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sugar cube

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That I would name the stars for you? That I would take you there? The splash

of my tongue melting you like a sugar cube? 

~ Snow and Dirty Rain, Richard Siken


The Lans are a list-making people.  Outsiders sometimes think that the Wall of Discipline is the beginning and the end of it, but it’s far from that. Lan Wangji was presented with additional lists of rules and principles and moral guidance when he reached appropriate ages, completed certain portions of his training, or asked certain questions. Lists for boys, lists for girls, lists for musicians and lists for swordsmen.  He presumes the cooks in the kitchen have their own ways, known only to them but recorded and passed on all the same.

It’s always been a comfort: the sensible and rational ordering of things, with pauses between where one might catch a stray thought and steer it back to the proscribed path. A way to shape and understand the world.

And then there was Wei Wuxian.

And then, for a while, a hole in the world where Wei Wuxian should have been.

And now...well.  Now there is the world whole again, patched over near-seamlessly, and Wei Wuxian in it. But sixteen years passed by haven’t done a thing to turn Wei Wuxian into a person who can be enumerated, ordered, or contained.

It isn’t a problem anymore. Lan Wangji isn’t the nervous, overwhelmed boy he was, and he understands that there is truth to be found outside the Lan strictures. But the habits remain, and his lists grow.

Wei Wuxian has twelve spots on his skin and Lan Wangji can name them all, from the barely-visible dot on his left shoulder to the vivid mark on his right shin. They form their own order; a constellation outlining his husband, stardust within its bounds.  The astronomers have their own lists of star-shapes, but without this one they are incomplete and will always remain so. Lan Wangji can’t bring himself to be sorry. He presses against each of the twelve spots in its turn: lips, breath, nails.

Yanli is not to be mentioned unless Wei Wuxian mentions her first; this is an important rule, and in the Wei Wuxian list in Lan Wangji’s head it is written large, in crimson.  When Wei Wuxian mentions her first, then Lan Wangji can speak of her as well - how kind she was, how loving, a good sister and someone he wishes he had known long enough and well enough to claim her as a friend. They can share stories and memories. They can laugh, and it is not always sad. Sometimes it is warm and lovely. But Wei Wuxian must be allowed to begin it; otherwise he curls into himself, as if protecting an old wound. Wangji remembers what it felt like, during the sixteen years, to hear Wei Wuxian’s name unexpectedly. Like the lash again, a pain so bright and quick as to precede and obliterate understanding of its cause. He will not inflict that pain himself.

Wei Wuxian prefers spicy to sour, sweet to savory, rich sauces to austere plates. Left to his own devices he would eat either ten times a day or none at all, so deep in a text or a thought that he forgets his growling stomach entirely. Some of these preferences have been etched in Lan Wangji’s heart since boyhood, when Wei Wuxian first ripped through his life like a whirlwind. Others are recent discoveries, only observed now with the time and resources to spoil his husband with choices and take careful note of what pleases. Another list for the cooks. He brings easy snacks, things Wei Wuxian can mindlessly toss in one hand while he turns pages with the other, things that will remain tasty after they have cooled untended. The marital principles do not specifically say that one can bite one’s husband’s fingertips, gently, until he turns from his scroll and laughs and reaches for his dish again, but Lan Wangji is interpreting some of the Principles loosely. He’s learned to do that. 

There are only sixteen ways to silence Wei Wuxian so far, when he absolutely will not silence himself, but Lan Wangji considers this list a work in progress. Perhaps it will be the work of his lifetime, a feat worth immortalizing in song and story.

Not that this particular method will find its way into a song for anyone else’s ears. 

Lan Wangji supposes there are songs about this act and that Wei Wuxian knows them all.  Perhaps one day when he is feeling particularly indulgent he will let his husband teach them to him. Some other day, when Wei Wuxian’s mouth is free.

That mouth wasn’t something he had known he was permitted to want. Knowing, and being allowed - it makes Lan Wangji greedy in a way that contradicts at least twelve of the Principles.  Hungry like he’ll never make up for all the years without, like he needs to pin Wei Wuxian down and keep him here, just like --

“Like this,” Wei Wuxian laughs, pressing his smile into Lan Wangji’s thigh, tugging at him to move him just so. A couple of inches further until he’s just where he should be, and can dip his head to take Wei Wuxian’s cock between his lips at almost the same moment his hips jerk unbidden as his husband does the same to him. Deep, with a hunger that Lan Wangji recognizes as the twin to his own.

There’s not much Wei Wuxian enjoys more than winning an argument or at least dragging it out until his opponent gives up from sheer frustration, but there is this.

Lan Wangji shudders and dedicates himself to abandoning several of the Principles.

(“Do not wallow in luxury and pleasure,” Wei Wuxian had recited all those years ago, word-perfect but bubbling over with hilarity.  He’d been slumped rudely at his desk, disrespecting the Principles unforgivably. Lan Wangji had been so certain that the racing thunder of his own pulse had been fury.)

There are sounds that Wei Wuxian makes that are only for their bed, which is another list Lan Wangji will never commit to writing. Another thing he’s selfish about in a way he didn’t know he could be. He presses himself down as far as he can to take in more, to make Wei Wuxian feel good, to get the sound from him that Wangji had thought was surprise, the first time.  It can’t be that - it’s no surprise anymore that they can do this to each other, even if it still feels like a stolen miracle - but it still sounds like startlement, the quick harsh gasp of it. Lan Wangji loves everything about that sound. He’d scratch half the Principles off the wall with his own fingernails to hear it, and never mind what the ancestors would rise from their graves to do in response.

When he tightens his lips around Wei Wuxian’s length and lets himself sink into the pleasure of the act, and hears that sound in response, it’s nearly enough to make him laugh. He hums his delight instead, music he can make with his mouth and hands occupied, and lets that bring another lower moan in response.

Behind him, under him, Wei Wuxian has been lazily working at Lan Wangji’s body, exploratory and gentle. Now he takes the hand that’s been gently petting Wangji’s thigh and rakes it down down the back of his leg instead in a fast, decisive scratch.  It stings. He’ll feel it later when he tries to meditate and can still feel the marks hot where his weight rests; when they sit down for dinner. He won’t give Wei Wuxian the satisfaction of seeing him shift to sit more comfortably, but they’ll both know.  It will make Lan Wangji hot and shivery then; it makes him hot and shivery now.

He lets Wei Wuxian slip from his mouth and doesn’t try to categorize the sound of protest that he gets in response; that would be a neverending list if Lan Wangji ever tried to make it. Instead he turns his head to bite at Wuxian’s inner thigh - soft, barely a nip, but on the tenderest skin he knows it will feel like a warning.

“Wei Ying,” he says, and lets his voice drop low into a scold that he doesn’t mean a bit of. “Can’t you ever just be good?”

Foolish questions deserve foolish responses. Wei Wuxian presses down over the marks he’s left so the sting will flare, and twists beneath Lan Wangji.  It’s a beautiful, sinuous motion - not anything like a real attempt to move, just a reminder that he could, if he really were trying to misbehave.

He tries so hard to be good, really, in his own impossible way. And the motion he makes with his tongue against Lan Wangji’s cock at the same time is clearly intended as nothing but pleasure - it melts Lan Wangji entirely, a mingled heat and tenderness rushing through him until he has to take Wei Wuxian back into his own mouth to stop himself from saying something terrible he won’t even know until the words come out of him. Something torn from so deep inside him he’ll never recover from the loss of it.  

They speed up: they’ve played and fought enough duets by now to know each other’s tricks, and this is just another way to move together.  Lan Wangji frees one fist from the bed to touch Wei Wuxian, everywhere he can reach at first and then exactly where it will do the most good, tight at the base where his mouth doesn’t reach if he’s not really working at it, a little out of rhythm the way he knows now that his husband likes it best.

He lets himself be - Wei Wuxian lets him be - greedy for everything he can get, for Wei Wuxian’s mouth turned gluttonous now instead of gentle, sucking him hard and not minding when Lan Wangji’s hips twitch downward, unbidden and uncontrolled in a way Wangji doesn’t like to be anywhere else. For anyone else.

In the end, Lan Wangji breaks first but not by much - he’s still riding the high of it, his pleasure barely crested and his whole body still sparking bright, when Wei Wuxian’s cock twitches in his hand in a way he knows.  Lan Wangji wrests his attention back from his own shaky limbs to this, so he won’t miss a second of it. And he doesn’t: Wei Wuxian’s sigh, the way his entire body for one blessed moment goes still and lax and stops causing trouble, the taste and smell of him when he comes - Lan Wangji observes it all.  It wasn’t what they were meant for, all those years of lessons in observing and categorizing and performing prodigious feats of perfect memory, but it’s what he’s choosing to use them for.

(He’s not keeping a list for this, the way Wei Wuxian looks and laughs and curves shamelessly up against Lan Wangji’s body afterwards. Lan Wangji has some shame left in him. But he still drinks it in like he’s starving for it.)

He tumbles down to lie flat on the bed in a graceless sprawl that’s a shame to every teacher who ever taught him to move with deliberation, and a measure of Wei Wuxian’s terrible influence.  

His husband scrambles the few inches over to rest against him with nearly as little grace, kisses him once, and then jabs him in the ribs with an elbow.  He takes a breath and narrows his eyes and opens his mouth in a way that spells nothing but trouble.

One of Lan Wangji’s arms is trapped under Wei Wuxian but he reaches over with the other and covers up his mouth. 

“Wei Ying,” he says. It means “I love you” and “I may strangle one or both of us with a qin string if you do not let this argument go” and “I want to do that again every day until we die” and and several other things besides.  

Wei Wuxian knows all of them. Wei Wuxian knows him.

And so he laughs, and kisses Lan Wangji’s fingertips, and nestles even closer, and - for once, and perhaps only briefly, but Lan Wangji will put it on the list of his victories - Wei Wuxian falls silent.