constant nagging, all the while studiously ignoring the increasingly angry notifications on his phone. He’d have to apologize to Jiang Cheng some other time, and probably, pacify him with the offer of a drink or two. Lan Zhan, too, seemed content to ignore it as long as he did, responding to Wei Ying’s questions with short one-word answers. Wei Ying chose to believe that it was simply that he had a more reserved disposition than the alternative - he didn’t actually prefer WeiYing’s company.
He had never had trouble making friends. An extrovert by nature, he was always able to easiy understand people and get them to like him. But Lan Zhan was an enigma. On stage he was a wonder, expressing with body language the way few could even begin to express with words. Off it, he seemed almost a statue, any change in his expression so minute, that it could be easily missed. Was there no way to get any kind of reaction out of him?
Suddenly, remembering something, he had an idea. Taking a spoonful of his mango custard, he put it to Lan Wangji’s lips. “Lan Zhan say ‘Ahhhh’”
Lan Zhan started and gave him a fuming look, his golden eyes blazing. Wei Ying burst out laughing at the look. This reaction was even better than he expected. He wondered what would Mianmian and her friends think if thery saw their precious Lan Zhan make such an expression.
All of a sudden, he felt a hand grab his wrist and move it forward. When he looked, his heart almost stuttered out of his chest. Lan Zhan was pulling his hand to put the spoon in his mouth. That piercing gaze never strayed from his face. He could feel his heartbeat in the fingertips that were slowly being forward, in his throat, in his lips as the spoon neared Lan Zhan’s own. Those lips were already moist from eating and they opened slowly, so slowly. Wei Ying couldn’t breathe. Lan Zhan put the spoon in his mouth, and Wei Ying feared he was going to faint. Was this going to be the way he was going to die? Death by Lan Zhan’s lips?
Lan Zhan removed the spoon and Wei Ying tried not to gasp too audibly. His blank expression hadn’t changed one bit. That bastard. This was not supposed to be the way it was to go! Wei Ying was supposed to be the one who did the seducing! Not this expressionless guy with his beautiful dancing, and his beautiful lips, and his beautiful eyes… Damn it!! They hadn’t even known each other for a whole day.
Lan Zhan looked at the time on his watch. “It’s time for me to go,”
“Wait!” Wei Ying caught his arm before he left. “Do you want to meet again sometime?”
Lan Zhan gave him a long look. “Tomorrow,” he said.
Wei Ying caught himself before he could say anything stupid and tried to hid the remainder of his shakiness. “I had to press you for coffee and now you already want to meet so soon? Missing me already?” he teased
To his surprise Lan Zhan actually looked embarassed for a moment. His ears, barely hidden by the tips of his hair turned red. So cute! This man was going to be the death of him.
“You were the one who wanted to meet,” he pointed out.
Wei Ying had nothing to reply. He really should give more thought into what he said and did. This man was almost making him bite back his words. But, on the other hand, this was too much fun. He was certainly intriguing and full of surprises and Wei Ying was already falling for him. This had never happened in any of his previous relationships. He should really take a step back and think over what was happening.
He asked Lan Zhani for his number. Thinking was for later.
When he arrived home, he immediately reached for his ipad. Sending a quick apology to Jiang Cheng for having to cancel their night, and a promise of free drinks, he quickly got to work sketching the face and body forms from this evening. His hand couldn’t move fast enough. He replayed the video he had secretly taken on his phone repeatedly, not wanting to get a single position wrong. Not the exquisite twist of the wrist as Lan Zhan turned, nor the lines of his calf muscles as he lifted his leg, or the tilt of his head to match the rhythm. Everything had to be just right. His mind was working faster than his hand, seeing the lines in his head before he drew them. In his haste, he made many mistakes and had to redo them all over again. But he didn’t stop. The end result would be worth it.
He continued working on this for the next few weeks, perfecting every angle and position. And he continued meeting with Lan Zhan. They met nearly every day and texted every night. Even if Lan Wangji’s responses were short and to-the-point, Wei Ying learnt a lot about him. He learnt that Lan Zhan hated coffee, loved tea. That he kept a strict sleeping schedule, but was willing to stretch it to talk with Wei Ying. That his favourite colour was bright red, but everything he wore had blue. That he had an older brother whom he adored. He learnt that, on the rare ocasions that he could get Lan Zhan to smile, he had a dimple deep in his right cheek
Wei Ying, in turn, told him everything. How he was adopted by the Jiangs as a child. How terrified he was of dogs. How he loved spice, but couldn’t stand anything a bit too salty. How wonderful his Jiejie was, and how equally wonderful, (if a bit grumpy), Jiang Cheng was. How he had secretly started a youtube channel to gather a following for his art, lwst his adoptive mother finds out and tries to force him to work for a company instead.
They couldn’t get enough. There was so many things to know. The more Wei Ying found out about Lan Zhan, the deeper he fell. He was addicted to him. And based on the fact that Lan Zhan responded to every gesture he made, the feeling was mutual.
One night Wei Ying got tipsy. Try as he might he could not get Lan Zhan to drink a drop of alcohol. So he resolved to drink enough for them both and he did. In his tipsy state, he let himself lean on Lan Zhan, draping himself over his shoulders and sitting on his lap. Lan Zhani held him and didn’t move away. Further emboldened, he then leaned in until their lips were almost touching. At this distance he could see every one of Lan Zhan’s long eyelashes. There was a tiny mole hidden under his bottom lashes. Wei Ying reached up and touched it. Lan Zhan closed his eyes.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whispered, and watched in fascination as Lan Zhan’s eyes fluttered open. “Dance for me.”
Lan Wangji held his gaze. His hands at Wei Ying’s waist were a furnace, his eyes, scalding lava. Then he got up and danced. His dance was not sensual, not like the movies, but Wei Ying couldn’t take his eyes off anyway. Midway, he stood up and joined, trying to keep up with whatever rhythm and sobriety he had left. Lan Zhan caught him when he stumbled and guided his body to match the beat. Wei Ying couldn’t take it anymore. They had been dancing around each other for too long, and his feelings were getting to be too much. Unable to stop himself, he reached up and kissed him.
They were inseparable after that. Wei Ying took his hand whenever he could, and stole kisses whenever he could, and Lan Zhan let him. That is, when he wasn’t stealing kisses from Wei Ying himself. Jiang Cheng cursed at them and Mianmian glared. Wei Ying didn’t care. He had everything. He continued to sketch Lan Zhan’s dance program, working on it painstakingly whenever he had time. He didn’t say a word of this to Lan Zhan, however. This was to be a secret, hopefully a happy surprise.
A few weeks into their relationship, Wei Ying asked the question that had been plaguing him for quite some time, “Lan Zhan, don’t you ever plan to make dancing a part of your profession? You could audition fro a talent agency as an idol. With your talent, no one would be able to turn you away.”
Lan Zhan didn’t say anything for a moment. He continued playing with Wei Ying’s hair, a pasttime he had taken quite a liking to. “Uncle would be disappointed,” he said finally.
“But you can’t live your whole life just to please your uncle,” Wei Ying tried to convince him. “With your talent, it would be such a waste to just work for some company.”
Lan Zhan’s face was closed, “Being a talent manager would be the same thing.”
“Are you serious? Would it, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying wheedled. “Would it, really?
When Lan Zhan didn’t say anything, he continued, “You really love dancing. I can tell. Even before I knew you, I could tell. You are at your most expressive when you are up there on the stage. That’s when I first fell for you, you know. You outshine everyone up there. No on can take their eyes away from you”
He uprighted himself, kneeling on Lan Zhan’s bed and put his hands on Lan Zhan’s shoulders, forcing him to meet his eyes, “You are so amazing. More amazing than anyone else. You need to be dancing, Lan Zhan. You were born to dance.”
“And you’re a hard worker,” he went on. “You definitely have what it takes-”
“Enough, Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan gently pushed his hands away from his shoulders.
Wei Ying opened his mouth to argue, fully ready to stand his point, but one look at Lan Zhan’s face and he already knew his mind was set. In the time that they had gotten to know each other, he had seen firsthand how stubborn Lan Zhan could be on things, he felt were non-negotiable. He had already decided to put aside his own desires to please his family, and nothing Wei Ying could say now could persuade him. So Wei Ying decided he had to do something.
That night he pulled an all-nighter to edit the video he had been working on for the past few months. He had painstakingly drawn and then animated Lan Zhan’s rehearsal program. He had gone over each fram, comparing it with the real-life program, making sure each sequence, each angle, every movement was perfect. When he finally uploaded it, when the first rays of dawn had just started to light up the sky and his stomach was growling over the previous night’s missed dinner, he hoped it would accomplish wanted he wanted it to.
And it did. In the next few hours, the video became a sensation. It was shared over and over, passed from one person to another, liked and commented on, until it seemed like there couldn’t be anyone who hadn’t seen it. People shared it to theire social media accounts with the caption, ‘Who Is The Mystery Dancer?’. People were dying to know who the animation was based on. Over the day, the campus went wild with the news. Those who were familiar with Lan Zhan’s dancing immediately recognized his signature body movements, and his name flew from people’s mouths.
However, there was no word from the man himself. Lan Zhan did not answer his phone. He did not meet with Wei Ying. He did not answer to Wei Ying’s increasingly desperate attempts to contact him. Wei Ying was aghast. He had only hoped to help Lan Zhan. He had seen how much, not being able to dance was hurting him. He had only wanted to help him realize his dreas, even if Lan Zhan would never admit that it was his dream.
But it seemed Lan Zhan did not agree. To all of Wei Ying’s numerous platitudes, he only responded curtly that he was fine and not to worry, he would be busy and, wouldn’t be able to meet. Wei Ying didn’t know what to do. Lan Zhan had never rebuffed him like this before.
For the next few days he was angsty. He couldn’t concentrate on his assignments, he constantly made mistakes in class, so much so that one of his professors pulled him aside to ask him what was wrong with him. He called Lan Zhan in between classes, tried to visit his apartment after them. Jiang Cheng scolde him over his missing meals and his Jiejie looked over him with a worried expression.
When nearly a week had passed, Wei Ying sat outside the cafe, where he had first asked Lan Zhan out. He fiddled with his phone, wondering if he could bring himself to call Lan Zhan again. His original intention had been to buy his usual order to make up for missing lunch, but he couldn’t bring himself to do that either.
A shadow fell on the ground in front of him, blocking the light he was using to stare at Lan Zhan’s number. Looking up, he saw the face he had been dreaming of the entire week. The eyes he fell in love were still the burning liquid gold he remembered, filled with a thousand emotions as they looked at him now.
Wei Ying stood up so quickly, he almost fell over. A hand came out to steady him. He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again.
“Lan Zhan,” he began. “I am so sorry. I shoudn’t have done that. I should have respected your wishes. I won’t do it again, I promise. I- Please, I’m really sorry.”
Lan Zhan nodded. Wei Ying tried to stop himself from throwing himself at him in relief. This did not mean they were suddenly good again. He forced himself to wait in trepidation for what Lan Zhan had to say.
“I spoke to my uncle,” Lan Zhan said after a long moment. “He called me back. That’s why... I couldn’t answer your calls.”
Ah, at least it hadn’t been an intentional rejection. Wei Ying felt the rolling feeling in his stomach subside a little bit.
“What did your uncle say?” he inquired nervously. “He wasn’t angry was he? If you want, I can explain. I can tell him that it really was all my doing. You had nothing to do with it-”
Lan Zhan shook his head, and Wei Ying shut his mouth.
“He- he said I can do it.” he said slowly. Wei Ying couldn’t breathe.
“Do what?” he asked. “Lan Zhan, do what?”
“Dance,” Lan Zhan replied, a hint of a smile playing around his mouth. “We got a call from an agent, asking if I could go for an interview. He said that I could take it.”
Wei Ying gaped. When he finally processed the words, he stood up on his tiptoes, raised his arms and then, not knowing what to do with them, put them down. He walked backwards, and then turned around. Everyone was going about their day. Some were hurrying to classes, others just loitering around and chatting with friends. Few stopped to watch his strange behaviour. Lan Zhan was watching him with a fond glint in his eye that made Wei Ying’s heart soar and want to jump around even more.
“What made him change his mind?” Wei Ying grinned. “Was it my amazing animation skills?”
At the look Lan Zhan gave him, he said, “Yes, yes, yes. I know, I know. I won’t do it again.” He smirked. “Unless you become a star and I can make videos to prove how wonderful my boyfriend is. You can’t blame me for wanting to brag.”
At the embarassed frown on lan Zhan’s face and the reddening of his ears, Wei Ying laughed. He threw his arms around him and leaned his chin on Lan Zhan’s chest. Those eyes did not leave his face. Wei Ying felt something in his chest clench. Those eyes that showed everything his face could not. Pretty eyes. His Lan Zhan was a pretty person with such pretty eyes and an even more beautiful heart. Did he ever have a choice in falling in love with him?
“Lan Er-gege,” he smiled. “Are we good?”
Lan Zhan nodded, a soft look on his face. Wei Ying beamed.
“Then,” he purred. “Since we are here at this cafe where we had our first date, do you want to have another?” He tilted his head, his smile widening. “It’s on me. We’ll even get that custard you like. I’ll feed you”
Lan Zhan leaned in and kissed him, soft and sweet. Then Wei Ying took his hand and led him inside.