"It's getting worse."
Jiang Cheng sighed, switched off the engine, and cast a glance towards Lan Wangji, who occupied the front passenger's seat. Lan Wangji, of course, resolutely maintained his position, looking forward and through the windscreen, even though they'd arrived. Useless.
"It's not getting worse, idiot," Lan Jingyi fired back. "You're throwing up less now than you were when we left."
Indeed, they were all intimately aware of how frequently Jin Ling had been throwing up, because he was neither quiet nor subtle about it. In fact, he seemed to endeavour to be quite the opposite. Jiang Cheng was just thankful that it was only scraps of plant that seemed to be coming up; he was already unenthusiastic about having to hoover up the piles of vegetation in his car, he wasn't sure he'd have been able to cope if the episode had involved anything more. At this point, all he wanted was a warm shower and a soft bed.
The backseat, it seemed, hadn’t picked up on his desire for peace.
"That's easy for you to say!” Jin Ling argued, prompting a tut and a chin jerk from Lan Jingyi. “You're not the one spitting out bits of plant!"
"Well, if you hadn't just run at that thing and gotten hit by one of its curses-"
"Well, maybe if you hadn't distracted me-"
"Maybe next time you'll think before you charge at an unidentified spirit," Jiang Cheng interjected, before their casual bickering could escalate into anything more resentful. Or, from his point of view, more irritating.
Jin Ling undid his seatbelt and leaned forwards, sticking his head through to the front of the car. The others followed him, pressing together. Sheeplings. Jiang Cheng was willing to bet that their flock-like movement was practically subconscious at this point.
"Don't throw up on me," Jiang Cheng warned him.
A glare. "I can't control it!"
"When will it end? Should we take him to see a healer?" Lan Sizhui asked, somewhat more quietly.
"A healer won't be able to do very much," Jiang Cheng said, not unkindly. "It's one of those things that you have to wait out, even if it feels terrible."
He didn't miss the quick glance that Lan Sizhui shot towards Lan Wangji for confirmation, nor the tiny nod that he received in return, even as Lan Wangji continued to stare out the window. It was almost endearing.
Jin Ling slouched back, mutinous. "Why does this always happen to me, huh?"
At that, Lan Wangji finally deigned to shift his eyes sideways, in the vague direction of Jin Ling. "If you did not deserve it, the curse would not take hold."
Oh, so Lans don’t lie, huh?
Jin Ling spluttered, "But - how - Hanguang-jun!"
Ouyang Zizhen looked positively horrified, mouth open and eyes comically wide; Lan Jingyi was caught somewhere between smugness and shock. Lan Sizhui was the only one that looked a little doubtful, even if he wasn't about to contradict him. But then, he's more accustomed to reading Lan Wangji's bullshit, Jiang Cheng noted, more than a little amused,
What mattered, though, was that Jin Ling was convinced. "What the fuck did I do to deserve this?!" he exclaimed, voice rising.
"Language," Jiang Cheng reprimanded, an action that was more reflexive than substantial. "It'll pass. Take some paracetamol and sleep it off."
Not the best advice ever, but Jiang Cheng mentally shrugged to himself. He wasn't a doctor, but he'd been a cultivator long enough to know that Jin Ling would be fine come morning.
Recognising that his cause was hopeless, Jin Ling moved, shoving Lan Jingyi with his shoulder as he did so. The four of them bundled out of the car, a clatter of swords and grumbled complaints.
The peace that they left in their wake was almost divine.
Ever so gently, unthinkingly, Jiang Cheng shook his head. "At some point, they're going to realise that's a complete lie, you know. Curses don't work like that, not in the slightest."
"'Mn.' That's all you have to say?"
One side of Lan Wangji's mouth twitched upwards, imperceptible to anyone that wasn't looking for it. "Mn."
Jiang Cheng let out a snort, one utterly unbefitting a Sect Leader. "You know, I think I like you more and more as I find out how much of a bastard you really are."
Only from Jiang Cheng's lips could bastard sound like such a compliment.