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Manmade Fate

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Lan Zhan was kidnapped when he was nine years old.

There was a nice old woman that told him that she was going to bring him to the hospital to visit his mother. He had a lot of nannies growing up, so in the excitement of seeing his mother again, he forgot to ask her for the secret code.

Once he was in the car, he was drugged and lost consciousness. He later found himself in a warehouse full of children.

It was winter; snow was layered heavily that it made it hard even for the adults to leave. They even warned them that if they tried to escape, they would freeze to death. With that said, they locked the doors and all went to dinner.

Lan Zhan was no stranger to what kidnapping was and what they did with stolen children. He didn’t know the full extent of human trafficking at the age of nine, but he knew enough that it was bad.

He didn’t take their threats lightly, but Lan Zhan didn’t want to wait to see what fate awaited him. The other children looked at him like he was crazy but Lan Zhan was willing to risk it. If he died, then he died. He watched enough movies and shows to know how it usually goes. It was apparently a lot less dramatic according to his uncle, but the hostage often never made it back alive.

Lan Zhan was fine at first. There was no sign of civilization aside from the street lights that lit the path that he walked down. At some point, a snow storm started and snow piled higher and higher.

It soon became impossible to trudge through the snow so Lan Zhan simply laid down and accepted his fate.

The next time Lan Zhan opened his eyes, he felt cold hands pressed against his cheeks and a snotty child looking over him.

“Mama! Baba!” the child cried.

Lan Zhan was too warm but also too tired to move. He slipped back into sleep just as he saw two blurry figures come closer.

The next time he opened his eyes, he was more awake. He was still feeling too warm but there was something plaster against his side, making it hard to move.

“How are you feeling?” a warm voice asked. Lan Zhan looked as a woman pressed the back of her hand to his forehead. It was cool and soothing to the heat he felt. “Hm, still a little warm. If the storm dies down, we can take you to the hospital.”

“I want… my mama…” was the first thing Lan Zhan said. He was so excited to see her, only to be tricked. She must be worried. He wanted to see her now.

“I’m sorry, darling,” the woman gave him a small smile. “It’s snowing a lot and you have a fever right now. We called the police but we don’t know who you are so they’re going through their missing children reports. Your family should be looking for you.”

There was movement as his side and a leg landed on his stomach. The woman laughed.

“Let me move, A-Ying. He’s not used to sharing a bed with someone else. He takes up the whole bed by himself.” Lan Zhan saw the same snotty child that had been crying over him earlier. He was asleep now, head lolling as the woman picked him up. Lan Zhan immediately felt cold where A-Ying was once pressed against him. He wanted the warmth back.

“Uh, I have some bad news,” came a male voice and Lan Zhan tensed. “The snow still hasn’t stopped and they blocked off some of the roads due to the snow piling up.”

“Oh my, it must be really bad,” the woman said. Lan Zhan focused on A-Ying, who was still asleep; his cheek pressed against her shoulder. He was also drooling a little onto the woman’s cardigan. A-Ying looked so peaceful. He wished he was able to sleep in his mother’s arms like A-Ying did.

 

Lan Zhan ended up staying with the Wei family for a little over a week while the snow storm cleared up and the roads were safe again to drive. They had gotten in contact with Lan Zhan’s family and Lan Zhan was able to speak to them over the phone.

He also got to know A-Ying, or Wei Ying, better. The boy was three years younger than him, but was smarter than a lot of his classmates. It was a slight exaggeration but he liked the boy more than his peers.

“You should visit again,” the woman, Wei Ying’s mother, told him. “I’m sure A-Ying would love to play with you again.”

The mentioned child was currently wrapped around Lan Zhan’s waist because his mother told him that Lan Zhan had to leave. While Wei Ying gotten attached during this short period, Lan Zhan had as well. If it wasn’t for the Wei couple noticing and picking him up off the side of the road, he would have been long dead.

When he returned home, there was chaos with a tearful reunion and a flurry of security plans made to ensure Lan Zhan would stay safe. He already learned some self-defence, but he required more knowledge to protect himself from future threats.

“When can I visit the Wei family again?” Lan Zhan innocently asked. His father and uncle looked hesitant to answer.

It was his brother that spoke in the end.

“If you want to keep them safe, then you can’t talk to them right now. Maybe when you’re older.”

Lan Zhan didn’t understand but he accepted it. There was not a day that passed that he did not think about Wei family’s warm home, Wei Ying’s smile, and their love for him.

There were so many times that he almost asked to visit them but Lan Zhan didn’t. As he grew up, he realized how dangerous his family was, operating shady businesses with their corporation as a front. In this time, he became stronger in order to protect himself if there was another abduction attempt.

It was three years later when he learned that the Wei couple died in a car accident and Wei Ying was adopted by a family friend shortly after Lan Zhan left their care.

At the time of learning this, he was angry at his family for keeping it a secret. Deep down, he knew that they were trying to spare his feelings. However, it hurt to think that he carried hope for so long, only for it to be shattered. Just like how his mother promised to come home and play with him again, she passed away not even a year after the kidnapping attempt.

Lan Zhan couldn’t imagine the kind of pain Wei Ying went through, losing both his parents. When he was at his mother’s funeral, his brother was there to wipe his tears, his uncle held him the whole time, and his father told him to remain strong.

But who did Wei Ying have?

Lan Huan told him that a family friend had taken in Wei Ying before they were able to do so themselves. Their reason was that the Jiang family was closer to Wei Ying. Lan Zhan wanted to argue that he was close to Wei Ying, but he knew of the danger Wei Ying would be put through if he stayed with them.

He was suddenly aware of how weak and powerless he was. Although Lan Zhan was able to disarm and take down a full-grown man at the age of 14, he was not powerful enough to protect Wei Ying.

At 15, Lan Zhan learned that the Wen group were responsible for his kidnapping, as well as the staged accident that the Wei couple were involved in. He did not have personal grievances since it was simply how the underworld worked: you use whoever you can to get to your goal. But when it implicated an innocent family, Lan Zhan promised bloodshed.

His brother was kind enough to provide him with updates on Wei Ying. The Jiang family was treating him well, from what his brother told him.

Lan Zhan promised himself that he would not find Wei Ying until he cleaned the scums that dared to lay a hand on the Wei couple. At 18, he and Lan Huan wiped out one of the Wen divisions. He knew they were responsible for his kidnapping nine years ago, letting Wen Ruohan believe that was why they died so gruesomely.

He visited the Wei couple’s grave after and promised to protect Wei Ying. It was also then that he allowed himself to see Wei Ying. The teen was now 15 years old, a far cry from the chubby six-year-old that Lan Zhan kept in his memories.

Wei Ying looked so carefree and happy, as he should be.

Hot jealousy burned through him as he threw his arm around the Jiang heir, Jiang Cheng. They have seen each other at fancy dinner parties that their respective parents attended. Both were not interested in befriending the other, only stiff companionship as two of the youngest forced to share the same space.

Lan Zhan only knew from his brother that Wei Ying was well. He did not know his likes, dislikes, what foods he liked to eat, who his friends were, or if Wei Ying was still single.

He was not helpless anymore. He was older, wiser, stronger now. But it wasn’t enough.

Lan Zhan still needed to be stronger if he wanted to protect Wei Ying. He settled on learning about the teen by reading thorough investigative reports from several different private detective agencies.

He was happy to learn that Wei Ying was indeed single, despite his charisma charm that attracted a lot of unwanted attention. He kept photos and paid for the more thorough agencies to keep track of Wei Ying while Lan Zhan prepared to take what was his.

At 19, his father died and the Wen group were once again responsible. At 20, he made a reputable and respected name for himself among the underground world. Lan Huan had taken over as the CEO of Lan Corporation and Lan Zhan as his part-time help while he was still in school. At 22, he graduated from his undergrad program, took on a full-time position in the family business, and plotted to take what was rightfully his.

 

Wei Ying was nervous to meet his arranged partner. He didn’t have the right to complain. He owed it to the Jiang family for taking him in after his parents died. They could have left him at the orphanage or thrown around in the foster care system, but instead took him into their home. They officially adopted him on paper, but he kept his birth name.

Wei Ying was sure it was Yu Ziyuan’s way to ensure her husband remembered that he was not their blood related son, but the adopted son that belonged to their late friends.

Luckily, a DNA test resulting in negative relation between Jiang Fengmian and Wei Ying eased some of Yu Ziyuan’s worries.

Growing up with the Jiang family, Wei Ying had already planned to work in the family business alongside Jiang Cheng. However, Jiang’s trusted name had suffered from major backlash for smuggling firearms nearly a year ago.

A full investigation was held and the mole turned out to be the marketing director that was pulling strings in the background and it was swiftly dealt with. Due to the close relations the Jiangs had with the marketing director, the public believed that it was a rouse to clear the Jiangs from their crime. Considering Jiang Yanli’s engagement with Jin Zixuan was broken shortly before the incident, they could not rely on the Jins to support them.

Wei Ying had been worried for the company’s prospects until Yu Ziyuan brought up a potential partnership with the Lan Corps. In order to maintain good relations, they had suggested an arranged marriage.

However, Lan Huan already had a partner and Lan Zhan didn’t appear to take a liking to either Jiang Yanli or Jiang Cheng. Which led to Wei Ying sitting at the restaurant as he waited for his arranged fiancé.

He seen a picture of Lan Zhan; many pictures in fact. The man’s pictures are plastered everywhere almost as much as his brother. The man was stunning to say the least. A cold beauty, rumours said as he was a stark contrast to his older brother.

Wei Ying had high hopes that he would live through a fairy tale romance and end up as happy as his parents.

He could recall only a few memories of his parents, mostly relying on pictures that were saved in their family photo album, but he knew that they were happy. He too wanted a happy marriage but the outcomes of arranged marriages, political ones, were all business oriented and rarely love bloomed.

Wei Ying did tell himself he felt like he was living through those romance dramas where the protagonist is forced to marry a terrible playboy, who changed his ways for her.

However, Lan Zhan was said to be a gentleman and there was no gossip or scandals about his character. In fact, Wei Ying didn’t mind if Lan Zhan found his love match later. He just needed to play his role and play obedient. With the partnership with Lan corps., the Jiang family will gain back what they lost and maybe even more with the reputation boost.

Wei Ying was so lost in his head that he nearly missed his fiancé’s arrival. Yu Ziyuan didn’t allow him to daydream away and pulled him back with slight cough.

Pictures did not do the man justice because Wei Ying felt like he was looking up at a supermodel. Although he did not smile, he understood what “cold beauty” meant. Lan Zhan was a real looker. Wei Ying wondered how true the rumours are about how Lan Zhan had not been involved in any relationships because a man this handsome could not have been single his whole life and then agree to an arranged marriage.

The lunch meeting went well overall. Lan Zhan was clearly a god among men from the few hours they spent together. Wei Ying could understand why the man would have agreed to this when his brother did most of the talking for him.

“Why don’t we let the two of them have some time alone to get to know one another?” Lan Huan, the brother and CEO of Lan corps., suggested. Wei Ying couldn’t decline since it would look back on their part. His only hope was for Lan Zhan to decline and Wei Ying can go back home, play some video games, and ignore the fact that he was engaged to a stranger.

However, Lan Zhan nodded and looked to Wei Ying expectantly. With no choice now, Wei Ying followed.

Like a gentleman, Lan Zhan opened the passenger seat door for Wei Ying and closed it once he was seated. Wei Ying was still fiddling with his seatbelt when Lan Zhan entered the car and sat in the driver’s seat.

The car ride was quiet save for the instrumental music Lan Zhan was playing in the car.

Wei Ying was tempted to pull out his phone and text his friends or play a game but it felt rude. He honestly didn’t know what to expect, but Lan Zhan was probably not trying to drive them to some remote location to kill him… right?

As Wei Ying was mentally planning his escape, the car rolled to a stop. Wei Ying let out a squeak when the car door closed. Lan Zhan had exited the car and Wei Ying scrambled to unbuckle his seatbelt when his car door opened. Wei Ying jumped at the sound, then thanked Lan Zhan as he took his hand and exited the car.

“The beach?” Wei Ying asked, his eyes glued to the sight before him.

“You said you wanted to come here.” Wei Ying turned to the man and saw a fond look on Lan Zhan’s face. He felt like there was a small miscommunication though.

“I said that?”

Wei Ying felt like it was the wrong thing to say when Lan Zhan looked closed off.

“You don’t remember?”

“I… I don’t remember a lot of my childhood,” Wei Ying admitted. “I was actually wondering why you agreed to this engagement in the first place. I’m not some highly sought-after asset, more like a burden.”

“Wei Ying is never a burden,” Lan Zhan said and Wei Ying laughed.

“I’m sorry, but that’s all I am. I am an unwanted child that is trying to pay back the family that took care of him. But I guess I’ll be your burden once we get married.”

Wei Ying had more to say, but with gentle lips pressed against his, his mind went blank. He didn’t even have time to close his eyes when Lan Zhan pulled back and stared back at him. He would have tried to hide away if those piercing golden eyes were not staring into the depths of his soul.

“Do you doubt of my affection?”

Wei Ying shook his head. Lan Zhan was handsome up close, inhumanly beautiful. Wei Ying could only stare at the gentle quirk of his soft lips and the softening of his gaze as he leaned forward again. This time, Wei Ying closed his eyes and relished in the kiss.

Maybe it was about time for Wei Ying to let himself have something for himself.

 

After their impromptu make-out session, Wei Ying pulled Lan Zhan to the beach. He pulled off his shoes and socks before running through the sand, but his dress pants were hard to roll up past the knees so he simply took them off before running into the water with his boxers on.

Lan Zhan seemed more than content watching Wei Ying from the beach, still with his nice dress shoes on.

“You should have told me we were coming to the beach! I would have prepared for this!” Wei Ying laughed as he kicked around the water.

“I will alert you next time,” Lan Zhan said. He didn’t say that he had prepared some essentials in his trunk in case Wei Ying did want to sunbathe or play in the sand. He was glad to have a large fluffy towel on hand for this exact situation. Lan Zhan had even prepared an extra set of clothes and swimwear, but Wei Ying looked content splashing around water with his feet.

“I used to come here with Jiang Cheng a lot!” Wei Ying said as he moved the wet sand with his toes. “Well, not this beach, but we played often. Then we grew up and didn’t have as much time to play.”

Lan Zhan smiled pleasantly while trying to quell the jealousy rising within him. He simply had to create more and better memories with Wei Ying so he forgot all about other men. Lan Zhan briefly wondered how much of his parents Wei Ying did remember, when his attention was called for again.

“Thanks for bringing me here!” Wei Ying smiled brightly. “I always wanted to come back to the beach.”

“We can come here as much as you like.” Lan Zhan was already thinking about buying a residence with a private beach for Wei Ying. They could spend a few weeks of summer there.

“Lan Zhan! You’re spoiling me so much already!” Wei Ying laughed again. Lan Zhan will never be tired of that sound. He will do everything in his power to keep Wei Ying happy and laughing. “What will I do when we get married and you turn all cold on me? My heart will break!”

“I will love Wei Ying until the end of time,” Lan Zhan said and Wei Ying squeaked.

“Don’t make false promises!”

“I do not.” Lan Zhan vowed to never let Wei Ying go now that he had him.

 

“Finish up here,” Lan Zhan ordered his men as he walked out of the warehouse. He frowned when he saw the time on his phone. Luckily, he didn’t get any blood on him, but the deal went awry and now he’s late for his date.

Not wanting to resist being stopped by the police, Lan Zhan unwillingly obeyed the traffic laws and made it to the coffee shop 30 minutes late.

He saw where Wei Ying was sitting through the glass window. He looked bored and didn’t notice as Lan Zhan approached. The latter didn’t realize that the man seated next to Wei Ying was actually bothering him until he entered the establishment.

Lan Zhan relished in the way Wei Ying perked up upon seeing him, ignoring the man at his side or how he stopped talking and glared at Lan Zhan. It mattered not since Wei Ying was his.

“Lan Zhan!” his sweet Wei Ying called out to him and Lan Zhan kissed him in front of the man. He felt smug at how Wei Ying melted into his embrace and looked so adoring back at Lan Zhan when they parted. Lan Zhan chanced a glance to the side to see that the man was gone. Wei Ying was a little breathless when he said, “You came.”

“I apologize. I was caught up with work.” He was wearing his suit as per usual, but stashed away his gloves and suit jacket in attempt to draw less attention. “I will make it up to you.”

“Aiyo, no need for that. You’re here now, that’s what matters,” Wei Ying said brightly and turned back to his phone. “I was thinking we can maybe watch a movie, but I found this pottery place that had classes today! So, I was thinking…”

“I am happy to do anything Wei Ying chooses,” Lan Zhan said sincerely.

Wei Ying squealed and kissed Lan Zhan on the cheek before pulling him out of the coffee shop, one hand holding his nearly finished drink and the other holding Lan Zhan’s hand. They arrived at a small pottery house and enrolled in the drop-in class. Wei Ying was practically vibrating in excitement while Lan Zhan watched in amusement.

An hour into the class, Lan Zhan’s phone rang insistently and Wei Ying gave him a small smile.

“It’s okay, work is important.”

Lan Zhan was ready to murder a man. He apologized, gave Wei Ying a quick kiss, and washed his hands to answer the call. He walked away from the class and closer to the entrance where all the various creations were on display to attract customers to buy their pottery or enroll in classes.

“Speak,” Lan Zhan said into the phone. Normally, no one dared to call him so it had to be important.

“We rounded up the remaining survivors and searched the perimeter but we can’t find their leader. We think he might have escaped.”

Lan Zhan would have cursed if he was less mannered. He knew that such a thing would not happen if he was there to clean up, but he looked back to Wei Ying with his tongue poking out as he tried to smooth the edge to this mug. Su She can wait, Wei Ying cannot.

“Clean up properly this time. Leave a report on my desk.”

“Yes sir!” and the line cut off.

The reason why the Lan group was the most feared was because Lan Zhan was extremely thorough. This was his first slip-up and the others may think he has gotten soft if word gets out that the Su group leader made it out with his life while his men are killed and territory was seized.

He called three different hitmen and put a heavy sum for Su She’s head. At this point, it was about the money but of pride. He cannot let the man live.

Lan Zhan took a deep breath, removed himself from work before returning to Wei Ying’s side.

“Do you have to go? I kept adding water to your clay so it won’t dry out yet. But I don’t know if you had to go because it seemed urgent? I understand if you have to leave! You’re a busy man after all,” Wei Ying said in one breath, not giving Lan Zhan room to reply. He couldn’t help but lean in for another kiss. He loved this man so much. “Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asked as soon as they parted. “You look upset. Are you okay?”

Wei Ying looked like he wanted to hold the other man, but then saw his clay dirtied hands and laughed nervously.

“I am better now,” with you, Lan Zhan didn’t add.

“I’m almost done mine!” Wei Ying said as he pointed at his own clay creation. It was a very beautifully shaped cup. He was molding the handle to add to his work before it is complete. “Then we can go and you can take care of your business thing.”

“I wish to have dinner with Wei Ying.”

“But work…”

“It can wait,” Lan Zhan said, “unless Wei Ying wants me to go?”

“No! I… Dinner sounds lovely,” Wei Ying said and moved his hand in a familiar gesture to tuck a lock of hair behind his ear. Lan Zhan caught his hand, making Wei Ying look up as Lan Zhan did it for him. “Ah, habit. Thank you. That strand of hair was annoying me.”

“Mm.” Lan Zhan said and went back to finishing his mug. He originally wanted to make a bowl since Wei Ying was already making a mug. But with all the questions Wei Ying asked about his preferences, it was obvious he was making it for Lan Zhan. He too intended to make something for Wei Ying, so he almost made a mug so they could match in that way. His heart warmed at how much thought and care Wei Ying was putting into this.

 

“Wei Ying, there’s still three months to the wedding,” Lan Zhan said. He went to pick up Wei Ying this time since it was going to be a special day.

“Lan Zhan, if you want to break off the engagement now, I will cry uncontrollably in your nice car,” Wei Ying said with a watery smile. Lan Zhan reached out to thumb away the tears that gathered in the corner of his eyes.

“I want to visit your parents, as well as mine.”

Wei Ying stared at him with wide eyes, his lips parted in surprise. Wei Ying had casually mentioned about his dead parents since that was why he was taken in by the Jiang family, but Lan Zhan rarely talked about his own.

“Okay,” Wei Ying said breathlessly.

They went to Lan Zhan’s favourite flower shop, a quaint little shop sandwiched between a café and a convenience store. The lady that owned the store knew what bouquets Lan Zhan wanted and looked surprised when he asked for a moment to speak to Wei Ying.

Wei Ying never knew what to get so he asked the florist for whatever was fresh and beautiful to bring to his parents.

“I’m sure they’ll like what you choose,” Wei Ying said. Lan Zhan nodded and asked for the usual. Wei Ying wondered why he had regularly ordered for two bouquets of flowers.

The car ride was silent when they reached the cemetery. It never occurred to Wei Ying that their parents were buried in the same place, but it was no big surprise either. Wei Ying held the pink and white bouquet while Lan Zhan held the blue and purple one.

“Do you mind if we visit my parents first?” Lan Zhan asked softly. Wei Ying shook his head. He was curious about Lan Zhan’s parents so his curiosity will be satisfied.

With Lan Zhan in the lead, they eventually reached the resting place of Lan Zhan’s parents.

“Mother, father, I have brought my fiancé to visit you,” Lan Zhan said as he laid the flowers on their grave. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he?”

“Hello, I’m Wei Ying,” he said awkwardly. “I will be a good spouse to your son! So, um, don’t worry?”

“They know you will be good to me,” Lan Zhan smiled. Wei Ying felt flustered under the compliment but didn’t want to be disrespectful. “Mother would have loved you. Father knew a little about you. A shame that they never met you.”

Wei Ying wanted to ask but it didn’t feel right to ask someone how their parents died. It’s the kind of information someone volunteered.

“My mother passed away when I was about nine,” Lan Zhan said, as if reading Wei Ying’s mind. “She had been sick since I remembered. A lot of time in the hospital and one day, she was gone. My father was never the same after. He was at peace finally. I hope they find each other again.”

“I’m sorry,” Wei Ying said and held Lan Zhan’s hand. It didn’t provide much comfort, but Lan Zhan thought it was a nice gesture. “I’m sure they’ll be proud to know that their son grew up into such a handsome gentleman.”

“Mother always smiled, even during the worse times,” Lan Zhan said. “It reminds me of you. Always smiling.”

“I will keep smiling then,” Wei Ying said, “in hopes that you will smile back at me.”

“Always, for Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan said with a soft smile.

They stayed for a few more minutes before leaving. This time, Wei Ying took the lead. Lan Zhan followed, their hands intertwined and neither let go since Wei Ying first reached out.

“Mama, baba!” Wei Ying called out and Lan Zhan could hear the edge of sadness in his voice. “I’ve come to visit you again. Look what I brought this time! Lan Zhan is my fiancé! He’s so good, I think you would like him.”

Lan Zhan greeted the two as Wei Ying laid the flowers on their grave.

“I promise to take good care of your son. Please give us your blessing,” Lan Zhan said as Wei Ying straightened up. A slight breeze ruffled their hair and Wei Ying smiled.

“I think that was my parents saying yes,” Wei Ying said with a twinkle in his eyes.

“With their blessings,” Lan Zhan said as he got down on one knee. Wei Ying gasped at the gesture, his eyes tearing up. “Wei Ying, I know we are engaged but I wish to ask,” He opened the box and inside was a beautiful ring, “will you marry me?”

“Yes! Of course!” Wei Ying said as he held out his hand. Lan Zhan smiled and slipped the ring on Wei Ying’s finger. Wei Ying lifted his hand closer to look at the ring. He softly whispered, “It’s beautiful.”

“Only the best for Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan said and pulled him into a hug.

“Mama, baba,” Wei Ying said as he detached himself from Lan Zhan. “Look, your son is very happy. You don’t have to worry about me, okay?”

Lan Zhan didn’t comment about the tears that rolled down Wei Ying’s cheeks. He did reach into his pockets for a tissue pack and wiped away Wei Ying’s tears.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying said with a sniffle, “I didn’t ask your parents for their blessings.”

“They have already given us their blessings,” Lan Zhan said. Wei Ying didn’t question it. He’ll simply ask when they visit again.

 

The last few weeks leading up the wedding were chaotic, to simply put it. Lan Zhan didn’t care too much about the ceremony, but wanted a grand wedding to let everyone know that Wei Ying is now officially his and his alone.

Lan Zhan had made it clear years ago that Wei Ying was his person and whoever laid a hand on him will suffer a miserable death. It didn’t stop the two separate attempts on Wei Ying’s life, but Lan Zhan was always one step ahead. But now he didn’t need to protect Wei Ying from the shadows. He now had the power and the role to stand beside Wei Ying and protect him with his own power.

However, he didn’t think that anyone was brave enough to kidnap his partner at his wedding.

“Wei Ying is missing,” Jiang Yanli cried, holding the ripped veil that Wei Ying had insisted on wearing for their ceremony.

“I’ll wear a black suit and you wear a white suit. Like yin and yang! Oh, I want to wear a veil too. I really want you to lift the veil and kiss me.”

Lan Zhan was enraged and called for his men to track down Wei Ying. There was no blood in the room or no signs of struggle. However, the door was broken into and it led to a back entrance that the culprit likely used.

In less than 40 minutes, Wei Ying’s location was found and Lan Zhan promised to bring back Wei Ying.

Jiang Yanli was in tears and inconsolable. It was a surprise that it was Jin Zixuan that tried to comfort her along with her brother, but Lan Zhan only cared about Wei Ying in the moment.

Traffic was terrible and Lan Zhan had to take alternate routes in order to get to Wei Ying faster. He was speeding and running a few red lights, but if Wei Ying was hurt, he will kill everyone in sight. He could care less about his reputation if Wei Ying was harmed in any way because of him.

He arrived at an abandoned house and exited his car with a gun in hand. His men had arrived shortly after but Lan Zhan didn’t wait before he approached the house.

There was nothing suspicious from the outside and the building was mostly cleared. His men scattered around the house to ensure it was safe while Lan Zhan ventured inside. The first floor was cleared. There was a basement and a second floor. It made little sense to Lan Zhan to hold a hostage on the second floor so he opted to go to the basement first.

In the middle of the basement, Wei Ying was tied to the chair. Lan Zhan rushed to him while his men checked around for a trap.

Lan Zhan pulled out the cloth gag and worked on untying the rope around Wei Ying’s hands.

“So, it’s true?”

Lan Zhan faltered for a second before working on the knot again. Wei Ying’s hands were freed.

“What is?”

Lan Zhan went to free his right leg.

“I don’t recognize these people. They’re not from the wedding, are they?”

Lan Zhan undid the knot. He did the same for the left leg.

“I do not understand.”

“How many things are you hiding from me, Hanguang-jun?”

Lan Zhan looked up at his to-be husband to see Wei Ying with a closed off expression.

“Who told you?”

“Why does it matter?” Wei Ying laughed humourlessly. “All this time, I was being played for a fool?”

“Leave us,” Lan Zhan ordered. His men obeyed and they were the only people left in the dusty dark basement. “Did he hurt you?”

“Nothing more than what you did,” Wei Ying spat out. “Those firearms found with our shipment, that was your lovely handiwork, right? What was that really for? Did you plan for us to come begging at your brother’s feet so that we can get back our livelihood? Did you have fun playing with my feelings un–”

“I never played with your feelings.”

“But you don’t deny the firearms?!” Wei Ying shouted. Lan Zhan looked up again and Wei Ying was crying. “All this time, all this fucking time, I thought you were truly a gentleman for helping us, marrying me even though I was not worthy for someone as amazing as you. But this was all just some fucking joke to you!”

“My feelings are true,” Lan Zhan said calmly. He was angered by the accusations, but there was no way that Wei Ying found out on his own. The culprit must have found out and told Wei Ying, using him as Lan Zhan’s weak spot.

“You’re telling me that you made the family that took care of me and raised me into collateral so you could have your way with me?” Wei Ying asked with a hint of hysteria.

“It was the plan with the highest success rate.”

“What other plans did you have? Kill all the Jiangs and leave me alive so I have nowhere else to turn?” Wei Ying asked. When Lan Zhan didn’t respond, Wei Ying slumped in his chair. “Lan Zhan, why can’t you be honest with me?”

“You did not ask.”

Wei Ying threw his head back with a laugh. Lan Zhan was worried. As he reached for his phone to call his brother to cancel the wedding, Wei Ying looked back at him, his eyes shining and his beautiful smile on his face again.

“I’m mad at you still!” Wei Ying declared. “Just because you’re handsome and make me laugh doesn’t forgive your crimes.”

“I will earn Wei Ying’s forgiveness,” Lan Zhan said earnestly. He never intended to hide the truth. He never found the right time to bring up the topic. Wei Ying never asked about his line of work, only assuming based on what he heard from others. Lan Zhan did not have the heart to correct him when he wasn’t entirely wrong.

“If I asked you a question, will you answer me truthfully?” Wei Ying asked softly, his voice barely echoing in the bare space. Lan Zhan nodded. He never lied to Wei Ying since they were together, maybe sidestepped the truth a few times, but never an outright lie.

“He said you were responsible for my parents’ death.” Lan Zhan lowered his head. “Is that true?”

“Yes.” Lan Zhan always regretted getting the Wei family involved. If it wasn’t for him, the couple would be alive and Wei Ying would have grown up with his parents. There is a pit of guilt when he thought about their deaths but he swore to protect Wei Ying with his life.

“I don’t– You were young when they died. You couldn’t be responsible. Was it your parents? O-or your family?”

“Your parents helped me when I escaped traffickers.” There was a wounded noise coming from Wei Ying. Lan Zhan didn’t dare look up. “If it were not for your parents, I would have died. But because of their involvement, they died. You– you were supposed to die with them.”

“Oh.”

They were enveloped in silence. Lan Zhan tried to steady his breathing, but even after years of finding the truth, of taking revenge for himself and the Wei couple, of protecting Wei Ying from the shadows, it was not enough to atone for his sins.

“Lan Zhan, look at me.” Warm, gentle hands cupped his cheeks and he met Wei Ying’s watery gaze. “It’s not your fault. I– I don’t really remember much about my parents, nothing more than pictures and videos Uncle Jiang kept. But he always told me that my parents always do what they thought was the right thing. If you asked me to choose between you or my parents,” Wei Ying paused for a second, sniffed as tears ran down his face, “I don’t think I could choose, but fate has chosen for me. You promised to take care of me in place of my parents. You can’t go against your words now.”

“I would never,” Lan Zhan said, surging up to claim Wei Ying’s lips. They kissed, sloppy and desperate. The chair beneath Wei Ying was likely not made to hold the weight of two full grown men, but Lan Zhan was still pressing Wei Ying against it.

If it was not for the insistent call from upstairs, Lan Zhan might have ripped the clothes off Wei Ying and had his way in the dusty basement. Instead, he pulled away with reluctance, then looked proudly at the flustered mess Wei Ying was. His suit was rumpled, lips bruised and red from kissing, his hair looked absolutely dishevelled, and neck littered with marks that told everyone who Wei Ying belonged to. Lan Zhan wondered how mad their families would be if they skipped the wedding ceremony and skipped to consummation.

“Hanguang-jun!” his right man called urgently. If he was not incredibly useful, Lan Zhan would have put a bullet between his eyes.

“Is he calling for you?” Wei Ying asked, tucking at his clothes to look somewhat presentable. The marks were not completely hidden under his cover and Lan Zhan felt pleased about it. “Han-guang-jun~?”

It awoke something inside Lan Zhan, but it was not the time to explore that right now. Perhaps later, when they are alone and in bed. He wanted to see how fast he can make Wei Ying fall apart at his hands. For now, he had a wedding to get back to, and whatever urgent matter his men decided to disturb him.

No one dared disturb him without good reason.

However, it was a good reason. Kneeling on the grass, held down by two men, sporting a growing bruise on the left corner of his mouth and cut just under his eye, Su She growled at the sight of Lan Zhan.

“Bad move,” is all Lan Zhan said to him. He turned to his right hand with the intention of giving him instructions to draw out Su She’s misery as he took Wei Ying back for the ceremony. But the dead man decided that he wanted an even more painful death as he spat out at Wei Ying.

“You imbecile! This man ruined you! He ruined your whole life! And yet you stand here next to him? So proudly?” Su She started laughing madly. He was a shell of his former self after Lan Zhan destroyed everything he had. This was his last chance at revenge. “This man killed your parents and then framed your new family? You must be in it for the long game! You’re going to pretend to love him and then break his heart into nothing. Genius! True genius!”

Wei Ying shrank away from Su She with each statement that came out of his mouth. Lan Zhan shielded his beloved from the sad sight and gave orders to make sure nothing was left of Su She.

Even as they left, the mad laughter echoed before a gunshot was heard. As Lan Zhan pulled away from the abandoned house, he knew that Su She was not killed so easily. His right hand was almost as cruel as he was, if necessary. He will enjoy the full report of Su She’s death later.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan called out and placed a hand on his knee. This was his priority now. Wei Ying must have been shaken up.

“About what he, Su She said, I… it’s not true,” Wei Ying said. Lan Zhan spared a glance to see Wei Ying looking at him with wide eyes. He will choose to believe in Wei Ying, even if someday the same man will plunge a knife into his heart. “I’m– There’s no long game, or or pretending. I love you, Lan Zhan. I do.”

Lan Zhan softened. He was so afraid of how Wei Ying would see him, even when he smiled at him like he normally did after finding out the truth

It was true that he pulled a few strings behind the scenes to obtain Wei Ying. He did not deny that he purposely made the Jiangs desperate for a good partnership to keep their business afloat. Lan Zhan even had a contingency plan to bring the Jiang company back on track and help them prosper more than ever.

Lan Zhan was not above anything as long as it made Wei Ying happy, made him smile. He was willing to do anything that would keep Wei Ying by his side.

Yet Wei Ying looked at him with fear, like Lan Zhan would abandon him over the words from a worthless piece of trash said. It was endearing. His Wei Ying was too cute. Lan Zhan will never let him go.

“Do you wish to resume the wedding today?” They were late, completely overscheduled. They should be heading to the banquet avenue now and the food was to be served in less than 2 hours. But Lan Zhan couldn’t wait until they were legally bounded and publicly seen as a couple. If Wei Ying wanted to wait for another day, Lan Zhan will only have to stake his claim another day.

“Yes,” Wei Ying breathed. He placed a hand over Lan Zhan’s hand still resting on his knee and squeezed. “Are- Were they waiting for us to come back? We look like a mess. Your pants are dirty now too.”

Wei Ying was the one to choose the white suit for their wedding. Lan Zhan did not care much for the details and simply agreed. He always preferred darker colours when he was going to get his hands dirty, but he had no time to change or do anything else when he knew that Wei Ying was taken from him.

“I have the other suit you chose. It’s not your favourite, but it will do.”

Wei Ying made a small whining noise but nodded. When Wei Ying was having trouble choosing between four designs, Lan Zhan simply bought all four so that Wei Ying could choose up until the moment of the ceremony.

“Lan Zhan, what if… what if some day you regret marrying me?”

The car stopped at the side of the road and Lan Zhan turned to Wei Ying. Wei Ying immediately spiraled into one of his self-depreciating rambles that Lan Zhan was too familiar with. Lan Zhan loved him and it was a fact. There was no reason for him to regret the union, neither will he desire anyone else.

“Wei Ying is all I need,” Lan Zhan said when Wei Ying finally ran out of excuses. The latter gave him a watery smile and laughed.

“Lan Zhan, you better remember this!” Wei Ying said before leaning forward for a kiss.

Lan Zhan indulged him. What if they were a few more minutes late? He finally had Wei Ying; heart, body, and soul. Wei Ying will never be able to leave him.