“Jiang Cheng, are you listening?”
Jiang Cheng lifts his head from the table, startled from his almost-nap, as he blinks rapidly due to the sudden change in light.
“What?” he yawns.
Wei Wuxian raises his eyebrows as he takes a bite out of his sandwich.
“We were talking about the weekend. You went to a piano recital with Jie, right?” the man asks as he keeps chewing loudly, and Jiang Cheng takes a deep breath, the sound making his eardrums bleed.
The university cafeteria was busy as usual, most students who had nothing else to do often came here to eat or study. After his first lesson, Jiang Cheng got a text from his brother inviting him and their friend Nie Huaisang out for lunch.
The three of them were sitting at a table outside, and after eating a brownie, Jiang Cheng couldn’t keep his eyes open.
(It’s not his fault his favourite pianist uploaded a video of his performance from this weekend. It’s also not his fault how it was two hours long, and he started it at 1.)
“So?” Huaisang’s voice ringed in his ears from his left.
“So what?” Jiang Cheng glanced at the man, who was sipping his caffe latte with class, sunglasses left at the top of his head even in the middle of October, his legs crossed over each other.
Jiang Cheng mentally snorted.
“Was it good?”
“Yeah.” he shrugged his shoulders.
“Jiang Cheng!” Wei Wuxian gave a yelp, and he playfully hit the younger’s shoulder.
“What?” Jiang Cheng furrowed his brows.
“Was it the same guy you have that crush on?” Wei Wuxian leaned closer, eyebrows wiggling.
Huaisang giggled as Wei Wuxian forced his brother to sit back, then took another sip of his drink.
“I think it’s endearing.” he declared, cleary having a good time.
Jiang Cheng gave him a betrayed look.
“I don’t have a crush!” he insisted.
Wei Wuxian gave a sigh, as he continued while rolling his eyes, “ Yeah, yeah, you just attend all of his recitals, watch his videos even if you already saw him live, download his songs to your phone, literally sleep while listening to him—“
“Shut up!” Jiang Cheng stood up again, ready to smack his brother.
“Don’t hit me, don’t hit me!” Wei Wuxian whined as he put his arms over his head.
“Jie was the one to call me!” Jiang Cheng said with a huff and sat back in his chair when he noticed the people looking at them from the other tables.
He cleared his throat, while looking down in his lap.
“Aiyo, Jiang Cheng! You can’t fool me, Jie snitched on you, it was you who called her!” Wei Wuxian insisted, as he faked a hurt look.
“You don’t even think of me as a brother anymore… Am I not good enough to know your secrets, huh?”
Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes.
“Shut up. So what if I called her? I like his music, that's all!”
The two boys suddenly heard Huaisang clear his throat. He had his phone in his hand, scrolling, then suddenly stopped and turned his device towards them.
Jiang Cheng’s voice halted.
He knew that picture very well.
The man was wearing a (probably very) expensive white tux with a light blue shirt tucked in, sitting in front of a white grand-piano, fingers touching the keys gently. Then Huaisang swiped, and another picture showed. The man in white was still wearing the same outfit, but now he was standing in front of the piano with a bouquet of white roses in his hands.
He wasn't smiling at all, but Jiang Cheng felt his heartbeat quicken up, like a shy maiden who heard they lover laugh for the first time.
“He’s quite famous,” Huaisang hummed as he continued to scroll on the man’s social media page.
“Yeah, no shit...” Jiang Cheng mumbled.
“That tux must have cost thousands. And from what I’m seeing, most of his clothes are in the same price range… Hm, impressive.” the man gave a low whistle as he started mumbling something about lace and material and velvet.
“What’s so good about him?” Wei Wuxian whined as he rolled the plastic previously containing his sandwich into a tiny ball.
“What isn’t good?” Jiang Cheng retorted.
Wei Wuxian gave him a funny look.
“Well, obviously, he must be boring as hell! Just take a look, even his clothes are boring! I mean, if you’re going for a sugar daddy, then sure… But he plays classic! I bet he practices at least 10 hours a day! Jiang Cheng, he wouldn’t be able to care for you properly!”
“It’s not like we’re going to be together! It’s just a stupid crush, Wei Wuxian!” Jiang Cheng cried.
“Still! I don’t like him!”
“You don’t even know him!”
“I don’t have to, to know he’s boring!”
“He’s not boring!”
“Of course not to you, you just admitted your crush!”
“Guys…” Huaisang suddenly butted in.
“What?” the two of them turned their heads at the same time.
“Ah, just, I have to go to class. See you later!”
As they glanced at Huaisang’s leaving figure, Wei Wuxian checked his phone, then gave a long sigh.
“Ah, I have to go too, “ he glanced at his brother, narrowing his eyes. “We’re not finished yet.”
Jiang Cheng snorted for real this time.
Jiang Cheng was thirteen when he found the channel Hanguang-jun on Youtube. What he knew, is that a boy around his age posted all his covers of classics, but he never showed his face.
Jiang Cheng hadn’t liked classical music.
He didn’t share the usual it’s boring opinion of many people, it was more like it’s not me playing, so I hate it.
Jiang Cheng was seven when he decided he wanted to learn how to play the piano, and as his little feet ran through the family house, knocking on his father’s door, he was full of excitement.
And when he got a “I don’t think you have a sense for music, A-Cheng”, his little heart shattered in pieces.
Ever since then, Jiang Cheng had this sour feeling rising up in his chest whenever he looked at a piano or heard someone play it.
(It absolutely didn’t help how his father encouraged Wei Wuxian to start playing an instrument as soon as the boy moved in with them.)
But with Hanguang-jun, it was different. Somehow, whenever he watched him play he felt at ease, he felt all these emotions through a screen and those songs helped him through the toughest parts of his life.
Jiang Cheng had been watching his videos for almost a year when he finally had enough courage to leave a comment.
nice vid. can you play mirai nikki??
Two weeks later, the somewhat-already-famous channel uploaded a new video, titled “Mirai Nikki OST cover.”
Ever since then, Jiang Cheng has been the number one fan of Hanguang-jun. Liking all of his videos, leaving as many comments as he could, supporting him through thick and thin.
Jiang Cheng was seventeen when Hanguang-jun changed his channel name and put a social media link in his info box.
Jiang Cheng has been in kind of in love since he was seventeen.
The university’s library was in a rather secluded area, about 20 minutes from the main building. One had to go through the little park that interconnected the different parts of campus to reach it.
The building had two parts. If someone after entering went ahead and up the stairs two levels, they could reach the library.
If they turned left and went down a hallway, they could reach the Music Department’s practice rooms.
Jiang Cheng was closing the entrance door behind him, when a soft tune hit his ears. At first he didn't mind it, it was not unusual to hear music in this building, but as he went on his steps slowed down, and eventually stopped.
He stepped back until he was in front of the hallway entrance.
Because that melody was really familiar.
The first time he had heard it he felt like floating. Like he weighed nothing and he was just flying above clouds, without anything to worry about. Like if he just had a sudden thought and dived down and meet waters he wouldn't drown, but keep floating with this feeling of serenity in his chest.
He took a deep breath, then without looking back he followed the sound of music, making his heart beat in excitement.
The sound became louder, and after turning right once, Jiang Cheng found himself in front of a big wooden door, slightly ajar.
Whoever played, they played this song perfectly.
This overwhelming feeling of excitement couldn’t be shaken off, as he stepped closer and peeked through the tiny space.
A man was sitting in front of the piano, his back to the door. He was wearing a light blue sweater, and his body moved with the music as one when he suddenly jumped a few octaves.
Jiang Cheng felt like he was back at the piano recital. The way Hanguang-jun — Lan Wangji played can never be matched, it’s like when he sits in front of the instrument he’s not commanding the sounds, but becomes one with them.
He is the music itself.
Suddenly the creaking of the door cuts through the room.
Jiang Cheng takes off his hand the door handle with a panicked huff, but it’s too late.
The music stopped.
Just as slow as the door opened, the man turned around and golden orbs met gray ones. Jiang Cheng’s breath hitched, eyes widening.
“I-I’m sorry! I didn’t want to bother you, I swear! I… I just heard music and it was familiar so I just… I’ll just… I’ll just leave!” he rambled, face heating up in embarrassment.
Although there was a bit of distance between them, he noticed the slight frown on Lan Wangji’s face.
Just as Jiang Cheng was about to flee, the man sitting on the stool stood up abruptly.
“Wait.” he called out.
His voice was deep, but not unpleasant. Jiang Cheng tried hard to ignore the fact that this was the first time he heard the man speak, as he glanced up.
“Hm?” he hummed while chewing on his lower lip.
Lan Wangji averted his gaze. He was staring at the ground in front of Jiang Cheng, as he let out a shaky breath.
“You can… come in.”
Jiang Cheng’s eyes widened again.
“I’m sorry, what?”.
Lan Wangji lifted his head, their eyes meeting again, and Jiang Cheng somehow found an unfamiliar warmness in them.
The stool was too small for two people to sit on, so as Jiang Cheng stepped in and closed the door behind himself, Lan Wangji brought one over from another instrument. They were sitting next to each other, shoulders touching, and Jiang Cheng felt his skin burning.
“Did you… recognize the song?”
Jiang Cheng didn’t dare to look, so he missed the sparkle of hope glistening in those golden eyes.
“Ah, yes..” he started, “You were playing Inquiry. That’s one of my favourites.”
Jiang Cheng heard the other give a low hum, then he started fidgeting with the hem of his jacket.
“I… I haven’t seen you around here yet.” he stated, then felt Lan Wangji’s eyes on him.
“Mn. I usually practice at home.”
“And now? Why are you here?”
Jiang Cheng finally lifted his head, and somehow even if he was dressed in three layers, he felt like he was naked in front of the other’s intimidating gaze.
“Not that I mind, or anything, just—“
“Wanted a bit of change.”
Jiang Cheng let out a soft huff. As his mind was spiralling around what to say, Lan Wangji lifted his hands from his lap, putting them on the keys.
“Can you play?” he glanced sideways.
The younger gave a slight shake of his head, whispering a tiny “no” in a bitter voice.
Lan Wangji stayed silent for a few seconds, then looked up again.
“Do you want me to teach you?”
Jiang Cheng froze.
“What?” he breathed.
Lan Wangji gave him an unreadable look, almost like it was totally normal for him to offer to teach Jiang Cheng how to play the piano in the Music building, hidden from everyone in a small room, when Lan Wangji is considered a prodigy, and Jiang Cheng—
Jiang Cheng doesn’t have a sense for music.
Although, what Jiang Cheng felt instead of bone-chilling sadness was soft fingers touching his hands, picking them up and putting them on the white keys, slowly positioning them properly.
“This is a C.” he said, then gently pushed down the younger’s thumb with his own finger.
Jiang Cheng felt like crying.
“And this… is a D. Then E...F… G…A…B… and from C again.”
With every note, he pushed one of Jiang Cheng’s fingers down, repositioning them when needed. His touch was the gentlest thing Jiang Cheng has ever felt, his fingertips incredibly soft.
They continued like this for a while, Lan Wangji explaining the basic, like the those black things or the pedals, then maneuvered a piece of sheet music out of his bag, explaining different signs and terms.
Jiang Cheng was really at the verge of crying.
Noone has ever treated him like this, this carefully, and he finally felt seen. Like it didn’t matter what his father thought, it didn’t matter that his brother was better, no.
Because it was him, and not Wei Wuxian sitting next to Lan Wangji, while the other was teaching him how to play the piano.
“And this one…means you have to start over from the beginning and stop at Fine.” the man explained while pointing at the little D.C al Fine in the last line.
“Oh, I see.” Jiang Cheng breathed, voice starstruck.
Lan Wangji glanced at the sheet in front of them, then at Jiang Cheng, eyes hesitant.
“Jiang Cheng…” he started, voice small.
“Can I play you something?”
Jiang Cheng’s heartbeat quickened, as he gave a tiny nod. He noticed the other’s ears were flushed, and he felt heat creep up his face, realizing the weight of the situation.
Before he could speak, though—
Lan Wangji’s long fingers touched the keys. He started slow, and quiet. Just a few repeating sounds, but Jiang Cheng knew.
He never heard this song before.
Lan Wangji was playing him an unreleased one.
It was mellow. It reminded Jiang Cheng of the fields behind his grandmother’s house in the countryside, the way the sun always shone so radiantly leaving him sunburns, the laughs shared as they pushed each other into the little pond to cool off, the way they always waited hours for the sunset while sitting on the highest branches of the trees.
The rhythm changed— more. It was more, faster and louder and Lan Wangji played it like he practiced this at least a thousand times, fingers moving so fast Jiang Cheng couldn’t keep up.
The sun set, and it was only the starry night. He felt the smell of wine, the light chill of the autumn breeze, the warmness only another body can give. He heard the noise, the cars of the busy streets under his feet as he kept laughing and laughing and laughing and—
And he felt a tear roll down his face.
Lan Wangji opened his eyes while playing the last few notes.
It was the repetition of the beginning, only slightly changed so that Jiang Cheng felt not only the warmness of the sun and the chill of waters, but also the sudden hurt in his knee when he fell off the tree and the way he scraped his elbow while wrestling with his brother in the dirt.
The last note ended on a C.
It was quiet for a while. Neither of them spoke, as they listened to each other’s breaths and Jiang Cheng’s sniffles.
Then Lan Wangji lifted his hand, fingertips wiping the stray tears away on the younger’s face.
“This was beautiful.” Jiang Cheng whispered.
“You haven’t played this before.”
“Does it have a name?”
“Clarity.” came the answer without missing a beat.
Jiang Cheng felt his hands sweat as he looked into those golden eyes, providing more warmness than the summer sun ever could. His breathing became shaky, as he noticed those golden orbs staring at his lips, then—
Soft. It was utterly soft, and Jiang Cheng’s mind screamed as his calloused lips met soft ones. They didn’t move, just touched, but just having them like this sent jolts down Jiang Cheng’s body.
“Won’t you ask me how I know your name?” Lan Wangji whispered against Jiang Cheng’s lips, his fingertips still wandering around his cheek.
“After this, do I need to?”
Lan Wangji opened his eyes to meet Jiang Cheng’s. Their lips didn't move away, but Lan Wangji now held the other’s whole cheek in his palm.
“Do you want me to teach you how to play? Properly?”
His hot breath sent shivers down Jiang Cheng’s spine, and all he could do was nod and he found his lips once again occupied.
Lan Wangji was leaving tiny peck on both, taking his time with Jiang Cheng’s lower lip, lightly sucking on it, biting it then once again kissing it.
Jiang Cheng lifted his hands and wrapped them around the older’s waist, intertwining them just above the rim of his pants.
Lan Wangji let go of Jiang Cheng’s abused lip, and started peppering kisses all over his face, his other hand already taking a hold of the other cheek as he muttered, “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this…”
“How long?” Jiang Cheng let out a shuddering breath.
“Honestly, same.” Jiang Cheng let out a tiny chuckle.
Lan Wangji’s lips stopped at his nose, nibbling and licking it until it was red, then started kissing it again.
“Are you serious?” he mumbled against the skin.
“God, yes. ‘Been watching you for years.”
It was Lan Wangji’s turn to chuckle, as he said, “Relatable. I saw you at every recital. I saw you in the hallway too, sometimes. In the cafeteria or the library. Although I never had the confidence to actually talk to you…”
Jiang Cheng’s hands found their way up the man’s sweater, leaving tiny circles on the skin. He leaned back a little, giving the other a silent permission to monopolize his neck.
Lan Wangji didn’t need to be asked twice.
He mouthed at the other’s Adam’s apple, and Jiang Cheng started swallowing subconsciously. Feeling the skin under his mouth, Lan Wangji gave a pleased hum as he sucked around it, and slowly turned Jiang Cheng’s whole neck purple.
“Yes.” Jiang Cheng suddenly declared.
Lan Wangji looked up for a moment, eyes hazy and gaze confused, like a puppy.
“I mean… yes. Teach me how to play.” Jiang Cheng explained, and he got the warmest smile in exchange and a mindblowing kiss that left him breathless for several minutes.
When Jiang Cheng grabbed for the piano to keep his balance, the key he pressed on was none other, than a C.