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sixteen seasons

Chapter Text

“Lan Zhan. If I asked you to believe me, would you?”

“…”

He smiles, but it’s the kind that hurts him to see. It was sharp and sad all at once and Lan Zhan shudders.

“Lan Zhan, let me go.”

Wei Ying!

Lan Zhan sat up abruptly, the flustered look captured in his eyes.

The sun shone upon his room in the Cloud Recesses. Birds chirped as the leaves rustled along with the wind. Spring was finally here.

As a strand of hair fell from the back of his ears, Lan Zhan turned to stare at the scenic nature before him. Many years ago, he would not even bother looking at such a scene. He was the infamous Second Childe Lan, the cold and quiet young man who seemed to care nothing of the world except when the balance between good and bad was tipped.

It was ironic how things could change.

He looked away and turned his gaze to fix upon his hands. The more he looked; the more sadness seemed to pool around those clear onyx eyes.

But before he could think any further, he heard a soft thud at the corner of his bed.

Snapped out of his thoughts, he looked over.

On the floor, was a tiny ball of a human, curled up in deep sleep, as if the fall did nothing to him at all.

Ah Yuan…

Lan Zhan’s brows furrowed slightly before he reached out to pull the child back unto the bed in one swift move.

The child stirred but did nothing to show signs of waking up.

Lan Zhan let out an internal sigh of relief, and a soft look appeared in those eyes which were just a few seconds ago, clouded with sorrow.

Ah Yuan didn’t used to sleep with him.

It was about four days after… the incident, that Lan Zhan noticed something was amiss.

Lan Zhan, upon obtaining the approval from his brother (and his uncle, albeit begrudgingly), managed to adopt Ah Yuan as one of their own. That also meant that Ah Yuan was to stay with the other disciples of the Lan Sect, and was to be treated no different from any other disciple.

As Ah Yuan was sick on the first few days upon his arrival, Lan Zhan took it upon himself to care for the child. For Ah Yuan to recover faster and for his own convenience, Ah Yuan was placed in his room so he could continuously look after him without disturbing the others.

On the third day, Ah Yuan’s fever broke, and he was free to return to his designated sleeping quarters.

However, when Lan Zhan woke up on the fourth day, he felt something pressing on his thigh, and in alert, pulled open the covers with Bichen held tightly in his other hand.

…only to reveal the small bundle that was Ah Yuan, sleeping soundly as he wrapped his arms firmly around Lan Zhan’s leg.

Needless to say, Lan Zhan’s feelings were situated somewhere between confusion and helplessness.

From that day on, Ah Yuan would continuously come over in the middle of the night, and Lan Zhan would watch as the toddler groggily stumbled to his bed with saliva dripping down his chin before proceeding to wrap his tiny arms around Lan Zhan’s leg and falling asleep.

Even until today, Lan Zhan found it hard to rest when that time comes. Ah Yuan would continuously flip around, sometimes he would sleep between his legs, sometimes on top of his leg, and sometimes on the edge of falling off the bed. Nonetheless, his hands would still be tightly wrapped around his calf, as if it was a lifeline he was unwilling to let go of.

It certainly wasn’t something Lan Zhan would get used to, or ought to, actually. But since the child had just recovered, Lan Zhan figured it wasn’t all that bad to let him be for a short while.

On this night however, Ah Yuan had miraculously released his hold, though it ultimately caused him to fall off the bed.

As Lan Zhan observed Ah Yuan to see if he was hurt anywhere, a thought came into his mind.

Why did you let go?

Lan Zhan’s eyes widened.

It was a question Lan Zhan had yet to ask himself, for despite him being so immersed in his thoughts of what happened that day, he had never thought of asking himself the reason for letting Wei Ying go. His mind was filled with guilt, so much so that it clouded his usual sense of self-reflection.  

Or maybe that was just an excuse, because when he thought about the answer to that question, it was so direct that it hurt him more than all the blame he had placed upon himself.

Because you didn’t trust him.

A cold smile appeared upon his lips, and his expression turned to one of self-mockery.

Prior to this realization, Lan Zhan always prided himself for being the only one who understood Wei Ying.

When his uncle punished him, he spent his days by his side, listening, observing as Wei Ying tried his best to get out of copying all of Lan Sect’s rules.

When Wei Ying was in trouble, he would always be there to shield him.

When everyone thought Wei Ying had turned to the dark side, he was the one who wanted to pull him back.

When the world thought Wei Ying was dead, and the cheers of celebration filled the air, he was the only one who cried.

Yet when Wei Ying needed him the most, he wasn’t there.

The one time I didn’t protect him, he-

Lan Zhan closed his eyes, unwilling to recall that scene again, but the images of what happened continuously appeared in his mind in an uncontrollable manner.

What point was there, for all the things that he did, when at the point when Wei Ying called out to him, looked at him with those pleading eyes to just trust him, he did not?

Before he knew it, his hands were shaking, and a clear drop of tear fell from his glassy eyes.

Wei Ying, if time could turn back, I want you to know that I would choose to stand by you, no matter what.

Suddenly, a knock could be heard from the door.

“Wangji. It’s time.” Lan Xichen’s voice rang clear in this quiet dawn, though the tone was undoubtedly filled with traces of regret and sorrow.

After adjusting Ah Yuan’s sleeping position, Lan Zhan swiftly tucked the young boy in before leaving the room.

Wei Ying, give me strength to face what is to come.