Now this, Lan Xichen thought, this was a sight. His bodyguards doing their duty of blocking incoming fans that decided that Walmart was the place to charge right for him. He thought his hat and glasses would deter their attention from him— but even his (quite lame) disguise was no match for his most obsessed admirers. He had been quite peaceful, rummaging through the cereal aisle when a woman screeched his name from the frozen foods.
Instantly, as if time froze, all those heads turned. Slowly. Haunting. Xichen tried hard not to let it get to him. He simply stepped back as his underpaid bodyguards tossed bodies as they came running, shouting. In the midst of the chaos, he managed to step back a few steps and bumped into a body. He whirled around, barely catching the man who was stumbling back, a small child in his arms.
No, that’s not a child. That’s a baby .
“I’m so sorry,” Lan Xichen apologized sincerely, not realizing that he was in fact still holding the man by the waist. “Is your baby okay?”
Fiery eyes met his own. It stunned him. “We’re fine. Watch where you’re going next time, will you? Fuckin’ lanky bastard.” now granted, that last part was grumbled, but Lan Xichen still heard it. And that shocked him more.
“Excuse me? Do you know who I am?” he hates using the ‘I’m a celebrity, respect me!’ card, and he usually doesn’t.
Because nobody, and he means nobody has ever disrespected him like that.
“I don’t care who you are, get the fuck out of my way.” and there it was. The smaller male elbowed him right in his side before storming past him— the baby in his arms now wailing. Xichen winced and rubbed at his side. A bodyguard switched her attention to him, staring after the attacker.
“Sir, are you alright?” she asked.
Nobody has ever elbowed Lan Xichen in the ribs so hard, he actually lost his breath. In fact, Lan Xichen's never been elbowed in the ribs. Or even elbowed for that matter.
But he kind of liked it. And he wasn’t sure why. He convinced her to stay put and just escort him out of the store, his appetite for cereal suddenly vanishing as curiosity overruled his hunger. Who was that man?
Moreover, why was he so angry?
Lan Xichen left that walmart a different man. He was rushed to his carpool, and he made his way back home. Lan Xichen assumed because he was shocked, that was why he kept thinking about it all day, He also assumed he’d get over it in the next day or so. But he was wrong.
Despite only seeing that man for a few seconds, he remembers his face clearly. His features were unique to him, very strong and broad with downturned brows that made him look angry— yes, an eternal scowl on his face. The most memorable part of him was his abundance of hair. It was gorgeous . Sure, it was tied up in a messy bun, pieces of hair falling around his face— but Xichen found it adorable. The man looked exhausted, and he could tell why. That baby could not have been over two months old.
Why was he so hung up on him?
Not like he had time to really think about it, because he had business to attend to. Like discussing the next design for his new line. It’s a risky project, bringing something new into the fashion industry. He decided (with his brother Lan Wanji— oh he adores that boy so much) to bring his own culture and ancestry into the game.
Ah, yes, Cloud was coming out with a modern hanfu line. Lan Xichen had no idea how the public would react to this— but what’s a good business without risks?
Lan Xichen wanted to break barriers with this new design.
So he sat there, examining a sample on a mannequin.
After weeks of picking fabrics, drafting ideas, scratching some and bringing some back from the dead...Xichen was finally satisfied.
“This is one of the female samples,” Meng Yao informed. “A white stand up collar shirt with cross design below the breasts to tighten the waist paired with an A-line skirt with a corset design around the waist and floral detailing.”
Lan Xichen couldn’t help the small smile that curved his lips. He turned to his brother, who stood right beside him. Although he was quiet, and his expression didn’t really say much, he knew he was in favor of this design in particular.
“We like it,” he told him smoothly. Meng Yao gave him a dimpled grin, his fist pumping in a celebration.
“Yes! I’ll go tell everyone at the office you approve of this. One step closer to the launch sir, congratulations.” he gave a small bow before leaving the room, a small skip to his step. No wonder. Lan Xichen had turned down every single sample leading up to this one this week.
Now finally, something had been approved.
Lan Xichen was eating his lunch at a local cafe, typing away at his laptop (You know, answering emails, reading over contracts with the factories— the boring parts of designing) when he heard the small bell chime meaning someone had come in. Usually, he spares them a single glance and right back to work he went. But this time, he froze. He could recognize that hair anywhere. It was out today, looked freshly washed and left to dry. He wore a purple sweater that looked way too big on him, black jeans and black ankle boots.
No doubt it was him. Lan Xichen suddenly got really excited. He sat in a very secluded area with his two very reliable, very underpaid bodyguards standing just a few feet away, so he doubts he could just slip past simply because he wanted to get a closer look at a guy. So he thought, why not just go and ‘buy’ another coffee? I mean, ignoring the half empty latte he was barely sipping now.
He somehow managed to convince them that he really was going to buy another latte despite it being out of his usual routine. But his bodyguards aren’t in any position to question him, right?
The cafe is fairly small and local. The customers are regulars here and that included himself. Most were used to seeing him, so he never has to go the extra mile to hide his face. Today he’s dressed in his usual turtleneck under a wool coat, black trousers and black dress shoes.. He’s never been one to dress down, he felt that it didn’t represent him well.
By the time he approached, the man was already done ordering “I’ll just have the hot chocolate. Medium. That’s all.”
“That’ll be five ninety.”
From Jiang Cheng’s perspective, it was honestly a normal day. Hectic, but normal. The very brief time to himself he had, he spent at a cafe. Same routine, honestly. He wakes up, the neighbor comes over to watch after Ling while he goes out and enjoys a drink at the nearby cafe. He goes home, (so does the neighbor) spends the day taking care of the baby before he goes to work at night. At that time, the neighbor usually volunteers to come over and watch after him (bless that poor lady’s heart), and if not...he just doesn’t go to work.
Jiang Cheng was reaching out to hand the cashier a ten dollar bill when another arm shot out and beat him to it. He jumped, the cashier jumped and hell even the stranger jumped as well.
“It’s on me,” the stranger said with a warm smile. Yes, that smile was nice, but Jiang Cheng did not appreciate the gesture. Like, at all. He reigned in his temper for the time being and just waited for that fucking hot chocolate to get here. Once he was given it, he nodded his thanks and spun around to throw it at whoever the fuck decided to make a charity case out of him— but he stopped when he heard them speak.
“Would you like to sit down?” he asked.
He couldn’t help the breathless chuckle that he gave. “Sit down?”
“I believe that was what I asked,” the stranger who looked more and more familiar by the second said. “Please, we’re holding up the line.” Jiang Cheng opened his mouth to tell this lanky bastard (yes, he remembers now) to fuck right off. But he was right, the line was getting longer and longer. So he just stood to the side, why the fuck did he need to sit down with the dude from Walmart?
“Listen here, stay the fuck away from me.” he snapped.
"Stay away from you? I could say the same to you. Are you following me?” the dude shot right back at him. Excuse me? Jiang Cheng thought.
“Me? Following you? I don’t even know who you are!” he reminded him.
“Let’s finish this at the table, shall we? Let’s not cause a scene—”
Jiang Cheng’s big ears were red at this point. “I’m not going anywhere with you. And take your fucking hot chocolate, since you paid for it.”
“But I bought it for you,”
“I didn’t ask you to, and I refuse to owe you. So take it.”
The man wagged his finger, right in his fucking face. “I’ll take it if you sit down with me. What’s the big deal? You sit down with me, give me the drink, and then you can leave.”
While Jiang Cheng wanted to sock this lanky lard in the face, he didn’t want to cause a scene...nor did he want to sit down. But like he said, owing this motherfucker is the last thing he wants. So, after a long death stare, he gave a stiff nod— and followed the stranger back to his table.