Jiang Cheng awoke to the sound of birds chirping and the sun’s rays shining on his face. He rubbed at his bleary eyes, enjoying the warmth of his beloved sprawled on top of him. He ran his hands through Lan Xichen’s hair, mentally preparing himself for the upcoming Discussion Conference. He swore, if Sect Leader Yao so much as looked at him funny, then Jiang Cheng was gonna-
“Lan Zhan, you slept in! Did I wear you out last night?” Jiang Cheng’s hand stilled. Wei Wuxian- his brother , his very shirtless brother - smiled up at him and leaned in for a kiss.
Jiang Cheng shrieked and flung himself from the bed.
“Lan Zhan?!” Wei Wuxian rushed over, wearing a worried expression on his face. “Lan Zhan, what’s wrong? You’re acting very strange. You won’t even look at me!”
Jiang Cheng had his palms pressed against his eyes because if Wei Wuxian had no clothes on and Jiang Cheng was forced to see that, then he would never recover.
“ Are you naked?!” Jiang Cheng cried. He flinched at the sound of his voice, it sounded far deeper than normal.
“Am I-?” Wei Wuxian huffed in disbelief. Jiang Cheng heard some shuffling and then, “Okay, I’m wearing a robe now...You’re starting to really freak me out Lan Zhan-”
“I’m not Hanguang-jun.” Jiang Cheng snapped, opening his eyes to scowl at his brother.
Wei Wuxian looked extremely confused for a moment until something finally clicked. He knew that scowl. He’d known it for decades.
“Jiang Cheng!” Wei Wuxian gasped, and then dissolved in a fit of laughter. “Ahahahha, you should see the look on your face! Oh well, I guess it’s not your face technically...” His idiot brother handed him a robe and a mirror and continued cackling at Jiang Cheng’s expense.
“ Stop laughing or else I’ll break your legs!”
“I’m sorry, but hearing those things coming from Lan Zhan’s mouth is really too funny, A-Cheng!”
And then something dawned upon Jiang Cheng. “Wait a minute. If I’m in Hanguang-jun’s body then is he-?” Wei Wuxian immediately stopped laughing. They looked at each other and then immediately burst out of the Jingshi, sprinting as if their lives depended on it. They were about halfway towards Hanshi when Jiang Cheng saw them.
Lan Xichen was standing on the pathway and the tips of his ears were flaming red. His expression might have appeared serene to any other onlooker, but Jiang Cheng knew a distressed Lan Xichen when he saw one.
Standing a few feet away was... Jiang Cheng . Seeing his own body from this perspective was quite jarring, to say the least. Jiang Cheng’s brain began to ache. He’d never seen such a cold, stoic expression on his face before. Jiang Cheng’s face was usually far more expressive; for better or for worse, he wore his heart on his sleeve.
“Lan Zhan! Is that you?” Jiang Cheng watched his own facial features soften at the sound of Wei Wuxian’s voice. He felt a sudden urge to vomit. Even Lan Xichen looked uncomfortable.
“I missed you so much!” Wei Wuxian jumped into Lan Wangi’s arms.
“Mn. Missed Wei Ying.” Jiang Cheng had no idea what set him over the edge. Maybe it was the fact that he was being forced to watch himself carry his brother bridal-style. Or maybe it was hearing his own voice shift into that gentle tone that he only ever used with Lan Xichen, and now it was being wasted on his good-for-nothing brother.
“You’ve been apart for what, an hour at most? How could you possibly miss each other already? Ridiculous !” Jiang Cheng ranted.
Wei Wuxian pouted, and Lan Wangji glared at him- at least that expression was familiar on Jiang Cheng’s face.
Lan Xichen looked torn between laughing and crying as he watched Jiang Cheng throw his mini tantrum. “It’s...odd, seeing Wangji express himself so passionately.”
“Oh, Lan Zhan expresses himself very passionately-”
“ Wei Ying .” Lan Wangji was blushing. In Jiang Cheng’s body. At one of Wei Wuxian’s horrendous pickup lines. Jiang Cheng was going to Qi deviate on the spot.
“Wei Wuxian-!” Jiang Cheng barked but was interrupted by a placating hand on his shoulder.
Lan Xichen smiled at him, and Jiang Cheng felt his scowl dissipate. A small grin was even beginning to form on his lips until-
“Ah, Jiang Cheng. Don’t kiss him! That’d be very traumatizing for them!” Wei Wuxian said whilst still in Lan Wangji’s arms.
Lan Xichen looked pained. Jiang Cheng whipped his head to glare at Wei Wuxian.
“Say something like that again. I dare you.” Jiang Cheng advanced upon his brother, snarling.
Lan Wangji got in the middle of them before Jiang Cheng could actually do anything. Wei Wuxian, the coward, used Lan Wangji as a shield.
“Lan Zhan, I don’t like hearing these mean things from your body. We need to fix this.”
Lan Wangji shot Wei Wuxian another soft look. “Mn. Will figure it out.”
“Stop doing that with my face when you look at him.” Jiang Cheng hissed. “Or else.”
Lan Wangji lifted one eyebrow, giving Jiang Cheng a pointed stare as if to say, Or else what?
“Or else I’ll...I’ll…” Jiang Cheng faltered until an idea popped into his head. He grabbed a startled Lan Xichen’s wrist and interlocked their hands. “I’ll kiss Lan Huan in front of you.”
“ Wanyin !” Lan Xichen gasped.
“Jiang Cheng! That’ll traumatize Xichen-ge too!” Wei Wuxian cried.
Jiang Cheng smirked as he watched Lan Wangji turn green. He never thought there’d come a day where he would enjoy seeing his own face scrunched up in pain, but here he was. He was confident that Lan Wangji wouldn’t threaten to do the same thing because Hanguang-jun had a terrible jealousy streak. He couldn’t fathom anyone else kissing Wei Wuxian, no matter the circumstance, even if that other person was himself in someone else’s body.
“ Fine .” Lan Wangji bit out. Jiang Cheng cheered on the inside.
“Jiang Cheng, you’re shameless!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed, finding the entire situation rather amusing. “Come on Lan Zhan, let’s go. You have grading to do and I have to look after the juniors until tonight. Since everyone knows you're going to be busy, hopefully, no one asks to see you. Anyways, bye Zewu-jun! Bye A-Cheng!”
Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes as Lan Wangji sent him one last nasty glare before they left.
“I wasn’t actually going to kiss you!” Jiang Cheng admitted once he and Lan Xichen were alone. “I would never want to traumatize you like that! I only said that to piss off your brother.” It’s not like that was much better but...
Lan Xichen let out an exasperated sigh, but there was a hint of amusement in his eyes. “You two are so petty, it’s no wonder you don’t get along.”
Jiang Cheng grinned, and the two began strolling through the Recess.
“It’s strange.” Lan Xichen began.
“What’s strange? You’re going to have to elaborate on that.” There were plenty of strange things that had happened in the day thus far, and they hadn’t even made it to noon.
“Seeing you wear such open expressions on my brother’s face.” Lan Xichen smiled. “Wangji’s not emotionless but-”
“Oh, believe me, I’m aware.” Jiang Cheng muttered, thinking back to the numerous glares and scowls he’d received from Hanguang-jun. Emotionless my ass.
“He’s just bad at expressing his feelings. But he’s getting better at it.” Lan Xichen gave him a thoughtful look. “So are you.”
Jiang Cheng felt his heart warm.
The Conference wouldn’t be happening until nightfall. Since they had already fulfilled their Sect Leader duties earlier during the week, Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng had planned to spend the morning and afternoon with each other, relaxing and enjoying the other’s company.
And sleeping together of course, because Jiang Cheng could never get enough of Lan Huan, but that was definitely off the table now. Wait, speaking of sleeping together-
“Wait a minute, you woke up next to Hanguang-jun right?”
Lan Xichen winced. “Yes.”
“Was he...After we…”
“ Wanyin .”
“Oh my god.”
“I’m sure the same happened to you and Wei Ying.”
“Well yeah, but it’s probably not as mortifying for them because they’re the shameless ones, not us!”
“I don’t know, Wanyin, you were quite shameless last night…”
“Lan Xichen!” Jiang Cheng started laughing. Lan Qiren had been walking near them a few feet away, and whipped his head at the sound of laughter, intent on scolding any Lan disciple that would dare laugh in his presence. He was fully expecting to see Wei Wuxian, and completely froze when he saw his younger nephew laughing , clutching onto his older brother like a lifeline. Lan Xichen was looking at him with fondness in his eyes. He must’ve noticed someone was staring at them because he also froze when he noticed his uncle.
“Hello, Uncle.” Lan Xichen bowed. Lan Xichen tried to discreetly elbow Jiang Cheng in the ribs.
“Oh... oh… Uh… Hello Uncle .” Jiang Cheng bowed, stiffly.
Lan Qiren barely nodded his head, before slowly retreating back to his class, squinting at them the entire time.
When he was finally gone, Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng looked at each other for a split second, before bursting into laughter. Jiang Cheng cursed whatever Gods were out there because he couldn’t kiss Lan Huan, but at that moment Lan Huan’s eyes were bright, he was beaming and Jiang Cheng really, really wanted too.
The sun finally set, and the Conference was finally underway. Lan Xichen sat at the head of the Conference room, giving his speeches and making sure progress was being made with each discussion. Jiang Cheng had to bite his lip to keep from smiling as he watched the way Lan Xichen took command of his position.
He saw his nephew sitting near his Lan disciple friends and Sect Leader Ouyang’s son. Jin Ling had been conducting himself exceptionally throughout the meeting so far; he didn’t rise to any of the Sect Leaders’ blatant baiting and held his ground very well for such a young Sect Leader. Jiang Cheng was proud. Once this stupid curse was reversed, he vowed to tell Jin Ling so.
Jiang Cheng was forced to sit next to Wei Wuxian, who kept whispering inane nonsense to him every five minutes. Sadly, Jiang Cheng had to play the part of the doting husband and that entailed not strangling his brother. Lan Wangji sat across from them, next to Nie Huaisang who had been trying to make small talk with him for the past hour, to no avail. Huaisang had probably started to notice that something was going on because his eyes kept darting back and forth from Lan Wangji and Jiang Cheng as if he was trying to solve a puzzle.
Jiang Cheng sent Lan Wangji a look that said If I have to deal with your stupid husband, then you have to deal with Huaisang.
Jiang Cheng had no idea if Lan Wangji was a mind reader, or just very talented at reading his own facial expressions because he huffed and then began to engage in a conversation with Nie Huaisang.
So far, the worst thing that had happened that night occurred when he’d fed Wei Wuxian with his personal chopsticks . Jiang Cheng had had to look at him with love in his eyes while doing so, rather than gag and retch like he’d wanted too.
“You’re being dramatic.” Wei Wuxian hissed in his ear, as a Sect Leader from one of the smaller sects complained to Lan Xichen about recent tax inflation on cabbages. Cabbages . Lan Xichen should be paid. “Your face looks like you just ate a lemon.”
“Well, maybe it’s because of this food. It’s gross.” Jiang Cheng hissed back. It wasn’t a complete lie. Jiang Cheng loved Lan Xichen with all his heart, but he’d rather starve than eat Lan cuisine.
“Shut up. Feeding me isn’t the worst thing. It could be a lot worse-”
“ Wei Wuxian .” Jiang Cheng was about to whisper something quite rude to his brother when Sect Leader Yao decided to make his voice heard.
“Sect Leader Jiang.” Sect Leader Yao began. His voice grated on Jiang Cheng’s nerves, even more than Lan Wangji’s. People in the room began to murmur with anticipation. Would this be the day that Sect Leader Jiang finally snaps and kills Sect Leader Yao?
“Sect Leader Yao.” Lan Wangji said, sounding just as indifferent as Jiang Cheng would’ve. Hmm, maybe this won’t be a disaster after all. Jiang Cheng thought to himself.
“Sect Leader Jiang,” Sect Leader Yao repeated for no reason other than to be annoying. “The Yao Sect has sent you many marriage proposals in the past few months. A formal alliance through marriage would be beneficial for both of our Sects. Have you considered any of them?”
Nobody, other than close family, knew about Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen’s relationship. They thought it best to keep it a secret, especially because it might be a point of contention due to their status as Sect Leaders. Thus, Jiang Cheng had been prepared to let those stack of proposals rot on his desk and try to bribe Sect Leader Yao instead. The only thing that man cared about was money and power, and Jiang Cheng was willing to offer him that if he would just get off his back . Plus, Jiang Cheng knew the marriage proposals upset Lan Huan more than he let on.
Lan Wangji stood up from his seat and cleared his throat. “No.” He said without batting an eyelash and sat back down.
Everyone, including Sect Leader Yao was thrown by such an aloof response. Jiang Cheng didn’t know whether he was thankful for Hanguang-jun or wanted to break his legs.
Lan Xichen, acting as the moderator, gave Lan Wangji a tight-lipped smile. “Sect Leader Jiang, Is there anything else you want to add? Anything at all?”
Lan Wangji stood up again, “No.” He repeated and sat back down.
Jiang Cheng tightened his grip on Bichen and Wei Wuxian tried to hide his snort in his sleeve, but Sect Leader Yao caught it.
“Oh. Does this Yiling Patriarch find this amusing?” He snapped. “Tch, someone of the likes of you wouldn’t understand important political situations such as these!”
Wei Wuxian seemed unphased by the insult. Lan Wangji’s fists tightened at his side, but he had to let Jiang Cheng defend his husband.
“Sect Leader Yao.” Jiang Cheng tried to make his voice sound as flat and lifeless as Lan Wangji’s. “There’s no yelling in Cloud Recesses.”
“Hanguang-jun, was I speaking to you?” A few of the other Sect Leaders gasped at Sect Leader’s Yao’s blatant disrespect.
“If you disrespect my husband, you disrespect me as well.” Jiang Cheng tried to keep his tone even as he referred to Wei Wuxian as his husband . God, there were so many things wrong with this. Wei Wuxian coughed into his sleeve once more, with ill-conceived laughter.
“Tch.” Sect Leader Yao sneered, his tone condescending. “My apologies Hanguang-jun .”
“Mn.” Jiang Cheng responded. He was starting to understand why it was Hanguang-jun’s go-to phrase. It was simple, to-the-point and could shut practically any conversation down with little effort.
“Let us feast once more.” Lan Xichen looked relieved as soon as the servants came in and started serving everyone their second course of dishes.
“Psst. Jiang Cheng.” Wei Wuxian whispered, feeding his brother a purple vegetable of some sort. Jiang Cheng struggled to keep his face neutral as he swallowed the bitter food.
“Sect Leader Yao is watching us like a hawk.” Wei Wuxian murmured.
“So what?” Jiang Cheng snapped.
“Well, you just embarrassed him in front of literally everyone. So he’s on the lookout to get back at us. He's going to notice every little slip up we make with one another. We can’t afford his suspicion, or he might start uncovering things and that could lead to people figuring out about the body swap...”
Jiang Cheng wanted to argue So what if people found out but he realized that they would probably pin it on his brother and that would not bode over well at all. “So what are you saying?”
“We have to make our relationship look more authentic, or he’ll start to suspect something’s off.”
“What do you mean more authentic? ”
“We have to kiss.”
Jiang Cheng’s response was automatic.“ No .”
Wei Wuxian huffed, “Well I don't want to do it either, believe me, but we have to . A quick peck, that’s all I’m asking. It can be on the cheek!”
“No!” Jiang Cheng’s loud whisper got a few heads to turn his way, but none of them lingered.
Wei Wuxian glared, fed up with his little brother’s dramatics, and leaned in, intent on kissing him on the cheek. Jiang Cheng screeched and jolted away on instinct, knocking their trays of food onto the ground.
All of a sudden, everyone’s eyes were focused on them. The juniors shot each other looks of confusion. Nie Huaisang whipped out his fan, watching the scene in fascination. Lan Xichen pinched the bridge of his nose.
Sect Leader Yao clapped his hands, face gleeful. “So the evil Yiling Patriarch has been bewitching the great Hanguang-jun all this time! Hanguang-jun must’ve regained his sense when Wei Wuxian forced himself upon him. I knew it all along!”
A wave of whispers swept the room. Some agreed with Sect Leader Yao’s ludicrous conclusion. Others didn’t. Some wanted to get back to discussing important Sect matters rather than the love life of two cut-sleeves, but their voices were buried under the drama. Lan Xichen’s attempts to quiet everyone down were also widely ignored.
Jiang Cheng faltered. He knew he couldn’t reveal body swap-that would just give Sect Leader Yao something else to blame Wei Wuxian for. Perhaps Jiang Cheng should just suck it up and kiss his brother on the cheek, rebutting Sect Leader Yao’s claims. Jiang Cheng shot Lan Wangji a look, trying to convey his suggestion but Lan Wangji shook his head, jealousy clouding his face at the prospect of someone else kissing his husband.
Jiang Cheng was convinced that Lan Wangji was a telepath at this point.
Jiang Cheng had to think quickly, “That’s..um..That’s not true.”
Sect Leader Yao looked skeptical, “Oh? Do elaborate Hanguang-jun.”
“You see... I was indeed in love with Wei Wuxian. But…” Jiang Cheng shoots Lan Wangji another meaningful look. They needed to put an end to this conference. Jiang Cheng needed to create chaos. He needed... a scandal. And he had an idea of how to go about creating one. He stared at the half-filled cup of tea in his mug and then looked back up at Lan Wangji.
Lan Wangji somehow read his mind again. He nodded, mouthing a silent “Do it” in Jiang Cheng’s direction.
Jiang Cheng took a deep breath and said, “I’m in love with Jiang Cheng.”
The reactions were immediate.
Wei Wuxian and Sect Leader Yao spat out their drinks.
Lan Xichen paled.
“It’s true!” Nie Huaisang chimed in from behind his fan. “I noticed Sect Leader Jiang and Hanguang-jun stealing glances at each other the entire night!” A few of the other guests voiced their agreement.
The juniors sent each other mortified looks. Jin Ling looked ready to pass out.
“Mn. I love...Lan Wangji.” Lan Wangji said, going along with Jiang Cheng’s plan.
The room erupted with shock. A very prominent vein in Sect Leader Yao’s temple began to throb.
Jiang Cheng caught Lan Xichen’s dubious stare. Jiang Cheng frantically looked back and forth between him and his cup of tea, hoping he got the message.
Lan Xichen’s eyes widened in realization.
“I believe there may be an issue with the tea!” Lan Xichen addressed the entire room.
Nie Huaisang frantically nodded his head. “Yes! I think Sect Leader Lan is correct! I suddenly feel overcome to tell Xichen-ge how much I love him.” The room erupts in scandalized gasps once more. Nie Huaisang sends Jiang Cheng- the Jiang Cheng trapped inside Lan Wangji’s body- a sly wink.
Lan Xichen’s smile was pained, “Ah, A-Sang, I fear tonight Wei Ying has my heart.” Rationally Jiang Cheng knows Lan Xichen is just playing along to fix the mess he created, but he still can’t help but cringe at the words. Then again, he did declare that he loved himself a few moments ago so...Maybe Lan Huan and Wei Wuxian were right. Maybe he was the shameless one.
Wei Wuxian, who had seemed to catch onto what was happening, was trying hard not to laugh, “Xichen-gege! I fear I’ve fallen for you too! Be my husband Lan Huan!” Jiang Cheng’s eye twitched.
Lan Sizhui was staring at his father and his uncles, vaguely amused and traumatized.
Ouyang Zizhen, popped up from his seat and blurted, “I suddenly realize I have feelings for Sect Leader Jin! My tea must be tampered with too...”
Jin Ling looked mortified. “You idiot!” He hissed under his breath, trying to ignore the attention they had drawn. “The tea is fine. They’re obviously just faking this to stir up chaos. As if my Jiujiu would ever fall for Hanguang-jun.”
Zizhen’s face heated up. “Oh…”
Lan Jingyi snorted, “Don’t worry, Zizhen, Jin Ling likes you too.”
Jin Ling turned red as well, “ Piss off .”
Sect Leader Yao passed out.
“Sect Leader Yao!” One of the Yao disciples cried.
“Apologies everyone. We will continue this meeting tomorrow, and our Sect will investigate what happened to the tea.”
Some of the Sect Leaders and their disciples looked suspicious like they wanted to ask more questions, but most were just happy to leave the chaos as quickly as possible.
Lan Xichen buried his face in his hands once everyone left. Jiang Cheng rubbed his back.
“Not another word Wanyin.”
Jiang Cheng bit his lip and nodded, giving Lan Xichen’s shoulder a squeeze.
“We’ll search for a cure afterwards.” Lan Xichen rubbed his eyes, making his way out the Conference room. “But first, I need a nap. Or twenty.”
Wei Wuxian was still laughing. Jiang Cheng would expect nothing less from his brother. “I’m never letting either of you forget this! Ahahahaha. Ah, anyways, I’ll go do damage control with the juniors. Meet me back at the Jingshi, Lan Zhan?”
“Okay. And Jiang Cheng don’t give me that face. We won’t do anything tonight. Sorry, Lan Zhan. I know we said everyday, but we can’t today.”
Wei Wuxian waved at them on his way out.
Jiang Cheng turned to face Lan Wangji, who was still wearing his face. It was absurd. Everything about today had been absurd. From the body swap to professing his love for himself and running an entire Discussion Conference. It was-
Jiang Cheng snorted.
Lan Wangji narrowed his eyes at him, but seeing that expression on Jiang Cheng’s own face just made it impossible for Jiang Cheng to control himself. He shook with laughter, eyes squeezed shut as clutched his stomach, and completely lost it at the absurdity of it all. Today was bizarre, and he was borderline hysterical. Jiang Cheng’s laughter was almost dying down when he heard a faint wheeze from beside him. Jiang Cheng’s eyes shot open and watched as Lan Wangji’s face turned red as he tried to suppress it... Lan Wangji was trying to scowl, and failing miserably.
They stared at each other in complete silence, before Jiang Cheng snorted again and this time they both lost it. Lan Wangji silently wheezed as Jiang Cheng roared with laughter. Every time they tried to stop laughing to glare at each other, they were overcome with laughter again.
All of a sudden Jiang Cheng’s vision went white. He was worried he might have passed out from hysteria, but when his vision returned, he found himself staring at Lan Wangji. The real Lan Wangji. In his own body-Lan robes, porcelain skin, and all. Jiang Cheng sighed in relief as he ran his hands over the familiar fabric of his own purple Jiang robes. He’d missed the weight of Zidian on his knuckles.
Lan Wangji looked relieved as well, though he didn’t show it much, Jiang Cheng noticed how his shoulders looked significantly less tense and his brow wasn’t as furrowed as before.
For the first time ever, Jiang Cheng found himself genuinely smiling at his brother-in-law. “Lan Wangji.”
The corners of Lan Wangji’s mouth were slightly upturned, “Jiang Wanyin.”
“Let’s never tell anyone how we actually swapped back.”
Jiang Cheng was expecting to hear a terse Lying is forbidden but all he got in response was a simple, “Mn.”
Maybe Lan Wangji wasn’t so terrible after all. But there was one thing that was nagging Jiang Cheng.
“So… Lan Wangji, you’re not a mind-reader right?”
Lan Wangji bowed, “Goodnight, Jiang Wanyin.” And walked off, without answering Jiang Cheng’s question. Jiang Cheng stood frozen in confusion for a few minutes, before his legs caught up with his brain and he was chasing after Lan Wangji.
“Wait! What the hell?! He didn’t answer me...Hanguang-jun! Lan Wangji! ”