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Helping Yourself

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There was something quite freeing about not having much of a memory, in Wei Wuxian’s view; it wasn’t his fault that no one else seemed to agree with him.

It made things very simple. If he liked someone, he liked them; if he didn’t, he didn’t – he didn’t have to worry about how they might have interacted before, or what their history was like, or who they might be. He could just feel what he felt, and act accordingly.

Take the one in purple with the poisonous tongue, who scolded him in public and wept over him in private; Wei Wuxian liked him very much. So what if he couldn’t remember his name, no matter how many times he repeated it?

If he had a memory, he might have resented the way the man ignored his wishes and demanded desperately that he work on a cure to undo the damage the Burial Mounds had caused; as it was, he was able to simply see it as a gesture of love by someone who only knew how to show affection and never how to speak of it.

He liked the girl who made him soup, too. She made him feel safe and small in the best of ways; he’d remember just enough of manners to make sure they were alone before he asked her if she was his mother – it turned out she was as young as she looked, and not younger due to cultivation, and so it was impossible. A pity, in his view, and he told her as much; she’d been sad but also flattered.

She’d patiently explained a few times over what their relationship actually was; from that point on, he tried very hard to remember to call her shijie, and most of the time he even managed to remember it.

So there were two people he liked.

Turned out there weren’t many more than that. The ones in white-and-red – he didn’t like them.

That was something of an understatement, actually.

He loathed them.

It made killing them and denying them the dignity of having an intact corpse, turning their bodies into his puppets, into something that was not only useful, but enjoyable.

The man in purple scolded him about that, too, but maybe not as hard as he seemed to think he should.

Those ones were the easy ones: the rest were a little more tricky, since he largely felt nothing at all about them – as a favor to the two he liked, he didn’t make a move against them unless they provoked him, which they sometimes did, but even when he did take action it didn’t really matter. It wasn’t as though they weren’t all willing to trade a few dead allies in exchange for his power.

Good, bad, indifferent – that was his life now.

Nice, clean, simple.

There was only one problem.

At first he’d thought the one in white was the one in purple’s friend – they spent an awful lot of time huddled together trying to think of ways to cure him – but eventually it’d been explained to him that they weren’t. In fact, the one in purple said that the one in white had previously hated him.

Wei Wuxian didn’t like that.

He had no idea why he didn’t like that, but he didn’t.

“You’re not allowed to hate me,” he told the one in white, cornering him one day and poking him in the chest. “You’re not. You need to like me. You understand? You can’t dislike me.”

The one in white blinked. He had very long eyelashes, and pretty golden irises beneath them. “I don’t dislike Wei Ying,” he said.

“Good,” Wei Wuxian said, satisfied. And then, because he was feeling mischievous, he said, “Your forehead ribbon is crooked,” and laughed when the man immediately reached out to fix it.

He laughed an awful lot when he was around the man in white. He wasn’t sure why, since the man himself seemed to have no sense of humor at all, and barely any more ability to carry a conversation, but the man in purple seemed to think it was a good sign – apparently he’d always done that.

Personally, Wei Wuxian thought it was suspicious.

He laughed around the man in white, he felt bad when he thought the other man didn’t like him, he constantly felt the need to be near him, to tease him, merely seeing him made him lick his lips and taste the phantom impression of sweet wine, and yet no one else seemed to think they were on good terms –

It was really very obvious what was going on.

Even someone with no memory could figure it out.

He snuck up on the man in white late one night when he was off patrolling unnecessarily, as if all their sentries wouldn’t do the job; personally, Wei Wuxian would wager that the man in white just liked to be alone.

“I know, you know,” he said conversationally, and the man in white – totally unsurprised to see him, another mark of evidence in favor of Wei Wuxian’s theory – turned to look at him. “There’s no need to keep hiding it.”

“Hiding what?” the man in white asked, stoic as always.

Wei Wuxian laughed and wrapped his arms around his neck; the other man stiffened, but that was fine – Wei Wuxian reached over and placed the other man’s arms around his body, and yes, it was just as he’d thought; a perfect fit.

“I know we were lovers,” he said, and laughed again when the man in white’s ears turned bright red immediately. “It’s pretty obvious, you know.”

“Wei Ying –”

“Ah, ah, don’t worry! I won’t tell anyone. The way everyone thinks we can’t stand each other – we were clearly hiding it from them for some reason, probably politics, I think I’m very happy that I can’t remember politics – and even if I think it’s stupid, I won’t embarrass you by revealing it. But there’s no real reason we can’t keep on carrying on in private, right?”

“Wei Ying –”

“It’s my memory, isn’t it?” Wei Wuxian sighed dramatically. “You’re so stubborn. So what if I’ve lost my memory? I’m still me. The purest form of me, in fact, untroubled by all that mess…I’m still capable of thought, and I’m an adult, and I’m consenting. You should take me to bed.”

Wei Ying!

“Or do I take you to bed?” Wei Wuxian squinted at him. “Do we switch? I did some research, you know, once I figured it out – the cultivator in green, with the fan, has a truly marvelous collection, I hadn’t even known some of that was possible – and it seems – mmmm!”

The man in white had covered his mouth very firmly.

Wei Wuxian struggled for a bit, and the other man’s other arm tighten around him, and oh, yes, they were definitely lovers and he was definitely the one being bedded; he would rather like it if the man went a little further, maybe tossed him down on the ground – or oooh, maybe against a tree, that would be exciting, they’d done that on the fourth page of the book he’d looked over –

“Wei Ying, listen to me,” the man in white said, then jerked away his hand in a panic when Wei Wuxian licked his palm.

“I’m listening,” he said lazily. “Go on. What’re your conditions? Whatever they are, I’ll meet them.”

The man in white had been about to say something, but suddenly hesitated.

“Well?” Wei Wuxian prodded. “You want this as much as I do. I can tell.”

He rocked his hips forward suggestively, and smirked when the red started spreading from those ears into those cheeks.

“You will meet my conditions?” the man in white finally said, and yes, Wei Wuxian was going to get laid!

He had no memory of whether or not he’d done it before, but he was very enthusiastic about the idea.

“Whatever you like,” he said recklessly.

The man in white pressed his lips together for a moment, clearly weighing his options, and finally he said, “Very well.”

Wei Wuxian grinned. “Hit me.”

“Put your full effort into regaining your memory,” the man in white said, and Wei Wuxian’s smile disappeared.

“That’s not fair!”

“You haven’t been trying,” the man in white continued ruthlessly, and he’s not wrong; Wei Wuxian’s been nodding rather than waste effort disagreeing. “If you tried, you would succeed.”

Wei Wuxian pulled back just enough to study the man in white’s expression. “And if I do manage to get my memory back?”

The man in white looked awkward, but determined. “I will – do as you said.”

“Oh no,” Wei Wuxian said. “No deal. Uh-uh. You think I’m going to trade what might be weeks of work for a mere roll in the sheets? Absolutely not. You’re going to need to up your offer.”

The man in white frowned.

“I want to go public,” Wei Wuxian said, and grinned at the way the man’s eyes widened. “I don’t like the thought of sneaking around and not telling my family – my shijie, my…you know, the purple one, him – they should know. I want them to. You want me to put my full effort into getting my memory back? Fine. Then I want you in my bed all the time, not just when we can do it in secret.”

The man in white seemed to be thinking very hard about something.

Wei Wuxian waited.

Eventually, the man in white nodded, and Wei Wuxian beamed.

“Very well,” he said, and his voice was oddly shaky; the thought of going public must really be frightening to him. Good thing he had Wei Wuxian by his side; Wei Wuxian wasn’t scared of anything. “If you successfully regain your memory, I will go to Sect Leader Jiang and ask for your hand in marriage.”

Wei Wuxian hadn’t actually meant marriage, only publicity, but of course a stickler for etiquette like Lan – like Lan Zh- – like – like the man in white, well, of course he’d insist on doing things the right way.

That was fine by Wei Wuxian.

“And when we’re married, we’ll sleep together every day,” he added, feeling especially daring. “You hear me? Every day.”

The man in white nodded. “Every day.”

Wei Wuxian grinned. “Well then,” he said, feeling quite smug at having wrapped things up so nicely. His past and future self-with-memories was going to just have to thank him for doing what he’d clearly been too much of a coward to do before. “I guess I’d better get to work.”