On Sundays, Lan Wangji sleeps all the way until six-thirty, meets his brother for tennis at seven, and then spends two or three hours back in bed, reading with his book balanced on the top of Wei Ying’s head. Wei Ying never quite wakes when Lan Wangji climbs back beneath the covers, but does claim just enough consciousness to snuffle his way over to Lan Wangji’s side of the bed and drape himself over Lan Wangji’s chest, leg hooked over Lan Wangji’s knee. He does this with an air of immense patience, like Lan Wangji’s insistence on “waking up” and “accomplishing things” and “exercising” is a tremendous burden to him, but which he puts up with only because of his fondness for the man doing the accomplishing.
Right now, he is drooling heavily on Lan Wangji’s laundry-fresh undershirt, which he’s taken to wearing around the house because for reasons he cannot begin to comprehend, they make Wei Ying come unglued. Lan Wangji is waging a war of exposure therapy, because they’re his daily undershirts and he needs to be able to wear them without having to have sex with his boyfriend about it.
It’s the most wonderful war that’s ever been fought, in his opinion.
Wei Ying’s mouth moves sleepily against Lan Wangji’s chest, and he sniffs himself awake, furrow appearing between his brows. He squints up at Lan Wangji, who moves his book aside to look back at him, hand threading through Wei Ying’s knotted hair.
“You got up,” Wei Ying accuses, as if this is not something that happens every week. “Without me.”
“I came back,” Lan Wangji soothes him, reasonably. He refrains from pointing out that he had attempted to get Wei Ying out of bed with him on Sundays for the first few months of their cohabitation, and the experience had been traumatic for the both of them.
“It’s a rule,” Wei Ying insists. He’s always like this, when he’s had a good sleep, his brain slow and petulant until it finishes rebooting. “Bed always. Tennis never.”
“We did not agree on this rule,” Lan Wangji says. “This rule was not ratified.”
Lan Wangji is, in fact, keeping track of the rules. Wei Ying had bought him a notebook. There are four sections: “Rules Wei Ying Claims Were A Gentleman’s Agreement Between Us,” “Rules That Can Apparently Be Broken At Any Time,” “Proposed Rules Currently Under Advisement,” and “House Rules.”
There are currently four hundred and thirty seven. In the back of the notebook is a list of tally marks. Lan Wangji made a promise; he thinks the best way to keep it is to keep up. Four thousand is a long ways away.
“This rule was not ratified,” Wei Ying mimics, but he’s burrowing deeper into Lan Wangji’s chest, arms wrapping round his middle. “It’s so sexy when you use your University of Chicago Valedictorian Voice. Tell me about it in latin.”
Lan Wangji huffs a laugh. Technically, he was merely a student representative, chosen supposedly on the basis of his academic prowess but almost certainly because he was the only one of his cohort who didn’t get debilitating stage fright. He scratches down Wei Ying’s scalp, to his neck, and Wei Ying stretches out with a little sound like a contented cat. A smile breaks across Lan Wangji’s chest. “Oho,” Wei Ying hums, closing his teeth on the thin fabric of the undershirt. “Hello, old friend.”
Lan Wangji uses his book to gently bonk Wei Ying’s head. “No,” he scolds. “This is practice. It’s good for you.”
“Ridiculous,” Wei Ying hums, pushing his fingers up under the lip of the shirt and skating upwards, toward the place on Lan Wangji’s chest where Lan Wangji’s ill-advised tattoo is. He’d planned for years to get it removed; Jiang Cheng had done it immediately, but Lan Wangji ... well, he’d liked it, the secret of having something permanent that matched something permanent in Wei Ying. And then he’d sort of forgotten, and then it was too late, because Wei Ying had noticed.
(The tattoo was white, which Lan Wangji hazily remembers is because the tattoo artist had insisted. “Y’all are a mess,” he’d said, in a friendly way. “Like, you guys are way too drunk for me to be doing this. I mean, I’m gonna, but only if you let me do it in the least dramatic way possible. It’ll look more like a scar than anything else, but that’s kind of metal.”
Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji had clung to each other’s shoulders in delight. “A scar,” Jiang Cheng had breathed, bouncing on the balls of his feet like Yanli did when she was excited. “Cooooooool.”
Anyway, what it meant was that Lan Wangji had gone a surprisingly long time having sex with Wei Ying in dim or dark places before his gaze had finally zeroed in on the faded white sun and he had pressed trembling fingers to it.
“When? How?” he had asked, eyes dark, and Lan Wangji had told him primly, “I will never, ever tell you,” and Wei Ying’s delight at the whole thing meant that he was never going to the tattoo removal place.)
Wei Ying glares at him, but there’s no heat to it; the corners of his eyes are too wrinkled with fondness. “You’re the only man in the world who doesn’t want his partner to be constantly horny for him,” he accuses affectionately. “I mean, are you even human?”
Lan Wangji does not say that of course he wants Wei Ying to be ... lustful ... for him; that he personally goes throughout every day with a kind of vague sense that his precious time is being wasted whenever he doesn’t have some part of Wei Ying under his hands.
Tragically, however, they live in a society. This is unfair and, Lan Wangji personally thinks, a bad idea, but nevertheless, it’s where they live, and Lan Wangji would like to be able to continue wearing quotidian clothes without getting a boner every time he pulls one from the laundry, remembering.
Wei Ying perks up suddenly. “Hey,” he says. “It’s Sunday.”
“Yes,” Lan Wangji agrees. He reaches above the lamp to tap the empty square of today on the bunny novelty calendar that Wei Ying had bought him for his birthday. Lan Wangji knows it was a joke, but sometimes he likes to torment Wei Ying for fun, so he had accepted it very seriously and now crosses each day off with somber diligence while Wei Ying watches him with soft soft soft soft eyes.
“Sunday means tomorrow is Monday,” Wei Ying tells him, very factually.
“Yes,” Lan Wangji agrees. “The day after is Tuesday. Wednesday comes next.”
The hand beneath Lan Wangji’s shirt pinches his nipple, a rebuke. Lan Wangji startles beneath it, but otherwise doesn’t move away; Wei Ying’s grin turns a little devious, and his thumb moves a slow circle around the now-sore spot, slow but firm.
Lan Wangji is not making a lot of progress, with the shirts. Instead of training Wei Ying out of being horny, it is possible that he is training himself into it.
“Monday I have my host meeting,” Wei Ying reminds him. “All your little minions are gonna have to pitch to me, because I’m the host.”
A look of manic glee crosses his face. Lan Wangji does not panic. “Oh man. Jiang Cheng is gonna be such a little bitch about it. Do you think he’ll let me do Update? Oh man do you think they’ll let us both do Update? As, like — c’mon, for old time’s sake. It’s where we fell in love. It’s romantic.”
“It’s not where we fell in love,” Lan Wangji tells him sternly. He fell in love with Wei Ying over the course of many days, in many rooms, in the back of many taxi cabs, on the punchline of a hundred, thousand jokes.
Wei Ying claps a hand over Lan Wangji’s mouth. “Don’t say it,” he warns. “I can see what you’re thinking, and it’s gonna make me too gay to get out of bed.”
Lan Wangji blinks. “I don’t think that’s,” he begins, but Wei Ying cuts him off by hauling himself up to messily kiss his mouth. His breath tastes like — “You had candy after I went to bed,” Lan Wangji accuses. “And — is that chili onion crunch from Trader Joe’s?”
“I put it on the Swedish Fish,” says Wei Ying shamelessly, as if this weren’t a crime against food. “Hey, are you saying you don’t want to kiss me, just because my mouth tastes bad? Because I take offense to that. You love me. You’re supposed to think everything about me is delicious and delightful. You’ll swallow my come but you won’t kiss a tiny bit of chili oil out of my mouth? What kind of fucked up palate do you have, Zhan-ge?”
Something runs the entire length of Lan Wangji, from his ears to his toes, at how easily Wei Ying says it, even now. You love me. Like he knows it without thinking. Like he doesn’t mind.
“Do not speak to me of palates,” Lan Wangji tells him archly. “You just said you put chili oil on Swedish Fish.”
“Yeah, ’cause I’m an innovator,” Wei Ying informs him, breezy. His nail catches on Lan Wangji’s nipple again as he grins downward. “I thought you liked my innovations. I thought that’s why you’re so obsessed with fucking in the kitchen. But hey, if it’s too gross for you — ”
Lan Wangji knows that he’s being baited, but he caves anyway, surging up to capture Wei Ying’s mouth again. It still tastes disgusting, but he doesn’t care. It’s Wei Ying.
Wei Ying, who laughs against Lan Wangji’s lips and settles down on top of him, a comfortable weight. His leg shifts, thigh rucking up against Lan Wangji’s dick, soft pajamas bottoms catching on his zipper. He looks confused, then heaves a sigh. “Lan Wangji,” he scolds against his mouth, “are you wearing khakis. Did you bring khakis into bed with me?”
“They’re nice,” Lan Wangji tells him. “Also, it’s the daytime. Daytime is a pants time.”
Wei Ying makes a sound of outrage, rearing his head back and giving Lan Wangji such a look of betrayal that he has no choice but to relent and kick his khakis off, leaving them in a heap on the floor he knows will wrinkle them. Lan Wangji’s Wei Ying makes all kinds of sounds, all the time; hums to himself when he’s writing, mutters while he’s in the shower, narrates his monstrous snacks as he stares into the refrigerator for what can only loosely be termed ingredients.
Lan Wangji tries to categorize them all neatly in his head, but they don’t stick to their categories. This does not surprise him. Wei Ying has never done what was expected of him.
“Ahh, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs now, sinking back down onto him, giving a slow roll of his hips against Lan Wangji’s before climbing up and onto his lap. “You! Youuuuu. Khakis, honestly, I just don’t know what I’m going to — ”
Lan Wangji kisses him. He winds both arms around Wei Ying’s waist, drawing him in close, as close as he can get. Wei Ying braces one hand against the headboard and hooks the other around the back of Lan Wangji’s neck, rolling his hips again, rolling their dicks together. He likes to do this, Lan Wangji has found. He likes being close but not close enough, likes the terrible denial of almost but not quite getting what you want.
Like anything else, Lan Wangji is happy to oblige. To slide one hand down Wei Ying’s back, under the waistline of his pajamas, and skirt a finger over his hole, pressing up against the rim but not in. Wei Ying whimpers a little, flinching back; Lan Wangji’s hand goes with him, and doesn’t increase the pressure. What Wei Ying wants is to not get what he wants, and so Lan Wangji will give it to him by not giving it to him. He uses the arm still wrapped around Wei Ying’s middle to drag him against Lan Wangji’s chest, to grind down against him, finger still barely a caress against him, dry.
“Zhan-ge,” Wei Ying whimpers. “Please. Come on. Please. I want it. You said you’d give me everything I want.”
“I did say that,” Lan Wangji agrees. “Yes.” He pushes in, just a little. The tiniest bit. Enough to make Wei Ying’s breath hitch. But before he can push back for more, Lan Wangji moves his hand out of Wei Ying’s pants, tugs them down instead, not so much that he needs to get up but enough that Lan Wangji can bring his own dick up and slide it between Wei Ying’s cheeks, squeezing them together with his hands and digging his nails in, a little. There’s lube in the drawer but this is better, he thinks, a little meaner even, making Wei Ying wait while Lan Wangji fucks up and down, getting just enough friction to make Wei Ying’s eyes flutter shut but not bringing his hands anywhere near Wei Ying’s dick, and not letting Wei Ying do it either.
“You’re a bully,” Wei Ying mutters, but his voice wobbles, hips stuttering as Lan Wangji’s dick leaks against him. “You’re so fucking mean, you’re such an asshole, I like you so much, do you know how much? I tell you all the time but do you know?”
“Mn,” says Lan Wangji, clenching his nails into Wei Ying. He knows.
Wei Ying’s hands curl in Lan Wangji’s undershirt and his dick rucks up against it, pink and wet at the tip. It’s going to stain. Lan Wangji is running out of undershirts. He lets Wei Ying rub against him, but not enough for him to come; instead, he keeps Wei Ying in place and fucks up again and again, against but not in, grazing Wei Ying’s asshole, and slowly sucks a bruise high enough on Wei Ying’s throat that it’ll be impossible to hide at dinner.
“Khakis in bed,” Wei Ying is saying, and Lan Wangji doesn’t even always really listen to him anymore, just lets the babble wash over him like a warm wave, “you absolute sociopath, how is it possible that you look so hot in pants that only fucking Mormons wear? I thought Stephanie Meyer was on some bullshit in Twilight but you know what, I was wrong, she knew what she was about, she was a prophet, she’s the only person who’s ever understood what true fashion is, God, God, fuck, please get in me, please, you’re right there, it hurts how much I want you, I want you all the fucking time, I never stop thinking about it, I’ll let you fuck me with the fucking khakis still on if that what it fucking takes to get you to just — ”
When Lan Wangji’s orgasm hits, it’s with a kind of syrupy feeling, his mouth warm and wet against Wei Ying’s skin, Wei Ying’s arms secure around his head. Wei Ying yelps, clearly furious that Lan Wangji’s dick is out of the running for being inside him, but in a calming gesture Lan Wangji brings a hand around and finally pushes two fingers into Wei Ying, the slide made slick and easy with his own come.
The sound that Wei Ying makes then is soft, and satisfied, like Lan Wangji’s fingers inside him have soothed an ache. It is a balance, Lan Wangji thinks; gentle and ungentle. Getting and not getting. Sometimes both at once.
He finds the spot with practiced ease and presses up against it with relentless, small circles. Two fingers are fine; Wei Ying grinds down with a series of tiny, aborted hip jerks.
“This isn’t,” Wei Ying huffs out, “you can’t just — ”
But actually, Lan Wangji can, which he proves with a particularly vicious thrust up, and then Wei Ying is coming all over the very undershirt that Lan Wangji was trying to save. He doesn’t take his fingers out, and in fact keeps going, a little, just to watch Wei Ying twitch, just to hear him whimper, a little. He never pulls away. Never once, when Lan Wangji has done this, has Wei Ying ever pulled away.
“If you finger me hard again and then have the fucking gall not to put your dick in me, I’m filing for divorce,” Wei Ying mumbles against the side of Lan Wangji’s head, and then bites his ear for emphasis before gentling, running his tongue along its delicate rim.
Lan Wangji smiles into Wei Ying’s shoulder. “We’re not married,” he reminds him.
“You can’t prove that,” says Wei Ying, breezily.
Lan Wangji huffs. “There’s no marriage certificate,” he points out. “Nobody poured tea for anybody else.”
“Absence of evidence is not evidence,” he is told, as Wei Ying pushes back against his fingers even while his hips jerk away. “Hey, do you think we fuck enough? Or too much? What’s a normal amount, do you know?”
Lan Wangji knows that most of the time, when Wei Ying asks these kinds of questions, he’s not looking for an answer; he just wants to make noise. So instead of trying to do sex math, Lan Wangji focuses on pressing up into Wei Ying until the jerks of his hips stop being from discomfort and start to be from pleasure. He likes to watch the transition.
He likes to give something to Wei Ying until he wants it. Pleasure. Peace. Care.
“Will you — can you — Lan Zhan, for fuck’s sake, it’s a Sunday, Sunday is the Lord’s day, the Lord preaches kindness, be kind, do the right thing — ”
“We’re not Christian,” Lan Wangji reminds him, quirking an eyebrow.
“No but I think they made a good point about weekends,” answers Wei Ying, “and furthermore I think that if any afterlife at all exists then God or whatever omnipotent being exists definitely wants us to fuck, my evidence being the existence of the prostate and the shape of your hands.”
“Your theology is unparalleled,” Lan Wangji informs him, laughing. Wei Ying beams down at him, like he always does.
“If you do not put your dick in me right now this very second, you’re gonna find out exactly how unparalleled my theology is,” Wei Ying threatens, which doesn’t mean anything, a fact he seems to realize when a confused look passes over his face. “Ah. Shut up,” he adds quickly, before Lan Wangji can comment. “Shut up, shut up, I’ll fight you, I’ll — ”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji tells him, and the fondness in it is thick as it ever is. He shifts up and pushes in, still only half-hard but not worried about it. Sometimes he just likes to be close. Sometimes he just likes to — to hang out. In and around Wei Ying.
Wei Ying, at last, settles.
Neither of them move, but the heat is good, the heat of him is always so good. Lan Wangji’s favorite place.
Wei Ying smiles. “Hi,” he says, soft. He presses a kiss to the space between Lan Wangji’s eyebrows, then to his eyelids, then to his nose. “Good morning. Happy Sunday.”
“Blessed are we, on this, the day of the Lord,” Lan Wangji agrees dryly, and it startles a laugh out of Wei Ying, whose hands come up to play with Lan Wangji’s hair. He’s been cutting it shorter, since he took the EP job. It’s dumb but it seems to matter to the other execs that he looks ... Lan Wangji doesn’t know. Professional.
(“Like a cop,” Wei Ying had laughed. “They made you look like a fucking cop.”)
He’s going to start growing it out, next year. If things keep going this well. He figures once he has enough evidence that he is smart and capable, he can have whatever haircut he wants.
He feels lazy today, easy; they have nothing to do today but the Lan family dinner, because Lan Wangji does not work on Sundays. He turns off his phone completely, which everyone had insisted he could not do until he went right ahead and did it anyway.
Wei Ying also does not work, but he doesn’t turn off his phone either. He claims this is allowed because “I use my phone for a host of entertainment options, and if my brain is not stimulated every second of the day, I will die. Also, you like it when I show you the funny tweets.”
(“They’re your tweets, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji always says, and Wei Ying always answers, “Yeah, obviously, those are the funniest ones.”)
Today they’re going to fuck, and then Lan Wangji is going to play music while Wei Ying lies on the floor listening and playing with the bunnies and doing whatever it is on the internet that he does when he’s not being paid enough attention, and then Lan Wangji will make them lunch, and they’ll eat it on the balcony, looking out at the city, joking back and forth about nothing. Wei Ying will eat til he’s full and it will make Lan Wangji feel warm, and needed, and good.
So, so good.
Now, on his lap, smiling so softly down at him that it hurts Lan Wangji to look at, Wei Ying asks, “So are you going to fuck me or are we gonna keep talking about God?” and Lan Wangji smiles, smiles, takes his face between his hands and immediately fucks upward into Wei Ying hard enough to be rewarded with a sob and thinks Wei Ying, don’t you know those are the same thing?
“Wangji,” his uncle greets, voice as warm as it ever gets. He shifts his attention to Lan Wangji’s shoulder, where Wei Ying has hooked his chin. He’s draped along Lan Wangji’s back, grinning.
“Hey Uncle Q,” Wei Ying says cheerfully. “Thanks for having us.”
Behind Uncle Qiren’s back, Lan Xichen mouths, “Uncle Q?” and Lan Wangji shrugs back. If Wei Ying wants to deal with their uncle’s dislike by tormenting him with aggressive affection, then that’s between them. Anyway, Lan Wangji thinks his uncle is kind of coming around to it, evidenced by the fact that he has stopped “forgetting” to serve Wei Ying his food.
They follow Lan Wangji’s uncle and brother into the dining room, where Meng Yao is already sitting. Wei Ying makes a wincing kind of face at him, and Meng Yao makes a wincing kind of face back. Lan Wangji does not know what this exchange means.
“Lan Wangji,” Meng Yao offers, bowing his head.
Meng Yao is ... fine. He’s fine.
They work together more these days, since Wen Chao was fired for office misconduct after a series of incriminating photos found their way to the press. Meng Yao had been named his replacement as head of S&P, and thankfully took Su She with him. Meng Yao claims to like Su She, which is, in Lan Wangji’s opinion, the shadiest thing about him.
HR had provided Lan Wangji with a replacement named Sisi. She is efficient and effective and terribly mean, and Wei Ying adores her.
“Are you excited for next week, Wei Wuxian?” Lan Xichen asks, pouring Wei Ying and Meng Yao a glass of wine and sparkling apple cider for the rest of them. “I know the staff is thrilled to have you back.”
Wei Ying snorts. “The staff is excited that they’ll finally get to pitch the weird shit,” he corrects, but he’s grinning. “Yeah. I am. I’ve got like, four sketches that no one would let me put on air when I was on staff that I’m gonna demand we do. Jiang Cheng will be furious. It’s gonna be great.”
“If they didn’t make it to air, there was probably a reason,” Lan Wangji’s uncle grumbles.
“Yeah,” agrees Wei Ying, “and that reason is: cowardice and bad taste. I will be the only brave host SNL has ever had.”
“‘Brave,’ is not the word I would choose,” Uncle Qiren tells him, sniffing. “Perhaps ‘outlandish.’ Perhaps ‘buffoon.’”
Wei Ying beams at him. “I take ‘buffoon’ as a compliment, and I think you know that,” he answers, and Lan Wangji has to fight to keep from smiling down at his food. Three years ago, his uncle had banned Wei Ying from his office; now he invites him here, to his home, and bickers with him about whatever stupid thing they hit on every week.
Retirement’s been good for him. He plays a lot of golf and does a lot of reading. Lan Wangji thinks maybe he’s going to write a book on producing. Lan Xichen says that there’s been interest from Tisch to have him teach a seminar. He’d be good at it. He’d taught his nephews, after all.
Across the table, Lan Xichen is looking at Lan Wangji with a softly happy smile.
“Lan Wangji,” Meng Yao interjects, before Wei Ying and Uncle Qiren can really get going, “how is Sisi getting on?”
Lan Wangji blinks. “... Fine,” he says. “I didn’t realize you were friends.”
Meng Yao’s smile is flat and cheerful. He’s the blandest person in the world, maybe, Lan Wangji thinks, or else the world’s stillest waters are hiding the Mariana Trench. “Oh, I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say friends, per se,” Meng Yao explains pleasantly. Wei Ying and Uncle Qiren have both settled back against their chairs, looking grumpy to have been stymied in their battle. “She and Qin Su are quite close. I used to see her at lunch sometimes, that’s all. She always seemed nice.”
“‘Nice?’” Wei Ying repeats skeptically. “Lan Wangji’s Sisi? The woman who tried to fistfight a waiter for suggesting Meng Shi stick to salad? The woman who once cut a paparazzi’s camera off his neck using her, and I quote, purse knife? That Sisi?”
Meng Yao looks down at his plate. Lan Wangji thinks that maybe his lips twitch, but he can’t be sure. “Well, she was perfectly nice to me,” he says mildly. “Uncle, would you care for some more rice?”
Lan Xichen is staring down at his lap like he’s trying not to laugh. Wei Ying goes on, “I can’t believe it. She’s gonna be horrified that there’s someone in the world who thinks she’s nice. I don’t know who she worked for before us but I assume it was like, the mob.”
“The Weather Channel,” Meng Yao supplies. “She moved over after they were sold to Entertainment Studios.”
Lan Wangji’s head whips around so fast he sees spots. “NBC owned The Weather Channel?” he asks. The rest of the table stares at him. Lan Wangji can hear the intensity of longing in his own voice. He does not care.
“...Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks, confusion coloring his tone. “You thinking of becoming a meteorologist?”
“The Weather Channel,” Lan Wangji whispers. “Good God. All this time. I was so close.”
The office. The quiet of The Weather Channel office.
“Well, I guess I know what sexy roleplay we’ll be doing tonight,” Wei Ying announces to the table, probably just to make Uncle Qiren and Lan Xichen blush. Sure enough, he glances around the table with a devious look and then gives his arm a victory pump. “Meng Yao!” he cries. “Check it out! Six red ears. That’s a strike, baby. That’s a Lan Clan Strike.”
“Congratulations,” Meng Yao says, voice perfectly even, and pops a dumpling into his mouth.
The signs read WELCOME BACK and WE MISSED YOU and IT IS GOOD YOUR SHOW DIDN’T FLOP. Wei Ying throws his head back and laughs, swiping all three strawberry sprinkle donuts from the box and one plain, unglazed for Lan Wangji. He tosses it over Sizhui’s head, where his old featured cast — now full cast members — have flocked to him. Yanli has her arm snaked around his own, and she’s very fondly fixing his hair; Mianmian has commandeered Wen Ning to wrangle the newbies to meet him. One of the new featured cast members is Mianmian’s distant cousin and has the same name; the rest of the cast have taken to calling her Mianmianmianmian, which Lan Wangji already knows Wei Ying is going to have a field day with. He bets they do an office mockumentary sketch about it.
Nie Huaisang is delicately drinking tea and taking photos on his phone; Jingyi keeps joking that he’s going to pivot and become an influencer because it will get him better access to brunch.
(“I don’t need better access to brunch,” Nie Huaisang says, voice dripping with disdain. “I’ve got the New York City brunch community on lock, bitch.”)
Lan Wangji leans against the counter. He feels ... full, he thinks. Overflowing.
“So,” says Jiang Cheng, coming to stand beside him. His eyes track Wei Ying moving through the room, a small quirk to his lips. “We really couldn’t get anyone else? People like us. Our ratings are higher this year than they’ve been in ages.”
“Yes, Wen Qing has lived up to my every expectation,” Lan Wangji answers flatly, just to annoy him. Jiang Cheng sputters, then punches Lan Wangji’s shoulder. Lan Wangji raises an eyebrow. “You’re fired,” he says flatly.
“Good. This place sucks,” Jiang Cheng shoots back. “Ugh. He’s going to make me let him do Update. The head writers always do Update, but this asshole is just gonna make his dumb big eyes at Wen Qing and she’s gonna — ”
“What’s Qing-jie gonna do?” Wei Ying interrupts, popping up suddenly in front of them, mouth full of donut.
Wen Qing’s hand shoots out from nowhere to snatch the remainder of the donut from his hand, taking it for herself. (“Where did you even come from,” Jiang Cheng mutters, not unhappily.) “Fuck around and find out,” she tells him darkly, before leveling him with an accusatory finger point. “Listen. Do not pitch me Horny Court: The Musical again. We’re not doing it. I’m head writer now, I don’t have time to write you a fucking opera.”
“Technically, it would be an operetta, because there’s quite a bit of dialogue,” Wei Ying wheedles, and receives a smack to the back of his head for his troubles. “Ow! You can’t hit me, I’m the celebrity host!”
“Celebrity my ass,” Jiang Cheng says. “You were viral for like, fourteen seconds, half because of Lan Wangji and half because the internet is made up of perverts who want to see you guys kiss. Anyway, all sitcoms do their best in their first season. I’ll bet you don’t last another.”
“You — !” Wei Ying cries, and they’re off, Wei Ying chasing Jiang Cheng around the break room with a couch cushion. Wen Qing settles next to Lan Wangji, and they both watch as Sizhui tries to separate Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying while Jin Ling and Jingyi team up to launch Zizhen onto Wei Ying’s back until everyone goes tumbling down onto the couch and then the floor.
Lan Wangji can, at any time, call the meeting to order; but it feels good, to watch. It feels almost like it’s a year ago, two years, three, and Wei Ying is the brightest part of any room Lan Wangji is in. He imagines them going back to their old office, settling in to bicker about what sketches to write, fending off their staff and managing the host.
30 Rock films at Silvercup studios, in Queens; it’s only 20 minutes on the train from Sutton Place, and a quarter that in a taxi. They don’t share an office anymore, aren’t living in each other’s pockets at all hours of the day. Lan Wangji often misses it. There is no amount of Wei Ying that would be too much, no number of hours that would exhaust him. But they meet, most days, for lunch back at the apartment, or else Lan Wangji takes a taxi to the studio to stand at craft services eating terrible sandwiches, watching.
Plus, Wei Ying sends him approximately 8,000 texts and memes and voice notes a day, so. There’s that.
“I think it was closer to fifteen seconds, to be fair,” Wen Qing muses. “People really loved watching you guys make out.”
Lan Wangji does not blush, no matter what Mianmian would say. “Mn,” he says, and then, raising his voice a little, adds, “Wei Ying. Let’s get started.”
Wei Ying’s head pops up from behind the couch. His hair has come loose from its tie; Jiang Cheng is pink and sputtering beside him. Yanli is standing with Jin Ling, fussing over the coffee stain on his designer sweatsuit; Jin Ling is glaring furiously at where Jingyi is mockingly doing the same to Sizhui.
Sizhui lets him, too blatantly over-the-moon about having Wei Ying back to care.
“Right!” Wei Ying cries, hopping to his feet. “Pitch to me, peasants. I am your lord now. I want the weirdest shit you’ve got. I wanna make the guys in S&P cry. I wanna say ‘fuck’ on camera.”
“I hate you,” Jiang Cheng says flatly.
“Not a pitch,” Wei Ying answers crisply. “Next.”
“I think we should vote on who gets to say fuck,” adds Mianmian.
Yanli bursts into tears, then says, “Ah, sorry, it’s the hormones,” and the pandemonium that breaks out as Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying whip their heads to look at her, shouting, “WHAT,” is roughly when Lan Wangji gives up on having a normal week.
“You knew,” Wei Ying accuses him the second they’re alone, in Lan Wangji’s office while the studio downstairs sets up to film the promos. “I saw your face! You weren’t surprised! You knew!”
Lan Wangji quirks an eyebrow at him. “She put in for maternity leave,” he allows. “She wanted to tell you herself. Am I in trouble for respecting your sister’s wishes?”
Wei Ying makes a furious spluttering sound, flinging himself onto the couch that Lan Wangji had moved from what is now Jiang Cheng’s office into his own. (“Our love couch,” Wei Ying had crooned.) It’s a horrible couch, really, and doesn’t match the rest of the furniture, but Lan Wangji hadn’t been able to countenance the idea of anyone else having it. Plus, hygienically and morally speaking, he really felt it wasn’t right to gift it to Wei Ying’s brother. In deference to the rules of polite society, he did have it re-upholstered for guests.
“Don’t — don’t you come at me with your ethics,” Wei Ying mutters. “I’m yelling at you, and you come back with manners? With politeness? With consideration of my shijie? Fuck off. Fuck all the way off. I know what you’re doing.”
“What am I doing?” Lan Wangji asks, coming back round his desk to kneel in front of where Wei Ying is slouched. He puts a hand on each knee and rubs a small circle with his thumb.
Wei Ying shudders and relaxes, slumping forward until their foreheads are resting together. “I forget,” he says, “but whatever it was, I was right. Hey! I’m gonna have a niece. Or a nephew. Do you think she’ll let me help pick out the name? She’s got to. She can’t let Jiang Cheng do it, he’s terrible at names. I’ll bet Jin Dicks-uan is even worse. I’ll bet he names him, like, Junior or something.”
Lan Wangji grins. “Do you have a better suggestion?” he asks. He happens to know that Wei Ying is no better at names; when they adopted their third bunny, Lan Wangji left him in charge of names, and now they’ve got a brown spotted baby called Whatever.
“Ru-Lan,” Wei Ying says.
Lan Wangji’s throat goes dry. “Wei Ying,” he manages, but before he can say anything else, Wei Ying is leaping to his feet and skittering toward the door, hands flailing.
“No! Stop! Whatever, who cares. We gotta go film, come on. You promised you’d do the promos with me. It’s what the people want, because you’re so handsome and they miss us being on their screens every week. Plus, the boys from Coffin City are gonna be there, so it’s like a big happy reunion. Lan Xichen is a romantic, I guess.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji agrees, and masks his smile but not his fondness, following Wei Ying into the hallway and waiting patiently with him by the elevators until he breaks, making an irritated sound and then dipping in to press a kiss to Lan Wangji’s cheek.
“Don’t look so smug,” Wei Ying scolds him as the doors open.
Lan Wangji puts on his most blank expression. “Do not exult in excess,” he recites, pushing his hands together into a prayer and bowing slightly.
“Lan Zhan, quoting fake fortunes from my fake television show bodega to flirt with me is not allowed,” Wei Ying informs him primly. “Add it to the notebook you think I don’t know about.”
“You said we had covered all those.”
“Well I forgot this one! I have a terrible memory. I’m notorious for it.”
They ride the elevators down to the studio, where Ah Qing, Wen Qing, and Coffin City are indeed all waiting. Lan Wangji has agreed to be in one of the promos; Nie Huaisang had rightfully pointed out that a big reunion spot would do wonders on social, but Lan Wangji is determined to let the episode be Wei Ying’s.
Ah Qing gives a little cheer and bounds over to Wei Ying, crushing him in a hug. He laughs, swinging her around a little.
“Tiny Qing-jie,” he greets. “You look mad as always.”
“Tiny nothing,” Ah Qing grumbles at him. “You show people are just circus freaks. Did you get the scripts?”
“Yeah, but I think we both already knew I was gonna rewrite them. Xiao Xingchen, Song Lan. Lovely to see you.”
“Can’t relate,” says Xiao Xingchen cheerfully. “But how wonderful your voice is!”
Wei Ying flushes a little. “Ahh, this guy,” he dissembles. “Hey — where’s Xue Yang? I thought he was, like, your roadie now.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t know what, exactly, the word is for what Xue Yang is — not a member of the band, certainly. He travels with them and dances onstage, which Lan Wangji hates to admit does add an extra dynamic to the performances.
It’s ridiculous, but it seems to work for them, so.
“We left him in Prague,” Song Lan says.
“On purpose?” Wei Ying jokes, and Song Lan answers, dry as dust, “If you miss the plane, you miss the plane.”
“Yang-di is a free spirit,” Xiao Xingchen adds. “It’s good for him to explore the world.”
“Good for him, maybe,” Ah Qing mutters. “Not too sure about the world.”
Wen Qing leans in to Lan Wangji. “Okay but like ... are the three of them fucking, or ... ?”
“That is more information about Xue Yang than I care to have,” Lan Wangji replies flatly, which gets a barked laugh that draws the attention of the others. Wei Ying’s eyes are warm when he looks at them, happy. He likes to see Lan Wangji’s friendships. Lan Wangji has not yet found the words to explain that friendships like this are a gift Wei Ying has given him.
It is good, he thinks, to be loved. By people.
Wen Qing, with her knife-sharp wit, the edge of meanness that reminds Lan Wangji of his uncle, and the underlying softness that does the same.
Sizhui, who sometimes struggles to write in the chaos of the SNL offices and comes instead to sit quietly in Lan Wangji’s biggest chair, eating carrots with hummus and occasionally asking for advice on wrapping up a joke. Lan Wangji likes him there. It reminds him of being young, reading books from his uncle’s shelf while he waited for his meetings to wrap.
Jingyi and Zizhen, who think he doesn’t know they call him Dadji behind his back. Jin Ling, who doesn’t call him Dadji but does, sometimes, ask for his advice on what auditions he should take during the offseason, or how to write a sketch that will make Sizhui laugh.
Mianmian, who’d written a joke into her Netflix standup special that told a story about him and said he would be “my best friend, if I had to pick a dude. Obviously I wouldn’t pick a dude, but if I had to.”
Yanli, whose sweetness is so deliberate, who’d stood in his office with nervous hands and blurted out, “I’m pregnant. Nobody knows yet,” before hurtling into his arms, crying for reasons Lan Wangji had absolutely no hope of identifying, and then had the grace to give him time to wade through his panic before adding, “You’ll help me keep it a secret for now, right?” so that he was — so that they were in — in — cahoots.
Lan Wangji had never been in proper cahoots before, not even with Wei Ying. He thinks he’s probably not good enough at it yet, to keep up. He likes the idea that he and Yanli could practice first. She’s a very patient teacher.
“Well, are we going to stand around staring at each other or are we going to get something on film?” Ah Qing demands. “I know the rest of you are lazy good-for-nothings, but I, for one, am on a schedule.”
Wei Ying throws his head back as he laughs, and then goes to take his place in front of the camera.
Wei Ying insists on hosting the traditional dinner, even though, in Jiang Cheng’s words, “the point of these is to get to know each other and I, frankly, wish I knew you less.”
Wei Ying jumps onto his back and knocks his baseball cap off his head. “You have to come anyway, it’s tradition,” he insists. “Plus, it means I get to pick the restaurant and you know what I’m gonna pick.”
Jingyi perks up. “The Korean place!” he cries joyfully, pumping his fist. “Aw man, I’ve been really working on my heat tolerance, I think I’ve got a real shot at the crown.”
“Come for the king, you best not miss,” Wei Ying tells him sternly, but his tone is belied by the grin overtaking his face.
Sizhui glances back at Yanli and wrings his hands, a little. “Is spicy food good for the baby?” he asks, which Lan Wangji guesses is 50% honest concern and 50% Hail Mary to escape the vagaries of spicy Korean food.
“Spicy food is great for babies,” Zizhen announces with what Lan Wangji suspects is unearned confidence.
“Aw, it’s you,” Wei Ying jokes, pulling Jin Ling into a noogie. “You’re baby.”
“Fuck off,” Jin Ling mutters, pushing him off.
Jiang Cheng sighs heavily, drawing Jin Ling to his side. “I thought the whole point of the Peacock’s monologue last year was that he recognized he wasn’t good enough for jiejie,” he grumbles. “Or else what was the point of that whole bit about soup-on-demand?”
“He’s a little soup boy,” Wei Ying nods. “C’mon, Jiang Cheng. If you don’t come, I’m gonna make a whole point of having gross, commemorative sex with Lan Zhan in our old office.”
Jiang Cheng shakes him off, making a disgusted face. “Do not fuck in my office,” he commands.
Wei Ying, in a heap on the floor, looks surprised as he squints up at Jiang Cheng. “Wow, A-Cheng, that yoga membership is really doing wonders for your core strength,” he notes. “And who’s to say we haven’t already?”
“I swear to God I will report Lan Wangji to HR so fucking fast,” Jiang Cheng hisses.
Wei Ying climbs to his feet and puts a protective arm out in front of Lan Wangji. “Don’t treat your brother-in-law like that,” he scolds. “That’s not filial at all.”
Yanli’s head whips around so fast that Lan Wangji winces on her behalf (the books he’s read for her says she has to be careful with her muscles right now), but Jiang Cheng just says calmly, “Until somebody pours tea for me, nobody is married, I don’t care what the documentation says.”
“Everybody’s real hung up on this tea-pouring thing, huh,” Wei Ying pouts, and then beams up at Lan Wangji. “Well, guess there’s nothing for it, Zhan-ge. One day when we get bored of living in sin we’re going to have to do the whole rigamarole. I’ll bet your uncle doesn’t even let me make it a costume party.”
Lan Wangji has a flash of a vision of his uncle dressed up like Dracula while Wei Ying, dressed as Dr. Frankenstein, pours him tea. He grips Wei Ying’s shoulder so he doesn’t fall over.
Wei Ying laughs. “All right, sorry, I’ll stop,” he promises. “Come on, who wants to go burn what’s left of their taste buds off? Drinks on NBC.” He lets the staff hustle him to the elevator, the joyful noise of them drowning out anything he might have said to Lan Wangji in the moment. But it’s all right; Lan Wangji doesn’t mind sharing, now and then. He likes to watch Wei Ying be loved.
He likes to know he’s not the only one who does.
A small hand slips into his own. Beside him, Yanli has her other hand low on her belly, a big smile on her face.
“All that secrecy and you just blurted it out at the pitch meeting,” Lan Wangji says, shaking his head.
She giggles. “I was going to do a whole thing, but then I just thought, God, you know what would just be so funny?”
Lan Wangji huffs a laugh, then reaches into his pocket. He’s been carrying it around for days, but never found the right time, or the right words; hasn’t known how to frame all the things he wants to tell her, and thank her for. Knows she’d be angry at him if he tried to say thank you for loving him before me. Knows she’d be angry if he tried to say thank you for letting me love him, too.
He gently extricates the hand holding hers and pulls it toward him instead. Yanli tilts her head at him, curious and patient. Soon, he thinks, he’s going to have to sit her and Jiang Cheng down and tell them that he wants to plan a wedding. Soon he’ll have to talk Wei Ying into doing, “the whole rigamarole,” which honestly Lan Wangji would pass on too, if it weren’t for all the people who love them and would be furious.
But today isn’t that. Today, he pulls a small object from his pocket and places it gingerly in Yanli’s palm. “For the baby,” he says, and draws his hand back to leave them both looking down at the gift in their joined hands: a small, laughing little rabbit made of jade.
(art by @carriecmoney - see her art on twitter)