Chapter 1: Prologue
The drabble (and a half) that started it all, prompted by sarah-yyy on Tumblr.
Wei Ying wasn’t in love with his bodyguard. Absolutely not. He was just… appropriately appreciative of Lan Wangji’s skills and dedication.
After all, Lan Wangji was known to be among the best in the business, and from the moment he’d entered Wei Ying’s employ, that had been obvious. Suddenly Wei Wuxian arrived on time at his destinations, because Lan Wangji had not only planned the optimal route but also dealt with any fans in a firm yet respectful manner. Plus, he was very easy on the eyes, which Wei Ying could admit without it meaning anything.
If only Lan Wangji didn’t seem to strongly disapprove of the entertainment industry in general and Wei Ying in particular, Wei Ying’s life would have been complete. Not that it mattered to him what his bodyguard thought of him, as long as he did his job. Because Wei Ying wasn’t in love with him.
Chapter 2: Beginnings
“A-Ying, you need a new bodyguard,” were Jiang Yanli’s first words after she’d hugged Wei Ying, stage name Wei Wuxian, to within in an inch of his life. “Su She’s incompetence almost got you killed!”
“You’re exaggerating, shijie,” Wei Ying protested with a laugh, but he didn’t pull away. In truth, the kidnapping attempt had shaken him to the core, and only in Jiang Yanli’s presence did he feel he could finally let his guard down.
After all, becoming the focus of the Wen Qishan gang’s vendetta against his adopted father, Yunmeng Police Commissioner Jiang Fengmian, had not been what he signed up for when he became an idol. Not that this would stop Yu Ziyuan from blaming him for the scandal.
Jiang Fengmian’s wife had never been too fond of his adoption, and Wei Ying’s decision to abandon a promising career as a classical musician in favour of pop stardom had only compounded matters. Especially when Jiang Yanli had insisted on being his manager instead of being satisfied to be a trophy wife to Jin Zixuan. Wei Ying couldn’t stand the vain peacock, but he had to give it to him, he’d supported his wife’s decision.
“No, I’m not exaggerating, and you are getting a new security detail.” Wei Ying recognised the determined look on his sister’s face and resigned himself to his fate. He was not in the least bit surprised to find that Jiang Yanli had already organised someone, certain of his acquiescence. “Actually, you know him. Remember that music camp we went to, nine or ten years ago?”
“Huh?” Wei Ying regarded her with confusion. “Yeah, sure, I guess. That was where we met Nie Huaisang - and where the peacock broke your heart, wasn’t it?”
It was a bit of a low blow, but Jiang Yanli had long since gotten used to the fact that her brothers would never quite forgive her husband for his youthful folly. She just smiled gently and agreed with a twinkle in her eyes, “Yes. And where you were quite busy pulling a certain boy’s ponytail…”
“Shijie, I was not!” Wei Ying protested, blushing furiously. “I was just teasing him because he was such a stick in the mud.”
“Whatever you say, Xianxian,” Jiang Yanli replied, obviously placating him. “Anyway, he joined his brother and uncle in the family business.”
“The… family business?”
“Lan Security. They’re quite famous in the industry, although they normally work more with politicians than entertainers,” Jiang Yanli explained, while Wei Ying tried to wrap his mind around it all. Blissfully unaware of his turmoil, his sister continued, “I’ve contacted Lan Huan. Do you remember him? He goes by Lan Xichen now. Anyway, he agreed immediately, and he insisted that his brother was going to be in charge of your security.”
As if summoned by her words, there was a knocking at the door, and Wei Ying startled. Was this really happening? He had very carefully spent years not remembering that summer. With a look that held too much amusement for someone with such a kind reputation, Jiang Yanli got up to answer, and Wei Ying quickly redid his ponytail, hoping against hope that it was less messy than usual. Shifting nervously on the couch, Wei Ying took a deep breath and tried to remember how to look casual, but he was pretty certain he failed miserably.
Lan Zhan. Lan Zhan was standing there, only a few metres away, being greeted warmly by his sister.
“Lan-xiansheng, thank you for coming on such short notice. It is good to see you again.”
“Jiang-nushi, it is a pleasure.” Lan Zhan’s voice was deeper than Wei Ying remembered, his manner cool but perfectly polite. His eyes flickered away from Jiang Yanli for a second, meeting Wei Ying’s before sliding away with the only sign of recognition being a slight tightening of his jaw. “All services of Lan Security are at your disposal. I am ready to start work immediately.”
“Wonderful!” Jiang Yanli exclaimed, stepping aside and motioning towards Wei Ying. “I am sure you remember my brother, Wei Ying.”
“Yes.” Lan Zhan inclined his head in greeting, and Wei Ying found himself giving a stupid little wave. Lifting an eyebrow, Lan Zhan added primly, “Although seeing as ours will be a professional relationship, I should use your official name. Wei Wuxian.”
“Lan Zhaaan,” Wei Ying whined, forgetting about his nervousness.
“And you should call me Lan Wangji,” Lan Zhan doubled down, as if to make sure there were no misunderstandings about the nature of their relationship. It hurt more than it had any business to. “It’s a security measure, so we cannot be tracked through our private lives.”
“That… makes sense,” Wei Ying replied slowly, trying very hard to be reasonable. He’d never thought he’d see Lan Zhan again, so what if they couldn’t be friends. Having come to this decision, he even managed a smile. “And I promise I’ll try my very best not to out you. But when it’s just the two of us, please call me Wei Ying.”
“Wei Y… Wei Wuxian.” The exasperation in Lan Zhan’s voice was familiar, bringing with it memories of summer and music and two boys sitting on a roof. Smiling widely, genuinely, he caught Lan Zhan’s eyes, and for a long moment they just looked at each other.
Jiang Yanli interrupted, sounding much too pleased with herself, “Great. I’ll leave you two to get reacquainted and set up the new security measures.”
Leaning down, she pressed a kiss to Wei Ying’s forehead.
“I’ve cleared your schedule as much as I could to give you time to recuperate, but remember the Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot tomorrow. I sent you the address and will meet you there, alright?” Nodding respectfully at Lan Zhan, she added, “You should also have his entire schedule and all important addresses and contact numbers. Please take care of our A-Ying, we all love him very much.”
“Of course. I will guard him with my life,” Lan Zhan replied so sincerely, Wei Ying felt himself blush and had to fight the urge to hide his face in his hands. After one more hug, Jiang Yanli left, leaving Wei Ying with the only boy he’d ever had a crush on. Not that he’d known that at the time.
It didn’t matter anymore anyway. Taking a steadying breath, Wei Ying gathered his composure. He was an actor – well, an idol who’d acted in a couple of dramas - he could absolutely do this. “So, Lan Zhan, are you going to protect me with your body? I must say, I feel very safe, you seem very strong and… capable.”
Okay, so maybe flirting outrageously was not the type of professional behaviour he’d had in mind, but the words had just tumbled out. Wei Ying blamed the fact that somehow, Lan Zhan had turned from a handsome teenager into an absolutely stunning adult. His hair was shorter than it had been back then, probably for practicality, and his suit was a non-descript light grey, but it was perfectly fitted and his tie had a pattern of blue-and-white clouds on it that spoke of personal taste. He was also wearing wire-rimmed glasses, but they did nothing to hide the beauty of his face, even as he watched Wei Ying with an unamused expression.
“Do not jest,” he admonished, and even his voice was attractive, deep and gravelly, raising goosebumps on Wei Ying’s skin. “I have been briefed on the recent attempt to kidnap you. It was serious, and I will take measures to prevent anything similar happening again.”
Something deep inside of Wei Ying relaxed, a part that had been cowed and frightened since the gang members had snagged him right from under the not-so-watchful eyes of Su She. This time he wasn’t flirting when he stood up and offered his hand to Lan Zhan. “I know. And I trust you.”
His bodyguard’s grip was firm and warm, and neither one of them let go for a long time.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! :)
Wei Ying had always resented the need for security, but even if he hadn’t been rather forcefully reminded of its importance, having Lan Wangji as his bodyguard proved to be worlds apart from his previous experiences. Where Su She’s presence had always felt like an intrusion, the measures he took imprisoning Wei Ying, Lan Wangji seamlessly fit himself into Wei Ying’s life right from the start.
It was really impressive, how he managed to fade into the background, a reassuring shadow. When he ushered Wei Ying towards an appointment, he did it so smoothly, Wei Ying never felt limited in his freedom, and despite his taciturn nature, soon everyone from his manager Jiang Yanli to Nie Huaisang, his stylist, appreciated how much smoother everything ran. Most of all Wei Ying.
Altogether, he thought that Lan Wangji was almost too good at disappearing. It made Wei Ying want to draw him out. His continuing failure to do so only spurned him on, which for some reason made Jiang Yanli laugh into her sleeve and Jiang Cheng roll his eyes so hard they risk getting stuck when he joined his siblings for dinner one evening.
“Come on, Lan Z-Wangji, sit down with us,” Wei Ying cajoled for the umpteenth time. “I’m sure we’re perfectly safe here, and you deserve a break.”
“No.” Lan Wangji replied curtly, standing at attention against the wall. Wei Ying pouted, but his bodyguard gave no sign of having seen it, his eyes continuing to roam the restaurant. Sighing exaggeratedly he turned back to his siblings, ignoring their speaking glances with years of practice. They should be glad he enjoyed Lan Wangji’s company so much, after all those years of Wei Ying doing his best to give his security the slip at every opportunity.
Still, when Lan Wangji followed him to the bathroom, he couldn’t stop himself from teasing, “Oh, Lan er-gege, I don’t think that this is that sort of establishment!”
“Shameless!” Lan Wangji’s eyes widened in shock before he could catch himself. Wei Ying couldn’t tell whether because of the overly familiar form of address or the allusion of sexual contact between them, but the red of his ears looked surprisingly endearing. Wei Ying’s fingers twitched with the urge to reach out and touch, so he quickly turned away to attend to his business while Lan Wangji hovered by the door, back resolutely turned.
Of course, now that Wei Ying knew that his unflappable bodyguard could be flustered in this way, he found it almost impossible to resist this temptation. He was a naturally flirtatious person, which served him well with audiences. It was almost too easy to add a wink or playful innuendo when he greeted Lan Wangji in the morning or bade him goodnight after another full day.
Also, while he’d promised that he wouldn’t call his bodyguard by his birth name when working, that didn’t stop him from using the teasing Lan er-gege or sometimes just gege. To the uninitiated, Lan Wangji’s handsome features didn’t show any reaction to either of these, but Wei Ying was becoming quite the expert at reading him, and he could always spot that little crease between his brows and the blush colouring his jade-white skin.
It reminded him of nothing so much as that magical summer, six weeks that he hadn’t wanted to end. Not in the least because of a serious boy who talked little and yet made Wei Ying feel known as no one ever had, before or since. Those were dangerous thoughts, however, so he focused on his campaign to test how much he could tease grown-up Lan Zhan before he snapped.
The first big opportunity arose at the next photoshoot, which involved a lot of bare skin and body glitter, combined with a pair of rather tight leather trousers. Grinning at Nie Huaisang in the mirror, Wei Ying walked out of the dressing room, making sure to glance up at Lan Wangji, who was waiting outside, through his lashes, biting his lower lip coyly.
“Do you like it, gege?”
Lan Wangji’s eyes slid over his half-naked body and to the side, and Wei Ying was pretty sure he didn’t imagine the deep breath he took, as if to steady himself before replying, “Shameless.”
It was his standard retort, which didn’t put Wei Ying off at all. Instead he grinned wider, stepping closer. Lan Wangji’s eyes widened, but before he could bolt, Wei Ying caught him by the hand and put it squarely onto his hip, where the swell of his ass began. Keeping his voice carefully innocent, he asked, “Can you help me? There’s a tissue in my back pocket, and I need to blow my nose.”
“Take it out yourself,” Lan Wangji bit out. His face remained impassive but his gaze was flickering around nervously, refusing to meet Wei Ying’s eyes.
“I can’t,” Wei Ying explained. “I have glitter all over my hands and arms. Nie Huaisang and the photographer will never forgive me if I get it on the leather.”
Lan Wangji’s eyes narrowed, as if he recognised Wei Ying’s excuse for the complete bullshit it was. Wei Ying almost expected him to tear his hand away, so he couldn’t quite suppress a gasp of surprise when instead that big hand slid lower. It wasn’t quite a caress, but when Lan Wangji slipped his long fingers into the tight, tight back pocket, Wei Ying shivered.
They were standing so closely, there was no possibility for Lan Wangji to miss this reaction, and while before he’d avoided Wei Ying’s gaze, his inscrutable eyes were now boring into Wei Ying’s. It was electric, and Wei Ying almost forgot what they were doing. Possibly his plan to fluster Lan Wangji had backfired just a little.
However, before he could decide what to do with this unexpected development, Lan Wangji removed his hand and stepped back, offering him the tissue from what suddenly felt like a vast distance. Faking a cough, Wei Ying accepted the tissue and buried his face in it. Hopefully Nie Huaisang’s make-up covered the blush making his cheeks burn.
Luckily he didn’t have time to ponder the moment, the photographer’s assistant arriving right then to call him to set. If her eyes flickered between the two of them for a second, Wei Ying chalked it up to the fact that Lan Wangji looked more like an idol than a bodyguard. For one, his immaculately tailored suits were never quite as dark as those of most others in his profession, and while he wore contacts instead of glasses when on the job, that only accentuated the symmetry of his face, which would be the envy of any runway model.
Wei Ying knew for a fact that Lan Wangji had been approached by more than one eager photographer during Wei Ying’s own photoshoots. It never failed to make him laugh to see the cool disdain with which Lan Wangji corrected their error, never once letting himself be distracted from Wei Ying and their surroundings.
It was a heady sensation, to be the focus of such razor-sharp attention. Wei Ying would rather die than admit it out loud, but he found that his modeling had rather improved ever since Lan Wangji was in the audience. He even poured more of his heart into his singing, remembering what a talented musician Lan Wangji was. It had been music, after all, that brought them together for the camp.
“Do you still play the guqin, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying inquired idly one evening after performing one of his hits for a variety show. They were at his condo, which meant that he could disband with formality, and he was currently in the process of changing into trackpants and a comfy sweatshirt. In a little while Lan Wangji would leave, but for a few minutes each night he stuck around, debriefing as he called it. Wei Ying called it ‘scolding Wei Ying for being naughty,’ but that didn’t stop him from enjoying those relaxed moments immensely.
“Yes.” Lan Wangji was currently in the kitchen, making tea to soothe Wei Ying’s abused vocal chords. The first time he’d done that Wei Ying’s heart had done a weird little skipping thing, which he’d hidden by clutching at his chest and thanking him in an exaggerated fashion. Nonetheless Lan Wangji had done it again, until it had become habit.
Leaning against the doorframe, Wei Ying smiled at the man who’d so easily become an integral part of his life. “I haven’t really picked up my dizi in ages. Somehow none of my producers appreciate classical Chinese music, all they want is for me to sing and hump the stage.”
Lan Wangji hummed non-commitally and added a good dollop of honey before handing Wei Ying his tea. As he accepted it, their fingers brushed lightly, and Wei Ying’s heart once again did that strange twist. He held his bodyguard’s eyes, his smile wide and warm on his face. “Thank you, Lan Zhan.”
“There is no need for thanks between us,” Lan Wangji replied simply, adding like an afterthought, “Wei Ying.”
“Oh, Lan Zhan, you can’t say things like that,” Wei Ying exclaimed. “My heart can’t take it!”
Seeing Lan Wangji’s ears redden, Wei Ying laughed. However, he wasn’t sure at all whether he was joking.