At first, Wangji isn't sure what wakes him up. It's hours past nine at night, the time closer to sunrise than sunset. With his senses, he can tell that he is the only one inside the Jingshi.
Then, he hears a faint rustle of cloth against the screen door to his home. Silently, but quickly, he makes his way out of his warm bed and grabs Bichen on his way to the door. As he nears it, he listens again before hearing the creak of the wooden porch before shoving the door aside, hand on the hilt of his sword ready to draw it out to protect himself from a potential attacker or invader.
What he sees when he opens the door to his home doesn't immediately make sense.
There are startled wide grey eyes staring back at him. Fresh tear tracks can be seen shining on the porcelain face in front of him from the faint moonlight shining high above them in the cold, dark night.
Mildly tamed, black locks frame a thin face, red hair ribbon flowing from a half updo in the light wind.
Confusion must be evident on his face, in his voice, when Wangji utters a name to the face he didn't think he would ever see again.
The man that has heartbreak and loss carved on his face takes a step back in surprise and that's when Wangji notices the bundle wrapped in the man's scarily thin arms. When Wei Ying notices his attention zeroed in on the bundle carefully cradled in his arms, he reactively clutches it closer to his chest as if to protect it from harm.
"L-Lan Zhan," Wei Ying stutters out quietly.
They stare at each other for an innumerable amount of time. The last time they had seen each other is nigh on ten months ago in Yiling. The only thing Wangji remembers from their meeting was a shared dinner and quiet reminiscing of happier times before the war, before Wei Wuxian had become synonymous with fear and the boogeyman, now more commonly known as the Yiling Patriarch. He'd woken up alone and naked in messy sheets. Afraid and ashamed, he didn't waste time thinking too closely about what may or may not have happened between the two of them for him to end up in such a state, not wanting to believe something precious may have happened between them and only a black hole in his memories was left to mock him.
If it had been consensual, then why was he alone? If it had not been consensual, how could he face Wei Ying knowing he had hurt him?
A muffled noise coming from the bundle in Wei Ying's arms snaps Wangji and Wei Ying out of their staring contest and brings their attention immediately back to what is being cradled in the Patriarch's arms.
Once again, confusion must be evident on his face, but Wei Ying pays him no mind as he raises the bundle close to his face and coos at it.
That's when Wangji finally sees a tuft of thick black hair and a little nose peeking through the cloth bundle.
A baby. Wei Ying is holding a baby. The implications of it have endless possibilities running through Wangji's startled mind. He watches as love and adoration light up the gaunt features of the only man he's ever loved as he rocks and hums the baby into quiet sleep again.
Once the baby is settled again, Wei Ying looks at him again and Wangji steps to the side, "Come in."
Wei Ying seems to hesitate before he makes up his mind and steps past Wangji and into the warm abode. He silently closes the door behind him.
Turning around, he places Bichen down on the stand next to the door and moves to stand close to the man everyone has condemned for saving remnants of a war long won.
It's silent in the Jingshi, something he usually appreciates, but now it's a tense silence, thick with the unknown and misunderstandings. Wei Ying is fastidiously ignoring him, focusing all of his attention on the sleeping baby.
"Wei Ying, what's wrong?" Something has to be wrong for the other man to seek him out like this, though he may have been trying to leave without waking Wangji. What was he trying to do with the baby he seemed to love so much? Where did the baby come from?
Finally, those grey eyes focus on him as he continues to rock the baby in dance he's seen many other parents do, almost an engraved habit than anything else.
"Do you remember when we last met in Yiling?" Wei Ying looks nervous when he asks him this. He doesn't think he's ever seen Wei Ying nervous before.
"Mn, I do," Wangji answers quietly.
"You got drunk, passed out, and woke up again. Do you remember what happened after that?" Wei Ying starts to bite his lip. It's very distracting watching the abused flesh redden under the attention, but he remains focused on the conversation.
"No, I do not," he confesses to the nervous man in front of him.
Wei Ying seems to wilt at the answer, seemingly more afraid than he was before to continue this conversation.
"Well...one thing led to another and...we had sex." Wei Ying is now looking down again. Still biting and worrying his lips with his teeth.
Wangji's heart clenches and his ears burn at the confession that confirms his fear. He feels guilty and upset that he can't remember embracing the love of his life, feels guilty because he needs to know if he forced him.
"Did I force you, Wei Ying?"
Wei Ying's head snaps up and looks at him with disbelief, "Lan Zhan, no of course not! If anything, I'm at fault! I knew you were drunk and I took advantage and still slept with you! I left because I couldn't bare to see you look at me with shame and disgust!"
"Wei Ying, I am not ashamed of or disgusted by the thought of sleeping with you." Wangji moves closer Wei Ying and gently takes the hand not holding the baby in between his two hands.
"I am only sorry that I do not remember it and that you feel like you had done anything wrong. Wei Ying, I was willing, I have only ever wanted Wei Ying." If there was anytime to come clean about his feelings, then after already bedding and misunderstanding his love is one of them.
Wei Ying's eyes grow wide at the new information revealed to him, "Lan Zhan? Lan Zhan, does that mean what I think it means?"
Wangji nods his head, buy forces himself to say the words that have been buried in his heart and soul ever since he met a bright eyed, unruly disciple atop a wall. "Wei Ying, I love you, have loved you for a long time."
Instead of the words reassuring Wei Ying, like they were meant to, it seems to make him retreat as he pulls his hand away from Wangji's. It seems like a rejection to his feelings. It's more painful than he thought it would be when he imagined the different outcomes that would come to pass if he ever managed to confess his feelings to the beautiful boy.
"Lan Zhan doesn't know yet, why I've come here tonight," Wei Ying continues the conversation, looking at the floor again, like he didn't just hear Wangji finally confess his feelings and then reject him. But Wangji continues to listen as it must be relevant to their current situation.
"Lan Zhan, you know that one out of five males are carriers; that they can get pregnant and bare children, like a woman can?" Wei Ying seems like he's rambling now, like he's still working himself up to what he needs to say. Lan Zhan knows all of this of course, so he nods his head to show he is listening.
Wei Ying looks back at him again, "Lan Zhan, I'm a carrier."
Wangji's heart skips a beat. All of a sudden, he's counting how long it's been since he's seen Wei Ying, when they had...slept together. How he heard reports that the Yiling Patriarch had seemingly disappeared for the last nine months with no word to what was happening in Burial Mounds.
Swallowing roughly, he tries to get another, closer look at the sleeping babe in Wei Ying's arms, then looks back at Wei Ying's anxious face. The question is stuck in his throat.
Wei Ying must see it anyway, because he answers the silent query, "This is Lan Yu, your son."
Wangji's mind blanks for a minute. Never in his wildest dreams did he think this was possible, that he would ever be close enough to Wei Ying to sleep together, that Wei Ying was capable of carrying and birthing him a son.
And yet, as Wei Ying moves his frozen limbs into the correct posture for holding a baby and lays Lan Yu in his arms for the first time, he can see a mix of his and Wei Ying's facial features. His nose is all Wei Ying's but the shape of his eyes and chin are Wangji's. He's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.
Wangji doesn't notice how tears form in his eyes and flow over as he stares in awe over the amazing child he and Wei Ying created together. He can't help the small, soft smile that forms on his face as he brushes his nose against the baby's soft cheek.
He looks over at Wei Ying, wanting to share in this new found joy that he is holding in his arms, but he's backing away and looking at Wangji with the heartbroken expression on his face again.
Why does he have that expression on his face? Why does he look like he's ready to flee?
"Lan Zhan, you've been to Burial Mounds. You know we don't have a lot of resources, food, adequate shelter, to take care of a newborn baby. He'll die if I keep him with me, if I try to raise him in that desolate place. Lan Wangji, Lan Zhan, please, please take him and raise him with your clan. You are a good man. I know he'll thrive with you here as his father." Wei Ying is crying again as he chokes out these words.
No, no no no. Wei Ying can't leave, not when all of Wangji's dreams are so close to coming true. He knows he's selfish, but he wants it, him and Wei Ying raising their son together as a family, maybe with even more children. But how can he convince Wei Ying to stay, when all he's done is fail at bringing Wei Ying home with him to Gusu?
Careful, so as to not jostle the sleeping baby, Lan Wangji makes his way close to Wei Ying again.
"Wei Ying, please, stay in Gusu with me. We can raise Lan Yu together, as cultivation partners."
Wei Ying is shaking his head before the last word is out of his mouth. "I can't, no matter how much I may want to, I can't leave the Wens. They're my family now and they need me. If I leave now, they'll be slaughtered. I know you didn't ask for this burden and if I thought I could, I would keep Lan Yu with me. But I can't, I'm stuck on this single plank road and I have to see it through to the end."
"Let me talk to brother. Let me convince him to take the Wens in. They will be treated well here. Please Wei Ying, stay with me, with us," Wangji pleads with him.
There is a waiver in the determined look that had taken over his face at his insistence that he couldn't leave the Wens. But he still looks doubtful.
"Why? Why would you want to tie yourself to me, the evil Yiling Patriarch and his army of Wens? And don't say because you love me Lan Zhan. I'm still not sure I believe that." Stubborn, gorgeous man. Wangji will spend a lifetime showering Wei Ying in love until he believes him. But he has more reasons, righteous reasons for his offer.
"It was wrong for GusuLan to stand back and turn a blind eye to the Jin prison camps. I want to help your family, family that had nothing to do with the Sunshot Campaign. I would have offered a long time ago, but did not say anything as I did not think you would accept it." Wangji can be just as stubborn. He can see that Wei Ying is still hesitant, so he continues with his reasons.
He's close enough now to Wei Ying that he can reach out the hand not holding the baby to slowly, gently cup Wei Ying's cheek. The unexpected gesture freezes Wei Ying in place.
"I love you Wei Ying. I want to make you happy, to keep you safe. Your family is important to me because they make you happy. I fell in love with the man who protects the innocent from evil and I want to walk the same path with you, if you will let me." Lovingly, he strokes the cheek he is holding with his thumb.
Wei Ying's face is flush with emotion and warmth.
"Lan Zhan, I can't give up demonic cultivation. Can you live with that? Will you still accept me if I keep using it?" The resignation in Wei Ying's voice and on his face isn't what Wangji wants to see. He doesn't understand why Wei Ying needs to use demonic cultivation, but he will learn eventually, he supposes. He will take Wei Ying any way he can have him, as long as he will let Wangji help him.
"Wei Ying can continue as long as you let me help you. Let me play cleansing for you. Let me help you learn more about it. Just want to keep you safe." Finally, he can see hope shining in those eyes.
Wei Ying turns his face into Wangji's hand and presses a kiss to his palm.
"Okay Lan Zhan. We can try your way. But I still don't think your clan will want to help us. I'll believe in you for now." At last, Wei Ying gives him a small, genuine smile. Out of everything he's missed about Wei Ying, it's his bright happy smiles he misses the most that used to always be directed at him.
Hopefully, now, he can see those smiles directed at him again.