When they reach Gusu, they're greeted by an excited Lan Jingyi, and Wei Ying laughs in delight at this un-Lannest of Lans. The young man must be such a trial to Lan Qiren, which Wei Ying can't help but feel a certain satisfaction over. He's yet to forgive Lan Zhan's uncle for what he did to him, might never forgive him. Still, it's hard to remain angry when Lan Zhan is walking right next to him, the very picture of a GusuLan cultivator, upright and strong and oh so handsome.
"Wei-shixiong, why are you smiling so weirdly?" Lan Jingyi's curiosity knows no bounds, but even he balks under the censoring gaze of Hanguang-jun, drawing back with a mumbled apology. "Sorry, shifu, of course you can smile any way you want to."
"Look, Lan Zhan, I've been promoted!" Wei Ying grins at Lan Zhan as Lan Jingyi scurries off. "Just imagine, your uncle would have an apoplexy if I would really start teaching the young disciples."
"Wei Ying would be a great teacher." As always, Lan Zhan's voice is completely serious, and Wei Ying goes all warm and fuzzy inside, hoping against hope that he's not actually blushing. Ever since Lan Zhan found him on that cliff side, playing their song, Wei Ying can't seem to stop doing that, his cheeks hurting from constantly smiling so hard. It feels like his heart might burst with happiness.
He still can't quite believe that it really happened, that Lan Zhan gave up being Chief Cultivator the moment his brother came out of seclusion and traveled all the way to the mountain range where Wei Ying had been halfheartedly trying to find Baoshan Sanren. He'd also helped in any way he could whenever coming across a village or town troubled by anything supernatural, and it had been... good, to be among people who didn't whisper behind his back whether the Yiling Patriarch truly could be trusted.
However, it had also been kind of lonely, and Wei Ying has woken from enough dreams of mourning-white robes, half-hidden smiles and strong hands holding him up that he can't fool himself as to who he was missing the most. And then Lan Zhan found him, and now they're back together again, just him and Hanguang-jun. Wei Ying is so fucking glad, of course he agreed to come to Cloud Recesses when he noticed that Lan Zhan was still a bit worried about his brother's state of mind.
"Let's find Zewu-jun," he suggests therefore, nudging Lan Zhan slightly. The latter inclines his head, elegant as always, and doesn't move away, even as they direct their steps towards the main pavilion. Wei Ying is able to feel the warmth of him through the layers of their clothing, and once again he can't stop smiling to himself. Anyone who calls the Second Jade of Lan cold has no idea what they're talking about.
Wei Ying never feels warmer than when he's with Lan Zhan, basking in his attention like a flower in the sun. It's been like this for as long as Wei Ying can remember. His memory might be shit, but this he knows: he's wanted Lan Zhan to notice him, to like him since the day they met. Well, almost, Wei Ying admits to himself as they wind their way through the tranquil beauty of Cloud Recesses, eternally unchanged despite the damage the Wen's had wrought. He's reminded forcefully of being a teenager here.
That very first night, and possibly for a few days more, he'd thought Lan Wangji stiff and boring, as lifeless as the precious stone he's always being compared to. Luckily it's been a long time since Wei Ying has been that stupid, a long time since he realised that Lan Zhan is the furthest thing from boring, and if he seems stiff, it's only on the outside and to people who don't care enough to pay proper attention.
"Are you alright?" Lan Zhan's question startles Wei Ying out of his musings.
He flushes and waves off his friend's concern. "Of course, of course. Just remembering, you know."
Mollified, Lan Zhan nods, and Wei Ying breathes a sigh of relief. It's not exactly a lie, but it'd really be too embarrassing to admit that he's actually been pondering how wonderful he finds the man beside him. How happy he is just to be back in his presence, and without their lives being in danger for once. Although Wei Ying has a thick face, it's possibly not thick enough to be this shameless. Or rather, there was a time when he would have, but now things feel... different. Wei Ying bites his lip when his heart again does that weird skipping thing that it's been doing for a while now. Possibly for longer than he cares to admit.
"Wei Ying, maybe we should take a rest before seeing my brother." Once more Lan Zhan's worried voice brings him back to the present, and he curses inwardly. Lan Zhan has the annoying habit of looking right through Wei Ying, and Wei Ying's aware that he's been failing quite miserably at not letting his inner turmoil show. It's just that he's not used to this, to be this full of emotion, and it's making him feel rather stupid.
Shaking himself, Wei Ying forces himself to laugh. "No, no. We've come to make sure Zewu-jun is coping well. Shouldering the burdens of His Excellency's office is difficult enough without..."
He trails off, knowing there's no need to spell out the First Jade's particular difficulties. They both remember Guanyin Temple and the naked anguish on Lan Xichen's unguarded face, his usual elegant composure and friendly demeanour destroyed by the betrayal of a beloved brother and the thrust of a sword. Wei Ying can tell how the memory pains Lan Zhan, so he squeezes his arm in silent support.
Their eyes meet, some of the tension leaving Lan Zhan's face as he nods his gratitude. They've come to a stop in the courtyard, putting them technically in plain sight for any passerby, yet Wei Ying doesn't let go of Lan Zhan's arm, and Lan Zhan doesn't pull away. It occurs to Wei Ying that he never does, no matter his supposed dislike of physical contact.
It makes Wei Ying smile stupidly, a grin that only grows wider when Lan Zhan's eyes and lips do that soft, warm thing that somehow gentles his entire face. As always, it sends waves of delight through Wei Ying at being not just the cause but the sole recipient of this precious gift. No one else gets to see Lan Zhan like this.
It's almost too much to bear, the joy filling Wei Ying's heart, and he's on the verge of blurting out something, anything, when the heavens open and rain starts pouring down. It's like standing under a waterfall, soaking them through in a matter of seconds, although luckily the water's not too cold.
"Wei Ying." Lan Zhan tugs slightly at his arm in the general direction of the nearest covered walkway.
Tilting his head up towards the sky, Wei Ying starts to laugh helplessly, making no move to seek shelter. Neither does Lan Zhan abandon him, heedless of the white robes plastered to his body. Of course Wei Ying can't actually see anything improper through the multiple layers of cloth, but his imagination eagerly provides him with the memories of Lan Zhan bathing in the cold springs.
A shiver races down his spine that has nothing whatsoever to do with the cool rain. On the contrary, suddenly his body feels hot, so hot he's surprised he's not steaming up the air around them. His laughter dies on his lips, and he's sounding hoarse in his own ears when he says the two words that lie on this tongue, heavy and sweet: "Lan Zhan..."
"Wei Ying." His name, spoken in a way no one else does, curls around him like a caress, and Wei Ying licks his lips, tasting rain and lust. Lan Zhan's eyes seem to darken, but there's only the slightest trace of a hitch in his voice when he repeats his earlier question, "Are you alright?"
This time there's no dissembling, no pretending even to himself, because Wei Ying feels as if he's a lake that's been filled and filled, filled by years and years of friendship and love, devotion and desire, and is now about to burst its dam. His feelings must be clear on his face, because Lan Zhan's eyes widen, lips parting on a sigh of such deep longing and timid hope, Wei Ying forgets to breathe for a second.
Then, with a deep breath, he steps closer to Lan Zhan and whispers, "Yes."
Kissing Lan Zhan feels like falling. But Wei Ying's used to falling, and what is there to fear, when he has Lan Zhan to catch him every time?
As if in response, the familiar strong arms pull him flush against a hard body, as if their owner's afraid that Wei Ying will disappear. Determined to reassure him, Wei Ying clings to Lan Zhan with equal force, sliding a hand into his wet hair. When he wraps the train of the Lans' sacred headband around his fist, Lan Zhan makes a sound that goes through Wei Ying like the growling of thunder before a storm.
"Oh, Lan Zhan, Lan-er-gege!" he laughs breathlessly, resting their foreheads together, happiness bubbling inside him better than the sweetest jar of Emperor's Smile. "So shameless - kissing me out in the open, letting me touch your headband..."
"Not shameless," Lan Zhan corrects simply. Wei Ying makes a confused noise, so he explains matter-of-factly, "Headband can be touched by family, by... lover."
There's only the tiniest hesitation before the last word, which sends most of Wei Ying's blood straight downwards, filling what had been half-hard already anyway. Tightening his hold on the headband, Wei Ying rocks against Lan Zhan's muscled thigh, kisses the rain off his beautiful face until even the famously pale skin is flushed.
The downpour is starting to let up, so with one last kiss, Wei Ying breaks away, grinning when Lan Zhan chases after him. He suspects he won't be able to stop laughing for a good long while - unless, of course, Lan Zhan finds other ways to occupy his mouth. Wei Ying can certainly think of several, and he's rather impatient to start making his guilty dreams into reality.
"So impatient, Lan Zhan," he teases, "but people are bound to come out now that the weather's clearing up, and what would they say about finding their precious Hanguang-jun in such a compromising position? Your face would never recover!"
"Don't care." Lan Zhan's firm answer threatens to render Wei Ying speechless, especially when he adds, "Want you. Have wanted you."
"How long?" The question comes out more serious than Wei Ying had intended, but he's rewarded with the sight of Lan Wangji, Second Jade of Lan, blushing like a maiden and mumbling, "Cloud Recesses. Before."
He doesn't need to spell out before what, and Wei Ying has to swallow past a sudden lump in his throat. Every response he can think of seems too trivial in light of this revelation, yet trivial is Wei Ying's specialty, so he just hopes that Lan Zhan can read between the lines when he replies suggestively, "Well, you can have me now. We're both so wet, we need to get changed before seeing Zewu-jun anyway - I'm sure you can think of ways to warm us both up."
"Mn." Wei Ying's sure no one has ever seen dignified Hanguang-jun look like this - soaked through, lips swollen from too many kisses, hair in disarray, and his eyes dark with a hunger that has nothing to do with food. He shivers in anticipation when Lan Zhan wordlessly grabs his hand and determinedly begins pulling him along at a pace he's pretty sure violates yet another Lan Sect rule. Giggling giddily, Wei Ying considers that he really is a terrible influence.
They're almost at the jingshi when suddenly a curious voice reaches them: "Hanguang-jun, Wei-shixiong, where are you running to? Why are you so wet?"
Wei Ying would have halted, but Lan Zhan simply ignores Lan Jingyi, so he has no choice but to follow or lose his footing. Waving at the confused junior disciple, he calls breathlessly over his shoulder, "Clouds and rain. Please tell Zewu-jun we'll see him after."
"But... the rain has already stopped. After what?" Lan Jingyi's question remains unanswered, although Lan Xichen will smile knowingly when he brings him the message.
In the jingshi, wet clothes dropping carelessly to the floor, Wei Ying kisses Lan Zhan and laughs, drunk on joy and love, until laughter turns into gasps, and gasps into moans, until they both tumble over a long-awaited edge, only to land safely in each other's arms. When Wei Ying finally falls asleep, he's still smiling.