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Kissing You

Chapter Text

The impertinent Jiang disciple was still talking, perched on the wall with his forbidden liquor, and Lan Zhan's fingers itched with the desire to use the silencing spell on him again.

However, strangely enough, there was also a different, unfamiliar urge growing inside him, which had taken root during their previous fight. It was rare that someone gave Lan Zhan any trouble, and he'd been surprised to discover how talented Wei Wuxian was. It made him feel quite... excited, his heart beating faster, warmth spreading through his limbs.

Yet another insult was hurled at him and, following a sudden impulse, Lan Zhan jumped onto the roof, landing smoothly right in front of Wei Wuxian, startling him into silence. It didn't last, of course - but when Wei Wuxian opened his mouth to speak again, Lan Zhan followed an even stranger impulse: He covered his mouth with his own.

It wasn't a proper kiss, even Lan Zhan knew that, just a pressing of lips against each other, and Wei Wuxian drew a sharp breath. Lan Zhan almost pulled back, mortified - however, the next moment Wei Wuxian's lips softened and he began to kiss back. Lan Zhan's heart raced, his usually so orderly mind in complete turmoil. Still he didn't stop, only pressed in closer, not even put off when his tongue met the taste of liquor in Wei Wuxian's mouth.

It was the crashing of that jar of Emperor's Smile onto the ground which finally startled them apart, and Wei Wuxian hastily removed his hands from where they'd begun to creep inside Lan Zhan's hanfu. Pouting, he crossed his arms. "Look what you've made me do - two jars of Emperor's Smile, lost!"

"Shut you up, though." Ignoring his tingling lips and hot ears, Lan Zhan turned and fled. Laughing, Wei Wuxian followed.

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Following his uncle's orders, Lan Zhan quickly left the Study Pavilion. However, Wei Wuxian was already out of sight, having obviously decided to ignore the fact that he was supposed to go straight to the Library Pavilion.

Lan Zhan's hand tightened on Bichen's grip as the tried to get his flaring temper back under control. Ever since Wei Wuxian's arrival, Lan Zhan had been on edge, his mind continuously drawn to the irrepressible Childe Wei, even as it shied away from the memory of his shameful behaviour the night before.

Following an instinct he couldn't quite explain, Lan Zhan made his way towards the waterfall, not surprised at all when he caught sight of Wei Wuxian there. Without hesitation, Lan Zhan drew Bichen and attacked, only to be easily parried. Once again they were evenly matched, and exhilaration sang in Lan Zhan's blood as they fought in a flurry of moves.

They came to a standstill, but when Wei Wuxian reached out to straighten Lan Zhan's sleeve, the light touch was enough to send lightning racing through his whole body. Before he could stop himself, Lan Zhan had grabbed Wei Wuxian's hand and pulled him in. Gasping in surprise and stumbling a little, he crashed into Lan Zhan, who forestalled any protest by steadying him with an arm around his waist, even as he drew him into a kiss.

This time, Wei Wuxian reacted immediately, opening his mouth to Lan Zhan, fingers sliding into his hair. The kiss was still a bit clumsy, but the heat between them was instantaneous and easily the most intoxicating thing Lan Zhan had ever experienced. When Wei Wuxian groaned and rocked his hips against him, it all became too much, though, and he tore himself away, breath coming fast, face flaming.

Wei Wuxian, on the other hand, just laughed delightedly. "Oh, Lan Zhan, you're such a dark horse! Everyone says you're like ice, but really, you're fire, just going around kissing people."

"Not people," Lan Zhan ground out, and when Wei Wuxian just looked confused, he reluctantly explained, "Only Wei Wuxian."

This seemed to delight Wei Wuxian even more. "So we were each other's first kisses! Lan Zhan, you have to call me Wei Ying now."

"Wei Ying," Lan Zhan repeated reluctantly, glossing over the spark of joy he felt by adding firmly, "You were supposed to be in the Library Pavilion."

Not daunted in the least, Wei Ying just shrugged, launching into an explanation, which Lan Zhan ignored as he grabbed Wei Ying's wrist; only to lead him back to his punishment, of course, and not at all because his heart fluttered weirdly when Wei Ying turned his hand, tangling their fingers together.

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A part of Lan Zhan wondered if Wei Ying was provoking him on purpose. And if Lan Zhan wasn't, in fact, ignoring him at least partly so he would keep doing so, and not because it was what he should have done from the start.

When Wei Ying offered to kneel for him, his smirk turning double into single meaning, there was no denying the heat curling deep in Lan Zhan's stomach. He tried to fix Wei Ying with a censoring glare, but something must have shown on his face, because Wei Ying's eyes darkened and he bit his lower lip. It was the last straw, and Lan Zhan lept over the writing table, pushing Wei Ying onto his back and straddling him.

He did put a hand behind his head so it wouldn't hit the hardwood floor, but that was the last bit of gentleness he had in him, and it showed when he kissed Wei Ying harder than ever before. He'd probably feel guilty if Wei Ying wasn't arching against him and kissing back with the same fervour, their tongues exploring each other's mouth hungrily.

Wei Ying's hands began to worm their way into his hanfu, but before he could, Lan Zhan gripped his wrists and held them over his head. He barely recognised the sound of his own voice as asked roughly, "Would you?"

"Would I what?" Wei Ying sounded gratifyingly out of breath, his eyes wide as he held perfectly still.

It was intoxicating, addictive, and Lan Zhan couldn't help but bury his head against the long line of Wei Ying's neck and bite down. Wei Ying moaned loud enough that Lan Zhan would have feared other people hearing if he hadn't been completely entranced. Lapping at the angry red mark he'd left, he explained huskily, "Would you kneel for me."

"Oh, Lan Zhan... I knew you'd like that!" Laughing breathlessly even as he rocked upwards against Lan Zhan was something Lan Zhan suspected only Wei Ying was capable of. "And yes, I would. I probably shouldn't, it's probably against a million rules, and I've never done anything like it, but yes." His voice dropped, and for the first time he seemed embarrassed. "I think I'd do anything Lan Zhan likes."

His honesty felt like an arrow to Lan Zhan's heart, completely disarming him, and he let go of Wei Ying's wrists immediately. Wei Ying's face fell, making Lan Zhan immediately wish to wipe that look away. Once again following his instinct, he leaned down to kiss Wei Ying again, this time slowly and carefully.

When they separated, Wei Ying was smiling again, almost giddily, and when their eyes met and locked, Lan Zhan had to clear his throat before being able to say quietly, "Only kissing for now."

With that he lifted himself off Wei Ying, offering him a hand up, which he accepted easily, smirk sliding back in place as he winked flirtatiously. "For now, Lan Zhan? You really are a tease!"

"Mn." Straightening his clothes and hair, Lan Zhan sat back down behind his desk, looking up at Wei Ying, who was still grinning at him. "Later. Now write."

Gathering the tatters of his dignity around himself, Lan Zhan very determinedly did not dwell on the fact that he'd just talked about later.

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There was no more opportunity for kissing, nor for anything else, for the rest of the time Wei Ying was copying the rules. Lan Zhan was definitely not disappointed when Wei Ying came to him and said that he was done. No more days spent trapped in a room with this infuriating boy, Lan Zhan should be glad, shouldn't he?

However, when he looked at the drawing Wei Ying had done of him, all he felt was a heaviness in his chest. Despite his disparaging comment, he put the drawing away very carefully, already thinking of a place to put it in his room. Which was probably how he missed the look of anticipation on Wei Ying's face as he opened his book again.

His shocked reaction was completely genuine. He had, as a matter of fact, never seen illustrations like this. Not of men and women, and most certainly not of two men. Even his cursory glance was enough to brand the image of the two cutsleeves into his mind, of the way the older one was cradling the younger one against him as he fucked him, the pleasure on both their faces. He threw the book away as if he'd been burned and rounded in on Wei Ying, who'd collapsed laughing on the floor.

Lan Zhan grabbed him by the collar and pulled him to his feet, manhandling him into the back of the library, where they couldn't be easily seen. Wei Ying followed obediently, having obviously expected, and maybe hoped for, a reaction like this. Lan Zhan's blood felt as if it was boiling, his breath loud in his ears, as he abruptly sat down, taking Wei Ying with him so he ended up straddling his lap.

Already Lan Zhan could feel an answering hardness to his own pushing against his stomach, and with a growl of "Shameless!" he kissed Wei Ying, feeling light-headed with need. As always, Wei Ying responded just as strongly, already rocking against Lan Zhan, his fingers greedily slipping between their bodies and finding the slit in Lan Zhan's hanfu. When he pushed it aside and cupped Lan Zhan's erection through his trousers, Lan Zhan wondered if it was possible to pass out from pleasure.

He rarely took himself in hand, and the few times he had had been nothing like this. Nothing like having Wei Ying in his lap, his mouth against his own, his fingers wrapped around him without any trace of hesitation.

"Touch me, please, Lan Zhan." Wei Ying's voice wafted hotly against his ear when they finally broke apart to catch their breath, and Lan Zhan could only obey, simultaneously kissing his way along Wei Ying's jaw and down his neck, remembering how he'd reacted the last time. Pushing the collar of his hanfu open a little, Lan Zhan found the place where neck met shoulder, kisses turning into bites, even as his hand mirrored Wei Ying's own rhythm.

Both of them were panting hard, and it was obvious that this time there would be no stopping. However, Lan Zhan was determined to bring Wei Ying to climax first, so he held on to the last remnants of his self-control. After one more biting kiss to Wei Ying's neck, he returned to his face, kissing him deeply before catching his earlobe and pulling gently with his teeth. Wei Ying's moan reverberated through the library, but Lan Zhan couldn't bring himself to care. Instead he whispered, not sure if it was order, plea or confession, "Wei Ying."

Whatever it was, it was enough, and Wei Ying came apart with a litany of sounds, part wordless moans, part repetitions of "Lan Zhan, yes, please, oooh." He'd stopped touching Lan Zhan, but just listening to and watching him, the curve of his neck, the flush on his cheeks, the red of his mouth, had Lan Zhan also trembling on the edge of release.

He did manage to hold on until Wei Ying had collapsed against him, face resting in the crook of his neck almost innocently when compared to what they'd been doing. The moment he'd caught his breath, however, he lifted his head, eyes glinting, and announced, "Your turn."

Before Lan Zhan could stop him, he'd wriggled out of his arms and knelt on the floor in front of him. Lan Zhan's breath caught when Wei Ying freed his erection from his trousers, only hesitating a moment. Then his mouth touched the tip, and Lan Zhan hissed, hips bucking upwards helplessly. Wei Ying coughed and pulled off, grinning at him cheekily. "You did say you wanted me to kneel for you."

"Wei Ying!" Forcing himself to hold still, Lan Zhan couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight of Wei Ying in front of him, mouth wrapped around him as if it was something he wanted as much as Lan Zhan did. Even as he fell apart with embarrassing swiftness, emptying himself down Wei Ying's throat, a part of Lan Zhan wondered when that had happened. When had Wei Ying become something he wanted? Wanted so much he ached with it.

For Wei Ying with his easygoing personality this was probably just in good fun. The thought burned bitterly through the aftermath of Lan Zhan's pleasure, making him tense and snappish once they'd disentangled themselves from each other and cursorily cleaned themselves up.

When Wei Ying turned on his heel and left, Lan Zhan was unsure whether this meant that their... whatever this was, had come to an end. If so he should be glad, should meditate until his thoughts were once more clear and calm.

Instead, he took the picture Wei Ying had drawn and slipped it into his sleeve.

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Well-meaning brothers who know one too well were either a gift or a trial. Lan Zhan wasn't sure which when Lan Xichen first allowed Wei Wuxian to accompany them on their nighthunt to Biling Lake and then assigned them the same room at the inn.

At least Wei Ying didn't seem to bear him a grudge, but this was also a mixed blessing, because it only made it more difficult for Lan Zhan to keep his distance until he had his unruly heart back under control. Meditating proved a challenge as well, with Wei Ying a bright presence in his mind even with his eyes closed. Although he wasn't talking for once, he somehow still managed to be impossibly loud.

Finally, Lan Zhan gave up with a sigh. Immediately Wei Ying jumped up from the bed, smiling his usual wide smile, which never failed to make Lan Zhan's heart swell when it was directed at him. Pouting exaggeratedly, Wei Ying demanded, "Lan Zhan, entertain me!"

Lan Zhan just gave him a long look, which somehow caused Wei Ying to break into peals of laughter. "Oh, Wangji-ge, I'm such a trial to you, aren't I? At least you don't hit me like Jiang Cheng does." The affection in his tone further softened Lan Zhan's already weakening resolve, especially when Wei Ying knelt down by his side, looking up at him through his eyelashes as he added more quietly, "Being kissed by you is much nicer, too."

Closing his eyes for a second, Lan Zhan resigned himself to the fact that he was helpless when it came to Wei Ying. Cupping his face in both hands, he trailed his thumbs over his lips, shivering when they parted under his touch. Moving his hands into Wei Ying's hair, Lan Zhan pulled him into a kiss that was sweeter than the sweetest loquat. Giving a small whimper, Wei Ying melted against him, and they traded kisses for what felt like hours.

The walls of the inn were thin, so they couldn't do more than that tonight. But when Wei Ying fell asleep mid-kiss, both arms wrapped around Lan Zhan as they reclined on his bed, Lan Zhan couldn't regret it. Holding Wei Ying in his arms, he felt relaxed and at peace. Still, at 9 o'clock he gently disentangled himself and moved to his own bed. It wouldn't do to get used to this.

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Wei Ying knew that his greatest fault was his habit of acting without thinking. It got him into trouble more often than not, although luckily he usually managed to talk his way out of any serious consequences.

Case in point: He honestly hadn't intended to put Lan Zhan out of commission. But despite being the most sober of the three disciples Lan Zhan had caught drinking Emperor's Smile, his inhibitions had been lowered just enough that Lan Zhan's icy refusal to join them or even so much as look at him made Wei Ying even more desperate for the Second Jade's attention. He really hadn't expected Lan Zhan to be so susceptible to his suggestions - was that a general weakness or had maybe, just maybe Lan Zhan's feelings towards him softened a little?

After all, the night before, at Lake Biling, he had let him fall asleep in his arms, even if he hadn't stayed.

Still, Wei Ying definitely hadn't expected to have Lan Zhan in his bed the very next night, and not for any fun reasons but because he'd passed out drunk after one single cup of liquor. It should be hilarious, but instead Wei Ying's stomach did a funny little twist at the sight, which he chalked up to his own tipsiness.

The sensation only got worse when Lan Zhan called him "Wei-gege," and Wei Ying quickly distracted himself by trying to right Lan Zhan's crooked headband. Turned out that Lan Zhan hated being disorderly even when drunk, although Wei Ying figured slapping his hands away was unnecessarily rude.

As payback he teased Lan Zhan about never getting a wife, swallowing back vinegar at the thought of Lan Zhan married to some pretty female cultivator. Touching her, kissing her, making lots of little cultivator babies with her... It really was a completely ridiculous idea. Even Lan Zhan seemed to agree.

But of course Wei Ying couldn't leave well enough alone, once again managing to put his foot in his mouth with his stupid comment about Lan Zhan's mother. Lan Zhan didn't reply, but something in his demeanour changed, making Wei Ying feel about one chi tall. He never really talked about his parents, yet it only felt right to do so now. As usual, Lan Zhan didn't say anything, but Wei Ying could feel him listening. It was... nice. More than nice, and when he stopped talking, it felt only natural to lean in press a gentle kiss to the bow of Lan Zhan's mouth.

It opened immediately under his touch, a small sigh escaping Lan Zhan even as his hands came up and pulled Wei Ying closer. It really was strange, how someone as rigid and formal as Lan Zhan could be so warm and spontaneous when it came to this. If Wei Ying didn't know better, he'd get a big head knowing that he was the only one who got to see perfect Lan Wangji like this, the only one he touched and kissed and embraced until they were both breathless with it.

As it was, with Lan Zhan pressing him back onto his bed and covering him with his body, it was easy to forget that, whatever this was between them, it was only an aberration, since Lan Zhan had made it quite clear that he barely considered them friends. And it wasn't as if Wei Ying wanted Lan Zhan to confess to him or something - they were both just doing this because it felt good.

And it did feel good - more than good, it felt wonderful, and Wei Ying bucked upwards against Lan Zhan, seeking friction. Lan Zhan responded in kind, and they rocked against each other, kissing becoming more and more difficult as arousal flared hot between them. As always, Lan Zhan redirected his attention to Wei Ying's neck, the pressure of teeth sending currents of pleasure through Wei Ying, making him moan and gasp.

Suddenly Lan Zhan stiffened, his entire body shuddering against Wei Ying without a single sound. It took a moment for Wei Ying to realise that Lan Zhan was coming - silent in this as he was in everything else. Immediately after followed the realisation that Lan Zhan had passed out, right on top of him, his breath evening out against his neck.

Caught between frustration and amusement, Wei Ying chose laughter as he always did, and began working his way out from under the weight pinning him to the mattress. He only had himself to blame, after all.

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Lan Zhan didn't know when his brother had become such a meddler. First he suggested Lan Zhan become friends with Wei Ying, then he assigned them the same room at the inn, and now this. Now Wei Ying was here, at the cold springs, calling his name as if he hadn't just received 300 hits.

His irrepressible spirit was unlike anything Lan Zhan had experienced before, and despite the icy cold water, he suddenly felt quite warm. He also became very aware of his nudity, which was ridiculous, considering everything he and Wei Ying had already done. They'd never been naked together, however, and Lan Zhan quickly put on his robes, needing them to shield him from the shining light that was Wei Ying's smile and his simple admission, "I want to be your friend."

It sent Lan Zhan's usually so orderly mind into turmoil, and he barely heard Wei Ying's chatter over the deafening beating of his heart. He couldn't help but notice Wei Ying beginning to unrobe, however, and desire flared hotly in his stomach. Before he could control himself, Lan Zhan had grabbed the belt of Wei Ying's hanfu, swallowing Wei Ying's surprised gasp with a kiss.

His hands made quick work of the belt, and he pushed Wei Ying's yi off his shoulders. Throwing both blindly towards the shore he began to explore Wei Ying's chest and arms, running his hands over his shoulders and down his back. Wei Ying laughed breathlessly into their kiss, "Oh, Lan Zhan, why did you bother getting dressed if you just want us to be naked now?"

With that he nimbly removed Lan Zhan's outer tunic, his hands worming their way inside his inner garment, leaving trails of fire on Lan Zhan's skin despite the cold from the spring. The need to be ever closer burned through him, and he hefted Wei Ying up in one decisive motion and deposited him on a rock at the water's edge. Wei Ying squealed in surprise and delight at this casual display of strength, but it quickly turned into a loud moan when Lan Zhan pulled down his trousers and wrapped his hand around him.

His own cock was also filling rapidly, especially when Wei Ying locked his ankles behind his back and brought their hips together, making both of them gasp into their kiss, which was all hunger and need. Lan Zhan's erection slid between Wei Ying's thighs, and the part of Lan Zhan that had shamefacedly peeked at some cutsleeve pillowbooks after the incident in the Library Pavilion filled his mind with images of what they were only mimicking now.

However, despite his lack of experience he knew that this was not the place, even should Wei Ying be willing, which he wasn't certain of and didn't know how to ask. For now, Lan Zhan was more than happy to lick and bite his way down Wei Ying's neck and chest while their hips ground against each other in a tantalising rhythm. When he paused at Wei Ying's peaked nipples, he was rewarded with a gasp of his name, so he repeated the experiment, all the while never letting up the steady motion of his hand around Wei Ying's cock.

It got easier as Wei Ying began leaking at the tip, so Lan Zhan doubled down, enthralled by the sight and sensation of Wei Ying falling completely apart under his ministrations. He was the cause of this, he made Wei Ying first shout and arch and then cling to him tightly as aftershocks ran through him, mouth blindly seeking Lan Zhan's.

When he opened his eyes again, he blinked up at Lan Zhan with something close to wonder, before his usual cheeky smile transformed his face again. "Now it's your turn. What do you want, Lan Zhan?"

Overwhelmed, words caught in his throat, Lan Zhan settled on showing him, pushing his knees apart so he could slide his cock into the cradle of his legs. To his credit Wei Ying caught on immediately, pulling Lan Zhan further on top of him, enabling him to find more friction, way eased by sweat and seed. It couldn't possibly be comfortable, lying on his back on a rock, but Wei Ying simply wrapped his arms around Lan Zhan, kissing him deeply, fingers digging into his shoulders.

Lan Zhan didn't need any more encouragement, getting lost in the maelstrom of feelings and sensations, all caused by this enchanting creature below him. When Lan Zhan was too breathless to continue kissing Wei Ying, the latter switched to mouthing at his neck, only interrupted by the occasional utterance of, "Yes, Lan Zhan, so beautiful, come for me!"

Lan Zhan could only obey, hiding his face against Wei Ying's neck because he was beginning to be afraid of what he might let slip. Once he trusted himself not to be an open book, he extricated himself from Wei Ying's embrace and gathered their clothes. Wei Ying let him go willingly enough, and Lan Zhan covered himself again, hoping against hope that his robes would help armour his heart.

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"Ancestor, you haven't told us where the other shards of Yin Iron are!"

Wei Ying's call remained unanswered. Lan Zhan wasn't surprised, he had felt the last remnants of Lan Yi's spiritual energy disperse along with her physical form. Turning away from Wei Ying, he scooped up the Yin Iron and deposited it in a spirit-locking pouch. It wasn't enough to contain it, of course, but it would have to do until he could hand it over to his uncle and brother.

Having secured the pouch, he then set off along a passage way at the back of the cave. Wei Ying yelped as he was pulled along, and Lan Zhan was reminded of the fact that they were still connected by his headband. It wasn't quite a marriage bond, but he had let Wei Ying touch his headband, and they had bowed before his Ancestor together. It should feel sacrilegious, instead a feeling of rightness spread warmly through Lan Zhan whenever he glanced down at their bound wrists.

Shaking his head in hopes of clearing his mind, Lan Zhan looked away and sped up his pace. He couldn't allow himself such flights of fancy, not when Wei Ying was completely oblivious and would certainly not appreciate the path Lan Zhan's thoughts were taking.

"Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, not so fast," Wei Ying protested, only proving his point. Unwillingly, Lan Zhan slowed down a little but kept his gaze firmly fixed ahead, as if he was completely focused on trying to find an exit. Undaunted, Wei Ying rambled on, "Lan Zhan, I really liked your Ancestor. Who'd have thought the Lan sect had such an adventurous leader at one point - and she knew Baoshen Sanren! I wish I'd had time to ask her more."

Suddenly he stopped, forcing Lan Zhan to come to a halt as well. When he turned to glower at him in annoyance, he was caught short by the uncharacteristic look of uncertainty on Wei Ying's face. "Do you think she approved of me? I know I keep making fun of your sect, but I do want her to like me."

"Why?" The question slipped out before Lan Zhan could stop himself.

Wei Ying bit his lower lip, seemingly at a loss for words for a change, absentmindedly fiddling with the headband around his wrist, bringing them closer in the process. Finally, eyes lowered, he said in a quiet voice, "Like I told you, I respect you. And if your Ancestor likes me, maybe it'll make you respect me, too?"

It was not at all what Lan Zhan had expected, and his treacherous heart gave a hopeful flutter. He squashed it down firmly and settled on replying to the less fraught part of Wei Ying's question: "She did like you."

"Oh, Lan Zhan - does that mean you like me, too - just a little?" Glancing up at him, a smile like a sunrise transformed Wei Ying's face. Before Lan Zhan could find a way to respond that wouldn't betray just how much he liked him, Wei Ying had closed the little distance between them and kissed him.

Quickly overcoming his surprise, Lan Zhan gave in, as always immediately drowning in the sensation of Wei Ying's lips, the tangle of their tongues, the pressure of their bodies. They were both standing barefoot in the snow, but cold was the furthest thing from Lan Zhan's mind. Wei Ying was a furnace against him, and when he wrapped his arms around Lan Zhan's neck, the movement forced his hand up as well, their wrists still being connected. He slid his fingers into Wei Ying's damp hair, tilting his head for better access and nipped at his lower lip. Moaning, Wei Ying inserted a knee between Lan Zhan's thighs and pushed forward hungrily until Lan Zhan's back hit the wall of the cave.

Instead of the expected pain, however, he felt the rock behind him giving way. Stumbling, Lan Zhan fell straight through the mountain, pulling Wei Ying along by the headband. He landed on his back out in the open, a flailing and babbling Wei Ying on top of him - right in front of Jiang Wanyin and Wen Qing's astonished eyes.

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Lan Zhan knew he should be glad that there was no chance to spend any more time with Wei Ying after they'd floated the lanterns.

It had been much too easy to be even more charmed by Wei Ying than he already was, his heart filled to overflowing from a couple of simple gestures like a rabbit and an earnest wish. Really, Wei Ying's punishment and the subsequent arrival of Clan Leader Jiang were for the best, removing any opportunity for Lan Zhan to do something unforgivably stupid, like confess.

Seeing the rabbits, doubtlessly freed from their confines of the caves by the only other person who knew of their existence, felt like a farewell present from Wei Ying, and Lan Zhan told himself that this was enough. He'd been fine without Wei Ying before, he would be fine without him again.

However, all his good intentions melted away with the throw of a loquat, Lan Zhan's heart expanding in his chest with joy at having Wei Ying by his side once more. As always, he talked and smiled pretty much constantly, disregarding Lan Zhan's best attempts to shut him out. "Lan Zhan, wait for me!"

No one ever called him by his birth name, not even his brother, and he'd come to treasure the way Wei Ying said it so frequently. It was unique - like Wei Ying himself, like his spellwork, which Lan Zhan recognised the moment it hit his back. He startled when something wrapped around his wrist, and he was jerked towards Wei Ying. It was almost like when they'd been connected with his headband in the cave, and Lan Zhan gave counterpoint almost instinctively.

Gasping, Wei Ying stumbled forward, but he quickly recovered and took the remaining few steps willingly, grinning widely. "If you wanted to have me near, why didn't you just say so?"

"Shameless," Lan Zhan shot back, all too aware that the reprimand was only so much hot air, because he was the one who grabbed Wei Ying by the wrists and clasping them firmly behind his back. Wei Ying laughed and squirmed, face flushed and eyes shining, and Lan Zhan simply had to kiss him, his nerves already humming in anticipation of Wei Ying's eager reaction.

He didn't disappoint, allowing Lan Zhan to plunder his mouth thoroughly while holding the rest of him immobile. Heat swirled through Lan Zhan's body, settling in the pit of his stomach, and something like a growl escaped him. In response Wei Ying moaned, a sound Lan Zhan had come to both cherish and dread, because it robbed him of the last remnants of his control.

Still clasping Wei Ying against him, he began to walk them backwards, until they were out of sight from the path. There weren't many travelers, but Lan Zhan wasn't quite so gone yet that he didn't want at least a semblance of privacy. Then he crowded Wei Ying against a tree, and all rational thought fled when Wei Ying slung a leg around his and begun to rub himself shamelessly against his thigh. He could feel him, hot and growing hard and harder, and with a start Lan Zhan wrenched himself away from their kiss.

"Lan Zhaaan!" Wei Ying mewled in protest, heedless of the fact that they were technically in public, and he only became louder when Lan Zhan slid to his knees. A part of him was nauseous with nervousness, but the sensation was quickly overwhelmed by the look of sheer awe in Wei Ying's face, and the sounds he continued to make as Lan Zhan pushed open his hanfu and freed his cock from the confines of his trousers.

It grew even bigger once he'd wrapped his fingers around its base, and Lan Zhan let go of Wei Ying's hands in order to hold Wei Ying's hips steady. Pushing down the last of his qualms, he leaned in and licked a long stripe up the velvety skin, swirling his tongue around the head and over the slit, triumph racing through him when Wei Ying cursed and bucked, his fingers digging sharply into his scalp.

"Fuck, yeah, so... so good!" When Lan Zhan glanced up through his lashes, Wei Ying looked positively wrecked, staring down at him wide-eyed. He was panting hard, but of course that didn't stop him from continuing to talk, mostly asking questions he obviously didn't expect a response to: "So good, so fucking good! Are you sure you've never done this before? Lan Zhan, you have no idea how gorgeous you look, don't you? Could look at you forever. Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, I..."

The increasingly incoherent babbling dissolved into another moan, and Lan Zhan tasted bitterness on his tongue. Instead of being put off, it only made him want to swallow Wei Ying deeper. Feeling as if he was about to burst out of his skin, he removed his hand from where it had been digging finger marks into Wei Ying's hip in order to stroke himself roughly in time with his sucking.

Wei Ying emptied himself down his throat with a hoarse shout, and Lan Zhan took it all, only drawing back to cough when Wei Ying had stopped shuddering. It didn't take more than a few more twists of his hand around his own weeping erection before he came as well, resting his head against Wei Ying's stomach as he did so.

When he recovered his wits, Wei Ying was stroking his hair with surprising gentleness, and for a long moment Lan Zhan allowed himself to just hold still and enjoy it. However, once his heartbeat had returned to normal, he stood up and away in a fluid motion, righting his clothes and fixing his hair ornament. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see Wei Ying do the same, and his fingers twitched with the urge to smooth back his hair, pull him back in for another kiss.

Instead he turned and quickly walked back to the road. Wei Ying followed him hastily, opening his mouth, but whatever he wanted to say, it was forestalled by the Yin Iron responding in its pouch. The time to play was over, they had a job to do - and despite himself, Lan Zhan was glad he didn't have to do it alone.

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Unfortunately, with the appearance of Nie Hueisang Lan Zhan had to share Wei Ying. He tried telling himself that it was just because Wei Ying was distracted from their task, not because he wanted him to himself, but the taste of vinegar was sour and made Lan Zhan feel ashamed.

Fighting alongside Wei Ying, however, was the opposite of shameful. They worked seamlessly together, and exhilaration sang in Lan Zhan's veins as they managed to seal the statue. Wei Ying must have felt similarly, because when Childe Nie turned his back for a moment to retrieve his precious fan, he caught Lan Zhan in a hard kiss, quick and dirty.

As soon as it began it was over, all that was left the triumphant grin on Wei Ying's face, the tingling of Lan Zhan's lips and the heat in his ears. He opened his mouth to say... something, rebuke or plea for more, he wasn't sure, but then Nie Hueisang returned. If he picked up something unusual, he didn't get the chance to speak, the wave of fierce corpses taking precedence over anything else.

Exchanging a look of complete understanding with Wei Ying, Lan Zhan readied himself for another fight.

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Wei Ying shrugged off the chains, tossing the dead Dire Owl onto the ground, and Lan Zhan could finally breathe again.

"Good thing you arrived in time." Looking completely serious for a change, Wei Ying touched his neck where the chains had choked him. Lan Zhan couldn't help himself; he reached out and gently ran his fingers over the angry red marks. Wei Ying's eyes widened, because of the caress or because he recognised some of Lan Zhan's turmoil under his impassive mask. Covering Lan Zhan's hand with his own, Wei Ying reassured him, his voice gentle, "Lan Zhan, I'm alright."

"Mn." Lan Zhan nodded, but he didn't remove his hand, and neither did Wei Ying. Drawn together, their lips brushed against each other, feathery-light and sweet, with none of their usual heat. Lan Zhan wished they had time for more, aching with the desire to spread Wei Ying out on the forest floor, touch him all over, reassure them both that he was indeed alive and well. As it was, he could only hope his kiss would convey at least some of the things he couldn't say aloud: I'm glad you're alright. Don't ever leave me. I love you.

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Although their reputation preceded them, Lan Zhan had never met Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan before. They were all rumour said - and more. There was something between them, in the wordless glances they exchanged, in the way their bodies unconsciously always oriented towards the other, how they were perfectly in sync. It was a bond Lan Zhan recognised with a soul-deep longing.

Wei Ying seemed similarly drawn to them, and Lan Zhan's fingers tightened painfully around Bichen's hilt in an effort to keep calm. The way Wei Ying talked, he made it almost sound as if he wanted them to be cultivation partners. Hope beat its wings like a bird inside Lan Zhan's chest, hope that only grew when they made their way back towards the inn with their prisoner. They were walking at the back of the group, and Wei Ying couldn't stop talking about the two daozhang, their plans to found a new sect and the fact that Xiao Xingchen was disciple to Baoshen Sanren.

Once they were alone in the room they shared, Wei Ying trailed off, looking thoughtfully into the distance, causing Lan Zhan to say quietly, "If Wei Ying wants, we can go look for your Grandmaster once we put the Yin Iron to rest."

It didn't feel like much of an offer, considering they had no idea how, when and if the situation would resolve itself, but Wei Ying's entire face lit up. Sitting down next to Lan Zhan on the edge of his bed, he looked for a moment as if he wanted to hug him. Instead he settled on patting his arm, still beaming at him as if he'd given him a great gift.

"You'd do that for me?" Wei Ying's delighted laughter pearled over Lan Zhan like a bubbling brook. "Oh, Lan Zhan, you do like me!"

"Ridiculous." How could Wei Ying still have doubts? Lan Zhan frowned slightly and decided to prove his point the only way he knew: Sliding one arm around Wei Ying's waist and his other hand into his silky black tresses, he kissed him, firm and deep, coaxing his lips apart with his tongue. His laughter swallowed by Lan Zhan's mouth, Wei Ying immediately wrapped both hands around his neck and pressed closer. His eagerness made Lan Zhan lightheaded, and he guided him backwards until Wei Ying was on his back with Lan Zhan kneeling above him. Breaking their kiss, Lan Zhan fixed him with what he hoped was a stern look, although his voice came out sounding rather hoarse: "Be quiet. People around."

"As long as you don't stop, I'll do my best." Wei Ying smirked up at him cheekily, but added more seriously when Lan Zhan obviously wasn't satisfied with this answer, "Really, I promise. I don't want Jiang Cheng and the others to find out any more than you do."

The words hurt more than they had any right to, but Lan Zhan swallowed the bitter taste in his mouth and instead divested himself of his robes. The appreciation in Wei Ying's eyes as he bared himself did help a little, as did the sight of Wei Ying undressed underneath him, all soft skin and lean muscle, a flush working its way down his chest. Leaning down for another kiss, Lan Zhan lost himself in Wei Ying, which was easy when he got to touch and caress him all over, feel him tremble and gasp, a hand pressed over his mouth to silence himself.

They were almost the same height and fit together perfectly, Lan Zhan slotting himself between Wei Ying's thighs, sucking bruises into Wei Ying's neck while their hips rocked together, sending heat spiraling through their bodies. After a while, Lan Zhan sat up a little, a small bolt of triumph soaring through him when Wei Ying whined in protest but remained where he was while Lan Zhan removed a small bottle from the heap of his clothing.

When he poured some of it over his hand, an appreciative laugh escaped Wei Ying, and he teased, "Wow, Lan Zhan, you came prepared! Whatever are you going to do to me..."

"Shameless," Lan Zhan replied, covering for the uncertainty he felt when he thought of doing that with Wei Ying. He wanted it, wanted to know Wei Ying in every way possible, yet he was afraid that being so close would make his inevitable heartbreak when Wei Ying found someone else hurt even worse. Still, he couldn't help but notice that Wei Ying hadn't sounded in the least scared or disgusted at the prospect.

For now, however, Lan Zhan wrapped his slick hand around both their erections, making them both shudder in pleasure. Covering his mouth again, Wei Ying pushed unrestrainedly into his grasp, and Lan Zhan couldn't look away from the picture he made, spread out naked on his back, his hair fanning out behind him, his skin beautifully tan against Lan Zhan's paleness.

Not once stopping his ministrations, Lan Zhan fumbled for the bottle and managed to coat his index finger, not caring at this moment that he was making a mess. Pushing one of Wei Ying's thighs up, he let his fingers wander over his balls and further back. Wei Ying gasped, back arching off the bed, and Lan Zhan gathered his courage and slid his slick finger between his cheeks. Parting them a little, he found the tight circle of muscle and circled it.

"Lan Zhan!" Wei Ying's shout was muffled, but only barely, and Lan Zhan paused, catching Wei Ying's eyes in a silent question. They were more black than brown, pupils blown, and after a moment's hesitation Wei Ying nodded eagerly. Continuing to rub their erections together, Lan Zhan took a steadying breath and carefully, ever so carefully, breached Wei Ying, alternating glances between what he was doing and Wei Ying's face.

He needn't have worried, however, because Wei Ying, obviously having made up his mind, was soon pushing back against the intrusion, forcing more than the tip of Lan Zhan's finger inside. It was hot and incredibly tight, and Lan Zhan narrowed his eyes and bit his lower lip in order not to lose his focus. For some reason this made Wei Ying's entire body shake, and he quickly grabbed a pillow, a muffled scream escaping as Lan Zhan crooked his finger inside Wei Ying. He repeated the motion, pulling out and pushing back in, until Wei Ying suddenly let go of the pillow and grabbed on to Lan Zhan instead.

Pulled forward forcefully, he was forced to quickly remove his finger in order to catch his weight with one arm. The startled sound he made was swallowed by Wei Ying, however, who kissed him with a greedy abandon that made Lan Zhan's head spin and his every nerve tingle. He was still holding their hard cocks in one hand, the rocking of their bodies pushing them together in a delicious rhythm, and Wei Ying tore his mouth away from Lan Zhan's in order to bury his teeth in his shoulder as he came in spurts over both their stomachs.

It was probably the quietest Wei Ying had ever been when climaxing, but it wasn't any less entrancing to Lan Zhan. After holding Wei Ying through the aftershocks, all he needed was the touch of Wei Ying's hands around his erection, slick with oil and Wei Ying's release, to follow him, pleasure shooting through his veins like lightning.

He only just managed not to topple on top of Wei Ying, rolling to the side instead, warm with satisfaction when Wei Ying immediately curled up around him. It didn't last long, however, before Wei Ying wrinkled his nose and sat up. "Ugh, you made such a mess, Lan Zhan!"

"We," he corrected and was rewarded by Wei Ying sticking out his tongue playfully.

"Alright, we made a mess," Wei Ying grinned widely. "I guess that means we'll have to share a bed tonight."

"Mn," Lan Zhan agreed. His heartbeat, only just recovering from his orgasm, hammered loudly in his ears at the prospect of holding Wei Ying in his arms all night. Maybe this would be enough, even if Wei Ying never reciprocated his feelings. Maybe, just maybe, he could have this; Wei Ying in his bed and by his side, roaming the world together, like Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan.

It was a beautiful dream.

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"Lan Zhan, I'll sleep on your roof tonight!"

Lan Zhan couldn't help the fondness that surged through him as he looked up at Wei Ying sprawled on top of his guest quarters. It was impossible to resist, and he didn't try. He wished Wei Ying was sober, but not knowing when they'd see each other again, he leaped up onto the roof.

"Oh, Lan Zhan, there you are." Wei Ying blinked up at him with heavy-lidded eyes. He smiled and reached out to gently poke Lan Zhan's cheek, explaining with the seriousness of the very drunk, "You're so beautiful, sometimes I don't know if you're real."

Lan Zhan had never put much stock into people's praises of his looks, but now he could feel his ears burning at the compliment. "Mn. I'm here."

"Good. I like it when you're with me," Wei Ying slurred, eye lids drooping tiredly, completely unaware of the storm of conflicting emotions his innocent statement set loose inside Lan Zhan. He wanted nothing more than to gather Wei Ying in his arms and tell him that he'd always be there.

But duty called, so instead Lan Zhan leaned in and kissed Wei Ying on the forehead. "Wei Ying. I have to go."

Lan Zhan wasn't sure if he'd been heard, but it didn't matter anyway. With one last longing glance at the passed-out figure, Lan Zhan turned his back and mounted his sword. Duty lay ahead in Gusu, but his heart stayed behind on a rooftop.

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The destruction of Cloud Recesses had broken something inside Lan Zhan, something much more painful than a shattered leg, as had the humiliation of having to bow to the pressures of the Wen Sect. It left him with little capacity for any emotion apart from rage, frustration and a determination to not give Wen Chao the satisfaction of seeing any of this.

Still, the genuine concern in Wei Ying's voice and the weight of his worried eyes on him as they stood in line for indoctrination at Nightless City warmed a part of Lan Zhan that had been frozen since he'd had to give up the Yin Iron, even if he didn't dare let it show. Wei Ying's indomitable spirit was like a light in the perpetual dark, despite getting him - and the rest of them - into trouble all too often.

"Lan Zhan, did you hide the Yin Iron?" Wei Ying asked eagerly, hurrying after Lan Zhan in the garden. Lan Zhan tried to ignore him, but his half-healed leg made it easy for Wei Ying to push him into the shrubbery. His hands were hot and insistent on Lan Zhan's shoulders, his face only inches from Lan Zhan's own, close enough for their breaths to mingle. "What happened? Are you alright?"

Wei Ying's worry was a balm to Lan Zhan's soul, but it left him fragile, pain rising dangerously to the surface. He knew he'd fall apart completely if he spoke, so instead he shook his head and pressed his lips to Wei Ying's. It was short and hard, a desperate excuse for a kiss that was about anything except lust, threatening to tear apart Lan Zhan's composure. Suddenly scared that Wei Ying would be able to recognise everything he was hiding, Lan Zhan pulled away.

Ignoring Wei Ying's confused gaze, he shook off the hands still resting on his shoulders and stepped back onto the path. Wei Ying followed, still gaping, but they were interrupted by Wen Chao, who regarded them with open suspicion, although if he'd seen anything, he soon forgot when Wei Ying immediately began to needle him. Was he doing this on purpose, to give Lan Zhan the chance to compose himself again?

In any case, putting himself between Wei Ying and Wen Chao was instinct, and Lan Zhan didn't regret it, although the pain lancing through his re-broken leg was searing. He would have gladly accompanied Wei Ying to the dungeon if it meant he could protect him even a little. He owed him that much. As it was, Lan Zhan was left staring after him as Wen Chao's goons took him away, the bitter taste of failure by now familiar on his tongue.

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When they stopped for water only minutes after he'd declined Wei Ying's offer to carry him, Lan Zhan didn't need to catch the look exchanged between Wei Ying and Wen Qing to know who was behind it.

It should feel good; however, Lan Zhan found it difficult to really appreciate the gesture, considering that it was another proof of the special connection Wei Ying and Wen Qing shared. It was petty, but when Wei Ying knelt down beside him with some water, Lan Zhan didn't look at him.

Despite knowing that Wei Ying couldn't stand to be ignored, he was completely taken by surprise when Wei Ying stood up, his back shielding them from the others, and kissed him on the forehead with a cheeky grin.

Heart caught in his throat, Lan Zhan was left staring after him, fingers tracing the spot where Wei Ying's lips had touched his ribbon.

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Fighting and running had taken their toll on Lan Zhan. It became more and more difficult to control his pain levels and body temperature, so when the monster disappeared back into the water, Lan Zhan almost collapsed onto the ground with a low groan.

Wei Ying was by his side immediately, careful fingers probing Lan Zhan's wounds, reopened from all the strain he'd subjected his leg to. But what choice had he had, when there'd been a monster to fight and people to protect? Most of all this wonderful, infuriating man with his warm eyes and gentle touch, who didn't hesitate to take off Lan Zhan's forehead ribbon in order to create a makeshift brace. And who was currently... undressing?

Lan Zhan knew he was in bad shape, but he didn't think he was hallucinating. Especially when Wei Ying's clever fingers began to divest him of his outer robes as well, all the time babbling on. However, Lan Zhan couldn't focus on his words, his mind foggy, so he let him proceed until they were both down to their undergarments.

Then he was cradled in Wei Ying's arms, held securely against his chest, a much more pleasant warmth spreading through him than the feverish heat from his wound. Another time Lan Zhan might have felt vulnerable, but as it was he allowed this, too. Finally, he was relaxed enough that his body expelled the worst of the infection in a spray of blood.

Preening at his success, Wei Ying immediately let go of him. There was a faint pressure against his head, like a feather-light kiss, but this Lan Zhan put down to wishful thinking. Especially since Wei Ying quickly proceeded to talk about Luo Qingyang, proving again that Lan Zhan should be content with his friendship. And nothing else.

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Feeling much better, Lan Zhan woke to a warm fire and Wei Ying drying himself and his wet undergarments in front of a crackling fire, completely unselfconscious. They'd seen each other in much more revealing positions, after all, so Lan Zhan knew he shouldn't be so strongly affected.

However, he couldn't help the clenching of his heart at the sight, only confounded when he realised that Wei Ying had apparently cleaned and re-bound his forehead ribbon while he slept. Usually, among Lan clan members, only a spouse would dare to perform this intimate act. The whole situation resembled Lan Zhan's guilty day dreams much too closely, and he settled for scolding Wei Ying for swimming in the lake when still injured.

Despite his protestations that he wasn't fragile, Lan Zhan noticed that Wei Ying was shivering, his efforts to cover himself with his wet clothes obviously only making things worse. Before he could tell himself that this was a spectacularly bad idea in light of Wei Ying's apparent complete obliviousness to the true nature of Lan Zhan's feelings, he found himself lifting an arm in invitation and ordering gruffly, "Come here."

"Lan Zhan, are you going to ravish me?" Wei Ying laughed, but he didn't hesitate to snuggle into Lan Zhan's embrace, sighing happily, "Oh, you're so warm! People who think you're ice really have no idea."

It was the most delicious torture to have Wei Ying so close, his head against Lan Zhan's shoulder as if it was the most comfortable resting place in the world, his hands burrowing into Lan Zhan's hanfu, clammy fingers coming to rest against Lan Zhan's bare skin. For a while they sat companionably, Lan Zhan content to hold him while Wei Ying prattled on about the monster in the water.

"It wouldn't be so bad to die in this way, would it?" he finished, his voice much too cheerful for a discussion involving his and Lan Zhan's demise. Unsettled, Lan Zhan frowned at him, completely unwilling to accept even the possibility of Wei Ying's death. Their faces were near enough that Wei Ying could read at least some of Lan Zhan's thoughts on his face, because he added almost gently, "Of course, it'd be much better to become famous for vanquishing the monster."

"Mn," Lan Zhan affirmed, before leaning in to kiss the carefree smile off Wei Ying's face. It was foolish, of course, but he couldn't help himself, not when Wei Ying was so close and warm in his arms. At least Wei Ying seemed to agree, because he kissed him back immediately, humming appreciatively when Lan Zhan teased apart his lips and deepened the kiss, feeling starved for the taste of and feel of Wei Ying's mouth.

Wei Ying moaned and kissed back just as greedily. Without breaking away, he moved as if to straddle Lan Zhan's lap, only to stop himself in order to carefully settle on the thigh of Lan Zhan's uninjured leg instead. His hands remained on Lan Zhan's chest, impatiently moving aside his robes, as if he couldn't wait to touch him. His knee was pushing against Lan Zhan's groin, the pressure maddening as his arousal grew, blood rushing downwards to settle between his legs.

He could feel Wei Ying being similarly affected, growing hard against his stomach. With one hand, Lan Zhan wormed his way into Wei Ying's loose underpants, the resulting gasp turning into a loud moan, which reverberated through the cave, when his other hand slid into long black tresses and pulled ever so slightly. Wei Ying's head was forced back, albeit gently, and Lan Zhan took his time kissing and sucking along that elegant neck, all the while jerking Wei Ying off slowly.

When he reached the junction of neck and shoulder, he sucked harder, and Wei Ying trembled in Lan Zhan's grasp, the sensation sending shivers down Lan Zhan's spine and making heat coil deep in his belly. Unthinkingly, he tightened his hold on Wei Ying's hair and cock both, almost roughly, needing to hold, to possess.

Wei Ying froze, and Lan Zhan was about to recoil, apologise, when Wei Ying's entire body arched against him, the noises spilling from his mouth a mix of soundless moans and babbles of Lan Zhan's name and "please, yes, more!"

It was all the encouragement Lan Zhan needed, and he pushed Wei Ying onto his back, forgetting all about both their injuries as he covered him with his body and kissed him hard, his own erection driving against Wei Ying's. He ignored it, however, in favour of divesting Wei Ying unceremoniously of his clothes and going back to kissing and licking his way down Wei Ying's chest, paying special attention to the angry burn mark. Soon Wei Ying was writhing beneath him, his hands scrabbling for purchase on Lan Zhan's shoulders, messing up his hair, not even noticing when Lan Zhan sereptitiously fed him some energy to speed up the healing process.

After a while he let up and moved further down until his tongue dipping into Wei Ying's belly button and slid further down. He kissed the inside of Wei Ying's thighs, trailed his tongue over his balls, pointedly avoiding Wei Ying's cock, which was hard and hot in his palm, until Wei Ying laughed breathlessly, "Lan Zhan, you're so mean, stop teasing me!"

"Not mean," Lan Zhan replied, but he did relent and touched his lips to the tip of Wei Ying's erection, tasting another man's seed for the first time. It wasn't too bad - not that that would have stopped Lan Zhan, not when he felt drunk with the pleasure of having Wei Ying like this, naked and trembling, eyes glazing over as he bucked into Lan Zhan's mouth. He had to cough a little but quickly caught himself, keeping Wei Ying immobilised with a hand on his hips. The other covered what his mouth couldn't, and he hummed in satisfaction when Wei Ying whined in pleasure, which in turn made him shout Lan Zhan's name.

It was music in Lan Zhan's ears, so he hummed again and was rewarded with a hoarse warning cry. Undaunted he kept going, sucking and humming, and a few seconds later Wei Ying emptied himself down his throat. Lan Zhan kept his cock in his mouth a while longer, suckling gently until Wei Ying lifted his head, eyes wide and face flushed, lips red from where he must have been biting them, and half-whispered, "Too much, too much. Please, Lan Zhan..."

Pride made Lan Zhan's heart swell, pride that he was the only one who got to see Wei Ying like this, who got to make Wei Ying like this, even if it was just temporary, if some day Wei Ying would find a pretty girl who wasn't cold and serious and who could talk and laugh with him. The thought doused his ardour like icy water, so when Wei Ying sleepily offered to return the favour, Lan Zhan just shook his head. "Unnecessary."

"Oooh, did you come just from this?" Wei Ying blinked up at him with sleepy eyes, and Lan Zhan didn't correct him. Instead he wordlessly covered him with his clothes before laying down next to him. Smiling, Wei Ying curled up against him. "Let's just take a nap and then see what we can do about the monster, alright?"

Lan Zhan nodded. However, he remained awake as Wei Ying's breathing evened out, allowing himself the luxury of holding him as he slept.

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If Wei Ying had been cold before, now he was freezing while simultaneously burning up. It was probably good that he was close to passing out, because Lan Zhan was certain his worry was betraying the depth of his feelings, panic churning in his stomach, ripping through his usual composure. He wasn't sure how long he sat there, feeding Wei Ying healing energy, only aware of his paleness and unnatural stillness.

Lan Zhan didn't even think to refuse when Wei Ying asked him to sing him a lullaby, the song coming to him as if it had only been waiting to be released from the confines of his heart. He sang, and it felt like reliving every glance, every kiss, every touch they'd ever exchanged. He sang, and the smile on Wei Ying's drawn face was the only answer he needed.

"How beautiful. Lan Zhan, what's it called?" Wei Ying asked when Lan Zhan's voice petered out. He was fading again, and Lan Zhan wasn't sure he heard his reply. He most definitely didn't feel the kiss Lan Zhan pressed to his cold lips, nor the way he cradled him, feeding him energy and softly singing WangXian until rescue arrived.

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"Lan Wangji, who do you think you are?"

Everytime Lan Zhan remembered the cutting words, the complete rejection, he had to suppress a wince. Ever since Jiang Wanyin had reappeared with the report that his brother had gone missing, he'd hoped against hope that Wei Ying was still alive, but when he'd finally returned, there had been little room for joy. Something had gone wrong in those three long months, and Wei Ying wasn't letting Lan Zhan - or anyone else - close enough to help.

The Jiang siblings and every single cultivator in existence might be too blinded by their relief to push for details, but acceptance wasn't in Lan Zhan's nature. He was still the little boy who'd knelt in front of his mother's abode, refusing to give up hope. He wouldn't give up hope for Wei Ying either.

So Lan Zhan sat and played, sending out the guqin's melody to the troubled spirit he could feel all the way from the banquet hall.

He wasn't surprised when Wei Ying found him, sliding shut the door Lan Zhan had left open in silent invitation. He looked tired, an exhaustion far beyond the physical, the smile on his face as cheerless as his voice. "Trying to exorcise my demons, Lan Zhan?"

At least he was Lan Zhan again. It was surprisingly comforting, and Lan Zhan held Wei Ying's insolent stare until he looked away, shifting uncomfortably. Only then did Lan Zhan stop playing, letting silence settle between them before he said quietly, "Wei Ying. I'm glad you're back."

"Did you miss me?" The words were flippant, but the smile was genuine, and despite everything something deep inside Lan Zhan sighed in relief. Out loud he only hummed in agreement, which was enough to make Wei Ying giggle in an approximation of his old infectious laughter.

Suddenly, Lan Zhan was tired of pushing Wei Ying for answers he didn't want to give. Not when he'd only just gotten him back. Standing up abruptly, Lan Zhan crossed the room to where Wei Ying was hovering near the door. His eyes widened, but when Lan Zhan kissed him, Wei Ying kissed him back without hesitation.

They kissed, and for several glorious minutes Lan Zhan could pretend that they were still in the cave, or back in Gusu, or in any of the other places where their bodies had come together to make perfect music. Hauling Wei Ying flush against his body, Lan Zhan licked his way into his mouth, poured his relief, his love, his fear, into every stroke of his tongue, every slide of lips. Wei Ying's arms were tight around his neck, clinging to Lan Zhan as if Wei Ying was drowning and Lan Zhan was the only thing keeping him afloat.

It was intense, intoxicating, and Lan Zhan almost lost himself in it - until Wei Ying moved to card his fingers through Lan Zhan's hair and that strange black dizi of his clattered to the ground.

The sound rang loudly in Lan Zhan's ears, easily overwhelming the noises the two of them had been making in their hungry reunion. He tried to ignore it, but his body had already hesitated, his kiss faltered, at the reminder of everything that was wrong. It was enough - stiffening, Wei Ying withdrew from his embrace.

Lan Zhan's heart sank at the look on his face, the walls he'd erected slamming back up. Locking Lan Zhan out again.

"Wei Ying..." Lan Zhan wondered if there were words that could make him stay. Instead he stood there, mute, as Wei Ying gathered up his flute and left.

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Stepping outside his quarters Lan Zhan glanced up almost involuntarily, remembering the last time they'd been in Qinghe. Much to his surprise, he once again found Wei Ying astride his roof, although this time he seemed sober enough. He even smiled when he caught sight of Lan Zhan, igniting that familiar warmth in him that he'd missed so much.

Despite everything, Wei Ying was still the sun Lan Zhan revolved around, and without stopping to think, he jumped and landed on silent feet next to the man he loved with every fibre of his being.

At least this time, the familiar yearning was manageable, mostly free of the bitterness and fear of the last encounters. Sitting next to each other, Wei Ying seemed to have decided to trust him with at least a version of the truth, although Lan Zhan could tell that there was more to it than crafty tricks, music and talismans. Still, he couldn't bring himself to destroy the fragile peace between them, especially when Wei Ying promised him to never practice demonic cultivation.

Lan Zhan wanted to believe him so much it hurt. Suddenly tired of the thoughts constantly swirling around his mind, his hand shot out to pull Wei Ying back when the other man made to stand up.

He ended up almost in Lan Zhan's lap, his gasp of surprise turning into peals of laughter, until Lan Zhan kissed him silent. Continuing to giggle into the kiss, Wei Ying shifted in Lan Zhan's grasp, twisting his body around until he was properly straddling him. A part of Lan Zhan remained aware that they were in public, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Hopefully no one else had reason to be out and about the guest quarters at this hour, and even if someone was, they weren't likely to look up onto the roof.

Still, to further decrease the risk Lan Zhan lay back, taking Wei Ying with him. The movement brought their bodies into alignment, a delicious friction building as their kiss intensified. When Lan Zhan let his hands wander downwards to grasp Wei Ying's butt with both hands and pulled him decisively closer, Wei Ying gasped his name into his ear, a sound that went a long way to bringing Lan Zhan to full hardness.

Much to his satisfaction, Wei Ying wasn't far behind, their rocking speeding up, bordering on frantic, even as their kisses became more uncoordinated. As always, Lan Zhan felt enthralled by the feel of Wei Ying's body in his arms, the taste of his hungry mouth on his, the steady stream of gasps and moans escaping him.

Too many of these noises resembled his name. It made him wish for impossible things. So he continued kissing Wei Ying, even as pleasure built inside his belly, spiraling hot and fast through him. In the end, it was the sight of Wei Ying in the throes of his climax that pulled Lan Zhan over the edge as well, a sensation like jumping off a cliff, heady and more than a little scary.

By the time he'd recovered his senses, Wei Ying had already sat back up, almost looking like his old self for a moment. His eyes were sparkling and his hands tender while he helped Lan Zhan fix his hair and put his clothes back in order. They also didn't speak when Lan Zhan returned the favour gently, both of them ignoring the uncomfortable stickiness in their pants.

After one last kiss, Wei Ying got up and left, but not before he accepted Lan Zhan's offer of help, which was more than Lan Zhan would have thought possible the night before. Alone, Lan Zhan sat on the roof, unable to calm his mind enough to sleep or meditate, hoping against hope that he would find a way to help Wei Ying. That he'd be good enough to save him.