Actions

Work Header

and we were in flames

Work Text:

 

 

Winter reached the Cloud Recesses. Sprawling with icy fingers, cradling the mountains until they shone white. Clouds freezing and scattering. 

 

With the snow, came Wei Wuxian. 

 

Up the narrow path under bare trees, leaving dark footprints behind and Lil’ Apple trotting all over them. 

Lan Shizui was the first to meet him. The news of the Yiling Patriarch’s arrival in Gusu had spread like wildfire hours ago, setting off hushed excitement among the disciples. However, only Lan Shizui dared to hurry down to the gate, wait for his appearance. 

 

Lan Wangji had watched him bustle off, heart stumbling. He himself stayed in the courtyard. How many hours had he waited for Wei Wuxian throughout his life, what difference did those few minutes between him and the gate make now? 

 

Anticipation spread over the village and joined the snowfall that grew heavier continuously. The sun had set behind the mountains, sleepy twilight hanging between their flanks. 

 

Lan Wangji stood, and watched, and waited. 

 

-

 

They sat in silence first. 

 

After many heartfelt greetings and the disciples surrounding Wei Wuxian with buzzing curiosity, they finally had the chance to retreat into the Jingshi for dinner. When the screen-doors slid shut and Wei Wuxian settled down opposite of him, only then Lan Wangji let his eyes wander freely. 

Over Wei Wuxian’s slender fingers when he gripped his chopsticks, cheekbones poking out sharply, the darkness of his robes even denser from wet snow. Lan Wangji cursed his impropriety of allowing his guest with dirty and wet clothes to dinner. 

His mind dispersed like the snowflakes outside. 

 

“Please don’t hold back.” Lan Wangji offered another bowl. “It will do you good.” 

 

Wei Wuxian, who had set down his chopsticks after barely eating a few bites, looked up. An eyebrow shot up, challenging.

 

“Allow me, Hanguang-jun.” His voice was low but filled with humour. Quickly, Wei Wuxian picked a few vegetables and dropped them into Lan Wangji’s own empty and untouched bowl. “It will do you good.”

 

“Wei Ying.” It came out sterner than intented, but the corners of Wei Wuxian’s lips twitched with delight.

 

“Lan Zhan.” 

 

Their eyes met for a few seconds and Lan Wangji’s fingers twitched. Something hot crawled down his spine. 

Finally, Wei Wuxian laughed. His eyes crinkled, teeth bared, and lips wide, pulling the light out of the room and into his face. The winter-night long forgotten. 

 

“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan.” He hummed, his fingers thrumming against the table between them. “I’m afraid you’ll be only skin and bone when I return next time. Is no one looking after you properly?” 

 

Lan Wangji wanted to answer how much weight Wei Wuxian himself had lost. How his eyes bore tired shadows and his lips looked ghostly blue from the cold. His collarbones poking out worryingly.

Instead he reached out beside him and pulled out two bottles of Emperor’s Smile. Instantly, Wei Wuxian’s eyes lit up curiously, watching with obvious delight as Lan Wangji poured him a cup. 

 

“All for me?” 

 

Lan Wangji hummed a quiet agreement, ignoring the heat coiling in his neck. He managed to keep his hand calm when he handed the wine over.

 

“Return to Gusu is always sweet.” Wei Wuxian sighed contently after taking a sip. His eyes met Lan Wangji’s over the brim of his cup. 

 

Lan Wangji breathed deep and calm, trying his best not to waver under his gaze. Dark hair fell over his brows, lashes painting delicate shadows. Same all consuming eyes, turning his blood into molten flames. 



Since neither of them was willing to eat more and Wei Wuxian was more enthusiastic about his wine anyway, Lan Wangji sent him to change clothes. When Wei Wuxian returned, he was clad in the same robes he’d worn after their flight from Jinlintai. White cloth poking out from under plain black, hugging his shoulders softly. Lan Wangji tried not to linger on the sight, on the line of his throat. Quickly chased away the memories of Wei Wuxian yet again hated and bloody in his arms, but save and sound in Cloud Recesses. Here he stood again, here where Lan Wangji could reach out and protect him.

 

Wei Wuxian’s hair was an unkempt mess of black wisps hanging over his shoulders. 

“Let me help.” Lan Wangji offered before he could reflect on his words. His ears burned but there was no taking it back. His heart had been quicker than reason.

When he waved him down, Wei Wuxian sat in front of him hesitantly but with curiosity playing on his face. One hand gripped the bottle of Gusu’s wine, the other his cup. 

 

“Is Hanguang-jun taking care of me now?” 

 

Wei Wuxian’s back brushed lightly against his shins and Lan Wangji ignored the close proximity. Carefully, he freed Wei Wuxian’s tousled strands from the red ribbon. Heat shot into his fingertips. He focused on the ivory comb between his fingers, its teeth bright against Wei Wuxian’s dark hair. Slow motions, starting from the head and moving lower to the tips gradually, gently. 

 

Of course they had never done this. Never before had Lan Wangji asked Wei Wuxian so directly to stay this close, to sit by him and let himself be touched, be taken care of. They knew brushing shoulders, knew music that created an invisible string between them over the distance, knew the accidental touches of hands, or desperate grabs in midst tumult, the touches of comfort and care when the situation called for it. 

Certainly not this. 

 

When Lan Wangji tilted his head to the side, he could watch Wei Wuxian’s throat move when he sipped on his wine. Could catch the drops slipping down his chin with his eyes and wished he could taste them with his lips. 

His hands worked carefully, untangling the knots, freeing intertwined weeds and leaves while Wei Wuxian sighed with satisfaction, shifting in front of him. His back pressing just a bit closer. 

 

“So good, Lan Zhan.” He praised, slurring his words slightly. “It doesn’t even hurt when you do it. I remember all the screaming back when I was younger, the maids driven into desperation by the fuss I made.” Wei Wuxian laughed again. His shoulders shook and Lan Wangji suppressed the burning desire to press his lips against his neck, encircle his figure in his arms. 

 

The minutes dripped by like candle wax. An eerie silence spread over the house buried in snow. The comb’s teeth parted through Wei Wuxian’s hair continuously until they lay shining and smooth on his back. Soft like feathers between Lan Wangji’s fingers. He took his time with arranging them, checking if all irregularities had been fixed. An appreciative hum reached his ears, vibrating into his chest. 

 

“All good now.” He said quietly, handing Wei Wuxian’s ribbon over his shoulder. 

 

“I could fall asleep in your lap like this, Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian sighed, playing with his empty bottle of wine. His lips looked healthy and pink now. While exhaustion still clung to his features his expression was peaceful. “Thank you.”

 

Lan Wangji thought back to the cave of Xuanwu. When Wei Wuxian had lain injured and trembling his arms, closer than ever before. Lips turning pale, so cold against his touch and eyes frantic. Lan Wangji had reached for him, had held him, tried to hide the panic that clogged his throat. This unbelievable desperation that suddenly took over. Wei Wuxian asking for a song so quietly, had unlocked something new, something fearsome and fragile all the same. 

He had been so young and Wei Wuxian had been so bright, so burning. He didn’t know it back then, but looking at it now, Lan Wangji was sure that had been the moment he had sworn himself to protect him. Back then, even imagining touching Wei Wuxian in any other way than was necessary had unsettled him. So many years later and he had the privilege of running his fingers through Wei Wuxian's hair. Feel the warmth radiating off his skin. It resembled balancing on the edge of a sword, any second of distraction could make him stumble.

 

Before Lan Wangji found some sort of answer, Wei Wuxian shuffled away from him and leaned against the table with his elbow, facing him. Hair framed his face soft as a silky black curtain. 

The image of him looking up with shiny eyes, of slouching limbs and a grin curling on his lips, was so achingly familiar. It still stole Lan Wangji’s breath. His throat tightening like the first time he’d spotted him on the rooftop. When he’d leaned against him in the library. On the rooftop a second time, just to be close to him. And in Lotus Cove after so many years, a habit that had never died, alive as its bearer. 

All of those years, those moments, pressed into Lan Wangji’s limbs for ever. Always burning. And every day that passed without Wei Wuxian in it felt empty. Without his laughter, his tales and his shadow falling over Lan Wangji so familiarly. Empty and full of waiting.

 

Half a year had passed since the confrontation in the Guanyin Temple. And three months since Lan Wangji had found Wei Wuxian on the mountain top again. 

It had been the last time they had seen each other, when the trees had burned red and yellow. Three months since they’d spent the evening at an inn together, talking and not talking. Wei Wuxian told his tales of adventures, of gossip, of curiosity; Lan Wangji told of news in the cultivation world, the business between clans. 

But he didn’t mention what was pressing so heavily down on his tongue and heart. Neither did Wei Wuxian mention why he barely slept, why his appetite was fading more and more. As if his hollow cheeks could escape Lan Wangji’s attention.

Three months had passed since Lan Wangji had walked away from him once again, regrets crashing over him and capturing him in an icy grip. Unspoken words burning and etching their way into his bones like fiery termites. For the past three months he’d sworn himself to break the silence. 

 

But now, when his gaze met Wei Wuxian’s, every word faded into nothing. Something hot and tight gathering in his chest, heart racing. No sound came out when he parted his lips. 

Wei Wuxian always knew how to reach inside of him and steal it all. His thoughts, his words, his breath and heart. 



“The last time we met -” Wei Wuxian said when they stood side by side and watched the snow fall. Golden light drenched the mute white silence outside. 

The last time we stood like this I wanted to kiss you, Lan Wangji finished silently, knowing Wei Wuxian was aiming somewhere else, some when else. A year had passed since then and now; a lot had happened between.

 

“The last time we met, on the mountain top, did you search for me?” Wei Wuxian asked, without looking at him. He clutched the second bottle of Emperor’s Smile, knuckles white. 

 

“Yes.”

 

Snowflakes caressed their faces, losing their way under hipped roofs stretching across the veranda. Lan Wangji didn’t feel the coldness surrounding them. Only Wei Wuxian beside him, his own skin buzzing in well-known heat. 

 

“I keep wondering about it.” Wei Wuxian’s words turned into a whisper and something inside Lan Wangji stopped. He threw a glance at the man beside him, his profile outlined against the hazy darkness, unreadable and far away. 

 

“Why wonder?” He asked, choosing his words carefully. 

 

“Lan Zhan, you always make me wonder.” This time, Wei Wuxian’s lips quirked upwards robbing Lan Wangji of his courage. Quickly he turned his gaze back to the scattering white in darkness, reflecting golden light. 

A few moments passed in which Lan Wangji focused on his breathing until Wei Wuxian sighed, dropping his head against the screen-frame. A cool breeze reached into their robes, almost impatient.

 

“I keep wondering about it. You, me and us. Everything that happened. Why you’re still with me after all these years- “ 

 

It was like something breaking. A teacup hitting the ground. Vials bursting and glass shards scattering. Lan Wangji’s heart grew three sizes wider until it choked him. 

All he could do was turn to Wei Wuxian and search for his gaze. For those familiar eyes to finally settle upon him, meet him, devour him.

 

“Lan Zhan?”

 

Back then he’d wanted to reach for him, capture him, hide him away and keep him safe. Now he got him just a few inches away, still - or once again - alive. 

And reach out he did. 

 

The screen door rattled when it met Wei Wuxian’s back. Lan Wangji’s fingers tangled into Wei Wuxian’s hair, found their way to his jaw, white noise filling his head.

It was a hurried kiss. 

 

Cold lips slotting together, releasing scattered breaths and turning hot with the sudden touch. Heartbeat so loud and hands frantic against fabric and skin. Wei Wuxian gripped the front of his robe, deepening the kiss. Chest pressed against chest. The white night turned and faded with every caress of skin. It felt like dropping down a cliff when Wei Wuxian parted his lips with his tongue, eager and hot. Diving deeper and pulling him down a spiral of dizzying warmth.

 

“Wei Ying - “ Lan Wangji broke away for oxygen, a tremor taking over his body. 

 

Wei Wuxian was warm and firm against him, unwilling to let him go. His fingers never loosened their grasp, his eyes still shut, lips parted. Wei Wuxian welcomed him, pulled him closer, wanted him. Didn’t push him away, or turned around and left. He stayed. 

 

Finally their gaze met and Lan Wangji's heart tripped. Wei Wuxian’s wide eyes shone in the dim light, disbelief and a silent smile tugging on his lips. Lan Wangji brushed his thumb over his cheek, absorbing his heat. With a hurried breath, Wei Wuxian suddenly leaned forward, burying his face in Lan Wangji’s neck. Wei Wuxian dissolved into his arms and Lan Wangji’s heart almost burst. 

 

“Dangerous, Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian’s voice was muffled against his hair, breath tingling on his skin hotly. “You should’ve warned me.” 

 

His silent smile was audible through his words and Lan Wangji tightened his hold instinctively. Soft hair fell against the back of his hands, tangling between his fingers. Everything buzzed, melting the snow around them.

 

“Is this so unexpected?” Lan Wangji muttered against Wei Wuxian’s temple, lips brushing against brows. Surprisingly, the chaos in his chest didn't reveal itself in his voice.

 

“I don’t know. Maybe- Maybe. I’ve been wondering lately.” 

 

Lan Wangji’s throat tightened when Wei Wuxian looked up again, expression so open it almost made him want to hide. Cover his face with snow until the burn faded.

Wei Wuxian’s eyes flickering down to his lips made his knees weak. This time the kiss was slow, tentative, exploring. Taking its time. All these years Lan Wangji had watched him in silence, dissolved under Wei Wuxian’s lips, faded into distance. The scars of watching Wei Wuxian leave again and again, of fighting the burning ache under his skin; Wei Wuxian kissed him, smoothed the edges, pulled it all out of his limbs until delicious warmth spread into every part of his body. 

After the events in the Xuanwu cave, Lan Wangji had fled. Fled from his feelings, Wei Wuxian’s suffocating presence, the grief for his clan. Everything had weighed down on him like an avalanche, ripping him along mercilessly. Did it count as a goodbye, when he didn’t say goodbye, farewell ?
He’d played with that thought, of waiting for Wei Wuxian to wake up and capture him with his burning eyes, to tell him he’d be going now. Instead he had turned away as soon as he knew him safe. Pushed aside whatever mess he had created in his heart, pushed aside the feelings that would only build and gather over the coming years. 

Those waves spilled over the edge now.

 

Wei Wuxian sighed unrestrained against his lips, slowly moving them backwards through golden warm darkness, away from the snow. Following blindly, Lan Wangji chased Wei Wuxian’s touch, his scent, his kiss. Reality crumbled with every brush of his fingers against his neck. 

Suddenly everything turned and Lan Wangji found himself burying Wei Wuxian’s body under his. Freezing, he pulled away quickly, trying to make some space between them, but Wei Wuxian’s grip was relentless. Their sleeves brushed against bed-sheets, soft fabric whispering.

 

“Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian’s voice brimmed with laughter, looking up with shining eyes.“Don’t look so afraid. I’m not going to eat you.”  

 

His hair splayed out on light sheets, robe dishevelled under Lan Wangji’s weight. He probably felt his heartbeat pounding against his ribcage. The warm light of lanterns cast over Wei Wuxian’s features and turned his edges so soft, Lan Wangji could only stare in silence. Admire the man below him, that red blush on his cheeks, eyes hazy from alcohol and the shared breath between them. It wasn’t really a smile that appeared on Wei Wuxian’s lips, but it broke Lan Wangji’s heart all the same. 

 

“I’m a bit tipsy, Lan Zhan…” Wei Wuxian confessed absentmindedly, fingers wandering down Lan Wangji’s neck and throat slowly. Shivers erupting on his skin. “Please tell me this is all real. Please tell me you’re not just a dream. Am I dreaming?”

 

Choked up, Lan Wangji leaned down quickly, capturing his lips between his own. Greedily he absorbed Wei Wuxian’s quiet noises, taking it all until it echoed in his bones.

 

“Not a dream, Wei Ying.” he whispered, eyes closed because Wei Wuxian never had enough and took everything with his gaze. “It’s real now.” 

 

“Gosh, we lost so much time, dancing around each other.” Wei Wuxian’s lashes fluttered when Lan Wangji latched his lips against his throat, tasting his skin. 

 

"No time with you was lost, only the time without you."

 

The overwhelming closeness reached into both their lungs, stirring up blood in new, unknown ways. Every touch, vibrating deep into their core. 



What followed was a long night of exploring, of wandering hands, curious touches and quiet whispers pressed against skin. Exploration of the forbidden, of taboos Lan Wangji had set himself in the course of his life. 

Walls previously held secure, crumbled with every kiss Wei Wuxian pressed against his mouth. His body trembled with the rush of pure and allconsuming want for what he hadn't even allowed himself to dream of. Their still clothed limbs tangled together, securing a small safe world. Lan Wangji could listen to Wei Wuxian's heartbeat, make sure of its existence and kiss him afterwards. Lips feeling raw and sensitive, but always seeking for that addictive taste. They could intertwine their hands and Lan Wangji's breath faltered because Wei Wuxian gripped him so surely. He responded to every touch with such fervent affection, Lan Wangji got ripped along helplessly. 

 

"You're so beautiful, Lan Zhan." 

 

He caressed Wei Wuxian's cheeks, ignoring his own heating up like lanterns. 

 

"So cute, who knew Hanguang-jun could be this gentle." 

 

This time Lan Wangji hid his face in the other's hair, inhaling his scent deeply while his heart trembled. 

 

"You're the best person I know, Lan Zhan. Everything about you, it's driving me crazy, it always has. But now I know why. Being in love truly means haltering your own neck."

 

Searching for Wei Wuxian's lips in the golden speckled darkness, Lan Wangji pressed a slow kiss to them. Captured his words in the space between them so he wouldn't choke on them. Traced his jaw and throat with his finger, pulse beating against the tip of it. Captured his lips between his teeth gently to hear that soft sound escaping him. 

 

It was when Wei Wuxian pushed him on his back and leaned over him, that Lan Wangji melted into weak compliance. Wei Wuxian’s hair tickled his neck. His weight was new and curious, comforting like water against burning wounds. 

 

Suddenly, his fingers brushed over his temple, slow and tentative, until they reached the soft band around Lan Wangji’s forehead. Freezing, his breath hitched. 

Above him, Wei Wuxian’s eyes bore into him deep and thoughtful. A hot shiver gripped his body when Wei Wuxian’s fingers slipped under his headband, gently following its line until he reached the back of his head, finding its knot. Lan Wangji exhaled when the band loosened, eyes falling shut. The seconds hovered between them in which Wei Wuxian’s breath caressed his cheeks, fingers gentle in his hair. Setting off tiny sparks. 

 

At last, the band slipped off completely and Wei Wuxian’s lips pressed warm against where silver had sat against his skin. Followed a trail over his skin, so endlessly gentle. 

Lan Wangji’s heart pounded feverishly, unsettled at the sudden closeness, the exposure to hungry eyes. He felt that Wei Wuxian wanted to say something, but he pulled him close quickly. Silenced him with his lips because more acknowledgment of the situation would break him. 

 

-

 

The following days passed in a white haze. 

 

It had stopped snowing, but the air was crispy with ice-crystals, turning everything into a glittering masterpiece. Snow crunched under the weight of boots with every step. Normally around this time of the year, the Cloud Recesses were even quieter than usual, everyone seeking warmth behind their screen-doors, no matter how sparse. 

 

For Lan Wangji however, the hours passed with a warmth he had never known before. 

With Wei Wuxian’s arrival, his night-sleep had been thrown upside down and yet he still woke up at five o’clock every morning, when the world was still mute and dark. Exhaustion clung to his limbs but when he felt Wei Wuxian’s arm around his waist or caught a glimpse of his nose buried into the sheets sleepily – it was like seeing the sunrise early. 

Many more hours would pass before the sky would turn bright, yet it was enough for Lan Wangji to lay still for a while longer and listen to Wei Wuxian’s calm breathing. Watch his eyelids move full of dreams, his hair curling delicately around his jaw and forehead. Sometimes Lan Wangji reached out and brushed them aside. Sometimes he pressed a ginger kiss to Wei Wuxian’s cheek. Heart beating quietly but fast. 

 

Lan Wangji used the few hours before Wei Wuxian would rise from his slumber for work. Despite succeeding in setting all his duties as Chief Cultivator on hold while Wei Wuxian stayed in Gusu, he was unable to drop all his responsibilities. There were enough letters to be answered, paperwork to be done. And time passed just a bit quicker until he could see Wei Wuxian’s smile again. 

 

More than often Wei Wuxian managed to lure him back to bed as soon as he woke up, with beckoning eyes and his robe sliding off his shoulder. It was his laughter when Lan Wangji let himself be pulled down, his teasing fingers in his hair. His lips, always hungry for more. 

 

They had both been starving for too long. 

 

In quiet moments, Lan Wangji still felt the dark crevice in his chest, the burnt mark on his skin, never to fade away. Every minute Wei Wuxian spent by his side mended the wounds a bit more, but they had a long way to go. 

Lan Wangji was thankful for Wei Wuxian’s chatter, the way he filled the air with words and ideas. It reminded him of the present and he clung to it, because when silence fell, the past was still too close. Wei Wuxian was just a bit too quiet and Lan Wangji’s chest ached with that familiar anxiety. 

 

He kissed him then, desperate and maybe a bit too forceful, but he needed to feel it. Even when a metallic taste spread on his tongue and he didn’t know whose blood it was, it was better than being eaten by his own memories. 

Memories of drifting apart even further, to a point of no return. When there had been Wei Wuxian, fixing him down with a cold stare. Returning from darkness, pale and clad in smoke, making the night his own. No teasing smile, no other form of vivacious greeting. Only a flute hanging from his fingers and shadows dripping from his eyes. Shutting Lan Wangji away with just a few words. Igniting a biting fire inside his veins. 

 

That fire escaped him now, hungry and alive.

 

While the winter froze the world dead outside, Wei Wuxian set Lan Wangji’s skin ablaze. Like a wildfire that had been waiting to spread and roar, it consumed them. Having Wei Wuxian like this, there was so much to discover. Things Lan Wangji had rarely dared to dream about, when his self-control had slipped away from him. Things that he only knew in distant theory, never empirically. 

 

Now he knew how to curl his tongue to lure out the prettiest noises from Wei Wuxian, knew how his collarbone tasted. He learned that Wei Wuxian was insatiable in the most charming way, reaching for him in the oddest hours. They would be talking about the Nie Clans new sanctions on some smaller clan, when Wei Wuxian gripped the front of his robes and clashed their lips together, hands immediately exploring hungrily. Or when they took a walk through the snow-covered back-hill to clear their minds from lounging inside all day, and suddenly Lan Wangji found himself pressed against a freezing tree. Wei Wuxian grinning at him with cheeks reddened from the cold, before his lips covered his neck in a burst of kisses. Lan Wangji allowed it all, heart in constant turmoil. Pearly breaths escaping them and rising over their heads.



It was the nights, that turned into dreamlike hours. When even Wei Wuxian was tired of talking and took to mapping out every inch of Lan Wangji’s body. 

Pulling and shifting his sleeping-robe to his satisfaction, reaching the most sensitive parts while Lan Wangji crumbled under him. It took a while to ease into it, to understand that he could desire him in such an intense fashion. That he could enjoy Wei Wuxian’s hands on him, that he could respond by doing the same. Finding out what he liked, what made him sigh with pleasure, what choked his breath. That there was no shame in letting his body speak for him, after all these years of silence. 

 

“I have thought about this so many times” Wei Wuxian whispered one night, lips brushing down Lan Wangji’s chest, leaving a burning trail. Lan Wangji wondered if he would be left with more scars. “So many times. Back when we were younger, all I could think about was you. Back then I thought it was normal. Being young, there’s a lot to discover, and one of the Twin Jades of Gusu had caught my curious attention.” 

 

Gentle laughter spilled over Lan Wangji’s ribs and he shivered. When he dared to glance down, he immediately met Wei Wuxian’s sparkling gaze. 

 

“Who knew it had always been more than just teenage infatuation. I never stopped dreaming about you.” His lips underlined his words, goosebumps erupting under his touch. His hands slid down his sides in slow motions, palms hot and firm. “Tell me, Lan Zhan.”

 

His lips reached Lan Wangji’s belly button and he inhaled sharply. A knot tightening under his caress. 

 

“Tell me Lan Zhan, have you thought about me too?” Wei Wuxian’s lips pulled into a grin, and Lan Wangji hated the way his body reacted to every tiny touch. Burying his hand into Wei Wuxian’s loose hair, he tried to ignore his heavy gaze. Blinked up at the cloud-patterned ceiling and tried to breathe. 

 

“Lan Zhan.” His voice turned into a singsong and Lan Wangji’s limbs felt like cotton.

 

“I don’t-“

 

Somehow, he managed to find strength in his hands, reaching for the side of Wei Wuxian’s face to pull him up again. His knees knocked against Lan Wangji’s hips when he shuffled closer obediently, greeting him with a teasing smile. 

 

“Did you?”

 

It was less than dignifying when his heart clogged his throat, stealing his breath. Wei Wuxian’s nose brushed against his, lips mere inches away. 

“Have you thought about touching me, about f-“ 

 

“Of course, I have.” Lan Wangji finally whispered, pulling him into a quick and messy kiss. “You never left my mind, Wei Ying.” 

Wei Wuxian’s delighted giggle was cleansing, knocking Lan Wangji’s insides into shambles. 

 

“Oh, Hanguang-jun isn’t so pure of thought after all.” Their kisses grew short and playful, lips brushing together, parting and chasing again. “Who knew the model of the Gusu Lan clan has dreams as dirty as everyone else-“ 

 

And with that, Lan Wangji had enough. With a tug, he pulled Wei Wuxian down until his body covered him whole, heavy and warm. Their lips locked tightly while Lan Wangji slid one leg around Wei Wuxian’s thigh, drawing him in. Enjoyed the surprised sound hummed into his mouth.



From that night on, Lan Wangji knew what it felt like having Wei Wuxian inside of him. Knew what he sounded like when he was close, knew what it meant being fucked into oblivion. Experienced the burn in the morning for the first time. He also knew how warm and welcoming Wei Wuxian was under him, how caring his words became as he gasped them with every thrust. Lan Wangji learned to let go and surrender, give in to that demanding pull inside of him. Give in to Wei Wuxian’s touch. 

 

No, he barely felt the winter outside when his heart was blooming. When Wei Wuxian brought the sun with his smile and offered it to Lan Wangji so freely. 

 

-

 

Of course, it was his brother who commented on it.

“You’re glowing, Wangji.”

It was the first thing he said to him when he stepped into his brother’s house.

These days, Lan Xichen didn’t speak much. Lan Wangji would sit by him for hours sometimes and they would both utter not a single word. Sometimes he would play for him, on good days Lan Xichen would join with Liebing. When the weather was especially cold and Lan Wangji noticed the restlessness in his brother’s eyes, he asked about it, relieved whenever Lan Xichen was ready to answer. To speak his mind, his doubt, his worries and regrets. It happened once in two moons, but Lan Wangji saw progress in that. Recently, Lan Xichen even asked on his own. About the cultivation world, the young disciples, the whereabouts of Wei Wuxian. The day before Wei Wuxian’s arrival, he had asked Lan Wangji about it.

Now he raised his eyes with a gentle smile, that had become so rare these days. Exhaustion clung to his features but Lan Wangji’s heart warmed at the tiny gesture. A glimpse of hope.

“You’ve been enjoying your days with Young Master Wei, I take it?”

Lan Wangji set down the tray with tea, settling cross legged before his brother. Holding back his sleeve, he poured them both, eyes fixed on the steam rising between them. He blamed the heat on his cheeks on it. Placing the cup before him, Lan Wangji finally met Lan Xichen’s gaze. There was still a smile in the corner of his lips and Lan Wangji couldn’t help but mirror him.

Something like relief washed over Lan Xichen’s face.

“All I want for you, is happiness, Wangji.”

“Wei Ying is the one. The one who knows all of me, brother. He always has been.”

It sounded unreal, spoken aloud into a room with four walls over two cups of green tea. Familiar tables, familiar shelves, those light lacquer works he had counted as a child. His words sounded tentative, but not misplaced. Surreal, but true.

“I know he is.”

Lan Wangji’s throat tightened and he reached for his cup, raising it to his lips. Hoping his hand wouldn’t shake.

“You do?” It was his voice that shook.

Lan Xichen followed him, closing his eyes as he inhaled the comforting steam.

“Of course I do, Wangji. You’re my brother. And you have told me yourself.” He said quietly, after lowering his cup again. His hands grew paler every day. “In Jinlintai, you told me you wanted to take him here and hide him.”

Lan Wangji stayed quiet. He remembered watching the bright blue sky that was mocking him. Remembered how deep the pain had been, how frayed and desperate his heart. Back then, he’d yearned for the Cold Springs as a refuge. Not knowing the following night would rip Wei Wuxian from him indefinitely.

“So much has changed.” He said at last, knowing there was not much left to say.

The late afternoon light fell through the screens, painting rectangular shadows across the table, catching in rising steam. They sat in silence and drank their tea. Lan Wangji watched his brother and wished he knew how to soothe his mind. Music and tea only helped so much.

When the sun was close to setting behind the mountains and Lan Wangji heard Wei Wuxian calling for Lan Shizui outside, he rose up.

“Thank you for your visit, Wangji.” Lan Xichen said like he did every time. “Take care. Seize the time you have together.”

Lan Wangji tilted his head gratefully. His throat tightened when he met his brother’s gaze that had become even more clouded. Before he left, he turned around again, words stumbling out a bit too quick.

“Brother, I only wish happiness for you too. Take care.”

Lan Wangji couldn’t wait for his brother’s answer. Quickly he stepped into the freezing evening-air and slid the door shut behind him. Took a deep breath, clearing his mind.  When he opened his eyes again, he spotted Wei Wuxian’s dark figure on the other side of the yard, heard his laughter drift over. Lan Shizui stood beside him, a bright smile adorning his face.

Watching them, Lan Wangji wished his brother could join the world outside. Wished he could smile as freely and be part of the Cloud Recesses once again. It was the sixth day of Wei Wuxian’s stay and Lan Wangji wished his brother could’ve been some part of it and feel happiness too. 

Because it was when Wei Wuxian slid his arms around Lan Wangji’s waist when they were alone, that Lan Wangji realised it was true happiness indeed that rose in his chest like waves under the sun.

-

 

Lan Wangji woke up disoriented and aroused. Sleep dripped away from him like honey when he felt Wei Wuxian’s lips wander down his neck. Blinking into darkness, all Lan Wangji felt was Wei Wuxian’s body pressed against his back, his lips and breath hot against his skin, the sleepy warmth shared between them. 

 

“Wei Ying.” His voice was raspy and helpless. When he raised his hand and buried it into Wei Wuxian’s hair to pull him even closer, a soft giggle sounded against his ear-shell. 

 

“Lan Zhan.” 

 

Lan Wangji’s mouth fell open when Wei Wuxian took his earlobe between his lips gently. Strong hands brushed down his sides, pulling him even closer eagerly. Still drowsy, Lan Wangji turned his head until he finally found his way to Wei Wuxian’s lips. They kissed heavily, breathing into each other’s mouth until he felt dizzy. 

The room was still dark and soon Lan Wangji lost every sense of direction. Only Wei Wuxian’s hands guided him, his chest against his back, his thighs against his backside, their joined breaths. He felt Wei Wuxian’s hardness pressing against him and something hot and heavy pooled below his navel. Lan Wangji’s face flushed when a helpless sigh escaped him, luring a delighted sound out of Wei Wuxian. 

 

“I need you.” he whispered, not holding back as always.

Lan Wangji sighed again. A heavy, sticky cloud took over his mind. They were so close, but not enough. When Wei Wuxian’s fingers travelled up his thigh, hiking up his sleeping-gown slowly, his hips moved back unconsciously, searching for friction. 

 

“I can’t resist when you’re like this, in my arms, looking so delicious.” Wei Wuxian’s words were so bare, so shameless, and Lan Wangji didn’t find the strength to scold him. Instead he pulled Wei Wuxian’s head down, offering his neck generously. “I hope Hanguang-jun can excuse my impertinence for waking him.” 

 

Every word unlocked a new wave of heat and Lan Wangji couldn’t help the deep sound that escaped his throat. Wei Wuxian’s fingers loosened this and that, slid over hems and loops and folds, until Lan Wangji’s robe was a mess of loose linen, exposing his skin. Hot palms brushed over his chest, his ribs, his waist until they reached his hip-bone. Wei Wuxian’s hips rolled against him in agonisingly slow motions. 

 

Like this, Lan Wangji didn’t mind being trapped in Wei Wuxian’s arms, his shoulder feeling numb from laying on his side for so long and sleep-muddled brain too incoherent to register his own movements. Instead he leaned into every touch offered to him. Wei Wuxian knew every sensitive part of him, knew how to make him surrender his own self-control. 

 

“Do you like this, Lan Zhan?” Sinful lips that painted bruises on his neck. 

 

Wei Wuxian reached between his legs, palm hot and tight around him. Burning pleasure washed over him and reached into his limbs like fire. 

 

“Wei Ying - “ 

 

“What is it, Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian breathed into his ear. “Tell me.” 

 

His other arm slid all the way around Lan Wangji, pressing their bodies even closer. Fingers painting delicate circles on his skin. His grip around his length tightened and Lan Wangji almost choked on his words.

 

“Don’t tease.” 

 

“If you say so.” 

 

Lan Wangji felt the grin against the back of his neck when Wei Wuxian removed his hand again, sliding up his stomach and chest instead. A frustrated sound escaped him. Lucky for him, Wei Wuxian seemed to grow impatient as well, his caresses turning purposeful and demanding. The minutes slipped away from them. Darkness filled with heat, with hushed whispers, with hands clasping and skin pressing against skin. The shadows turned around Lan Wangji and he closed his eyes, welcoming the death of every thought. 

 

When Wei Wuxian turned away for a short moment to reach for a small vial of oil, Lan Wangji felt cold and lost. And when Wei Wuxian pressed one finger into him, he pushed back desperately. Soon, Lan Wangji had to bite his tongue to stop those noises trapped in his throat. He allowed only Wei Wuxian to escape him. 

 

“Don’t be shy, Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian murmured eagerly, insatiable as he was. “Let me hear you, please? No need to be shy…”

 

If Wei Wuxian hadn’t moved his finger like that , hadn’t set off a wildfire in Lan Wangji’s veins, he would’ve scolded him. Instead he turned his head for another kiss, shutting him up. Everything burned. Minutes dripping away, slow and sweet and torturous.

 

Finally, after what seemed an eternity of choked breaths and anticipating fumbling movements, Wei Wuxian pulled out. Unbearably slow, his hand travelled over Lan Wangji’s thighs, his waist, his stomach. Linen strained harshly against his skin when Wei Wuxian pulled him closer, robes still crumpled somewhere between and around them. Hair spilled over his neck and face when Wei Wuxian leaned closer, whispering words of praise, of love, of promises that made Lan Wangji’s heart bleed. 

 

“Wei Ying.” 

 

“No matter how many times you say it…” Wei Wuxian’s lips brushed against his, painfully gentle. “I will never grow tired of it. Lan Zhan. Say it again.” 

 

“Wei Ying.” Lan Wangji let the words fall like leaves tumbling to the ground. His hands searched behind and above him for more closeness, for Wei Wuxian to finally move. The scent of Lavender and Rosemary covered them like thick fog and Lan Wangji was too dizzy with arousal to stop his begging hands. 

 

“Wei Ying…” 

 

His skin erupted in hot shivers when Wei Wuxian finally pushed in, filling him, burning him. Their knees knocked together and heat gathered in Lan Wangji’s lower abdomen like magma. A moment to adjust, to catch his breath, to whisper Wei Wuxian’s name one more time. Ragged breaths hit the side of his face when Wei Wei Wuxian moved, thrusting slowly, holding back still. 

 

“You’re so fucking beautiful.” Wei Wuxian gasped. Lan Wangji almost laughed. 

 

Years ago, he might’ve jumped away from words like that, from thoughts like that, actions like that. Shy away from its obscenity, feeling dirty and guilty just by catching accidental glimpses of Beauty Collections in the library. Now, having someone else touch him like that, pleasure him, having Wei Wuxian fuck every worrying thought out of him - it was better than any cleansing music. 

 

The world ripped past him, waves of pleasure reaching into the tips of his fingers and toes with every thrust. His back was hot and slick with sweat, pressed against Wei Wuxian’s chest, the sound of skin against skin filling the darkness. A strong hand gripped his hips, angling them just right. Another hand reached up, wrapping itself right below his chin and jaw, firm but still gentle. Hot, wet kisses mouthed against his shoulder, as if to soothe the fire burning under his skin. 

 

“You’re so good, Lan Zhan. So perfect.” 

 

Lan Wangji knew that Wei Wuxian was babbling by now, spilling his heart out as if his movements didn’t make up for his thoughts. Every movement of his hips accentuated his words, drove the passion into him, made him tremble. Pace quickening, breath hitching. 

 

“Everytime feels like the first time. It’s always special and I - “ Wei Wuxian broke off, hitting Lan Wangji’s sweet spot perfectly to lure even more moans out of him. “Always special. All these years we’ve lost. I wasn’t there, I wanted you so much - “ 

 

Nonsense , was all Lan Wangji thought while another broken moan escaped him. His body, his limbs, his eyes burned. Something wet slid down his cheeks. 

 

“Wei Ying, please - “ he begged quietly, fingers tangling into Wei Wuxian’s hair. 

 

Blue shadows turned and suddenly Lan Wangji found himself on his back, staring up at a dark silhouette, covering him whole. Wei Wuxian pushed back in, arching above him with loose hair forming a curtain down to Lan Wangji’s sensitive chest. Their hands laced together, pinned against the linen below. 

 

The truth was, ever since Wei Wuxian had stepped into his life, Lan Wangji had been plagued by desires and unspoken thoughts. It had been infatuation at first, a teenage whim of heart, first contact with something desirable. Quicker than he cared for, those feelings turned into something bigger, something suffocating, something all-consuming. Not just hormonal appreciation for Wei Wuxian’s jaw-line, the image of his slim body. No, something far more threatening. Years of silence and yearning turned it into a part of him, a part of his heartbeat. Intensified  by the time that passed, burned into his chest for ever. 

 

Wei Wuxian captured his lips, movements growing erratic. His hand reached down, gripping Lan Wangj hot and tight. Sensation overflooded, Lan Wangji clung helplessly to him, gasping against his lips. Every thrust unlocking a bundle of nerve set ablaze. 

 

“I love you.” Lan Wangji whispered. Wei Wuxian’s breath hitched, movements hot and heavy. “Always you, Wei Ying.” 

 

“God-” 

 

A gentle hand reached up to cup his face, brushing over the wetness on his cheeks. 

 

“You’re going to be the death of me.” Wei Wuxian choked, before gripping him tighter. Lan Wangji wrapped his legs around the other’s hips, guiding him deeper. 

 

If I am doomed to death, at least, I could be killed by you. That would be worth it.

 

Everything blurred in white bliss. Their breaths mingled in desperate sounds, fingers tightening and limbs burning. Lan Wangji trembled when Wei Wuxian spilled inside of him, hot and scorching. Every coherent thought he might’ve clung to disappeared. 

 

Wei Wuxian’s chest heaved against his own, trying to catch his breath. Heavy, warm bliss spread into Lan Wangji’s joints. Their bodies pressed together, sticky and hot. The drowsiness that overtook him was different from the one he woke up with. Spent and satisfied, covered by Wei Wuxian’s weight that pressed down so comfortingly. 

 

An early bird called in the distance of an approaching twilight. 

The present happened like a dream to him, surrounding him with Wei Wuxian’s scent, his touch, his burning presence. The taste of him on his tongue, the burn inside of him. Loss and gain, pressed down on him. Memories manifested into something new, something hopeful, something promising. 

You're going to be the death of me.

Wei Wuxian’s departure during a rainy night that had felt so final back then, just after he’d gotten him back. Rain crashing down on them, mud sucking at his boots, freezing coldness reaching into his skin and chest. Wei Wuxian had told  him he’d want to die by Lan Wangji’s hand. That it would be worth it. Shattering his heart with just a few words, before passing by like a haunting shadow, a spectre in the night. Rain had splattered on his face afterwards and for the first time, Lan Wangji had let himself feel all of it. The heartbreak, the pain and confusion, the love; rain like icy needles on his skin. He had absorbed it and let it course through his veins .

 

No rain froze him now, only Wei Wuxian’s hot breath against his neck spread over his skin and into his very core. Alive.



It didn’t take long until Wei Wuxian’s breathing ebbed out into a calm rhythm. His fingers curled into Lan Wangji’s hair in his sleep. Lan Wangji lay wide awake and watched the screens turning brighter with dawn closing in. He was relieved that Wei Wuxian wasn’t awake to see the tears still slipping down his face, rolling over his chin and down his throat. 

 

Everything burned. His eyes, his limbs, his chest. Suddenly the past few days washed over him with all their intensity, pressing the truth into his bone marrow. The truth they lived now, ardent and without restraint. With every breath that returned to him, one more tear escaped him. He didn’t know if they fell for his past, present or future.

 

Lan Wangji knew it was far past five o’clock already. He felt sticky and worn, and when Wei Wuxian shifted to the side, freeing him from his weight, he gently slipped out of bed. Wrapped the crumpled robes around him tightly, shivering and missing Wei Wuxian’s warmth already. Quietly he slid open the screen-door, icy breeze caressing his bruised cheeks.

 

It was snowing again. 

 

-

 

Lan Wangji found the others on a clearing, surrounded by white. Snow hung from twigs and branches, pierced by icicles. Their footprints drew dark marks against the white covered ground, jostled up by three pairs of feet. 

There were white bundles, moving and hopping all over their laps and arms. 

 

Wei Wuxian’s eyes sparkled when he raised a bunny to his face, bumping against his nose gently. His grip was maybe a bit too rough, despite his well-meaning affection. 

Beside him, Wen Ning seemed completely lost and overwhelmed with the heap of bunnies choosing his lap as their fort, sniffing and toddling over his clothes. 

Lan Shizui’s happy laughter rang over the clearing when he freed Wen Ning from his uncertainty and picked a bunny off him, holding it to his chest gently. Against his white robes, only its red eyes shone brightly.  

 

Lan Wangji watched and his heart ached. He remembered Yuani’s tiny hands that had seeked the bunnies, his free gurgling laughter when he’d brushed against soft fur. The utter delight on his face when Lan Wangji had sat him in the middle of them and let the bunnies declare Yuan as one of their own. 

 

“Lan Zhan!” 

 

Finally, Wei Wuxian spotted him standing under the trees and waved him over. When Lan Wangji came closer, Wen Ning and Lan Shizui shuffled quickly, trying to free themselves of the bunnies. Before they succeeded, Lan Wangji motioned them to stay seated, not minding the missing bows. 

 

“You shouldn’t get cold.” He said, eyes trailing over their wet and messy clothes. Somehow, Wen Ning had managed tousling a lost twig into his hair. Lan Shizui’s robes were soiled in a way he had only ever seen after battle.

 

“We came to feed the bunnies. Join us!” Wei Wuxian grinned and raised his arms, pressing a bunny into Lan Wangji’s chest. 

 

Carefully, he accepted the light fluffy bundle, his cold fingers burying into its warm fur. Despite his earlier warning, he dropped to his knees himself, joining the others on the freezing and dirty floor. The surprised look on Wen Ning’s face didn’t escape him. Lan Shizui just beamed at him. 

 

“If Hanguang-jun so wishes, I can offer my coat for him to sit on.” Wen Ning offered, fumbling around his words. 

 

“No need. Thank you.” Lan Wangji almost smiled, feeling Wei Wuxian’s appreciative look. “I heard Uncle is holding a lecture now.” Tilting his head towards Lan Shizui, he watched the younger boy lower his head quickly. 

 

“I’m sorry, Hanguang-jun, Young Master Wei told me he was going to feed the rabbits and-” 

 

“Lan Zhan, I think you should let the kid go.” Wei Wuxian butted in, pouting lightly. “Apparently he never misses classes. You’ve taught him well, but I think he needs to experience a bit more of life.

 

Their eyes met and Lan Wangji raised his eyebrows.

 

“Life?” 

 

“You’ve had your part in raising him, now it’s my turn!” Wei Wuxian said strongly, mischief audible in his voice. Lan Shizui’s cheeks burned bashfully, but when Wei Wuxian’s hand gripped his shoulder affectionately, he smiled lightly. “Brother Xian has been away for far too long, am I right?” 

 

Lan Wangji’s breath hitched and he quickly dropped his gaze down to the tiny creature in his hands. Focused his attention on brushing over its back gingerly, while his heart did something complicated. 

 

I won’t give. Unless you say that you like Brother Xian. 

 

I like Brother Xian!

 

It had been a goodbye when neither had truly said what had been on their mind. The line between them drawn deeper. Wei Wuxian had smiled and Yuan had clung to Lan Wangji’s leg, pouting. 

Lan Zhan, thank you. Thank you for your company today.

A goodbye that changed them forever because Lan Wangji hadn’t been brave enough to walk beside him. Because he had been scared of the dark, of the red shadows in Wei Wuxian’s cave, of his bloody talismans and that empty smile he offered. Scared of that ugly convulsing thing inside his chest that coiled in Wei Wuxian’s presence. 

Yuan clung to him and it could’ve been so easy. So easy to say yes, I will stay for you, A-yuan. I will be Brother Rich for a while longer and join you for dinner.  

In hindsight it could’ve been so easy and yet one look at Wei Wuxian had made him shrink back, flee from him. Choose the path he thought easier back then, walk away from the darkness that hovered above the Yiling Patriarch’s realm.
Lan Wangji had walked away into the brightness of the sun, but the shadows stayed with him, hiding in his chest. Whispering in his dreams until his heart withered under them. 

 

He didn’t know how much he had actually mended over the years. The first few years after Wei Wuxian’s death he’d barely been present in Yuan’s life. It had hurt too much looking at him, remembering how much he had lost, how much Wei Wuxian had done for him and his family. Hurt too much being reminded that it had dragged him down into pitchblack darkness.

It had been Lan Xichen that had pushed Lan Wangji into the right direction. Yuan was alone in this world now, his family gone, his uncle gone, Brother Xian gone. 

 

And now, when Lan Wangji watched the young man from the corner of his eyes, he felt indescribable pride. The many scars and errors still itched and crawled, but Lan Shizui sat with him and smiled. Alive and well. 

 

His uncle and brother back by his side. Alive and well. 

 

Wen Ning made a surprised sound when a bunny crawled up his chest, sniffing his chin. Wei Wuxian giggled, shoulder bumping against Lan Wangji’s. Their robes were entirely soaked but Lan Wangji barely felt the biting cold. 

Sparse sunshine falling through ice and soft fur under their palms warmed them enough. 

 

-

 

The world had stopped with Wei Wuxian’s last bloody smile.

With the sunrise spilling its ruthless light on all the splattered crimson, the loss, the pain. It had stopped with Jiang Wanyin’s sword scratching against stone sickeningly.

The world had stopped when Lan Wangji could only stand and watch the dark clouds swallow him, while blood dripped, dripped, dripped – endlessly. 

 

Lan Wangji still felt it on his hands and fingers sometimes. In his dreams, in those delirious moments between wakefulness and sleep. Sticky, dark, ugly.

 

Water splashed against the side of the bathtub when he submerged his hands, scrubbing against its back and palms. The steam rising around them muddled his mind and thoughts. Scents of sandalwood and jasmine covered his skin like sugary mist, warm and comforting. There was no blood in the water now. No crimson clinging to his fingernails.

 

Wei Wuxian’s fingers were gentle in his hair, gliding through wet strands and parting them evenly. Wandering over the back of his neck, down his spine, counting each vertebrae. The comb in his hands summoned pleasant tingles on Lan Wangji’s skin. Increased by water droplets following their own paths. 

 

There was no blood.

 

“Have I ever properly thanked you for taking care of A-Yuan?” Wei Wuxian mumbled into the humid silence. Lan Wangji felt him shift behind him, small waves hitting his waist and back. 

 

“There’s no need, Wei Ying.” 

 

“But there is.” Something in Wei Wuxian’s voice etched itself into Lan Wangji’s chest. It wasn’t sharpness exactly, but something strong nevertheless. “I know it was a...difficult time for you.” 

 

The sound of dripping water filled the space between them. Lan Wangji watched the drops fall, creating small circles. Behind him Wei Wuxian exhaled carefully, his fingers slowly following Lan Wangji’s scars. Tracing them across his spine, down to the small of his back, criss crossing his shoulder blades. A tremor ran through his veins. 

 

“Zewu-jun told me about it.” Wei Wuxian said quietly, sounding apologetic. Lan Wangji closed his eyes when he felt warm kisses pressed against that marred skin, those ugly knotty branches on his flesh. 

 

“The whip did not hurt as much as your absence did.” he confessed, allowing his voice to waver. Wei Wuxian should know all of him, inside out. 

 

“Lan Zhan…” 

 

Lan Wangji shook his head, more water spilling from his wet hair. 

 

“I played Inquiry every day. For years, I tried to reach out for you, find your spirit.” His words sounded hollow spoken aloud and Lan Wangji hated the way Wei Wuxian froze behind him. Hands slipping away from his back. “I never stopped, despite realising soon that I wouldn’t succeed. I never stopped searching for you.”

 

Wei Wuxian dropped his forehead against Lan Wangji neck, warm breath spilling over wet skin. Arms encircled him, careful and secure. 

 

“And taking care of A-yuan was the least I could do. For him, for you.” 

 

Those endless freezing days in the Hantan Cave still lingered in his bones. The image of Yuan curled up against a dirty rock, motionless and feverish, haunted him to this day. 

Lan Wangji shivered, leaning back into Wei Wuxian’s embrace. The steam slowly faded over the bathwater, cooling down. Wei Wuxian’s heartbeat was quick and frantic against his back. 

 

“Lan Zhan, I am so so-” 

 

“Don’t say it.” Lan Wangji interrupted, shifting until he faced Wei Wuxian, not caring about the water he spilled over the edge. “Please.” 

 

He wasn’t surprised to see Wei Wuxian’s eyes red-rimmer and glassy. Gently, he wiped a lone tear from his cheek, cupping his face in his palm. Watched his eyes fall shut, lips parting with a shaking breath. 

 

“I love you, Lan Zhan.” 

 

With a kiss, Lan Wangji sealed those words between them. Gripped Wei Wuxian tighter to pull him close, to feel every inch of him and be consumed by his existence. Feel his hot blood pumping in his veins, the rhythm of his heart and breath. 

Taking it all in to chase away the sour taste of stale blood on his tongue, dust in his hair, smoke in his lungs

Lan Wangji had never forgotten. Never let go of Wei Wuxian. Three years that had confined him to set his mind on the right path, had done nothing but etch the grief further into his heart. A burning iron against his chest came closest to that pain that lay beneath. The haze of Emperor’s Smile just a cheap mirage of hope, creating a false illusion of Wei Wuxian’s presence. Thirteen years that followed just a hazy string of time passing and people changing, only Yuan a comforting light by his side. 

They kissed until the water had turned completely cold around them, their heated bodies pressed against each other and the comb lay forgotten on the marble floor. 

-

 

The strings were sharp and firm under his fingers. Sending familiar tremors into his arms and veins, reaching inside his core. Energy curling with every note that vibrated in the air. Wei Wuxian’s flute reached into his soul, gripping and swaying him. Their instruments joined, painting the melody into another snowy evening.

 

Wang Xian. 

 

After their parting on the mountain top, Lan Wangji still hadn’t disclosed that secret to him, fearing of exposing himself, setting his heart bare and vulnerable. 

Maybe soon Lan Wangji could find the courage to confess his teenage whim, his young childish idea of locking his feelings into a name and one melody. Which he had never let go of.

 

Wei Wuxian would leave the next day. Maybe Lan Wangji could tell him when he returned in spring. They had all the time in the world. 

 

During their last goodbye, they’d stood in safe but comfortable distance to each other. The world their witness, the sun shining curiously and all-knowing. 

 

Back then, Wei Wuxian had played the all-familiar tune and Lan Wangji’s thoughts went quiet. Wind had whipped into their sleeves and hair, carrying a scent of change.
They had said goodbye. Paths leading in opposite directions, but for once, Lan Wangji hadn’t feared it. They said goodbye, until next time .
And Wei Wuxian had gifted his smile, his eyes brimming so full of life. If Lan Wangji had reached out, he could’ve felt his heart beating under his palm. If he had leaned in like his whole body yearned to, he would’ve felt his breath on his lips. 

 

This time, there was a shared night ahead of them. Time to play a bit longer, to seize their moments fully. A morning of waking up together, of exchanging sleepy kisses and whispered goodbyes. Hidden from the world, secrets entrusted to the night.

They didn’t have that the last time, and Lan Wangji wasn’t sure whether his heart felt lighter or heavier now. There was a promise of missing him too much. 

He had watched Wei Wuxian go and conquer the world, bringing his voice and music to it. The Yiling Patriarch was neither buried nor a restless spirit. Flesh and blood, alive and full of possibilities. Lan Wangji had watched him leave and knew the world would surrender to him, just like he had done. 

 

Wei Wuxian was worth waiting for. Minutes, hours, days, years. Lan Wangji was ready to wait for however long it took, with the words goodbye, until next time echoing in his heart and soul. Maybe his heart broke a bit more each time, but it was worth the wait.