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golden | travel | pattern

Eventually Wei Wuxian’s feet take him home. He hasn’t lived in Lotus Pier for over a decade, never in this lifetime, but in his heart…

He visits Jin Ling before he goes, sees the echoes of his father and mother, his uncles. Wei Wuxian wants to ask how Jiang Cheng is, but when he opens his mouth anything else comes out; anecdotes from his own travels, stories from his youth. Yanli he introduces slowly, carefully, unsure what either of them can handle.

Jin Ling soaks up every word, and Wei Wuxian remembers being a boy eager, desperate for any mention of his parents.

When he asks Jin Ling when he last traveled to Yunmeng, Jin Ling smirks at him. The expression is so familiar, so much a reflection of the one Wei Wuxian grew up with that he feels both too old and too young.

The road to Lotus Pier is familiar, even now. Soon he is there, and his brother is before him. He doesn’t know what to say, or how to say it; the road wasn’t long enough for that.

Jiang Cheng looks angry and sad and tired, so tired. Wei Wuxian understands.

His brother invites him in.

 

buttons | feelings | rest

Wei Wuxian stays in Caiyi Town. If he pushed, he could make it to Cloud Recesses not long after dark, and while the thought of being dragged in front of Lan Wangji for breaking in for old time’s sake amuses him, it’s not exactly the image he wants to project on his return.

He wants--

He buys a bottle of Emperor’s Smile and rents a room for the night. He’s nervous. Nervous. It’s only Lan Wangji. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? He’s not only anything.

A year has passed and they’ve exchanged letters filled with tentative words, and Lan Zhan is less than a day away.

Wei Wuxian undoes his belt, unfastens his robes. He lounges and drinks and does not think about Lan Zhan’s face and hands in the moonlight, his shoulders and back strong against Wei Wuxian’s chest. The way he watched him, steady even when everything else was in chaos.

He has missed him. Wei Wuxian does not think about him now. If he does, his feet will take him onwards, he won’t be able to stop himself. And he does not want to be on his knees for Lan Zhan for the rules he’s broken.

 

charmed | shudder | sheets

He can’t remember why he was nervous. Lan Zhan smiles at him. He sits on the edge of the bed. His hair is loose and his forehead ribbon is gone and where his robe falls open, Wei Wuxian can see bruises he has left with his mouth. He swallows and blushes and looks away, unsure how to keep the immensity of what he’s feeling inside.

When Wei Wuxian looks back, Lan Zhan is still smiling, eyes dark, face soft in the lamp light. His bottom lip is swollen, bitten, and Wei Wuxian remembers the moment it happened easily. In his chest, his heart pounds. He thinks about all the places Lan Zhan has touched him, all the places he has touched Lan Zhan. They know the sound and shape of each other’s pain and pleasure now.

He really can’t remember why he was nervous.

Reaching for him, Wei Wuxian laughs when he finds Lan Zhan halfway. His mouth is soft and eager, and when he breathes Wei Wuxian’s name into the curve of his neck and the crook of his elbow, the jut of his hip and the knob of his knee, Wei Wuxian shakes and shudders and comes apart.

 

silk | gentle | insight

Wei Wuxian combs his fingers through Lan Zhan’s hair, leans in and presses a kiss to his forehead, there in the middle. Lan Zhan hums beneath him, and when Wei Wuxian pulls back, Lan Zhan’s eyes are closed, the corners of his mouth soft. They’re both nude, the sheets as warm as they are, the air only slightly less so. A bird calls in the night. Wei Wuxian has no plans to go anywhere.

“Wei Ying.”

He looks up from where he’s been contemplating the notch between Lan Zhan’s collarbones, a dip he himself has tasted only recently and yet. He bites his lip, and then Lan Zhan’s thumb is there, against his chin, against his mouth. His hand is calloused, his touch gentle. Wei Wuxian kisses the tips of his fingers, savors the feel of them on his lips. Pushes past them to meet Lan Zhan’s mouth again.

Ah, he’s been a fool. The months away were needed, the road beneath his feet necessary, but oh, he has missed Lan Zhan. Watching him now, with his sleep-gentle face and fond eyes, Wei Wuxian wonders what else he’s missed, and for how long, and he is grateful for more time.

 

nest | frequent | nudge

Wei Wuxian wakes in gray light to an empty bed, limbs and sheets tangled. It takes him a moment to place where he is, the day and night before coming back to him slowly and then all at once. He stretches and shivers and savors the pull of muscles and tendons.

When he opens his eyes again, Lan Zhan has reappeared. He’s dressed, which is disappointing, but his hair is still unbound, which is better. Lan Zhan used to feel so untouchable, but Wei Wuxian has sunk his fingers in that hair, pressed his tongue into that mouth. He has given and taken and given again.

“Wei Ying.”

“Lan Zhan.”

A smile, soft and bright as a crescent moon, and Lan Zhan closes the distance between them, joins Wei Wuxian on the bed. He nudges at Wei Wuxian, and Wei Wuxian shifts.

“It’s too early.” He wants to reach for Lan Zhan, persuade him that bed is the best place to be, especially with him. Especially now.

“Mn.” Lan Zhan nods. “Perhaps you are right. It is early. I have no particular place to be. Perhaps a morning in bed--”

He says something about frequency. Wei Wuxian misses the rest.

 

discipline | lie | lost

Wei Wuxian has always admired Lan Zhan’s discipline, his restraint. He’s not incredibly interested in recreating it himself, but he admires it, especially now. Sitting back on his heels, Wei Wuxian takes in the spread of Lan Zhan’s limbs and the flush of his cheeks. His mouth shines with spit and precome. Wei Wuxian shudders, wraps his fingers around the base of his cock.

Lan Zhan’s eyes follow the movement. The rest of him remains still.

He is beautiful, scarred and older and Wei Wuxian’s.

Beneath him, the rise and fall of Lan Zhan’s chest is measured. When Wei Wuxian presses his free hand to the center of it, he can feel Lan Zhan’s heart racing. The tension in the muscles beneath him is obvious, and still Lan Zhan remains watching.

How long would you wait? he almost asks. But he knows that answer, doesn’t he? He knows, and sometimes it hits him and he is overwhelmed. He is lost. How did he spend so much time away when what little distance there is between them is still too much? Wei Wuxian closes it, presses their mouths together, begs Lan Zhan to touch him, yes, there, Lan Zhan, please, please--

 

hazy | horny | dreamy

Wei Wuxian scrambles at his robes, pulling them up until he can reach the waistband of his pants. He slips his thumbs under and looks up to meet Lan Zhan’s gaze where he kneels in front of him. His cheeks are flushed, and his headband is off-center. Wei Wuxian feels giddy.

“Not so shocking anymore, I think,” he says, watching as Lan Zhan’s eyes catch on the still covered curve of his cock.

Lan Zhan’s eyes flick upward, the corner of his mouth following. He catches Wei Wuxian off guard so easily still with just a look, a smile, a smirk. It makes his heart race and something inside him settle, and he swallows hard when Lan Zhan covers his hands with his own and nods, says, “Not so shocking.”

The air is cool on Wei Wuxian’s cock, but then Lan Zhan’s hand is there, hot and rough in just the right way, and then his mouth, oh.

Birds sing in the canopy above them. There is the sound of a waterfall in the distance. Sunlight sparks flares in Wei Wuxian’s vision and Lan Zhan is on his knees before him. Wei Wuxian could be dreaming. He’s grateful he’s not.

 

thief | third | thighs

Chopsticks rap against Wei Wuxian’s knuckles, and he drops the slice of lotus root back into Lan Zhan’s bowl.

“That’s mine.”

Wei Wuxian laughs and sits back, cradles his chin in the palm of his hand. Lan Zhan hasn’t even looked up. His face is perfectly serene, eyes downcast on his food. Attention otherwise occupied, apparently. Wei Wuxian knows better, though, and watching Lan Zhan has become his favorite pastime.

Perhaps second favorite. The first involves Lan Zhan between his thighs. Or him between Lan Zhan’s. Either way, it involves fewer layers of clothing and Lan Zhan moaning, low and desperate.

“What?” Wei Wuxian asks. “You won’t share? I’m shocked. I’m heartbroken!”

Lan Zhan looks up at him. “You’re smiling.”

He sucks his bottom lip between his teeth, trying to school his expression into something appropriately serious. “I am not.”

“You are,” Lan Zhan says, looking down. Wei Wuxian can read Lan Zhan’s awareness of him in every line of his body. It’s immensely satisfying, this game they’re playing. He can’t wait for the conclusion later when Lan Zhan’s awareness becomes too much for him.

“Maybe I’m just hungry.”

Lan Zhan hums. The lotus root ends up in his bowl.

 

socks | growl | murmur

Lan Zhan is quiet, most of the time. The best times, Wei Wuxian is discovering (and, to be honest, he’s not surprised), are when he can make Lan Zhan loud. When Lan Zhan forgets himself and calls out his name is the best, but Wei Wuxian loves the sighs, the moans, the way Lan Zhan’s voice goes rough and deep and used. The way his chest rumbles when he hums, the way his throat vibrates against Wei Wuxian’s fingertips when he growls.

It’s all good. It’s all so good. Mouth pressed to Lan Zhan’s shoulder, Wei Wuxian murmurs into his skin words of praise and words to beg and Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan.

Wei Ying in his ear. Lan Zhan’s muscles shift beneath his palms, and Wei Wuxian can feel him deep inside. He holds Lan Zhan close and wishes him closer.

They lie together after, legs tangled, sharing a pillow. On Lan Zhan’s shoulder, the shape of Wei Wuxian’s mouth can be clearly seen. He traces it with a finger and watches Lan Zhan watch him as he follows the line of his shoulder to his neck, his throat.

Wei Ying.

He swears he feels it in his toes.

 

languid | yielding | bold

Wei Wuxian stretches, body languid against the moss. Lan Zhan had been busy all day, and he’d gone to visit the rabbits, dozed there in the shade. Yawning, he turns to the rabbit that had awakened him and finds, several lengths away on the path, Lan Zhan watching him. He smiles and holds the stretch a little longer before releasing it and propping himself up on an elbow.

“Is the honorable Hanguang-Jun free for the day?”

Lan Zhan nods. “Yes.”

Holding out his hand, Wei Wuxian beckons to him. “Good,” he says. “Help me up!”

Mouth softening, Lan Zhan steps up and off the path. Rabbits move about his feet. When he takes Wei Wuxian’s hand, Wei Wuxian pulls him forward and off balance.

“Hello,” he says, into Lan Zhan’s much closer face. “You should join me if you’re free.”

“Should I.”

Wei Wuxian pouts. “Lan Zhan, don’t tease. You should. Our rabbits need attention.”

Lan Zhan’s eyes flicker, and he knows he has him. Not that he didn’t before. As soon as Lan Zhan stepped off the path, he was going to stay. He nods, and Wei Wuxian smiles, tugs him forward. Kisses him, mouth yielding, in the shade.

 

milk | drift | pet

Years and years ago, Wei Wuxian lay on his back in the bottom of a boat. The gentle lapping of the water against the hull had threatened to lull him to sleep, and he’d drifted tethered to shore. Above him the sky had been blue and the clouds large and white and soft. He’d closed his eyes and thought of Lan Zhan, where he was and what he was doing. What he would think of Lotus Pier.

He opens his eyes and blinks up at Lan Zhan. There are rabbits in his periphery, but it’s Wei Wuxian’s head that gets the luxury of Hanguang-Jun’s lap.

Lan Zhan’s fingers curl through his hair, and Wei Wuxian hums, eyes slipping closed again. Above him, Lan Zhan lets out a soft breath that might be a laugh or a sigh before slipping his fingers into Wei Wuxian’s hair to rub at his scalp.

“Mmm, you’re so good to me, Lan Zhan,” he says, pushing into the touch. He can practically hear Lan Zhan’s unspoken response. He squints at him. “You are.”

“You are Wei Ying.”

As if it’s reason enough. Looking at Lan Zhan, at the way his face softens, maybe it is.

 

soothe | smooth | urge

Wei Wuxian smooths his tongue over the split of Lan Zhan’s lip, soothing the hurt. It’s hot beneath his mouth, and sharp with copper. Lan Zhan’s hands grip his shoulders, pull at his hair as his mouth opens beneath Wei Wuxian’s, his tongue welcoming him in.

The sound he makes as Wei Wuxian takes his invitation, as he lowers himself to press more fully against Lan Zhan, is obscene. It travels from the top of Wei Wuxian’s head to the soles of his feet, vibrates against his skin. Wei Wuxian shudders, and it's almost enough for him to pull away, tuck his face against Lan Zhan’s neck, complain that he can’t do this, that it’s too much.

There is so much want inside him.

He pins Lan Zhan to the sheets, savors the feel of him hard and straining. Yielding. Lan Zhan could take him easily, but he does not. He urges Wei Wuxian on, hooking a leg around Wei Wuxian’s thigh and arching his back. His hands on Wei Wuxian’s back are wide. Lan Zhan holds him close, meets him where he is, always. When Wei Wuxian looks at him, Lan Zhan looks back, eyes dark, mouth red.

 

knock | sting | savor

Early evening and Wei Wuxian returns to Cloud Recesses to find Lan Zhan retired to bathe. He knocks a knuckle against the privacy screen and calls Lan Zhan’s name, slips around it when he gets an answer.

Lan Zhan sits in the tub, dark hair wet and plastered to his head, down his back. It throws Wei Wuxian how vulnerable he looks like this when he has held Lan Zhan in his arms and felt the muscle and weight of him.

“You’re almost finished,” Wei Wuxian says, crossing his arm and leaning against the screen. He pouts. “There’s nothing for me to help with.”

“Hand me a towel?”

Lan Zhan stands, stepping out of the tub, and Wei Wuxian’s throat feels tight. He swallows against a near overwhelming desire to protect and steps forward to do as Lan Zhan asks. Their fingers brush, and Wei Wuxian lets his linger, savors Lan Zhan’s warm, damp skin against his own before pulling away, the towel still in hand.

“Let me.”

Stepping close, Wei Wuxian tends to Lan Zhan’s hair, his shoulders, back, chest. He dries Lan Zhan’s arms and hands, hips and legs and feet, between his thighs.

They take their time.

 

grateful | spent | toes

Skin damp with sweat, heart slowing, Wei Wuxian lies back. His shoulder knocks against Lan Zhan’s, and he shifts to make room. Not so much that they’re not still pressed together, that he can’t easily throw his leg over both of Lan Zhan’s. He swears he’s vibrating. He swears they both are.

Turning his head, he finds Lan Zhan already watching him. A strand of hair sticks to his forehead. The line of his lashes is dark, delicate every blink. His mouth is red and swollen. He smiles, corners of his mouth ticking up, and his face is so soft Wei Wuxian is overwhelmed.

“Wei Ying.” Lan Zhan’s fingers at his temple are gentle. They linger before moving to the line of his eyebrow, the bridge of his nose. Lan Zhan traces his philtrum before moving lower to his mouth, following the part of his lips, his face focused and steady and full of feeling.

Wei Wuxian kisses the tips of his fingers, and Lan Wangji’s smile widens before he shifts onto his side. He presses his palm to Wei Wuxian’s cheek, bends his head. Brushes their mouths together again and again until Wei Wuxian clutches at him, toes curling.

 

stuffed | aching | spoon

There is a line of precome from the head of his cock to the bed beneath. Wei Wuxian stares at it, his head hanging between his shoulders as he fists his hands in the sheets. Lan Zhan’s fingers are tight around his wrists, Lan Zhan heavy against his back. In each exhalation of breath, he can feel the ragged way Lan Zhan’s holding himself together.

He has him deep, wants him deeper.

Wei Wuxian shifts, feels Lan Zhan slip inside him. Lan Zhan’s breath catches, and Wei Wuxian can picture it, is sure Lan Zhan’s eyes are closed in concentration, his mouth a thin line as he breathes through his nose and tries to hold himself together.

That’s not what Wei Wuxian wants, though. His thighs shake and his cock is aching and he wants Lan Zhan to fuck him already, wants to feel him around and over and in him.

“Lan Zhan, please,” he says, voice rough, needy. “A-Zhan, I need--”

They stick together. Wei Wuxian’s cock is flushed and leaking. Lan Zhan’s hips snap forward, and Wei Wuxian forgets how to breathe, forgets everything but the steady pounding of his own heart and Lan Zhan deep inside him.

 

melt | ring | stamina

There are faint bruises on his wrist. Wei Wuxian tries to pay attention as Lan Qiren speaks, to focus his mind on the situation at hand. His mind keeps slipping. Every time his sleeve slides up his arm, he sees the ring of color around his wrist and he’s back in the jingshi, Lan Zhan pinning him in place.

He catches Lan Zhan looking at him out of the corner of his eye as he shifts and bites the inside of his cheek, trying not to smile.

Lan Zhan had held him after, had cleaned his skin with water and a damp rag and brushed Wei Wuxian’s hair out of his face. Lan Zhan had kissed him soft and sweet and sure, and Wei Wuxian had melted against the pillow.

He’d slept through Lan Zhan slipping out of bed, as well as the rest of his morning routine, and his heart had ached, stupidly, when he’d woken alone but well-rested.

Sitting up straighter, Wei Wuxian rubs his temple, re-settles. He can feel Lan Zhan’s eyes on him, and when he looks, he’s not wrong. Lan Zhan’s gaze lingers on Wei Wuxian’s hands in his lap, the ring around his wrist.

 

belt | laces | lashes

Wei Wuxian stills, Lan Zhan’s hands stopping his when they reach for the ties of his underclothes. Eyebrow raised, he looks up to find Lan Zhan’s eyes on their tangled fingers.

“Let me,” Lan Zhan says. He’d come in as Wei Wuxian had finished bathing and begun to dress, pausing before closing the space between them. His hands on Wei Wuxian’s are cool. They remind him of the changing weather and Lan Zhan’s walk along mountain paths to him.

He squeezes Lan Zhan’s fingers before letting go.

Lan Zhan is focused, movements full of care. His face is calm and soft, and Wei Wuxian sometimes still cannot believe it’s meant for him. Lan Zhan dresses him, and Wei Wuxian watches, turns and shifts and lifts his arms when instructed. Fingers linger at the nape of Wei Wuxian’s neck, at the turn of his wrists. Beneath his robes, Wei Wuxian is aware of the peaks of his nipples, goosebumps rising along his skin.

His belt is the last thing. Lan Zhan steps close, reaching around him, embracing him. Wei Wuxian can feel the heat of his breath and he swallows as Lan Zhan steps back to fasten and tie his belt.

 

fixation | tackle | gruff

Lan Zhan’s voice in his ear is low. Wei Wuxian feels it in the pit of his stomach and the soles of his feet. Awareness sits on him like a second skin; Lan Zhan stands behind him, close enough to feel but not to touch. If Wei Wuxian swayed backward, he would be against him. Lan Zhan’s arms would come around him, and he would be held.

He doesn’t move. Lan Zhan asked him not to. He didn’t tell him to, but he asked, and while Wei Wuxian has always had trouble with authority, he wants nothing more than to make Lan Zhan happy. He has spent so much time making him sad.

He wants Lan Zhan to touch him, to press his whole body to him and rub against him, sweat and come and spit and moans mixing until their edges are blurred.

“Wei Ying.” Lan Zhan’s breath is soft on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder when he speaks. Wei Wuxian’s palms ache. He is acutely aware of the jut of his cock and the tightness of his nipples.

“Lan Zhan,” he says, and shudders at the sound of his own voice.

Lan Zhan touches him, and Wei Wuxian is his.

 

wine | whine | toy

Emperor’s Smile buzzes in his veins. Lan Zhan’s been watching him all evening. Not directly, like he usually does, but over the rim of a cup, under the shadow of his eyelashes, out of the corner of his eye. Wei Wuxian catches him, and Lan Zhan holds his look for a moment, for half of one, before his eyes slide away to his uncle or A-Yuan.

Wei Wuxian feels...buoyant. Later that gaze will pin him, he won’t be able to escape the way Lan Zhan’s eyes follow the shape of his body, the length of his arms and legs. Wei Wuxian will tease and then he will whine and then he will beg Lan Zhan for his cock while getting only his fingers.

Lan Zhan’s breath in his ear will be hot. The hand Lan Zhan keeps firm on Wei Wuxian’s hip will hold him steady as his fingers press and curve just so. He will play Wei Ying in the privacy of the jingshi as masterfully as he plays anything else.

But that will be later, after they’ve eaten and withdrawn for the evening. For now, Wei Wuxian watches Lan Zhan not watch him and sips his wine.

 

disbelief | found | power

“For someone so perceptive,” Lan Zhan says, fingers combing through Wei Wuxian’s hair, “you were remarkably oblivious.”

Wei Wuxian laughs, glances at Lan Zhan over his shoulder. His hair is loose, forehead ribbon gone. His face is soft, and Wei Wuxian loves him. He loves him. “You liked me even then, huh? Back in that cave? Was it my bravery? Was it my--”

Lan Zhan tugs his hair once, then goes back to combing it out. “Everything.”

He came earlier with Lan Zhan’s cock down his throat and his own in his fist, and still Wei Wuxian feels the tips of his ears go hot. “Ah Lan Zhan,” he says, “you’re so…”

Everything, he thinks, really is a good word.

Behind him, Lan Zhan takes Wei Wuxian’s hair in his hand, sweeping it aside. Wei Wuxian feels him shift, then his mouth is soft and warm on the curve of his neck. Wei Wuxian sighs, and the kiss turns into a smile, turns into Lan Zhan nuzzling the spot behind his ear. Another sigh, a shudder. Lan Zhan’s hands are wide and wandering.

Wei Wuxian’s heart races. When he speaks it’s less teasing than he intends. “Everything, huh?”

“Mn, everything.”

 

twice | envy | notice

On the directions of several disciples, Wei Wuxian finds Lan Zhan in the library. Head bent, movements careful and unhesitating, sleeve held out of the way; he is the picture of the perfect scholar. Wei Wuxian stands in the doorway a moment and watches him. Remembers a drawing offered as a distraction and shakes his head at himself. He’d been young and a fool, not even questioning why he wanted Lan Zhan’s attention.

He steps forward, and Lan Zhan looks up, brush poised. His expression softens when he sees Wei Wuxian, and the sight of that transformation still catches him off guard. Wei Wuxian’s heart skips a beat as he approaches.

“May I have a moment of Hanguang-Jun’s time?”

Lan Zhan nods and sets the brush aside. He moves to rise, but Wei Wuxian stops him with a wave of his hand.

“Oh no,” he says, stepping up to him, “you don’t have to get up.” And then he bends over him, presses a kiss against his raised eyebrow, and then one against the pink curve of his mouth. “See? Only a moment.”

“Was that all?” Lan Zhan’s eyes are dark.

“For now.”

Lan Zhan watches him as he leaves.

 

plead | satisfaction | welcome

He presses the head of his cock to Lan Zhan’s mouth, precome catching the light as those lips part. The tip of his tongue is pink and wet. It moves in the cavern of Lan Zhan’s mouth like a living thing, and Wei Wuxian shivers at the sight of it, nipples tight in anticipation before Lan Zhan touches it to his cock.

And then he does, and Wei Wuxian’s breath catches as Lan Zhan’s lips close around him. His mouth is hot and gifted, and when Lan Zhan looks at him from his place on his knees, it’s all Wei Wuxian can do not to simply take his pleasure.

Lan Zhan’s eyes close, hands finding Wei Wuxian’s hips. His grip is strong; his mouth is maddening. He opens his eyes and meets Wei Wuxian’s, pulls off to say, voice rough and unused, Please.

How can he refuse him? He buries his fingers in Lan Zhan’s hair, holds him steady and still as Lan Zhan eyes slip shut. Wei Wuxian fucks his mouth, and Lan Zhan hums around him, lets him. Encourages him. On his knees, begging to be used, he is Wei Wuxian’s as surely as Wei Wuxian is his.

 

scar | seek | lock

Snow falls, the first of the season, and Wei Wuxian remembers another night, another snow, Lan Zhan with his hair down, at home and comfortable, and Wei Wuxian allowed to be there to witness it. So much had been unspoken, desire unarticulated; what could he have given then in return?

Now, under his mouth, Lan Zhan’s skin is warm, in turns smooth and lined as Wei Wuxian follows the width of his shoulders and muscles of his back. Lan Zhan shudders, caught between Wei Wuxian and the bed, and holds still, lets Wei Wuxian touch and kiss and drape himself across him.

Wei Wuxian doesn’t say he’s sorry. He’s done that already. He doesn’t think Lan Zhan dwells, and so he tries not to as well. Instead, Wei Wuxian touches every part of Lan Zhan offered him, pays each the attention it deserves.

Head on Lan Zhan’s shoulder, Wei Wuxian focuses on the rise and fall of Lan Zhan’s chest. He is warm and he is comfortable here with Lan Zhan’s arm around him. He touches the edge of Lan Zhan’s scar. Beneath his ear, Lan Zhan’s heart is steady and sure; Wei Wuxian counts the beats in the dark.

 

wisp | south | deny

Breath fogging the air, Wei Wuxian laughs and presses his hands to Lan Zhan’s cheeks. They’re flushed and cold beneath his palms, Lan Zhan’s eyes wide and lips parted. Wei Wuxian can’t help himself. He kisses him, a sway of movement forward to fit their mouths together. When he pulls back, Lan Zhan’s face is fond.

“You’re cold!”

Lan Zhan nods under his hands. “I am.”

Wei Wuxian sways forward again. Lan Zhan’s lips are chilled. His tongue is not. “Come in,” he says. “I’ll warm you up.”

Lan Zhan’s amusement is visible in the air between them, a huff of laughter barely audible. He reaches up and wraps his hand around Wei Wuxian’s wrist, turns to kiss the center of his palm. Fingers curling, Wei Wuxian tries to keep the feeling there as Lan Zhan lets him go.

“Tea would be welcome,” Lan Zhan says.

“That’s not what I meant.”

Lan Zhan moves past him, a smile tucked in the corner of his mouth. “I know.”

“Ah Lan Zhan, don’t tease,” Wei Wuxian says. He stands for a moment, breathing in the cold morning, and then he turns and follows Lan Zhan into the jingshi, step and heart light.

 

down | better | tight

Lan Zhan rocks against him, hips caught in Wei Wuxian’s hands as he licks at Lan Zhan’s opening, the flat of his tongue wide and wet. The sound Lan Zhan makes when Wei Wuxian presses the tip of his tongue against him is muffled by Lan Zhan’s forearms; Wei Wuxian feels it in his cock.

There is a sheen of sweat at the small of Lan Zhan’s back, a tremble in his thigh. He shakes beneath Wei Wuxian’s tongue, and when Wei Wuxian replaces it with his fingers, Lan Zhan arches, pushes back onto him with a groan.

“A-Zhan,” he says. He feels tender and powerful, Lan Zhan a mess at the tips of his fingers. He shivers when Wei Wuxian removes them, his own clutching at the pillow, muscles of his back shifting as he sighs, Wei Ying.

Wei Wuxian moves then, kneels between Lan Zhan’s thighs. Repeats Lan Zhan’s name among words of encouragement and praise as he presses the head of his cock against him, presses forward. There is a moment where everything is too silent or too loud before the tension in Lan Zhan’s back breaks and he comes between Wei Wuxian’s cock and the sheets.

 

moonlight | sunlight | candlelight

The nights are only marginally colder than the days now, and Wei Wuxian has spent hours watching Lan Zhan. Allowed to look, Wei Wuxian takes his fill. And then some. He is greedy. (He is greedy.)

He follows him because he can. Wakes in the morning to freshly fallen snow and Lan Zhan’s mouth tea-warmed and welcoming. Their footsteps crunch in the predawn light, and Wei Wuxian yawns and wraps his arm around one of Lan Zhan’s and lets himself be dragged along.

Meals and meetings, correspondence and routine, and Lan Zhan composed at the center. Wei Wuxian follows and watches and reads and works. When he looks up, Lan Zhan is there. Often he is looking back.

In his chest, Wei Wuxian’s heart skips. He knows the curves and lines of Lan Zhan’s face better than his own, has catalogued the shifts of emotion, and still he is caught off-guard by the look he finds there. It warms him, and on the walk back to the jingshi in the deepening light of evening he nudges his shoulder against Lan Zhan’s, wraps their fingers together. He smiles at Lan Zhan, who smiles back, and barely feels the cold at all.

 

frown | misbehave | risk

Wei Wuxian wakes in the night gasping, body shaking, memories of the Burial Mounds, of Nightless City, of Koi Tower clinging to him like cobwebs. Tonight had been empty homes, ash in his mouth, blood on his hands. Lan Zhan, Lan Wangji, Hanguang-Jun turning his back on him.

I was fooled.

He shudders, eyes open, and then Lan Zhan is there, face shining like the moon above him. Lan Zhan frowns.

“Wei Ying,” he says, voice gentle. His hand on Wei Wuxian’s chest is firm. It’s warm through the layer of his underthings; Wei Wuxian focuses on it, the five lines of his fingers, the width of his palm.

“Ah Lan Zhan, I’m fine, I’m--” His face crumples. He feels it as it happens, a part of him wanting to stop it before Lan Zhan sees, but then Lan Zhan has seen him at his worst and still chosen--

Lan Zhan pulls him close, arranges him against his chest, holds him in the dark. He presses kisses to Wei Wuxian’s hair. Quietly tells him of the first time he caught Jingyi pulling A-Yuan into a prank with him. How glad he’d been, secretly.

Wei Wuxian curls around him and listens.

 

choice | gaze | ice

Lan Zhan kisses him senseless in the cold spring, and Wei Wuxian wonders if that had been on his mind all those years ago. If he’d been tempted to reach for him and pull him close just to stop him talking. Later, when they’re both dry and warm, a pot of tea brewed, Wei Wuxian asks him.

“It wouldn’t have worked.”

“Hmm?”

“It doesn’t stop you.”

Wei Wuxian laughs, delighted. The tips of his ears feel hot. “That is true. Ah Lan Zhan, can I help it if I want to share everything with you?”

Lan Zhan meets his gaze and raises an eyebrow. “Even then?”

Rubbing the back of his neck, he nudges his knee against Lan Zhan’s. “You already know you were right when you called me oblivious.”

Lan Zhan hums and smiles, a small precious thing, as he pours them both tea. Wei Wuxian watches him, happy to be near. Later Lan Zhan will sit at his guqin and play. Wei Wuxian may sit back and listen, watch Lan Zhan’s fingers as they move across the strings. Or he may choose instead to join him, to raise Chenqing to his lips and follow where Lan Zhan leads.

 

shutter | flick | flash

There are fish swimming in the stream. Their scales flash in the sunlight, tails flicking. His memory feels porous and time slips and suddenly he is there with Nie Huaisang and he and Lan Zhan have only just met. It feels so near and so far and none of it’s the same save the location. Not even the fish, not even his bones.

He leaves a note for Lan Zhan and lets his feet carry him down the mountain. It’s good to have a road beneath his feet, a path to follow. Lan Zhan, he thinks, will understand the restless feeling in his chest.

The sky is clear, the day is calm. Wei Wuxian walks to Caiyi Town and breathes deep, smells dirt and stone and cold mountain air. No destination in mind, Wei Wuxian takes his time, wandering the market when he arrives. He buys food and eats, watches and listens. Whenever Hanguang-Jun is praised, he hides a smile behind his cup.

He is not surprised at all to look up and find the man himself standing before him by the time he is finished with his meal. He feels warmer, more grounded. Meeting Lan Zhan’s eyes, he smiles.

 

time | discovery | voice

Falling into step with Lan Zhan is easy, it always has been. Or perhaps Lan Zhan has always fallen into step with him, patiently waiting for Wei Wuxian to realize he wasn’t alone.

Wei Wuxian smiles and ducks his head. He is lucky, he knows, though there are still places in his head he doesn’t go and pains that resurface that bring him to his knees. He is alive, and Lan Zhan is beside him. There are places he’d like to go, people he’d like to revisit; he can do it all.

Side by side, they return to Cloud Recesses. The sun is setting, and his toes and fingers are cold and Lan Zhan, frankly, is a genius when he suggests a bath. Wei Wuxian takes his time. When he is warm and his skin pink, Lan Zhan greets him with a smile and his name.

How can he not crawl in his lap? How can he not invite all that attention on his still damp skin? He presses himself to Lan Zhan and feels himself welcomed. Kisses him, sinks his hands in hair. Holds on tight, is held in return.

They tangle themselves together, fingers and limbs and lives.