Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan drop by Wei Wuxian’s apartment one fine Saturday afternoon to cheerfully deposit little Jin Ling into Wei Wuxian’s arms. To his credit, Wei Wuxian answers the door like normal and greets his older sister and her husband very casually, like everything is fine, not like he’d been about to transform into his superhero persona so he could avoid traffic on the way to his appointment.
“Hi, good afternoon jiejie, peacock husband, what brings you here today?” He says, surreptitiously trying to hide the glowing green miraculous on his finger from view as best as he can with Jin Ling in his arms.
“Don’t call me that.” Jin Zixuan grumbles. Wei Wuxian ignores him in favor of grinning nervously at Jiang Yanli. He swears he can hear his kwami laughing at him from wherever he hid himself.
“Hello, A-Ying! You… didn’t forget you had to babysit A-Ling today or anything like that, did you?” Jiang Yanli asks sweetly. “You remembered we were busy today, right?”
Behind her, Jin Zixuan rolls his eyes and glares at Wei Wuxian like the overprotective peacock husband he is. Between the two of them, Wei Wuxian quickly decides, Jiang Yanli is the more terrifying. Jin Ling winds his arms tighter around his uncle’s neck and Wei Wuxian coughs.
“Of course not! How could I ever forget about A-Ling? I’m the best uncle, I would never! Right, A-Ling?” Wei Wuxian bluffs. He didn’t forget, per se, he just… forgot to check his calendar while making the appointment with the wax museum to make another mold of his arm, and by the time he realized he’d agreed to look after Jin Ling that day, it was too late. By which he means it was literally thirty seconds ago that he realized this. Not like he can tell his wonderful jiejie that, though.
Well. He’s a champ at multitasking, or so he’d like to think, if his double life as a superhero is any evidence. Taking a 6-year old to a wax museum? No big deal, not for Wei Wuxian.
Jin Ling pouts. “Xiaojiu says he’s the best uncle.”
So this is what Jiang Cheng tells Jin Ling when he’s not around, huh. Well, he won’t stand for that! Jin Ling is an impressionable toddler, after all, he’s got to take this chance to solidify his place as the absolute best uncle in Jin Ling’s mind. “What! Don’t listen to your xiaojiu, listen to your dajiu! I’m the best, jiejie, tell your kid I’m the best uncle!”
Instead of resolving this extremely important issue, Jiang Yanli presses a kiss to the top of Jin Ling’s head and beams at them. She even ignores Wei Wuxian’s pouting and subtle hintings that no, stupid Jiang Cheng is the worse uncle, and dajiu is the best, most fun, greatest uncle ever. Jin Zixuan snickers.
“Whoever A-Ling thinks is the best uncle is the best uncle.” Jiang Yanli says. “Ah, we’ve got to go now, A-Ling, be nice to your dajiu, okay?”
“A-Ling, who do you think is the best uncle?” Wei Wuxian says, in lieu of saying goodbye to the peacock husband, who has been steadily inching his way away from Wei Wuxian’s apartment door. “A-Liiiiing.”
Caught between his mother and his (very annoying and loud) uncle, Jin Ling simply buries his face into Wei Wuxian’s shoulder and gives a little hmph. Wei Wuxian groans dramatically. How come his charms never work on his relatives’ kids? First Jiang Cheng when they were little — Wei Wuxian still remembers the days when an eight-year-old Jiang Cheng scowled at him and pushed him away, after Wei Wuxian had been adopted — and now Jin Ling.
(Well, his charms never work on anybody, except maybe Lan Wangji, but that’s a different story.)
Jiang Yanli giggles, adjusting the collar of Jin Ling’s shirt and smoothing down his brown hair like she used to do to Wei Wuxian’s ahoge. “If you two go anywhere, text me some pics! Byebye, A-Ling!”
No goodbye for me?? Wei Wuxian wants to protest, but he pokes Jin Ling’s cheek with his free hand and tells him to wave byebye to mama instead. He’s going to be the greatest uncle the world has ever seen. Just you wait. He’s going to take Jin Ling to the wax museum, and Jin Ling is going to think that Wei Wuxian is the coolest person he’s ever seen, and after that they can walk around downtown and get ice cream, and he can invite Lan Wangji out and together they can be the best uncles Jin Ling has ever had.
(Excluding the fact that Lan Wangji isn’t Jin Ling’s uncle. ... Yet. He isn’t yet. )
He’s going to do this.
Unless another akumatized villain shows up on this peaceful, sunny Saturday afternoon, and forces Wei Wuxian to abandon his (very important) uncle duties for his (admittedly more important) superhero duties. But it isn’t that common for akumatized villains to appear, so really, what are the odds?
Wei Wuxian pries Jin Ling’s chubby hands off his jacket and twirls him around before setting him down on the floor. “A-Ling, dajiu’s got an appointment to go to, do you wanna come and see dajiu be the coolest uncle ever?”
Jin Ling blinks and stares at Wei Wuxian for a few seconds before nodding cautiously. “Dajiu is gonna be cool?” He questions, like it’s something disputable. Which it is not. Wei Wuxian is always cool.
“Yeah, of course! What, you have another cooler uncle?”
“......Shushu is cool…” Jin Ling admits.
For a rare moment, Wei Wuxian is completely, entirely still. Then he screeches very quietly. “No! No, no, he is not, Jin Guangyao is not cool, he’s like — that kid in high school who was on student council and in 30 different clubs and wore dweeby glasses while thinking he was cool!” He sees his kwami Suibian flying in circles behind Jin Ling’s head and laughing at him. Wei Wuxian nearly sticks his tongue out before remembering Jin Ling’s here.
Jin Ling, that absolute traitor, tilts his head adorably. Wei Wuxian can never stay mad at those eyes that Jin Ling makes when he gets confused, but he sure can try. “Was dajiu in high school with shushu?”
“Nah, your shushu is a few years older than me… and we went to different high schools! How would I know?” Before Jin Ling can say another word about how great an uncle Jin Guangyao could possibly be, which is not great in any shape or form, Wei Wuxian clamps one hand over Jin Ling’s mouth and scoops his phone up from the coffee table. “Let’s go already, if I’m late to my appointment that won’t look good at all! Oh, I’ll be too busy to watch you, though… hey, A-Ling, wanna see xiaojiu today?”
“Xiaojiu’s coming over?” Jin Ling says, suddenly looking very alarmed. He scrambles towards Wei Wuxian’s tiny bookshelf and grabs a random book, which, Wei Wuxian sees with no shortage of embarrassment, is the book he’d bought on how to woo the person you’re in love with. Not that he needs help wooing Lan Wangji! Well, maybe a little – anyways, it’s always best to study up on things, unless your sweet baby nephew discovers that studying, in which case, it’s better to simply self-immolate via humiliation.
To hammer the nail in the head, Jin Ling squints at the title of the book and reads, very slowly, “The Compre.. hensive? Guide to Sac – Success in Romance?” From where he’s floating in lazy circles behind Jin Ling’s head, Suibian snickers. Wei Wuxian glares at his stupid kwami harder.
“A-Ling! Don’t read that, why are you reading that — “ Wei Wuxian makes a mad dash for the book, snatching the book from Jin Ling’s hands before he can expose any more of Wei Wuxian’s romantic incompetence. It’s not even like Wei Wuxian is following any of the tips in the book – he’d rather die than face the inevitable cold stare Lan Wangji would give him for half of them, and the other half he thinks he’s done long ago. It’s just… Wei Wuxian has known the meaning of shame three times in his life, and he thinks this might be the fourth time.
“Xiaojiu always tells me I work hard! So I need to read and look like I’m working hard and being good!” Jin Ling says vehemently.
Wei Wuxian winces. “Ach, don’t listen to what Jiang Cheng says, you can slack off sometimes! And by sometimes, I mean coming to my appointment with me. It’ll be fun! I swear! And I’ll get xiaojiu to come, and he’ll have fun with us, and everything will be fine.”
Jin Ling raises one eyebrow. It’s a great shame that Wei Wuxian sees Jin Zixuan’s sarcastic what-the-fuck face in that expression of Jin Ling’s. His adorable nephew inheriting that stupid face of Jin Zixuan’s? No, thank you.
“But… I wanna play with dajiu…”
“Dajiu’s busy, okay? But coming to the stuff dajiu’s busy with will be fun!”
He gingerly slides the romance help book back into the shelf and tousles Jin Ling’s hair. Jin Ling just scowls at him more.
“Don’t look at me like that, if dajiu says it’ll be fun then it’ll be fun! I’m the best uncle for a reason!” And if it isn’t fun — impossible, things are always fun with Wei Wuxian around (Jiang Cheng likes to call it unfiltered, distasteful chaos, Wei Wuxian says that’s just another definition for fun) — Wei Wuxian will make it fun.
“If dajiu says so…” Jin Ling says. He still sounds suspicious of Wei Wuxian, which takes either an impressive amount of pessimism or an equally impressive amount of distrust in Wei Wuxian. Or perhaps it’s just Jin Ling’s natural reticence. “Then can dajiu play with me? I want to play!”
“Later!” Wei Wuxian says, dragging Jin Ling out of the door. He stops just long enough to grab Jin Ling’s toy sword.
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
w h a t.
remember how I had to watch a-ling today??
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
might have made my appointment with the wax museum today too??
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
dont fucking ‘haha’ me
why tf do u even HAVE a wax statue
what have u done to deserve this,
excluding the fact that ive made “great contributions to the music industry”
and uh “revolutionized the modern Chinese pop genre at the tender age of 22”?
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
oh my god is THAT what the magazines describe u like??
thats so terrible
even tho ur on hiatus ur Still getting so much fame,
ITS BEEN 13 MONTHS U THINK,
THE MAGANIZES COULD LAY OFF
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
this is why a-ling thinks im the best uncle
im much more down to earth
WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH BEST UNCLE
Wait and he said guangyao is best uncle actually (╯_╰)
i need u to come with me to the museum so u can watch a-ling
while they take a new mold of my arm
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
no to what?
wax museum or guangyao??
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
I’ll EVISCERATE HIM
lmao i mean
big mood but like
we can, u Know…. Plot how to take guangyao down
AFTER u come w me to the wax museum
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
why do u want me to come so bad
watch a-ling urself im busy today
busy with ur boyfriend??
riiiiiight okok just bring ur boyfriend along then
im sure huaisang wouldnt mind
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
u sound so suspicious
also huaisang is out shopping rn so no
who else is coming
WHAT u dont trust me chengcheng?? Im so hurt!!!
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
like hell i trust u when u sound like that
i swear to god if,
dont tell me u dont wanna go out with lan zhan??
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
im not thirdwheeling with u guys fuck off
chengcheng is so mean wwww
come on itll be fun u can see a-ling!!!
we were gonna walk around downtown after my appointment
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
there r two people in this convo
only one of them wants to Go Out with lan zhan
its not me
so please kindly fuck off
So??? u can still have a fun outing with me and a-ling!!
ur just using lan zhan as an excuse!
what do u take me for,
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
yeah what else would u be
college student wei ying? prodigy music star wei ying??
i only know idiot wei ying
CHENGCHENG MY FEELINGS, THEY ARE HURT, AH
my gaokao scores were better than yours! im smart!
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
gaokao scores mean nothing I have better logic than u
therefore im smarter
anyways PLS COME WITH USSSSS
dont ignore ur poor brother :’(
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
u and lan zhan are nauseatingly romantic i hate it
im not going anywhere with u guys
r u sure ur not dating
chengcheng u know lan zhan wouldnt wanna date ME
even if he treats me differently
its like h well im probs misreading the signs!!
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
not like u have any room to talk tho
with how u act when huaisang’s around… whos the romantic one NOW
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
oh my god please kindly shut up
just ask ur precious lan zhan out already
oh and call me after ur done
we need to scheme abt how to regain our best uncles position
chengcheng ( ￢ ‿ ￢ )
I will throttle you
(read 2:53 PM)
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Mn. Goodnight, Wei Ying.
Oh r u busy rn haha
ik u have a lot of schoolwork!!
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
I have time.
But, ur paper, and,
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Always have time for Wei Ying.
What is it?
Who taught u to be such a charmer huh??
omg was it me im so touched
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
I was gonna ask if u wanna come to the wax museum w/ me!
I have an appointment and a-ling’s with me so
could u pleeeease wait with a-ling while I get my mold fixed (´• ω •`)
but still, ur paper…
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Not busy today.
I did my research for today, I can go with you.
Would always go.
uuuuuu lan zhan u rly make me,
hhhhh nevermind but OK GREAT ILL CALL U
WITH THE DETAILS –
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Call ended with lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Sat. 2:57 PM
so lan zhan tell me why
ur esteemed brother stole the phone from ur hand
and practically yelled into the speaker that he was going with us
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
I apologize for Brother’s behavior.
not that I OBJECT to him going but like,
why does he seem so invested in watching us
is it because of what happened 3 years ago
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
What happened 3 years ago was not your fault.
It is in the past. You are okay now.
…WE’RE okay now, right?
just checking haha
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
We will always be okay.
Brother insists on going, so we will come together then.
Ok!! Ur driving to the museum or?
bc a-ling and i are walking and a-ling says its too hot to walk so im giving him a piggyback now
i dont think he wants to walk back…
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Want me to drive you back?
HOW DID U KNOW I WAS GONNA ASK U THAT
ur rly just,,,, GOOD u know that??
if u dont know that well NOW U KNOW
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
oh gtg i was gonna ask huaisang if he wanted to come too?
the more ppl the better right… ur okay with that?
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
That is fine.
ok meet u at the front of the museum at 3:15 then!!
if huaisang cant make it then.. its just us :-)
and ur bro but like ur bro can watch a-ling so its rly just us!!
lan zhan ( ≧◡≦ ) ♡
Mn, see you then, Wei Ying.
(“Lan Zhan’s coming with us to the museum instead of xiaojiu, okay?” Wei Wuxian tells Jin Ling, shifting the grumpy child higher on his back while trying not to drop his phone. Jin Ling fists his hands in Wei Wuxian’s messy hair and was probably about to complain again about how hot is it and it’s March and mama said the weather wasn’t that bad when Wei Wuxian drops the news.
“Ah?” Jin Ling says. “Pretty blue man??”
“His name is Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian reminds him. The name rolls off his tongue like it’s the secret to understanding happiness. Which, in all fairness, it is. Lan Wangji is happiness, isn’t that wonderful?
“Pretty blue man!” Jin Ling says again, evidently set on referring to Lan Wangji as pretty blue man. Which, in all fairness again, is not wrong. Lan Wangji is a pretty man who looks stunning in blue.
Wei Wuxian sighs. “Alright, alright, yes, pretty blue man is coming!”
“YAY!” Jin Ling yells. Right in Wei Wuxian’s ears. Lovely. “Pretty blue man is really good and funny! And he’s pretty!”
“Funny?” Wei Wuxian nearly drops Jin Ling in surprise. No one ever recognizes how funny Lan Wangji is, except maybe Lan Xichen, and even then. To have one of Lan Wangji’s virtues that Jin Ling is extolling be his sense of humor… somehow, Wei Wuxian feels weirdly validated. “Yes! He is, he’s just… Lan Zhan is really, so good, and he doesn’t even know how good he is, and he’s walking around like that being so kind and warm and, oh, when you tease him and his eyes soften and his ears turn the most adorable shade of pink and you know he’s happy, it feels like the summer sun is rising in your heart – “
“He isn’t that good, though.” Jin Ling huffs. He swings his toy sword a few times, too close to Wei Wuxian’s face for comfort. “Mama is better.”
Unusually, Wei Wuxian doesn’t automatically switch to praising his sister at the mention of her. Instead, he blanks out and decides five seconds later that trying to choose between Jiang Yanli and Lan Wangji is useless. What’s the point in choosing when they’re both the best people Wei Wuxian knows?
“To each their own.” Wei Wuxian eventually says. He promises to take Jin Ling out to ice cream with ‘pretty blue man’ after his appointment is over, and that pacifies Jin Ling for the moment.)
idk idk idk!!
huaisang wanna come to the wax museum with us
u realize this sounds weird out of context right
the context is?? in the text??
lemme check my schedule
i thought ur like a theater major
and the play u were helping with just ended
MY VERY IMPORTANT SCHEDULE don’t ask
tsk tsk wei-xiong its rly important…
managing ur schedules…
isnt that why ur on hiatus?
no im on hiatus to focus on school?
and also bc it was getting too hard to see the ppl i love
and bc i like my privacy as a Normal Person(tm) thank u very much
u know that………….
cant believe ur getting a . statue. even on hiatus
i got a statue before hiatus the arm just broke
good thing my real arm isnt broken right?? heh
and why should i go with you?
bc! Lan zhan and lan huan are coming, and so is a-ling
a-ling wants somebody to play with him
hes been Super bored and irritated lately ur good with kids right?
he’d be a lot happier to see more ppl!
what, are u trying to figure out a way to make him happier??
other than getting off ur lazy ass and going out with us?
ur not a child psychology major unfortunately 😔
STOP BULLYING ME FOR MY MAJOR
whos the premed major who switched to music huh??
this is why premed majors suck once a premed Always a premed
take that BACK lan zhan is premed hes Good
we all know ur lan er gege is the best okok
, MY lan er gege , I, -
WELL so r u coming or not stop avoiding the question
pls join us so a-ling wont be as unhappy while im getting the mold fixed
sorry im rly busy right now cant do that suddenly
HUAISANG UR LIKE GROCERY SHOPPING OR SOMETHING
HOW BUSY CAN U BE
oh were u gonna visit the cemetery afterwards? Okayokay nvm
(read 3:05 PM)
As promised, Lan Wangji meets him in front of the wax museum at 3:15 sharp. The sun is still high in the sky when Wei Wuxian sets Jin Ling on the ground and spies Lan Wangji’s figure, cast in blue shadow and soft edges by the spring sun and clouds, but when Lan Wangji looks up from his phone and tilts his head to greet Wei Wuxian, the world takes on a glimmering gold hue that definitely isn’t because of the afternoon sun.
“Lan Zhan! Lan Zhaaaaan!” Wei Wuxian calls, forgetting for a moment that he’s supposed to be walking with Jin Ling and running to stand in front of Lan Wangji, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. “Ehehe, Lan er-gege, did you miss me?”
Lan Wangji blinks. Right, right, Wei Wuxian just saw Lan Wangji Friday afternoon, and he had a 30-minute long call with him before Lan Wangji went to bed… Still! Any time they’re apart is too much time spent apart.
“Dajiu, can we play now?” Jin Ling asks. He brandishes his toy sword and tries to smack Wei Wuxian in the leg. Wei Wuxian, on his part, sneaks another glance at Lan Wangji, who seems to be formulating a response. “Dajiu!”
“…Yes.” Lan Wangji finally admits.
“Eh! Lan Zhan, you charmer!” Wei Wuxian says. He is a charmer. Wei Wuxian doesn’t know how anybody can’t be charmed by Lan Wangji.
Lan Wangji’s ears turn redder. “Lying is forbidden — “
“In the Cloud Recesses, your oh-so-great ancestral home, that’s been standing for thousands of years and is creaking and possibly haunted in at least 10 different locations, one of them being your lovely room, I know, ” Wei Wuxian says, taking a breath, “and we aren’t in the Cloud Recesses right now. We’re in Gusu. The wax museum. So lying technically is, in fact, not forbidden.” Which is obvious.
Lan Wangji frowns. Just a little. That’s his Wei Ying, you are wrong look. Behind him, Lan Xichen waves at Wei Wuxian and, when it becomes obvious Wei Wuxian isn’t going to give him any acknowledgment aside from a surprised “Oh! Right, you were coming too, hi Huan-ge!” he bends down to talk to Jin Ling instead. Out of the corner of his eye, Wei Wuxian sees Suibian trying and failing to phase through the door of the wax museum. The kwami flees back into the protection of Wei Wuxian’s jacket the moment they start walking towards the door.
“I am not lying.” Lan Wangji insists. “Missed Wei Ying.”
“Yes, yes, my sticky, sticky Lan Zhan, missed you too.” As if that needs to be said. “Now, let’s go! We have much to accomplish today!”
Lan Wangji bites his lip, like he has something world-changing he wants to say, but he ends up silently following Wei Wuxian into the museum. He’s cute like that, trailing behind Wei Wuxian and fiddling with the folds of his tucked-in blue shirt. Wei Wuxian nearly runs into a statue because he’s too busy sneaking glances back at Lan Wangji, and he does end up crashing into something.
It just isn’t a statue.
“Oh! Right, you’re here, hi Mianmian!” Wei Wuxian says, feeling like forgetting other people are there is a very common occurrence whenever Lan Wangji is within three meters of him.
Luo Qingyang glares at him. “No ‘how are you doing, Qingyang-jie, no ‘thank you for making my realistic, very beautiful wax statue, Qingyang-jie’, no ‘I am extremely sorry for crashing into you, Qingyang-jie’?”
“Uh… Thanks for the appointment? Qingyang-jie? Sorry?” Wei Wuxian tries.
Luo Qingyang shakes her head at him. “You didn’t even check in at the front desk. Good thing we’re closed today – had to close, otherwise I think you’d be recognized in no time.”
“Hey! I was walking for like, 20 minutes, and nobody recognized me!” And maybe it was because he was carrying Jin Ling on his back and had his hood up the entire time, but it’s still valid.
“Maybe you’re getting less famous.” Luo Qingyang suggests meanly. He sees Jin Ling trying to touch a statue of some old singer only famous among the nice old ladies who worked at the same animal shelter Lan Wangji used to volunteer at, and Lan Xichen valiantly attempting to pull Jin Ling back.
“Mianmian is so mean!”
“Qingyang-jie is just telling the truth.”
“Fine, doesn’t Qingyang-jie think I’m still famous?” Wei Wuxian grumbles.
Luo Qingyang looks like she is trying extremely hard not to stick her tongue out at Wei Wuxian, which is something that happens a lot whenever somebody talks to Wei Wuxian for more than three minutes. “You are incorrigible.” She finally says. “Don’t kid yourself. Do you want to be famous?”
Wei Wuxian freezes.
“Haha, shouldn’t somebody as pretty and smart as you know the answer already?” He says in the end. Deflection, via complimenting somebody. Always a smart move, huh. But he thinks he hears a short huff from Lan Wangji, and sure enough, when he looks back Lan Wangji is resolutely looking away from him and Luo Qingyang. Ah… right. Lan Wangji probably doesn’t like it when Wei Wuxian lies like that.
“Seriously? Well, whatever. I’m going to go try to stop that kid from destroying the entire museum. Why does he have a toy sword?? Why did you even bring him?” While Luo Qingyang rolls her eyes once more at Wei Wuxian for good measure and bustles off to try and stop Jin Ling’s sword from hitting everything in reach, as Lan Xichen doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job of it, Wei Wuxian groans and falls back into step with Lan Wangji.
“Ah, A-Ling is so difficult today… is having kids always this hard?” He complains. “Lan Zhan, ah, Lan Zhan, I bet you were such a good, quiet kid. Never… trying to steal a wax statue’s sword like A-Ling is right now. Or begging others to play with them incessantly.”
“No.” Lan Wangji says. “I never spoke much.”
“But… I did want to play.” He admits it like it’s some big, earth-shaking announcement. Wei Wuxian kind of understands, though. When he’d first met Lan Wangji, back when they were 18 and stupid college freshmen, Lan Wangji had always avoided Wei Wuxian’s teases and flirting and all the look at me, come on, Lan er-gege!, but after a month or so Wei Wuxian had realized Lan Wangji was just… equal parts shy and constricting himself to the rules of his family.
He doesn’t know what in the world caused the change that led to the softer, less restrained Lan Wangji that is talking with him right now, but… if it’s making Lan Wangji this happy, then Wei Wuxian really doesn’t mind it.
“Never could say it. Being loud, running, complaining, all against the rules. Was lonely, but I could not ever speak of it.” Lan Wangji continues.
“Since when is asking somebody to play when you’re lonely complaining, against the rules?” Wei Wuxian counters. “Surely your uncle wasn’t that strict?”
Lan Wangji looks away, then back at Wei Wuxian. There’s a note of long-dissolved loneliness in his eyes that makes Wei Wuxian want to hug him tight and never let go. “I did not wish to disappoint him. And there was nobody who wanted to play with me.”
“What! Anybody would be lucky to play with Lan er-gege! He’s so good and fun and — and, just wonderful, how can anybody look over that!” Wei Wuxian is pretty sure that Luo Qingyang is calling his name, and that it’s dangerous to walk backwards up the stairs while heading to the workshop of the wax museum, but Lan Wangji is more important. Besides. Lan Wangji would catch him if he tripped, it’s fine! “If they’d just take the time to think, hey, maybe that kid isn’t as serious as he looks — “
Wei Wuxian cuts himself off. Does Lan Wangji really want to hear Wei Wuxian go on and on about things that were… not clearly, but at least partially resolved?
“Nothing, nothing, just… just saying. You were a kid. What the hell is disappointment in a kid wanting to play!” Wei Wuxian huffs.
Lan Wangji closes his eyes, as if he’s both agreeing with Wei Wuxian and deigning to stay neutral on this issue, before he sighs. A soft, satisfied sigh. Wei Wuxian grins at the fact that he knows Lan Wangji well enough to differentiate his sighs.
“It is fine now. After all, I have somebody who will play with me.”
“Huh?? Who is it? Lan Zhan, good Lan er-gege, won’t you tell me — “
Jin Ling runs back down the stairs to grab Wei Wuxian’s hand and tug it insistently before Lan Wangji can respond. “Dajiu.” He says. “Dajiu, you said you’d play.”
Ugh. What is it today with people and playing? “Ah, dajiu’s still gotta get his arm mold fixed. A-Ling, play with pretty blue man’s brother until I’m done, okay?”
Jin Ling wilts. “But… but dajiu said!”
“Ah, I’ll play… later! Lan Zhan, we can play with A-Ling together, how about that?” Lan Wangji makes an mn sound and Wei Wuxian ruffles Jin Ling’s hair.
“Pretty blue man?” Lan Wangji says, once Jin Ling’s pout disappears.
“Pretty blue man!” Jin Ling cheers. “That’s you. You are pretty blue man.”
“I am?” Lan Wangji sounds more than a little baffled by Jin Ling’s words, and Wei Wuxian shakes his head subtly. Go with the flow. “Hm. Okay. Then… what is Wei Ying?”
“Dajiu is dajiu!”
Hm. Is that the slow beginnings of a smile that Wei Wuxian sees, tugging the edges of Lan Wangji’s soft lips?
Wei Wuxian chuckles. “I suppose so, dajiu is dajiu! Now if you wanna know more about those wax statues that you’re so interested in, you can go ask Qingyang-jie.”
From the top of the stairs, Luo Qingyang looks away from where she’d been talking to Lan Xichen and grimaces. Yet she pats Jin Ling’s head when he runs back to her side. “You just want to have some more alone time with Lan Zhan.”
“What!” Wei Wuxian says. She’s not wrong, of course, but why would she say it like that? Doesn’t she know that Lan Zhan — Lan Zhan doesn’t feel the same —
“Ooohhh!” Jin Ling says. That is… not a tone Wei Wuxian likes. “Why?”
“Because they’re, you know…” Luo Qingyang waves her hands at the two of them. “You know. Together.”
No, no, please don’t, Lan Zhan doesn’t —
“Boyfriends?” Jin Ling asks.
Before Wei Wuxian can somehow vault up the entire flight of stairs and stop both Luo Qingyang and Jin Ling from revealing his feelings and making Lan Wangji uncomfortable, Luo Qingyang nods firmly. “Boyfriends.”
And then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, Lan Xichen gives them a thumbs up.
“What!” Wei Wuxian says again. “We — Lan Zhan and I, we — ahaha, what are you talking about, we’re not… together, or anything, why would you think that — we’re just friends. Good friends! Yeah.” He does not peek at Lan Wangji’s face. He does not.
(He does. And he feels so guilty for dismissing his feelings like that, but what else can he do? Lan Wangji already looks so uncomfortable at the mere notion of dating Wei Wuxian. The last thing he wants to do is force his feelings on Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian’s stomach twists itself into another knot at the sight of Lan Wangji’s stiff shoulders and guarded frown.
It hurts. But it would hurt more if Lan Wangji was hurt by his feelings.)
Even from where he’s standing, Wei Wuxian can see Luo Qingyang and Jin Ling’s suspicious expressions.
“But I thought…” Jin Ling starts.
“No! Nope! Don’t think! Don’t say anything!”
If Jin Ling says more, if he — if they say more — if it’s so obvious how much Wei Wuxian feels towards Lan Wangji, how would Lan Wangji look then? Would he back away? Would he simply stay there, frozen, put on the spot by Wei Wuxian’s feelings? Would he be disgusted, would he be angry with Wei Wuxian? He would never hate Wei Wuxian… right?
“Seriously?” Luo Qingyang groans. “But you guys act so — “
And in that moment, Wei Wuxian is scared. That’s the easiest way to put it.
So he does the first thing he can think of, which happens to be utterly dismissing any possibility of… feelings towards Lan Wangji. “Haha, that’s so funny, do we really?? Well, it’s not like I want to be like, like that with Lan Zhan — I just.” Just. “Yeah. Heh.”
“You… don’t?” Lan Wangji says woodenly. “Want — want that?”
“Lan Zhan, I — “ Wei Wuxian bites his lip. Rather than having Lan Wangji discover his feelings and their friendship becoming so awkward they couldn’t even talk to each other, he’d thought… maybe it was better to have Lan Wangji think he was only flippant with his feelings. But now — looking at Lan Wangji’s trembling hands and fragile frown…
Lan Wangji is hurt. By him. By his thoughtless words, even though Wei Wuxian promised himself he’d never hurt Lan Wangji like that again.
“It’s not that, it’s… you’re really nice, okay, Lan Zhan? It’s not like I don’t like you, it’s just a little… complicated.” Wei Wuxian finishes lamely.
It doesn’t seem to make Lan Wangji feel any better, but his frown still clears. He sighs and gives Wei Wuxian a soft, shaky mn. “It is okay.”
Is it really? Wei Wuxian wants to ask. Is it really okay with you? Am I okay with you, are we still good?
Should I tell you how I feel, if I’m hurting you with my lies? I love you. I don’t want to hurt you. I love you.
Instead, he says, “Okay!”
Lan Xichen shakes his head.
They take a cramped elevator to the workshop. The lights flicker and the elevator floor creaks ominously when they all pile into the space. Wei Wuxian spends the whole time sneaking guilty glances at Lan Wangji. His head is held high and his eyes are clear, yet Wei Wuxian can’t help but feel that he looks resigned. Why, he doesn’t know. Luo Qingyang seems to have at least realized the obvious, that yes, he and Lan Wangji are not dating, and gives Jin Ling a quick tour of the workshop before leading Wei Wuxian to the seat.
“Put your arm in this mold,” she says, pouring a cold beige liquid into the mold once Wei Wuxian has sat down and stuck his arm into the contraption that looks more like a torture device than anything else, “and don’t move it until this timer rings. I’ve got to go check on my other projects, what’s your kid gonna do while he waits?”
“My kid? Oh, A-Ling? He’s my nephew… and I was just gonna look after him here, why do you ask?”
“I can take him with me to check on my statues.” Luo Qingyang offers. “Since he likes looking at them so much?”
“Alright — A-Ling, go with Qingyang-jie, okay?” Wei Wuxian uses his free hand to pat his lap and Jin Ling skips over from where he’d been admiring a box of tools with Lan Xichen.
Jin Ling holds up a spare plastic eyeball like a cat proudly displaying its catch. “Can I play with Qingyang-jie?”
“…Sure, if you behave.” Wei Wuxian grabs the eyeball from Jin Ling’s grip and puts it on the table. Jin Ling grasps his toy sword tighter. “And Qingyang-jie has work to do, but I’m sure it’s fun to watch her work! Now go along.”
Jin Ling trails Luo Qingyang out of the room reluctantly, but not before grumbling something about nobody paying attention to him today. Which is… not true, objectively. Wei Wuxian still half wants to lift Jin Ling into his lap like Jin Ling is a toddler again and tickle him until Jin Ling is laughing uncontrollably. But he can do that after he’s done with his appointment, and smoothed things over with Lan Wangji.
The chair he’s sitting in is uncomfortable, and the silence between him and Lan Wangji more so. Usually they’d be chatting — or, well, Wei Wuxian chatting and Lan Wangji occasionally responding. Usually they’d be, dare Wei Wuxian call it flirting , because as much he doubts Lan Wangji returning his feelings he knows Lan Wangji will still always play along with Wei Wuxian’s teasing.
Usually they aren’t sitting across the room from each other. There’s a throat-crushing silence that dries up Wei Wuxian’s supply of words and half of it comes from how Lan Wangji is curling in on himself like he can’t bear to look at Wei Wuxian right now. Should Wei Wuxian speak now? Should he do something, anything? Because any more of this and he might do something stupid like tear his arm out of the mold and crawl onto Lan Wangji’s lap just to get those beautiful eyes to look at him once more.
“Uh, so… How’s it going so far? Fun?” Wei Wuxian says.
“You know, I tried to get Huaisang to come, but… ever since Mingjue-ge died 13 months ago, he’s been so withdrawn.” Wei Wuxian sighs and sneaks a glance at Lan Xichen, who looks only slightly sad at the mention of Nie Mingjue.
“Mn.” Lan Wangji says again.
Well, this is a great situation you’ve got yourself into, Wei Ying. “Which statue is your favorite?”
“…They are all made expertly.” Lan Wangji says. “It is a hard choice.”
“Right. Well, I think if they made a statue of you, that would be my favorite… Are you famous enough to get a statue? Do you get a statue if you come from an old, rich family?” He’s rambling, he knows. What else can he do, confess to Lan Wangji? Excluding the fact that Lan Xichen is there, and Lan Xichen seems to be following their stilted conversation eagerly, Wei Wuxian isn’t exactly in a great position to do that, with his arm stuck in the mold and all. And he doesn’t even know where to start.
“I… Wei Ying, I — “
“Ahaha, never mind, it’s a stupid question! You can just, uh, ignore me. Yeah.”
Wei Wuxian slumps back into the chair. This is not working. Not at all. Lan Wangji still looks like he wants to disappear into the void, and Lan Xichen looks like… he’s three seconds away from throwing the chair that Wei Wuxian is sitting in across the room. Okay, that’s a little confusing, and more than a little scary.
What can he do to make Lan Wangji look at him? That’s all he wants. Lan Wangji’s attention. It’s never changed. When he was younger and stupid, he thought he didn’t care if that attention was bad or good, if Lan Wangji hated him or liked him, because as long as he had those eyes on him for a minute, he was happy. Now that he’s older and (debatably) smarter, he does care. Maybe too much.
And here’s the thing. He knows Lan Wangji thinks of him differently than other people, he knows Lan Wangji treats him with a mixture of tenderness and glimmering kindness that’s been making Wei Wuxian’s heart run wild for as long as he’s loved Lan Wangji. But he doesn’t dare think of just how different that treatment is, because —
What if it’s all in his head? What if it’s his overconfidence coming to bite him in the back, for wanting to think of him and Lan Wangji as close, as perhaps more than friends? What if that difference isn’t the kind of different he wants?
He’s fine with being just friends with Lan Wangji. As long as he can stay by Lan Wangji’s side, that’s enough for him. As long as Lan Wangji is comfortable with him around, he won’t ever go past their boundaries. He’s happy the way they are.
Or so he’s been telling himself. It’s been four years since he met Lan Wangji, four years since he fell in love, four years of desperate pining.
How long has it been since he’s thought it’s truly fine with him if they remain like this forever?
And the things Lan Wangji does have to mean something. Whether it’s how Lan Wangji flirts back sometimes, or compliments Wei Wuxian without any prompting, or touches Wei Wuxian so gently, they mean something, but how much of it is Wei Wuxian’s own wishful thinking?
He’s getting in over his head again. Lan Wangji’s actions, their relationship, this push and pull between them, all of it has been impossible to ignore lately. His kwami has taken to teasing him relentlessly about how head over heels he is for Lan Wangji. If Jiang Cheng was here, he’d punch Wei Wuxian’s shoulder and tell him to stop running away already.
It would be nice if he confessed. If only he wasn’t Chat Noir. His kwami says it’s fine if he dates Lan Wangji without Lan Wangji knowing he’s Chat Noir, and Wei Wuxian would like to digress. Lan Wangji has to know the truth if he dates Wei Wuxian. And that dating Wei Wuxian could put him in the direct path of danger.
If only things were easier.
Wei Wuxian tilts his head back and is just about to nod off when the timer beeps and the contraption releases his hand.
“Well!” Lan Xichen says, leaping to his feet. “Ah, didi, you look like you have something to say to Wei Ying?”
Lan Wangji stiffens. “I will take my leave temporarily.”
Once Lan Wangji has fled the room, Lan Xichen slides back into his seat and smiles coldly at Wei Wuxian. “He means he’s going to the restroom. It’s downstairs, so he’ll be gone for a while. Honestly, Zhanzhan should use his words more sometimes.”
“And you, Wei Ying, should also say only what you mean. We wouldn’t want what happened three years ago to happen again, would we now?”
Wei Wuxian’s fingers clench on the sides of the chair. Three years, and guilt still fills him at the thought of what he’d said to Lan Wangji. Three years, and he still remembers — bits and flashes, the phone call saying Jiang Yanli was in a car accident, the bright white corridors of the hospitals, the doctor’s monotone voice. The teachers’ emails saying no, his final exams couldn’t be moved, just take it and visit your sister afterwards. Jiang Cheng crying, I can’t lose her, not A-Jie, not her too. Jin Zixuan hugging Jin Ling close, his face pale.
Lan Wangji approaching him in the room they’d shared as freshmen, before Wei Wuxian had moved to his apartment as his stardom grew. Lan Wangji’s hands cupping his face.
Get lost, he had said. You hate me, don’t you? Why are you here? Go away. Get lost!
He doesn’t remember much. The stress of finals and the uncertainty of whether Jiang Yanli would survive her injuries didn’t create good conditions for him, and all Wei Wuxian knows is that he’d lashed out at Lan Wangji. Pushed him away. And the things he does remember… what stands out isn’t Jiang Yanli’s still body or Jiang Cheng’s anger, but the crystal-like tears he’d seen on Lan Wangji’s face as Wei Wuxian slapped his hands away and locked him out of the room.
“No,” Wei Wuxian says tightly. Back then, he was an idiot. Unable to recognize when people did care about him, thinking he could handle everything himself. His loneliness and grief don’t excuse his actions. Hurting Lan Wangji was and is unacceptable. “It won’t happen again.”
“Good. Now why in the world are you talking like an employee who’s messed up and thinks he’s going to be fired?” Lan Xichen says.
Wei Wuxian nearly laughs. Lan Xichen is a hundred times more terrifying than any boss Wei Wuxian has ever had, partly because he’s the elder brother of the love of his life and mostly because Lan Xichen is a force to be reckoned with when angry. “Okay, okay, I swear on my life and my soul that I will never hurt Lan Zhan ever again. His happiness is the most important thing in the world to me.”
Lan Xichen’s eyes soften. “But you did. Hurt him.”
“Oh, I’m not angry, please don’t mistake my disappointment for anger. I merely wish to know…” Lan Xichen taps his finger against his chin and when he looks back at Wei Wuxian, it’s with a mix of bewilderment and resignment that makes Wei Wuxian’s stomach curl. “When will you and Zhanzhan stop circling around each other? Seeing you two like this, so close yet so far, it makes me wish sometimes that Zhanzhan never met you in the first place.”
Wei Wuxian sighs. “That’s understandable. If he never met me, he wouldn’t have — “
“If he never met you, he wouldn’t have been the happy, open little brother I know today.” Lan Xichen interrupts. “Meeting you has, perhaps, been the best thing that ever happened to him. You make my brother happier than I’ve ever seen before, and I don’t say that lightly.”
“Do you think — “ Wei Wuxian debates for one second how wise it is to tell Lan Xichen his insecurities, but decides it’s better to lay it all clear than have Lan Xichen think he’s flippant towards Lan Wangji. “Do you think I make him as happy as he makes me?”
Lan Xichen just shakes his head. “You’ll have to ask him. The point is, ever since he met you, he’s been… rebellious, yes, but he’s grown up so much. He even got his ears pierced last year.”
“That had nothing to do with me!” Wei Wuxian protests. It looks hotter than should be legal, but he can’t say that to Lan Xichen. “Lan Zhan said it was because he wanted to see how it felt! And he’s never worn anything other than those dull grey earrings, anyways.”
“Still. Zhanzhan is no longer my little A-Zhan.” Lan Xichen’s smile turns softer. “Take care of him, alright? Make sure to tell him all the important things. Make sure he’s always happy.”
“Of course I will! But… Huan-ge, I get so scared saying everything important, how should I even start? How can I tell Lan Zhan?”
“Oh, Wei Ying, it’s precisely because they’re so important that you should tell him.” Lan Xichen looks out the window. In the distance, the contrail of a passing plane disperses slowly. “The most important things are scary, but no matter what, you should make sure the person you love knows them. Otherwise… they might never know you love them, and that is perhaps the scariest possibility.”
Lan Wangji not knowing Wei Wuxian loves him?
More than anything else — more than losing Lan Wangji’s friendship, more than knowing Lan Wangji doesn’t love him back — that scares him. Wei Wuxian’s love for Lan Wangji is the most important thing in the world to him. How could he toss it aside like this, thinking it might be better if they stay just friends, thinking it might be better if Lan Wangji never knows something as important as this?
He has to tell Lan Wangji. Before he can have any regrets, before it’s too late. Even if Lan Wangji doesn’t love him back, it’s fine. Wei Wuxian has never expected anything from Lan Wangji, least of all his love.
If he tells Lan Wangji, then… If they get together, he has to tell Lan Wangji that he’s Chat Noir. That, if Lan Wangji is with him, then Lan Wangji could be in danger.
In his 13 months as Chat Noir, he’s never told anybody. Not Jiang Cheng, not his manager when he told her why he was going on hiatus, not Jiang Yanli, certainly not Lan Wangji. Before he’d gained his superpowers, he had been thinking about telling Lan Wangji, but after, it was nearly unthinkable. More than anything, he doesn’t want Lan Wangji to get hurt. If his identity as Chat Noir ever hurts Lan Wangji… he would never forgive himself.
“But… what if one of those important things could hurt him?” Wei Wuxian says carefully. “It’s part of who I am. But it might still hurt Lan Zhan.”
“Then it’s his choice in the end, isn’t it? If he still wants to be with you, knowing everything, then please accept it. It’s Zhanzhan’s choice to love you, remember that.”
“Okay.” Wei Wuxian says. Lan Xichen is right. It’s Lan Wangji’s choice, and if Lan Wangji wants to be with him — knowing Wei Wuxian’s identity, knowing how he could get hurt, then… Wei Wuxian will accept it. And do his best to protect the person he loves. “Okay! Thanks, Huan-ge. You… don’t think that if I confess, Lan Zhan will feel awkward or obligated to return my love? And how do you even know he loves me?”
“For goodness’s sake, Wei Ying, just trust Zhanzhan with your feelings!” Snaps Lan Xichen. He looks pointedly at Wei Wuxian. “Don’t you trust him to accept your feelings and give you an answer in his own kind way?”
“I do! I do, I trust him, I suppose I’m just… scared.” Wei Wuxian admits. Even if he knows now that he has to tell Lan Wangji, he’s still very much a coward. Even if he trusts Lan Wangji with his feelings and knows Lan Wangji isn’t the sort of person who’d date him because of obligations, he still has doubts. “If he rejects me, it’ll probably be the kindest rejection ever. It’s not like I expect anything from him, either… you know why I haven’t told Lan Zhan how I feel yet?”
“Why? To be honest, I never really understood why you of all people didn’t take action.” Lan Xichen says.
“Because I thought it would be better to be able to stay by his side and pine silently than to risk everything by confessing.” Wei Wuxian waits a beat for Lan Xichen to say something, and when he doesn’t, Wei Wuxian continues. “I know Lan Zhan definitely isn’t someone who would push me away just because I confessed, but what can I do? I’m just an ordinary guy. I get scared too.”
As he says that, he realizes that he’s the furthest from an ordinary guy that anybody could get. One half of the superhero team that keeps Gusu from being destroyed at the hands of akumatized villains, and a music star on hiatus. Neither of his identities make for a very ordinary life. And yet, he’s still scared of things anybody would be scared of — rejection, losing their best friends, being alone. He has superpowered villains to fight and fans that remain dedicated to his music despite 13 months of hiatus, but the thing that matters most is Lan Wangji.
Lan Xichen leans back and grins at Wei Wuxian. There’s no longer any hidden anger in his gaze. “You two really are alike, huh.”
“Eh? What’s that mean?”
“Nothing, really! Don’t worry about Zhanzhan rejecting you. It won’t happen.”Wei Wuxian laughs. “You sound so sure in yourself! It’s making me hope for more than I should.”
“Of course I’m sure in myself.” When Wei Wuxian looks at him, Lan Xichen winks. “Call it brotherly instinct.”
“…Right.” Wei Wuxian says. “Well, Lan Zhan’s been gone for pretty long — “
“Go and cheer him up!” Lan Xichen says eagerly. Then, calmer, “I meant, he seemed a bit down when he left, when you find him make sure to talk to him and clear up any misunderstandings.”
It’s rather terrifying how easily Lan Xichen can compose himself. “Uh… okay?”
“ Any and all misunderstandings.” Lan Xichen emphasizes. “Are we clear?”
“Yes! Absolutely clear!” Wei Wuxian says quickly, before Lan Xichen can passive-aggressively threaten him any more. This is exactly why Lan Wangji is the best Lan, he doesn’t yell at people for ‘corrupting’ their sweet nephews like Lan Qiren does, and he doesn’t threaten people who hurt their sweet little brothers like Lan Xichen does. It’s not Wei Wuxian being biased, his Lan Wangji is simply the best. “I’ll go talk to him now!”
“Honestly.” He hears Lan Xichen sigh. “It’s about time they got a move on.”
Wei Wuxian might be confident enough in himself to confess to Lan Wangji now, but he’s still very much scared of asking Lan Xichen just what he means.
The elevator remains very terrifying to Wei Wuxian. Even taking it alone, it still feels like the wires are about to snap and the elevator will plunge to the ground, taking Wei Wuxian to an inevitable fiery doom. He remembers Lan Xichen’s chilly smile and the unspoken, ever-present threat of I will chop off your feet and hands if you hurt my brother one more time and the elevator feels… a little less terrifying.
Suibian floats out of the confines of his jacket and zips around the elevator, free to fly around like the absolute menace that he is now that nobody’s around. “Do you have food? Preferably cheese?” He asks.
“Why is that the first thing you say?”
“What else would I say? Uh… Oh, great master, you’re so wise in areas of love and confessing, how awesome!”
Wei Wuxian sticks his tongue out. “Stop teasing me! It’s not funny!”
“But it’s sooooo funny!” Suibian’s eerie green eyes narrow. “I’ve never had a Chat Noir as incompetent in love as you are! You and that Lan boy really make for quite the couple.”
“Suibian! I’m not incompetent!”
“That’s not my name, how many times do I have to tell you it’s Plagg?? And you kind of are!”
“Am not! Suibian.” Wei Wuxian insists. The romance self-help book that Jin Ling uncovered taunts him in his memory. “I was just — “
“Just what? Waiting for the right time? Waiting for more evidence that he likes you? Waiting for the end of the world before you confess?” Suibian does a backflip and settles himself at the top of Wei Wuxian’s hair, batting lazily at his ahoge. “I’ve told you before, you’re Chat Noir, you can’t afford to wait.”
“Like you can talk.” Wei Wuxian sighs. As annoying as his kwami is, Suibian has some good points. “Lan Zhan is… I care about him so much. So I guess I’ll be brave for him.”
“You’re always brave, kiddo.”
“I’m twenty two!!” Wei Wuxian protests. “I don’t care if you’re like, some immortal all-seeing being, you don’t get to call me kiddo!”
“Yes I do!” Suibian says. “I don’t get what’s so special about that Lan boy, but if you like him he mustn’t be that bad.”
“Take that back right now!” When Suibian darts out of Wei Wuxian’s reach and snickers at him from the top of the elevator, Wei Wuxian makes a rude face at him. “Aren’t you worried the cameras will catch you?”
“Human things like that can’t capture my magnificence~” Suibian says, twirling around and doing a mock bow as best as he can in his little cat-shaped body. “So the cameras will just see you arguing with yourself.”
Wei Wuxian groans. The elevator dings and Suibian floats out first, taking the liberty of darting around the wide space of the first floor so fast he’s little more than a black blur.
“Okay. I can do this! I’m cool. I’m brave, I can confess!” Wei Wuxian recites. The more he says it, the faker it feels. As shameless as he is, confessing is still…
“Why confess?” Suibian interrupts. “Play a prank on him like you always do!”
“I can’t do that, I need him to know that I feel — towards him, I really love — “
“Oh my god, shut up already, I can’t take any more of your lovesick babbling! I’m going to find food!”
“What if an akuma shows up??” Wei Wuxian protests.
Suibian ignores him. Great. If an akuma shows up… Guess I’ll just die.
Wei Wuxian is just about to see if Lan Wangji got lost when the bathroom door clicks open and Lan Wangji steps out.
So of course Wei Wuxian does the first, most idiotic thing he can think of, which is freezing in place, posing, and pretending to be a wax statue. This isn’t how I was gonna confess! What the hell, Wei Ying, what are you doing!
But Lan Wangji has already seen him, his sharp golden eyes grasping Wei Wuxian’s heart and holding him in place. He thinks he sees a flash of red behind Lan Wangji, darting around his head, but when he blinks it’s gone. Must be a trick of the light, or Wei Wuxian’s infatuation.
Lan Wangji steps closer. Wei Wuxian darts a frantic look at the wax statues around him and decides that it wouldn’t be out of place for him to have his eyes closed. If he looks at Lan Wangji too much, he might accidentally blurt out his confession.
“Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji says. His voice is soft, broken. Wei Wuxian shivers. “You’re…”
He can’t see anything, but he knows Lan Wangji well enough to picture what kind of expression Lan Wangji has. His eyes would be bright, his perfect lips pressed into a tentative line, his eyelashes fluttering as he stares at Wei Wuxian.
“Ah, it must be his statue. I didn’t see it.”
Lan Wangji sighs. Wei Wuxian is about to crack one eye open to see how Lan Wangji’s reacting when he feels the brush of fingers against his cheek. Lan Wangji’s fingers, long and calloused from years of guqin-playing and so, so warm. The hand that Wei Wuxian’s hiding behind his back clenches into a fist. It feels so good.
“It is… warm. Almost like skin.” Lan Wangji observes. Then, softer, his fingers slowly trailing down Wei Wuxian’s cheek, “Beautiful.”
Wei Wuxian nearly snaps and confesses right there and then. And as if that wasn’t enough, Lan Wangji continues, “Extremely beautiful.” A hint of sandalwood scent, and Lan Wangji’s silky hair brushes the side of his head, his lips against Wei Wuxian’s cheek. “Wei Ying, I…”
Lan Wangji pulls back. Wei Wuxian’s eyes are still shut tight, and his heart is pounding a mile per minute. The touch of Lan Wangji’s fingers, his scent, his lips, the warmth of his arms now hooked around Wei Wuxian’s neck — he’s not sure how much longer he can pretend to be a statue.
“I wish we could… if we were statues, would it be easier?” Lan Wangji asks. He shifts closer. Wei Wuxian can’t think of anything but how good those maddeningly soft lips would feel against his, and how intoxicating Lan Wangji’s sandalwood scent is. “What would it be like? You look so happy, statue Wei Ying, I only want you to be happy.”
I am happy! Wei Wuxian wants to shout. With you, I’m always happy!
“I understand if I don’t make you happy.” Lan Wangji’s soft lips press a kiss to his forehead and a second later, he feels a nose nuzzling his. Wei Wuxian’s legs are trembling. If Lan Wangji tries — if Lan Wangji does anything, Wei Wuxian won’t be able to hold out any longer. His head is spinning from Lan Wangji’s proximity, how his smooth voice cuts through the darkness, how much he wants to lean into Lan Wangji’s touch, cover Lan Wangji’s body with his. “I… wish to be the one who makes you happy, but I know you don’t — “ Lan Wangji’s voice breaks. “I know you don’t love me like that. So I’ll stay by your side quietly.”
Wei Wuxian is going to cry. What the fuck? He understands perfectly where Lan Wangji got that impression, and not for the first time today, he curses himself out for being an idiot. Through the Lan Wangji-induced daze in his mind, he thinks, I really should have told him sooner. Maybe if I had, he wouldn’t be so, so —
Wei Wuxian is going to cry, because Lan Wangji’s voice is trembling and his hands are warm, sliding on Wei Wuxian’s nape, and he can’t see anything but he knows Lan Wangji is making that too-kind expression of his. The one where he apparently resigns himself to quietly staying by Wei Wuxian’s side, thinking Wei Wuxian would never love him, thinking it’s fine that way.
It’s not fine. Is this what Lan Wangji was going to do? Silently pine forever, thinking Wei Wuxian abhors the very idea of dating him all because of Wei Wuxian’s stupid words?
Lan Wangji hums, forehead bumping against Wei Wuxian’s, and the sweet sound makes Wei Wuxian want to push him to the floor and kiss him until his hum turns into a moan. Certainly Lan Wangji would be willing. But… he can’t. He can’t, he’s lying to Lan Wangji right now and if he continues he’s going to hurt Lan Wangji again, and there’s a warm breath ghosting against his lips and Lan Wangji is going to kiss him —
“If we could stay like this for eternity, wouldn’t it be — “
Lan Wangji shifts against him. This close, Wei Wuxian can feel Lan Wangji’s eyelashes brushing his cheek. His heart thrums as Lan Wangji’s hands curl into his hair. It’s so dark, but Lan Wangji is the dawn breaking over the horizon for Wei Wuxian.
Guilt curdles in Wei Wuxian’s stomach. This is a lie. And Lan Wangji hates lies.
Three things happen at the same time: Lan Wangji’s lips touch his.
Wei Wuxian pushes him away.
And the stairs crumble in on themselves, just as the light in Lan Wangji’s gold eyes breaks into a million splinters. Lan Wangji pushes Wei Wuxian to the floor and shields him from any debris, hissing as a piece of rock bounces off his back. From where Wei Wuxian is groaning on the floor, he can see a wax statue of Yue Fei galloping out of the dust of the stairs.
Wei Wuxian barely has time to gather his bearings and guess what’s happening before Lan Wangji has leapt up, grabbed a sword from the nearest wax figure and blocked Yue Fei’s spear.
“What the fuck.” Wei Wuxian coughs and shields his face from the billowing dust. “It must be — Lan Zhan! Somebody’s been akumatized! Come on, let’s run — “
Yue Fei’s spear pushes past Lan Wangji’s defenses and slams into the side of his leg. Lan Wangji grunts and stumbles, but he doesn’t fall. Instead, he readies his sword and parries the next blow, and the next, dodging and weaving as light as a butterfly. Wei Wuxian jumps up from the floor and tugs Lan Wangji out of the way, just as Yue Fei’s spear slashes the air where Lan Wangji’s neck would have been.
“Wei Ying. Go. Find some help. Get away!” Lan Wangji won’t look at him as he protects Wei Wuxian. When he had pushed Wei Wuxian to the ground earlier, he had recoiled from Wei Wuxian as soon as he could. Does he want Wei Wuxian to leave him? Was this the final straw?
Wei Wuxian shoves down the heat that pricks at his eyes and all the things he wants to tell Lan Wangji. “No. You got hurt! I can’t leave you.”
The overhead speakers crackle. At first, Wei Wuxian thinks that Luo Qingyang is trying to warn them that there’s an akuma, which, no shit Sherlock, but a lilting, eerie voice echoes through the first floor.
“That’s right! No leaving, you’re staying and playing with me and my statues. Now.” Says Jin Ling.
“A-Ling?” Wei Wuxian whispers. “No, no, not you, please — “
“It’s not A-Ling,” Jin Ling spits. Wei Wuxian can hear nothing but resentment in his voice. “It’s Puppeteer! And dajiu is going to play with me for the rest of the day!”
“But I don’t have a nephew named Puppeteer, so you can’t call me dajiu.” Wei Wuxian points out to avoid the oncoming wave of panic. Oh god, jiejie’s son got akumatized, she’s going to kill me. Oh god, that’s my nephew trying to fight us, I fucked up. I fucked up bad. “A-Ling, please.”
Jin Ling laughs. The speakers screech with the sound and Wei Wuxian has to pull Lan Wangji out of the path of another attack from Yue Fei. If Wei Wuxian let Lan Wangji get hurt, he’d never forgive himself. Wei Wuxian tears his hand away from Lan Wangji’s arm as soon as he can. Obviously Lan Wangji still… doesn’t want to touch him. Obviously Lan Wangji dislikes him now, there’s only so many times Wei Wuxian can hurt Lan Wangji before it gets too hard to be his friend.
“Now you have a nephew named Puppeteer!” Jin Ling proclaims. “Nobody wants to play with me, not dajiu or Huan-gege or Qingyang-jie, so I’ll make everybody play with me now!”
Wei Wuxian pauses. “Wait, that logic doesn’t make sense.” The logic behind akumatized villains’ motivations rarely makes sense, but he supposes the elusive Hawkmoth will capitalize on the weirdest opportunities to akumatize somebody. Before he can argue more with Jin Ling, Yue Fei’s spear jabs at him and Wei Wuxian barely dodges.
“Wei Ying, go.” Lan Wangji grunts as Yue Fei’s spear smashes into the backside of his sword. “I will be safe. Find help. Make sure Brother is safe too.”
“Okay. Okay, Lan Zhan, I’ll be right back with some help, stay safe — “ I’ll come back, I’ll protect you, I won’t let you get hurt any more. I need to tell you I love you, even if you don’t like me now. “I… I’ll go now.”
Lan Wangji’s hand reaches towards him, as if he wants to grab ahold of Wei Wuxian and link their fingers together and never let go. For a moment, Wei Wuxian lets himself think, maybe we still have a chance.
His hand falls. Lan Wangji turns back. Wei Wuxian bites his lip and runs.
Suibian swoops into the elevator just as the doors close. Thankfully, the elevator still works, otherwise Wei Wuxian would be stuck on the first floor. He can’t transform in here, because the security cameras would pick up on it, so he settles for jabbing at the third floor workshop button and praying that Lan Xichen and Luo Qingyang are okay.
“You’re making that face again.” Suibian says. “The one where you’re a lovesick idiot.”
“Yeah, a lovesick idiot who fucked up big time. Lan Zhan probably… he probably doesn’t think very well of me anymore.” Wei Wuxian rubs at his eyes as the elevator creaks and starts moving. “Ahaha, why am I even — I don’t get to be sad. Not after I hurt Lan Zhan again.”
Suibian sighs and pats Wei Wuxian’s cheek. “And even though you hurt him, he always stays by your side. Don’t get yourself down, kid, you can still talk to him. If you really love him, then don’t hide any longer. You’re Chat Noir, aren’t you?”
“I am, what about it?”
“Chat Noir doesn’t run away from love! Chat Noir doesn’t hide!”
Wei Wuxian tries to clap a hand over Suibian’s mouth and ends up poking his kwami in the eye. “Shut up, you tried to run away from me two days ago because I didn’t give you enough cheese.”
Suibian sticks his tongue out. “That incident notwithstanding, I really can’t bear seeing you like this! When did I get such a pathetic Chat Noir?”
“Hey! I’m not pathetic, shut UP!!”
“You kinda are!” Suibian sing-songs, darting around Wei Wuxian’s head just to annoy him. “You always go uuuuwaaa Lan er-gege and you never realize anything important about the Lan boy and you’re too caught up in your own worrying about lying and shit that you don’t even ask him how he feels!”
“I — I don’t do that — “ He does. For what may be the first time in the history of mankind, his kwami is correct. And Wei Wuxian hates it. He should have asked Lan Wangji a long time ago, should have told him as soon as he realized he loved Lan Wangji with all his heart and soul, should have done something instead of running away. Wei Wuxian is not going to cry. “Well, maybe I do. Anyways, I’m not pathetic! I was about to tell him I love him! I just… fucked up. A lot. I hurt him again.”
“Oohh what if my Lan er-gege doesn’t wanna be with me anymore, what if he hates me, ooohhh Lan Zhaaaaaan — “ Suibian shuts up as soon as Wei Wuxian turns his watery glare on him. “What! I’m just making fun of you! That’s what you always sound like!”
No, Wei Wuxian’s pretty sure he doesn’t sound like that. He doesn’t say Lan Wangji’s name that often, does he? And if he does, it’s because Lan Wangji’s name is just really nice.
“Let’s just make sure Huan-ge and Qingyang-jie are fine, then we’re going to go help Lan Zhan.”
The elevator dings. Wei Wuxian takes one step out and dodges an arrow, sent from the statue of some old guy wearing flower-embroidered robes. Who’s bright idea was it to have so many warriors in this museum anyways? It’s just making things harder for Wei Wuxian. He leaps between the bits and pieces of wax parts on the floor and the flying arrows, trying to make it to the workshop door before the archer can hit him. Suibian phases in and out of the arrows, deflecting them from their path.
“Huan-ge! Qingyang-jie! Are you there?” Wei Wuxian shouts. It looks like a typhoon has swept through the workshop, with metal cabinets lying broken on the floor and spare plastic parts everywhere Wei Wuxian steps. “Huan-ge!”
He hears Lan Xichen’s coughing before he sees Lan Xichen struggling to free himself from a fallen cabinet. “I’m fine! Just a few bruises. Did you know A-Ling got akumatized? Did you clear things up with Zhanzhan?”
“I… yes and no! It’s a long story!”
“Wei Ying. Really?”
“Yeah!” Wei Wuxian bluffs. He absolutely can’t look Lan Xichen in the eye. “I’m, uh, I’m gonna go find Qingyang-jie and get help, stay there, okay?”
“I think Luo Qingyang got turned into a statue, you should stay here, it’s safer!”
Wei Wuxian nearly curses. “If you’re stuck here and Qingyang-jie is a statue, then I’m the only person who can help!” He shouts, and slips out of the workshop before Lan Xichen can question his behavior. A quick glance around the corridor reveals one camera in the far-left corner.
Helping Lan Wangji takes precedence over any camera capturing his identity.
“Suibian! Claws out!” He shouts. The next second, the familiar tingling of the magic of his miraculous washes over him, red light enveloping him as his suit and powers sink into his skin. He feels the magic enhancing his strength, soaking into his blood, rushing through every vein, a precarious balance of white-hot power and simmering destruction that never fails to put a smirk on his face. Adrenaline spikes in him.
He’s Chat Noir now, and nothing could possibly scare him. There is chaos and shadows at the tips of his claws, power in its purest form lashing through his tail, crackling around him in every step he takes, and nothing can bring him down.
Wei Wuxian twirls his baton once and heads towards Lan Wangji. It’s an easy task to leap down the three flights of ruined stairs, hopping from upended metal reinforcement to half-crumbling concrete and soaring through the air. It’s even easier to let the magic pound through his head, until he can only think of the wind against his masked face, the red panels of his suit catching on the sunshine that trickles through the overhead dome, and how feather-light he feels, instead of how Lan Wangji had recoiled from his touch.
He skids to a stop once he does get down the stairs, because that’s Lan Wangji, being held in the air by the wax statue of Yue Fei, his body limp as Yue Fei’s hand tightens around his neck.
There’s no time for hesitation. Wei Wuxian crouches, feeling strength filling his body, before charging towards the wax statue with a growl. His vision field flickers green and grey, and he doesn’t think about it, only sees his baton whistling through the air and slicing clean through the wax statue’s arm.
Wei Wuxian sweeps Lan Wangji up in a princess carry before he can hit the ground. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know you don’t like being touched, I know you don’t want me to touch you, he chants, but as he looks down at Lan Wangji’s surprised face, an instinctive smile spreads.
“Hello, Lan Zhan! Fancy meeting you here!”
Lan Wangji does not struggle to get out of Wei Wuxian’s arms. Right, he’s Chat Noir right now, of course Lan Wangji wouldn’t instantly recoil. “How do you know my name?”
“What! I’ve met you before, of course, and I’d always remember somebody as pretty as you!”
Wei Wuxian leaps into the air to avoid Yue Fei’s incessant attacks and lands light as a feather, before twirling around to kick Yue Fei’s stupid wax head clean off his neck. Throughout it all, he ensures Lan Wangji remains nestled safe and sound in his arms. He has to at least take care of Lan Wangji as Chat Noir.
When Wei Wuxian sets him down, Lan Wangji tugs at his bangs so that they cover his ears and sighs. “Thank you.”
That doesn’t sit right with Wei Wuxian. Lan Wangji shouldn’t thank him, he’s just… doing his duty. Doing what he should. Protecting the love of his life, even if said love of his life might hate him now.
“You’re welcome, pretty boy!”
“Isn’t there a villain to fight?” Lan Wangji asks, unimpressed.
“Oh, of course there is! Ladybug and I will defeat him in a second! But I wanna make sure you get to safety first. After all, I care — ah, I mean, you’re a civilian so it’s my job to protect you!”
Lan Wangji nods slowly. But before he runs off to find someplace safe to hide, he grabs Wei Wuxian’s gloved hand so hard, Wei Wuxian swears he feels his bones crack.
“Did you — do you know if Wei Ying is safe? He’s my — my…” Lan Wangji steps back, his other hand clenching into a fist. “Please tell me he is safe. I need to know he’s safe.”
It hits Wei Wuxian hard. Lan Wangji is begging him for scraps of information about… himself. Lan Wangji still cares enough to ask whether Wei Wuxian is safe. Lan Wangji cares, so much that as Wei Wuxian remains silent, his expression folds in on itself, the fingers he has wrapped around Wei Wuxian’s wrist trembling so hard Wei Wuxian can see them.
No matter what, Lan Wangji cares about him.
Wei Wuxian smiles helplessly. “I saw him.” It technically isn’t a lie.
All the tension drains from Lan Wangji. His grip relaxes, and Wei Wuxian rubs at the spot that Lan Wangji had grabbed. “Did he — “
“He said,” Wei Wuxian interrupts, “that if I saw a handsome man named Lan Zhan, I should tell that man to stay safe, and that Wei Ying cares about Lan Zhan very much. No matter what happens.”
Lan Wangji’s eyes widen.
“And that, when the akuma’s defeated, he’ll come find you, because he needs to tell you something very important.”
A gasp from Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian’s heart rabbits in his chest as hope ignites in Lan Wangji’s golden eyes. “He…”
“That Wei Ying guy was really worried about you. He only wants you to be happy. He… fucked up a lot, but he still wants to make you happy, you know?” Wei Wuxian says quickly, before Lan Wangji can start to question why Chat Noir is telling him all this. “He really likes you.”
Lan Wangji sucks in a breath. “You — he — how do you know all this?”
“…Call it a superhero’s instinct!” Wei Wuxian lies. “Get to safety now, okay? Go to the third floor and hide until the akuma’s defeated.”
Thankfully, Lan Wangji doesn’t press any further. Wei Wuxian waits until he sees Lan Wangji’s figure disappear into the elevator before he stumbles to the nearest bench and plops his face in his hands. Even through the mask, he can feel the heat of his blush, at the shameless words he’d said, and at Lan Wangji’s bright, hopeful expression.
What had Suibian said? Even though Wei Wuxian keeps hurting Lan Wangji, Lan Wangji never leaves his side. Even though Wei Wuxian could never say the important things to Lan Wangji, Lan Wangji had never hated him for it, had never pushed him away, had always waited for Wei Wuxian.
Gods, he feels like an asshole now. It’s not like he hadn’t known Lan Wangji cared about him before, but now… it feels like he’s been trivializing Lan Wangji’s feelings for far too long.
Wei Wuxian slaps his cheeks. No good will come from sitting around on his own feelings like this. He’s got to find Ladybug and defeat Jin Ling in the kindest way possible. That’s still his nephew, after all.
And his nephew was on the third floor, with Luo Qingyang. He just sent Lan Wangji to the third floor.
The elevator’s slow, too slow, if he takes the stairs will he make it in time? If he can’t protect Lan Wangji, not even as Chat Noir, will he ever be able to face Lan Wangji again? Wei Wuxian leaps onto an intact railing and jumps from wall to wall, painfully aware of the clock ticking away in his mind. How much longer does he have?
The third floor is quiet. Too quiet. Wei Wuxian’s footsteps, discreet as he tries to be, echo down the length of the corridor, and he flinches at every sudden noise. Did Lan Wangji find a place to hide already? Had one of Jin Ling’s statues gotten him?
His baton spins in his hands, ready to strike at the first sign of pale wax. Overhead, the paneled windows glimmer with dusty, clouded afternoon light. Wei Wuxian is not alone in this corridor.
“Chat Noir?” He hears, and he hisses, pivoting and bringing his baton down in one fluid movement.
It’s blocked by the icy blue whir of a yo-yo. Wei Wuxian is not alone in this corridor, because Ladybug is with him.
“Oh,” Wei Wuxian gasps, “Ladybug! You surprised me, Blue.”
The yo-yo stops and returns to Ladybug’s hip. Under the dotted blue mask, his golden eyes narrow at Wei Wuxian. “I told you not to call me that.”
“But your suit is blue, and your yo-yo is also blue, so… it’s a reasonable conclusion!”
“It is not.” Ladybug protests. Wei Wuxian ignores him. No matter how many akumas they defeat together, which is… not many, because as dangerous as Hawkmoth is, the akumas created total to about two per month, Wei Wuxian will never get tired of teasing Ladybug until his ears turn red. “Let us find the akuma and be done quickly.”
“Wait! Wait, Blue, have you seen a guy named Lan Zhan? He’s about as tall as you, and he has the same wonderful golden eyes as you, I told him to go hide on the third floor but I didn’t realize the akuma was probably on the third floor — “
Ladybug unravels his yo-yo and uses it to knock upon the door to the workshop with a sharp snap. “I saw him. He’s safe.”
Wei Wuxian’s legs nearly give out. He hadn’t realized just how much he’d been worrying about Lan Wangji before hearing that Lan Wangji is safe. Lan Wangji is safe, Wei Wuxian was still able to protect him after all.
“Thank god. I was… worried.”
Ladybug freezes. “Why?”
“Ah, it’s just because I know him, kinda? We’re… friends, at least. Can’t help but worry about somebody as good as him.” Wei Wuxian shrugs. “What else?”
“You… know Lan Zhan?” Ladybug’s frown grows deeper, and Wei Wuxian’s stomach flips at the glint in his golden eyes. Today, Ladybug seems stressed — his soft hair is messed up at the back, and his shoulders are tensed — and it’s all too familiar to Wei Wuxian.
Before he knows what he’s doing, he’s reaching out to grip Ladybug’s shoulder, just like he does whenever Lan Wangji gets overwhelmed by the world and retreats into himself. Grounding Ladybug just like he’s Lan Wangji.
“Ah! Sorry, sorry, I’m used to doing that to a friend, just… you seemed a little out of it today? Are you okay?” Wei Wuxian backtracks.
“I’m fine.” Ladybug says curtly. “Let’s go.”
As they step into the workshop, Wei Wuxian realizes that Ladybug didn’t shake his hand off.
It takes only a second for Ladybug to free Lan Xichen from the wreckage of the workshop, and another second for them to both realize that this is a trap, as wax statues of old historical figures and European conquerors crawl out of the shadows to surround them.
Lan Xichen’s face pales, but to his credit, he doesn’t faint or anything. He just goes silent and tense, before grabbing a hammer from the nearest standing table and glaring at one of the statues.
“Where the fuck are these things coming from!” Wei Wuxian groans. Now that he knows their weak points — neck and head, knee — it’s second nature to twirl his baton until it decimates the ranks of wax statues advancing towards them without harming a hair on Ladybug or Lan Xichen’s heads. “Blue bug, any ideas?”
“My name is Ladybug. The akuma should be in one of the other workshop rooms.”
“How do you know? And it’s been thirteen months, for god’s sake, nobody calls you Ladybug! Accept it, Blue!”
Ladybug glares at him and points at one of the wax statues that Wei Wuxian had decapitated. “Many of these statues are not finished. I have also observed that compared to the first floor, the statue movements are quicker and more fluid. The power of the statues must relate to their closeness to the akuma.”
“Oh! You’re right, smart as ever, Blue.”
Lan Xichen sighs. “If you two don’t mind, I think I will stay here. It is safe here, right?”
Ladybug nods. “Extremely safe.”
“Thank you, Ladybug, Chat Noir.”
Wei Wuxian knows what Ladybug is going to say even before Ladybug turns to him and says, smugly, “He calls me Ladybug.”
“Yeah, well, he can be the exception!” Wei Wuxian whacks Ladybug’s arm with his baton, and when Ladybug grabs his wrist and pulls him closer with a self-satisfied huff, Wei Wuxian just smirks. “Let’s go, bug, we have an akuma to defeat.” To Lan Xichen, he winks and says, “The one and only Blue Bug and Chat Noir are here to help!”
Ladybug winces. Wei Wuxian snickers harder before Ladybug grabs his tail and drags him out of the workshop.
“Relax, relax, I’ll call you Ladybug if that’s what you really want! What now, Ladybug, do you have a plan?”
Here, in the dappled afternoon sunlight, Ladybug practically glows, the blue dots of his suit shifting as he paces through the corridor. He brushes his bangs back carefully and hums. “Get the akumatized item. Restore things to normal.”
“That isn’t a plan. Why don’t we just rush in and let things work themselves out?” Wei Wuxian tosses his baton in the air and watches as it spins before falling. “We’ve always been fine before. Besides, I trust you to defeat the akuma. You’re Ladybug.”
“…Blue Bug is… fine.” Ladybug admits. Wei Wuxian crows and nearly drags Ladybug into a hug before realizing that, just like Lan Wangji, Ladybug really doesn’t like physical contact. “I trust you to watch my back.”
“Awwww, you are just a big softie deep down inside!” Ladybug glares harder. Wei Wuxian simply shakes his head and settles for patting Ladybug’s arm lamely. “Anyways, I think… none of Hawkmoth’s akumas have been particularly hard to beat, it’s just that pesky dismembered arm that keeps bothering us, right?”
“So use your Lucky Charm and it should be easy to defeat the villain.”
“Mn. Akumas are… rare. Perhaps Hawkmoth is not experienced enough to create them more often.”
“If that’s true, then that might explain why the akumas are so weak sometimes.” Wei Wuxian runs a hand through his hair and watches as Ladybug fiddles with his yo-yo. “Plus, it gives us more break time between each akuma! Hawkmoth must be spending all his magic on that stupid arm.”
“Mn.” Ladybug says again, taking a moment to cast his Lucky Charm and letting the object — a wax sword — fall into his hands. Wei Wuxian’s eyes widen. The akuma must be Jin Ling’s sword, then, though he very well can’t say that to Ladybug without revealing his identity. “Let’s go. Lucky Charm will help us.”
Wei Wuxian bumps his shoulder against Ladybug’s and grins. It’s in the little quiet moments like these, between akuma attacks and planning and patrol, where he can feel the magic of the miraculous binding him and Ladybug together, that he truly feels like Chat Noir. That if he and Ladybug stick together, they could overcome all odds.
“Whatever you say, Blue!”
Facing off against Jin Ling ends up being one of the hardest things Wei Wuxian has ever done. That’s his nephew he’s fighting, after all. Ladybug pulls him aside after four seconds of fighting hand-to-hand — or, well, hand-to-wax-statue — and whispers in his ear that the akuma’s in the sword, and they can trade the Lucky Charm sword for the real sword. To do that, Wei Wuxian has to charge at Jin Ling while dodging the wax statues surrounding him, pull a makeshift blindfold over his eyes, and grab the sword out of Jin Ling’s hand while simultaneously replacing it with the Lucky Charm sword. Then, he can Cataclysm it once they’re sure Jin Ling has been tricked.
“Is that really the plan?” Wei Wuxian hisses, blocking a right hook from a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte and drop-kicking the statue’s head off. “That seems… unnecessarily convoluted.”
Ladybug stares at him.
“Not that I don’t trust the plan! But like, can’t you… help me? Or something?”
“Of course I will help. I can hold the akuma in place.”
Wei Wuxian sighs. Logically, he knows Jin Ling isn’t Jin Ling right now. He’s Puppeteer, under Hawkmoth’s control, completely unaware of what he’s doing. Anger boils under Wei Wuxian’s skin, and below that, an edge of knife-sharp guilt. He may feel no qualms about kicking akumatized villains’ asses, but when it’s Jin Ling, his precious baby nephew…
“A — I mean, the akuma, he won’t like that.”
“But I will do it.” Ladybug says. “It is my duty.”
Well, at least Ladybug seems just as hesitant about attacking Jin Ling as Wei Wuxian feels. He likes to think he can read the prismatic glimmer in Ladybug’s eyes well, the tiny shifts of his expression as he fights, the gentle hesitance in his movements as he talks to civilians. It’s almost like reading Lan Wangji.
“I know, I know. Blindfold?”
Ladybug hands him the blindfold and Wei Wuxian nods. “Be careful. He could catch you in midair.” Ladybug cautions.
“Who do you think I am? I’m Chat Noir, nothing can catch me.”
If he isn’t mistaken, that’s a tiny smile on Ladybug’s normally impassive face. It’s… beautiful. Ladybug really does remind him of Lan Wangji sometimes.
Wei Wuxian takes a moment to pull up a shield against the inevitable guilt that will prickle at his heart for attacking Jin Ling like this. Then —
One leap, claws barely skidding across the dented walls of the room they’re in. Two counts of him suspended in midair, back arched as he soars over an attack and hurtles towards Jin Ling. Three moves, one to wrap the blindfold around Jin Ling’s eyes, one from Ladybug’s yo-yo binding Jin Ling’s limbs to his body, one gentle swipe of the akuma from Jin Ling’s hands. Four seconds for Wei Wuxian to right himself and fall to the ground in a crouch.
Jin Ling struggles and kicks and tries to brandish the trick sword, to no avail.
“Cataclysm!” Wei Wuxian shouts.
It starts like it always does, a dangerous shadow of destructive power more than he should possibly be able to handle slipping through his veins, circulating until Wei Wuxian’s head buzzes with the reel of holding destruction in the palm of his hand like it’s nothing more than a toy. His vision pulses and glows scarlet red, and at the tips of his claws, darkness bubbles.
It’s like kissing Lan Wangji. The twist of his stomach as he brings his hand down on the sword, watching it fade into nothingness. The primal pleasure of his Chat Noir senses reacting to the spike in his magic.
It’s like kissing Lan Wangji, fleeting and delicious, but Wei Wuxian could kiss Lan Wangji forever. The magic flows out of him after the sword is nothing but a pile of dark sand on the floor, and he stumbles to one side.
Ladybug makes quick work of the runaway akuma, capturing it within his yo-yo and purifying it. It flutters off to who-knows-where, phasing through a roof window and disappearing into the clear blue sky. A second later, Ladybug’s restoration powers sweep through the building in a brilliant flash of blue.
Wei Wuxian grins. Maybe they should do this more often. After nearly a month of boring patrols every two days, with no crimes but petty robbery and, on one memorable occasion, an attempted murder, for them to attend to, this akuma made Wei Wuxian remember just how good it feels being Chat Noir.
“Pound it!” He cheers.
“Pound it.” Ladybug says, always the reluctant one.
Jin Ling stirs from where he’s lying on the ground, and Wei Wuxian rushes to his side. His nephew is confused and tired and cranky, but he’s unharmed, and that’s what matters.
“What happened? Chat Noir?” Jin Ling says slowly. “Ladybug?”
“He calls me Ladybug too.” Ladybug points out.
You already said I could call you Blue! Why are you still on my case about this, huh??
Wei Wuxian takes one of Jin Ling’s hands and pats his head with the other in a cheap imitation of how Jiang Yanli pats Jin Ling’s head.
“You got akumatized. But it’s fine now. We’re here for you, A-Ling.”
Behind him, Ladybug sucks in a breath. Wei Wuxian doesn’t have to turn around to know that Ladybug’s golden eyes are trained on his back, piercing right through to his heart.
“Chat Noir knows my name?” Jin Ling asks.
It’s Wei Wuxian’s turn to gasp. Right, he shouldn’t know who Jin Ling is, other than the boy who was just akumatized.
He’s not Wei Ying, best uncle to Jin Ling, Jiang Yanli’s younger brother. He’s Chat Noir.
“Of course I know your name!” Wei Wuxian bluffs. “I know everybody’s name!”
Jin Ling narrows his eyes. “So… Chat Noir is like Santa?” He asks.
Do I look like I have a fat beard and a red suit?? Wei Wuxian isn’t quite sure what kind of face he’s making, but judging by Jin Ling’s scowl, it can’t be good.
“Yep!” Wei Wuxian says.
Ladybug’s fingers wrap around his elbow. A silent reminder that they have things to do, people to talk to, a city’s worth of peace to maintain.
“Sorry, kiddo, we’ve got to go. Is there anybody around who can take care of you?”
“Dajiu said he’d play with me… Dajiu isn’t here.” Jin Ling mutters. “Did dajiu leave?”
Wei Wuxian presses a careful hand to Jin Ling’s cheek and smiles. “Of course he didn’t. I’m sure your dajiu is just… very busy. And I’m sure he loves you lots, okay? Sometimes people have very important things to do, but don’t think you’re any less important, A-Ling.”
Ladybug crouches down beside him and nods. “Do not worry. Your dajiu cares very much about you.”
He sounds like he knows this for a fact. Like Ladybug knows how much Wei Wuxian loves Jin Ling. It must just be Ladybug’s kindness.
Lan Xichen barges into the room, followed close behind by Luo Qingyang. They both try to speak at the same time, before looking at each other and deciding that Luo Qingyang will go first.
“Ladybug, Chat Noir, I… let him get akumatized. I’m sorry. I didn’t pay enough attention to him while I was working, and when I turned around, he was…”
“I’m sure it isn’t your fault. These things happen, ya know? And it’s really Hawkmoth’s fault, anyways.” Wei Wuxian twirls his baton in one hand and makes an ok sign with his other. “It’s all good! Can you two take care of this kid? I’m afraid we’ve got to run.”
“Of course.” Lan Xichen says. To Jin Ling, he whispers, “I’ll wait with you until Wei Ying and Zhanzhan get back, okay?”
Ladybug and Wei Wuxian share a look.
“Patrol tonight?” Wei Wuxian asks. Just to confirm. In case he meets Lan Wangji after this, and somehow things go wrong. Just in case, so he has somebody to talk to.
“Mn. Meet you at the regular spot.” Ladybug turns to nod at each of them and zips out through an open window. “Bug out.”
“Uh… Chat Noir out too, then!” Wei Wuxian says, running through the door. He detransforms, tells an exhausted Suibian that there should be cheese somewhere in the building, please stop bothering me I have to talk to A-Ling, before staggering a step back towards the room and collapsing against the wall.
Detransforming after a real akuma battle always exhausts him. Without the buzz of magic thrumming through his body, all he has is the sharp taste of fatigue on his tongue and the sluggish awareness of being just Wei Ying dawning upon him.
He manages to stumble through the door and gasp out a relieved “A-Ling!” before falling to his knees in front of his nephew. “Ahhh, dajiu is so sorry, dajiu really wanted to play with you, dajiu didn’t mean to make you sad!”
“It’s fine, dajiu!” Jin Ling interrupts. He places one hand on Wei Wuxian’s head, like he wants to pat it. “You were busy!”
“Still!” Wei Wuxian pouts. “I should have… you know what, let’s walk home quick so we can play before your parents get back, okay?”
Lan Xichen hums. “I thought Zhanzhan was driving you back? What happened to that?”
“Uh… about that, ahaha, funny story, but Lan Zhan and I actually…”
It’s the perfect time for Lan Wangji to barge into the room and visibly slump at the sight of everybody safe and sound.
Oh, who is Wei Wuxian kidding? It’s the worst time possible. Lan Wangji takes one look at him and snaps his gaze away, his ears coloring red. Lan Xichen stares at the two of them and sends a confused glance at Wei Wuxian.
I’m so sorry, Huan-ge! Wei Wuxian wants to shout. Give me one minute, I’ll talk to Lan Zhan, I’ll make things right, I’ll tell him everything!
After all, the scariest thing… is, in the end, losing Lan Wangji. Whether Wei Wuxian thinks Lan Wangji likes him back or not, he needs to tell him everything important before any other misunderstandings can happen.
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian says happily. “You’re here!”
“You know, I really need to talk to you!”
Lan Wangji blinks and stares at his hands. Silence, and then, slowly, “You… do?”
“Whatever you two are gonna say, can it wait until later?” Luo Qingyang interrupts. “People are gonna come around and start asking what happened here, and… you guys probably shouldn’t be here when that happens, especially you, Wei Ying.”
“But I — I need to talk to Lan Zhan — “
“I’m sure you do,” Lan Xichen says sharply, “But we should listen to Luo Qingyang. Let’s go, Zhanzhan.”
Wei Wuxian bites down his protests, scoops Jin Ling up, and trails after the Lan brothers with a short goodbye to Luo Qingyang, who reassures him that the mold of his arm is okay, no further appointments are needed.
Gods, Lan Xichen probably thinks that Wei Wuxian didn’t even try to tell Lan Wangji anything. Which is… not entirely wrong, and Wei Wuxian would much rather try to make things right again then dwell on what’s already happened, but Lan Xichen’s cold disappointment still crushes him.
Once they get outside, Wei Wuxian grabs the edge of Lan Wangji’s sleeve before he can leave.
“Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji breathes. “What — “
“Lan Zhan!! Back then, I didn’t mean to push you away!”
Lan Wangji’s eyes widen.
“And from now on, I’ll never push you away again, I’ll never hurt you again, I’ll accept anything from you because it’s you!”
Wei Wuxian is acutely aware that with every word he says, his voice grows louder, and more people start to stare at them from across the street. But he doesn’t care. Before Lan Wangji leaves, before Wei Wuxian runs out of time, he needs Lan Wangji to know.
“Lan Zhan, you’re… exceptionally good. I like you!”
Finally, he thinks he hears Lan Xichen mutter, but the rest of what he was going to say is swallowed up by the snap of a camera.
“Hey, is that… the Wei Ying?” Somebody whispers.
Wei Wuxian freezes. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a little voice is telling him that he should ignore them and keep confessing. Lan Wangji is waiting for him.
The rest of that is swept away by the dread that crashes through him at the thought of being thrown back into the public eye, and… dragging Lan Wangji down along with him.
“Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji says softly. Right now, Lan Wangji looks like the most beautiful vision Wei Wuxian has ever seen. The sunlight flickering slowly over his face doesn’t begin to rival the smile that glows in his eyes. “You really…”
“Really! It’s not the heat of the moment, I’m not joking around either, I truly — towards you, I’ve always liked you!”
The whispers grow louder. Jin Ling inches closer to Wei Wuxian, his arms wrapping around Wei Wuxian’s waist in a death grip. Wei Wuxian squeezes his eyes shut and tries to ignore everything but the brilliant blush on Lan Wangji’s ears.
And then he feels Lan Wangji’s hand grasping his. Feels a soft pressure on his forehead, knows it’s Lan Wangji’s lips on his skin.
Wei Wuxian sighs into the touch.
“Wei Ying, I like you very much.” Lan Wangji whispers. His lips are still brushing Wei Wuxian’s forehead. “Have always liked Wei Ying.”
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian gasps, feeling breathless. Maybe it’s because with Lan Wangji so close to him, he can’t help but feel like he’s Chat Noir again, soaring through the air, his heart unbound.
“But… Wei Ying should go. We can talk later.”
“Eh? Why?” Didn’t Lan Wangji like him back? Love him, even?
Lan Wangji’s eyes dart to look at the various random people standing around them, some of them not even bothering to conceal their phones. “You do not like them. Being photographed like this. Do not want Wei Ying to hurt again.”
“Ah, Lan er-gege, you’re really too good.” Isn’t Wei Wuxian the one who should be saying he doesn’t want Lan Wangji to hurt ever again? It’s a hard task to keep the tremor in his hands from spreading to his voice. Perhaps Lan Wangji is correct. “But I still have important things to say to you!”
Lan Wangji steps closer. His hands are shaking too. Is it because of the attention they’re drawing, or — “Tonight. The International Finance Center 10:15 PM.” He whispers.
Wei Wuxian gasps again, but this time it isn’t because Lan Wangji has kissed him. No, it’s because that’s his regular patrol meeting place with Ladybug. The roof of Suzhou IFC, overlooking the glittering lights of Gusu, where for every two nights for the past year, him and Ladybug have met.
The roof of Suzhou IFC at 10:15 PM, a place nobody else would even think of visiting at that time.
Nobody except him, and Ladybug.
“Lan… Zhan? You’re — “
“Go, Wei Ying. I will see you later.”
Wei Wuxian gathers Jin Ling into his arms and takes one last look at Lan Wangji before running off.
His stomach is still churning from the attention that they had drawn, but more than that, it’s because — if he isn’t wrong, Lan Wangji is Ladybug.
Wei Wuxian spends the rest of the afternoon playing with Jin Ling absentmindedly. His thoughts go in a circle of Lan Zhan-Ladybug-confession-Lan Zhan-IFC-Ladybug . Jin Ling must notice that Wei Wuxian is out of it, because he gives up on trying to get Wei Wuxian to play-fight him.
Lan Wangji. Ladybug. The same people.
Well. At least it explains why he’s always felt like he’s known Ladybug for years. Why he can read Ladybug almost as well as Lan Wangji.
How much courage had it taken Lan Wangji to tell him that?
Wei Wuxian flops back onto his bed and groans. He wishes he could stop worrying about their identities, and how to make everything up to Lan Wangji, and how to confess properly.
Can’t it be as simple as him loving Lan Wangji, and Lan Wangji loving him, and them being happy together forever?
Maybe it can be that simple. They could move in together, grow old together, never having to apologize for anything because they both know they love each other unconditionally and that’s enough. They could retire from being Ladybug and Chat Noir, and when they grew tired of living a normal life, they could transform and take a quick spin around the city.
Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan had swung by to pick Jin Ling up, a few minutes earlier. Wei Wuxian had told them of how Jin Ling had become akumatized, and while Jin Zixuan didn’t seem too happy about it, Jiang Yanli had simply smiled and said, “It’s okay, A-Ying, I’m just happy you two are safe.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t text him that night. He doesn’t need to, but the sheer quietness of Wei Wuxian’s apartment is unnerving.
Finally, Wei Wuxian decides to just run out 15 minutes earlier and patrol the city himself before meeting up with Lan Wangji. His stomach churns with nervousness and worry and thoughts of Lan Wangji, but the one thing that stands out is how he knows Lan Wangji wouldn’t want him to feel obligated to make anything up to him.
The Gusu night air is cool on his skin when Wei Wuxian leaps out of his apartment window and scales the wall of the building. When he reaches the top, he nearly falls off the side of the building. Ladybug — no, Lan Wangji — is standing on the edge of the building, and when Wei Wuxian says his name tentatively, he looks down.
“Ah, Lan Zhan, you couldn’t wait to see me? Ehehe, I’m flattered!”
Lan Wangji sighs and gives him a hand to help Wei Wuxian up. “Careful.”
“I’m always careful!”
Lan Wangji gives him a look.
“Okay, I’m careful sometimes, that still counts.”
“Trust me, it does!”
They end up sitting by each other’s sides, legs swinging over the side of the building, watching as the cars rush by below them. Wei Wuxian’s side feels impossibly warm, with Lan Wangji a quiet, soft blur of black and blue next to him.
“How did you figure it out?” Wei Wuxian finally asks.
Lan Wangji shifts. Their shoulders bump against each other and Lan Wangji doesn’t pull away. “You called Jin Ling ‘A-Ling’. And… you said you knew me. You said we are friends.” He says the last part slowly.
“It figures. What, you don’t have other friends who call A-Ling that?”
“I don’t have many friends.”
“That’s a shame. You’re so good! People have no idea what they’re missing out on.”
Lan Wangji stays silent.
“But… I kind of like that. It means I get to see more of you. And about what I said, when I was Chat Noir…”
“What did you say?” Lan Wangji interrupts.”
“The ‘we are friends’ part! We’re not just friends.” Wei Wuxian huffs. “We can be… Lan Zhan, to you, what am I?”
Lan Wangji bites his lip. He’s struggling with his words, Wei Wuxian can tell, but Wei Wuxian would wait forever to hear Lan Wangji’s answer.
“To me, you are… the most important person in the world.”
Wei Wuxian’s heart pounds. He leans in closer.
“Aren’t you going to ask what you are to me, Lan Zhan?”
Obediently, Lan Wangji asks, “What am I to you?”
Wei Wuxian grins. “I think of you as my soulmate!”
Lan Wangji stares at him. And stares at him some more.
“No, ugh, that came out wrong — what I meant is, you’re the only one for me, Lan Zhan. It has to be you. I love only you, and I’ll always love only you. It can’t be anybody but you.”
Lan Wangji’s hand comes up to cup Wei Wuxian’s face, and Wei Wuxian mirrors his actions. Through the suit, he can feel the warmth of Lan Wangji’s skin. Wei Wuxian caresses Lan Wangji’s cheek and Lan Wangji leans into his touch with a pleased hum.
Closer. Their foreheads bump together. This time, Lan Wangji knows he isn’t a wax statue. This time, Wei Wuxian isn’t pretending at all.
“I’m sorry for hurting you, back at the museum.” Wei Wuxian whispers. “If you’ll allow me, I want to make you happy. I want to make you smile. If you’ll let me, I’ll be here for you. Always. Every day, I’ll thank the stars for letting me love you.”
Lan Wangji’s other hand weaves through Wei Wuxian’s hair, pulling him closer. “Between us, there is no need for thank you and I’m sorry.” He says. “Will always love Wei Ying. Nothing to thank me for. Nothing to apologize for. I love Wei Ying.”
Wei Wuxian shivers and leans into Lan Wangji’s warmth. Lan Wangji isn’t doing anything special, but his thumb is rubbing circles on Wei Wuxian’s cheek and his breath is ghosting along Wei Wuxian’s lips and if Lan Wangji doesn’t kiss him right now, he thinks he’s going to lose his mind.
“Suibian, claws in.” He says, before he can change his mind. “Lan Zhan, let me kiss you. Not as Chat Noir, but… as just Wei Ying. Your Wei Ying.”
Lan Wangji nods. “Bichen, spots off.”
The magic of the miraculous shines around them for one second, tendrils of red and blue twining together. Wei Wuxian closes his eyes and lets Lan Wangji’s lips brush against his, tentative at first, then firm and warm.
Now, they’re just Wei Ying and Lan Zhan. Sitting on top of the roof, kissing each other, knowing nothing but the taste of their lips and the warmth of their bodies.
Lan Wangji wraps an arm around Wei Wuxian’s waist and pulls him even closer. His hands find their home in Wei Wuxian’s hair and the small of his back, caressing him slowly. No matter how much Wei Wuxian tries to deepen the kiss, until Lan Wangji is panting into his mouth, Lan Wangji keeps it torturously slow and chaste.
For god’s sake, Wei Wuxian is dying here! There’s only so many teasing touches that he can take before his head is spinning with the scent of Lan Wangji and every little movement from Lan Wangji has him shivering.
He’s completely at Lan Wangji’s mercy here.
And Lan Wangji pulls back , that bastard. “Good?” He asks. His lips are only a few centimeters away from Wei Wuxian’s. Why won’t Lan Wangji kiss him again already?
“Good.” Wei Wuxian breathes. “Now kiss me. Hard.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t need to be asked twice. His mouth is back on Wei Wuxian’s, and this time there is none of the gentle, careful adoration in his movements. His tongue sweeps into Wei Wuxian’s mouth, hands flying up to his jaw and tracing a nonsensical pattern on his skin, licking and sucking until Wei Wuxian moans at the wet heat of Lan Wangji’s mouth.
When Lan Wangji’s fingernails scratch under his neck, Wei Wuxian makes a completely embarrassing noise and his toes curl with the sheer pleasure Lan Wangji is giving him right now.
“Ahaha, must be — “ Wei Wuxian breaks off to moan quietly as Lan Wangji’s teeth scrape at his neck, lips pressing down to his collarbone. “Must be my Chat Noir senses. Lan Zhan, don’t — !”
Lan Wangji nips at the same place he’d scratched, and a dangerous bolt of heat jolts through Wei Wuxian’s body. His lips stay there, pressing gently, and Wei Wuxian trembles against Lan Wangji.
They’re on the edge of the roof and the urban sprawl of Suzhou is beneath them, the stars shining above, and Wei Wuxian wouldn’t want to be anywhere but here, kissing Lan Wangji until everything fades into oblivion.
Eventually they have to pull apart, of course. Patrol waits for nobody, and neither does planning how to defeat Hawkmoth. Eventually, they’ll have to stop kissing, which is a completely unappetizing possibility, because Wei Wuxian could kiss Lan Wangji forever, losing himself in the slow slide of those plush lips.
Eventually turns into ‘maybe five more minutes’, which turns into an indefinite amount of time, the two of them keeping each other warm while the early spring night turns colder around them. When Wei Wuxian does finally detach himself from Lan Wangji, it’s with no small amount of reluctance. Lan Wangji isn’t keen on taking his hands off of Wei Wuxian’s waist anytime soon, so Wei Wuxian leans his head on Lan Wangji’s shoulder and blinks as a shooting star passes by overhead.
“You know, Lan Zhan, I was so worried about this. Us. Confessing. I thought you wouldn’t want to be with me if you knew I was Chat Noir, I thought I wouldn’t want to be with you if it meant you possibly getting hurt…”
“Even if it hurts, I do not care.” Lan Wangji says suddenly. His brow furrows. Wei Wuxian reaches out to stroke his face. “Being with Wei Ying will never hurt.”
Wei Wuxian sputters and pushes his face into Lan Wangji’s neck. “You! I know that now! But even if I’m Chat Noir, I still get scared sometimes, okay?”
“I am Ladybug. I get scared too, sometimes.” Lan Wangji admits. “It is alright to be scared. I will protect you.”
Wei Wuxian grins. “And I’ll protect you! So we can be happy together!” He pulls Lan Wangji into another kiss and when he draws back, Lan Wangji is smiling at him. Wei Wuxian’s heart does another backflip. “Let’s stay like this forever, okay?”
“Mn.” Lan Wangji takes Wei Wuxian’s hand and kisses the tips of his fingers first, then his palm, then his wrist. When Wei Wuxian flushes red and giggles, Lan Wangji’s eyes soften, and he kisses Wei Wuxian’s forehead next.
“If you keep kissing me like this, my heart will give up the ghost. You think making me all flustered is funny? Huh, Lan Zhan?”
Lan Wangji nods.
“What! So devious!” Happiness bubbles up in his stomach and manifests in the form of a few random kisses, on Lan Wangji’s neck and cheek and nose. “Lan Zhan, my Lan Zhan, you really are impossible. So good.”
“But you love me.”
“ And I love you.” Wei Wuxian corrects. “Even if your flirting is going to be the death of me.”
“Not flirting. Simply expressing my feelings.”
“…Whatever you say!” Wei Wuxian laughs when Lan Wangji’s arm tightens around his waist. He’s about to lean in and say something stupid like hey, wanna go make out in my apartment instead of patrolling today? when an explosion echoes through a nearby alleyway.
The transformation only takes one second. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian share a look.
“D’you think it’s the dismembered arm again?” Wei Wuxian asks.
Lan Wangji readies his yo-yo. “Perhaps. If it is, we should attempt to capture it this time.”
“So what are we waiting for?”
Whatever lies in the future for them — battling the arm, saving Gusu from yet another akuma, finding and defeating Hawkmoth — Wei Wuxian doesn’t feel quite as scared anymore. Because now, Lan Wangji is by his side. They take a step back and fly off towards the ringing sound of the explosion.