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At 9:58 AM on a Sunday morning in January, Wei Wuxian wakes up, flops over onto his side, fishes around for his phone, turns off an alarm he does not remember setting, and opens his text notifications to find three pictures of his best friend.

The first is Lan Zhan standing, shirtless, in only a pair of white linen pants. His hair is loose around his shoulders, his side-shave as neat as ever. Early morning sun slants in through his floor-length bedroom windows, picking out the gold of his eye and the line of his abs, the curves of his bicep and the lines of his elaborate inked sleeve where he has one hand behind his head—and the unobtrusive but still very present line of his dick against one thigh.

The second picture Lan Zhan is lying on his bed, linen pants gone. His face is offscreen, his hair swept off the nape of his neck, the shot over the shoulder to frame the solid musculature of his shoulders, the long arched line of his spine, the twin dips above the curve of his ass, which is covered (barely) with a pristine, white, very thin sheet. 

The third picture is. The third picture he's turned over, lying on his back, face impassive, hair splayed out across his pillows like a careless spill of ink. His free hand is laid across his stomach, strong fingers splayed. The sunlight makes shadow pool in the hollow of his throat, the dip of his navel. The sheet cuts diagonally across his hips, now, giving Wei Wuxian a flash of thigh, a ridge of muscle leading down, and just the first curls of dark hair at the top of--at. The.

Wei Wuxian locks his phone and puts it down, blinks at his ceiling, and picks it up again. The pictures are still there.

His first thought is that Lan Zhan meant them for someone else. That he just woke up at—he checks the timestamp—6:30 am on a Sunday and decided to go absolute full nuclear seduction option on some poor boy he met on Grindr, who would now be missing out on the best thing to ever happen to him because Wei Wuxian had a bad habit of distracting—of—oh.

Pieces of last night start to resurface and paste themselves together in his head. He winces.

+

“Mmm,” Wei Wuxian considers, then shrugs. Mianmian’s thigh is comfortable but he doesn’t really feel like baring any more of his soul tonight, and besides, they’ll probably just make him do more shots. Maybe even body shots. He likes body shots. Doesn’t even really matter whose body—just the combination of booze and nuzzling close to someone’s skin is nice. Warm. “Dare.”

Huiasang taps the end of his twisty straw against the curve of his cheek, eyes calculating. “Got your phone on you?”

Wei Wuxian squirms around so he can fish it out of his back pocket, his cheek now on Mianmian’s knee. He holds it up and waves it at Huaisang. 

Huaisang nods. “Text Lan Wangji,” he says.

Wei Wuxian blinks at him. “That’s your dare? I would probably be doing that any—”

Huaisang stops him with a dramatically raised hand. “Text Lan Wangji,” he repeats, “‘send nudes.’”

Jiang Cheng, half-leaned against a chair, chokes on his beer. Wen Qing, sitting behind Mianmian messing with her hair, starts cackling. Huaisang looks supremely smug, as if he’s caught Wei Wuxian in some terrible trap. 

Wei Wuxian rolls his eyes. “You must be, like, drunk drunk if you think this is a good dare,” he says, unlocking his phone and pulling up his text thread with Lan Zhan. “It’s like, three AM, he’s sleeping, and in the morning he’ll wake up to it and send me, like, a single question mark, and I’ll go, haha A-Sang thinks he’s funny, and that’ll be that.” He sends the text, then drops his phone on his stomach. “He knows I’m straight, you guys.”

His eyes are closed, now, but he still recognizes the distinctive sound of Jiang Cheng’s skull thunking against something wooden. Probably the floor. 

Wen Qing murmurs, “does he?” but when Wei Wuxian cracks an eye open to look at her all of her attention is on doing fiddly little braids at the back of Mianmian’s head.

He scowls. “Jiang Cheng!” he shouts without looking at him. “Truth or dare!”

+

So. Ten AM. Hungover. Three heart-stopping, objectively beautiful nudes on his phone, waiting for a response.

“What the hell,” he says aloud, but that seems like a pretty rude thing to respond to a guy’s nudes with, especially nudes this good, and he doubts text would properly convey his tone anyway. He opens his text chain with Huaisang instead.

 

wei ying

(10:05) — huaisang

(10:08) — huaisang!!

A-Sang 🌸

(10:10) — what!! omg chill it’s morning

wei ying

(10:10) — no shit

(10:11) — did I take anything last night that would make me still be hallucinating by now

A-Sang 🌸

(10:12) — what? no, why?

(10:12) — omg wait

(10:12) — DID IT WORK?

(10:13) — WEI-XIONG

(10:13) — BABE

(10:13) —  BRO

(10:13) — BABEST OF BROS

(10:15) — do not leave me hanging about this!!!!!

 

Okay, so, arguably that had been a mistake. Wei Wuxian denies Nie Huaisang’s call and goes back to staring at his best friend’s shoulders.

The thing is. The thing is, he’s seen Lan Zhan naked—not regularly, but enough, they’ve been friends for over ten years and neither of them were ever really modest with their bodies—well, Lan Zhan had been shy as a teen but it hadn’t lasted long, and it’d all made sense when he came out a few years later. He’s seen Lan Zhan's body. Hell, he's even--briefly, years ago, in the high school swim team locker room--seen Lan Zhan's dick. But not like this. And it's just now occurring to him that like, other people. Have. 

 

wei ying

(10:32) — oh!

(10:32) — good morning lan zhan

 

A pause, only momentary.

 

🌟🐰 lan zhan 🐰🌟

(10:33) — good morning.

 

Wei Wuxian licks his lips. Ignoring them: definitely rude. Commenting in detail on them: probably weird? Does he pretend he asked for them for art purposes? He does kind of want to draw them, but he’d never want to show them to anyone, ever, afterward, including Lan Zhan, so probably a bad idea to seed that notion. He aims for casual—or as casual as a straight bro can be about seeing his bro’s abs and ass and the shadow of his dick.

He can't stop thinking about how practiced they are. 

 

wei ying

(10:34) — these r like. really good. do you, like, do this?

🌟🐰 lan zhan 🐰🌟

(10:35) — send nudes?

wei ying

(10:35) — haha is that a clarifying question or a request :p

🌟🐰 lan zhan 🐰🌟

(10:38) — which would you like it to be?



Oh. Wow. Wei Wuxian stares at his phone, then at himself in the mirror propped against his wall. He’s in his general hangover look—basketball shorts and a ratty old hoodie, anything that hangs loose on his body and doesn’t do a lot to make him remember it’s there. There are bags under his eyes and he seriously needs a shower. He scrolls back up in the chat to stare some more at the flawless curve of Lan Zhan’s lower back. There’s no way he could follow that up with. This. 

Lan Zhan’s next text drops him down to the end of their text thread again.



🌟🐰 lan zhan 🐰🌟

(10:39) — not frequently. but yes. I find it saves a lot of time

 

Lan Zhan—best person in the world—is giving him an out, smoothly moving on at Wei Wuxian’s non-response, and. He should take it. Because it hadn’t been serious anyway, like, even if Wei Wuxian weren’t straight, there’s no way Lan Zhan actually had any interest in his naked body. 

(And—holy shit. It “saves time?” Of course Lan Zhan is all about getting to the point, sexually. Of course he doesn’t mess around with all of the fake flirty bullshit you’re supposed to do on dates, he probably just shoves men up against walls and takes what he wants, and, god—Wei Wuxian has a weird, visceral flash of Lan Zhan’s big hands curling around his hips—they probably beg him for it.)

But the thing is. The thing is, if it is a joke, then it’s weird for Wei Wuxian not to take the bait, right? It’s what he does. He escalates. He’s an escalator. And Lan Zhan’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-them jokes are his absolute favorite thing to pick up on and amplify, seeing how far he can take it before Lan Zhan shuts him down. So.

Without letting himself think about it further he stands up, shucking off his hoodie and slipping one hand into his waistband, and takes the most obnoxious straight-guy-in-basketball-shorts dick pic he can. Not dick-out, obviously, Lan Zhan hadn’t gone that far and this isn’t that kind of escalation, he doesn’t want to cross any lines that might make him actually uncomfortable—but it’s clear he’s going commando, half-hard (when had that happened?), and there’s a good selection of ab and happy trail and stuff, one nipple just visible in the upper right corner. He gives it a last cursory examination, suppressing a hysterical sort of giggle—it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s a good joke—and sends it off.

Then he tucks his phone into his pocket and goes about his day, which means showing up uninvited at Wen Ning and Wen Qing’s apartment two floors down to mooch off the delicious hangover breakfast Wen Ning always makes for his sister because he’s the best boy to ever be.

After his third pancake and the fourth time he goes to check his phone and then chickens out, Wen Qing fixes him with a glare. “Okay,” she says. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” says Wei Wuxian automatically. “Hungover.” Weirdly horny. Confronting my own hubris. A normal Sunday morning, pretty much. 

Wen Qing hums. “Can I see your phone for a sec?”

Wei Wuxian stares at her, fork halfway to his mouth. “Um. No?”

She rolls her eyes. “C’mon, I just want to check something.”

“Use your own,” Wei Wuxian shoots back, “or A-Ning’s, some of us believe in privacy.”

Wen Qing looks so unimpressed she could probably weaponize it. “It took you two years to bother to put a password on that thing. You accidentally leave it here upwards of three times a week. Now spill."

"Spill what?" Wei Wuxian attempts, but he knows it's weak.

Wen Ning, tapping an obscene amount of sugar into his coffee, gives him a pitying look across the table.

"Fine," Wei Wuxian grumbles. "So you know the dare. Last night."

Wen Ning's spoon clatters into his coffee. 

Wei Wuxian makes a face at Wen Qing. "You told him?"

"He works nights,” she shoots back, defensive. "And then makes me breakfast, what am I supposed to do, not tell him the highlights from the one drunken hang I've gotten to partake in in the last like six months?" She sips her own black coffee. "So. Are they hot?"

"Of course they're hot, it's Lan Zhan," says Wei Wuxian automatically, and then squints at her. "You don't seem surprised."

"That you find Lan Wangji hot?" Wen Qing replies archly. "Oh, I'm shocked. Flabbergasted. How will your heterosexual reputation stand up to such a revelation?"

"That he sent them," Wei Wuxian. "Everyone last night seemed to think it would happen, too! Is this some kind of conspiracy? Is he in on it? Wait, is this just like a thing he does? Has he sent everyone nudes but me? Wen Qing, has Lan Zhan sent you nudes??"

Wen Qing stared at him. "You want to know if known homosexual Lan Wangji has sent me, a dyke who he barely speaks to, nudes."

"Yeah, for like, moral support or whatever," says Wei Wuxian. "Em el em wuh luh wuh solidarity."

Wen Qing stands up. "You're driving me away from my own breakfast table with the things you say with your human mouth," she says. "I hope you know that."

Wei Wuxian waves her away and drops dramatically back in his chair. "Wen Ning."

Wen Ning looks at him dubiously. "Uh. Yes?"

"You agree that Lan Zhan is, objectively, like, super hot, right. Like I'm not—it's not weird—i mean not that not being straight is weird—" he blows out a frustrated breath and pulls out his phone, unlocking it and scrolling up in the thread. "Look, just—these are objectively sexy pictures, right?"

Wen Ning is the palest boy Wei Wuxian has ever met and he's only gotten paler since taking night nurse shifts at the hospital, so it's always really noticeable when he blushes, and right now he's blushing very hard, so hard Wei Wuxian is worried his ears might start emitting steam like an old-fashioned cartoon. "I—I, they're very nice, yes," he says in a rush, averting his eyes, which is good enough for Wei Wuxian.

Until Wen Ning says, "but like, you know I'm queer, that's not a great test." He picks nervously at the end of one of the scars criss-crossing his throat. "If you want a second straight opinion, you could ask Jiang Cheng?"

"I'm not going to show Jiang Cheng Lan Zhan's nudes," Wei Wuxian says, offended. "Lan Zhan would hate that, he doesn’t deserve them."

Wen Ning coughs. "But, um. You showed me?"

Wei Wuxian shrugs. "Yeah, Lan Zhan likes you."

Wen Ning blinks. "He does?"

"And anyway, it's fine," Wei Wuxian continues. "Straight dudes show each other nudes they receive all the time. We're doing like, cross-cultural exchange, here."

Wen Ning sips his coffee. "I'm pretty sure most straight dudes are showing each other pictures of women, though, due to. Straightness. I'm also pretty sure that sucks and is sexist."

Wei Wuxian huffs. "Well I can't do sexism to Lan Zhan because he's a man. Even if he does look really good in a dress." He stands up, glaring. "Objectively."

+

He finally checks his texts when he’s safely ensconced back in his own apartment after an undignified retreat from the Wens, and immediately squeaks and drops his phone.

Lan Zhan has sent him a picture of his mouth. 

It’s just as artfully framed as the rest of them—cutting off just above his cheekbones and below the line of his jaw, so Wei Wuxian gets the cute upturned tip of his nose and a slice of pale neck, but the majority of the frame is taken up by Lan Zhan’s full lips, parted more than Wei Wuxian pretty much ever sees them, baring just a hint of teeth and his soft red tongue. He’s lifted one hand to his lips, splayed across his jaw, thumb pulling the corner of his mouth slightly askew, like he’s pressing on a hinge, like if that were Wei Wuxian’s hand he’d be able to tighten his fingers and Lan Zhan would open for him, would—

It is somehow, despite containing zero genitalia and less skin than the earlier nudes, the filthiest picture Wei Wuxian has ever received. It is a picture that states, wordless and undeniable in the most Lan Zhan way imaginable, I want to blow you.

Wei Wuxian presses the heel of his hand to his dick to quell one of the fastest erections he’s ever experienced in his life, bends down to pick up his phone, and then very casually freaks the hell out about how he’d nearly just come in his shorts at a picture of his (male! extremely male!) best friend’s mouth.

It’s insane. It’s insane, there’s no way Lan Zhan meant it, he’s just messing with him—proving some kind of gay dude point about how he’s hot shit, how anyone would want—Wei Wuxian hadn’t taken his out, so he’s meeting him where—he’s just, not backing down from a challenge, which is just like Lan Zhan—he—fuck. He needs to shower. 

He really intends to let it run cold to get his stupid dick under control, but he is still hungover and the siren song of an actual hot shower is undeniable. He tries valiantly to think about other things—his current freelance gig, his sister’s impending wedding, the one time he saw a picture of Lan Qiren with his beard shaved off—but there’s water sluicing off his hips and thinking about pictures just circles him back to other, more recent, more pressing pictures, and. Well.

He takes himself in hand and stares at the ceiling. It’s been a while, okay, and obviously thinking about blowjobs gets him going—they’re blowjobs, everyone loves blowjobs. If this furiously nonspecific thinking about blowjobs involves the working of his best friend’s throat, well, that’s just the principle of recency in action. He’d be so focused about it, is the thing, Lan Zhan, he’d get that little line between his brows he gets when he’s really concentrating on something, his hand working in tandem with his mouth, and.

God, he’s so fucking hard. He runs a hand down to cup his balls, letting his eyes slip closed, and somehow the recent picture combines with his idle thought this morning about Lan Zhan shoving faceless men against walls and he thinks—what if he’s mad? What if Wei Wuxian has crossed some kind of gay/straight friendship boundary and Lan Zhan is taking revenge by working his wiles, what if—what if he wouldn’t let Wei Wuxian come at all, what if he just teases him in and out of the molten softness of his mouth until he’s aching and then rises to his feet, the gold of his eyes sharp like he gets when he’s preparing to be a little bit mean, what if—Wei Wuxian fists his free hand in his hair, his breathing harsh against the rush of water—what if he flips the script and shoves Wei Wuxian to his knees, forcing his mouth open with that thumb at the hinge of his lips—

Wei Wuxian comes so hard he sees stars, jolting erratically into his fist, and takes a minute to steady himself against the wall of the shower, feeling. Well, kind of incredible, but also wildly disoriented. Okay. He licks his lips, trying not to be hyper-aware of the emptiness of his own mouth. Okay. Alright. That happened.

That. Okay. So it’s been a weird day. If Wei Wuxian is honest with himself, it's been a weird week, maybe even a weird month. His sister is really, finally getting married, which means he’s been seeing more of Jiang Cheng than he has in a while, which is, nice, mostly nice, about half nice and half deeply awkward because he's honestly still not quite sure what Jiang Cheng knows about the circumstances of--well, anything, Wei Wuxian's midnight flight from his parents' house, where he went after, the exact terms of the years of silence. Any of it. He'd ask Yanli what she's told him but he doesn't want to worry her while she's in wedding battle mode against the family with the worst aesthetic taste in history, not to mention the father-in-law from hell.

Wei Wuxian wonders, not for the first time, if he could privately convince Jin Zixuan to uninvite his own dad from his wedding. Maybe if he asked Lan Zhan to ask his brother to ask his boyfriend with the unnerving smile—

And now he's thinking about Lan Zhan again, standing in the shower with his dick in his hand as the water goes cold. 

Weird month. Weird year. Weird fucking life.

 

wei ying

(1:42) — ✌️

 

He goes back to bed.

+

That should, by rights, have been the end of it. When he wakes up from his nap Wei Wuxian follows up his emoji with a picture of his dinner, to prove to Lan Zhan he's eating a vegetable (frozen spinach dumped into instant ramen absolutely counts), and Lan Zhan responds with an egg emoji and a question mark, and Wei Wuxian sends him back a picture of his egg which he'd left out of the first pic because he'd done an absolutely shameful job of peeling it, and everything is just. Normal.

The whole nudes thing should've been a blip on the radar of their friendship. An unexpected game of gay chicken that Wei Wuxian is man enough to admit he lost—which is what he gets for engaging in gay chicken with a gay man in the first place. Some blisteringly hot selfies that, the more he thinks about it (and he thinks about it a lot) the more he realizes probably hadn't even been taken for him. Lan Zhan presumably had a folder full of nudes—in some of them he likely even showed dong—and had chosen the ones least likely to freak Wei Wuxian out.

And he'd done a great job. Here Wei Wuxian is, entirely unfreaked, trying desperately to get off to the thought of anything except various iterations of his mouth, Lan Zhan's mouth, his dick, and Lan Zhan's dick, and then sometimes also hands.

Wei Wuxian can appreciate the male form, okay. He's not so wrapped up in his own heterosexuality that he's never seen a beautiful man and thought about it. He's just never felt the urge to cross the line between thought and action, and he's definitely never developed this kind of. Well. Fixation. But he's never really had thoughts about someone he likes as much as he likes Lan Zhan, either, or someone he spends so much time around, so maybe it's just whatever the reverse of out of sight, out of mind is. In sight, in sexual fantasy.

(He tries to say as much to Huaisang, when he finally calls him back, and Huaisang goes, like, principle of recency, right? And Wei Wuxian goes, thank you, yes, that’s what I thought and then Huaisang goes, sounds like bullshit, but what do I know? The way your brain works is a complete mystery to me, and Wei Wuxian goes, because I’m straight? and Huaisang goes, yeah, sure. So like. Screw him.)

He meets up with Lan Zhan at the public library on a Tuesday afternoon because he has to send some images to a client and his internet speed has been absolute garbage lately, and Lan Zhan has to return a book because he still uses the library to check out books like the old man stuck in a gorgeous young man's body he is. They achieve their various tasks and then post up at one of the tables in the fiction section, adopting familiar positions—Wei Wuxian turned sideways in the chair, legs over the arm, sketchbook in his lap; Lan Zhan sitting properly at the table taking notes on some music theory text, concentration perfect but still aware enough to serve as lookout and warn Wei Wuxian to put his legs down if a librarian appears to kick them out.

"I want a new tattoo," Lan Zhan says, after about 45 minutes of companionable silence. He doesn't look up from his notes. "Will you design it for me?"

Wei Wuxian grins at him. "Of course!" All of Lan Zhan's tattoos except one are his designs, but Lan Zhan still asks every time. "What're you thinking?"

Lan Zhan hums. "Nothing concrete yet. But I'd like something on my leg, perhaps my upper thigh. The sleeve feels a bit unbalanced."

Wei Wuxian nods. "Similar themes?" Lan Zhan's sleeve is mainly a dedication to his mother—gentian violets curling around his bicep; geometric black-work at his wrist fading up into pointillism clouds at the elbow. Constraint and eventual freedom—from weight, from pain. An ode to suicide, Wei Wuxian had once morbidly referred to it, when he'd been at his worst and the tattoo was only in sketch-stage. Not to Lan Zhan's face, of course; only Wen Ning had heard him, and then firmly told him no when Wei Wuxian had asked if he thought Lan Zhan would get another after he was gone.

"Mn," says Lan Zhan, neutrally, which doesn't help much on the design front but does helpfully pull Wei Wuxian's brain back to the present. Unfortunately, in the present he's been basically invited to consider Lan Zhan's upper thighs, and all the hard work he's done to put The Pictures out of his mind while in Lan Zhan's physical presence disintegrates like wet paper. 

The thing is that as much as it's the mouth picture that got him into this mess, it's the first picture he finds himself returning to the most. Maybe because the Lan Zhan in it is the most familiar—only a few shades off of how Wei Wuxian used to see him in the mornings after crashing on his couch or in his bed in college. Accessible. Believable. Or maybe it's because it's the one where it's easiest for Wei Wuxian to imagine going to his knees for him.

Looking at him now—hand moving steadily across the page, the sleeve of his pale blue blouse tucked safely back from any possibility of ink, all Wei Wuxian can think about is sliding to the gross carpeted floor of the library and crawling over to push his long legs apart, and. He hasn't gotten to this point in his life by being good at impulse control.

Lan Zhan flips a page in his music theory text.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian blurts. “Can I blow you?”

Lan Zhan’s pen slows in its path across the page. His eyes flick up. His lips part. 

He says nothing, which is not a yes, which sucks, but which is also not a no, which is cool, so Wei Wuxian keeps talking. “I know that’s maybe not what you were expecting, when. You sent that picture.”

“I had no expectations,” Lan Zhan says immediately, like he’s concerned Wei Wuxian might be doing this out of some kind of, like, social obligation, in return for the hottest mouth pic of all time. “I have no expectations.”

“That’s cool,” says Wei Wuxian. “Me neither, to be clear, but I do have, um, wants, and those wants include blowing you. Apparently.”

Lan Zhan puts down his pen. “You’re sure.”

Wei Wuxian feels his cheeks heat. He looks away from Lan Zhan’s face, staring instead at a seven volume set of In Search of Lost Time. “Very.” He squints apologetically. “Um. It’s possible that I’ve come, like, five times this week thinking about—”

Lan Zhan stands up.

“—it,” Wei Wuxian finishes, back to staring at him. “Wait, here?

“Here,” Lan Zhan confirms, which, oh, and then he grabs Wei Wuxian’s wrist and drags him toward the bathroom, and some part of Wei Wuxian’s brain just sort of. Shuts off. In a good way, in the best way, Lan Zhan’s grip on his wrist grounding, anchoring, the way he's always made Wei Wuxian feel grounded and anchored and steadied and held. The thrumming nervousness in Wei Wuxian's stomach shifts, loosens, his anxiety at having crossed a line fading in the face of his trust.

He’s quiet as Lan Zhan physically manhandles him into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind them, and then Lan Zhan’s hand is on his jaw and his golden gaze is heavy on his face.

“Wei Ying,” he says in his low, serious voice, and it’s a confirmation and a warning all at once, and Wei Wuxian nods pathetically against his hand, mouth already slack. It’s been a while since he’d been with anyone and he doesn't, god, has he always been this easy? He knows he likes it when women take control but this—his knees feel like wet noodles and all Lan Zhan has done is say his name.

He swallows, hard, watches Lan Zhan’s gaze flicker to his throat. “Please,” he manages, and then Lan Zhan is walking him backwards by the jaw until his back hits the wall. Wei Wuxian takes a startled breath and then has to take a second through his nose because Lan Zhan slips two fingers into his mouth. This—this much he’s done, this he can—he closes his lips around them and sucks, running his tongue over and between them like he would his own before he fingered a girl, and that’s—oh, god, Lan Zhan and fingering—

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says again, this time almost a growl, and he leans in and bites, hard, at the joint where Wei Wuxian’s neck meets his shoulder. 

Wei Wuxian moans around his fingers, his eyelids fluttering, and Lan Zhan softens the bites with his open mouth, hot and wet, his tongue laving up to lick at the corner of Wei Wuxian’s jaw. Wei Wuxian’s dick throbs. He sneaks a hand down to palm at it, little muffled whimpers choked out against Lan Zhan’s skin.

Lan Zhan makes a ragged noise and grabs his wrist with his free hand. “No,” he says. “You’ll come on your knees or not at all.”

He pulls his fingers free of Wei Wuxian’s mouth with a slick pop! and Wei Wuxian has just enough time to breathe, “oh, fuck, Lan Zhan—” and then he’s being firmly pushed downward.

He drops—the bathroom tile cold and jarring against his knees, and if anything that makes it hotter, who knew he had a thing for semi-public bathroom sex—and Lan Zhan releases his wrist so he can fumble with the row of buttons on Lan Zhan’s high-waisted jeans. Lan Zhan doesn’t help, just stares down at him, smoothing his hands through Wei Wuxian’s hair, running his fingertips over his jaw. 

Wei Wuxian finally gets the buttons undone and Lan Zhan’s eyes warm. “Good,” he says, “Wei Ying is good,” and Wei Wuxian has to take a moment to breathe, steadying his forehead against the line of Lan Zhan’s hip.

Lan Zhan takes advantage of his immobility to work his jeans down to his thighs and politely fish his dick out of his underwear, and then Wei Wuxian has to take another minute, because, like, damn.

He’d gotten a sense of its size from looking at (and looking at, and looking at, and zooming in on) the first set of nudes he’d gotten, but it’d been covered and—it was now clear—not fully hard. Wei Wuxian is gratified to see that just a little finger-sucking and dirty talk had gotten Lan Zhan all the way there now, but he spends a minute just. Staring up at the picture he makes. The hard jut of his dick, held loose in one graceful fist. His lips, wet and parted, his eyes dark. Wei Wuxian wants to do this again, suddenly, achingly, when Lan Zhan can be fully naked for it—wants to see the planes of his chest, the lines of his abs currently veiled from him by the sheer blue of his blouse—but there’s something about this, about knowing in just a few minutes Lan Zhan will pull his jeans back up and button them perfectly and walk out into the world having had his dick in Wei Wuxian’s mouth that is—is—

Lan Zhan gives a huff that might be laughter and might be annoyance. “Wei Ying,” he says, and taps his dick against Wei Wuxian’s cheek. “Focus.”

It’s the same tone he uses to rein Wei Wuxian in when he’s wild-goosing after some tangent in conversation, the same tone he used to gently steer Wei Wuxian through what without him would’ve been at least six years of a four year college degree, and Wei Wuxian automatically obeys, spine straightening. “Sorry,” he says. “It’s just. Who knew you’d be so…”

Lan Zhan raises an eyebrow at him. “Tap out if you need to,” he says, perfect and condescending.

Oh, this asshole. Wei Wuxian likes him so much. His toes should probably not curl at that, but he’s kind of beyond setting those rules, so he just bats Lan Zhan’s hand out of the way and takes as much of his unfairly long and beautiful dick into his mouth at once as he can. 

Which turns out to be not that much, actually, but the stretch of it is good and he manages to swirl his tongue around the head before he has to pull off to breathe. He’s rewarded by a burst of precum and a little hitch in Lan Zhan’s breath, and then he tries again. Slower, this time, letting the air leak from the edges of his mouth as it’s replaced by velvet-soft skin over rigid muscle. He hollows his cheeks, raising one hand—not so much to jerk off what he can’t fit in his mouth but to help him inch forward, slowly, nostrils fluttering, and god, Lan Zhan smells good even here, his sandalwood cologne and the familiar scent of his skin made muskier with desire. He feels the head of Lan Zhan’s dick nudge against his soft palette and, okay, so he’s never had much of a gag reflect which always seemed kind of wasted on him until right now, when instead of pulling off he can shift up on his knees, sink forward, and swallow.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan bites out, his hips snapping forward, and that does make Wei Wuxian gag and pull back, tears at the edges of his eyes and saliva threading from his mouth to Lan Zhan’s dick but he’s got a feel for it now, his whole attention narrowed to opening his throat, becoming a channel for Lan Zhan to fuck because god, he wants that helpless snap of hips, wants the desperate way Lan Zhan says his name. He leans back in, placing just the head of Lan Zhan’s dick between his lips. He raises both hands, searching, until Lan Zhan reaches back; pushes one of Lan Zhan’s hands into his hair and holds the other, threading their fingers together. Deliberately, he taps twice against the side of Lan Zhan’s thumb. He looks up.

Lan Zhan is staring at him, ears redder than Wei Wuxian has ever seen them, his eyes so dark and so—there’s hunger there, but there’s something else, too, something soft and awed, and Wei Wuxian—gets it, feels it too, this forging into new space together, the same grounding trust that had hit him when Lan Zhan had first pulled him in here. He smiles against the head of Lan Zhan’s dick and taps his thumb again, deliberate, I’ll do this if I need to, and Lan Zhan’s other hand tightens, sudden and painful, in his hair.

Wei Wuxian moans. Yes, he thinks as Lan Zhan pushes, inexorable, into his mouth. Yes, yes, yes. Lan Zhan’s eyes bore into his, overwhelming, as he sets a slow but relentless pace. He doesn’t drive as deep into Wei Wuxian’s throat as he knows he can take, but even the shallow thrust is overwhelming, the lack of control, of doing anything making Wei Wuxian aware of everything he’s feeling instead. The cold tile against his knees, which are starting to ache. The sweat gathering at the back of his neck. The tight fist of Lan Zhan’s fingers in his hair, the looser steady hold Lan Zhan has on his other hand. Distantly, almost forgotten, his dick is pulsing uncomfortably against the zipper of his jeans, his boxers a mess of precum. And over it all the constant ocean-tide drag of Lan Zhan against his tongue, his lips, the taste, the stretch, the smell, the tiny bitten-off moans dropping out of Lan Zhan’s ragged, panting mouth.

Wei Wuxian drifts. He floats. He crests a wave and Lan Zhan’s hips are stuttering, rhythm shattered, and he’s being hauled off by the hair. He’s halfway through his protest when he realizes it’s so Lan Zhan can jerk off once, twice, and come all over his face.

He catches about half of it in his mouth, the rest of it landing across his cheekbones and throat. After a moment, he swallows. It seems easier than standing up to spit in the sink or the toilet when he’s not entirely convinced he physically possesses legs anymore.

Lan Zhan’s harsh breathing slows, his cheeks now flushed pink as well as his ears. “I—apologize.”

“Goddamn,” says Wei Wuxian, and then has to try again because it comes out all fucked up and wobbly. “Goddamn, for which part? Because, like, don’t.”

Lan Zhan waves a hand which manages to indicate the mess of Wei Wuxian’s face with neither appreciation nor disgust. “I didn’t ask,” he says. “This was your first—I was. Intense.”

“Yeah, and it ruled, ” Wei Wuxian counters. A string of come trails its way down his cheek toward the corner of his mouth and he licks at it, absently. Lan Zhan makes a strangled little sound and hands him some toilet paper. “Like. Fuck. I seriously needed to get that out of my system, I was going insane.”

He realizes the exact moment that Lan Zhan lets him go that they’d still been holding hands, and blinks stupidly at his fingers for a second. “Lan Zhan?”

Lan Zhan is turned away, pulling his pants back up his hips. “You’re welcome,” he says, dry, and then turns back enough that Wei Wuxian can see his profile. For an instant his expression seems—off, somehow, and then he raises an eyebrow at Wei Wuxian. “Do you need a hand?”

For a second Wei Wuxian thinks he means with, like, standing up, and then he remembers about boners and how it’s socially unacceptable to walk around with them, which is a shame, because yes, he’s hard, but it had been so subsumed in everything else that it seems cheap to—and it kind of seems like this, whatever it was, is over anyway, with Lan Zhan fully dressed again looking like—well, like Lan Zhan, what, does Wei Wuxian expect him to just walk over and stick his hand down his pants and maybe get his expensive blouse dirty when he could just—

“I’m good,” he says, waving Lan Zhan off. “I’ll just—you go out first, I’ll stay here and take care of it.”

Lan Zhan hesitates—he’s a gentleman, after all—and then nods. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

Tomorrow is Wednesday, which means lunch with Lan Zhan and his brother, which Wei Wuxian supposes will be a little more awkward now that he’s choked on Lan Zhan’s dick in a library bathroom, but still not awkward enough to make the top ten list of awkward family lunches Wei Wuxian has suffered through in his lifetime, so. He pushes himself unsteadily to his feet and smiles. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Lan Zhan nods again, runs a hand through his hair, and leaves the bathroom.

Wei Wuxian crosses to the door, locks it, and leans back against it, blowing out a long breath. He doesn’t touch himself, just waits, staring at the ceiling, until his erection subsides, scrubs his cheeks until they’re pink, and goes home.

+

Life after enthusiastically encouraging your best friend to fuck your face, it turns out, is pretty much the same as life before enthusiastically encouraging your best friend to fuck your face. Lunch with Lan Xichen is as pleasant as it always is, with the exception that Wei Wuxian is late due to realizing on his way out the door that there is a visible, some might even say prominent, bite mark on his throat in the shape of Lan Zhan’s mouth, and like, probably Lan Xichen would not be able to tell that it’s specifically Lan Zhan’s mouth, but the slim chance that he might is enough to send Wei Wuxian back into his bedroom to rummage through his clothes for something high-collared enough to hide it. 

The Lans always treat him to actually nice lunch, so ratty old hoodie is out, and anyway he has some kind of pavlovian response going on with it due to wearing it when he received The Pictures. Most of his other shit is t-shirts or tank-tops, neither of which will do. Which is how Wei Wuxian ends up fifteen minutes late to lunch wearing a black turtle-neck crop top he'd borrowed from Mianmian for his slutty vampire costume last Halloween and failed to return, though he puts a wide-necked sweater on over it so you can't even tell it's cropped.

So. Yeah. Lunch is regular, except for the lateness, and the way Wei Wuxian swears Lan Zhan looks at him, just for a second when he first arrives, like he wants to eat him alive, though that might also have been his I can't believe I gave you an incredible first blowjob experience yesterday and you repay me by showing up late to lunch look. There's a whole host of new blowjob-related Lan Zhan looks that Wei Wuxian will have to learn.

He has lunch. He goes home. He finishes his commission. He has a meeting about some potential backdrop work at a local theatre in which he's pretty sure they think he's volunteering to work for free and doesn't know how to tell them he's not, and another meeting for some graphic design work where he's pretty sure they think his rate is twice what it actually is, so maybe it all balances out.

He sketches Lan Zhan's third nude (he imagines sometimes that's what it would be called on the museum plaque: Lan Zhan's Third Nude, Lan Wangji, color photography, 2018), the one where he's looking up at the camera, expression bored, placing Wei Wuxian—no, the viewer, unspecified, all-purpose in the position of someone who is a) riding him and b) doing a bad job of it. It's anatomy practice, and also expression practice, capturing that cutting boredom; none of his sketches give him that curl of sick-shame-arousal he feels when he looks at the picture itself, though, so he still hasn't quite gotten it right. 

Life continues on. Yanli calls him to bitch extremely gently about the flower arrangements for the wedding—apparently Lan Xichen's boyfriend with the unnerving smile is proving an invaluable ally in the fight against bad taste, though not yet in the campaign to get Jin Guangshan uninvited. He gets drunk with Jiang Cheng, just Jiang Cheng, and nobody even cries.

It's not that he's avoiding Lan Zhan. They text every day, and they get boba on Fridays, and they still do lunch. It's just that maybe they're spending less time alone, just the two of them, because every time there's a moment of quiet Wei Wuxian catches himself staring at Lan Zhan's mouth and hands and the notion of Lan Zhan fingering re-enters his head and he gets the intense urge to say things like hey, I think you should edge me until I'm sobbing for it. You know, like, as a bro.

It's two whole weeks since The Library Bathroom Incident and three weeks before the wedding when he finally breaks.

He's a little stoned and going through his laundry pile—clean, thank you, the dirty one still taking up most of the chair in the corner of his bedroom--when he finds the crop top again, and then also the matching skirt he'd worn with it for Halloween because he'd said sexy vampire thinking Edward from Twilight and Mianmian had provided sexy vampire like Darla from Buffy, and they'd still been hooking up at the time so he hadn't argued (and also it had been his birthday and he'd looked good). And, well, Jiang Cheng had talked him into a couple of days at the gym lately, so if anything he'd probably look better in it now, and there's really only one way to find out, so.

He pulls on the crop top and skirt, belatedly remembers to take off his boxers, and checks himself out in the mirror. The skirt is black and flirty, short on him, ending at the upper thigh. His hair is clean, for once, and when he pulls it back and lets some strands of it fall around his face he looks downright feminine. Buff—he was right about the gym days—but feminine.

He stares at himself in the mirror for a while. Maybe he'll leave his face out of the selfie. Lan Zhan is gay, after all. Wei Wuxian doesn't want him to think he's trying to--whatever. It doesn't matter. He scrapes his hair back into a more severe bun.

He snaps a pic starting just above his ribcage and ending at his knee, legs crossed, one hand tucked into his waistband in ironic echo of the basketball shorts shot he'd sent last time. He studies it critically, wondering if maybe Wen Qing might have some thigh highs he could borrow, but explaining why would involve. Well. Examining why, and he's pretty cheerfully Not Doing That these days.

A life unexamined is so worth living. Socrates can suck it.

He's not sure what he's expecting in response to this unsolicited skirt pic—maybe another mouth pic? maybe Lan Zhan would return the favor and he'd get more than a few inches of leg?—but Lan Zhan responds with a text. Like. With words.

 

😳🐰 lan zhan 🐰😳

(9:07) — Has anyone ever fucked your thighs?

 

Wei Wuxian squeezes his eyes closed, taking a steadying breath. 

 

wei ying

(9:08) — no

He almost follows it up with you know you're the only person with a dick I've hooked up with, but erases it before he sends it. Too—something. And not quite true, anyway, because he spent a semester messing around with a trans girl in his chemistry class in college. They never really got very far, though.

 

😳🐰 lan zhan 🐰😳

(9:10) — A shame.

 

And then. And then that's it, no followup text, no phone call, no picture, no indication that Lan Zhan wants to fuck his thighs, just. Dispassionate commentary, like Wei Wuxian is a natural resource going to waste, and here Wei Wuxian is, dick tenting the front of his skirt, thinking again about the bored set of Lan Zhan's mouth in Lan Zhan's Third Nude.

No halfways, then. You come on your knees or not at all . If he wants this, then he has to want this. There's no way Lan Zhan is as hard up as he is—he's a gay man with a folder full of nudes and an active Grindr profile and most importantly, he looks like he looks—and Wei Wuxian is just some, some fucked up straight boy with an oral fixation wasting his time on a Friday night.

Maybe Lan Zhan is talking to someone else tonight. Maybe he's with someone else, texting Wei Wuxian back from a stranger’s bedroom, glancing at his pathetic excuse for a sexy picture while balls deep in someone’s mouth, or someone’s—no, that's not right. He wouldn’t. If Lan Zhan took someone to bed he’d give them his full attention. Even if they don’t deserve it, even if it’s just a one-time thing that meant nothing to him, in the moment, he’s there. Golden-eyed attention bearing down on Wei Wuxian, pulling him back and forth on his dick almost more than the literal weight of the hand on his head.

Wei Wuxian groans and lies down on his bed, face-first. Fine. Fine. If Lan Zhan wants to split his attention between his best friend and whatever boys he’s got on his fishing line right now, Wei Wuxian will just have to make it clear that the best friend is worth his while.

He retrieves his joint from where he’d stubbed it out in an egg cup he’s pretty sure is Wen Ning’s, rummages around in the pocket of his discarded jeans for his lighter, and lights back up, flopped over the corner of his bed with his ass in the air and his hips twitching lazily into the sheets as he smokes. Weed might make him worse at the technical aspect of what he’s about to do, but it will definitely make him better at the psychological aspect.

He stubs out the joint, fumbles around in his sheets to find his phone, and takes an over-the-shoulder selfie ala Lan Zhan’s Second Nude—only unlike Lan Zhan, who had tastefully implied the perfect curves of his ass, he rucks up the hem of his skirt so his is visible—not the full swell, just the half-moon-curve where butt meets thigh. Tasteful, he has never been.

He doesn’t really look at it, much, before he sends it, because when he does it makes him feel—weird, squirmy, in not entirely a pleasant way. He’s never taken a nude that doesn’t, in some way, center his dick before, and there’s something about this that feels—vulnerable. Private, not even private to him but private to Lan Zhan, like Wei Wuxian himself seeing it would mean. Something, about himself, that he’s too high and too turned on to deal with right now.

Which is fine, he thinks. 

 

wei ying

(9:22) — are you volunteering? 

 

He attaches the pic. He trusts Lan Zhan with all sorts of things he wouldn’t trust himself with. Why would this be different?

He watches the little bubble of Lan Zhan typing pop up, vanish, and then pop up again. And then. Oh. Lan Zhan is calling him.

He sits up. “Hi,” he answers, and it comes out. Breathier, than he means.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says, low and harsh, and Wei Wuxian can hear him breathing a little faster than usual. He has a moment of disorientation—it’s a little late for Lan Zhan to be coming back from a run—before realization slams into him like the long side of a hydroplaning bus. 

“Oh,” he says, “oh, wow, Lan Zhan. Are you—” he swallows, laughs at himself a little, adopts an even breathier tone like a bad porn actress. “Did you get started without me, big boy?”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says again, this time admonishing.

 Wei Wuxian laughs more, harder. “Sorry, sorry. I just—uh. You’re really thinking about it, huh?”

“I’m really,” Lan Zhan confirms, and takes a shuddering breath, “thinking about it.”

Wei Wuxian licks his lips, toying with the hem of his skirt. “How would you, um. How does it work?”

“Press your thighs together,” Lan Zhan orders, and Wei Wuxian bites his lip, hard, and obeys, stretching his legs out in front of him hooking one ankle around the other. He gasps as his skin slides together, weed making his own body feel especially soft and smooth.

Lan Zan makes a low sound against his ear, and Wei Wuxian lets his eyes slip closed, imagining Lan Zhan against the pristine white sheets of his bed, naked, stroking himself with one long-fingered hand. “God,” he mutters. “Lan Zhan. I’m not sure I’d be able to keep them so tight if you’re shoving your huge dick between them.”

“You will,” Lan Zhan says immediately, and, fuck, okay, Wei Wuxian will. “If you cannot, I will tie your legs together at the knee.”

Wei Wuxian’s hips snap upward, dick leaking all over the crease between his shaking legs. “Hrrngh,” he says, intelligently. 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan breathes, “touch yourself,” and Wei Wuxian doesn’t need to be told twice (though he has a moment of wondering how Lan Zhan was sure he hadn’t been, did he just really think Wei Wuxian wouldn’t without permission, and, oh, he was right, it should not be hot that he was right), running a hand up under his skirt and through the mess he’s made of his pubic hair to wrap a hand around himself. 

“How, ngh, how close? Would you be to me?” he asks. “Would I be able to f-feel your dick against my balls while you, fuh, oh, shit—”

“Yes,” Lan Zhan bites out. “In my lap.”

Wei Wuxian gasps, ragged, suddenly transported into that perfect clean image of Lan Zhan’s bedroom, his back against Lan Zhan’s chest—oh, god, he’s always so warm, all that bare skin against his—Lan Zhan’s hands curled finally around his hips, pulling him up and down as Wei Wuxian, helpless, knees bound, squirms and murmurs nonsense against his throat. Lan Zhan’s harsh breathing through the phone becomes harsh breathing against his ear and Wei Wuxian wants—he wants—

“Lan Zhan,” he cries out, and Lan Zhan’s breath hitches on a low, strangled moan, and then Wei Wuxian’s orgasm sends him careening off the edge of a cliff. He comes back to himself with Lan Zhan’s breathing slowing in his ear, and that almost makes Wei Wuxian’s brain white out again because, wow. 

“Wow,” he says. “Did you—did we—”

“Yes,” says Lan Zhan.

“Fuck,” says Wei Wuxian. “Dude. That was.”

“Yes,” says Lan Zhan again, and then, like a sigh, “Wei Ying.”

Wei Wuxian stares at his ceiling, come cooling on his legs. The fantasy of Lan Zhan’s warmth at his back has dissipated entirely and he—he misses it, which is stupid, because he never actually had it in the first place. “Hey,” he says. “Can I—can I come over? Would that be weird?”

A short pause. “It would not be weird,” Lan Zhan says, but he sounds. Cautious.

“I’ll shower first,” Wei Wuxian assures him. “And it wouldn’t be—I just want to. I’ll bring a sketchbook, we can work on your new tattoo, maybe watch a movie. Just. Best bro stuff.”

“Mn,” says Lan Zhan, and without being able to see his face Wei Wuxian can’t interpret this one. Is he relieved? Bored? Annoyed that he’ll have to call off his other plans? 

He closes his eyes. “It’s—I don’t have to,” he says. “If it’s too much, if—” I’m too much. He swallows it down. It’s an old fear, that Lan Zhan will tire of him, his constant presence, his idle chatter. Lan Zhan is so good, gives so much of himself to his friends, to him , and Wei Wuxian is very good at soaking up every bit of his attention and care that he can get, expanding like some kind of parasitic sponge to fit whatever space Lan Zhan will let him have.

“It is not too much,” Lan Zhan says, because of course he does. “Text me when you’re on your way.”

Wei Wuxian rubs his eyes with his clean hand. “I—thanks. Okay. See you soon.”

He showers quickly, ignoring himself in the mirror, and pulls on his hoodie (pavlovian response quelled due to an orgasm that he feels like might have rearranged his spine) and sweatpants, shoves his feet into his boots, and stomps out the door. He remembers to text Lan Zhan halfway down the block, then has to turn around and jog back to his apartment to grab his sketchbook so he’s not just showing up empty-handed, empty-headed, and empty-balled to collapse onto his best friend’s couch.

Just two out of three of those things, and—as he lets himself in with his key—empty-stomached. Lan Zhan is cooking, savory steam wafting through the open doorway to his kitchen as Wei Wuxian toes off his shoes. 

Honey, I’m home, his brain prompts him, but it gets caught somewhere between his mind and his mouth and he just ends up standing mute and overwhelmed in the doorway, watching Lan Zhan slice green onion with efficient hands. 

He's showered, as well, his hair in a damp, loose braid down his back. It'll be all wavy when he undoes his braid later, soft curls falling around his handsome face. It's stupid, how beautiful he is, how graceful all his motions are, how quiet and perfect and familiar the motions as he serves rice from his rice cooker into bowls, lifts a spoon to his lips to taste his broth.

Wei Wuxian wants to cry. Someone, someday, is going to marry Lan Zhan; they'll see him like this, or when he plays violin or piano, or how he is with kids, and they'll know: I can't let this go. And then Wei Wuxian will be fielding calls about that guy's terrible family's terrible taste, and trying to write a best man speech worthy of the person who is in fact the best man, while Lan Zhan's faceless fiancé who is not worthy of him--could literally never be, no matter who it was--came home after a long day of work at whatever stupid job they have, to. This.

Wei Wuxian has lost every person he's ever cared about, even if somehow most of them he got back again, rearranged and awkward and still patching over holes he tore in their relationship with clumsy hands. Except this, his most important friendship, his best, easiest love. And the idea that this would change—that his stupid miswired libido might be changing it, now, that one day, inevitably, it will change irrevocably anyway, when Lan Zhan finds someone he wants to spend his life with—

Lan Zhan turns, bowls in hand, and smiles at him the way only Lan Zhan smiles, a tiny curve of lips and eyes like the first day of spring. And then his expression shifts, smile fading in reaction to whatever Wei Wuxian's face is doing. "Wei Ying?"

Wei Wuxian takes a breath. "Sorry," he says. "Sorry, Lan Zhan, I—"

His throat closes up and he closes his eyes, trying to get himself under control. What the fuck is wrong with him? He should be used to this kindness—he is used to this kindness and that's what's scaring him, that's—

Warm arms wrap around him and pull him against a broad chest, and Wei Wuxian lets out a teary, laughing breath. "Ah, Lan Zhan. Lan Zhan."

Lan Zhan says nothing, one of his broad hands running slow up Wei Wuxian's spine and cupping the back of his head. Wei Wuxian lets himself lean, lets himself breathe.

“Sorry,” he eventually mutters against his chest, and pulls back. “I’m. A little stoned, still.” It's not a lie. He tries not to lie to Lan Zhan. But it's not exactly an explanation, either.

Lan Zhan’s hands drift from his shoulders down his arms. “No apologies,” he reminds him, and steps back. Lan Zhan is straight edge but not obnoxious about it—Wei Wuxian has seen the way he gets on very little alcohol and doesn’t blame him for not wanting to experiment with anything more unpredictable. “Sit,” Lan Zhan says, and Wei Wuxian does, perching on one of the bar stools at Lan Zhan's kitchen island. 

Lan Zhan slides him a bowl, and then the little bottle of chili oil he keeps around for him. Wei Wuxian stares down at it—fragrant vegetable broth and wispy egg over rice, with little islands of tofu and a flower of green onion, arranged in the center and slowly distributing itself throughout the soup as he watches. Quick and hearty—whipped up because Lan Zhan knew he was coming over.

Lan Zhan raises an eyebrow at him. "Wei Ying. Eat."

Wei Wuxian takes a breath, lets it out, and eats.

Lan Zhan joins him, and they eat in silence for a few minutes before Lan Zhan, shockingly, breaks it himself. "Different themes," he says.

It takes Wei Wuxuan a minute, but then he remembers: tattoo. He nods, casting around for his backpack so he can pull out his sketchbook. "What's this one about?"

Lan Zhan lifts his soup so he can drink. "What comes next," he says.

 

+

 

wei ying

(2:41) — ok but like. 

(2:41) — the one time i wore lip gloss it was just all weird and sticky

(2:42) — but maybe? lipstick? would you like that?

✌️💦 😔 lan zhan 😔💦✌️

(2:43) — Wei Ying should wear what makes him happy.

 

Wei Wuxian rolls his eyes and dodges around a parked car.

 

wei ying

(2:46) — lan zhan I’m gonna need you to be a little less supportive and a little more horny

✌️💦 😔 lan zhan 😔💦✌️

(2:46) — An edit, then: Wei Ying should wear what makes him happy, but he should also know that I prefer his mouth most when it is stretched around my cock.

 

Wei Wuxian trips over the curb and has to catch himself with one hand on a fire hydrant, then jogs the rest of the way to Mianmian’s door.

 

wei ying

(2:48) — ok, that, yep, that counts

(2:49) — not actually noticeably less supportive, though, so points off for that.


✌️💦 😔 lan zhan 😔💦✌️

(2:52) — Noted.

 

Mianmian lets him in, and Wei Wuxian tucks away his phone and wills away his boner. 

“I have a problem,” he says, at the same time that Mianmian says, “There’s something I should tell you.”

They stare at each other. “You first,” suggests Wei Wuxian.

“No,” says Mianmian firmly. “No you do not, you are going first because this is like the only time ever you have come to me for help and I am not derailing it with my own thing. Go.”

“Uh. Okay.” Wei Wuxian takes a breath and squints up at the ceiling. “I have discovered that I really want Lan Zhan to fuck me and I think it’s making me think I’m a girl.”

He waits. Nothing happens. He looks at Mianmian, whose face is wobbling like she’s trying very hard not to laugh. “I want you to know,” she says, and then coughs a giggle into her fist, “that the only reason I’m not calling Qing-jie and making you repeat that to her is that this is, as I have noted, the only time you have ever come to me for help and I am going to help, even if that is the funniest fucking thing anyone has ever said.”

“Thank you,” says Wei Wuxian, with dignity. 

Mianmian slaps her own cheeks several times. “Shit. Get it together, girl. Okay. Let’s break this down.”

“Must we?” mutters Wei Wuxian, but he sits grudgingly on the corner of her couch when she gestures to it.

Mianmian hops up next to him, cross-legged. “So. Fact the first. You want to get fucked.”

“By Lan Zhan. Specifically,” clarifies Wei Wuxian. “I don’t think it’s like. A general. I mean.”

Mianmian, because she is a better friend than Wei Wuxian deserves, just waits him out.

Maybe it’s a general thing,” Wei Wuxian says at last, because if he’s entirely honest with himself the idea of being bent over something by a faceless, non-Lan-Zhan man does have a certain appeal. “But like. Mainly it’s a Lan Zhan thing, because he’s like. So hot. And maybe willing? I haven’t. Broached it. But we’ve—I did suck his dick in a library bathroom. I guess that’s also an important thing for you to know."

“Wei Ying, I love you, but you are so bad at the part of having friends that involves sharing things with them,” says Mianmian. “ Yes that’s an important thing for me to know! There’s a huge difference between maybe I hypothetically want my gay best friend to fuck me and I actively have considered asking my gay best friend to fuck me, because we have done other shit that is hella gay. When was this? How do you feel about it?”

“Like, a month ago, and. Fine. Good, really good, it doesn’t.” Wei Wuxian shrugs. “It’s Lan Zhan.”

“Right. That’s—sure. Okay.” Mianmian blows out a breath. “Moving on. That brings me to fact the second: Lan Wangji is gay.”

Wei Wuxian blinks at her. “Yes?”

“So why,” Mianmian says, as if spelling something out for a very small child, “would him fucking you make you a girl?”

"It wouldn't, I know that," Wei Wuxian replies petulantly, because he does. "I'm aware that men can get fucked and it doesn't make them, like, not men."

"Thank god," says Mianmian, 

Wei Wuxuan licks his lips. "But. Okay. You remember that crop top and skirt you gave me for Halloween—"

"Pretty sure I thought I was loaning them," Mianmian says, "but I'm willing to renegotiate those terms depending on what you’ve done with them. Anyway, yes."

"Right, well. I was stoned one day and I took some nudes for Lan Zhan in them because that's a thing I do, now, I guess, and—I just—I don't know. It was nice. I looked nice. And not just in like a sexy crossdressing way, it felt." He stops, because he doesn't actually have the words for how it felt. “And then, ever since, it’s. I don’t know.”

"I'm definitely not qualified to walk you through the gender part of this," says Mianmian, "and the advice I'm going to give you which you're probably not going to take is to talk to Wen Ning—"

Wei Wuxian makes a face. "He doesn't need my  stupid cis person questions," he mutters. “Also I’ve been kind of not talking to him about this since I showed him Lan Zhan’s nudes and he freaked out a little.”

"But, " Mianmian continues, rolling her eyes. "It kind of seems like these are maybe actually separate things for you, and you're just expressing this stuff to Lan Wangji because it's easier for you to do shit through sex than like, feelings, and you trust him not to be weird about it."

"Oh," says Wei Wuxian.

Mianmian waits, watching him. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. Maybe. But." Wei Wuxian blows out a breath. "That sucks."

Mianmian cocks her head. "Why?"

"Because I don't want them to be separate things," Wei Wuxian complains. "I wanted you to just call out my misogyny or whatever and then I could just—keep on being a straight dude who really wants to get railed by his best friend, that's the kind of fucked up contradictory thing I'm good at being."

"Tough shit," says Mianmian, patting him unsympathetically on the knee. "Turns out your actions and desires have an impact on who you are as a person just like the rest of us."

"Ugh," says Wei Wuxian, heartfelt, and sinks back into the couch. "Anyway. What's your thing?"

"Oh," says Mianmian. "I'm sleeping with your sister."

Wei Wuxian sits up so fast he gets lightheaded. "You—what??"

Mianmian shrugs at him. "In comparison to your thing it's pretty tame."

"It is not, " Wei Wuxian yelps. "You're sleeping with Yanli? Yanli who is getting married in two weeks? I've been hearing about nothing but this wedding from her for months and this whole time—"

"Oh my god, chill!" Mianmian undoes her ponytail and shakes out her hair. "Obviously A-Xuan knows, I'm not going to fuck my middle school best friend's fiancee without him being on board, I'm not an asshole. "

Wei Wuxian blinks, and has to take a minute to reevaluate how uptight and boring he thinks Jin Zixuan is. Not, like, a lot, but a little.

"And we decided I should be the one to tell you, in case you felt weird about the whole," Mianmian waves a hand, "you know, me being your ex thing."

"Oh," says Wei Wuxian, and thinks about that. "I don't, I don't think."

"Cool," says Mianmian. "Anyway, no big deal, just thought you should know before the wedding, in case you, uh, saw some stuff."

Wei Wuxian frowns. "Hang on, I thought you and Qing-jie had a thing going, isn't she going to be your plus one?"

"Oh, yeah, that's happening too," says Mianmian. Her eyes go a little dreamy. "It's been a pretty good couple months."

Wei Wuxian sighs. "How come all the women I know are suddenly getting more pussy than me?"

Mianmian rolls her eyes. "Says the guy who just informed me he's getting dick all of a sudden, and seems pretty happy about it."

"I am pretty happy about it," Wei Wuxian admits. "It's like. Kind of embarrassing how good it is."

"Uh huh," says Mianmian. She looks at him appraisingly. "And it's just sex?"

"What do you mean?" Wei Wuxian asks. "Like, it's Lan Zhan, I'm still like. We're still friends. "

"And friends who are having sex is just," Mianmian waves a hand, "what you are."

"What else would we be?" Wei Wuxian asks.

"Any number of things," says Mianmian. "Dating, for instance."

Wei Wuxian scoffs. "Lan Zhan would not date me. Have you seen him? Have you seen me?"

"I'll try not to be offended that you think my standards are so much lower than Lan Wangji's," Mianmian says drily. "Anyway, I don't get it, he's sleeping with you, so he's clearly attracted to you."

"It's not about him being attracted to me," Wei Wuxian says, because it's not, it's about—everything else, the life, the love Lan Zhan deserves. "And to be clear, we haven't, like. We haven't fucked, and there's been no. Beds. Involved. I mean, my bed, and his bed, but separately, over the phone, not." He trails off. "I don't actually think he actively. I mean. I've always started it."

Mianmian stares at him. "Wait. Wait, did this all start with that dare at Huaisang's?"

"Yeah," says Wei Wuxian. "Why, what did you think?"

"I assumed he," says Mianmian, and cuts herself off. "Nevermind, doesn't matter. A lot of things make more sense about this now. Like, you're still being a huge idiot, but you might not be the only one."

"Hey," says Wei Wuxian. "Lan Zhan's not an idiot."

Mianmian gives him a look. "You are literally impossible to talk to."

"And yet you do it so much." Wei Wuxian smiles at her. "Thank you, Mianmian."

"Whatever," she says, but smiles back. "Thanks for coming to me with this."

"Yeah," he says. “Really wasn’t expecting the Yanli news.”

Mianmian shrugs. “What can I say, your girl’s got game.” She smacks his knee. “Hey, you wanna borrow anything else? My stuff fits you pretty well, you could like, feel it out some more. In a non-sex context, please, I do actually want some of it back.”

“Oh,” he says. “Yes, actually.” He watches Mianmian wander over to her closet and fling it open. “I can’t promise I’ll actually, like. This might’ve just been a fluke, a flash in the pan, and I’ll return them in a week like hmm nope still 100% boy.”

Mianmian gives him a look. “I’m not expecting anything, bro. No terms on this loan. You do you.”

Wei Wuxian swallows against a sudden, embarrassing swell of gratitude. “Okay,” he says faintly. “Thanks.”

 

+

 

He borrows a calf-length skirt and a pair of ankle boots to match, a wine-red wrap dress that Mianmian insists works wonderfully with his coloring, and a pair of dangly, silver-chain earrings. He’s got his ears pierced—two on each lobe, and a bar through his left helix—but he only ever wears small hoops, or a pair of skull studs that he and Wen Ning had bought matching pairs of a few years back at the mall.

He wears the skirt, boots, and vampire crop top to the corner store to get rice noodles and rolling papers one night. It feels—fine. Nice. He likes the way the skirt feels around his legs; no one gives him any weird looks, probably because he sees, like, three people total; there are no giant neon signs saying HELLO PRETTY WOMAN or WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE, so. All in all an inconclusive experience.

He knocks at the Wens’ door on the way back up the six flights to his apartment. Wen Qing answers, gives him a once-over, and lets him in. “You look nice.”

“Thanks,” says Wei Wuxian, in a tone he hopes conveys And That’s All There Is To Say About That. He leaves the boots next to the front door and sets up at the kitchen table to roll them a joint. “I need a favor.”

"Shoot," says Wen Qing.

Wei Wuxian taps bud out of his grinder in a practiced line down the center of the rolling paper. "Can I borrow a dildo?"

Wen Qing raises an eyebrow at him.

Wei Wuxian wets the edge of the rolling paper with his tongue. “Are we not friends like that?”

Wen Qing crosses her arms. “You’re one of my dearest friends in the world,” she says, in entirely the wrong tone for that kind of revelation. “I don’t share my sex toys.”

“Noted, and, um, noted," says Wei Wuxian. “Can you, like, give me some recs, though, for places I could get shit?”

"Fine," says Wen Qing. "I'll text you the address of the sex shop where I got my favorite strap." She considers. "And some websites, if you wanna be more discreet."

Wei Wuxian bobs a little bow. "Thank you." He twists the end of the joint shut and hands it to Wen Qing. "Ladies first."

Wen Qing looks him over with a raised brow, and for a moment Wei Wuxian braces himself for That Not Actually Being All There Is To Say About That, but then she says, instead, "Things not working out with Lan Wangji?"

He blinks. "What? What do you mean?"

Wen Qing lights up, leaning against her kitchen counter. "If you were getting laid you wouldn't want the toys," she says, and then considers. "Unless you're going to use them together, in which case probably you'd use his, or at least get recs from him and not me."

"We're not, um." Wei Wuxian accepts the joint from her when she hands it to him. "I wouldn't say things. Aren't working out. But I—I want to see if I'd, like, actually like it. Before I find out if he even wants that." He tokes, holds in smoke, lets it out. "I'm doing a lot of testing things out, I guess, lately."

Wen Qing nods. "Don't hurt yourself."

Wei Wuxian rolls his eyes. "It’s a fake dick, I think I can figure it out."

"You'd better, because as your unofficial doctor I don't want you showing up here with something lodged up your ass. Invest in lube, et cetera. But that's not what I meant." She takes the joint back from him. "I know he means a lot to you."

Wei Wuxian blinks at her. "I—yeah."

“So,” says Wen Qing, blowing out smoke, “don’t hurt yourself.”

Wei Wuxian gives her a sideways smile. “Shouldn’t you be telling me not to hurt him?”

She scowls at him. “What? Why would I?”

Wei Wuxian shrugs. “That’s usually how things go, when I fuck up.”

Wen Qing stares at him, takes another hit, and stares at him again. “Sometimes I want to go find your adoptive mom’s grave and give her a piece of my fucking mind,” she says. “Wei Wuxian. You have never once made a decision to burn a bridge, or remove yourself from a situation, or whatever, that didn’t fuck you up about six times as much as it did everyone else.”

Wei Wuxian frowns at her. “That’s not true,” he objects. “Jiang Cheng—”

“Jiang Cheng was upset you left, yes,” Wen Qing interrupts. “Mostly, as I understand it, because you never fucking told him why. He might even have lingering issues he should probably work out in the therapy that he unlike everyone else we know can actually afford, because you managed to last-ditch salvage shit for him with his parents before they died. Which, again, he does not know. But that’s not the point.” She inhales, taps ash into her kitchen sink. “The point is, he maybe has some broken trust issues. You, on the other hand, tried to kill yourself.”

“That’s not,” Wei Wuxian protests, and shoves his hands into his hair. “It—that wasn’t—that wasn’t because I—it—it doesn’t matter.”

Wen Qing’s eyes are hard. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that A-Ning found you in our bathtub—”

“But—right, that’s,” Wei Wuxian says, talking over her, pointing at her so she understands what she’s just said, “it matters for him, it matters for you, that’s what I’m saying, I always hurt—”

“It matters for us because we care about you!” Wen Qing snaps. “You think we were hurt by it because it’s just, what, upsetting to have some stranger bleeding out on our bathroom floor? It matters because you matter, asshole . ” 

The joint’s gone out. Wen Qing hands it back to him so he can light it again. “I care about you,” she says as he does so. “A-Ning and Qingyang and your siblings care about you. And I know Lan Wangji cares about you. So if you have to think about it that way, fine. Protect yourself in this—whatever,” she waves a hand, “situation, because otherwise by hurting yourself you’ll hurt him. But know that as much as I respect the guy I don’t actually give a shit about his feelings, and if he hurts you—

“He won’t,” says Wei Wuxian, because the idea is laughable. “No harm but self-harm, here, I promise.”

It’s not a very good joke. Wen Qing doesn’t laugh, and waves him off when he offers her the joint. “I’m good,” she says, and sighs. “I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I absolutely, one hundred percent do not,” says Wei Wuxian, and stands up, tucking the joint between his lips so he can brush ash off his skirt. “Is A-Ning here?”

“Yeah,” says Wen Qing. “In his room.”

“Okay,” says Wei Wuxian. “Um. Thank you. Sorry that I don’t, like.” He raps a knuckle against his skull. “It’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s just.”

“I know,” says Wen Qing. “I’m used to you.”

Wei Wuxian huffs, almost but not quite making it to a laugh. “Yeah.”

Wen Ning is in his room, door ajar, sitting at his workbench and wearing headphones. When Wei Wuxian knocks and waves the other half of the joint at him he pulls them off, distant strains of some experimental metal band Wei Wuxian has probably never heard of filtering through into open air. "Hey," he says. "You look nice."

"Thanks," says Wei Wuxian, and wanders past him, peering at his workbench as he goes. "What are you working on?"

"Oh," says Wen Ning, and flushes. "It's for A-Yuan." He holds up an intricate little moth, carved wood and woven grass, one wing not quite complete. "He's really into bugs right now and the latest foster family thing fell through, so. I thought I'd go see him this weekend and bring him something nice."

"Ah, fuck," says Wei Wuxian, with feeling. "That sucks, I love that kid."

 "Yeah," says Wen Ning. "Me too. You wanna come with me?"

"Yes, please," says Wei Wuxian, because he really does love A-Yuan. In his secret, most unrealistic fantasies, he's even thought about putting himself forward for the adoption process. He knows first-hand how much the system sucks, and A-Yuan is always excited to see him when he comes to visit with Wen Qing or Wen Ning. But. His work is unsteady, his mental health is worse; he can barely take care of himself, let alone a kid. He thinks despairingly about the total mess that was the last month of his life. What kind of—his brain stutters off of father—parent would he make? 

He feels the high hit as he flops backward onto Wen Ning's bed. "It's not that I don't think I'd be a father," he says, with zero built-up. "The same way I don't really feel like I'm not a guy, or whatever, it's just, like. Sometimes maybe there's an also. A plus." He holds the joint out to Wen Ning without looking at him. "Is that, like. Allowed?"

"Um," says Wen Ning, taking the joint. "Allowed by who?"

Wei Wuxian blinks. "Wow," he says. "That is an absolutely beautiful point." He closes his eyes. He can still hear the music filtering from the headphones around Wen Ning’s neck, all intense, erratic drums and incomprehensible screaming. “Crank that shit up.”

Wen Ning, angel that he is, obliges.

 

+

 

Lan Zhan never, like, officially came out to Wei Wuxian. They'd been at a party—back when everyone still invited Lan Zhan to parties instead of respecting his identity as a non-party-guy and hanging out with him in other ways—and Lan Zhan had made some remark to someone, maybe Wen Qing, about not liking women, and Wei Wuxian, a tipsy genius, had dropped down on the couch next to him. "So," he'd said. "Gay, huh?"

Lan Zhan had looked sideways at him.

Wei Wuxian had adopted his best clueless bro voice. "Like, does this mean you're attracted to me?"

Lan Zhan's sideways look had sharpened into a glare, and Wei Wuxian had laughed. "Woah, dude," he'd said, holding up his hands. "I'm kidding, it's a joke about, like. How shitty straight people are. This doesn't change shit, you know that."

Lan Zhan had sighed. "You have met a boyfriend of mine."

Wei Wuxian had stared at him. "What!!"

"Nie Huaisang's birthday party last year," said Lan Zhan.

Wei Wuxian wracked his memory. "Who—the dude who brought the birthday cake vodka? That dude sucked! He kept making snide comments to me all night for no reason. Plus, like, birthday cake vodka!"

"Which I believe you drank," Lan Zhan had pointed out.

"Well, sure, free booze,” said Wei Wuxian. "Wait, was he threatened by me? Is that why he was so weird? Did you have to tell him we're just platonic bestest bros in the whole world?"

"I broke up with him shortly thereafter," Lan Zhan had said, with no inflection at all.

"Damn," Wei Wuxian had said. "Poor guy. I mean, I'd say I was sorry, but you don't seem too broken up by it."

Lan Zhan had cocked his head. "Mn. I am not."

Wei Wuxian had sighed. "I can't believe my best buddy in the world never told me he was gay."

Lan Zhan's gaze had slid off his face. "I didn't think I had to."

Wei Wuxian had thought about that. "That's fair," he'd said. "I just kind of figured you like." He'd waved his hands, "Didn't."

Lan Zhan's eyebrows rose. "Didn't."

"Yeah, like, you didn't enjoy sex, or like dating or whatever."

Lan Zhan had regarded him coolly. "I enjoy sex."

"Cool," Wei Wuxian had said, blinking hard. "Cool. Same."

So like, the point is, he had sort of once tried to ask if Lan Zhan found him sexy. But now things are—well, it seems like a more pressing concern. Plus, it’s like, a way different thing to ask, now that he’s not. Straight. As straight. Whatever.

Which is how he ends up standing in Lan Zhan's bedroom about half an hour before the rehearsal dinner for Yanli’s wedding, both of them trying on their suits to make sure the Jin-funded tailoring worked, absolutely desperate to know if Lan Zhan finds him sexy, specifically, or just as a guy who's, like, willing to suck his dick in semi-public.

Yanli managed to talk the Jins around on some things but the main wedding colors are still pale yellow and gold (which aren't even meaningfully different colors, she'd pointed out on a facetime call a few weeks ago, and certainly don't go together) which, for all their faults, suit Lan Zhan spectacularly, the gold buttons on his dawn-colored suit making his eyes shine metallic, like he might be some kind of perfect automaton built for Wei Wuxian's pleasure and also emotional support and also to regularly murder him with devastatingly dry humor and also—point is, he’s perfect, he looks perfect.

Wei Wuxian is pretty sure he, on the other hand, looks like a ghost. But maybe a sexy ghost? One way to find out.

"Hey, Lan Zhan," he says. "Can I ask you something?"

Lan Zhan looks sideways at him as if to say, always.

"Do you think I'm hot?"

Lan Zhan pauses in fixing his cufflinks. 

"Like, I know I'm generally, like, good-looking," clarifies Wei Wuxian, "and clearly you don't, like. We've been messing around or whatever so I know you're not, like. Anyway. I was just—something Mianmian said made me. Wonder."

Lan Zhan frowns at him. "Luo Qingyang made you feel unattractive?"

"What? No. No, not at all." Wei Wuxian grimaces. "It's—nevermind, it's stupid."

Lan Zhan crosses the room to him, head cocked, and gives him the slowest, thoroughest up-and-down onceover Wei Wuxian has ever received. 

Wei Wuxian swallows. "Lan Zhan?"

Lan Zhan doesn't look away from him. "How long until you leave?"

Wei Wuxian checks his phone. "Um. Twenty minutes?"

Lan Zhan hums, and then shoves Wei Wuxian backward against the wall, his hands at the buttons of his shirt, his mouth following inches behind them, sucking hard and relentless at Wei Wuxian's collarbone, his pecs, his teeth closing around his nipple.

Wei Wuxian gasps, arches, his hands flying automatically to Lan Zhan's hair, then, stutteringly, to his shoulders so he doesn't fuck it up. "Fuck," he says, "okay, this is one way to answer me, god."

"Gorgeous," says Lan Zhan against his stomach, which makes Wei Wuxian want to shrivel into a tiny ball and never uncurl. Worse, Lan Zhan pulls back, balanced on one knee, to repeat, "Wei Ying is gorgeous."

"Mmnhph," says Wei Ying, actively dying, and Lan Zhan huffs a tiny laugh against his hip and unzips his pants.

Despite asking about their time constraint, he takes his time, mouthing slow at Wei Wuxian's dick through his underwear. Wei Wuxian had been right—he does get the tiny line of concentration between his brows—but he also, he looks, god. He presses his face into the crease of Wei Wuxian hip and breathes in like he can't get enough of the smell of him, laps at the precum gathering on Wei Wuxian's boxers. It's worshipful and filthy and perfect, and by the time he rolls Wei Wuxian's boxers down to swallow him down Wei Wuxian is absolutely incoherent with need.

His expensive dress pants are pooling on the floor around his feet; Lan Zhan’s broad palms smooth up and over his thighs as he bobs his head with absolute focus and undeniable skill. Wei Wuxian scrabbles at the wall behind him, knees shaking, and then has to slam his hand over his mouth as Lan Zhan slides one hand back behind his balls to run the blunt tip of one finger over Wei Wuxian's asshole—and it catches, and drags, on the base of the simple plug nestled between his cheeks.

Lan Zhan's head stills, Wei Wuxian's dick halfway into his mouth, and then he pulls off, and Wei Wuxian lets out a sob against his palm.

"Wei Ying," Lan Zhan breathes. "You—"

"Experimenting," Wei Wuxian explains, breathless. "Lan Zhan, please—"

Lan Zhan leans back on his heels, lips slick and red, eyes accusing. "Were you going to tell me?"

"Later," says Wei Wuxian, "after—if we didn't—I was going to send you pictures, like, haha, guess what you, like, missed. Ah, mm.

Lan Zhan leans back in, taking him up to the hilt, his eyelids fluttering. His fingertips return to the end of the plug and he works it slowly out and then pushes it back in again, shallow thrusts in time with the hollowing of his cheeks. It's too much and not nearly enough, and Wei Wuxian curses and squirms, trying to press forward and back at the same time, take more of the plug than actually exists, his stomach clenching hard every time Lan Zhan's fingertips brush against his rim.

"Lan Zhan," he begs, "Lan Zhan, please, I want—"

Lan Zhan pulls off, staring intently up at him. "Tell me," he commands, but he doesn't stop working the plug in and out of Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian's face is on fire. "Your hands," he manages. "Please, your fingers, mn, fuck me with your fingers, I w-want you in, inside, I've thought, thought about it so much—"

Lan Zhan takes a ragged breath and then his hands are on Wei Wuxian's hips, physically spinning him so his chest is against the wall. Lan Zhan tugs the plug out of him entirely and Wei Wuxian makes a small, wounded noise at its loss, until Lan Zhan replaces it, not with a finger but with his tongue.

Wei Wuxian moans against the wood paneling, his eyes threatening to roll back in his head entirely. He feels—lightheaded, afloat, a kite on a string of humming, desperate desire plucked and singing with every sucking shift of Lan Zhan's mouth. Lan Zhan slides one blunt finger into him, eased with the lube Wei Wuxian used earlier—that, god, that can't taste good—and Lan Zhan's saliva, and, oh, fuck, maybe Lan Zhan would be a willing to spit in his mouth sometime because apparently there are no limits to the the ways he wants this man inside him. "Lan Zhan," he chants, "I love, fuck, I love your hands, they're so, ngh, please, oh, god—"

Lan Zhan fingers him open, quick and brutal, blunt fingers and hot, flickering tongue, and Wei Wuxian shakes, shakes, shakes apart.

 

+

 

"My father can't make it tonight," Jin Zixuan explains, "and may not be able to attend the wedding proper, either, so we'll work around his absence." 

A small murmur runs around the table. Wei Wuxian raises his eyebrows at Yanli, who looks neither surprised nor displeased at this development. Wei Wuxian vaguely remembers Lan Xichen mentioning at a recent lunch that his boyfriend with the unnerving smile was taking Jin Guangshan on some kind of relaxing pre-wedding fishing trip; maybe he’d eaten some bad seafood.

They run through the whole shebang: procession, mock speeches, where everyone sits, the order of the dinner courses—and Wei Wuxian feels. Good, light, ready. It’s entirely possible it’s just post-orgasmic bliss but he thinks maybe something in him is finally settling out into calm.

Yanli is getting married, and he’s here for it. More than here for it, he’s a part of it, he gets a speech and everything, him and Jiang Cheng both. There was a time in Wei Wuxian’s life when that— any of that, beginning to end, would’ve seemed absolutely impossible, would have been almost nightmarish to contemplate. A time in his life where he wouldn’t have been able to see his involvement in her happiness as anything but a mistake.

"You're bringing Lan Zhan as your plus one, right?" Yanli asks. "That hasn't changed since you, um." She looks amused. "Qingyang informed me there's been some new developments there."

Wei Wuxian makes a face. "You know, I said I didn't feel weird about you guys, you know," he casts a glance around at some Jin cousins who might be even more stuck up and boring than Zixuan was. "But if she's going to snitch to you about my life maybe I have some things to rethink."

Yanli widens her eyes at him, and he kind of loves that he can see himself in her mannerisms, in the way she teases. "You mean there are things in your life you hide from your jie?"

"Never," Wei Wuxian says, and then makes himself a liar by not following it up with, anyway the reason I was late was I was getting my ass eaten for the first time, and like, holy shit, do people know about this??

He isn't stupid. He knows bringing your best friend who you're also fucking to a wedding as your date, like, means something. Or could mean something. It is different, for example, from not bringing your best friend who you're also fucking to a wedding as your date.

It's just that—they made these plans before The Dare, and—it would've been weird to uninvite him, not that he even could, he'd be invited in his own right as honorary family from one end or the other, the only reason Wei Wuxian was bringing him as a plus one was so they could hang out the whole time and he didn't have to find someone else to bring, and. And he doesn't actually think it means anything to Lan Zhan, and it's kind of killing him. 

"We're good," he says. "You know Lan Zhan and me. Rock solid, always have been. A little, whatever, that's not gonna change anything for us long-term."

Yanli regards him for a moment. "I see," she says. “Well I got you a room with two beds, even if that might not be necessary anymore.”

Wei Wuxian’s brain sort of. Stutters. He licks his lips. A hotel room. A hotel room, with Lan Zhan, a neutral space, with beds, where they could. He remembers the absolutely overwhelming image of being in Lan Zhan’s lap, skin against his skin. He thinks about Lan Zhan peeling him from his suit again, slow, unhurried. He thinks, quickly, in case it burns him, about being held. 

"Make sure he knows there will be non-alcoholic options at the open bar, they'll have green toothpicks in them,” says Yanli. “They sound really good, maybe you should try some yourself.”

“Maybe I will,” says Wei Wuxian, rounding out just a stellar evening for familial honesty, and lets Jiang Cheng steer him away to complain about idiotic portioning.

 

+

 

Wei Wuxian puts on his dangly earrings and his suit, sits next to Lan Zhan in the front row, and watches his sister get married. She looks beautiful, resplendent in red and white and gold, and he cries at the joy in her face. She looks up at Zixuan like he contains every potential future at once, like she can't wait to sort through them all with him, and Wei Wuxian thinks, what comes next.

It hits him like the first true ray of sun in a sunrise, breaking over the horizon of his mind in a sideways golden flash and lightening the entire sky. He sucks in a breath and presses his lips together, hard. He wants to marry Lan Zhan. He wants to marry Lan Zhan, wants to be the thing that comes next, not just as best friend and sexy hookup or whatever they are but as husband, as wife, as every possible kind of partner. He wants to have that all-encompassing forward-looking joy, to cook for him and be cooked for, to sketch his tattoos until 3 AM while Lan Zhan tries politely not to fall asleep into his tea. He wants to bury himself in Lan Zhan's chest and never leave at all.

He fights the urge to hide his head in his hands, tears slipping unchecked down his cheeks, and Lan Zhan hands him an honest-to-god handkerchief. It probably came with the suit, not for actual use but to be like properly folded as an accent at his pocket, and Wei Wuxian is going to get his stupid snot all over it and crumple it up and forget it at the hotel bar, and it's such an absolutely perfect metaphor for his presence in Lan Zhan's life that he wants to die.

He uses it anyway, hating himself, and tries to ignore the comforting weight of Lan Zhan's hand on his knee.

He gets through wedding toasts, reading his off a torn-off piece of sketchbook paper, and getting all the laughs he hopes for, even a magnanimous bow from Jin Zixuan when he apologizes, again, for punching him in the mouth in high school. Yanli deserves his full attention. Defer your fucking crisis, Wei Wuxian.

But he can feel the perfect, hot-stove daydream of curling up naked in his hotel room with Lan Zhan disintegrating into dust. He can’t keep doing this. Not to Lan Zhan, and not—in Wen Qing’s voice—to himself. The premise this started under, this no-strings-attached sexy exploration, has revealed itself as just as artificial as the local theatre backdrops he did in fact end up painting for no pay the other week. And behind it is the crushing weight of Wei Wuxian’s 27 years of wanting, of demanding too much. 

He eats his idiotically small amount of braised monkfish and thinks about how to dismantle a dream home he hadn’t even been aware of building, foundation already sinking into quicksand.

Step one: separate out Lan Zhan from—everything else this whole thing has been about. The gender stuff, that’s easy, that’s already pretty divorced from the sex part. But the sex part. Is. 

One thing of course is to stop hooking up with him, which he—he’s not going to have that conversation at a wedding. But until Wei Wuxian can untangle his newfound and, uh, voracious desire for men from his desire for Lan Zhan specifically, he’s just going to keep prolonging even having that conversation so he can still have good sex, and that won’t be fair to either of them.

So he needs to get laid. By someone—a man—as un-Lan-Zhan as possible. And, luckily, while weddings are terrible places for emotional conversations, they’re excellent places for casual sex.

There’s a dude across the dancefloor from him who completely ignored the color guidelines, dressing instead in all black. He’s got red eyeshadow both over and under his eyes, a look Wei Wuxian has not considered but that gives him a sort of—sexy, sleepy vibe.

He kind of looks like Wei Wuxian, actually, if he were younger, queerer (well), and less of a dick, and apparently Wei Wuxian is narcissistic enough to be into that. He drains his champagne and stands up.

Lan Zhan looks up from where he’s being conversed-at by Madam Jin, and Wei Wuxian gives him a flickering little smile, touches his shoulder, and says, “don’t wait up.”

He crosses the room, too aware of how many eyes are on him, but there’s nothing he can do about that, so he decides not to care.

The dude looks up at him as he approaches, once, and then does a double-take once it becomes clear that Wei Wuxian is, in fact, headed toward him.

“Hey,” says Wei Wuxian, smiling down at him. “You want to dance?”

The dude blinks at him, then at his friends. “Me?”

Wei Wuxian holds out a hand. “You,” he confirms. “If you’re down.”

The dude, flatteringly, takes his hand immediately. “Yeah,” he says. “I mean—yeah. Okay. Damn.”

Wei Wuxian laughs and draws him onto the dance floor. “So. What’s your name?”

“Mo Xuanyu,” says the stranger, and that’s a relief—not related to anyone Wei Wuxian knows, so probably this won’t come back to bite him in the ass. 

“Bride or groom?” he asks, though he knows the answer must be groom—he’s never heard Yanli talk about this kid. Man. Guy. Probably not cool to think of someone you’re trying to hook up with as kid.

“Groom,” Mo Xuanyu confirms, and then, “he’s, uh, actually my half-brother,” so there goes that theory. You’d think Wei Wuxian, fully related to every remaining Jiang, would know better than to assume anything from family names. He winces.

Mo Xuanyu catches it. “If that’s about how much my dad sucks, trust me, I’m aware.”

It hadn’t been, but Wei Wuxian is absolutely down to bond over that, so he gladly takes it. “Do you know why he’s not here?” he asks. “Not that I’m complaining, I’ve been listening to his shitty wedding planning opinions secondhand for months.”

Mo Xuanyu shakes his head. “I don’t really have, like. A relationship with him. At all.” It’s unclear from his tone whether this is his choice or not. “I bet A-Yao would know, though. A-Yao always knows everything.”

Wei Wuxian desperately flips through his mental rolodex for a “Yao” of any kind. “Oh!” he says. “Xichen-ge’s boyfriend with the, uh, dimples.”

Mo Xuanyu nods. “My other half-brother,” he says. “Three whole moms, one for each of us, not that mine or A-Yao’s are around anymore.” He makes a face. “Wow, we’ve been talking for like, two seconds and we’re already in daddy issue territory, sorry.”

Wei Wuxian laughs. “Not exactly the context I was hoping to hear you say daddy in, no,” he deadpans.

Mo Xuanyu cracks up, his forehead brushing Wei Wuxian’s shoulder. Over his head, Wei Wuxian sees Nie Huaisang making extremely meaningful faces at him that he categorically refuses to interpret. 

“You’re so fucking cheesy,” says Mo Xuanyu.

Wei Wuxian turns his attention back to him. He pouts. “Not working for you?”

Mo Xuanyu shrugs. “I didn’t say that. With that face you can get away with basically anything,” so maybe he’s also narcissistic enough for this to work out.

“That’s what I like to hear,” says Wei Wuxian, giving him his most charming smile, and it’s—it’s really not that different than flirting with girls, which is. Comforting, he guesses. If he does decide he wants to try—after he talks to Lan Zhan—

He wrenches his brain back from that whirlpool as the song comes to an end. Mo Xuanyu steps back from him, tucking his hair behind his ear. “So,” he says. “Buy me a free champagne?”

God, Wei Wuxian loves weddings. “Absolutely.”

He’s gently buzzed by the time Mo Xuanyu pulls him through his hotel room door—buzzed and not exactly horny, but also not not horny. Mo Xuanyu has pretty hands—small, with neat black nail polish and a lot of rings, and Wei Wuxian vaguely has some idea about removing all of them with his mouth, and then Mo Xuanyu leans up and kisses him.

It’s a fine kiss, maybe even a good kiss, but it absolutely makes the bottom drop out of his stomach because. Because somehow he hadn’t expected it, even though he loves kissing women, even though making out is a regular thing to do, a regular part of foreplay, of one night stands, of whatever the fuck they’re doing here. It’s just. For all they’ve done, Lan Zhan has never kissed him.

Lan Zhan has never kissed him.

Mo Xuanyu’s pretty hands are undoing the buttons of Wei Wuxian’s shirt and it’s—too much, too close, an echo of Lan Zhan stripping him before the rehearsal dinner, Lan Zhan’s little soundless laugh against his hip, Lan Zhan looking up at him, gorgeous, Wei Ying is gorgeous, and his hands have closed around Mo Xuanyu’s wrists. “Wait,” he says against his mouth. “Wait, sorry, I.”

To his credit, Mo Xuanyu steps back immediately. Wei Wuxian releases his wrists. “I—I don’t think I can do this. Actually.”

Mo Xuanyu’s mouth hangs open for a second. “Oh,” he says. “Okay. Sure.”

“Sorry,” says Wei Wuxian. “God, sorry. This. I’m such a fucking buzzkill.”

Mo Xuanyu shrugs, but there’s a fragile, disappointed cast to his mouth. “S’okay, it was too good to be true, anyway,” he says, which. Yikes. He leans back against the end of his bed. “Is this about Lan Wangji?”

Wei Wuxian freezes in the middle of re-buttoning his shirt. “Um.”

Mo Xuanyu fiddles with his rings. “You called Lan Xichen ‘Xichen-ge’ earlier,” he says. “Also, like, you were sitting together, and then you came over to me, and Lan Wangji—uh.  Let’s just say if looks could kill I’d not only be dead but my entire body and also soul would be, like, atomically disintegrated right now.”

“Oh,” says Wei Wuxian. “Sorry about that.”

Mo Xuanyu looks at him cautiously. “Why?”

Wei Wuxian blinks at him. “Because it’s not nice to be glared at?”

Mo Xuanyu relaxes. “Oh,” he says. “Whatever. So long as he’s not going to like, beat the shit out of me for touching you or whatever.”

Something in Wei Wuxian’s stupid overwhelmed chest splinters. “No,” he says. “No. He’s—you’re fine. It’ll be fine.”

“Cool,” says Mo Xuanyu. “Um. Then I’m gonna go.”

It’s your hotel room, Wei Wuxian almost says, but Mo Xuanyu is already on his feet, skirting around him to slip out the door, and you know, what, he does appreciate having a minute rather than just being kicked to the curb.

Good kid. Considerate. Wei Wuxian scrubs his hands over his face and leaves the rest of the imaginary Yelp review. Five stars. Perfect candidate for almost but not quite hooking up with at your sister’s wedding. Treat him nicely or else.

Jiang Cheng finds him at the hotel bar, nursing his third glass of wine and trying not to have a panic attack.

"So what the fuck is wrong with you?" He asks, which is pretty standard for Jiang Cheng opening lines, but Wei Wuxian is extremely not in the mood.

"Can we not do this right now?" Wei Wuxian gestures at the wine. "I'm busy."

Jiang Cheng crosses his arms. "Did you or did you not just make an enormous scene at our sister's wedding?" he demands.

"Not," says Wei Wuxian tiredly. "Nobody cares about my bullshit, A-Cheng, except for you, because you take everything I do as a personal slight and always have."

"Maybe because everything you do is a personal slight," Jiang Cheng grumbles, but some of the fight goes out of his shoulders. "And judging by his face I think Lan Wangji cares about your bullshit."

Wei Wuxian winces. "Ah," he says, and drains his wine.

Jiang Cheng raises his eyebrows at him. "That's all you have to say for yourself?"

"What do you want me to say? Yes, I'm in the middle of a sexuality crisis, yes, it centers on my best friend, yes, I thought hooking up with a stranger at my sister's wedding was a cool way to clarify some shit for myself, no we didn't actually hook up, yes it gave me clarity but like, the bad kind, yes, I would love if you would go away and let me get shitfaced about it in peace?" He flags down the bartender. "Since when can you read Lan Zhan's expressions anyway? You're always complaining he's like a block of wood."

Jiang Cheng's face has, horribly, gentled. "You didn't need to have a degree in Lan Wangji expressions to read this one, trust me."

"Great!" says Wei Wuxian, and smiles maniacally at the waiter as he brings him his next glass of wine. "Is that all?"

Jiang Cheng intercepts the wine and steals a sip. "I guess," he says. "Except. I know I'm not exactly good at helping you get your shit together, but. If you do need anything." He shrugs. "You're my brother."

Wei Wuxian stares at him, startled, for a moment, out of his misery. "I," he says. "Thanks."

Jiang Cheng's face twists in embarrassment. “No details, though, please.” He hands Wei Wuxian his wine and turns to leave. “I do not want to know your fantasies about, like, fucking Lan Wangji under the light of the moon or whatever.”

“Shows what you know!” Wei Wuxian calls after him. “I want him to fuck me under the light of the moon!” A few Jin cousins drinking at a table in the corner give him a look. He nods at them. “‘Sup.”

He finishes this glass slowly, the world gone soft-gold around him. He can still feel Mo Xuanyu’s mouth on his, and isn’t that fucked up, to be so totally undone by a kiss from someone he barely knows. Not even for what it was but for what it wasn’t. How completely unfair.

He stands up from the bar and goes back to his hotel room. Lan Zhan is awake, which seems wrong, and looks at him with an expression he can’t read at all, which seems extra wrong. “Hi,” says Wei Wuxian. WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO KISS ME, says Wei Wuxian’s brain. “I’m going to pass the fuck out now,” says Wei Wuxian’s mouth.

He makes good—collapsing, suit, earrings, and all, into the bed that Lan Zhan isn’t haunting like some kind of handsome unreadable ghost. When he wakes up the next morning Lan Zhan is already gone. Someone, in the night, has removed Wei Wuxian’s shoes and set them neatly by the hotel door.

 

+

 

For maybe the first time in his life, Wei Wuxian takes a week to just. Sit with himself.

He does not collapse into a depressive heap. He doesn’t even dissociate for days on end. He cooks himself food without taking pictures of it for anyone, finishes up the boring but overpaying graphic design work he got hired for, sends his portfolio to a few more places for similar work, and considers upping his rate permanently. 

Wen Qing shows up on Thursday and finds him cleaning his apartment. “This is worrying,” she says. “I’m worried. Are you leaving?”

Wei Wuxian blinks at her. “What?”

She crosses her arms. “The last time I saw you voluntarily mopping a floor was when you decided to move out of me and A-Ning’s without telling us. This,” she gestures around at his pristine kitchen, “is worrying.”

He scoffs. “I’m not moving, don’t be dramatic. I just, I made some decisions about my life, is all.”

She looks suspicious. “What kind of decisions?”

He shrugs. “Good ones?”

She narrows her eyes further. “Hmm.” She straightens. “Anyway I just came by to tell you the agency is letting A-Yuan come to ours for dinner tomorrow, some bring something good.” She hesitates. “And invite Lan Wangji, if you want.”

“Uh,” says Wei Wuxian. “Maybe.”

“I see,” says Wen Qing, and then she leaves him alone.

He flips through his notebooks to his many iterative sketches of Lan Zhan’s Third Nude, none of them quite right, and starts again. This time, instead of trying to capture the cold, uncaring expression that had set his brain on absolute horny fire, he pulls from his memories of how Lan Zhan had looked on one knee, calling him gorgeous; on his smile in the kitchen holding egg-drop soup; on a thousand precious scraps of softness he’s hoarded over the years like a greedy little magpie, building his stupid little nest.

The resulting sketch is. Wei Wuxian puts his hands over his face and screams into his palms. Then, very calmly, he gathers it up, along with a few initial sketches he’s made for Lan Zhan’s new tattoo, and leaves his apartment.

It occurs to him as he’s letting himself in that Lan Zhan might not be home, but as he turns to survey the apartment he finds him sitting at the keyboard in his living room, earbuds in, playing something silent, just for himself. His profile is picked out against the sunset light from the window, eyes closed, lost in music.

For a moment, before Lan Zhan looks up and sees him, Wei Wuxian imagines slipping silent, sock-footed across his floor, stepping between his knees, and sealing their mouths together. Soft, slow, no expectation. It could still even be a goodbye—just one where he gets one last thing, one last piece of Lan Zhan he has no right to, one last stolen moment to line his magpie nest before he sets it aflame.

And then Lan Zhan notices him, eyes widening and hands going still. “Wei Ying,” he says, and snatches his earbuds out of his ears.

“Hey,” says Wei Ying, and raises a hand. “Sorry I didn’t text.”

“No apologies,” Lan Zhan says, standing up and coming over to him, but not all the way, like he's not sure he's allowed. He looks—unsteady, off-kilter.

Wei Wuxian grimaces. “But I should apologize,” he says. “I was—rude to you, at the wedding. You were my plus one and we barely—and then I went off with someone else. It was fucked up, and I’m sorry.”

Lan Zhan settles on one of his barstools. “Wei Ying is allowed to spend time with whoever he wishes.”

Wei Wuxian coughs a laugh. “I. Yeah. We didn’t, really, by the way.” He makes air quotes with his fingers. “‘Spend time.’” 

Is he imagining it, or does Lan Zhan look relieved? No. Do not go down that road, that way lies madness. He pushes his hair out of his face. “Um. I think we should talk, though. Not just about the wedding, but about—what, uh, what we’re doing. What we’ve been doing.”

Lan Zhan's jaw works. “Alright,” he says, and takes a breath. “Yes.”

“So,” says Wei Wuxian.

Lan Zhan just watches him.

“You may have figured out, at some point in the last two months, that I am not. Entirely. As straight as I used to believe.” He squints at Lan Zhan. “Probably somewhere between me asking you for nudes and you coming all over my face.”

To his delight, Lan Zhan’s ears go pink. “I… had guessed.”

“Well.” Wei Wuxian cracks his neck. “I did a lot of thinking, and a lot of talking to Mianmian, and a little talking to Wen Ning, and a little bit of being yelled at by Wen Qing and. I’m still. Working it out, turns out there’s—there’s maybe some gender—whatever, it doesn’t matter. I just.” He smiles at Lan Zhan. “I wanted to thank you.”

Lan Zhan is still just watching him. “Thank me.”

“Yeah,” says Wei Wuxian. “For helping me, like. Figure it out. Letting me have a sexuality crisis all over you and being like, extremely cool and extremely hot about it. Like, what are the odds that I’d have an insanely indulgent and sexy gay best friend who I could take advantage of while I—”

He stops, because Lan Zhan is staring at him with an intensity bordering on hysteria. “You think you took advantage of me?”

“I did,” Wei Wuxian insists. “At like, at every turn, I was always pushing at you—”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan interrupts. “I started this.”

Wei Wuxian blinks at him. “You didn’t,” he protests. “I—I texted you—I asked if I could blow you—I basically threw myself at you—”

“I knew about the dare,” Lan Zhan says. “Huaisang checked with me before he ever suggested you play.”

“He—what?”

Lan Zhan takes a breath. “I have been in love with you since I was fifteen years old,” he says. Plain, matter-of-fact. “I had resigned myself to simply living with it, as you are uninterested. Nie Huaisang suspected you might not be, that you just needed some kind of push. I was dubious, but the idea that it could be true—that you could secretly want me—was intoxicating. He suggested a plan to test his theory; I agreed.” He squares his shoulders. “It was a moment of weakness that I have not, for obvious reasons, been able to bring myself to regret.”

Wei Wuxian sinks down on the couch so far he’s almost at a right angle. He feels like someone has hit him over the head with an oversized hammer, which, to be fair, is just a larger version of how he feels every time Lan Zhan says that many words in a row. “Sorry,” he says weakly. “Can you repeat all of that in like, smaller bites? Maybe in reverse order?"

“Mn. I do not regret our sexual encounters,” says Lan Zhan in a tone that is somehow both impossibly tender and a little bit laughing. “Any of them. If there is an opposite emotion to regret, I feel that.”

“Cool,” says Wei Wuxian, and manages to sit up a little. “Cool. I, also, feel. Whatever that emotion is.”

“I also do not wish you to feel that I have done you some kind of favor,” Lan Zhan says. “Being wanted by you, being touched—” He squeezes his eyes closed. “It—meant a great deal to me.”

Wei Wuxian licks his lips and pushes himself up off the couch, drifting closer to him. “Because,” he prompts.

Lan Zhan opens his eyes and meets his gaze squarely. “Because,” he confirms.

Wei Wuxian bites his lip, brain buzzing. “Fifteen? Really?”

Lan Zhan doesn’t break his gaze. “Loving you is what put me in touch with myself for the first time,” he says, like that’s something people just say.

Wei Wuxian’s eyeballs are hot, prickling. He feels like someone has cracked an egg in the back of his throat, thick and sharp at once. “Well that makes me feel like a real asshole,” he manages, “because I only put it together like, last week.”

He’s inside Lan Zhan’s personal space, now, and Lan Zhan is staring up at him, expression shifting from soft, certain resignation to something sharp and vulnerable at once. "Wei Ying."

"I couldn't even look at you at the wedding," Wei Wuxian says, "it felt too, like. Like you would know, and you'd let me down easy, and I couldn't break my own heart like that on jie's special day." He takes a breath. "I like you so much," he says, and is horrified to find he's crying. "I like you so much I'd probably marry you tomorrow if you asked. I like you, I love you—I think it's pretty clear I want you, and." He laughs, scrubbing at his cheeks. "I really thought I was going to have to come here and tell you we couldn't hook up anymore because my stupid feelings ruined a fun thing we were doing, but it turns out I've been playing with your feelings the whole time."

Lan Zhan reaches for his face, pulling him down and close. "Those who are ignorant are not at fault," he says, and his thumbs swipe over Wei Wuxian's cheeks. "You did not know how I felt."

"But," Wei Wuxian protests, "like, of course you love me. Otherwise how could you make me feel so loved?"

Lan Zhan's eyes crinkle up, so, so warm. "Mn, I take it back. Wei Ying is very stupid not to have figured it out."

"Thank you," says Wei Wuxian, and then Lan Zhan kisses him.

It's slow, at first, close-mouthed, and Wei Wuxian has become semi-familiar with Lan Zhan mouth by now but this feels. It's soft, exploratory, just kissing for the sake of kissing, and Wei Wuxian sighs into it, his hands coming up to cradle Lan Zhan's jaw. He opens his mouth, wanting more, just, wanting, and Lan Zhan makes a small noise and hauls him in by the hips until Wei Wuxian is straddling his lap. He tilts his head and Lan Zhan licks into his mouth, and. Lan Zhan loves him. Lan Zhan loves him, wants to be loved by him, kisses him like there's no one else he'd rather be kissing. 

Wei Wuxian takes a startled breath. “Wait,” he says against Lan Zhan’s mouth, and pulls back. Lan Zhan makes an absolutely affronted face, which, adorable, but Wei Wuxian has come to a very important conclusion. “Those nudes you sent me. You took those for me.”

Lan Zhan blinks at him. “Yes?” He frowns. “You thought—”

“Look,” says Wei Wyxian hysterically, “you have to understand that in my head for the last two months I’ve been competing for your attention with, like, at least five beautiful gay men who are better at sex than me, so—”

Lan Zhan cups his chin. “Wei Ying.” 

Wei Wuxian swallows. “Um. Yes?”

“There is no one else,” Lan Zhan says, devastatingly sincere, “who could ever compete.”

“Lan Zhan, ” Wei Wuxian wails, covering his face. “I’m a recovering fuckboy, I can’t handle romantic lines like that.”

“Hm,” says Lan Zhan, entirely unrepentant. “Unfortunate, as I do not lie.”

Wei Wuxian kisses him again, and again, and then leans back to run his hands over Lan Zhan’s chest. “If I, um. The gender stuff. If I wanted to—and this is a real hypothetical, because I don’t know if I do, I’m like, feeling it out—if I wanted to wear femme shit, or, or maybe do a different pronoun thing sometimes, would that—I know you’re like, gay gay but—”

“Wei Ying,” says Lan Zhan, and Wei Wuxian braces himself for something else wildly romantic, an I would love you no matter what but like, phrased like a Han dynasty poem somehow, but instead Lan Zhan says, “in sophomore year of high school you wore nothing but skirts for a month.”

Wei Wuxian blinks. “Really? I don’t remember that.”

“I know,” says Lan Zhan, without judgment. “I do.”

Wei Wuxian considers trying to remember high school, and decides against it. “Huh.”

“There have been—other signs, over the years,” Lan Zhan continues. “None of them have scared me away, or changed how I feel.”

“So these last couple months haven’t really surprised you at all, ” Wei Wuxian accuses. “You knew all along! Hang on, did you ever really even think I was a straight dude?”

Lan Zhan hesitates. “I thought—whatever else was happening with you, you had decided that your attraction to women and your desire for a stable family structure was more important than exploring it.”

Wei Wuxian thinks about that. “I mean. That’s not exactly wrong, except for the part where it depends on me being aware that there was other shit going on with me at all.” He grins. “And the part where it turns out my attraction to women pales in comparison to my attraction to you.”

“Mn.” Lan Zhan’s ears go red again, and Wei Wuxian—incredibly—is allowed to reach up and tug at them, teasing. “That has been very much a surprise.”

“I don’t see how,” Wei Wuxian complains. “You have to know what you look like.”

Lan Zhan angles his chin in what is almost but not quite a smug nod, and Wei Wuxian cackles delightedly. “You do! Lan Zhan, are you vain? Have I finally found your singular flaw?”

Lan Zhan glares at him, just a little bit. “However,” he says. “You have also known what I look like. For many years. It has never seemed to matter.”

Wei Wuxian sighs. “I think it took me so long to realize I was attracted to men because every man I saw I was like, well, sure, maybe, but Lan Zhan is hotter.” He laughs to himself. “I thought it was some kind of like, wingman-style pride, but it turns out I really want you to fuck me, and nobody else compares.”

Lan Zhan’s hands spasm on his ass. “Wei Ying.”

Wei Wuxian widens his eyes at him. “I'm sorry, did I not mention that part? Must’ve gotten lost between the gender crisis and the part where I want to marry you—oh my god."

He has to hide his face against Lan Zhan's shoulder, because Lan Zhan has, expending no apparent effort at all, stood up, scooping Wei Wuxian up in his arms bridal style. “Um,” he says against Lan Zhan’s shirt. “Wow. I owe Huaisang, like, really nice concert tickets."

"Mn,” Lan Zhan agrees, and carries him to bed.