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One word.

It takes one word for Jiang Cheng to fall in love.

 


 

 

Wei Wuxian was infamous for his ability to distract and disrupt anyone's concentration. It's a skill he perfected over the course of many years, with his brother-in-arms Jiang Cheng often the unwilling target of his ridiculous antics.

 

Today, however, the YiLing Patriarch's skill seemed to fall short. No matter how much he poked and prodded at the older man, he got nary a glare or yell. Jiang Cheng's gaze is unusually calm, staring off into the distance of the Cloud Recesses.

 

Wei Wuxian whines, climbing a nearby tree and (purposely) getting his ankle caught in the branches.

 

"A-Cheng!! Helppp!"

 

But the violet-clad man barely moved from his seat. Wei Wuxian pouts before a swift blue slash cuts through the wood, releasing him to the ground with a faint 'fwump'. But of course Lan Wangji would be there to get him out of trouble, no matter how dubious that 'trouble' might be. Wei Wuxian can't exactly blame the other for ruining his plan, merely giving the younger Lan a small pout before making his way back to Jiang Cheng.

 

Who was still sitting there, transfixed like a lovesick puppy.

 

Wait.

 

Lovesick??

 

"A-Cheng!! Why didn't you tell me? I mean, I didn't expect you'd find her here of all places but the Lan Sect's disciples certainly fit some of your criteria."

 

A slight furrowing of dark, stormy eyebrows. "What the hell are you talking about?"

 

Wei Wuxian's grin is wide. All teeth, no bite. "You know...~"

 

It takes a couple more nudges and a few not-so-subtle curvy figures drawn in the air before Jiang Cheng's cheeks flush.

 

"I'm not thinking about a woman!"

 

Wei Wuxian tries again. "A man, then?"

 

Not even Lan Wangji could save Wei Wuxian from the swift and brutal headlock inflicted upon him by the Yunmeng Jiang Sect Leader. And honestly, from what he can tell, the cheeky Yiling Patriarch deserved it.

 


 

(The night before)

 

Usually, the terms 'drinking party' and 'Lan Sect' were never used in the same sentence. And yet the blue moon seemed to shine bright tonight as several disciples - headed by none other than Wei Wuxian - smuggled several jars of Emperor's Smile to fuel a rowdy celebration.

 

No one dared ask what prompted such frivolity but seeing Lan Wangji there - not punishing anyone for breaking the rules - was enough to turn a small gathering of five to a not-so-subtle circle of twenty.

 

Jiang Cheng observed from the outer rim, still unsure as to why Wei Wuxian dragged him here but unwilling to leave just in case something untoward happened. And seeing as the younger Lan was too distracted by his lover, 'babysitting' duties fell to him. As usual.

 

He was just about to grab another jar when a strange sight made him pause.

 

Tall, handsome, with pristine robes of pure white. And most importantly, a carefree smile on his face.

 

Lan XiChen.

 

What the hell was the Lan Sect leader doing here??

 

It seemed that Jiang Cheng was the only sober man left (except for Wei Wuxian who was doing an excellent job of pretending to be drunk so he can fall 'clumsily' all over Lan Wangji). No one expressed surprise at seeing the older Lan brother as he wove his way in and out of the crowd. Graceful even while drunk. That ought to be a talent.

 

Or a crime , Jiang Cheng added grimly in his thoughts as Lan XiChen stopped much-too-close to his personal space.

 

"Sect Leader Lan," he nods in acknowledgement.

 

"Sect Leader Jiang~", the other replies with a megawatt smile that can easily blind and stun several of the undead.

Jiang Cheng can smell alcohol in his breath, the warm scent melding perfectly with subtle hints of sandalwood and sunshine. There was something else too, something sweet and slightly nutty- -

 

The violet-clad man stopped before he could dive nose-first into those pristine white folds. Shit. He must be drunker than he thought.

 

"I take it that these lads will be writing the sect rules five hundred times come daybreak?" Jiang Cheng commented wryly, to which Lan XiChen lets out an airy laugh.

 

"Absolutely not! I wouldn't punish anyone for having a good time~"

 

The Jiang Sect Leader was about to clarify what they'd do once that old goat Lan Qiren found out... until Lan XiChen's eyes narrowed, his expression turning into one of dramatic disdain.

 

"Which means I should punish you , Sect Leader Jiang."

A finger prodded at Jiang Cheng's chest, inducing a shudder that went skittering down his spine.

 

Lan XiChen shifted closer, slowly eliminating the small space between them. "And I know the perfect punishment for you too- -"

 

Just as Jiang Cheng thought the other would either throttle him or trail that finger lower (both circumstances excited him, much to his shame), Lan XiChen lets out a most ungentlemanly hiccup.

 

The sound was a cross between a piglet's first squeal and a puppy getting kicked. The Jiang Sect Leader bit back a chuckle, until Lan XiChen murmured lowly, venomously.

 

"Fuck."

 

Jiang Cheng stood, stunned.

 

The elder Lan meets his surprised expression for a split-second before disappearing in a flurry of silks and haste.

 


 

 

Now, Jiang Cheng sure as hell had no idea what falling in love felt like.

 

But there was no other explanation to all his strange behavior following that one night. It was like watching himself from far away, an out-of-the-body experience that did not require a quick strike from Zidian.

 

And loathe he was to admit, Wei Ying might be right.

 

But what was he supposed to do about it? It's not like he can just walk up to the older Lan and tell him how his voice sounded like the first few echoes in a still well - clear and concise before mellowing into a gentle whisper that rustled through the trees- -

 

Oh sweet heavens, did he really just think that??

 

This was getting worse. He had to get out of here- -

 

"Sect Leader Jiang?"

 

Jiang Cheng did not just squeak. Absolutely not. He will deny to the depths of hell and back that he - the head of Yunmeng Jiang- just let out such an embarrassing sound.

 

But judging from the slight widening of Lan XiChen's smile, the other wasn't too keen on letting the matter go.

 

(Or was he?)

 

"Guess that makes us even," was the elder Lan's cryptic message before walking away, followed by a pair of disciples who glance curiously at Jiang Cheng.

 

Stiff, frozen with shock as a million thoughts battle for dominance within his mind. Wei Wuxian's yell cuts through his reverie like an arrow splicing an apple clean in half.

 

"A-Cheng, you're in love with ZeWu Jun??!"

 

Zidian lashes out with a zap.