Wei WuXian carried a bunny in his arms and blood on his uniform. Lan XiChen felt his heart skip a beat. “Are you alright?” he asked when he caught up to him.
But he only gave him an irritated gaze. “It isn’t my blood.” The small black bunny in his arms squirmed slightly and left a dark patch on his uniform. “It’s gonna be alright,” Wei WuXian promised the small animal and opened the door to the Jingshi. “Lan Zhan, thank the heaven’s you’re here. Do you have a blanket that can get dirty?”
Lan XiChen did the only sensible thing he could think of and closed the door behind Wei WuXian.
The next time he saw Wei WuXian with the bunny, there was a white one too. Both nestled on Lan WangJi’s lap, Wei WuXian leaning against his shoulder, petting them.
“WangJi, Young Master Wei,” he greeted them.
Wei WuXian looked up. “Oldest brother Lan,” he greeted back with a big smile. “Look how well LianLian is doing and meet YueYue.” The bunnies ears rose when they heard the names, but Lan WangJi offered them a bit grass and they relaxed again.
“You gave them names?” Lan XiChen asked.
“They’ve been living with us for two weeks now, they deserved names,” he stated and leaned back against Lan WangJi’s shoulder. “They might need to stay a little longer before we can give them a proper home outside again. Someone shot an arrow at LianLian…”
Lan XiChen’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Killing is forbidden in Gusu.”
Wei WuXian nodded. “That’s the thing: The killing blow wasn’t delivered. She was just left with half an arrow in her leg. A predator would probably have killed her before the injury would have. She might never jump normally again.” His hand caressed her black fur and she leaned into his touch.
“I will talk with uncle about it,” he promised.
Wei WuXian might be an adult mentally, but he was still—just a brother who loved his siblings with every fiber of his being. So, when he heard Jin ZiXuan bad mouth Jiang YanLi, he was willing to commit murder.
But someone held him back. “Let go of me,” he spoke and SuiBian quivered without him touching it.
“Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi spoke gently. “Calm.”
“He’s bad-mouthing Shijie and you expect me to calm down?!” he lashed out at him, and Lan WangJi’s grip around his waist only tightened. “Let me GO!!”
“What is going on here?” Lan QiRen’s sharp voice carried to his ears. “WangJi?”
Lan WangJi pulled Wei WuXian closer to his body, opening his mouth to answer when Jiang WanYin beat him to it. “Jin ZiXuan insulted our sister,” he told him, his hands cramped into fists.
“XiChen,” he spoke after a short moment of consideration, “Bring Wei WuXian to the waterfall to meditate.”
“Of course, uncle,” he answered and approached them, and Wei WuXian ripped himself in a picture of pure fury free. Eyes blood red, energy jumping over his hands, sword almost unsheathing without even being drawn. The look he threw at Lan WangJi froze the blood in Lan XiChen’s veins. “Young Master Wei,” he said curtly and gripped his wrist before forcefully pulling him out of the room and to the waterfall – before Wei WuXian could have said something that might have hurt Lan WangJi.
And then Wei WuXian sat under the waterfall, arms crossed. “He doesn’t deserve Shijie,” Wei WuXian spoke after a while. Lan XiChen looked up at him. “The peacock is arrogant and flirts with all girls he finds pretty even though he’s engaged to Shijie.”
“What is your relationship with Maiden Jiang?” Lan XiChen asked slowly.
Wei WuXian laughed brokenly. “She’s the first person who accepted me for being me after uncle Jiang picked me up from the streets.” He almost heard the lingering question in the air. “After my parents died, I lived on the streets of Yilling for a few years, eating what others threw away and fighting with dogs for scraps of food. Going hungry most days.” He shrugged. “But uncle Jiang was looking for the child of… the woman he loved and his best friend. I don’t know who he sees more in me, but I don’t think I’ve ever been something else to him than the child of my parents. Madam Yu hates me for it. She hated my mother for stealing uncle Jiang’s heart. She hates me because he gives me more attention than Jiang Cheng.” He looked up into the sky, the water dragging his hair down, the braid dissolving. “Shijie was the first person who loved me for being me—just for being her little brother. She’s the first person who made me feel like I deserved to be loved in a long while. She’s the reason Jiang Cheng views me as a brother too even though it’s my fault he had to give up his dogs.” He made a noise of frustration. “I don’t care about my life as long as Shijie is happy. She deserves so much better than a cheating ass of a fiancé. He doesn’t even realize how much his behavior hurts her and nobody ever calls him out on it because he’s a future sect leader.”
Lan XiChen approached him and put a hand on his shoulder. “I believe he’ll get called out on his behavior this time. He broke our rules after all.” Wei WuXian finally looked at him, wonder in his eyes. “Can you forgive WangJi for holding you back?”
Wei WuXian chuckled at his request. “I could never stay mad at Lan Zhan,” he told him. “He probably just held me back so I wouldn’t get kicked out of the Cloud Recess. So, I would thank him if ‘thank you’s weren’t unnecessary between us.” Lan XiChen let go of the breath he hadn’t been aware he had been holding. “Shijie would be so disappointed if I returned home early because of her!”
Lan XiChen smiled at him. “I think, meditation is the only punishment you get. Jin ZiXuan’s punishment will be harsher.”
He grinned and settled into the proper position. “Alright! Then I’ll snitch on him every time, he breaks a rule.” Lan XiChen smiled and watched Wei WuXian meditating.
Eventually, Lan WangJi wordlessly sat down on the stone next to him. Lan XiChen offered him a smile in greeting and he nodded back. Only when the sun started to set, he softly called out to Wei WuXian whose gaze immediately snapped to him.
“Lan Zhan!” he greeted cheerfully and jumped towards them before being pulled into a tight hug. “You aren’t mad, right?”
“Never. Never at Wei Ying.” He answered nuzzling into Wei WuXian’s wet hair and stilled. “Warm.”
“I think it’s super cold,” Wei WuXian complained softly. “I’ll take a long warm bath when we get home! And then we can—”
Lan WangJi shook his head. “Healer first. Fever.”
Wei WuXian blinked, and Lan XiChen looked surprised at them. “But I’m feeling fine?”
“WangJi?” Lan XiChen asked, and his brother gave him enough space so he could press his hand on Wei WuXian’s forehead, his eyes narrowed. “Why didn’t you say anything? You’re burning up…”
Lan WangJi rose to his feet, Wei WuXian cradled in his arms like the most precious treasure. Lan XiChen thought that maybe he was exactly that to Lan WangJi.
This time, Wei WuXian didn’t struggle, but just leaned closer to Lan WangJi.
The healer looked up when Lan WangJi stepped into the ward, carrying a dripping wet Wei WuXian into the ward like a princess. He narrowed his eyes when he approached them. “What happened?”
“Meditation,” Lan WangJi explained. “Fever is back.”
“That’s what he says,” Wei WuXian interrupted. “I feel fine. I felt fine last time too.” He looked at the healer. “I really don’t get sick.”
“Put him on a bed,” the healer requested. “Do you think you can get him dry clothes?”
Lan WangJi nodded and put Wei WuXian on one of the beds. Suddenly the door was ripped open and Jiang WanYin stepped into the room, eyes zooming in on Wei WuXian. “Wei WuXian,” he spoke, something like a threat in his voice. “Tell someone when you feel sick.” Then he dumped clothes for him at the end of the bed.
“Thank you, Jiang Cheng,” Wei WuXian told him, “But that’s the problem: I don’t feel sick.”
The healer pressed his hand on Wei WuXian’s forehead again. “Nothing at all?”
Wei WuXian shook his head. “Which means there are two possibilities and one of them is impossible…” He buried his face in his hands. “The other is impossible too.” He looked up at the healer who didn’t seem to be following him. “I’ll take a bath, get dressed and then we’re doing this. I need a moment to think.”
“What are you thinking of?” the healer asked when Wei WuXian rose to his feet. “What is this a symptom of?”
“I’ll share with the class after I’m dry,” Wei WuXian answered with a finality the healer didn’t expect. “I’ll use your bath tube alright, Lan Zhan? The Jingshi is closest.”
Lan WangJi nodded and took the clothes Jiang WanYin had dumped on the bed. “I’ll draw you a bath.”
Wei WuXian grinned. “You’re the best Lan Zhan!”
The half-hour the bath and getting dressed took for him, turned everything to the worse. When Wei WuXian stepped back in the healer’s ward, the earlier empty beds now occupied. Wei WuXian’s eyes widened. “Where do you want me to start?” he called over the pained moans.
“Anywhere is fine!” the healer called back, and Wei WuXian took a look around.
Lan WangJi pulled on his sleeve and nodded towards a feverish man. “JingYi’s father,” he whispered.
Wei WuXian nodded and stepped over to the bed. “Corpse poisoning,” he mumbled and pressed his hand on his sweaty forehead. “Lan Zhan, the antidote in the Jingshi,” he said in hushed tones and Lan WangJi nodded, disappearing through the door. Wei WuXian’s eyes lit up and black sparks surrounded his hand when he pulled the resentful energy away from the heart. But without ChenQing or WangXian he was even more limited in his abilities. He bit on his lip and pulled more, but the resentful energy only slowed in his way to the heart.
“WangJi!” he heard someone call and his husband was back next to him holding out the antidote Wei WuXian had worked on and he took it with his free hand, ripping the cork out with his teeth before feeding the concoction to Lan JingYi’s father.
He ground his teeth more. Feeling the resentful energy dissipating, but not fast enough. Not again, he thought, he wouldn’t let Lan JingYi grow up as an orphan again. There was a hand pulling on his shoulder, but Wei WuXian stayed. There was still light.
“Sometimes all people need is a little push in the right direction,” a woman dressed in white told him with a kind smile. Warmth. Light. A little push.
Wei WuXian pushed.
White fire. The resentful energy dissipated as if it had never been there in the first place.
“Wei Ying!” Lan WangJi called his name.
All strength left his body and he could only smile when Lan WangJi’s arms closed around him.
When his eyes fluttered, he felt cold. “Lan Zhan,” he mumbled. “Lan Zhan.” A gentle hand brushed hair from his face. “Lan Er-gege. Come back to bed…”
The warm hand stayed on his cheek, soon joined by warm breath. “It’s time to wake up, Wei Ying,” he whispered into his ear and Wei WuXian reached out to pull him closer until he kissed him. Lan Zhan kissed him back, so gentle Wei WuXian wanted to melt into the touch. “Wake up, Wei Ying.”
Wei WuXian opened his eyes to gaze into the golden eyes of his beloved and pulled on the ribbon, before leaning up for another kiss. “Good morning, Lan Zhan,” he whispered, fluttering his eyes. His hand wandering to Lan WangJi’s shoulder blades, the ribbon still tangled with his fingers. “Are you sure, you don’t want to come back to bed,” he mumbled with half-lidded eyes, his breathing tickling Lan WangJi’s ear. “You can have me any way you want…” he promised and all he could think about was being tied up and pinned to the bed by his husband.
Lan WangJi took a shuddering breath. “Not now, Wei Ying,” he told him and sat back up.
“Lan Zhan…?” he mumbled crestfallen and looked up, seeing another person standing behind Lan WangJi. His gaze wandered and he tensed. “Good morning…?”
“It’s seven in the evening,” Jiang WanYin hissed from where he stood with crossed arms. “And that was something I absolutely didn’t want to see again!”
“Again?” the healer mumbled with raised eyebrows.
It was that moment that Lan QiRen snapped. “Absolutely shameless,” he spoke, and Wei WuXian flinched. “When XiChen mentioned that the two of you were courting I believed it was just that.”
Lan WangJi tensed and pulled his forehead ribbon off before tying it around Wei WuXian’s head. The healer’s eyes widened. “Fancy you,” he told Wei WuXian whose eyes widened at the declaration, “Love you, want you, cannot leave you, do not want anyone but you, it cannot be anyone but you...”
Wei WuXian could feel his cheeks warm at his words and he pressed their foreheads together. He took a shaky breath and repeated the oath he hadn’t spoken out aloud in this time yet. “What you say to me, what you do for me, I’ll remember all of them—I won’t forget a single thing. You’re really great. I like you. Or in other words, I fancy you, I love you, I want you, I can’t leave you, I whatever you. I want to night-hunt with you for the rest of my life.” He took a shaky breath and let go of Lan WangJi, face red. But he put three fingers together, pointing at the sky, the earth and finally his heart. “And I want to sleep with you every day.” There was a startled noise from their onlookers, but Wei WuXian ignored it. “I swear it’s not the heat of the moment or joking around like I’ve done in the past. I’m not doing it out of gratitude either. Anyways, it’s not because of anything else. I really just like you so much I want to sleep with you. I don’t want anyone but you, it can’t be anyone but you. You can do anything you want to me, however you like it. I’ll accept everything, as long as you’re willing to…”
There was a soft smile on Lan WangJi’s lips as he leaned in to kiss him.
Lan QiRen spluttered. But the healer’s eyes lit up in understanding. “That makes sense,” he muttered.
Wei WuXian laughed embarrassed. “Sorry, we normally aren’tthat open with our relationship…”
“No,” the healer said. “Not that. That you’ve had feelings for each other was obvious. But if you’ve practiced dual cultivation before—and after you woke up from the… the holy cultivation, wasn’t it?” Wei WuXian inclined his head trying to make sense of what the healer was rambling about. “Which would have resulted in your spiritual energy being disorganized. The obvious choice for your body would be to seek out the Cultivation Partner for stability.”
It took a moment, but then Wei WuXian asked, “What exactly is Holy cultivation?”
“What…” the healer started, “What do you think you did with Master Lan?”
Wei WuXian looked at his hand and thought of all the things he’d rather do with Lan WangJi than having this discussion right now. “I couldn’t stop the resentful energy,” he mumbled, “It hurt, so I pushed the light…?” He narrowed his eyes, remembering the woman dressed in white. “Who…?”
“Wei Ying?” Lan WangJi asked, concerned.
“Who is Lan Mei?” he mumbled, his head feeling like it might explode.
He was standing on a mountain with a boy and a girl, they were smiling, pulling him along. White robes fluttered. He laughed with them.
Lan QiRen’s eyebrows shot up. “Where have you heard that name?”
He ran up the street of the fast-growing village that was just beneath Gusu. He laughed as his brother chased him. Lan Mei chuckled at their antics, his sister helped to carry the groceries.
He was just a small child when he wandered through a burning city. A foul stench in the air. His robes black with ash. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The flames were too hot, but there was a chill in his soul.
“Wei Ying?” Lan WangJi’s voice reached his ears. He was wiping away his tears. Jiang WanYin had crawled on the bed to him and put a hand on his shoulder.
“What’s going on, Wei WuXian?” he asked. “What is going on with you?”
“YilingWei was burned down,” he muttered and wrapped his arms around himself. “Lan Mei… Wei Li…” He blinked. “Hidden in plain sight. Lan—”
“Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi called out and pulled him close. “Save.”
Wei WuXian took a shaky breath and nodded, wrapping his arms around Lan WangJi’s shoulders. “Save,” he agreed. “Can you bring me home?”
Lan WangJi nodded and picked him up. “Always.” Wei WuXian’s fingers held onto his uniform as if he was scared, he might disappear and leave him behind.
If anyone saw the white ribbon still tied around Wei WuXian’s forehead and missing on Lan WangJi’s nobody said anything.
Wei WuXian was already panting when he fell onto the bed. “You know, everyone knows what we’re going to do tonight,” Wei WuXian laughed and pressed into Lan WangJi’s touch. “And you know what? I want to make up every single Everyday we ever had to skip for whatever reason today. What do you think, Lan Zhan?”
Lan WangJi’s eyes darkened with lust and Wei WuXian laughed.
Jiang WanYin dropped in the free place next to his brother. “You look like you didn’t sleep at all,” he told him. “And what’s up with your hair? No braiding today?”
Wei WuXian grinned easily. “I don’t think I slept at all,” he agreed, “And to tell the truth, Lan Zhan is terrible at YunmengJiang style braids. So, I’m gonna be messily handsome today.”
“Are you feeling better?” he asked, putting his hand on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder. “You were pretty done yesterday.”
He leaned against his brother. “Sorry, didn’t want to worry you. How did the whole thing with the peacock go? Nobody told me.”
Jiang WanYin grinned back. “He has to copy Conduct ten times for speaking like this when we could hear it – Harmony is the value – because it could only have been meant as a provocation. I heard it’s quite long.” Wei WuXian nodded. “And he has to write a ten-page long letter to A-Jie apologizing for his words because you shouldn’t take your words lightly.” Wei WuXian nodded again, smiling slightly.
“Shijie will be pleased with the letter,” he told him, “Because for whatever reason she likes him.”
Jiang WanYin nodded. “I’d like to know that reason too. Right, he also isn’t allowed in Caiyi town nor is he allowed to mingle with the female apprentices for the duration of his stay.” He shrugged. “Don’t remember what rules that were.”
Wei WuXian blinked. “Probably a mixture of ‘Be respectful and humble’ considering how much he spends every time he leaves for Caiyi town, ‘Stop the bad habits’ and ‘Be loyal’,” he mused.
Jiang WanYin nodded towards Lan WangJi. “You should thank your… fiancé for standing up for you yesterday. It might have gone into a completely different direction otherwise.”
Wei WuXian shook his head. “There is no need for ‘Thank you’s and ‘Sorry’s between Lan Zhan and me,” he smiled. “I hope everything works out in the end for Shijie…” He bit his lip and suddenly Lan WangJi’s hand was on his face.
“Stop that,” he chided.
“Yeah,” Jiang WanYin agreed. “You bit it so much yesterday it was gushing blood.”
Wei WuXian grinned. “I never thought, I’d hear the two of you agree. That’s so nice.” The door opened and Wei WuXian sat down properly as Lan QiRen walked through the rows of students to the front of the class.