Chapter 1: Sickness
Lan Wangji laid beside his love. It was late at night, his Wei Ying was still deeply asleep, curled around him. Lan Wangji felt his heart squeeze with so much emotion, staring down at his sleeping lover.
He allowed his fingertips to glide across Wei Ying's sleeping face that was resting just above his pounding heart - lulled to slumber, and he was gently caressing, trailing his fingers along every angle of Wei Ying's face as if he were engraving the image in his heart over and over as his name raced within its every beat, every pulse of Lan WangJi's very essence, the entirety of his being.
Back then, Jin Guangyao had been right in saying so. Wei Ying was his life, and when Jin Guangyao had that strong around his neck, Lan Wangji had felt panic rise, his heart doing desperate somersaults in his chest, pleading. That moment has been short but no less terrifying for him.
The 13 years when Wei Ying had been dead had been the longest and hardest time of his entire life, feeling so lost and desolate, grieving and pleading with the world to bring Wei Ying back. Lan Sizhui's had been a slight reprieve, a light in the dark endless abyss of that time of his life. One he never wants to revisit, or have to go through ever again.
Losing Wei Ying...wasn't an option. Lan Wangji didn't know what he would do if Wei Ying died a second time. He didn't want to think about it. Didn't want to know.
The Jingshi was dark and quiet. The only sounds were his and Wei Yings breathing in the stillness. Lan Wangji pulled Wei Ying closer, pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead. Lan Wangji closed his eyes, comforted by the sound of Wei Ying, living and breathing beside him, the past was no more.
Days in the Cloud Recesses, were peaceful, as peaceful as it could be with Wei Ying, who Lan Wangji loved most dearly, still liked to irk his uncle's nerves, and stir up the children with stories, it was as though they were starstruck and bewitched by him, Lan Wangji knew that he was.
Wei Ying, much like his fifteen year old self was so bright and full of life. He was a blazing, smiling Sun allowing Lan Wangji to bask in his warm and bright rays of light, full of loud and warm laughter that filled Lan WangJi's heart to the brim with feeling; his steel grey eyes always vivid and sparkling like a cluster of stars captured within them, aglow with so much life.
Every time Lan Wangji gazed into them his heart skipped a beat, so enraptured, so full of love. Lan Wangji would have it any other way.
"Ah, Lan Zhan! Lan Zhan!" Wei Ying called, running at throwing himself into Lan WangJi's embrace, snuggling close.
The rabbits had been scared and ruffled, hopping away before hopping back once Wei Ying was calm and basking himself in Lan WangJi's arms.
"Lan Er Ge," He whispered into Lan WangJi's ear, lips softy grazing, intimate. Lan Wangji knew his ears were warming and turning red.
Wei Ying just kissed his ear, had let his tongue dart out to lick warm wet trails on Lan WangJi's ear, before gently nibbling and biting his soft earlobe, returning to trail his tongue on his loves ear, in which Lan Wangji shuddered, his breathing heavy.
"Wei Ying." Lan WangJi's tone held a warning. Wei Ying just chuckled, stopping and just curling into his husband's arms. "Later." Lan Wangji said, holding him close. He heard Wei Ying snicker behind a smile.
All the Lan DIsciples were at busy in lessons. Lan Wangji had already done his duties for the day. It would be night again soon. Another day was coming to an end. And a new one would begin tomorrow.
"Ah!" Wei Ying clutched at himself, curled into a ball, whimpering.
"Wei Ying?!" Lan Wangji called, alarmed, rushing to bring his love into his arms.
"Lan Zhan, it hurts..it hurts.." Wei Ying cried and whimpered, tears were streaming down his face as he hugged his arms around himself. He started coughing blood.
Lan WangJi's heart was skyrocketing with a pulsating fear as he gathered his husband into his embrace and ran, ran for GusuLan's healers.
They ushered him to lay Wei Ying, who was still crying, down before them.
Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan... Wei Ying kept calling his name out loud, but he had fallen into unconsciousness. Lan Wangji knelt by Wei Ying's side, desperate and holding onto his loves hand to reassure him that he was here, right beside him.
Over the last couple of months and weeks, Wei Ying had begun to act strangely. Waking up in the middle of the night, Wei Ying would run and throw up anything he had eaten before, and sometimes kept running high fevers, rendering him unconscious for days, getting headaches, and stomach pains, brushing it off.
He had still taken Wei Ying to the healers, yet they could find nothing. Yet he started losing weight.
Wei Ying was gasping, face contorted into so much pain. Lan WangJi's hands clenched. He felt so helpless and his husband was suffering, his didn't know what to do. He just held into Wei Yings hand, head in his lap, whispering softly.
The healers were all frowning, one healer closed their eyes and placed a hand over his husbands chest, where his heart lay, using their spiritual energy to search to search for any problems. The healer gasped, eyes opened in shock.
The healers all spoke to each other, their expressions grave, solemn.
Lan Wangjj's heart clenched, breath hitched in fear.
"What is wrong? Can you not. . ."
Can you not help him?
No. He doesn't want them to say anything, he knew whatever the problem was now, it was too grave, the way they looked at him with pity, no less. He was afraid of what they were about to tell him.
A healer took a cautious step forward. "HanGuang-Jun, I'm sorry but your-your husband...well - the bodies cultivation is still too low, and when we checked last time he seemed fine..but he has a very serious condition.
We unfortunately cannot fix this, we are unsure how to proceed - his illness is unknown origin but very aggressive...we can't- it's progressed to far for us to be able to do anything to save him. We are very sorry…" They bowed.
Lan Wangji trembled, trying to hold himself together. "How long does.. " his voice trailed off, How long does he have left?
He could not say the words out loud, couldn't utter them past the knot in his throat and the sting and blurring vision of his eyes.
He closed them and bit his trembling lips.
The healers stayed bowed when another spoke up. "We do not know exactly for sure.. a few weeks, a month or more? Less even, maybe? We truly do not know. To guess, maybe not long. But that is up to him and his heart, how long that it will.." The healer trailed off.
How long his heart would last? Before his heart gave out, before his heart stopped beating of his illness?
Cradling the unconscious Wei Ying, Lan Wangji stood and rushed back to Jingshi.
He gently laid Wei Ying down on their bed. His own heart was stuttering in madness, paralyzing fear. He dropped to his knees at Wei Yings side, tears blurred his golden eyes. He held his loves hand, and a whimper escaped him, a whimper. He felt raw inside, cut open and flayed.
He gasped with sobs that were trying to spill out. He pressed a hand firmly to his mouth to quiet himself, to gain back control over his spiraling emotions.
Tears fell definitely from the corners of his eyes; the warm, wet trails falling from his cheeks. He pressed his forehead against Wei Yings hand that was grasped tightly in his.
He couldn't do it all again, couldn't lose him again. He couldn't.
Lan Wangji felt Wei Ying shift, and squeeze his hand, waking up.
Lan Wangji hurriedly stood. "Wei Ying?"
Wei Ying opened his eyes, a hazy glaze in them as he smiled. "Lan Zhan."
He blinked slowly, pulling himself into a sitting position.
"Wei Ying. Wei Ying." Lan Wangji murmured, reverent and watchful. Wei Ying smiled happily at his husband before frowning, as he slowly looked over Lan Wangji. He looked exhausted, haggard, his eyes were bloodshot, red veins sticking out. And his expression was...heartbroken.
"Wei Ying." His husbands voice murmured with a tremor.
He pulled Lan Wangji to him on the bed, and they held onto each other tightly in an embrace.
"Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, what's wrong?" Wei Yings voice came out in the quiet, worried, holding Lan Wangji tightly. Lan Wangji trembled, lowering his face into the crook of Wei Yings neck and shoulder, tears streaming fully now. He knew Wei Ying could feel them because he hugged him even tighter, probably even more worried.
They didn't speak anymore that night. They just held each other tightly through the night, entangled, neither not wanting to ever let go of the other person in their arms.
Lan Wangji told Wei Ying everything the next morning, a heartbroken look in his eyes.
Wei Ying gazed at Lan Zhan, so affectionately, with so much warmth, pressing his forehead to Lan WangJi's.
"I'm sorry, I hurt you again Lan Zhan." He whispered sadly.
Lan Wangji refuted. "No, Wei Ying. Not your fault." Wei Ying laughed but his laugh sounded wet with tears, sawed down by sorrow. "If my Lan Zhan says so, I'll take his word for it." He winked, trying to be himself and be positive to soothe and comfort Lan Wangji, but both knew there was nothing they could do.
He heard Wei Ying sigh against his chest. "What did I ever do to deserve you?"
Lan Wangji hugged him close to his heart. "Being you. Being yourself. Good. Even back then." Speaking of the past, and the choices Wei Ying made. Sure, he had not been perfect and made mistakes he could not take back, but underneath it all, Lan Wangji had known, had believed in Wei Yings heart.
He had good intentions and only ever tried to help and protect others. Placing them above himself.
Giving his golden core away to Jiang Cheng. Other cultivators in the cultivation world, most, highly pride themselves with their golden core, none ever thinking of giving it away willingly to another, if even knowing it was possible.
That was what Wei Ying had done, and he had loved cultivating and his sword, had the same pride all cultivators did.
In the end, he still chose to give his away. Knowing he could never cultivate again, not unless he turned to demonic cultivation, as he had.
He tried his best in everything, even what was considered the heretic path, to defend the innocent remnants of the Wen Sect, protecting them against the rest of the world, even once said he wanted to keep a clear conscience.
But other mechanization behind the scenes, with other plans saw him as a threat to be eliminated and kept provoking him on purpose when they had all heard stories of the heretic path, how it injures the heart and mind.
They knew and planned it all. Jin Guangshan, Jin Guangyao...and having been pushed into a corner, of course one would lash out, especially if hanging on by a thread, trying to keep their sanity.
Lan Wangji shook himself free of the memories. The present was much more important to him, always, with Wei Ying now finally by his side for the rest of their days.
Too caught up in the past, it slowly dawned on him again.. Wei Ying...was dying, again. And no one, even he himself, could not help him.
Lan Wangji trembled with barely restrained emotions. Wei Ying was still in his arms, comfortably content, though soon that wouldn't last long. Wei Ying was always a bundle of balled up energy.
Once again, they hid in Jingshi, holding each other, and kissing gently, before simply cuddling close, seeking all the love and warmth they could from each other
Days passed, Lan Wangji resumed his duties. His brother having heard everything, and who had only been out of seclusion for a few weeks before, and had seemed better, had come to talk to him and comfort him, as well as his husband.
Strangely, after everything, Lan Xichen seemed to like Wei Ying again, he had been fond of Wei Yings boyish self, and had urged him closer to Lan Wangji, feeling that his brother liked him, which had been true.
After the incident in the temple with Jin Guangyao, years of pent up resentment at Wei Ying, Lan Xichen seems to have forgiven him, knowing truth and past circumstances - that things were never simply as black and white as some wished everything to be.
Lan Wangji had known that Wei Ying sometimes snuck into the Hanshi to see his brother, and they had gotten much closer.
Wei Ying, he knew, had tried to support Lan Xichen and help him through his troubles despite knowing his brother disliked him, helping him to move on from Jin Guangyao.
He doesn't know what they talked about, or what they did together, even sitting in silence; however soon after, his brother left seclusion. He loved Wei Ying like the heart beating in chest, the air he breathed, and that made him love him more, if possible.
He was Lan WangJi's husband, and they had been married for three years, nearly three and a half now. And even Lan WangJi's uncle, after a long while, surely still partly disliked Wei Ying but was at least trying for Lan WangJi's sake, even if Wei Ying grated his nerves.
He didn't hate Wei Ying, and after hearing events from Lan Xichen when he opened up about Jin Guangyao, which their uncle was still unhappy about, he relented a little more - yet still making his displeasure known when Wei Ying got on his nerves.
The young Lan juniors who were told as well about Wei Yings illness, all broke down crying. Especially Lan Sizhui, who remembered his Xian ge-ge (now Senior Wei), and Lan Jingyi, who really cared for his Senior Wei too.
Wei Ying spent an entire day, hugging them both to him, allowing them to cry while they sat in the grassy field of Cloud Recesses where the rabbits resided.
Today Wei Ying would be going to Lotus Pier to speak to Sect Leader Jiang Cheng, who had sent a letter to Cloud Recesses for him. They had begun repairing their damaged relationship, after leaving the temple.
They got along a lot better now, almost but not exactly the same as they used to. But they seemed happier together now than before. Jin Ling too.
Lan Wangji wanted to go with him, he was anxious about being away from Wei Yinh, but part of him knew that the two men, formerly known as seeing themselves as brothers, that they needed their time together, and with Jin Ling, who was it could still be seen as Wei Yings nephew, his dear Shijie's son.
Jiang Cheng did not know about Wei Ying yet, that he not Wei Ying knew of, unless his elder brother had decided to help by meddling this time, to help the two formerly close two men, like siblings, but not related by blood as he is with Lan Wangji.
Wei Ying gave Lan Wangji a nervous smile before giving him a kiss, and hugging him as closely - as tightly as he could before they would be parted for a few days. Wei Ying nuzzled Lan WangJi's face with his own, eyes closed.
"I love you, Lan Zhan."
Lan Wangjj's lip curled upwards slightly, into a soft smile, eyes aglow with warmth, molten gold softened by the flames of love in his gaze. "Mn." Lan Wangji breathed in his scent, the scent of fresh lotus flowers. "I love you too, Wei Ying."
Wei Ying gave him a happy,wide grin and waved goodbye eagerly to him before winking and blowing a kiss; then hurrying on his way to Lotus Pier.
Lan Wangji stayed where his was, unmoving until his love faded from view.
When Wei Wuxian arrived, Jiang Cheng was waiting for him.
"Took you long enough," he muttered. Wei Wuxian jogged up to him. "Wow, Jiang Cheng," he gasped, eyes wide, holding his chest mockingly, "to think you actually missed me and were so eager to see me!" He take sobbed, wiping away an invisible tear. Jiang Cheng humphed, shoving him. "Get a move on, A-Ling is waiting." He eye'd Wei Wuxian with a frown. Sending something was off.
Wei Wuxians eyes brightened at the mention of Jin Ling and he rushed away from Jiang Cheng. "Oi! Idiot!" Jiang Cheng shouted, annoyed, following after him.
Wei Wuxian rushed to to Jin Ling when he saw him, having not seeing the boy in a while since he had his own sect to look after.
"Jin Ling!" He called excitedly, but halted at the look that came over the boys face. He cursed in his mind. Sizhui and Jingyi must have told him. Why else would Jin Ling be looking at him with that expression?
He laughed nervously. "Ah, Jin Ling, it's-" Jin Ling cut him off curtly. "Is it true?"
Wei Wuxian grimaced, looking down before looking back up. "Jin Ling.."
"Is it?!" Jin Lings voice rose in pitch, voice cracking, and making his cheeks flush with embarrassment, but he didn't run and hide away.
Wei Wuxian flinched. "Yeah, it's true." He spoke softly.
Jin Ling was really quiet after that, looking away, before turning back to look at Wei Wuxian, biting his lip.
Tears were shining in his eyes. Wei Wuxians heart broke, as if it wasn't already broken and dying inside. Seeing Jin Ling look at him that way crushed him.
Jin Ling had come a long way. He was still young but very bright and talented, always learning. The young Jin sect leader had hated him, blaming him for his parents death, like his uncle, which he had every right to.
Wei Wuxian didn't blame him. Under the guise of Mo Xuanyu, he had gotten close to him, and the boy had trusted him, not knowing who he was before learning the truth.
And yet, after the temple and what happened with Jin Guangyao, one day the boy bravely sought him out, and asked questions about things and events that happened in the past, all of which Was Wuxian did answer truthfully, not wanting to deceive the boy.
He told his side of the story, starting from the beginning to the end, he did not belittle the weight of his mistakes but he owned them, and told Jin Ling how it all happened - everything from the younger peaceful time before the Wen Sect got out of hand, and everything up to his death.
He owed the boy that much after he made him suffer the loss of both parents.
Since Jin Ling already knew about what happened to his golden core, the boy knew everything. Wei Wuxian was not one who had liked to dwell on the past, but when Jin Ling asked, he was just seeking answers as to how everything had happened, and so Wei Wuxian tried his best to give that to him.
What surprised him the most back then, was after that - Jin Ling had lunged at him suddenly and hugged him after he had said his piece, squeezing him so tightly Wei Wuxian had found it hard to breathe.
Now they stared at each other, Jin Ling holding back the tears in his eyes and Wei Wuxians heart was breaking for him, because he was now hurting this dear child all over again.
Wei Wuxian sighed. "Jin Ling, I was waiting to tell you.." He chuckled then, giving Jin Ling a soft smile, "It is really good that you boys have all become so close. Sizhui and Jingyi really care for you."
Jin Ling stared at him.
Wei Wuxian felt the air rush out of him when Jin Ling slammed into him, wrapping arms around his waist, hugging him closely, and then the boy started to sob.
Wei Wuxian sighed again, feeling like scum for making the boy cry because of him. But he gripped the boy back just as tightly, grateful and happy to hold Jin Ling in his arms, his former dear Shijie's precious son.
He loved the boy with his whole being, as he loved Sizhui and Jingyi, the young trio of friends, a young trio of sworn brothers that he knew would look out for one another, having such big hearts, and learning from the mistakes of the ones before them.
"What is going on?!" He heard Jiang Cheng snap from behind, he must have gotten held back by sect duties. "Why is Jin Ling crying, Wei Wuxian?!"
Wei Wuxian gave him a pleading look.
Not now. Let him be. He also mouthed, I will tell you later. We need to talk.
Jiang Cheng huffed, and scowled but dropped the matter for now. He watched the two comforting each other from where he stood, frowning.
What could be wrong?
Jiang Cheng despite all his earlier and previous attitudes of wanting and wishing for the former Yiling Patriarch to be dead, reacted quite badly to the news.
In his office, the room was utterly destroyed. Table overturned, papers scattered everywhere. The room was a complete disaster.
After Wei Ying had spoken to him once Jin Ling calmed down and released him, Jiang Cheng had just stared in a shocked daze before backing away from him and rushing in the opposite direction.
Wei Wuxian, shocked at his reaction, called out to him warily, "Jiang Cheng?" He followed after him when he didn't answer.
The door was slammed in his face as Jiang Cheng retreated to his office, Wei Wuxian stood on the other side of the door, waiting for his rage to subside.
While waiting, he hunched over suddenly, gasping and pale white, falling to his knees. He keeled over as agony tore through his body.
He rested against the wall beside Jiang Chengs door as he tried to gather himself and wait for the agonizing pain radiating throughout his whole body to fade.
He knew his body was futilely fighting the unknown illness, but he also knew it was too late and his body was too weak but he was trying to hold on, he needed more time with people he cared for, with his husband. He probably wouldn't last much longer, a month, maybe two?
He really hoped so. In his former life, he had been ready, wishing for it to all be over but now in this second life, he wanted to be greedy, to be selfish. He wanted to live longer, to live out the rest of his days and now that chance was slipping fleeting through his grasp.
He wanted to beg someone. Anyone.
please please please
I need more time
Trapped in his spiraling thoughts, he was hyperventilating and he couldn't breathe. It felt as though his throat had closed up, clogged. He wheezed for breath.
He heard Jiang Cheng door finally opened and wanted to laugh. Great, now he would be seen like this.
"Holy fuck! Calm down! Shit! You idiot!" Jiang Cheng snapped while kneeling in front of him, Wei Wuxian glared.
You think I wanted this?!
Jiang Cheng cursed before sighing. Wei Wuxian slowly pulled himself together finally, slowly trying to breathe, taking deep breaths and letting out shaky ones before his heart finally slowed to a normal beat.
The two had stared at each other, snickering before bursting into loud, shaky and quivering laughter that subsided into heart giggles. They knew they had both sounded as though they had lost their minds but didn't care.
They each stood on shaky legs, Wei Wuxian got a glimpse of Jiang Chengs office and whistled, shaking his head.
"Jiang Cheng," he tutted in mock disappointment, "you and that temper yours have never changed."
Jiang Cheng arched a brow and smacked him in the back of the head.
"Shut up." He grumbled, walking away. Wei Wuxian smirked and followed behind as the walked back to where Jin Ling was.
Wei Wuxian stayed there with them for a few days, eating and chatting animated with the two; enjoying himself. On the fourth day when he had planned to leave because he had been away from his husband who was worried and missing him no doubt, long enough.
However, the night before, in the room he had stayed, his old room, he woke up sick, coughing and puking blood. Once it was over, he rushed to clean up the room and change his clothes, burning the other ones immediately. It was as if nothing ever happened.
Jiang Cheng and Jin Ling knew nothing. Wei Wuxian had laughed and smiled brightly at them while on his way to leave.
So when they both saw Wei Wuxian stumble to a halt a moment later after he had said goodbye, they heard him cough and watched him throw up blood in front of them, before collapsing on the ground, limp and unconscious.
"Wei Wuxian!" Jiang Cheng shouted. Hurrying to kneel at his side, heart stopping at what he saw. Jin Ling on the other side, eyes wide with fear, tears streaming down his face.
Blood covered the front of Wei Wuxians dark robes, blending in. The most frightening thing however, wasn't that.
"Wei Wuxian!" Jiang Cheng shouted, ice in his veins. He adoptive brother was pale, too pale and unmoving, his eyes wide open and blank.
Staring at nothing.
"Wei Wuxian! Jin Ling, get a healer! Hurry!" He shoved Jin Ling away. He turned back to Wei Wuxian, laying an ear above his heart. The ice in his veins solidified.
He felt for a breath, Jiang Chengs hand trembling above his brothers lips.
He wasn't breathing
His heart had stopped and no longer beat.
No. This..no. no..
Jiang Cheng screamed at his brothers unmoving form, shaking him violently, calling his name over and over. Over and over, again and again, voice growing hoarse.
Jiang Cheng's body shook and trembled.
His brothers open, blank eyes never moved, never blinked, staying vacant.
Jin Ling had rushed back with a healer, but the healer stayed back, head bowed, knowing it was too late and nothing could be done. Jin Ling stood frozen, sobbing on his feet, curled in on himself, his arms holding his waist as if he could trap and hold the pain leaking out, and keep it inside, so he didn't fall apart.
Jiang Chengs head snapped up at the other voice, Lan Wangji's.
He turned back to his brothers unresponsive body and stared.
He heard Lan Wangji land and running footsteps.
"Wei Ying!" His scream was raw and unrestrained. Broken.
Jiang Cheng swallowed the thick lump in his throat forcefully, looking away as tears stung his eyes, gritting his teeth as he saw from his peripheral vision how Lan Wangji collapsed to his knees heavily.
Lan Wangji stared in horror and shock, his heart frozen inside his chest.
Back at Cloud Recesses, Lan Wangji had been worried and had a feeling something was wrong.
Wei Ying had made a charm imbued with some of the spiritual essence he possessed, it would alarm him if anything had happened to Wei Ying, and he had made a similar charm for him as well, for whenever they may be separated.
The charmed had flared up and burned away, and Lan Wangji had known that it was a warning. A really bad one. He rushed as fast as he could to Lotus Pier to see Wei Ying with his own eyes.
The thing that he had been most afraid of, that had terrified him, had come true. He had seen from a distance, but was still too far away, and was only late by few minutes.
Those last few minutes were the worst minutes in his life.
He had been too shocked to call out to his Wei Ying, watching everything in slow motion. And now his husband laid cold and far too still for his liking, because Wei Ying could never stay still.
Even worse, those grey eyes of his that Lan Wangji loved, that held a universe in them, all the stars in the night sky, were now dull and blank. Not a trace of life was left in them. Gone.
Snuffed out, just like a candle flame, having burned itself out to the very end.
He didn't look at Jin Ling or Jiang Cheng, both who were crying, and gently-so gently placed one arm around Wei Ying's shoulder, the other under his knees, lifting him up against his chest, to hold him more closely.
Wei Ying was still and cold, his head fell back limply with no weight to keep it up, so Lan Wangji gently shifted Wei Ying so his head would not hang down lifelessly, but instead rest against his chest, as though he was sleeping and would wake at any moment.
Lan Wangji knew he should close his lovers vacant eyes, knew it was wrong to leave them left to stare openly at nothing, because those eyes would never see anything again. Never look at him again. Once Lan Wangji closed Wei Yings eyes, Wei Yings eyes would close forever and never open, ever again.
So Lan Wangji couldn't bear to close them just yet, as he softly caressed Wei Yings deathly cold, pale cheeks devoid of color, of life that had been so vibrant and lively within him.
He kept murmuring Wei Yings name, like a chant, a prayer, as he tightened his arms around his husbands far too quiet form, holding on as he crumbled.
Lan Wangjj's heart broke again, shattering to thousands and thousands of pieces, he knew he could never-would never be able to pick up and place back together because his heart was gone, his life lost, and silent.
Dead in his arms, dead with his love.
Chapter 2: Loss & Mourning
Loss hangs over everyone heads, raw and bleeding.
They will have to learn to live without him, without the one that always brightened their days.
No one thought it would end like this.
The loss cuts Lan Wangji the deepest.
Sizhui, Jingyi, and Jin Ling stood in a alone together, in away from other eyes after Wei Wuxian funeral, crying their eyes out, seeking comfort from each other.
Jiang Cheng had attended, staying as long as he could, and while he tried not to, he ended up crying silently, staring at the place where his brother laid, dead and cold.
No longer could they see each other, or fight and bicker, the days when they were younger and and full of life, somewhat happier before the war with the Wen Sect and all the events before and after. How they played and laughed as children, Wei Wuxian always getting them into trouble, flying kites and….
Deep down in his heart, he had known it wasn't all Wei Wuxians fault, and when he had learned the truth, how it had hurt...He later had told Wei Wuxian that when he had been caught by the Wen Sect, he was caught by the Wens to save Wei Wuxian. That and everything else slowly laid down the path to the two reconciling.
Jiang Cheng rubbed at his eyes roughly, scrubbing the tears off his face. Wei Wuxian was always leaving him behind, leaving him when promised to stay, to be there, to come back.
But not anymore.
A horrible, gut-wrenching sob wrenched from Jiang Cheng's throat and the tears he had wiped away came flooding back and he fled.
He couldn't see his brother like that, he could stand to see him so still and silent, and didn't want to think about the first time he died and Jiang Cheng was so lost and angry and had no way to vent that grief or anger over the loss of his family, of Wei Wuxian, and once again…
Wei Wuxian was gone from the world.
Jiang Cheng fled to Lotus Pier, after checking with Jin Ling and the Lan juniors. He couldn't stay a minute longer as the cry inside of him was rising, wanting to rush home where he could let out all the pent up grief and emotions alone.
Lan Wangji sat before his beloved, staring into space. His heart hurt so, so much. All he wanted was to be in Jingshi, waking up with with Wei Ying by his side, giving him a bright smile with sparkling eyes.
All he wanted was to roam the world with his love. All he wanted was for Wei Ying to wake up and look at him with those starry grey eyes, for him to live and breathe beside him.
But that could never be…
Wei Ying would never do any of those things and more, never again.
He would never brighten up the day with his smile, fill a room with his laughter, would never tease Sizhui and Jingyi, or cheer them up and give them heartfelt praises with his.
He would never go on a night hunt with them or Lan Wangji, or be there for his beloved Shijie's son, Jin Ling like he wanted. Because Wei Ying, his lover, his heart and his life was gone from the world.
The first time, he wasn't there with Wei Ying when he died, he came too late, learning from the mouths of others how the man he loved died. And how that same man never even knew the first time, when he died alone, seemingly hated by the world that there was one person at least, that loved him, wanted him. Someone that mourned and missed him.
Lan Wangji mourned for 13 years back then, holding his breath; always waiting and searching for someone that might never return. And then, they did. He did.
Wei Ying came back, and they found each other, and after so many years of loving him, and seeing him again for the first time, even in another body, made Lan Wangji so happy. Ecstatic. And later, he never thought those feelings would be returned to him. But the were. And they were happy, they were together, barely ever apart.
Those 13 years long before, had been desolate, and dark, and desperate waiting and yearning.
But now, it was even worse somehow, different. An unknown illness had snatched Wei Ying from him just moments before he had arrived at his side, unable to help him earlier with his lovers, slow gradual suffering from the illness, and Lan Wangji could do nothing to help or ease his pain.
Lan Wangji could not help Wei Ying as he watched his love collapse from a distance, pushing his sword to fly faster yet still unable to reach Wei Ying in time.
Lan WangJi's heart didn't just break, it shattered completely.
Lan Wangji wanted Wei Ying back. Yet, this would never be because Wei Ying was gone.
The short amount of time that passed did not help heal the wounds of Lan WangJi's heart, instead the wounds got deeper, festering, dug more snuggly inside him and widened into an endless chasm of heartache.
Day by day, he worsened. Lan Wangji lost energy, he slowly began to be more like a ghost than a man.
Day and night, from dusk till dawn, soon after Wei Wuxians passing - you could hear the famous HanGuang-Jun from the Jingshi within the Cloud Recesses; playing the famous song now known as the song Lan Wangji composed in his much younger youth for his one, and his only love.
The same love once known as the once bright young promising cultivator Wei Wuxian, to being known as former Yiling Patriarch, to none other HanGuang-Jun's cultivation partner, his husband Wei Wuxian.
Only a month and two weeks had passed since Wei Wuxians death. Lan Wangji was a shell of his former self. Lan Xichen was increasingly worried for his brother, as was their uncle. They tried many things, but nothing they did or say changed anything, Lan Wangji wouldn't snap out of it. Even Sizhui and Jingyi had been sent to coax Lan Wangji out of Jingshi, but it was a useless effort.
They had all grieved Wei Wuxians passing, some still grieving, even Lan Xichen and his Uncle and the two Young Lan juniors. Despite everything, Who Wuxian had grown on Lan Xichen and his Uncle. Lan Xichen had gotten quite close to Wei Wuxian, he was like another younger brother, his brother-in-law. And now he was gone.
Sizhui and Jingyi were still mourning and the two were even more heartbroken over Lan Wangji and worried because he wasn't the same anymore.
But there was nothing the could do.
Wei Wuxian wasn't coming back.
Lan Wangji sat in the dark of the Jingshi, staring into nothing and crying for Wei Ying.
"Wei Ying!" Lan Wangji collapsed in on himself, pleading for his love to come back.
For days he had switched between playing inquiry and his and Wei Yings song, Wangxian.
But it wasn't enough. It was never enough.
Lan Wangji sat alone in silence, crying for the man he loved so wholly and devotely, a man whose soul is no longer with him, no longer existing in the same world anymore.
The tears never stop falling, and the shattered shards of his heart keep splintering into nothing but dust. He cried until he cried no more, not because he had run out of tears; no, it was because Lan Wangji, one of the former Twin Jades of GusuLan, HanGuang-Jun was no more.
His only and final thought was of his lover, Wei Ying - Wei Wuxian, and his eyes had closed, his heart had given out in one last pitiful beat, seizing its painful and broken struggling all together.
In that same night, though it was late past their curfew, Lan Xichen, who was worried, had come to check on his brother.
"Wangji? Wangji, I'm coming in." Lan Xichen spoke softly.
Lan Xichen froze completely. "Wangji?" His lips trembled. He slowly stepped towards his younger brother. His younger brother, was dressed in his white inner robes, curled in on his bed, like a child. Tear streaks were visible on his face.
"Wangji?" He called again, more softly, more pleading. His little brother didn't respond at all. No sound, no movement from his younger brother. The fear in Lan Xichens heart increased. He noticed on the side that Wangji's Guqin, the strings red with blood, not a lot, but enough to be alarmed.
He rushed to his younger brothers side, to shake him. "Wangji?" The moment Lan Xichen touched him, he flinched and jerked his hand back. His little brothers body was cold to the touch. Too cold.
He approached again, sitting beside Wangjj, holding his brothers wrist that had become so frail in his hand to search for a pulse. Lan Xichen was shaking terribly and he tried to calm himself down so he could concentrate.
He held his brothers wrist for a few minutes searching frantically for a faint pulse of over his shaking.
There wasn't one.
No pulse at all, and his little brothers chest was unmoving and still, without any sign of life.
He gazed at Lan WangJi's face, at his baby brother he adored so much, the little brother he looked after as best as he could-
Had died. He was dead.
He caressed his younger siblings face with gentle affection, wiping away the still-not dried tear tracks on his pair, cold face.
A quiet sob escaped Lan Xichen as he held his little brother in his arms, wishing with every fiber of his being that his brother and his brother-in-law will be happy together in the afterlife, even though part of Lan Xichen wishes he could have his baby brother back.
He wishes the infuriating but caring Wei Wuxian would be by Wangji's side, and his mischievous and bright brother-in-law who could light up any room with noise of laughter, of a taste of happiness.
All of those things were no more. And in time, they would be nothing but faded memories.
Lan Wangji, HanGuang-Jun, had died from a broken heart. Unable to live with the pain of losing his love, not for the first - but the second time, his heart could not handle the pain; unable to cope with the grief.
In his memory and his beloved, after his death, his eldest brother, Sect Leader Lan Xichen, now the lone and sole Jade of the twin Jades of Gusu, drew a picture of his younger brother and his brother-in-law from one happy memory in Gusu.
The two were side by side in the black and white imagery, one playing the flute-the other playing the guqin and both had soft smiles on their faces, gazing at the other with love. Young children awed and sitting spaces around them with equally content expressions. Peaceful. Even Lan Qiren in the painting was soft, standing his eldest nephew and sect leader Lan, with his ever constant gentle smile.
The drawing captures a special moment in time, to always be remembered and passed down, never to be forgotten.
The story of HanGuang-Jun and his beloved, Wei Wuxian - will be an endless tale throughout time.
A tale of a love so strong, so devoted and everlasting, and the trials that love faced, and how in the end, it had come full circle.
That love became infinite.
It would stay that way, always, and if one closed their eyes and listened closely, they will hear the endless song of the two lovers of Wangxian, from dusk to dawn.
A song just as infinite and endless as the love the two individuals had shared between themselves for one another, their eyes ever only for each other.
Once upon a time.
Sizhui sat alone in his room, and in the dark. It was still daylight outside and not yet dark, Jingyi had left after crying with him earlier to give him some time alone. Sizhui was grateful.
A month or so had passed since Senior Wei's death - his Xian ge-ge. He still couldn't believe it. It seemed like a nightmare, and he wanted so badly for it to be one so he could wake up and see Senior Wei smile at him, and tease him, or give him a hug; comforting Sizhui in his embrace.
But no, his Xian ge-ge was dead and gone.
And so was HanGuang-Jun, the man who had raised him in Senior Wei's stead.
The whole Cloud Recesses were in mourning. Disciples were allowed a break from lessons for a few days, allowed time to grieve.
Sizhui laid down, curling into a ball, and hugging his knees. He wished this agonizing pain would just go away. He cried, and cried, muffling his sobs as best as he could, still thinking about the fact that his Xian ge-ge would never hug him ever again.
He ended up crying himself into an exhausted sleep.
A-Yuan looked up at his Xian ge-ge when his name was called. Xian ge-ge was smiling and he rushed up, grabbing A-Yuan tossing him up in the air a little and caught by Xian ge-ge's arms.
A-Yuan giggled and squealed. "Xian ge-ge!" He gripped the man around the neck, hugging tightly, shaking with the man as he laughed out loud.
"How was my little radish today, hmm? Were you lonely without me? Waiting for me?" Xian ge-ge chuckled. A-Yuan hummed, nodding in reply. He was happy his Xian ge-ge was finally back from his trip down the mountain.
The man in black holding him just laughed again, nuzzling A-Yuan's face with his own. A-Yuan nuzzled back with a giggle and sweet little smile.
"Xian ge-ge! Don't go! Don't leave me!" Little A-Yuan screamed and cried reaching for the man in black robes walking away from him. No matter how he hard he ran, he still couldn't catch up.
"Xian ge-ge!" A-Yuan cried again. The man stopped at a distance, turning to look back at him with a sad, soft smile, A-Yuan ran desperately to reach him but even the the man wasn't moving, he couldn't get to him.
The distance just bridged out further, a wide chasm of space that could never be closed; the distance never reached.
A-Yuan sobbed loudly, begging his Xian ge-ge to come back.
The man had tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry, A-Yuan. Xian ge-ge can't come back. I have to go." He said. A tear fell from the man's eye as he turned his back and walked away.
The scene had changed.
A-Yuan was older now. He was Lan Sizhui.
His Xian ge-ge had a different face, and he now called him Senior Wei, but his heart always called him by Xian ge-ge.
And that same man, was leaving him behind again.
"No!" He cried. "Please stop! Wait!"
Sizhui ran to catch up.
Why wasn't the distance between them growing shorter, instead of farther? Why was his Xian ge-ge still so far away?
"Please!" He sobbed. "Don't go!"
The man just looked at him with a gentle smile, and suddenly-the distance was gone.
Sizhui gasped as his cheeks were framed by the hands of the man before him.
"Oh, Sizhui. You can't follow me, where I'm going. It's alright." He shushed crying boy, holding him tenderly.
"Look at me, Sizhui." He spoke gently, but firmly.
Sizhui looked up at him, tears still falling.
"I know it might be hard from now on, difficult to move on, but even though I - we - Lan Zhan and I won't be there anymore physically, we will still always be with you, here." Wei Wuxian tapped his heart. "It's okay to cry now, and let it all out." He soothed.
"But I don't want you to go!" Sizhui cried out, hugging the man tightly. The other just sighed sadly, patting his back.
"All things with life come and go, Sizhui, nothing ever lasts forever. When flowers bloom, they too fade eventually, drying out and dying before repeating the cycle and growing all over again. It's natural. We will always be with you inside your heart. No, Lan Zhan and I did not share blood with you, and yet are you not a part of both of us? Would you deny us that?" Wei Wuxian questioned.
"No! Never!" Sizhui replied vehemently. That made the older man chuckle and he arched a brow, "See? You are and will always be a part of us. Learn, Live, Love and grow well Sizhui. I can't stay any longer, Lan Zhan is waiting for me." His Xian ge-ge grinned with a cheeky smile and a wink.
Sizhui giggled at that, tears slowing but still falling. Wei Wuxian held his face in his hands, wiping his tears away. "Good boy, Sizhui. I know you will be just fine. You still have people that will look out for you. Look after yourself please as well, and the two other little rascals. Jingyi and Jin Ling. Guide each other." His Xian ge-ge, touched their foreheads together, then missed one gentle kiss to Sizhui's temple.
"Our parting won't be forever, little radish. Remember, Lan Zhan and I will always be with you. To every ending, there is always a new beginning. But who knows, maybe there are no endings, just new journeys." Wei Wuxian smiled at him, before pulling away.
His Senior Wei, His Xian ge-ge waved as he walked farther away from Sizhui, and in that distance, he could see HanGuang-Jun, Lan Wangji.
The man in white robes was looking at him with a soft, golden gaze - giving Sizhui a nod and a gentle smile before both men turned their backs to him; Sizhui stood watching as their hands grasped one another, fingers intertwining, linked together forever.
He stayed until they both faded away, and then Sizhui woke up.
Sizhui gasped, wide awake. Sitting and staring at nothing, a moment before a fresh wave of tears fell from his eyes, cascading down his face.
He saw Jingyi was back, and awake as well, it was late at night.
Jingyi crawled onto the bed next to him, touching shoulder to shoulder, offering his presence and comfort; he too was still grieving, still crying.
Jingyi didn't ask anything. They just sat together in the dark, needing each other and being there for each other.
Sizhui closed his eyes, leaning into Jingyi. Jingyi did the same, leaning into him.
In their silence, they listened closely and could hear the song that played in the quiet, echoing like a gentle lullaby. They listened to it together, the song WangXian, allowing themselves to grieve.
Outside, the night sky was clear, the moon was bright, and the stars danced cheerfully, as the song WangXian lingered in the world, an endless song and an endless tale of a love that once was.
A story that had come to an end.
But do stories ever truly end, or has new journey - only just begun?