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Waiting with the his two favourite Lan disciples could never be bad, Wei Wuxian had long since decided. His A-Yuan was silently cuddled up to him, having convinced himself that because his original adopted father had been dead for 13 years, he needed to make up for 13 years of missed cuddles now that he was alive again, and who was Wei Wuxian to say no to cuddles from his son, who practically radiated warmth?


Lan Jingyi had claimed that he was lookout but he wasn’t actually looking out properly, seated casually in a tree and waiting for Jin Ling and Ouyang Zizhen to show up. Wei Wuxian could see him occasionally looking back at them with some longing in his eyes even as he bantered carelessly with his senior, cackling despite himself at some of the snarky words that were exchanged.


Jin Ling arrived first and Wei Wuxian could instantly tell that something was not right. He didn’t vocally announce that something was upsetting him, which was to be expected, but he wasn’t being boisterous either and Wei Wuxian knew better than to take anything at face value. His A-Ling had all but been raised by his brother and had subconsciously picked up his habits, so he knew better than anyone, better than Jiang Cheng himself, how to read the boy’s body language and behaviour.


Lan Sizhui could tell by the way Wei Wuxian’s arms had tensed that there was something up with Jin Ling and with one look at the shifty eyes of his friend, he let his father go and joined Lan Jingyi in waiting for Ouyang Zizhen. Wei Wuxian held his arms open in a silent invitation and Jin Ling didn’t even have to think about it, he didn’t hesitate to hastily move into his uncle’s arms and try to mentally convey his emotions whilst remaining too stubborn to speak outright about what was bothering him.


Wei Wuxian smiled fondly at the stubbornness and sighed quietly before he spoke to the boy who didn’t seem to want to move his face from where it was smushed against his chest unless it was deemed absolutely necessary. “A-Ling, whatever it is, it’ll be okay. If you don’t want to talk now we can talk in private later.” A muffled ‘thank you’ came in response from the boy who almost seemed to be trying not to cry.


Wei Wuxian could feel more than one gaze on him and quickly looked up just in time to catch the Lan boys looking at their friend worriedly, Lan Jingyi then looked away quickly, trying to pretend he hadn’t been looking and Lan Sizhui looked at him with visible concern, asking silent questions through his gaze. He shook his head, ensuring the younger that it was okay and he knew that if it really wasn’t, that it would be okay soon enough.


After another minute or so, Jin Ling pulled away from the hug, face burning a dark shade of red in embarrassment. Wei Wuxian chuckled and ruffled his hair affectionately, ignoring the way that he tried to duck out of his reach with a mumbled protest. As they walked over to the other boys, he announced to them as he got closer “Don’t ever feel embarrassed if you want to come to me for anything, you three.” Jin Ling and Lan Jingyi, true to their occasionally capricious personalities, flushed and avoided eye contact with him, but Lan Sizhui smiled appreciatively.


When Ouyang Zizhen still didn’t arrive after a few more minutes, Wei Wuxian was concerned. The boy was normally punctual and had been looking forward to this night hunt since they’d first discussed it, so it was suspicious that he wasn’t there and talking Lan Sizhui’s ear off instead of listening to Wei Wuxian double checking their supplies. When Lan Jingyi went to open his mouth to ask something, he stopped and frowned, making eye contact with Wei Wuxian through narrowed eyes seconds before they heard yelling in the distance.


Wei Wuxian didn’t hesitate for a second and hurried towards the voice, the other three boys keeping up with his pace as they followed closely behind him. As they got closer, the yelling got louder and they could hear what was being said. Lan Sizhui gasped quietly as he recognised the voice and muttered “Zizhen’s father.”. This just made Wei Wuxian more concerned about the situation and he sped his movements up.


It was a well known fact that the leader of the Ouyang clan had a strong hatred for Wei Wuxian and when his son ignored his demands and was one of the first junior disciples to stand forward to protect the Yiling Patriarch when another siege was about to occur without reason, his resentment towards him had risen. He had forbade Ouyang Zizhen from going out on night hunts with his friends because he knew that either Wen Ning or Wei Wuxian would accompany them, yet Ouyang Zizhen continually snuck out to meet them anyway. It seemed that this time he was caught in the act of escaping and tailed until this moment and was confronted.


“I will not have my son being seen with the Yiling Patriarch! You will ruin all honour for the Ouyang clan if you are seen with him and I will not accept that!” Wei Wuxian’s eyes darkened at how Ouyang Zizhen’s father cared about his image and reputation, not his son’s happiness. Lan Jingyi burst forward and grabbed his hand as it snaked towards Chenqing and squeezed it to calm him down. Wei Wuxian momentarily looked back to smile appreciatively at the boy who went a little red at the attention.


“Senior Wei has proven himself over and over again every time he saved our lives on his quest with Hanguang-Jun and certainly proved himself to the seniors by saving all of your lives in the Burial Mounds on that day, yet you still consider him evil? Father you cannot he serious!” Ouyang Zizhen protested, sounding devastated at his father’s close-mindedness. Wei Wuxian’s heart clenched hearing the boy’s voice. He was easily emotional and his voice was wavering, which was a clue that he was close to tears. If his father kept going he was going to reach his breaking point.


“If you continue to talk good of that- that demon then you will not be able to call me father anymore.” Wei Wuxian’s blood ran cold hearing the threat Ouyang Zizhen was given about being disowned, then he started seeing red as he heard the hiccuping sobs of the boy. Without even a word being said, Lan Jingyi let go of his hand, not holding him back anymore, and when Wei Wuxian looked back, the boy nodded with a dark look in his eyes. Looking at the other two boys, he noticed their expressions mirrored each other. They had reached the Ouyang pair now, Ouyang Zizhen was sitting on the floor with his face in his hands and blade on the floor, partially under the trees, his father a few steps away.


Hearing footsteps, they both looked towards them but Wei Wuxian paid no attention to Ouyang Zizhen’s father as the boy looked at them with a sad expression and red-rimmed eyes. His eyes softened as he rushed over to Ouyang Zizhen and immediately dropped to his knees to cup his face in his hands and wipe away his tears gently. “Don’t cry, our dear Romantic Young Master... Let me deal with this.” He stood up and almost effortlessly pulled him up, gently pushing him towards the boys that had been crowding around him like concerned siblings. Lan Sizhui was the first to hug Ouyang Zizhen, followed by Lan Jingyi who pulled Jin Ling into the hug with him.


“How dare you.” Wei Wuxian was fuming, trying to avoid the temptation of using Chenqing against the boy’s father, hand twitching behind his back. “You don’t allow your son to spend time with his friends because you are concerned about your reputation because of my past... and then you threaten to disown him because he’s right. You disgust me.” He spat, glaring at the man who tried to glare back but did not look intimidating at all.


“Wei Ying if you do not leave my son alone I will disown him and he will be left to the mercy of the streets.” Wei Wuxian’s eyes narrowed at the horrible man’s words and looked back to the boy who was still sobbing, albeit quieter. He was watching the exchange and when he noticed Wei Wuxian watching him, he only looked helplessly at him. The other three were glaring at Ouyang Zizhen’s father relentlessly and he couldn’t help but smile at them, they were all his boys and he’d kill to protect them.


“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that nor can I let you do that, and I don’t think his brothers will either.” He gestured with his head towards the three boys who the man had just noticed were glaring intensely at him. He tried to suppress a shiver, much to the amusement of Wei Wuxian, who found it hilarious that a grown man was afraid of three junior disciples.


“But... if you really insist on disowning your son, we will leave you be and go on our night hunt and the next time you see him he will have been adopted into the Lan family by my husband and myself. This will ensure that you won’t be granted access to Cloud Recesses ever again for abusing one of the Lan family. Besides, I’m sure A-Yuan wouldn’t mind having another legal brother.” Lan Sizhui didn’t say anything about that, but he didn’t need to say anything, Wei Wuxian knew him too well. He looked back and when saw Lan Sizhui smiling softly at him, he smiled back.


Ouyang Zizhen was crying again, but he was smiling this time. Wei Wuxian assumed it was because he was touched by his words. “You... you!” he looked back at Ouyang Zizhen’s father with a dry look on his face “Me... me!” He snarked back much to the horror of the man. “You disgust me. How dare you speak back to me. So be it. Zizhen is no longer my son, take the responsibility of that disappointment yourself.”


“Excuse you? Disappointment? Zizhen is one of the best junior disciples I know. If you’re criticising him for his poetic views on life then you know no joy. And I’m sorry, but who was it that saved your life? I know I no longer really have much of a pull in affairs related to the Jiang sect,” he was cut off when Jin Ling yelled out to him “False, uncle would simultaneously kill and die for you if you asked.” Wei Wuxian tried not to laugh at the words, knowing that that may have happened in the past, and looked back at the boys just to smile disbelievingly at his nephew, who nodded enthusiastically, afterwards he looked back at Ouyang Zizhen’s father, who was trembling with anger, and shrugged “Well, A-Ling has just proven me wrong, but regardless, I know that Jiang Cheng would feel the same as I do about the treatment of Zizhen. You’d definitely lose face then.”


In the exact moment that the man lunged at him with his blade, Wei Wuxian stepped out of the way with an unimpressed look on his face before masking it with a bright grin “Wow, attempted murder of the husband of the prestigious Hanguang-Jun? The Lan clan could keep you in the Cloud Recesses for months just to punish you. You’re an adult, clan leader Ouyang, more is expected of you, your teenage son has more manners than you.” Hearing Ouyang Zizhen laugh raised Wei Wuxian’s spirits, knowing the boy was recovering from the shock of his father disowning him. The man snarled and lunged for him again.


Unimpressed, Wei Wuxian dodged again and decided he didn’t want to deal with him ruining his night with the juniors any further. He quickly jabbed the man in a pressure point which made him collapse, using one of Wen Qing’s medical needles which Lan Zhan had found in the Demon-Slaughtering Cave and held on to after his death. He wasn’t surprised at how the elder Wen sibling’s begrudgingly shared medical tips on pressure points in a body were still helping him even now. He turned and took a few steps away to look at the four who were looking at the temporarily paralysed man with bated breath. “Don’t worry, it’s only temporary, that’s something jiejie taught him. As soon as the needle is out he’ll be able to move freely in an hour.” A different voice spoke.


“Ning-ge!” Lan Sizhui yelled delightedly, momentarily forgetting the GusuLan’s strict etiquette rules as he jumped ungracefully towards his cousin and as he was caught, began clinging to him as if he was going to run away. “I thought you weren’t coming tonight?” Wen Ning shrugged and looked over Wei Wuxian’s body to make sure he wasn’t injured (as if he’d get injured that easily by someone like clan leader Ouyang) before saying “I know, and I wasn’t, but I’m here now.” And left it at that.


Lan Jingyi blinked at Wen Ning, jaw slacked, as if he’d once again simultaneously forgotten and then remembered that he knew the infamous Ghost General and was friends with him. Jin Ling hunched his shoulders slightly and greeted the fierce corpse quietly, which made Wen Ning perk up at the acknowledgement by the younger who still seemed somewhat uncomfortable around him. The youngest of the group crossed his arms, face slowly flushing at the fact that Wen Ning had started rocking on his feet with Lan Sizhui in his arms still and was trying his best to smile to express his excitement.


Ouyang Zizhen was the only of the four juniors who was not interacting with Wen Ning. He was having a silent stare-off with Wei Wuxian, who simply opened his arms. All that the temporarily paralysed man could do from his position on the floor was watch as the son he had disowned ran for the most feared person in the cultivation world and tackled him to the floor in a hug. “Thank you.” He was crying out of what almost seemed to be relief.


“Please, don’t worry about it, I’m just looking out for my boys. I can recognise a toxic family relationship quite easily. Mo Xuanyu’s family were physically and mentally abusive and I was only with them for a day before they died. While Madam Yu would actively seek me out to punish me and treated me like a walking bad omen, it’s evident that even she cared for me more than he did you and there’s no way I was going to let you stay with him if that was his attitude about his own son.” Wei Wuxian replied gently.


Ouyang Zizhen stood up and helped him up, frowning softly “Will Hanguang-Jun be okay... with you... doing this?” Wei Wuxian laughed loudly at the concerned question. “Lan Zhan would let me adopt you, Jingyi and A-Ling without hesitation as long as doing so made me happy. Oh! And even though he doesn’t vocalise it, he’s also quite fond of you. Of course, it’s not on the same level as A-Yuan who called him father before he was even his father.” Lan Sizhui yelped and tried to shout complaints but Wei Ying just laughed mirthfully. Ouyang Zizhen looked between Lan Sizhui, who was red with embarrassment, and Wei Wuxian, who was smiling proudly, and smiled, despite not knowing the context behind what he’d said. “Thank you for what you’ve done for me, Senior Wei.”


“There’s no need to thank me, Zizhen. I’m just doing what’s right. Now, let’s get going on our night hunt, my dear little ones, A-Ning.” Lan Sizhui unlatched himself from Wen Ning and waited with the other three while Wei Ying removed the medical needles from clan leader Ouyang and Ouyang Zizhen retrieved his sword before they made their way back into the forest.


Wen Ning, who was flanking the group, couldn’t help but feel amused at the scene in front of him. Everyone was wrong about Wei Wuxian and they always had been. Oh-so-terrifying demonic cultivator his ass, Wen Ning knew this person better than he knew himself and at this moment, Wei Ying’s personality and attitude was the exact same as he was back during the Discussion Conference when they first met. The feared Yiling Patriarch was making dumb jokes and laughing boisterously at said jokes, marching through the forest and being followed by four eager junior disciples like a mother hen being followed by her chicks.

Chapter Text

The night hunt had been successful, but despite the excitement of the juniors, Lan Jingyi was seemingly upset about something afterwards. When Wei Wuxian went out to wander along the wall surrounding the Cloud Recesses out of curfew time, partially for patrol reasons, and found him sitting on the roof of his and Lan Sizhui’s room, he was instantly concerned. “Jingyi, what’s up? You’re never awake this late.” He asked, sitting down by the boy and bringing him close to his person in a one-armed hug.


“Did you mean what you said to Zizhen earlier?” He asked, voice soft. Wei Wuxian’s face slacked as he tried to think of something he said that would’ve made Lan Jingyi act like that. “Would you... would you really adopt me?” He asked, barely loud enough to be heard. Oh. OH! That’s what this was about. It wasn’t well known that Lan Jingyi’s parents had passed away, but Lan Zhan had informed him about this painful spot in Lan Jingyi’s life when he’d asked about Lan Sizhui and Lan Jingyi while they were on the road trying to piece together Nie Mingjue.


Wei Wuxian smiled brightly at Lan Jingyi and pulled him closer (he couldn’t pull him much closer, Wei Wuxian was naturally clingy, so the moment he’d wrapped his arm around Lan Jingyi, he’d already pulled him as close as the boy felt comfortable with, which was pretty close). “Of course I would! Would I ever lie to you?” After a dry look from the boy, he amended his words “Would I ever say anything I don’t mean, is what I meant. And I wasn’t really lying, I was trying to keep myself safe at that time, everyone still hated me then.” He explained.


“I guess not... I was just... shocked that you would imply that. I’m at the age where I shouldn’t be dependent on parents yet I miss my own so much and envy Sizhui who has you and Hanguang-Jun.” he sighed. Wei Wuxian thought for a moment, then said ‘fuck the consequences’ and pulled his arm away to turn Lan Jingyi to face him.


“A-Hui... I know you’re aware that A-Yuan also has a terribly troubled past. You know he was adopted by Lan Zhan, and that before that he was my adoptive son, but what he has kept from everyone for so long was his real identity. Have you noticed how he is clingy with Wen Ning?” Lan Jingyi’s eyes narrowed as he recalled the interactions between the two, then he nodded, “Well, that’s because Wen Ning is his... father’s...? Cousin. No, Wen Ning is his cousin, his aunt is A-Yuan’s mother. Before being adopted by Lan Zhan, Lan Yuan was Wen Yuan, the youngest of the 50 Wen refugees I saved and sheltered in the Burial Mounds, and the only living Wen sect member.” If Lan Jingyi had been drinking, he would have spat it out in shock, Lan etiquette be damned. His best friend... was a Wen? No, what was more important than that was that his best friend was a prisoner of war as a child, when he was barely able to walk and talk. He paled at that thought.


“I know that you’ll never tell anyone this, but for 13 years, A-Yuan had no memory of his past before Lan Zhan because on the day of the siege I’d put him in a tree stump with many protective talismans surrounding him in hopes that I’d survive and be able to escape elsewhere and raise him. But that... didn’t happen... His Xian-gege failed him... He got sick... really sick... the fever was so bad that it made him lose his previous memories.” Wei Wuxian started tearing up and Jingyi fiercely hugged him “Every day I thank Lan Zhan for going back to see if there was anything left of me to savour, because otherwise he wouldn’t have found A-Yuan and I don’t know what I would’ve done if my son wasn’t alive.” It was silent for a few minutes as Wei Wuxian forced himself to calm down, but then he chuckled, a watery sound due to the tears. “I‘m never going to let it go that Chenqing was what triggered his memories to return.”


“Why’s that?” Lan Jingyi asked, head tilting cutely to the side. Wei Wuxian couldn’t take it, he wanted this boy as his son. Now. “Ah, A-Hui, I’ll tell you the story, but if you ever tell A-Yuan that you know this, he’ll never return from the redness caused by his embarrassment. When A-Yuan was only a little one, he would chew on Chenqing like it wasn’t one of the most dangerous cultivation items in existence. If I ever put it down somewhere in the Demon Slaughtering Cave and left it unattended, I’d always find it covered in saliva somewhere else, or still in A-Yuan’s mouth. His reaction was always funniest when I caught him red-handed, he’d just look at me with wide eyes, Chenqing still in his mouth, then he’d hide it behind his back and tell me he didn’t have it, as if I didn’t just watch him hide it.” Lan Jingyi snickered, then covered his mouth, eyes wide in a faux innocent manner, almost as if to pretend he hadn’t just laughed at his friend.


“Sir would have my head if he found out that I‘m gossiping about his best student.” Wei Wuxian rolled his eyes, laughing, “Please, that’s hardly gossip, that’s straight facts about your best friend, about your brother , if you accept.” Lan Jingyi smiled but then frowned and opened his mouth, closing it seconds later before opening it again, like a fish out of water. “If I accept? Wait? Are you... serious? Is this about what I...?” Wei Wuxian nodded sincerely.


“I decided about two minutes ago that I need you as my son right now. I’ve always been fond of you, you remind me of me when I was young, you’re just so cute,” he pinched Lan Jingyi’s cheeks as he said that, “and I’d probably cry if you said no. Please be my son.” Lan Jingyi’s eyes were wide and to Wei Wuxian’s surprise, tears started to well up in those wide eyes and they spilled down his cheeks while he smiled. “Yes!”


Lan Jingyi was the one who pulled Wei Wuxian into a tight hug and he just chuckled as he soothed his third(!) son. They both froze upon hearing quiet, but still audible footsteps, slowly pulled away from each other and turned to see who had caught them. “Curfew has passed.” The distinct voice of Lan Zhan greeted them along with a flat expression at them breaking the rules. Wei Wuxian saw his eyes soften at the sight in front of him, however, and grinned. “Lan Zhan we have a third son now!” He cheered, cupping Lan Jingyi’s face in his hands and squishing his cheeks as the boy protested, face burning red.


“Mn.” Then after a few seconds, “Will talk to brother about it tomorrow... Welcome... family...” Wei Wuxian tried not to laugh at his husband getting shy about the fact that their number of children has grown from one to three in mere hours. His ears were even more red than Lan Jingyi’s face, which was a feat, as the boy’s face was already looking close to the colour of Wei Wuxian’s hair ribbon. Lan Jingyi stood up instantly and tackled Lan Zhan in a hug, after a few seconds, the older man put his arms around the younger and hummed quietly, looking at his husband with a soft smile. Wei Wuxian stood up and with a bright grin, joined in with the hug, sandwiching Lan Jingyi between him and his husband.


Lan Jingyi beamed at the attention from his mentors, no , his fathers.

Chapter Text

Jin Ling was still antsy the day after they’d returned from the night hunt. Initially they’d planned that Wen Ning would guide him back to Koi Tower, but with his discomfort when he showed up and his weird attitude after the night hunt was over, Wei Wuxian knew it probably wouldn’t be safe to send the boy back to his sect just yet.


It was organised that he would room with the other juniors for a few nights, Wen Ning volunteering to send notice to the Jin sect, informing them that he had not died and will not be returning for a few days. Wei Wuxian chuckled at the thought of their reaction to him being a messenger, but couldn’t help but worry for his friend who was returning to a place which had created traumatic memories for him. He’d decided to sit with the rabbits (only one of them was brave enough to approach him, and he appreciated that) while Lan Zhan was in a discussion with his brother about Wei Wuxian’s reckless provocation of clan leader Ouyang and the man’s heartless disowning of Ouyang Zizhen which led to Wei Wuxian claiming him as their own.


“Senior Wei? Are you here? Sizhui told me you might be here.” Jin Ling’s voice called out, sounding a little unsure and definitely upset. “Yah, A-Ling, haven’t I told you before just to call me uncle?” He looked up to the entry of the rabbit clearing and when the boy moved towards him he smiled softly, then frowned when he saw the look on his face. It was hard to decipher what the look meant. It was clear he was upset, but the underlying emotions were what made his expression confusing. “A-Ling, what’s wrong?” He asked, voice soft, concern evident in his voice.


“Can you... no... will you tell me about my parents? What kind of people they were?” Wei Wuxian froze, not expecting that to come from the boy’s mouth. “Have... have you not been told about them before?” He asked, voice strained. Jin Ling was surprised at the pain that could be heard in his voice, and, realising that he was waiting for an answer, hurried to give one.


“To an extent. Barely anybody in Koi Tower is willing to talk about my father, which is ironic considering he was their Young Master,” his voice sounded bitter, which was, certainly, to be expected, “When I asked the older kids at Koi Tower, the younger ones hanging around them bullied me for being orphaned so I never got anything from them,” he looked at his hands helplessly and Wei Wuxian felt rage beginning to burn within him, “a-ah don’t worry, Uncle Jiang dealt with them, even though they still pick on me sometimes.” He added, after looking up to see the dark look on Wei Wuxian’s face.


“And mother... Uncle Jiang didn’t speak much of her even though everyone knows she was his treasured sister... I barely know anything about either of them.” He sighed sadly and Wei Wuxian’s heart clenched, Jin Ling was reminding him of his childhood. “Of course I will. I wish that people told me about my parents, since I was four when they died and remember very little about them. Whenever I asked my Uncle Jiang about what they were like, he could never tell me because Madam Yu would yell at him. She was jealous of my mother, and always called me a servant’s son, but the one thing that she never thought about was that the servant she was always insulting was her husband’s best friend. Ah, but that’s not important. Who do you wish to know about first?”


Jin Ling looked somewhat concerned at the words, but didn’t press on. “Father... please.” He requested. Wei Wuxian tapped the ground next to him and looked at Jin Ling expectantly. After he had sat down, Wei Wuxian started to talk. “Your father? Okay. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. For most of the time I knew him, I did not like Jin Zixuan.” At Jin Ling’s confused look, he elaborated. “For a long time, your father was a self-centred asshole, to put it simply. He didn’t like the betrothal to Shijie, called her plain and boring, and who knows what else after I punched him and got expelled from the Cloud Recesses.” Jin Ling blinked, not knowing how to react to that.


“He made her cry, you know? But... Shijie was still in love with him, despite his mistreatment of her. He confessed to her by yelling out to everyone that he liked her, in the middle of the Phoenix Mountain hunt. Actually, thinking back to it, ironically that’s the day that Lan Zhan first kissed me...” when Jin Ling cringed, Wei Wuxian laughed, “No, you don’t get it, I was blindfolded and he came up to me and kissed me without saying anything. I died without knowing who kissed me and found out who it was what, 14? 15? However many years later.” Wei Wuxian was laughing still at how dumb he was to not realise Lan Zhan’s feelings for him in the past.


“Anyway, being with Shijie changed him for the better. I wasn’t invited to their marriage ceremony for whatever reason, but Jiang Cheng and Shijie snuck into Yiling just to show me her wedding robes. She looked... absolutely beautiful. I remember painting her later that night but that, along with many of my other paintings I did, were probably destroyed after the siege. She refused to believe both me and Jiang Cheng telling her she looked beautiful, but then she asked me to give a courtesy name. Your courtesy name.” Jin Ling froze.


“What? Did you not know that this uncle of yours was the one who gave you your courtesy name?” Jin Ling shook his head shakily, “I thought that was the reason you didn’t use it. O-oh, okay, so it wasn’t anything to do with me. Shijie got me to give her a name because Jiang Cheng sucks at naming things. Sandu was only named the way it was because of Madam Yu.” Jin Ling snickered at this revelation, and Wei Wuxian smiled, glad that he thought Jiang Cheng’s inability to name things was funny (Jin Ling was just as useless at naming things, but he wasn’t going to say that).


“Now, your mother, my dear Shijie. She, no matter what Madam Yu insisted, was my big sister. The day that Uncle Jiang brought me to Lotus Pier, was the day when I first felt that she was my sister. That first night, Jiang Cheng kicked me out of our bedroom because he was upset his puppies were given away because of my fear. Knowing that I wasn’t wanted, I went away. I’d hidden in one of the trees outside and Shijie came looking for me. At that time, after she found me she tried to catch me, but I fell on her, and I thought my leg was broken. Oh, the fuss that I’d made. She helped me up and carried me and we were on our way back to the manor when we heard crying. Jiang Cheng, rather than getting an adult like Shijie had told him to, had ran out himself to try and find me and gotten hurt.” Jin Ling snickered to himself at that.


“The way he cried that day, I’ll never forget how worried he was. We never told Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu what had happened that night, saying that we had both been running when we shouldn’t have been and fell over and hurt ourselves. That night was the very first time I’d tried Shijie’s lotus root soup. She was always so kind and gentle. Did you know that she used to make rounds in Yunmeng taking medicine and food to the poor and sick?” Jin Ling looked awed as he shook his head, but didn’t say anything about his words.


“After the Wen indoctrination, after Lan Zhan and I were recovered from the cave of the uh, Slaughter of Xuanwu, which I shall forever insist that Lan Zhan killed, no matter what he says, the moment she noticed I was awake, she was so upset, but she didn't scold me at all, instead, she treated me like I hadn't just nearly died. She was a goddess amongst unworthy mortal men and I’m so glad I was able to have her as my Shijie, even though I didn’t deserve her.” He finished. Jin Ling was listening with stars shining in his eyes at the way Wei Wuxian had talked about Jiang Yanli.


“Did... did anyone ever tell you the circumstances of either of their deaths?” Wei Wuxian asked. Jin Ling remained silent for a few seconds, then answered, “They did, but they're so warped to make you seem like a demon, so I no longer believe them. You apparently forced Wen Ning to stab a hole through father. Uncle Jiang refused to talk about mother’s death.” Wei Wuxian was trembling at this point. He’d turned away from Jin Ling the moment that tears had first started welling in his eyes. No wonder why Jin Ling had hated him so much, Wei Wuxian had been made out to be a heartless murderer. He brought his arm up to his face to wipe at the tears harshly with his sleeve and let out a sob.


Jin Ling, in a panic from the sudden show of emotion, moved so that he was in front of Wei Wuxian and wrapped his arms around him, pulling him into a hug. He started to cry, his tears staining the expensive yellow robes of his nephew, but the boy didn’t seem to care at all. After the tears had lessened, Wei Wuxian pulled away and dabbed at his eyes with the sleeve of his robes. “They tried everything to use me so they could take over the cultivation world, and because I refused to 'help', they actively tried to turn everyone I cared about against me, so why is it that I am still surprised that they warped the truth this horribly?”


“Your father’s death... I was invited to your one month celebration by him, without the knowledge of anyone else. Well, actually, I believe he told his father, who then told Jin Guangyao to kill me. I still feel bad for taking Wen Ning with me, after all, he was murdered on Qiongqi path. We were both surprised at the lack of resentful energy that we could, or really, couldn’t, feel at that place where so many had been murdered. Just when we thought about turning back and not going after all, there was an arrow shot at me which Wen Ning caught and that Jin Zixun, or whatever his name was, showed up.


“I’d met him once before, on the day which Wen Ning was killed. I saved Lan Zhan from being forced by him to consume alcohol that day, but that’s not relevant. Ah, wait, I think it was twice, but nevertheless, he wasn’t important enough for me to remember who he was. He was in charge of the Wens at Qiongqi path, or rather, he was killing them off and claiming they’d died because of themselves. Him and both previous sect leaders had planned an ambush of 300 archers because Jin Guangshan had convinced him that I’d cursed him with the Hundred Holes Curse.” Jin Ling squinted before bursting into laughter.


“You wouldn’t ever stoop so low to do that to someone you’d only met twice before. How on earth was he convinced that you were the one who did it to him?” He asked, struggling to catch his breath after he'd finished laughing, much to the amusement of Wei Wuxian. “I have no clue! He was such an arrogant bastard though, he made your father seem like Xiao Xingchen when he was next to him.” At Jin Ling’s disbelieving look, he insisted, “It’s true! Ah, so as Wen Ning saved me from a rain of arrows, Jin Zixun attacked me dishonourably, and then your father showed up. However, before he’d shown up, Jin Zixun took something precious from me and it had made me beyond mad.”


“What was it?” Jin Ling asked innocently. Wei Wuxian closed his eyes and turned his head, breathing in through his nose to calm his despair at the simple question. “It was the gift I’d hand-made for you. A silver bell with a beautiful white jade and tassel pendant which would protect you from resentful creatures. I'd been working on it for months. It even made Wen Ning uncomfortable when he was in the vicinity of it." Jin Ling's eyes widened, knowing that not much could make Wen Ning uncomfortable (except for social situations).


"Then Jin Zixun destroyed your gift, and my anger was indescribable. Jin Zixuan refused to understand that they would stop at nothing to kill me if I stopped Wen Ning, even though he was there. He told me that he’d bring me back and we’d talk, then he lunged at me, intending to grab my wrist. Back then I didn’t know what he was going to do, but I was afraid at that point and Wen Ning, who had buried his consciousness in order to protect me better, sensed my fear and attacked. During the moment he’d died, he told me that Shijie was waiting for me with you.


“I don’t know what happened after that, I collapsed. When I woke up, Wen Ning looked very... lost... if it weren’t for the fact that he can’t cry, I know that he would have been crying his eyes out, he was always very sensitive.” He had tears dripping down his face and didn’t even bother to wipe them, knowing he’d start bawling like a baby the moment he talked about his sister’s death. Jin Ling didn’t care for that and wiped his uncle’s tears with his sleeve after wiping his own tears.


“I attacked Wen Ning, screaming at him, ‘how could you?’ ‘do you even know who you killed?’ but I knew he regretted it. He never liked killing, not even as a fierce corpse, but he did whatever he could to protect me, always saying it was all he could do for me, who gave him life again. I don’t know why he thinks he needs to repay me, because I gave him a life that made him hated and feared by people for things more than his family name.”


He sighed and shook his head, “Wen Qing used her needles to paralyse me at that point and read out a letter. It was from the Jin sect, saying that if Wen Qing and Wen Ning gave themselves in, they would forgive the crimes of the Yiling Patriarch. Wen Qing told me, ‘you will be able to move in three days. By then, we will have given ourselves in.’ and then they left, they left me crying and screaming. They’d become like siblings to me after all the time we’d spent together. The moment I could move I went straight to Koi Tower. I found out that Wen Qing and Wen Ning has been killed, despite them giving themselves up with the expectation that they’d be imprisoned. That was the day your mother died. They were planning a siege on the burial mounds when I showed up, they were cheering about the deaths of Wen Qing and Wen Ning. I, of course, confronted them, then they tried to attack me, to kill me so they could, afterwards, kill the Wen remnants.


“I couldn’t let this happen, the Wens I was protecting didn’t have swords. Yes, some of them had been cultivators, but none were very strong. There was one who had once been strong, but his golden core was melted for ‘causing danger’ to Wen Chao years earlier. Someone had tried to shoot my heart while I was talking and so threw the arrow back in my anger, killing him. They attacked me so I raised corpses, but due to my poor mental state, the corpses I raised were also attacking those I’d always made clear for them to not attack, Jiang Cheng, Nie Huaisang, Lan Xichen and Lan Zhan being the main ones... although, Huaisang wasn’t there... oh well, not important, normally they didn’t attack those who I didn’t want them to.” Lin Ling nodded, understanding that he would be able to do something like that, protecting those who had never shown animosity towards him.


“I didn’t know that Shijie would have come, Jiang Cheng didn’t know it either, but she was calling out to me and one of the corpses attacked her before either of us could reach her. Lan Zhan, who only went because he knew I'd gone there, destroyed the corpse before it could attack her again. After that, a cultivator, whose brother was the one who tried to shoot an arrow into my heart, had seen me in a defenceless state and so he ran towards me, intending to kill me. Shijie had been telling me something and she saw him running towards me and pushed me out the way, so the sword pierced her throat instead of my chest,” he shuddered, tears running down his face, “I blanked out after that, I remember screaming, snapping his neck, being blamed for the deaths of the Jiang family and then I put the two halves of the Stygian Tiger Seal together and unleashed it’s power, but that’s all.”


Wei Wuxian looked up, vision blurred by his tears, and saw Jin Ling was crying. He aggressively pulled his nephew into a hug and allowed him to cry into his shoulder until he felt like he could cry no more, allowing his own sadness to drain out of his body as he also cried. "Thank you for telling me. It's... hard... learning how they died, but I never wanted to be sheltered, I just wanted the truth and I'm thankful that you didn't hide it from me."


"You're not a child anymore, you've gone through a lot, you've witnessed death yourself, why would I not tell you about your parents? I felt enough grief and regret over the years and not telling you the truth would be the worst thing I could do.”


When Jin Ling eventually pulled out of the hug, his face was splotchy and a little puffy from crying. But he still smiled sincerely and said “Thank you, Jiujiu.” Wei Wuxian teared up a little hearing that, squishing Jin Ling’s cheeks as he began to drone on like a drunk, “Aiyo, A-Ling you can count on me, come to Jiujiu if you ever want to know something, or if someone’s bothering you. I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy, I’d even kick Jiang Cheng in the balls if he makes you upset.” Hearing Jin Ling’s half embarrassed, half amused giggle made his own rising embarrassment (despite his usually thick face, the way he was talking was admittedly embarrassing) very much worth it.