“JIANG CHENG!” Wei Wuxian’s wail was loud enough to cut through the air, ringing out loudly and their little group bolted over to when it was coming from, Lan Wangji leading the pack and Nie Huaisang trailing behind, muttering about how he wasn’t built for running.
Wei Wuxian seemed fine but he was jumping around Wen Ning, the soft-spoken boy looking bemused as Wei Wuxian looked like he was five seconds away from a heart attack. Jiang Cheng glanced around the clearing, looking for any kind of threat but not only was Suibian sheathed, his brother hadn’t even taken out Chenqing.
“What is wrong?” Lan Wangji’s voice seemed to bring Wei Wuxian out of his panic and he turned wide, teary eyes on the three of them and Jiang Cheng frowns at the sight.
“Lan Zhan! Wen Ning is hurt.” Jiang Cheng blinked at the younger boy who waved and he couldn’t see any kind of injury bar one tiny scratch. In fact, Wei Wuxian seemed more injured, judging by the scrapes on his palms. Scrapes that Lan Wangji immediately began tending to, touch gentle even as Wei Wuxian flapped his free arm frantically. “Wen Qing is going to kill me.”
At his brother’s mournful words, Jiang Cheng was abruptly reminded that Wei Wuxian had volunteered to take “Ningning” night hunting and promised to keep him safe. Wen Qing had raised one eyebrow, clearly unconvinced but when Wen Chao’s voice rang out, loud, cocky and abrasive, se seemed to decide that Wei Wuxian was the lesser of two evils.
“Ah Wei Qianbei, it’s only a little scratch-“
“And your sister is going to kill me over it!” Lan Wangji had apparently finished patching Wei Wuxian who would normally bat his eyes and declare the other his hero, prompting Lan Wangji’s ears to flush dark red, much to Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang’s amusement. It was a testament to how frantic Wei Wuxian was that he simply directed Lan Wangji’s attentions to Wen Ning.
“Miss Wen isn’t going to kill you over a scratch Wei-xiong, there’s nothing to worry about-“ Nie Huaisang’s reassurances were cut off by Jiang Cheng’s scoff and Wei Wuxian’s head hit his hands in despair. “Is there something to worry about?” Jiang Cheng shrugged, tapping at his phone and when Nie Huaisang glanced over he saw that he was picking out a headstone.
“Well Miss Wen is very protective of Wen Ning, and she instructed Wei Wuxian to make sure he didn’t get hurt.” Wen Ning was in the process of thanking Lan Wangji for the bunny plaster he’d been carrying while Jiang Cheng continued. “But he has a little scratch on his face now so there’s every chance that Miss Wen might kill him.” Jiang Cheng looked wholly unconcerned by this pronouncement, glancing down at where his brother was laid out on the floor, “what kind of flowers do you want at the funeral?”
“Lotus flowers A-Cheng obviously but why won’t you protect me? Go distract Wen Qing with your stupid crush!” Jiang Cheng’s cheeks flushed and he took a menacing step towards his brother before his boyfriend caught his arm, tugging him back.
“Ahhh Jiang Cheng don’t be embarrassed, Wen Qing is very pretty, anyone would have a crush on her.” Wen Ning seemed to be engrossed in a conversation with Lan Wangji about his bow and arrows, both ignoring the conversation the other three were having.
“You-!” Jiang Cheng subsided when Nie Huaisang tucked himself under his arm, stretching up on his tiptoes to press a kiss to his cheek.
“Miss Wen is very pretty,” he offered, Wen Qing was pretty in the dangerous way that suggested that she might step on you for daring to speak to her. Elegant, refined and never seen without her acupuncture needles, she turned heads wherever she went, including, it seemed, Jiang Cheng’s.
“That was years ago, Wei Wuxian is just being dumb, I don’t have a crush on her anymore.”
“No Chengcheng’s just scared of her now!” Wei Wuxian crowed with delight, seemingly distracted from his impending doom by being allowed to tease his younger brother.
“I’m not the one who promised to keep Wen Ning safe and let him get injured.” The boy in question pushed up his glasses before continuing to take notes on whatever he and Lan Wangji were discussing. Wei Wuxian deflated and he dropped back onto the ground sadly, looking up at his two friends from his defeated pose.
“A-Sang you’ll clear my browser history when I die right? And A-Cheng, please make sure you tell Shijie I love her.”
“I’ll tell her you died doing something immensely stupid and she’ll sigh and say she isn’t surprised.”
“Shijie wouldn’t say that, she loves me!”
“She’d be thinking it though.” At that, Wei Wuxian lacked a rebuttal and he dragged himself over to where Wen Ning was sat, poking at the bunny plaster gently.
“Does that hurt?” Wen Ning shook his head, eyes wide and sincere as he answered.
“Like I said Wei Qianbei, it doesn’t hurt at all, A-Jie won’t be upset with you, I promise.” Wei Wuxian seemed thoroughly unconvinced by the reassurance, as did Jiang Cheng. Nie Huaisang was left to wonder why the Jiang siblings seemed so convinced that Wen Qing was going to murder Wei Wuxian over this.
“Will you protect me if Wen Qing tries to kill me?” Lan Wangji glanced over, amber eyes serious and sincere.
“Mn, will always protect Wei Ying.” Wei Wuxian’s whole face lit up and he smiled up at Lan Wangji, stars in his eyes.
“Lan Zhan should save such romantic declarations for the girl he likes, how can my poor heart handle it?” Jiang Cheng looked as if he were two moments away from unsheathing Sandu and stabbing the both of them, prompting Nie Huaisang to carefully tug the sword out of his grip and replacing it with his hand.
Jiang Cheng flushed at the gesture, tiny smile curving his lips and Nie Huaisang was once again struck by the realisation that his boyfriend really was gorgeous like this.
Their moment was interrupted by Lan Wangji standing suddenly, helping both Wen Ning and Wei Wuxian to their feet with ease.
“The night hunt is over, should return now.” The group of five wandered back out to where assorted relatives were waiting for them. Jiang Cheng quailed under Nie Mingjue’s hard stare and Wei Wuxian was trying to make himself as small as possible, as if he could avoid Wen Qing that way.
“How did Huaisang do on the night hunt Jiang Wanyin?” Jiang Cheng’s mouth remained shut as he tried to figure out how to frame Nie Huaisang following along after himself and Lan Wangji, chattering away about gossip and somehow vanishing anytime they came across a fierce corpse positively. If Nie Mingjue wanted a report on his brother’s stealth skills, then Jiang Cheng would be able to give a glowing report. As it stood, he wasn’t entirely sure what to say.
“Why are you carrying Huaisang’s sabre?” Was the next question and Jiang Cheng paled and also cursed himself for not remembering to hand it back. He also cursed his boyfriend and his adorable frown and pleading eyes whenever he wanted to wheedle his own way off someone. It was terrifyingly effective.
“My arms got tired da-ge, I had to carry it all over the entire forest, even though nothing was happening so I gave it to A-Cheng to carry.”
“Your sabre is not a shopping bag Huaisang, you aren’t supposed to hand it off to your boyfriend whenever you don’t want to carry it anymore!” Both Nie Mingjue and Jiang Cheng were fully aware that Nie Huaisang was perfectly capable of carrying his sabre, he simply chose not to and Jiang Cheng was weak to his boyfriend’s whims.
“But da-ge! If my arms fall off how am I supposed to hug you?” Nie Huaisang followed this up by launching himself into his brother’s arms, taking full advantage of the fact that Nie Mingjue was still weak for his little brother and he grinned as his brother caught him and wrapped his arms around him securely.
“This doesn’t change the fact you didn’t kill a single fierce corpse.” Nie Mingjue’s words lost some of their sting due to the fact they were muffled by his brother’s shoulder and Jiang Cheng glanced away, only to spot Wei Wuxian cowering behind Wen Ning.
Wen Qing, unlike Jiang Cheng’s brother who had dirt and twigs covering him due to the fact he’d been lying on the ground, was dressed impeccably. Her hair was tied up with a pale pink ribbon that matched the scrunchie in her brother’s hair. Her white trousers lacked a single stain and Jiang Cheng wonder where she’d bought her shirt, as it paired perfectly with her sheer red jacket. She was also holding an acupuncture needle, the metal gleaming in the low light. He was reminded of exactly why she’d caught his eye, she was beautiful, precise and deadly. His brother was going to die.
“What did I tell you before you left Wei Wuxian?” His brother actually whimpered at the ice in Wen Qing’s tone and Jiang Cheng wandered a little closer, if only to watch the show.
“Not to let A-Ning get hurt.”
“So why is there a plaster on his face?” The needle was casually being twirled between Wen Qing’s fingers and Wei Wuxian paled further.
“He tripped and I tried to save him but I think I just made it worse and then we all landed in a heap-“ Wei Wuxian caught his brother laughing at him, and because he lacked any shame, decided to try and distract Wen Qing with his brother.
“A-Cheng! Come say hello to Wen Qing!” Protect me, his brother’s eyes screamed and though he rolled his eyes, he wandered over to the little group anyway, offering a polite bow.
“Are you going to kill my brother Miss Wen?” Wei Wuxian spluttered at the words, eyes now asking what the hell Jiang Cheng was doing. Wen Qing hummed, needle threateningly sharp.
“I was planning on stabbing him to shut him up.”
“Would that mean I have to carry him home?” Wen Qing nodded, and Jiang Cheng frowned, “but he’s so heavy Miss Wen, it would be terrible, having to lug his body all the way home.” Wen Qing’s gaze fell on her brother and her whole demeanour softened.
“Did you have fun?” Wen Ning nodded, shy smile on his lips as he began to speak.
“Yes, I had a conversation with Second Young Master Lan, he was talking about how I could attach talismans to my arrows to make them more effective.” Wei Wuxian perked up at that.
“I could help with that-!”
“You will not.” Came the sharp reply and Wen Qing narrowed her eyes at Wei Wuxian one more time before leaving, her brother recounting the events of the night hunt, smiling up at him.
“You were just going to let her kill me!” Jiang Cheng scoffed, walking away, leaving Wei Wuxian to jog after him, still complaining loudly.
“I wasn’t going to let her kill you, A-Jie would have been unhappy.” Wei Wuxian slung an arm over his shoulder, undeterred when Jiang Cheng tried to shrug it off, doing an impressive impression of a limpet.
“You would have been unhappy too Chengcheng, you would have missed me if I had died, you can’t lie to your Xian-ge!” Jiang Cheng shoved at his face, batting at him like they were still children, wholly undignified.
“Who’d miss you if you died? Get off me, you’re heavy!” Jiang Cheng jogged over to where Nie Huaisang seemed to be trying to convince his brother that a night hunt meant he was allowed to buy bubble tea.
“Da-ge! You always buy bubble tea for San-ge and Er-ge! And I went on a night hunt! Just like you asked! Why won’t you buy me one da-ge?” Jiang Cheng coughed slightly and Nie Huaisang whirled around and lit up at the sight of him.
“A-Cheng, da-ge is being mean to me!” Jiang Cheng felt distinctly hunted, caught between his boyfriend’s pleading eyes and Nie Mingjue’s scowl that seemed to imply if he bought Nie Huaisang a bubble tea he was going to die.
“I need Sandu back.” Was what he settled on saying, deciding that he’d found the safest topic of conversation. From Nie Huaisang’s teasing grin, the whole thing was clearly planned as his boyfriend linked their arms together and waved goodbye to his brother.
“I’m going with A-Cheng, I’ll come home soon but I promised A-Cheng a date so I’m keeping my word, go buy San-ge and Er-ge a bubble tea, they’re over there!”
"Huaisang!" Nie Mingjue looked as though he was caught between being embarrassed or throttling his younger brother but Jiang Cheng didn’t see which one he settled on before Nie Huaisang dragged him away.
“Your brother is going to kill me one day.” He lamented and Nie Huaisang flapped one hand dismissively as he used the other to browse his phone, snapping a quick selfie of them.
“No he won’t he likes you,” Nie Huaisang paused to look at the photo, and tilted his phone to show Jiang Cheng. “Look you suit the sabre!” Jiang Cheng pressed a kiss to his boyfriend’s cheek in lieu of a reply and Nie Huaisang brightened up.
“Ah there’s no need to go get bubble tea now, I have all the sweetness I need right here in my hands,” Nie Huaisang cupped Jiang Cheng’s face in his hands at this point, revelling in his flush.
“You’re ridiculous.” He muttered, refusing to meet his boyfriend’s eyes but Nie Huaisang was undeterred and he caught the tiny, pleased smile that Jiang Cheng couldn’t ever hide from him.
Everything was as it should be.