For the first time since his punishment in the library pavilion had begun, Wei Wuxian was silent.
For the first time since his punishment had begun, Lan Wangji wished that Wei Wuxian would start talking.
The child sitting in-between them — Lan Yuan, better known as A-Yuan, their apparent son from the future, however the hell that had happened — looked between them with a big pout on his face.
“Why is A-Niang not talking to A-Die and A-Yuan?” he asked.
Wei Wuxian winced, and refused to look up from where he was actually trying to copy down the rules for once. Yes, apparently the kid called him A-Niang.
(The older Wei Wuxian found it absolutely hilarious, and honestly kind of adorable, and decided that A-Yuan would probably grow out of the habit when he grew up anyway. The Wei Wuxian of this time found it absolutely mortifying).
“I’m being punished, A-Yuan,” he said.
A-Yuan frowned slightly. “Why are you sad then? A-Niang’s always happy when A-Die punishes him.”
A-Yuan then went back to his drawing of a big rabbit held in the arms of a fierce corpse (clearly the child had some unresolved issues), while both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji froze, and refused to look at each other.
It all began a few days ago, when A-Yuan showed up after accidentally activating a time travel array that had been left in his home. In Wei Wuxian’s defence — well, his future-self’s — the man had only borrowed it from the forbidden room of the Lan’s library, and since he was apparently a member of the main family, that was probably fine.
And if it wasn’t, well, he’d been planning on giving it back when he was done.
Once his identity had been confirmed, and the Lan Elders were sure that he really was from the future, he’d been ushered away with a kind but nervous Lan disciple who was told to keep him occupied until they could find a way to send him home.
A-Yuan ran away at the first opportunity while the man’s back was turned, and, a short while later, burst into the room where a class was taking place.
The child ran straight over to Lan Wangji, who had been diligently taking notes, and latched onto his leg.
“A-Die!” he screamed. Everyone turned to stare at him. By now, everyone knew about the little potential time traveller who’d showed up the day before, and everyone knew what this probably meant.
From the front of the room, Lan Qiren paled.
“A-Die, where’s A-Niang?” A-Yuan asked, tugging on his robes. “Where — ” And then his eyes fell on Wei Wuxian, and lit up immediately.
“A-Niang!” he cried, and ran over. Wei Wuxian, who had been about to make a joke about Lan Wangji and his apparent future son, could only sit frozen as A-Yuan clambered into his lap, looking up at him with wide, adoring eyes.
“A-Niang, can we go and look at the bunnies with A-Die?” A-Yuan asked hopefully.
“What?” Wei Wuxian asked, dazed.
Lan Qiren collapsed to his knees.
“He called Wei Wuxian A-Niang,” a nearby disciple murmured. “How ridiculous.”
“Perhaps Wei Wuxian is really a woman!”
“How would that work?”
“I don’t know, I always found him awfully pretty…”
“You’re a cut-sleeve?”
“No! If Wei Wuxian is really a woman, then how would I be a cut-sleeve?”
“I thought gossiping was forbidden in the Cloud Recesses,” Wei Wuxian muttered, scowling at the murmuring group standing a short distance away.
“Then you shouldn’t have gone and had a child with Lan Wangji,” Jiang Cheng snapped. For whatever reason, he had been really angry about this. Wei Wuxian found that pretty unfair, because he and poor Lan Zhan were the ones losing face here.
He couldn’t actually be married to Lan Wangji. Sure, the other boy was very handsome, and very smart, and talented, and strong, and Wei Wuxian could off course appreciate those facts, but that was just an objective view. It didn’t really mean anything.
Lan Wangji was just his friend. His very handsome friend, who didn’t like him back whatsoever, but Wei Wuxian was working on that.
Romance was definitely not part of the plan though.
“I want to sleep with A-Die and A-Niang!” A-Yuan declared, and no one could convince him otherwise. Lan Xichen, who was apparently determined to stick around now that he had a new nephew, and since it looked like his little brother was constantly on the verge of a panic attack, knelt down to pat A-Yuan gently on the head.
“A-Yuan, we have a very nice room set up for you. Isn’t that right, Wangji?”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji said. He hadn't blinked in a very long time.
“Want to sleep with A-Die and A-Niang,” A-Yuan said again, his voice firm.
“Ah…A-Yuan, that really isn’t — ”
“He can stay in my room if he wants,” Wei Wuxian said quickly, because the boy was giving Lan Xichen the biggest puppy dog eyes right now, and even though puppy dog was another word for ‘sadistic demon from hell’, A-Yuan apparently pulled the look off, and looked adorable while doing so.
“A-Niang and A-Die’s room."
“They are not sleeping in the same room,” Jiang Cheng snapped firmly.
Lan Xichen looked slightly pained. Lan Wangji was saying nothing, and to everyone else, it looked like he was completely unmoved by the current situation.
(“Second Master Lan must be a very strict father indeed,” a nearby onlooker murmured).
In reality, only Lan Xichen could see the dazed look in his eyes, as Lan Wangji daydreamed about Wei Wuxian curled up in his bed.
Lan Xichen turned away. Clearly his brother would be useless here. He opened his mouth to tell A-Yuan again that he needed to sleep in his own room, or in Young Master Wei’s if that was an option.
And then A-Yuan burst into tears.
A-Yuan was apparently very hard to say no to once the waterworks started.
Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian lay on Lan Wangji’s bed in the Jingshi, both staring blankly at opposite sides of the room, and trying (and failing) to go to sleep.
A-Yuan let out a series of soft snores, content with sleeping in-between his beloved parents, even if they were being strangely distant tonight.
The next morning, Wei Wuxian had dark circles under his eyes. He had spent the night sleeping next to the most perfect person he had ever met, so it was very hard to get to sleep, alright?
He was sure anyone would have had the same dilemma.
A-Yuan was ridiculously clingy, and constantly wanted to be with either Wei Wuxian or Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian had more or less gotten used to it by now.
“Grumpy Uncle!” A-Yuan exclaimed, as Jiang Cheng came into view. Wei Wuxian could see that his brother was talking to Nie Huaisang; he paused his conversation to glance up at A-Yuan, a flash of annoyance crossing his face.
Apparently A-Yuan liked to call Jiang Cheng 'Grumpy Uncle', and apparently Jiang Cheng hated it.
Wei Wuxian sighed, and fell into step with his brother and friend. He would probably have to take A-Yuan to class with him again, because the boy refused to be left behind. The Lans seemed oddly agreeable about this, probably because this was the future son of their second young master, and because it was very hard to say no to A-Yuan when he wanted something.
Somehow the topic turned to his wedding to Lan Wangji, purely due to A-Yuan's machinations and Nie Huaisang's eager enquiries, and Wei Wuxian felt his heart skip a beat.
“A-Niang looked very pretty!” A-Yuan said, a wide smile on his face. “And he and A-Die wore lots of red! And — ”
“Wait, hold on,” Jiang Cheng said, cutting him off. “You were at the wedding? Wei Wuxian, you — you had a child with Lan Wangji before you got married?!” He sounded furious, which Wei Wuxian found absolutely ridiculous.
“He’s obviously adopted, Jiang Cheng,” Wei Wuxian said. “He — wait, you are adopted, right?”
“You’re adopted, aren’t you?” And now there was more than a bit of desperation in his voice.
A-Yuan nodded. “Yes!”
Wei Wuxian relaxed, and inwardly let out a sigh of relief.
“Can I go see the bunnies?”
“Pets are forbidden in the Cloud Recesses,” Lan Wangji said, while Wei Wuxian looked at them in amusement. If A-Yuan was going to interrupt their quality time in the library pavilion, at least he was entertaining.
“The bunnies aren’t forbidden!” A-Yuan argued, sounding almost insulted. “A-Die buried me in them last week.”
Lan Wangji stared.
“A-Die what?” Wei Wuxian asked, grinning eagerly. “Oh my god Lan Zhan, that’s adorable.”
Lan Wangji glared. “Stop talking.”
“Lan Zhan, how is that fair? Our son gets to speak, you get to speak, but I can’t?”
“I want to play with A-Yi.”
“Oh, he’s not here,” Wei Wuxian said. He had no idea who A-Yi was. “Why don’t you just play with Lan Zhan instead? Lan Zhan, go bury your son in a pile of rabbits.”
He may have been caught off guard initially, but at least this whole confusing ‘future son’ situation was a great way to tease Lan Wangji.
Lan Wangji glared. “There are no rabbits.”
There was a loud sniffle. Both of them turned quickly, eyes filled with panic, as A-Yuan stared at them with teary eyes and a wobbly lip.
Oh God, not that, anything but that — Wei Wuxian couldn’t handle a crying child.
“The b-b-bunnies,” A-Yuan sobbed, curling in on himself.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said in panic.
“Would you like to do something?” Lan Wangji asked, sounding perfectly composed as always. Wei Wuxian felt a wave of jealousy, because seriously, how was Lan Wangji able to handle this so well? Wei Wuxian was a mess right now.
(He must be a wonderful father in the future…).
In reality, Lan Wangji was battling waves of panic that threatened to engulf him, but his poker face was just that good.
The tears and pout disappeared immediately. A-Yuan sat forward, a smile quickly appearing on his face. “I want to go to lunch!”
“Lunch will be served in around an hour,” Lan Wangji said promptly.
“I want to go out for lunch, A-Die! Take me and A-Niang to Caiyi Town!”
There was a long moment of silence, and Wei Wuxian was almost sure that Lan Wangji would refuse.
“Mn,” the other boy said at last, ducking his head slightly. “After Wei Ying has finished.”
Wei Wuxian’s eyes widened in surprise — and excitement, although he decided that was because Lan Wangji usually never wanted to do anything with him — and he almost couldn’t even bring himself to complain about having to finish his punishment first.
Almost. As if he was going to miss an opportunity to get a reaction out of Lan Zhan.
“Hurry up, A-Niang!” A-Yuan said, nudging Wei Wuxian’s arm insistently. “I’m hungry!”
They shared a very nice lunch together, in a lovely little restaurant, and probably looked like the perfect little family to onlookers. Sure, both he and Lan Wangji were men, and they were both a little too young, but who cared about the details.
Wei Wuxian didn’t know why he felt all light and fluttery on the inside.
“What would you like to eat?” Lan Wangji asked.
“Something spicy!” A-Yuan said excitedly. “For me and A-Niang, right A-Niang?”
“Ah, sure,” Wei Wuxian said, a little out of his element. Why did he feel so strange right now?
“Mn,” Lan Wangji agreed. “Wei Ying?”
“Huh?” Wei Wuxian said, slightly dazed. “Oh right, food — uh, give me the menu — ”
Lan Wangji passed it over, and their hands brushed, and Wei Wuxian felt another jolt of dizziness. Clearly he was coming down with something.
“I want the same thing as A-Niang!” A-Yuan said, peering over Wei Wuxian’s shoulder as if he could actually read what was on the menu.
(“So young,” murmured a nearby woman, shaking her head slightly.
“I could have sworn that other one was a man,” her companion added, frowning slightly).
Lunch was as pleasant as Wei Wuxian could have imagined it being. Lan Wangji remained quiet as always, but didn’t seem as snappy or irritable as he usually did when Wei Wuxian was around. And Wei Wuxian, who had always craved those sort of reactions from Lan Wangji, found that he actually quite liked these quiet moments as well.
Lan Wangji looked so calm and composed, and Wei Wuxian decided that it was a very good look on him. He didn’t even realise that he was staring at Lan Wangji, his chin rested on his palm, and a small smile stretched across his lips. Did his face feel a bit warm right now? It was probably just because the room was a bit hot.
Wei Wuxian blinked. “Uh, yes Lan Zhan?” he said, shaking his head slightly. “Did you say something?”
“Have you finished eating?”
“Yes,” Wei Wuxian ducked his head slightly. Oh, his cheeks were definitely warm right now.
“A-Niang thinks A-Die is pretty,” A-Yuan declared, finishing up his meal.
Wei Wuxian froze. Lan Wangji blinked.
“A-Yuan!” he cried, shooting the child a look of betrayal. “I do not.” Should he have denied it? Wait, why had he denied it, he was always going on about Lan Zhan looking amazing, surely the other boy wouldn't find anything strange about that...
Not that there was anything strange for him to find in the first place.
“It’s okay A-Niang,” A-Yuan said, giving his arm a comforting pat. “A-Die thinks you’re pretty too.”
Okay, Wei Wuxian was definitely blushing now, but in his defense, anyone would be.
He was so busy staring at his lap that he missed how the tips of Lan Wangji’s ears turned a deep red.
Lan Wangji paid for their meal at the end, which turned out to be a very good thing because Wei Wuxian had forgotten his money purse. And even if he hadn’t, he’d already used up every last coin in it (in his defence, there had been a lot of hungry children on the streets the last time he'd stopped in Caiyi Town, and how was he supposed to say no to them when they looked at him like that?).
Wei Wuxian stood with A-Yuan by his side, watching Lan Wangji, and feeling oddly warm yet again.
‘What a gentleman,’ he thought.
He quickly pushed the thought away.
Jin Zixuan insulted Jiang Yanli, and Wei Wuxian punched him in his stupid, smug, peacock face. In his opinion, he deserved a whole lot more.
Lan Wangji happened to be passing by at the time, with A-Yuan's hand clasped in his own. He stared at Jin Zixuan, who was cursing and clutching his bruised cheek, and blinked. Wei Wuxian felt oddly ashamed.
A-Yuan squirmed out of Lan Wangji’s grip and ran over. Wei Wuxian had enough time to think, ‘Oh, I probably shouldn’t have hit him in front of the kid,’ before A-Yuan gave Jin Zixuan a solid kick to the shin.
“What the hell?!” Jin Zixuan cried in shock.
Wei Wuxian looked at his future son with pride in his eyes.
“Stop being mean to Aunty Yanli!” A-Yuan yelled. He probably would have kicked Jin Zixuan again, if Lan Wangji hadn’t walked over and placed a firm hand on his shoulder. A-Yuan settled for glaring at Jin Zixuan instead.
“Aunty Yanli’s really nice and pretty, and she makes really good soup, and she’s nice!”
“You said nice twice,” Jin Zixuan snapped.
“A-Yuan is very articulate,” Lan Wangji said, giving A-Yuan what Wei Wuxian was pretty sure was a nod of approval. Wei Wuxian stared in surprise.
“Are you joking?” Jin Zixuan spluttered. “He punched me! And your son kicked me! You cannot seriously be defending this?!”
“You were mean to Aunty Yanli!” A-Yuan yelled again. “A-Niang,” he tugged on Wei Wuxian’s robes, his eyes wide, “I don’t like this Uncle Jin! I want my Uncle Jin back!”
Wei Wuxian didn’t know what he thought about A-Yuan calling the Peacock “Uncle Jin.” He felt a bit nauseous at the thought.
“A-Ling would cry!” A-Yuan added.
“Who’s A-Ling?” Jin Zixuan asked, with some exasperation in his voice.
“Your baby! With Aunty Yanli!”
Jin Zixuan froze.
(A-Yuan was very protective of his little cousin. Aunty Yanli had made him promise to always look out for him, and A-Yuan took his responsibilites very seriously. He made sure to give Jin Zixuan his best glare, one that he had seen his A-Die giving Grumpy Uncle whenever he said something particularly rude to A-Niang).
In the end Wei Wuxian wasn’t expelled, because A-Yuan stared at Lan Qiren with those big adorable eyes of his, threw in a few tears for good measure, and begged his “Goat Uncle” not to make his A-Niang leave A-Die behind.
‘Goat Uncle’ twitched in annoyance at the nickname, but even an old fuddy-duddy like Lan Qiren wasn’t immune to A-Yuan’s charms.
("You will be severely punished though," Lan Qiren said, glaring at Wei Wuxian as if he despised the very sight of him.
"A-Die will take care of it," A-Yuan said, nodding firmly).
Also, Lan Wangji had apparently had a few words with Lan Qiren, and Wei Wuxian didn’t even know what to think about that. He would have thought that Lan Wangji would want him gone, what with him being a trouble-making, violent deviant and all.
“Wei Ying was defending his sister,” was all Lan Wangji said when Wei Wuxian questioned him about it later on.
“Lan Zhan! Does that mean you approve?”
“You should not have resorted to violence,” Lan Wangji retorted.
“Yes, but you think he deserved it!” Wei Wuxian’s voice was gleeful by this point.
“Do not act impulsively.”
“Eh, Lan Zhan, I’m telling you, he deserved it. Even our little A-Yuan agrees with me. Isn’t that right?”
“Mn,” A-Yuan said, nodding in agreement. He was putting the finishing touches on his newest drawing, which was apparently a nice little picture of him and both of his parents.
Wei Wuxian looked away, his cheeks flushed, and caught Lan Wangji looking at it a little too intently.
Eventually the Lan Elders managed to find a way to reverse the array, and A-Yuan was sent back home. He waved cheerily to Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, and told ‘A-Niang’ and ‘A-Die’ that he would see them soon.
Wei Wuxian felt oddly hollow when he was gone. He wasn’t exactly eager to become a teenage father, but he would definitely miss having that kid around. A-Yuan was probably the best child he had ever met; obviously a child raised by him and Lan Wangji would be superior.
A child raised by him and Lan Wangji. Huh. That was right, he and Lan Zhan were married in the future.
…And friends. They were, first and foremost, friends.
Wei Wuxian glanced up, and smiled broadly when he saw Lan Wangji approaching.
“Lan Zhan!” he said, waving. “I was just thinking about you! When we get married, we should have more than just one child, alright? Let’s have ten A-Yuans.”
The tips of Lan Wangji’s ears turned red. “Shameless,” he snapped.
Wei Wuxian tossed back his head, laughing. “Lan Zhan, I might be shameless, but I’m only speaking the truth! I — ”
“Would you like to go to Caiyi Town?”
Wei Wuxian paused. “What?”
Lan Wangji ducked his head slightly. “Would…Wei Ying like to go to Caiyi Town. With me.”
“Whenever Wei Ying wants.”
Wei Ying found himself almost speechless. Honestly, it was just a friendly request, and Lan Wangji was clearly just being a good friend right now, and had probably finally realised that they would make the best of friends since they…since they were married with a son in the future…
“Yes, Lan Zhan, I’d love that,” he said quickly, wondering why he suddenly felt so light and airy.
Lan Wangji nodded once and then walked away hurriedly, the tips of his ears still burning red.