Wei Ying: "Good morning! It's my wedding day! I'm so nervous! I have, like, so many expectations, you know? And at the same time, I have no idea what to expect. I mean, by the end of the day, I'm going to be married, and I have no clue who I'm even marrying." (Pause. Wei Ying licks his lips nervously, smile dropping off a little bit.) "What if he doesn't like me? What if I'm a disappointment? I mean, listen, I know I'm a catch, but you just never know, do you? And what if he's a disappointment? What then?"
"Took you long enough, jeez."
"What!" Wei Ying throws up his hands, doing his best to avoid looking at the cameras and the crew people set up in the corner of the hotel suite. "I needed to shower!"
"We have so much to do before the wedding, you can't be all…" Jiang Cheng waves his hands around. "Taking your sweet-ass time. Come on, get a move on. Jiejie is waiting to come in, can I tell her you're decent?"
"Oh yeah, of course. Bring her in! Jiejie!" Wei Ying yells, earning himself another scowl from Jiang Cheng.
"I'll get her, you just get dressed, all right?"
By the time Wei Ying shuffles out of the bathroom again, this time dressed in jeans and an old My Chemical Romance t-shirt, jiejie is already in the room. "Jiejie!"
"A-Ying!" She walks up to him, taking his hands in her own. She looks him in the eye, all unsubtle concern and obvious nerves. "How are you feeling? Excited? Scared?"
"A bit of both?" He makes a face. "My stomach is all in knots. What if he hates my gift? What if he hates me?"
Jiejie shakes her head. "Impossible. He's going to love both, especially you. You just wait."
Stomach writhing a bit, Wei Ying makes himself nod.
The thing is, he knows this is a crazy thing to do. Allowing some strangers to create a profile of you, then match you up with a husband you've never met, and do the whole thing on camera? Bonkers. Absolutely wild. But Wei Ying has never shied away from a challenge or a good story to tell, and this is definitely both. Up until today, it's all been fun: audition, meet with the casting director, then the producers. Get picked—that had been super exciting, knowing you'd passed a whole series of tests. And now, the day of his wedding is here and he'd woken up so nervous, his hands won't stop shaking.
He's marrying a stranger today. What is the guy even going to be like?
Lan Zhan: "Am I nervous? Certainly. It isn't every day that you marry a stranger. I have no idea what to expect. I can only assume that the experts have matched me with someone who is compatible. As such, I expect him to be intelligent, well-read, serious about his career. I expect him to be someone for whom family is important." (Lan Zhan clears his throat) "All of these things are very important to me. I have very high expectations of a partner, I always have."
Voiceover: But nobody has ever been good enough for Lan Zhan, which is why he agreed to do this show: to have our experts match him up with his perfect man.
Lan Zhan: "I don't believe there is anything wrong with having high expectations. I find that, if you have high expectations of people, they will either rise to the occasion or disappoint you entirely. My hope for today is the former." (Pause) "And yes. I am quite excited. I'm looking forward to finding out who my new husband will be."
He had woken up wondering what it was he had agreed to. What had possessed him to go along with Mianmian's suggestion? To then make an audition tape and allow her to send it in? In fact, he hadn't allowed it: she had sent it in without his permission, in the end, but when Lan Zhan had gotten the call from the producers, he had been too shocked to say no to a meeting. Things went surreal after that, and now here he is, on the morning of his wedding, having no idea who it is that he is marrying.
Uncle had hated the idea on sight and isn't coming, having categorically stated that this whole thing is patently absurd and expressed his disappointment in Lan Zhan quite vociferously. It had stung, but Lan Zhan had already committed. He couldn't pull out once he had been matched up. He had to go through with it.
At least he's got Lan Huan and Mianmian with him—they both arrive shortly after breakfast. Lan Zhan finds himself breathing much easier with them around.
"What do you need, A-Zhan? Anything I can do?" Lan Huan asks, unflappable as always.
Lan Zhan swallows and shakes his head. "I'm all right, ge. Thank you." One of the producers comes up to him and tells him they need to start filming segments now, and then they set up an interview with Lan Zhan in the bedroom.
Lan Zhan clears his throat as he attempts to lounge on the bed not too stiffly.
"That's good, Lan Zhan. Just relax. It's your wedding day! It should be joyful!" Ashley the producer tells him. "Now, tell us: what are your expectations for the day?"
Lan Zhan nods, taking the question in. Looking to the side of the camera as instructed, he says, "My expectations are that something about this man will be a match for me. But I have no idea which facets of my personality he will match with, and that is what makes me nervous."
"What are your hopes?"
Lan Zhan hums. "My hopes are quite simple, actually. I hope that he is intelligent, that he is kind. I would like it if he liked animals. I have two rabbits and a cat. Not everybody likes animals, but it's important to me that he does. I hope that…" He clears his throat, feeling the tips of his ears heating up. "I hope that there is chemistry there, certainly. I hope that we like each other. Those are my hopes."
"A-Ying, what are your hopes for today?"
Wei Ying blows out a breath. "Man. I have so many, you know? I hope he's fun. I love fun people! I hope he's up for adventures with me, I hope he loves to travel the way I do. I hope he's, you know." He smirks. "Handsome. I really hope he's handsome."
Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes.
"What! It's important to be attracted to your spouse!" Wei Ying grows serious, attempting to ignore the gnawing of nerves in his belly. "I sort of...don't laugh, but I sort of do hope he's Chinese. That would be cool, to have that connection, you know?"
"Of course," jiejie says kindly, then takes his hand. "I hope that for you, as well. For all of those things."
"Maybe he'll be able to shut you up," Jiang Cheng muses out loud. "But that might be asking too much."
Wei Ying flips him the bird, then winces and looks apologetically after the camera operator. "Sorry. Sorry."
The camera operator laughs. "It's fine, Wei Ying. Go on."
Wei Ying blows out a breath. "Right, so, like. I hope he's smart, I want him to keep up with me. Although I do also hope he's into, like, trashy TV the way I am, too." He looks at the crew guiltily, but they seem to be ignoring the comment. "I just have this, like, fantasy? Of the two of us on the couch at night, having drinks and watching Love Island or something. And it's nice, you know? We mock the same people, we have the same opinions. We get each other. I guess," he says slowly, as thoughts swirl in his mind, "I guess that's the thing I'm hoping for the most. That we get each other. You know?"
Jiejie smiles as she nods. "Of course. Mutual understanding is important."
"Yeah, yeah, exactly. So. That's what I'm hoping for."
His swim goes without incident, and then he spends a bit too long in the shower, his head tipped back against the stream of hot water, eyes closed, wondering what it is that he's signed up for. Thinking about his uncle, refusing to come. Thinking about his future husband being somewhere in this hotel, most likely wondering the same things as Lan Zhan.
What is he like? What does he like? Will they have instant chemistry, or will it be an awkward affair?
Lan Zhan shuts off the water and steps out of the shower, grabbing a towel.
Some awkwardness cannot be helped, he imagines. After all, they will be saying their vows to a complete stranger. This is definitely the weirdest, most unexpected thing Lan Zhan has ever done.
"Man," Mianmian says after Lan Zhan is back in the room with her and his brother. "You know, with women, it's clear why the wedding day starts out so early—you have to get your hair and makeup done, all of your girls have to get their hair and makeup done, but with you, it's actually pretty boring, huh?"
Lan Zhan gives her a look. "Thank you."
She laughs into her hand. "I just meant, there's nothing to do but sit around and chat! I mean, I can certainly help you with your hair..."
"No need. And there's nothing wrong with conversation between friends," Lan Zhan points out, though he privately agrees with her. He can't even crack open a book because the crew are still here, filming sporadically, and nobody wants to watch him read. Besides, now that Mianmian and Lan Huan are here, he feels the need to entertain them.
Still, somehow the morning passes, and they have lunch brought in, which he insists on eating at the table, like civilized people.
"So what happens if you don't like him?" Mianmian asks after she swallows a bite of her sandwich.
"I suppose," Lan Zhan says slowly, "I give him several chances." Divorce, probably, if it really doesn't work out. Lan Zhan doesn't want it to end in divorce. That would be a letdown, a disappointment after all the buildup. But he would also never want to trap anybody in a relationship that isn't working.
The producers let him know that, if things work out, they will want to film an epilogue segment, showing their lives together. Lan Zhan hopes that they get to do that.
What he can't imagine, however, is falling in love at first sight. He knows better than that. He might like his groom on sight, he might even be happy with the person that has been selected for him. But he knows that he will have to work on falling in love. He supposes that it wouldn't be the first time a couple went into such an arrangement without love. It is not unheard of, nor is it unheard of them even falling in love after the fact. Anything can happen.
Lan Zhan hopes that it happens for him.
Jiang Yanli: "Wei Ying is very special. He's one of the kindest, most wonderful people I know. He will give you the shirt off his back, he will go out of his way to help anyone around him, but he doesn't...he doesn't always believe he deserves the same in return. My fervent hope for him today is that his husband-to-be is ready to love him the way he deserves to be loved. I hope that whoever Wei Ying is matched up with is equally kind and giving. If Wei Ying gets that, I will be a very happy sister."
Lan Huan: Was I surprised that Lan Zhan chose to go this route? Yes and no. I know Lan Zhan better than anyone in the world, probably. He is a good, upstanding man. Better than most people I know. But if he has a flaw, I would say it is that he has quite high expectations of the people he's dated in the past. Nobody he has been with has been able to live up to them. For Lan Zhan to give up control and allow somebody else to find him an eligible match...yes, on the surface, it is surprising. However, when I think about it more, it makes sense. He has always trusted in experts. This time appears to be no different."
Jiang Cheng, wearing a dark grey suit, just shakes his head when he sees him, which means he approves. "What if your groom shows up in jeans and a t-shirt?" he muses out loud.
Wei Ying shrugs, not put off in the slightest. "Then he's a casual dude! Nothing wrong with that."
"What if he's, like, chewing gum?"
"Gum is fine."
"What if his vows suck?"
That is when a crew member walks into the room and hands Wei Ying a beautifully wrapped package with a card on top and slinks away.
Wei Ying's heart pounds. That's from his groom. This is a gift from his groom.
He blows out a breath as he drops down to the couch to open it. He can feel Jiang Cheng and jiejie watching him avidly and looks up at them, suddenly so incredibly nervous, he might just throw up. "What if this sucks?"
"Open the card, Wei Ying," Jiang Cheng commands.
Wei Ying tears into the card. It's beautiful—elegant, understated. It has a drawing of two men on it, wearing black tuxes and holding hands. Wei Ying can't help smiling down at it. That's so nice. Then he takes a breath and opens it. In elegant handwriting, it says:
Today is our big day. We don't know each other yet, but I hope that you like my gift. It means a lot to me, and I hope that someday, it might mean a lot to you. It's my heritage, and it's my passion. Please do not be intimidated, it is simply a way of letting you know a little bit about me. Something else you should know about me—I am excited to meet you. I am excited to see what we could do together, the sort of life we could build. I hope that it's a fulfilling one, one that both of us can be both proud of and happy with. I look forward to walking down that aisle and seeing who it is that has been deemed as compatible with me. Even if I am somewhat apprehensive about the entire affair, I also find that I am excited—as I hope you are, as well. I'm sure you understand. This is the ultimate blind date. I hope that we take to one another. I hope that very much.
See you soon,
Wei Ying reads the card out loud to jiejie and Jiang Cheng, then reads it again to himself. Then he blows out another breath and sets the card aside to focus on the gift. With shaky hands, he rips into the beautiful silver-and-white paper and frowns as the contents are revealed.
It's—two books, and one of them is—it's—
It's in Chinese.
His groom has given him The Dream of the Red Chamber. Two copies—one in English, and one in its native tongue. Both are gorgeous editions, and Wei Ying looks up at jiejie and says, mouth dry: "He's Chinese, jiejie. I think he's Chinese!" He wonders for a moment if the producers have already told his groom about Wei Ying being Chinese and this has been somehow contrived and the guy isn't Chinese at all, but then, the guy did say it was his heritage… Fuck it. Wei Ying will believe it until it's been proven otherwise.
He sets the books aside, whoops, and jumps up, pumping his arms in the air. "He's Chinese! Didn't I say I was hoping for that? We will definitely get each other!"
"Yeah, but he seems to be an intellectual, unlike you," Jiang Cheng points out. "Didn't he say it's his passion?"
"Yeah, so?" Wei Ying isn't concerned about this. "I'm not exactly an idiot, Jiang Cheng. Just because I'm a programmer doesn't mean I don't understand the finer things in life. Jiejie, what do you think? Think we're compatible?"
She smiles at him, taking the Chinese edition of the book in her hands. "I think he will be a very interesting man to meet."
"What if he's a fussy sort of fuddy-duddy?" Jiang Cheng says, persisting. "You'll be bored out of your mind!"
Wei Ying stops jumping around and, huffing out a breath, points at Jiang Cheng. "You are just trying to ruin my day. Stop that."
"I'm not, I'm just—"
"A-Cheng," jiejie says softly, and he shuts up immediately. Heh. Works every time. "I'm certain that whoever this is, he will be more than happy to get Wei Ying as his husband, and Wei Ying will be no less happy. There's a reason they've been matched up, after all."
Jiang Cheng scowls, but doesn't contradict her. Wei Ying straightens up his tux—he's only an hour away from the ceremony—and reaches for the English edition of the book. He smooths his hands down the front cover and realizes that he's smiling down at it like an idiot. He's never actually read it. Maybe he can take it with him on their honeymoon.
Lan Zhan breathes in and out evenly, closing his eyes. His new groom. The ceremony is in an hour, and his nerves are starting to get the better of him. He has friends who have come to attend, but one of the most important people in his life is missing, and he can't help feeling that absence like a paper cut. A sharp pain, a constant reminder.
Perhaps his uncle will change his mind once he meets Lan Zhan's husband. Perhaps.
Unlikely, but possible, he supposes.
He swallows against his dry throat and emerges from the bedroom. Mianmian gasps as she sees him, clapping a hand to her mouth. Lan Huan looks at him with a tender smile on his face.
"You look wonderful, A-Zhan."
"You look amazing," Mianmian tells him. "Holy crap, your groom is gonna pee himself."
"Thank you for the graphic compliment," Lan Zhan tells her, "but I certainly hope you're wrong."
She waves him off, laughing.
"You think he won't be disappointed?" Lan Zhan asks quietly, voicing only one of his myriad of concerns about today.
"I think he will thank his lucky stars," Mianmian says, looking serious now. "Look at you. You're the whole package."
"He must have...he must have received my gift already," Lan Zhan says, mostly to himself. "I hope my being Chinese...doesn't put him off."
"If it does, he's a first-grade dick and we're filing for divorce right after the ceremony," Mianmian says decisively. "I'll pay for the lawyer."
"No need," Lan Zhan tells her, then turns to his brother. "Ge? What do you think?"
"I agree with Mianmian," Lan Huan says easily. "If he is disappointed in your heritage, he will not be worth your time."
That's when a crew member enters the room and delivers a package with a card to Lan Zhan, slinking away just as quickly.
Well. It is time to find out something about his groom. Lan Zhan carefully sets the package on the table and opens the card first. On it is a picture of two kittens cuddled up together and it says Wishing You A Purr-fect Wedding Day. Despite himself, Lan Zhan huffs out a laugh. Perhaps his new husband won't mind his cat, then.
He reads the card, written in a sprawling sort of scrawl, out loud for the benefit of the cameras he has been trying so hard to ignore. "Dear Future Husband!" he starts. "I've never been one of those people who dreams about their wedding day from childhood, but recently, love and marriage is what I've been thinking about. Which, if you knew me, might surprise you! It definitely surprises my friends and family." Lan Zhan frowns. Is his new husband...a playboy? Or someone who has trouble committing? He clears his throat and continues reading. "But, the thing is, I have a lot of love in my heart! And I want to share it with someone, someone special. I know we've never met, but I hope that that someone special will be you." You is underlined. "I hope we get to go on many adventures together, and that we grow to love each other as deeply as it's possible to love. Personally, I don't think it will be a problem—I promise, I'm very lovable." Lan Zhan coughs. "Also—and you might want to keep this to yourself—" Lan Zhan looks around himself, noticing the next few words, then plows on, knowing the producers will want him to read all of it out loud. He can feel the tips of his ears get hot. "—I'm extremely good in bed. So, you know. Brace yourself." Lan Zhan's voice has gone an octave higher than usual, and he staunchly avoids looking at anyone or anything besides the card in his hands. "Hope you're ready for me in every way. See you soon, love, your groom."
"Well," Lan Huan says.
Mianmian is laughing silently. Lan Zhan looks at her imploringly, and she reins herself in. "Well, he seems like a catch to me!" she says, then bursts out laughing again, hiding her mouth behind her hand.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry—"
Lan Zhan meets Lan Huan's eye. His brother says, "Perhaps you should open your gift now," and Lan Zhan, having forgotten all about it, reaches for the package. It's wrapped in paper with Congratulations! written all over it in red letters. He tears into it.
At first, he doesn't quite know what he's looking at—is it a movie? If so, it isn't one he's ever heard of...and then it slowly dawns on him. It's a video game. A video game. His groom has gifted him a video game as his wedding gift.
"Lan Zhan?" Lan Huan's quiet voice breaks through his thoughts and Lan Zhan forces his jaw to unclench. "What is it?"
"It's some sort of a—" he says, unable to keep the disdain from his voice, "—video game." He thrusts it at his brother, then huffs out a breath and stares at the ceiling.
"Oh." Lan Huan is quiet for a minute, studying the case. "It says it is a...cooperative game. I'm not sure what that means."
"I think it's meant to be played...together?" Mianmian offers. "Lan Zhan—"
"I didn't want a gaming bro," Lan Zhan bursts out, looking back at them. Lan Huan looks slightly startled, Mianmian sympathetic. "I wanted an intellectual, someone brilliant, not a—I know nothing about video games," Lan Zhan goes on, feeling a desperate sort of disappointment begin to bleed through his chest. "Am I—am I going to have to learn how to game just to keep my husband happy? What will he think of my gift when he sees it?"
"Lan Zhan," Mianmian says gently. "I think you may be jumping to some conclusions—"
"Am I?" he interrupts, then feels terrible about it. "I'm sorry, Mianmian." He attempts to find his equilibrium and takes a series of slow, deep breaths. "I simply...you know me. I hate video games. I don't understand them, I don't understand the appeal. And now I am marrying someone for whom video games are important enough that he gifts his future husband with one."
Abruptly, Lan Zhan wants to be alone. He holds up his hand, turns on his heel, and marches back to the bedroom. He is aware that a camera operator is following him inside, and there's nothing he can do about that—he signed a contract. They will just have to film his nervous breakdown and then play it on national television for millions of viewers.
God. He signed a contract.
He paces the length of the bedroom.
He'd agreed to all of this, believing that somehow, some psychologist he doesn't even know will match him up with the man of his dreams, and now he's here, half an hour from marrying some sort of a gaming bro, when video games are only second to sports of things he will never understand nor care about. How could he have let this happen?
He stops abruptly and curses. At least they probably won't air that part.
There is a quiet knock on the door and Lan Zhan turns to find his brother's face in the doorway. "May I come in?"
Lan Zhan blows out a breath and invites him in with a gesture. Lan Huan enters the room cautiously, as though he expects to get kicked out any minute. Lan Zhan knows he has to get a grip, but he finds his ability to locate his calm slipping away with each minute, to be replaced by a blind sort of panic. What has he done?
He turns to look out the window and feels it when his brother joins him, standing quietly by his side. It takes Lan Huan a minute to start talking, but then he does, his voice as quiet and kind as always. "I think," he starts, "that Mianmian is right. You are jumping to some conclusions that may be...erroneous."
"Am I?" Lan Zhan asks, his voice shaking. He hates losing control like this, and now he's doing it in front of a camera.
"Plenty of brilliant people play video games," Lan Huan says gently. "It doesn't negate anything. It is simply...a preference. A hobby."
"It's a hobby that people play for hours. What will I do while my husband is stuck in front of a television, his nose in a game?"
"You have hobbies, as well."
"I wanted us to have common interests, ge. I wanted us to—" His throat closes up and he swallows, attempting to breathe evenly.
"You still might," Lan Huan points out, and Lan Zhan knows that, on some level, he is right. But his heart is pounding hard in his chest, and his stomach is writhing with sick disappointment, the sort that sits deep down and eats away at you. He wants to whine with it, wants to throw up with it. He feels caught up in something that he himself has walked right into, a trap of his own making.
He has no idea what to do, and not even his brother's quiet, steady presence can make him feel better about it.
He runs a hand over his hair, smoothing it back some more. His one last look in the mirror had told him he looked pretty good, indeed. He'd woken up without bags under his eyes, his skin is clear, and his tux fits him to a tee. There is absolutely no way that his groom will be disappointed in seeing him.
Fuck. He's nervous. He is so nervous, his stomach is filled with butterflies, an excited, anticipatory sort of flutter.
Finally, he's in the ballroom that's been transformed for the occasion. Beautiful chairs sit on either side of the aisle, and already, people have filled them, only half of whom Wei Ying knows. Nobody else looks familiar, but of course, why would they? He doesn't know his groom. Why would he know his groom's people?
Auntie Yu and Uncle Jiang are already seated, her with her mouth pursed, him with a benign smile on his face. He catches Wei Ying's eye as Wei Ying is put into place at the very top of the aisle and gives him a reassuring nod. Wei Ying's smile is only a little tremulous. He attempts to breathe.
In order to distract himself, he looks around the room. It's like a wedding threw up in here: fairy lights and satin ribbons and white flowers in tall vases. It's all terribly romantic and surprisingly elegant, and Wei Ying loves it. They really went all out. The Justice of the Peace is escorted into place and she stands next to Wei Ying and introduces herself.
"Hi, I'm Victoria. I'll be marrying you today."
Victoria is Asian, as well. Wei Ying gives her a big smile and shakes her hand. "Hi Victoria. I'm Wei Ying. One of the grooms."
"Yes," she says with a smile. "I figured."
Wei Ying sniggers, then drops her hand. "What do you think of all of this?"
She cocks her head. "It seems very exciting, doesn't it? I have learned some things about you and your groom." She gives him a wink. "I think you two will be a great match."
Wei Ying blinks. "Really? You have? You do?"
"Of course. I had to write a speech, didn't I? You'll see."
Wei Ying's stomach writhes a bit more, his heart fluttering. His palms are sweating. He is turning into a mess and he hasn't even seen his groom. At least Victoria thinks they'll be a great match. God, this woman knows more about his groom than Wei Ying does!
Finally, a producer announces that it is time, and everybody hushes and turns towards the end of the aisle, where the other groom will emerge from.
Wei Ying thinks he might throw up. He swallows and makes himself stand still.
And then—nothing happens. The room is completely quiet, the music not having started yet. And the music hasn't started yet because the groom has not emerged. Wei Ying frowns, catching a crew member's eye. She shrugs at him and shakes her head. What the hell?
Another minute passes, then another. A creeping sort of dread begins to settle over Wei Ying. Has his groom gotten cold feet? Has he—has he changed his mind? Is he going to leave Wei Ying standing at the altar, being filmed as he's rejected without even so much as an introduction?
He licks his lips, eyes glued to the end of the aisle, and still, nobody comes.
He catches jiejie's eye and she looks troubled, which makes him feel even worse. If jiejie is worried, then Wei Ying really should be worried.
Another minute. Another.
And then, like the clouds parting, the wedding march begins to play from the speakers. Two figures emerge from the doorway into the aisle—two men. Wei Ying only has a moment to process that fact before his eyes land on the man in the red jacket and his jaw nearly drops to the floor.
It's Lan Zhan.
His groom is Lan Zhan.
Wei Ying is here to marry Lan Zhan.
At the same moment, recognition passes through Lan Zhan's face and his eyes widen. He falters in his step for a moment, and something about that forces completely inappropriate nervous laughter from Wei Ying. "Oh my God," he says, as the audience begins to catch on. "Oh my God, it's you!"
The whole time, Lan Zhan, led by a man that Wei Ying can only assume is his brother, has been moving closer and closer to him, looking absolutely mind-blowingly gorgeous, but then, he always has been. If anything, he's gotten even more handsome since college, the last of his puppy fat having melted away. He is a grown-ass man with a jaw that could cut you, and he's looking at Wei Ying with a gaze that Wei Ying can't rightly interpret. All of a sudden, Wei Ying gets a visceral memory of Lan Zhan's disdainful look, the word ridiculous dripping from those beautiful lips, before he would turn away.
And now, they're standing in front of one another, about to be married.
Wei Ying's laughter dries up in his throat and he swallows, watching as Lan Zhan's brother leaves his side and melts away. Wei Ying assumes he's off to sit down on his side of the room, but he only has eyes for Lan Zhan.
"Wei Ying," Lan Zhan says and it's hard for Wei Ying to tell what, exactly, his tone means, but oh, the ache that goes through Wei Ying at the sound of his voice. "Wei Ying, it's you."
The audience is still laughing, which makes Wei Ying smile despite his worries about marrying someone who spent most of college hating him, and he says, "It's me. And it's you!"
"Well!" Victoria says, her voice carrying. "I see we have a development here!"
And Wei Ying watches as Lan Zhan's mouth twitches in something dangerously close to a smile. It makes his own smile grow and, feeling suddenly emboldened, he grabs Lan Zhan's hands and squeezes them. "Lan Zhan," and laughs some more.
Lan Zhan doesn't pull away, doesn't say, ridiculous. He visibly swallows, his eyes still huge on his face, and nods. "Wei Ying."
Wei Ying manages to get the last of his laughter under control and gives Victoria a nod. "I think we're ready?" he says, much to the guests' amusement. The last smatterings of laughter finally die out, and Victoria clears her throat.
"So. Lan Zhan," she says, giving him a nod. "Wei Ying." She gives him a nod, as well. "We are gathered here today to watch the two of you meet—again, apparently—and give yourself to the other in marriage."
Wei Ying's stomach gives a kick. Married? To Lan Zhan?
A sudden image flashes through his mind of the wedding night and he has to shake himself in order to dispel it. He's getting way, way ahead of himself here. They haven't even said their vows yet.
"Marriage," Victoria goes on, "is an age-old institution that is not to be entered into lightly. The two of you have given this much thought and decided that now was the time for commitment. Now was the time for love. You've allowed yourselves to open up to the possibilities, and now, here you are, waiting to say your vows to the man standing before you, in front of your friends and families, and give love a chance."
Love. Love with Lan Zhan. Wei Ying's mind is whirring. In college, Lan Zhan had been untouchable. So serious, he never partied, he never even had many friends. Wei Ying had tried, but his feeble attempts had been brushed off time and again, even though they continued to run into one another in different lectures, in the cafeteria, at the Chinese Student Org events. Still, Lan Zhan was always separate from the rest of them, keeping his distance, his nose largely buried in books.
Wei Ying can't believe that, thirteen years later, Lan Zhan has allowed somebody else to pick his groom for him and to marry them on national television. The two versions seem diametrically opposed, and yet, here Wei Ying and Lan Zhan are, standing in front of the JP, about to vow a lifetime to one another.
"Lan Zhan," Victoria says, turning slightly towards him. "You are known as someone with extremely high expectations of everyone you meet, but especially romantic partners." A light laughter from Lan Zhan's side of the room. "You once rejected someone because he had a weird laugh." The room erupts in laughter. "And yet, you are not cowed by others' reactions. You want what you want, and you want somebody brilliant and on your level, somebody you can easily respect and have many stimulating conversations with."
Uh-oh. Wei Ying isn't so sure he's the man for the job. Sure, he's plenty smart, and can hold his own in most conversations, but this is Lan Zhan. He is on a whole other level. And he had always considered Wei Ying to be a frivolous, flighty sort of person. He'd certainly never taken him seriously. Wei Ying, still holding onto Lan Zhan's hands, feels his palms grow even sweatier. Somehow, this might feel even scarier than marrying a stranger.
"Your friends and family," Victoria continues, "tell me that you are a one-of-a-kind sort of person. Somebody who is just, and kind, and brilliant. Standing here, I can also see that you are incredibly handsome." More laughter from the guests. "You are worthy of having high expectations of people." She pauses, clearing her throat. "Wei Ying," she goes on, turning slightly to him.
Wei Ying can't help the "Uh-oh" that leaves his mouth, which makes Lan Zhan's lips twitch again—again! Almost a smile!—and the audience laugh. Victoria chuckles. "You have never been exactly known as the commitment type." Wei Ying winces as more laughter escapes the guests. Lan Zhan's lips don't twitch at that. "In previous years, you have looked for adventures, not serious partners. You have traveled all over, gone from job to job, never settling in one place for long. But recently, something has shifted for you. Your friends and family tell me that you have begun to yearn for something more, something more substantial." Wei Ying feels the tips of his ears grow hot. That has to have been jiejie. "You have started to yearn for love. And now here you are, ready to commit to a single person you, well...already know apparently, and we are gathered here today to celebrate that commitment, on both your behalves." She looks up from her folder and gives them each a smile. "Are you ready to say your vows?"
Wei Ying says yes at the same time as Lan Zhan gives her a nod.
"Very well. Who wants to start?"
They look at one another, and again, there's that spark of recognition between them—it's you—when Lan Zhan inclines his head. "Go ahead, Wei Ying."
Wei Ying, hands shaking, releases Lan Zhan's and reaches into his inner pocket, coming out with the folded up piece of paper he'd scribbled his vows on. "Sure, sure," he says, attempting to lighten the mood. "Make the chatterbox do it." It works—everyone laughs, and even Lan Zhan looks amused, his eyes crinkling in the corners.
Okay. Here we go. Wei Ying takes a breath, then lets it out. "Dear...Lan Zhan," he says, filling in the blank he had left on the piece of paper. God, that's weird. "I am so excited that our day is finally here. That we are standing here, facing one another, promising to love and cherish each other for all our days to come. I know that not knowing one another—" Here he laughs despite himself, the guests and even Victoria echoing his laughter. "I know that not knowing one another might make this more of a challenge, but I have a feeling…" He looks up at Lan Zhan. Lan Zhan is watching him intensely—Wei Ying had forgotten how intense Lan Zhan can be. He clears his throat. "We will be great. I promise to be a loving husband, a faithful friend, and a fun companion. I promise to take every opportunity to show you how wonderful I am certain you are, I promise to listen to your needs and do my best at fulfilling them, I promise to love you the way you deserve to be loved." His throat closes up a little—weird—and he has to wait a moment before continuing. "Now that we are here, I am even more certain that we are meant to be." Once again he looks up at Lan Zhan and gets caught in his gaze as though pinned in place by it. "So here I stand, your future husband," he says, knowing the words by heart, "promising you a bright future, together."
He swallows and folds up the piece of paper before tucking it away. Lan Zhan gives him a nod. He's unsmiling, but something about his expression is soft, though it's hard to say how Wei Ying even knows. By the end of college, for all that they hadn't actually ever been friends, he had learned to read Lan Zhan pretty well. He has never seen that particular expression on his face before, and abruptly, Wei Ying wants to know everything about him. Everything about how he has changed since college, and how he has stayed the same. What has Lan Zhan been through? Hell, what does he even do now? Wei Ying feels a hunger to know it all, completely. Excitement overtakes his nerves and he gives Lan Zhan a grin. Lan Zhan doesn't return it, but his eyes soften even more and he gives Wei Ying another nod.
"Lan Zhan, are you ready to give your vows?" Victoria asks.
"I am." He reaches into his inner pocket and comes out with a piece of paper of his own. He unfolds it and clears his throat before looking up at Wei Ying. He doesn't look down at the paper as he says, "Wei Ying. It has taken many years for me to come to this point." Despite knowing that Lan Zhan could not have written this with Wei Ying in mind, Wei Ying shivers. "I have searched and searched and found no one I would want to spend my life with. My fervent hope for today is that this is the beginning of a lifetime of happiness, for both of us." Lan Zhan is still not looking down at the piece of paper, still pinning Wei Ying with his gaze, and Wei Ying can't take his eyes off of him. He is unbearably, inconceivably handsome. His future husband is absolutely stunning. "I hope that we can find love and make one another deliriously happy," Lan Zhan continues. "I hope that we spend our days together in harmony—" And our nights together naked in bed, Wei Ying's brain helpfully supplies. Where had that come from? Fuck. "—and that the more we learn about one another, the happier we will be. I hope we strive to be our best selves, for ourselves and for each other. I hope that we learn from one another. I hope our union is one that betters both of us. Finally, I hope to never disappoint or upset you. To listen when you need me to, and to hear everything you aren't saying in words. I hope to understand and cherish you, past, present, and future. And I hope to love you as strongly as it is possible for a person to love. Here is to you and I and everything to come."
By the time Lan Zhan is done, Wei Ying feels his eyes prickling, and he blinks it away, embarrassed. If Lan Zhan notices, he mercifully doesn't acknowledge it in any way. He simply tucks the apparently unnecessary piece of paper back into his inner pocket and finally looks down, releasing Wei Ying from his spell.
"Those were beautiful vows," Victoria tells them both. "And now, the rings, please."
Both Jiang Cheng and Lan Zhan's brother—Wei Ying wishes he knew his name—appear at their sides and hand them the prepared rings. Wei Ying takes the one he had picked out for his future husband—for Lan Zhan—with slightly trembling fingers.
"Now, Wei Ying," says Victoria after the brothers have both melted away again. "Do you take this man as your husband?"
Wei Ying's "I do" is possibly a little too quick and a little too excited. Pull it back. Another smattering of laughter from the crowd, another impenetrable look from Lan Zhan.
They recite the rest of the vows as prompted by Victoria, and for Wei Ying, it's a blur—all he can do is stare at Lan Zhan and think about how it's Lan Zhan that he is committing himself to.
Finally, Wei Ying fits the ring onto Lan Zhan's ring finger. He had been told the correct size, and still, it's a relief when the white gold band slides on and fits perfectly. Wei Ying gives him a quick smile and his hand a quick squeeze and feels an answering squeeze from Lan Zhan. They drop their hands.
["Lan Zhan," Victoria says, turning to him. "Do you take this man as your husband?"
"I do," Lan Zhan says gravely, and Wei Ying breathes out, giving him a bit of a tremulous smile.
Victoria begins reciting the vows, Lan Zhan repeating them in his quiet but commanding voice.
Wei Ying obediently lifts his hand when instructed to do so and Lan Zhan takes it in his own. His hands are dry, unlike Wei Ying's, and steady. Lan Zhan says the vows while watching Wei Ying intently and Wei Ying feels his knees nearly giving way.
"You may go ahead and place the ring on Wei Ying's finger."
The ring is beautiful. White gold—platinum?—with a series of tiny stones inlaid in the middle of the band. Wei Ying swallows and allows Lan Zhan's sure hands to guide the ring home. It fits as perfectly as Lan Zhan's had. Another quick squeeze, and they drop their hands, both turning to Victoria.
"I now pronounce you married in the eyes of all of these people and the state of New York. You may kiss one another to seal the union."
Oh. Right. The kiss. Wei Ying feels a little wild-eyed as he looks at Lan Zhan, who looks back at him steadily. They lean in at the same time and share their very first kiss. It's soft, Lan Zhan's lips full and luscious, pressed up against Wei Ying's. Wei Ying's eyes slide closed and he breathes in, fighting the desire to open his lips and deepen the kiss. Hopefully, that will come later. For now… They part with a soft sound and Wei Ying gives Lan Zhan another slightly tremulous smile. Lan Zhan's eyes have gone soft again, and the tips of his ears and nose are red. Oh, that is just adorable. Wei Ying grins wider and winks. Lan Zhan flushes more.
The guests erupt in applause and there's music and they both turn to Victoria, like, are we done? Is this it? She gestures for them to turn towards their guests. "Take each other's hands," she commands. "And you may walk back down the aisle, together."
They do. Lan Zhan's hand is big, bigger than Wei Ying's, and yet it fits in with his perfectly. It feels so good to hold his hand. They've never touched before, not really. Lan Zhan had made it clear from the get-go that he was not the touching type and Wei Ying had tried to do things like sling his arm around Lan Zhan's shoulders as greeting, or poke and prod him into reacting, but those had been brief interludes, quickly squashed by Lan Zhan. This—this is something else. This is intimate, purposeful. They're holding hands because they've just gotten married, and Wei Ying's head spins. He gives Lan Zhan a quick look, gets a solemn nod in return, and together, they begin their walk down the aisle as husbands for the very first time.
He hadn't wanted to go through with it. He had hemmed and hawed but realized, in the end, that he had to fulfill his contract. Realized and resented it, and the whole way down the aisle, Lan Huan at his side, Lan Zhan had felt himself scowling—not the way he would have imagined going to meet his future husband. But in the end, there was nothing for it. He had been lined up, the doors had been opened, and he had walked out to face the music, so to speak.
And there Wei Ying had stood. Wei Ying. The boy who had plagued his days back in college, teasing and mocking and generally making a giant nuisance of himself. The beautiful, impossible boy that Lan Zhan had fallen for hard and fast and who had been so completely out of Lan Zhan's grasp, he might as well have been on another continent.
Wei Ying had tortured Lan Zhan with his bright, teasing eyes and quick wit, with his ridiculous notions and insistence that they be friends, despite having seemingly nothing in common. Lan Zhan had refused to let himself be swayed by him, because he had known that nothing good could ever come of it. Had known that his crush was impossible. Wei Ying had been known as a player among the students, and, more importantly, he had also been known as very, very straight. He dated a string of girls, one prettier than the next, and Lan Zhan had sat at a distance and watched it all unfold: the flirtations, the giving in, the constant PDAs, and finally, the rift whenever things appeared to get serious. That had been Wei Ying in college, and now here Lan Zhan was, walking down the aisle towards him, about to pledge his life to him.
The entire notion was absolutely mad, an impossible dream.
And yet, they are here now. Married. Wei Ying's clammy hand in his own. Wei Ying's brilliant smile tilted towards him. Wei Ying.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying whispers as soon as they're out of the ballroom. "Lan Zhan, I can't believe it's you."
Lan Zhan swallows, watching Wei Ying's handsome face, grown even more handsome in the years they've been apart. He is intensely aware of the cameras behind them, of their mics picking up every single word. "I can't believe it's you," he says hoarsely, then clears his throat. "I didn't...I never realized you were queer."
Wei Ying throws his head back and laughs, bright and happy. "Neither had I, at the time! I didn't know. I mean, listen, I obviously had a big old crush on you, but I didn't know that was what it was at the time."
"You—what?" Lan Zhan asks, startled.
"Oh, come on, wasn't it obvious? I mean, not to me, but...Lan Zhan," he says, pinning Lan Zhan with a look. "I was all over you, all the time."
Lan Zhan blinks. "I thought...I thought you were simply mocking me."
Wei Ying makes a surprised "o" with his mouth. "Lan Zhan! I would never!"
Lan Zhan: "Wei Ying's confession shocked me. I would never have...it simply had never occurred to me. At the time, I was very young and quite sheltered. I had not had many friends—hardly any, in fact. My best friend has always been my brother. I did not understand that Wei Ying's teasing had been a friendship overture, and I was often too flustered to react in a friendly manner. Do I have regrets?" (Lan Zhan looks down, his ears turning pink. He raises his head.) "Some, yes. I wish I had been...more open to different kinds of people back then. Who knows where life might have taken me. I do not regret the direction that my life has gone in, but there are always questions, aren't there? The what-ifs."
Wei Ying: "I can't believe Lan Zhan never knew. Then again, neither did I, right? Lan Zhan is right—at the time, even I wasn't aware of my full sexuality, that happened after college. Grad school." (Wei Ying pauses, chewing on his lip. He laughs and runs a hand over his smoothed-back hair.) "Lan Zhan had really been my awakening, but I wouldn't get that for many years. Seeing him come down the aisle...it was indescribable. What are the odds, right? I had given them so many specifications, and none of them said tall, brooding, and brilliant, and yet, here we are." (Another pause.) "Am I happy? To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I'm feeling. I'm overwhelmed. I mean! I just got married! (Wei Ying raises his left hand and points to the ring on his finger.) See? Married!"
Soon after, their families are pulled into the fray, with Wei Ying's family on his side, and Lan Zhan's brother on his. Those will be rather lopsided pictures, but that can't be helped. Uncle had wanted no part of this, and he got his wish.
Then there are pictures with friends, and it turns out that Jiang Yanli and Mianmian know one another—what a small world this is. It is remarkable that he and Wei Ying had not run into one another sooner than thirteen years.
Lan Zhan had almost forgotten all about him; almost—not quite.
After that, the reception. Once more, they're escorted, this time towards the sweetheart table at the head of the ballroom, cameras at every angle. For the first time today, Lan Zhan fervently wishes for some true, real privacy. He wants to get Wei Ying alone. He wants to find out what he has been doing all these years. He wants...he wants so much.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says and picks up his full champagne flute. "To us?"
Lan Zhan clears his throat and picks up his own glass. He does not tend to drink, but this is a toast at his wedding. Surely, if there were ever an occasion to bend… "To us," he says, holding Wei Ying's gaze as he takes a small sip. Wei Ying beams at him over his glass.
"So," Wei Ying says, very business-like, as he sets his flute back down onto the table. "Tell me everything. What are your expectations from the marriage? What do you like? What drives you insane? What should I avoid doing so I don't drive you insane?" Then he takes a breath. "Am I talking too much? I'm probably talking too much."
Lan Zhan feels his lips lifting in a smile as he shakes his head. "Not too much. Those are all important questions to ask, and I don't mind answering them." He clears his throat. "My expectations are...I would like for us to be true partners. In everything."
"Yes. I would love it if we were...friends first. Meaning that...we like one another."
"Well, that's easy for me," Wei Ying declares, his hand on his chest. "I already like you. Now, for you…" He wrinkles his nose. "I hope you'll get to like me."
"Wei Ying," Lan Zhan says helplessly. "I already like you too."
Again, Wei Ying's face betrays surprise. "You do? But you—Lan Zhan, you absolutely hated me in college!"
Lan Zhan suppresses a sigh, regret once more rising up into his throat. He swallows it down. "I never hated you. I was...intimidated by you. Overwhelmed."
"Annoyed," Wei Ying supplies with a sideways grin.
"...sometimes," Lan Zhan allows. "For the most part, however, you were simply an enigma to me."
"What, me? I practically tell my life's story to every stranger that passes!"
Lan Zhan shakes his head. "No, you misunderstand. I didn't...know how you could be so easy with people. I had always found being around other people difficult. Sometimes even a trial."
"Huh." Wei Ying cocks his head, then takes another sip of his champagne. "I guess I can see that," he says slowly.
"Mn. And you—you could talk to anyone and charm them."
"Except you," Wei Ying grins.
"Even me," Lan Zhan says, looking Wei Ying in the eye.
"So...you're not disappointed, then?" Wei Ying asks, ducking his head. Is he suddenly turning shy? Whatever for?
Lan Zhan frowns. "Disappointed?"
"Yeah, you know...that it turned out to be me." Lan Zhan watches as Wei Ying's Adam's apple bobs. Wei Ying won't meet his eye.
Lan Zhan becomes intensely aware of a camera pointed at the two of them and does his best to forget it, but it's hard-going. "Wei Ying," he says quietly, though not so quietly that the mics attached to them won't pick it up. "I am not disappointed."
"Yeah?" Wei Ying finally lifts his gaze and tilts his head. There is a small smile playing on his lips. "Good. I'm, uh. I'm not disappointed, either. That it's you."
Lan Zhan takes in a deep breath. "Good. I am...happy to hear that."
"So, Lan Zhan," he says, leaning in. "What did you think of my present? Loved yours, by the way. I was so excited to find out my groom was Chinese, I can't even tell you."
Lan Zhan's cheeks and nose go pink and he lowers his gaze. "I am glad to hear that. I thought…" He sighs, then finally looks back up at Wei Ying. "To be perfectly honest, I didn't know what to make of your gift. I had...not been expecting a video game."
Wei Ying throws his head back and laughs. Yeah, probably not. "Well, I had to show some of who I am—"
Something like a shadow passes over Lan Zhan's face.
"—and what I like," Wei Ying goes on, watching him carefully. "And yeah, I'm definitely into video games, I mean, I'm a computer programmer. Did you know that, by the way? Well, now you do. Anyway, what I wanted was for us to play together. You ever play any computer games, Lan Zhan?"
Lan Zhan shakes his head, looking uncomfortable. "I admit that I do not really...see the appeal of video games," he says, sounding stiff and weird.
Wei Ying sniggers. "Yeah, I'm not surprised. You must have been like, holy hell, what have I done?" The look on Lan Zhan's face says it all. Wei Ying cracks up. "Yeah. Yeah, that tracks. But listen, give it a chance. Just one game. With me. That's all I ask."
"One game?" Lan Zhan says dubiously. "And then?"
"And then I won't bug you about playing with me ever again."
Lan Zhan nods slowly. "Very well. One game."
Wei Ying whoops, garnering amused looks from some of the guests, but he doesn't care. "Shake on it?" He extends his hand. Mostly, really, so he can touch Lan Zhan again, if he's honest. They've been keeping a respectable distance—apart from the picture-taking and that second kiss, of course—but there's a charge in the air, Wei Ying thinks. Hopes. The wedding night is not that far away.
Lan Zhan puts his hand in Wei Ying's and they shake on it. Wei Ying wants to linger, but Lan Zhan pulls away too quickly. Well, Wei Ying's never been known to shy away from awkward subjects.
Wei Ying coughs and then says, "So, how do you...show affection?"
"Pardon?" Lan Zhan's eyes widen.
"You know, with your partners. You've dated, right?"
"Right, so… What do you do when you want to show someone you care about them? Because, I have to tell you, I'm a very tactile guy when it comes to showing affection." Wei Ying puts a hand over his chest. "Little touches, you know? Hand on the lower back, or touching a shoulder, or or—a quick kiss here and there."
"I see." Lan Zhan clears his throat. His ears are bright pink. "I am...not a terribly tactile person. For me, touch is...it can be difficult."
Uh-oh. Wei Ying bites his lip. "Difficult?"
Lan Zhan looks so uncomfortable, Wei Ying should probably drop it, but also, he wants to know. And they should talk about this stuff, shouldn't they? Before any true awkwardness begins? Lan Zhan takes a deep breath. "I'm not talking about...sex, per se," he says, and okay, hearing the word "sex" drop from Lan Zhan's mouth is certainly doing a thing or two for Wei Ying. Holy hell. "I am simply...not someone who engages in much physicality with people. Sex, as a discrete act, is...different."
Again, Wei Ying almost bluescreens. "So, you...have sex," he manages to say. "Right?"
Lan Zhan's nod is uncharacteristically jerky. "I do."
Wei Ying tries not to do victory arms at that. Rein it in, boy. "But not, like. Casual, oh, you're here sort of stuff?"
"Exactly." Lan Zhan blows out a breath. "I imagine I could...learn. With time."
Wei Ying shakes his head. "I don't want you to do anything you're not comfortable with, Lan Zhan. That's why we're talking, right?"
Wei Ying gives him a smile and suppresses the urge to clap him on the shoulder. Then it suddenly dawns on him. "Lan Zhan! All those times in college? When I was draped all over you? Was that truly awful?"
"Ah." Lan Zhan's ears are going to catch fire if they're going to keep on this subject. "It wasn't...easy. But that wasn't due to it being unpleasant."
"No?" Wei Ying worries at his lip. "Then why?"
"Because," Lan Zhan says, and that softness comes back to his face, something next door to amusement. "I had a crush on you, too."
"Well…" Lan Zhan says and he looks almost uncomfortable as he lowers his eyelashes. "I hope you don't mind, but this was important to me." He raises his gaze to Wei Ying's. God, his eyes. That's Wei Ying's husband. "I asked that we also have a traditional wedding tea ceremony, in addition to the main one."
Wei Ying feels a kick in his gut and laughter bubble up his throat. "Lan Zhan!"
Lan Zhan looks both confused and nervous. "Is that—are you upset—"
"No, no, no!" Wei Ying waves his hands around. "It's just that...I asked for that, too."
Lan Zhan's shoulders go down—Wei Ying hadn't even noticed them rising—and he gives Wei Ying a tentative smile. "You did?"
Wei Ying nods. "It was important to me too."
He watches as Lan Zhan swallows. "That's...that's wonderful."
"Yeah," Wei Ying says, beaming. "It is."
"This is so exciting," jiejie says as she picks off invisible lint from Wei Ying's chest. She's beaming. "Are you happy with your choice of groom, A-Ying?"
Wei Ying, whose heart has sort of taken up permanent residency in his throat, gives her a huge smile. "I think so. I mean...we haven't seen each other in, like, a lifetime. We've both changed, you know? But I...it's Lan Zhan! I still can't believe it's Lan Zhan."
Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes behind jiejie. He also looks extremely handsome, Wei Ying notes, apart from the scowl. "He seems to have changed his tune about you, I'll give him that," he says in a grumble.
"Aiyah, Jiang Cheng, don't be like that. He told me he—" Wei Ying still can't believe it. "—he had a crush on me back then, too. He liked me." And Wei Ying hadn't even realized he was queer. He catches jiejie's eye and she twinkles at him.
"He had a funny way of showing it," Jiang Cheng says darkly. "He seemed to me to want nothing to do with you, and you kept making an idiot out of yourself in front of him."
Wei Ying waves him off. "Eh, that was just inept flirting. We've both grown up since then."
"So you won't be pulling his pigtails this time?"
Wei Ying flips him off.
They're led to a set of doors to another ballroom. There's some set-up to be done, so Wei Ying cools his heels by pacing up and down in front of the door.
"You'll wear out the carpet," Jiang Cheng says before getting shushed by jiejie.
Wei Ying is just...nervous. Even though there's nothing to be nervous about. He and Lan Zhan will serve the Jiangs and Lan Zhan's brother tea, bow a few times...but this feels different from the first ceremony. There had been a reason why Wei Ying had asked for it. It means something. While the first ceremony had been the official, legal one, this one will tie them together in a whole other way. It feels...intimate. And huge. This whole day feels absolutely enormous to Wei Ying, and if he stops even for a second, he knows that exhaustion will hit him like a freight train. So he doesn't stop, not until the doors are finally opened and they are led inside.
It's beautiful. Wei Ying can see that the decorators have gone all out, but he only has eyes for Lan Zhan, who is standing in the middle of the room, waiting and looking a little bit lost before his eyes land on Wei Ying. His jacket also fits him like a glove, accentuating his wide shoulders and narrow waist, the color deepening his eyes even more. Wei Ying feels his breath stutter in his chest. He had almost forgotten how drawn to Lan Zhan he had been back in college, from the very first moment he'd seen him. How funny that he should realize that it had been attraction only years later, after he had figured out that he was queer.
And now, here they are, about to promise themselves to one another in a different way.
Lan Zhan gives him a nod, his gaze never leaving Wei Ying's.
Okay, Wei Ying thinks. Here we go.
They kneel in front of Wei Ying's adoptive parents and bow, then pour them the tea the hotel staff had prepared.
They kneel in front of jiejie and her husband and bow.
They kneel in front of Jiang Cheng.
They kneel in front of Lan Huan—Wei Ying has finally found out Lan Zhan's brother's name.
They exchange three bows, and then they rise and, on impulse, Wei Ying grabs Lan Zhan's hand. Then he realizes what he's done and tries to pull away, but Lan Zhan squeezes his hand and doesn't let go. Surprised, Wei Ying meets his gaze. Lan Zhan gives him a small smile, then looks away.
The formal parts of their wedding are now officially done.
Lan Zhan: "The tea ceremony matters a great deal to me. To know that it means the same to Wei Ying is...lovely. He surprised me, even though I'm not sure why I'm surprised. But I suppose we don't know each other very well yet. We are just learning. College...college doesn't really count. I never allowed Wei Ying to get close to me. Now, we are married. I think it's time I got to know my husband."
Wei Ying: "I still can't believe it's Lan Zhan. And he wanted the same thing as me! When I had asked for the tea ceremony, I hadn't known that my groom would be Chinese, and I worried, you know? You never know how people will react. But to have it mean the same thing to him as it does to me, that's special." (A pause.) "Am I nervous? About the marriage itself?" (He looks thoughtful for a moment, eyes looking somewhere in the distance.) "Yeah. I am. I mean...we like each other already, which is great, but it's surface stuff, you know? He doesn't—he hasn't spent time with me. He doesn't know what I'm like when I'm, say, tired, or cranky, or needy, or what have you. He doesn't like to be touched—that's a big one. I'll really have to watch myself, you know? So, yeah, it's a lot of questions in my mind. What will it be like? What is he like? What does he do with his free time? Does he eat the same things as me, does he snore? It's all a great big unknown." (He stops for a moment, looking down, then smiles.) "I'm so excited to get all the answers, though. I think it's gonna be great."
Well, no. He knows, of course. There has been a suite prepared for them, they've been told. And the cameras will follow them even there.
Lan Zhan can't help the nerves letting themselves be known deep in his belly, can't help recalling the brazen assertion in Wei Ying's card—I'm extremely good in bed—and can't help the terrified sort of excitement unspooling slowly inside him.
He doesn't know if Wei Ying will be up for anything. Lan Zhan himself is pretty exhausted, and he has heard more than one married couple admit that they didn't end up having sex on their wedding night due to the long day. Besides—they barely know each other. Lan Zhan isn't someone who jumps into bed with another person after the first date, and this is what today has been, isn't it? Their first date. Doesn't matter that they are now officially married—which is still a strange, unreal-feeling sort of state of affairs—they barely know one another. Lan Zhan doesn't know whether Wei Ying fucks on first dates, if he fucks at all, what he likes, what—he's getting ahead of himself.
They will just have to figure it out.
The cameras do, in fact, follow them down the hall to the marital suite, and when they get there, cameras greet them inside, too. Lan Zhan, heart beating in every vein and artery and pounding in his ears, allows Wei Ying to step inside ahead of him. Wei Ying throws him a wink, but Lan Zhan notices a slight tremor in his hands, a flutter in his neck—Wei Ying is nervous, too. Strangely, this works to allay one of Lan Zhan's biggest worries: that Wei Ying will have immediate expectations of him that Lan Zhan will fail to meet—and he breathes out.
He has almost gotten used to being followed around by cameras all day long. Almost. It still feels strange to be recorded as the two of them take in the bed—which is covered in red satin sheets and pillows, beautifully embroidered and unmistakable in their intent. If the bed had been left as is, it would have been incidental to the room. Like this, it is the centerpiece. It's saying, this is where the two of you will fuck.
Lan Zhan clears his throat just as Wei Ying laughs his high, reedy laugh. "Wow, they uh. Really went all out, huh, Lan Zhan?"
"Indeed." Lan Zhan tears his gaze away from the bed and looks further around the room. He can see both his things as well as unfamiliar bags lining the wall—must be Wei Ying's stuff. Everything has been thought of and planned meticulously. All they have to do is be together.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm just about ready to get out of this suit," Wei Ying says jovially, and begins to strip off his red jacket. Lan Zhan catches himself staring and looks away, getting busy with undoing his own buttons and divesting himself of his own jacket. It feels good, freeing. He undoes his bowtie and loosens his collar as he walks into the bathroom just to see what it's like, the cameraman following him in. Why would—oh. He sees a small bowl on the vanity containing condoms.
Everything has been planned down to the last detail. He sighs, and that is when Wei Ying follows him into the bathroom. Lan Zhan catches Wei Ying's gaze in the mirror and Wei Ying's eyes flicker immediately down to the bowl. Lan Zhan feels himself blush even as Wei Ying throws his head back and laughs.
"Wow, those are some expectations, I guess."
Lan Zhan makes himself breathe evenly in and out.
"Thoughtful of them, I guess," Wei Ying says with a shrug. They have to stop and not speak while the cameraman gets into the bathtub and adjusts the angle so he can film them talking, and Lan Zhan wishes desperately that they were alone already. Not for any other reason than that he is feeling weary of the lack of privacy. He would like some true alone time with his husband.
Of course, once they are alone, there will be no more pretense, no more distractions. It will just be the two of them, starting out their lives together. It feels like falling without a net.
"Hey, uh, need any help with your hair?" Wei Ying asks quietly and Lan Zhan once more meets his gaze in the mirror. His hair is, indeed, rather elaborately pinned—as is Wei Ying's. Funny that they should both have long hair.
"Please," Lan Zhan says just as quietly, and watches in silence as Wei Ying comes up behind him and begins to undo his coiled bun. He looks serious, eyebrows drawn together, lip caught in his teeth. He is lovely, as lovely as he had been back in college, only different, more settled into himself. He doesn't, Lan Zhan realizes, have the same nervous energy he used to. It has dissipated and an altogether different energy has taken its place. Wei Ying feels more grounded now. It is only now that the hubbub of the day has left them that Lan Zhan has figured it out. He wonders what else has changed about Wei Ying.
"Wei Ying," he begins, not entirely certain what it is he wants to ask. "During the vows, Victoria said that you have never been known as the commitment type. What's changed?" He hadn't meant to start at a place he had been most afraid to approach, but it's out of his mouth now, and Wei Ying's gaze flies up to meet his in the mirror. His mouth is slack, eyes troubled. "I'm sorry," Lan Zhan hurries on. "That was rude of me—"
"No, no. It's—you should know," Wei Ying interrupts, then, as the last pin is pulled out, Lan Zhan's heavy hair uncoils and falls down his back in a relaxed cascade. Wei Ying appears to follow its progress with his gaze, though his eyes have a far away look to them. Lan Zhan waits. It takes Wei Ying a few minutes of fidgeting with the pin in his hand, then setting it down to join the others on the vanity, to start talking. "The truth is," he says slowly, "I have been commitment-phobic in the past. It wasn't that I didn't believe in love and relationships, it's that I hadn't ever met a person I had wanted to fully commit to. Like, I would want to, I really would, but then it just...it was never the right person."
Lan Zhan nods, silent, still watching him in the mirror. It's always interesting how faces look somewhat skewed in reflections, almost but not quite perfect renderings of the real thing. This way, Wei Ying's eyes look a tiny bit uneven, his nose slanting slightly to the left. He's still extraordinarily beautiful.
"And it was the same in grad school, and then, after that, I wanted to travel, and you can't be tied down when you travel. It just wouldn't be fair to anyone."
"Where did you travel to?" Lan Zhan can't help asking. He wants to know so much.
"Oh, man, where didn't I travel," Wei Ying says, blowing out a breath. "I worked in China for a while, and then I traveled all over—Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan...you name it, I've been there. It was truly extraordinary."
"You speak Mandarin, then?" Lan Zhan asks.
"Oh, uh, yeah. I mean, I wasn't very confident when I first got there, it was a bit of a challenge. But after a year or so, I got a lot better." Wei Ying pauses, then tilts his head. "Do you?"
"Yes. My uncle wouldn't have it any other way."
"Do you...do you want to switch? I mean, once we're, you know…" Wei Ying's gaze darts over to where the cameraman is still rolling the camera in the bathtub.
"Whatever you are comfortable with," Lan Zhan says. "I am comfortable continuing in English. We can always decide later."
"Yeah, yeah. Cool. I—yeah. Okay." Wei Ying chews on his lip. "Anyway, so that was Asia. Then I worked out of London for a while, and went all over Europe and Northern Africa. That was also amazing."
Lan Zhan is duly impressed. His line of work has not taken him all over the world, but he has been lucky enough to have traveled extensively anyway, though perhaps not as extensively as Wei Ying. "What was your favorite place?" he asks.
"Of anywhere?" Wei Ying's gaze widens.
Lan Zhan nods.
"Oh man, I can't—I can't decide on that. Every place was extraordinary in its own way." He looks down. "Thailand was breathtaking, Hong Kong was super cool. Singapore was so vibrant, and the food everywhere was amazing. The south of France was fucking gorgeous. Italy had incredible food, too." He looks up. "Hey, Lan Zhan—we're gonna do a honeymoon, right?"
Lan Zhan blinks. That had been his assumption, but he had not thought further than today. Couldn't—the wedding day had consumed him for weeks. Now the future presents itself in bits and pieces—a honeymoon; negotiating where they will live; nights together. It almost feels like too much, too soon. What had he been thinking, agreeing to this?
And yet, here they are, Wei Ying still standing behind him, watching him expectantly in the mirror.
Lan Zhan clears his throat. "Yes, I would assume so. Do you have anywhere in particular in mind?"
Wei Ying scrunches up his face. "If it were up to me, we'd go everywhere. Like, take a month off work and just—travel places. Anywhere we want to go. But we probably can't do that, huh?"
Lan Zhan gives him a small smile and a shake of his head. "Probably not."
"Yeah," Wei Ying sighs. "Well," he says, reaching for his own hair. Lan Zhan finally turns around and faces Wei Ying. This up close, their height difference is more apparent. Wei Ying is looking up at him with wide eyes, whatever words he was going to say dying on his lips.
Lan Zhan swallows and carefully takes him by the shoulders. "Allow me," he says in a low voice, then prompts Wei Ying to turn around. Wei Ying does so, slowly. Lan Zhan looks at the way his hair is pulled together and reaches for the first pin he sees. It's thick and turns out to be long as he slowly pulls it out, Wei Ying's hair tumbling down immediately. Whoever had done his hair had done a good job—that one pin had held all of it is impressive.
"Thanks, Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says quietly, then turns around. Lan Zhan watches the progress of his Adam's apple as he swallows. They're mere inches away. "I never finished what I was saying, got distracted, sorry."
Lan Zhan gives him an encouraging nod.
Wei Ying licks his lips and doesn't look or step away. There's a noise from the bathtub—Lan Zhan had almost forgotten about Paul the cameraman. They pretend they hadn't heard it.
"I realized recently that I wanted someone to share my life with. A special person," Wei Ying says, his voice pitched low, but their mics will pick it up easily enough. "And I won't lie, I'm a pretty impulsive guy. So when a friend jokingly suggested I do this, I was like, you know what? How bad could it be?" He laughs, dropping his gaze. "I thought, why not? You fill out this giant questionnaire, you give them a ton of parameters and ideas and likes and dislikes...you interview...it's like the ultimate blind date, right?"
Lan Zhan nods. That had been his thought, as well.
"Yeah, so." Wei Ying shrugs. "Here I am. Ready for commitment."
But are you certain? Lan Zhan wants to ask, but doesn't. He doesn't wish to be insulting. He has to trust that Wei Ying believes this to be true, that it is true. Instead of asking, then, Lan Zhan leans in and, looking Wei Ying in the eye, presses their lips together. Their third kiss. This much, they have already done, but that had been in front of dozens of other people. This time, it's just them and Paul the cameraman, who, Lan Zhan is fairly certain, has seen worse.
Wei Ying gasps against Lan Zhan's mouth and for a moment, Lan Zhan thinks he's miscalculated, has assumed more than he should have. He tries to pull away, but Wei Ying grabs him round the shoulders and presses up against him before opening up his mouth and slotting their lips together. This time, it's a real kiss. It's Wei Ying's breath and taste, a slight moan reverberating between them. It's Lan Zhan's tongue gently inviting itself inside Wei Ying's mouth and Wei Ying's answering in kind. It's soft and quiet and exploratory. When it ends, Lan Zhan feels his eyes flutter open in time to see Wei Ying do the same, and then Wei Ying's cheeks are lifting in a smile.
"You kissed me," he says, and his voice is low, slightly hoarse.
"Well," Lan Zhan says, just as quietly, "we are married." It's taking all of his will power not to glance over at where Paul is still standing in the bathtub, camera rolling.
Wei Ying actually does, then laughs and buries his face against Lan Zhan's shoulder with a groan. "This is weird," he mumbles. Lan Zhan trusts that viewers won't be seeing this part. It will be edited out, like it never was. But he will always remember how warm Wei Ying feels against him, how his breath makes Lan Zhan shiver, his touch sweetly clinging.
Paul clears his throat. "All right, let's set up one last shot, all right, guys?"
They startle apart, Lan Zhan looking over at him. "Of course. Should we…"
"Why don't you guys change into your pajamas? Once we've filmed you getting into bed, I'll be out of your hair. Don't forget to leave the mics on."
Lan Zhan can feel his face flaming. When he looks over at Wei Ying, Wei Ying is pointedly not looking at him.
Lan Zhan tends to sleep in the nude, but he hadn't wanted to scare or embarrass his new groom, so he had, in fact, packed pajamas.
They change separately, taking turns in the bathroom, Wei Ying taking a long time. When he emerges, he's wearing a red t-shirt and black basketball shorts, his dress clothes a rumpled knot of fabric in his arms. Lan Zhan takes them from him and hangs them up in the closet one by one, the fabric still warm from Wei Ying's body.
"Aww, Lan Zhan, that's—you don't have to do that," Wei Ying mumbles behind him. "I mean, it's not like I'm re-wearing them tomorrow or something…"
Lan Zhan finishes his task, then turns around. "It's done."
Wei Ying laughs and shakes his head. "You're a neatfreak, huh?"
Lan Zhan freezes. "Will that...be a problem?" Is Wei Ying a slob? That could be a problem.
"What? No, of course not! We'll figure it out, right?"
Wei Ying sounds so certain. Lan Zhan decides this is a problem for another day. He finds himself absolutely exhausted.
They do, in fact, film the two of them getting into bed.
"Hey, Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says, almost entirely covered by the red blankets. "How do you feel now that it's all over?"
Lan Zhan, also nearly fully buried by the covers, can only be honest. "Uncertain. Exhausted." He pauses, watching Wei Ying's eyes flicker in the semi-dark. "As though things are just beginning."
Wei Ying's sudden grin is a bright flash across his face. "Yeah. Yeah, me too."
"And that's a wrap. Congrats, guys, you did good." Paul divests himself of the camera, then they have to get out of bed to get rid of their mic packs.
"Thanks for everything," Wei Ying says, while Lan Zhan simply waits for Paul to leave them be. His heart is hammering inside his chest. He has no idea what to expect from the moment Paul is on the other side of that door.
"You guys were great," Paul tells them again. "Very natural. Good luck with everything, all right?"
They escort him out, and then the door is closing behind Paul and they are left entirely, completely alone for the first time all day.
It's just that. That kiss. That kiss in the bathroom, entirely initiated by Lan Zhan. That kiss had been so good, it's all Wei Ying's been able to think about since. All he has wanted since that moment has been to pull Lan Zhan back in and lay his hands all over him, let Lan Zhan kiss him into oblivion. In truth, it has been a while since Wei Ying has been with anyone. Ever since he had decided that he'd had enough of first and only dates, of hook-ups and middle of the night cab rides home, he's kept himself to himself. And now, here is Lan Zhan—his new husband, Lan Zhan—kissing him softly and with intent, and Wei Ying has needs, all right, he is but a mortal man.
And he is absolutely, shatteringly exhausted. He is so exhausted, he feels as though as soon as his head hits that pillow for real and not for the cameras, he'll pass out without a moment's thought.
When Lan Zhan turns around from locking the door behind Paul, he looks about as exhausted as Wei Ying feels. Wei Ying breathes out and laughs, shaking his head. "Bed?" He extends his hand, hoping that Lan Zhan takes it, which he does the next moment, and Wei Ying tugs them towards the bed.
"Hey, which side do you tend to sleep on?" he asks.
"I'm a the bed's all mine sort of guy normally, but I'll adjust," Wei Ying says, laughing sort of nervously as he drops Lan Zhan's hand and gets in on the left side. Lan Zhan climbs in on the right, and then they're back in bed, only without anybody else there. Paul has thankfully fucked off, so it's just the two of them in the dark, quiet room, lying in between red satin sheets, an awareness pulsing between them. "Hey, Lan Zhan," Wei Ying whispers, and when Lan Zhan makes an inquiring sort of noise, Wei Ying slides noiselessly towards him and captures his mouth in a kiss.
Lan Zhan responds immediately, making this devastating, quiet noise, and rolls them over so he's pinning Wei Ying to the bed. Wei Ying's turn to make a noise. Fuck, that feels—good. That feels so good. He hopes Lan Zhan is forceful in bed. Wei Ying loves being manhandled by guys, loves to be tossed around a bit. Lan Zhan's weight on him feels good, their hips aligned and neither of them hard, but Wei Ying knows he could get there very quickly. This kiss is less sweet than the last one had been. Lan Zhan's hand finds Wei Ying's cheekbone in the dark, forcing Wei Ying's head back, and Wei Ying leans into the touch, moans without meaning to.
When the kiss breaks off, Lan Zhan huffs out a quiet breath and buries his forehead against Wei Ying's chest. Wei Ying's skin tickles where Lan Zhan's breath fans across it. "Lan Zhan?"
"Mn." Lan Zhan gives his sternum a kiss, then pulls himself up so he's hovering over Wei Ying. "Is this—all right? Did I make you uncomfortable?"
Wei Ying huffs out a laugh. "Hell no. Really, no."
Lan Zhan nods in the dark. They're still tangled up in one another, and Wei Ying wishes he wasn't as exhausted as he is, but he is, he doesn't actually think he's up for anything more than kissing right now, if that.
"I'm tired," he admits reluctantly.
"Oh, thank goodness," Lan Zhan says and gently rolls off of him. "I am, as well."
Wei Ying laughs. He isn't quite ready to let Lan Zhan go completely, so he puts his hand over Lan Zhan's chest, feeling the firm muscle under the whisper-soft cotton of his pajama top. "Yeah, long day, huh?"
"Very long day," Lan Zhan agrees. Wei Ying feels the rumble of the words against the palm of his hand. "Are you...all right with that? If we don't...that is…"
Wei Ying leans up and gives his cheek a kiss. He smells...so good. Wei Ying closes his eyes and inhales. "Yeah, Lan Zhan. I'm all right with that."
Reluctantly, Wei Ying pulls his hand away and turns over onto his belly, facing Lan Zhan. Lan Zhan is on his back, still. "Do you sleep like that?" Wei Ying asks curiously.
"What, on my back? Yes," Lan Zhan tells him, then yawns. "Excuse me. It's the optimal sleeping position."
"Optimal?" Wei Ying suppresses a laugh.
"Mn. Do you sleep on your stomach?"
"Hmm. That's the least optimal sleeping position."
Wei Ying sniggers. "Well, it's the only way I can fall asleep, so. Sorry."
Lan Zhan hums, but doesn't say anything else. When Wei Ying calls his name out softly a moment later, all he hears is Lan Zhan's even breathing. He laughs to himself, turns his face the other way, and falls asleep the next moment.
Wei Ying is beautiful even unguarded like this, his mouth slightly open, drooling onto the pillow. His features are smoothed out, and he looks younger, somehow, without being able to see his sly, knowing eyes or bright, crooked smile. Lan Zhan should, he knows, get up and go for a run, but he is reluctant to leave Wei Ying, in case Wei Ying wakes up and finds himself alone. He could write a note, but that feels impersonal. Instead, Lan Zhan attempts to go back to sleep, but it's a losing battle.
He rolls over and grabs his phone. It seems strange, checking his notifications from the previous day. His life has fundamentally changed within the span of twenty four hours, but the rest of the world has yet to catch up.
Almost the rest of the world. He has a message from his brother ("I hope you had a nice evening. Please get in touch whenever you are ready."), from Mianmian ("Woo, what a wedding! You'll have to tell me all about married life, and leave no stone unturned!!!"), and one, surprisingly, from his uncle ("I hear that things went well for you. Call me.")
Lan Zhan will take that at face value and not worry over it too much. He sighs and sets his phone down on the bedside table, and when he turns his head, he finds himself looking into Wei Ying's eyes, watching him back. He looks half-asleep, still.
"Wei Ying...I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."
Wei Ying smiles shyly and shrugs, a movement that forces the covers to slip down his shoulder. "You didn't. It's all good."
They watch one another for a long moment, and then Wei Ying extends his hand up from under the covers and says, "Come here," and Lan Zhan is helpless to resist. He sinks back down onto the bed, rolling over to face Wei Ying. Last night, he had been completely exhausted, too tired for anything more than a single heated kiss, one to which Wei Ying had responded so beautifully, so openly. Now, a wave of desire—true, real desire, the sort that he has not experienced in quite some time—crashes over him. He wants Wei Ying. Wants his touch, wants his body, wants him. This kiss is not hesitant in the least. It picks up where they had left off the night before, except now Lan Zhan is full of energy. Ordinarily, that energy would be channeled into his run, but right now, he pours it all into rolling Wei Ying over onto his back and sinking down against him. Wei Ying had seemed to like that earlier, and Lan Zhan goes with it, allowing his body to lead him. It isn't until Wei Ying pulls away, gasping, and says, "Wait, wait, Lan Zhan—" that Lan Zhan's mind clears and he pushes himself off of Wei Ying, an apology spilling from his lips.
"No, no, don't—fuck, there's nothing to be sorry for," Wei Ying says, and his breathing is labored, and his—his cock is hard against Lan Zhan's leg. Oh. Hmm. "I just—we should, like. Talk about what we want? What we like? And are you—are you up for this? Are you sure?" His voice gets quieter on the last question, and Lan Zhan forces himself to really consider Wei Ying's words.
Is he up for it? God, yes. He wants this. Wei Ying's taste still on his tongue, he nods. "Yes. I am. What about you?"
"Me?" Wei Ying does laugh, the sound of it bright in the dim room. "Christ, yeah. I want it." His cheeks are dusted pink—is he blushing? Lan Zhan finds himself charmed beyond reason. "How, uhm. Like." Wei Ying runs a shaky hand over Lan Zhan's chest and Lan Zhan catches it and brings it to his lips. Wei Ying's gaze goes unfocused. "What, uh...what do you like? Do you...what do you do, what do you want?"
Lan Zhan wants many things, but he is hesitant to say any of them out loud, just in case it spooks Wei Ying or puts him off. And Wei Ying is clearly talking around something. Lan Zhan wants to know what it is. So he says, "What is it that you want, Wei Ying?"
Wei Ying's blush deepens and he leans into Lan Zhan until their mouths are a breath apart, then moves until his lips are against Lan Zhan's and breathes, "Honestly, I really want you to fuck me. If you're into that sort of thing."
A shudder goes all through Lan Zhan and he finds he has to close his eyes for a moment and simply breathe. He inhales Wei Ying's scent as he does so, and it's heady, intoxicating.
And then Wei Ying pulls back, his voice tentative when he says, "Lan Zhan?"
Lan Zhan opens his eyes and Wei Ying is right there in front of him, a troubled line between his brows, his eyes uncertain. "I would like that," Lan Zhan says, his voice coming out slightly raspy. "If you're certain."
"Fuck yeah," Wei Ying says, his grin returning. "C'mere."
Lan Zhan goes, as if pulled in by an invisible string. This kiss is even better than the previous one had been. He likes this pattern of things getting better the more they do them. Lan Zhan devours Wei Ying's mouth greedily, with pure, unadulterated want, and Wei Ying gives it right back to him, whimpering and moving against him, his hard-on hot and obvious against Lan Zhan's hip. Lan Zhan himself is getting hard, the feeling of it delicious, anticipatory. He can't wait to—he can't wait.
Wei Ying's hands find the hem of Lan Zhan's t-shirt and he begins to ruck it up until his hands are on Lan Zhan's skin. Lan Zhan thinks it might be time for both of them to have fewer clothes on, so he pulls back—Wei Ying makes a noise like a mewl—and gets rid of his shirt quickly. Then Wei Ying pulls back and his eyes look glassy as he takes Lan Zhan in.
"You too," Lan Zhan tells him even as he's reaching for his pajama bottoms and shoving them down. The material catches on his dick and he struggles for a moment, but when he's done, Wei Ying has already thrown off his t-shirt and oh, he is beautiful. Lan Zhan kicks the covers down until Wei Ying is fully exposed to his view and takes him in with hunger, knowing it's probably obvious on his face. Wei Ying kicks off his shorts and there, now they're both completely bare.
Wei Ying's skin is smooth, pale, and he is lean, lightly muscled. His nipples are dark pebbles and Lan Zhan's mouth waters at the thought of taking them in one by one, sucking and biting them. His dick is dark, standing against his belly, and Lan Zhan feels a hunger that threatens to swallow him whole.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says hoarsely, and then he's diving for Lan Zhan and catching him in a hot, deep kiss. This is so much better—skin to skin, there's nothing between them except air. Lan Zhan takes care of that by pressing Wei Ying up against himself as close as he can as he kisses him over and over and over again. Their dicks slide against each other, and oh, that's good. Wei Ying is trembling in his arms and Lan Zhan clings to him tighter, buries one hand in his hair and squeezes, guiding Wei Ying's head back so he can get at his chin and jaw and neck. Wei Ying gasps and whines as he lets him, and for a while, all Lan Zhan knows is his taste and feel—slightly salty, smooth, with the tiniest rasp of stubble along his jawline. Wei Ying's fingers dig into Lan Zhan's arm, and he feels every single point of them. The sting of them grounds him. He wants. He wants so badly, so wholly. All he knows is want.
"Lan Zhan, ah." Wei Ying gasps and makes a noise low in his throat before his hands shift to Lan Zhan's chest and push him gently back. "Lan Zhan," he pants.
"Wei Ying." Lan Zhan knows he must look wrecked, unfocused. He feels wrecked and unfocused. He swallows against his dry throat and blinks, attempting to clear his mind. "What is it?"
"Condoms. We need condoms. And lube."
Lan Zhan feels himself go cold. Condoms, they have, but he can't remember if the bowl in the bathroom had lube, and—
"In my suitcase," Wei Ying tells him. "Let me just—"
This means Lan Zhan has to let him go, which he does reluctantly, and Wei Ying laughs, breathless, once he's released. "It'll take a second, hang on, all right?"
He gets out of bed and Lan Zhan tracks every movement with his eyes, watching Wei Ying as though he were the only thing in the world. As far as Lan Zhan is concerned, at this moment, he is. He's gorgeous, with a sweet round ass and long, slim legs, and oh, he is Lan Zhan's, all of him, Lan Zhan's. Lan Zhan swallows again and allows himself to imagine all that they can do together.
Finally, Wei Ying returns with a strip of condoms and bottle of lube, a smirk on his lips. "I had hopes," he tells him, as though in confession. As though it were necessary. He drops the stuff onto the bedside table, then knee-walks onto the bed, his smirk still firmly in place. Lan Zhan watches him silently, wanting, anticipating, until Wei Ying gets close enough, and then Lan Zhan rears up and grabs him round the hips. Wei Ying's eyes go wide and then Lan Zhan takes him in his mouth. Wei Ying gasps and grabs onto Lan Zhan's head and Lan Zhan loses himself in bliss. Wei Ying tastes strong—musky and slightly sweaty (they neither one of them had showered the night before) and so fucking good. Lan Zhan takes him down to the root, swallowing around him. Wei Ying has a nice dick—not too big, but not small, either. It's satisfying to hold in his mouth, satisfying to suck on. Soon enough, Wei Ying begins to get wet and the taste of it mingles with the taste of his skin. Lan Zhan moans, and Wei Ying echoes it. Beneath Lan Zhan's hands, he trembles. It must not be the most comfortable way to get sucked off—having to balance on his knees on the bed—but Lan Zhan isn't about to let him go.
He doesn't want to make him come, not yet, but he wants him to lose some control, give it up for Lan Zhan. Wants to undo Wei Ying, a little bit, see what he's like when he's lost in pleasure.
"Ah, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan—" Wei Ying's voice is high, breathless. Lan Zhan hums around him. "Oh fuck—fuck, don't—don't make me—I don't—"
Lan Zhan gives him one more deep suck, then pulls off, a translucent string of precome and spit connecting him to Wei Ying. He looks up at him. "Wei Ying?"
Wei Ying is watching him with wide eyes, hands still buried in Lan Zhan's loose hair. "Fuck," he breathes. "Will you...will you fuck me now?"
Lan Zhan's hands tighten on Wei Ying's hips. He takes a few deep breaths in order to find his equilibrium, then rises until they're face to face. "Yes," he says. "How do you want it?"
Wei Ying cocks his head, his smile returning. "Want you to bend me over and make me forget my own name," he says quietly, bald-faced and unashamed. Lan Zhan thinks he might be a little bit in love. "Can you do that for me, Lan Zhan?"
Lan Zhan, attempting to get some control over himself, brings him in by the hips until their cocks align and catches his mouth in a rough kiss. Wei Ying moans against him and the next moment, wraps his arms around Lan Zhan's neck, clings to him, gets even closer.
Lan Zhan wants to spin him around, push him roughly into the bed and fuck him stupid, but he holds himself back, not wanting to spook him. And then his hands find Wei Ying's ass before he can process what he's doing. It's a sweet, smooth curve, and feels so good in his grip. He makes a noise in the back of his throat.
"Are you not a big talker in bed?" Wei Ying asks, sounding curious. "Do you turn into a caveman?"
"Sometimes," Lan Zhan says roughly, all of his higher functioning indeed having abandoned him, all of his wants coming to the fore. He's hard as a rock, he needs to be inside Wei Ying already. He makes himself be gentle when he takes Wei Ying by the shoulders and urges him around until he gets the picture and gets down on all fours, watching Lan Zhan over his shoulder with a heated gaze. "Like this?" he asks.
"Just like that." Lan Zhan clears his throat, then reaches for the lube and uncaps it one-handed, because his other hand is back to pawing at Wei Ying's ass, squeezing the flesh there and releasing it. Wei Ying makes a lovely, pleased noise and wiggles his hips. Lan Zhan swallows.
Wei Ying takes the first finger with some difficulty, gasping and pushing back on it. He's incredibly tight and hot inside, and Lan Zhan's mouth waters with anticipation of being fully seated inside him. The second finger is more of a stretch, and the third makes Wei Ying gasp and writhe on the bed with his ass in the air, hands clenching on the pillow beneath his head. "Fuck, Lan Zhan, just—just like that, yeah, just—deeper—harder—"
God, Lan Zhan wants that, wants to give it to him as roughly as he can. He thinks...he hopes...they might just be on the same page there.
"Do you want my fingers or do you want my dick?" Lan Zhan asks, going for casual and failing completely.
Wei Ying curses and shakes his head. "Christ, I can't—I don't know, just—"
Lan Zhan makes the decision for him. With shaky hands, he reaches for a condom and rips it open. He slides it over himself, the touch nearly making him blow already. He has to pull it back and breathe so he doesn't come right this second just at the thought of—
"God, please, I need it, I need it so bad—"
Lan Zhan might lose it before he even gets inside Wei Ying. Trembling slightly, he lines himself up and pushes in without giving Wei Ying time to adjust. Oh, fuck. Wei Ying cries out and arches his back. Lan Zhan tightens his hold on Wei Ying's waist and pulls out almost all the way before slamming back in. Wei Ying gives another cry.
Lan Zhan shuts his eyes and tries to pull himself back, to be gentler, less aggressive, but then Wei Ying moans and pushes back against him and Lan Zhan can't not slam back in. Wei Ying feels incredible—hot and tight and when he arches his back, Lan Zhan must hit his prostate, because Wei Ying gasps and writhes on his dick. He's incredibly responsive, his body never ceasing moving, working against and in tandem with Lan Zhan's. It's gorgeous, and Lan Zhan runs a shaky hand down Wei Ying's back until he can grab him round the back of his neck and pin him down so he can nail his prostate again and again as he fucks into him. Wei Ying's cries mingle together until it's all just one breathless sound spurring Lan Zhan on. He couldn't hold back now if he wanted to, and he doesn't want to. And, thank God, Wei Ying doesn't seem to want him to, either.
They fuck for a long time, Lan Zhan unwilling to let go of his control and go over the edge, and Wei Ying continuously pushing against him, sounding ecstatic, his voice nearly giving out. "Oh, Lan Zhan, you're a fucking—fucking dream—oh fuck, just like that, just like that, oh my God—"
Lan Zhan closes his eyes and does his best to breathe, but it's becoming harder, just like staving off his orgasm is becoming harder, and he leans down and takes the back of Wei Ying's neck in his mouth. He bites down hard and Wei Ying nearly bucks him off, but the next moment, Lan Zhan reaches around him and takes Wei Ying in hand, pumping him in time with his hips. Wei Ying cries out and then buries his moans in the pillow, which simply won't do. Lan Zhan puts his lips against Wei Ying's ear and says, "Let me hear you, Wei Ying. Let me hear how good I'm making you feel."
"Fuuuuuuuuuuck," Wei Ying groans and turns his head. Their lips meet and the kiss is messy, uncoordinated, but delicious, tasting like sex and want.
Wei Ying comes with a shudder and a gasp, all over Lan Zhan's hand and the bed beneath him, and Lan Zhan pumps him through it, his mouth to Wei Ying's ear. Wei Ying whimpers, seemingly spent, and then Lan Zhan pins him back down against the bed with one hand to his neck, and chases his own orgasm, which hits him like a freight train. He comes long and hard, his voice getting lost in his throat on its way out. It feels incredible, Wei Ying feels incredible, and Lan Zhan buries himself to the hilt inside him and grinds until the very last of his orgasm is done.
Then he sinks back, taking Wei Ying's hips with him, until Wei Ying is sitting in his lap, slumped over.
"Oh, fucking...fuck me," he breathes, then laughs, high and reedy. "That was...that was fucking something, Lan Zhan."
"Mn." Lan Zhan buries his face against Wei Ying's neck, Wei Ying's hair tickling his skin. "Indeed," he manages, which makes Wei Ying laugh and push back against him.
When Wei Ying next speaks, there's a pout in his voice that threatens to undo Lan Zhan. "Will you take care of your Wei Ying now? He's all fucked out and can't move. I need a bath, Lan Zhan."
Your Wei Ying. Lan Zhan clears his throat. "We both could use a shower," he says, and even as he's saying it, he carefully lifts Wei Ying off of himself and deposits him gently onto the bed on his side. Wei Ying catches his eye and grins, looking like a pleased cat. For a moment, nothing else exists but the electric heat between them, the satisfaction of a really good fuck.
"Stay," Lan Zhan commands, then leans down and gives Wei Ying a kiss. It lingers, Wei Ying humming against him. Lan Zhan pulls back and gives him a smile, Wei Ying's eyes crinkling in the corners with the force of his own.
Lan Zhan gets up off the bed on shaky legs. He strips off the condom, ties it off, throws it in the trash. Then he pads into the bathroom, where he proceeds to stopper the tub and begin to fill it with water. He tests the temperature before being satisfied with it, then brushes his teeth. The tub is big, roomy. It will be comfortable for Wei Ying.
"Lan Zhaaaaaan!" Wei Ying calls out. "Lan Zhan, you left your poor husband all alone after fucking his brains out, what sort of sex etiquette is that?"
Lan Zhan smiles to himself at husband, still disbelieving that he gets to have this, that he gets Wei Ying in his bed. Attempting for casual, he makes his leisurely way out of the bathroom, still brushing his teeth, and raises an eyebrow.
Wei Ying laughs and rolls over onto his stomach. His hips are still pink where Lan Zhan's hands had been. Lan Zhan wonders what other marks he can leave on Wei Ying. He hopes this was simply the start of their explorations of each other. He has so many more ideas.
"Did you like it?" Wei Ying asks, stretching luxuriously, looking sensuous and gorgeous among the ruined red sheets. "Did you enjoy fucking your husband?"
Lan Zhan nods, not taking his eyes off of Wei Ying. Then he goes back into the bathroom, spits, cleans up his toothbrush, and returns to the bedroom. "I did," he says belatedly. "I very much enjoyed fucking my husband." He advances on Wei Ying, who's watching him with beautiful wide eyes. "Did my husband enjoy getting fucked?"
Wei Ying grins and buries his face against a pillow. "Mmm. Did he ever."
Lan Zhan picks Wei Ying up easily enough, once the bath is ready. Wei Ying sputters out a few protests, but doesn't actually tell him to put him down and clings to Lan Zhan's neck all the way into the bathroom. Lan Zhan deposits him in the tub carefully, and Wei Ying's head lolls back against the folded towel Lan Zhan left on the edge of the tub for comfort. "Can I expect this sort of handling every time we fuck from now on?" he asks.
"Mn." Lan Zhan settles on the rug in front of the tub. "If you're very good."
"And what does being very good entail?" Wei Ying asks, eyes dancing with mirth.
"Hmm." Lan Zhan reaches out and sweeps some of Wei Ying's hair back from his forehead. Feeling bold, he says, "Allowing your husband to fuck you hard. A lot."
"Mmm." Wei Ying's eyes slip closed. "The harder, the better."
A shiver runs down Lan Zhan's spine. "Yes."
"Seriously, I can take a lot, Lan Zhan." He sounds fucked out, raspy. Matter-of-fact, as though he isn't blowing Lan Zhan's mind with every word. "Want, like...all of it, everything…"
Lan Zhan will give it to him. Everything, and more. "Very well," he says, his voice hoarse.
Wei Ying wiggles, the water splashing around him. "God, I lucked out with you, didn't I?"
Lan Zhan feels a small smile of his own. "And I with you."
Wei Ying looks him in the eye and grins, showing teeth. "We lucked out with each other."
"Yeah, yeah. Join me," Wei Ying says, patting the spot beside him. "Come lie down next to your husband."
Lan Zhan does as told, settling down beside Wei Ying in his own fuzzy robe. He can't stop himself from reaching for him and giving him a lingering kiss. He can feel the shape of Wei Ying's smile.
Wei Ying is still smiling when they pull back. "Hi."
"Hello." Lan Zhan watches his handsome face and feels a fluttering in his chest. Husband.
"Not bad for a first time, right?"
Wei Ying is clearly fishing for compliments, and Lan Zhan sees no reason not to grant them. "Not bad at all. You were...lovely."
"Just wait until next time. I'm very good at blow jobs." His grin is unrepentant.
"So I've been made to understand," Lan Zhan tells him with an arch of one brow.
Wei Ying cracks up, eyes becoming half-moons on his face. "I know, big assertion in a card to an unknown groom. Well, whatever, you'll see."
"I'm sure I will."
Wei Ying watches him quietly for a moment, his smile slipping into something sweet and contemplative. "I still can't believe it's you," he says, shaking his head. "Lan Zhan."
"Yeah. Wild. Do you believe in fate?"
Lan Zhan pauses, surprised. "I can't say that I have before," he says slowly. "Do you?"
Wei Ying shrugs, playing with the sash of his robe. "I don't know, I mean… This is a pretty crazy twist of fate, I think. You and me, ending up in the same city but not meeting until we're walking down the aisle for a television show, of all things. You know?"
Lan Zhan does. He nods slowly. If Wei Ying wishes to believe in fate, Lan Zhan won't be the one to stop him. For himself, perhaps he believes in luck more than fate. For now, he keeps that thought to himself. "What would you like to do with the day?"
It's the weekend, and Lan Zhan, for one, has no plans. Wei Ying snuggles deeper into the bed and stretches. "Mmmm, I don't know. We've got the room until tomorrow, is that right?"
"And there's a pool… and this bed…"
Lan Zhan is beginning to catch on. "Should we spend the weekend here, then?" he asks, already reaching to untie Wei Ying's robe.
"Sounds luxurious, doesn't it? Nice." Wei Ying lets it happen, only laughs. "Our breakfast will be here soon," he notes. "We don't want to get kicked out for scandalizing the staff, do we?"
"Then let's make this a quick one," Lan Zhan suggests, and then proceeds to bite his way down Wei Ying's body until he can take him back in his mouth. Wei Ying sighs and stretches beneath him.
The future, Lan Zhan thinks, is very bright, indeed.
Voiceover: It's been five months since Wei Ying and Lan Zhan tied the knot. We are here to find out how their union is faring. The two have agreed to let our producers and crew inside their home to catch up.
Interior: a bright apartment. Wei Ying and Lan Zhan are sitting next to one another on a couch against the backdrop of white built-in bookshelves with a globe next to them. A cat jumps onto the arm of the couch and settles there, tail thumping softly.
Wei Ying: "So, how are we doing? I think we're doing great. Lan Zhan? Thoughts?"
(He looks over at Lan Zhan with a bright smile. Lan Zhan returns the smile, then turns back to the camera.)
Lan Zhan: "I would agree with your assessment, Wei Ying."
Wei Ying: "I guess you guys want more details than that, huh? Well, okay. So, we went to China for our honeymoon. We visited some distant family of Lan Zhan's, we traveled. We hopped over to Japan for a bit. Then went to Indonesia and South Korea."
Lan Zhan: "We indulged."
Wei Ying: "We totally indulged. Well. Lan Zhan indulged me. He took a short sabbatical and everything."
Lan Zhan: "I was due for one, anyway."
Wei Ying: "Yeah, but you never would have taken it if I hadn't asked."
Lan Zhan: "That's probably true."
Wei Ying, laughing: "See, I know him. He's a workhorse. I have to force him to take breaks."
Lan Zhan: "I could say the same for you."
Wei Ying: "Eh, I know when to rest."
A single moving shot through the apartment. One can see a small but bright kitchen, then a hallway with art hung on the walls, then at the end of it, a large bedroom with the windows open to let in the breeze.
Wei Ying: "We moved in together a couple of months after we got married, right?"
Lan Zhan: "Yes. That is how long it took us to find a new apartment and take care of our old places."
Wei Ying: "Yep. But it worked out. We love this place, don't we?"
Lan Zhan, watching Wei Ying: "Mn. We do. It's close to my work, and Wei Ying works from home half the time, so it works out."
Wei Ying: "Sure does!"
Voice behind the camera: "And how has living together been?"
Lan Zhan, nodding: "Living together has been...interesting."
Wei Ying, laughing: "Yeah, poor Lan Zhan had to drill some semblance of order into me. I'm a slob by nature, but I don't want to make him unhappy, you know? So I had to sort of...change my ways."
Lan Zhan: "We both did. I had to learn patience and that not everything needed to be orderly one hundred percent of the time."
Wei Ying: "Yeah. We're a work in progress."
Lan Zhan: "But it's been working for us."
Wei Ying, smiling at Lan Zhan: "Yeah."
Voice behind the camera: "Have you found things in common?"
Lan Zhan: "Yes, we have found many things in common. We are...very compatible."
Wei Ying: "You could say that, yeah." (Laughs) "I feel like I hit the jackpot with Lan Zhan, you know? He's so...he's special."
(Lan Zhan's ears turn pink as he looks down at their interlocked hands)
Wei Ying: "He's getting all shy, but it's the truth."
Lan Zhan: "I could say the same thing. I am...very lucky."
Wei Ying: "And it turns out, if it's the right person, Lan Zhan will totally be okay with casual touching. For instance, if I'm, like, doing the dishes or folding laundry or something mundane like that, he'll come up to me and grab my—"
(The rest of the sentence is cut off)
Voice behind the camera: "What about your uncle, Lan Zhan? Has he come around?"
Lan Zhan: "My uncle has come to accept Wei Ying in my life. We have...reached an agreement. And he is happy for me, knowing that I am happy."
Wei Ying: "Yeah, and Lan Zhan and my sister get along like a house on fire. And I love his family. It's really...it's worked out. Against all odds."
Lan Zhan: "Well...once we realized we knew each other, the odds were pretty good."
Wei Ying: "I do not disagree." (Smiling) "And Lan Zhan has started playing video games!"
Lan Zhan: "I dabble."
Wei Ying: "Admit it, you loved the game I gave you for our wedding."
Lan Zhan: "It was...enjoyable and stimulating. Yes."
Wei Ying: "Victory!" (He raises both hands in the air, including the one clutching Lan Zhan's.) "I've come out victorious."
Lan Zhan, watching Wei Ying: "Yes. You have."
Wei Ying: "He indulges me. Look at him—he's so serious-looking but he's a big softie."
Lan Zhan: "On special occasions."
Wei Ying: "Well, you are with me, anyway."
Lan Zhan: "Like I said."
Voiceover: Wei Ying and Lan Zhan plan on starting a family sometime soon.
Wei Ying: "We've definitely talked about it, yeah."
Lan Zhan: "It's something that is important to both of us."
Wei Ying: "Of course, we'll have to find a new place, first. This one is too small."
Lan Zhan: "I believe we can work something out, yes."
Wei Ying, looking over at Lan Zhan: "I'm not moving to Jersey."
Lan Zhan, looking at Wei Ying: "It doesn't have to be Jersey."
Wei Ying, looking at Lan Zhan: "Queens is as far as I'm willing to go."
Lan Zhan, looking back at the camera: "We are a work in progress."
Wei Ying, smiling into the camera: "We are."
Lan Zhan: "Overall, I would say, this match has been a success."
Wei Ying, snorting: "Yeah. Yeah, you could say that."