"Can you stop moving?" Mingjue pleads. Though he does share the sympathy, Huaisang has taught him a lot about worrying about missing family members (and none of it was patience), he is getting mildly annoyed by Wangji constantly pacing up and down. He gets a look along the lines of "this is my home, I may face emotional crises the way I choose" as an answer. Mingjue sighs, drowns another cup of Gusu's famous tea, known for its calming properties that he never has been able to confirm. But it tastes delicious, this much he has to acknowledge.
Wangji in general is splendid company, quiet, intelligent, with guts and common sense, an excellent sparring partner and reliable fighter in battle, but he does not make for a good conversation partner. Mingjue has been bored for a while now and it's not getting any better. Curfew has started more than three hours ago and while it technically isn't handled very strictly with visitors and regarding Wangji everyone would assume he has a good reason to be up and around, neither of them in fact has one and they are only killing time.
Wangji is waiting for Wei Wuxian to return from running errands in Caiyi Town and since the walking disaster is late for hours, the calm and considerate Hanguang-Jun has turned into someone very distressed, very on edge. Not many people would be able to notice, but Mingjue knows him long enough now.
Mingjue himself waits for Xichen, of whom nobody knows where he is but everyone is sure of to return in the evening. He is visiting only on the private occasion of meeting Xichen and he already of necessity has endured a tiring conversation with Lan Qiren, he won't risk being dragged into other official business someone suddenly thinks of, so he had retreated first to the training grounds with the junior disciples to spar, the two well known troublemakers named Lan Sizhui and Lan Jingyi among them, and afterwards to the Jingshi with Wangji. They had waited in silence as they shared little to no common interest regarding conversation topics and neither of them were prone to constant jabbering monologues like Wei Wuxian or Huaisang.
The only interruption to their peaceful early evening was an early moment of panicking on the part of Wangji, suddenly turning to him with a worried look to his beautiful face.
"What if something's happened?"
"Wei Wuxian may be the most chaotic human being who walks this earth, but even he is fully capable of walking up from Caiyi Town to Cloud Recesses, you know that," Mingjue tried to sooth him, but Wangji shot him a glare.
"I also know that he is perfectly capable of falling down the stairs and breaking his delicate neck."
To this Mingjue had no helpful answer to provide so he kept his mouth shut like a sensible person and tried not to upset Wangji any further.
Wangji had played his guqin afterwards to calm himself, the melody flowing smoothly from his fingers. Then they had continued with their shared silence, Wangji reading and Mingjue staring a whole in the air halfheartedly trying to meditate (Xichen's been bothering him about it again), until a little paperman slipped through the window with a message from Wei Wuxian, saying:
"I'm drunk. Don't worry, I got a ride."
Don't worry didn't exactly do its job, Wangji was halfway out of the Jingshi, Bichen in his hand to fly in search for him, when Mingjue got a hold of his arm.
"He got a ride, it's fine," he says. "You've become quite tense, caring for your personal disaster."
"He is a treasure, not a disaster, therefore I'm being perfectly sensible by worrying" Wangji shoots back.
Mingjue waves a hand. "Whatever."
Wangji did not run off, but since then he has been pacing up and down and it gnaws on Mingjue's well tended nerves, diligently tearing down the hard efforts that both Xichen and Mingjue had put into building his patience.
"Sit!" Mingjue orders for the sake of both of them and although Wangji halts for a moment, he does not comply.
A sudden rustling and cracking from outside comes to save Mingjue's state of mind. Wangji's head flicks around, he takes a second staring at the door before passing it in a rush of white. The ringing sound of laughter reaches him and it doesn't just sound like Wei Wuxian. Mingjue gets up and follows Wangji outside, curious. The laughing doesn't stop or even decrease in volume, and it's indeed very loud for Cloud Recesses, especially way past curfew. The second voice is... Xichen?
"Wei Ying," Wangji calls out mostly relieved and still a little worried.
The tall tree next to the Jingshi is decorated with two persons, one being Wei Wuxian, as expected, hanging over one of the lower branches, a wide grin plastered on his face, looking messier than usual and with two jars of liquor dangling by a string from his hand. Mingjue isn't sure if the look on Wangji's face says that he wants to kiss or to slap his husband. Probably both, in this order, and then kissing him again.
"Ay, Lan Zhan, catch me," he exclaims and rolls from his branch and falling safe into Wangji's arms, who just got there in time. Wangji does bend down to kiss him, he doesn't slap him though, probably because he doesn't want to let him out of his arms right now.
"Wei Ying, are you alright?"
"Perfectly fine, never let me go, okay?" Wei Wuxian reassures him, throwing his arms around Wangji's neck, showering him with kisses and cuddling close, a look of pure affection runs over Wangji's face and its sickeningly sweet. Then they all turn their gaze to the tree top, eyeing up the second person.
It is Xichen, Lan Xichen, Sect Leader of the GusuLan Sect, the First Jade of Lan, esteemed Zewu-Jun, and he is drunk. He sits on a branch freehandedly, feet dangling, hair disheveled, clothes in disorder (his outer robe actually hangs halfway down his arms and back), cheeks red from the alcohol. He raises a hand, the one not holding Shuoyue, and waves excessively, beaming down at them with a smile all over his face. Xichen being the most handsome man is as general agreement of the entire cultivation world and Mingjue would be the last begging to differ, but this is truly a sight to behold and Mingjue's heart warms at it.
"Wangji, I found Didi down in Caiyi Town. We ate soup and drank funny tea on a boat. It was wild!!!"
Funny tea, yeah, for sure. Mingjue glances at Wangji, who stares up at his brother in sheer and absolute disbelieve. With a shrug of his shoulders Mingjue waves back to Xichen, the excitement lights his face up even more and he nearly drops from his branch (not that he is aware of it). Wangji's facial expression turns to clearly distressed and alerted, probably panicking because one, his hands are already full and he won't be able to catch him in case he falls, and two, his ever sensible brother and sect leader sits in a tree after crashing into it, drunk and very loud in the middle of the night. Mingjue bursts into laughter.
Wangji is torn between looking worried at his brother and angry at Mingjue.
"Da-ge!!!" Xichen makes it possible to light up even brighter and there is a smirk mixing in his happy smile. Ah, so he was in that particular teasing mode he usually kept private between the two of them. "I didn't know you were here, I would have brought you along. We can go another time. Or maybe now!!!"
Mingjue sighs, then shakes his head determinedly.
"Not tonight. Will you come down?" he asks.
Xichen shakes his head, grinning wildly. "I like it up here. Come sit with me."
"There is other nice places around here," Mingjue offers. "Like, you could go get some rest in—."
Xichen has tilted his head, pondering, then his face lights up once more. "The Cold Pond! Let's take a bath!"
Mingjue exchanges the end of his sentence for a frown.
"Xichen, no," he quickly intervenes. "We are not going swimming in the middle of the night."
Xichen giggles. "Da-ge, why not? When you were here for the lectures, we used to—."
Mingjue interrupts. "I don't think your brother needs, or wants," he adds with a glance to Wangji, "to know that. What I actually had in mind right now was your bed."
Only when Xichen's lips curl into a smug smile he notices his mistake. "I thought the pond might be more fun, but if you like my bed better, let's go there," he says with a light shrug, "I'm all yours."
"Xiongzhang!" Wangji gasps in horror, Wei Wuxian laughs heartily. Mingjue prays everyone else in Cloud Recesses is fast asleep as they should be in the middle of the night, especially Lan Qiren. The man would most likely either suffer from a heart attack or a qi deviation seeing his older nephew like this (and then giving them all the scolding of their lifetime instead of recovering).
Xichen doubles over laughing, only barely keeping his balance on the branch for a second time, almost giving Mingjue a heart attack right now. Shuoyue slips from his hand and strikes down like lightning, burying her tip in the ground.
"Oh," Xichen says, fairly unmoved, as if he not just dropped his sword mere inches next to his brother in a deadly fashion. "A-Zhan, pass her back up, please?"
Wangji sets Wei Wuxian to his feet, holding onto his waist with one hand to keep him stable, pulls Shuoyue out and hands her over to Mingjue without a comment. Xichen pouts. Mingjue thinks its adoring.
"Give her back, please," he addresses him now. Mingjue shakes his head decidedly.
"No, I like her. I think I will keep her," he says with a grin.
"Da-ge!" Xichen whines, stretching the syllables.
"Come down here and I will think about returning her."
Xichen immediately jumps into action, a little too literal, his feet don't get a steady stand and so he tumbles and then this time actually falls. Mingjue's heart misses a beat as he stares in shock, he's quite high above the ground. But before he can react in any other way, Xichen gets a hold to the branch he'd just been sitting on, dangling from one hand. He looks at his other hand, raising it slowly, eyes growing wide.
"Oh no, I dropped Didi again," he exclaims, panic in his voice.
"Wei Wuxian is already safe down here, Xichen," Mingjue reassures him.
Relief flashes over his face and he smiles at his brother in law. "Oh good. Don't tell A-Zhan."
Wangji stares at his brother with his mouth actually dropped open. "I am right here, next to Wei Ying, I can hear you."
Xichen looks down sheepishly. "Oh."
"And what do you mean by "dropped him again"?" he adds, brows furrowed.
"We were doing flips, it was absolutely hilarious! We should try some day" Wei Wuxian provides in an attempt to be helpful, interrupting his work on discarding as much of Wangji's clothing as possible to place kisses everywhere. A muscle in Wangji's otherwise serene face twitches, he remains still for a moment, pondering, then turns on his heels, dragging Wei Wuxian gently with him.
"He is your problem, Chifeng-Zun," Wangji says to Mingjue in an end-of-discussion-before-it-even-starts kind of way, walks back to the Jingshi and closes the door behind him.
Mingjue steps up to the tree, smiling, gazes up at Xichen still dangling from his branch, fascinated by the tree's bark at the moment. He doesn't mind looking after Xichen, he never does. And he didn't have to deal with a drunk Xichen for a long time, he is looking forward to it actually. After a few incidents in their teenage years they came up with a method to get rid of the alcohol using their golden core and Xichen hadn't been drunk afterwards (it was probably for the better as heir to the Lan Clan). Mingjue guesses, with this and the funny tea, this time Xichen hadn't been aware of the fact he was consuming alcohol.
"Will you come down already?" he asks.
"Will you catch me as well?"
"Of course. Did I ever not?"
Xichen lets go of his branch and with swirling robes drops down into Mingjue's arms. He doesn't fall as fast as gravity would make him and the impact isn't as heavy as one would expect. Apparently Xichen still knows how to use his core, softening his fall. Well, on the other hand, he had been able to fly mostly unharmed from Caiyi Town to Cloud Recesses even with Wei Wuxian as passenger, only a save landing had been too much to ask.
Xichen raises a hand to rest on Mingjue's cheek, the look on his face so soft and full of admiration.
"So strong and caring. I am truly blessed," he compliments, then wraps his arms around Mingjue's neck and cradles his head to Mingjue's chest. "Mingjue, you're the best."
Ah, Xichen's teasing mood has run out obviously, he's affectionate now, and they are back to his usual address when in private.
"Yeah, sure, you're the one who won the prize," Mingjue mumbles chuckling, carrying the most precious person in existence to the Hanshi. Xichen hums with closed eyes and an expression of pure delight.
He enjoys the walk and regrets that it's a not very long one, but he won't push their luck on not getting caught by the patrol or worse, Lan Qiren. So he takes the shortest route and soon closes the door to the Hanshi behind them. Xichen is steadfast when Mingjue sets him to the ground and immediately holds out his hand expectantly. Looks like being nice has reached its end as well. Were they back at teasing?
"Shuoyue," Xichen demands, an unusually commanding tone in his voice which Mingjue finds rather intriguing. He doesn't move though, not by choice, but because he is enthralled.
Xichen narrows his dark golden eyes, his face becomes adamant and unyielding. "Nie Mingjue. Shuoyue. Now."
Oh, no teasing anymore, they are being serious now.
His only warning is a glint in Xichen's eyes, then all he sees is a flash of white and light blue lunging at him. There is a sharp gash of string around his free wrist first and a then around the one holding Shuoyue because he is to baffled to react. The pain loosens his grip around the hilt and he is aware of Xichen removing the sword from his hand, whirling her through the air in a familiar gleam before, to Mingjue's relief, sheathing her safely. Baxia, the traitor, doesn't even as much as twitch on his back.
Xichen contently lays Shuoyue on the table, then steps up to him again, his serene smile leaves Mingjue to feel a tad uncomfortable (in the excited, good way). He watches, curious. Xichen comes close, very close, only mere inches remain between them and he lays both hands in Mingjue' neck. The view has him completely taken in anticipation and excitement, all he does is lean in a little closer even.
"Ts, Chifeng-Zun," Xichen scolds in a very low voice, and very slowly so. A rush of heat runs through Mingjue's body, probably flares on his cheeks. Calling him by his title is a thing Xichen does very rarely and always with a thoroughly planned intent, usually a very effective way to rile him up (even more than calling him by his title already does). Xichen is almost close enough for their lips to touch and Mingjue is almost persuaded to not care what else the man has in mind.
One hand suddenly drops from his neck and he feels the comforting weight lifted from his back. When his mind catches up its already too late, Xichen has stepped back, Baxia in his hand. She has the audacity to hum. Mingjue steps up and intends to reach out to get his saber back, but the strings around his wrists that he'd already forgotten about prevent it.
"You tied me up?" he gasps in disbelieve. Xichen grins devilish, places Baxia next to Shuoyue and then both his hands on Mingjue's chest, pushing hard. Not even Mingjue, and certainly not awestruck as he was at the moment, can hold up against a full forced push from a Lan and so he helplessly stumbles back, thankfully caught by the soft bed behind him.
Xichen places a knee to his torso and though he might have been able to protest now, he doesn't. Strong, tender fingers free one of his wrists and tie the loose end to the bed instead. It is only now that Mingjue realizes it's not a string, but Xichen's forehead ribbon, how did he miss him not wearing it?
Xichen is profoundly satisfied with his work judging from the pleased look on his face. He takes off his outer robes, Mingjue watching with curiosity, interested in where this is leading. Well, Xichen had been quite straightforward and he is taking his clothes off, but he's not as eager as Mingjue had suspected him to be by his behavior earlier. The smirk is gone, has been replaced by a dreamy smile.
Even drunk Xichen apparently still folds his robes, though not very neatly, and places them on the small table. Old habits die hard. Xichen stops at his innermost layer of robes, and looks at him with soft and drowsy eyes, thinking. Looks like the liquor is finally getting the better of him, draining his remaining energy. It doesn't take long for him to make up his mind, he throws himself onto the bed, next to Mingjue. He cuddles close, fingers curling into his robes, legs intertwining. Mingjue breathes in, inhales the familiar scent of juniper incense surrounding Xichen. There is not the smallest note of alcohol mixed into it, but it's no surprise, he probably had no more than two small cups. Xichen's eyes are half closed already when he nestles his head to Mingjue's chest.
"A-Jue, it's nice of you to come visit me. I missed you," he says, his tone sleepy, but happy. "You are not allowed to leave."
"Good thing you tied me to your bed then," Mingjue notes, chuckling. A-Jue, it's the address he favours most although it's not exactly proper, it puts a smile on his lips every time.
Xichen takes a surprised look at the ribbon he misused as a string— he couldn't possibly have forgotten it already, could he?— then rests his head again and closes his eyes.
"Good indeed," he mumbles.
Mingjue feels his own laughter rumbling in his chest. He has no intention of leaving any earlier than he has to, he never feels better than with Xichen in his arms. With his free hand he pulls first Xichen's, then his own hairpiece out and places them at the side. Afterwards he grabs the blanket and gently wraps it around the two of them, before curling his arm around Xichen's waist. He knows his friend is fast asleep already, he still bends his head to place a tender kiss on his forehead where his ribbon usually sits.
"Good night, A-Huan. Sleep tight, you'll need it."