Jiang Cheng calls Wei Wuxian and Jiang Yanli into his private study at midday.
It used to be the place where Wei Wuxian received Jiang Fengmian’s orders, back when the war was on, but Jiang Cheng’s done a lot of redecorating since. Wei Wuxian can cross the threshold without lingering on the dead much at all, these days.
“No more fucking around,” Jiang Cheng starts. Always auspicious beginnings with this one. “Nie Huaisang will make sure Chifeng-zun doesn’t sell us down the river, but we’re still in bad shape with the rest of the sects. I’ve been corresponding with a few, and it looks like—”
“You’re selling us off? How cruel!” Wei Wuxian interrupts.
“You, maybe. A-Jie can stay.”
“Boys,” Jiang Yanli chides. “We are not being sold. We are entering into marriage. Aren’t we?”
Jiang Cheng’s brow furrows. “Yeah. Though I don’t see why Jin Zixuan thinks he can just w—”
“Because I invited him to,” she corrects Jiang Cheng, “and because I would like to accept.”
For a moment, neither Wei Wuxian nor Jiang Cheng can find the will to speak. “Shijie should always be happy,” Wei Wuxian answers, the first to recover.
Jiang Yanli makes her way over to cup his face in both hands. “A-Xian should have the same,” she reminds him, her warmth doing nothing to hide the firm determination in her gaze.
“A-Xian was born smiling,” Wei Wuxian assures, catching her wrists and squeezing once. “Besides, XianXian is only three. Surely Jiang Cheng would not be so heartless as to betrothe me before I have reached courting age?” He turns to blink innocent eyes in Jiang Cheng’s direction.
“You were easier to sell. Jin Guangshan had a lot of demands before Madam Jin got to him, but Gusu Lan sent terms right away.”
“Gusu Lan!” Wei Wuxian cries in horror. “You’re selling me to Gusu Lan?!”
“A-Xian!” Jiang Yanli cries. “You’re not a chicken to be sold. What is there to dislike about the Gusu Lan sect?”
“They have a wall with three thousand rules on it,” he starts, counting on his fingers, “everyone there is stuffy and miserable, they would make me wear mourning robes day-in and day-out, they don’t eat meat, they don’t put spice in anything, they only eat bitter vegetables all day, everyone has a dour expression at all hours, and do you know they have a special list of rules just for foxes?” Wei Wuxian scratches at the back of one soft ear. To be fair, the Lan have a separate list of rules for all the shifter species, in accordance with general knowledge of their instincts, but it still seems unfair that he should be forced to keep to one tail visible at meals and during class. If his tails are so distracting, perhaps the other disciples should simply learn self-control!
“Don’t care,” Jiang Cheng answers. “They’re giving way more than they’d be getting, so shut up and be grateful.”
In a puff of reddish smoke, Wei Wuxian disappears, leaving only a small fox in his place. His ears lay flat against his head. Slowly, with his belly on the floor, he crawls toward Jiang Cheng. His eyes are big and round, nine tails fluffy where they drag along after him. He lays down at Jiang Cheng’s feet and gives him the sweetest, most hopeful expression he can muster, head on his paws and tilted just a little to the left.
Jiang Cheng gives him a soft kick in Jiang Yanli’s direction.
“A-Cheng!” she scolds, scooping Wei Wuxian into her lap. He moves his tails so they aren’t all bunched in her face as he makes himself round as a steamed bun, hiding his face with his paws.
“You can’t let him get away with that shit,” Jiang Cheng tells her, entirely nonplussed. He doesn’t even sound sorry.
Ah, well. Wei Wuxian may be sold to Gusu Lan, but at least he has shijie to pet him and carry him to the kitchen and spoon soup into his mouth while he whines in the back of his throat. There’s nothing better than being a pathetic little creature with shijie.
fifteen years earlier
Lan Zhan is patient and diligent for his age. He hears it all the time—even once from Father—so he knows it must be true. He excels at waiting his turn and does not break the rules or run ahead.
Why, then, has he been punished?
Your mother isn’t feeling well. Lan Zhan would take care of her if he were simply permitted entry. If xiongzhang has more important things to do, that is his duty as the eldest, but Lan Zhan’s duty is clear. The fact that he is not allowed entry—not allowed to help, not allowed to fix what’s wrong—is a great miscarriage of justice.
He will make his case to shufu, but first he must gather the proper medicinal herbs. Lan Zhan is not normally the person sent to gather them, but on occasion he has done so, if extra hands are needed. He remembers what they look like.
Lan Zhan has an excellent memory.
As he notes the garden rising on the hill ahead, a wide black shadow looms between him and his destination. Lan Zhan blinks, but the shadow does not go away—unfortunately, it belongs to a person.
“Excuse me,” Lan Zhan says. This person must be a guest of some sort. Lan Zhan must be polite.
“Actually, maybe you can help me!” The person steps back, so that Lan Zhan no longer has to crane his neck to see his face.
His appearance is even more unusual than Lan Zhan expects. His robes are actually a deep purple, so deep it seemed black at first, but the innermost ones are grey and a sharp, violent red. Despite enough layers to suggest propriety, they are far too open at his chest; Lan Zhan knows enough to know a shameless person when he sees one.
Most curious of all are the ears and tails that mark this guest as a fox. Fox shifters have not visited the Cloud Recesses before, not where Lan Zhan could see. They seem messy. All that fur would be likely to shed.
“No,” Lan Zhan answers, stepping to one side and gesturing for the fox to go on past him.
Only the fox doesn’t move. “No?” Instead, he swings a hand around from behind his back, revealing two jars tied together that clack as he moves. “I’m shocked at the Lan sect’s lack of hospitality.” He leans down and looks closer at Lan Zhan, eyes widening in surprise as they catch on the cloud-patterned ribbon beneath the blue stubs of his growing antlers. “Excuse me, xiao-gongzi, the Lan clan. Would you really leave me, a defenseless guest in your Cloud Recesses, lost with no way out?”
There is a set of obligations Lan Zhan must follow. He should ensure this guest reaches his destination safely and quickly, so that Lan Zhan himself can be on his way. Mother is counting on him. Yet—
“Do not stand improperly.”
“Huh?” The fox’s ears perk up on his head.
Annoyed, Lan Zhan stands in front of him, arms behind his back, posture rigid. “Like this.”
Looking him up and down, that ridiculous fox bursts into laughter. His shoulders shake and he nearly drops his jars, which continue to clatter together merrily as he catches them again. Lan Zhan makes out the character for liquor and remembers why he knows it.
“Alcohol is prohibited!”
The insolent laughter continues. “That’s ridiculous,” the fox objects.
“Consult the Wall of Principles.” Lan Zhan points toward the wall on which the rules of existence are carved.
He raises a brow. “The Lan clan will give outsiders orders, now?”
Lan Zhan finds himself stumped. He knows that guests should be respectful and obey the principles, but he also knows not to talk back to his seniors, and he has already broken that rule once. He puts his hand stiffly behind his back.
Something about the movement takes the laughter from the fox’s eyes. “Hey, it’s alright, I’m only teasing. Is alcohol really not allowed here?”
Lan Zhan nods.
“Aiya, zongzhu said to be mindful, but that’s just too much to handle! I suppose you wouldn’t know, would you?” The fox winks his left eye at Lan Zhan. “You’re much too young for such things.”
Do not act impulsively, Lan Zhan reminds himself. He rarely struggles with this principle, but the insolent manner with which this fox speaks, the way his words soften around ‘young’ as though Lan Zhan is an infant…
“Well, when you’re older, you’ll have to come out to Yunmeng and I’ll take you drinking. That wouldn’t be prohibited, right?” He smiles more than anyone Lan Zhan has ever met. It’s unnerving. “You can ask for Wei Ying! If—” as he qualifies, he holds up one finger, “—you tell me your name, too.”
Lan Zhan is absolutely never going to Yunmeng. He knows the Jiang clan run their sect in Lotus Pier, and that he can identify them should he need to by the bell they wear at their waists. Wei Ying’s bell stands out proudly against the deep purple robes; Lan Zhan should have remembered the colors.
“Lan Zhan,” he introduces when he can find no reason to refuse.
“Lan Zhan… ah, Lan Zhan! Er-gongzi, no?”
He nods. Wei Ying salutes him, but it doesn’t feel genuine.
“Sorry to have disturbed the distinguished Lan er-gongzi at work! Just what were you so determined to get back to?”
“Nothing,” Lan Zhan answers. He knows he answered too quickly by the twinkle in Wei Ying’s eye. Foolish. Now he’ll be delayed even more. “I can show you the way,” he offers, attempting to distract.
“No, no, I was only heading back to—to your shufu. I’ve got time, and you looked so serious when I found you.” Wei Ying pauses, scratching his chin. “Well, maybe you always look serious. Oh!” He takes a qiankun pouch and shoves the jars of liquor inside. “There, that’s better, right?”
It is most assuredly not, but Wei Ying said he was on his way to shufu, and shufu knows best how to deal with such troublesome people. If he gets lost, it is only because he refused to ask for help. Lan Zhan folds his hands in front of him and bows. “Goodbye.”
He starts down the path again, but quickly hears footsteps following. Lan Zhan stops and turns his head. “Wrong way,” he says, pointing the way they came. “Shufu is that way.”
“Maybe I’m taking a scenic route. Is Lan er-gongzi going to stop me?” He sounds like he finds the idea entertaining, which starts an itch beneath Lan Zhan’s skin. An irrational itch.
Lan Zhan starts on a familiar inner mantra: Do not succumb to rage.
Wei Ying follows him to the garden and stops at the edge, observing Lan Zhan as he weaves through the plants, slowing at certain plots before he decides these aren’t right and moves on. He can do nothing to stop this guest from looking, but—
“Isn’t this all medicinal?” Wei Ying asks, sounding a bit wary. “I’m really not sure you should be messing with this stuff…”
Lan Zhan stops, turning to face Wei Ying and hiding his fisted hands in his sleeves. “I have before,” he argues, stopping himself from raising his voice only at the last possible second. Lan Zhan turns back around and gently examines the vine climbing a wooden post before him.
“Really?” He returns to his cheery demeanor, but Lan Zhan remains skeptical. “Well, excuse me, er-gongzi. It’s just that you seem a little lost.” Lan Zhan is not—lost. It is not his fault that no one will tell him the problem. When he has to guess at that part, how can he find the solution? Yet find it he must.
He is a good son.
When Wei Ying speaks again, his voice comes from just over Lan Zhan’s shoulder. “If you tell me what you’re looking for…”
Lan Zhan feels his nails digging into his palms. He wants to do this on his own. The more people know, the more likely that someone will tell shufu before he’s figured out what he’s going to say. People take advantage of that, sometimes—of the fact that he takes time to sort his thoughts before speaking. They always want to get there before he can.
Still, Wei Ying is an unruly disciple from another sect. If Lan Zhan is careful, he won’t know enough to tell shufu anything, and Lan Zhan will be able to use his knowledge as an elder disciple to further his goal.
“Medicine to help with…” It’s hard to tell where to begin. He pauses, struggling with the definition of such an overwhelming problem and feeling foolish for it. “Someone sick. Pale. Weak. Tired all the time.” Lan Zhan hates the way his stupid eyes burn. He’s not a baby anymore. “Sickness that makes you sad.” He blinks hard and looks up at Wei Ying, waiting to be told he’s wrong, waiting for the laughter from earlier to come back.
Wei Ying looks very serious, though. Almost as serious as Lan Zhan. He crouches down in the dirt, ears flat against his head, tails taller than both of them, now. “Sounds serious. Are they your age? Your friend? Or someone older?”
It is serious. Cautious relief begins to swell in his belly. “No.” Lan Zhan isn’t supposed to talk about his mother to outsiders. “Older.”
He looks at the herb again. “This one is for coughing,” Lan Zhan remembers. He turns to face the other direction, where small flowers bloom. “I don’t know these,” he admits.
Wei Ying studies them for a moment. “They’re part of a salve for pain,” he deduces, “with a couple other things from this garden.” He makes eye contact with Lan Zhan again. His eyes are soft in a way that makes Lan Zhan nervous. “The kind of sickness you’re describing, though… I don’t think it’s something you treat with this sort of thing.”
The swell of relief Lan Zhan felt earlier crashes like a storm wave in his chest and dissipates, leaving only an empty pit behind. “That’s wrong,” he says. “Medicine helps.”
“Most of the time,” Wei Ying agrees. “Lan er—”
“No.” The word feels inevitable, rising up from his throat without warning. He feels sick.
Wei Ying reaches out a hand and sets it on his shoulder, putting it back when Lan Zhan pushes it away. “I think you should talk to your dad, maybe, or your shufu—”
“No!” Lan Zhan feels a surge of anger and turns his head, biting down on Wei Ying’s arm as hard as he can. Wei Ying makes a sound and scrambles to his feet with some distance between them. Lan Zhan feels a twist of pride at the red welts he left, satisfied that there’s some small mark in this world of how he feels. “Go away!”
“Alright!” Wei Ying holds up his hands, backing away. “Alright, fine, you little menace, I’m leaving.” He sounds exasperated, but Lan Zhan isn’t sorry. Wei Ying turns around as he walks, heading in the direction of shufu for real this time.
Lan Zhan wants nothing more than to plop down into the dirt, but he cannot dirty his robes. Usually, rage gives him an abundance of energy, but something about the anger he feels now has exhausted him entirely.
Stupid fox. How dare he… how dare he!
If he never ever sees Wei Ying of Yunmeng Jiang again, it will still be far too soon.
Jiang Yanli’s wedding is somewhat rushed, but certainly spectacular. She’s always been the most beautiful person in the world to Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng, but it seems like the entire cultivation realm can see it when she makes her bows. Love has her glowing.
Or perhaps something else does. Madam Jin’s favored fortune teller did just so happen to find such an auspicious date for their marriage rather quickly…
Wei Wuxian still waits politely until two weeks later, when he receives word that Jiang Yanli is pregnant. Jiang Cheng nearly qi deviates on the spot. It’s a delightful afternoon.
When it’s Wei Wuxian’s turn, nearly two months after Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan were wed, the procession headed for Gusu is not as grand as Jiang Yanli’s—but that’s to be expected for the son of a servant. Still, Wei Wuxian’s position as head disciple and his history with the family made his dowry more than adequate, and it seems like it was good enough for the Lans, if the rapid exchange of letters is anything to go by.
A couple letters came specifically for him, actually, but Wei Wuxian hasn’t opened them. The last time he saw Lan Wangji in the flesh, he barely caught a glimpse before running off. They’ve had so little positive interaction that when Wei Wuxian learned it would be Lan Wangji he was marrying, he made Jiang Cheng show him the letter then and there, just to make sure it wasn’t a trick!
The letters coming to him from Gusu could be written by Lan Xichen for all he knows. Maybe this is some sort of pity game. Maybe Lan Wangji was forced into it, which would be terrible for many reasons.
Wei Wuxian just wants to see Lan Wangji’s eyes. He’s sure he’ll know what Lan Wangji really feels if he can just catch a glimpse. They were so expressive when he was little, though when he got older they were harder to read…
He doesn’t normally find himself overthinking things, but Wei Wuxian can’t help it. He’s used to flying by sword, not the slow, steady pace of a carriage; staring out the window at the changing landscape both bores him and makes him long for the slight blur of flying and the wind in his hair.
The procession arrives before he can work himself into a real state. He can tell it’s late in the afternoon by how the sun is setting over the mountains and the fog has begun to roll in. Wei Wuxian spends the entirety of their time walking up the sprawling stone steps making sure his hair is in place, his ears unruffled, and most importantly, all nine tails are on full display.
He’s not beholden to the rules of the Gusu Lan Sect just yet. He’s got a whole week of freedom left!
“I thought he didn’t like you,” Jiang Cheng says under his breath.
“He doesn’t!” Wei Wuxian hisses back, tightening his ponytail.
“Then why do you care how handsome you look?”
Wei Wuxian pulls Suibian’s blade just a little so he can see his reflection. “One should always care about one’s appearance, Jiang Cheng.”
“Put that away!!”
He does so in just the nick of time, as their next steps take them high enough that they can see the silhouettes of those waiting for them at the gates of Cloud Recesses. Wei Wuxian squints through the fog, but the silhouettes’ features clear only when he reaches the top, all clad in their mourning robes and looking especially dour compared to the vibrance of Yunmeng Jiang.
Wei Wuxian makes all the right bows, but it’s obvious to everyone—including himself—that he’s only interested in looking at one thing.
The man standing at Lan Xichen’s side has Lan Wangji’s wintry gaze, but he’s far broader at the shoulders than Wei Wuxian remembers. Lan Wangji was always a pretty kid, but to look at him now, the depth of his beauty is nearly arresting. It would be too much for anyone to look at, but something about that frozen, distant expression on his face makes the beauty so sharp it cuts, turning it into something enticing, something Wei Wuxian wants to touch even if it hurts.
… This is that same boy that yelled at him and bit him all those years ago?!
six years earlier
Lan Wangji points a sheathed Bichen at the latest intruder. They clearly have a token of entry, but they’d made it this far in before he caught their arrival; anyone being this stealthy must be up to crooked deeds.
The stranger reels their hands up in surrender immediately, light of foot as they walk along the wall to face Lan Wangji’s blade. “It’s alright, gongzi.”
Close up, Lan Wangji can tell it is not alright.
This is the face of no small amount of lingering shame from Lan Wangji’s childhood: Wei Ying, the unruly fox who’d spoken to Lan Wangji at just the wrong time, and received a bite for it. Afterward, Lan Wangji had been punished harshly, and the deserved nature of said punishment had imprinted it well on his young mind.
Lan Wangji’s ears heat beneath the cover of his hair.
“Wei Ying,” he says, taking in the changes time has wrought. He’s always remembered him as larger than life, but they are of similar height, now, and Lan Wangji is already broader at the shoulders, if he’s judging accurately. It is difficult to internalize such change.
The only response Wei Ying gives his greeting is a blink. “I’m sorry,” Wei Ying says, “do we know each other?”
Mortification swells. Lan Wangji knows Wei Ying is not a danger to his sect—though the war is bloody and gruesome, they are on the same side—and thus feels justified in abruptly lowering his guard. “No,” he answers. They certainly do not.
He turns to return to his patrol, but Wei Ying walks forward like he’s going to follow. “Wait a second,” Wei Ying says, “I have a horrible memory, please don’t leave! I’m sure it’ll catch up to me. We’re in the moonlight, you know, so I can’t even see you properly!”
Lan Wangji, stiff-backed and hot, shakes his head. “That is fine.” He leaps down from the wall. Wei Ying leaps after him.
“I thought all the Lans I studied with were out on the front lines, you’re such strong fighters… no, you’re too young for that to be where we met, look at your face! So small and round.” Lan Wangji is fifteen years old, but that’s still not enough years to remove the baby-soft roundness of his cheeks, not entirely. Lan Xichen assures him it will fall away by next spring, but next spring is clearly too far into the future.
He resists the urge to rub his cheeks and keeps walking, resuming his patrol as if Wei Ying does not exist.
If Lan Wangji were allowed, he would be on the front lines with the rest of them. He is a better fighter than other members of the sect twice his age. The last letter he received from Lan Xichen reminded him that his duties protecting the Cloud Recesses are extremely important, but it still feels a little like doing nothing, and Lan Wangji has always acted with his conscience. It is a righteous battle, this war against the Wens.
Patrols help in their physicality, but Wei Ying’s words stir his thoughts in ill directions.
Wei Ying is still following him, thinking out loud about the myriad of ways they might have met, none of which are things Lan Wangji would engage in. When Lan Wangji refuses to stop walking or to entertain such blather, Wei Ying runs in front of him, narrowing his eyes as he jogs backwards to stay in front of Lan Wangji and observe him.
“Wait, I do know you…”
Lan Wangji stops walking.
“Lan Zhan, is that you?”
There’s something in Wei Ying’s tone that Lan Wangji doesn’t like. He starts walking a little faster, detouring around Wei Ying and continuing to monitor the perimeter, though it’s harder to listen out for anything suspicious when Wei Ying is busy laughing in his wake. “It is you!” he crows, seeming delighted before dissolving into laughter once more.
If Lan Wangji walked any faster, he would need to submit to punishment. It would be especially unseemly now that he has been charged with taking over punishment within the sect. He will have to subject himself to further embarrassment, instead.
“Sorry, sorry, you’re just so grown up! What’s it been, ten years?”
“Nine,” Lan Wangji corrects.
Wei Ying falls into step beside him. “Nine, see? I told you my memory is terrible! How could I forget you even for a second.” Wei Ying bumps his shoulder in a gesture that’s probably supposed to be friendly; Lan Wangji recoils and puts more distance between them. The part of his shoulder where Wei Ying bumped him feels unnaturally warm.
“Wow, you’ve gotten so tall. Who said you could grow taller than me?” Out of the corner of his eye, Lan Wangji sees Wei Ying raise his ears so that they stand tall above his head. They look very soft. “Ha! Now I’m taller. Except for the antlers… fine, fine, I concede, Lan Zhan, you are very tall.” He speaks as though Lan Wangji was going to argue with him. His ability to keep up conversations entirely on his own is a troubling display of his character.
Lan Wangji expects more teasing, but Wei Ying allows quiet between them for a moment, brow furrowed. Is he thinking of new ways to distract Lan Wangji, or remembering more of their last interaction?
“You know, I thought about that moment for a while after I left. I shouldn’t have been so short with you…” Wei Ying sighs. Obviously, the memory won out. “But I hope you figured it out, Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying’s sincerity shines in his eyes, even when Lan Zhan cannot bring himself to look directly. “You were a pretty determined kid.”
It is none of Wei Ying’s business, but as a repayment for the bite, Lan Zhan shakes his head ‘no’. Wei Ying’s first display of social grace that evening is not inquiring further.
“Well, you seem pretty determined now, too. Most people can’t get the drop on me like that! If I’d been an intruder, I’d be in reaaaaal trouble, huh?” Wei Ying plays with the jade entry token at his waist in a way that leaves Lan Wangji… discomfited. It seems time has not increased Wei Ying’s respect for what others hold in high esteem.
They continue along Lan Wangji’s patrol route in silence for a while, but Lan Wangji can see questions and thoughts burning behind Wei Ying’s lips, even though Lan Wangji forces himself not to look at Wei Ying too often: only at intervals of every hundred breaths. It’s less than half an incense burned before Wei Ying can no longer keep his thoughts to himself.
“You really aren’t going to ask why I’m here?” When Lan Wangji gives no answer, Wei Ying sighs long and loud, ears flattening back against his head a bit. “If you’d asked, I was going to make it really exciting, but since you’ve foiled all my plans, I suppose I’ll have to admit that my arrival is pretty boring. I have messages for members of your sect, but since I’m here later than I wanted to be, everyone’s asleep. It’ll have to wait until morning!” He wrings his hands. Lan Wangji is never sure how much of his movements are because someone is watching, and how much of it is just Wei Ying’s natural inclination.
He changes topics quickly, clearly not one for lingering. “Is there someplace I can stay, do you think? I suppose I could sleep outside. The grass is nice in the Cloud Recesses, it’s so soft… Every time I come here, I always think there should be animals everywhere, since you won’t hunt them and they’d feel nice and safe, but I expect that’s against the rules? I don’t think a grazing herd or anything would be too much like a pet…”
Wei Ying rambles on and on, until Lan Wangji has a far greater understanding of his mind than he’d ever thought to want. If Lan Wangji’s thoughts are the steady pull of an ocean tide—familiar and organized in a rhythm that can in turn flow and fluctuate as it wishes—Wei Ying’s thoughts are the sparks dancing from the edges of a blazing fire. Lan Zhan adjusts his expectations of himself: he allows himself to look at Wei Ying every seventy-five breaths instead of every hundred, and then every fifty, eyeing Wei Ying’s mouth as he speaks, the way his eyes curve when he smiles, the way his tails stand on end when he’s excited.
Lan Zhan opens his mouth to tell Wei Ying he must keep to only one tail, as is proper and within the rules, but finds there is no good opening to do so. Wei Ying really can talk forever on his own.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji interrupts at long last. Wei Ying stops speaking but his mouth hangs open, bottom lip shiny and pink. Lan Wangji faces forward again and tries to breathe slowly, with an even tempo. The hand on the far side of Wei Ying curls into a tight fist. Now that he has Wei Ying’s silence, he finds he knows little of what to do with it. “You do not have to sleep outside.”
Immediately, he feels foolish—of course Wei Ying doesn’t really think he needs to sleep outside, Lan Wangji should not have thought the words, let alone spoken aloud—but Wei Ying bursts into full-bodied laughter in reply. Suddenly, Lan Wangji decides speaking unnecessarily was fine. Just this once.
“I was only messing with you! I know where the guest quarters are, Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying glances up at the moon. “I guess I just thought the company would help, since patrolling gets boring after a while. Don’t you think so?”
Lan Wangji shakes his head. “With so many gone, this is the last and only line of defense.”
Wei Ying beams at him. “That’s very true. Ah, Lan Zhan, so dedicated… You’re adorable!”
Lan Wangji’s ears heat so suddenly that he fights the urge to cover them. He walks a little faster.
“Sorry, sorry,” Wei Ying says, laughter still cradling his words, “you probably don’t want to hear things like that, do you? I didn’t either, when I was your age. It must be hard, right? With everyone gone?”
Lan Wangji pretends not to have heard the question. “When will you return to the front?”
“Tomorrow night; I’ll give everyone a day to write their missives, first.”
“You should rest.” Lan Wangji can’t bring himself to say what he’s thinking, about how this might be the last safe place Wei Ying can rest for a long while. “Meditate where it is quiet.” His other hand balls into a fist, now. He tucks it beneath his sleeve. “Do not be idle.” He wants something to offer Wei Ying on his journey, some talisman or cloak, but there’s nothing in his possession. It is a foolish thought, anyway; nothing Lan Wangji does can ensure Wei Ying comes to no harm. He can only protect so many.
Wei Ying briefly pats his arm. “You’re a good kid, Lan Zhan.”
And you still wear your robes with no regard for modesty, he thinks as he faces Wei Ying once more. Lan Wangji keeps that part to himself.
The remainder of Lan Wangji’s patrol feels longer than it should, and his sleep goes poorly. He does not see Wei Ying again before he departs. Lan Wangji tells himself he hadn’t wanted to see Wei Ying anyway, but that day he pushes himself too hard during training for such a notion to be believable; Lan Zhan has never had trouble knowing himself, whether good or ill.
When he returns to his quarters at the end of the day, he hears a thump! coming from within. Lan Wangji puts his hand on Bichen’s hilt and cautiously makes his way inside, only to be stopped short, hand falling limp as his gaze lands on two fat rabbits.
A slip of paper sits on the low table. Of course Wei Ying would write in such a carefree script.
Lan Zhan, I found these little guys on my way out! Thought maybe they can keep you company. — Wei Ying
Lan Wangji looks over at the rabbits. One appears to be attempting to mount the other one.
He crumples the slip of paper in his fist.
They don’t really have time to talk between all the introductions and the bowing, but Wei Wuxian labors under the feeling of being watched from the time he arrives through the end of dinner. And here he was, thinking it would be difficult to get Lan Wangji to look at him clearly!
In the past, he could barely get the kid to look at him after their disastrous first meeting; Wei Wuxian had always chalked that up to the fact that Lan Wangji was embarrassed, or perhaps shy.
Nothing about the stare of the adult Lan Wangji is shy.
His eyes follow Wei Wuxian through the room with a cold, elegant manner that leaves him almost impossible to read. They dine together, but the Lans do not talk while eating, and Jiang Cheng made Wei Wuxian swear to be on his best behavior, so there’s no way for Wei Wuxian to ask anything. They’re not even seated near one another! It’s aggravating, to say the least.
When Wei Wuxian asks Jiang Cheng when exactly he should get to know his rapidly approaching future husband, Jiang Cheng only shrugs and tells him they’ll have all the time in the world after the wedding. Wei Wuxian doesn’t know why he bothered asking, really.
Wei Wuxian finds himself cooped up in his quarters after dinner, which is a troubling promise of his possible future. He tries messing with his latest idea for a while as the night winds down—a compass that points you in the direction of prey during night hunts by tracking resentful and malevolent energies—but even that can’t hold his attention for long. Every time he closes his eyes, even for a blink, he sees the flash of Lan Wangji’s golden ones staring back at him.
Wei Wuxian has never been a terribly patient man.
He hides away all but the first of his tails and puts his hair up again, tying the red ribbon tight and checking himself over in the reflective surface of the water basin, adjusting this way and that before he’s finally satisfied. Once done, he puts out the lantern and waits an appropriate amount of time before slipping out into the cover of darkness.
Earlier, he overheard Lan Xichen asking if Lan Wangji would return to the jingshi early this night, but he never heard the reply. Wei Wuxian knows the location of the jingshi from his past visits to the Cloud Recesses, so it isn’t hard to find, though it takes some doing thanks to the patrols he’s avoiding. The thing he doesn’t remember is if… ah!
The jingshi has a round window in one of the side walls—perfect for Wei Wuxian to do a little snooping.
Hai shi passed a little while ago, but from what Wei Wuxian remembers, Lan Wangji sticks strictly to the rules when he can. There’s no way he’d be awake now. Wei Wuxian waits until he’s sure there’s no patrols nearby—it doesn’t seem like they’re particularly worried about this area, perhaps because of Lan Wangji’s own prowess? He really needs to learn more about this dragon of his—and creeps up to the window, slowly peering inside.
There’s no one there. His eyes trace carefully over the paper screen that must hide the bed, searching for the silhouette of a sleeping form.
A warm hand clamps down on the back of his neck.
Wei Wuxian squawks, but the sound is muffled by Lan Wangji’s sleeve as he slaps a hand over Wei Wuxian’s mouth. “Shameless,” Lan Wangji hisses, picking him up by the collar and hauling him inside.
The jingshi is warmer than Wei Wuxian expected, more insulated from the outside world. There is a quiet that evokes a sense of privacy despite the window. Lan Wangji lets go of Wei Wuxian and allows him to shake out the ruffles in his fur, both literal and less-so.
“You can’t blame me for being curious!” Wei Wuxian says indignantly. “I haven’t seen you since you were a teenager. Your shoulders were half as broad! Your ears got hot when I looked you in the eye!” Wei Wuxian pauses and leans to one side. “Wait. Are they getting hot now? How do I know it’s really you—”
“Return to your quarters.”
Wei Wuxian would, but the more he gets a good look at Lan Wangji, the more intrigued he is. His tail, trailing out from the bottom of his robe, is long and thick, which Wei Wuxian knows is supposed to signal a strong male among dragons, and his antlers are strong and fully formed, rising tall from his dark hair. Wei Wuxian has the terrible urge to tug on one. Is it as strong as the rest of Lan Wangji appears?
“No,” Wei Wuxian says.
Lan Wangji takes him by the arm. Wei Wuxian tries to fight him off; when he can’t quite get the leverage, he stomps on Lan Wangji’s foot. The hand on his arm tightens.
“You’re already awake and I’m already here, so why don’t we get to know each other?” Wei Ying pleads. Lan Wangji has no right to treat him like… like… well, like someone shameless. It is an extremely normal instinct to want to know your husband before you are wed! Wei Wuxian will not lose face for this. Lan Wangji can just keep trying.
Lan Wangji doesn’t let go of Wei Wuxian’s arm; instead, he closes his eyes. His grip is tight, but not painful. It looks as though he’s meditating hard; his long eyelashes tremble as they brush his cheeks. It’s unfair, to have such pretty eyelashes with a face like that.
He looks impressively controlled. Wei Wuxian wonders what he’s controlling?
In a rush, Lan Wangji releases him and returns his hands to their spot behind his own back. “It is past hai shi,” Lan Wangji says, but his tone holds just a hint of something soft and reluctant. Wei Wuxian seizes it.
“So no one will hear us!”
A less-than-delicate pause. “Uncle’s residence is nearby.”
Wei Wuxian puts on a brave face. “I’m not afraid of him. Come on, just a little while? I’ll let you get your beauty sleep.” His eyes go round and large, hands clasped before him at the chest. Lan Wangji’s gaze slowly roams his face. It feels uncomfortable no matter where it lands, like an itch at the back of his neck—a tingling warmth.
Finally, Lan Wangji concedes. “Until the incense burns out.”
Wei Wuxian beams.
“The patrol will return to this area by then. Afterward, you will leave.”
That makes sense. Wei Wuxian nods rapidly, too happy with himself to care if he looks silly.
Lan Wangji sits at the low table and gestures for Wei Wuxian to do the same. They settle in silence for a moment. Wei Wuxian inhales deeply of Lan Wangji’s sandalwood incense. He’ll smell like Lan Wangji all night, at this rate.
When he first decided to come to the jingshi, it was out of a simple desire: What is the man I’m marrying like? What does it look like, to see him sleep, to see him when he is vulnerable? If I know that, surely I can marry him.
Listening to Lan Wangji speak, Wei Wuxian now adds another goal: he wants to hear Lan Wangji say more. He has a beautiful, rich voice, one that Wei Wuxian will be listening to for the rest of his life. It’s dropped since last they spoke, he’s certain of it.
“I’m glad to see you well,” Wei Wuxian starts, trying not to think about anything at all. “I hope the arrangement is to your satisfaction.” This is a joke, seeing as he’s been under the impression Lan Wangji dislikes him, but the Lan Wangji in question only nods, with no trace of irony in his expression.
“You are?” Wei Wuxian’s wide eyes are more genuine. It’s not that he thinks he’s anything less than the best catch in the sea, it’s more that Lan Wangji has often looked at him like a rotten fruit taste in the mouth manifested into a person before his eyes, rather than as a marriageable bachelor. Or is Wei Wuxian a bride? Since he’s to join Gusu Lan, he’s likely the latter.
Another nod from Lan Wangji. “Mn.”
“Oh,” Wei Wuxian manages. His voice is small, but he recovers quickly.
“Do you always go to bed at hai shi?”
A nod is the only answer. Wei Wuxian sighs. If Lan Wangji never stays up, will they ever have time to talk at the end of their day? Or—
“What if you were to stay up late?” Wei Wuxian suggests. Oh, maybe that’s too broad for Lan Wangji. “What about night-time activities?”
Folded in his lap, Wei Wuxian thinks he sees Lan Wangji’s hands twitch. “Night hunting is an exception.”
“Hahahahaha! You don’t really think I mean night hunting, do you, Lan Zhan? Can’t you think of anything else two married people do at night?” Wei Wuxian hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, but when he was told he would be marrying Lan Wangji, he would sometimes lie awake at night and consider what Lan Wangji was doing in the dark. If he ever thought about Wei Wuxian. What he looked like all grown up.
On that front, Lan Wangji certainly exceeds expectations. Stomach full of a surprising amount of butterflies, Wei Wuxian babbles on into the silence. “Well, dual cultivation can be a daytime activity as well, if that’s your thing.” Even saying the words makes warmth creep up his spine. He avoids Lan Wangji’s gaze and stares just past his left ear. “You do know how to dual cultivate, don’t you?”
“Yes.” A pause. Wei Wuxian had not expected Lan Wangji’s answer to be so fast, nor had he anticipated it would be so steady. How is Lan Wangji so sure of himself? Did he read all about it? Wei Wuxian did some reading too, of course, but it all seemed pretty straightforward, so he didn’t delve very deeply into his studies. Did Lan Wangji? Wei Wuxian imagines that noble, strong profile bent slightly over a spring book and feels his face redden all the way to his hairline.
When he looks properly, Lan Wangji’s cold, light eyes are strangely murky. “Do you?”
What a silly question. Who doesn’t know about dual cultivation? Maybe Lan Wangji, with his constant rule abiding and tedious sect, but not Wei Wuxian. Of course he knows how to dual cultivate.
Sure, there are some things two men won’t be able to do—though thinking of Lan Wangji pressed against him from head to toe makes him want to take a lap around the room—but Wei Wuxian is surprised by the bubbling eagerness he feels. Thinking of trying with Lan Wangji is very exciting. He leans forward on instinct, seeking closeness.
“Sit properly,” Lan Wangji demands.
Wei Wuxian does not sit properly. “Or what?” he asks, curious to see what Lan Wangji will do. Will he be a very strict husband?
Lan Wangji’s silence makes Wei Wuxian want to continue pushing. He puts one hand on the table between them. When Lan Wangji does nothing but watch him, eyes dark and focused, Wei Wuxian leans further over the table. Their noses are less than a cun apart. Wei Wuxian feels a wave of dizziness as he looks down at Lan Wangji’s mouth. Tomorrow he’ll kiss those lips, touch them with his own. He’s never done that before; he’s never even considered it, not really.
Will it feel good? Is the mouth very sensitive? Could Wei Wuxian put it… other places? Would that feel the same, or worse, or better?
“What will you do if I don’t?” Wei Wuxian asks again, grounding himself in reality, his voice a little breathless. Lan Wangji closes his eyes so quickly that Wei Wuxian can almost feel the breeze as his eyelashes sweep through the air.
“Lan er-gongzi,” he whispers, reaching up with unstoppable curiosity to brush his fingers over Lan Wangji’s cheek. It’s so soft! One would think it to be hard as jade, but Lan Wangji is no stone dragon. His face is extremely warm. “Your face is so hot, but it never turns red. Who knew it was so thin?” Wei Wuxian smiles. “Do you like it when I call you? Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, Lan Wangji.” Those lips tremble slightly as he listens to Wei Wuxian speak. Is Lan Wangji reciting a mantra to himself?
Wei Wuxian is nearly crushed beneath a wave of sudden fondness.
His slow, meandering touch has reached the edge of Lan Wangji’s jaw, but he doesn’t want to take his hand away. Wei Wuxian lingers, feeling the heat on Lan Wangji’s face and divining secrets from it.
“Gege,” he tests, delighted by the feeling of rising warmth. “Er-gege. Lan er-gege—”
Lan Wangji’s hand reaches up to snatch his wrist, forcing Wei Wuxian’s hand back. His eyes snap open. “Out.”
Wei Wuxian blinks. “What?”
“Get out.” Lan Wangji’s grip tightens; for a moment, Wei Wuxian has the funny feeling that Lan Wangji is going to throw him onto the floor. He tenses in anticipation, but Lan Wangji lets go after another moment. “The patrol has passed.”
“Oh.” Wei Wuxian had forgotten Lan Wangji’s conditions entirely; perhaps that’s why it feels like a rotten melon just burst in his stomach. It’s not—it’s not that it’s necessary for Lan Wangji to have fun when Wei Wuxian is, but he thought… it doesn’t matter.
Wei Wuxian gets to his feet and brushes off his robes, maintaining his smile. He has the measure of Lan Wangji much better now than before; the evening is a success! No rotten melons required.
Still, the reluctance lingers as he makes his way to the door. He really did promise, but does Lan Wangji never feel curious? Is there not something inside him—
Hand on the door, Wei Wuxian pauses, moving his tails enough to look over his shoulder and see Lan Wangji properly. “See you tomorrow?”
Lan Wangji nods, but it’s his expression Wei Wuxian focuses on. At the mention of what tomorrow brings, his demeanor relaxes and warms; while it’s only a miniscule change, Wei Wuxian’s bubbling excitement returns in full force.
No matter what, the next time he sees Lan Wangji, it will be when they are wed. The thought no longer seems as overwhelming as it once did.
In fact, Wei Wuxian’s smile grows as he departs, and sticks to his face all the way back to his quarters.
“Wow,” Wei Wuxian says, looking directly at his own face in the mirror Jiang Yanli holds up for him. “I didn’t know I could get any prettier! Isn’t there a limit to beauty?”
Jiang Yanli laughs, which is one of the top ten best sounds in this realm or the next. Wei Wuxian gets to his feet and takes the mirror from her hands so he can hug her properly.
“You’ll wrinkle your robes,” she chastises, but she’s the one hugging him hardest, so who is the culprit here, really? When she pulls back, she takes both his hands in hers, looking him in the eye. “You really will be happy here?”
Wei Wuxian squeezes her hands. “Of course I will. Have you seen a place on this earth that could stop me from being happy? Don’t answer; it doesn’t exist.”
“And Lan er-gongzi? How is he?”
“What?” he asks, a little too quickly to hide. “How should I know?”
“A-Xian.” Jiang Yanli doesn’t need to say more. Though Wei Wuxian is her elder in years, Jiang Yanli has been his shijie from the day he dedicated himself to Yunmeng Jiang, when she was still so small it shocked him that she could seem so put together. He’s never met a wiser person, nor is there anyone else alive that knows him so well.
Wei Wuxian relents. “He’s looking forward to it.”
“Good,” she says with the authority of someone who would have words with Lan er-gongzi if that was not the case. She turns to retrieve his veil, settling it over his face and smoothing his robes for him, even when there are no more wrinkles to smooth. Wei Wuxian was told he could choose whether to wear a veil or not, but he’s always wanted to try one on, and what better time than his wedding?
It’s not like he’ll be wearing wedding robes again after this.
“Are you ready?” Jiang Yanli asks as the bell rings outside, signalling that it’s time whether he’s ready or not.
Fortunately, Wei Wuxian approaches his wedding with excitement, not fear. He takes Jiang Yanli’s hand.
Though their wedding is largely a quiet affair, keeping in accordance with Gusu Lan’s strict principles, Wei Wuxian is surprised by the joy he feels as he watches Lan Wangji serve tea to Jiang Yanli, who asked to stand in as the youngest member of his family.
Wei Wuxian ends up taking twice as long, seeing how many more Lans he has to serve, but there’s something warm and melancholy in his chest when they make their bows to their parents’ spirits. He and I are as similar as we are different, Wei Wuxian thinks as Lan Wangji uses Bichen to cut a lock of his own hair. Wei Wuxian grasps a part of his own and holds it out, slicing it cleanly over Lan Wangji’s offered blade.
There’s barely a shade’s difference in the color of the two. When tied together, Wei Wuxian cannot help thinking they belong next to each other.
How terribly, wonderfully sentimental.
A banquet is meant to follow the ceremony, but it’s hard to muster up excitement for that when Lan Wangji is holding his hand and said hand is so big and warm. “Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whispers, still clutching tightly to their knotted hair, “do you want to—”
Before he can finish his sentence, Lan Wangji is striding quickly from the hall, nearly tugging Wei Wuxian along. “Yeah,” he breathes, giddy with relief. He waves to Jiang Yanli as they pass; she laughs and waves back, holding tightly to Jiang Cheng’s arm, which is a good idea considering the way the vein at his temple has begun to bulge. Lan Wangji doesn’t seem interested in acknowledging anyone, so Wei Wuxian waves to the rest of his new sect as well; they seem not to quite know how to respond, but he’s too excited to care.
The air is cool around them as they emerge into twilight, a relief after the warmth of his heavy robes. Wei Wuxian nearly trips over the hem in his haste to keep up with Lan Wangji, but before he can fall, Lan Wangji scoops him off the ground altogether.
“Lan Zhan!” he cries, throwing his arms around Lan Wangji’s neck. “Is this any way to treat your new wife?!”
He doesn’t answer, but Wei Wuxian considers his own question and decides it’s not such a bad way to go. Who should carry him other than his husband? Besides, everyone is inside eating, so it’s not like he’ll lose face. It’s very impressive that Lan Wangji can carry him, tall and heavy as Wei Wuxian is, with seemingly no exertion. Wei Wuxian wonders what else Lan Wangji might be capable of with his husband held up like this.
Wei Wuxian rests his head against Lan Wangji’s chest and listens to the ka-thump sounds of his heartbeat. “I take it back, you can carry me if you like it. Do you like it? You’re very strong.” As he speaks, the sound of Lan Wangji’s heart goes faster and faster. Wei Wuxian cannot help a smile.
Lan Wangji hums in that affirmative way he has, which makes Wei Wuxian laugh. Though the walk to the jingshi should be longer, it isn’t long before Lan Wangji is reaching out with his foot and sliding open the door.
The first thing Wei Wuxian does after being set on his feet is reach for the veil, but Lan Wangji stops him. “Let me.”
Wei Wuxian lets him.
The air between them is far more charged now that they’re inside an enclosed space. They take off their shoes and face one another; Wei Wuxian is glad for his height, as the ease with which he’s able to meet Lan Wangji’s gaze feels charged, like lightning in the air before a thunderstorm. Slowly, as though every movement has new meaning to him, Lan Wangji raises the veil.
Without the sheer red silk between them, Lan Wangji is almost too pretty to look at. Wei Wuxian notes his tail moving slowly across the floor, a sign of nerves he hasn’t seen from Lan Wangji before.
Wei Wuxian tilts his head, left ear twitching. “Are you going to kiss me, er-gege?”
Lan Wangji wraps both hands around Wei Wuxian’s waist and pulls him close enough to kiss. He kisses harder than Wei Wuxian expects, his lower lip throbbing like a bruise every time Lan Wangji assaults it.
Wei Wuxian’s moan of confusion and complaint sounds much more like one of pleasure when it actually hits his ears.
It gets very good when Lan Wangji pushes his tongue into Wei Wuxian’s mouth, the wet slide causing him to sway dramatically forward. This only succeeds in bringing him further into Lan Wangji’s embrace.
Wei Wuxian reaches up to his own hairpiece, which has been annoying him all day, and undoes it as quickly as he can. Lan Wangji seems content to hold him upright as he does so; after all, if he falls down, he’ll be out of biting range. Lan Wangji doesn’t seem fond of the idea.
The pretty ornament falls uselessly to the floor, thudding somewhere behind him. Wei Wuxian doesn’t care. He cups Lan Wangji’s face in his hands and kisses him until the throbbing at his mouth matches the throb of pleasure between his legs.
They break apart to breathe, Wei Wuxian clamoring at Lan Wangji’s robes. “You can’t just bite me,” Wei Wuxian gasps. “What if you were venomous, like a snake?”
“I would have told you.” Lan Wangji takes Wei Wuxian’s hands and guides them toward the back of his own head, placing them on the tie of his forehead ribbon. “Take it off.”
Wei Wuxian licks his lips. “What does it mean, really? I copied the principles a very long time ago, you know. I’m old, now.”
Lan Wangji blinks, and when he opens his eyes, he doesn’t open them as much as before. He looks at Wei Wuxian’s bruised mouth. “To be without it to be without regulations.”
Without regulations. Lan Wangji without regulations?
Wei Wuxian unties the forehead ribbon.
Lan Wangji kisses him again, more demanding than ever, pushing him so far back toward the bed he’s nearly lifted off his feet. Lan Wangji doesn’t seem to care. He stops at the edge of the bed and does away with Wei Wuxian’s outermost robe, repeating the process again and again until the slight chill of the air perks Wei Wuxian’s bare nipples.
“No fair,” he whines. “Take this off.” He tugs at Lan Wangji’s robes. Their hands get tangled as they try to undress Lan Wangji at the same time; Wei Wuxian laughs and shucks his own undergarments, barely sitting on the bed before Lan Wangji crawls over him. His eyes are truly gold, now, lit with the inner fire of a dragon and all the heat that comes with it.
Lan Wangji still has pants on, which Wei Wuxian would like to complain about, but Lan Wangji’s torso has dried out his mouth. His tongue feels like wool, useless and heavy. When his hand makes contact with Lan Wangji’s abs, it does so without control, his knuckles brushing the warm muscle and startling Wei Wuxian into a ‘yip’.
The corner of Lan Wangji’s mouth twitches briefly.
“Don’t be smug,” Wei Wuxian complains, pushing Lan Wangji’s shoulders so he flips their positions and Lan Wangji tumbles flat on his back. This bed is very wide, twice as wide as his bed at home. Wei Wuxian is surprised he didn’t notice earlier.
Lan Wangji has this look in his eyes that Wei Wuxian doesn’t like. It’s the look of someone when they’re humoring you, when they’re curious to see what you’ll do with a little wiggle room.
Well! Wei Wuxian can wiggle. If Lan Wangji doesn’t know that by now, there’s no hope for him.
He straddles Lan Wangji’s waist, unselfconscious as he settles in. He knows he’s handsome enough, but even if he didn’t, the look on Lan Wangji’s face as his eyes linger on Wei Wuxian’s thighs would be enough to let him know.
Wei Wuxian unfurls his tails, fanning them out behind him. He thinks they’re particularly pretty like this, but he watches Lan Wangji’s face with a twinge of anxiety, remembering the way the little boy version had scolded him for breaking the rules. Lan Wangji certainly has changed. How much?
Lan Wangji props himself up with one arm and reaches with the other, distracting Wei Wuxian with how well muscled it is. Not too much, not too little; Lan Wangji is some sort of perfect person, stuck square in the middle of two extremes like this. When he brushes his fingers through Wei Wuxian’s tails’ fur, Wei Wuxian shivers.
“Soft,” Lan Wangji murmurs. His eyes are wide; for a moment, he looks like the young man he is, rather than the fierce, burning dragon everyone takes him to be.
How could Wei Wuxian have thought Lan Wangji was cold?
Overwhelmed, Wei Wuxian can’t help himself. He pulls Lan Wangji into a hug just like this. The way they’re positioned means that Lan Wangji’s face—which is shockingly warm, though no color has seeped into his cheeks—is pressed against his chest.
“Er-gege,” he coos, “you’re so cute! Are you blushing? It’s so unfair that it doesn’t show, how will I know if you blush when I flirt with you at the market in Caiyi Town? I’ll have to always be touching your fa-ace, haa, Lan Zhan?” As he speaks, he feels Lan Zhan turn his head to the side and open his mouth, teeth scraping Wei Wuxian’s skin. At the sound of his name, he bites down on the tender flesh between his teeth, causing Wei Wuxian to emit a yowl.
“Hey, hey, you see something you like and you bite it? Little beast! Is that why you bit me the first time?” Wei Wuxian demands answers, his fingers digging into Lan Wangji’s back.
Lan Wangji pulls away enough to glare at him. Wei Wuxian cups his face and laughs. “It is, isn’t it? You always liked me, ow, Lan Zhan, stop!” He beats on Lan Wangji’s shoulders, but his teeth are still around Wei Wuxian’s nipple, and take their sweet time letting loose.
Wei Wuxian grabs for the arm that’s been propping Lan Wangji up and pulls it, until he’s able to get Lan Wangji laying down again. He looms over him until their noses press together, then pecks Lan Wangji lightly on the mouth. Wei Wuxian’s next kiss meets his jaw, where he bites just enough to let Lan Wangji feel one sharp fang. The kisses continue down his neck before Wei Wuxian skips, going to get a little revenge on Lan Wangji’s chest when he feels something strange.
As he scoots back atop Lan Wangji, he feels something long and hard brush his stomach.
Wei Wuxian looks down at the bulge in Lan Wangji’s pants, distracted already. His face flushes; excitement makes his heart race. “Why are you wearing these?” he asks, sliding down until his chin rests on Lan Wangji’s hip. Next to him is that very shape.
When Lan Wangji only stares, mouth open like he’s thinking of speaking but the sound never quite comes, Wei Wuxian hooks his fingers under the fabric and begins to pull.
What he finds is… shocking!
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian wheezes, swaying forward then jolting up so he kneels between Lan Wangji’s legs. He gets Lan Wangji’s pants off altogether before he continues, but the double vision doesn’t go away. “Lan Zhan, you kissed me too hard. I’m seeing two of things.”
Slowly, Lan Wangji shakes his head.
“What do you mean, no?!?!?”
At attention between Lan Wangji’s legs is not one, but two cocks, both sizable, both curving up slightly toward Lan Wangji’s stomach. They glisten at the heads. There are two heads!
“Shhhhhhhh,” Wei Wuxian demands, sliding down so he can look closer. The problem is, he wants to put both of them into his mouth. There’s no way they’ll fit. His mouth is way too small.
“Sorry,” he whispers, so low even Lan Wangji can’t hear. That’s just for him and, uh, this one. He wraps his head around the… lower cock, guiding it slightly to the right. Lan Wangji makes a low, interested noise. Wei Wuxian realizes Lan Wangji has sat up again when he pushes Wei Wuxian’s hair back from his face, giving himself a good view.
Wei Wuxian sticks his tongue out and laps at that head. “Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan breathes, his name sounding like a warning or a threat. Danger lies ahead.
After a moment to steel himself, Wei Wuxian directs the lower cock into his mouth.
The upper lies against Wei Wuxian’s cheek and forehead, but will rub a little against his eye if he moves up and down. He blinks and his lashes brush the sensitive skin of Lan Wangji’s upper cock, which twitches against Wei Wuxian’s skin.
There, there, he thinks in its direction. One at a time. Or will you come at the same time?
He goes to push that cock out of the way when he realizes it feels good, holding onto it. It pulses when he touches it. Lan Wangji watches him with an indiscernible, intense expression.
Wei Wuxian begins to move his hand up and down, as he’s done to himself a few times in the past. Lan Wangji must like it, because his eyes are red at the corners. He’s very cute.
Once he’s established a rhythm, Wei Wuxian takes Lan Wangji further into his mouth, until his throat itches, stretched too full. He doesn’t stay like that for long, easing off and swirling his tongue around the head before pushing down again. His hand moves about twice as fast on the other cock, though a couple times, he hits himself in the eye with the back of his thumb.
Lan Wangji’s hand tightens on his hair, almost pulling. A low moan pushes out around Lan Wangji’s cock as it nears his throat.
The moan must feel good for Lan Wangji, who grunts and pulls Wei Wuxian’s hair again, a little harder this time. Wei Wuxian whimpers and looks up at him with red-rimmed eyes. Lan Wangji comes.
As Wei Wuxian had taken him very far in, he sputters and pulls off, but when Lan Wangji rushes to pat his back, Wei Wuxian refuses to cough. He closes his eyes and lets the warmth of Lan Wangji’s come hit his face and soak his hair—they do both come at the same time!—while he focuses on not spitting anything out. After a moment, he beams at Lan Wangji and sticks out his tongue. “No need. See?” When Lan Wangji does nothing but tighten his hand on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder, he pouts. “I swallowed it all.”
Lan Wangji’s mouth shuts as Wei Wuxian climbs back into his lap and cups his face, shivering when the upper cock brushes the small of his back and the curve of his ass. Wei Wuxian wipes Lan Wangji’s come from his face and slides his fingers into his mouth, keeping eye contact with Lan Wangji as he sucks them clean.
Lan Wangji’s expression can be read of one as utter frustration or of someone very bullied. Wei Wuxian decides it’s the former.
“Are you angry, Lan Zhan?” he asks, thumbs brushing under Lan Wangji’s eyes. “I’ve never seen you like this. It’s very attractive. What sharp teeth you have!”
Indeed, Lan Wangji’s teeth have sharpened into four sharper fangs, not terribly long but more dangerous than the last time Lan Wangji had bitten him. Wei Wuxian leans in to kiss him but is thwarted by Lan Wangji flipping them over, his jaw clenched. Lan Wangji’s hand trails down his hip and lifts his leg at the knee.
“What are you—hey!” Wei Wuxian exclaims when he feels Lan Wangji’s finger push against his sensitive hole. It seems easier than it should be, like he’s too pliant and too willing, but he forces himself to relax. He hasn’t seen this in any of his porn!
It feels strange, like it’s where it shouldn’t be. When he tightens around that finger, Lan Wangji makes a low, soft noise and tries to add another.
Way too easy, even with how Wei Wuxian tries to tighten his legs around Lan Wangji’s thighs, which are currently between them. Face thin as paper, Wei Wuxian whines, “Lan Zhan, don’t do that, I’m not ready, it’s my first time, I can’t take this! Let alone one of your…”
Lan Wangji adds a third finger. “You are wet,” he says, interrupting Wei Wuxian and causing him to bury his face in Lan Wangji’s shoulder. He has no idea what Lan Wangji is talking about. Wei Wuxian didn’t know anything would ever go in; how could he know it would get wet if he tried?
“So what?” he asks, petulant as he squirms on Lan Wangji’s fingers. “I’m still not sure this—this is—it doesn’t—your fingers, they barely fit, so how, gege, please.”
When he removes his fingers from Wei Wuxian’s hole, he nearly sobs in relief, though there’s an empty feeling there he’s never felt before. He doesn’t have long to get used to it before two big hands shift him up into Lan Wangji’s lap as Lan Wangji leans back and positions Wei Wuxian over his slightly spread thighs. He wants to ask just what Lan Wangji intends, exactly, but he can’t get the breath even to whisper before Lan Wangji slides a cock inside him. Wei Wuxian’s mouth drops open. The second cock—thankfully!—slides against the small of his back. It feels wrong for Lan Wangji to slide so smoothly inside him, like a betrayal, his body slick and receptive with little input on his part. Their bodies create a lewd sound where they meet that makes Wei Wuxian’s neck flush.
“Ah!” His cry does not slow Lan Wangji’s thrust, though once he is as far in as he can be, he stops, hands shaking where they grip Wei Wuxian’s hips. “It hurts,” he complains. Lan Wangji gets somehow even harder inside him.
“Sorry,” Lan Wangji says. He looks like he wants to say more, but Wei Wuxian reaches up and covers his mouth.
“No, no, er-gege, I want you inside. I didn’t know it would fit, but it fits, see?” He wiggles his hips and feels such an intense spike of pleasure it makes him dizzy. “Yeah, Lan Zhan, there, do that, do you feel it?”
Lan Wangji’s fingers dig so hard into Wei Wuxian’s hips they’ll leave bruises. He pulls out and thrusts. When the shocky feeling doesn’t return and make Wei Wuxian’s limbs flail, he angles Wei Wuxian’s body just so and brushes by that perfect place inside him again. Wei Wuxian’s hole pulses wetness around Lan Wangji’s cock, soaking the one left out.
Wei Wuxian wants to ask about that, but it takes him so long to catch his breath he forgets, Lan Wangji’s powerful thrusts fucking him into incoherence. His gasps and moans are punctuated only by the slap of their skin and the hitch in his voice as Lan Wangji bounces Wei Wuxian on his cock.
It turns out that spot inside him is an arrow straight to his orgasm, but it can’t quite get him over the edge. “Please,” he begs, voice higher than it should be, “Lan Zhan, touch—will you touch me? I want to, just a little, yes, yes—”
Lan Wangji palms the head of his cock and Wei Wuxian is gone. He comes all over Lan Wangji’s chest, pulsing and shaking, back arching as he whines through it. When he comes back to himself, Lan Wangji is deeper inside, the deepest he’s ever been, actually. Wei Wuxian is so relaxed as he exits the endorphin high of his orgasm that it’s not unbearable.
Actually, it’s nice.
“I think you should be inside me all the time,” Wei Wuxian sighs, a dreamy lightness to his words.
Lan Wangji kisses his shoulder. “Could be more inside you,” he admits.
Wei Wuxian doesn’t receive an answer in words. Instead, Lan Wangji pulls out, until only the head of his cock is splitting Wei Wuxian open. Then, without warning, he reaches down and aligns his second cock so that it begins pushing in with the first.
“Nonono,” Wei Wuxian moans, thrashing. Lan Wangji grabs his wrists and pins them above his head, forcing Lan Wangji to stop guiding his cocks inside Wei Wuxian. Relying instead on his hips to do the work for him, Lan Wangji continues to pin Wei Wuxian, his brow furrowed in concentration.
Wei Wuxian feels particularly bullied.
“It won’t fit! Are you mad?” Wei Wuxian cries. Even like this, his voice is nasal and weak, mouth still too doughy around the edges.
Clearly, Lan Wangji is not taking him seriously. He only shakes his head as he pushes further inside. Sweat runs down his neck; Wei Wuxian gets distracted until a throb of pain rolls through him.
“It really hurts this time!” Wei Wuxian exclaims, trying to shift away from the assault. He can’t get the leverage.
Lan Wangji slows to a stop inside him. This is infinitely worse. Panicked, Wei Wuxian twitches closer, then more, finding the more Lan Wangji feeds him, the better he feels. There’s no way out but through.
“Does it hurt?” Lan Wangji asks through gritted teeth. “I… if you don’t want it, you—stop moving!”
It does hurt, but Wei Wuxian likes it, too. He keeps moving, so Lan Wangji pushes in—so fast that Wei Wuxian loses all air from his lungs.
This really is too much. He can’t take such a thing, such things, not together, his body isn’t made for it. Just because it fits, just because slick soaks their thighs as it trickles from Wei Wuxian’s hole, which is so sensitive that even the slightest of movements causes him to twitch with pleasure and pain… Really, has Lan Wangji no understanding of his suffering?!
Lan Wangji starts pulling out. This is actually what’s going to kill Wei Wuxian dead.
“Don’t, don’t, Lan Zhan!”
He pauses. “You want it?”
Wei Wuxian nods rapidly.
As Lan Wangji pushes back in, the head of one of his cocks nudges over that place inside Wei Wuxian again. This time, with the added pressure in such a tight space of a whole other cock, it lights up a hundred times more intensely. Wei Wuxian flails, kicking Lan Wangji’s back, his hands aching to twitch where they’re held in Lan Wangji’s solid grip. The fur of his tails beneath him is soaked in sweat.
Seeing his reaction, Lan Wangji pulls out and slams in again, his hips at this same angle. Wei Wuxian cries out, and his cries do not stop, growing louder and louder the harder he’s fucked. Wei Wuxian is only barely stretched to accommodate Lan Wangji, no matter how soaking wet he’s getting, and the desperate fight to push into Wei Wuxian’s tight hole quickly takes Lan Wangji to the brink.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whines, “please!”
Rather than touching him, Lan Wangji leans down to bite his neck, hard. The closeness of their bodies lets Wei Wuxian rub up against Lan Wangji’s stomach at the same time the pain of the bite shoots through him, and the combination of such good and twisting feelings rushes through him, pushing him into a devastating orgasm.
Lan Wangji’s thrusts slow and stutter as he fucks Wei Wuxian through it, until he pulses inside Wei Wuxian’s hole, filling him more than he thought possible. Twice the cock, twice the come, twice the—
Because Wei Wuxian cannot resist, the first thing that pops to his mind is a taunt: “Do you think you just put a baby Lan inside me?”
Lan Wangji, still in the tail end of his orgasm, shudders and twitches. Wei Wuxian laughs. For a moment, the two of them sit in agreeable, relaxing silence, with Lan Wangji as Wei Wuxian’s heavy, living blanket. He at some point reaches down to pull out, presumably for Wei Wuxian’s comfort, though the motion makes him whimper in displeasure.
“Alright,” Wei Wuxian gasps when he runs out of air, “let’s try this.”
He flips them over and crawls onto Lan Wangji’s chest, propping himself up on his forearm so he can see Lan Wangji properly. He spreads his tails out over himself and Lan Wangji like a makeshift blanket, then actually feels how wet they are and wrinkles his nose, keeping them a little elevated. The drying sweat on his back is a bit chilly, but Wei Wuxian feels too lazy to reach for the blanket they fucked onto the floor earlier.
“Much better,” he says, luxuriating in how close they are. Lan Wangji watches him with deep warmth in his eyes, the sort that makes Wei Wuxian want to look away and collect his senses. His seventh tail swishes lazily.
Walking his fingers around as though they’re a paper man on Lan Wangji’s chest, Wei Wuxian asks, “The way you reacted… Did you like me for a very long time?”
Lan Wangji blinks down at him, his ears going pink again. “Yes.”
Wei Wuxian scoots up just a little closer to his face. “How long?”
Rather than answer, Lan Wangji looks up at the ceiling. Wei Wuxian laughs and wiggles up until he can kiss Lan Wangji’s cheek, his chin, his ear, all while smiling. “It’s okay to have a crush,” he says, “but that’s pretty embarrassing. On your senior!”
Lan Wangji flips him over, eyes bloodshot.
“No, I take it back, Lan Zhan, wait!!!!!!!!!!”
Lan Wangji does not wait.