Lan Wangji had seen death from an early age.
He remembered watching emotionless as his parent’s caskets were lowered slowly into the ground. His older brother Lan Xichen trembled beside him as he watched too. Lan Wangji took his hand and squeezed it tightly. He didn’t know if he was trying to comfort him or if he was scared that we would disappear into that deep shallow grave as well. He was his only immediate family left, Lan Wangji didn’t want to lose him.
That was his only fear his whole life after that; the thought of losing his brother. They basically had to raise themselves after their parents died. Their other family thought it was too much of a hassle to take them in, so they just gave them a place to live, some extra money, and enough funds to get them through school and left it at that. Lan Xichen graduated and ended up getting a well paying job, while Lan Wangji was still floating through college. Not making very many friends, only focused on supporting himself and his brother.
“Why does he always have such a cold look?”
“He seems scary.”
“We should stay away from him.”
Lan Wangji always heard that kind of gossip about himself and he accepted it. He preferred being alone anyways. Most people annoyed him, he looked at them as a distraction. Why should he spend his time goofing off with them, when he could be working or focusing on his studies?
“If you keep thinking that way, you’re going to be alone your whole life.” Lan Xichen had told him one night when they talked. “You should make connections with others, it’s important.”
“Even if I wanted to, they all seem too wary and uncomfortable around me.” He muttered back.
“There must be one person who isn’t.”
There was, but Lan Wangji wasn’t very fond of him. His name was Wei Wuxian. Basically a prince of the school because of his good looks and the fact that his father was the director of Jiang Hospital. Everyone admired him. Lan Wangji didn’t understand the obsession, but then one day he stood up for him.
“Hey,” Someone had tapped his back as he sat in the library reading, “if we anger you, is it true you’ll put a curse on us?”
“Lie Jie, stop.” His friend snickered behind him.
Lang Wangji gave them an annoyed look.
“Oh no, he’s glaring at us. We’re going to die in our sleep!” Lie Jie cried.
“Hey!” Someone slammed their hand down on the table and they jumped. “Why are you two causing such a commotion in here, do you want me to get you kicked out? Leave him alone already.”
Lan Wangji blinked in surprise when he noticed it was Wei Wuxian. Everyone in the library stopped to watch the commotion, staring at him like he was some sort of hero. The two boys gulped.
“Sorry, we were just joking around.” They apologized quickly before leaving.
“Hmph, they’re like two little kids.” Wei Wuxian chuckled and then glanced at Lan Wangji with a smile. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, thank you.” Lan Wangji ignored him and went back to reading his book.
He sat down in front of him. “Can I ask what you’re reading?”
He glanced up at him and then looked back down.
“Wow,” He pouted. “You’re really not going to respond? That’s kinda harsh.”
He was about to respond when a group of girls came rushing excitedly towards Wei Wuxian. “Wei Ying, do you want to come have steamed buns with us?”
“Of course, I’ll come with you guys in a second.”
Lan Wangji closed his eyes. They were so loud, he could barely focus. He stood up and put his things away slowly.
“You’re leaving?” Wei Wuxian asked. He actually sounded like he cared, it almost surprised Lan Wangji. But it didn’t stop him. He walked by him without another word. That was the last time he talked to him. Wei Wuxian was the first person who didn’t approach him in fear or cautiousness. But they were complete opposites, they could never get along. Even if he didn’t treat him differently, it was better if he just stayed alone.
That’s what he thought then. Except now more than ever, Lan Wangji wished he had listened to his brother’s advice. He wished he had someone beside him for support as he sat by his hospital bed, wondering if he would ever get to hear his voice again.
“Someone found him in the road on their way home. It looks like he was hit and whoever did it left the scene immediately.” The police officer’s voice rang through his mind.
It’d been two days since then and Lan Xichen was still in a deep coma. Whoever hit him still hadn’t been caught either. Lan Wangji didn’t know when he would wake up, the only thing he was clinging onto were the words he’d told him once before.
“If anything happens to me, please stay strong.”
Lan Wangji squeezed his hand. He was trying to stay strong, but he was afraid that any second he would disappear. And he didn’t know how he was supposed to care for him. The hospital bills were going to be so high. All the money they had saved before would have to be used; and what would he do after it was all done?
Lan Wangji pressed his lips together. He’d just have to work harder, take up more shifts. It would be okay.
The door creaked open suddenly and he looked up. Jin Guangyao stood in the entrance, looking at him in concern. He was his brother’s close friend. He visited him almost as frequently as he did. He was sure there was something going on between them, but it wasn’t his business and he didn’t care that much either.
“You look exhausted Lan Wangji. You should go home and get some rest, I can watch over him for now.” He spoke softly.
“I’m fine, I can stay a little bit longer.” His voice was firm.
Jin Guangyao placed a hand on his shoulder. “Please, if your brother saw the state you were in he would be upset. You have exams coming up too right? You need your sleep.”
Lan Wangji sighed and stood slowly. He wasn’t in the mood to argue. “Okay. Thank you for taking care of him.”
“You don’t have to thank me, he’s my friend. It’s my obligation.” He sat down beside Lan Xichen and took his hand.
Lan Wangji watched them quietly for a while before he left the room. His body felt heavy and his stomach rumbled for food, but he ignored it. He couldn’t focus on tiredness or hunger, he had to fight harder. As he walked down the hall, he saw a large crowd gathering around someone by the front of the hospital. He already knew who it was, Jiang Fen Man, the director of the hospital and Wei Wuxian’s father. Sometimes he’d visit to check up on everything and see the patients. It was almost like a celebrity was there when he came.
Lan Wangji ignored the commotion and kept walking towards the washroom. He stared at his reflection for a long time before pulling out his phone. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn’t support Lan Xichen on his own. If anything happened to him too, he needed another option.
He held his breath as he dialed his uncle’s phone number. Him and his wife had been the main ones to support them when their parents died. Hopefully their generosity was still on the table.
“Hello?” His voice sounded rough.
Lan Wangji cleared his throat. “Hello Lan Jun, it’s Lan Wangji.”
“What is it?”
“Lan Xichen has been in an accident, and I need a little bit more money to help him-”
He let out a loud laugh. “You call me after all these years and it’s only to ask for more money? You’re just like your father was; a beggar.”
“But this is a serious matter-”
“Don’t you have any other family to contact? We’ve already given you so much. Have you considered our situation at all or do you only care about yourself?” He snapped. “We haven’t even heard a thank you out of you two and yet here you are asking for more, how ungrateful-”
“You threw us aside as soon as our parents died like we were trash.” Lan Wangji hissed at him. “We thought we were a nuisance to you both so we stayed out of your way. You just gave us all of those things because you felt obligated to, because you couldn’t leave your brother’s kids homeless and helpless. You may have given us so much, but you’ve never cared for us!”
“How dare you raise your voice at me, do you have no respect-”
Lan Wangji hung up the phone and clenched his teeth. What was he even expecting? He should’ve known that they would never help him. They were alone, like always. He turned on the tap and wet his face with some water to calm himself down. When he looked back in the mirror he saw someone standing behind him.
He turned around quickly.
Wei Wuxian gave a stifled laugh. “You got startled.”
“What are you doing in here?” Lan Wangi turned back around, feeling embarrassed.
“Well, it’s the washroom. I came to relieve myself obviously.” He skipped towards him and leaned back against the counter casually.
He gave him a flat look.
“What’s with the glare, I was just being sarcastic.”
“Whatever.” Lan Wangji was about to leave but his voice stopped him.
“Well if you want to know the real truth, I’m hiding here from my dad.” Wei Wuxian put a hand finger on his lip. “He kinda forced me to come on a hospital visit with him, just to make himself look better. But don’t tell him I told you that.”
“Why would I tell him-”
“I heard your conversation just now.”
Lan Wangji froze.
“Your family sounds almost as shitty as mine.” He laughed.
“Why are you telling me this.”
“Because I feel for you,” Wei Wuxian moved closer to him, “which is why I want to help you.”
Lan Wangji met his mischievous eyes.
“I have a proposal for you Lan Zhan.”
“How do you even know my name?”
Wei Wuxian scoffed. “That’s really the question you’re asking right now?”
“Wow, you’re really no fun.” He crossed his arms. “Can’t you ask me what my proposal is? I was really excited to tell you.”
“Fine.” Lan Wangji cleared his throat. “What’s your proposal?”
Wei Wuxian suddenly put his hands on his shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. “I’ll make sure all your brother’s hospital expenses are paid off until he recovers. All you have to do is be my date to my mom’s wedding this weekend.”
“What?” He frowned. “Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? Am I supposed to laugh?”
“No Lan Zhan, I’m being serious.” He let go of him and began pacing. “You desperately need help to care for your brother and I desperately need a date. This is the ideal situation.”
“I’m not that desperate.” Lan Wangi muttered self consciously. “But what about your ten thousand girlfriends, you couldn’t offer them an invite?”
“I could’ve, but I didn’t for a good reason.” He smirked. “So, what do you say? Will you come with me?”
Lan Wangji gave him a wary look. He didn’t trust Wei Wuxian at all and he didn’t exactly know what he was getting himself into. But if he could get himself out of debt just by being his date, then why should he decline? He would do anything to help his brother. All he had to do was survive a few days with him. He annoyed him, but how bad could it possibly be?
Lan Wangji pressed his lips together and locked eyes with him again.
“Okay, I’ll be your date.”
“I’m leaving town for a few days, please watch over Lan Xichen while I’m gone. Call me if you have any issues.” Lan Wangji left a note for Jin Guangyao by Lan Xichen’s bedside before he went to school the next day. He paused to watch his unconscious brother before leaving. Breathing tubes weaved in and out of his body and the scars on his face were beginning to scab over. Time was going by so fast and yet he still showed no sign of waking up.
Lan Wangji was afraid of leaving his side for so long. What if he woke up while he was gone? He shook his head and pushed down his worries as he left the hospital. There was no use in stressing over it. The only thing he needed to do now was make sure this weekend with Wei Wuxian went smoothly.
Once he arrived at school, he noticed him down the hall with his older brother Jiang Chen. He rarely saw them together. He’d heard rumours that they’d had a falling out a while ago, and by the looks of their conversation it didn’t seem like they’d recovered from it.
“Why can’t you do anything that dad tells you huh? Why are you always trying to rebel against him?” Jiang Chen pressed.
“Maybe I don’t want to put on the perfect son act like you do constantly.” Wei Wuxian snapped back. “He’s forcing me to get engaged with some girl I’ve never even met. I’m not just going to stand around and take it.”
“It’s for your own good. All you do is play around with girls and get drunk, you’re giving our family a bad image-”
Lan Wangji drowned out their conversation as he passed by them but Wei Wuxian noticed him.
“Lan Zhan! Wait!” He waved at him.
Jiang Chen frowned. “Who is this?”
“My friend Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian put an arm around his shoulder and he tensed up.
“We’re not friends, just classmates.” Lan Wangji insisted.
“Ouch, that hurts.” He put a hand on his heart dramatically and then turned him around. “Anyways, I need to talk to you.”
“Hey! Wei Ying I’m not done speaking with you!” Jiang Chen shouted.
“Well I am!” Wei Wuxian called back as they walked away. Lan Wangji glanced around at the students watching them closely.
“Since when were they friends?”
“Wei Ying should be careful.”
“Why is he with him?”
Their words irked him.
He shrugged Wei Wuxian’s arm off his shoulder. “What is it that you want exactly?”
“Geez, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or something? Why are you so grumpy?”
Lan Wangji gave him an irritated look.
“Okay, okay.” Wei Wuxian put his hands up in defense. “I just wanted to say that instead of Friday, I’m gonna pick you up tomorrow so we can leave alright?”
“Tomorrow? Isn’t that too early?”
“Yep, there’s been a change of plans.” He smirked.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!”
Lan Wangji watched in confusion as he walked away. Why did he have a bad feeling about this suddenly; what exactly was he thinking?
The loud sound of a horn startled Lan Wangji out of his sleep the next morning. He squinted tiredly against the sunlight streaming into his room as he climbed out of bed. When he looked out the window, he saw Wei Wuxian leaning casually against the front of his sports car.
Wei Wuxian pushed down his sunglasses and smiled brightly when he noticed Lan Wangji.
“What the hell is he doing?” He mumbled as he trudged downstairs to open the door.
“Hey come on, what are you still doing in your pajamas? Chop, chop let’s go!” He clapped his hands.
Lan Wangji glared at him. “You could’ve at least called me to tell me you were coming this early. I’m barely even done packing.”
“Well my bad, I just wanted to have a little head start on our road trip.”
“Our road what now?”
“What? You’ve never been on a road trip before?”
Lan Wangji closed his eyes. “You told me we were going to take a bus to Nanjing for the wedding.”
“Yeah and yesterday I told you the plans changed didn’t I? Now come on, go back inside and get ready. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Wei Wuxian grabbed his shoulders and turned him around, pushing him back inside quickly. Lan Wangji rubbed his temple slowly, he could feel a headache coming on. This was going to be a long trip.
A few minutes later he lugged his suitcase out of their apartment and put it in the trunk of his car. Wei Wuxian was bobbing his head to his loud music when he climbed in beside him. Lan Wangji reached to turn it down but he blocked his hand.
“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” Wei Wuxian raised a brow at him.
“I already have a headache and your music is making it worse.”
“You’re such a party pooper.” He sighed loudly. “Fine, let’s make a compromise. What song do you want to hear?”
“Do you have anything instrumental?”
“Instrumental music, for a road trip? Are you serious?”
Lan Wangji leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes. “You asked me what I wanted to hear and that’s what I want.”
“Tch, okay whatever you say master.” Wei Wuxian chuckled, switching the song. He pulled away from his apartment afterwards and they drove in silence for awhile.
“Can I ask you something?” Lan Wangji looked over at him.
“How come you’re going to your mom’s wedding by yourself?”
Wei Wuxian froze, suddenly looking nervous. “Well, I just thought it would be more peaceful travelling on my own you know...Not really in the mood to get patronized by both my dad and brother for the whole trip.”
“Ah,” He glanced at Lan Wangji. “Speaking of brothers; how is yours doing?”
Lan Wangji looked out the window at the trees and cars zooming beside them. “He’s still in a coma, hasn’t moved an inch for four days.”
Wei Wuxian watched him carefully. “I’m really sorry, that sounds horrible. Your parents must be really scared-”
“My parents are dead.”
His eyes widened. “Oh…”
“That’s why I needed more money to help him, because we’re on our own right now.” Lan Wangji whispered.
“Right, sorry I should’ve known that.” Wei Wuxian slapped his face lightly. “You have it so rough right now, but you seem really strong. How do you do it?”
“There’s not really a trick to it or anything. I just survive because I have to.”
“Wow, that’s so cool.” He smiled. “That’s going to be my life motto from now on. Survive because I have to.”
Lan Wangji was about to smile back but he stopped himself.
“Hey, you haven’t had breakfast yet right? Do you mind if we go somewhere to eat, maybe it’ll cheer you up.” Wei Wuxian grinned.
“I’m actually not that hungry-” Lan Wangji’s stomach growled suddenly and his face turned red.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He laughed at him. “This place has the best tofu pudding, I promise you’ll love it.”
They drove for about an hour before stopping at a small restaurant off the side of the road. It looked old and run down, but the way Wei Wuxian stared at it was like it was the most beautiful place he’s ever seen.
Lan Wangji noticed a small wooden carved sign hanging off the front door.
“Lotus Pier.” He whispered to himself as they walked inside. A small pond with lotus flowers sat in the middle of the restaurant and wooden tables were placed around it where a few people ate. Lan Wangji touched the white lanterns that hung from the ceiling curiously. It was a lot more pretty on the inside than it was outside.
“Isn’t it amazing? I swear this place hasn’t changed one bit.” Wei Wuxian said as they kneeled down on the mats in front of the table.
“Have you been here often?” Lan Wangji asked him.
A sad expression clouded his face then. “Yeah, my mom used to bring Jiang Chen and I here a lot when we were younger. It was her favourite place to eat when she was young too.”
Lan Wangji wanted to know why he looked so sad, but decided not to ask. He picked up the menu instead and skimmed through it quietly. But the sound of giggling soon distracted him. He glanced over and noticed two girls watching Wei Wuxian. One of them caught his eye instead and gave him a frightened look.
“His friend is so scary, will we even be able to talk to go over with him there?”
Lan Wangji ignored them. He almost forgot that he was with such a popular person. Wei Wuxian didn’t act like how he expected, though there was still so much about him that he didn’t know.
A woman came to their table then and handed them some hot tea. “Are you two ready to order?”
“I’ll just have some tofu pudding.” Lan Wangji replied.
“I’ll have the same thing, oh and some steamed buns.” Wei Wuxian said happily.
When she left the two girls came over.
“Hi.” One of them smiled at Wei Wuxian. “We were just wondering if you wanted to come drink with us later tonight.”
He sipped his tea slowly and then lowered the cup. “I would, but my boyfriend and I have a long way to drive so we can’t stick around unfortunately.”
Lan Wangji almost choked on his drink.
“Boyfriend?” They asked in surprise.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian locked eyes with them. “Is there a problem?”
“N-No, sorry.” They backed off almost immediately.
Wei Wuxian laughed and Lan Wangji gave him an annoyed look.
“What?” He leaned forward. “We have to get into character don’t we?”
“The only place we need to act like a couple is at your mom’s wedding like you said, not anywhere else.”
“Okay geez I was just joking around, relax.” He muttered disappointedly.
Lan Wangji sighed.
“You’re no fun you know that? Do you even smile?”
“I only smile when something amuses me, and not a lot of things do.”
Wei Wuxian pointed at him suddenly. “Well I’m going to find something that does and I’m going to make you smile alright?”
“Good luck with that.”
The woman came back with their food and they thanked her for it. Wei Wuxian stuffed his steamed buns into his mouth and made a funny face.
“What are you doing? Stop playing with your food.” Lan Wangji said in disgust.
“What? This makes all the girls I hang out with crack up. Dammit, this is going to be harder than I expected.” He pouted.
Lan Wangji shook his head and ate his tofu pudding slowly. The ginger and brown sugar syrup made his taste buds came to life in an instant. His eyes widened slightly.
“It’s good isn’t it? I told you.” Wei Wuxian smiled softly.
Lan Wangji kept eating, a slightly warm feeling burrowing itself into his heart. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a meal with someone who wasn’t his brother. Even if it was with the most unexpected and annoying person, it still made him feel good.
It made him want to experience even more.
“I’m getting tired, do you want to take over driving for a bit?” Wei Wuxian yawned loudly. They’d been on the road for two hours after they’d left the restaurant and Nanjing was still over 20 hours away. Lan Wangi was having trouble keeping his eyes open as well.
“I think we should find somewhere to stop for the night. Driving while we’re tired is really dangerous.” He replied. If they’d got into an accident and hurt someone because of their recklessness, he’d never be able to forgive himself.
“Sounds like a good idea. I’ll drive and you can see if there are any motels nearby.”
Lan Wangji nodded back. They drove for a few minutes before he spotted a bright sign that read “The Silent Room.” A large motel sat a few feet behind it. “There’s a resting place there.”
Wei Wuxian turned into the parking lot and stretched when they parked. “Ugh, I’m too lazy to even lug my suitcase in there.”
Lan Wangji climbed out of the car and opened the trunk.
“Can you carry mine too?” He gave him big puppy dog eyes.
“I said no, mine’s already heavy as it is.” Lan Wangji moved past him, not in the mood to argue.
Wei Wuxian complained underneath his breath but still followed behind him. They walked inside towards the service desk and met a short man flipping through a woman’s bikini magazine.
He gave them a bored look. “Hi, how can I help you?”
“We’d like a room please.” Wei Wuxian gave him a charming smile. Lan Wangji thought it was scary how quickly his demeanor changed around other people.
“Okay. Unfortunately we’re very booked tonight, so there’s only one room left. If it’s alright with you, you’ll have to take what you get.” The man handed them a red key with their room number hanging off of it.
Lan Wangi took it from him. “It’s okay, we just need a place to sleep. We’ll be gone by the morning.”
They took the elevator up to their room and he unlocked the door with the key. The room was small but it smelled of lilacs and was nicely decorated with white floral designs. Lan Wangji noticed a bed by the window, but it was the only one in the room.
Wei Wuxian chuckled. “There’s seriously only one bed? What are we in a romance manhua?”
Lan Wangji sighed. He really wasn’t in the mood to share a bed with him, but he was exhausted and they didn’t really have anywhere else to go. He sat down and opened his suitcase, removing a blanket he’d packed and placing it in the middle of the bed.
“Isn’t that unnecessary? Do you think I’m gonna attack you in your sleep or something?” Wei Wuxian asked as he sat down on the other side.
“I just like my space, that’s all.” He stood up. “I’m gonna go take a shower.”
Lan Wangji stood under the hot water and closed his eyes. He wondered how many people would die to be in his position right now, to share a bed with Wei Wuxian. But he wasn’t like those people who wanted to do it out of enjoyment or pleasure. He did it because he had to. He pictured the person hitting Lan Xichen and just leaving him on the road to die. It made him want to scream and cry. If they ever found out who did it, he didn’t know if he’d be able to stop himself from hurting them.
When he left the washroom Wei Wuxian was lying on his side, fast asleep and snoring loudly. His leg was already over the barrier. Lan Wangji tried to push him away but he subconsciously kicked him and grabbed onto his arm.
“Are you kidding me right now.” He muttered, writhing out of his grasp. Wei Wuxian eventually turned away again and he watched him closely. He understood why so many people were head over heels for him, he had a really pretty face. But Lan Wangji wondered what was beyond that. Who was the person that got sad thinking about his mom, the person who was constantly patronized by his dad and brother. He clearly wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought we was.
Lan Wangji lay down slowly and stared blankly at the wall for a long time before he drifted off to sleep. But the sound of flipping paper soon woke him up again. He squinted and noticed Wei Wuxian was sitting up, sketching something eagerly in a notepad.
“What are you doing?” He mumbled tiredly.
“Oh you’re awake, I’ll show you in a second.” He smiled.
“It’s the middle of the night, what are you doing awake?”
“I said I would show you in a second didn’t I? Be patient.”
Lan Wangji resisted the urge to strangle him for disturbing his sleep.
“Okay, I think it’s done.” He said slowly. “Sorry I didn’t mean to wake you, I just saw you sleeping and thought you looked really nice so I wanted to draw you.”
Wei Wuxian handed him the drawing carefully and Lan Wangji sat up to take it. His stomach fluttered. The whole piece was beautiful, he’d captured almost every detail of his facial features perfectly.
“Thank you.” He said softly. “I didn’t expect you to be so talented at art.”
“Yeah, not a lot of people know this side of me. They’d probably think it was cheesy if they found out.” Wei Wuxian chuckled.
Lan Wangji looked at him. “Well, I don’t think it’s cheesy at all. It makes you seem cooler.”
He blinked, his face turning red. “O-Oh thanks, that means a lot-” A loud ring suddenly cut him off and he jumped. Lan Wangji watched as he picked his phone up from the dresser, his eyes turning dark when he saw who was calling.
“Are you okay?” He asked him seriously.
His eyes lightened back up at his voice and he forced a smile. “Y-Yeah, I’m fine. I’m getting kind of tired again though so let’s just go back to sleep.”
The atmosphere turned tense as Wei Wuxian lay back down and turned away from him. It was almost like there was a real wall between them now. Lan Wangji looked back down at his drawing and placed it carefully into his suitcase.
When he laid down, he could tell Wei Wuxian was still wide awake beside him.
He wanted to sleep, but he was restless now. Lan Wangji knew what it felt like to suffer alone. Even though he kept a lot of his problems to himself, he at least had his brother to open up to sometimes and it made him feel good. If it was possible, he wanted Wei Wuxian to talk to him about how he was feeling too. His brother had told him it was important to make connections with people. But they barely knew each other, wasn’t it wrong to care so much?
Lan Wangji turned to stare at his back. He wanted to ask what was wrong again, but wouldn’t that be annoying? Maybe he was overthinking everything, it wasn’t that big of a deal anyways-
Wei Wuxian turned suddenly and they lay facing each other.
His eyes widened in surprise. “Ah, sorry I didn’t know you were awake-” He was about to move back but Lan Zhan grabbed his arm and sat up over him. He couldn’t miss his chance. He had to talk to him, he had to make a connection with him. If Lan Xichen heard about this he would be so proud.
Wei Wuxian stared up at him, blushing hard. “W-What are you doing-”
“Don’t be sad.”
“Tomorrow will be a brighter day.” Lan Wangji said awkwardly.
Wei Wuxian stared at him in confusion and then burst out laughing.
Lan Wangji let go of him. “Why are you laughing at me?”
“It’s because you sound like a robot.” He giggled.
“I was just trying to cheer you up.” Lan Wangji laid back down in a huff.
“Your terrible interaction skills are really cute you know.”
He could feel Wei Wuxian’s eyes on him. “I really appreciate that you tried, but I promise that I'm fine okay?”
Lan Wangi didn’t respond.
“Hey, are you mad? I was just joking around I swear.” He tried to peek over at him but Lan Wangji jabbed him in the ribs. “Ow!”
“Go to sleep.”
“Geez, fine. Good night.” Wei Wuxian muttered.
Lan Wangji closed his eyes, thankful for the silence again. But a sudden whisper from him sent chills down his spine.
“I’m really sorry.”
Lan Wangji blinked tiredly over his food the next morning. His side was in pain from Wei Wuxian kicking him all night and even pushing him off the bed at one point. If he knew he was such a restless sleeper, he would’ve gladly offered to sleep on the floor in the first place.
“You look like you got no sleep last night.” Wei Wuxian chuckled at him.
Lan Wangi glared back.
“Wow, now I definitely know why people keep calling you icy; because of your glare.”
“Yeah, you have a reputation around the school you know. For always looking cold and emotionless.”
Lan Wangi rolled his eyes. “People always have something to say, sometimes it’s better not to listen.”
“That’s why I was kinda interested in you though, because you don’t seem to care what people think.” Wei Wuxian took a sip of his coffee slowly. “I wish I was more like that.”
“You care about what other people think of you? I don’t believe that.”
He smirked. “Unfortunately I do.”
Lan Wangji watched him quietly.
“What? Are you going to try and cheer me up again?” He leaned forward, giving him a playful look.
“Shut up and eat your food already. We still have a long way to drive.”
“Stingy.” Wei Wuxian muttered and pulled out his phone. “Anyways, when we’re in Nanjing I want to hit up a few bars. I feel like I need a drink. There’s one in particular that’s selling my favourite, Emperor’s Smile.”
Lan Wangji took out his wallet to look for money to pay. “What’s that?”
“What? You’ve seriously never heard of it? It’s only the best tasting alcohol ever, you have to try it when we get there.”
“I don’t like alcohol, it’s not good for you.”
He huffed. “Stop being such a downer already, you’re trying some when we get there alright? It’ll be fun.”
They finished eating and left the motel afterwards. Lan Wangji immediately drifted off to sleep once Wei Wuxian started driving again and he awoke a while later when the car came to a stop. He looked around in confusion when he noticed Wei Wuxian wasn’t beside him anymore. He climbed out slowly and noticed they were stopped by a large flower field that overlooked a large expanse of forest. The view was beautiful. He wasn’t surprised to see Wei Wuxian sitting on top of the car, drawing it carefully.
He smiled down at him. “Hey, you should come up here, the view looks even better.”
Lan Wangji climbed up beside him and peeked at his drawing. “It looks really good so far.”
“Ah thanks, when you told me that my drawings made me look cooler last night it motivated me to do more.” Wei Wuxian said bashfully.
Lan Wangji nodded. He felt good that he was able to motivate him. “So how far are we from Nanjing?”
“Not that far, we can head out again as soon as I’m done.”
“Okay.” His eyes wandered towards the field then and he noticed a small white animal moving through the grass. Lan Wangji perked up. “Bunny?”
Wei Wuxian glanced at him. “What?”
“I think there’s a bunny over there.”
“You like bunnies? That’s cute.” He said softly. “I like learning new things about you Lan Zhan, you’re interesting.”
Lan Wangji wasn’t sure how to respond. He didn’t think he was that interesting, but it felt nice knowing that someone else thought he was. Especially someone like Wei Wuxian.
They sat silently for a few more minutes and Lan Wangji jumped when he felt something fall into his lap. He looked down and noticed it was a sketch of a rabbit.
“Another picture for your collection.” Wei Wuxian grinned.
Lan Wangi gazed at the picture, why was he so happy over it?
“There it is! You smiled a little bit I saw it!” He exclaimed.
“What? No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did, it was there don’t even lie.”
“It doesn’t count, I have to give a big smile, not a small one.” Lan Wangi climbed back off of the car. “Are you done? Let’s go.”
“You’re so unfair.” Wei Wuxian huffed and followed behind him. He started the car up again and they pulled out of the field.
“Why do you even want to see me smile so badly anyways.” Lan Wangji spoke up after a while.
Wei Wuxian ran a hand through his hair. “Just because I want to see you happy.”
He wanted to ask why, but something wouldn’t allow him. It was better if the conversation just ended there. He was about to go back to sleep to escape the silence, but the car lurched suddenly. It began sputtering and bouncing and Wei Wuxian quickly turned it off the road into a deserted lot.
“What is going on?” Lan Wangji asked seriously. The car was rumbling and sounded like it was going to die out any second.
“I don’t know, it’s being weird.”
He was about to climb out to inspect when his eye caught the gas meter. The needle was on empty.
“Wei Wuxian.” He closed his eyes and pointed at the meter, trying not to lose his patience.
“Oh shit, shit!” Wei Wuxian put his hands on his head. “I think I forgot to fill up before we left your place, I was so distracted I didn’t even realize-”
“Are you kidding me right now?”
Lan Wangji stepped out of the car and pulled out his phone. He was going to call for assistance, but there was no service. He groaned.
“Are you seriously mad? It was an accident.” Wei Wuxian insisted.
“How could you cause such a stupid accident?” Lan Wangji snapped back.
“God, you sound just like my dad and brother, can you give me a break-”
The sound of crunching gravel suddenly interrupted them and they froze, turning around slowly to see what it was.
A stray dog stood staring them down with hungry eyes.
Wei Wuxian screamed and jumped behind Lan Wangji.
“Get it away!” He shouted.
“Can you calm down? It’s just a dog.”
“I hate dogs!”
The dog moved forward suddenly and Wei Wuxian quickly ran to the car, shutting himself inside. “Lan Zhan what are you doing? Get in here before it kills you!”
Lan Wangji sighed and watched the dog curiously, for some reason he wasn’t threatened by it at all. It trotted closer and licked his hand.
“Fairy! Get back here!” A small voice called suddenly. A young boy ran towards Lan Wangji from the forest near the lot. He grabbed the dog’s leash. “Were you trying to steal my dog?”
“What?” Wei Wuxian snapped and climbed back out of the car, but hid behind the door. “Your dog was trying to attack us, we weren’t doing anything to it!”
“Fairy wouldn’t attack anyone he wasn’t threatened by!” The boy shouted back. “He probably saw your ugly face and couldn’t handle it.”
“Yah! This boy, who does he think he’s talking to-”
“Wei Wuxian stop.” Lan Wangji glared at him and then looked back at the boy. “We promise we weren’t trying to harm your dog. He just happened to come across us because we’re kind of stranded right now. Our car ran out of gas and there’s no service here to call anyone for help. You must know this area pretty well, is there anyway you can bring us somewhere so we can get our car fixed?”
The boy gave him a suspicious gaze. “My mom told me to never trust strangers, but I do believe what you’re saying. And Fairy seems to like you, so you must be pretty reliable. I live close by, if you want, you can come to my house and my mom can help you.”
“Thank you, we really appreciate it.”
“You better keep that crazy dog on a leash or I’m not going anywhere.” Wei Wuxian said seriously as he moved slowly away from the car and hid behind Lan Wangji again.
“My name is Jin Ling by the way.” The boy ignored him and they started walking.
“I’m Lan Wangji and this is Wei Wuxian.”
They walked for a while but Wei Wuxian was still holding on anxiously to his shoulders. His front was rubbing against his back as well. He was so close to him, it made Lan Wangji’s heartbeat pick up a little. “Why are you so afraid of dogs?” He asked him, trying to distract himself.
“I got lost as a child and came across one that tried to chase me, I’ve been traumatized ever since.” He sounded tense.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure your boyfriend will protect you if Fairy ever tries to bite. Since you’re such a scaredy cat.” Jin Ling smirked back at them.
“He’s not my boyfriend.” Lan Wangji muttered.
“Hey kid, you need to learn how to respect your elders alright?” Wei Wuxian shot back.
Jin Ling stuck his tongue out at him.
A few minutes later they reached his house and Jin Ling ran ahead of them to open the door. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian stood by the front waiting for him to return. He came back a bit later with his mom. She was a pretty and delicate looking woman, who gave them a polite smile when she saw them.
“It’s rare for Jin Ling to disobey me and bring home strangers off the street, so you two must really need help.” She spoke softly. “I’m his mom, Yan Li. Come inside, I’ll bring you some tea.”
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Wei Wuxian whispered to Lan Wangji as they followed her into the living room.
Jin Ling kicked his shin. “Stay away from her, she’d never be interested in a pretty boy like you!”
“Ow! You little-”
Lan Wangji sat down on the couch and let out a long sigh. It hadn’t even been two days and he felt like he was drained already. Yan Li came out of the kitchen then and handed them two cups of tea. “So what brings you two to our home?”
“Our car broke down and our phones lost service. So we just wanted to know what the closest tow place was around here, so we could call them.” Wei Wuxian replied.
“Oh okay, I’m sure I can find something for you.” She said. “My father visits this place a lot and I just went recently to make sure my car was okay before I drove to his wedding. I’ll give you the number.”
Lan Wangji nodded. “Thanks, we’re actually going to a wedding this weekend too.”
“Oh really? What a coincidence.” Yan Li laughed.
“My grandpa is so cool.” Jin Ling boasted then and showed them a picture of them smiling together. “He knows so much about cars-”
Wei Wuxian’s cup dropped suddenly out of his hand and crashed onto the floor. Lan Wangji looked at him in surprise, his face was pale.
He stood up abruptly. “U-Um, I’m so sorry-”
“It’s okay, don’t worry. I’ll clean it up.” Yan Li bent down quickly.
Lan Wangji stood up as well. “Hey, are you okay?”
“Ah yeah, I’m just not feeling well. I think we should go now.” Wei Wuxian held onto his head.
“Hey, you look like you’re about to faint. Why don’t you sit down for a second and rest-”
“No, I said I want to go!” He shouted suddenly.
Lan Wangji stared at him. His eyes looked filled with rage. What was going on? He looked back at Yan Li. “Um, I’m really sorry about this. But thank you so much for helping us, we’ll be sure to call the number once we leave.”
“Okay, I’m glad I could help you.” She looked at Wei Wuxian. “I hope you feel better soon.”
He left the living room without another word.
Lan Wangji stopped to put a hand on Jin Ling’s shoulder before leaving. “Thanks for bringing us.”
He nodded at him.
Lan Wangji caught up to Wei Wuxian as he careened outside and grabbed his arm. “Hey slow down, what the hell is wrong with you-”
“I already told you I wasn’t feeling well alright? Let’s just call the number and get the car fixed already so we can go!”
Lan Wangji clenched his teeth. “Hey, you don’t have the right to talk to me like that when you got us into this mess in the first place.”
Wei Wuxian’s face fell and he turned away.
“If you want to talk about anything, I’m here-”
“I don’t want to talk about anything.”
His words felt like a blow to his chest for some reason. “Fine.”
He pulled out his phone, silence slowly filling the space between them.
It was suffocating.
They were back on the road two hours later, driving in silence the whole way. They reached Nanjing once the sun set and found a hotel to stay in until the morning. Wei Wuxian immediately lay down to sleep once they got in. He still wasn’t speaking to him and Lan Wangji didn’t know why. The wedding was still two days away, how exactly was Lan Wangji going to bare staying with him if he was acting this way.
He sat at the edge of his bed and stared at him quietly.
“I’m sorry for getting angry at you earlier.” He spoke up. “I was just really scared and I took my anger out on you.”
Wei Wuxian didn’t reply.
“I thought that if we couldn’t get to the wedding, then the deal we made between each other would be off and Lan Xichen wouldn’t get the help he needed.” Lan Wangji looked down at his hands and noticed they were trembling. “I wouldn’t know what to do if that happened.”
Wei Wuxian turned on his back suddenly and stared at the ceiling. “You really love your brother a lot huh?”
He looked at him. “Can I ask you something?”
“If your parents were still alive, and your mom abandoned you and your brother for someone else. And your brother blamed you for her leaving; would you still love him?” Wei Wuxian’s voice was shaky.
Lan Wangji met his eyes. “I don’t think I could hate him, he must have his reasons for feeling that way.”
He watched him for awhile and then chuckled. “So that’s the difference between you and I huh.”
“What do you mean?”
It fell silent again.
“Are you feeling a bit better?” Lan Wangji asked him.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian sat up and sighed. “But I want to get my mind off some things.”
Lan Wangji froze when he suddenly gave him a mischievous look.
Lan Wangji sat awkwardly in the hotel’s bar. The music was so loud he could barely think and dancing people kept bumping into him as they moved around. He closed his eyes, trying to stay calm. How the hell did he even end up in this situation?
“Hey wake up, how can you sleep in a place like this?” Wei Wuxian poked his side.
Lan Wangji opened his eyes again. He could feel a few people staring at them, most likely trying to get Wei Wuxian’s attention. “Can we just get something to drink already, I’m tired.”
“Fine Mr. Grumpy.” Wei Wuxian said and beckoned over the bartender.
“What can I get you guys?” He asked them.
“Some Emperor’s Smile and lots of it.”
“Coming right up.”
A few minutes later he returned with a white bottle and poured them a few shots. Wei Wuxian took one and then handed a glass over to him. Lan Wangji stared down at the liquid silently.
“What are you doing, you’re supposed to drink it not seduce it.” Wei Wuxian laughed.
“Shut up.” Lan Wangji quickly downed the drink and the alcohol burned his throat. He coughed loudly. “God, this is gross.”
“Stop being such a baby.” Wei Wuxian moved to grab his third shot. “Take another.”
He tried to grab another glass but his head was spinning so much, he couldn’t even focus. “I-I don’t think I can have anymore.”
“What? But you only had one shot.”
“You drink, it’s okay.” Lan Wangji tried to stand up but he almost fell backwards. Wei Wuxian caught him in time and gave him a soft smile. “Stop touching me.”
“Ow-” Wei Wuxian groaned when he pushed his face away to straighten himself up.
Lan Wangji looked over at the people dancing now, thinking that they looked like they were having a lot of fun. “I wanna dance.”
He moved towards the dance floor, his body feeling lighter with every step he took. It felt like the room was spinning more than his head. He started dancing, letting the music flow through him. He didn’t even notice that people were giving him weird looks.
Lan Wangji stopped when he saw a group of girls surrounding Wei Wuxian now that he was gone. But Wei Wuxian wasn’t even looking at them, his eyes were only on him. Lan Wangji’s heart stopped and he turned away quickly, setting his gaze on a large bouquet of roses sitting on a table across the room. He made his way towards it and pulled out a single rose.
“Are you planning to give that to someone?” A voice suddenly sounded behind him and he jumped. It was a man. Lan Wangji’s vision was so blurry, he could barely make out what he looked like.
“Yes.” He slurred.
The man chuckled. “You’re cute.”
“Cute? I’m not cute.”
“Come dance with me” His hand stretched towards him and Lan Wangji stared at it blankly.
“I don’t want to.” He was about to turn away but the man grabbed his arm hard.
“Oh come on, I just saw you dancing right now. Don’t lie to me-”
Lan Wangji slapped his hand away and gave him an icy glare. “I said I don’t want to.”
The man’s face fell in fear and he quickly scrambled away. Wei Wuxian came towards him then and gave a concerned look. “Is everything okay? Did he try to touch you?”
“No, if he did I would’ve ripped his head off.”
He chuckled. “You know, you’re really funny when you’re drunk. I didn’t think you were such a lightweight.”
Lan Wangji ignored his comment and thrust the rose at him. “It’s for you.”
“Wow, um thanks.” Wei Wuxian took it slowly.
“What? Do you not like it? Would you have preferred it if those girls gave it to you instead?”
“No, it’s more special because it came from you.” He smiled softly and placed it behind his ear. “I’ll treasure it for a long time.”
Lan Wangji could feel his face burning up. He cleared his throat and looked away. “Whatever.”
The music slowed down then and the lights became more dim.
“Let’s dance to this song and then head back okay?” Wei Wuxian took his hand and pulled him closer suddenly. Lan Wangji’s breath caught in his throat when he felt his hand on his waist. They swayed to the music slowly, he could feel his legs growing heavy underneath him. He couldn’t tell if it was because of Wei Wuxian or the alcohol. “Why were you asking about those girls anyways? Usually you don’t care; are you jealous?”
“Why does it even matter.” Lan Wangji muttered.
“Because I’m curious.” Wei Wuxian tilted his head at him. “Have you ever even had feelings for someone?”
“Yes.” He locked eyes with him. “I have feelings for you.”
Wei Wuxian blinked. “What-”
“It was a joke, why aren’t you laughing?”
His face turned red. “H-Hey, what kind of joke was that seriously.”
“You know, for someone who’s dated a lot, you sure get flustered easily.”
“Just because I’ve dated a lot, doesn’t mean I’ve ever been in love.”
“Hm.” Lan Wangji became limp suddenly, the second wave from the alcohol was hitting him now. His eyes fluttered closed.
“Lan Zhan, you can’t fall asleep here.” Wei Wuxian’s voice sounded distant now. He felt him prop him up and put his arm around his shoulder. It was blurry as they left the bar, he was trying so hard to stay awake. When they reached their room again, Wei Wuxian sat him down carefully at the edge of his bed.
Lan Wangji saw a pen on the dresser and grabbed it, drawing quickly on the wall.
“Yah, what are you doing?” Wei Wuxian tried to stop him but it was too late. He sighed and read what he wrote out loud. “Lan Zhan was here.”
“It’s a memory now.”
Wei Wuxian gave him a fond look, then took the pen slowly. He drew beside him. “Wei Wuxian was here too. Now it’s a memory that we shared together.”
Lan Wangji lay down slowly. “Thank you.”
He looked down at him. “Why are you thanking me?”
“Because you’re the first person who isn’t my brother, that I’ve ever had these experiences with.” His eyes closed again and he could feel himself drifting off. “Even if they’re small or stupid, they still mean a lot to me.”
Wei Wuxian didn’t say anything else, but Lan Wangji felt him lie down beside him. His warm fingers brushed his cheek slowly. Just a few days ago, he’d wished he had someone by his side to comfort him as he cared for Lan Xichen. It’d been so lonely sleeping in their apartment alone, not knowing if his brother would ever return home again. Having Wei Wuxian beside him in that moment, numbed the pain a little. He was so thankful.
Tears stung his eyes as he moved closer and lay his forehead against Wei Wuxian’s chest. The sound of his heartbeat lulled him slowly to sleep.
Lan Wangji fluttered his eyes open the next morning. His body felt stiff and his mouth had a bad taste. He noticed he was pressed against something warm and arms were wrapped tightly around his waist. He blinked in confusion and craned his neck up towards Wei Wuxian who was sleeping peacefully beside him.
Lan Wangji blushed. “Hey, wake up.”
Wei Wuxian opened his eyes immediately. “Oh, you’re awake. I didn’t want to move because I thought I might wake you.”
“Did we do anything last night?” He asked seriously. Why were they sleeping with each other? Wasn’t Wei Wuxian a restless sleeper, why was he holding onto him? His memory was so fuzzy, why couldn’t he remember anything that happened?
“No.” Wei Wuxian moved closer. “Unless you wanted us to.”
Lan Wangji pushed him away and sat up quickly. “No, I didn’t want us to.”
“Wow, just last night you were cuddling me and now you’re acting this hostile? I’m hurt.”
He didn’t respond.
“Hey,” Wei Wuxian spoke softly as he moved beside him. “I promise nothing happened between us alright? I would never take advantage of you like that.”
Lan Wangji’s heart skipped a beat at his words.
“Although, I wish I’d taken pictures of the way you were dancing, it was hilarious.” He laughed and Lan Wangji punched him in the arm.
“You talk too much.”
Wei Wuxian pouted.
Lan Wangji stood and stretched. “I need to take a shower.”
“Sure, but we still have a whole day to waste until the wedding tomorrow. What did you want to do after?” He cocked his head at him.
“I’ve always wanted to decorate and release lanterns, is there a place to do that around here?”
“That sounds fun, I can research.” He smiled.
Lan Wangji nodded and headed towards the bathroom. He looked down at his phone once he reached. Jin Guangyao still hadn’t called him about anything concerning Lan Xichen, so he assumed he was still in his coma. Even though he liked spending time with Wei Wuxian, he missed him a lot.
Once he was done showering he realized he forgot to bring in an extra change of clothes. He groaned. Now he’d have to go back out there in only his towel to find some. Or he could ask Wei Wuxian but it would be too much work telling him what he wanted to wear. He bit his lip and wrapped the towel firmly around his waist.
“Lan Zhan I found a place-” He heard Wei Wuxian’s voice suddenly outside the door when he swung it open. It hit him in the chest, sending him backwards and Lan Wangji stumbled forwards. He collapsed on top of Wei Wuxian, his grip on the towel slipping away.
Lan Wangji could feel his hand on his butt.
Wei Wuxian moved it away quickly. “Oh shit, I’m so sorry I was just trying to catch you and it just fell there-”
His face turned red and he scrambled off, wrapping the towel around himself again. He grabbed his suitcase and dragged it into the washroom, locking himself inside. He was way too embarrassed to face him.
“Lan Zhan, are you mad? I promise it was an accident.” Wei Wuxian spoke carefully.
“I-It doesn’t matter, what were you going to tell me before.” He closed his eyes.
“I found a place for the lanterns, by Xuanwu Lake. Did you still want to go?”
“Okay, I’ll wait for you to get ready then.”
Lan Wangji let out a long breath he didn’t even realize he was holding. What was wrong with him? His heart was pounding so loudly in his ears again and his stomach, it was on fire. Why did he always get so flustered around Wei Wuxian, he was just some stupid guy. But at the same time he wasn’t. He was the closest person Lan Wangji had been to in a long time.
He shook his head. That didn’t matter, he wasn’t doing any of this so he could develop a crush on him. He needed to focus, they were only together because of Lan Xichen. None of this mattered, he needed to get his head straight.
Once he collected himself, he pulled on his clothes and left the washroom again. Wei Wuxian was sitting at the edge of his bed and glanced at him when he came out. He stood up abruptly. “Are you okay-”
“I’m fine, let’s just go.” He dismissed him quickly as he collected the rest of his things. Wei Wuxian’s face fell. Lan Wangji glanced towards the wall and noticed their initials scribbled onto it. “Did we do this last night?”
“We should probably clean it off, we don’t want to get in trouble-” Lan Wangji moved to find something to clean it but Wei Wuxian grabbed his arm.
“Don’t, I want to leave something that’s a reminder that we were together.” He whispered.
Lan Wangji gave him a long look and then moved his arm away. “Fine.”
They left the hotel a few minutes later and started driving. The atmosphere between them was tense. Lan Wangji knew it was because of what happened, but he also felt like there was something more. He glanced at Wei Wuxian who was staring blankly at the road. He’d been acting weird the whole trip, Lan Wangji wondered what was going through his mind.
They reached the lake in an hour. The sound of chirping birds and trees rustling in the cool breeze calmed his mind immediately. He wondered if Wei Wuxian would want to draw this scenery, but he was already walking ahead of him towards the dock.
There were already a few people on the shore, sitting in the sand and drawing and painting on their lanterns. Wei Wuxian got them both a lantern and painting materials and handed Lan Wangji his. They sat down, the sound of the water lapping against the shore and laughter diminishing the tension slowly.
“What are you going to draw?” Wei Wuxian asked him.
“A rabbit.” Lan Wangji said eagerly as he dipped his brush in the black ink.
Wei Wuxian watched him curiously as he attempted to paint a bunny on the lantern. But it came out looking more like a deranged cat.
“Pfft.” He tried to stifle his laugh but it didn’t work.
“Hey, it’s not funny.” Lan Wangji glared.
“Sorry.” His eyes fell on him then. “Wait, you have some paint on your face-”
Lan Wangji tensed up when he reached forward to wipe it. He quickly slapped his hand away. “I-It’s okay, I can get it off myself.”
Wei Wuxian watched him quietly. He shook his head and eventually stood.
“Where are you going?” Lan Wangji looked up at him.
“To get you a new lantern, I’ll draw the rabbit for you.”
He watched as he retrieved a new lantern for him and then came back. His expression was clouded as he drew the animal slowly. “If you’re still mad about what happened in the washroom, I already said I’m sorry alright? It was just an accident on both our ends, so I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal out of it.”
Lan Wangji looked down at the sand. “Well of course it’s not a big deal to you, because you’ve probably experienced it a million times. How many girls have you slept with-”
“Can you stop talking about them?” He snapped suddenly.
“You always say girls this, girls that, but I don’t care about any of those girls, can’t you see that?” He shouted. “Compared to you they mean nothing to me!”
It fell silent. Lan Wangji glanced around, a few people were looking over at them in concern. He directed his gaze back to him. “What is that even supposed to mean?”
Wei Wuxian closed his eyes. “It doesn’t matter, sorry I shouldn’t have taken my anger out on you.”
When he handed his finished lantern to him, Lan Wangji took it slowly. “This is my last gift for you.”
Wei Wuxian gave him a broken smile. “Because after tomorrow, this will all be over.”
Night came painfully slow. They’d spent the rest of the day on the shore in silence, just waiting for the sun to go down with the others so they could light their lanterns and release it. Wei Wuxian’s words kept running through his mind. But Lan Wangji was too afraid to question him about any of it. He felt that if he did, everything would fall apart even more. He didn’t understand anything.
“Did you want to go on the bridge? We can release them there.” Wei Wuxian asked him. It was the only thing he’d said to him in hours.
“Okay.” He tried to hide the shakiness in his voice.
They went onto the bridge and looked out over the water that sparkled against the moonlight. Even though they were beside each other, they felt so far away. Just that morning Lan Wangji would have accepted it, but now he was scared.
“Because after tomorrow, this will all be over.”
What did he mean by that? Would they go back to not speaking to each other? But that’s how it should be right, they were from two different worlds. Wei Wuxian was popular and loved, while Lan Wangji was feared and an outsider. But being with him these past few days, made him feel accepted and somewhat cared about. He was afraid of letting him go, he was afraid of being alone again.
Wei Wuxian lifted his arms suddenly. He glanced over at him. “Let’s release them at the same time okay?”
Lan Wangji could only nod. He lifted his arms slowly.
“3, 2, 1…”
Their lanterns drifted up into the sky, floating towards the stars. Tears pricked Lan Wangji’s eyes as he watched them. It felt like he’d just let apart of himself go.
Wei Wuxian turned away then. “Let’s go find somewhere to sleep, I’m tired-”
Lan Wangji grabbed the back of his shirt. What was he doing? His body was moving on his own at this point. He pressed his forehead against his back and trembled.
“Let go.” Wei Wuxian whispered.
“P-Please let go of me.”
Lan Wangji’s breath caught in his throat when Wei Wuxian spun around suddenly and grabbed his arm. He was squeezing hard but he couldn’t even feel the pain. All he could see was how much Wei Wuxian was shaking and the tears that flowed from his eyes. His grip loosened slowly and he pulled Lan Wangji towards him.
They held onto each other tightly.
“I-I can’t do this.” He cried. “We, we shouldn’t do this.”
Lan Wangji didn’t know what he meant, but he didn’t care.
“I like you.” He whispered.
“Don’t say that, please don’t say that.”
“I like you.” He repeated again firmly.
Wei Wuxian pulled away slightly so they were facing each other. “I’m sorry.”
Why was he apologizing?
“I’m so sorry.” Wei Wuxian closed the space between them and their lips connected slowly. The kiss should’ve felt good, it should’ve made his heart flutter. But it broke his heart instead.
Why was it so painful?
When Lan Wangji awoke the next morning, Wei Wuxian was no longer beside him like last time. Instead he stood staring out the window of the hotel, already dressed in his suit for the wedding. After they’d kissed last night, they drove back to their room in silence and just went to sleep. Lan Wangji had confessed to him out of fear, but it hadn’t brought them any closer. He felt like they were farther apart.
Wei Wuxian glanced over at him when he sat up slowly. “Good morning.”
“Morning.” Lan Wangji couldn’t even make eye contact with him.
“I was just about to wake you up. You should get ready, we’re gonna leave soon.”
It fell quiet again. Lan Wangji wanted to rip the silence away, it was unbearable.
A few minutes later he was in his suit and Wei Wuxian turned to face him. He smiled. “You look nice.”
“Thanks.” His eyes fell on his tie and he noticed it was crooked. Lan Wangji stepped forward hesitantly and adjusted it. He could feel Wei Wuxian freeze up at his closeness. Their eyes met slowly. Were they really not going to talk about what happened?
Wei Wuxian gave him a tight smile and stepped back. “Are you ready? Let’s go.”
Lan Wangji felt his heart drop as he walked by him without another word. He stared blankly ahead out at the window. Why did it matter so much to him what happened between them? Why couldn’t he just be happy that Lan Xichen was going to get the care he needed because of this date? He took in a shaky breath. It’s because when he started this trip with Wei Wuxian, he didn’t expect to fall in love with him by the end of it. And now everything was so complicated and confusing.
He turned away slowly and went to retrieve his suitcase. He just had to deal with it like all of his other problems. His whole life, he’d had to face his hardships alone. But why was this one the hardest?
Lan Wangji took one last glance at their initials on the wall before they left the room for good. As Wei Wuxian locked the door, he felt like he was letting apart of himself go again. Their time together was really coming to an end.
The drive to the wedding was long. They both only exchanged a few words and glances. Everytime Lan Wangji looked at Wei Wuxian, his gaze was dark and distant. It was like he was staring at a stranger.
Lan Wangji cleared his throat, trying to think of something to say. “Are your dad and brother going to meet us there?”
“Yeah.” He sounded distracted.
The venue was already crowded once they arrived. Wei Wuxian parked and turned off the car, his hands trembled as he did. Lan Wangji watched him carefully, but he didn’t question why he looked so nervous. His mom was getting married to another person, it was new territory for him. His anxiousness made sense.
Once they left the car, they made their way towards the large line leading into the wedding reception. There was a man standing by the entrance, accepting everyone’s red invitations. Wei Wuxian handed his to him slowly, his face looked pale. Lan Wangji glanced around curiously at the pretty red roses and decorations that decked the venue as they walked further inside. They made their way towards the back of the hall where a few people stood drinking beverages from the table. Lan Wangji could immediately smell the alcohol.
“Let’s have a drink.” Wei Wuxian took a glass slowly.
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea after last time.” Lan Wangji insisted.
He thrust it towards him. “It’s only a little bit of champagne. I promise it’s not as strong as Emperor’s Smile. You can’t come to a wedding and not drink Lan Zhan.”
“Fine, but you better not bother me again about it.” He took it from him. Wei Wuxian watched him closely as he downed it. The alcohol immediately calmed his nerves, he didn’t realize how much he needed it.
“Let’s go find someplace to sit.” Wei Wuxian walked ahead of him and he followed slowly. His head was starting to feel fuzzy again. The whole room was spinning only a few seconds later, he was so loopy he swore he saw Jin Ling run passed him in the crowd. But that was just his imagination right? Why would Jin Ling be there?
They eventually settled down at the back of the reception hall. More people filed in and soon almost all of the seats were filled. Lan Wangji was trying hard to stay still but the alcohol was heavily affecting him again. He knew he shouldn’t have drank any.
A man came out onto the stage then and adjusted the mic to make sure it worked. He cleared his throat before speaking. “Hello everyone, thank you for coming. At this time, we would like to commence the ceremony. May the groom please come out onto the stage.”
Soft piano music began playing as another man dressed down in a fancy grey suit entered the venue and began walking down the aisle. Lan Wangji’s gaze was blurry as he watched him. But he looked so familiar, where had he seen him before? He couldn’t remember, he was too tired.
Wei Wuxian twitched beside him suddenly and Lan Wangji glanced at him. His eyes were on the groom, the fury behind them sent chills down his spine. But Lan Wangji could barely process what was going in, he felt like he was going to pass out.
A few minutes passed and the man leaned towards the mic again. “The beautiful bride will be making her entrance now.”
Lan Wangji’s breath caught in his throat when she came out, another woman helping her down the aisle. Her dress was long and red, draping her body delicately. Even with the drape over her face, he could tell she was beautiful. Lan Wangji watched as she moved beside the groom. He lifted her veil slowly. She was a spitting image of Wei Wuxian, that must of been where he got his beauty from.
The groom stroked her cheek tenderly and she smiled at him. Even through the haze of the alcohol, Lan Wangji could tell they were deeply in love.
“Hey.” Wei Wuxian’s whisper cut through his thoughts. “Let’s go dancing again.”
Before he could understand what he meant, Wei Wuxian grabbed Lan Wangji’s hand. The world felt like it was tilting as they raced towards the stage. Wei Wuxian barged towards the man and grabbed the mic from him. His hand was still wrapped tightly around Lan Wangji’s.
“Hey, what are you doing give that back!” The man snapped at Wei Wuxian.
“I have a few words for the bride and groom first.” He dragged Lan Wangji towards the middle of the stage. His legs felt wobbly and his head was heavy, if he let go he was sure he would fall away. What was even happening? How did they get on the stage so fast?
The crowd murmured in concern at the altercation. And Wei Wuxian’s mom and the groom watched them in surprise. His mom looked the most shocked, almost on the verge of tears. But why?
Wei Wuxian locked eyes with her as he spoke into the mic. “I’m here to tell everyone here right now, that that hat woman right there, is a terrible, selfish person!”
Lan Wangji blinked.
“S-She abandoned her family just to run off with this religious peace of shit and start a whole new life without them.” He continued tearfully. “Were you that ashamed of us? Ashamed of me? To leave us so broken? And I was the one who was blamed in the end for your stupid actions!”
Wei Wuxian turned towards Lan Wangji then and pulled him forward, their lips colliding. He kissed him deeply and the crowd gasped. When he tore away from him, it felt like Lan Wangji was propelled back to reality. Wei Wuxian looked back at them. “Yeah, I hope you homophobic assholes are fucking embarassed! The woman this man is marrying has a son that likes boys! It must be horrifying right?”
“Wei Ying!” His mom shouted.
He glared at her. “What? Did I ruin your happy moment? Just like you ruined my entire life? I hope you never recover from this, you don’t deserve happiness!”
The groom stepped forward. “Security, get them out of here now!”
Lan Wangji felt limp as the men raced in from outside and grabbed them hard. Wei Wuxian tried to fight one of them off but he shoved him onto the floor and pinned him down.
“W-Wait Chen, don’t kick them out. Just bring them to the tent and I’ll talk to them okay? I’ll call his father to get him. Please.” His mom insisted.
Chen gave her a dirty look but nodded at the security guards.
“Let go of me!” Wei Wuxian hissed as the man yanked him up.
“Restrain the dog first.” Chen said.
Wei Wuxian spit at him as the security guard wrapped handcuffs around his wrists. Lan Wangji swallowed a painful lump in his throat when they were escorted out. The men led them towards a white tent that held most of the equipment and extra decorations for the wedding.
They forced them down onto chairs and one of the men struck Wei Wuxian in the face. “Behave yourself before we end up calling the police for real you pig.”
Wei Wuxian hung his head in defeat as they left. Lan Wangji stared blankly ahead, all the dots slowly connecting in his head.
“Your dad and brother were never coming were they? That’s why you came here alone, because they didn’t know you would do this.” He spoke almost to himself.
Wei Wuxian didn’t respond.
“You only invited me so you could crash your mom’s wedding and embarrass her.” He whispered. “That’s why you kept apologizing to me, because you knew what you were doing was wrong. And yet you still did it.”
“Don’t fucking say my name.” His voice cracked. “A-Am I a joke to you? You came here and called your mom a horrible person. But at the same time, you were only using me for your own revenge plot. Even while knowing how seriously I took this situation, because it had to do with my brother. You didn’t even care about me this entire time did you?”
Wei Wuxian closed his eyes.
“W-When I told you I liked you yesterday, all you did was apologize to me. You never said you liked me back, I should’ve known.” Tears streamed down his face. “No one cares about me, I don’t know why I actually thought you would be different.”
It fell silent. And this time Lan Wangji knew there was no coming back from it. He stood up slowly.
“Wait.” Wei Wuxian croaked.
Lan Wangji froze.
“In the beginning, I didn’t care who I hurt or abused to do this. But in the end, I never realized I would fall for you.” He said weakly. “It was too late before I realized that I would regret knowing that you’d hate me forever.”
“Stop it!” Lan Wangji flipped around and grabbed his collar. “Y-You don’t get to say any of this, you don’t!”
Wei Wuxian’s eyes were lifeless. “I just wanted you to know the truth before I became the villain in your story forever.”
He clenched his teeth and collapsed onto his knees, sobbing hard. The word felt like it was crushing weight on his back. It took everything in him to stand up and turn away from Wei Wuxian again.
“Bye.” He heard him say softly as he left the tent.
Lan Wangji cried in anger. He could barely see through his tears when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out shakily and noticed it was a text from Jin Guangyao.
His heart dropped.
“Lan Xichen is awake.”
Wei Wuxian's POV:
8 days before the wedding
“I heard a rumor floating around.”
“That Mr. Jiang’s wife who ran off a few years back is getting remarried to a man named Yan Shen. Apparently he’s the minister at a church.”
“Oh my god seriously?”
Wei Wuxian lay awake in his dark room, overhearing the gossip of the maid’s in the hallway. Their words made him feel nauseous. He hadn’t heard of his mother since he was young and now her name was suddenly resurfacing in the worst way possible.
She was his darkest secret, a burden. Everyone outside of his home saw him as this perfect, popular, and handsome guy without any problems or flaws. But everyday he lived his life with regret. Everyday he asked himself how he could’ve tried harder to make his mom stay. Everyday he hated her for being the reason why his dad and brother looked down on him. They felt he was to blame for her leaving, because he wasn’t good enough, because he never followed the rules. He was an outcast in his own family now.
The anger he felt knowing that she was out there living a happy new life while he was suffering everyday, made his blood boil.
He wanted revenge.
He sat up slowly and grabbed his laptop, searching “Cangse Sanren and Yan Shen wedding.” A picture showed of a hand with a diamond ring wrapped around the finger. Wei Wuxian held his breath and clicked on it. It led to Yan Shen’s profile on Facebook.
“I can’t wait to marry you.” The caption read.
Wei Wuxian scrolled through the comments.
“I just got my invitation today, I’m so excited for the wedding!” One of the comments read. He clicked on the comment and it led him to their profile. The second picture was of a red invitation to the wedding the person had posted, showing the designs on the inside and outside. Wei Wuxian took screenshots of it. He was going to try and recreate the invitation to the best of his abilities, then he’d get inside that reception no matter what.
But what was he going to do when he got there? He didn’t want to just crash the wedding, he wanted to ruin it; ruin their happiness.
“...Apparently he’s a minister at a church.” The maid’s voice echoed in his head.
Wei Wuxian smirked.
He needed a date.
“Fix your collar, you need to at least look presentable when we visit the hospital.” His dad muttered to him as they drove two days later.
Wei Wuxian rolled his eyes and looked out the window at the traffic. “I don’t know why you couldn’t just bring Jiang Chen instead.”
“I brought him last time, and he’s doing important business right now.”
“Going out to dinner is important business?”
“He’s with the woman he’ll be married to in the future. Soon you’ll be following in his footsteps.” He cleared his throat. “My colleague has a beautiful daughter who specializes in medicine and healing, you’ll be meeting her soon.”
Wei Wuxian chuckled. “I’m not marrying some random woman.”
“You don’t exactly have a choice.” His dad shot him a look. They stared hard at each other for a long time before Wei Wuxian eventually looked away. His dad didn’t know anything about him, he didn’t care either. Wei Wuxian fooled around with girls, but he’d never been in love before. He didn’t really care for them, they were just a form of entertainment, like a video game.
When they arrived at the hospital, people immediately came to greet them and suck up to his dad. Wei Wuxian was already bored. His dad didn’t care about any of these patients, he just came around every once in awhile to get good publicity. Wei Wuxian just felt like some kind of extra token being there, a handsome face to show off.
“I’m going to the washroom.” Wei Wuxian told his dad but he knew he didn’t hear.
He sauntered to the bathroom and sat in the stall. Maybe he could hide out in there until his dad was done making his rounds-
A shuffle sounded outside then, he rolled his eyes. Couldn’t he just get five seconds of peace and quiet?
“Hello Lan Jun, it’s Lan Wangji.”
His voice made Wei Wuxian freeze.
“Lan Xichen has been in an accident, and I need a little bit more money to help him-”
“But this is a serious matter-”
He stood up and opened the door slowly, Lan Wangji’s back was facing towards him. The cold boy he always saw around school and who people constantly gossiped about. He’d heard some ridiculous rumours about him, but Wei Wuxian knew none of them were true. He just seemed misunderstood, which was why he was so distant. That made him even more intriguing, because he wasn’t constantly fawning over him.
“You threw us aside as soon as our parents died like we were trash.” Lan Wangji hissed into the phone suddenlu. “We thought we were a nuisance to you both so we stayed out of your way. You just gave us all of those things because you felt obligated to, because you couldn’t leave your brother’s kids homeless and helpless. You may have given us so much, but you’ve never cared for us!”
Wei Wuxian didn’t know what he was thinking at that moment. But Lan Wangji needed help, help that only he personally could give. And he still needed a date. This was the perfect solution, they’d both get what they wanted in the end. And after it was all over, they’d just go their separate ways. It would be so simple, he wouldn’t feel any guilt from using him.
That was what he thought initially.
But as soon as Lan Wangji shook his hand, he knew he was setting himself up, he knew he was lying to himself.
Every second they spent together, he could feel himself falling further and further. Even just seeing Lan Wangji dance made his heart speed up. And when they slept together that night, he didn’t want to let go. When he started pushing him away after the incident that happened in the washroom, he realized just how much he needed him. But he couldn’t have him how he wanted, because he was just using him for his selfish plan. Wei Wuxian didn’t deserve him. His urge to get back at his mother, was overpowering the love he felt for Lan Wangji. If he didn’t follow through with his plan, he would never be happy or satisfied. He had to lose him to face his burden.
But he caved when he felt Lan Wangji grab the back of his shirt that night they released the lanterns. He knew they both needed each other and he didn’t have the strength to push him away.
All he could do was apologize as he kissed him. It didn’t matter if he embraced him in that moment, his mind was made up. It was over between them. And as soon as Lan Wangji realized why he invited him to the wedding, he would hate him forever. As it should be.
Except watching Lan Wangji leave the tent in the broken state he was, made their parting even more painful. He’d put his faith and trust into Wei Wuxian, when no one else would give him a chance. And he completely destroyed it.
It didn’t feel like the right decision anymore. But he was too late.
Wei Wuxian hung his head, painful sobs escaped his body.
He wished he could rewind time, he wished he could hold Lan Zhan just once more. But now his hands were tied behind his back and the person he loved was nowhere in sight.
This was the ending he created for himself.