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Impulse Control

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                                                                                              𝓘𝓶𝓹𝓾𝓵𝓼𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓻𝓸𝓵


                                                                          

 

 

There is no doubt in his mind that Lan Zhan loves him. No doubt that he’s more than the love of his life; the phrase feels light on his tongue when he uses it, whether jokingly or serious, and his brain rattles around for something deeper. He calls him soulmate, his life partner, his husband, and sometimes those can’t grasp what they have together. They’re bonded mates, fated, destined to be together in every life they live. They’re alpha and omega, which doesn’t necessarily mean much to Wei Wuxian, but he supposes that’s what got him into this mess in the first place. 

 

He has no doubt that Lan Zhan loves him but he also knows with everything that pumps the blood throughout his circulation that sometimes . . . 

 

He can be embarrassing.

 

Wei Wuxian also knows with his entire being that he can be childish, have poor impulse control, lack better judgement. That’s why they’re so perfect together. Lan Zhan balanced his scales like they were two different elements entirely, making themselves up in their own ways. They were diverse by all means but equal in all parts. 

 

Well, they were , until Lan Zhan had mated him, marked him, bonded him, and taken Wei Wuxian as his omega. Now, not so much. And by the heavens above, that wasn’t going to stop Wei Wuxian in any way, shape or form. 

 

He wasn’t a stereotypical or standard omega, he knew that from the start, had been shamed and teased for it as long as he could remember. Even leading as the young master in the Jiang Clan wasn’t typical of an omega; it wasn’t unheard of at all but it certainly wasn’t average. Most omegas didn’t seem to want to learn swords or fight, they train to be mates, not brassy and blunt cultivators. Madam Yu had spent years trying to convince him to give up his talismans and his sword and do something tamer, but giving her temperament, it had always ended in standstill. Wei Wuxian watched the other omegas around him grow to be graceful, respectful, and sensible beings. He . . . wasn’t really any of those things.

 

He was respectful, of course; until disrespected. He was graceful and nimble, until he wasn’t. Omegas don’t scale walls, they told him, they don’t clatter amongst the roofs, or play in the dirt, they don’t make talismans for pranks, don’t speak out of turn. He couldn’t help that all of those things were so essentially him . He was sensible he supposed but he was also foolish and young, still learning about the world around him as well as his own being. Being annoying and cocky was his brand, and being one of the strongest swordsman and cultivators while being an omega was his life. No one could take that away. 

 

Until Lan Zhan. 

 

Wei Wuxian knows that maybe deep down, he meant well. He was raised in the conservative Lan Clan of Cloud Recesses, where things were bland and boring, but predictable. They had sects, scripts and scrolls, books upon books. They never ran out of ink nor a reason to discipline him. They had elders with opinions that Wei Wuxian often rivaled, they had people of all different types of first and secondary genders, open-minded and accepting. But they also had restrictions. These seemed to quite literally restrict Wei Wuxian, squeeze the adventurous streak out of him, and sometimes he felt like he couldn’t breathe under all the rules and scoldings, all the questions and explanations. He felt his stomach tighten at times when the other omegas gave him looks, exchanged glances. Talking behind others’ backs was forbidden but talking with your eyes was an entirely different talent they had no rules about and crafted to perfection. In fact, it sometimes seemed to be a second weapon against him. He’d seen Lan Zhan wield pierceful gazes but being on the other end from strangers just made the urge to disobey stronger . He thought he had nothing to prove. 

 

He was wrong.

 

He had to prove he was smart, diligent, kind, worthy of respect, not a child, not helpless. Others knew this. They treated him that way. But whether or not it was out of respect for him or his alpha, he sometimes couldn’t tell. He can never quite put his finger on how the other omegas regard him. Everyone knew that there was no discussion when it came to Wei Wuxian’s safety, or offences. But his feelings? 

 

That was a different story.

 

No one cared if he felt unheard, if he was upset with the rules, if he felt things were unfair. He was Lan Zhan’s omega, and being a young master married to the second young master of the Lan Clan had more restrictions than it did benefits. He had Lan Zhan to answer to, but all eyes were on him, all the time. He represented not only the Jiang Clan but the Lan Clan as well and the pressure tightened its hold on him, held him under its grip until he felt himself splitting at the seams. 

 

All eyes were on him.

 

Literally.

 

“Wei Ying!” Lan Zhan’s voice wasn’t as stern as it could be and he knows it’s because right now, Lan Zhan is bewildered . He’s completely at a loss for what to do with the omega writhing on the ground, smacking the soil with his open palms in protest of being denied to tag along on the night hunt. ‘It’s too dangerous’, they tell him, ‘mated omegas may not attend night hunts’. It’s unfair and it’s blasphemous ! There’s no such rules back home where he’s from and he can’t really see the meaning behind it to begin with.

 

So, he throws himself onto the ground in the middle of the argument and listens to his short-circuiting brain telling him to throw a tantrum. Just do it! Just flop down and wave your limbs! He knows he’s technically an adult now, even if it’s only by a couple years. He’d married Lan Zhan shortly after their lessons had ended in Cloud Recesses, a marriage considered young and naive, and couldn’t have been happier, more than surprised at the alpha’s proposal. He accepted because he knew what love was. Love was Lan Zhan; love was the smell of him pressed up against Wei Wuxian at night, how he sometimes snuck in liquor and looked the other way, how he stroked the rabbits in the grove with his lithe fingers, how his brows creased when he couldn’t follow the omega’s train of speech. Love was festivals and rainstorms, the first snowfall of the season, the thick wood scent of the library. It was his hair being braided, the nape of his neck being kissed, biting down on his husband’s savory collarbones, every little reaction he pulled from him as he teased him from the classrooms. It was light, ever-lasting, it was dark, and full of deep and painful secrets. He never regretted it. It was love.

 

He wonders how in love with him Lan Zhan is when he does things like this.

 

No, no, he can’t wonder, really, he can’t gauge any reaction because he’s never done anything like this.

 

He’s cursed and yelled and laughed too hard, smiled for no reason, snorted while eating, talked back time after time to anyone and everyone, his husband included. He’s ranted and raved and ran when it was forbidden, he’s danced too hard and sung too loud, and pissed people off, annoyed the others, but he’s never thrown a tantrum. He’s argued and stormed off, crossed his arms, cried frustrated tears, maybe stomped his foot once or twice, but he’s never rolled in the dirt like an animal refusing to be moved, like a child demanding what they want. So, he has no idea what Lan Zhan is thinking. 

 

He has no idea what he himself thinks.

 

There are no thoughts, really; he just does what his body tells him to, on impulse, yells half-heartedly anything that comes to mind. The filter between his brain and his mouth is gone, leaving the others at mercy to his sharp tongue. But there’s no insults, no pleas, no begging--just pent up frustration, resentment for the rules, sadness maybe.

 

“Wei Ying. Get up this instant,” his feels his husband tug on arm, all five of his fingers latched onto his entire wrist, but he pulls back, his face smooshing against the ground. He’s going to be forced to bathe after this, he knows it.

 

“No, no, no, no, no!”

 

“Wei Ying.”

 

Lan Zhan saying his name feels final, like it’s a last warning before something . . . but what? He knows of nothing that can be done and he continues to kick while his husband attempts to pick him up and drag him away from the prying eyes of the others who are gathered from a well enough distance that they can’t be contributing to the event, while being close enough to be ruled an audience. No one is laughing or smirking or pointing and for that, Wei Wuxian is grateful. They just gape with wide eyes as if they can’t really believe Lan Wangji has such an untamed and unruly omega, shame being brought down upon him for acting so childish and preposterous. 

 

Another tug and Wei Wuxian cries out, turning back onto his stomach to fake tears. He’s good at that, honestly. Years of being a dramatic and obnoxious brother to Jiang Cheng has perfected this talent, although Lan Zhan does not seem to be as easily convinced.

 

“Why won’t you let me go! It’s not fair! You can’t keep me locked up! Let me gooo, Lan Zhan, let me go! L--no, no, don’t tug me!”

 

“Get up then.”

 

“No, I won’t, I’m not going to!”

 

Wei Wuxian uses the entirety of his strength to stay on the ground, clawing his fingernails into the dirt as if it’s going to stop him from being picked up. He wonders if anyone will intervene and remove him before Lan Zhan does so himself. He wonders if any of the elders will. 

 

He turns his head when a pair of shoes crunch amongst the pebbles, seeing Lan Zhan already looking up at his brother, who’s smiling if only to conceal a laugh. From where Lan Xichen has come from, he doesn’t know. Had someone fetched him upon seeing the scene? Had he come on his own? Had he maybe heard a ruckus and investigated? If that was the case, maybe Lan Qiren was also on his way. And he isn’t looking forward to it if it is. He’s not sure why Lan Xichen looks so naturally amused with him always but he knows he has a kind opinion of Wei Wuxian, holds him with high regards, much higher than his uncle. He knows he can count on him.

 

“My goodness,” he crouches down to Wei Wuxian’s side, grasping his sleeve in one hand, “what’s the matter, Young Master Wei?”

 

“Brother . . .”

 

“It’s alright, let him speak,” Lan Xichen hushes his brother. 

 

Wei Wuxian isn’t speaking or fussing anymore, just lying on the ground like a helpless doll, feeling spent and equally stupid. He doesn’t lift his head up nor does he move. He is ridiculous. No wonder the other omegas are wary of him. If he’s capable of something like this then what else is he going to do in the future?

 

“You know, it is forbidden for mated omegas to go on night hunts, whether or not their mate is present. Do you know why that is?” Lan Xichen’s voice is as soothing as ever, like he understands the very reason Wei Wuxian has done this when he himself does not. He listens to him speak, his rapid breathing slowing, “that is in case they are with child, or have children. I mean no offence but whether or not you two have mated, it is still a rule, and one we abide by and have done so for generations. Do you understand that, Young Master Wei?”

 

Wei Wuxian didn’t think of that. Maybe . . . it makes sense. Maybe it does. There aren’t always ways to tell if one is pregnant, but if that’s the case, the sect should specifically state that all mates with the ability to bear children should not attend night hunts. There is no such rule. He knows it, like he knows the many other rules of the Gusu Lan Sect. He has something to say about this for sure.

 

“How about we speak about this? Get up, and go have a meeting if it concerns you?”

 

That’s one way to get him up; a meeting where his voice may be heard has him pushing himself up off the ground in seconds, though he keeps his eyes cast down in shame. Lan Zhan is watching the pair of them intensely, lips pursed in a frown. Or maybe it’s deep thought. He’s not really looking at him and he’s much too nervous to. He’s embarrassed the both of them thoroughly today. He doesn’t think he can even face his mate right now as his lawfully wedded husband let alone as a member of his clan . . . 

 

“Wei Ying,” 

 

He feels Lan Zhan press a hand to the small of his back to guide him inside and away from where the others are now scattering, pretending they hadn’t witnessed the event that had gone down. He’s surprised to see that Lan Qiren hasn’t made an appearance as of yet. If he had, Wei Wuxian certainly would’ve been tugged up and marched inside and punished immediately. Maybe he would’ve have been physically punished as well. The thought of that has his breath stuttering from within his trachea and the adrenaline rush he’s received from his fit is now leaving him in a sudden and drastic drop.

 

He allows the brother to guide him up the stairs, and inside, confused at the sudden turn of his mindset. He’s no longer enraged with the intention to lash out at others for their rules but calm and serene, feeling a little empty. He just stares ahead as he climbs the steps one by one, a little numb, definitely shamed. He feels bad .

 

He’s bad, bad, bad.

 

What if Lan qiren finds out? He surely will. What if Madam Yu and Jiang Fengmian receive word of this? That would be a disgrace. Jiang Cheng would never let him live it down, give him shit for marrying so young, for being so careless, but maybe he’d have his back as well. Jiang Cheng was difficult like that. He changed like the tides. 

 

But his sister would defend him, with no doubt. Maybe, scold him a little, laugh at him, make him feel like less of an ignominy. But she would be there for him and understand him and validate his concerns. He needs that right now. Validation. He thinks maybe that’s what love is, also. It’s belief in validation, it’s authentication of ones’ wishes, of their wants as well as their needs. Lan Zhan does that, he validates him, he allows him to be himself, but there’s also the feeling that sometimes he’s being smothered. He tells himself it’s just about being protected, it’s just a rule for protection, but he can’t help but question that feeling that had overwhelmed him to the point of throwing himself onto the dirt outside to be made a spectacle of.

 

He shakingly grabs Lan Zhan’s hand. Lan Zhan lets him, doesn’t look at him, doesn’t flinch, just squeezes the palm of his hand in a reassuring manner. There needn’t be words spoken or expressions traded, no worries voiced just yet. Just a squeeze of the hand. That’s how he knows.

 

That’s how he knows Lan Zhan truly loves him.



Chapter Text

It doesn’t take very long for Wei Ying’s point to be shut down. Lan Wangji listens to him as intently as possible, taking in every possible scenario he brings up, the hitch in his breath, pays attention to the look in his eyes that goes from glistening to glossy to glum. Lan Wangji feels bad that he can’t do anything to make Wei Ying feel any better but he himself doesn’t want him coming along for the night hunt. It’s irrational and selfish but sometimes he does think about what could happen to him in the worst case scenario and he’d rather keep him here, locked up in safe and sturdy Cloud Recesses, than to let him tag along. He’s a greedy man and he knows it.

 

“Because if that’s the rule than any mate who can have children should be banned from night hunts!” Wei Ying looks a little regretful while he says it but he speaks with such eagerness that the brothers listen to him without interrupting. “I mean, of course it’s not very typical for alphas to get pregnant but betas still can, so I ask you, are they allowed on the hunts?”

 

“The answer is no if they are already pregnant, Young Master Wei.” Lan Xichen answers calmly. Bless his brother’s soul for being the mediator in all times. Lan Wangji thinks it’s better that they discuss the issue, omega to omega.

 

Yet, at the rate his husband is going, he’s going to get everyone banned from night hunts. 

 

“Wait, really?”

 

“Yes,” 

 

“But the rule is so specific! Then why are omegas who aren’t pregnant not allowed?” The betrayal in his voice is evident to Lan Wangji only. He knows him better than Wei Ying knows himself and he can hear the gears turning in his head to figure this one out.

 

“Omegas are the most fertile people, and out of the entire child bearing population, most are omega. It’s an out-dated rule perhaps and one that may change with discussion. But in this very moment, it is still intact. Can you not miss this one hunt? There will be many others, I assure you. Missing one won’t hurt,”

 

Lan Xichen’s words are meant to soothe Wei Ying, but it does the opposite. He can start to smell the distress coming off of him in waves, overwhelming his nose, but Lan Wangji says nothing. Just watches his husband debate.

 

“Say I miss this one hunt. Then the next hunt is just one hunt. And one after the other. It’s not just about the integrity of this rule . . . Lan Zhan is my husband. I can’t accompany my husband on night hunt? As another cultivator?”

 

“Young Master Wei, I didn’t mean it like that.” Lan Xichen’s expression is one of regret but he smiles nonetheless, “I understand. You forget that my own alpha is away at times for business, some of which include night hunts. I understand the anxiety. But there is not much I can do to permit you to go. I’m sorry,”

 

For what it’s worth, his brother does look sorry, but Wei Ying just nods slowly and when the nods don’t stop, Lan Wangji knows it’s time to cut the meeting to a close. The heavens above have blessed them with the absence of his uncle because if he were here, there would be much more to this meeting than a simple debate. 

 

“Wei Ying. It’s alright. Let’s go,”

 

Lan Wangji gives his brother a pointed look as he wraps an arm around his mate and Lan Xichen excuses himself just as easily as he had arrived. Lan Wangji doesn’t wait to start scenting his mate, who’s still covered in the dirt and the dewy grass of Cloud Recesses grounds. He smells a bit from the layer of sweat he’d excreted during his fit and the scent of stress currently being pumped out from his scent glands. He’s more upset and annoyed than he is actually sad, he can tell. But he desperately needs a bath and Lan Wangji refuses to bathe him until he smells right again.

 

“Lan Zhan . . . please?” his voice is small and weak, not like the usual powerful and abrasive tone he uses to try and get what he wants. It’s an obvious beg, a last resort for Wei Ying, who is undoubtedly so prideful, lacking the recoil from the scorn of others. He seems so small like this, so soft, and Lan Wangji feels a bit of himself crumble and die inside when he has to tell him no.

 

No is not a word his mate hears often. Even from the other cultivators or the other omegas, there’s hesitance, good will and meaningful intentions, but never the word no. Wei Ying is a capable and skilled cultivator and one does best by listening and observing rather than stopping him or getting in his way. He doesn’t hear no very often save for simple, childish acts like drinking and breaking curfew and even then, the no is met with drastic dramatics his husband plays out like he’s seeking the attention. He knows that he is not and that is just how he is but nonetheless ‘no’ feels wrong to him. Maybe he spoils Wei Ying (he knows he does) but this is something that he refuses to budge on. He considers it no longer up for discussion with the end of their meeting.

Another time, perhaps. There definitely needs to be a change in the rules. It is old-fashioned and not in any tasteful manner. Maybe there needs to be other rules to make up for this outdated one. But right now, he needs to bathe him and scent him before he leaves. So no is no whether or not either of them like it.

 

He finishes scenting his mate before going and starting to fill up the basin, feeling Wei Ying’s eyes watching his every move. He’s going to either bring out the daggers of his eyes or strike him down with the big, rounded eyes he uses to beg like a puppy. Lan Zhan knows that he is susceptible to either and he knows that his husband knows this just as well. 

 

Sure enough, the moment he turns around, Wei Ying is staring at him with widened eyes and Lan Wangji swears he can see every constellation wrapped up perfectly within them. His eyes have always been his weak spot, a weakness if he ever had one. He’s weak for Wei Ying, and he’s selfish to want those eyes all to himself. He’s a stumbling mess inside his own head fighting with a voice of reason, fighting the need to keep his mate, his husband, tucked by his side at all costs. But he wants him safe and sound. And nothing is going to assure his safety more than the fact that Wei Ying would be waiting for him to come home, not once touching the bed without him. 

 

So, maybe, no can be no.

 

“Wei Ying,” he calls out to his silently pleading husband, “come bathe.”

 

“You’re not getting undressed. Are you not going to bathe with me?” Wei Ying barely unties his outer robes before he’s questioning Lan Wangji, his arms crossed suspiciously. Lan Wangji looks at him.

 

“I didn’t roll in dirt.”

 

“I--you--I mean . . .” Wei Ying struggles to find the right words to lash back at him and Lan Wangji gives him a small smile. He’s glad he’s not offended or upset by the fact pointed out so clearly to him. There’s still a mark of dirt on his face from where he’d been lying on the ground and while he was cute all roughed up, he looked much nicer scrubbed clean. He steps to the side to stroll back to the bed to strip and Lan Wangji gives him privacy by focusing his efforts on finding his husband’s soap. It’s a distinct lavender scent that masks most other scents and he’s found it to have a calming effect on Wei Ying. He loves running it over Wei Ying’s shoulders, massaging it into his scent glands, hearing Wei Ying purr in delight. There’s nothing that stirs the pride in his chest than to listen to him purr. He, Lan Wangji, Wei Ying’s alpha, second master of the Lan Clan, being able to provide such safety and comfort that his cultivator husband could purr in his arms. The very thought of it made his heart blossom. Purring was blissful.

 

He inhales the soap before nodding to himself. In a manner of minutes Wei Ying would smell like himself again, like how he wanted him to, and he could be on his merry way to leave for the night hunt. It’s not far, he knows, it’s not a big hunt. It’s small. But still more than enough for Wei Ying to fuss over. He can’t blame him. It’s not only a big chance in his lifestyle but a large disappointment. 

 

He wonders if Wei Ying is truly happy.

 

“Is that my soap?” Wei Ying is grabbing the bottle out of his hand, having sneaked up on him, sniffing it with wide eyes that no longer held hostility or request. He’s wearing a thin white robe to cover up and while he’s examining the soap in a playful manner, he’s not moving. Lan Wangji admires his hair being down to frame his face for a few quiet seconds. His husband is truly a beautiful man. But when he realizes he’s not getting in the tub he frowns. What was he up to?

 

“With all due respect, beautiful husband, I’d rather bathe alone. I mean, I kind of smell, right, and it’s weird just being the only naked one in the room, or the only one bathing. What were you going to do? Bathe me with your robe on? Wouldn’t I get water all over you, or soap? You can’t go on a night hunt covered in special omega soap, can you? Oh, right, it’s not omega soap . . . but it smells like it. It’s super sweet, right? Lan Zhan? Were you going to stay?”

 

Lan Wangji lets him finish before his eyes flicker upward. “Was going to scent you.”

 

“Oh. Before my bath? Isn’t that defeating the entire purpose of--oh, you meant after the bath! Oh, well, I guess . . . I should get in?” Wei Ying hangs his head at the sudden realization and Lan Wangji turns his head to the side while he tosses his robe onto the floor. “Oh, wow!  That’s kind of cold. Hey. It’s okay to look, you know, it’s not like you haven’t seen anythi”--

 

“Wei Ying,”

 

“Sorry, sorry, but it’s true! Although, I do have to admit, it’s endearing that you still respect my privacy.” Wei Ying praises him from where he’s soaking in the water, waiting for him to turn back to him. The ends of his hair are soaking the water up fast and he’s smiling like he’s forgotten that Lan Wangji is leaving him behind soon. His bright smiles are rare, where he smiles with his eyes, and his nose, and Lan Wangji is so very fond of them that he can’t help but crouch down and meet his husband’s gaze. He’s breathtaking. “W-why are you staring at me?”

 

“Beautiful.”

 

“Oh,” the water might be too cool for him to blush but he still stutters, breathless, like it’s the first time he’s receiving a compliment from him. He doesn’t break eye contact as he pours the soap over his open palm, bits of it dribbling off the side and into the water. He looks nervous like it’s their first time together and his heart is skipping beats. Lan Wangji has no idea what his heart is doing and he keeps his hands to himself. He spaces out a bit while Wei Ying starts to wash up quickly, complaining about the temperature of the water, his hair getting in the way every so often. He waits so he can finally breathe him in and scent him, spreading his thick sandalwood aroma all over him. He wants it in his hair, on his skin, on his clothes, and to taste his own scent on the lips of his beloved. So he waits. 

 

And he waits.

 

And he waits.

 

He doesn’t know if Wei Ying’s constant chatter is intentional or simply nerves but he talks more than he washes himself. He doesn’t wash his hair, really, but that’s okay; he just talks about the scent of the soap and how it’s sweet, something his elder sister would use, and how the scent reminds him of her. Lan Wangji doesn’t think it smells like her but he barely remembers her scent. He hasn’t seen her for more than a few moments in quite a long time but Wei Ying finding comfort in this scent because it represented family was charming. He associates smells beyond people to entire concepts. 

 

Soon enough, Wei Ying is finishing up and Lan Wangji decides that it’s enough. He needs to leave any minute now and it’s enough because Wei Ying smells just right. He’s safe in their home, he’s clean, he seems to be in a happier mood, and Lan Wangji is ready to scent him to high heavens. 

 

He starts by simply massaging the glands on his shoulder, gliding over his shoulder blades in elusive movements. Wei Ying lets out the tiniest of moans and Lan Wangji waits until he’s taking a deep breath to rub his wrists along the nape of Wei Ying’s neck, and along the ridges of his shoulder. The movements are steep and strong and Wei Ying seems to relax under his touch. It seems to be going okay so he leans in closer and experiments by rubbing his cheek along Wei Ying’s. This gives Wei Ying a chance to refuse him if he chooses, he’ll never mind if he does, but when he does no such thing Lan Wangji proceeds. The position is tight and awkward but he rubs his neck glands along Wei Ying’s in a rougher motion. He scents him harder now, their skin rutting together, wet and slightly chilly, goosebumps littering their arms as he does so. Wei Ying lets out a small giggle and reaches a hand back to pierce his fingers into Lan Wangji’s hair. He’s a little riled up now so he continues with the intensity he’s going but changes to a circular motion. He can smell himself on Wei Ying now. 

 

Mission accomplished.

 

He’s almost finished when Wei Ying turns awkwardly in the tub and rubs his own wrist against Lan Wangji’s neck. He stops, surprised, but lets Wei Ying continue to scent him back. He lets him slide his wrist down from the tip of his earlobe to his shoulder and forwards to his clavicle, the fabric of his outer robes pushed to the side. He pulls it down just a bit and gives him a nod. Wei Ying repeats the same routine on either side and soon he’s smelling a mix of them with just the tiniest hint of lavender left underneath. 

 

It smells like home. 

 

Wei Ying’s eyes never leave his, the constellations in his eyes promising, leading him to the right path, never to be lost again.



Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian sulks after his husband leaves. 

 

He says goodbye with a flurry of kisses in all different places; his mouth, lips, cheeks, his neck. Lan Wangji needs to gently pry him off of him. He almost feels a little guilty for how sorry his husband seemed but it was also definitely a punishment for him leaving him behind. So, Wei Wuxian makes him regret it with sweet kisses peppered amongst his skin and bittersweet goodbyes. He was going to be as clingy as he needed to be, as clingy as he wanted; because it wasn’t until after he had left Wei Wuxian had discovered exactly why his husband looked so guilty.

 

“Open! Arrrggh , stupid, stupid, stupid door!” 

 

Wei Wuxian screams while he kicks the door to their home, trying to pry it open with his fingers as well. Suibian doesn’t work and neither does slamming his body against it. He only tries that once. It doesn’t budge. It’s sealed shut, just like the windows were before, and the back entrance as well. Every simple exit to the house is sealed shut and his spells aren’t working. Most of his talismans are suspiciously misplaced. When no one answers to his screaming (which he’s bewildered by since loud noise is forbidden ) he gives up and sits on the floor. A part of him is worried he’s headed towards another meltdown but he just crosses his arms and rocks side to side in a self-soothing motion. He’s got to think now. 

 

He can’t leave so there’s not much he can do. 

 

He had been planning to fake going into town for liquor as a cover to follow the disciples to their night hunt but that had been spoiled the moment he’d been locked in, which was shortly after he finished kissing his husband goodbye, and getting dressed. He cursed Lan Zhan for knowing him well enough to know he would not only attempt to sneak out but through any small crevices such as the back windows as well. 

 

Too smart. 

 

Now, he has no idea where they are, what town they were heading to (maybe it was Caiyi? He’d only heard it once) or whether or not they were safe. The longer he sat there, the more he began to shake. How could he have done this to him? Betray his trust and lock him in here? He wasn’t a bird nor a pet. Cloud Recesses forbade pets, he laughs to himself. He’s not Lan Zhan’s, he’s his own person, and yet he thought it was acceptable to keep him here? Lock him up? Even if he was to follow them (he was certainly) it was still uncalled for and soon his racing thoughts were spiralling into fury. He shook not with fear or hurt but with anger. The type of anger that would absolutely cause him to speak out of turn and say something wicked. He’d never been one to hold his tongue and there was a small spark in the back of his brain that ignited whenever he felt like this.

 

Disgraceful, he was.

 

And yet it never bothers him that he says things that are swingeing. He often felt that people were made to speak and not listen and he was not one of them. He could dish it out just as well as he could take it and it wasn’t on him if they couldn’t handle the truth. That’s what he needed. To speak until his jaw ached, to give everybody here a piece of his mind for ignoring his cries to open the door, for aiing in keeping him locked up like an animal. 

 

A gentle knock on the door pries him away from his thoughts and he clambers to his feet, clumsy from his muzzy thoughts. He stays quiet for a moment, hoping that it’s not one of the elders. Maybe, if it’s another omega, they can help him.

 

“Young Master Wei? Are you awake?”

 

Wei Wuxian lets out a long, exaggerated sigh. Of course Lan Xichen would show up while he’s waiting by the door like a dog. 

 

“What do you want?” there’s no bite behind his words but he sounds a little sad so he continues with a bolder tone. “The door is sealed shut. You can’t come in even if you wanted to.”

 

“Actually, I can,” his voice is slow and gentle. Upon hearing this news, Wei Wuxian is pressed up against the door in a minute, hands clasping at the smoothly sanded wood frame.

 

“Can you? Would you? Open the door, please?”

 

“I came to sit with you, and to give you the news that everyone has arrived safely. I’ve brought tea, if you don’t mind.”

 

Wei Wuxian doesn’t want tea! He wants to be let out of his own home-turned-prison and set off after his husband. But, since Lan Xichen is here, he can’t do that. He knows the man will stop him. He may be a kind and fair person but he is still a powerful cultivator. Fighting him will surely lead to something more than a punishment. Something sorrowful, dooming, damning to him . . . 

 

And to Lan Zhan.

 

“Young Master Wei?”

 

Lan Xichen’s voice calls to him again, this time softer, and if it weren’t for the absolute silence amongst the room he would not have heard it. He sighs. He supposes there’s nothing to do but drink bland tea and wait. It seems that’s all he’s been doing lately; waiting. But he’s gotten good at it. He’ll wait until Lan Zhan returns, he’ll wait to give everyone a dish well served cold, he’ll wait for the rules to change. There is no virtue such as patience that the Cloud Recesses prides themselves on more. 

 

“Come in.”

 

Wei Wuxian nearly falls on his ass at the lifting of the spell, bright and orange, like fireworks on the piers of Yunmeng in the summer and he waits with breath stored in his chest. There’s a brief second where he considers springing the door open and making a run for it but that fantasy is shattered by the gentle sliding of the door. Sure enough, Lan Xichen is holding a tray for tea, and shuts the door behind him with a quick motion. 

 

He looks different at night. There’s something intrepid about him. His hair is let down a little more than during the daytime, flowing around his shoulders carelessly, and he seems less formal. Lan Xichen is always formal with everyone. He’s polite and courteous and smiles whenever he’s feeling offended to ward off any negative energy. That’s just who he is.

 

Wei Wuxian is not him.

 

He doesn’t smile when his brother-in-law sits at the table and begins to set it, pouring tea and paying Wei Wuxian’s pout no mind. He doesn’t even look at him. 

 

“How are you feeling? I know that a sealing spell was a very dramatic route to take. But Wangji insisted,”

 

Wei Wuxian barely registers the question from his place near the door. Despite having clear access to it now, he just sits against it, resting his head in his hand. 

 

“My own husband, huh?” he giggles a little and Lan Xichen’s relaxed face falls into a frown.

 

“If the door had not been sealed . . . would you have gone after them? Be honest.”

 

The two share thick tension as Wei Wuxian sits up and finally stares. Lan Xichen’s face is unreadable. He’s good at that, really good, to have such a poker face in such a situation. His inability to answer is all the man needs. Lan Xichen nods to himself and smiles.

 

“You’re brave, Young Master Wei, truly. But still, it’s important that you abide by our rules for just a bit longer. One night hunt is all you’ll miss. I promise that.”

 

“Oh? You’re going to change the rules?” Wei Wuxian’s skeptical but he plays along.

 

“I’m going to propose the idea in a meeting tomorrow, yes. I do think that I, too, would like to accompany my husband on trips and that there is nothing wrong with it. Am I not a cultivator? Have I not been on night hunts before? Just one, I promise. And we can miss this one together,”

 

Wei Wuxian’s aggression deflates. He can’t be mad at Lan Xichen, he just can’t. Who could ? With a voice as smooth as silk and eyes so warm and understanding. It’s no wonder he’s so popular and respected amongst all of the clans while Wei Wuxian sits here being seen as . . . some sort of spectacle by them. He thinks briefly back to this morning and throwing himself onto the ground and it’s enough to make him laugh nervously. No, he can’t be mad with Lan Xichen, who doesn’t make the rules but only enforces them because that’s his job. He’s not evil enough to be upset with him.

 

He hurries over to the table now to his brother-in-law’s surprise and sits quickly, taking his hand. “Zewu Jun . . . I have a question. And please, tell me the truth. Be honest with me, I can take it, I promise.”

 

“Of course,” he looks so earnest that it’s a shame about what’s going to come out of Wei Wuxian’s mouth next.

 

“Am I embarrassing? Today, what I did . . .”

 

Lan Xichen is thrown off by the question, as most people would be, but Wei Wuxian bores into him with the same eyes he uses to beg his alpha for things he doesn’t really need like long afternoons down by the falls and spices Lan Zhan hates. But, it’s something he brings up because he can’t shake the feeling that after his fit, no one is going to think of him in a well-respected manner. It had been to voice his thoughts and to protest being denied to tag along but in the end had it worked for him at all? Or had it hurt his efforts? Has he made a fool of himself?

 

“Wei Wuxian,” Lan Xichen doesn’t remove his hand from the youngers’ grip, “what you did today was understandable. Your emotions got the best of you. It happens. But that being said try not to let it happen again. Wangji and I are on your side, after all. There is nothing you need to hide from us. There’s nothing you need to bottle up.”

 

Wei Wuxian nods at that. That’s nearly a perfect answer. It’s not a yes or a no but it’s more validating than any other answer he was expecting. Suddenly, he feels less bashful and smiles, bouncing up to sit on his knees, ready to talk the evening away.

 

“Oh! The news! Tell me the news! Where have they gone, and what town is it? Are they safe? Has anything happened since? And what are they even hunting? I heard one of the elders talking this morning about a spirit but--oh, I wasn’t eavesdropping though, it was just at breakfast, so it was out in the open! I swear.”

 

Lan Xichen chuckles and shakes his head slightly.

 

“You’re fine. It is a spirit that has been haunting a manor in Caiyi, yes. They are safe and have finally arrived with no issues. They should be back tomorrow night or the following morning at the earliest. There’s nothing you should worry about.”

 

For some reason that makes Wei Wuxian think about worrying. He hasn’t been worried. He knows his husband is quite capable of defending himself and others and has seen first hand the artistry of his cultivation, the mastering of his skills. He is talented but he more so he is hard working. He doesn’t worry about his safety too much. He’s ashamed to realize he was more upset at being shut in than worried about Lan Zhan’s safety and the guilt starts to stir in his stomach. He shouldn’t be worrying about some childish argument to have when he comes back. He should worry about whether or not his precious Lan Zhan will come back.

 

He holds no more anger now.

 

“Zewu Jun . . .” Wei Wuxian finds it hard to be sincere but he forces the words out before he can really think about them, “thank you. For keeping me company.”

 

“Of course.” There is nothing but fondness in his brother-in-law’s eyes and Wei Wuxian finally lets himself grow lax, wishing now that he was allowed to drink. But he has no liquor just mild tea. He grips the teacup and holds it in his hands. It’s hot and soothing but he doesn’t drink it just yet.

 

“I never even asked . . . has your husband gone along with everyone else? With Lan Zhan?”

 

“He has not. He is currently resting.”

 

“Oh, so you ditched your husband to spend time with me! Nice!” he sips his tea and giggles, showing his teeth, knowing that Lan Xichen is not doing this out of pity or duty. He simply enjoys Wei Wuxian’s company and is there to provide comfort and stability in a time of uncertainty. He is a solid deck among shaky waters.

 

“Perhaps I did. And I would do it again.”

 

Wei Wuxian gasps out loud and slams his cup on the table, completely forgetting the rules. He points a finger and squeals with delight.

 

“I’m telling! I’m telling him you said that! You’d rather be with me! Admit it! I'm your favorite in all of Gusu!”

 

"You're my favorite." 

 

He teases Lan Xichen for a bit and completely forgets about the unsealed door. He’s rowdy and annoying and doesn’t stop smiling and never once does Lan Xichen correct his behavior. Better yet, no one comes to check up on them, to tell them that Wei Wuxian is being too loud. He doesn’t know why no one disturbs them then but he doesn’t care. He’s having actual fun!

 

And so is Lan Xichen.



Chapter Text

They do not arrive back tomorrow night, or the following morning as Lan Xichen has predicted. They do arrive back the following afternoon while everyone is busy and not waiting around. No one informs Wei Wuxian of their arrival and he knows nothing of it until he hears the group of cultivators discussing the poor spirit they’d had to exorcise as he’s getting ready to skip the day’s lecture by roaming up to the grove. He is on their heels instantly, walking as fast as possible as to not attract attention.

 

He greets the others quickly, but politely, before blurting out the demands to Lan Zhan’s whereabouts. “Sir; has Lan Zhan arrived with you? Where is he? He’s come back, too, right?”

 

Wei Wuxian doesn’t remember the man’s name for the life of him (he should get better at that, really, he should) but the man doesn’t seem to note it at all. “He has . . . but we don’t know where he is. Maybe”--

 

Wei Wuxian doesn’t wait for him to finish before he’s rushing off again. Where was his husband? Why had he not come to see him straight away? Didn’t he know Wei Wuxian has been anxiously awaiting his arrival, keeping notes on his thoughts and topics he wants to speak about? Does he not wonder how he’s doing, after being shut in like a silly little pet? This isn’t something he could’ve predicted nor is it normal for Lan Zhan. Maybe something had happened on the night hunt and he was speaking with his uncle or brother. That has to be why. Yes, there was no other reason as to why Lan zhan wouldn’t have come straight to him after arriving. Only . . . 

 

Lan Qiren was giving today’s lecture, and his brother in law would be there as well. That makes no sense.

 

But he theorizes. Okay, maybe instead, Lan Zhan actually went to lecture? He was certainly a stickler for the rules but it makes no sense as to why lecture came before his mate. Perhaps there was a part of him that had believed that the lecture was more important than kissing his own mate and assuring him that all was well? After locking him in their own house? No. It doesn’t make sense. He’s skeptical of this but it doesn’t stop him from stomping up the steps and throwing the doors open to the current classroom anyway. All heads instantly whip around to view him curiously. Upon seeing that it is him, Wei Wuxian, most of the students turn back around. Lan Xichen frowns but says nothing. It is only Lan Qiren who glares.

 

“Wei Wuxian! What”--

 

“Sorry!”

 

Upon seeing that his husband is not there either, he quickly slams the doors shut and bolts before anyone can catch him. Lan Qiren wouldn’t stop a lecture just to try and catch him for something as simple as interrupting his class. Of course it had been rude but he threw out any guilt he felt quickly as he headed towards the library. Lan Zhan was always in the library and that was the easiest way to find him. Maybe he is researching something that had happened during the night hunt. Wei Wuxian could help him! After all, if he wasn’t allowed to attend, the least he could do was provide assistance from afar, right?

 

“Lan Zhan?” his voice sounds so mellow in its whisper as he stalks around the library, checking between every shelf, circling it twice. There was no one there at all. He sighs and places his hands on his hips, taking a moment to think. He knew his husband well enough by now and he knew Cloud Recesses like the back of his hand. Where could he be ?

 

Rabbit Grove!

 

Maybe Lan Zhan had come here to see their growing family of rabbits and clear his head before coming back. Maybe things hadn’t gone so well and he wasn’t in the right mindset to see Wei Wuxian just yet. That was a more plausible theory than any he’d dreamed up so far. Class before him ? Unheard of.

 

He leaves the library at a normal pace, hoping no one will call out to him or stop him. No one does. No one pays him any mind, really. He paces himself until he’s well out of sight and picks up his pace to a jog. Running means he’s panicked, and he’s not panicking just yet. He’s certainly frustrated to have to be searching the ends of the earth for his husband but he’s not panicked. His fellow cultivator has told him that Lan Zhan had arrived back safe so there’s nothing for him to worry about!

 

 Once he comes to the clearing, he rushes over towards the rabbits, confused to find only the rabbits hopping about and nibbling on their grass. Lan Zhan isn’t here either. He’s tried the library, all around the house, the pavillion, the grove. Should he try the waterfalls? The creek? Or maybe . . . 

 

He should try the cold springs.

 

It’s weird that he second guesses himself but he shakes his head and tries to reason with his nervousness. Just because Lan Zhan is at the cold springs doesn’t mean he’s hurt. Maybe he’s just tired. Maybe he’s sore or he’s sprained something or has an injury that isn’t lethal or gruesome and Wei Wuxian is just letting his anxiety eat at him. He’s overthinking now. Should he head down towards the waterfalls from the grove since it’s on the way, or should he head to the cold springs? Should he take the long way in case he runs into anyone who might know where he is? Or should he take the designated short cut? 

 

He bites on his thumb nail as he thinks. Waterfalls are right by the creek and if he checks out the creek he can easily go to see the waterfalls and if Lan Zhan isn’t there than he’s at the Cold Springs. Or he can save time and energy by heading straight to the springs and if Lan Zhan isn’t there, he can reassure himself about any of the worries he is having and head happily to the falls and the creek. And if he’s not in either of those places, he can head back home because Lan Zhan might just be elsewhere. It’s not a big deal Wei Wuxian! You’re thinking too much!

 

He heads towards the cold springs. 

 

As he descends the stairs, a wave of relief crashes over him when he sees the top of Lan Zhan’s bun and it doesn’t take him long to rush down there while yelling his name. He’s finally found him . Lan Zhan is clearly surprised because his eyes noticeably widen and Wei Wuxian sees how he’s turning his body away from him despite looking over his shoulder. He kicks off his shoes hastily before throwing himself into the springs, not caring that he’s fully dressed, and that the heavy robes are dragging him down. He doggy paddles over to his husband to get there quicker and to keep his head above the water. It’s a more humid day, and while he’s been sweating from running about, the drastic change in temperature has his very bones shivering. 

 

Lan Zhan watches him quietly, staying in place as he finally joins him.

 

“Why--I was looking everywhere for you--they said you--well, I asked and they said you came back but no one knew where you were, and your uncle and brother are in class so I couldn’t ask them--actually, I didn’t get to ask, I kind of just barged in, so they’re probably mad, but it doesn’t matter because I found you , but why are you here? Why didn’t you come see me first? I would’ve given you your privacy--hey, what’s that?” 

 

Wei Wuxian can barely keep his thoughts on a straight line but they all barrel to a stop when he sees the wet, pink bandage around his husband’s arm. He goes to grab him but stops when Lan Zhan takes a step back. He’s clearly uncomfortable by the way his lips are pressed firmly together and how he’s avoiding eye contact. Wei Wuxian was right; something had happened. 

 

His heart sinks.

 

“Are you hurt? What is that? I won’t touch you, I promise,”

 

Lan Zhan remains quiet but he can see the gears slowly turning in his head as he thinks about whether or not he’s going to answer. He knows better than to push Lan Zhan into talking or touching him without permission but when no answer comes, he asks again.

 

“Lan Zhan . . . are you hurt?”

 

“No.”

 

“I’m looking at a bleeding bandage . . .” Wei Wuxian gives a silly little smile and tries to peek around his husband’s arm. He turns away again and Wei Wuxian frowns. He’s pretty sure Lan Zhan is trying to keep his wound away from him more than protect his modesty.

 

“Just a cut. Doesn’t hurt.”

 

“Oh. It’s bleeding a bit though.”

 

“Was being careless. Didn’t want to upset you.”

 

Wei Wuxian nods and tries not to get upset. His husband isn’t a careless man. The very idea that he would come here to hide an injury from him than to lean on him for comfort, even if it was just a cut, is making his exasperation rear its ugly head once again. He doesn’t want to do this right now. He just wants to take Lan Zhan home and scent him and kiss his wounds. To tell him how mad he is that he would try and lock him up here to prevent him from sneaking out. Ask him about the night hunt and everything that had happened and if he learned anything new to teach him, or maybe even offer some new spells. He wanted to talk all day until nightfall and then fall asleep in his arms. He did not want to be standing in the cold springs with his bleeding husband trying to pick apart how he felt so he could put it on a sugar coated dish. 

 

He didn’t want to upset him? That was too bad because Wei Wuxian was already upset. Something inside him just snaps and he pounds his fists against the water.

 

“Well, I am upset! I was looking all over for you! You could’ve at least told someone you were coming here! I had to run all over and now I’m tired! And sweaty! You sealed me in our home and then left! How long were you going to keep me there!? What if you never came back!? I spent days waiting for you to come home and I even wrote down all my feelings like Zewu Jun told me to so that we could speak! But you avoided me and now you’re trying to claim you’re trying to spare my feelings!? What are you protecting me from!? You seem to have forgotten, high and mighty Hanguang Jun, that I am not just your omega but that I am your husband!

 

He thrashes his arms about as he lets out everything he’s bottled up over the past few days, hitting the water, feeling as it rushes around his arms to swallow them into the spring as they come pounding underneath the surface to stop at his thighs. He shocks them both as his voice reaches a pitch higher to roar about the fact that he is his husband, his equal, his life partner and companion. There is no hierarchy amongst them. There is nothing for him to hide. If Lan Zhan can’t lean on him then what kind of partner does that make him? It means their vows had meant nothing and that their marriage was not a proclamation of their love and devotion to one another but something akin to a scam . Wei Wuxian feels scammed out of his feelings and he wants to grab Lan Zhan by the arms and shake him, scream at him until he trusts him with his very soul. He wants to handle all of Lan Zhan with his hands; his emotions, his thoughts, his fears, his spiritual energy. He wants there to be no secrets between them just as there had been before. A cut is a small start but could that not escalate to something bigger?

 

“Why don’t you trust me !? Huh? You're hurt! I am your mate! Trust me, support me, lean on me, I'm always going to be by you! You cannot push me away! Learn that!”

 

Lan Zhan’s face softens immediately, and his eyes waver form their original spot. He looks as if he's holding his breath and Wei Wuxian observes the clear anguish on his face. He cannot hide his emotion now. “Wei Ying.”

 

“What!? Am I being too loud!? Am I saying too much!?” 

 

They both breathe.

 

“I am sorry. I hurt you. I didn’t mean to. I swear.”

 

He didn’t mean to. He didn’t mean to hurt him, he says, and Wei Wuxian knows that Lan Zhan cannot lie. But he did hurt him and now they are the only two who can fix this between them. There is no mediator now, no one guiding them through this tight ripple in their marriage. It’s just them.

 

Wei Wuxian just scoffs.

 

“Wei Ying”--

 

“I’m gonna go get changed . . . my robes are wet,” there is no more vexation or resentment left for him to exhale. He’s said what he needed to and now he just feels crummy. He wants to go back and eat something spicy to sizzle away the guilt in his stomach and to forget the distress and bemusement in his husband’s eyes. Forget how hurt he had looked when Wei Wuxian dished out some awful brutal honesty. He knows he needed to hear it but it doesn’t change the fact that this had morphed into a fight, maybe, and he was the one responsible. 

 

Isn’t that who I am? Wei Wuxian of the Jiang Clan, always making waves, always causing trouble?

 

He starts to waddle his way out of the spring, his large white robes trailing gracefully behind him, swimming upon the surface to hide his reflection. That’s good. He doesn’t want to see what he looks like. He knows his hair is probably frizzy and untame and his eyes pink if they’re not already red. He fights back tears as he stumbles out of the frigid waters and debates on whether or not he wants to take time to put his shoes on or walk barefoot until he reaches the top of the steps. Maybe if he walks slowly, he’ll dry a bit.

 

He grabs his shoes without so much as a huff or a sigh and walks barefoot.



Chapter Text

Lan Wangji lets him go.

 

He knows that right now, Wei Ying is hurting and that anything he says or does is just going to cause him more hurt. It will thicken the tension between them because it would be in the heat of the moment, while both of their emotions are high. He doesn’t want that. He also wants time for both of them to cool down and think. Rather, he wants Wei Ying to cool down before he has a chance to apologize. 

 

No one has ever spoken to him like that. Maybe, he’s been scolded harshly by his uncle at times, but even so he’s not spoken to in such a way that his heart literally shreds with every word. The very tone of Wei Ying’s voice has him second guessing everything he knows. Not just of himself or of Cloud Recesses but of his husband as well. He second guesses the fact that he is a good mate, that he knows what’s best, he second guesses the way he’s ever held Wei Ying’s hands in his own, the way he’s kissed him. He second guesses what it means to be a good husband to begin with. He knows that while he is not perfect that he is much better than his own father, he knows that he is human. But he also knows that he has hurt Wei Ying deeply and maybe in a way no one has ever done so before. He has not only offended him, he has wounded his ego as a cultivator and as a mate. He has tread all over his trust and robbed him of the deep bond that they share in both communication and love. This is difficult.

 

It’s difficult because Lan Wangji does not need words to communicate with his husband. Wei Ying knows him. He knows what he wants to say when he’s staring at him. He knows that he won’t answer a question because he cannot lie. He knows when he’s uncomfortable and when he’s relaxed and when he feels safe and that there are only four people on the earth who he’s ever allowed to touch him. Wei Ying is one. His body language and actions have always spoken louder than his words and Wei Ying has spent more time studying them than the Lan sects. The heavens have blessed him with an angel, a perfect soul amongst humans on earth, and he has disrespected that blessing. 

 

He knows what he must do.

 

He lets some time pass before he dresses and leaves the cold springs, carefully making himself as presentable as can be. He ties his hair up again perfectly, makes sure his robes are adjusted just right. His arm has stopped bleeding now and he carefully slides it into his robe to make sure no blood smears the white cloth. He will rebandage it at a later time. Right now the most important thing is Wei Ying.

 

The most important person is Wei Ying, he corrects himself. Wei Ying is not a thing. He is a whole person with his own thoughts and feelings. Feelings that Lan Wangji may have neglected, may have not paid attention to. His stomach twists with the guilt of this and he lingers around the cold spring, walking amongst the stone as slowly as possible. With every minute that passes so does his window to apologize. He thinks that a couple hours is alright. He doesn’t want to delay this any longer. Wei Ying has been waiting for him long enough and he needs to show him that he cares. He needs Wei Ying to know that he cares. That he values every bit of him and that he married him because of that.

 

It’s still so surprising to him that he’s married. He’s never been interested in marriage. He’s never been interested in festivals or keeping pets or how certain threads in cloth can reflect the light off of a robe. He’s quiet and reflective and has always thought that his life would be spent the way he has lived it, in Cloud Recesses, to succeed his uncle and his brother. He has never imagined that he would be married to another cultivator, to someone so wild and bold and bright . He thinks back to falling in love, to the fall so high and powerful. He thinks back to Wei Ying’s surfacing emotions, to his confession, to the warmth that had blossomed in his chest. He doesn’t question marrying him. Even if he’d never thought of marriage he’d thought of a life with Wei Ying. Being around him had introduced an entire world he had yet to discover, as unexpected as it was. And to top it off, he never imagined he would be married so young . He’s still learning, even if others think him perfectly capable. Maybe he’s too young to fully understand his love for Wei Ying and what it means to him. He thinks about that. 

 

Wei Ying, to him, is special but Wei Ying seems special to most people. He has a way of setting flame to chaos and igniting the interest of most people. Those who know him are usually loyal to him and devoted to his cultivation. Few of those, like his uncle, still recognize that he is a special someone even if he does not pique their inner curiosity or their favoritism. Wei Ying does not ask for any of this. Most of the time, it seems that he is uncomfortable with being cherished and cared for. He laughs off compliments as if they mean nothing in such a cocky way that Lan Wangji can only see how uncomfortable he is underneath it. He has made sure to let Wei Ying know constantly that he is loved and that he is respected. That’s why it must cut so deep that Lan Wangji has betrayed that. 

 

Trust me, support me, lean on me. Wei Ying’s words ring in his ears as if they hadn’t been screamed hours ago but now, as he walked, as if Wei Ying was right beside him. He’s never leaned on anyone. Not emotionally, not physically. He only ever allows his own brother to help with half of his struggles because he can’t be a burden. Maybe, Wei Ying thinks that he is too strong to rely on another, but maybe he’s weak. Wei Ying makes him weak. He clouds his judgment and fogs the sight he has for his future. There is no more clear vision of a predictable life. Life now is different with his husband. Their future is unpredictable and adventurous and he’s in love with that. Where are they going? Where will they end up? What will become of them? These are thoughts that every person has, that every couple has. It’s only now that these bring him consternation. What will become of them now?

 

He doesn’t know.

 

He ponders this the entire walk home, letting his feet guide him along the familiar path. It’s lonely now as the sun sets. There is no husband beside him to narrate his travels, to chatter constantly about topics he can only pretend to know. There is no hand to hold and no one to look at. He keeps his eyes on the path ahead of him, unfocused, clearly dazed, and lets his body do the work. He doesn’t want to think right now. 

 

In fact, he doesn’t want to think any more. He doesn’t want to think about how to apologize to Wei Ying in such a critical way. He just wants to apologize. He wants to speak from his heart and to have his soul voiced, bared to him and only for him to decide what to do with. He wants Wei Ying to be mad at him, to hold him, to accept his apology. But he doesn’t mind if he doesn’t. If Wei Ying says nothing, ignores him, walks out, that is okay, too. If he’s already asleep or in bed without him, that is okay. He’ll do anything to repair what was broken between them. If it’s already there, that is. He’ll do anything because it is Wei Ying, and he loves him in a way he has never known of before, and that is special. Wei Ying is special.

 

The sun has set when he reaches the door to their home and he stands there. He hears no noise but sees soft lighting and decides that anything is okay if it’s for Wei Ying .

 

He enters.

 

Wei Ying has not gone to bed. He never sleeps early, and he never sleeps unless Lan Wangji is there to say goodnight. He’s sitting at the table circling a jar of wine in his hand, staring at it with a mournful gaze. He’s not even sure where he’s gotten it from but he doesn’t ask. Rules do not matter right now, especially not to him. 

 

His face is just a bit flushed and his hair is finally down, brushed out as if he had been planning on sleeping. He turns a bit to face Lan Wangji and although his bangs are in his eyes he can see that he glances at him with a look akin to vague inopportune. It’s not distaste or annoyance but as if Lan Wangji is just a bump in the road on a bad day. It’s a quiet mercy for him. 

 

He wanders over to his husband but says nothing, waiting for Wei Ying to speak first. He doesn’t. He just sips his wine and stares at the opposing wall with an empty look in his eye and a bland expression. He thinks it’s a mix of the argument and being tipsy. He’s not drunk, his husband holds his liquor well and he can’t smell the alcohol from where he’s standing, but his entire energy seems to be slowed and delayed. He’s calm. He doesn’t see this look on his husband much, at all really, and it’s reserved for late night pain. He has caused that pain.

 

He says nothing about how they’ve spoken about refraining from alcohol when sad or upset or just lonely . He knows Wei Ying has grown more responsible about that. But he’s still not happy to see it. Is he sad, disappointed? No, that’s not the feeling in his chest. It’s a hollow ache and he can’t exactly pinpoint the emotion he’s feeling. He wishes he could ask his brother . . .

 

“You’re home.”

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t speak. Wei Ying looks up at him from his seat on the floor. Since he says nothing else either, Lan Wangji decides it’s finally time.

 

“The spirit had been dwelling and haunting for a long time. It was strong. One of the other cultivators had missed while defending themselves. That is how I hurt my arm. I didn’t tell you. That was my mistake.”

 

Wei Ying furrows his brows, clearly not understanding what’s going on, but he says nothing. He sighs and gets up, still holding the wine. Lan Wangji is unfamiliar with the dark bottle. He doesn’t know what it is.

 

“So it was just a cut,” he says. He’s walking over to the bed now, not looking back. Lan Wangji tells himself to feel. To feel and let his emotions out through his actions. That that is the best way to start a path to spoken words. His actions have always been louder. Let yourself out, he presses. Lean on Wei Ying.

 

Thud !

 

Wei Ying slowly turns around as Lan Wangji drops to his knees, kneeling before his husband, his arms extended to clasp his hands together, tightly. He stares at the ground in remorse, ashamed to meet Wei Ying’s eyes. His dark, soulful eyes, so bright, so starry, so intricately delicate . . . 

 

“Lan Zh”--

 

“I hurt you. I was wrong. I dismissed your feelings without discussing them and left you alone under a spell. I knew you would follow me and I thought it the best way to keep you put. I left my brother in charge. I haven’t helped you adjust here. I have been selfish and a fool. I offended you with both word and action. I am sorry. You needn’t forgive me. I know what I have done. I have done you wrong.”

 

He stays like that for a long time, his stomach flip-flopping violently as he kneels on the hard wooden floor, caught between a layer of his robes. He doesn’t dare look up to catch any reaction from his husband, just stares at the floor. He’ll do this all night if he has to. All week. He can do it for days. He can do it for however long Wei Ying wants him to. He can do it for Wei Ying .

 

“Lan Zhan . . .”

 

He can sense Wei Ying coming closer to him and freezes violently when Wei Ying is kneeling down in front of him, sobered up by his actions. He knows it is dramatic but it’s the only thing that felt right

 

“Why are you kneeling?”

 

“Apologizing to you. Respecting you.”

 

Wei Ying lets out an exaggerated sigh. “I don’t need you to kneel. You’re my husband not my servant. All I wanted was to have a discussion. A ‘sorry’. I know you don’t have any ill intent towards me. I wanted to talk.”

 

Lan Wangji senses there is more to what he has to say so he stays silent, maintaining his form perfectly. 

 

“I should apologize as well. I said some harsh things, didn’t I?” Wei Ying’s voice is so gentle he wonders sometimes if this is the same man he married. His tone so diverse from the one earlier he feels a sense of regret. 

 

“You did not.”

 

Wei Ying scoffs but it’s light-hearted. “Okay, okay, I guess you deserved it. But come on, get up. Let’s talk it out, yeah? Sit on the bed and talk like married couples?”

 

Neither of them move until Wei Ying places his hands on Lan Wangji’s forearms, slowly lowering them. He finally looks up at his husband’s wide eyes and frowns. He doesn’t want an apology like this. He just wants to talk . He lets his husband pull him to the bed and sits, awaiting Wei Ying’s start to the long talk they’re going to have. Wei Ying doesn’t let go of his hands.

 

“I can’t believe I brought the great Hanguang-Jun to his knees,” he lets out a little snicker before actually starting, “Lan Zhan. I said all I needed to say at the cold springs. I meant it though. Don’t you trust me?”

 

“I do,” Lan Wangji looks at him with wide eyes.

 

“Then act like it. From now on, let’s be honest, okay? Put everything out in the open even if it’s bad! I’m not mad that you got hurt, I’m just mad you kept it from me! I could’ve helped you bandage it and given you something for the pain.”

 

Lan Wangji squeezes his hand. There’s more, he knows. Wei Ying opens his mouth and then closes it, twisting his lips as if he’s deep in thought. They sit there for a moment before he begins to speak.

 

“I guess I can’t blame you for, you know, sealing me in the house like a bird but that’s not even what I’m really mad about. I guess you’re right; I’m not adjusting. Not really. I mean, to some things, like the lectures and the boring food, but not really to the others. It doesn’t feel like home, you know? Yunmeng is a lot different than Gusu to begin with. And we grew up in really different worlds. The Jiang Clan doesn’t exactly have rules about secondary genders. You know my siblings are both alphas, right? I grew up equal to them. I learned the same things and played the same games and I didn’t have to take classes for omegas--no offense, no offense! But it’s different. I’m not used to it. I feel like here . . . I’m seen more of an omega than a cultivator and that irks me. I never really knew that omegas were really supposed to be or act a certain way until I was older and everyone started teasing me for it. It makes no sense! I’m just as good as anyone. Why does it matter that I can have children? Shouldn’t I even be considered stronger because I can grow and push a whole human out of my body?”

 

Lan Wangji just nods.

 

“Right! You try bleeding and going into heats multiple times a year and nesting and always smelling like sweat and having babies. It’s hard! But it’s beside the point. Those things are just a part of my anatomy they aren’t me . And I feel like here I’m being seen as those things and not for anything else, really. My secondary gender is just a gender it’s not my title, like being a cultivator is. That’s really why I’m upset. And when I speak about it everyone just brushes me off. I kind of feel like . . .”

 

“You feel I brushed you off.”

 

“Kinda.” Wei Ying sounds afraid to admit it but he pushes on with a more confident voice after clearing his throat. “You’ve never done anything to make me feel that way! But, you’ve never done anything to combat me feeling that way, if that makes sense?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good. And I guess . . . the night hunt was the last straw. Not being able to come with you like I used to, not being able to do the same things with you as I used to, despite being the same person I was before we were married, being the same cultivator . I’ve learned more even now and yet I’m not allowed to go? It’s still on the table, I know, there’s a meeting soon, I know. But it still cuts kind of deep. Especially to watch everyone respect you and then seem to respect me only because we’re married or because I’m ‘your omega’ is, in a way, just really disrespectful to me . I deserve respect as Wei Wuxian from the Jiang Clan, not just Hanguang-Jun’s husband. But I can’t say those things.”

 

Lan Wangji listens. He listens to Wei Ying’s words, to the shaky breathing as he exhales, to the grind of their hands together against his robes. He listens to the meaning behind his words, to his confessions and his pain. He listens to who Wei Ying is, where he’s come from, who he used to be and how alienated he feels. He hears Wei Ying and hears his point and his explanations, his reasonings. He listens.

 

“And I can’t say those things because it’s considered rude or disrespectful or because the others will just brush me off or something.”

 

“Do you feel comfortable with the other omegas here?” Lan Wangji asks. He hopes that Wei Ying stays true to his promise to be honest and put everything out in the open. He wants to reassure him that it’s okay and that nothing will leave this room but his answer tells Lan Wangji that he already knows that. 

 

“Not really. Sometimes they give me looks and it’s weird. I can’t really get to know any of them the way I got to know the other omegas from the other clans. But Zewu-Jun is really nice, and he’s helpful. And he’s fun! I really do like your brother, Lan Zhan,” 

 

Lan Wangji smiles. It’s not a big or wide smile but it cradles the pure fondness he has for Wei Ying in his lips. His brother had always been an easygoing and sociable person. He was well-liked by almost anyone not just because he was friendly but because he had to be. He was a leader, and he was an older brother. Lan Wangji often hopes that he doesn’t feel responsible for him but he knows that he does and that there is nothing he can do to change that. But now, his brother feels not a responsibility for Wei Ying, but a clear bond with him. He doesn’t feel as if he needs to be responsible for Wei Ying out of duty to the clan or to his brother. He’s there because he likes Wei Ying. Nothing makes him happier than knowing his brother adores him as well. 

 

“I’m sorry. I should have been there for you, and I wasn’t,” Lan Wangji kisses the back of his husband’s hands, staring at him through heavy-lidded eyes, past his eyelashes to the man who held his entire world. “That will change. I swear it.”

 

“Thank you, Lan Zhan. For listening to me and for being here. I’m not mad at you anymore, I promise. I wasn’t really ever mad to begin with. Maybe annoyed? Frustrated? I mean, I did have to go running all around to find you . . .”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Thank you,” Wei Ying smiles now for the first time since Lan Wangji has seen him this afternoon and he instantly feels his happiness soar. They’ve not only patched things up but opened an entirely new door for themselves, and their relationship. “Are you tired now? I could rebandage your arm,”

 

“Mm,” Lan Wangji looks down to where his wound would be underneath his robe. It really doesn’t hurt anymore but he should probably change the soiled bandage. “I can do it. You rest.”

 

“I can’t sleep without you though,” Wei Ying whines, tugging on the collar of Lan Wangji’s robes as if he’s going to pull them down, “I’ll do it. Let me take care of you. You’ve been traveling much more than me, after all.”

 

His hands travel down his collar to his shoulders and past that to his arms, lightly. Wei Ying’s hands are warm and rough as ever, and he leans back a bit to allow him to undress him, discarding his robes on the bed around him. The touches are meant to be grounding, soothing, nothing carnal and Wei Ying is bounding form the bed to get more medical supplies. He watches him go and rummage to find more bandage, humming along as he does so. He thinks about the irony of having his heart hurt more than his arm, sliced with a sword, but he’s lucky because as of this moment he feels no pain in any part of his body at all. There’s nothing but contentment.



Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian gets his wish.

 

They talk more into the night, lying in bed together and breathing in one another’s scent. Lan Zhan doesn’t talk very much, he just listens. Wei Wuxian tells him more about how he feels and what he plans to say at the meeting now that Lan Zhan is back, and he’s happy to hear that his husband is going to have his back. He tells him about everything that happened while he was gone (not that it’s much) and then about how Lan Qiren is probably still ticked with him about barging in on his class. When he tells him the story he can see his husband’s lips twitch as if he’s fighting a smile. He tells him about the night he spent with Zewu-Jun also and how he really likes how open minded his brother had become. He tells him that he wants to hear more about the night hunt but by then his husband was dozing off and Wei Wuxian thought it best to join him. So he closed his eyes despite his lack of sleepiness and tucked Lan Zhan into his arm, lying his head on his chest. Pressing his ear against the warmth of his chest sends tingles throughout his body and he purrs. 

 

Wei Wuxian wakes the same way he fell asleep; tangled up in Lan Zhan, some of his husband’s hair in his mouth, his legs wrapped around his calf. He’s probably too excited for the meeting today because he wakes before his husband. He blinks wearily as if to make out his surroundings, barely lit by the sunrise. How early is it? It has to be at least four. Why had he woken up so early? It’s just his luck, really. But he knows he can’t let any superstition get to him, he needs today to go as smoothly as possible. He lies his head back down, closing his eyes, but he knows he won’t be able to sleep. Thoughts begin to play in his head like an entire section of woodwinds and he can’t stop them. He’s nervous. What if they laugh him off? Lan Zhan promises he’s going to have his back like always but what if Lan Zhan isn’t enough? What if he tries and it’s all in vain. What if they mock him or ridicule him? What if they use his tantrum, his childish behavior, against him? 

 

He admits that while he’s an adult and he was raised to be a responsible representation of his clan that he is prone to silly behavior. He doesn’t always have his temper in check. He doesn’t mind speaking up about things and he talks too much. He knows this. He knows that people don’t like that about him. Not because of his secondary gender but because his personality is seen as obnoxious or arrogant. He’s always known that and a part of it rubs him the wrong way. He’s not sure if he should be ashamed or proud of this. He tries to push these thoughts away into the depths of his mind quite often but sometimes they resurface and he’s sat alone having to deal with them . He can’t handle them, though, and he curses himself for being so weak .

 

His head shoots up and he opens his mouth to call his husband’s name before he remembers he’s asleep. It’s silly to wake him for racing thoughts. It’s silly to not trust in him completely. Has Lan Zhan ever willingly let him down? He hasn’t, Wei Wuxian can’t remember a time where he ever has, and he starts to reflect again thinking about how lucky he is to have people in his life like this. It’s not just Lan Zhan, but Zewu-Jun, his siblings from Lotus Pier, his friends from the other clans. What has someone like him ever done to receive such overwhelming support, such love?

 

He tries to calm his breathing by matching the rise and fall of Lan Zhan’s own abdomen, watching how silently he sleeps. Resting against the pillow with his hair spread out about him like an angel leaves his mind blank and his mouth wordless. Lan Zhan is one of the most beautiful men he’s ever seen. He’d always been. Beautiful abyss of onyx for eyes, a smooth face, perfectly kissable lips. He thinks of the way the skin of his lips feel between his teeth when he nips them sometimes. He wants to touch them, trace them with his fingers, but he doesn’t dare wake him. 

 

He gasps in fright when Lan Zhan’s eyes pop open, and he focuses in on Wei Wuxian watching him. He smiles sleepily down at Lan Zhan, whispering as if to not wake the morning sun itself. “Hello, beautiful,”

 

“Mm.”

 

“Did I wake you? I’m sorry,” he laughs through his nose and snuggles closer to his side. “I can’t help it. You’re so pretty. I wanted to kiss you, feel your skin under my hands. I’ve missed you, you know,”

 

“Mm.”

 

“Can I do that, Lan Zhan, huh? Can I kiss you?” The more he thinks about it the more his heart is starting to speed up and the warmer he feels under his thin sleeping robe. He thinks about running his hands over Lan Zhan’s smooth and defined chest, pressing kisses all over his neck until he marks him as his own. He’ll suck on the skin until it’s pretty and pink and his uncle will have a fight about seeing the marks in his classroom. Or, he’ll be too embarrassed to say anything. The others won’t say a word. They’ll know Lan Zhan is his. He’ll scent him all over until his own scent is undetectable and all anyone, including himself, will smell is Wei Wuxian .

 

“Yes.”

 

Wei Wuxian prepares himself to roll onto his husband to be on top with vigor, to straddle his thighs, but he overestimates himself instantly . He topples over in a heartbeat.

 

“Wait, We”--

 

Slam!

 

Wei Ying !”

 

Lan Zhan barely has enough time to grab him before he’s tumbling off the side of the bed. He slams onto the floor. He opens his mouth as wide as it can go from the pain of rolling off of his husband and onto the thick, hard flood, smashing his elbow and his side but makes no noise. It’s like a silent scream stuck in his throat. The pain radiates throughout his body immediately and he barely groans. Lan Zhan hadn’t had enough time to stop him with how fast he rolled, too strong to be supported by the fact his husband often slept on the very edge of the bed. His legs were off the bed but the rest of him was not. Was he trying to steady Wei Wuxian? It was kind of his own fault as he had given him no absolute warning before springing on him. Lan Zhan always woke earlier than Wei Wuxian so of course he’d been on the edge. Why doesn’t he think before he acts more often? It would benefit him to do so. Usually, it’s his creativity that saves them both, but now it had been his downfall .

 

“Wei Ying, are you alright?”

 

He lets out a pained moan and lies there. “Lan Zhan . . .”

 

His husband is instantly up and moving towards their medical supplies, rushing about the room as he cradles the very point of his elbow that had smashed into the floor. He kneels beside him to help sit him up.

 

“I don’t feel very sexy anymore. That wasn’t very sexy,”

 

“Wei Ying, your elbow,” he doesn’t ask before he’s pulling the sleeve of the robe up and observing Wei Wuxian’s elbow. As he suspects, it’s bleeding. Wei Wuxian looks down at his scraped elbow and sighs.

 

“Seriously? All I wanted to do was kiss. What did I ever do in a past life to deserve this?”

 

“I’ll bandage it.”

 

Wei Wuxian sits there and sulks while his husband bandages his elbow, cursing himself for having fallen off the bed like a clumsy little fool. He still wants to make out with his husband before breakfast, maybe even be late to breakfast because of it. He wonders if he’s killed the mood completely now.

 

“Lan Zhan, can we still kiss?” 

 

Lan Zhan looks up at him from where he’s wrapping his elbow after applying medicinal ointment, his face flat and unclear. Wei Wuxian is afraid he’ll reject him as he’s ruined the moment but Lan Zhan doesn’t break eye contact when he says, “yes.”

 

His pupils nearly dilated at hearing his voice and he doesn’t wait for him to finish wrapping the bandage before grabbing his face with both hands, fingers massaging his cheekbones as he gives him a quick and sweet kiss. Lan Zhan grips his elbow.

 

“Need to finish.”

 

“Sorry, sorry,” he says, unable to hold back his laughter. He lets Lan Zhan finish wrapping his elbow before he goes to kiss him again but he’s stopped by a hand to his chest.

 

“Your side.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Your side.”

 

Wei Wuxian almost smacks himself in the forehead when he remembers that he’d landed right on his side. The pain had gone from throbbing to dull and it wasn’t that bad. He pressed his hand against it and squirmed just a bit. It would be gone by midday at the latest he was sure. 

 

“It really doesn’t hurt. It’s okay. Don’t worry.”

 

Lan Zhan doesn’t seem convinced and just repeats himself. “Your side. May I?”

 

“Goodness, must I have a husband who takes such good care of me? Fine, yes, okay, you can see. Look! There’s nothing wrong with it!”

 

Wei Wuxian opens his robe and pushes it down, showing his side to Lan Zhan, who traces over the skin so gently he can barely feel the brush of his fingertips. Lan Zhan presses down just slightly but there’s really no pain. Wei Wuxian is proud of himself for not reacting nor really hurting himself. 

 

“See? It’s okay. Trust me, I would tell you if it weren’t.”

 

Lan Zhan nods at this and pulls his robe back up to his shoulders. Wei Wuxian re-ties his robe messily, and then nudges his husband. “So, can we kiss now?”



Chapter Text

Lan Wangji often thinks of music when he watches Wei Ying. There’s something about him that brings melodies into his head, that ignites a composing flame deep inside of him. His voice reminds him of love songs he’s heard in passing around towns of different cities, and his limbs while lanky are still long and graceful, like the many instruments he’s played. Wei Ying’s smile is the reason he strings a hoard of notes on his guqin and dreams of symphonies right before he wakes. His scent often inspires ballads and he finds himself always hearing their song played over and over in the back of his mind without his permission. He cannot control it and he doesn’t want to. He wants to always hear that piece when he looks up at Wei Ying, when he takes him in like he’s the first sunlight after a rainy weekend, while he drinks him in like the first water after a hike. That is his symphony.

 

Wei Ying’s voice is interesting. It’s not high and it’s not low and it’s silly and quirky and reminds him of song birds that chirp in the early morning and little creek critters that chatter and giggle. His voice is supple yet unmoving in its tone, standing firm with reason and capability. There are no hidden reasons behind his voice, no tones masking his feelings. All of it is brought forth from his vocal chords for others to bear. His emotions are everyone’s to shoulder at the moment and his voice is telling them that. Not with words but with how deep it is as it booms amongst the large room. Lan Wangji sits and listens.

 

They all sit and listen to Wei Ying and his voice of reason.

 

And it is a reason that seems to be in favor of not only himself but the people around him, something many realize as they nod unconsciously, stare him down as if waiting for him to turn it into something grave, offensive. There is no offense. His mate stands there in front of everyone delivering his speech with a slight smile on his face (perhaps, instead, it is a smirk) and Lan Wangji listens while covering the marks left behind on his neck. His uncle listens pretending they aren’t there.

 

It’s one of the few times he’s seen his uncle really listen to Wei Ying. Alas, Wei Ying mostly speaks gibberish around him, thinking the red of his face a funny shade and an honor to achieve. But the times he does not speak nonsense he finds his uncle’s eyes watching Wei Ying intently, not just hearing him, but listening. Hanging on every word, every syllable, pronounced perfectly in his pretty voice, as fresh as spring mornings and stroking his beard in thought. That’s how he knew that Wei Ying was speaking .

 

And he watched his mate speak, polite, sturdy, a sense of pride forming in his chest. That that was his Wei Ying, his husband, standing before them in his red and white robes, lacking his forehead ribbon, speaking as openly as he had the other night. He is serene. There is no emotions hidden behind his eyes, his nose is not twitching, he isn’t bouncing on the balls of his feet or needing to twirl anything in his hands. Lan Wangji knows his husband is different, in the neurological and emotional aspect just as he himself is, and he knows that Wei Ying has trouble controlling his outbursts. But it was something they worked on, something that they spoke about, that more and more people were taking notice of. He knows Wei Ying well enough. And this Wei Ying is content and comfortable. He takes pride with that as well. Having his mate feel safe and outspoken was doing things to him. Things he isn’t sure about. There is a weird feeling tingling around in his stomach, an impatient feeling, as if he wants Wei Ying all to himself but to also show him off. To have everyone know that that is his mate and that he is a pearl amongst the rusty and polluted ridges of a sunken ship.

 

He speaks, with Lan Xichen adding notes and commentary at times, and Lan Qiren mostly listens, saving what he has to say until the end Lan Wangji presumes. It is a good sign that he's quiet and attentive. The meeting does not take long, as it doesn't take long for Wei Ying to get to the point. Neither of the omegas in the room beat around the bush.

 

“If omega mates, because of their fertility, cannot attend business such as night hunts or exorcisms, then anyone with fertility should be banned as well, if that’s the case. But I don’t think it’s about fertility but the societal hierarchy that’s been used to oppress omegas for generations. And if it’s about fertility, then only pregnant mates should be forbidden to go, regardless of their secondary gender.”

 

“I think this is a very fair point,” Lan Xichen backs him up, “there are many talented cultivators whose skills could be of great use who are classified as omegas.”

 

“And even if it’s in the Lan sect, things are always changing, so shouldn’t the sect change as well? With all of my respect for the generations that have passed these rules down, I think that it would be best for the Lan Clan,” he bows a bit and Lan Wangji is watching him so intensely he doesn’t realize that the room grows quiet. Wei Ying shoots him a brief smile and he smiles back.

 

“I see your point.” Lan Qiren says and Wei Ying looks so startled that if Lan Wangji had not been sitting beside his uncle he would have thought Lan Qiren had said something opposite to his argument. Wei Ying’s eyes widen and his mouth opens just a tad, just enough to bite his lip. 

 

“Then, do you think it’s within reason to terminate that rule, or perhaps, write a new one in its place?” Lan Xichen offers words for the speechless Wei Ying.

 

“I will allow it”--

 

“Yes!”

 

“Wei Wuxian, hold your tongue!” His uncle’s voice startles him but Lan Wangji doesn’t react, too busy thinking about the impact of his husband’s words. “I will allow it. But it is me who will rewrite it.”

 

“That’s very fair,” Wei Ying looks so hopeful that if anything were to go wrong, his heart might literally burst with disappointment. The air would be stolen from his lungs and his heart would be crushed in his chest. He looks as if he’s awaiting a gift and not for the words from the clan leader. It makes Lan Wangji just a tad bit sad.

 

“I think your argument to only forbid mates who have been announced as pregnant if appropriate. Cultivation business can be detrimental to an unborn child if safety precautions are not put into place. There is still the child to think about.”

 

“Of course! I wouldn’t a ghost trying to hurt my baby, you know? And just forbidding them to attend the actual hunts themselves instead of the entire trip is also a factor you forgot to add! It was part of our presentation, too.”

 

Lan Qiren sends Wei Ying a hard look to silence him, and he immediately snaps his mouth shut so fast Lan Wangji might have heard his jaw click if he was any closer. His husband grasps his robes in his hands now and he can tell he’s immediately becoming restless. He gives Wei ing a patient look of understanding, mixed with a little sympathy (is it empathy if he’s used to his uncle?) and he can see Wei Ying is trying to be less tense. 

 

“It is a factor, and an important one as well. What do you say?” His brother asks from where he’s sitting.

 

“I’ll allow it. As I said before, this is something that will be rewritten, and copied into all the books from here on out. Wangji will help with that.”

 

Lan Wangji has never offered to scribe all of the books but he just gives a nod, knowing it’s an important and crucial task. And who better to do it than him? He is not only skilled at calligraphy but knows the sect well enough that he will be able to write quickly and precisely. He will make no mistakes, he’s sure of it. 

 

“Wei Wuxian will help as well.”

 

“What!?” Wei Ying yells this as quickly as he realizes it was a mistaken outburst and slaps his hands over his mouth to avoid the silencing spell. He quickly tries to smooth things over by waving his hands around. “I mean, I was just surprised! My calligraphy isn’t the best, you’ve seen it after all, and I’m neither the two young masters, so I was just shocked!”

 

“I would also like to help,” Lan Xichen looks directly at his uncle, who is outright ignoring Wei Ying. His uncle nods and Wei Ying instantly relaxes. Lan Wangji hopes he doesn’t think of this as a punishment but an honorable task he gets to be part of. 

 

It won’t take too many days for them to complete it but he knows by heart that his husband is going to take much longer than either of them, or any member of the Lan clan for that fact. He struggles to focus and stay on task and often ends up doing various other things in the library, one of which would be annoying the two of them. It’s not that his husband is easily distracted per se, but rather that Wei Ying pays attention to everything . Everything is deemed important enough to observe according to his brain, which is why he’s so observant and intelligent. But he knows that things like copying the sect can be boring unless he falls into a hyperfocus, which is also a problem. He’s caught Wei Ying during these times of intense mental concentration, often having to physically help or force him out of it long enough to have some water or eat, or if it’s gone on long enough, to sleep. He knows that it’s something he has little control over and takes advantage of due to the productivity but he doesn’t want it to get in the way of his health either. It’s a fine line between the two, he thinks, but he will never say it aloud.

 

Wei Ying will often fall into these if it’s something new to him, something he finds curious, even if it interests him only a bit, and it’s easy for him to lose the grip he has to take breaks and to manage time. He lets these things slip between his fingers not because he’s careless but because he’s so engrossed and Lan Wangji wishes more people could see that. To be able to focus and remember such content to that degree is admirable and a skill many would be envious of. But still, he slightly worries when he finds Wei Ying in his under robes, hair unbrushed and reading for hours on end, not moving, barely making a sound. Or sometimes, he’ll speak to himself, going back and forth, writing things down, or humming, while twirling something between his fingers, intertwining them with threads or cloth or ribbons, brushes and very few times a flute. He stims so often that Lan Wangji knows to keep multiple brushes and ribbons for him inside their room as well as the library.

 

He’ll have to have some ribbons on hand for this, then, he decides. Lan Wangji thinks that the meeting is over now and stands to approach his mate. He first bows to his uncle and thanks him and waits for Wei Ying to do the same. He is still bowing when there’s a knock at the door, and Lan Xichen goes to answer it, clearly having no idea who it is by the furrow of his brow and rush of his movements.

 

“Did I do well, Lan Zhan? Are you proud of me? You smell proud,” Wei Ying giggles slightly as they move away from the middle of the floor, Lan Wangji guiding him by his unscathed elbow. He doesn’t think his scent is any thicker or different than before but he just blinks.

 

“Mn. Proud of you.”

 

“I was really good wasn’t I?” Wei Ying is clearly using this opportunity as a way to flirt with him, coming closer to nuzzle against him. As if the marks peeking out from under the robe of his collar isn’t enough. 

 

“Wei Ying, behave.”

 

“Ah, you’re no fun. You won’t even congratulate me properly? I’ve just changed history!”

 

“Don’t brag. Behave.”

 

“Right, it’s forbidden, sorry,” Wei Ying huffs the tiniest laugh and just forces his fingers between Lan Wangji’s own, holding his hand while they watch Lan Xichen walk back reading the parchment in his hands. 

 

“It’s an invitation. To the Baifeng Mountain Crowd Hunt this fall.”

 

Lan Wangji remains quiet but Wei Ying pipes up almost instantly. “Really? That’ll be in a few weeks, right?”

 

“Yes,”

 

“Are we going?” he asks Lan Wangji, forgetting that Lan Qiren is behind him. “I bet everyone from Lotus Pier is! I could see shijie! It would be nice to see her and Jiang Cheng, don’t you think? And everyone else? Our friends?”

 

Lan Wangji lets Wei Ying speak but he doesn’t respond. He gets along fine with his in-laws but he doesn’t know if he would consider any one of Wei Ying’s friends his own as well. Was Nie Huaisang his friend? Were the Wen siblings his friends? Were the disciples of the Yueyang Chang clan his friends at all? Surely, he wasn’t friends with the omegas from the smaller clans that Wei Ying befriended and ate with, often sharing tips for nests and hunting. Nothing about this excited him. But if Wei Ying wanted to go, then they would go. It will be good for Wei Ying to see his siblings and have a few days to spend with them and his friends instead of being shut in at Cloud Recesses. He doesn’t want to disappoint him so he just nods and ignores the telling look on his brother’s face.

 

“We’ll go. After we finish rewriting the sect.”

 

“I--okay, that’s fair, we can do it! That’s plenty of time!” Wei Ying bounces excitedly and grabs Lan Wangji to drag him outside, bowing quickly to his uncle and his brother and thanking him for his time. It’s barely midday now and now Wei Ying is going to have a ton of energy to burn off. This should be quite a day.



Chapter Text

They do not finish copying the books in time. And yet they leave anyway. Wei Ying and Lan Wangji set out on their own, allowing Lan Xichen to meet up with them once they reach Baifeng Mountain. They opt to bring a bag stuffed with extra clothing, medicine and emergency supplies. Lan Wangji carries this bag for most of the trip without complaint. Wei Ying takes it for a small portion of the trip, insisting on giving his husband a “break”. It’s an excuse to hold his hand, really, but he allows it. They travel together by foot to enjoy their time together, to roam the markets and attend the street festivals on their way there. It’s is nearing autumn and it is the time for the markets and towns to thrive. They are always there but winter can be hard, he knows, and this is the time for merriment before the cold weather. Before the autumn breaks way to winter and winter brings snow and sleet. The markets are pretty in winter, and Wei Ying makes sure to beg him to promise to go with him once it gets cold out. They walk in silence for part of their trip, alternating between talking and Wei Ying’s flute for another part of their trip, sometimes touching, sometimes one of them walking behind the other. Sometimes, Wei Ying whines, sometimes he chatters non-stop about anything he sees in passing. Sometimes he is just quiet.

 

But the entire time, there is something troubling Lan Wangji.

 

For the last couple of days during their departure from Cloud Recesses, from packing their bag to taking the shortcut along the back road to their travels to Baifeng mountain, Wei Ying smells different . This scent is a little muskier and overwhelming but he cannot tell if it’s from the stress of travel or the excitement of seeing his siblings for the first time in nearly a year. He hasn’t seen them since their wedding, if he remembers correctly. There are times during the trip that Wei Ying gets so excited that he secretes his scent in small dizzying spells and Lan Wangji must ask him to calm down because he reeks . He doesn’t tell him that he smells, though, just tells him to lower his voice more, to massage his glands, tells him that he’s smelling strong. His scent is often the simple sweetness of flora but during these episodes it’s overpowering and Lan Wangji has to refrain from covering his nose as he sits so close to his husband.

 

The smell begins to drift off as they approach the entrance, grand and bold in its wake. Few people are bustling around and they are greeted by a disciple of the Jin clan who offers to see them inside. He looks nervous and when Lan Wangji simply glances his way he mutters a small “never mind” and goes on to help the next guest. Lan Wangji finds this so odd that he can’t help but watch the young man, wondering what about them had intimidated him. He knows he doesn’t smile very much but there had been no malevolent look on his face, nor Wei Ying’s. Wei Ying had also begun to air out, so his scent couldn’t have been the issue, could it have? Maybe the man has a sensitive nose. He lets it roll off his shoulders, unbothered. He will ask someone else.

 

“That was weird. It’s not a problem, we can take our things and find out where we’re--shijie! Shijie!” 

 

If Lan Wangji had to describe his husband as one thing, it would be a puppy. He knows his husband hates dogs, is terrified of them, triggered by their barking and their growls, but he cannot see anything else when he witnesses the way Wei Ying’s brain short circuits when he sees the people he truly loves. It’s like all caution must be thrown to the wind and he can’t think . He’ll yell and run and act without thinking, which Lan Wangji would find so endearing if it wasn’t also a tad bit dangerous.

 

Wei Ying tosses the bag onto the ground beside him as if it’s a simple sack of potatoes, discarding it without a second glance. He coughs as Wei Ying’s scent thickens again. He’s jumping up and down and waving his arms to catch his siblings’ attention. Lan Wangji goes to pick it up quickly so he doesn’t trip on the handle. 

 

“A-Xian!”

 

Maiden Jiang’s voice is just as he remembers. It’s euphonious and pleasant. She waves back, and bunches her lilac robes in her hands so she can hustle the distance between them, ignoring Jiang Cheng as he goes to stop her. He throws his hands up in defeat and stomps after her. Neither of them had been carrying anything, so they must have arrived much earlier than them. Lan Wangji takes a respectful step back to allow Wei Ying room to hug his sister, rubbing their cheeks together in his familiar scenting procedure. He tries not to watch them, really, but he fails. 

 

“Hanguang-Jun. It’s nice to see you again,” Maiden Jiang giggles her greeting from her hold in Wei Ying’s arms, unable to bow because Wei ying squeezes her tightly. She has not aged a day and Lan Wangji suspects she will age for days to come, her skin as clear and smooth as ever. “A-Xian!”

 

“I haven’t seen you in forever ,” he whines. They stay hugging while Jiang Cheng storms over. He stops for a minute and watches them, looking from Lan Wangji back to both of his siblings. There is a troubled gleam in his eye and he tilts his head the smallest fraction of an inch. He takes a small inhale and his eyes grow wide in a panic. Lan Wangji doesn’t get to ask him what’s wrong before he’s boldly closing the distance between them, pointing a finger at Lan Wangji’s face.

 

“Are you a fool ? Huh? How could you bring him here like this?”

 

“Wh”--

 

“A-Cheng,” Maiden Jiang’s voice is no longer joyful. She lowers her tone, looking between her brothers, worried. She senses something is wrong now and Lan Wangji wishes she would let him in on the secret for he is left clueless and grasping at straws. Wei Ying rubs her arms and hushes her.

 

Lan Wangji is confused. He’s not sure what Jiang Cheng is referring to, not sure how to even react to sudden mysterious allegations. What has he supposedly done? Should he put himself between Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng? Should he diffuse the situation between Jiang Cheng and himself? Or should he let him continue, so he can find out what it is that he’s done? What crime has he committed against his own husband? Was bringing him here not what either of them had wanted? Jiang Cheng, while a much more reserved person than his husband, was still a young man with a temper and Lan Wangji was unsure of what was even happening, hesitant to avoid setting that temper off. Jiang Cheng had surely grown more bold as the year passed as he flips the switch from respectful to disrespectful rage in a second. Yet, Lan Wangji isn’t offended one bit, nor defensive. Just utterly baffled . The look of confusion on his face must been enough because Jiang Cheng then whips around to Wei Ying.

 

“And you! So irresponsible! Coming here like this!”

 

“Jiang Ch”--

 

“Hanguang-Jun, I trusted you to take care of my brother, but it seems that you lack the discipline that you have mastered for yourself. I mean no disrespect but I cannot hold back my anger. Bringing an omega to the crowd hunt in pre-heat. The Jiang Clan has never heard of such a dishonorable thing.”

 

Lan Wangji is sure his eyes have never grown so large before in his life. He’s had many shock factors in his life before but nothing could compare to this . He remembers finding out that his brother was an omega, that Wei Ying was one as well, he remembers seeing his uncle cough up blood. He remembers the first time he’d kissed Wei Ying, been given pornography (how that had sent the blood rushing to his ears). He remembers hearing the worries of others, stories of monsters and spirits in different cities, that eat babies and men alike. Yet, he’d never truly felt as if he’d been dipped in cold water and left to dry out on his own like this. Nothing had ever made him gape like so. Even if his mouth wasn’t hanging open he was still beginning to feel like his mind and body were no longer one.

 

 Trying to keep his alarm at bay, he opens his mouth to say something but he doesn’t know where to begin. Pre-heat? Wei Ying couldn’t be in pre-heat. He doesn’t smell sweet nor is he experiencing pre-heat symptoms. He’s not crampy or hot and sweaty. He doesn’t smell sweet nor is he fatigued from the travel. Could that have gone over his head? Maybe he hadn’t been paying attention to his husband or his mannerisms enough to tell? But he would swear by all the power vested within him, all of his spiritual energy, that Wei Ying is not in pre-heat. Before this moment, he would bet his own sword that Wei Ying wasn’t in heat. But, he is, there’s not bet, it’s just simple fact, and he trusts Jiang Cheng’s nose much more than his own instincts, which have seemingly failed him now.

 

Lan Wangji just looks to Wei Ying.

 

He, himself, is going through an array of emotions, his laughter melting away into trepidation. He looks as if someone’s punched him in the gut, but he’s smiling that little smile that he often gives when things are wrong. Doubt. Denial. It’s denial. It’s the smile of denial he uses when he doesn’t believe something. The same smile used when something has escalated and he’s waiting for someone to say something, or the smile he gives when he can’t fix a problem right away. When something disturbs him but he can’t let other people see it. He masks his emotions with this expression often and Lan Wangji knows that it is a smile of pure panic. Wei Ying wore his heart on his sleeve, couldn’t bottle his emotions up very well, nor hide them for long. He was tell-tale and as readable as a book.

 

Lan Wangji can tell immediately from his expression that Wei Ying himself had not even known. With this information, he can now begin to piece together the parts of the puzzle and work on calming both Jiang Cheng and his mate while figuring out a solution.

 

“A-Cheng, I don’t think either of them were aware,” Maiden Jiang goes over to her brother, grasping his shoulder. He scoffs as if he refuses to believe their reactions. He doesn’t spare her a glance, keeping his eyes focused on Lan Wangji the entire time. Maiden Jiang addresses them both this time. “You weren’t, were you?”

 

“No.” Lan Wangji answers, stepping closer to his mate. He has to be vocal about this. This is not Wei Ying’s first heat since their marriage, but even then he didn’t necessarily remember the smell of pre-heat. It was sweet and subtle, maybe. He had stayed away as per request, only coming and going to check up on Wei Ying. It had been many months ago. Wei Ying hadn’t smelled like he did this day.

 

“What kind of alpha doesn’t even recognize their omega’s pre-heat scent? Is that what you’re telling me? Even I recognize Wei Wuxian’s scent. I’ve lived with him for enough years to know it. Yet you, his husband, cannot?”

 

Jiang Cheng sounds less angry now and more interrogating, as if he needs to get to the bottom of how Lan Wangji couldn’t have recognized his own husband’s pre-heat scent. He has no answer though. He just stares, frowning, not sure how to appease his brother-in-law. If he was more nervous he might be trembling slightly. It’s bad enough that he feels like an idiot but to be spoken to and treated as such scorns him.

 

“That’s enough!” Wei Ying steps in between them, hands on his hips. Well, they’re on his back, and he’s standing like an old lady who’s worked too many days in her life. Lan Wangji thought it was just one of his many charms. “You’re stressing me out and now you smell! You reek of stupid, aggressive alpha pheromones! Knock it off. Lan Zhan didn’t know because my heats aren’t bad, remember? I probably didn’t smell much.”

 

“You smell like shit,” Jiang Cheng says.

 

“So do you! Perhaps it’s the Jiang Clan way to smell, then, isn’t it? That’s why you’ll never get married! You smell so bad! If I smell like the murky water of Lotus Pier than you must smell like the mud beneath them!”

 

Wei Wuxian !” 

 

Maiden Jiang goes to grab Jiang Cheng while Lan Wangji moves to grab Wei Ying before the two of them can have a go at each other. Others have begun to watch, abandoning their own business in favor of whispering about the two young masters. He doesn’t know how serious this fight is, and he’s uncertain as to whether or not Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying will actually harm one another. He’s seen them play fight before and tease each other. He’s seen Jiang Cheng put his brother in a headlock or Wei Ying hold his brother down to blow raspberries on his neck. They’ve punched, kicked, pushed and spit on one another during their time in Cloud Recesses, wrestled and chased each other to no end. And while it was half-heartedly Lan Wangji cannot estimate the damage done if they were to continue this fight.

 

Jiang Cheng looks absolutely outraged while Wei Ying is laughing as Lan Wangji picks him up by his waist to physically remove him and plops him down behind him. He taunts his brother from behind his husband’s shoulder, standing on his tippy toes. Lan Wangji stumbles back and forth to protect him, sending Maiden Jiang a pitiful look for having to keep her brother from breaking free.

 

“I don’t care if you’re in pre-heat, come over here, I’ll break all the bones in your body! That will show you!”

 

Wei Ying cackles and Lan Wangji has to breathe through his mouth. He grabs Wei Ying by the arm and begins to drag him away. 

 

“Wait, Lan Zhan!”

 

“No.” Lan Wangji carries their things in one arm, and drags Wei Ying with the other, refusing to let him go. “We need to find our room.”

 

“But I didn’t get to say goodbye !”

 

Lan Wangji exhales in exasperation. Goodbye? Had that not been a fight? Was that something Wei Ying had not wanted to be removed from? His husband was truly so scandalous . He has no idea what he’s going to do with him while he’s here. They need to sit down and have a discussion about whether or not they’re going to turn around or stay. He needs to figure out why Wei Ying hadn’t smelled like this back during his first heat. He needs to find his brother and ask for guidance in all this because right now he’s lost and he feels as if he’s in a play, playing the role of the ignorant yet prideful fool. 

 

“Young Master Wei, Hanguang-Jun!” 

 

The two of them stop in their tracks, their bickering coming to an end. Lan Wangji moves closer to Wei Ying as he peers around for who’s called their name. Wei Ying, despite still smelling so strongly, cheers before rushing over to the owner of said voice.

 

“Mianmian!”



Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian is nothing other than relieved to find someone to break the tension that he feels. It’s not real tension. He’s not sure if Lan Zhan feels it, if it’s just his imagination or his own insecurities projecting onto him once more, but he feels as if he’s embarrassing everyone . He’s teetering on the edge of hyper, having difficulty controlling his scent, and he knows he probably smells because of it. It’s just the thing to sour his mood.

 

If Mianmian can smell him she doesn’t say anything, or even make a face. She’s one of the few people from the Jin clan he really likes. He can’t stand Jin Zixuan; he’s arrogant and too much of an alpha stereotype for Wei Wuxian to really respect him. His scent bothers his nose, gives him a headache, and he’s always going out of his way to show just how displeased he is to have Wei Wuxian around. He smells like smoky oak trees and it gives him congestion , he swears it. They hadn’t gotten along before Cloud Recesses as children and surely not after. He’s not sure what his sister sees in him. He can’t stand some of the other disciples, too, who act as if the secondary gender hierarchy is more than just a socially constructed obstacle in their society. Wei Wuxian has a go at them every time he can, teasing them whenever he can. This week he promises to himself that he’ll behave for Lan Zhan and his siblings only. But only if those disciples abide by their own promise. He’s not responsible for what happens to them if it anything happens to him first .

 

But Mianmian is different. She’s sweet and she understands that Jin Zixuan can be difficult and hard-headed. She always got between the two of them and Wei Wuxian is glad she’s never taken it personally. That’s why he likes her in the first place and spent several weeks at Cloud Recesses befriending her. She was easily irritated with him at first (who wasn’t?) but quickly saw past that. He’s still not sure why she did but he’s glad that she did. They didn’t get to spend much time together but small walks and chats have formed a bond that both of them are fond of. He likes having friends, of course, but even more so he likes having a friend like her . Driven, honest, no-nonsense. She cares more for a person’s character than their dynamic and it’s refreshing to see. She’s a beta, not that it matters, but she’s also a truly neutral person in both scent and personality. He’s only ever caught a whiff from her, and it smells fresh, and neutral and it’s not a scent he can place but it is a good one. He’s happy to see a familiar, helpful face amongst their arrival here and amongst such chaos .

 

Before he starts to really ramble, Lan Zhan cuts him off by asking Mianmian to help them find their quarters. Wei Wuxian feels a little scorn by this but he knows his husband is just trying to help. He’s quiet the entire walk there and Wei Wuxian figures that he’s giving him time to catch up with Mianmian but he no longer feels chatty. He’s embarrassed his husband enough today. Even Jiang Cheng’s words were starting to catch up to him and he feels shame , but it’s not a good feeling. After all, for someone so ‘shameless’, how could he feel that emotion so easily?

 

--“hope you’re not too tired from traveling. The banquet is tonight after all, and the others are expecting to see you there,” 

 

Wei Wuxian blinks. Had Mianmian been talking to them?

 

“We’re fine, thank you,” Lan Zhan answers. Wei Wuxian shoots him an apologetic look. He’s been in his head again and needs to get out. His thoughts are scrambled and messy and he’s not sure how to stop them from spiraling. Surely casting pitiful eyes towards his alpha isn’t asking for help? But it does count; Lan Zhan doesn’t miss a single beat and quickly smiles at him knowingly. Despite their marriage, and their prolonged relationship, Wei Wuxian feels a little giddy, butterflies in his stomach. Lan Zhan’s smiles never fail to amp him up, or soothe him. It feels good to be acknowledged.

 

“Everyone’s going to be there?”

 

“Yes,” she smiles, stopping briefly in front of one of the far guest quarters, “this is where you two will be staying. If there’s anything you need, just ask. I thought that it would be more than just you two. I heard your brother is not joining us?”

 

“He may not. It depends.” Lan Zhan answers. He doesn’t go into detail that Zewu-Jun is finishing scribing books, and Wei Wuxian thinks it sounds too silly of an excuse. This banquet and this hunt is not more important than some books, which have been written over and over, is it? The others may think so or they may not. But he knows the Lan Clan sees it as much more importance than this annual affair. 

 

An annual affair they must not partake in. Because of him .

 

“Oh, Mianmian, before you go. I think there’s something you and I should discuss!” Wei Wuxian throws his concerns out there casually, hoping Lan Zhan takes the hint from the look on his face to leave. 

 

He does not.

 

“What is it?” her eyes bounce between the both of them, who then turn to face one another. Lan Zhan quickly realizes that he’s no longer wanted and excuses himself with a bow, and one last glance at his husband. Wei Wuxian smiles sweetly and wiggles his fingers in a wave. “Master Wei?”

 

He instantly feels much calmer without his husband around, sighing. He hates that feeling. Was he not the one who told them that there would be no secrets between them? But does that mean he has to tell Lan Zhan everything? Was there anything more humiliating than to admit that he needs to talk to Mianmian about his heat? Surely, there was a difference between privacy and secrets, yes? He bit his lip, hesitant to continue without his alpha there.

 

“I . . .”

 

“Is it about your heat?”

 

Wei Wuxian whips his head around. “You can smell me? You didn’t say anything! I was so scared I would offend you!”

 

She covers her mouth to laugh before waving him off. He’s so happy to see her smile again, grateful for the moments her professionalism melts the way to their friendship. “Of course not! It’s biology, it’s harmless. I can smell you, yes, and I’m assuming that you’re going to ask me what you should do?”

 

Wei Wuxian tilts his head this way and that, thinking of how to incorporate that into the actual question he’d had. He’s a prideful person, he always has been. He doesn’t want to miss this hunt because of his pre-heat . He doesn’t want people to think that he, or any other omega, is incapable of performing the same tasks during a heat, let alone pre-heat . It’s one thing that Madam Yu had beat into him: that he was the same as everyone else. He knows it’s a sexist thought to have, that he needs to partake in the hunt in order to prove that he’s not weak, to prove he’s equal, but he’s not only doing it for that reason. He’s doing it because he wants to wipe the floor with alphas and their stinky, bold-faced arrogance.

 

Maybe it’s the wrong reason.

 

“Actually . . . I was going to ask where I could get scent blockers.”

 

“You”--

 

“I know, I know, it’s a bad idea, but Mianmian please understand. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone here! And I think that if we stay only one day, that that will be fine. Lan Zhan understands. My pre-heat has never been too bad, and it’s several days before my heat will even start. And we’ll leave as soon as we can. But in the meantime, I think it best to not clog up everyone’s noses. I have some money, too, it’s just that I can’t really go running all over right now. Please understand.”

 

His voice is small but hopeful and he knows that she’s going to have a hard time saying no to his skillful, begging eyes. She nods slowly. But she doesn’t seem to be upset or torn about her choice, because she just grins, and takes his hand in both of hers.

 

“I’ll get you some before tonight. There are several doctors here who can help. But promise me you’ll be careful. Exerting yourself before a heat isn’t a smart idea. But I think you should do it. Why can’t you? In fact, some omegas say their senses are heightened during pre-heat. Surely, this can help during a hunt. But you do need to proceed with caution.”

 

“Don’t worry about me, it’s just a little hunt, Mianmian,” he teases. “But thank you.”

 

“Of course,” she bows to him and he instantly bows back, terrified that she doesn’t realize how grateful he is for this. She’s giving him a chance to not only get what he wants but to gain the respect of the other clans. Even representing other omegas. He feels like he’s received her blessing as well, much to his delight.

 

“I’ll see you both in a bit then.” Mianmian smiles before leaving, and Wei Wuxian waves before he realizes what she’s said. Both of them?

 

He turns and jumps when he realizes that Lan Zhan is standing on the tiny steps, looking down at him. He doesn’t ask any questions. He just waits. He stands there in all his beautiful glory and watches Wei Wuxian with those hawk-like eyes, and he begins to feel a little warm. Did he want to know what they had been discussing? Was it his right to know? Wei Wuxian gives a weak laugh.

 

“U-um, Lan Zhan . . .”

 

“You should bathe,” is all he says before he turns back around and enters the guest room. Bewildered, Wei Wuxian quickly follows. Did he hear? Was he mad?

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Lan Zhan himself becomes confused. “A bath?”

 

“No, no, I mean, it’s because I smell, right?” 

 

“Smell strongly, yes,” Lan Zhan corrects him. He has already unpacked their small amount of items. Wei Wuxian looks around the room and admires how simple yet elegant it is. It’s clean, and it lacks many items such as books or anything more exquisite than a vase and a teapot. There’s some books, he notices, but not many. It’s not like he’s here to read, either. He’s got too many things on his mind to be able to focus on that. The bed is a similar size as their own back home, and there’s one pillow, which is perfect since he uses Lan Zhan as his. The bedspread is a dark red and if they plan to stay, that will definitely come in handy. The small windows are shut and there’s a small chime hanging alongside one of them. 

 

“Say, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian rushes over to where his husband is folding a blanket, “were you . . . listening in? Before? Because if you were”--

 

“I was not.”

 

“Oh. Right. I wasn’t trying to accuse you! I know you wouldn’t do that. It was just a private matter. You understand, right?” Wei Wuxian is almost sweating with the guilt of possibly betraying his husband’s trust after he had so boldly called him out for doing something similar. Sometimes, he can’t precisely tell what he’s thinking. There are times where he thinks Lan Zhan is upset or annoyed with him when he’s really just tired or annoyed by something else , and there’s times he projects those feelings onto others. Lan Zhan knows this which is why he places a reassuring hand on his husband’s chest. 

 

“Wei Ying. I would not invade your privacy.”

 

“Right. But even if it was something private, that involved me, maybe us, like my health, is that not . . .”

 

Lan Zhan begins to frown.

 

“Fine! I’ll tell you!” Wei Wuxian throws his hands up and begins to pace the room. He knows he’s being dramatic but there’s nothing else he can think of to satiate the hungry thoughts in his head, nudging him to go forward, to feed them and create more perturbation. “I asked Mianmian for scent blockers. I know that it’s wasn’t a smart thing to do, without discussing it with you first, but I really need them, don’t you think? I smell! And your scent isn’t going to cover that up! And”--

 

“Wei Ying”--

 

“I really want to do the hunt with everyone else. Why should my pre-heat matter? It’s not distracting me. So, if it distracts others, that’s their own problem isn’t it? That they aren’t focused enough to focus on the hunt and not me? It’s not an omega’s responsibility to make sure that others are comfortable or focused when we’re not doing anything! I spent all my pre-heats around both Jiang Cheng and Shijie and neither of them had ever been distracted! And they’re both alphas! So it’s a weak excuse to have. And I know we should head home as soon as possible but for right now, I think it was the best idea. Right? I understand it’s not really a good idea but I want to”--

 

“Wei Ying.” Lan Zhan’s voice is a little sterner and he stops, hands a little shaky. His husband’s expression doesn’t change. “I apologize for cutting you off but breathe.”

 

“What?”

 

“Breathe.”

 

Wei Wuxian nods jerkily, taking a deep breath before continuing. “I really want to go tonight and partake in the hunt. But the others won’t let me if I smell the way I do.”

 

“Why are you telling me this?”

 

Lan Zhan seems to be genuinely confused as to why his husband is pouring out his heart and soul and Wei Wuxian is taken aback. Why was he telling him? Why was he telling him ? Who else was there to tell!? Who else was going to entertain his silly anxieties and who else had any say in his health? Especially his reproductive health! It’s not like he could go to Jiang Cheng about this, or to his Shijie, or to any one of his friends here. They weren’t his husband .

 

“Because we’re married . . . ?”

 

Now they’re both confused, staring at one another as if the other has the answer. Lan Zhan finally sits, taking his time in answering. He’s quiet for a minute, eyes unfocused, and Wei Wuxian almost pulls his hair out in anticipation. Can’t he say something? Anything ? It’s wrong of him to want Lan Zhan to ease his messy thoughts but he also is dying to know what’s going on in his brain.

 

“Wei Ying. I don’t have a say in what you do with your body. That’s your decision.”

 

“I know, I just meant, that, I should’ve at least told you.”

 

“You don’t have to tell me,” Lan Zhan looks up at him so softly that he feels his heart skip a beat, “that’s your decision. I won’t stop you from doing anything here. I don’t control you.”

 

“Right,” Wei Wuxian drops down to sit next to his husband, leaning on him, smearing his scent all over his robe in the process, “I just felt guilty, I guess. I feel guilty.”

 

“You’ve done nothing wrong.”

 

“I can’t help but want to tell you everything.” He laughs, and for some reason, the laughter makes him feel better. He laughs a little louder now, falling over into his husband’s lap. He can’t stop giggling and covers his face. His giggles are high pitched and squeaky and it makes everything even funnier . “Ah, I’m so ridiculous! I know! I freaked out over something so small! I just felt like I was hiding it! You would’ve started to question if I suddenly smelled like nothing!”

 

Lan Zhan strokes his hair in long, deep gestures, carding his way through Wei Wuxian’s hair. He undoes his hair tie, and he lets him, lets him comb through his hair with his fingers, and nearly bend in half to kiss the top of his head. He lets Wei Wuxian laugh it out before his laughter becomes deep breaths and he’s left staring up into his alpha’s eyes. Lan Zhan beams down at him, tugging gently on his bangs.

 

“I would have known.”

 

“And you wouldn’t have said anything? Really?”

 

“It’s your body, your choice, not mine.”

 

Wei Wuxian lies there for that, taking in the words. He’s . . . right. It’s Wei Wuxian’s body therefore it is his decision what he does with it. If he wants to use scent blockers, then he should. If he wants to draw all over himself then he can. If he wants to join the others on a hunt then why can’t he? After all, he was not responsible for any person or any body other than himself and his own. Lan Zhan is not the master of his body. Nor is anyone else. 

 

Suddenly, he feels a lot better about the idea of scent blockers. They’re not something he needs to hide, nor are they hiding any secrets like he had believed a moment ago. There was nothing wrong or dirty about pre-heat. Sure, he may smell a bit too strong, but that wasn’t bad . It was biology . After all, he had a point in his fight with Jiang Cheng. Everyone smells at some point.

 

“Hmm,” Wei Wuxian reaches his hands up and cups Lan Zhan’s face, “thank you. My wonderful, dutiful husband.”

 

Lan Zhan says nothing.

 

“I’m sorry I, uh, lost my cool. I trust you. I do. I guess I just felt like I wanted you in the loop but I was too embarrassed to have you there. It’s embarrassing, really, having to walk around and have everyone smell you and tell you they smell you. I guess you're right, you don't have a say in my health, and only I do. Hm. Did you smell me, too? And you didn’t say anything? For how long, I wonder? You’re so perfect. Perfect for me,”

 

Lan Zhan takes one of his hands and kisses his open palm, gently guiding his way down Wei Wuxian’s arm with kisses, watching him with his soulful, gorgeous eyes. He loves Lan Zhan’s eyes. So expression, so glossy . . . 

 

“That tickles!”

 

Lan Zhan pulls back instantly.

 

“My thoughts are just all disorganized . . . But, please, don’t make me write them out. We can just talk about them?” Wei Wuxian looks up at his husband hopefully.

 

“Mn.”

 

He plays with Lan Zhan’s fingers then, smiling to himself, finding comfort in his lap. Well, partially. His upper half is in his husband’s lap but his legs are folded against the hard, wooden floor. He’s not sure where to start picking apart his thoughts but dissecting and analyzing them have always been quite an adventure. He doesn’t want to spend all of his time talking, though, so he pokes Lan Zhan in the belly softly.

 

“Hey. Let’s take a bath?”

 

Lan Zhan nods. They sit like that for a while before either of them moves.